Dvddvd

So have speakers really got that much better?

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I have a mint pair of 1996 reference model 2 floor standers speakers. Which I paid £450 for second hand.

I had the four bass drivers re foamed last year so they are like new in condition.

Fast forward twenty years or so and I see kef reference model 3 speakers at £7500 so how far has technology advanced in speaker design ? They come up with new materials and new cabinet designs but would it really be a night and day moment if I heard some?

i can not afford any and there is no Kef reference dealers close by, but did go out of curiosity and heard a pair of £12500 B & W 803D3 at my local dealer.

I was not blown away, the treble sounded sharper and airier but was not as focused as my Kefs not sure it was because mine are toed in more? Also was not familiar with the tracks he played?

So in 20 years has technology advanced for the better or is it all a promotional sell?

Edited by Dvddvd

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Loudspeaker driver technology I think has improved considerably, but I don't think that the results have. Too many modern loudspeakers have excessive HF and a boosted bass, or putting it another way, a recessed midrange. There is no technical reason for this other than presumably to sound impressive on a demo, especially when compared to loudspeakers with a flatter frequency response.

However, I  am heartened at the increasing number of active loudspeakers with DSP  crossovers that manage to take advantage of the better drive units and are equalised to provide an accurate flat response. 

Modern loudspeakers also tend to be able to play a lot louder than was the case, say, 40 years ago. Ironic when modern houses are smaller, towns are more crowded, and disturbing one's neighbours more likely.

Having said this, there's something very right about the sound of certain vintage designs, from the KEF reference series, Quad's electrostatics, B&W's DM series, IMF's transmission-line  range and all the BBC-inspired designs such as Spendor, Rogers and Harbeth. Those, I think, are as good as anything today for natural presentation. 

S

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I don't think they are any better at all. They still all use the same basic principles. They may well have tighter tolerances now but some of the older models / designs still sound the best to me. Early, early speakers then ok but 20-30 year old 'good speakers' are quite likely to sound as good or even better than modern depending on the model. 

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I recently demoed a very high end, large standpoint. It is very highly regarded, was beautifully made and sounded superb. I think retail is 9k.it wasn't better than what I had to my ears and in my room, so I didn't buy. What I had was two pairs of highly regarded, 30 year old designs.


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I think that by the 1990's we had done pretty much everything there was to do. Since then the industry has marketed the hell out of everything but none of it is really new, just repackaged. The primary driver now is aesthetics. 

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7 minutes ago, Cable Monkey said:

I think that by the 1990's we had done pretty much everything there was to do. Since then the industry has marketed the hell out of everything but none of it is really new, just repackaged. The primary driver now is aesthetics. 

 

I think you are not far wrong there Henry.

7 hours ago, SergeAuckland said:

or putting it another way, a recessed midrange

Not always a bad thing a slightly recessed midrange. Great for driving speakers loud and hard without being painfully fatiguing, especially with amps that really shout at you. Had some nice upmarket speakers even with this character but ultimately I moved them on, but I'd still revisit a few. 

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11 hours ago, Dvddvd said:

I have a mint pair of 1996 reference model 2 floor standers speakers. Which I paid £450 for second hand.

I had the four bass drivers re foamed last year so they are like new in condition.

Fast forward twenty years or so and I see kef reference model 3 speakers at £7500 so how far has technology advanced in speaker design ? They come up with new materials and new cabinet designs but would it really be a night and day moment if I heard some?

i can not afford any and there is no Kef reference dealers close by, but did go out of curiosity and heard a pair of £12500 B & W 803D3 at my local dealer.

I was not blown away, the treble sounded sharper and airier but was not as focused as my Kefs not sure it was because mine are toed in more? Also was not familiar with the tracks he played?

So in 20 years has technology advanced for the better or is it all a promotional sell?

About two inches further forward :)

Looking at the hardware (drive units) not a lot of change has happened in the last 50 years .. we have had different chassis materials, different magnets, different cone material and each has its good points and bad points ... so in reality a superb pair of speakers bought in the last 40 years are still a superb pair of loudspeakers .. (if you don't believe me just look at how much a pair of LS35A loudspeakers costs you second hand).    What has happened is more money spent on crossover components (better capacitors and exotic materials like silver wiring) and improvement in high frequency speakers (diamond tweeters etc.)  .. So the technology has advanced (but not by much) :) .. the Loudspeaker is still one of the most inefficient devices (output for power in) made :) .. In reality the last major design advancements were electrostatic and advancement of ribbon technologye.g. quasi ribbons like Magnaplanar with true ribbon on a mylar film according to their blurb .. I am no technical expert).

Interestingly in the guitar world, guitarists seek original old alnico drive units as their performance and sound is considered better than modern counterparts :) 

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I was wondering about this recently! I currently use some B & W DM4 speakers, they are a great long term listen, and just sound 'natural' (whatever that is) with no bit's sticking out. 

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2 minutes ago, uzzy said:

so in reality a superb pair of speakers bought in the last 40 years are still a superb pair of loudspeakers .. (if you don't believe me just look at how much a pair of LS35A loudspeakers costs you second hand).

 

What's amusing is people are still designing loudspeakers to sound as close as possible to these. As you say a good loudspeaker is a good loudspeaker.

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No to original question ...

Perfectly objectively-subjectively possible to enjoy c. £13 speakers on e.g. PC as much as £100,000 speakers on 'hifi' ...

Many prefer to listen to 'phone via vile-sounding overpriced e.g. Apple-Samsung etc smartie.

My landlines at home cost c. £3.99 each a few years ago and sound better than iPhones etc/cause less crashes-sleepless nights etc etc (unplugged most of time).

I love speakers safely-aptly chosen-installed-maintained.

Edited by Chumpy

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12 minutes ago, Chumpy said:

No.

Perfectly objectively-subjectively possible to enjoy c. £13 speakers on e.g. PC as much as £100,000 speakers on 'hifi' ...

 
 

Absolutely agree.  But there are things that stand out, or become the must owns amongst audiophiles. I've heard some hi-end systems at shows I thought were garbage.  And I've even heard some cheapo PC speakers for around £20 which I thought were great, but they're' obviously not the same as a full hi-fi.

Edited by eddie-baby

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Something either works for you or it doesn't. I've spent many years trying different stuff, especially speakers, and the factors involved make it a lottery. It's why I never bother reading reviews anymore because they simply mean nothing regarding speakers unless your listening room is identical to that of the reviewer.

But the biggest thing is that we all want something slightly different. I've heard systems that have been raved about and thought they were nothing special. I'm sure plenty have been underwhelmed when they visit here, even though I like it. As for technology moving on, I'm with Serge. The drivers may well have improved but the end result is the same or worse.

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23 minutes ago, bandit pilot said:

Something either works for you or it doesn't. I've spent many years trying different stuff, especially speakers, and the factors involved make it a lottery. It's why I never bother reading reviews anymore because they simply mean nothing regarding speakers unless your listening room is identical to that of the reviewer.

 
 

The reviews are not a bad guide but you're right they should be taken with a pinch of salt. But I've read so many now I can usually work out whether something is going to work for me or not :) Still love reading them   :) And speakers can be an absolute minefield to get right.

Edited by eddie-baby

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I used to buy whathifi magazine. And it always seemed to give a product 5 stars and next to the review was a full page ad on the certain product? So a case of give us a good score and we will pay for a full page ad?

They can not be many speakers made at a certain price point that are dogs? I'm sure if your manufacturing speakers you know what they should sound like?

So how much does a speaker cost to make? I took my Kef reference apart when I was re foaming the drivers and there's not a lot inside? £10 worth of MDF? 3 drivers? Binding posts, metal base and wood veneer ?

So is a lot of the money spent on advertising (hype)  development and lots of blokes in an office in and around Cambridge?

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Guest MJ.

IME any improvement in speakers is at the frequency extremes. I'm not a bass head and I'm 50 years of age, so neither of those extremes really affect me.

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