What speakers should I spend $10,000 on?
April 11, 2005 4:16 AM   Subscribe

HomeTheaterFilter: My friend currently owns a Rotel surround receiver and DVD player and six B&W 600 series speakers. He wants to upgrade speakers, and has budgeted $8,000-10,000 to do so. Should he, or is there another part of the system that needs upgrading more urgently? And if speakers are the way to go - keeping in mind that high-end home theater can be highly subjective - what should he get?
posted by joshuaconner to Shopping (9 answers total)
So is he actually unhappy with part of the system's performance? Upgrading for the sake of it is never a good idea. Has he considered spending the money on new stuff to play on it or going to Fiji or something?

Also I'm surprised you don't mention what display he's using. There's usually always room for improvement there, and also in upgrading/redecorating the room itself to be less distracting and more comfortable.
posted by cillit bang at 6:05 AM on April 11, 2005

The Absolute Sound reviews high-end speakers.
posted by mlis at 7:08 AM on April 11, 2005

cillit: he just bought a 50" Samsung DLP, which is very nice and he seems quite happy with. Additionally, because we live at 7,000 feet (taking plasma screens out of the equation), upgrading apparently means either going front-projection or rear CRT-projection, neither of which he wants to do (for practical and aesthetic reasons, respectively).

And yes, there are probably better things he could do with the money. All of us (his friends) have tried long and hard - but failed - to convince him of this. At this point I'm simply resigned to helping him get the biggest bang for his buck.
posted by joshuaconner at 7:57 AM on April 11, 2005

If he is really looking for the best sound for the price he should check out some of the Tyler Acoustics speaker offerings. Some of the best sounding speakers I've heard at any price. Also, you can call and talk to the owner directly, he is more than happy to answer any questions.
posted by white_devil at 9:04 AM on April 11, 2005

Personally, at that price I'd comission someone to build custom speakers for me. They'll look nicer, fit in with the decor better, and, if the person has even the slightest clue, sound as good as, if not better than what he has now.

Plus, they're one of a kind, which makes them something he can start conversations about. :-D

But that's just me! :-)
posted by shepd at 9:10 AM on April 11, 2005

I'd also pose this question over at Home Theater Forum. The "what should I get for this much money" is a common question, and the site is filled with informed people raring to give their opinions. Unfortunately the site is also filled with a lot of banner ads, but once you find the forums (and register to post) you'll find them fairly active and helpful.

If he's got money to burn (and it sounds like he does), he could also check out adding something he doesn't have, like tactile sound transducers from Clark Synthesis (that is, if he's more into movies than music.) Those are the "butt shaker" devices you mount into your seating to really enhance the bass of the source without adding volume. Go ahead and put together a Jurassic Couch.
posted by robbie01 at 9:15 AM on April 11, 2005

The components that have the most to effect on how your system sounds are the speakers, hands down. Your friend is right to start the upgrade process there. Now, the B&W 600 series is pretty good, but you don't have to spend crazy amounts of money to improve on the sound. Believe it or not, the are a number of fantastic deals to be had via internet-only speaker companies. My favorite brand is Axiom, a Canadian speaker company whole design goal is accuracy, acccuracy, accuracy. Although you can't audition these speakers in a store, there are plenty of happy owners willing to give in-home auditions.

If looks are just as important to your friend as performance, then look no further than Rocket.

Also, you didn't mention a subwoofer. What kind does he have?A sub upgrade is perhaps the second most noticeable improvement you can make.
posted by pmbuko at 10:06 AM on April 11, 2005

Thanks, everyone, for your help!

pmbuko: the sub is the B&W ASW600.
posted by joshuaconner at 3:14 PM on April 11, 2005

For that kind of money, you should definitely be working closely with a good local dealer. At that price level, there's a tremendous variety of great sounding speakers - and having an expert to help position them properly, suggest room tweaks, offer advice on proper component matching, etc., will probably add to more the sound quality than the extra 1% of raw speaker performance you might be able to afford by ordering direct.

Just make sure you don't get ripped off on high-profit-margin, low usefullness items like uber-expensive power cables or whatever.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:32 PM on April 11, 2005

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