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Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

Posted June 08, 2012 10:19 AM by rawlifelivin

In the world of high fidelity audio, there are a lot of components that are unnecessarily overpriced. Big name electronics companies don't always give you the best bang for your buck and in many cases a bloated advertising budget can seriously affect the quality of the components you spend your hard-earned money on. A little research into smaller, independent speaker companies can yield big results. In this post, I'll be comparing the Bose 301v ($330/pair) against the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 ($350/pair).

Let's start with where it all begins: the connectors. The 301v is outfitted with what is essentially the cheapest type of connector possible, a spring loaded clip. These are notorious for creating an insecure connection and have nothing to prevent oxidation of the wire. They are also incompatible with many wire terminations such as banana plugs and spades (the two most effective terminations). Now where does the Diamond stand on this? It has bi-amplified, gold plated, 5-way binding posts. This is the same type of connections that just about every high-end speaker uses because it allows all types of terminations to connect and will not oxidize because the surface is entirely gold. What does bi-amplified mean? It is a term that denotes that a speaker has separate amplifiers for the high frequency driver (tweeter) and the low-frequency driver (woofer). This allows the amps to be tailored to the needs of each driver instead of being stressed to produce a full spectrum of sound. This is pertinent to the connectors because the only external indicator of bi-amplification is the presence of 2 sets of connectors instead of one. Next we will look at the drivers in each speaker.

The 301v sports a 2-way design with an 8-inch paper woofer and two 2-inch paper cone tweeters. One tweeter is front firing, the other rear firing. The concept behind the rear firing tweeter is that it should "blend reflected and direct sound to re-create much of a live concert's natural spaciousness". However, Bose provides no evidence of this and is the only company I've found to make use of such technology. Either Bose is onto something groundbreaking, or more likely, it's a marketing gimmick. Additionally, the presence of cone tweeters came as quite a shock to me. For those that don't understand why, Wikipedia puts it best:

"Cone tweeters are relatively cheap, but do not have the dispersion characteristics of domes. Thus they are routinely seen in low cost applications such as factory car speakers, shelf stereo systems, and boom boxes. [...] They are now a rare sight in modern hi-fi usage."

Moving on to the Diamond, it also makes use of a 2-way design with a 4.5-inch Kevlar-cone woofer and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter. If you are unfamiliar with the material Kevlar, it is synonymous with bullet-proof vests and as such, is extremely resilient yet highly responsive. This is the same material that Bowers and Wilkins have been using to make the midrange drivers in almost all of their products since 1974. This includes their iconic 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers ($24,000/pair). Although paper cones such as those in the 301v are not necessarily of poor quality, they usually are as it is a cheap material to work with. Also, high end speakers that use paper as the cone material generally treat it with chemicals to increase its sonic characteristics. If you haven't guessed yet, Bose paper cones are untreated. As we continue to look at the drivers, let's focus next on the dimensions of each.

As I previously mentioned, the 301v woofer and tweeters are 8-inches and 2-inches respectively whereas the Diamond's drivers are 4.5-inches and 1-inch. The difference in size of the drivers should give the Diamond an advantage in the upper range but also prevent it from reaching as low as the 301v. Looking at the frequency ranges of each, the 301v dips down to 45Hz and the Diamond to 48Hz. Both speakers have a fairly impressive lower end for their price. However, the 301v does extend decently lower. As a 2 channel system, you might decide that this is important enough to sway your decision; but as a 2.1 channel system, the addition of a subwoofer makes it a moot point. As for the upper limit, the 301v reaches 19 kHz whereas the Diamond stretches up to 24 kHz. For anyone that is unaware, this frequency is beyond the capacity of human ears. Now you may be thinking, "If I can't hear it why does it matter?" Although you may not be able to hear supersonic frequencies, they still interact with audible frequencies and the room's acoustics. In fact, many musical instruments produce supersonic frequencies naturally and cannot be properly recreated without a capable speaker.

A few advantages of the Diamond still remain to be discussed but for time's sake I will go over them briefly. Aesthetically, the Diamond leaves a much smaller footprint than the 301v and has a more traditional vertical driver alignment. The 301v is available in black and light cherry while the diamond is offered in black, cool maple, wenge, blackwood, cinnamon cherry, winter maple, walnut pearl, and rosewood quilted. From a technical view, the curved walls of the Diamond help to significantly reduce standing waves and unwanted cabinet resonance. Taking a peek inside, the Diamond makes use of rare earth metals called neodymium magnets. They are regarded as the strongest and highest quality magnet, whereas the 301v does not list any particular type of magnet. More secure flanges, tweeter diffusers, A/V shielding, and composite front baffles add even more to the list of features Wharfedale offers.

Overall, the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 offers a clearly greater value of generally higher quality than the Bose 301v, both in its components and performance. Although Bose has launched an extensive campaign to convince consumers of their superior sound, the specs speak for themselves.

Still, it would be foolish to forget the old adage "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". This is certainly applicable to speakers; while one speaker may outperform another in every dimension, the better speaker is always the one which makes you happiest. If you find yourself leaning towards a name brand set because of how it sounds, don't let my rant hold you back. Just put forth your best effort to be as unbiased as possible and your ears will guide you to the right choice.

Sources:

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Discover/Discover/Technologies/Kevlar.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweeter#Cone_tweeter

http://www.bose.com/controller?url=/shop_online/speakers/stereo_speakers/301_speakers/index.jsp

http://www.stereophile.com/content/wharfedale-diamond-101-loudspeaker

http://www.dansdata.com/images/gz033/spring320.jpg

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#1

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 11:52 AM

I have a Bose home theater system, you caan't really get any better with freestanding speakers...Now you could argue the headphones are better for spatial definition and lack of reverberation, but that's apples and oranges as they say....

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#2
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 12:14 PM

Well if those speakers suit your needs better than any others, that's great. However, to say that "you can't really get any better" is very untrue from a technical standpoint. If you think they are better for a specific reason I'd be interested to hear why.

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#3
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 12:22 PM

Well I think in my lifetime I've listened to just about every kind of speaker system, and owned the best of them....Before I bought this system a few years back, I went around and listened to everything I could find, these sounded the best...You can crank these up, leave the house, walk across the street, and hear them as clearly as if you were in the same room....Now if you want to stand there and tell me that something is better because it says so on paper, that just falls short...

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#5
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 12:32 PM

If you'd like to continue telling me that your speakers are better for no reason other than because you say so, then have fun. When you can actually support your statements with proof, I'll be here.

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#10
In reply to #5

The Battle Of The Speakers

06/08/2012 3:19 PM

Rawlifelivin, I was going to ask you, along the line of you challenge, just what sort of supporting information might be available from any manufacturer, and just how to objectively rate these devices.

Following the advice so often offered here at CR4, I checked before I asked. Wiki:

"Fully characterizing the sound output quality of a loudspeaker driver or system in words is essentially impossible. Objective measurements provide information about several aspects of performance so that informed comparisons and improvements can be made, but no combination of measurements summarizes the performance of a loudspeaker system in use..."

So... I guess the question remains: How do you objectively rate speakers? Can it really be said one manufacturer is best? Always?

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#42
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Re: The Battle Of The Speakers

06/12/2012 12:07 PM

Excellent question. You're right, there is no definitive way to objectively rate speakers and it can never really be said that one manufacturer is best. The objective of this article was not to pick the best company, but to compare the technical specifications of each speaker. While I cannot say "Wharfedale is better than Bose" I can say that the quality of materials used to produce their loudspeakers is greater than that of Bose. Whether this relates to an increase in aural pleasure is completely up to the listener.

On the other side, certain specifications relate directly to the integrity of the components. You may believe that paper cones create a more natural reproduction than Kevlar but a Kevlar cone will be able to withstand greater stresses. This is the result of laboratory studies and is completely objective.

Other specifications such as sensitivity and impedance are electrical characteristics that relate to the volume output and the resistance of the wiring to the electrical signal, respectively. These are also objective characteristics.

Although specifications do not necessarily correlate to performance, they give the reader a good idea of how it should perform. It would be impossible to listen to every speaker out there so making use of the specifications to narrow down your choices can be very helpful. However, there are other variables that can significantly change the sound that is produced. As such, you should never take the specifications as law and never buy a speaker without auditioning it first. I hope this helps!

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#44
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Re: The Battle Of The Speakers

06/12/2012 12:45 PM

I would say that objective and scientific measurements of loudspeakers are possible.

However, whether the manufacture will publish that data and if they publish the data without fudging the numbers is another matter.

Additionally, understanding the data is not simple. Most people simply look at frequency response as the criteria (beside the wife acceptance factor, which works on fuzzy logic). Even then, they do not really look at the graph, but the low and high end frequency points. That, and the maximum rated power seem to drive most people's decisions.

The real challenge for the potential purchaser is understanding what all of the data means and where to try to get it (usually by independent sources that are rating the equipment).

So, it's not that the various characteristics of a loudspeaker can not be quantified (they can), the problem is interpreting what the data is telling you and determining the relative importance of that data. As I said, much of the technical data is never published by the manufacture and good luck trying to get it!

Then, all of the data will tell you how it will perform under test conditions. However, your home or car is another matter.

Incidentally, the difference in sound between paper and kevlar has more to do with where the cone brake-up occurs on the frequency spectrum and its relative amplitudes.

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#8
In reply to #3

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 2:34 PM

As lyn put it once: "Intra aural cavities are like finger prints. No two are alike." So, no two people hear things the same way. Discussions over sound like this typically end up being one word over another.

But anyways, I'm curious: Do you know what system you use off the top of your head, SolarEagle?

Disclaimer: My speakers at home are Logitech (which might make an audiophile scoff), the headphones I use at work are closed-ear Bose (if only for their ability to not let too much of the sound leak out and disturb others), and the headphones I use at home are Sennheiser (flawless sound quality, in my opinion)

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#9
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 3:08 PM
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#24
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 12:02 AM

Not so fast. People's auditory systems may be different, but JBL has conducted extensive testing with listeners of all types (skilled and unskilled, good ears and bad hearing) and the results showed that people generally rated superior those systems that are of superior quality.

What this says is that quality of sound is not so subjective, despite differences in people and their hearing.

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#47
In reply to #3

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/27/2012 8:25 PM

Solar Eagle, would you please list the speaker manufacturers, model numbers and the stores where you purchased each of the systems that cost more than $80,000 a pair, or close to that number, which I am simply using as an arbitrary starting point at the low end of decent speakers for the average listening room? Not to pick a fight - but your assertion that you have owned the best of them strikes me as almost impossible unless you have the street cred for demo gear like of Jimmy Iovene or Don Was or Quincy Jones or Mutt Lang or the deep pockets of the Rockefellers, et al. Have you owned eighteen sets of speakers costing over $200,000 a pair? That's not even half of the over-200K lines that are out there...

And I know you are a very smart engineer so doesn't it bother you that your house is so acoustically transparent? If you crank up your system and can hear it across the street as clearly as if you were in the same room, I must ask - is your dwelling made of mosquito net, or is your statement an exaggeration? You must be losing a LOT of energy from your room, and a lot of that is in the low end and I know you know that means your room is sloppy and you are not getting the best experience you could have with your system... plus what about all the outside noise that comes inside?

What have you done to stop those leaks?

I am really shocked, baffled, practically knocked off my chair that you would be a Blows Out Sound Every-which-way evangelist - knowing that you are an educated practical person with knowledge of physics. When I got to this thread I had to go back and make sure this was really you... Have you been abducted? Seriously, were you just joshing around or are you really serious?

Where all did you go to "listen to everything you could find"? Did you go to any shops that offered to bring the speakers to your home and do the demo there? Did you go to any shops that just had one pair of speakers in the room, or were they all big walls of boxes with matrix router pushbutton selectors like Best Buy and Circuit City and the like? When you did those comparisons, did you always have the exact same source material, exact same pre amp, amp, cables, room, furniture, temperature, ceiling height, ambient noise, attitude, Blood Alcohol Level, etc... How many variables were you able to control as you "went around listening"?

It starts to not sound very scientific or defensible, so your want to disregard what's on a piece of paper might make some sense in a different argument, on the other hand, isn't it fair to use some objective measurements when we have no possible way of making unbiased subjective measurements using your method?

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#4

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 12:28 PM

First of all it's always nice to find someone who still cares about audio fidelity and component sound systems. These days, too much listening is done with iPods, bad earphones (which is the set of speakers for that format), etc. I can listen to music on a portable player, but it has to be capable of good sound and then I have to have some good headphones to make that capability a reality. Listening to music on most TV speakers is a good example of an opportunity lost.

The Bose reflected design goes way back and was most heralded in it's 901 series. A lot of critics have given Bose speakers bad marks for "subjective" sound experience. And, as you say, that is the final factor for any listener. Just because we can measure reproduction accurately with electronics doesn't mean a flat response, for instance, will translate to the most popular speaker set in any given test setting. It's why preamps have tone controls in the first place. (That and variances in hearing, which also change with age.)

I don't think any sound reproduction system will ever compete with live performance. A solo singer with solo instrument is the best case to succeed. The sound source in other performances is even more distributed and dispersed. Practically speaking, instruments radiate in all directions. I haven't kept up with speaker design for decades, but I don't think any of them incorporate a spherical transducer. This IS the idea behind Bose design -- to try to reproduce the way live music is radiated and reflected, with an emphasis on concert halls, as opposed to clubs, etc. Theater sound systems have promise, but would need more "intelligence" in the apportionment of sound to each speaker. Spatially, they will imitate a plane flying by or overhead, fairly well, for instance.

Bottom line is the listening, though. We listen to live performances so rarely, that we are habituated to a "standard" that is not natural. It's the best we can do, in most cases. And then we do tweak it with tone and balance controls.

Even a rich person couldn't hire all the singers and bands he would like to listen to on demand -- especially those who have passed on! We're lucky to have music preserved in some form for reproduction and listening pleasure. Optimal? No. But better than nothing. And, still, very pleasurable.

As to your review and comparison, I'd have to listen to each and maybe even place them differently in a listening room to make a final judgment. I don't recall you offering your personal listening choice in the review. Did you compare them in a listening test?

Thanks for the effort. I hope there are enough readers who still care about sound "systems." In the future you might visit the debate over fidelity in vinyl vs. digital. That's been hashed out so many times and in so many places. So why do it? People like to "sound off" about things in whatever place they happen to be at the moment. Water cooler conversations, so to speak.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 12:55 PM

Personally, I've listened to both speakers but never in an A-B fashion so I cannot say with certainty that the Diamond sounds better. However, I own a pair of 301 V's and the spring connectors alone drive me up a wall. I find it disappointing that Bose can't shell out the extra couple of dollars per speaker to make the improvement. Also, I currently have them set up with a klipsch sc-10 center channel and have to lower the center channel level significantly just so the Bose can keep up.

I completely agree with you that our culture has gotten used to low quality gimmicky speakers that distort the sound to make it bearable. As an avid concert-goer, I like to hear music as close to the original as possible which is not something that most listeners value these days. As you said, they would rather have overblown club-esque bass then a tight realistic sound.

And as for the 'spherical transducer' I would check out MBL Speakers. Although far out of the price range for almost everybody, they present technology that could be implemented in more affordable speakers in the future.

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#7
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 1:27 PM

Well for one thing Bose has many different systems as well as individual speakers...You have a mismatched system, so if something isn't working for you, who's to blame? I have a complete Bose system with satellite speakers, sub-woofer, DVD combo player, even the connection cables, which are plug in....

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#48
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/28/2012 3:53 AM

Your comments about the 360 radiation of instruments is almost universally accepted.

However, what is tragically left out of the "how do we make a great recording sound great at home" equation is the need to understand HOW the 360 radiation of that instrument was recorded, and where that recording took place.

Unless the microphones were placed behind the musicians, near a wall that happens to be the same distance behind my imaginary 901 rear-radiating speakers, which we all know is not at all how the program was recorded, then the reproduction cannot be realistic, and is likely made worse by every part of the system beyond the end of the speaker wire - the box, the direction the drivers are aimed, the wall those drivers bounce off of, the second reflection wall and its distance from the source, and so on.

As another example, if we record Chuck Mangione or Wynton Marsalis in an anechoic chamber, and place the microphone six feet in front of the instrument, then replace the microphone with a "perfect" speaker - which way shall we point the speaker to reproduce the sound that was recorded? Toward the listener or away? Clearly this is the extreme and few recordings are made in anechoic environs except for evaluation or test media. But, to take the notion that bouncing sound off an arbitrary wall and distance will "bring the music to life" makes no more physical or acoustical sense than claiming that all the balls on a billiards table will react the same way if the dimensions are changed disproportionately in both directions.

Touting the direct/reflecting design as a way to recreate the real experience might make more sense if Barrels Of Sound Excrement made the recordings with multiple microphones and could somehow convince us that their microphone technique was more realistic that our binaural ears.

Now, in fairness I will give Bose some props - the Bose 802 PA speaker remains, to this day, the favored stage monitor of many keyboard players. Why? For the wide dispersion that covers all around their rigs for one. But far more because all 8 radiators are identical and there is no crossover. All the octaves come out of all the same 4 1/2" drivers. There's no point where A440 is in the 12" paper cone and A1760 is in the mid horn and A3520 is in the bullet tweeter. All that crossover and phase shift and driver voicing makes the piano sound like three different instruments. Key players and string players too, hate that.

If I can't get my hands on any 802's I'll grab a pair of full range 8" boxes and most of the time the good keys guys know what I'm up to and glad for it.

But, have you ever been to an event with 802s as the main PA and been on the fourth or fifth row? wished you could sit closer, yeah?

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#51
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/28/2012 8:07 AM

You may be familiar with Linkwitz Lab.

They are supposed to be an excellent speaker, but room placement is very important and they need to be well away from walls and other objects to perform correctly.

For that reason they do not have a place in most homes. I simply do not have the space for such a design.

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#11

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 4:14 PM

Take a look at this site:Reflection of Waves.

Then take a look around the room in your house that contains the sound system.

The rooms are just like ears. Each will have its own characteristic response, depending on all the variables in the room. The only way to make all things equal is to put the speakers in an anechoic chamber.

So, my only point is that the quality of sound lies in the mind of the listener, not in the performance characteristics of the loudspeaker making the sound waves. True, some modern systems can compensate for some room characteristics, but no two people will have the same experience.

I, personally can't hear well enough to care any more.

Cheers.

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#12
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 5:12 PM

I hear you (or do I?) on the "can't hear well enough" front.

As far as sound quality not being in the performance of the loudspeaker, but in the mind, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Sound quality (perception) is, in a majority of cases, limited by the quality of reproduction. Then it is limited by the quality of the ears.

Tone controls and other equalization apparatus can help compensate for the "can't hear well enough" hurdle and errors of reproduction.

Music can be powerful in its effect. Enjoy it however you can. It always saddens me to think of how much Beethoven must have suffered with his hearing loss since he loved music so much.

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#13
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 5:32 PM

Beethoven it seems was able to hear in his mind with perfection...that seems to be in conflict with the first part of your post...

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#14
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 5:52 PM

I'm perfect in my mind, too. That don't make it so.

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#17
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 7:00 PM

On appearance... but his obvious frustration (and lament in letters) is a testament that the experience of the physical vibrations was very important. Concept is one thing and physical hearing is another. He desperately wanted to hear what was in his head, physically.

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#15
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 6:06 PM

Ok,

How's this?

The listening environment can have a major impact on the listener's perception of the quality of the system?

Reproduction ends at the surface of the cone in a loudspeaker. It IS what does the reproducing. Everything, to that point, is just math and conductors coupled with electricity. Not much magic there. It's the loudspeaker and its enclosure that are black arts. The reproduction is over at that point. It's all room acoustics after that.

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#18
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 7:03 PM

Yes. Room acoustics are definitely part of the pie. And our individual audition is the limitation to all of it, as you aptly put it.

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#25
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 12:11 AM

You wrote, "It's the loudspeaker and its enclosure that are black arts."

That all changed in the 1970s beginning with Thiele/Small. Today the design and construction of loudspeakers is a well understood science. Programs such as LEAP 5 can simulate acoustic drivers, crossovers, and their enclosures with extreme precision.

The computer revolution has also been extended into the room acoustics field. Now you can design the interior of buildings with acoustics in mind and work out the room issues, too.

The only art left in loudspeaker design is the aesthetics of the package.

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#16

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 6:38 PM

Ultimately, beauty is in the ear of the beholder. What makes any audio component good is how much pleasure it gives to the owner/listener.

I would be amongst those that would say that the claims and prices of Bose are grossly inflated. I would argue with anyone who says that Bose is the best, but I would not argue that Bose might not be the best for them (and this is not meant in a condescending, "if only you were as aurally discerning as me", sort of way!).

There are many companies like Bose (such as Linn !) who seem to have developed, through clever marketing, a cult following that belies what is actually offered technically. But this is no reason to decry those that worship these marques. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and our tastes all vary.

There is much hype and fadism with certain technical features in hi-fi audio, and much is overstated. You would think that nobody got any aural pleasure before, eg. bi-wiring. Yet I still get pleasure even just thinking about my first 'decent' amp, a NAD 3020 with spring-clip speaker connections. I doubt that anyone would really notice the difference on budget/low-end equipment between this and the current screw-post/banana plug scenario, so why bother.

It is also exremely important to consider the listening room/conditions, and the type/volume of music being played. My Missions are great for Rock/Pop, and the stuff I listened to many years ago. My 'Castles' give me so much more pleasure with the acoustic/vocal music I listen to more these days. Is one better than the other?

I agree with the gist of the article. There are products on the market that appear to be over-hyped, offering more than the technical specs would appear to offer. There are also products that are clearly as good as the specs (Linn, Naim, etc), but grossly over-priced. The formula is really very simple, and you have three choices:

-If you want something that looks good, look at them and buy the one that looks best to you.

-If you want the trendiest, research the trendiest.

-If you want the best sounding, listen carefully, and test with your own music, in your own listening environment.

Most importantly, don't belittle what gives others aural pleasure (I daren't tell you my favorite CD player!)

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#19
In reply to #16

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 7:21 PM

Agreed. Enjoyment is the desired end result. And it is very subjective.

My period of shopping for "audiophile" components was relatively short -- only a couple of years. Around Jr.-Sr. year of H.S. / start of college; circa 1968-70. I did do A-B speaker comparisons, in a listening show-room, when shopping (and that can certainly aid the marketing of certain types of speakers!). I don't remember how many brands I compared, but Klipsch was one, AR another, as well as JBL. And I did end up "liking" the Bose 901 speakers the best. Admittedly, proper placement of other speaker brands may result in equal spacial placement and even reflective component simulation. I just liked them. So I bought them. I have not had them set up for years now due to poor life circumstances. And I never was able to place them, as suggested by Bose, in any house I've had. Never a spare room to be dedicated to an audio system. Without that, the priorities always were, furniture/room presentation, with audio considerations toward the bottom of the list.

Now, at my age and circumstances, like lyn, it just doesn't seem to matter as much any more. Ah... but I do remember the days when it did.

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#20
In reply to #16

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 7:56 PM

Just for the record, this is my first set of Bose speakers...as far as something being overpriced, that's improbable in a free market...They would soon go out of business....I never said Bose was the best, period, only the best I listened to, and I listened to several top end systems....You sound like one of those audio snobs that seem to always turn up when a conversation about speakers takes place...boring

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 8:18 PM

Not to say you are boring, just that I find the subject when taken to extremes, boring...

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#26
In reply to #20

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 12:19 AM

Overpriced? Just look at cables! Most are priced so as to make the buyer feel good.

I love the Monster Cable wires. Not for their performance, but the belly laugh I get when I see them.

A blind test between Monster Cables and coat hangers left listeners unable to tell the difference.

I can buy 12 AWG zip cord at the hardware store and get all the performance anyone needs and use the extra saved funds for buying music.

Unfortunately, the world of HiFi seems to be ripe with overpriced equipment because it is such an emotional product and say what you will about the various manufactures, the marketing departments know exactly what they are doing!

All of the responses to this blog should be another hint as to the power of emotion.

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#52
In reply to #20

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/28/2012 12:10 PM

"as far as something being overpriced, that's improbable in a free market...They would soon go out of business"

My daughter has an iPod. She is quite happy with it. In fact it is exactly what she wanted, and I was happy to buy it for her. It is not what I would have chosen, but she was not interested in sound quality or ease of use. She wanted it because that is what her friends had, and they had been led to believe it was the best. It is over-hyped and over-priced, but still sells by the bucketload.

One of my sons has a Sony MP3 player which has vastly better sound quality and is much nicer to use than the iPod. It cost about 20-25% less than the iPod. It is also what I would have chosen, as I'm not swayed by the hype, and I'm not an audio snob, so I am also not swayed by brand-names.

This is just one example. I'm sure there are many, many more. It is not at all unusual.

I'm not sure what makes you think I'm an audio snob. As I said "What makes any audio component good is how much pleasure it gives to the owner/listener." I do not insist on having "the best" (or even pretend to know what actually is the best), nor that it can only be any good if it costs at least a months salary, nor that any particular brand or design is the best.

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#49
In reply to #16

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/28/2012 5:13 AM

I'll stack that NAD 3020 with spring clips up against 90 percent of the under $1200 stuff out there today.

I totally agree with your comments about listening and choosing the gear that works best for you - I would still have a pair of Missions to go with my still-got-it Mission CD player, but I didn't care for them for much other than Diana Krall and Ricky Lee Jones, so I swapped them for a great Sota Saphire. Too many hours on the Koetsu now to use it, and the Shure Mk IV just doesn't match. Whine. If we could just get harder diamond that would not wear so quickly...

Is your favorite CD player a portable flip top Radio Shack from around 1986? You don't have to confess publicly, but if you built the suggested resistor bridge for the output, you have one of the "inexplicable" oddities that happen every now and then!!!

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#50
In reply to #49

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/28/2012 6:33 AM

Yes, my CD player is one of those "inexplicable" oddities, though perhaps not so inexplicable since good sound is all in the quality of the DAC. I'm a bit pushed for time now. Full confession will come later.

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#53
In reply to #49

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/28/2012 12:21 PM

I have listened to some fairly tasty mid/high-end stuff, including the likes of Naim, etc, but it has always left me cold. My current CD player is:

The very first version of the Sony Playstation 1, featuring the AKM AK4309AVM 16-bit sigma-delta DAC chip.

I splashed out £10 for the first, and £25 for the second when I discovered I could actually enjoy listening to CDs.

There. Confession done, and I feel much better now that I've 'come out'.

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#22

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 10:26 PM

Personally I have always considered Bose to nothing more than a lot of expensive high end signal processing being used to make cheap poorly laid out parts sound fairly good.

If you plug a good set of speakers into a Bose system and they sound like crap and if you plug a set of Bose speakers into an unprocessed music source and they sound like crap again

As far as I am concerned all Bose ever did was figure out how to make (crap + crap = big money) for their products.

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#29
In reply to #22

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 10:10 AM

tcmtech -

On the other hand irregardless of brand, I think it has a lot more to do with the system's impedance matching. How well the driven (speakers) element's impedance is matched to the output impedance of its driver or the amplifier's output impedance. Properly matched components, even from a "crappy company" may be able to reproduce a decent acceptable quality sound.

Due to a lot of associated variables, the only way we can do an apple to apple comparison is to do all tests and measurements inside the laboratory.

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#30
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Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 2:02 PM

I for one have never cared what the numbers say. I listen to what I like Like listen to the way I like to listen to it on what components I care to listen to if that makes any sense.

I have been to too many show rooms and sound competitions over the years where sound systems were set to their supposedly perfect settings derived by a bunch of tin eared audiophiles and expensive high end equipment and I, and most everyone else who apparently doesn't know about 'real sound', thought it all sounded like crap.

The thing is I don't give a rats butt about whats acoustically perfect. What I like is what sounds pleasing, clean, and clear to me. Crank up that AC/DC make them tweeters sizzle, and those mids scream with the sound of a torn up guitar, and put a few thousand watts to those subs and let that gear get a real work out! Thats what appeals to me!

And yes I used to be the guy blasting rock and roll with the multi KW sound system in his car that could be heard miles away on a clear night or that made your windows flex when you where at a stop light next to me. Thats what appeals to my sonic tastes.

BTW the last hearing check I had a few years ago showed I still have hearing sensitivity and range thats above the average of most people that are 10 years younger than me! Just dont tell the wife or she will start expecting me to use it when she talks.

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 4:56 PM

Point well taken.. vsar

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#32
In reply to #29

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 7:25 PM

Yes, and no.

First, the impedance of the loudspeaker changes with frequency. As a general rule, the impedance is high at the resonance point of the bass driver and then drops in the midrange, then rises slightly in the treble region due to the inductive nature of the voice coil.

The loudspeaker's crossover also plays a part in this impedance curve and can mitigate the impedance rise if the crossover is well designed. Multiple divers compound the issue because each has its own impedance curve in the spectrum it operates.

Nevertheless, the type of amplifier that drive the loudspeaker contribute to the linearity of sound we hear and perceive.

Most solid state amplifiers are essentially voltage-drive circuits. That is, as the impedance rises in the load, the power output decreases. So, too, does the acoustic power, it decreases with rising impedance.

The ah-ha moment here is that variations in impedance directly impact the output as heard by our ears. Bass is lost as well as some treble and any variations introduced by the crossover will result in non-linearity of sound pressure.

On a slightly off-track beat (no pun intended), the claim that tubes sound better than transistors actually has some truth, but not for the reasons that most people cite.

Tube (or valve) amplifiers act as current-drive circuits. That is, when the impedance is higher the power output is also higher. Power is directly proportional to load impedance.

The result is richer and more robust bass response and brighter treble. When the two systems are compared the listener finds the valve amp producing a sweeter sound when compared to the transistor amp

The old argument of the distortion type differences between valve and transistor (odd vs. even harmonics) is really a mute argument because under normal operating conditions and correctly sized amplifiers for the job, nether system should be operating with audible distortion in the first place.

In an ideal world the loudspeaker should have a perfectly flat impedance, but few systems come close and the characteristic sound produced by different amplifier systems is mainly due to the type of drive the circuit represents (voltage vs. current).

Lastly, you can not make a crappy loudspeaker sound decent and acceptable quality. You may be able to improve the sound somewhat, but there are many other factors that determine the quality of a loudspeaker beyond a flat frequency response.

One of the biggest factors that are commonly and cunningly not published by even high end loudspeakers is the directivity of that loudspeaker over its frequency range.

Loudspeakers couple to the room that they are placed in. Sound from a loudspeaker does more than simply beam audio to the ear. It also sends sound out in different directions. Sound splashes off the floor, ceiling , walls, and objects in the room to combine at the listening position. Drivers have different levels of directivity for their operational frequency ranges.

Better loudspeakers are designed to have a more constant directivity over the total frequency range. This is not a simple feat and no amount of amplification or even equalization can fix a crappy loudspeaker's faults with directivity.

There are many other factors that are important, too, such as distortion, transient response, and to a lessor degree, phase.

Loudspeakers and audio systems are extremely complex systems, more so than most people imagine.

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#23

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/08/2012 11:57 PM

Bose: you can find better, but you won't pay more.

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#27

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 9:56 AM

This has been a great discussion on the merits and drawbacks of two quality audio products. For the sake of full disclosure, I'm in the camp that believes that Bose does make a good sounding product from inexpensive parts that are priced to the consumer higher than anticipated. (Remember prices are set by what the public will pay, not the cost to manufacture.)

There is one engineering aspect that was briefly touched upon in the original blog posting that I believe deserves a brief discussion. To accurately transmit an analog signal to any receiver, there should be no more than one system in the chain that limits the bandwidth to the desired frequency range. Having two systems in the chain with a 3db rolloff at the requested frequency range will mean that the system response will be less than the desired frequency range.

Those of you who might wonder what speakers I use, I have an old pair of PSB MK 50 II for my audio system. Of their current product line, I believe that the Alpha B1 or Image B4 speakers will be in the price range of the Bose and Wharfedale speakers of the blog.

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#28

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/09/2012 9:59 AM

My audio hero was Edgar Vilchur. I still have a pair of AR1s in my shop. But a few years ago I learned a lesson that Mr. Vilchur never taught me. I recieved free tickets to a BSO performance in Symphony hall. The soloist was a famous German violinist. The concert was well received and enjoyable, but I felt that even in that great venue, the level of the violin was too low. The performance was recorded and the next evening I heard it in my shop on the AR-1s. An astute recording engineer had boosted the violin level and the whole experience was far improved over the live performance. Now I'm certain that there were better seats in the hall from which I could have heard the live performance, and my shop is not an acoustic masterpiece, but I took what I got and that's what happened. Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear comes to mind.

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#33

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 10:16 AM

To welderman (#28).... My own 'audio_hero' was Paul W. Klipsch...

Re:
Post SolarE's #1
"...you caan't really get any better with freestanding speakers"
and
A.H.'s Post #23:
"Bose: you can find better, but you won't pay more."

I did with this for "surrounds".

All being fed by a ("Standard Series") Sunfire Cinema-7 amp, which signals, in turn, are 'pre-processed' thru a Theater Grand 3 (sadly, needing to be replaced with something newer, capable of switching HDMI signals!)

The (2) towers (RF-7's) standing behind the sofa as "rear" surrounds were a bit over-the-top ('imposing'), and so, were recently replaced with RS-62 II's.

AH (Post #32) did a great job of highlighting the fact that every component of a sound system, including the listening environment, contributes to the perception of reproduced sound (i.e., the sound quality).

Aesthetics (from the OP) is a buzz-word that frequently tilts the scales for many buyers. If you desire a finish "cool maple, wenge, blackwood, cinnamon cherry, winter maple, walnut pearl, or rosewood quilted", you might *not* find it anyplace else, but the speaker being presented...(!)

[ I wonder whether Diamond (reminding us that 'Kevlar' is synonymous with bullet-proof vests) ACTUALLY USES "ballistic grade" Kevlar (there are various grades). Sales personnel are known to have evolved from once being journalists, where everything must be 'hyped'.]

My bottom-line is, everyone who has had occasion to audition my environment has replied with (something on the order of): "Wow, most impressive....but, I'll stick to my pair of JBL's (or Pioneers, or Sony surround system, or 'whatever')".

MOST people buy the first 'decent sounding' system that they can afford, when they see it in a store. And, unless it is truly crappy and they can afford to replace it, they will live with it for many years to come, and stand-by their decision to the end. Who are any-of-us to suggest they made a poor decision? (certainly there are persons who will argue that I wasted a ton of cash, unnecessarily)
"To each their own!"

Still , such blogs/threads are a great opportunity for multitudes to open mouth / insert foot. (("My turn"...))

edit--- with regard to my comment about 8 paragraphs up, about the TG-III needing to be replaced with something newer, capable of switching HDMI signals ... I look forward to further discussions here, about current state-of-the-art in the area of pre-amps. I have not seen anything YET, that I feel is the 'perfect' preamp (including absolute ease-of-use!)

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 10:48 AM

You wrote, "I have not seen anything YET, that I feel is the 'perfect' preamp (including absolute ease-of-use!)"

Best I have seen is a quality selector switch directly coupled to a quality Resistor-Switch Network for the volume control and no active components. Closest thing to the "straight wire with gain" you can get.

You are on your own for the power amp. That's another matter.

I should add that the loudspeaker contributes the most distortion to the sound chain by a wide margin.

To me, I stop looking at distortion in the audio chain's components when it contributes less than .1%, which is well below the threshold of detection by the human ear.

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#38
In reply to #34

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 1:02 PM

Re : "...quality selector switch directly coupled to a quality Resistor-Switch Network for the volume control and no active components"

You are absolutely correct. However (nowadays) one desires one's "system" to be easily switchable between Sat-Dish / Blu-Ray player, etc ... everything via remote control, with the requisite "Pause" , "Mute" , and other buttons.

The TG-III *was* state of the art ... and still has some great features. But, as time passes, certain aspects become obsolete, such as the *video-switching* capability.

And, too, I have always fought a certain frustration with the subwoofer output. One part of the frustration is due to the unit's "forgetfulness" of settings, during power outages. ANOTHER portion is due to engineer-idiocracy(!)

When you set-up the unit to begin with, IF you tell it that your front-flanking speakers are "Large" (as opposed to "Medium" or "Small"), the unit automatically assumes that you will NEVER want ANY output from that $1500 subwoofer that you invested in, and thus, shuts-off the sub-outs...(!)

[ What is it that Jeff Dunham's character "Walter" would say? ... "Dumb_a-ses!"]

Someday I will use some vacation time to visit one of the high-end showrooms (not in THIS town...!) with a checklist of questions and do the audition-thing again.

Cheers ~

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#40
In reply to #38

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 1:50 PM

What you are describing is the same cr@p that I had with a HK home theater amp I had (actually still have it).

The user interface is horrible. All of these amps have the VCR syndrome where marketing loads and overloads the functionality of the equipment.

If power is lost you may find that all of the settings you had spent all that time setting up are now cast into the bit bucket. So, you have relearn everything trying to set it up. Some of the setup requires a TV or monitor to get to because there just were no more buttons left.

Then there was the stupid volume control. At least it is a knob on the front panel, but the remote uses buttons that just suck.

Even the knob on the front panel is wrong. I forget how many revolutions it takes to go from minimum to maximum, but I just do not need the resolution in volume that the system provides.

After battling this abomination I just got so frustrated that I determined that it was back to basics and I built my own amp with a real mechanical analog volume control (just like God intended). It is as simple as it can be and the sound quality is far better than the HK. Oh, and I do not mind getting up to adjust the volume.

I only use a two-channel stereo system, but even if I needed/wanted surround sound I would still build my own amps to do it (just like I built my own speakers).

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#35
In reply to #33

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 11:27 AM

"...you caan't really get any better with freestanding speakers"
For the money...Frankly I doubt if the Klipsch speakers would sound any better in my 300sf living room...

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#36
In reply to #33

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 12:02 PM

Tom,

It was not my intention to offend you and I also have a pair if PWK's speakers in my TV room. I am just more familiar with Vilchur's accomplishments and attended some of the audio demonstrations he organized at Harvard University. I always admired his philosophy that it doesn't matter how much the listener enjoys the sound. He felt his job was to reproduce the sound accurately and not cater to consumer taste.

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#37
In reply to #36

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 12:46 PM

? ? who's offended ... It was merely my "add". Owning a pair yourself, I would assume you to be an "aficianado", and as such, aware of PWK's philosophy from the onset: "If you don't like what comes out, you wouldn't like what went in" (to his speakers).

Accuracy of reproduction (fidelity), was the first-and-foremost passion, with efficiency being right-alongside. To my knowledge (anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!) the K-Horns remain not only the longest-running production speaker in history, but also the most efficient (Stereo Review Mag, 1975, "40% or higher"). Able to be driven to realistic listening level using a 10W ("Brook") tube amp.

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#39
In reply to #36

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 1:04 PM

"it doesn't matter how much the listener enjoys the sound"

Yes, I also admire purists and those that strive for accurate reproduction, but this statement seems nonsensical to me. It doesn't matter how accurate the reproduction is, if people don't enjoy listening to it then it is a pointless exercise. Music is reproduced in the first place so people can enjoy listening to it. And surely your experience outlined in post#28 indicates that you enjoyed the 'doctored' reproduction of the BSO concert far more than you would have enjoyed an accurate and faithful reproduction of the concert as you heard it.

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#41

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/11/2012 4:51 PM

I have to also say the cost of high end components doesn't make for a superior product. A case in point: Dynaco made an amplifier that sold as a kit for under $100 back in the early 60's. It was a tube amp and considered exceptional among amps selling for 10X more. A well known audio engineer with Audio magazine took a Dynaco amp and with the addition of a few dollars worth of parts and a little tweaking, made it sound as good as an amp costing 20X more (I think it was either a Mark Levinson or a Conrad-Johnson). The Dynaco with tweaks is now among the high end amps available, although the price is much more. FYI, the best speakers I ever heard (my opinion) was the Dahlquist DQ10 and a full range all electrostatic speaker system, the name I can't recall. All I rember is it cost more than my 1973 Mark 2 Toyota Corona new. The bottom line is; if it sounds good, it is good. No 2 people hear the same. Even a speaker that sounds good in one location may not sound the same in another room. Most audio dealers will let you take a speaker home to listen to it, as the way it sounds in the showroom is not how it will sound at home. Room acoustics is a very big variable and a less expensive speaker may sound good under the correct conditions.

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#43

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/12/2012 12:19 PM

As AH stated audio preferences are emotional. It can even rise to the height of discussing religion or politics. And it shouldn't. I think those who've posted, agree it is subjective, to a large degree. (Meaning we all would pick almost any other stereo speaker system over 2 transistor radios in their place.) It's just that it's easy to conclude that "my" subjective is somehow more objective than yours. It's almost like someone criticizing one's fiancee.

I wanted to find the original Bose 901 reviews but, alas, they only exist in paper copies of the audio magazines at the time. But even later reviews (1, 2; first 2 I followed links on) demonstrate how personal listening to music is. The second reviewer "knew" he wasn't supposed to like the speakers, but found them pleasurable, nonetheless. Then there are the Amazon buyer reviews; non-professional reviewers. Results as you would expect with any speaker system -- some who like what they hear and others who aren't so impressed. A couple of reviewers put forth their "experience" to underline they are no novices when it comes to audio. (The 4-star review by M. Hunt "Audio Technica, for instance.) And a couple of them have obviously bought into the "high-end" cable argument; whatever gives them pleasure. One reviewer seems to have bought them on hearsay. That does puzzle me.

I found this, possibly, revealing comment, just now in another forum discussion:

"Quite a different story with the subsequent versions of the 901: all downhill starting with Series III. And by the time Bose got to Series IV, there was no resemblance to the speakers I owned. They were "hollow" and nasally. Couldn't believe how bad they were compared to the original 901's and the Series II. Seems they started tinkering to strive for efficiency and the sound is what suffered. Add to this the use of cheaper components and you have a downhill slide all the way." (The obvious question is how do you compare a memory to what you are currently sampling?)

As I mentioned, it is moot for me now. I don't have mine set up and have a cheap integrated setup to enhance TV/DVD listening. Although, I use a good set of headphones to extract the last ounce out of the system when I listen to music concert media... or movies. It spares the neighbors, too. Headphone listening is definitely a different experience and can become a whole other discussion.

The main thing I, now, appreciate about "better" sound is I know people who are missing better sound by only listening to the speakers that are built into their TV. Most LCD TVs were designed for a "theater" type system. Why anyone would expect the built-in TV speakers to provide the same experience seems odd to me. Kind of like transistor radios vs. almost any set of speakers.

And as tcmtech reveals, we all adjust what might be a "flat" frequency response by twisting and tweaking tone controls. That pretty much throws any objectivity out the window. And audio levels become unnatural, too -- except when one is trying to mimic a rock concert. It's much harder to capture the front row experience with any home speaker system.

Placement and room acoustics is important, for almost any brand.

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#45

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/12/2012 3:30 PM

The Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 have 5" main drivers, not 4.5". They have a sensitivity of 86db @ 6ohms, which means you're going to need a decent receiver or amplifier that can handle 6ohms to get any real volume out of them. They are not rated +/- "x" over their frequency range, which means they probably need sound correction of some sort to sound decent.

Any Bose speaker isn't worth the effort to carry them out of the store. There is no such thing as a "Bose sub-woofer". There is a Bose "base-unit" which is no substitute for a genuine speaker like the Wharfedale. Bose should be avoided at all cost.

In the $300 - $400 price range, I would recommend Axiom M3 V3 at $368 with free shipping and no sales tax. It's rated 60 - 20kHz =/- 3db and 175 watts max @ 8ohms. Most important is the sensitivity of 92db @ 1 watt, 96db in room, which will allow for demanding sound levels even with a less-expensive receiver. With a 6.5" aluminum driver, titanium tweeter, and a 5-way binding post, you are getting quality components in this speaker. It is also available custom made to order with your choice of finish and fabric colors. Check their website for more info.

I do not own Axiom, and I don't work for them. I am just recommending them for this price range. I own Mission speakers which are in a higher price bracket.

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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: GlobalSpec HQ
Posts: 19
#46
In reply to #45

Re: Economic Audio: Bose 301 V vs. Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

06/15/2012 4:31 PM

Axiom does seem to offer an even higher quality product in this price range. Seemingly, the only feature of value it lacks is bi-amplification. I will have to audition it at some point to compare it to Wharfedale's offering. Thanks for the recommendation!

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