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Buying floor speakers

AlpineAlpine Registered User regular
I'm moving into a new place next year, and I want to do my bedroom up right. I want it to be about as GQ as possible. I'm thinking a white and woodgrain decor would be great.

So, to go along with that, I want to pick up some of what I've always wanted but never had the room to have them - a killer sound system that looks great. Floor speakers could accent my desk or shelves really nicely, I think.

bensherman_rightpic3.jpg

Something like that - woodgrain box, either 3 or 5 way speakers.

I've been looking around on eBay, and I've found a few that are pretty nice looking, but I'm not really sure what I'm looking for to make sure they're quality speakers. Good brands, ideal specs, anything like that would be helpful. We're not in an apartment or anything, so these things are allowed to get loud.

My input would likely be my iPod to begin with, but I hope to get a turntable soon. I need a master console to connect the speakers to to use my iPod, right?

Basically, what do I need to get some bitching sound without looking like I picked my speakers up at a Logitech clearance sale?

Alpine on

Posts

  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2008
    What's your budget? Generally speaking, speakers that both look really nice and provide good sound aren't cheap. Which is more important to you, if you have to pick? Something pretty, or something that sounds good?

    ElJeffe on
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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    You may not like what I have to say, but audio performance is highly subjective. When I was looking into speakers for my 2-channel setup I went to various specialty audio stores, one had speakers that were (I shit you not) $40K per speaker. Like any technology product there are nuts who are willing to sink enormous amounts of money into it (for questionable or marginal "improvements").

    I recommend you take a few of your favorite cd's and go to the big box stores and listen to speakers (make sure the source cd/receiver/amp stays the same between tested speakers). If you want to risk spending more, go to the specialty A/V and audio shops and do the same (test speakers with known content, but maintaining the same audio "source"), know that specialty stores often have treatments on the wall and floor to reduce audio reflections. Mainstream brands of speakers would also sound better if demoed in the rooms of specialty audio stores.

    If you want to go all audiophile and look at used I suggest you check out: http://www.audiogon.com/

    If your audio source is an iPod you will need some form of amplification to make your speakers sing (unless you've modded your iPod to have speaker outs somehow :P), so you could get a receiver. If your audio source is a turntable, you'll want that receiver to have a phono in.

    And if you want to get stupid, you could get a phono stage (cheap ones don't have volume control, not cheap ones are retarded expensive, what I did was pick up a mixer thing used on ebay which had multiple phono and line level inputs) and feed that into discrete amps.

    Djeet on
  • AlpineAlpine Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I'm not a total audiophile. I'm currently using the JBL OnStage Micro for my dorm room:

    51fLdMHfG8L._AA280_.jpg

    and I still use the standard earbuds for my iPod. I honestly don't think I could tell the difference in sound quality between speakers in a given price range.

    I don't want or need speakers that will rattle the windows, just some that will fill a middle-sized bedroom with sound.

    So, to answer your question, Jeffe, I'd like them to look great first, but still sound pretty good. My price range is around 400 dollars - I'll be using my attendance bonuses from my summer job to get them.

    Alpine on
  • RoundBoyRoundBoy Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I just happened to buy the Polk Monitor 50's in cherry, just the other day :

    Here

    I paid $129 shipped each. And i intend to follow it up with a CS1 center speaker shortly, as soon as the prices are back to reasonable.

    I'm still waiting on a receiver, a component table, and cables... but so far :

    IMG_1089.jpg

    RoundBoy on
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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I completely and totally recommend Klipsch if you can afford it.

    Such as these...

    rb35400x400.jpg

    Which at $399 per pair, aren't too terribly priced.

    AbsoluteZero on
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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2008
    I recommend Paradigms to anyone who can afford them. They sound as good as speakers several times their price, and generally look right sweet. The Mini Monitors will run you $320/pr:
    minimonitor_2_off.jpg

    If you suddenly become wealthy, go for their Signature series. The Signature 4s will run you a couple grand, I believe, but it's damned handsome speaker with ZOMGAWESOME sound:

    signatures4_12_off.jpg

    ElJeffe on
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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    *I hate "me too" posts, but I pretend to be an audiophile*

    Paradigm makes well performing speakers, and they use good veneers so they look good.

    You can get fancier looking speakers but they start to go up rapidly in price (all I can think of is dahlquist because I like the name, but there are dozens of brands in England/Europe that make sexy looking speakers that sound good).

    Paradigm is canadian, there are many well performing canadian brands. I think the government dumped $texas into r&d for speaker technology since the 80's, and that's why now canadian brands provide some of the best value for speakers available to north america.

    Also OP said floor standers, just so's you know bookshelf speakers perform just as well, you may just have to turn the knob to 4 instead of 3. Alpine, you got a receiver?

    Djeet on
  • AlpineAlpine Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I don't have a receiver, no. I should have said that in the OP, but I know I can't just plug an iPod into a pair of these speakers.

    I might have an old one at home, I'll check it out when I'm there next weekend.

    Alpine on
  • RoundBoyRoundBoy Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    what is your price range? its kind of hard to recommend speakers when you can go from $50 to $5000.

    I'm sure $5k speakers are the cat's pajamas, but if you can get 90% of the enjoyment out of them in $200 speakers, then, well ?

    RoundBoy on
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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Do you have any carpentry experience? You could totally build your own speakers.

    Improvolone on
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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Alpine wrote: »
    I might have an old one at home, I'll check it out when I'm there next weekend.

    Use that one, or pick one up cheap on craigslist. An old receiver will do fine for you and should have a phono input (for your turntable) and you can get a cable that's 1/8" to RCA to plug your iPod directly. Or you can use any stereo RCA cable to connect your JBL device to the receiver. Then you can spend more money on the speakers.

    Also, if you can time it right and you want paradigms, see if you can get them when the new line comes in. At that time the a/v store will want to get rid of old stock and you can get a decent discount (sometimes 20-30%). I dunno when the new line is supposed to come out, but I got 2 speakers for about 30% off because the day I went they were trying to clear out old stock.

    Djeet on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2008
    From what I head, building your good-sounding speakers isn't hard. Building a pair that look really polished, though, may be the tough part.

    And Roundboy makes a good point - the quality of sound from a pair of speakers plateaus with increasing price. The difference between a $50 pair and a $500 pair will be striking. That between a $500 pair and a $50,000 pair will be something only a complete audiophile will be able to detect, and I'm convinced that 90% of the people who claim they can head a distinct difference are lying to justify the obscene chunk of dough they dropped on them.

    Me, I can't really tell the difference in quality once you get to speakers around a grand/pair or so, and I consider $400-600 per pair (talking front channel, here) to be the best combo of quality and affordability. As with all things A/V, you really want to shop around and experience things for yourself to find out how much you really value the quality you can get.

    If your principle concern is looks, you may want to consider just buying a used pair off eBay. You'll be able to see what they look like, and they'll probably sound good enough, whatever they are. I mean, it's not like you need high-end speakers to capture the AWESOME FIDELITY of a bunch 128k MP3s.

    ElJeffe on
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  • RoundBoyRoundBoy Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I mean, it's not like you need high-end speakers to capture the AWESOME FIDELITY of a bunch 128k MP3s.

    This.

    The amount of people with very expensive speakers also having awesome source material is staggeringly low.

    RoundBoy on
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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    From what I head, building your good-sounding speakers isn't hard. Building a pair that look really polished, though, may be the tough part.

    If you can do a mitred edge, it's easy. If you can't, take a lot of care when you're lining up the pieces and so long as everything is nice and level when it's together, it'll be fine. Building a box is just about the easiest thing you'll ever do with wood.

    Cutting holes for the speakers isn't AS easy, but if you've got the right tools, just keep in mind that the hole is smaller than the basket :P If the results are uneven or even octagonal, it won't matter because no one will see.

    Finding a cheap source for speakers, picking out a set, and wiring them will be the hard part. The actual soldering is simple, it's the figuring out how to wire them that's tricky.

    Pheezer on
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  • AlpineAlpine Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    RoundBoy wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I mean, it's not like you need high-end speakers to capture the AWESOME FIDELITY of a bunch 128k MP3s.

    This.

    The amount of people with very expensive speakers also having awesome source material is staggeringly low.

    See, cause this is what I was thinking. Right now, I think my JBL sounds great for speakers that are usually less than 18" from my head. I'll check out eBay and some audio stores, find something that looks good. Thanks guys, I'll check out Klipsch and Paradigm, I like their stuff from their websites.

    Alpine on
  • MblackwellMblackwell Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    RE: Ease of Building Speakers...

    Granted depending on the size of the box and the type of wood you use combined with the actual size of the speaker cone you'll get a different sound...

    Mblackwell on
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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2008
    No, you just use MDF and you secure it with woodglue and screws. Then you use woodglue to attach a veneer and stain that. The only time you might have sound concerns is if you have speakers that might need to be ported, in which case you'll need to be a lot more precise with your cuts.

    So don't buy speakers that aren't meant for a sealed box application. MDF is cheap, dense, and once you add a coat of primer to it, perfectly safe. It's incredibly hard, and better than just about any natural wood you could imagine for the box construction. Speaker boxes are one case where you really do want a veneered manufactured wood.

    Pheezer on
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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    RoundBoy wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I mean, it's not like you need high-end speakers to capture the AWESOME FIDELITY of a bunch 128k MP3s.

    This.

    The amount of people with very expensive speakers also having awesome source material is staggeringly low.

    It's a little different if these same speakers are going to be part of a home theater setup. Especially with the newer digital audio formats offered by Blu-Ray.

    Or... even less likely... if you are like me and have a collection of DVD-Audio discs.

    AbsoluteZero on
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  • Descendant XDescendant X Skyrim is my god now. Outpost 31Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Pheezer wrote: »
    No, you just use MDF and you secure it with woodglue and screws. Then you use woodglue to attach a veneer and stain that. The only time you might have sound concerns is if you have speakers that might need to be ported, in which case you'll need to be a lot more precise with your cuts.

    So don't buy speakers that aren't meant for a sealed box application. MDF is cheap, dense, and once you add a coat of primer to it, perfectly safe. It's incredibly hard, and better than just about any natural wood you could imagine for the box construction. Speaker boxes are one case where you really do want a veneered manufactured wood.

    Quoted for truth. While the only type of speaker box I've ever made was a sub box for my car, it was surprisingly easy. I imagine the most difficult part would be selecting what kind of veneer you wanted...

    Descendant X on
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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2008
    Price is a good way to pick a veneer :P

    Maple looks good, stains to any colour you can imagine and is the most reasonably price "good" veneer wood you'll find.

    Pheezer on
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  • Akilae729Akilae729 Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    This is what I would do if I were you, especially if you are using an iPod as your source.

    I would get a receiver and speakers on craigslist. The iPod at around 80% volume is around line level, so any receiver with a tape input will work amazingly with the iPod. Its what we do in my apartment and it sounds great. Like they are saying, its not worth it to spend a lot of money if your iPod is the source, and honestly if you get something that isnt a TOTAL piece of shit on craigslist it'll sound good. You can even get something older because you don't need any crazy inputs for surround sound or shit like that. It'll look cool and you can get a speaker set up just like your sample pic.

    Get something like this
    http://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/ele/603253341.html (more stylish)
    or this
    http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/ele/607281058.html

    I personally prefer the older style.

    As far a speakers go, if this is for your bedroom, it doesn't have to be THX certified, unless thats also going to be your home theater. Get some ridiculous used speakers that are fucking huge. Put one on either side of your bed and make them your end table. Put a lamp and an alarm clock on one, the receiver and your iPod shit on the other.

    Something used, cool, and old
    http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/ele/607761856.html
    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/ele/607746950.html
    http://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/ele/607710970.html
    http://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/ele/606883984.html

    Maybe GQ to you means getting the all new hook ups, but I always found older stereo equipment to have a level of class to it. Maybe its my own thing. But you are going to look like a boss, and get the proper hook up for about $200. You just have to look around. I assume that you don't live in seattle so this stuff is just examples.

    Then when you want to hook up the iPod just get this or something like it. This one is expensive but it will look nice
    http://www.amazon.com/Dayton-3-5RCA-12-3-5mm-Stereo-Cable/dp/B000F7P7EW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1205660092&sr=8-3

    Plug one end into the iPod and the other into the receivers Tape In. Turn the pod up to around 80% then crank it through the receiver

    Akilae729 on
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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2008
    A good way to judge the quality of an unknown, old piece of audio hardware is weight. If it's heavier than it looks and it was made prior to 1980, there's a good chance it's pretty good. If you're not spending too much money, this should be enough of a rule of thumb to go by.

    Pheezer on
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    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
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