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Old 03-14-2014, 10:50 PM   #121
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By the way, having seen with my own measurements that a small speaker with a 6-1/2" driver with a good design can have a nice flat response and can reach down in frequency as low as the bigger ones, except that the smaller one cannot deliver the same loudness, I agree with the presenter of the following video from Axiom, a speaker maker. Basically, the speaker size depends on the room. For a small room, a good pair of small speakers is all you need.



In contrast, I happened across the following video of an installation of a huge speaker set in a room that is too small. Surely, the dedicated listening room shown is not really that small, but the speakers are gigantic. Does the owner really need 1,400W of amp in a room of that size? I would build myself a small auditorium for those speakers!



Anyway, I am itching to take the hardware up to my 2nd home, which has a larger living room with ceiling going up to 25'. I think the acoustics there will be better than the room where I do the listening now.
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Old 03-15-2014, 02:12 AM   #122
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My son's RaidoShack turntable stayed unhooked to my stereo system b/c it sounds so terrible. No amount of "good speaker" is going to make it sound good. I understand speaker is generally where the most money is spent. But it is not the sole component that makes or breaks the music.
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:05 AM   #123
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Is it really a 4-way? I saw photos with it with 4 drivers. Looks like it is from the same era as my vintage speakers. Nowadays, speaker makers rarely go above 3-way because aligning the phase of the drivers becomes too tough. Still, I am a sucker for the woodsy cabinets. The modern look of black speakers is so bland. They do make tall column speakers with wood (or is it simulated wood). That would be my preference if I get a pair.
The ML-1Cs have a 12" woofer, 8" lower mid range, 2.25" upper mid range, 1.5" tweeter, and a .5" super tweeter. The tweeters are co-axial. This is from the manuals that came with the speakers. As far as sound goes they are the most transparent speakers I have ever heard and the location of instruments within the sound stage is excellent.
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:14 AM   #124
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My son's RaidoShack turntable stayed unhooked to my stereo system b/c it sounds so terrible. No amount of "good speaker" is going to make it sound good. I understand speaker is generally where the most money is spent. But it is not the sole component that makes or breaks the music.
I had a very good direct drive Sony turntable that gave up after 20 years of use. Trying to get a new turntable now is a problem, the good ones are very expensive and the rest are generally junk. I spent part of last summer going to garage sales and found an almost new Dual 1219 for less than $50. It works very well. There were a lot to pick from, I'm guessing that as CDs took over people just quit using a TT and don't want to store them anymore.
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:30 AM   #125
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Does the owner really need 1,400W of amp in a room of that size

"Need" has nothing to do with what this thread is about
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:34 AM   #126
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My son's RaidoShack turntable stayed unhooked to my stereo system b/c it sounds so terrible. No amount of "good speaker" is going to make it sound good. I understand speaker is generally where the most money is spent. But it is not the sole component that makes or breaks the music.
The old 'weakest link in the chain' axiom definitely applies to an audio system. Even the best links in the chain can't make up for one bad one. In fact, the good components might actually more clearly point out the flaws in the bad link.

But it generally holds for a mid to large size room that speakers will require more relative $$$ to keep them for being the weak link.

That might be even more true today. I'm using a cast-off netbook, an old external USB drive and a $110 USB DAC that has a rotary volume control. The DAC goes straight to my power amp, so the source/pre-amp chain can be very low cost these days.

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Old 03-15-2014, 09:50 AM   #127
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I need to read all the posts in this thread, as I'm wondering whether anyone has suggested a nice pair of speakers for, say, under $1,000 or $750 for the pair. Or is that being too stingy?
It's been quite a while since I shopped speakers but my guess is $1K would buy a pair that is high quality in both sound and appearance. If your music sources are mostly digital and your objective is casual listening the article you linked is fine. It does make sense to get good speakers, they probably will make a greater difference than the other components in your system.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:43 AM   #128
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Does the owner really need 1,400W of amp in a room of that size

"Need" has nothing to do with what this thread is about
Yes, that guy is way out on the curve - way past what even a hard core audiophile would call a 'need'.


That said, 1400 watts really isn't all that outrageous. I bought a used power amp for my Maggies, a B&K 202+. It does 300 watts per channel into 4 ohms. Maggies are not efficient speakers, so it really does not play super-loud (though louder than I really care to run it).

And power isn't so much about 'loud', a really good recording may have a relatively low level, to allow enough headroom for any sudden peak dynamics. I recall reading about tests that were done many years ago, and it took some phenomenal amount of amplifier power before listeners in a blind test would consider a recording of claves (those wood sticks that are hit together) to sound similar to the live sound.

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It's been quite a while since I shopped speakers but my guess is $1K would buy a pair that is high quality in both sound and appearance. If your music sources are mostly digital and your objective is casual listening the article you linked is fine. It does make sense to get good speakers, they probably will make a greater difference than the other components in your system.
I would think there are plenty of very, very good speakers in the $750-$1,000 range. One should be willing to give up a little on the 'room filling volume' or maybe deep bass (but as pointed out earlier, deep bass is achievable in a lower cost speaker, but at relatively lower volume - even cheap headphones/earbuds can have deep bass, because the 'room' is so small). The thing to watch out for is, many speaker makers will have speakers that have 'lots of bass', or that 'play loudly' because that is what many people are looking for. But it isn't a high quality, smooth, realistic bass or sound - just lots of it (quantity versus quality). Look for quality over quantity.

I decided I wanted a small, but hi-quality sound system in our bedroom. I bought a pair of B&W DM303's - 8" W x 9.5" D x 13" H and 11 pounds (paid $240/pair ten years ago). They sound very, very good at reasonable volumes - just don't push it or expect room shuddering bass.

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Old 03-15-2014, 11:02 AM   #129
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Agreed. I love music so much, I really can't have it on in the background when I'm doing something else. If it is great music, I must give it my full attention. If it isn't great music, I don't want it on at all!
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I guess I am different. I often put on some music as a background when I am doing something else like cooking or reading. Not rock music which is too animated which makes me agitated, but soothing easy listening like some Jazz or instrumental like Fausto Papetti (sax), Richard Claydeman (piano), or John Williams (guitar). It's not that these musicians do not deserve some critical listening, but I have listened to them often it's like "comfort food".

The above said, now that I am more into it, I will spend time to listen to the above again with a new appreciation now that my speakers are more "up to snuff".

Regarding having ample power, I believe the previous owners of my vintage speakers blew out the tweeters because they turned up their amps to the point of clipping. When the output of the amp is driven to clipping, the flat-top waveform is rich in harmonics and that excessive power in the high-frequency range burns out the tweeters.

My vintage speakers now sound so great, even as I turned up the volume of the amp to the point of clipping (as indicated by a flashing red LED on the amp), that I can see how one can get carried away with it. But boy, as these speakers have 96dB efficiency, that is really loud. I do not see how one can listen at that level for more than a few seconds. Still, people I demonstrated to all said that they heard no distortion at that power level.
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Old 03-15-2014, 12:46 PM   #130
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Originally Posted by robnplunder View Post
My son's RaidoShack turntable stayed unhooked to my stereo system b/c it sounds so terrible. No amount of "good speaker" is going to make it sound good. I understand speaker is generally where the most money is spent. But it is not the sole component that makes or breaks the music.
I think the article I linked above, regarding loudspeakers being the component that matters (not the CD/DVD player, amplifier or "Monster" cable), was referring primarily to audio systems playing digital recordings--which is what virtually all people have today. A system playing a scratched vinyl record vs. a high-fidelity 180-gram mint one ("garbage in-garbage out"), or having a lousy turntable--perhaps with a worn-out stylus, or a tape player whose heads haven't been cleaned or demagnetized in years, is another matter.

On the other hand, I've got an old DBX Dynamic Range Expander I haven't hooked up in years. Wouldn't that make a noticeable difference? (One Google result: "For FM, tapes and LPs I think they're worthwhile. For CDs they may not be necessary." Hmm.)

And let's not get started on the pros and cons of Neil Young's Pono Player--a debate of the fidelity of digital recordings.
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Old 03-15-2014, 02:26 PM   #131
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...
Which in turn comes from this blog: 'A Brief Guide to Audio for the Skeptical Consumer'
The writer of that blog referred to the "Orion" speaker designed by Linkwitz. In searching the Web for audio info, I have run across some designs by the latter, so of course I got curious and wanted to find out about this speaker. Following is a photo of this unconventional dipole speaker as found on LinkwitzLab-dot-com. Linkwitz is a retired engineer from HP (the lab instrument group which is now Agilent, not the HP computer group).







Linkwitz later designed a speaker called Pluto which uses PVC pipes for enclosures! What is more interesting is that he said he had a hard time telling their sound apart in listening tests, other than the smaller Pluto not able to provide the same loudness as the bigger speaker. See how different these speakers are from each other, yet the designer admitted that they sounded so much alike!

Note that Pluto also requires an active equalizer, which is designed into the amplifier mounted at the base of that speaker.



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Old 03-15-2014, 08:48 PM   #132
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I tend to agree with this. A few hundred bucks will get you a modern amp with distortion so low that is way below audible detection. Same with CD players. The performance of all these is measurable and quantifiable. Speakers are however the most complex part. Even I agree that the frequency response of a speaker does not tell the whole story. Just the radiation pattern interacting with the surrounding would make them different. The problem for me is to learn to detect and differentiate between them. That is hard, as I described earlier. Once I have tuned up my 3 best pairs of speakers (none are true audiophile quality) so that their responses are flat, I cannot tell them apart that easily.

By the way, I have just listened to a variety of source programs, from Dire Straits to Jazz music like Diana Krall and Madeleine Peyroux. The imaging of my speakers wasn't bad, but then what do I know? By the way, I listened carefully to an old recording of "Summertime" by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzerald, and boy was it good!



As mentioned earlier, I recently saw a pair of Vandersteen's and another pair of Dunlavy's offered on the local craigslist for $750 each. Of course one must check these out carefully to make sure all drivers are still working, particularly the tweeters.

For new purchases, I think one can get a decent pair of JBLs like L890 or something equivalent from Polk for around $1200-1500.

PS. Wow, Amazon has the L890 for $800/pair free shipping. Darn, these would look good in my bedroom, but will my wife agree?
One of my greatest joys is that my relatively modest system ( currently Mapletree Preamp/ Jolida/ Conrad Johnson Amp/ Magneplanar 1.7 speakers) can make both Diana Krall and Madeleine Peyroux sound very much "real" and in the room giving me a private concert. That and a good Cabernet makes for a most pleasant evening. My great frustration is that I have never owned any equipment (or room for that matter) that would make a full symphony orchestra appear real. In fact I've never heard a system at any of the hi end shows I've attended accomplish that very well either.
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:29 PM   #133
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RE: 'casual listening'...
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I guess I am different. I often put on some music as a background when I am doing something else like cooking or reading. ...
Well, I may have exaggerated a teeny bit for effect , but it's true that I rarely listen to music casually. It just really draws me in if it is great music, and demands my full attention. If I do put on some music while I'm doing some mindless task around the house, it's probably something with a rhythm and a song that I'm really familiar with, so it's almost more a reminder of the tune, and the music is in my head, if that makes any sense.

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...On the other hand, I've got an old DBX Dynamic Range Expander I haven't hooked up in years. Wouldn't that make a noticeable difference? (One Google result: "For FM, tapes and LPs I think they're worthwhile. For CDs they may not be necessary." Hmm.) ...
Makes sense. FM, tapes and LPs had a 'hard limit' on the maximum volume. For FM, it would be an FCC violation - your signal would bleed into the adjacent channel. Tapes would hit a saturation limit of the magnetization level (flux density if I recall the terms correctly). And an LP was limited - if the amplitude was too high the grooves had to be spaced further and you could not get as much time recorded. And/or the stylus would jump out of the groove (or distort and wear from slamming back and forth). BTW, that kind of volume limit is referred to as 'compression', but that is different from digital compression like mp3.

CDs have enough dynamic range to avoid this. But some recordings are made that way to make the average volume higher, to make them sound 'louder' and 'better' - but that is generally more 'boring' to discriminating ears. As much as I love the music of Carlos Santana, that pop song he did drives me nuts (Supernatural) - it's basically one volume level from start to finish. A decent song otherwise, but it has me screaming "Where are the dynamics ? ? ! !"
OK, semi-interesting little sidetrack on audio volume compression. The intro to The Byrds 'Tambourine Man' is one of those super recognizable guitar sounds. It is a 12 string electric guitar, and just rings like a bell. But Roger McGuinn said that Rickenbacker really just went 'thud' when you played a note.

But the recording engineer was really afraid that the signals directly from one of these new-fangled electric guitars might over-drive and harm his expensive recording equipment. So he put a compressor on the guitar, which would limit the max volume. Now these compressors are really variable-automatic volume controls, so when the note first was struck, the volume was instantly pulled down, and as the note faded, the volume was brought up. So this made the note 'ring' longer. And they can be set to keep bringing up the volume even higher as the note fades away, making them 'ring' even longer. McGuinn like the sound so much, he had the engineer put two compressors in series, to exaggerate the effect even further. And that turned a 'thud' into a beautiful bell-like tone.

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And let's not get started on the pros and cons of Neil Young's Pono Player--a debate of the fidelity of digital recordings.
Well now, you can't start it, and then say 'let's not get started'!

I had heard a bit (no pun intended) about this before, but was lacking details. From those links, I see he is promoting the FLAC format used at CD rez as the minimum. That's what I use, except for some occasional stuff on a portable player.

A few years back, I bought a CD/DVD player that was capable of just about every format out there. I had some demo SACD hybrid disc, and tried to A/B the SACD versus straight CD. I couldn't be certain I heard a difference, but I kinda sorta thought the SACD had more 'life' to it. Could have been placebo effect.

But logically, I can make the case that CD quality is somewhat marginal. The 96db theoretical dynamic range is reduced in practice (you need to 'dither' the bottom few bits). The 44.1KHz sample rate puts some heavy requirements on the filters, which might have an audible effect. So there might be something to 'higher than CD rez', if you can find the source material.

I have probably mentioned this before, but a few years back I tried to test myself by creating tracks of the same songs with various bit-compression levels to compare to the original CD quality source. I was pretty shocked that I could not easily quickly tell the difference even going down to pretty extreme compression. But I found if I tried to listen to the compressed music more than a few minutes, that I found it boring and lifeless. That makes sense, as the compression 'throws away' some of the detail in the music, to concentrate the remaining bits on what is expected to be most noticeable. So it seems very likely that this 'less noticeable' sound is what gives detail and 'life' to the music, but still leaves the music very recognizable.

It would take some time to do a full double-blind test of this, but with hard drives so cheap, the cost versus quality and flexibility to re-encode a lossless FLAC format ( ~ 1/2 the size of a full CD quality, with zero bits lost) is a no-brainer for me.

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Old 03-15-2014, 09:46 PM   #134
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The writer of that blog referred to the "Orion" speaker designed by Linkwitz. ...
I've stumbled across that Linkwitz site before during my internet ramblings, lot's of 'fun stuff!

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One of my greatest joys is that my relatively modest system ( currently Mapletree Preamp/ Jolida/ Conrad Johnson Amp/ Magneplanar 1.7 speakers) can make both Diana Krall and Madeleine Peyroux sound very much "real" and in the room giving me a private concert. That and a good Cabernet makes for a most pleasant evening. My great frustration is that I have never owned any equipment (or room for that matter) that would make a full symphony orchestra appear real. In fact I've never heard a system at any of the hi end shows I've attended accomplish that very well either.
Yes, it's one of the reasons I occasionally take in a CSO concert. There is just no way to describe the feel/sound of those basses, tubas and tympani, or the full orchestral 'hit', or the shimmering strings.

I have never attended the big hi-fi shows (a friend of mine used to go regularly, I should probably hit him up about it), so I can't say whether those super-high end systems can achieve it. But by the time you buy that equipment and set up the room, a couple Orchestra Hall box seats and a 4 star hotel for a nice relaxed over-night stay a few times a year for a decade or two is a super bargain!

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Old 03-16-2014, 01:45 AM   #135
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I think the article I linked above, regarding loudspeakers being the component that matters (not the CD/DVD player, amplifier or "Monster" cable), was referring primarily to audio systems playing digital recordings--which is what virtually all people have today. A system playing a scratched vinyl record vs. a high-fidelity 180-gram mint one ("garbage in-garbage out"), or having a lousy turntable--perhaps with a worn-out stylus, or a tape player whose heads haven't been cleaned or demagnetized in years, is another matter.
It doesn't matter if source is digital or analog. Speaker alone is not responsible for the best (or worst) sound. One can argue it may be more important than other part of the system. To imply speaker is what makes music sound good by itself is completely off base. If that is the case, there won't be market for audiophiles .
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Old 03-16-2014, 06:56 AM   #136
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THis thread makes for fascinating reading. Truly impressive efforts at geting some gory details of sound reproduction chain.

I am strictly a casual listener with mostly stuff cobbled together from Goddwill and Craigslist sources lately.

The main setup in the living room is a pair of JBL c5 I acquired some 30 years ago driven by a Realistic STA2200 receiver amp. Mostly to get decent sound if watching TV program that has orchestra involved. Otherwise it is off.

My other set is in work area, Carigslist specials (total cost around $200) pair of Infinity speakers driven by Pioneer SX 727, CD or Youtube music, jazz, international, chanson, bachata etc. dance music, or Sarah Brightman et al.

Lastly at the camp pair of Yamaha tower speakers, can't remember the model, driven by an aftermarket auto radio with built in CD player, and a modified turntable all on 12 volts. Total Goodwill/craigslist cost around 150.

The main camp building is cavernous, running the volume at more than 1/2 is too loud. The space is 25x50 20' high sloping ceiling. The acoustics are great. Sarah Brightman's Las Vegas CD, is as if I was there. By the way, the speakers are suspended from the ceiling's I beams, abut 8' down from the ceiling and around 6' from the nearest wall.

My technical 2 cents worth is, rooms that have minimal amount of parrallel walls, and/or minimal perfect flat surfaces sound best, as in acoustically quiet, since no re-inforcing echos and reverbs can exist. I find the perfect suare rooms with smooth perfectly finished walls to be acoustic horror chambers. Oh and never put the speakers next to the wall.

While I have the equipment to do full frequency sweeps and spectrum analysis, I am just not that interested. Mostly belong to the sounds good enough club. Always used the finest quality zip cord from the 5 and dime for speaker wires or whatever happened to be in scrap bin... One wire set at the camp is cut up extension cord that I fund in a scrap heap.
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Old 03-18-2014, 01:59 PM   #137
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Does the owner really need 1,400W of amp in a room of that size

"Need" has nothing to do with what this thread is about
Good also for boats, motorcycles, bicycles, guitars...
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:24 PM   #138
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I have been a casual listener until recently when I realized that I had not been using my existing toys er, equipment to their full potential. And my posts have been meant as a personal answer to the perennial question posed to retirees, particularly early retirees: "What ya do all day?". A distant relative did ask me that recently.

After this rush of speaker tweaking, I will think of something else to spend my time. Right now, it is still ongoing, as I start to think of some other things to experiment with. Following is an example.

I have read that stereo imaging is better with speakers with fewer drivers. That eliminates the problem with the phasing and time alignment of the drivers, something that expensive speakers are so because of the effort spent in the design, and sometimes in the individual tuning of each speaker! I realized that I had a couple of small speakers that were part of a mini-CD player meant for a bedroom. They have a single 3" full-range driver, and I guess "full-range" here means perhaps down to 150Hz from such bitty driver. Because they look well-made, I thought why not hook them up to a full-size receiver to see how they sound. It's time I do some critical listening with these little beauties. See the photo below.





I put on a rendition of "Moonlight Sonata" and wow, these little babies passed through every note of the piano clearly. I will not exaggerate and say that it sounded like having a grand piano in my room, but it was a lot better than I had assumed.

So, I tried a piece of rock music next. Well, if I turned the bass control on the amp to max, they sounded better, but the volume was a bit low. What's the efficiency of these? Couldn't be more than 82 or 85dB. How about cranking the volume up a bit? Uh Oh! The clipping light on the amp flashed on. That's no good so I immediately turned it down. The plate on the back of the speakers said 20W max.

Anyway, I thought that the next thing to do was to couple these small speakers with a subwoofer, something like the Bose Acoustimass 5 subwoofer that I bought at Goodwill for $5 because the satellite speakers were missing. I have not even hooked up that subwoofer since I bought it. I had read that Bose stuff tend to be overpriced, but how could I refuse as that price was too good to pass up - with the 2 satellites speakers, the retail price is still $400, and people are willing to pay that. Besides it let me see for myself what was inside that woofer.

No, I have not hooked it up, but I did open it up to see the inside. What was interesting was that Bose used two long lamps as protection devices for the satellite speakers; as excessive currents are passed through the satellites, the series-connected lamp filaments heat up, increase their resistance and limit the current flowing through. Interesting, practical, and probably a very effective method.

But I digress. Anyway, I had brought this subwoofer up to my 2nd home, so do not have it here. Darn!

So, you can see that I like good deals from thrift shops. I lucked out with the above deal, although I do not go there that often.

And by the way, as zip cords are mentioned as speaker wires, I have no problem with these, other than that as the conductors are not well-marked, it takes some attention to get the speakers connected with the right phasing. A 18-gauge wire has 6 milliohms/ft, and as my wires are no longer than 6 ft, the resistance is 0.006 Ohms X 6 ft x 2 conductors = 0.072 Ohms. That is sufficiently small compared to the speaker impedance of 8 Ohms or 4 Ohms. No buyer of Monster cable here.
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:52 PM   #139
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And Monster cable used to be the decent cheaper stuff...

My Tact processor has built in room correction, one of the very first to offer it. It makes a nice difference to the sound. However, when I try to run the calibration sequence it usually gets my parrots yelling along with it. So I'm kind f stuck with my original setup. They're fine with movies and TV, but the test bursts set them off. I'm too lazy to move them out and back just to see if I can update my sound a little. Much less move everything out back and running measurements.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:18 PM   #140
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Join Date: Sep 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Paul View Post
...

Here's a question ... what are some of your favorite high quality recordings?

Sinatra at The Sands ... w/ Count Basie
Mark Knopfler ... Sailing to Philadelphia
Bob Marley and The Wailers ... Uprising and Survival
Muddy Waters ... Folk Singer

Those are a few that come to mind right away.
Great question, and I took the liberty of starting a new thread for it, so the suggestions can stand out away from all our other talk.

Your Favorite "Audiophile" Recordings

-ERD50
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