Under rated speakers due to price....?

AND the resulting associated equipment?

I have a theory and am interested what others think about it. Is it possible that we underrate some speakers because they sell for a reasonable price and therefor listen to them with similar equipment?

I have a decent system consisting of the Rowland integrated amp, SCD-777ES and normally Aerial Model 6 speakers with a Storm III. I have frequently purchased many "cheap" speakers for second systems and I always try them in the good system just for kicks. Some sound OK, but some sound great. I recently tried a pair of less than $300 (Circuit City price) Polk RT35i speakers in the good system and could not believe how awesome they sounded for 1/10 the price of the Aerials. I could easily see some new high end company selling a similar sounding product for 5 times the price and getting it with happy customers.
I then thought about it - - how often do you hear about 2-500 dollar speakers being paired with a 10k system? Has anyone ever checked the associated equipment in Stereophile's class A speakers against the class B or C's? I didn't have the patience. But I bet as a rule that exotic speakers like Grand Utopias or Pipe Dreams are NOT listened to with low hi-end equipment like the lesser speakers are. If you pair some Vandersteen 2c's or B&W CDM-1's with Boulder amps, (and list the speakers at 10 grand) might people call them "some of the best?"
I have a pair of B&W P5. They listed for $1500. I bought a new pair when they were discontinued for $1000. They have a big impedance curve like many expensive speakers from nominal 8 ohms down to 3.5 ohms. So they need a good amp. A lot of folks would complain they are bright, mainly because they would run them with receivers and budget solid state amplifiers. My amp and preamp list new for $4400 and the P5 are a great match for this level of equipment.

I have demo'd them extensively in my home first against the Matrix 804 and 805, and more recently against the Nautilus 804. The midrange of the P5 was better than the M804, which (the 804) sounded uneven in comparison playing string instruments. They were more open and airy than the M805. The P5 have the same strenghts as the Nautilus 804 in the highs with vocals, etc, but are warmer/softer in the midrange, (the N804 sounded harsh in comparison).

I also tried them against the CDM-7SE which in some regards replaced them. The CDM-7 were dark and very closed in when compared. Not even in the same league as the P5.

The P5 are very sensitive 90dB and I know people who runs them with low power SET tube amps successfully.

Most B&W speakers sound good when run with good equipment regardless of price. I heard the DM602 played on high end equipment. I thought the sound was coming from some high-end speakers next to them. The bass can be a little muddy on the 602s with cheap gear. Even the $250. DM302 dip down to 3.2ohms, which will cause some cheap amps problems. I assume Stereophile used good equipment when they won the Editor's Choice award.

jimmy: there's a fly in your ointment. i've listened to <$2k speakers played on $100k worth of electronics and they sounded great. but most $20k speakers played with the same electronics in the same environment sounded much better. i know you and others may find it hard to believe, but most reviewers aren't idiots. while their "associated equipment" used to audition speakers may not be the best of the best, its not generally crappy either. when it gets really tricky is where most of us come in, figuring the best synergy (god, i hate that word) among components of the same relative price range. besides, how long do you think it would take for the niche market of audiophiles to figure out that a vaunted "budget" speaker REQUIRES $100k in electronics? -cfb
The reverse happens also. Great speakers will reveal the weakness in electronics and many people blame the speakers. Somewhere in Audioreview is someone who bashed the Nautilus speakers because they sounded crappy played through his Yamaha receiver system.
Stereophile rates the speakers against each other useing class "A" electronics, then they place them in the catagory they feel is appropriate. I do think that alot of speaker owners never realize their speakers full potential because they mate them with poor quality electronics. However it would not make much sense to pair 2-$500. speakers with a 10K system, because they would become the weak link in the chain, and you would not hear all of your 10K worth of system. The old silk purse from a sows ear type of thing. Just MHO. TG
I think maybe the point Jimmy is making is that good speakers that have no major sins of commission, will continue to improve in quality when mated with very good electronics. I have had the same experience recently, substituting a pair of Linn Indexes for the Vandersteen 2cis I have in my main system. The Linns sounded surprising good with a system in which the digital source, preamp and amp EACH retailed for about 2.5-3x the price of the speakers. Sure you won't get the great results when you bring the speakers up to the level of the electronics, but I believe that the results would generally be better than the converse; speakers much higher end than electronics and source.
I agree with Sugarbrie regarding B&W speakers.
I own a pair of B&W Nautilus 805's and have found
that they perform well beyond their price point when
paired with good electronics (within reasonable bounds).
I did not observe a similar improvement / sensitivity
to electronics from Vandersteen model 3s.
I agree with cornfedboy, a fly your ointment there is. best worst < review I've heard
I tend to agree with Jimmy, but only to a point. When you throw a pair of modest speakers in with good associated components the results can be quite surprising. Having said that it's easy to hear where the design compromises were made in the budget speakers and the sound becomes fatiguing. It's all about balance (Kelly, notice how I avoided the "s" word?). As for the Stereophile and TAS writers and their arbitrary classification schemes, well, I'll say nothing cuz I have nothing positive to say.
Another example from Vandersteen line. I personally believe that 1ce is the flagship speaker of Vandersteen line. The cheapest and the most natural. If combined with 2Wq they are unbeatable even with 3s.
Perhaps I should elaborate. I do not question the fact that the best products must inherently cost more to build an therefor to buy (and most likely are better in every respect), but rather that many may be stuck on price almost solely in some situations, to the point where brand name means more than sound; or as another specific illustration, a person who buys Krell or Levinson would NEVER consider even listening to names like Polk or Definitive (they just KNOW they don't match up? - What is it, omniscience?). Now, notice I did not say I sold my Aerials in favor of the Polks! There was certainly a noticeable difference between the two. But I think that manufacturers know what the public is willing to pay for certain items, and then within certain market niches, and of course captilalize on it. As another example, look at B&W speakers. I bet that the nautilus technology in the 801's cost much more to develop than that of the new Krell LAT designs, but cost 1/3 of the amount. Why? Because B&W knows that their countrymen are much more sane than Americans. Americans will spend 30k for Krell speakers, and so Krell is smart for exploiting it. But B&W has spent numerous man hours developing their technology but sell it for much less. My point is that many of us consumers, especially in America, are impressed by factors other than just sound.
I thought later to mention that my B&W P5 have the same tweeter, kevlar midrange and cobex woofer as the Matrix series, so I am not surprised they perform well. They also have a first order crossover, not a mass produced crossover found in most lower cost speakers. They just don't have a matrix cabinet. But the cabinet design is excellent and they look nice. Beautiful natural cherry veneer like the light cherry Nautilus.

Also the $4400 list I quote for my preamp and amplifier I run them with is for both pieces, NOT $4400 each.

I remember seeing the Carver ribbon speaker ($1600-1800 a pair at the time) at a Stereophile hifi show in L.A. years back and they sounded absolutely amazing...until I looked under the table behind the speakers and saw they were being driven by those tube amps Carver built for awhile that had literally about 30 tubes in each. I asked the guy if they would sound that good with an Adcom amp and he tried to tell me it would be very close. Sure... Good electronics will make an average speaker sing, but never the other way around. It all starts in the front end and works towards the speaker and the speaker is still and probably always will be the weakest link in audio. I am a Krell fan, but that LAT is the biggest joke I have ever seen in audio. Terrible bass for $37K..Stick to amps Dan. My favorite cheap speaker is the Sound Dynamic line. The line has only cheap black ash cabinets, but for under a grand some of their stuff is incredible sounding. Polk too over builds some of their speakers to attract market share. Good value for the low end.
Have you heard the Totem Hawk speaker? This speaker retails for around $2,300 but produces a much more sophisticated sound than its price. In particular, the Hawk speaker plays much bigger than its size, is very musical and transparent, has good lows, very detailed, and is very fast. A great bargain for the price! Of course, everything is system dependent and when done correctly, the sound is great. This speaker is best in small to midsize rooms.
themselves out of a great product when they ditched the 302 with it's unique back plate which according to them killed standing waves in the cabinet etc.Ony $250 the new $300 has a betterbass/mid driver but it'scabinet and tweeter aren't as good at the uppers like the 302 was.Great to recomend to non-'phile freinds or for your computer/second system.Stereophile gave it raves it won awards so what di they have to do?Discontinue it.Twas ever thus.

You've rediscovered the very old British formula for audio which designated 40% of dollars to source, 30% to amplification and 20% to speakers with 10% for miscellaneous such as cables. Source is by far the most influential with speakers being the least (as long as good equipment is used throughout). The formula reversed results in terrible results.
Comefedboy explain "vaunted 'budget' speaker REQUIRES 100k in electronics." you are on to something but explain further please.'... ' most for the money' i guess thats important. i've heard the BIG wilson LOUD..speaker(retail for i think like 15k) for about 15 seconds that was enough. one room over were the martin logan AEON($3000) could have sat there all day, box sound is just that BOXED, electrostats even the smallest martin logan and the little isis from sound lab is a superior overall sound to vanderstein b&w and the rest of the LOUDspeakers. theory: you can take a sound lab isis and hook up a introductory NAD receiver(terrible sound!!!) and a rotel cdp(ok nothing more, and have a pleasant enjoyable experience. now take the audio aeros capitole cdp ($6000)(one audiophile says VERY close to his accuphase75v($11000 sound )and pathos mono blocks($6500) hook them up to your favorite box LOUDspeaker(upto $10k please) and yea you probably have good sound ,BUT! look at what it took to get you "pretty good sound"... point being electrostats (yea that need alot of juice) make almost electronics shine yet box speakers limit even the best of electronics... this and 50 cents won't get you a cup of coffee.
Celtic66 please read my post. but i am glad you wrote this because B&W LOUDspeakers are the pride & joy of the Brits, you could put the BEST B&W has to offer and i would take the humblest american made electrostat(add any old cheap sub)so as to keep AS fair AS possible AND i'll give you oh say $5k for electronics and i'll only take $2500 for equipment. i take it you've never heard electrostats(yes they have their limits 1)not cheap 2)need good power...BUT point being that speakers are everything.
tweekerman: whoa dude, are you trippin' or just havin' a flashback? -cfb
Tweekerman-That's great you like your electrostat's but your not the first person to hear them here, this isn't a new idea. You claim they are expensive, and seeing as you are always bragging about ML I'll use them as an example, you claim they are not cheap, well if my memory serves me correct the most expensive ML's are around 9k, right, which is about 3k less then my speakers and about 16k less then cornfeds speakers(both those dumb box type) so the money ain't an issue. Your refering to the pathos as being "good power" now I'll give you they are good sounding and look cool, but they are not "the end" in audio, in fact not even close. The reason not many of those with the "mega-buck" systems use Electrostats(aside from Albert of course, whom uses the U-1's) is they do have a very unique sound-which some people like(Albert and yourself for example), however it is NOT for everyone. How about imaging? soundstage depth? not something martin logans are notorious for doing very well, but many box speakers are(Rockport, Kharma, Avalon, to name a few). It depends what you want from a system and because you have good luck with your set up that is great but it is not the answer for everyone, I mean if BOSE was "the answer" we would all use bose but it isn't. I hope you catch what I am trying to say, I have seen more then a few posts where you are saying the exact same thing, pathos, accuphase, ML, you need to broden your horizons, there is a great soundoing world out there just waiting to be found.
Happy Listening,
Comfedboy, Tireguy and all others who miss my point. dollar FOR dollar electrostats produce a more intragral musical natural sound, (call it what you will) REPRODUCTION OF THE ORGINAL RECORDING. they do not "manipulate"(for lack of a better word) the information as do most boxes. take the smallest martin logan($2000) or the little isis($2600) from sound lab place these 2 in a room with any the best 5 box type models around $2000, blind fold 10 unbiased audiophiles ,use the same amp. preamp.and cdp on all 7 speakers and ask tell them they are here to judge 7 amp. manufacturers ... i would say the two electrostats would be in top 3 spots with 9 out of 10 oh all right 8 out 10 judges. like ya'll say im a big electrostat fan...mostly because classical music sounds great through electrostats. true, electrostats have more breakthroughs to achieve ,whereas boxed have seemed to have reach their limits. Tireguy as far as pathos being "THE end" in audio, nope, but maybe the best for the buck... for my taste. one audiophile wrote that the $6000 audio aero capitole sounded almost as good as his $11000 accuphase(he wished he had the capitole + savings) ,accuphase claims its the best obviously its not, and neither is pathos i apologize for my overzeal, every day something new is developing in the audio world hopefully they'll make it affordable for all of us one day. regards
more clear; inform the judges they are to decide between 7 different amp. manufactures and that the speakers remain equal regards
Tweekerman: In another post (today) you state that you never heard an electrostatic speaker until 3 weeks ago. I can understand your enthusiasm, but please take the Thorazine as Cornfed suggested.
Dekay if what Plato, Gasman, Thorty40, Fmpnd, Alberporter, and especially Chuckie says is near the truth its ALOT nearer the truth than most "professional" audio reviewers... agreed. point being if you read speaker reviews on boxspeakers you'll want to run out and get'em right now. and if i did and then i heard electrostats after purchase, i would think "only if i had waited and saved up alittle more and got EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED, without being influenced by a "professional's" opinion. yea its mostly my fault for not researching, but there are ten times as many boxes out there than electrostats so you think box MUST be the way to go. i get sucked in pretty easy. but like Hendrix says "are you experienced" yes, now i've been turned on. thats what is so nice about the new audio world lots of products hopefully we'll chose the best for our music and our wallets...anyway thats the way i see it or better, hear it. by the way i've never heard a box owner saying "and the heavens opened up" ,"its like the musicians were there in the room" which are common testamonials from electrostat owners. i've had my say and now i'll chill
Tweekerman, you do know there are sonic drawbacks to ESLs, right? ESLs are impressive in the own right. But, it's not like they are the Second Coming of Christ, or something.
Aroc, Plato just sent me a email, says "great dynamic capabilities does not rate as highly on your own list of priorities" very well said. no not as great an event as the Second Comimg but still a revelation.
Tweekerman: I'm not sure if that comment was directed at me or you. But anyway, FWIW, I have started re-evaluating planars for my own system in the past couple of weeks. They do do a lot of things well. And now that I have a separate room for the system, I would actually give a planar justice, in regards to room placement. I am especially interested in the maggie 3.6's. I'm glad to here the ML's work so well for you.
Aroc no the ML's don't work for me. the ML's, INNERSOUND's EROS, and the SOUNDLAB's are all heavy drinkers so you are forced to get big megawatt mamas. so if you want ESL sound you are limited as to amp you can use. maggies as well are famous drinkers. and i'v heard the 1.6's with a rogue amp and a big nad. was not impressed. however i've heard and just called a second QUAD dealer both told me not so with the QUAD 988. both said the QUAD was in another league (one dealer respected the sound lab) so to answer jimmy2615's question there are lots of exceptional electronics out there but very few good speakers. and thats why all these disscusions are supposed to help guide us toward what speaker is best for us. now comfedboy surely you can't disagree with that. ...Aroc from all that i've read the QUADs deserve research as well as a california lab called VMP deserves attention. never heard but the model RIBBON MONITOR 1 $1600 really looks nice.
I have a pair of KEF Q60 speakers that have a tremendous soundstage, imaging, and detail. I listen primarily to jazz and they do the job perfectly. A high price tag on the speakers does not mean they are going to sound better. That is a manufacturer and salesman psych! You can get a pair of Epos ES14 speakers that will blow some of the high end competition out of the water! I have had several high end speakers, Logans, B&W, Sonus Faber, Revel, and I discovered a few months back that the "tag" is not what you are listening to, the speaker is. It is a mental game played by audiophiles, primarily to impress their audiophile friends. The "name game". I have choked back laughter in audio stores listening to buyers spew out high end names and saying that this is better than that, yada yada, yada. If blind-folded and listening to speakers, you would be amazed at what your ears would pick. Unfortunately, there are many variables that interfere when listening to speakers. Amps, pre-amps, cd players, cables, are never the same as yours in the stores so the speakers take on a different sound. If you have a dealer that will let you take the speakers home to audition, that would be the ideal situation. I have dealer that has allowed me that luxury, and because of this I began to realize that you don't have to refinance your house to have good sounding speakers! So don't be limited by the price tag, just listen...
A couple of things.Judit said that Vanderteen's don't respond to electronic improvements the way her (his?) 805's do so some speakers like the 2Ci are great speakers for somebody who is not going go beyond mid if electronics wise.Second is power.One of the best deals out there is the Maggie 1.6 (oe even the 3.6).But these need POWER to sound as good as they can.It's not just that SET's should not apply any solid state less than 120 better 200 watts should not apply.And then there is th quality issue.Part of it is that were snobs and won't give the mass marketers a try.But many of them have gone into home theatre deamds as opposed to music.Still companies like paradigm and Infinity have been getting reviewed but the ones getting the attention are the 2K plus models.I think it behooves us to here the less expensive stuff.I have a pair of $3000 monitors I keep for spairs.But I can't see to `selling my B&W 302's.They are so good I keep them for use in a mini system and have way more sound to the dollar than my $6500 semi horn loads.Again we should listen to them and know what we dom aboutb them because we have each other and a few demnted freinds but why not have recomendations for the vast numbers of folks who think that anything over a grand for a whole system is nuts.We audiophiles leave these people to Bose which does nothing to promote interest in our insane hobby.
The worst thing you can do is listen to any magizine. The best thing you can do is trust you own ear. SURE! we would all likea 100,000 dollar refrence system, but who can really afford that?! I have found many great speakers out there for under $500 that are great. My fav. so far is the Cambridge Soundworks Bookshelf....I cannot rememebr the model#, but it is there smallest one. Listen on...