The truth about high end speakers MUST READ

We audiophiles are a fussy discerning bunch who demand very specific requirements when it comes to what we hear.
The problem is that these requirements are seldom met no matter how much you spend on speakers. 

Forums like this indicate that audiophiles are trapped in a cycle of neverending upgrades and dissatisfaction no matter how much is spent.

We have been deceived into believing that a "one size fits all" speaker that has been designed by an "expert" who knows better than we do about our requirements, will be ok. This is obviously not the case since every audiophile has a different hearing response curve and different preference. 

If you choose a speaker that has a rising response with frequency, and you prefer a darker sound then its not going to matter whether it uses diamond or berylium, or mdf or aluminium cabinets, or a 4th order or 1st order crossover.

Its not going to matter if the designer has a phd in physics or decades of experience in speaker design because its YOUR hearing that needs to be satisfied not THEIRS.

We are being duped folks. The best you can expect out of all these high end speakers is substandard satisfaction for a few years before you get fed up and decide to UPGRADE!

In conclusion, the notion of a high end speaker is in fact a myth. No such thing exists. Buying a high end speaker is a complete gamble and most audiophiles end up losing not winning. The only winners are the speaker manufactures because as long as they continue to sell, they continue to profit. 

Its also impossible to compare all the different speakers out there in the comfort of our homes so the dealers obviously dont make it any easier for us audiophiles. Its pointless going to a store demo since thats not where youre going to be listening once you buy the speaker. We are getting a raw deal. 

Thankyou for reading. 

Listening to Joanne Shaw Taylor play some kick ass blues rock guitar, sounds just fine via my Daedalus Argos V2s
Until you have walked down this path you have no idea what a compromise passive crossovers are.
They lock you into what someone else thinks you should hear like it or not and not something tailored to your taste and environment. Some like that I did not

Thats exactly what Ive been trying to assert in ths thread but all I've received is opposition and ridicule.

I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into "uneccessary" complications like active crossovers and time alignment. I felt crossovers were just fine and then I built a system where I had to do time alignment. Along the way I discover that all those passive crossovers I had relied upon before were designed to fit those systems they were on as a compromise at best. They did not fix varying output from amps, they did not time align drivers, they could not compensate for weak areas each driver has by EQing them,  they could not correct for your room. Until you have walked down this path you have no idea what a compromise passive crossovers are.
  I know some amps have room EQ programs built into them but I have found them to be an inadequate substitute for measuring your room with TrueRTA or REW and applying appropriate measures with your DSP. They lock you into what someone else thinks you should hear like it or not and not something tailored to your taste and environment. Some like that I did not.

That’s a lot of work to replace what conventional crossovers already do. The best speaker designers engineer their loudspeakers as complete systems and this is by far the best way to go in my opinion. No interest in endless fiddling and constant tweaking of home brew science projects with a bunch of stuff that was never meant to work together. I do however believe in the benefits of both room treatments and judicious EQ. Also impressed with active offerings from Dutch & Dutch as well as Paradigm Persona series just so you know I’m not against active implementation per se
OP you are so right and it took a trip through various speakers before I finally built a set that would go from 27hz to 18khz. What really made it all work right though was I had to get away from passive crossovers and volume controls on amps only. You want the very best sound speakers are only part of it and you have to adjust for your room, varying output amp to amp and channel to channel on the same amp, EQ to tame the weak areas all speaker drivers have (yes I mean ALL) and time aligning your drivers and if you have subs time aligning those with the rest of your system. Real great audio is not simply plug and play.
Interesting, the OP was responding to many of the posts until 6 days ago, now, radio silence ....

He had no problems responding to me yesterday over on the " How thick should the front baffle of speakers be?" thread.

He still had nothing of interest or importance to add to the discussion. 
Interesting, the OP was responding to many of the posts until 6 days ago, now, radio silence ....
One does not need to spend an outrageous amount of money to have a reference system.   I have the JBL M2 supplemented with a JBL Sub18 driven by 3 Crown stereo amps (active DSP crossover) supplying  a combined total of 15,000 watts into 8 ohms.  The speakers have been very carefully positioned in a large, dedicated, acoustically treated room. My system competes with extremely expensive ones that I have auditioned yet cost me a fraction of their price.   This “economy system” is superior to my other current systems which have flagship speakers from Revel  (Salon 2) and B&W (801 Nautilus).  I was willing to spend 5 times what the JBL/Crown system cost, but felt no need to do as a result of my research.
On the subtopic of finding the dream system, here is a video where a female audiophile (some may have seen this, IDK) interviews a guy who has his dream system according to him.
If this was titled "The truth about high end CD players, DACs, Amplifiers, Cables etc" it would be even more unpalatable for some, I guess.

At least with speakers, as far as I know, no one I know has ever claimed that they all sound and measure the same.

Yes, you could also argue the same for choosing partners. It is ultimately a matter of reconciling heart and head and deciding what would be a good match. Eg rich v physical attractiveness, educated v physical attractiveness, well mannered v physical attractiveness, hard working v physical attractiveness etc etc.

With loudspeakers colouration, frequency response, transient response, dynamic range, and dispersion do matter. For most of us.

After that it's a case of making the best with what you have chosen, unless you find you can't. Thankfully loudspeakers are still easier to change than partners. For most of us.

No one has ever claimed that their speaker is perfect either, and designers are only too willing to admit there are plenty of areas in which they can all be improved.

For a start they are all tremendously inefficient, but unlike cars in their case the huge surplus heat is of no use whatsoever. Then there's the need for crossovers, cabinets, multiple drive units...

Loudspeakers do still matter, and it's still one of the few areas in audio where there is agreement. For most of us.
The phrase "Hi End"in it self is rather ambiguous as is the word quality. When a speaker is well designed the audio engineer has spent some time and consideration matching the impedance, crossover frequency and enclosure to achieve a specific sound spectrum. Even then the differential between the sound realized in an anechoic chamber and the actual area being filled with sound can be quite a challenge in itself. In addition, the power your pumping into them and your taste in music is all very real and very relative. No, the answer is definitely not setting out to blow a whole wad of Somalians on a sales pitch and then cross your fingers when you set them loose in your living room. Most reputable audio establishments will let you try them out for a few weeks and if not satisfied with the results you can trade up. On occasion I have been astonished how well those so called cheapo’s buck up against the big boys on the block, it’s all a matter of taste. My advice is do some due diligence and let your ears do the driving, not your pocketbook.
Anyone who announces in the heading of their post that they are revealing the "truth" about high end speakers and then writes  "MUST READ" after their own post is pretentiously announcing their upcoming troll.  Good job, it worked.  You have 5 pages worth of responses.

Regarding your "truth"...all I can say is welcome to the world of consumer goods.  If you are fortunate enough to afford custom made clothing, automobiles, electronics and speakers then great, you might find exactly what fits your needs.  Most of us have to purchase off the rack.  Why do you single out high end speakers as the target of your incessant whine?  Using your logic, there are thousands of products we purchase in which we are getting a "raw deal".  Somehow many of us have managed to put together very pleasing systems.
There it is. I read on some forums that a flat response is all you need, and that statement takes so much for granted. My system can make the walls disappear, put the musicians in the room with me. I’m so drawn into the music I wouldn’t know or care if the spectrometer isn’t a flat line I’m having fun 
I own gradient 1.3 speakers for more than twenty years , They are not the best looking speakers, they don’t go down to 20 hertz ,but when I listen to them, their is no room , just me and 1.3 gradient speakers.
Truthfully, the OP could just as well you talking about marriage and all its expectations! Although I imagine any upgrading can be quite more expensive than just getting a new pair of speakers.
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Hi everybody, brand new member here and want to jump right in.

Just setup my new HW OSFA-1.0.0 Floor Standers. They’re a new high-end one size fits all speaker for $1,999.00 and they’re perfect!

To make sure I’m truly satisfied for the long run I purchased their optional No Upgrade Warranty for $17,500.00.  With the optional coverage HW guarantees not to upgrade the speaker for a full 10 years!

Now I can rest easy knowing I’ll have perfection for at least that long, although the speaker’s model number has got me a little worried.

Any-who, what are you guys talking about here?


"If #2 isn't fun, then put it away in a lockbox and just stick to #1 and call it a day and stop torturing yourself."

You're talking to a legion of habitual masochists who are addicted to the search for a musical alchemy which may forever elude them.

Good advice nonethless.
...ah, back reading AFTER my post, DSP has come up.  Great!  Pin
Hey Folks
I'm not all that familiar with forums and threads and such.  I am a longtime member in Audio Asylum and there is a decorum that has evolved, generally without a ton of sniping nor backbiting.  Maybe threads such as this are generally a little less cordial.  A 72 year old lifelong music lover and 'audiophile' for 50 years..(Webster: a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction.)  Some cringe at the word audiophile, I'm happy to be both!
I agree with those who feel we all take in our senses differently and welcome there is no "one fits all."  Having extreme passion around our hobby and a limited budget has led to weighty decision making over these years in assembling and fine tuning a system that gratifies me for the long haul.  My passion never wanes.  I have covered topics on my system in other posts.  What I do find amazing is that in reading the threads, there is only one offhand reference to EQ.  
I work with an old dog music Technician that has spent countless hours in recent years refining the inner mysteries of DSP, Digital Signal Processing.  We live on opposite coasts.  After many years optimizing my studio for sound, Mike and I first take frequency sweep measurements of my room, addressing critical areas under 250Hz or so, where the larger problems occur, and fixing other gross anomalies.  Then, he and I, with music we both share, go through a process of fine tuning frequencies that I'm critical about, such as sibilance, areas of mid bass, hi frequencies etc. 
Now, for the purists and naysayers, we are talking about adjustments of 1/3rd of a decibel...any harm being far outweighed by the improvements.  My music covers it all.  Large orchestral and stadium rock to the softest and least dynamic late night luxury.  Our goal is finding MY sweet-spot for MY ears that sounds best overall.  The gains of skilled DSP have been inexpensive and more far reaching than anything I could ever possibly do swapping gear or room tuning.   
Now, as to the topic.  Just who takes a gun to our heads and forces us to buy expensive gear?  I have tremendous gratitude for those rebels and designers that have experimented and developed all the circuits & hardware, plus having the business acumen to get them out to a buying public.  If some have become wealthy, more power to them!  Trickle down has benefited us all.  More Peace, Pinthrift   
To me, there are two pieces to our hobby:

1.  The enjoyment of listening to music.

2.  The enjoyment of searching (within budgetary constraints) for the system that makes the music sound as great as we think it can.

IMO, #1 is easy if you keep it separate from #2.

I love #2 also (no pun intended), because it is fun trying to solve the puzzle and take the journey of finding the components I like best within my budget.  If #2 isn't fun, then put it away in a lockbox and just stick to #1 and call it a day and stop torturing yourself.
System synergy is where the smart money is. If the signal can move between components with little or, no damage and the speakers are compatible with the output stage of the amplifier and, the speakers couple with the air in a well proportioned room volume. If the sound is to your taste as a listener you have won. High end speakers show more clearly the effects of what you attach them to. The listener has to put together something that works. I have heard modest equipment outperform expensive stuff because the sum of the parts was sympatico in the modest system. 
YES!! I feel so deeply grateful for my system, and that I am fortunate enough to have it. That gratitude opens up my receptiveness to the music, and then the music works its magic on my soul. 
Listening99 wrote:
"Ultimately, in my view, the setup is less important than one's willingness to sit receptively, with a state of mind that can truly receive and enjoy the full impact of music, mostly making system limitations far less important than the personal engagement with the sound."
Truer words about audio have never been written.  Thank you for writing this.
To help in getting into the best listening receptivity, I turn out most of the lights, turn off anything that might make noise, kick back in my recliner, and put on some gorgeous music that can transport me to a different place.  Yeah, it helps to have a good system that has good balance and synergy, but even my budget system could take me away if I was in the right frame of mind.
I wonder about the original poster's emotional health and selection of music.  Music can be transformative if you allow it into your heart.  I am listening to Carmen Villain's new album right now, and it is mind blowing.
I’m not looking for live sound in audio reproduction at home- for that I need to hear live music. I am looking for and have obtained highly satisfaction music reproduction at home, that has reached a level where I have no desire to search any further 
I don't mean to sound critical, but this is the goofiest thread I have ever read.  Kenjit needs to lighten-up, and enjoy some music, and stop preaching how everything is so wrong.  Nothing's perfect.  
No matter how satisfying your system is, you can always get closer to live sound.
Being satisfied with one’s system and still wanting to improve it, are not inconsistent concepts. I love listening to my 2 stereo systems and enjoy music reproduced by them. translation: am very “satisfied.”
But I still constantly seek upgrades. Why not make the system(s) even better?
The OP wrote “A few people here suggest that they feel no need to upgrade and that theyve found something satisfying. Hogwash.”

Actually, I am quite pleased with my system and have made no changed in 4 yrs, and have no desire to change a thing.

I wonder what your basis is to conclude that my contentment with my system is hogwash. How are you able to discern anybody else’s conclusions about their own systems? Perhaps you’ve never found contentment but I have no clue. 
I post that "condition" based on my experience in 1976. I was a Junior in High School and "just had to have" a decent stereo because my fellow classmates had nice stereos. I pissed my parents off when I withdrew cash out of my savings and purchased a Technics Integrated Amp (41 WPC), a Pioneer PLC-15 turntable and a pair of Pioneer HPM 40's. My Dad went ballistic but the damage had been done. I was shamed by peers who were rocking their JBL L100's but little did I know my Pioneer HPM's were actually designed by some JBL Engineers that Pioneer lured away. I always wanted a better system. Soon, I'll get something that hopefully will quench the desire I had back then.

 I have lost the will to live reading this thread; I know, don't read it then. If I may be permitted to make a few observations, that seem self evidently true and I also know, most people won't agree with them.

1) If there is a perfect speaker out there for your needs, you'll probably never find it, so settle for 90%.. In my case Daedalus Audi Da-Rama's, which have kept me happy for nearly 10 years and I think there near 100% at the price.

2) There is little point listening to any component, unless it's in your system, in your listening room. So borrow from a dealer or buy second hand, to sell on at minimal loss, if you can't borrow.

3) In my experience, any new component will sound good initially. That seems to be because it changes the sound quality and our sensory systems are keyed to seek change in input.

   That's also why, after a few weeks, the miracle new component often seems to disappoint.

  The moral, if there is one. Put together a good system that suits your needs and stop the constant upgrades. A good way to do this is to retire, as I have, so you can't afford upgrades anyway.

What a waste of time.

High Fidelity is not about needs, it’s about desires and aspirations. It’s not about better, or even seeking the truth, it’s about preference. I’m glad I have choices. I find joy in the journey. If you don’t enjoy the journey then get off everyone’s cloud.
Certainly a " must read " but for who?
An old fashioned rant informed by a lot of concentrated cynicism,  This latter is the only thing there must be zero tolerance for in life.  If given into it in a troll-like way - then yes it does tend to negate the value of what is said.

What you focus on expands & refusing to appreciate whatever beauty they do create - how does that make you other than an unreconstructed cynic? Such a person by definition cannot be part of the solution to all the ugliness in the world. 

W/O ANY context this all intensified.  What speakers are you listening to presently with whatever is attached to them (you've already stating not having any is not an acceptable response).  By all means, make whatever excuses you like & criticize them as much as you like - but zero context does not amount to your opinions being worth more than that zero. How could it? 

Badger so far as your budget, it is quite possible as long as your love of music doesn’t become entangled in the world of audio nervosa, that is obsessive compulsive disorder. "Perfect is the enemy of good", always. Excellent post btw!
You see everything. 👀
Whom are you addressing? If it is me, I shall tell you whom I did not vote for, and it would be that clueless, arrogant, amoral, stupendously ignorant manchild who, as a human being, is light years below the office he holds. By the way, why do you call her Killary?
I'd give odds on a bet that, by your attitude in your post, you most likely... voted for Killary? 🤓 Not good or bad... just a hunch. 
Geez, this troll must be morbidly obese by now....
I think the OP's initial question is based totally on a false belief.  If a speaker existed that every one would like 100% and would have it for life, only in this situation would the OP's initial post have any sense.  However we are all different, we like good sounds in our opinions which differ from person to person.  Also we all upgrade for different reasons...
I've been very happy with my speakers for over 15 years. Friends love them, too. Good synergy with low-power tube amplification. I've heard better speakers that cost much more, but in my home, to my ears, at my listening level (65-85 dB), mine are outstanding. I loved them the minute I heard them in a basement room at one of those private home "stores".I listened to six or seven speakers I had on a short list developed by reading Stereophile and Absolute Sound. I used an audition disc with recordings from both CD and vinyl of various styles that let me really hear the speakers, and I used test tones to establish similar listening volumes for the auditions (critical). I'm sorry you can't find a speaker you like. I don't think anybody believes in a one size fits all speaker concept. That's ridiculous. The reason there are so many great speakers out there is that they sound different, and they appeal to different listeners.
“People agreed that they liked wide dispersion, a prominent and clear midrange, and low distortion. This was all based on blind listening tests.”

Gosh, you don’t say?
There is actual science based around how people listen and interpret sound. If you have time, please read about the Athena Project conducted by the National Research Council in Canada. They studied thousands of people and came away with basically three major takeaways from approximately 95% of that entire group which was: People agreed that they liked wide dispersion, a prominent and clear midrange, and low distortion. This was all based on blind listening tests. It’s also related to how Paradigm Loudspeakers started along with how Anthem Room Correction was developed. A couple of people out of that project went to Paradigm and Floyd Toole who wrote this in this link attached went to Harman.


So, needless to say, it’s really not just a bunch of guessing by smart people. Like many people have clearly stated in relation to cars; they all take you from point a to point b, do you want to do it in a big 4x4, or a sedan, sports car, van, etc?

If you look at speakers like instruments, which is really what they are, do you want to spend $3500 on a 6-string Martin guitar, or $250 on a Montana 6-string guitar? With any consumer good you purchase, “there is no value in the absence of performance”!

Should you be in the Toronto area, I would invite you, or anyone on Audiogon in these forums, to call Paradigm’s factory and see if it’s possible to arrange a time to get a tour there in Mississauga Canada and see what truly goes into building higher performance Loudspeakers and Electronics. Or, try and visit some manufacturers inside the US...
The Absolute Sound tells us no sound system sounds exactly like a live acoustical orchestra and singers in a concert hall or an opera house. The question becomes, if a $1,000,000 system sounds 60% like a live performance - of course depending on what metric you design to measure and evaluate it - and a $4,000 sounds 50% like the same live performance, is that really $996,000 worth of not so easy to discern difference?
Might the very expensive system mostly impress people with how much you can afford? What about differences in how concert halls sound and how musicians play their instruments and the harmonic Fourier series of different string instruments? Might this not exceed such a difference in how it sounds?
I attempt to keep this in mind before I covet those $130,000 cone speakers which are very good and more dynamic, but in several respects, do not sound to me as much like what I hear in the opera house I go to as some far less expensive magna-planar speakers.
I'm curious, what broad genre of music do you listen to, mostly?
pop, jazz, classical, acoustic.
Have you ever been to a modern recording studio to see how music is recorded.Have you seen and heard the speakers used in same?
Post removed 
I get your point but not the purpose of your post. Are you just trying to rile people up or is there another purpose?

But I will bite, think of speakers and for that matter your system like art work. You like what you hear, you have a price point and you enjoy music so you put the system together and enjoy. Eventually you might tire with the sound you created so you make some changes and it sounds great again, fresh and new, so you are satisfied and continue to enjoy this new set up, similar to adding another piece of artwork to your collection that you enjoy and falls into your budget. You rinse and repeat as often as it satisfies your need for new and improved sounding reproduced music. It will never sound exactly like live music but close enough to your ears and most important you like what you hear and it gives you enjoyment. It is something that you created by putting all the pieces together and can evolve over time with advances in technology, changes in designers ideas, your hearing loss, changes/additions in your tastes in music, changes in your room, and a host of other influences. The bottom line is it gives you pleasure like any other form of artistic expression, but like a painting of a landscape it is a representation and not the real thing but it pleases your senses. Similar to other creative fields the more accomplished the artist / designer, and in this field, speaker designer, the higher the price you pay for their most prestigious pieces. We all know that the individual pieces that comprise a high end speaker is nowhere near the price that you must pay to own the speaker similar to the price of the canvas and oil paint is nowhere near the price you pay to buy and hang that painting on your wall.

@kenjit, you’re all over the map, which is fine, that’s the nature of subjectivity, it’s all over the map.

Listening preferences are subjective; so what, the world owes you a living? You want to find the perfect system for you, it’s up to you to pursue it. Not the dealers, not the manufactures, not the audio journalists, efficacy is your responsibility.

@kenjit, "audiophiles are trapped in a cycle of never ending upgrades and dissatisfaction no matter how much is spent". I’m afraid that’s what’s known as the disease. Haven’t you heard the expression "Reference System"? An audio journalist will often catalogue the equipment being used as reference system right in the article. (NOTE: it’s reference system, NOT, perfect system). The disease is the pursuit of the perfect system, the fountain of youth, the holly grail, it doesn’t exist ..... and for no other reason look at the variations in recording quality.

The human ear is not an exact electronic measuring device, it just knows what it likes.

A system is like a relationship, and you have to live with your choices, in the same environment. So does it make sense in part, to build your system around the room your going to be listening in .... of course. Optimize that room.

Go to an audio trade show and trust your ears. If you hear magic in one of the display rooms you have a good r e f e r e n c e.

Talk to yourself, ask how will this gear work in my room? You’ll have to have a pretty good idea, (That’ll require experience).

Now you have to build that relationship, eventually you have to make a decision. Like a good person they’re virtues far, far out weight they’re flaws, but they’re not perfect. And if you choose well you can grow to love those tiny imperfection as that is what adds to defining the over all character.                                  NOTE: How many relationships fall apart after 10-15 years of living together? Why should your Hi-Fi be any different?

@kenjit, "the notion of a high end speaker is in fact a myth". "We have been deceived into believing that a "one size fits all speaker". Where do you get this stuff from? These statements are so far out of context they’re a hyperbole.

The notion of a perfect speaker is a myth, a high end speaker isn’t.

"One size fits all speaker". If that’s the case how do you explain the difference between a ProAc D2 and a Sound Lab A1, or, a Klipsch Horn and a 3.6 Thiel? Totally different configurations, sizes, loads, theories and sound.

Live in the solution, not the problem.
Kenjit is laughing at all of you who are giving a serious response to his post.

Hey badger, They missed the need to have to suffer for your hobby (LOL)

I'm listening to Damo Suzuki right now on my less than perfect system & enjoying every second of it. 
WOW. The OP is one "SPECIAL" dude.

The very basic premise of your argument is fundamentally flawed and holds no merit what so ever.

You are assuming that on mass, audiophiles are pursuing perfection. You presume that we are not smart enough to realize that live sound is not reproducible in an "artificial" environment. This presumption is actually offensive and quite frankly shows your ignorance. 

Did you ever consider that people just want to change things up and have a different acoustic experience? 

Perhaps you would feel more at home presenting your "thoughts" here, you may have a more receptive audience.