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New Speakers ?

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Wp100

Well-Known Member
Hi,

Just wanted to get some 'normal' opinion from folk rather than those of the heavier audiophile sites.

My 15 year old diy stand mount speaker boxes are getting rather worn, though still sounding ok-ish, but rather than spend a lot of time refurbishing them thought about getting some new and hopefully better sounding ones would be a better route.

Had chance to borrow some old Tannoy Mercury MX2 speakers but found them very punchy in the bass and after and hour of listening at a decent volume rather hard and tiring.

Made me think that I should so for something better with a more natural sound, possibly bought ones I could first hear or for a similar price, build some widely praised ones eg http://www.zaphaudio.com/SR71.html

However my room is small 9x9ft so I know such bass ported units should be placed well away from a wall which is not possible and the layout means one speaker has to be in a corner , so the sound is a little uneven unless adjusted.

I know they will never sound as good as when the audiophiles play them in their ideal audio specific rooms, but will I be wasting my time and money and just ending up with a poorer sound than I have now or will I hopefully get some worthwhile improvement ?

thanks.
 

JLNY

Active Member
It sounds like the questions you are asking are already a bit more nuanced than what most "normal folk" would delve into, so I don't know how useful I can be in this area. I certainly wouldn't consider myself an audiophile or acoustics expert by any means, so let me know if I'm way off base here...

Unless your room is an echo-chamber or otherwise non-ideal, would something like a graphic EQ be an option to even out the L-R imbalances due to the speaker placement? Perhaps you are already using one, but I find a bit of EQ can add that little bit extra to an already decent setup to make it sound great. Also, unless you are driving your speakers very hard, I'm not sure why they would be getting worn out to the point that they sound different. Are the foam surrounds starting to crack or break down?

For reference, at home I use an eBay-bought BSR equalizer, hooked up to an old Kenwood receiver and some almost equally old Fisher cabinet speakers which I replaced the foam on-- so I'm definitely past the "well-worn" phase at this point and I think they still sound fine. My equipment is certainly not an audiophile setup by any means, and the room and speaker placement leave a lot to be desired, but to my unrefined ear it wasn't overly difficult to produce a relatively good sound with some response testing and a bit of tweaking on the EQ.

IMO, If you have a set of speakers that you like and have listened to for a long time, it may be easier to just tweak the response a little or repair them rather than replace them outright. Marginal improvements in the quality of the speakers may only make a minimal difference if placement and room acoustics are not great to begin with. If you find that doesn't work for you, or you think that you are looking for a particular sound that your current speakers can't provide, then folks more knowledgeable than me may be able to provide recommendations.
 
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Wp100

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the comments.

I certainly wouldn't consider myself an audiophile or acoustics expert by any means
Me neither ! added to the fact getting to hear speakers in a similar surroundings not easy, dealers will only audition lower priced speakers in their premises and generally only interested in demos on the high cost units, beyond my needs.

I have an all in one Arcam Solo amp/cd/tuner so limited to bass,treble,balance, no scope of an equaliser which do not seem as popular here these days.

The drive units are ok, played sensibly, its the cabinets that are the problem, they were painted, so to veneer /cover /repaint requires a lot of work as the paint has to be removed first as its impossible to say how it will react with any glue used; possibly easier to make new cabinets.

That made me think some new speakers would be an easier option , bought or diy again, but the point was, is it worth paying for some better units only to find in my room , a kind of home office /study , though rated as good speakers, they do not sound any better than what I have ?
 

audioguru

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
The "little" SR71 speakers will need a subwoofer to produce the missing lowest two octaves of sounds. But since your listening room is small then a bass boost circuit should work well to replace the missing bass sounds.
 

JLNY

Active Member
I guess whether or not something new will sound better depends on how good your current speakers are to begin with, but if your cabinets are starting to deteriorate to the point that they look bad then it mostly comes down to a cost-benefit of looks versus what you are willing to spend for something which, realistically, may only prove to be a marginal difference. I often find that replacing audio equipment for something different tends to do just that-- sound different, but not necessarily be objectively better or worse depending on one's preferences.

I can't give much advice on commercial speakers, but if you are looking for something with a natural sound, the design you linked seems to be pretty well engineered for a flat frequency response, and if it is well-regarded by others I imagine it will sound fine. Intuitively, I don't think the fact that it uses a rear port will be a major issue unless you have it very close to the wall or right up against the corner. That said, I would suspect a front-ported or sealed cabinet design may be slightly less sensitive to placement in the room depending on what you can find.

Personally, I tend to gravitate more towards the bigger, old-school multi-way sealed cabinets as a way to get decent broad-band response just due to size without needing a lot of frequency compensation, but I realize that not everyone has that kind of space to throw around. These days I think a well designed 2-way monitor-type speaker can work just fine, and may be the more practical option in your case. As I said, I am not an expert, so that is a purely emotional and biased preference on my part, mostly due to the fact that it is what I grew up with and am familiar with. At the end of the day, if it sounds good to you then that's all that matters.

If you plan to build something yourself, I will point out that I don't put much stock in spending ridiculous amounts on "audio grade" capacitors and other components in the crossover, and I think altogether too much time gets spent fussing over boutique brands and exotic component materials for the sake of a couple milliohms lower ESR (or worse, components which are attributed vague, near-mystical properties of making your music sound better). I also had to laugh at the author listing all the component values to 6 decimal places, discussing the chamfers on the holes for the speakers, and mentioning the differences in inductance due to adding in the mounting screws on an inductor that is probably rated to a tolerance of +/-10% of it's nominal value anyway. My general philosophy in engineering is to go with a simple, robust design rather than a design that relies on sheer force of precision to hit a particular sweet spot.

If it makes sense within your budget and you want to replace your current speakers, I say go for it. I suspect making something yourself will be less costly if you are worried about spending huge amounts on commercially-made speakers. Once you have something working, an equalizer may also be something to look into, and may not be overly expensive depending on what you are looking for or if you are willing to go with something second hand or not, at least to start out. The general wisdom I have heard regarding EQs is to use them sparingly to make small adjustments to fine-tune the response rather than make extreme changes to try and compensate for flaws elsewhere in the system. I think the problems arise when folks try to set them to huge extremes in a misguided attempt to correct for bad acoustics in a room, or just dial in settings arbitrarily without actually taking any measurements of the room in which they are to be used.
 
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crutschow

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
If you like speakers with a somewhat brighter sound (which I do because of my age related hearing loss) you might consider a speaker with a horn midrange/tweeter.
I recently purchased a pair of relatively inexpensive Hsu HB-1 MK2 horn bookshelf speakers and am quite happy with them. They sound noticeably better than my old JBL speakers. To me they have a very clear, low distortion sound with each instrument being distinctly separate. And I like that you don't have to play them at a high sound level for them to sound good.

Likely even better is their more expensive CCB-8 which has the tweeter coaxial with the woofer for point-source imaging.

Hsu has a 30 day return so you can try them to see how they sound in your setup.

Of course they do require a subwoofer for a good low-end but it doesn't need to be a large expensive one (a 10 inch would likely be adequate for your small room).
For music, a sealed woofer cabinet is generally better than one with a vent as the sealed units tend to have a smoother response (not boomy) and better transient response (at the expense of a somewhat higher low-frequency corner).
Hsu also sells subwoofers that can be operated sealed or ported, which generally have received good reviews.

Just my opinion. I have no connection to Hsu otherwise.
 
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