Do my ears deceive me??

     The money is in the bank, thinking of upgrading speakers, but everything I demo is no better or worse than what I have.   Willing to spend up to $6,000.      Upgraditis??   My main system is Mcintosh MX 134 that I bought in 2003, with a pair of Focal 836v's and a Parasound 5250  (250w/channel) amp I bought around 2012.   I either blew the tweeters or crossover on my 836's, so they are in for repair.   Since I've owned them for 10 years, I was considering new speakers.    The blades are way more than I would spend, but I also demoed the Kef R11s, Martin Logan xtf 200's, Mcintosh XR 100s, and B&W 703 S3.   

       None of them sounded better than what I'm hearing right now from my BP 2006s.    Would I really need to demo them in my room to make a fair comparison??  Or are speakers just not much better than they were 20 years ago?   I know I love detail, and tend to lean towards aluminum tweeters.  I pretty much only listen to classic rock and roll.   Of all I demoed, I really like the B&W 706s.   They sounded much brighter/cleaner than the others.   But they had the reciever set up so I couldn't adjust the treble/bass.  I love a V equalizer curve, and bump up the bass and treble a bit on my home/car systems.   Maybe I just have the good luck of prefering cheaper speakers.   




My speakers are 68 years old. 

I recone them every ten years. 

My ears never deceive me, but the brain that they are connected to often does. 

No manufacturer — and I mean ZERO— uses any EQ in their audio systems at high-end audio shows. Why do you think that is? If Magico, Wilson, Joseph Audio, Rockport, Vandersteen, Audio Research, etc. don’t ever use EQ at shows that they pay a boatload of $$$ to attend, what do you think you know that they don’t? Are you smarter than them? If the answer is no, you really gotta think about your whole system because something is clearly off. Or just keep polishing the turd with EQ.  Whatever makes you happy is all good.

That takes me back to when I posted about the tone controls on my Marantz and how they could help tame some brightness and got mostly bemused responses saying, "don't". That's when that sorely missed gentleman, Almarg, chimed in to prop me back up, explaining that it's best to leave them alone, out of the signal path, that it would do more harm than good. I miss him.

In support of @soix's remarks, I finally found that one must pay attention to the drivers and avoid the ones that don't perform well. Simple as that. Listen to them. There have been advances in speaker design (despite what some claim) that can put an end to the debate and you don't need to spend a fortune to get there.

Some are probably tired of me saying this but my Atalante 3 monitors go almost as deep and are cleaner and have better tone and detail than my much larger JBL 4319s. That's comparing a 7" driver to JBL's 12 ". 

The domed tweeter is proprietary as well with a coating of the makers own design. Nothing about these drivers are off the shelf, or modified. They are made in house and only for themselves. This tweeter goes higher, cleaner, has much more detail and ambience and never once have I winced, whereas with the JBLs, I'd be rushing for the remote.

The great part is, they're relatively cheap compared to what's out there, and that factor has many "audiophiles" passing on them, only to buy something more expensive and spend countless hours taming their system, looking for that bandage. 

All the best,


Many great suggestions already made

I tend to agree that if you're thinking EQ is the answer then your problem is in the electronics food chain not the speakers

A speaker that I have not seen mentioned as an upgrade path is Texton

While a polarizing subject on this forum, my personal experience has been exceptional

Perform above their price point, sound is organic, and I understand matches up well with McIntosh

I do not know the proper technical terms and jargon, but in my system in my room with my music and my ears, to me it sounds like a person is singing to me and instruments are being played for me

Granted they're big and boxy and need room to get away from the wall

But for 6k one can get a significant amount of price performance with Texton 

All the best and enjoy the journey

soix could be right.  maybe my hearing is bad.  I'm 51 now, and have listened to lots of loud rock and roll since my teens.    You can make the argument an eq is an extra path in the chain.   But you can also use an equalizer or bass/treble to adjust for the room.    I WOULD NEVER BUY SOMETHING WITHOUT IT.   You are limited to 1 sound and that's it.    Different sources (vinyl, cd, streamer) can all have a different sound profile, and one may want to adjust for that.    Maybe the high end makers don't put it in cuz it saves them money too.    I don't want this to turn into a pissing match.   But if you bought something with an eqalizer.  Would you just leave it in 1 setting for life, cuz it's the most accurate??

Not only did I have the Marantz's tone controls to fiddle with, I also had the pots on my JBLs to do the same with. The problem is, they were both too broad in scope and while it did cure the edge and bite, it was also like wrapping my tweeters and midranges with bolts of cheesecloth. Both ways just sucked the life out of the music. 

Unless you have the money and skill for a highly exacting device, most types of EQ are a blunt instrument, not a scalpel, as you're effecting bordering frequencies that you shouldn't be messing with, unless you like that kind of sound. 

I'm 69 years old with occasional but soft tinnitus, and I can hear minute changes and shifts with everything I tinker with down to some that seem like sideways moves, but I still hear them. The solution is to live with knowing that it's not perfect, but can be mighty damn fine sounding.

All the best,