Q: I am in college and want to buy speakers that make a realistic 3-D soundfield. Ohm Walsh speakers are outside of my $1,000 budget. What do you recommend?
A: As you obviously know, I think that Ohm Walsh speakers (ohmspeaker.com) are one of the best choices for reach-out-and-touch-it, 3-D sound. But, yes, they can cost several times what you have available. Not to make you feel bad, but for those readers with bigger budgets, until the end of January you can save 15 percent on Ohm stereo speakers with coupon code HNY15, and 20 percent on home theaters with code HTS20.
But I understand that as a student, you have other priorities. I couldn't find a recommendation that fits your exact price point, but I do have one that comes close. And I can give you one that you can aspire to someday.
Cambridge Audio Aeromax speakers (cambridgeaudio.com) use a unique driver called a Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) to reproduce all frequencies above 250 Hz. That is almost all audible sound except for the low bass, which is handled by conventional woofers. The BMR drivers are small discs a few inches in diameter. The disc moves back and forth like a conventional speaker to reproduce the midrange, while the surface of the disc vibrates to create the treble. It really works, as the Aeromax soundstage is wide, deep and precise. As I listened to orchestral music, I could sense ascending rows of performers front to back, left to right.
Great imaging is nothing without great sound, and the Aeromax speakers satisfy here, as well. They have tight, solid bass; a rich, pleasant midrange; and open and effortless vocal reproduction. They sound good with all musical genres, but if you like jazz or big-band music, these speakers are one of the hottest tickets out there as brass and percussion are especially well-rendered and realistic.
Given their imaging capabilities and excellent sound, Aeromax speakers are also a tremendous value. The Aeromax 6 towers I reviewed are $1,299 a pair, and the stand-mounted Aeromax 2 speakers are $599 a pair.
For something spectacular that represents a lifetime investment, consider Axiom Audio's LFR880 Omnidirectional Speakers (axiomaudio.com). These unique, technologically advanced speakers have separate sets of drivers on the front and back, each requiring its own separate, amplified signal. A digital sound processor (DSP) takes the stereo output from the preamplifier and converts it into four signals tailored to create an omnidirectional sound pattern. These signals are then sent to a four-channel amplifier, which drives the speakers.
I knew the system would be good, but I was unprepared for what I experienced. The LFR880 system produces a captivating combination of beautiful sound with a huge, holographic soundstage. The speakers create big, solid and stable images; the bass is clean, defined and strong; the midrange is full and even; and in listening you realize their precision and accuracy. Piano reproduction is some of the best I have ever heard, with fast attack and perfect tonality. The speakers can be subtle if you need them to be, but if you have a big room, you can reproduce the power and majesty of an orchestra.
A combo with the LFR880 speakers, the DSP and a 4-channel Axiom ADA1000 amplifier is $5,380. Given their performance, it represents a bargain in the world of high-end audio.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.