New Speakers: Proac DB3 or DB1

Hi,

This is my first post. A few years I auditioned a number of speakers in the £1,500 to £2,500 price range including a model from Totem, Neat SE2, Focal Electa standmounts (used), Spendor floorstanders, PmC standmounts and Proac DB1, DB3 and Falcon Acoustic LS3/5As. Electronics in the auditions were a 272 and 250DR. This was quite a time consuming process but unfortunately in the previous 6 months I had made a bit of mess of choosing speakers and my wife suggested I slowed down and did the thing properly. Basically the new house I moved into had suspended wooden floors and however hard I tried I couldn’t get the bass on the Dynaudio Focus 110 which I owned under control. I hastly replaced them with some used Kudos C10s which I found too bright (at one point I was considering carpeting the ceiling), followed by some ATC SCM19s which in many respects were very good but to my eyes were really rather ugly and I found I had to crank up the volume on my amp to get them to sing.

Anyway in conclusion I bought the Proac DB1 and am very happy with them. To my ears these are well balanced, attractive, very rhythmic without being edgy or bright and I have been able to listen to my hifi for hours at a time with little fatigue. The DB3s were OK but it was easy to hear where the extra money had gone on the DB1. My speaker stands are Partington Dreadnoughts and they sit on pieces of slate due to the suspended wooded floors. The rest of the system is a NDX/XPS2/282/200/HiCap. The room is broadly 4m square.

I hope this helps.

7 Likes

Thanks for sharing your experience. I am pretty sure the DB1 will be my choice, along with Target HR70 stands. The D2 gives me a bit of trepidation, perhaps too much bass for my room?This is the reason I sold my large Spendor stand mounts in the first place. I have yet to read about anyone having issue with loose or boomy bass from the DB1. Proximity to rear walls doesn’t seem as much an issue either, although I sense giving them space might be beneficial. I know these things are, to a large degree, room dependant.

I haven’t listened to the D2 so can’t really offer much advice in respect of their bass response. Although they are bigger than the DB1s they have a front port so I wouldn’t expect you to run into the quite the same problem that I did with the Dynaudios. The Dynaudios were lovely speakers but had a surprising amount of bass for their size (they are v small) which meant you had to move them well away from walls. They did supply bungs for the rear ports for near wall placement but sounded a bit closed if you used them.

My DB1s are 2m apart and 46 cm from the rear wall. They are pointing towards the listener. Unlike some of the other models I listened to they don’t need to be ‘off axis’ as the treble isn’t particularly bright. Also the tweeter needs to be at ear height. I take the grills off when listening. To my ears this does seem to make a difference. It’s also worth bearing in mind that my room is quite lively.

I have listened to your DAC but not your other equipment so am not sure compatibility.

In conclusion I would say the ideal scenario would be to always audition speakers. I didn’t do this and ended up causing myself alot of unnecessary hassle and expense. However if this is not possible, the DB1 although maybe not the most impressive sounding on first listening to my ears is very nicely balanced and I have never listened to my hi-fi as much as I do now bearing in mind I have owned ‘proper’ hifi since the mid/late 1980s.

Judging by many of the posts on this thread and across the forum, there are many who simply can’t be bothered to use the search functions on this forum and across the piste. It never ceases to amaze me how many ‘repeats’ are inflicted upon us.

@Welk3 Your posts confirm a couple of my comments earlier in this thread, namely:-

1 Speakers that sound impressive in the demo room often sound over bright/harsh in the, usually smaller, confines of the users own listening room.

2 The DB1’s can be listened to for hours on end without causing listener fatigue.

Your description of them as ‘balanced, rhythmic’ is pretty much spot on from my experience of them.

I don’t have the space to bring them out from the rear wall as much as you have &, due to the rear bass port, I would guess your positioning is pretty much ideal. Mine sound fine to my ear much closer to the wall but I have never tried them in any other position. I suspect your positioning is more suitable than mine.

@Analogmusic

Your comments just go to show the importance of a proper demo before purchasing speakers. The biggest purchase regrets people admit to in these forums is virtually always loudspeakers rather than amps, turntables etc.

I am no authority on KEF speakers & have only heard 3 pairs, 2 floor standers & 1 stand mounted.

To my ear they have all exhibited a surgically sharp top end, particularly evident in the floor standers, that I found over bright. In the demo of the £18,000 per pair speakers over half of us (from an audience of about 12) shared my opinion. The person who then ordered 2 pairs clearly didn’t! I can’t imagine he was into over sharp & fatiguing speakers so he must have been hearing a totally different sound/presentation to me. I would have described the sound as bass heavy, slightly distorted at the lowest levels, with a forward sounding, but very realistic, midrange & an overly aggressive treble. Anything other than neutral.

I suspect the ProAc DB1’s, & other ProAc’s in the range, would send both of you to sleep! As I said, we must all hear quite differently. If we didn’t we would all be using ProAc’s or KEF’s, depending which side of the fence you are on.

Hi Canaryfan,

I have read your comments and am in total agreement with you. A home demo really is essential particularly for speakers. Over the years there have been many occasions when a speaker has received rave reviews or the dealer has been a big fan of it and I really haven’t been able to see what the fuss is about. For example when I auditioned the DB1s the first dealer I used for the auditions was a big fan of the Focal Electra and the second the Falcon Acoustics. The treble on both of them was far to sharp for me. Many years ago I compared the Naim Credo to the Rega Ela 2. The dealer loved the Credo, I hated it but loved the Ela 2. This has happened many many times…

Hopefully our consensus will be of use to Scotty 2. Although we both agree that the DB1 is a good speaker he should nonetheless be very wary of purchasing a speaker without auditioning it at home.

Thanks to everyone for their input, very much appreciated.

I know from past experience that there is no substitute for an in home demo of audio equipment. Sadly, that is not possible in this case. I live in a rural area, in a small province with a limited number of audio retailers and brands. Proac is not available in my area. An in store demo would require a 1 hour drive, airport parking, 2 hour flight, hotel, meals, etc… Non-essential travel is very much frowned upon in our region with the current state of viral calamity and I have no idea when this would be an option for me.

My current audio quest is to procure a good all round stand mount speaker, non fatiguing with realistic mids and a decent bottom end. I have had Proac in a previous system and really enjoyed them, I can readily recall their sound. I have also contacted my amplifier manufacturer and he confirms good synergy with Proac.

So, l have decided to roll the dice and order a pair of DB1s. If they are not to my liking I can resell them and shouldn’t be out of pocket any more than the expenses required for an “in store” demo.

I’ll report back with my impressions, may be a while, delivery lead time, break in period, etc…

Hopefully the DB1s wont be too far off the mark!

5 Likes

regardless of a demo, in the same room speakers performance can radically change depending on which wall they are sited against.

I would disagree that KEF are surgically bright speakers, I don’t hear them that way at all.

as I mentioned I have owned the KEF “egg” for since 2004 till now and used them daily to watch TV and movies/music and I switch from using Dynaudio in one room to the Kef in another and they are voices differently, but not bright.

What certain speaker companies do is dial down the brightness, which Kef does not do.

For example in the song “almost dead” in beck’s album “sea change” there is some layered guitar playing in left and right channels’ (this song is now one of my references) and of Kef the tonality of the guitar is very close to a real one.

So when I started reading up on it, I found that Kef’s Dr Jack Oclee-Brown says

"We’re trying to make speakers that are completely captivating and totally absorb the listener into the music they’re enjoying. Music is truly diverse, and as much as audiophiles like to moan, in most cases produced with deep care and attention to detail.

The job of the speaker is simply to not get in the way, not to show off, or stand-out, or distract. We strive to design neutral speakers that allow instruments and voices to sound natural, that don’t restrict dynamics or flatten the sound, that resolve the smallest of details, and that spread the sound into your room very evenly so you can enjoy the three-dimensionality in the recordings."

As I have compared them with also “Danes don’t lie” dynaudio - same room same amp, same source, same cables , I can’t hear any brightness that isn’t due to the recording or the equipment in my Kef speakers when compared to the Dynaudio’s

If Kef speakers sound bright, the fault lies elsewhere.

I think there is a trend in audio to somehow also dial down the brightness as a result of digital sources (but those digital sources in 80’s was a long time ago and digital sources aren’t bright anymore ) , but to me this affects the tonality of guitars and cymbals…

again, my ears, opinions, equipment, etc etc disclaimer

1 Like

@Scotty2 Regardless of what anyone says ProAc’s have a great quality about them. You’ll really enjoy them!

1 Like

Congratulations on coming to a decision and look forward to you letting us know how it worked out.

Having had success with ProAc speakers myself I would ‘roll the dice’ as you have if I needed to make a decision under the circumstances you have described.

1 Like

@Scotty2

Glad you have made your decision. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

If they live up to expectations then I will take the credit. If they don’t then blame @Welk3!

Either way, Merry Christmas & a Happy (listening) New Year.

1 Like

@Analogmusic

I hope you don’t think I am having a go at you for liking KEF speakers. I am certainly not.

Your last line sums up well I think. ‘again, my ears, opinions, equipment, etc etc disclaimer’.

I had the chance to speak to Russell Kauffman (an exceedingly pleasant & modest man), owner of Russell K Speakers, at a demo evening held by my local dealer a couple of years ago. I was extremely impressed by his Red 120 speakers on demo & asked him how he voiced his speakers. He replied that he ‘fiddled with them until they sounded good to him & didn’t worry too much about measurements’. Whatever he did, it certainly worked.

I listened to some Russell K speakers earlier this year, they sounded ok, but the drive unit was loose when the demo started. No problem, tighten it up, buzz gone, all good. Forty minutes later the buzz is back and the driver is loose again. It put me off. Are 120Reds a thing? I think that is what they were.

Not at all.

The only reason I am posting my replies, is because KEF is not a brand that is often mentioned on this forum paired with Naim, and because of this I never myself auditioned them with Naim

But now that I have heard the new Meta LS50 with Naim, it sounds really good to my ears…

2 Likes

I suspect you were unlucky as the Red 120’s seemed well put together to me.

They are one of the best three speakers I have heard at my dealers. First time I heard them they were driven by a 300dr & the second time by two integrated amps whose names I can’t recall off the top of my head but seem to remember that they were from Italy & one was about £12,000 & it’s big brother nearer £20,000.

The sound was detailed & the drive units appeared to integrate seamlessly, producing a very natural & realistic output. The front to rear soundstage was so real you felt you could leave your seat & walk between the musicians.

The only drawback for me was that they were too big for my listening space & I suspect the overall sound would have swamped my room. Probably couldn’t the amplification either! Had my room been the same size as my dealers, & my wallet deeper, I would have given them serious consideration.

1 Like

You don’t see many KEF speakers on here. Keep an eye out, you may spot some.

4 Likes

I like your approach Canaryfan :joy: :joy:

Merry Christmas everyone.

Such a useless comment. ProAc’s website is pretty bare and leaves much to be desired in addressing normal questions about their product lineup. As well, the search function on this site sometimes omits or makes certain topics hard to find even when you know something has been discussed already - which is fine. I have experienced that on a number of occasions. It’s still a fabulous resource that I am grateful for. Sometimes it’s easier to simply start a new thread and get a question answered directly by one of the many gracious members who share their knowledge without condescension. Not everyone lives on this site and can be bothered to scroll through dozens or even hundreds of posts to find the needle in the haystack.

6 Likes

If the cap fits…

1 Like