Small, discrete speaker systems; Bose or alternatives?

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  • Small, discrete speaker systems; Bose or alternatives?
  • thx1138
    Member

    So, the home entertainment revolution is gathering pace, and I’m probably going to go for an Airplay based set up, as it seems the most flexible and best value solution. Audio duties will be done using Airport Express units connected to speakers systems. iPad and NAS for control and file storage.

    Like many of you blokes, I also suffer the ‘I’m not having those ugly great things cluttering up the place’ issue with the wife. Which means something more discrete is required. I’ve seen and heard those tiny Bose speakers in various places, and they look ideal really. A subwoofer can be hidden away out of sight. Will be a compromise between sound quality and aesthetics. Not after ‘audiophile sound quality’, that’s just a load of waffle and I doubt I can hear the ‘difference’. Just something that sounds good, without costing the Earth really. Does anyone else use such a system, and what options are out there?

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    That Bose setup does not include a subwoofer – those crappy little speakers cannot handle enough frequency range to allow the ‘subwoofer’ to stop operating at 100Hz, as it should do otherwise you will be able to hear where the subwoofer is.

    Look at something else, they are too small.

    I doubt I can hear the ‘difference’

    can you tell the difference between some talking to you face to face, and listening to someone down the phone? Then you will be able to hear the flaws in the Bose setup.

    Premier Icon Kamakazie
    Subscriber

    I wouldn’t go anywhere near Bose despite knowing people who are happy with their own setups.

    There are a lot of significantly better compact speakers on the market.
    I’ve nit looked into it for a few years but have a look at Kef, Monitor Audio and Anthony Gallo for a start as they all used to do very good compact speakers.

    Then when you are more confused, go ask on AV forums.

    messiah
    Member

    I’m hoping there is going to be somewhere in the living room I can hide a pair of these.

    Alternatively if I win the lottery she might let this in the house

    Premier Icon somafunk
    Subscriber

    Check out AudioEngine A2 speakers or the AudioEngine A5, i’ve got two sets of the A2 along with the AudioEngine subwoofer, perfect for Airport express duties.

    I’ve been recommending them on here for years and there’s a fair few folk who’ve bought them and are very happy with the sound and ease of use.

    Don’t go near any BOSE, marketing twaddle and utter guff sounding products, but if you like to spend your money supporting a massive marketing campaign then go ahead

    Mr Woppit
    Member

    Like many of you blokes, I also suffer the ‘I’m not having those ugly great things cluttering up the place’ issue with the wife.

    I just don’t get this. Whose house is it?

    Mind you, I’m not married, so what do I know?

    allthegear
    Member

    While the Airport Express has wonderful functionality, it’s Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC) is a bit on the cheap side. If your chosen amplifier has a digital in port, use it. If not, buy a basic DAC as well.

    Yes, even for compressed .aac files…

    Rachel

    thx1138
    Member

    Ok, so the Bose speakers aren’t popular on here! I’ve never heard any ‘in anger’, only in restaurants/cafes etc and on low in other houses. But a similar type solution is preferable; something where the speakers don’t dominate the room like the current floorstanders do. Yes, I’ll be compromising a bit on sound quality, but compromise is a very key word here.

    I just don’t get this. Who’s house is it?

    Our house. Not just mine. Hence the need for compromise.

    Mind you, I’m not married, so what do I know?

    Not enough to comment, obviously.

    Then when you are more confused, go ask on AV forums.

    Please, don’t curse me so. Those places are terrifying and seem to be inhabited by people who are more concerned with the ‘sound’ than with the actual music.

    Those Audio Engine’s look ok, but possibly a bit small for the room. Some small speakers that can be mounted on walls, coupled with a discrete subwoofer, would be the ideal solution really.

    headfirst
    Member

    I’ve been very happy with my Bose Sound Dock that I’ve had for about 7 years. It fills my 25’x 25′ living room with lovely loud music.

    Clearly this makes me an un-educated Luddite. God knows how I’m even managing to type this on a computer.

    allthegear
    Member

    Oh – I like the look of the Linn Kiko!!! I’m not sure the speakers are any more discreet than my Linn Kan’s on Kan stands, though.

    Rachel

    thx1138
    Member

    There’s a few sets on this site; anyone have any experience of any of them?

    http://www.sevenoakssoundandvision.co.uk/c/tv-home-cinema_speakers

    messiah
    Member

    The Kiko looks fab but at a price!!!!

    My wife likes the look of the B&W A5 system. On first listening the sound quality seems pretty good and it fills the room nicely for a small box as long as you keep away from high volume. It looks quite understated rather than discete.

    2bit
    Member

    ‘Sounds good, is small & doesn’t cost the earth’ speakers?

    JBL Control 1s?

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Those Audio Engine’s look ok, but possibly a bit small for the room.

    small for the room, but you’re considering the crappy Bose’s?

    I thought this was a compromise – doesn’t sound like a compromise to go from floorstanders to those micro Bose things.

    How much of the rest of the house has been decorated to your wife’s taste, and how much to yours?

    I bet that isn’t a fair division, so you probably have some margin in there to reach your compromise.

    Are your floorstanders particularly ugly/large? you could go for something smaller/narrower – like PMC FB1s – or something that had furniture grade cabinets, like the old Ruarks.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Does it need to be more than 2 channel – those Kef LS50s are supposed to be very good, put them on some good looking stands, like the new Slate Audio ones.

    Premier Icon dazh
    Subscriber

    I also have the Audio Engine A2 speakers. They’re much louder than you’d think for speakers so small. However as they’re designed as computer speakers or small monitors (I think!) you have to be pretty close to them to get the full benefit. Once you move more than a metre or so away from them the bass drops off quite a bit. They still sound good though, I have them in my kitchen, and they’re small enough to take with you when you go away somewhere.

    allthegear
    Member

    TurnerGuy speaks the truth – a really good 2 channel system is way better to actually listen to than an average 5.1 / 7.1 / whatever.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    TurnerGuy speaks the truth

    🙂

    and add a nice sub for movies to help with the dynamics – REL Strata maybe.

    andyl
    Member

    B&W MT-50?

    or a set of KEF if on less of a budget.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Depends on your priorities – if you watch movies/tv all the time then OK, but if you want the option of listening to an album instead one evening, or the live MTV channel then something like the LS50s will dance all over a multichannel setup.

    marsdenman
    Member

    My Quad 12L’s & stands are too big for the new lounge (and, TBH, too little used)… when we get the new TV, i’m hoping to drop these 22 x 15 x 20cm beauties somewhere ‘discrete’, adding a sub at some point.
    MrsMM may kick up a fuss but she is the big film watcher in MM Towers so I’m confident she will grow to like them pretty quickly.

    Spongebob
    Member

    Not after ‘audiophile sound quality’, that’s just a load of waffle and I doubt I can hear the ‘difference’.

    Regrettably, i think this is a typical and widespread uninformed view! Same as the people who don’t believe cables make a difference to sound quality. Until you have listened and made comparisons in a properly set up demo room, please don’t make assumptions.

    Sub/sat systems are sonically inferior, by a big margin, but they integrate in most British living rooms where women rule and there’s sxd all space elsewhere in the home.

    If you want just OK sound, spend £200 on a one box surround / Blueray system, but you will be missing loads where music is concerned. If you love music, surely you would want to hear as much of the content of the recording?

    There are sub/sat systems from many manufacturers at hugely different prices. Personally, I think there is a ceiling on what one should spend because of the limitations of such a speaker arrangement. Ultimately, it’s more about the bling factor than anything else. A movie soundtrack does not require audiophile grade equipment, so there’s no point in wasting your money unless you are rich and/or a fashion victim.

    KEF were always a significant player in multi-speaker systems, but many others have jumped on the bandwagon. As for Bose, well they are like Bang and Olufsen – a premium but mediocre brand that owes it’s success to a very expensive marketing campaign and a high street presence, paid for by the ignorant fools who think they are getting the best.

    If you want to properly listen to music, you need a real HiFi with a straight stereo pair of speakers, stand mounted, or floorstanding. If what it the equipment looks like is more important than its performance, then you don’t need any recommendations from us.

    thx1138
    Member

    Does it need to be more than 2 channel

    No. The existing set up is 2-channel.

    So, would something like those Acoustic Energy speakers and a subwoofer be ok then? Would come in well under ‘budget’*.

    Richer Sounds have some good packages there.

    This looks good:

    http://www.richersounds.com/product/speaker-packages/cambridge-audio/minx-s212/camb-minx-s212-whi

    But would it be like the Bose system? Limited in terms of sound quality? Is it better to get ‘proper’ small speakers and a sub? Active or passive sub?

    How much of the rest of the house has been decorated to your wife’s taste, and how much to yours?

    About equal really. We share the same tastes. I agree with her that the current floorstanders are ugly. As the living room is not a properly acoustically treated listening environment, but an actual working normal living room, I doubt that a small compromise in terms of audio equipment will make all that difference to our enjoyment of music. Plus wall mounted speakers allow for more flexibility when we have family/guests over, especially if they have small children with them.

    thx1138
    Member

    Regrettably, i think this is a typical and widespread uninformed view! Same as the people who don’t believe cables make a difference to sound quality. Until you have listened and made comparisons in a properly set up demo room, please don’t make assumptions.

    I have. I also have several friends with ‘audiophile’ systems. Such things don’t turn me on; maybe I just don’t have ‘golden ears’. Pearls before swine. And I’m not about to dedicate loads of time, effort and money to treat a room to a standard that can justify such equipment.

    If you want to properly listen to music, you need a real HiFi with a straight stereo pair of speakers, stand mounted, or floorstanding.

    No, you are completely missing the point of this thread; what I need is something that can deliver a fairly faithful reproduction of the recording, in order that I can simply enjoy the experience. I already own a pretty decent set-up, I’m just looking for a solution that won’t sound significantly worse.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    I’m just looking for a solution that won’t sound significantly worse.

    any of those multi-channel setups will – think of the budget that you have to spread across 5 speakers and a subwoofer.

    These babies are small but would require standmounting – but sound very musical and have quite a good bass extension, so you may not require a sub, depending on your room size:

    http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/stirling-broadcast-ls35a-v2-loudspeaker/

    http://www.stoneaudio.co.uk/?product=stirling+broadcast+ls3%2F5a+v2+monitor+loudspeaker

    I can lend you some to try if you are near me – Horsell in Surrey.

    headfirst
    Member

    Ok, I’ll bite.

    From the OP:

    I’ve seen and heard those tiny Bose speakers in various places, and they look ideal really.

    But he can’t make his mind up for himself so changes his mind based on the fervent rantings of internet experts, who’ve read too many What HiFi reviews, and so now exist on a higher plane of audio intelligence to us

    ignorant fools

    who made the mortal sin of being sucked in by a

    mediocre brand that owes it’s success to a very expensive marketing campaign and a high street presence.

    rather than having bought a product more than fit for the intended purpose.

    I might be an ignorant fool but at least I can see where I’m walking…

    Spongebob
    Member

    Maybe your mate’s systems weren’t set up right, weren’t well matched components etc. TBH, there are a lot who get it wrong, or simply have a strange perception of what an honest reproduction is. Personally, I like it to sound as natural and lifelike as possible.

    I once attended the Great British HiFi show in Buxton. Some systems were incredibly vibrant, dynamic – alive, others analytical and flat. They say each to their own, but surely lifelike is what one is aiming for. What I found was that valves, horn speakers and electrostatic speakers, using all sorts of esoterica hit the spot, but they were nearly all pug ugly and/or impractical. You need a big dedicated room for a real HiFi. Not many of us have that luxury.

    Acoustic Energy AE1’s on the matching AE stands would blow your socks off with their remarkable performance, but are compact.

    I couldn’t and still can’t afford these diminutive speakers, but which have a sound that one would expect from a large high end floor stander.

    Magic speakers, but lots and lots of money.

    thx1138
    Member

    To reiterate:

    I’ve never heard any ‘in anger’, only in restaurants/cafes etc and on low in other houses

    I wondered if others had experience of owning such a system, and what they thought of them. I haven’t been given a definitive answer on that score so far. Does/has anyone own/ed such a system?

    Or do you use something similar? Have you changed between a ‘proper’ hi-fi system and a ‘home theatre’ system? What are your thoughts on this?

    I can lend you some to try if you are near me – Horsell in Surrey.

    Very kind. Sadly nowhere near Surrey (I’m in north London).

    the fervent rantings of internet experts, who’ve read too many What HiFi reviews, and so now exist on a higher plane of audio intelligence to us

    This is the reason why I’ve not asked any of my ‘audiophile’ friends. Because they tend to tell me what they think I should buy, rather than actually listening to what I need.

    thx1138
    Member

    Maybe your mate’s systems weren’t set up right, weren’t well matched components etc. TBH, there are a lot who get it wrong, or simply have a strange perception of what an honest reproduction is.

    They sound fantastic. But then, so do my floorstanders (Mordaunt Short MS25i). Maybe I could tell the difference if i listened to the different set-ups, but I’m happy with what I’ve got. I don’t ‘need’ to spend thousands of pounds on hi-end gear; again, it’s pearls before swine.

    You need a big dedicated room for a real HiFi. Not many of us have that luxury.

    I don’t. I just want a reasonable compromise solution.

    As I like the MS speakers I already have, I’m wondering if these would work well as a package:

    http://www.richersounds.com/product/bookshelf-speakers/mordaunt-short/alumni-2/mord-alumni2-whi

    http://www.richersounds.com/product/subwoofers/mordaunt-short/alumni-9/mord-alumni9-blk

    The speakers have the advantage of being white, which would make them less obtrusive if wall-mounted.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    changes his mind based on the fervent rantings of internet experts, who’ve read too many What HiFi reviews

    I wonder how many people here read that Mag – I don’t – in fact I might read parts of one or two in a year, at most.

    and so now exist on a higher plane of audio intelligence to us

    well, at least to you…

    ericemel
    Member

    No one has mentioned Sonos…..? Would be my choice without going Hifi…

    Scalable from a single Play3 to a pair of Play5’s and a Sub without including the new Playbar.

    They may not be uber hifi (though my ZP90 is plugged into a Naim DAC and setup….) but they are really quite damn good.

    I too wouldn’t touch bose

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Sadly nowhere near Surrey (I’m in north London).

    that’s not too far, but you could pop into Walrus Systems in London to hear them. I am talking about the Stirling Broadcast version of the LS3/5a here, as it is a lot more capable – my wife likes them a lot.

    I wondered if others had experience of owning such a system, and what they thought of them

    what you don’t want is someone who has such a system but has never experienced better – they might think it OK and not realise that it is pathetic at reproducing real sounds like piano.

    Try it if you want, but be prepared to lose a lot of money when you decide it can’t reproduce music properly – the ultimate boom-and-tizz system.

    It might be best to buy such a system 2nd hand off ebay as then you should be able to sell it again without losing too much. Make sure you target a desirable model to do this.

    Let your wife notice that it sounds dodgy – then you will have more license to get something better.

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    The Kef egg type speakers are nice, as are the Missions.
    Not heard any others, apart from the Bose.
    The Bose are, er different.
    Very plasticky build.
    Some people swear by them, some at them.
    Not a fan, personally, but you may well be.

    We decided against it due to the cost and kept the small Denon all in one system for the main room.

    TBH, it’s ace, the small (Mission built) speakers live on wall brackets and sound very good indeed.

    You could have one in each room for the cost of a top end wireless set up. 😉

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    There’s a lot of insistence up there^ that hi-fi must be “lifelike”. Despite spending a few years of my life getting quite enthusiastic (but clearly no expert) about hi-fi, I never really understood this. Some recordings are engineered to sound “live” and anyone who has seen live music can make a reasonable comparison, declaring something lifelike (or not). However a vast swathe of the albums I’m sure we all listen to have been recorded to sound like the artist/studio engineer/record label wanted. Unless you happen to be in the recording studio with them when it was recorded how do you make an objective judgement on whether it sounds lifelike or not? I was watching “When Albums Ruled the World” last night, and artists put in a lot of effort to make their guitar, for example, sound like anything but.

    Buying hi-fi is like buying bikes. Try some and buy the one you like best. Don’t let anyone else tell you your ears are wrong.

    mrmoofo
    Member

    Cambridge Audio Minx satellites are good – well buidl, flat panel jobbies. Take a while to wear in. Can be used with most amps – but obviously are not going to be the best at 120 watts.

    Sound depends on what you want / how big the room is. I used to have a house with a big “man cave”. I constantly fiddled with the system to make it sound better. It never did match what I wanted. However go into a record shop , where it is all cranked up …

    AV stuff is smoke and mirrors to me. If you want a good music hifi then that is diffent to AV.

    I don’t have the space , so I have the Minx sat and sub run through an Arcam AVR280, with a really good qaulity arcam CD player.
    AV is run through whatever the digitial processor chooses for it. The CD goes through Stereo.
    They sound fine enough to me. TBH, I think the quality between digital recordings is so huge, esp sound levels, that it negates some of the audiofile stuff. Listen to stuff recorded by ssay The National, or Band of Horses, or the worls’s sweetheart, Adele, and then listen to Oasis, or Blur… brit pops recording quality is rubbish!

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    but obviously are not going to be the best at 120 watts.

    ???

    mrmoofo
    Member

    well, they blow at 60 !! 😀

    I know 😉

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    brit pops recording quality is rubbish!

    This – in a roundabout way – demonstrates the point I tried to make. The recording quality in many cases is not rubbish – especially for big artists like Blur and Oasis – it is just made to sound a certain way for the core market. Likewise an “audiophile quality” recording of a jazz guitarist will sound a bit naff coming out of lesser equipment. Look at the recent furore regarding bands like Coldplay engineering albums for iTunes.

    Some music sounds better on cheaper systems.

    Sonos? My customers sell it and rate it very highly in Jersey (lots of cash over there).
    Have various systems, small speaker units, audio hub to link to a bigger separates unit or the ultimate in invisible, the showroom is done in 5.1 ceiling speakers which give most average kit a run for its money when used with a decent sub!

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    well, they blow at 60 !!

    it is normally the other way round – you are safer with a higher power amp – run a lower power amp too hard and it clips, which puts loads of power up into the higher frequencies, and burns stuff out.

    Big amps won’t clip.

    That was where the NAD 3020 was so good – soft clipping meant you could turn it up more than its 20W.

    300W into 25W speakers in my case…

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