Vienna Acoustics sounded terrible at Magnolia

I went to check them out, with all the reserve I have when it comes to big box stores, the fact that you can buy VA speakers with their no-interest financing is fairly attractive. I found something quite rare in these stores, a sales-guy who liked and understood sound and music, and he was very helpful.
I listened to the Mozart's in the show room and it was nothing short of appalling. Are those sources that bad? I came back home and looked at the reviews and something must be amiss. The bass was completely disjointed, like a $100 subwoofer with the driver loosened from the rim!! I put in my CD of Beethoven's 4th piano concerto with Claudio Arrau at the Concertgebow and stopped it right away, I though it made Beethoven cry in Heaven! The sound had nothing to do with the actual tonality or notes or anything!!
The sources were Yamaha and Denon receivers in tone defeat. I know they are bad, but that bad?? I did notice the positioning made a big difference, but never got them to sound even decent!
Any ideas? Anyone with any experience? VA owners, what is your experience regarding source sensitivity? BTW, my plan would have been for a NAD 372 as amp.
I have had similar experiences at Magnolia, and even at Definitive Audio. Even at home. I have found it takes (for me, anyway), years to get the most out of any given audio system. Though you'd think an audio store could and would do a better job, they don't seem to, even though their livelihood depends on it.

The Mozart's are a high-quality speaker. I'm sure you will get good sound out of the NAD. If you start with fine speakers, upgrades in the signal path will continually reward you with an improved listening experience.

Best of luck, regards,
Sadly, the answer is quite simple. . . Magnolia did not place the speakers correctly in the room. When Vienna speakers are not set up properly, the result can be appalling. . . bloated disjointed bass, shouting mid treble. . . as I said, appalling. The importer -- Sumiko -- has designed a set up procedure that they make available to all their dealers. . . but it's up to stores to take up the setup training offer. There is nothing magic about the process. . . just a bit of patience and work. . . and experience with it. I have written a short article on the Sumiko Masters setup on issue 188 of The Absolute Sound. My own Vienna mahlers have been professionally setup by Sumiko and Rod Tomson of Soundings Hifi of Denver (Co)(. . . and they sound divine! G.
Thank you guys. I figured something was amiss, all the reviewers could not have been that wrong! Regarding the placement, yes, it was a terrible job. I spent most of the time hauling them around the room and trying to dampen the many reflexions and resonances, unsuccessfully. To give you an idea of the kind of job they do, the Haydns were on a bookshelf! (after all, they are "bookshelf speakers", right?!?) The other problem is I am sure the sources and front ends are terrible, and they would not let me bring my own amp in.
On a related note, anyone using these with an NAD set-up? Excessively warm result? Are the NAD components able to tame that wild bass and make it poignant and tight? (incidentally, on the measurements in the Stereophile review they seem to have pretty wild impedance curves).
Cheers and thanks again
Going to a retail store should provide a relative experience. You can compare apples to apples, regardless of set-up. Every speaker you put in the same good or bad location in that store is using all the same components, wire, etc... Invaluable IMHO.
Yes, Vienna speakers have uhrn. . . interesting impedance curves. They work best with amps with very high damping factors (above 400)( or they will sound overly warm. For this reason, class D amps work particularly well with Vienna. G.

All I can say is I don't like the measurements on these speakers (those that I have seen published and not just the wild impedance swings). Not to say that they cannot possibly sound awesome because many people adore them - they surely do sound fantastic well setup (your problem I expect). However, I think people listen to speakers differently - some listen for precision and some listen to "connect" with the music. In the same way, a precision design with awesome flawlwss performance specs may leave some people totally cold. Horses for courses. These may not be your "cup of tea."


Well said.
The last time I bought speakers on audition was Fisher XP10s in the middle 60s. Several years a friend of mine is DC and I went down to Meyer Emco (sp?) To hear early generation of the B&W 801. I was selling them at the time and had mine set up in a live end dead end room in which they sounded great. They sounded so bad there that we had a laughing fit after we left. The sad thing was that the salesman thought they sounded great. To be honest , no commercial business could set up speakers the way I use to , only one pair in the room at a time etc. A store environment is just about the worst place to hear a speaker, but there is no place else to hear them. That said , some make a real effort and some don't.I went to Atlanta in the early 90s to listen to some Apogee Duetta Signatures. They had an exaggerated treble and no bass and were just plain unlistenable. I bought them anyway on the basis of reviews by Martin Colloms and others and they were the best speakers I have owned. I would have a post asking anyone near you to let you hear theirs at their home. It would be beneficial to everyone if we could get up a list of people willing to audition their systems for others and their locations. I can foresee difficulties with this but I would be willing to take part.
Roc doc,

I heard the Vienna Acoustics recently at RMAF and they sounded great. A couple of weeks later, I went into the Bellevue Magnolia to buy a new TV. Just for fun I had a quick listen to the VA's. It certainly did not sound like the same speaker! In the past, Magnolia has permitted home auditions. It never hurts to ask.
One of the big problems is that Magnolia Audio is now owned by Best Buys. Indeed, where I live at Magnolia Audio is in a back corner of Best Buys. From what I can tell many of sales personnel are not that well trained and generally don't even know their product lines all that well, and certainly set-up of equipment leaves a lot to be desired. At one time, I was interested in hearing a pair of Haydns, but unfortunately the salesman didn't know how to turn off the others speakers that were part of a 5.1 system that the Haydns were a part of. It's sad to see a well-regarded line of speakers put into a "Big Box" enviroment.
Who can tell what loudspeakers sound like unless in your own home and system. Relying on demos to find out sound quality is a waist of time. Only way to tell how kit will perform in your system and in your home is to listen to it in your home and with your system. Many problems with demoing but the 1st one is you are never as relaxed as you are in your home so this will greatly effect your opinion on sound quality. Toss in many loudspeakers in the same space, improper set ups, different room and gear than your using at home. And you can see demos are just about looking if you listen and use these results to purchase your pissin in the wind. Take the kit home to demo or buy used try if it doesn't work resell. Some manufacturers offer in home demos look for them.
I tried to start a thread on my Magnolia expirience.... I never saw it appear...... the big room has glass doors and the sound was crazy for me too, I listened to a pair of Sonus Faber Elipsas powered with Mcintosh........ they had the bass and treble turned all the way up, I put the pre in defeat to clean it up a little......... I expected more but I knew it was the set up and the room, the glass doors which go wall to wall were right behind my ears...... yuck. Everytime I see a serious brand in a big store it creates a stigma, maybe I need to get over that.... any way I do understand your expirience with the Mozart speakers.....
I think that some of you are missing out on the actual benefits of BB . You can buy , try and return if you don't like them . How many highend stores will allow you to try something in your system at home , for more than a couple of days , with no financial loss ?

Ya , the setups there are terrible and the CS people are not much better . But I have been in quite a few "highend" stores that have not been any different !

Just my opinion .
I've heard the Mozarts with Rowland and Primare and they sounded very good in both instances. Listening to Beethoven with NAD power should be nice, I'd guess, but I haven't heard your particular NAD.

If you deal with Magnolia, then use the return privilege.

Keep in mind that Magnolia has a 15% restocking on "special order" merchandise. If the speakers you want are not a stock item- they probably are not- find out if they fall under the special order category on the return policy.
As to the VA sound at Magnolia, when I listened to a pair they were driven by Denon multichannel receiver set to the two channel mode. Weak, very weak.
With the proper amplification and set up the sound will be a night and day difference from the store set up.
I recently bought a pair of VA speakers at a shop in Chicago. I only had a Marantz receiver so I unplugged what seemed like a few hundred connections and brought it along to make sure it could push whatever speakers I decided to buy. Making a long story short, the Marantz (SR7500) is big, heavy and fine for movies but it is really, really bad at reproducing two channel music. It simply couldn't drive the VA's.
I ended up buying the Krell integrated KAV400-xi that day also because it would have been a waste of money to buy the speakers otherwise. The difference between the Marantz and the Krell was night and day. I'm familiar with Magnolia and if you ask them to hook the VA's to one of their Mcintosh set up's I'm sure they would oblige. You'll hear a huge difference.

The NAD 372 at 150 per side should do a pretty good job driving the VA's you're looking at. Your best bet is to buy the integrated and bring it in to Magnolia. If you really want to know how the speakers are before you buy, do this. One way or the other, you'll know if those are the speakers for you.


sad to see such a fine sounding speaker brand in the hands of the incompetent and just might not be trained enough personel i say this as there are some fine people in best buy but they should stick to their home theater genre ,,they dont have the quality electronics to audition these with all they have are surround sound receivers which taken in their own environment are ok,,but dont have the ability to have a good speaker brand show what it can do,,,BTW went to an real audio store auditioned a pr of beethoven baby grands powered by marantz sm11s1 amp and what a differnce, wonderful sound i bought the viennas right on the spot..
When I worked at a high end audio store many many moons ago, we rolled in to the listening room a single pair of speakers at a time from a fabricated closet arrangement. When listening to a pair of speakers with other speakers nearby, you are also listening to the other speakers(particularly the woofers)although at a much lower volume. This is besides everything else that has been stated on this thread.
A while back on another forum (I think) a Sumiko rep said that the entire Mozart design assumes the cabinet cavity will be filled with sand/lead/etc. The message: unless you listen to the Mozart with the cavity filled, you're not listening to the Mozart. I'm guessing Magnolia doesn't bother.

I also wonder about the customers, if they believe they are hearing good sound just because they are listening to expensive speakers. If so the store won't change a thing.
I say this because a few years ago I was in a Fry's electronics that sells Bose. There were a pair of (I believe) 701s playing, and they were pushed back so they were touching the wall behind them because the flimsy platform they were sitting on was to shallow, connected to a receiver and a switchbox, in a terrible room filled with speakers. They sounded awful, completely muddled and much worse than they would have if only brought out a couple of feet and placed on the floor. But there was this dude talking to his wife about these awesome speakers and how great they sounded, turning up the receiver with a big smile, like "see, ain't they great?"
"The sources were Yamaha and Denon receivers..."

Receivers ? There is the problem!! Typical big box trying to sell high end to the masses. The sad part is they demo Sonus Faber the same way - does not do the brand justice in the least!!
The average buyer buys by reputation and brand recognition...which is why I suspect that BOSE does so well (I can't think of any other reason). I guess some buyers buy because of the salesman's recommendation which is scary at Magnolia. The other factor (remember that in TV's a buyer will always buy the brightest one!!!!) is the speaker that's loudest with the boomiest bass will always win in a listening comparison. Most buyers would never buy a fully equalized system in a reasonable audio room because it would sound "dull" to them. I once did a quick calibration on a 52" TV and then listened to folks compare it to the one's around it....dull, lifeless, awful. Hey...that's the buyer today.

But dealing with reality, most buyers don't really know what good audio sounds like...they have never experienced it. The favorite is the boomy sub...folks love em...and they know they have a good system because they've used monster cables to hook everything up. Sorry, but that's the real world, the real market, the real buyers.

If you read real reviews about a speaker and they are positive, don't even bother to listen to them at a store like BB/Fry's....just buy them, try them in your home and then return them if they aren't good. Generally, a good speaker will sound much better in your home than in any store and certainly better than any big box store.
Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grands sound terrible in both my listening rooms w/ three different amplifications systems: MC2155 + C32, MAC 4100, Cary SLI-80.
They sound like they're playing from under a blanket through a big tube. My 30 year old Spendor BC II's, on the other hand, are clear all across the spectrum with each of the above mentioned systems.

I think VA's must be a very very, very, very particular speaker.
They are a location sensitive speaker.
Vienna Acoustics are GOOD speakers...if the demo was poor, it wasn't the product, it was the demo.
Wow...all the money manufacturers spend to get notoriety, ie, demos--and when the moment of truth arrives, the prospective buyer gets hit with poor sound. How frustrating is that?

We've all heard poor demos---good brick and mortar stores RIP.

We're all losers because of their demise.

Good listening.

I feel that my VA Mahler speakers are quite amazing and offer amazing performance. To get better I would have to spend a LOT more...(I am also powering them with Mcintosh 501 monobloc amps)
Having owned the Mahlers, and loving them I have a question since I know their sonic signature.
I wouldn't have chosen Mac for power as I would have thought it too rounded...sort of a ripe plus ripe equals too ripe.
Apparently that's NOT the case huh?

Good listening,
I seem to remember reading that Vienna would no longer be offered through Magnolia. Perhaps it was frustration with the way their products were being presented.
Larry, I love the sound that I am getting out of my Mahlers and my Mcintosh amps. I am using a good DAC though and it is not sounding to bloated or warm to me at all. I am very happy with the sound I am getting. What did you power your Mahlers with?
Long time in responding, sorry--I used a few different amps--but the one I enjoyed MOST, was the VAC Avatar integrated.
I absolutely LOVE the way Kevin thinks music should sound...and how his 'voicing' makes/allows the music to come alive.
It's a cross between solid state kind of punch, but with the tube glow--difficult to explain, but almost impossible to 'turn off' once the music is flowing.
The Mahlers, really, great speakers, and the VAC Integrated gave me some of my best musical memories.
I think the Mahler may be one of the most underrated speakers around...tonally, rich and musically so listenable.
All that AND I believe they image like crazy--not what you may expect from a rather traditionally shaped cabinet.

I'm sure you're loving them Mike--you've got great speakers there.

Good listening,