Is the barn going to be used to shelter animals and if so has he consulted with them (animals) and get an idea of what they might like or be looking for?
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If you can figure a way to do it, I'd pick up a pair of small older Ohm Walsh 1s or 2s on ebay and suspend them upside down and add a sub if needed.
They will sound fantastic in a big open barn. I had mine in a similar large open environment once for a party and had an unequaled out of body audio listening experience that day.
Or, even better, for that amount, he could do an in-home, or I mean in-barn audition of a new pair of Ohm Micro Walsh Shorts in that price range direct from OHM that might be easier to suspend and then add an inexpensive second hand sub if needed.
Can't think of anything else in that price range that would come close for this.
thanks mapman, if they could be suspended the ohm speakers would definitely seem the way to go, there is a pair of walsh 4's for $400 on audiogon that i wish i could tempt him into buying. if not the ohms, i fear he will just get another pair of bose speakers, but hopefully i can at least convince him to get a larger version, since he likes his music pretty loud. thanks again.
I don't mean to sound too ignorant on this one ... but is this barn for commercial use with a listening area set aside or is this one of those barn style houses that you might see featured as a season long project on a TV home renovation program, like 'This Old House.' I ask only to see if there are going to be environmental concerns where indoor/outdoor speakers would be better suited.
rar1, good question, sorry i wasn't more clear. it is an actual barn but not a "working" barn, mainly designed as a barn to fit into the rural landscape, but used primarily for storage (cars, tools, lawnmowers, etc.), it will be sealed very tight from the elements and have forced air heaters but it won't be heated 24 hours a day, so i don't know if regular speakers could stand the temperature extremes...that is a good question, even where i live (in a log cabin heated by a fire place) the temperature varies from 50-80 degrees and i've often wondered how my speakers fare in such a situation.
i am sure his barn will get frigidly cold on winter nights when not in use.
any thoughts would be appreciated.
"i am sure his barn will get frigidly cold on winter nights when not in use."
Buy used but in good working order on ebay then and don't pay too much. If/when the weather takes its toll, move on.
FWIW I use a pair of standard issue wood cabinet Realistic Minimus 7's on my deck from spring into winter. These sit under a ledge to protect from direct exposure to rain + snow but are otherwise exposed to the elements and extreme temperature swings. Though the wood cabinets are quite weathered and the brown grills now a lovely shade of olive green, sinically they have kept going now for ten years in that environment and still sound wonderful. They sold for $100/pair new. Add a sub (I have no need) and you have a very nice full range sound that is highly weather resistent for not much.
One of the best sounding systems in a large open space indoor venue that I experienced was in a beach side restaurant in Aruba that featured Onkyo receivers, Onkyo CD players, and multiple wall mounted JBL speakers.
There are some similarities in that set-up and the barn set-up that you are describing.
Rather than try to wall mount omni speakers, you could go with wall mounting multiple speakers and using an amplifier that supports multiple zones or playing A and B speakers simultaneously.
I have not heard the speakers below, but have read good things about them and more importantly they come with a 30 day home use trial.
Axiom wall speakers
Axiom outdoor speakers
Your buddy could give these a shot and see if they work in his environment.
While your intentions are admirable, your friend is probably a "Bose man". For the money he wants to spend (and it "HIS" money and "HIS" barn), help him find a pair of used Bose 901s w/equalizer and he'll be happier than a "pig wallowing in a mudhole". Remember most classic rock isn't recorded all that well anyway.
thanks very much everyone, along the lines of what most of you have said, i told him last night that bose would probably be his best bet...btw, i wasn't trying to "convert" him, just that he'd expressed some interest in trying something new if it could fit his parameters, i'm sure he'll be happy with whatever he gets