In this post I dare to share with you some of my personal favorite brands. This posting gives you a snippet of what really goes on inside my head. Being a true audiophile and home theatre nut, speakers are constantly what I dream about. This posting is a risk and I realize that because I am about to share with you some brands that I do not sell here. I feel that the risk is worth it, because these brands are quite costly and therefore only a smidge of readers will be able to afford to get purchase them.

I have said it before and I will say it again… Polk is by far my personal favorite brand of speakers overall. In fact I own a pair of 5 1/4’s that I believe to be the best sounding speakers of that size ever made. To me they are what a pair of bookshelf speaker are supposed to sound like. I also have a matched top of the line Polk center and pair of bookshelf speakers that I enjoy for movies. Of course I also hold a special place in my heart for my beloved custom made dual 12’s and my Fischer 12’s.

Other great speakers in my opinion are:

Definitive Technology, Paradigm, KEF, Pinnacle, Klipsch, JBL and Cerwin Vega.  Since so many people think highly of Infinity speakers I include them in this list despite me personally not liking them. One exception to my dislike of Infinity is a 500 watt powered 12″ sub I once owned. Although my Definitive Technology dual 6 1/2″ 375 watt powered sub easily outplayed it, the Inifinity just looked so cool due to it’s shear size (it looked like it could stand in as an end table). On a more affordable price point I think very highly of BIC which is why I am proud to say that we still sell them here at Premium Audio. I have owned all sorts of different model BIC’s over the years and they are rock solid in their reliability. They have almost as much bass as Cerwin Vega. So if you like bass without distortion then BIC is worth considering.

I have owned several Definitive Technology speakers and a friend of mine made his entire home theatre out of that brand. They make very nice speakers for the money if you can afford them. I gave my dad a pair of older model Definitive Technology floor standing speakers with a pair of 4’s aimed at the wall and dual 4’s aimed into the room. They are ported and provide amazing sound for movies and music (if you like blues, jazz and pop. They suck with rock n roll and rap). I also have a Definitive Technology center and its pretty good. They make better models than the entry level one I have that runs about $200. I also owned a Klipsch entry model center that sounded about as good as the Definitive Technology. Their more expensive models can sound better than the Polk top of the line models. Think of them as providing the nice rich Polk mid base with enhanced clarity.

I have owned two Paradigm speakers (bookshelf and a center) and in my opinion they are great at producing natural sound without the enhanced dynamics found in both JBL and Polk. This is why I believe both JBL and Polk are better than Paradigm. I have owned several Pinnacle brand speakers and they are super cool! I had a Pinnacle Classic Gold Center and a Pinnacle Digital Sub 600. The center was designed to fit on top of a big screen tv (back when they were no longer rear projection but still had separate color bulbs in them. Later they were replaced with flat screen tv’s). My center was twice the size of a full size center at the time. It actually went about half the length of my 53″ (not diagonal) big screen I had at the time. It had four (4) 5 1/4″ woofers, a rear bass port and a 1″ liquid cooled center. This was the clearest center ever, but lacked the bass of BIC and others. The Pinnacle sub of mine was my most powerful sub ever at 600 watts and driving dual 12’s (one behind the other). Cerwin Vega; every one knows that if they want bass they need this brand. I have never owned a pair of large or bookshelf speakers from them, but a friend owns a pair and they are very nice. I did however own a center channel with dual 6 1/2’s from them and it had too much bass to hear dialogue with so I got rid of it. In comparison I owned an Optimus 8″ 3 way bookshelf speaker and it dished out less bass then the Cerwin Vega and was easier to hear dialogue with although it was scratchy sounding. This was not a center but I used it as one when I did not have a good center to use with upgraded main speakers. Eventually I got rid of it since I only had one (the other was blown by an EQ that had a short in it).

I have a pair of JBL’s that I am listening to right now as I write this. Well sort of JBL’s….the woofers deteriorated so I replaced them with Technics. The cabinets and tweeters are still JBL and they sound really nice for 5 1/4″ bookshelf speakers. KEF. I think KEF are amazing and so do so many other people. I used to flip them on the side on Craigslist (as a personal account not in any way tied to Premium Audio). These would sell out within 24 hours and I would have 10 backup offers on them and triple my money on the sales. I almost kept one pair as rear speakers because they were so nice but I needed the cash. I still own a half pair of their floor standing speakers (I bought it used and they only had one speaker) and use it as a rear center. I have used it as a normal (front center) and its one of the best centers I have ever had. The rich bass tone without being overbearing allows for nice clear vocals. It has a 5 1/4′ woofer with tweeter built into the cone and has a rear bass port.

Of course great speakers do not matter without a great amp/pre-amp or receiver to drive them with. Here is my list of preferred means to power speakers with. Keep in mind not all of these are still around so you may have to find them used somewhere.

Onkyo,  Denon,  Nakamichi, Harman Kardon, Fischer and Vector Research. I have owned two Onkyo’s (5.1 and 7.1 channel surround sound receivers) and they are my favorite for home theatre. Denon is top rated too and is their direct competitor. Harmon Kardon is supposedly better than Denon and Onkyo, but I have never owned one. I did test one and it was noticeably better sounding then everything else at the time. Sadly I do not believe Nakamichi, Fischer or Vector Research are made anymore. I own a Vector Research 100 watt per channel 8 ohm receiver and a Fischer 150 watt per channel 8 ohm pre-amp and they are both awesome at what they do! I almost bought a Nakamichi surround sound receiver but the Yamaha at the time was on sale and had more features so I bought it instead.

Technics, Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood, Yamaha and JVC are all good choices if you cannot afford better brands. Sony and Pioneer are the best selling brands of this bunch for overall sound, features and reliability. No one ever says don’t buy a Sony or Pioneer they break down. Kinda like buying a car these brands hold up like Nissan, Toyota and Honda do. Buy it and use it for the next decade or so. I owned a Yamaha RV1105 5.1 channel receiver with a 75 watt per channel high current amp for 13 years. It had extreme bass and I was almost as said when I had to toss it as when I had one of my dogs die. Please note Yamaha receivers are worth giving a listen to for their custom surround sounds and features, but their speakers are not worthy of this list. Some brands should not expand product lines and just stick with what they know. The same can be said for Onkyo speakers. Onkyo tried for a few years and realized that they should only make receivers so that is all they make.

Honorable mention goes to Sansui for making my 14 band EQ which really does bring out sounds in music that are otherwise lost or forgotten or perhaps never discovered as they lay hidden in the background.

Keep in mind there are other supposed high end brands of speakers and receivers out there, but I do not in my opinion believe they are worthy of being on my best of list. Perhaps you disagree. Let me know your thoughts on this:


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