Large Scale Orchestral Music

Hi PSAudio Tribe,

So I bought some Elac UB5’s on eBay and paired them with my McIntosh MC2200 amp and McIntosh C27 Pre-Amp. There is also a Rel T5i in the mix. The UB5’s are impressive with everything from Steely Dan to Beastie Boys to Cannonball Adderly to Gordon Lightfoot. However, when it comes to my most beloved genre…Late 19th century-early 20th century symphonic works, these speakers poop the bed. They simply can’t get anywhere close to producing accurate tone color or the dynamics required for this music.

I know, I know…“They’re just little $500 bookshelves. What do you expect?” The choice of bookshelves was made because of the room size and configuration. It is 16’ X 12’ with speakers firing down the long side. The listening position ends up being “midfield” (about 6’-7’) which many audiophiles discourage with floorstanders so I went with the UB5’s as a preliminary taste test.

So now I’m looking for smaller floor standers or bookshelves that will give me tone and dynamics. If it’s the “right” speaker, I’m willing to spend up to $3,000, new or used. Home auditions don’t seem to be in the cards right now. I’ve emailed several retailers and they’re not responding to my inquiries or they’ve let me know that they don’t offer in home trials.

I’m looking at Sonus Faber, Vienna Acoustics, and Harbeth. If there’s a bookshelf that will do the job, that’s my preference but I can do a smaller floostander. Any thoughts?

-Paul

I’ve been able to achieve reasonable symphonic tone color and dynamics with Aerial Acoustics 5T and a pair of REL 5Ti speakers driven by a Hegel H120 integrated amp. The listening space, my den is rather small, 15’X12’X10’. Listening is near field at the apex of an imaginary equilateral triangle with the tweeters aimed to just outside my ears. The only thing lacking is the ultimate bottom end, say 38 hz and below. Trying to achieve that in such a small space is fool hardy in my experience. My thought is you are asking for too much from a $500 pair of speakers and may be cutting your front end short.

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I would also suggest looking at the KEF R5. I have the previous model r500 in my second system and find that in conjunction with a JL Fathom F112, they do a very credible job with all genres of music. The reviews give a good idea of what to expect. Whether powered by a 30 wpc tube amp or a 400 wpc class D amp, they provide very good dynamics. Adding IsoAcoustic Gaia feet is a very worthwhile upgrade to the KEF’s as well.

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Hi Paul,

With double the sf listening space of mine, still believe My Solution would work well for you! They throw a huge sound stage in width, depth and height, presenting a very accurate orchestral holographic space. The Ascend Acoustic 30-day trial period would allow you the opportunity to find out if they would fit your selections of musical genre like they do mine!

Although not a big retailer name in speaker systems, the Sierra-2EX are definitely Big in Performance and Value !!

Ted

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Theo, do you feel they do a nice job with violin timbre. That’s something I want to get right.

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Ok, I read your review and the Sierra’s definitely have my attention. They’re not that expensive either. Thanks for the lead.

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This is an interesting issue. I have never had speakers that I thought were really capable of reproducing an orchestra, at least when it is playing loud. I’m afraid I fall into the category of those who think that the only speakers that can really do this are large and driven by a lot of current. Think of Wilsons driven by Krell or Boulder. Perhaps the new PS Audio speakers will fit the bill, driven by the big PS Audio amps. But if you are willing to make a compromise on dynamics, there are decent alternatives out there. I’d be interested to hear if anyone disagrees.

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Paul,
The LSA-10 Statement speaker received TAS’s Product of the Year award. Read the reviews, then give its co-designer Dusty Vawter a call at Channel Islands Audio. Dusty is busy putting the finishing touches on a new speaker he should be launching by the end of the month.
I have seen pictures of them and they are beautiful. Materials, construction, design, and especially the drivers are all superior to the LSAs. I won’t mention any names, but a world renowned brilliant audio designer/engineer listened to the prototype and was amazed. Call Dusty!!

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I think there’s more than a little truth in your observation. Ability to sustain “suspension of disbelief” is a big factor in how satisfied one can be with more modestly sized systems. There are many parameters that go into a believable aural facsimile of a large ensemble and if things like tone color/timbre, soundstage, etc. are spot on then the dynamics issue assumes less importance when I listen.

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Paul,

YES! Although I didn’t specifically mention, the Sierra 2EX Easily allow timbre, overtones and acoustic details of All strings to come through crystal clear! Their midrange presentation and accuracy is phenomenal, with nar a hint of strain or stridency! As a music major, I’ve performed on double bass through the violin and find the 2EX reproduce the most natural string timbres (such as Live performances) I’ve ever heard!

Additionally, reproduction of percussive piano sounds, with it’s rich textures of overtones and melodic blends, is also extremely natural and “LIVE”!!

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Paulo…Dina and Dave Fabrikant…Ascend Acoustics proprietors are
wonderful very helpful people to work with…

Best wisjes

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Theo,

Yeah, I’m a music teacher and majored in music as well. Tone/Timbre are extremely important but I don’t totally want to lose dynamics. Maybe the Sierra’s are the answer. I already ordered them for a trial run. Thanks for the tip.

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Way to go Paulo…what finish did you choose?

The hard part is the wait time for them to arrive…
Looking forward to hearing your impressions
with your new Sierras

Best wishes

Dynamics…another forte of the Sierra-2EX!!! I’m comfortably pushing them with a 125wpc SS Emotiva amp…Confident you won’t be disappointed with your Mc2200! :wink:

Ted

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I chose piano black.

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That will be elegantly beautiful…

Do you have an eta for them yet?

Best wishes

The PB are Beautiful…I have the Satin Dark Cherry!

Ted

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No E.T.A. as of yet.

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I know you didn’t list them among the possible choices, but I’d suggest Magnepans. They do timbre and soundstage for orchestral works like no other, IMO.

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Craig, that’s a great idea and one I’ve looked into. Apparently, the Maggies don’t pair well with McIntosh gear, and since the two Mac pieces are the cornerstone of my system, I’ve decided not to go with Magnepan.