Saturday, April 05, 2008

sound advice 2.5

Speakers and Value

I was going to save this and write a longer post. But a few people have been nagging me. So here is the quick and dirty version.

Most decent speaker drivers are a comodity product all made by a few manufacturers. Most boxes and crossovers are designed and made overseas and a very large part of the cost is transport to import a large box. Added to this wholesaler and retailer margins and the cost of even very ordinary speaker is high.

It will come as no surprise then that the big savings to be made in purchasing speakers is to avoid transport and re-selling costs and if possible cabinet making costs.

You can avoid all of this by buying an Australian designed speaker kit and putting it together yourself – this way you save on cabinet making labour, overseas shipping and retail and wholesale margins.

My favourite Australian kit speaker is the LoudSpeakerKit company’s M6 large bookshelf. I have a pair and so do many others I have helped. They are currently $599 a pair. In my listening I haven’t found a pair of made speakers under $2,000+ that sound as good. They are easy to put together and well designed crossovers and enclosure with a very good midrange sound. The Kit people started off in Essendon but then moved to Perth. The have a demo room in Narre Warren as well.

I have found the larger floor standers from the same company not as good in my listening. Too bassy and boomy. The M6 is easy to put together in about 4 hours over two night to allow glue to dry. The kit is precut mdf that slots together well and even includes the glue. MDF is in fact the preferred speaker material due to its density and rigidity. Dan’s Data has a review and pictures of M6s and howto.

The LoudSpeakerKit people also have another cheaper little ripper of a small shielded speaker for the price - the M4 at $99 each. Dan’s Data has a review and pictures of M4s.

There are other Australian kit speakers around.

A well regarded Australian designer seller of ready made speakers is in Melbourne Whatmoughs are out at 1352 Ferntree Gully Road, Scoresby. I think he designs them here and now has them made up overseas. But they have been generally well regarded for many years. The P33 series are well thought of.

I’m biased toward what used to be called the English sound of speakers such as Castle and B&W. The “English sound” s generally considered to be warmer and have good midrange and tight bass. The “American sound” on the other hand can be a bit harsh with louder looser bass and more high end. The Bose Sound on the other hand has managed to combine the worst of all worlds in domestic speakers and systems. Bose car systems however are amongst the best.

A weird and sometimes wonderful audio site is the delightful Italian TNT Audio. Baised toward DIY and with a great section on second hand gear it does however at times tend toward the homeopathic handwaving non evidence based end of audio such as "breaking in" amplifiers, cd players and wires. It's DIY speaker stands are a winner.