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In Reply to: RE: Heard any of Boenicke's speakers? nt posted by Rick W on March 05, 2017 at 13:32:28
They are an interesting design concept and should image well. I really wanted to like these speakers because I love how they look with the natural wood finish, narrow baffle, and skinny stands.
But then I found out that wide-bander is a Fountek FE85 which you can buy for $12 on Parts Express. I know, price isn't everything. I found some measurements of this driver, and they aren't horrible but they are commensurate with the price point:
I eventually did find a review with measurements:
The frequency response and distortion measurements are shown below. There's a massive smile shape to the on-axis frequency response with bass and treble about 10dB higher than the midrange. Even with no toe-in the treble is about 5dB too high. And then there is that huge mid-bass hump combined with high distortion in the bass. It's a classic boom-sizzle response that may be attention grabbing but I can't imagine living with it.
Strangely, the measurements of the finished speaker are considerably worse than the measurements of the FE85 on a test baffle posted by the DIY'er above. That made me question the skill of the designer. Another thing that made me question the designer is the use of "electromechanical resonators", Bybee Quantum Purifiers, and Stein Music zobels in the SE and SE+ versions.
Finally, there is the price. When I first heard of these speakers two or three years ago, they were about $3k, which is kind of pricey considering the drivers but maybe worth it considering the woodwork. By last year the price was up to $3600. Now it's $4700 without stands. The W5 SE with stands is $6500 but supposedly worth the money over the W5 because the tuning and crossover layout is improved. Hopefully the changes tame the FR but who knows? The W5 SE+ is $10k with stands, which is in rarefied air for small standmounts, costing more than Kef Ref 1s, Dynaudio C1 Platinums, Joseph Pulsars, Focal Sopra 1s, etc. And I don't think it holds a candle to those speakers.
I've never heard any of Boenicke's spkrs. in person. But recently I thought I was gonna need new spkrs. due to a problem with the spkrs. I've had for decades, and was checking lottsa youtube demos out.
Naturally I know listening to youtube demos via a USB dac and phones is hardly definitive, but you do get some idea of how spkrs. sound with videos from certain sites/guys like Brueninger, Stereodesk, Audio Prana, Miles Astor because their recordings are consistent.
Check out the sound of these Boenickes. Not bad IMO, but of course its only a few excerpts. If you're interested in hearing more just type "Boenicke speakers" in the youtube search. You can hear their bigger spkrs.
I also like checking out systems via YouTube, but it can be hard to judge the sound of a system that way because recording is an art and some people are much better than others at capturing the original sound. Fred Crane (AudioPrana/Stereodesk) is one of the people who seem to do a very good job of capturing the sound of a system in a room, where you can clearly hear strengths and weaknesses in the system, and even separate them from the sound of the room. In comparison, Peter Breuninger's videos are about as good as Forrest Gump fumbling with a 1990s VHS camcorder.
I've watched a bunch of different videos of the Boenicke W5 and the one that impressed me the most is here:
In the above video, they sound well balanced. perhaps due to the unusual microphone placement well off-axis and close-up. None of the other W5 videos I've heard sound good.
The YouTube clip that you posted has a very obvious and distracting bass peak throughout, piano didn't sound good, the vocalist in the first bossa nova track and Sting sound hollow, the cello is devoid of any body, and the only part of it that sounded reasonably good to me is the acoustic guitar piece from about 17:00 to 18:30.
For comparison, here is another small speaker in the same room:
There is still some room coloration there, but on the whole it sounds A LOT better to me. Fred also has a video of the expensive Kii 3 active speakers in the same room which sounds a lot better than the Boenicke W5.
I think the following video shows off the W5 bit better:
In that video you hear a lot more room coloration because the room is quite live, but the speakers seem better balanced. In particular, the bass peak is less pronounced. But the midrange is still weak and there is still a thin, hollow coloration.
One more video of the W5 from AudioPrana:
That system sounds particularly bad to me, and if I was the owner, considering how much money is tied up in it, I would be very embarrassed.
I wouldn't pay that price for the top Boenicke 5. But disagree with some of your comments, such as "....cello lacked body." Not to my ears, and I lived with a cellist for 4 years. I liked the piano sound better on the Trenner/Friedl demo, but have no idea how much was due to the recordings, nor do you unless you own 'em.
My point about Brueninger (and the others mentioned) was not how great their recordings are, its that they are consistent. That allows some comparison, as opposed to different recording sound for different demos.
Re: comparing speakers -- Listening to youtube videos is obviously just wetting your whistle. The two alto players in the Boenicke demos (Desmond and maybe Sonny Stitt) sounded pretty realistic, but excepting the Stevie Wonder I don't own any of the recordings played in the videos. Are you familiar with the recordings used in the Boenicke demos?
I think you'd need to hear the same recordings/source/amp/pre in the same room to form better judgements - even from youtube videos. I do like the way those Trenner/Friedl speakers sounded on the clip you linked.
Re: measurements --
You're talking to the wrong guy :-) The spkrs. I've owned (and obviously liked) for decades are far from measurement champs and certainly have faults, but lots of speakers I've heard in person that measure considerably better have sounded much less desirable *to me*.
If I was gonna buy new monitor spkrs. I'd wanna audition both the Boenicke and Trenner & Friedl among others. The cost of the top Boenicke WE 5 does put me off. I'd want better for that money.
There were some cuts that were more favorable to these speakers and some that were worse. I'm familiar with maybe half of the material in that demo. But like you said, I'd need to hear the same recordings and same partnering components in the same room to form a better judgement.
I agree that listening to YouTube videos of audio systems is just "wetting your whistle". I would never rule out, or buy, a pair speakers based on a YouTube video alone. But in this case, the W5 already has a couple of strikes against it (IMHO) in the form of poor measured performance, use of cheap drivers, and high priced upgrades of questionable merit. Considering those points along with the mostly unimpressive YouTube sound (IMHO), I'm not interesting in considering it further.
It's a shame though, because I really like the design concept, and love the look of these speakers.
You could always try an audio show. In HK I am fortunate that dealers basically take out a floor in a large building and on each floor you can hear several different companies. In the States and Canada you go to a dealer but then have to drive an hour to get to the next dealer. In a day you cover 2 dealers - here I can cover 15 dealers in one day. All of them in the same building with the same constructed rooms of similar size.
Youtube videos have problems of course from the quality of the camera being used to unfamiliar rooms. The echo you hear in some videos you may not at all hear when you are sitting in the room.
Now I have two young kids and getting away for a weekend on my own is hard.
Most YouTube videos of audio systems don't do much for me, but Fred Crane of AudioPrana/Stereodesk does good ones.
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