Sunday, November 5, 2017

Emotiva B1 Review: The Wonderful World of Ribbons (AMT).

Emotiva B1: The Wonderful World of Ribbon (AMT) Tweeters

Welcome to my review of the Emotiva B1 bookshelf speakers. With the recent expansion of Emotiva's offerings into passive speakers, and their well reviewed multichannel home theater setups. I wanted to understand what the hype is about.

The Emotiva B1's are bit smaller than many other 5.25 inch bookshelf speakers, but their compact size eases need for extra desk real estate that the HTD Level 2,  Polk S15 or the ELAC B5 need. The Emotiva line has a great industrial look to them, beveled edges and corners, and leather like texture on the vinyl wrap which makes a for nice change of pace over wood grain. The contoured magnetic grills and internal bracing are a welcome additions at this price point. As an internet direct vendor, Emotiva is able to offer a lot of speaker for the money.

Glamor Shot


How do they Sound? Listening Impressions.

The more reviews I do, the harder it is to balance being repetitive with praise (I haven't had a objectively bad speaker in a while either) and trying to avoid fluffy nonsense "audiophile" terms pulled from 6moons.

The long and short of it is that these are very fine speakers. Their small enclosure and relatively high tuning does mean that they aren't going to be bass monsters. In the nearfield my previous desktop set of KEF q100s do dig deeper, that isn't to say the Emotiva B1s are unusable or anemic; and some reinforcement from the wall does help. But if you are likely to never pair them with a subwoofer, then you might want to consider other options. What the Emotiva may sacrifice in bass, it makes up for in every other category. For myself, the B1s will be replacing the q100s for the foreseeable future. The B1s are sized better, actually had a higher WAF for me, the tweeter really is "light and airy" and they are a touch smoother (don't have the same elevated treble) without being dull in anyway.

In my side be side AB testing between the Emotiva B1 and the KEF q100, they often were remarkably similar sounding. The KEFs act as point source with great off axis response, dig deeper, but are noticeably brighter, so if something smoother is your cup of tea the Emotiva prevail there. I think the midrange might even be better on the Emotivas, with almost no cone break up and steeper crossovers (shoot, an actual crossover really). This review wasn't intended to be a shootout, but if the q100s were not so often found for $300 and rather than their normal $500 MSRP, it would be really hard to justify the additional cost. 

Though there is a whole tangent post to be made about my experience with the two in the far-ther field in regards to front vs rear porting and bass nulls.

The Graphs

Close mic driver measurements and 1m overlay. 

With the base of the speaker being 7 feet off the ground I have chosen not to gate the outdoor measurements as most midrange drivers play flat in this range anyway, and it gives a good approximation of bass depth without having to do any summing and blending of close mic measurements.

Moving from left to right, we see that the porting on the Emotiva B1 is pretty high, between 70 and 80 hz. There is a bit of port noise around 1.1khz. The midrange starts to roll off before 100hz, which is on par with the Polk S15, but far before something like the Swan M200MKII's. The Emotiva is another unit that won't be a natural bass monster. Very much to it's credit, there is almost no cone break up seen. While Emotiva claims a 2khz crossover, the measurements push that number a little higher (and closer to the suggestion of what appears to be the OEM version of the tweeter). The ribbon (AMT) tweeter plays nice and flat though even in the close mic measurements you can see the beginnings of the grills effect on the output. 

Overlaying the 1m outdoor measurements, you see that the tweeter output has hardly any change at distance. Depending on how you want to describe it, there ends up being a few DB hump from 800hz-2khz, or a slight recess between 2k and 6k. Overall the Emotiva B1 plays remarkably flat. One of the flattest and smoothest and articulate speakers I've had yet. 

Here we are showing the effects the grills have on the tweeter. The immediate area in front of the tweeter is free of any obstruction, but the MDF grill is cut out so that it closely surrounds the drivers. If possible I recommend not using the grills. But the resulting null is pretty narrow, so it probably will not impact many users. And let's be real, there are MUCH MORE expensive speakers that wish they could attribute their frequency response valleys to a grill.

The little bit of noise after 100hz is related to some slight wind.

The Emotivas horizontal response is very good, without a ton of tweeter roll off until you reach 45 deg.

The Emotiva B1s vertical response (+15/+30) is fairly predictable. Coincidentally at 15 deg, you get a null appearing at almost the exact point where the grill has some with a large null near the crossover point and again where the grill has some effect on the tweeter. As all my measurements are done without grills, it would be possible for this to be exacerbated with them on.

The Emotiva B1s vertical response (-15/-30) gave me a bit of a glitch in the measurements. At -15 we found a very deep null and significant tweeter roll off, but at -30 much of that null had filled in while the tweeter roll off continued. After seeing this, I retook the measurements and got the same results. So your guess is as good as mine.

Because the KEF q100 were on my desk before the Emotivas, and because the Kef have become a defacto suggestion given the long time ability to find them on sale for $300; I wanted to give them a bit of a direct comparison. 

I remeasured the KEF and you can quickly see that they share some strong performance characteristics. Everything between 100hz and 700hz is essentially identical and where ground reflections come into play; I'd even argue that up until 4khz where the KEFs elevated treble is seen. While the differences in bass response and slightly elevated treble of the KEF are easily seen. It's exactly what was expected listening to them both.

Both are undoubtedly good performers, with some different areas where they excel. Repeating from earlier, the KEF and their uni-q driver acts a point source and thus have great off axis response from any position. They also have a bit better bass response. While the Emotiva's have a flatter more neutral response and their smaller size and in my case allowed for easier desktop placement and the AMT tweeter really is excellent.

The Emotiva B1's are a great pair of bookshelf speakers. Their looks might not be for everyone, but the quality and engineering you get are superb for the price point. It seems like with every new speaker the quality envelope gets pushed a little farther and the Emovita B1s continue that trend. The tweeter is fantastic.

Put them on your short list, and if you intend pair them with a subwoofer you'll be hard pressed to do better.

For more discussion join us at 

Friday, October 6, 2017

DIY Ikea Capita Speaker Stands.

DIY Ikea Capita Speaker Stands 

|I recently got a pair of Emotiva B1 speakers for review and they are good bit smaller than my previous speakers (KEF q100 normally, but I experimented with some Polk LSIm 703s.) Which meant I needed to raise the speakers a bit more and my soup can and drain pipe solution wasn't exactly high brow.

(My DIY guide for past Home Depot drain pipe speaker stands)

Here is the end result. 

I'm pretty happy with the way they look for the time it took to do. I think made some positive adjustments upon the example that I was inspired by form redditor Murpien. Obviously, finish paint and sealing up the end grain could always be better. But whatever.

Step by Step (more or less) how I made them.

Not much to say, the Capita angled legs which seem not to be made anymore. I found mine on Amazon though. I'm not much of a woodworker so I found these at Home Depot, I learned the hard way that not all of them are the exact same size. So double check before you buy them that they are close enough. And then remember to measure 4 or 5 times, and cut (or drill) once. I bungled the first batch up and had to redo a pair.

Did a pilot hole for the threaded mount of the Capita screw mount. This will let me use the spade bit to recess the washer and nut.

I used a 1 inch spade bit and found that the washers included with the stands were too big, so I bought smaller washers.

Once the spade is drilled to depth to allow the nut to be recessed, it's time to drill the hole for the bolt.

Cutting the bolt to length. Didn't have a dremel or cutting wheel so I just hacksawed it. Took a little bit of time, but worked well enough and didn't damage the threads enough to prevent the nut from going on.

Cheap paint from Home Depot. At this point I could have decided to seal up the end grain a little bit. If anyone may want to in the future, drywall spackle does the trick well and is easy to sand smooth again.

Post sanding after a few coats.

After a few final light coats. 

Sand in your speaker stands can never be a bad thing. It adds a little (or a lot) of weight and helps tame vibrations. Granting its only about 8oz by weight, so it probably isn't doing much. I also wanted to give the whole thing a little more weight just incase there were any issue with balancing. Lucky there wasn't. While I didn't end up do it, I was thinking about adding tungsten weights recessed into the bottom piece of wood to give it additional weight and stability.

I used decorative sand because I didn't want a 50lbs bag of sand from Home Depot. I figured maybe it's also a bit cleaner too. Created a makeshift funnel out of a piece of paper and tried to tap the sand down as I poured to compact it as much as possible.

Once the sand was in, I added a touch of epoxy onto the bolt to insure that nothing will shake loose.

I wasn't sure on how to get the top and bottom pieces perfectly aligned, but this is the solution I came up with. Seemed to work well enough. Did my best to measure the height of the square platform in relation to the table top to make sure there wasn't any unwanted angle/twist in the table leg.

Marking the screw holes. You'll notice that the "tops" of  the pieces of wood at facing each other. I did this to get the most surface area for a speaker to sit on.

Pilot holes for the screws. Ignore the toes.

Screwing the plate down. There is a little bit of play as the plate is getting tightened down. So take it slow and don't tighten any one screw too much before moving to the next one. Do a criss cross pattern.

And Ta-Da! it's all put together. Celebration beer was had. All the was left were some final touches before putting the stands on the desk and putting the speakers on top.

These were put on the bottom piece to give a decent grip.

I used 2 of the wood pieces that I miss drilled as the top portion. So there is a random hole in them. It's covered by the speaker and at the rear the stand, so it's not readily visible. Hopefully no one looks too closely. Little clear bumpers were put about a 1/2 inch out from the corners. Though I'm sure Blu-Tack or some yoga blocks will offer superior sonic performance. If I ever put even smaller speakers there I'll most likely have to add more dots or let the speaker sit directly on the wood.

One last picture of it all finished. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!

For more discussion join us at 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Budget Fighter II - Championship Edition: Klipsch Reference R-15m vs. Polk Signature Series S15

Budget Fighter II - Championship Edition. 
Klipsch Reference R-15m vs. Polk Signature Series S15

It's been a long while since there has been a head to head Budget Battle. My previous Budget Champion, the Infinity Primus line, is now discontinued and some very worthy contenders have come vying for position.

Over the last few years the entry level speaker market has become one of the most competitive and quickly improving segments there is in home audio. Be it because of trickle down technologies from higher end siblings or fantastic offerings from internet direct brands, it doesn't matter. In the long run we all end up winners here.

The Tale of the Tape

We won't be crowning on overall champion, at this price point there are multiple great options that anyone would enjoy. This time we are going to take a detailed look at two major mass market and easily found products from Klipsch and Polk.

Enter Player One: The Klipsch Reference 15m. Released in late 2014 with a MSRP of $249.99. They are the improved successor to the Klipsch Icon line of speakers.

Enter Player Two: The Polk Signature Series s15. New for 2017 with a MSRP of $229.99. They appear to be the successor to the Polk TSi line and now appears to sit between the T series and the RTiA series.

Both of these speaker are easily found at Amazon, Best Buy and Fry's; which will make in-store and in-home additions all the more easier.

Let's start with a breakdown of each pair. 

Klipsch Reference R-15m

Basic front and back shot. Not a bad looking speaker, the rest of the Reference and Reference Premier line, the copper cones quickly grab your attention.

While the Reference line is a replacement for the Icon line; according the the Klipsch forums, there has been some actual updates to the drivers, going well beyond just the color of the cone.

  • All new Reference Linear Travel Suspension tweeter design for smoother, more powerful high frequencies.
  • All new mechanical woofer design with seamless dustcap for minimized mid frequency diffraction and distortion.
  • All new Spun Copper IMG woofer cone is incredibly rigid, with new design adding structural integrity for minimal cone break up at high excursion levels. This makes for even cleaner, more accurate low frequency reproduction.
  • All new Brushed Polymer Veneer finish is exceptionally durable with a much more contemporary aesthetic over the previous wood grain vinyl of the Icon series.

Reports are that this midrange update has resulted in better performing speaker, so it appears that these updates may have brought performance up a notch and are not purely cosmetic.

If someone with an Icon KB-15 would like to let me borrow a pair, we can do some indepth tests to see for ourselves.

I didn't want to try and pry the faceplates off, so we won't get as detailed of a view of the drivers, though removing tjr terminal cup shows the crossover, which proves that it's also the same crossover used in the Icon KB-15.

The inside of the box is about par for the course for many speakers at this price point. No center bracing, some corner braces, and a marginal amount of stuffing taken out for the photo.

Polk Signature Series S15

Completely new for 2017, The Polk Signature Series offers a little more than just a black box. The Polks also get a nice set of magnetic grills that easily pop on and off. Nice rounded edges on the top and bottom. The gloss plastic face plate is a little reminiscent of the Definitive Technology Studiomonitor line.

While I didn't experience it, there are reports of the lower part of the baffle vibrating a little bit, so watch out for that. Good news is that they are removeable so if you do encounter anything, the fix is an easy dab or two of glue away.

Album for some additional breakdown and driver photos

Easy access to the crossover. Couple caps, couple resistors and a couple coils. Don't know much about crossover design. But it looks like there is a cap, inductor and resistor combo for each driver.

Corner braces and the top and bottom, and CENTER BRACING!!!! Something not seen on a many products in that price point. Looking at you ELAC.

Round One..FIGHT

Klipsch r-15m Graphs: Close Mic and 1m 

The first thing I noticed was just how flat the tweeter output was in the close mic measurements. Within a 1db from 2.3khz to 10khz. The quick roll off and little peak at ~14k were present in both the close mic and 1m measurements. 

The crossover claims seem to be pretty spot on at 1800hz, and rolls off impressively steep with little cone break up

Even in the close mic measurements the midrange output gets a bit of a ripple in the 600-1200hz range.

It does look like some of the port is tuned to around 60hz, but noise may find its way into the audible midrange output, as both peaks closely match the peaks in the 1m response. 

Overall the Klipsch r-15m is a pretty well behaved speaker. But the peaks are noticeable in critical listening. 

Klipsch r-15m Grill vs No grill.

The grills to have an measurable effect on the output. Further accentuating the bump at 2k and adding a null at 6k. I would leave the grills off if possible.

Klipsch r-15m: Horizontal off axis response. 

The Klipsch horn does a great job here. Even very far off axis the output remains smooth, though becomes shoved down as you angle away from the horn. Sitting a little bit off axis shouldn't be too much of a problem in home theater use. The midrange humps remain. I think some minor EQing  in the 500-1000hz range could really assist with their performance.

Klipsch r-15m: - Vertical off axis response.

The speaker is a much less well behaved as the listening axis raises or lowers. With treble out put getting much more uneven and significant nulls developing.

Round Two...FIGHT!
Polk Signature Series S15 - and honest +/- 3db speaker for 70hz to 19khz.  

1m outdoor gated with averaged and summed below 400hz.

Port looks like it is tuned to about 70hz. Not particularly low for a 5.25 inch speaker. However in listening tests, where the speakers were 5+ feet away from a rear wall, indicated it can get plenty low for just about any music. Lower than the Klipsch often could. Perhaps an effect of the Power Port design? Searching seems to indicate that you are able to achieve similar tunings with shorter port lengths. Comparing them to the now discontinued Infinity Primus line of bookshelf speaker, which were all also ported in the 70 to 80 hz range, these manage to play much deeper.

During measuring, the mic with at the mouth of the port while the "power port" was still installed, and shows some port noise at ~900hz which also corresponds with the only random peak in response.   
Repositioning the mic to the edge of the power port or removing the power port might give different results.

Polk says that the crossover point is 2.5.khz but measurements indicate it's closer to 1.7khz Regardless, the transition and summing is smooth.

Tweeter is plays smooth, without any major peaks or valleys. There is a slight rising rate which and and begins its slow roll off at about 13khz.

                                            Polk Signature Series S15 Grill vs No grill.

The grills are largely free of any extra bracing and aside from some minor ripples, pretty transparent. Overall having much less of an effect than many other grills.

Polk Signature Series S15 - Horizontal off axis Response 

Horizontal axis measurements are smooth with the peak at 950 becoming a little more prominent the farther you get off axis.
Polk Signature Series S15 - Vertical off axis Response 

Negative Horizontal axis measurement are predictable. Once you are getting much more than 15 degrees below the tweeter you will see significant nulls in the crossover region.

Positive Horizontal axis measurement are equally predictable. And once you get to 45 degrees off axis you begin to see similar nulls. 

At the end, if placement needs needs to be compromised, it's better to be above the speaker than below it. 

This also might be nice carry over to desktop usage, where getting the tweeter at ear level can be difficult.

Round Three...FIGHT

Polk Signature Series S15 vs Klipsch r-15m 

Getting the the results of this epic budget battle. The upper group of measurements are level matched at 1khz (and coincidentally at 500hz where the ground reflections take over). 

You can see that the Klipsch has a pretty significant 3db peak centered at 650hz and is essentially 2db louder from 1.2khz to 3khz. I think both of these are trouble spots in the midranges performance has a larger party to place in the listening experience then what the tweeter is doing. The rising rate and the roll off of the treble accelerates a little more quickly too. The horn tweeter was never honky or harsh, what problems exist remain in the midrange driver performance. 

In the lower direct A/B measurements, the Klipsch is very obviously and expectedly louder/more efficient. Giving a presentation that might seem more exciting if A/B tested in a show room.

The Polks have now become a legitimate go to choice and contender for anyone looking to spend in the $250 range for a set of speakers. Not only do they offer something new in looks, but construction is top notch and performance is very good. And in my opinion are better than the beloved ELAC's. 

Overall both are good speakers and neither suffer from major deficiencies (HTD Level 2) and we are past the era of speakers punching out of their weight class, there are too much great products at this price range now. The Klipsch remains a contender in the class and shouldn't be dismissed without a listen, especially by those who assume they are just a pallet swap of the Icons or by anyone who will be using them in pure home theater application. But the Polks are just a clear step more refined and a better performing speaker overall and the winner here today.

Final Round...FIGHT!
Listening Experience 

Overall, in AB testing its like the whole mix of the music changes between the two speakers.

The Klipsch r-15m is naturally more efficient, making for a easily louder presentation, vocals tended to be forward and things can be sharp or harsh at higher volumes. They repeatedly had the stronger center image and with the combo of forward vocals or where there was a lot of information in the peaky areas of the response could make that center placement distracting.

The Polk S15 had a sound stage far greater than the size of the speakers. Overall a much more neutral and natural presentation but still with a rising rate at the end of the tweeters range. Sometimes the midrange could seem slightly veiled, but always smooth. 

Guns and Roses - Estranged 

Klipsch - Sounds a little hollow. Like a "concert hall" effect has been put on the speakers. Very dynamic. Slash is dead center, almost distractingly so. Feeling a little hash.

Polk - Bass line is much more obvious. Almost drowned out with the Klipsch. Both handled the piano solos great. 

Govt. Mule - John the Revelator

Marked difference in vocal staging. With the Klipsch being forward and Warren Haynes voice little rough. The Polks smoother more natural sounding and were lacking the same strong center image.

Iggy Azalea - Black widow

Here with the Klipsch you could really notice that vocal fry. But very dynamic, a great example of a load and fun party speaker, not quite as full or deep in the bass. Pretty much everything the Klipsch got wrong the Polks got right, the played deeper, while you don't miss the technical nuances of Iggy's gangsta impression, the vocals were much smoother without any harsh fry.

The Heavy - Short Change Hero

I think the mix of this song is not one that lends itself to critical listening. But the Klipsch had a phone in a Red Solo Cup quality. The Polk's didn't fool you thinking you were watching the band live, but pulled the song off much better. 

The Civil Wars - Billy Jean

One of my favorite test tracks. The Klipsch repeated their same forward vocals, very obvious due to strong left and right separation in the mix. But things still sounded ok. With the Polks we had a good example of the slightly veiled upper mid range and were missing some of the dynamics. 

Dr. Dre - Kush

The Klipsch are clearly the party speaker winners here. Bass is a little lean, and Snoop Dogg sounds s little bit too in your face. The Polks were able to play a little deeper, but there was almost a bit of sibilance in T-Pain's hook.That was unexpected and the only time I ever noticed anything like that. 

Transformers Last Knight AND Justice League trailers 

The Klipsch really shine here, more dynamic, even in just a stereo configuration they provided a very strong center image. But again the bass impact was missing. The Polks kept their smoother characteristics, were able get a little closer to the bass depts of a Michael Bay explosion. Overall the sounded a bit fuller and the sound stage while not as laser focused in the center was much wider.


Polk Signature Series S15 vs ELAC B6

The ELACs have been a widely touted budget speaker since even before their release. While the hype has cooled, they remained a worthy choice. It's my opinion that Polk has usurped the former Budget King. Be it a case of economies of scale and being able to afford to build better cabinets, or design philosophies that didn't subdue the treble response. The Polks in my opinion best the ELACs in all but bass extension.

For a mass market speaker with easy access, the Polk Signature Series S15 is a major winner.

For more discussion join us at 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Godfather of Internet Direct: BIC America Acoustech PL-980 Skyscraper Speakers

The Godfather of Internet Direct: 
BIC America Acoustech PL-980 Skyscraper Speakers

I was lucky enough to be offered a review pair of BIC PL-980 towers by the great people at Acoustic Sound Design ( In case the name is new to you; the BIC brand has been around since the early 70's and the since its re-introduction in 2003, the Acoustech line has had a strong cult Home Theater following with overwhelming praise from their owners. I've been given the chance to spend some time with their current flagship Acoustech PL-980 tower speakers, and believe me they embody the definition of tower.

Coming in at 47 inches tall and about a foot square, the first thing you notice is the sheer size. Easily the biggest speakers I've taken home, dwarfing my Pinnacle BD 2500's. These are not speakers to be trifled with, so take the WAF into consideration. Not only in physical stature are they impressive, but also in the sound they put out. There is no question, these can fill a big room with big sound and sound good doing so.

The speakers are marked as left and right as indicated by the placement of the side passive radiator. I would take the left and right designation more as a grain of salt than an unbreakable placement rule. Depending on your listening position, room, or entertainment console; you might want to play with orientation to see what works best.

So How do These Skyscrapers Sound? 

First, they are not has bright or harsh as you might expect in a budget priced speaker with a horn tweeter to be. Have no fear of an angry bright speaker. If anything their output at the highest registers remains smooth and mellow. It wouldn’t be fair to set the expectations that these are primarily intended as critical listening speakers, and I don’t think that’s what BIC or their fan base would argue either. There are more than few places where the BIC PL-980 really shine. I had great luck with Rap/Hip-Hop, Techno/EDM and was especially pleased with home theater usage. The latter being the most commonly advertised use case. Both in music and home theater, the PL-980s are capable of some pretty impressively deep and full bass. They won’t have the tactile sub-bass rumble in the floor during a Michael Bay movie, but you won’t be missing out on much else.

The PL-980 do a really good job of creating a strong center image, I ran them with a little bit of toe in and they still threw of a huge sound stage. The dedicated mid-range, really brings out vocals in generally a good way, smooth, clear and well centered. Across the test tracks vocals were most often clean, clear and free of being harsh, but could sometimes be a bit forward, something that was a bit of a boon in my home theater testing.

See my listening impressions at the end for additional context.

Is there anything that can shake these towers? They do struggle in one respect, at being polite. While the horn tweeter performs well enough, it doesn't carry much of the audio load and is more muted than I anticipated; and while the midrange generally did well with vocals, it can over emphasize electric guitars in some mixes and some musical tastes. I think this may, at least in part, be an issue of the shallow crossovers on the bass and tweeter drivers, the crossover at almost the exact midpoint of the midranges response and measurable null at 2khz. Complicated bass lines can lose little bit of definition, however many users report that these really sing with some strong power behind them and I can definitely believe that to be true and help bring out some of the bass detail and definition.

How Did They Measure?

The BIC PL-980 is a 3 way system using a horn loaded tweeter and treated paper drivers and passive radiators rather than ports. The closed back midrange appears to steeply band passed, while the tweeter and woofers both have comparatively shallow crossovers. Due to the shallow slopes, there is a bit of cone break up that happens to the woofers, however it is relatively smooth and seems to manifest more in nulls rather than spikes. The front and side mounted passive radiators look to be tuned at about 40hz and share similar break up characteristics. 

Overlaying a the 1m outdoor on axis measurement (gated and blended with close mic measurements at 400hz) with the driver measurements, you can see that on the tweeter access there a bit of a null that occurs and is centered at exact peak of the midrange output and the crossover point between the tweeter and woofers. I would be very interested to see how this would change with a steeper crossover on the woofers. It might be a great DIY hack for enthusiast owners.

Because the towers are so tall, seated your ears maybe more in line with the midrange rather than the tweeters, changing the perceived output and bringing the midrange forward.

It is also worth to note that in these measurements the Midrange has about 5db on the woofers output, but remember there are two woofer and passive radiators with equal output. (Second driver is not shown but matches output exactly)

A nice benefit to those who don't want to see drivers or need to protect drivers from over inquisitive hands or paws; is that the grills while plenty beefy remain suitably transparent. Bringing output down a few DB's but not adding any nulls or peaks as some grills can. (EDIT) I realized that the colors were reversed in my discription. RED = With Grill, BLUE = without Grill

Horizontal axis response remains smooth but there is some significant loss of output past 30 degrees.

I think different people will like PL-980s for different and possibly opposite reasons. Metal heads might love these because they can turn things up to 11 without the whole experience falling apart. All your electric guitar can go balls to the wall and in your face. Hip hop/rap fans will like these because of their ability to get loud and full room filling sound that can still hit the deepest of 808's. Home theater users will have a big tower that throws a huge soundstage and sounds good doing so. You'll still want a subwoofer to shake the room, but you won’t be missing much besides the tactile feedback of sub-bass.

No speakers is perfect, and many perform better in certain situations. Overall these are going to be another solid option that compare very favorably to their most obvious and often more expensive competition from Klipsch. General enthusiast and owner reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so you’ll be in good company if you give these a shot. While measurements are not the end of the discussion, they measure better than speakers more than a few price points higher. If you're looking for a big easily assessable home theater speaker package, these should be on the short list. also has pretty unique buying format where you can make offers on their packages and see if it is accepted. No doubt some great deals will be had.

I'm very happy I got the chance to spend a few weeks with the BIC PL-980, they do a lot of things really well and more people should take the time to investigate them as an option.

Detailed Listening Impressions and Parts Breakdown

Cee Lo Green - Closet Freak

Really tight upper bass/mid bass. Even High Hat/horns/bells were never bright or fatiguing even at volume. The lowest of the low bass notes were a little lacking but they were audible. Though my opinion is clouded because I'm a car audio bass head. The 5 inch midrange is very detailed

Clutch - Ghost

Really can get the full bass impact and presence, but could be tighter, complex basslines get a little lost. Vocals are a little forward. Great left and right stereo separation. Both the acoustic and electric guitar sounds great but can also be a little forward.

The Glitch Mob – Fortune Days

Big and Dynamic sound, but complex bassline is troublesome. Track Might even be a little muted sounding overall.

The Glitch Mob - We Can Make the World Stop

Sounded great! Fun, lively, dynamic, handles very well. Another highlight track.

Chris Cornell - Sweet Revenge

These speakers really shined here. Dance or club hip hop music. Big room filling sound, simple but deep basslines, massive sound stage. Vocals and some of the synthesized sounds remain a bit forward, but a clean, clear and no sense of sibilance.

Coheed and Cambria - The Final Cut

In a song where everything is already in your face, these speaker highlight that. Possibly a little too much. This was the first song that became a slight strain to listen too. But the mix isn't doing it any favors. However the solo (probably because is a lower pitch) came off without a hitch. The drum at the start of the secret track following made me jump a little, major impact sounded great. The acoustic guitar that follows it was perfect example to highlight the forwardness of the speakers, sounded great, just too much of it.

Eminem - No Love

There isn't much to say other than the BIC PL 980's killed it. Absolutely zero criticism on playback. Happy accident or high lighting the speakers intended strengths? Don't know, don't care. I was too focused on pretending I was a gangsta rapper.

Jay-Z - Holy Grail

Justin Timberlake’s voice is clearly forward you can hear a hit of vocal fry and it's a distracting if you are trying to listen critically, but I don't believe these are intended to be critical listing speakers. Lots of mid bass impact is tight, Jay-Z sounds appropriate and strongly centered.

Hollywood Undead - Outside

My go to bench/dead/squat song. Don't judge me. It's not a complex song by any stretch. Handles the bass great. Another song that matches the speakers’ performance characteristics really well.

The Civil Wars - Billy Jean

Great Left & Right stereo separation. John Paul White's voice is again forward and sounds a little more strained than normal. Given a sense that Joy Williams is much farther back in the recording. Musically, things sound good.

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Emotiva B1 Review: The Wonderful World of Ribbons (AMT).

Emotiva B1: The Wonderful World of Ribbon (AMT) Tweeters Welcome to my review of the Emotiva B1 bookshelf speakers. With the recent...