What are some of the most underrated and overrated loudspeakers you’ve auditioned?


What speaker do you believe are the most overrated and which one do you consider the most overrated?
mrc4u
Tough question since listening is subjective for one, then you have the room acoustics and components that can make the same speaker sound much different from room to room. Most overrated speaker has to be the KEF LS50. No speaker has gotten so much hype and there's no way it can be all things to all people so I thing folk will read the reviews and expect a giant killer then be disappointed when they don't break the laws of physics.
Agree the very affordable for many KEF ls50 is not up to all the tasks people might expect given all the rave but often not very comprehensive reviews.

From an ’audiophile" perspective, use the little guys properly though within their limits, with a subwoofer and with an amp suited to drive them properly and then they can live up to the "giant killer" billing, but of course all that will add some cost but still provide very good value for the world of "high end audio".

I recommend them highly. The little dudes look very cool, can do what they do very well indeed, but cannot do it all.

For a bit more the new KEF R3s are the real deal as reasonable size stand mount monitors go and capable of doing most of what most will ever need similarly very well ie sub is way more optional and those will probably sound better with more amps.



This should go well....
YEs, it is a loaded question for sure....

In general, audiophiles will tend to underrate things while the rest of the world will lean the other way.
Underrated

Ohm Walsh, Salk Soundscape 10 and 12 (out of production), JBL M2 (uses DSP and pro amps, but damn), legacy Focus SE, Spatial M3S Turbo

Overrated

Paradigm Persona's, B+W Diamond Series, McIntosh Speakers (though not sure anyone rates them highly), Focal Sopra 2,3

Disappointing - Anything by Zu


Just to play this game....

When I don’t like the sound of a speaker, especially a popular one, I normally don’t think "boy are these overrated." I just note that they are not for me, and can usually see what someone else might find in them.
If I look back I can only really think of two speaker brands that had me thinking "My gawd these suuuuuuuck!"

One was the Talon speakers back when they were the ’it’ thing (circa 2000 I believe). I simply could not believe how bad the models sounded that I heard, how utterly colored they sounded (and they measured as they sounded). I was truly left baffled by the praise for those things.

The other speaker encounter that baffles me every time are the McIntosh Speakers (as noted by dep14). They manage to produce the most bland sound I’ve ever heard from a "high end" speaker. They sound like a bunch of tiny bose-quality drivers giving you a wall of yucky, grayish, cheap, gritty sound. Given the reputation of McIntosh, I’m always left puzzled.

Zu has yet to even come close to grabbing me but many like them.   I like the looks.
The Most underrated speaker award goes to Eminent Technology LFT8b’s
overrated-
ATC 
Dali 
GoldenEar
GamuT
Dynaudio
Monitor Audio
Revel
Focal
underrated
KEF LS50s 
Harbeth
Spendor
Klipch Heritage



There's a strong, though not absolute, correlation between being overrated and the size of the publicity budget the company is devoting to promoting its speakers (e.g. B&W, Focal, etc. etc.).

And the corollary is true also: Fritz, Salk, Daedalus, Prana, etc. etc.

Most overrated? Easy. Vandersteen.

@aniwolfe, ain't it the truth! For some reason the 8b doesn't get nearly the attention as does the MG1.7i. ET's dealer network is rather small, no advertising, few reviews (the UK press loves 'em), etc. People don't know what they're missing, and don't seem to be inclined to endeavor to find out. Oh well, as the kids say.
Hey I honestly believe OHM got home audio speaker design right with the Walsh design and its huge sweet spot (practically the whole room)  and most of the rest are barking up the wrong tree, so there you go.   

How many people really enjoy having to squeeze into a tiny sweet spot?

Overrated:  BOSE.  Mostly because people who have them are convinced by the marketing and have no idea how badly they overpaid and could have had much better.  

Focus- heard them at a roadshow 20 years ago and thought they were garbage.   Can’t say they are overrated, as that was one experience, in one room, years ago.  
@millercarbon   What speakers are you currently using in your system?
It’s an interesting question, if qualified. One example could be a minimum of 6 months of ownership and at least 5 owned speakers (6 months or more of ownership). There are others.

Otherwise,  +1 to @prof ’s "This should go well...." post.
Overrated:

 Devore gibbon 8, heard a set side by side with a Dynaudio 3 way think the predecessor to the x38 (same price range as the devore) and the dyn was significantly better to the point that we just tuned off the Devore and focused on the dyn I was really interested in the Devore but the sound was disappointing at best, looks wonderful though lol. 

Mac speakers...how many tweeters ? 

Underrated; 

Living Voice; not overly popular here in NA but great speaker. Good time to buy with the UK pound so low (thanks Brexit). 






I heard Wilson Sasha DAW's in a Naim system. Sounded good but not $37k good.
Yeah, looks like you got to go up to the $650K Wilsons before you can get the real good sound. 😩
avanti1960280 posts08-26-2019 1:51pmoverrated-
ATC
Dali
GoldenEar
GamuT
Dynaudio
Monitor Audio
Revel
Focal
underrated
KEF LS50s
Harbeth
Spendor
Klipch Heritage

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@geoffkait If thats aimed at me, my answer is no. I head some Linn (I think it was Linn) floor standers that sounded really nice. Not much to look at but sounded nice for $5k-ish. Outside of the Wilson's having more bass, I thought the Linn's were better.
Most popular recordings made since the 1970's have been mastered atc.No jbl no altec no tannoy pure marketing.
While I think while  Harbeth makes a good speaker, I think they are way overpriced (I owned the SHL5s). I bought a pair of Joseph Audio Pulsars and was underwhelmed. Undervalued? Don’t know. 
Usually depends more on your room than on the actual speakers, but Bose 901's were so, so bad...sad because I wanted them to be good.

On the other hand, Magneplanars are surprisingly good IF PLACED PROPERLY and you use very good electronics.

Cheers!
Overrated:ParadigmGoldenEar, every one of them
GamuT
Dynaudio
Monitor Audio
Revel
Focal
UnderratedKlipsch Heritage, grossly underrated
Tekton DesignHarbeth
Underrated: Spendor, Linn.

Overrated: Bowers & Wilkins, Goldenear 

highly rated and deserving:  Sonus Faber, Dynaudio, Spendor 

(it’s clear what my favorite speaker brand is, haha)
Some interesting responses!  

Overrated... Bose

Underrated... Anything else that the Bose owner hasn’t heard of!

How is Dynaudio, Monitor Audio, Gamut, Focal, ATC etc overrated? You guys are nuts.  Is that really just Kenji cloning himself??
The cliche dig on Bose in a lame attempt to up your audiophile street cred is overrated.
The AR 3's were somewhat overrated>>>
Many comments here are based on the faulty assumption that all speakers will sound good or bad regardless of what amplifier you are using .When in reality speaker/amplifier synergy is critical.What might sound poor on one amplifier could sound excellent on another to the point that they can sound like a completely different speaker.And then there is the other variable which is the room.
Paradigm Persona (expensive copycat of B&W) and Joseph Audio (expensive speaker with off the shelf drivers, no low diffraction cab or waveguide even, can easily be replicated for a cheaper price).
Wildfoxinn, sorry your perception of the B&W vs Paradigm Personas is wildly off base.

B&W Diamond tweeter with a Kevlar composite midrange driver

vs

Paradigm Persona, Pure Beryillium tweeter, with a pure Beryillium midrange.

B&W no wave guide

vs

Paradigm waveguide for both tweeter and midrange driver.


Persona composite pressure bent completely curved non parallel cabinet mdf fused glue layer cabinet

vs

B&W multi chamber plywood cabinet with matrix bracing and composite midrange pod with top mounted tweeter.


Paradigm Persona 9H four woofer design with active room correction and self amplified bass

vs

B&W 800 Passive louspeaker without room correction.

The only way these two designs are remotely similar is that they both fall into the uber resolution camp.

As per Joseph Audio being easily replicated Mr. Joseph’s crossover designs are patented and based on the JSE Infinite slope design, not to mention the years he spent voicing the loudspeakers, also his "off the shelf" parts may be custom made versions of the same drivers. Hey we are not going to disagree with you we think the speakers are a bit expensive for what you get however, many people love them.

Jtofish, RIGHT ON MAN!  Speaker A can sound great or poor depending on the electronics, source components cabling and room.  Speaker B with those same components may sound better because of a system synergy that works better either with the equipment, source components, cabling or room. 

This is why we match brighter speakers like the Personas with warmer electronics, Coda, Electrcompaniet, Naim, Krell.  Same thing with the Elac Adantes play them on Naim or Parasound you make one terrific value oriented system. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Persona dealers


This thread cannot signify something, beside a complete description of the room, tweaks, and audio gear associated with the speakers... Yesterday I had listen to Magnepan MMG a pair of speakers with a relatively fair price and on the top audiophile field...The sound was " bad", unbeknownst to the owner himself, because of the level of noise; the sound was less interesting than my own speakers that are however in a totally other sub level category than this big MMG...The reason is NO speakers sound at their potential level without cleaning of the electro-magnetic field of the house first, of the room after that, without serious controls of vibrations, without controls of the acoustic of the room, and without at last pairing with the right amplifier and dac ( I will not add here other essential tweaks that are very potent and necessary)…Except for the pairing, all other means were ignored by the owner of MMG...


My speakers are only good,(Mission Cyrus 781) not the best in a possible level of comparison with top level one, but yesterday these speakers of mid-level grade were more ,way more better than a pair of top level speakers (MMG)… The reason is simple: my room is under treatment, my vibrations control in efficiency, and the electrical line of not only the house but of my room is prepared for being the best embedding for the speakers... I had with that astounding tweaks that can elevate any speakers to his true potential... Anybody can say that Harbeth Tannoy, Focal, Splendor, Dynaudio or MMG are more than good...Money can talks also...

But the question, the true one to ask is : How can we put our ordinary speakers on their true top own accessible potential level, be it mid-fi speakers or top one ? If not for this question, the other question is what are the best speakers money can buy ? This second question is of little interest and is the only question asked everywhere... When you have no limit of money you dont even need to read article about that question, you go somewhere with top level speakers at high price, you listen to them , you smile, you buy....And you call them the best speakers big money can buy...And the word "tweaks" repulse you, or suggest at your revolting mind that perhaps your speakers are not at the peak of the world...And you dont give a back thought at all to this fuss about audiophile obsession with good sound...Your money had already talk loud after all...But I am poor and I must make the better with the lesser... It is possible trust me...



Underrated:
PSB- most all of them 
Totem Forest and others 
higher end Monitor Audio
Spendor
Wharfedale 
Klipsch Forte III and some of the Heritage line
Epos 
Bryston
van L speakerworks
Many budget pieces from big names like JBL, Polk, Yamaha, SVS

Overrated:
B&W (some)
Devore (great but very pricey and performance can be inflated by reviewers)

Joseph Audio (expensive speaker with off the shelf drivers, no low diffraction cab or waveguide even, can easily be replicated for a cheaper price).

Ah, naive "argument-from-cost-of-materials." And "you can DIY this stuff."

Never gets old ;-)

The Joseph speakers have garnered rave reviews and have been consistently rated at or near "best of show" year after year at audio shows, by picky audiophiles and reviewers. You can’t just go on "materials used" but on the skill of the designer in achieving through much time and effort the balance between the drivers, crossovers, cabinet etc. And it’s one thing to achieve the sound, another to have a viable speaker-selling business.


The "I could build that in my basement for cheaper" crowd never seem to get out of their basement to show they can produce a speaker that can receive that much conformity in praise, while being a viable product.

Told ya this thread would go well...;-)






What’s the best sounding bose speaker?  All the ones I’ve heard were mediocre.  Best Bose systems I’ve heard were in cars.

I think bose is crap.  When people say they like it, I smile politely and then lie to them and say “yeah, it’s pretty good”.  

Bose is more marketing and life style than hi-fi and it has nothing to do with price.   

Next up, beats headphones!
To my ears:

Over:
KEF, B&W, Piaggi?Swiss, Vandys, Magico 

Under:
Joseph Pulsars, Ascend, Sanders, PMC

Great but too Pricey:
Borresen, Vimberg



+1 for PSB being underrated. They get lost in the mid-price shuffle but the Barton's make a really good speaker.
under rated and under the radar are JM Reynaud
+1 for Sanders being underrated. My model 10e system with (2) Magtech stereo amps and LMS (loudspeaker management system) produces some of the most lifelike music I've heard and plays quite loud (unusual for 'stats).
I'm showing my age but those vintage JBL L100 speakers that so many people raved about in the 70's and 80's sounded just awful. A couple friends had them, one of them had a 4 channel quad system, and they were so proud. "Don't these sound great?!" "Uhhhh......"

On the modern end I have heard 4 different models of Wilsons at two audio shows. I just don't get it. They sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. The best sounding of the 4 were the smallest pair, Sashas I think. I can safely say that it wasn't the room because next door to the worst sounding demo (Alexandrias I believe) was an identical room with Sonus Faber Aidas that sounded gorgeous. Please note - I'm not saying that the speakers are bad (OK, maybe overrated) but Wilson must be targeting a particular kind of listener that craves microscopic detail over everything else. In one sense I have to give them credit for taking the characteristic of detail resolution to its logical extreme.
I think that ATC speakers whether passive or active are simply too honest to be ever considered overrated.
Way under rated 

Wilson Benesch
ProAc's
Chapman Audio 

Over rated.....to many to name...

For the money, a pair of 300 dollar Elac UB5 is hard to beat.  Sure, it's not a high end speaker, but for 300 bucks it is a damn good speaker.   The difference in sound between that and other more expensive speakers can be minimal.  
For me the KEF-LS-50. I tried to like it but eventually ended up selling it. Way overrated in my opinion. I tried it with many different amps and configurations  and in different rooms. Nothing seemed to work for me. 
Still using the Dahlquist DQM-9s. To me the quality and sound for the money I have not found better. Sure overtime they need to be re-foamed and maybe new caps but after all these years, still happy. Also like the older Infinity.
in re: millercarbon Most overrated? Easy. Vandersteen.

LOL. The Vandersteen 2CE in all its iterations is one of the best-selling speakers of all time, for a reason. Great value. I’ve owned a pair for 20 years and will be getting the latest version soon, only because I can’t afford the Treo CT or Quatro CT. The Quatro CT, in the >$15k price bracket, has some good competition, for sure. I recently auditioned them powered by a full AR stack ... stunning. Note: I’ve been to more than a few hi-fi shows and heard systems fetching >$100k or well beyond.

I’m a Vandy fan, but not a fanboi. I have been trying to find and consider other floor standing "full range" speakers that perform as well as the 2CEII and are as good a value, in their price range, and so far it’s slim pickings.

Overrated:
Dynaudio, Totem, Audio Note ( especially price for this kind of 2-way monitors in poor cabinet )

Underrated:
many active speakers : Backes&Muller, Geithain
they play so much better than passive in similar price , and You dont need any ( expensive ) amp