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strapped for cash's picture
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Time to upgrade my speakers?

It occurred to me, with all the replacing and recycling of HT components I've done of late, that I've stuck with the same speakers for 17 years.

That's not a typo folks. My B&W 600 series 3 speakers are reaching antique status; and it's testament to how well they've performed that I've kept them for so long. They still sell for a reasonable price on the 'bay, too.

Since it's generally accepted that upgrading speakers offers the greatest improvement in any system, hi-fi or HT, I'm thinking seriously about options. The question is, which speakers should I shortlist?

They would be partnered with a Yamaha RX-A810 receiver. To complicate matters, the centre speaker will need to fit in my AV cabinet, which I'm not replacing, as I absolutely love it. The centre speaker needs to be no wider than 48cm, which is a pain, as it rules out certain options that appeal, KEFs especially.

I'm only looking at replacing the front three channels, with a possible subwoofer upgrade in mind when I move some time in the next year. My budget for the front three speakers would be £500-750. I'm happy to consider standmount or floorstanding L&R speakers.

All suggestions greatly welcomed.

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

Morning Strapped. For home cinema speakers it would be an unsurprising short list of 4 brands I suspect; KEF, Tannoy, Monitor Audio or B&W. If you're happy with B&W then I guess my first question would be why change from B&W? If you've had them that long you're obviously happy with the B&W sound, so why not simply upgrade from within the same stable?

That would also give the option of just changing the front mains for now, and going as good as budget will allow (could you stretch to 800's if you were only replacing two speakers), and maybe changing the centre speaker in a years time? You could also then move the 600's to the rear and have a pretty impressive set-up (not sure what your current surround speakers are?).

Equally, after 17 years a change might be refreshing. Personally I like MA (as you'll see from my signature) but they do seem to be a bit of a marmite brand for some.

Second question would be, how much music do you listen to (and what sort)?

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

Sorry, type-o above, meant say could you stretch to the 700's (friend of mine has had a 5.1 700 series set up for years and they sound great). However, just seen these were discontinued many years ago -  :oops:

The current 684 floor standers look good at £699, if you we're happy to stick with your current centre speaker for a little longer?

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

I agree regarding going for B&W 684. Yes, upgrading speakers offers the greatest improvement, but at your budget, I'm not sure that would be the case.

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

Thanks both.

Regarding B&W, the 684s replaced the speakers I have. I'm sure there would be some improvement, but swapping like for like never seemed worth it to me.

In addition, I'm kinda bored with the B&W sound, which is a little too harsh at the top end and a little too flabby in the bass department. I'd like speakers with a firmer grip of bass notes; and as I say, space is a factor when considering the centre speaker.

After light research late last night, I've added Acoustic Energy 3 series speakers to my shortlist. (301s and a 307 centre to be specific.) The centre speaker size issue is a pain, as it rules out options I'd otherwise audition.

The firmer grip on bass request is a must for both music and films. In terms of my musical tastes, I like a bit of folk, blues, some rock, and early '90s dance music. There's no rush with this and I want to make the right decision. If that means waiting and stretching the budget a little, so be it.

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

strapped for cash wrote:

 There's no rush with this and I want to make the right decision. If that means waiting and stretching the budget a little, so be it.

What a wise man!

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

You really need a subwoofer strapped. You don't have to keep it loud, no more than the bass you're seeking from the speakers. Your neighbours won't be affected by it.

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

If your worried about having a subwoofer in a flat have you considered a wall mounted sub?

Though BB is right, if you mount the sub on good isolation spikes and keep the volume modest there's no reason why it should be a major issue for neighbours (unless your cranking up the overall volume, in which case they probably already hate you so you have nothing to lose!  :grin: )

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

If you wanted to trial MA's you could look at RX6's for the front mains, and then a BX centre speaker? (The RX centre won't fit in your cabinet but the BX would I think). Over budget though...

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

bigboss wrote:

You really need a subwoofer strapped. You don't have to keep it loud, no more than the bass you're seeking from the speakers. Your neighbours won't be affected by it.

I agree that a subwoofer is a fundamentally important HT system component. Nevertheless, there's a distinction between more articulate bass from standmount speakers and a subwoofer's lower end slam. The sound travels through the floor in a very different way, though any consideration I had for my new neighbour is fading fast.

I already have a sub, but it's been impossible to use without upsetting the neighbours below (I got on well with the previous tenants). The subwoofer is set to blend with the speakers, rather than cranked up to shake the windows.

At some point I'll live in a house again. I still own one; it's just miles away from where I currently work.

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

mr malarky wrote:

If your worried about having a subwoofer in a flat have you considered a wall mounted sub?

Though BB is right, if you mount the sub on good isolation spikes and keep the volume modest there's no reason why it should be a major issue for neighbours (unless your cranking up the overall volume, in which case they probably already hate you so you have nothing to lose!  :grin: )

I'm not too fond of my new neighbour, though I'd like to avoid all out warfare!

I've been in the flat below and had a long (amicable) discussion with a previous tenant about noise. With the subwoofer engaged it sounded like someone banging a lump hammer on the floor, even at modest volume levels. And my subwoofer isn't especially powerful.

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

All bass travels through the air or the floor, be it speakers or subwoofer. You also get wall mountable subwoofer which cannot travel through the floor. A subwoofer will do a better job at delivering the impact with minimal disturbance to neighbours. I suspect a speaker with deeper bass that you're seeking will be worse in transmitting sound / vibrations to neighbours. No harm in trying one weekend with neighbour's permission, asking to report if he / she is disturbed by bass. You may just find you don't need to upgrade your speakers at all.

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

bigboss wrote:
All bass travels through the air or the floor, be it speakers or subwoofer. You also get wall mountable subwoofer which cannot travel through the floor. A subwoofer will do a better job at delivering the impact with minimal disturbance to neighbours. I suspect a speaker with deeper bass that you're seeking will be worse in transmitting sound / vibrations to neighbours. No harm in trying one weekend with neighbour's permission, asking to report if he / she is disturbed by bass. You may just find you don't need to upgrade your speakers at all.

That last point occurred to me, but I fancy something different and I'm keen to hear how speaker technology has moved on in the last decade-and-a-half. Smile

I'm not downplaying the importance of a subwoofer, or even denying that my system would benefit greatly from the integration of a decent sub. In fact, I'm in no doubt that my current subwoofer is the weakest link in my system. 

Obviously subwoofers are designed to reproduce frequencies other speakers can't manage. The resulting sound is of course different and travels in different ways. For as long as I'm living in this flat (which shouldn't be too much longer), it's about what my neighbours consider reasonable. In the past, subwoofer use, even at very considerate volume levels, has been a nuisance. 

I want to live relatively harmoniously with my new neighbour, even though I wouldn't join him for a beer.

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

A subwoofer can be just as articulate as speakers if its setup right....

 

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

strapped for cash wrote:
I'm not downplaying the importance of a subwoofer, or even denying that my system would benefit greatly from the integration of a decent sub. In fact, I'm in no doubt that my current subwoofer is the weakest link in my system.

Your current subwoofer? You mean NO SUBWOOFER is the weakest link in your system. Wink

(Or your current subwoofer gathering dust)

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RE: Time to upgrade my speakers?

A subwoofer can be just as articulate as speakers if its setup right....

 

Meridian 861 V4 LPSU, HD621, Bryston 9BSST - GIK Acoustics

Monitor Audio PL100, GXC 150, GXFX, SVS SB13 ULTRA

Custom Audio PC LPSU + Batts, JPLAY, JCAT and PPA Studio

Panny 65VT65, Marantz UD7007, Graham Slee Cables, Isotek, XLO

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