Before a competent decision can be made as to what is the best speaker for your use, you need to know what makes a good speaker, and what qualities to look for in that speaker. We at Ohm are so confident that we have produced the best speaker you can find, that we want you to know what to look for in any speaker.
Once you know what to look for, we know you'll find it in Ohm.
There are only 3 important considerations in the selection of loudspeakers:
1. How do they sound with the rest of the system, played in your room, on the material and at the loudness you're going to use them?
2. Is their size and appearance acceptable in your listening room?
3. Do they fit into your budget for the whole system?
How your speakers sound is your most important consideration. But it is not how they sound in the dealers showroom that counts, it's how they sound played in your room! The room has a tremendous effect on the sound quality of the system; every room interacts with every speaker in a different way. You should never accept speakers until you have auditioned them in your room extensively. This is a tough requirement, but it's more critical to the sound quality than all other things combined.
The loudspeaker's appearance is also important. Because you have to live with them!! Be prepared to make some sonic compromises for cosmetic benefits. These are often both necessary and correct, because in the long run, if you hate how they look, they'll sound worse the longer you look at them! The subwoofer/satellite systems have become very popular because they look so small (if you ignore the subwoofer). But don't compromise too much. Great sound can also make speakers ''look'' better over time and poor quality speakers can waste your entire investment in the system.
To get the best sound for your money, expect to spend 40-50% of your total budget on loudspeakers in an audiophile quality music system or in a topnotch home theater system. Selecting your loudspeakers will be the most difficult part of putting together a system since it's easy to compare specifications and features of electronics and have a good sense of the quality differences; with loudspeakers only auditioning them in your listening room will give you the truth. And, the differences in loudspeakers are much more substantial than the differences in all the other components combined! The differences in $800 worth of electronics and $80,000 worth are less audible (played below clipping) than the differences between any two loudspeakers from different manufacturers. We suggest you put your money where you can easily hear the difference -- the loudspeakers.
You can narrow down your choices with some fundamental points:
Frequency response: Deeper bass is better because there is plenty of music below 50Hz and lots of movie effects going down to the 20-30Hz range. Sounds below 15Hz exist on only a handful of disks, and they need to be played at very high loudness levels to be heard. The high frequency response is less important: no musical instrument has a fundamental note above 8,000Hz and CDs don't contain any information above 20,000Hz (most males over 30 actually can't hear that high!). The smoothness of the frequency response is very important - in particular, having no peaks. You want everything coming out of the speaker at the level it went into it without anything jumping out at you. Peaks will make the system annoying over time, making the system tiring to listen to for extended periods. For smoothness, vocal reproduction is the best test, since we listen to natural, live voices every day and we are very sensitive to subtle changes.
Distortion: This is generally less critical than expected. Speakers tend to distort in the way individual instruments sound different from each other - a Baldwin sounds different from a Steinway, but both can be very good. Distortion on voices is a different matter. They should sound like someone in your room, like real people. Problems in the 100-2000Hz range are easily heard on voices, but often not at all on instruments. If a loudspeaker has a crossover (where one part plays part of the range and another the rest) in this area, just the different size of the drivers will be audible on voices even with ''perfect'' design. Anything less than perfection will be even worse. The solution we found is that no crossover creates no problems.
Stereo imaging: This is just beginning to be appreciated. For years, speakers could not impart a sense of the source of individual performers. Today, most good speakers can create a soundfield extending between the speakers when you are sitting in one tiny sweet spot. Ohm Walsh speakers has been doing this since 1975. This family created a wide Sweet-Sweep in 1982 where many listeners can enjoy this effect at the same time. Typically, if the Ohm Walsh speakers are 10 feet apart and you are sitting 10 feet back, the Sweet-Sweep will be 10 feet wide! You can test this by having two friends sitting 5 feet on either side of you point out the perceived sources on individual performers. While you do this with different speakers the results will be very revealing. Even the Ohm Subwoofer/Satellite Group and the Tiny Towers of Power create a wider Sweet-Sweep than conventional audiophile speakers. With movies, its even more important for all viewers to hear the effects and voices coming from the right locations to draw you into the story.
Loudness: How loudly the speaker can play will be quickly determined during your home audition. Just turn them up to a level slightly louder than you expect to play them and see if they still sound fine. Ohm speakers are designed for specific sized rooms. Do not expect to put an Ohm designed for a small room into a large one and have the sound be as good but not as loud. We actually take into account the room effects to maximize the speakers' performance. A system for a big room will overpower too small a room played at any level.