Home A look back at the Bookshelf Marathon – Summary

A look back at the Bookshelf Marathon – Summary

4

Martijn

Fourteen speakers on two amplifiers, spread over three livestreams, totaling about eleven hours of listening and interpretation. Is it worth making this (time) investment? After 3 Sundays, the conclusion as far as I am concerned is a resounding yes!

In a short time, you get a good impression of the state of the market and what you, as a consumer, can get in a price segment. Fortunately, the conclusion is that all 14 speakers perform well and the price-performance ratio is right. More importantly, you can pretty well pinpoint the differences, which leads to a lot of insight in a short time. Judging from the active chats at the livestreams, this is not only true for us.

I do understand after three of these listening sessions why so few people do this. It requires quite a bit from you if you want to stay sharp and give all products an equal chance. That is what we sincerely try to do. It is up to you to judge whether we succeed in that.

The big lesson

We already knew it, but we are now strongly reminded: there is nothing more important to a good, balanced music experience at home than the match of speaker and amplifier.

Speaker cables, interlinks, power supplies, streamers, switches, record players, CD players, it is all important and very nice…  but if the match between amplifier and speaker isn’t there then you can keep replacing CD players, or buy an even more exotic Ethernet cable for your streamer, but you won’t eliminate the lack of balance in the reproduction. Know that!

The surprises

There were also some speakers that were surprising. For their price, the Sonus Faber Sonetto speakers offer a lot of listening pleasure with a nice balance of sound, detail and rhythm. They continue to sound good at low volume levels, and only have to acknowledge their superiors in the more expensive speakers in this test, regarding the depth of the soundstage. They had tough competition on the second listening round, but held their own proudly.

JBL has a divergent design with their compression driver and it is hard to find a good balance there. Combined with the Nilai amplifier, they took off like a sprinter on the final stretch toward the finish line with a brisk sprint. I struggled to keep listening to tell what they sound like, the temptation to put the notes aside was clearly present. What a party! It is fervently hoped that Hypex and JBL will come to a collaboration to bring an active version of this to market. It shows that technological advances make a lot possible in HiFi, without first having to rob a bank to get all that niceness in your home.

The third surprise were the Neat Petite Classic speakers. Except for their size, there is nothing Petite about these speakers. They were the only speakers that, in combination with the Pass Labs power amplifier, were capable of projecting a bubble of music that you, the listener, sit in. That’s an insane achievement for something so physically small. And it shows that we should cherish our small, independent audio manufacturers.

Type test
Multitest
Production country
Differs

Winkels met Amphion

Sint-Antoniusstraat 15
2300 Turnhout, BE
Joseph Bensstraat 21
1180 Ukkel, BE
Bredabaan 1031
B-2930 Brasschaat, BE
Pelikaanstraat 126
2018 Antwerpen, BE
Sikkel 40 F
3274 KK Heinenoord, NL

Winkels met ATC

Emrikweg 25
2031 BT Haarlem, NL
Korevaarstraat 2 e-f
2311 JS Leiden, NL
Hennesweg 20
6035 AD Ospel, NL

Winkels met Audio Physic

St. Ceciliastraat 28
5038 HA Tilburg, NL
Koningsstraat 35
2011TC Haarlem, Noord Holland, NL
Beethovenstraat 9-b
1077 HL Amsterdam, Noord Holland, NL

Winkels met Dynaudio

Schoenmakersstraat 19
6041EX Roermond, NL
Grotestraat 23
5931 CS Tegelen, NL
St. Ceciliastraat 28
5038 HA Tilburg, NL
Geldropseweg 105
5611 SE Eindhoven, NL
Korevaarstraat 2 e-f
2311 JS Leiden, NL
Theresiastraat 151 - 157
2593 AG Den Haag, Noord Holland, NL
Beethovenstraat 9-b
1077 HL Amsterdam, Noord Holland, NL

Winkels met Elac

Grotestraat 23
5931 CS Tegelen, NL
St. Ceciliastraat 28
5038 HA Tilburg, NL
Beethovenstraat 9-b
1077 HL Amsterdam, Noord Holland, NL

Winkels met JBL

Stationsweg 87
9471 GM Zuidlaren, NL
Geldropseweg 105
5611 SE Eindhoven, NL

Winkels met Kef

Sint-Antoniusstraat 15
2300 Turnhout, BE
Joseph Bensstraat 21
1180 Ukkel, BE
Bredabaan 1031
B-2930 Brasschaat, BE
Pelikaanstraat 126
2018 Antwerpen, BE
Laat 29A
1811EB Alkmaar, NL
Schoenmakersstraat 19
6041EX Roermond, NL
Grotestraat 23
5931 CS Tegelen, NL
St. Ceciliastraat 28
5038 HA Tilburg, NL
Geldropseweg 105
5611 SE Eindhoven, NL
Breestraat 146-148
2311CX Leiden, Zuid Holland, NL
Hermesweg 2
3741 GP Baarn, Utrecht, NL
Steenstraat 54
6828 CM Arnhem, Gelderland, NL
St.-Katelijnevest 53
2000 Antwerpen, BE
Beethovenstraat 9-b
1077 HL Amsterdam, Noord Holland, NL

Winkels met Monitor Audio

Sint-Antoniusstraat 15
2300 Turnhout, BE
Joseph Bensstraat 21
1180 Ukkel, BE
Pleinweg 136
3083 EP Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, NL
Bredabaan 1031
B-2930 Brasschaat, BE
Pelikaanstraat 126
2018 Antwerpen, BE
Schoenmakersstraat 19
6041EX Roermond, NL
St. Ceciliastraat 28
5038 HA Tilburg, NL
Korevaarstraat 2 e-f
2311 JS Leiden, NL
Koningsstraat 35
2011TC Haarlem, Noord Holland, NL
Beethovenstraat 9-b
1077 HL Amsterdam, Noord Holland, NL

Winkels met Neat

Hermesweg 2
3741 GP Baarn, Utrecht, NL
Koningsstraat 35
2011TC Haarlem, Noord Holland, NL
Spoorstraat 18
7491 CK Delden, Overijssel, NL
Steenstraat 54
6828 CM Arnhem, Gelderland, NL

Winkels met Revel

Sint-Antoniusstraat 15
2300 Turnhout, BE
Joseph Bensstraat 21
1180 Ukkel, BE
Bredabaan 1031
B-2930 Brasschaat, BE
Pelikaanstraat 126
2018 Antwerpen, BE

Winkels met Sonus Faber

Sint-Antoniusstraat 15
2300 Turnhout, BE
Joseph Bensstraat 21
1180 Ukkel, BE
Pleinweg 136
3083 EP Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, NL
Bredabaan 1031
B-2930 Brasschaat, BE
Pelikaanstraat 126
2018 Antwerpen, BE
Laat 29A
1811EB Alkmaar, NL
Schoenmakersstraat 19
6041EX Roermond, NL
Grotestraat 23
5931 CS Tegelen, NL
St. Ceciliastraat 28
5038 HA Tilburg, NL
Breestraat 146-148
2311CX Leiden, Zuid Holland, NL
Beethovenstraat 9-b
1077 HL Amsterdam, Noord Holland, NL

4 COMMENTS

  1. In addition to the agreement regarding the excellence of the Hypex Nilai500DIY poweramp, I note that the new KEF R3 Meta is NOT mentioned in the final list -> I remember my great disappointment during the test

    ATC SCM 11 we could not assess them correctly when sounding in mono but I also contemplate them. With Hypex Nilai and closer to the walls (the usual in European rooms).

    My winners:

    Audio Physic Step 35 (expensive) + Hypex Nilai + subwoofer?
    Neat Petite Classic + Pass Labs

    -> Money leans towards the Neat Petite Classic with Brittish amplifier sound. Or hybrid like my new (December 2022) Magnat MA 900 in my cheap second audio system (with modded KEF Q100, bass-front bass reflex closed…).

    • Neither is the Sonos Faber mentioned and we are quite taken with it. I’d like to quote the last sentences, since I somehow suspect they will fail to get noticed:

      “So are the speakers not mentioned not great? Or decent? They certainly are good, but in weighing the notes we took and listening back in the livestream, these are the speakers that offer the most on these criteria.”

      The shortlists are not the list of winners. I’d like to make that clear. Emphasise it even.

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