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  1. #1

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    Default Monitor 10B vs. modern speakers

    Hi guys. Here's the deal - my speakers are Monitor 10B, circa 1985 (real oak veneer, excellent condition :) ). In the last few years I have been upgrading my audiophile equipment up into that rarified spectrum where I have to worry about such insane crap as how my power cords sound...if you have been there you know what I am talking about. Recently I bought a Bel Canto eVo2i Gen II integrated amplifier that I am extremely happy and impressed with...well I am sure it has outclassed the rest of my system.

    Throughout all the auditioning of amps, preamps, interconnects, power cords, and speaker cables, the one constant has been my 10Bs. I have never been disappointed with the sound of them, and they certainly seem to have the resolution to project the subtle nuances of all the A/B comparisons I have done. But I can't help but wonder if I missing out on whatever modern speakers have to offer.

    I know, I know...I will only find out by listening. No doubt, but I am hoping you guys have gone through this before and can offer opinions as to what it would cost to improve on the 10Bs...there is always room for improvement in audio (I'm guessing the Wilson Audio Alexandrias at $135,000 are somewhat better :p ) but I don't want to buy $2000 speakers and not see significant improvement. Heck, what is the $600+ my Polks cost me in 1985 worth in todays dollars anyway?

    TIA for your input...
    Steve Carlson
    Von Schweikert VR-33 speakers
    Bel Canto eVo2i integrated amp
    Bel Canto PL-2 universal disc player
    Analysis Plus Oval Nine speaker cables and Copper Oval-In Micro interconnects
    VH Audio Flavor 4 power cables
    Polk Monitor 10B speakers, retired but not forgotten

  2. #2

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    if you like the 10's, upgrade to some sda's or srs's. great sound at a bargain price compared to new high end speakers. i have 4 pairs of polks; guess it's a disease!

  3. #3

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    I'm in an oddly similar boat Flash... I have the same vintage Mon 10Bs and am very much interested in 'modernizing' them to a tower configuration (with Passive Radiator on the side) and am taking a serious approach in the research aspects to determine how they would be 'expected' to sound before i spend the dollars on new cabinets. You can find a thread on this website titled, "Monitor 10B Reconfig" to find out why I want to do this.

    As far as your specific issues, there are some amazing differences with soundstage between the older Monitor series and the SDA's due to the vastly different approaches to each design, but I'm with ya on the overall concern... you aren't likely to find a set of speakers that will sound to you, that much "better" unless you spend a whole lot more than you did for the M10's. The fact that you have a pair with genuine oak veneer is great! At least they look better than those veneered in vinyl walnut like mine are. If I were to put an overall value on the sound of the Mon 10's, I'd have to compare them with new speakers in the $800/pair and up range. These old speakers still produce musically invoked emotional responses... (that says alot really, besides the fact that it is a bit wordy). The butyl rubber surrounds on the 6.5" drivers just don't break down like the foam surrounds do on other designs. The silver coil domes are brilliant, and the bass is extraordinary.

    If you're a diehard Polk fan, and haven't auditioned the newest tower designs, then you won't need this link, but if you're a DIY kind of person with enough technical expertise and crafty cabinet making workmanship skills, consider a very well researched and tested MTM design (or other) from www.zaphaudio.com . The designer is an old friend of mine. We listened to the M10's together many moons ago. He decided he wanted to build his own stuff and over the years has become a very reputable and knowledgeable designer. You would be very surprised at how little you have to spend to get $2000.00 performance.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by harlow
    if you like the 10's, upgrade to some sda's or srs's. great sound at a bargain price compared to new high end speakers.
    Actually, a few years ago I auditioned a few other Polks, including Monitor 12B and one of the lower SDA models, but kept coming back to the 10Bs...the 10Bs were just better dynamically. The SDA imaging was neat but the rest of the sound was timid by comparison. That's what I recall, anyway...
    Steve Carlson
    Von Schweikert VR-33 speakers
    Bel Canto eVo2i integrated amp
    Bel Canto PL-2 universal disc player
    Analysis Plus Oval Nine speaker cables and Copper Oval-In Micro interconnects
    VH Audio Flavor 4 power cables
    Polk Monitor 10B speakers, retired but not forgotten

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldcrown4
    I'm in an oddly similar boat Flash... I have the same vintage Mon 10Bs and am very much interested in 'modernizing' them to a tower configuration (with Passive Radiator on the side) and am taking a serious approach in the research aspects to determine how they would be 'expected' to sound before i spend the dollars on new cabinets. You can find a thread on this website titled, "Monitor 10B Reconfig" to find out why I want to do this.
    I threw in my two cents over there...sounds like a fun project no matter what the results.

    As far as your specific issues, there are some amazing differences with soundstage between the older Monitor series and the SDA's due to the vastly different approaches to each design, but I'm with ya on the overall concern... you aren't likely to find a set of speakers that will sound to you, that much "better" unless you spend a whole lot more than you did for the M10's.
    Yeah...speaker are just such a pain to buy, ship, and audition that I have been resisting the whole idea...

    The fact that you have a pair with genuine oak veneer is great! At least they look better than those veneered in vinyl walnut like mine are.
    I don't recall what the premium was for the oak veneer back then, but I am very glad now that I spent the extra money! Have you ever seen the oak? It is a light oak, and the front edges of the cabinet are bevelled, unlike the vinyl ones were at the time. Pretty sharp.

    If I were to put an overall value on the sound of the Mon 10's, I'd have to compare them with new speakers in the $800/pair and up range.
    You could very well be right...I think speakers have actually experienced "deflation" in terms of bang for the buck, certainly in the last 10 years anyway.

    These old speakers still produce musically invoked emotional responses... (that says alot really, besides the fact that it is a bit wordy). The butyl rubber surrounds on the 6.5" drivers just don't break down like the foam surrounds do on other designs. The silver coil domes are brilliant, and the bass is extraordinary.
    Good point about the surrounds, that has definitely contributed to the longevity of these speakers...
    Steve Carlson
    Von Schweikert VR-33 speakers
    Bel Canto eVo2i integrated amp
    Bel Canto PL-2 universal disc player
    Analysis Plus Oval Nine speaker cables and Copper Oval-In Micro interconnects
    VH Audio Flavor 4 power cables
    Polk Monitor 10B speakers, retired but not forgotten

  6. #6
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    Nothing wrong with being comfortable with what you have....

    What you may want to look for is a discernably different listening experience, rather than the illusive better one. Check out some Magnepans. Used, anything from the 1.6QR's down will give you that "experience" for $1000 or less.
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner

    Rebuilding Maggie 2-ch & Amazing 2-ch... Building 2-ch "wall"... Figuring out the HT

  7. #7

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    Magnapans are very interesting, and another local company for me, like Bel Canto. From what I have read they don't like being close to a wall though, so I wonder if I have enough room for them. Out of necessity I have my AV equipment along the long wall of a modest living room...no way to have the speakers more than a couple of feet from the wall.
    Steve Carlson
    Von Schweikert VR-33 speakers
    Bel Canto eVo2i integrated amp
    Bel Canto PL-2 universal disc player
    Analysis Plus Oval Nine speaker cables and Copper Oval-In Micro interconnects
    VH Audio Flavor 4 power cables
    Polk Monitor 10B speakers, retired but not forgotten

  8. #8
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    True, Maggies like to be 2.5' or so away from the wall.

    Similar breakout would be a pair of Carver Amazings. They don't mind hugging the wall and have bass to burn, which the Maggies don't. While the big ones (Originals, and Platinums) are space eaters, the Silvers, to some extent, and the Al-III's, to a great extent, are quite room friendly. All are avaialble for under $1000 used.
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner

    Rebuilding Maggie 2-ch & Amazing 2-ch... Building 2-ch "wall"... Figuring out the HT

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tour2ma
    Nothing wrong with being comfortable with what you have....
    I like what I hear, and I'm not the sort who does change for change's sake, but I also don't want the speakers to be holding the rest of the system back...

    I'm not familiar with the Carvers, might have to look into them.
    Steve Carlson
    Von Schweikert VR-33 speakers
    Bel Canto eVo2i integrated amp
    Bel Canto PL-2 universal disc player
    Analysis Plus Oval Nine speaker cables and Copper Oval-In Micro interconnects
    VH Audio Flavor 4 power cables
    Polk Monitor 10B speakers, retired but not forgotten

  10. #10

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    One cannot go wrong with Magnapans... I've had the privilege to audition a pair in the past at a place called, 'The Gifted Listener', in Northern Virginia... wonderful... always loved the transparency of ribbons, electrostatics, and similar. When I was much younger, early teens I imagine, my dad's friend had an old pair of Janszen Electrostatics, and a 600w per ch Hitachi receiver (the kind that had the radio dial that, with one quick flick of the wrist, would send the Hz marker all the way across the FM band. We would play sound effects LPs back then, and be amazed at how quasi-unconscious drunk adults would wake up and look out the windows for the train about to come barreling thru the windows. Oh the memories...

  11. #11

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    I'm going to echo the recommendation to look at SDAs, but I'm going to come up short of recommending the SRS, 1.2 or 1.2TLs. For music, I really think the SDA 1C is the sleeper of the line. Either alone or with a nice musical sub (I have a HSU Research prototype that I use with mine).

    Given their price point on the used market ($400-650 per pair), these are a steal. At that price you could afford to drive a distance to pick up a pair and still be way ahead...

  12. #12

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    Or for that matter a pair of CRS or CRS+ with a sub.

    Two Channel Setup:

    Speakers: Wharfedale Opus 2-3
    Integrated Amp: Jolida JD1502
    CD Player: Jolida JD200
    DAC for Computer Music: Peachtree Dac it x
    Turntable: Rega P5 - TT-PSU
    Cartridge: Clearaudio Aurum Beta Wood
    Phono Preamp: Musical Surroundings Phonomena II

    3.2 Home Theater Setup:

    Fronts: Polk LSiM 703s
    Center: Polk LSiM 703
    Subs: SVS PB 12 NSD X 2
    AVR: Yamaha Aventage RX-A2030
    Blu Ray: Sony BDP-S790

  13. #13

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    You know, the more I think about it, I am inclined to stick with the 10Bs...all the likely options for replacement I have looked at are in the 2-grand range, give or take, and that is a LOT of money for an incremental improvement. Of course, I paid $1650 for my integrated amp, but is was only $350 more than my previous amp...a much more palatable jump than to shell out $2000 for new speakers, less whatever I could get for the Polks (if I could even bear to sell them...probably not).

    And the fact is, I am happy with the 10Bs. Last night I was playing an obscure CD "The Ed Palermo Big Band Plays the Music of Frank Zappa" (highly recommended for any Zappaphiles out there)...there is a song called "King Kong" where they use a drum that must be a big as a house (presumable to simulate King Kong stomping around) that generates a loud rumble that seems lower than thunder even...well I am very impressed that my Bel Canto has the guts to push that much power, and even more impressed that the 20-year old Polks with their little 6.5" drivers and passive radiator can positively rattle the house with it, and with no sign of strain!

    There is also another much quieter song on that CD where I was listening to the mallets move back and forth on the xylaphone, low to high...imaging is excellent, despite any alleged muddiness due to the side-by-side midbass drivers. I have to believe that 90% of the imaging is produced by the single tweeters anyway (The lower the frequency, the less "directional" our hearing gets - hence the viability of a mini monitor w/single subwoofer system).

    I guess the cost/reward ratio just isn't there, at least not for new speakers. Of course there is always the used market...
    Steve Carlson
    Von Schweikert VR-33 speakers
    Bel Canto eVo2i integrated amp
    Bel Canto PL-2 universal disc player
    Analysis Plus Oval Nine speaker cables and Copper Oval-In Micro interconnects
    VH Audio Flavor 4 power cables
    Polk Monitor 10B speakers, retired but not forgotten

  14. #14

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    I'm with you, Flash. My 10s with the upgraded tweeters sound outstanding. I like the stereo image and the bass is fantastic. Enjoyable sound from top to bottom.

    Two Channel Setup:

    Speakers: Wharfedale Opus 2-3
    Integrated Amp: Jolida JD1502
    CD Player: Jolida JD200
    DAC for Computer Music: Peachtree Dac it x
    Turntable: Rega P5 - TT-PSU
    Cartridge: Clearaudio Aurum Beta Wood
    Phono Preamp: Musical Surroundings Phonomena II

    3.2 Home Theater Setup:

    Fronts: Polk LSiM 703s
    Center: Polk LSiM 703
    Subs: SVS PB 12 NSD X 2
    AVR: Yamaha Aventage RX-A2030
    Blu Ray: Sony BDP-S790

  15. #15
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    ^^ Just don't fear used and you can chop that $2K in half or better...

    I seem to see alot of used ebay gear in Minnesota. Keep your eye out for local P/U auctions and have at it. UNless you go crazy bidding, you can almost always get your $$$'s back out...

    Til then, enjoy...
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner

    Rebuilding Maggie 2-ch & Amazing 2-ch... Building 2-ch "wall"... Figuring out the HT

  16. #16

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    I'm not afraid of used, particularly for solid state gear and such...speakers are so much harder to ship, and cosmetics are hard to judge and are more important for speakers, just makes it difficult. I have bought lots of stuff used - my integrated came from Vancouver (technically it was a dealer demo), which was a little ironic since Bel Canto is about 12 miles from where I live, but to get a $3200 amp for $1650, with factory warranty, what the heck.

    And FWIW Magnepan is about 5 miles from my parents house...

    Anyway, the trick is auditioning and deciding what I want...once I know that, the used market is definitely an option.
    Steve Carlson
    Von Schweikert VR-33 speakers
    Bel Canto eVo2i integrated amp
    Bel Canto PL-2 universal disc player
    Analysis Plus Oval Nine speaker cables and Copper Oval-In Micro interconnects
    VH Audio Flavor 4 power cables
    Polk Monitor 10B speakers, retired but not forgotten

  17. #17

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    If Magnepan is that close, you might as well try some MMG's just for comparison's sake. They have a long trial period(something like 60 days), so you could return them if you wanted to. Plus, they are only about $500.

    For the same price, you can pick up a nice set of SDA's from about the same time period as your 10's. Using the same gear, you would be amazed at the results.

    Zach
    Tschüss
    Zach

  18. #18

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    I agree the 10B’s are tuff to beat. I was in the local high end shop the other day looking at some Transparent cables and the owner asked me to check out some new B&W 805S, I think he said they went for $2800.00. I have to tell yeah I have three pairs of the 10B’s and I wouldn’t trade any of them for those B&W’s. Man, what is it about that Monitor 10 design?
    O

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