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Discussion Starter #1
So I now have my home theatre all set up. I've got a nice 60" plasma screen, a nice 7.1 A/V receiver, a blu-ray/game console (trying not to be brand specific here), and an HTPC. And I also have some built-into-wall/ceiling surround/rear speakers, and custom built subs that can rattle pictures off the wall. My front speakers are the same old speakers I've had since I started my home theater back in the mid-nineties. At the time that I bought them, they were basic bookshelf and center speakers, that were adequate at the time, and were what I could afford back then, given that I was still raising my kids.

Now that I have a bit more money to spend (the kids grew up, and moved out - for now), I'd like to upgrade my front speakers to something nicer. I'm not naive, I've been to big-box retailers, and have looked at home theater stuff all the time, my receiver is only 2 years old, and my plasma screen is only a year-and-half old. But something's been happening in the retail home theatre/stereo world that sneaked past me. It's hard to shop around for a nice set of speakers! I'm not talking about the extreme audiophile stuff that costs upwards of $1,000.00/per speaker. I'm talking about decent, middle-of-the-road, nice sounding speaker shopping.

I started my quest by going to the Future Shop/Best Buy stores. I was under the impression that they would have a large assortment of speakers for me to try out. I'm in the market for brand names such as Klipsh, Boston Accoustics, Paradigm, Monitor, Polk Audio, Bose. I'm looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers and a center speaker. I'm also looking for a speaker that can produce a nice clean sound, when playing either music or sound effects of action movies.

Well, when I got to one of the big box stores (in Burnaby, Coquitlam, and even Bellingham, WA, 5 stores in total), I found EACH one of these store's "listening rooms" in a state of disrepair, missing cables, and basically non-functional. The speakers are there, but either not connected, or the setup takes so much effort to get going that the salesperson (sometimes, the salesperson calls in the "dude that knows everything" to "fix it"), just gives up and shrugs his shoulders, apologizing for the dismal state of their speaker demo area.

I had a guy at Future Shop show me the listening room, then I said OK, I want to do some comparison testing. He says, "Which ones?" I say, "All of the bookshelf speakers." Then he says, "I don't know if they're all hooked up." So we proceeded to test the ones that were connected. First he starts up a set of Klipsh speakers, and along with some subwoofer, begins to overwhelm me with a huge wall-of-sound special effects bonanza of explosions and gun-fire. I turned down the volume, and asked him to turn off the sub-woofer, because I wanted to test only the bookshelf speakers, then I asked for a music sample so that I can hear just music. Sure, but first he had to answer his ringing cell phone. By the way the conversation was going, I could tell it was a personal call. That was the last straw for me, I walked out.

It just seems to me that speakers are a forgotten part of the equation, an after-thought. After buying a nice big screen, people then go, "Oh yeah, I'm going to need to hear things too, as I watch Ironman in Blu-ray." So they just grab a box of 5 tiny speakers that can fit into a shoe box, and they think they have a home theatre.

Sorry for such a long thread, but I miss the good ol' days when you did comparison shopping, and tried all kinds of speakers, and then decided on the best sound (to you), for the dollars that you have in your pockets.
 

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Do you not have audio retailers out your way? Big box stores are fine for common stuff, but for better quality and variety you may want a specialty store.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Of course, there are some (although not as much as there once was, big-box stores took care of that market), and I do have one such place close to me in Coquitlam, that caters to the middle-of-the-road market. There are also some specialty stores too, but those are the ones that go after what I consider the extreme audiophile, where you can't come out without spending about $5,000.00 at least.

My budget is $1,000.00 max for 3 speakers (left-center-right). I think that I can find something reasonable in that price range, that is also well-suited to my home theatre, and will satisfy my craving for a better-than-average sound.

Based on what I've heard so far (Klipsh, Paradigm and Monitor), I'm leaning towards the Paradigm. Not just because they are Canadian (although that's nice to know), but because I find the sound suitable to my tastes. I'd still like to give Boston Accoustics, Bose, Polk and Energy a chance. But I'd also would like to hear them all side-by-side. This is where my problem is, the better stores do not stock the "mass-market" speakers, and FS/BB do not stock speakers such as Paradigm and Monitor.

Just an add-on, with a nod to lex_rx... I would love to see a Treble Clef (or Super Clef) again, or Dewar's Audio. But unfortunately, these kinds of stores died off, due to the Future Shops and Best Buys. Out West, there used to be a place known as A & B Sound, but they are the local victims to the FS/BB flood. I still have Audio Video Unlimited, they seem pretty decent, and the salespeople actually know how to connect speakers for testing. ;)
 

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$1,000 for three? Why don't you give these folks a listen?

Btw, Dewar Audio in Ottawa went under as B&W seller. Dewar sells other things now.

Also, don't forget to ask about trade-up policy. Dealers don't mention it but if you ask, they'll give it to you.

I preferred the B&W over Paradigm or Polk or even Klipsch way back in 2002.

Good luck and let us know what you end up buying.
 

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Speaker shopping - What happened to the good ol' days?
Big box stores took over the low end to mid market. There are still retailers and direct marketing manufacturers that serve the high end. There are just fewer of them. If you cannot find anything locally, mail order is a possibility but that rules out auditions. There should be lots of independent audio retailers in the Vancouver area.

My budget is $1,000.00 max for 3 speakers (left-center-right).
That should be doable. There are still a couple of stores here and the London market is small compared to Vancouver and area. Some of the high end stores should have a options from mid range up.
 

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I've had Paradigm's for almost 15 years - the sound as good today as they did when I bought them. Mirage centre channel and Energy surrounds. Love the Paradigms - very good with dialogue and strings
 

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Can't say I'm a big fan of Paradigms in that price range, especially not their center speakers. I settled on Acoustic Energy, AE (not Energy) since they do a nice job for music and a decent job for HT. Of the 3 front speakers, the center is (again) the weakest but it is designed for dialog, not music. AE are not a well known speaker in Canada and may be difficult to find but they are worth a listen.
 

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For that price range you can try London Drugs. Most of them have dedicated listening rooms which are much better than Future Shop and Best buys. I believe they have klipsch, Tannoy and Jamo speakers. And i know there is one in Coquitlam center mall there because I used to live there. If I remember correctly as well, they also had the ability to switch between any combination of speakers with any combination of amps which was handy.

There are also the vancouver audio shops, but for the most part you are not going to find anything there in your stated budget but its worth seeing what they have.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Been to the London Drugs at the Coquitlam Center Mall. They only had one pair of speakers, the Klipsh. I saw a pair of Tannoy tower speakers, but were out of stock on their bookshelf units. So I only got to hear the Klipsh, which I found to be too harsh (nice to know that some things never change).
 

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I know exactly what you are talking about , i wanted to give it a listening at Klipsch center and towers and at FS/BB noting was connected was a totally cable mess , anyway i went to a HI-FI dedicated store were everything was nice and proper connections the tvs calibrated everything just perfect , the con , the same tower speaker cost more 320$ each that at FS , making it more than 800$ in 2 towers plus center . In the end of the we all come back to FS or BB .

LEX are you a emotive seller ????
 

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the same tower speaker cost more 320$ each that at FS , making it more than 800$ in 2 towers plus center . In the end of the we all come back to FS or BB .
I find that most A/V stores here are cheaper than BB and FS. They will usually price match as well. The only times I've not received a price match is when FS has an item on really cheap. Markups on speakers are quite high so a 25% discount is quite common when paying cash.
 

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almadacr, what do you mean I'm an Emo seller? I'll be selling a couple of Emo gear soon but I've only been an Anthem seller.:)
 

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I find that most A/V stores here are cheaper than BB and FS. They will usually price match as well. The only times I've not received a price match is when FS has an item on really cheap. Markups on speakers are quite high so a 25% discount is quite common when paying cash.
The problem is province politics , most of the time we get screwed here in Quebec .
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks to 94blugt's suggestion, I called around to the London Drugs around Burnaby, and found their last set of Tannoys at the Lougheed Mall location. They were on sale (clearance), to make room for new speakers, which is why the other London Drugs I went on Saturday were out of stock.

I picked up a pair of Tannoy Revolution DC4s and a DC4C center speaker, for an amazing price! (total $500.00 for all 3 + HST) Have them plugged in now, and the difference is like night and day! I should have done this years ago.

But still, it was a pain to find a decent store where I could comparison shop. I was at 3 Best Buys, a Future Shop and 2 London Drugs. Each of them didn't have a fully functional listening room, obviously neglected and in disarray. Only one store was competent enough to be able to show and test speakers (Audio Video Unlimited, where I compared Paradigm to Monitor). Unfortunately, London Drugs got my business, simply because they had great speakers at an amazing price (the mighty dollar wins again!)
 

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Speaker auditioning

TechieFreak, Congratualtions on your buy at London D.

In recent years we have seen a dumbing down of audio, ie MP3, to the point where people are buying speakers with 3" woofers, Bose comes to mind. It is sold under the guise of "Style".

Even expensive receivers which now sport all kinds of connectivity are very weak in the amplification department.

I also live in Coquitlam and you are absolutely right, it is extremely hard to audition speakers in the Vancouver area.

In the good ol days I used to buy from Commercial Electronics and Freemans as well as A&B.

I have had good luck after deciding what I want, buying on line in the US.

We are fortunate to live so close to the border. Pm me and I will share with you how to do it. :)
 

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In the recent few years, I've noticed a real decline in the big stores in regard to speakers and home theater audio in general. BB, FS, The Brick for examples all moved away from half decent low to medium fi speakers in favor of garbage HTIBs. Thanks to the new generation who sets the standard for what those large box profit making stores (quality doesn't matter, as long as it sells!). The OP's first post got a chuckle out of me but while this is the sad reality of where the speaker market and audio in general is going. Just thinking of the Emotiva crap that has been proposed in this thread is a prime example of where so called audiophiles are going nowadays :rolleyes:

At least, out West you do have an option to decadent stores like BB and FS which is Visions Electronics which seems to stil offer a few decent speakers and still have good listening rooms (at least when I was there some like a year ago). More and more decent audio brick and mortar stores closes their doors in favor of BB, FS and all the plague of online stores which offers consumers to buy speakers blindly without seeing or listening to them. Bye Bye auditionning and wise audio shopping, this era is now to cheap un-branded unjustified overpriced chinese manufacturing (or so called brand name with chinese garbage under the hood). Don't hope for quality and long lasting speaker products anymore (unless you are willing to pay the price and even then...). Buy some that makes noise and be ready to replace them in a few years (greedy suppliers and chinese manufacturing legacy for you):rolleyes:
 

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since someone mentioned emotiva in this thread, has anyone purchased in canada through them? and if so, what did you pay for shipping/duty etc?
 

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since someone mentioned emotiva in this thread, has anyone purchased in canada through them? and if so, what did you pay for shipping/duty etc?
The last emotiva products I have bought this year were XPA 3, 529, UPA 7 and UMC 1 1198 plus 12% HST, 4.00 each for address I use in Point Roberts, Washington and 1 -2 % exchange to usd. , my time and gas to pick the product up and drive back through the border. My Time 1 1/2 hrs approx 22 miles round trip. They offer a 5 year warranty which I have never had to use, but if I did I would ship it from Point Roberts, Washington. I also have bought new Sony Products on Line from ebay, ie Sony BluRay jukebox bdp cx 960 560, Sony Receivers, STR DA 6400es 960, STR DA 5500 750, In Canada they sell for 999.99, 2400, 2000 respectively.

re duty, even though emotiva is manufactured in China, and most Sony products are manufactured in Thailand, the Canadian Border did not charge me duty, just our HST of 12%. If duty were charged it would be 6% more.

One word of caution. Do not have items shipped by UPS to Canada. They charge a paper processing fee which can sometimes amount to more than the value of the product. If you email or phone emotiva they will calculate your landed costs to Canada. Very nice, responsive people to deal with. Try that with the big brand products. ha ha


I do not know where you live but in the Greater Vancouver B.C. area the border is very close and accessible.:)


re Technokid I understand your comment re Chinese merchandise, however the reality is that most of the products you own have a chinese component in them. I note that Apple products are all chinese made.
 

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thanks, i'm in ontario, just outside of toronto. most accessible for me would be through michigan in the fall due to heading there for football a few times. i'll have to see if perhaps the hotel would hold items for me as a shipping address or not.
 
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