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Bookshelf Speaker Comparison – Part 1

This post and the next are a bookshelf speaker comparison that my spouse wrote based on the two of us sitting down for hours with a standardized set of recordings to come up with these comments. These comparisons were originally posted to AudioKarma, but I would like to share them with others who might be interested.

Will You Find This Interesting?

If you read this blog’s post about MAC (Midwest Audio Club) and the day-long DIY (Do It Yourself) speaker listening event and you found that super-boring, then you shouldn’t continue to read this post. If you found it useful or interesting or a great idea, then read on! 🙂

The Speakers

We decided to split the speakers in 2 groups of 4. This is based on efficiency – we listened to the higher efficiency speakers, first, then the next set.

First group (Castle,Triangle, KEF, Rogers) in that order. We will be listening to the music in this order and I will be using the numbers 1 – through 4 throughout this review as it will make it easier to write and compile. We tried to keep the volume as similar as possible (did not have dB meter so we played it by ear 😀 ):

  1. Grzegorz Krawiec, “Journey”
  2. Cassandra Wilson, “Travelling Miles”
  3. Harry Connick, Jr., “Blue Light, Red Light”
  4. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, “Outbound”

We jumped from piece-to-piece, listening to snippets of most pieces from each album, which is why I don’t list specific ones.

Castle Durham 900

Tracks:

1. We both thought there was good detail but no string sound. There was also no echo as this was recorded in a church and you should also hear the echo from the body of the guitar. You could hear the sliding movement of his hands on the guitar but no string plucking.

2. Horns sound a little rolled off. There are details, like finger snaps, etc. The guitar sounds muffled and not very dynamic. Vocals, well they were not bad but could be better.

3. First, I should take note that this CD is not recorded as high as the others so the volume had to be turned up. The percussion (cymbals and drums sound very nice) although the horns don’t sound as good. Sounds muffled and the bass is rolled off a lot. Did have other good details but was muffled (veiled output).

4. Horns again – missing minor harmonics and not very dynamic.

For the Castles – Major information from the tracks is there but the minor information is not. Speaker ARE crisp but flat. Not much bass and not dynamic at all.

Triangle Titus 900

Tracks:

1. These speakers are sharper sounding. The strings sound more metallic. More harmonies present also. Can hear slight finger movements on strings. Lower bass is missing and the lower strings sound bad.

2. Horns sound better. Guitar has more harmonic More lively and more depth but the bass is really rolled off.

3. Drums are a little lost in this track and it may be due to the bass just not there (very recessive). Horns really sound lively. Even though the bass is deeper than the Castles, it is flatter. Harry Connick’s voice is better also.

4. Drums a little lost. Some detail is lost since the piece is too busy for the speakers. Very thuddy bass when listening, not pleasant. Can hear the banjo on piece, when bass not thudding. Maybe better with a sub.

KEF Q15

Tracks:

1. Not as detailed as the first 2 speakers but, still can tell the strings are metal. Can hear the echoes from the church and from the guitar body. Can hear the finger movements well. Brighter in ways and the bass is more lively. Noticed not as many harmonics.

2. Not as treble forward. More balanced on this piece and not dead sounding (bass).

3. Horns are over the top, sound very harsh. Can hear the bass drum better and the snare drum skin hit not prevalent. Again the bass is not dead. Really balanced – not as detailed as the others but very pleasant.

4. More and lively bass. Every detail can be heard – can tell small harmonics are missing but not anything to make detract from the presentation. After a while just sounded loud.

Rogers LS2

Tracks:

1. Seem to be very dynamic. strings sound like metal string, although, as before, some small harmonics missing. Can hear fingers moving and can hear the echos (church and guitar body). My spouse felt, so far, this was the most realistic guitar presentation and the details were good. Very lively.

2.Voice is nice and the sound is dynamic. There are details, details and details. The bass is lively although you can hear it’s limits on these speakers but that is not a bad thing balance is wonderful. My spouse prefers the KEF’s on this track but the dynamics were good and there is enough present that it gives the illusion of power.

3. All I can do is tap my feet listening to this track on these speakers. Very well balanced and bass is dynamic and surprisingly not shy. The voice is just great. The negative is the horns are shriller and might just be a little too much.

4. Speakers losing composure a little. The piece is too dynamic for the speakers but the bass is nice for a little 4.5″ woofer. The banjo, so far sounded the best of them all. Not as good a balance and sometimes just sounds loud (speaker lost composure). sometimes the speaker was colored too.

So out of these 4 speakers – the Rogers (surprisingly) were thought of as the best of the four with the KEF’s just behind them. The Triangles need a subwoofer with them as the bass is so flat and works against the wonderful tweeter. The Castles were nice but not dynamic at all, compared to the others speakers. This would not have been noticed if we didn’t do this side by side comparison.

For Next Time in the Bookshelf Speaker Comparison

We have 4 more to go. Those will go into the next post.

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