04 speakersQuestion:

You helped me with my choice of an Oppo UDP203 which is really good. It now comes to perhaps update my speakers which are Electrovoice Diamants from1986. I run an NAD pre and power amp C 165 EE and C275 BEE respectively. It’s not hi end stuff but I like it for the money available. have read about speakers for years and it seems to just get more confusing. I am interested in the Krix Neuphonix and PSBs (I have their headphones and really like them) amongst others.

I know I will have to go and listen to them but to refine my search which speakers from about $3500 to $5000 or even less are worth auditioning?

I do miss your articles in the Green Guide.

Thank you for reading and thank you for missing me!

There are two ways to buy speakers for a system. The first way is used by the great bulk of buyers; go to the store and ask the salesperson what’s good, follow this advice and buy the speakers suggested with or without listening to them first. It usually works okay because bad speakers are a lot like bad wine, they start sounding better after you’ve been using them a while. It’s more about you getting used to them than them improving with use. And the fact is that even when you audition speakers the first ones you listen to usually sound terrific – it’s only when you start listening to more that you start to hear and appreciate the differences, so much so that you may well come back to that first pair and wonder why you liked them.

This is how those other people buy speakers, they put in the work. The unfortunate fact is that it’s tedious, it’s time consuming, it’s an effort. But in my experience it’s well worth it. Given that your Electrovoice Diamants are looking at their 35th birthday you’re going to be living with your new speakers a long time, so I would strongly recommend a thorough audition.

You’ve grown used to the sound of them over the years so listening to new speakers, which will likely be more compact and more tolerant of a wide range of amplifiers, may give you something of a surprise. They’ll generally sound tighter and may have tonal differences which you’ll either like or hate. Keep an open mind.

This next bit is important. Take music with you that you know very well and listen to it carefully, closing your eyes will help. Through good speakers it will be just like hearing it for the first time again.

A good salesperson will ask questions about your current equipment and your preferences in music, and make recommendations accordingly. Listen to the advice but remember that you hear differently to everyone else on earth and what suits a salesperson may not suit you, so know when to dismiss a speaker no matter how enthusiastic the recommendation. I’d also visit a couple of retailers, ideally with sound lounges where you can listen in a reasonably quiet and undisturbed environment. Your memory for hearing is short and it helps to keep notes. Well it helps me anyway. If a salesperson plays one pair of speakers louder than the rest he/she is trying to steer you into them, because louder always sounds better, so try to ensure common volume levels.

Like I mentioned, the first speaker will likely sound terrific, but after you’ve heard three or four you’ll be far better able to start making a sensible decision. And remember that aesthetics are important too – you’ll spend a lot of time looking at them.

PSBs are great speakers and so are Krix, which have the added advantage of being a local brand that’s been around for yonks. But I’m reluctant to suggest other brands because while I have my preferences you’ll have yours, and few listeners are quite as eclectic as me – I like Scandinavian metal damn near as much as I enjoy Sibelius, and my speakers handle Mongolian throat singing as happily as they reproduce Bulgarian chants.

Think positive John; you’re about to embark on an adventure. Enjoy!

Posted March 2020.


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