I had the recent opportunity and challenge to find some speakers for my dadís enormous living room. It is open to a large kitchen a hallway and has at least 25 ft high ceilings and glass windows encompassing one side.
The speakers are restricted to being placed on counter tops and which means bookshelves. My budget is around a thousand dollars for the system. This is flexible and I my final decision is around 1300 dollars.
This system is not for music but for 90% home theater and I wanted to spend almost half on a good sub so I should spent around 250 for the bookshelf speakers.
I wrote down some notes and did this almost like a tournament where I had four speakers and I put two against each other and the winner that won would advance. The setup was all Marantz. Receiver and Cd changer and A/B comparison. I donítí have the exact model number of the receiver but it was probably around a grand.
Though I donít have the most elaborate vocabulary when it comes to describing things I will write some quick tidbits and hopefully theyíll come out ok.
For looks the Triangle is the prettiest with a nice light wood finish and silver grill and face actually work well. The Monitor Audio look pretty conventional and boxy, but the silver driver is eye catching. The Klipsch are defiantly eye catchers but look too attention grabbing to blend in a room. The PSB Image are the loser when it comes to looks. It has a very slight curve to it but are still boxy and have weird indentions around the tweeter face.
Triangle Horizon Sathis @ $500 retail. Vs PSB Image B25 @ $450 retail.
My initial listening with the Triangle is simply this has a beautiful sounding tweeter. This speaker doesnít lack when it comes to the midrange and I believe there highs and the upper mids were truly lively. The mids were ok and the bass was present, not boomy and controlled. This is a quick and responsive speaker. No speaker in all of the matchups could match the tweeter for music. With all of the other speakers Michael Buble didnít sound excited to sing on the speaker, but when the Triangleís came around Buble spirit and heart came with his music. Another interesting thing to note about this Triangle which stood out from the rest is its vertical dispersion. The sound would follow you around the listening area, not just from seat to seat but from standing to seating. This would make it more forgiving to my countertop which would place the tweeter higher than the ear. The Triangle revealed more detail than the other bookshelves, but not too much more. It did have a great separation of instruments on parts of my 2046 soundtrack and had a huge soundstage and precise imaging for such a small speaker. The speaker was so lively with music that it felt like the rhythm of the song was sucking you in to the experience. While the bass was quick it didnít possess the impact. When pushed to high volumes though, this speaker will show itís flaws quickly and just wasnít made for large rooms, which is what I need.
The PSB Image B25 was a decent competor to the Triangleís but in the end was stomped on by the Triangle. The PSBís strong points are room filling bass that is a little boomy and slower than the Triangleís but the impact was there. Itís midrange and tweeter are good, for the price though. Of all the tweeters the PSB was third, but was very close to the Monitor Audio B2ís. The PSB Image really is a bookshelf that can gave up detail and separation for a huge soundstage and the wow factor. This is the perfect bookshelf for movies.
The winner for me was the Triangle, but since I wasnít shopping for me and I needed a bookshelf for specific requirements, the PSB Image 25 won.
Next up are the Bronze B2ís @ $400 retail and the Klipsch RB-51ís @ $350 retail.
Iíve heard a lot of good things about Monitor Audio and I wasnít let down. The Bronze B2 is a great all around speaker for music and movies. The tweeter isnít as lively as the Triangle but still able to convey detail and separate the entire soundstage into small segments. The vocalís in ďSomos NoviosĒ by Andrea Bocelli and Christina Aguilera were compressed and smooshed together in the Klipsch and PSB, the Triangle and the Bronze separated them into two distinct voices. With male vocals, Buble and Andrea Bocelli in this case, the B2 actually sounded warm, and had a slightly laid back sound.
I thought I would walk in and come out with Klipsch because of their reputation at producing great home theater speakers and their overwhelming brightness. Wasnít true today. The Klipsch wasnít actually that bright at all. The knowledgable salesperson helping me told me that Marantz with some Nordost speaker cable helps tame the highs. This speaker had moderate bass and surprising impact throughout the mids and some lower bass, but unfortunately itís soundstage was too narrow for what I needed to do. I quickly eliminated this Klipsch.
My final match up was the next day between the Monitor Audio B2ís and the PSB Image B25ís.
In the end these guys were extremely close, but the B2ís couldnít perform enough in the lower mids and didnít have enough impact for the amount of movies it would be put through. The PSB Image 25 was the perfect bookshelf to fill the large room with sound, provide everyone with a good seat, provide good impact, as well as have a great big matching center to boot.