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$23 speakers at Best Buy that measure well and sound good - Page 3

post #31 of 473
Quote:
Originally Posted by classicalguy
Although comparing what it would cost you to buy the components and design a speaker (quantity one) is not really relevant.
Perhaps it's not relevant to you, but for those who have been critically examining speakers for a long time, parts selection is relevant to a great degree. Money doesn't always determine the sound of a product, and that swings both ways.
post #32 of 473
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbulack
OK, some impressions from these Insignia Bookshelf speakers which arrived at my house last night. I ran them for a few hours last night, and I've been running them for about 8 hours today. Not anywhere near run in as far as I'm concerned, but, then again, I'm not a speaker guy, and my interest is in an improvement in a pair of speakers with a "scooped out" FR that I paid WAY too much for in the mid-eighties ( $230 / pair for Boston Acoustics A60's). Already, the Insignia's have loosened up enough to be offering up an across-the-board more satisfying listening experience. Their high end is already downright lovely - airy, detailed, and nicely balanced with the mids and lows. I'm also already getting a very satisfying performance in the lows: nicely toned, abundant enough, and extended enough to offer an overall balance with which I am really happy. The mids are already more balanced with respect to the highs and lows than they've ever been with the BA A60's, and I'm fully expecting the mids to blossom even more with continued use. I'm getting really lovely decay and, at times, surprisingly engaging imaging in the sound to give my ear some real listening treats along the way. The geometry of my speaker listening is that I sit 8 - 9 feet from the speakers, which are about five feet apart and pointed toward where I sit.

I'm REALLY happy with this purchase already, and I know that the sound I'm getting will only continue to blossom as the speaker elements loosen up and settle in to their best performance. For what I paid ($46 / pair) and the improvements over my A60's that I'm already enjoying, this purchase is the Sweetest Sweet Spot I've encountered to date in my two and a half years in this hobby. So, a great big thanks to all of you who brought this amazing deal to my attention. Just a really lovely and fully ear-satisfying sound for my more relaxed (but not undiscerning) speaker listening.
Sounds fantastic Sbulack! Thanks for posting your impressions. The nice thing about these speakers is that they should be relatively insensitive to room placement, and work well in smaller rooms, thanks to their uniform power response.
post #33 of 473
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by classicalguy
T-Amp measurements are all over the map. I suspect it depends quite a bit on the power supply. I think they sound great, and there is nothing to compare them against in that price class. Measurements are relevant, but there is a lot to sound that doesn't come through in the limited measurements available.
Well, with the T-Amp, the measurements are pretty descriptive. The T-Amp tends to be described as having "fantastic air and detail", which is easily explained by the rising top octave. The midrange prominence reflects the amp's stock bass rolloff, and the somewhat compressed sound reflects the amp's lack of power. The power supply doesn't make that much of a measurable difference.

It's a decent amp for the very low price, and I don't mean to badmouth it by any means, but the reason I don't consider it a good value is because it starts to lead you on a goose chase that ends up costing you more than if you would have chosen a higher quality amp to begin with (such as the Super T-Amp, the Pioneer A-35R, or a well-chosen used amp on eBay). You need to upgrade the power supply, the coupling caps, and many people like to upgrade the pot and binding posts, and at the end of that you still have an amp with little dynamic headroom and a rising top end response. Most troublesome though is that having a non-neutral amp like that tends to make you search for speakers that compensate for the amp's deficiencies, which ends up costing you money and leaving you with non-neutral speakers. Of course, the opposite can also be true... non neutral speakers tend to drive the search for non-neutral amps that balance them out.

I don't think the T-Amp is a bad choice though for an application where sound quality isn't paramount and where you won't be tempted to fuss with upgrades for it, such as a garage system, or an infrequently used bedroom system, or for office background music. I agree, there aren't many alternatives at that price point, even on eBay, though hitting garage and estate sales may be an option.

Quote:
I'm not dissing the X-LS speakers. I'm sure they are a good deal for the money. Although comparing what it would cost you to buy the components and design a speaker (quantity one) is not really relevant.
It is relevant as a barometer of value. Even though we pay about 5 times (sometimes 10 times) what an OEM would pay in quantity for drivers, other costs such as MDF and veneer are within 2 times what an OEM would pay, we do not have labor expenses, and most important, DIY speakers do not have the massive markup that most commercial speakers do. That's why finding a pair of commercial speakers that are cheaper than we could build ourselves is worth mentioning. It suggests the potential for good value. I could build Totem Rainmakers for cheaper than their retail price, but I could not build the X-LS for cheaper than their retail price (even though they're superior to the Totems). That makes me have special respect for the X-LS as a good value.

That's also one of the reasons why the DIY crowd finds these Best Buy speakers fascinating. For the price, you could throw away the drivers and use the cabinets, with the kerfed parts filled, for a project with Seas coaxials, or throw away the crossover and use it as a base for learning crossover design. The nice thing though is that you don't have to throw anything away if you're just looking for good inexpensive speakers, since the stock drivers are actually pretty good, and the crossover is decent too.
post #34 of 473
Wodgy: The T-Amp comes with no power supply at all. You either need to use AA batteries or buy a supply. It is very underpowered with the AA batteries. With a regulated 3A supply, it works great.

I never suggested buying a T-Amp and modding it. I use it out of the box, and it sounds great with my small bookshelf speakers. It sounds much better to me than a mid-fi receiver or my old Hafler DH-220 (which was a big and much more expensive amp). I have not compared it with the Super-T or any of the more expensive amps using the chip. I'm not saying it's perfect and I'm not comparing it with multi-thousand dollar amps. But for $35 it's great. People should enjoy it for what it is. If not, they should buy something else (and more expensive). I agree that it makes no financial sense to mod it. But that's not the point.

Buying speakers only to throw away the drivers to use it's flawed cabinet? These upgrades don't make a lot of sense to me. If the speaker sounds good out of the box, it's worth buying to me. If not, then I'm not interested. Adding $150 in parts to a $40 speaker, plus a lot of labor, to make them sound almost as good as a $200 set of speakers? I don't get it. I think people are fooling themselves into thinking they are going to turn a $40 speaker into a high-end product. I like the review comparing them to the Boston A-60s. I have a pair of Bostons from that era too, and they are disappointing. No where near as good sounding as a pair of Kef Chorales or B&W 302s that I have. I'm really interested in these for desktop computer speakers (powered by a T-Amp).
post #35 of 473
They look pretty good for $50 speakers, but I'm not too sure that the GR Research modded versions are worth it though. You can easily pick up the Infinity Primus 150 at that price, which sounds good and measures well.

I dunno how well these would work with a T-Amp. They have pretty low sensitivity, and unless you're working in very nearfield conditions, the T-Amp/Insignia pairing likely won't have enough dynamic range to be satisfying.
post #36 of 473
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvin
They look pretty good for $50 speakers, but I'm not too sure that the GR Research modded versions are worth it though. You can easily pick up the Infinity Primus 150 at that price, which sounds good and measures well.

I dunno how well these would work with a T-Amp. They have pretty low sensitivity, and unless you're working in very nearfield conditions, the T-Amp/Insignia pairing likely won't have enough dynamic range to be satisfying.
Do you think I should get the Infinity Primus 150 instead of the Insignias? Will the Infinity Primas 150 pair well with the T amp?
post #37 of 473
Quote:
Originally Posted by classicalguy
Buying speakers only to throw away the drivers to use it's flawed cabinet? These upgrades don't make a lot of sense to me.
I don't know if you have tried to make your own speaker cabinet, but it sure is worth it to me. For $50, you can discount most of that cost for the price of raw materials and on top of that, a full time weekend or two doing physical labor (and access to table saws and routers, lots and lots of sand paper, and a lot of money in bar clamps.) It's a bargain to anyone conscious of this, unless they consider the cabinet building a hobby. Good designs are hard to come by at low prices in the commercial world, which is why many of us diy speakers. DIYers can buy plenty of high quality drivers for a couple hundred bucks, stuff you won't see except in commercial designs costing multiple thousands of dollars, and nice quality xover components that you won't find in commercial designs anywhere at all, but the cabinet is always a huge hiccup. Commerial designs always have to deal with that pesky dealer markup, which at least doubles every leg of the chain in this particular market. Again, as Wodgy has nicely stated, that makes deals like the insignia and the x-ls very intriguing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spareribs
Do you think I should get the Infinity Primus 150 instead of the Insignias? Will the Infinity Primas 150 pair well with the T amp?
The coaxial nature of the insignia does it for me, plus you have a $90 upgrade path if you ever feel like it down the road.
post #38 of 473
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spareribs
Do you think I should get the Infinity Primus 150 instead of the Insignias? Will the Infinity Primas 150 pair well with the T amp?
The Primus 150 should do pretty well with a T-Amp, althought I haven't tried it yet. They're sensitive enough to use with a T-Amp in nearfield configuration, and the T-Amp's bass roll off is a non-issue with most small bookshelves.
post #39 of 473
Btw, Zaph has already published some trap circuits that you can implement on your own without buying GR's uber premium alpha core foil inductors and diy your own damping and absorption.
post #40 of 473
Thread Starter 
It's worth being realistic about the T-Amp. There are no low cost speakers that really shine with the 0.125 watts of music power the T-Amp brings to the table:
http://www.michael.mardis.com/sonic/sonic3.htm

I know ooheadsoo has experienced the same thing. It's easy to fall in love with the sound of a gutless amp, because many of them have a nice top end, but eventually you realize something's missing in terms of dynamics. In my case I was using 93dB/watt speakers with an amp about twice as powerful as the T-Amp, and I don't listen loud.

Choosing speakers specifically to match with a low cost amp like the T-Amp doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Choose speakers you like. The T-Amp will drive them passibly well, regardless of a few dB here and there of sensitivity. If you upgrade later, you're not boxed in to compromises you made to accomodate a $30 amp.

In the $200 range, the Infinity Primus 150 look good, though because they use metal cone drivers, I would personally choose the X-LS instead.
post #41 of 473
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by classicalguy
Buying speakers only to throw away the drivers to use it's flawed cabinet?
I only meant that for tweakers and the DIY speaker community. What I meant is that it's cheaper to buy these just for the boxes than it is to build boxes yourself, or to buy raw boxes from Parts Express (minimum $130+shipping just for raw boxes) or Madisound.

The Insignias stand on their own merits as reasonably good measuring speakers with decent quality drivers for $23 each, no tweaks required. If someone feels like tweaking them, go for it, but the original reason I started this thread was because I felt they were a good value on their own out of the box.

Compared to the usual "home theatre in a box" stuff and other things you usually find at Best Buy for similar prices (low end Jamo, etc., with plastic cabinets), I thought these speakers appeared to be a very good deal. I'm also in AJ's camp with respect to coax speakers... they tend to have a cleaner power response due to the built in directivity and relative lack of combing effects, which makes speakers like this practical in real, untreated rooms.
post #42 of 473
Only just discovered this thread - but, wow: Nice find, Wodgy - the construction seems very well worth a try for the price.

Oh, and just btw, I'd very much second your and ooheadsoo's speaker-diy related comments - even though my experience is probably already a bit outdated (last one was a two-way ~ 1 m floorstander using some Seas polyprop 21 cm mid/woofer & Seas 25 mm Alu tweeter (ferrofluid cooled one with integrated air chamber) & minimalistic 6 dB crossover somewhere around 2.5 kHz, iirc, in an irregular triangle closed 1.6 cm birch multiplex enclosure with bitumen & wool damping, which I've designed for a friend in the early 90s...): Choosing a couple of good drivers that match nicely, designing a nice little crossover for these and soldering everything together is comparatively easy compared to producing a good enclosure with flawless finish. The latter is also the part which requires most tools, workspace and craftsmanship skills. And good wood doesn't come cheap, either...

Greetings from Hannover!

Manfred / lini
post #43 of 473
"It's worth being realistic about the T-Amp. There are no low cost speakers that really shine with the 0.125 watts of music power the T-Amp brings to the table:
http://www.michael.mardis.com/sonic/sonic3.htm"

Well, there are many reviewers and users, including me, who disagree with you. I have 4 T-Amps. I use them with Kef Chorales, B&W 302s, NHT Super Zeros and some older Boston speakers. The speakers have never sounded better with any other amp I've tried. Sound is clean, articulate, natural. The amp is extremely quiet. There is no audible clipping, and there is plenty of volume. I listen to music at natural acoustic volumes. If you want to shake the walls, this is not the amp for you.

Personally, I think the .125 watts discussed in the article is utter nonsense. His theory used to arrive at that number would also apply to any other amp - take the voltage output and subtract 18db. All power ratings would be much lower. Maybe that's an accurate way to truly measure power output, but it would apply equally to all amplifiers and would simply result in much lower output numbers. The real world performance of a power amplifier with real world speakers is not changed by his theoretical measurement argument.

So, Wodgy, have you ever actually listened to a T-Amp? If so, with what speakers and what power supply? Or are your opinions based solely on the measurements you've read about?

I would be interested in hearing from someone who has tried a t-amp with the Insignias. They have an efficiency rating of 91, which is more efficient than most of the speakers I have successfully tried with a T-Amp, so I'd be surprised if the T-Amp can't power them adequately at reasonable levels from relatively close range. But the proof is in the listening, not in the theoretical arguments of people who are selectively posting articles from the internet to support a position at odds with the experience of the many users who are regularly enjoying their $35 t-amps.

"Choosing a couple of good drivers that match nicely, designing a nice little crossover for these and soldering everything together is comparatively easy compared to producing a good enclosure with flawless finish."

Well, I disagree for a couple of reasons. First, the reviews say that the Insignia cabinets are not particularly good enclosures. Second, most do-it-yourselfers don't have the test equipment and skill to put together a great set of speakers. I have heard quite a few diy speakers, and they have all been flawed IMO. The people who built them think they sound great, but I think that's a lot of cognitive dissonance. The cost of the design and testing work that goes into speakers by top manufacturers is spread out into a large volume of product. That's why I say that the cost of purchasing components to build one speaker is not a good way to measure the worth of a retail speaker - unless of course your intent is to use the drivers for something else. It may cost you $100,000 to buy each each of the parts you'd need to build a Hyundai sonata automobile, that doesn't mean the car is worth $100,000. Nor does it indicate what the speaker component cost the manufacturer to build. They can price the individual components any way they want to. Unless you plan on doing something else with the components (and the speaker happens to have the precise components you want), the only thing that matters to someone who is not going to modify the speakers is the relative sound/cost of the finished speaker.

There is no doubt that the T-Amp is a flawed component. Every component has flaws. We are a very long way from reproducing the sound of live music. The question is whether the tradeoffs, with properly matched components, makes a good sounding system. My t-amps have given me a lot of pleasure, and brought new enjoyment to speakers that were gathering dust in the garage.
post #44 of 473
Quote:
Originally Posted by classicalguy
The people who built them think they sound great, but I think that's a lot of cognitive dissonance.
Surely you realize that this comment swings both ways? That's why measurements must be relied on to serve as a barometer of which way the wind is blowing.

The Insignia cabinets are ok with the application of $5 of putty and damping of the top and bottom panels. That's an ok deal by me.
post #45 of 473
I don't know anything about speakers but I just stopped by Best Buy this morning and picked up a pair of these Insignias. They were $49.99 plus tax. so it came to around $53.

These are big speakers. I never bought bookshelf speakers before and I was expecting something like computer speakers. But they are very different. And these are heavy too! I was struggling a little carrying them. It was like lifting heavy weights at the gym.

I am listening to them right now and wow! They are so powerful! I was actually frightened when I put on an orchestra CD. It actually put fear into me as the sound was so strong and powerful. I can't believe that I was trembling. The bass is strong too. Lots of full body in these speakers. Way more than my computer speakers. I'm impressed and in audiophile heaven.
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