Equipment where reviews did NOT match your experience

Please denote equipment you listened to (or owned) that did not match the reviews. Include positive or negative.

I will start:

B&W 801 speakers.

Considered by many reviewers as some of the best in the world, I actually went into two different dealers (twice over the years) with cash in hand to buy what was then B&W’s top of the line speaker. I would sit down and just shake my head… WTF? (WTF=World Trade Federation)

Bruce in Philly


Sonus faber Cremona M
Revel Salon 2
Vivid Audio Giya G2
Plenty of others…walk in, scratch them off the list, walk out.

Halcro DM 10 preamp:

several fine characteristics, but no life, energy and overly neutral (also compared to other solid state). I couldn’t believe how a component can sound so technical (but refined).

Magico speakers:

heard them about 6 times at hifi shows (only) and never was impressed for similar reasons I described above.

Might be a matter of taste or my fault, but as soon as you compare with very good others, the sun suddenly rises and the world awakes.

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Without having said equipment in your room… and in your system… the outcome of any potential sound quality advantage from the showroom could/would make for a poor listening experience… compared to a possibly wonderful one in your own home. But,as always,I’m sure there are a few dogs no matter what the conditions may be.

I agree! The DM10 I had in my room but not the Magico’s. But I heard them in different rooms and setups…as I said might still be just personal taste, repeated bad luck or false expectations. I’m sure they can sound. The only other speakers I never heard good inspite of constant good reviews are B&W.

True - but also there is your hearing, taste, listening skills and so on. It is quite possible to decide that you dislike certain sorts of drivers, for example, as you find over time that it is very rare that any manufacturer can make them not sound like shit to you. Still, you try to keep an open mind, as people figure out new ways of employing old tech all the time.

There is what I perceive to be a general cohort that seeks the least coloration (viewing that as some sort of sin) - “accuracy”, “revealing”, and so on.

On the face of it, you would think this group would all own studio monitors. But not so. And as you may have guessed, I’m fairly toward the other end of the preference spectrum, have listened to studio monitors most of my life, and I have never enjoyed them for personal listening. They are tools to me, for scrutinizing a piece of work to make sure you don’t put out material with errors of various sorts.

I wish I could remember the model number of an amp that I inherited from my audiophile uncle but it was a Halcro and it sounded flat and clinical----when it worked.
Also, a Schiit Valhala 2 hp amp. No amount of tube rolling can make that thing sound good with my Focals.

Ron - Damn! 2 horsepower amp! Nice! ; )

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Listening experience also depends on your mood.

Really the Vivid? I heard them as gorgeous at any show!

I owned the B&W 801, I believe it was the Mark 3 (?) ‘Matrix’ version, on their original stands, with the bass-EQ, powered by an Accuphade P-800. Just fantastic!!! Pro level speakers, not good enough for audiophiles…

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I would have to admit to not being able to deal with how vivid they look.

Some of my votes:
B&W’s generally
Magicos generally
Recently heard S-F Aida 2’s at a friend’s and was shocked at the difference between hearing them via his analog front end vs. digital. Both what most would consider “unimpeachable” or at the very least “amongst the best avaialble” front ends. The digital made me think the speakers sucked, but then heard some vinyl…

So there’s another Factor - setup/room, Front Ends of Both Flavors, etc. - which certainly applies to shows, to circle back to and +1 @mark-d’s comment above. Really hard to say unless you have put them in your system and figured out how much work/change it would take to make them sing.

Still would not want to look at the Vivids every day… ; )

Indeed Star Wars like!

But listen to them at the next show…one of the best imo! Tonal colors, dynamics, life, impact, involvement.

Will seek them out at RMAF if available. Have not heard them.

I had to look up the Vivids. Yikes! I know I’d get sick of looking at them too. And also explaining to people what the hell they are.

Yeah - Cool and all, but if I find them at RMAF I will be closing my eyes in an attempt to get around the visual bias ; )

After what I think was a rather exhaustive search for smaller stand mount speakers I settled on the ATC SCM11v2. I had 12-13 different pairs of speakers in my home for at least a month each to compare. The ATC just sound right to me. Not analytical nor do they make everything sound good, just right to me in my space.

Aesthetics do play a role. Gloss black is a complete turn off for me so much that I won’t try them if that is all that is offered. Thankfully, both me and my wife feel the ATC cherry veneer is just lovely.

After living with them for the past few months, I’m somewhat surprised they, the smaller ATC, don’t get more attention. The company certainly isn’t into flashy but they are a fantastic option for those that can’t accommodate floor standers.

Perhaps the all black studio versions are different?

This was the setup and my comment from the last show…just take them for the front and the other two for rear and center and you have the perfect science fiction space like setup (remark: the latter two don’t sound good) :wink:

There are some differences between some of the “Studio” and “Home” versions, though they’re not all called the same thing. I had the SCM25A monitors for a while, which are amazing 3-way studio monitors, but want some space, which I no longer have, so I sold them (for what I paid for them!)

The “home” version with the same drivers, which I heard at Axpona 2-3 years ago is a tower configuration. I didn’t really care for them as much that way/for that application, but…it was a small room at a show. Not in my living room. I would never “kick them out of bed” so to speak, non-PC-ishly. Just perhaps too “forward” and “revealing” for everyday listening to my ears.

There was a guy there talking about using ATC monitors on his recordings, and after recognizing a few of the artists he had worked with, I had to lean forward and read his name tag…Michael Bishop!!! Then I was in Total Fanboy Mode. He seemed pleased someone knew who the hell he was ; )

One of the studio factoids that stuck with me was he was already recording everything in QuadRate-DSD. Or was it Octo - ? ; ) ?