Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

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Hi GoodSound!,

I am from India. I have B&W 683 floorstanding speakers. I want to match an amplifier to these speakers. Can you help me out? Two amplifiers are on my mind: the Cayin 265Ai (pure class A) and the Sugden A21a (pure class A). Will these amps match with my speakers or are there other amplifiers you would suggest?

Thank you,

Although I've owned a number of B&W speakers in my lifetime, I'm not familiar with the 683s, so I looked up the B&W-supplied specs to gather a little more information. Their sensitivity is rated as 90dB, which is a little bit above average, and the impedance is rated as 8 ohms, but with a 3-ohm minimum. That 3-ohm spec indicates that they should be used with an amplifier with good current capability, although the highish sensitivity indicates that it doesn't need to deliver all that many watts of power.

Overall, that bodes well for the amps you've chosen -- their manufacturer-supplied specs indicate power output of less than 50Wpc for both (into 8 ohms), and, from what I can tell, the dip to 3 ohms shouldn't be an issue with either amp. But will the 683s play loud enough for you with these amps? There's no easy way to say because it will depend on your room size and, also, how loud is loud enough for your tastes. I hope that helps. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I just stumbled upon your article, "Avoiding Buying Crap."  I am looking to upgrade and have looked (researched) many of the names that you suggested. If you do not mind, I have a question. For a speaker budget of $1000, should I consider floorstanders or stick with bookshelf speakers? Also, in that price range, do you prefer any specific models? I am in RI and have to travel to listen to these speakers, so any advice that you can pass along would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

This is a common question that has no easy answer. With a $1000 budget, you should consider floorstanding and bookshelf speakers, since there are quite a few models of each type that may suit you. If you go with bookshelf-type speakers, though, you must also factor in the price of stands. (They're often called bookshelf speakers, but most audiophiles put them on stands, so it's for that reason that I prefer to call these small speakers stand-mounted designs.) Specific model numbers and names would be too difficult to recommend in any reliable way, but if I were in your shoes I'd look at the various models in these lines right now: Monitor from Paradigm, Verus from Aperion Audio, StudioMonitor from Definitive Technology, Image from PSB, and Aon from GoldenEar Technology. There are others you could look at, but there are a number of floorstanding and stand-mounted designs in these line-ups that would satisfy most listeners. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

You seemed quite impressed with the new Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 55 at the audio show some time ago. Now that they have hit the stores, I was wondering if we can expect a review sometime soon.


You're correct -- I wrote about the Definitive Technology 55 when I covered CEDIA Expo last year and I was very impressed. We just received a pair, but I won't be reviewing them; instead, Philip Beaudette is handling the review and it will appear in one of our sister publications, SoundStage! Hi-Fi, along with measurements done in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council (NRC). Look for that review to appear in May or June. . . . Doug Schneider

Hello GoodSound!,

In recent months there has been quite a bit of positive press regarding GoldenEar Technology speakers. Reviews of their Triton 2 towers have been so positive that their Triton models and new Aon bookshelf units all have my curiosity.

Being a relatively new company, there are no GoldenEar dealers in my area so I will need to drive a few hours to audition their offerings for my two-channel system. Prior to taking that step I am doing some preliminary research, which includes contacting your "Ask us" forum.

Has anyone at GoodSound! had an opportunity to listen to any of GoldenEar's offerings and are there any impressions or comments? Are their speakers truly that impressive at their price points? Or is it all relative and a matter of taste?


We’ve heard GoldenEar’s Triton 2 towers at shows, but we've never reviewed them. However, a pair of their new Aon 3 bookshelf models landed on our doorstep and we’re getting ready to measure them and then slip them in the review queue. They won’t be reviewed on GoodSound!, though, but on our sister site, SoundStage! Hi-Fi. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

What is the speaker on the right-hand side of your website?

Joseph Piggott

Currently, it’s the Definitive Technology Mythos ST. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

[Further to my previous letter,] I have another option as well: the Focal Chorus 807 V. Would this one be the best bet?

Lou Vigilante

We have a review of the Focal Chorus 807 W coming to our sister site, SoundStage! Hi-Fi, in April. The 807 W is basically an 807 V that incorporates some technology from the company’s Utopia EM series, which are their top speaker models. That might be worth waiting for. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I greatly value your opinion on this subject matter and any advice would be greatly appreciated. I was trying to choose between the Paradigm SE 1, positioned right around the Monitor line (so Paradigm’s middle range), versus the Aperion Versus Grand Bookshelf. These will be used for music only. I was told that the type of music sometimes matters with brands. I’m not sure if that is true but just in case it is, I primarily listen to hardcore and metalcore music -- it’s very heavy with guitars and drums and vocals. If you could shed any light it would be much appreciated! The last thing is that someone told me that for that type of music perhaps the Klipsch Reference II series is a good choice. Are those good as well? Thanks very much!

Lou Vigilante

In general, any well-designed, neutral speaker will sound good with any type of music. For the most part, that’s true. The difference in this instance is that the kind of music you enjoy tends to sound best when played really loud, something not all audiophile-type speakers do well. So I’m answering this question based on the assumption that you’ll need the speaker to have high output capability. Hopefully that assumption is correct.

I suspect that the person who recommended Klipsch did so because of the company’s reputation for producing speakers that play loud and clean. From what I know of the brand, that’s true, but I can’t tell you anything more because I’ve never reviewed any Klipsch products formally. Still, they’re not the only speakers that will play loud well. Paradigm’s speakers tend to play exceedingly loud and with low distortion, mainly because they design them to play back music as well as movies, which also tend to sound better played back at high volume levels. We reviewed Paradigm’s SE 1 in SoundStage! Hi-Fi and measured it in the anechoic chamber at Canada’s National Research Council where it produced a very respectable result when we pushed the distortion test to 95dB, a very high level usually reserved for larger floorstanding designs. We also reviewed the Verus Grand Bookshelf in SoundStage! Hi-Fi and it produced excellent results as well, but we couldn’t push the distortion test as high, which is typical of smaller speakers. In other words, the Verus Grand Bookshelf won’t be able to play as loud as cleanly. If you need high output, that might sway your decision regarding these two models. If not, either will likely be suitable, since they’re excellent-sounding designs (within their limits), and you should really listen for yourself to make the final decision in terms of which one sounds the best to you. I hope that helps. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

Who makes the best-sounding floorstanding speakers for under $1000 a pair, under $2000 a pair, under $3000 a pair, and under $4000 a pair?

Tim S.

If that question could be answered easily, we wouldn’t have any need for websites such as this one. Unfortunately, it can’t be answered simply, or even at all. The fact of the matter is that there are many companies that make outstanding floorstanding speakers in and around those prices, and which ones are the best will largely depend on who you talk to. Even our reviewers’ opinions differ. The only thing I can do is give you the brand names of the companies that I would look at if I were shopping in those price ranges (in no particular order): Paradigm, PSB, Axiom Audio, Definitive Technology, Aperion Audio, Amphion, and Polk Audio. Frankly, I probably missed quite a few companies, but these are the brands that come to mind first and have strong reputations for consistently putting out good-sounding, affordably priced floorstanding speakers. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I very much enjoy reading GoodSound! and would appreciate your input. I have B&W CDM 7SE loudspeakers and a MartinLogan Grotto i subwoofer. I also have a Pioneer Elite SC-25 receiver and an Oppo BDP-83 universal player. My listening room is approximately 20’ x 15’ x 8’. Do you think replacing the B&W speakers with Aperion Verus Grand Tower speakers would be an improvement? I listen to many types of music, though primarily rock.

I realize this may be one of those unanswerable questions, but again, I’d appreciate your opinion.
Thank you,
Richard Miller

The question is answerable, but it might not be the answer you’re looking for.

The Aperion Verus Grand Towers are certainly newer speakers that are very well regarded for their looks as well as their sound, but whether you’ll find them “better” than your B&Ws is another story. Aperion makes very good loudspeakers, but so does B&W, and even though the CDM 7SE is an older design, it was also very well regarded in its day. Good speakers back then tend to be good speakers today. How do they compare? You’d have to evaluate them directly to really know.

Luckily, there’s a way to do that, since the buying options available to consumers have definitely improved over the years. Aperion Audio sells their speakers factory direct with a 30-day money-back guarantee. My suggestion would be to take them up on that offer if you’re truly serious about knowing what kind of improvement might be heard. Simply buy the Aperion speakers and put them side by side with your B&Ws and listen to determine which you think are better for the types of music you listen to. . . . Doug Schneider

To Jeff Fritz,

I appreciated your review of the Aperion Audio Verus Grand speakers. I have never heard them, but I have heard the B&W 803s. I own the Legacy Focus HDs that are about 15 years old. I am shopping for another set of mains for a basement system or to replace the Focus and move them to the basement. I love the Focus but won't pay their new, much higher price tag. I have been studying the Aperion line and the Swans line. Do you have experience with the Swans speakers and do you have an opinion or recommendation? Thanks so much and I look forward to your reply.

Greg Martinette

Yours is an interesting position. Your older Legacy speakers were highly regarded in their day and the new ones also look quite good. But, yes, they are more expensive than they were back then and are also quite a bit more expensive than the most expensive Aperion loudspeaker.

Loudspeaker design -- particularly as applied to the drive units -- has undergone an evolutionary improvement process over the last 15 years of which the Aperion speakers are a fine example. For instance, their new tweeter design (the Axially Stabilized Radiator) is certainly quite a bit better than the tweeter in the old Focus you have. So I have no doubt that the Verus Grand can better your Focus in the high frequencies, and maybe mids too. My concern would be the bass. The Focus is a much larger speaker with multiple large-diameter drivers. The Aperion is still a relatively compact floorstander. I don’t think the Aperion would have the oomph in the bass that you would want. However, there is a secret weapon at Aperion: their Bravus line of subwoofers that were designed to mate well with their loudspeakers.

I'd put the Aperion Versus Grands and a well-integrated Bravus sub (or better yet, two) against the old Legacy Focus speakers any day and expect a wipe-out. If you can swing it, I think the Aperion combo will make you very happy. I have no experience with the Swans line. . . . Jeff Fritz

To Doug Schneider,

I've been looking at changing my two-channel setup (NAD 3400 integrated amp with Snell J-III speakers) to a home-theater setup. The common thought out there is that the three front speakers (left, center and right) should be the same make and model to be tonally correct. Is this really the case? I would like to keep my current speakers and add a new center. Will there be a noticeable sound difference if the center-channel differs from the left and right?


This is a topic I’ve been writing about for years and feel is quite important for high-quality movie-soundtrack playback. In my opinion, it’s imperative that the center speaker tonally matches the left and right speakers if you want to get full enjoyment from a well-produced soundtrack. If the center doesn’t match completely, then what’s radiated from the center speaker will sound distinctly different from the left and rights and you will lose the cohesive sound that a well-integrated three-speaker setup produces. The difference between a well-matched three-speaker setup and a poorly matched one isn't subtle. In fact, in the past I’ve often recommended that if someone can’t find a center-channel that integrates well with their left and right speakers, then they’re better off sticking with just the left and right speakers and setting up their receiver or processor to produce a phantom center-channel image (basically, the center-channel information is sent to the left and right speakers). A phantom center doesn’t have nearly the same image focus outside the sweet spot that a real center-channel speaker does, but it’s a lot more natural sounding than a poorly matched center speaker is. . . . Doug Schneider