I have written a few times in the past about speakers. My go to brands, preferred brands, most reliable brand, biggest brand, brand which misses the mark, loudest brand, and my favorite brands and finally my favorite speakers overall to the line within the brand. All of this can be summed up in a handful of very well-known and highly proven speaker names. So who are these brands? From my vantage point, which started in 1968 experimenting with recording cassettes off our family RCA counsel style phono player, to building speakers and amplifiers and playing loud music in my dorm endlessly until 1979, to high end retail starting in 1980 where selling a 1000- dollar pair of KEF 103.2 in rosewood, black ash or walnut was a near every day experience, and much more expensive products like the top of line Cantons at 30,000 dollars a pair. My how things have changed and most of it is good! Speakers have gotten much better and a 1000-dollar pair of KEF 103 speakers sound, can be bought today for perhaps 25-75%-perhaps not as smooth and with no real wood finish.
Here is my list of favorite speaker Companies.
Go to brands: Boston, B&W, Canton, JBL, KEF, Klipsch, NEAR and Polk (yes I know I missed many good brands)
Preferred Brands: JBL and KEF- what a deal one from the good ole USA and the other from Brittan. What can you say about companies that truly want to sell quality and value.
Most Reliable: All of today’s brands are very reliable, perhaps the other side of the coin would be English.
Biggest Brand: Harmon International which owns many brands including JBL.
Brand which misses the mark: Bose-in 1980 when I came into the market we sold this product called Bose 901. A speaker built to reflect 9 midrange speakers equalized by a special Bose box with all sound being reflected sound. Bose never got it right from then on with the exception of a few overpriced, good performing products.
Loudest Brand: KLIPSCH this brand proved to us you could make your ears bleed with a solid 10 watt amplifier.
My Favorite: JBL for this company’s ability to get it right in a great package among multiple lines of product both residential, commercial and professional-all for reasonable money.
KEF and B&W for when listening low and hearing well is really important, which makes them not your favorite party speakers.
Favorite speakers overall: Any KEF Reference or B&W mid series or above and JBL from the AE series and finally I must throw a bone to JBL and their Control series. A fantastic blend of high quality plastic reinforced all weather, flyable, mountable wedge shaped, not as bright as a EON, not as tame as AE series but truly fantastic fun and easy to listen speakers for all occasions which is not super low level.
Here is the trick speakers have great difficulty with, that is remaining linear in their frequency response from standard low level listening in the small fraction of less than 1 watt per channel to playing flat and or linear through the 1-20 watt standard listening range to the greater than 50 watt per channel. These very large ranges prove to us that one type of speaker is not good for all purposes. But I must say the JBL Control especially for the money is perhaps my favorite line.