The Most Realistic Speaker Technology?

OK, maybe this is the question that I should have asked originally...

I need some help, because I am now more confused than ever. I am in the market for new speakers, and have about $10,000 to spend, more or less. I am looking for the most "realistic", "true-to-life", "you-are-there", quality speaker there is, at that price. But the sheer number of speaker companies, speaker technologies, and speakers out there is mystifying, stupefying, and bewildering, so my search has been extremely confusing. I am not a constant upgrade kind of guy, and I don't have a lot of money, and so the speakers that I buy are the ones that I have to keep for a long time, and so it is even more imperative that I make the right and wise decision.

I realize that everyone has their own different opinion of things, and that different people like different types of sound from their speakers, and that that may be their favorite whether or not the sound coming from their speakers sounds even remotely realistic at all. And, while I respect the right for everyone to like their own particular pair of speakers that puts out a particular type of sound that suits them that they like and that sounds good to them as their favorite, regardless of whether it sounds realistic or not, my tastes are slightly different. My particular idea of good speakers are speakers that produce sound that sounds "real", or speakers that sound like a live performer is playing right there in front of you. Please forgive my particular taste, I know that a pair of speakers can sound perfectly good to someone whether or not they sound very realistic at all, but that is just what I personally in my own opinion consider good speakers, speakers which produce music which sounds as lifelike and as close to reality as possible.

And so, the first step that I am trying to do in order to nail down my speaker search is to isolate the type of speaker technology that sounds the most realistic. Since I know that most of you have heard literally dozens and dozens more different types of speakers in your lifetime than I have, all from many different types of assorted speaker technologies, can any of you tell me what, in general, is the speaker technology or type of speaker that sounds the most realistic and true to real life, like having a live performer playing right in front of you, that sounds the most similar to that? I know that part of this depends upon the system setup and synergy, room treatments, etc., etc., and I know that people do not always prefer the most realistic sound, but oftentimes just prefer the sound that sounds good to them, but surely, there must be some speaker technologies that sound more realistic, and more true-to-life than others. Please keep in mind that I am only asking for the speaker technology that sounds the most realistic, and not for a speaker company or a speaker itself, as I think that that would be impossible for anyone to say.

Knowing that most of you have heard many other speakers than me, and from all different types of speaker technologies, I thought that maybe some of you guys could tell me, maybe some of you could then give me a good place to start, or at least some of the more stronger options that there are available out there in terms of true-to-life music and sounding the most realistic.

If you could please help me out with a little advice other than, "well it all depends on you, you just have to listen with your own ears, and try to find what sounds right, and decide for yourself", that would be great. Because, unfortunately, that does not help me out much because I do not have "golden ears" as they say, and I do not even know what to listen for. Can you guys please help me out, and at least give me some places to start in terms of which speaker technology I should be looking at more than others, to get the most realistic sound? I would really appreciate it.

Thanks to all of you for your responses, I really appreciate all of your help, and am grateful to you for any help, tips, and advice, that any of you guys can give me. All advice is appreciated.

Showing 3 responses by shadorne

Realistic sound that makes you feel you are there = dynamic with correct timbre, low distortion and correct balance across the spectrum and even natural dispersion to load your room evenly at all frequencies - all at extremely high SPL's (remember an unamplified drum set in your room produces 115 decibels).

You could start with a second hand ATC SCM 100 Active - a little above your budget but you will not need an expensive power amp, as it comes with three amps built in each speaker. You will need a reasonably sized room and understanding neighbors...these speakers are used by Telarc and other labels/studios as well as rock artists (Pink Floyd, Mark Knopfler) and hollywood movie studios as well as some mastering outfits.

But be careful what you wish may not actually like honest raw clear sound....many don't really want this. and prefer something a little laid back, especially in the midrange. I am not saying ATC is the most realistic - this is always a matter of opinion - there are many other options but it is certainly worth checking out - just do a little googling.
since i listen to music, i am concerned about timbre and harmonics. i would like to minimize timbral inaccuracy.

In real world speakers - ones that play as loud and as dynamically as real music then ATC might be a good place to start auditioning...although you have no doubt heard them before....perhaps you need to give it time... an extended listening perhaps? I agree with you that Quad EL's have an amazing is just they are plagued by so many other issues/limitations.
my listening levels vary from 72 to 82 db.

...then forget about trying to get something to sound realistic...this is only a little above conversation levels. Most instruments are designed to be heard by audiences and have dynamics (peaks) that easily exceed these levels - even if these are transients.

cones are inherently inaccurate for many reasons

Gordon Holt used SoundLabs for many years - I am sure he would agree with you about the issues of most cone speakers and the gloriously clean midrange sound of good (expensive) panel designs.....however, Gordon uses ATC SCM 50's at home now so I would not be so prejudiced as to dismiss ALL cone speakers. Contrary to your belief that you need a light weight cone....ATC's use heavy damped cones with huge drive motors ...but the sound is anything but plodding...light, fast and delicate.