Speaker shootout update; aggressive treble eliminating some (fairly?)


I've been trying out speakers in a complicated shoot out, both bookshelves and towers — all in my home with my gear. I'm looking for speakers obtainable up to about $4k but could go up (or down) a bit if the right thing came along.

Basic facts: All speakers were run in at least 100 hours. Room is 27 x 14 x 6.5 ceilings. Powering with all QS tubes, 60w, NOS, tube R2R dac, and decent cables. No terrible reflection points; room not overly live or dampened. REL R 328 sub available but I did most listening without it.

Recent auditions, type:

Klipsch RP 600-M (budget singleton of the group)
Fritz Rev Carbon 7 mk II (bookshelf, 2 way, soft dome)
Focal 936 (tower, 3 way, inverted metal)
Martin Logan Motion 60s XTi (tower, 3 way, AMT)

Coming soon:

Salk SS 6M (bookshelf, 2 way, beryllium)
Dynaudio Evoke 30's (tower, 3 way, soft dome)

Let me speak just to the problems, rather than what was good about the speakers. So far, I've found the Klipsch, Focal, and especially the Martin Logans were all too bright — forward, aggressive, "turn it down" treble.

The ML's were the most impossible to tame and hardest to listen to on more tracks. (I did a lot of hanging of towels and other dampeners and other soft things to try to see if I could bring them to heel. I varied the recordings used. Changed cables/wires. No luck.)

The Focals were occasionally too bright; their bigger problem was a bit too much energy in my small listening space. They were better when I plugged their ports with socks.

I'm looking forward to how the next two speakers sound. The Dynaudio towers, I notice, are 10 inches shorter and half the weight of the other towers; not sure what that might mean, but it could just be right size for my space. I'm looking forward to seeing if the Salks bring more detail to the treble without also being too rolled off or harsh.

Hearing is very personal for physiological and taste reasons. However, if anyone has any thoughts about why I might be experiencing some of the phenomena I am (harsh treble, especially) based on my room or gear, etc., that might help me understand factors I'm not fully appreciating. Thanks.


8700e65e 845e 4b1b 91cc df27687f9454hilde45
According to the simulations done by the School of Acoustics at Salford, your room is almost exactly a foot too long. I suggest putting in shelving on one end, books or records, just make sure that the irregular surface (records) presented to the room is 12-18" from the wall. Specifically, room dimension dimensions of 1 : 2.15 : 3.95 would work better (6.5, 14. 25.75). What are the EXACT measurements of your room, I mean to the nearest 1/4 inch?

Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but ESL's are not inherently bright. It is the electronic processing which can make them so, especially the protection, crossover, and EQ circuits. I spent a gob of money on ML hybrids about 20 years ago, and IIRC, found that they used cheap capacitors in the signal path. Lost those and found the sound.

Even so, they weren't Quads. Not sure if that's useful information or not, as you probably want to get something that works well out of the box.
If you can afford to spend $6,000, I would buy a pair of SALK Song3 Encore towers.  I heard these at the RMAF in Denver and they sounded better than a pair of $60,000 speakers down the hall.  Call Jim Salk and tell him Larry Edwards from Denver sent you.  There is nothing in this for me, but I think you will be blown away by the sound.  He sells only direct and because he does not have to discount his speakers to dealers, he can afford to use the best speaker components.  His cabinet build is also incredible.  Wish I had waited to buy these myself.  Hopefully, one of these days I will buy a pair.
Maybe I missed - just curious - judging from the low ceiling, your audio room must be in the basement? If so, it probably has a concrete floor and if so, is carpeted or covered with a large area rug? If the ceiling is sheeted with sheetrock, adding a layer of fiberboard ceiling tiles or acoustic panels, would greatly reduce the ill affects of the low ceiling.

Of the speakers mentioned, I think you will be be very happy with the Salks. Also, as mentioned, the Harbeths, or my pick of all would probably be the Spacials. Being open baffle, the Spacials are very room forgiving and present a large detailed (yet full and musical) stage, without being harsh or fatiguing and are incredibly easy to drive.

Best of luck with your adventure....Jim


@jhills
Of the speakers mentioned, I think you will be be very happy with the Salks. Also, as mentioned, the Harbeths, or my pick of all would probably be the Spacials


jhills,
Comparing the three, did you find the Harbeth to be a bit more midrange forward (generally) compared to Salks and Spacials you heard?

A friend who purchased my former tube amp has tried several different amps with his Harbeth 40.1 speakers. While I enjoyed them, they were more midrange present in a smaller room (with 3 different type amps), like having headphones on at times. It was nice for 30 minutes, and after an hour the midrange fullness became a little fatiguing for my ears. And, now easier to listen to after moving them to much larger room with higher and more open vaulted ceilings. Lets say if the Salks are generally voiced more neutral with Be tweeters, where do you place the Spatials in the spectrum of neutral to bright sounding on your rig(s)?
My last Harbeth post as they go back to their home tomorrow.The KT150s sounded wonderful in the QuickSilvers with the Harbeths - my favorite!Big soundstage,sharp transeints,gobs of micro detail,natural sounding instruments and vocals.The highs were the best ever.Toed in they exhibited some upper mid glare.Firing straight forward and my listening position moved forward a foot,no glare whatsoever.
The Harbeths were very responsive to tube changes.

My ceiling is not quite 8ft.Old farmhouse with a wooden ceiling covered with faux tin tiles(fiber board).I have one GIK panel on the ceiling,the front wall and corners have GIK bass traps and panels.So I'm hoping this helps a little.Looking forward to reading about the Salks and the best of luck to you!