Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fun at the hifi store

Edit: Just to let you know, I found out that the Klipsch speakers I used were RB-61s rather than RB-52s. I don't feel like changing everywhere I mentioned them so I'm just putting this here.

I went to a nearby HiFi store recently. It was a great store, very helpful in my quest to get good speakers. Right now I'm really liking the Paradigm Titan Monitors (they're bookshelves). They sounded pretty good. They also pointed out to me why people are saying new Klipsch products don't stack up to the old ones. The Paradigms did cost $50 more than the Klipsch RB-52 bookshelf speakers (I decided they are good enough to wait 'till I have a job for), but there was a noticeable difference in sound that makes them worth the extra $50. While the Klipschs were also good, the problem was that in comparison to the Paradigms, vocals were less full and the sound muddled together just a bit. I was using Smash Mouth as demo material, anyone who knows them will know that their songs tend to be pretty busy, pretty often having a lot of sounds going on at once. They were more defined and separate on the Paradigms than on the Klipschs. Later on I got to use some of their floorstanders (from their Reference series, it was either the hueg RF-82s or the hueger RF-83s, not sure which, but they're pretty similar) and surprisingly enough, I still prefer the sound of those Paradigm bookshelves. Either Klipsch has gone down in quality (I can't say for sure though since I haven't heard their older stuff, but my friend's uncle seemed pretty sure that old Klipschs sound worlds better than new ones, and after hearing the new ones I wouldn't be so quick to doubt that) or Paradigm just makes a really mean pair of speakers. I'm not saying the giant Klipsch floorstanders were bad, they just weren't super good. I'm actually going to have to wonder if they were set up wrong or something or if they actually sounded like that. It sounded like either the lower mids were coming more from the tweeter than they should've, or the horn was coloring the sound in a fashion that I didn't like. Regardless of what it was, I preferred the sound of the Paradigm Titan Monitors. They also sounded better than some tiny Paradigm floorstanders that they had, though that was kind of expected since the floorstanders had smaller midrange drivers.
Leaning away from Klipsch wasn't the only thing I did there though. I also got to try the famous B&W Zeppelin. For those who aren't familiar with it, it's another one of those iPod docking speaker systems. It's probably the most praised one though. It costs (and sounds like) $500, it's one of the only speakers in the small "high-end" side of iPod speakers. Sadly I didn't get to spend more than about a minute or two with it, but it was great. It didn't sound like any iPod speaker I'd heard before, the sound is like a pretty good home stereo. Vocals were clear and full, instruments sounded real, everything was great about it. Probably the biggest problem with it is that most people who buy iPod speakers only do it for casual listening. But if I had the money I'd snatch one up right away and find a use for it, it becomes much more worth the money after you get to listen to one (as opposed to reading very favorable reviews online).
As well as that, I got a chance to speakers from B&W's 800 series (I believe the ones I used were the 802Ds, but I could be wrong). I can't say enough about them. Music has never sounded so good. He (the salesman) first put on the Smash Mouth CD I'd brought with me. It sounded awesome, I'd never heard Smash Mouth sound that good. That played for a bit, then he gave me back the CD and put on a Beatles record. These were the first speakers I'd listened to that showed a big difference between vinyl and CD. Yes, I know Smash Mouth and The Beatles are pretty different in style, but that doesn't change how good The Beatles sounded, especially through these speakers. Everything sounded very warm and real. The definition was incredible. All the instruments, the guitar, the drums, and of course the vocals, all would've made you look to see if The Beatles were in the room. I can't imagine a pair of speakers being better than those. Unfortunately they were $14000, but now I'll know what kind of speakers to look at when I'm ready to spend that much money. Here's a fun fact, the 800 series floorstanders are used for mastering.
So those were my adventures at the speaker store. Drop me a comment if you've got any comments to drop.

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