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Klipsch vs Polk: Missing Orchestra Instruments


rogerx
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Yesterday I was able to compare Klipsch Reference I, R-15M Monitor and R-28F Floorstanding speakers to a Polk bookshelf monitor and floorstanding speakers.

 

Media:

Essential Mozart; Decca; ASIN B00005A8JZ; 2 Audio CD; March 13, 2001.  First two or three titles.

The Most Relaxing Music in the Universe; Denon Records; ASIN B00008RH16; 2 Audio CD; April 8, 2003.  First two or three titles.

 

Speakers:

Klipsch Reference I, R-15M Monitor and R-28F Floorstanding speakers

Similar models of bookshelf and floorstanding Polks

 

Receivers:

Either Onkyo or Pioneer.

 

What I noticed:

 

PROS:

1) Seemingly far more frequency range then the Polks!  Klipsch had spectacular body or detail, or articulation of the instruments and notes being played during playback of Mozart's symphonies.

2) Horns and strings have great detail!  Able to hear the horns with such detail, including the rubber crossing the metal strings of the violin.

3) The Polks sounded as if I were at the orchestra, but situated upon a high balcony in the distance looking downward at the orchestra; with the orchestra sounding as if they had a blanket draped over them, substantially damping the sound that they were producing.  In retrospect, the Klipsch sounded as if the orchestra were in the same room or extremely nearby and on the same floor level as I.  Both speakers were at the same floor level, next to each other, aimed within the same general direction.  And the effect was not irritating, and was how I would assume speakers should sound as speakers are usually placed generally where people want the apparent effect of sound to be produced or originate from!

 

CONS;

1) The Klipsch apparently sounded as if they were completely missing woodwinds or clarinets, or the details of this frequency range.  The Polks had no problems reproducing the woodwinds, albeit with the above derogatory notes.

2) The Klipsch, again, missing the bass of the piano's hammer hitting the strings, but only until the piano sounds reached the apparent peak efficiency frequency range of the Klipsch.  The Klipsch then reproduced a wonderful mid-ranged (and likely upper range) sound of the piano sounds and notes.

 

Some thing to remember, it would have taken another 24 hours to sort through each of the above observations, further benchmarking or trying to distinguish what I was really hearing, such as playing back woodwind or piano sonatas.  I didn't want to over extend my stay at Erie PA's HHGreg with Marcos, even thought Marcos did state he was also enjoying recognizing the differences as well!

 

Troubled as to why I wasn't able to effectively hear the woodwinds or the range of the bass provided by the pianos, I went to Best Buy's next door whom had a working Klipsch display models as well, as well as several working sub-woofers.  Unfortunately, I noticed a similar experience noted above, with only the Klipsch sub-woofers providing the kicking or vibrating sounds while providing very little low frequency sounds even after levels being adjusted.  The cheap $100 Polk sub-woofer seemed to provide the most upper range of bass, but still only kicking or mostly vibrating.  I would assume this is to be the expected theatrical performance with sub-woofers, though unfortunate and a waste of resources for music lovers?

 

Bottom line, I'm in the market for purchasing a set of (large) book shelf speakers, for using within a surround sound or at least four channel mode for playback of classical or orchestra music.  (Surround obviously is for TV/Movies, as the rears are usually currently only used to playback the compressed streams.)  My receiver is a Yamaha RX-V375, which provides 100 watts for each channel, and has a chip for mirroring or duplicating the vanilla front left and right audio of stereo streams to the rear left and right channels with no added effects.  Hence, a need for good rear speakers, or speakers with similar frequency and performance range of the front speakers.  I also figure with the Klipsch, purchasing the eight inch driver models might help make up for any lost bass.  So likely looking at the Klipsch RB-81 Reference II Two-Way Bookshelf Speaker.  I have no idea what sound differences the earlier Reference 2 have over the Reference 1, but have heard from people within the forums that the Reference 2 are likely  still better.  The floor standing speakers are likely out of my budget and probably not really needed within a 20x20 room, although the floor standing speaker adds another woofer providing slightly lower frequencies.

 

Equipment:  Yamaha RX-V375, 100 watts per 5.1 channel, no effects using vanilla sound.

Room: 17x12 manufactured house living room, with a 17x12 dining room on the opposite side of the middle divider.  Limited space.  Likely four book shelf speakers on shelves mounted on the walls at the appropriate locations would more then suffice for an avid listener of classical music, with the receiver being able to fully duplicate the front quality of the audio streams fully to the rears speakers.  Else if a person is only watching TV/movies, these streams are mostly still played at compressed quality levels, instead of the HD or full uncompressed quality -- and personally, I do not notice much difference when watching TV or Movies.

 

THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: Why am I missing playback of certain instruments within the orchestra symphony being played back on the Klipsch?  Even though, I've always had polymer composite only speakers for my past 40 years here and likely will still buy the Klipsch as I've definitely noticed I've been missing something.  I would gander, it maybe just simply providing a pair of polymer composite speakers (ie. Polks) alongside the Klipsch might easily make up the missing frequencies provided by woodwinds!

 

(Remember, please stay on topic for future readers, researching similar topics.)

 

2014.12.20 20:45 UTC: Updated room size.  Corrected name of dining room.

Edited by rogerx
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Excellent first post!

 

You seem to have a good ear, and you know exactly what you are listening for. 

 

The one thing I have learned on this board, is the listening environment is at least 50% of how the speakers sound, and that proper setup of your AVR with your speakers is critical.

 

If you can, I suggest you audition the speakers in your living room, with your AVR, then run the YPAO.  Try different listening modes, as Music Mode is very different from Theater Mode.  If you still can't hear the instruments you expect to hear, then maybe another speaker is better for you.

 

Note:  Your Yamaha provides 100wpc into ONE channel, 70 wpc into two.  If you drive 4 speakers, you may only be getting 25 watts, per channel, which will cut into the punch or dynamic clarity.

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/av-receivers-amps/rx/rx-v375_black_u/

Edited by wvu80
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Thanks wvu80, but it's just my all-around atypical post, albeit one of my more lengthier ones.

 

Your note concerning the wattage per channel including reduced wattage when two or more channels are used is dually noted!  Something I've probably been over-looking when looking for new speakers.  (So many facts to research and remember.)

 

In my opinion, a receiver should probably have no problems driving the usual eight inch speakers.  However, according to some posts on the Internet suggest sizing speaker wattage at 1.5 times each channel's possible output, and not providing enough watts could cause issues with a speaker's quality of sound reproduction.  As you state though, along with the wattage issue and missing instruments or frequencies, likely I'll just have to buy and try.  Room dynamics, loudness, a fresh new product, can all be factors.  I was just hoping I might find somebody with either a solution, an answer, or at the very least get the information out on a public forum for a second set of ears to confirm what I'm hearing.

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Welcome, rogerx!

 

A few thoughts from me:

 

1. Don't concern yourself with wattage. I will agree with wvu80 and go for a nice 2-channel set up. Skip the quadraphonic idea. Klipsch speakers are ultra-efficient and can deliver huge dynamics driven with as little as 20-50 watts.

 

 

 

2. The Reference II series is not only "likely still better". It's definitely better!

 

 

 

3. The RF-62ii is the sweet spot in the entire Reference II series, including bookshelf models. The RF-62ii will give you the most performance for your dollar.

 

 

 

4. If you do not object to used speakers, many good deals can be found locally! I don't know where about in Ohio you are but a quick skim revealed these!

 

https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/ele/4811237934.html

 

https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/eld/4792260257.html

 

I would personally try to land those RF-3s for $350 or less and call it a day!

 

 

 

5. As far as the "missing" sounds, Polks are known to sound "warmer" than your typical Klipsch model. It may be more accurate, it may be over-emphasizing the upper bass. Not sure. You may want to pair a nice pair of Klipsch Reference models with a nice sub from a different maker.

Edited by mattSER
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Wow, looks like a set of KLF-30's in the background of the second listing.. wonder how much?? I had the RF-3 II's and thought they were an excellent smaller speaker and built well except for the grill cover posts..

Edited by jjptkd
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HH Gregg and BB are not great places for a true listening test.  WVU80 pointed out that autocalibration need to be done to better judge a speaker.  If possible a good set of RB 61's, 81's, or Heresey's may be a good choice.  With most bookself speakers a sub is needed for really good bass.

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There's another miss, I also forgot to perform the auto calibration at HHGreg's.

 

Since I really liked the clearness of the Klipsch, I will likely pair them and/or experiment with some of the old polymer composites, etc. (ie. Polk)

 

Thanks for everybody's feedback.  Albeit, I'm still wondering where those woodwinds are, or if I was really hearing them as a different instrument or at a different tone.

 

And thanks for the praise of the RB 61's, because I just realized the RB 81's are $400 each and not a pair, unlike the RB 61's priced per pair!  As I keep gnawing over the data here, I might just opt for in-wall speakers.  (I might save a buck on the wood enclosure, and focus the money on the speaker itself.  ie. R-5800-W II In-Wall Speaker 40Hz-23kHz.)

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I didn't want to over extend my stay at Erie PA's HHGreg with Marcos, even thought Marcos did state he was also enjoying recognizing the differences as well!

 

 

 

4. If you do not object to used speakers, many good deals can be found locally! I don't know where about in Ohio you are but a quick skim revealed these!

 

 

My guess is the greater Cleveland area since he's hoofed it over (up to?) Erie.

 

 

(we need a sleuth emoticon)

 

:ph34r:

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There's another miss, I also forgot to perform the auto calibration at HHGreg's.

Since I really liked the clearness of the Klipsch, I will likely pair them and/or experiment with some of the old polymer composites, etc. (ie. Polk)

Thanks for everybody's feedback. Albeit, I'm still wondering where those woodwinds are, or if I was really hearing them as a different instrument or at a different tone.

And thanks for the praise of the RB 61's, because I just realized the RB 81's are $400 each and not a pair, unlike the RB 61's priced per pair! As I keep gnawing over the data here, I might just opt for in-wall speakers. (I might save a buck on the wood enclosure, and focus the money on the speaker itself. ie. R-5800-W II In-Wall Speaker 40Hz-23kHz.)

that would be the biggest mistake you ever made. Welcome

To the forum. Friendly advice, skip inwalls UNLESS they are a must. Grab you some RB-61ii, rb-81ii or rf-62ii. Orrrr grab you a set of heresy used and then call it a day.

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The worst performance of my K-horns and Cornwall center was in a living room with a 17 foot dimension. It was just plain awful.

JJK

 

It probably would be wise to at least quote the other two dimensions of your room if you're attempting to blame the width of the room on "bad sound".  If you actually wanted to be fair, a picture of your setup usually says a lot more than quoting one dimension of a room as solely responsible for a bad setup example.

 

THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: Why am I missing playback of certain instruments within the orchestra symphony being played back on the Klipsch? Even though, I've always had polymer composite only speakers for my past 40 years here and likely will still buy the Klipsch as I've definitely noticed I've been missing something. I would gander, it maybe just simply providing a pair of polymer composite speakers (i.e., Polks) alongside the Klipsch might easily make up the missing frequencies provided by woodwinds! (Remember, please stay on topic for future readers, researching similar topics.)

 

This is interesting that there is so much emphasis on materials than on design implementation using specific materials.  I haven't heard "Klipsch Reference I, R-15M Monitor and R-28F" or the exact Polk models you mention but I'd bet a fair sum that what you're hearing as differences in relative instrumentation blends and timbres is actually traceable to what I call "loudspeaker EQs" that predetermine the loudspeakers' output, and that EQ is not very flat on the frequency vs. SPL curve, especially in the 500-4000 Hz passband. 

 

The first thing is to try to flatten out the FR to get an apples-to-apples comparison (as mentioned above, but not specifically stated why): two loudspeaker types EQed to closely match typically sound very similar to each other if their SPL polars are not dramatically different--if listened at levels largely below 80 dBA in-room. 

 

The comments above about using in-room automatic EQ (e.g., YPAO, Audyssey, etc.) is a start in the right direction, but you also need to be aware of the effects of room acoustics and placement of the loudspeakers within the room have.  I can very easily take one of the world's best loudspeakers and place it in a room to make it sound awful.

 

FYI: your "clarity" comment of Klipsch over brand X has typically got something to do with the relatively low modulation distortion of well-implemented horns vs. direct radiators.  But you typically have to turn the volume knob up a bit to hear that clarity, otherwise, the differences that you hear at low SPLs are typically EQing differences between loudspeaker types.

 

Chris

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Heresys heresys heresys. These speakers will smoke a RB for music. Its no contest really. Any of the models will be great (1,2 or 3s). 20x20 is not a small room. In fact I would call it large room. You can get 2 pairs of minty heresys for about 1k total for all 4. Im talking from experience with both lines.

 

Here is a nice pair of H1s, cane grills to boot

 

http://youngstown.craigslist.org/ele/4793938409.html.

 

 

 

I think a fourm member might be selling these, Forte 1s. same foot print as the Heresys but with deeper bass.

 

http://cleveland.craigslist.org/ele/4807075865.html

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Chris A: I think you have something concerning "flattening out" the equalizer settings.  On my home Yamaha RX-V375, Yamaha's custom equalizer settings are set on by default (or revert to on/enabled on reset), for which I quickly disabled and enjoyed the vanilla sound over any other custom equalizer settings!  At the stores, just another small detail that could have been easily missed or overlooked.  Possibly neutralizing the equalizer settings or setting the equalizer settings for producing a vanilla sound might have fixed the missing woodwinds.  Thanks Chris A for your time!

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I hate to say it but I've noticed the same thing before, even after running Audessey with the Klipsch. On my old speakers with no room correction there were things like subtle bass guitar riffs that were as clear as could be but switch over to Klipsch and they just disappear. Those Polks are probably built in a similar manner to my old ones. I think what is happening is that the Polks are overexaggerating certain frequencies, which may be interesting and fun with some material but may not be correct or flat, then you switch over to flat and wonder where the bass went. I don't know how else it could be explained. Best example would be the intro to "for whom the bell tolls". 47 seconds in here, when I switched the bass line just disappeared. Happened with both KL-650-THX and RF-7ii's, both with Audessey XT32 having been ran. It is probably more correct but yeah I did have to wonder what was going on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nZu2xQgxdg

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The worst performance of my K-horns and Cornwall center was in a living room with a 17 foot dimension. It was just plain awful.

JJK

 

It probably would be wise to at least quote the other two dimensions of your room if you're attempting to blame the width of the room on "bad sound".  If you actually wanted to be fair, a picture of your setup usually says a lot more than quoting one dimension of a room as solely responsible for a bad setup example.

 

 

 

THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: Why am I missing playback of certain instruments within the orchestra symphony being played back on the Klipsch? Even though, I've always had polymer composite only speakers for my past 40 years here and likely will still buy the Klipsch as I've definitely noticed I've been missing something. I would gander, it maybe just simply providing a pair of polymer composite speakers (i.e., Polks) alongside the Klipsch might easily make up the missing frequencies provided by woodwinds! (Remember, please stay on topic for future readers, researching similar topics.)

 

This is interesting that there is so much emphasis on materials than on design implementation using specific materials.  I haven't heard "Klipsch Reference I, R-15M Monitor and R-28F" or the exact Polk models you mention but I'd bet a fair sum that what you're hearing as differences in relative instrumentation blends and timbres is actually traceable to what I call "loudspeaker EQs" that predetermine the loudspeakers' output, and that EQ is not very flat on the frequency vs. SPL curve, especially in the 500-4000 Hz passband. 

 

The first thing is to try to flatten out the FR to get an apples-to-apples comparison (as mentioned above, but not specifically stated why): two loudspeaker types EQed to closely match typically sound very similar to each other if their SPL polars are not dramatically different--if listened at levels largely below 80 dBA in-room. 

 

The comments above about using in-room automatic EQ (e.g., YPAO, Audyssey, etc.) is a start in the right direction, but you also need to be aware of the effects of room acoustics and placement of the loudspeakers within the room have.  I can very easily take one of the world's best loudspeakers and place it in a room to make it sound awful.

 

FYI: your "clarity" comment of Klipsch over brand X has typically got something to do with the relatively low modulation distortion of well-implemented horns vs. direct radiators.  But you typically have to turn the volume knob up a bit to hear that clarity, otherwise, the differences that you hear at low SPLs are typically EQing differences between loudspeaker types.

 

Chris

 

The 17 foot dimension was in an garden apartment in 1969 with attached kitchen/living room combo. Their are no pictures available.

JJK

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MetropolisLakeOutfitters:  Or the woodwinds are there, they just cannot be (whether uncommon or commonly, or whether abnormally or normally) heard above the horns.  Either more comparison testing between live and recorded, or examining something like a RightMark Audio Analyzer, to further determine.  Shrugs.  What you're describing is exactly the same scenario I heard with Mozart and the other orchestra pieces noted within my initial post!

Edited by rogerx
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