Boots, not boost
Join Date: Jun 2006
I've been involved in the audio industry for over 25 years, and have to say that these speakers have the worst components I've ever seen. As someone who has built and repaired speakers, and written published audio reviews well before the Internet came around, I am appalled at the chutzpah shown by manufacturers and sellers of this junk. The 'reviews' and 'guides' that speak positively of these things have undoubtedly been posted by those who stand to profit from the sale of these inferior items. Take the Kirsch, Theatre Research, Genesis Media Labs (Genesis PHYSICS was a good brand in the 1980's) and DiVinci speakers, with their glossy ads and websites full of meaningless techno-babble and claims of outrageous 'retail' prices - not that any reputable retailer would carry these dogs. There are good reasons why they are mostly sold out of the back of white vans, and here, where comparison to good equipment is impossible. Most recently peddlers of the Genesis Media Lab and DiVinci's have trumpeted an ad taken out by the company, and purchase of a booth at an electronics show as evidence that this is an established brand-when you have the kind of profit margins based upon $ 50 worth of components in a "$ 3600" package, I suppose you can afford a booth or an ad.
Imagine if a peddler of fake Rolexes', or 'Rolex quality' watches posted a website claiming that their junk that cost maybe $ 50 to manufacture is worth thousands - that is basically the case we have here.
I've had the opportunity to take apart a number of these speakers, and all I can say is if you read Wikipedia and other search results you obtain from Googling the term "White Van Speakers' or 'White Van Scam' the conclusion that the components are of 'exceptionally poor quality' is well founded.
For example, as I write this, there are at least 3 pairs of the "K803 Prodigy" speakers being posted on E Bay for $ 1500 or more, yet superior drivers (the speaker drivers -woofers, tweeters, midranges and the like) can be had for $ 15 or less per driver. The internal electronics such as the crossovers, are by far, the absolute worst I've ever seen in nearly 3 decades as a hobbyist. The DiVinci hucksters have the nerve to advertise their 'high energy crossover', which is a $2 piece of junk - a good crossover is complex, not inexpensive, and is critical to sound quality. Even the glossy cabinets are made of cheap, lightweight wood, whose resonances distort the already awful sound, and lack the internal bracing you will find on quality speakers.
The drivers on the Kirsch and DiVinci "$ 3000 pair" (K803- DiVinci 1740-Dahlton- same speaker) are pretty much the same as on another set of these towers sold under an earlier "White Van Scam" name that a friend bought for $ 59 in a local pawn shop- one set of DiVinci's' is listed for $ 2500 buy it now - that is on line piracy.
Just for fun, we compared these Kirsch 803 beasts' to a pair of Infinty SM-255's bought off of E Bay for $ 300, using both analogue and digital sources, receivers and high end separate electronics. A sound level meter was used to ensure that the listening occured at the same volume level.
One of the girlfriends said it best : the Kirsch sounded like a clock radio compared to the Infinity's and one thought that a clock radio might sound better. Technical measurements confirmed what our ears told us - a ragged response curve that is the worst I've ever seen, bar none.
Maybe it was unfair - the Infinity's weigh 77 pounds versus 28 for the Klipsch... er Kirsch - but then the Kirsch is a $ 3000 speaker, the Infinities were $ 1000 new ... the weight alone should tell you just what junk the White Van Speakers are. We also compared the Kirsch with a vintage set of Klipsch KG-3.5's which you can get for around $ 200-250 - needless to say they blew the K-803 Prodigy away.
We've also performed listening tests comparing the "$ 2495"- oh please - Kirsch K3 home theatre system to a vintage set of Infinity Qb speakers dating back to the 1980's, which you can buy for $ 150 or so; a Samsung Home Theatre in a box and to Logitech Z-5300 and Klipsch Pro Media 5.1 computer speakers, hooked to a 5.1 receiver via the headphone jack ( a decent option for a small room). Experienced listeners suggested the best use of the Kirsch's was as a boat anchor or firewood, kids unanimously preferred the other sets and as one eloquently put it - ' the fancy ones stink like poo.' You would be much better off with a used set from Energy, Polk, or another quality speaker company.
I also had the (dis) pleasure of listening to a set of the "$ 3600" DiVinci's often posted here - even the best electronics cannot make a silk purse out of these sow's ears. We compared the DiVinci 607 model to a Polk RM-6800 5.1 home theater set up that can be had for $ 400 or less- $3200 less than theDiVinci's so called retail value.
It was no contest-- as my 12 year old put it 'where did all the instruments go' - there was no category- NONE- imaging, detail, tightness of bass- you name it- where the DiVinci's were remotely competitive.
Not only are the speakers unspeakably bad, the 'receivers' included with the DiVinci, Theatre Research, Digital Research and other "White Van Brands' lack even basic AV functions such as Dolby and DTS processing, and HDMI and component video outputs -as well as measuring and sounding horribly - try watching "Master and Commander" with one of these pieces of 'bleep'- a used Denon, Yamaha or Onkyo at any price is light years superior.
With profit margins that would make oil companies jealous, I can see where they could now buy ads in magazines - one E Bay posting claims they are an 'established high end speaker' - you would have to be high to consider these anything but the low level junk they are. Scam is not a strong enough term, and these have earned their place on rip-off report.com.
If you pay less than $ 200 for any of these speakers, I don't think its a total rip off, (not that you cannot do much better for the money- see Part 2) - but anything more than that and you've been had - anyone who writes that these things sound fine is either making money off of them, a scam victim seeking to pawn off his folly on someone else, or they need to have a root canal performed on their ears.
FROM WIKIPEDIA , The Online Encyclopedia on White Van Speakers and White Van Scam....
The brand name of the speakers is often intentionally confusingly similar to a well regarded speaker manufacturer. For example, the excellent reputations of manufacturers such as Klipsch, Paradigm, Dahlquist, and Wharfedale are used to sell speakers with the respective brand names of Kirsch, Paradyme, Dahlton, and Grafdale.
The speakers sold by the speakermen are of exceptionally poor quality, typically obtained for less than $50 from a local distributor. The speakers themselves have been reported as potentially damaging to any amplifier they are connected to. The risk of damage stems from an impedence curve that in some cases may drop below 2 ohms, which may overheat, short out, or permanently damage an amplifier not designed to handle such loads.
From ECoustics.com - Kirsch/DiVinci/ Theater Research Thread :
cheap speakers with the worst components any China man can find. My book shelf speakers sound much better than the fancy looking towers I bought.
getting scammed is no excuse to do it to others
FOOTNOTE: The latest White Van Scam brand is Genesis Media Labs- just took a look at 2 sets bought from a E Bay power seller who should be ashamed of themselves. The buyers thought they got a good deal and even left positive feedback for the seller. We had them listen to a Yamaha home theatre in the box bought at ... Marshalls !!! ....for less than for 1/2 ($ 250) of the price the victims paid on EBay ($ 539) for the Genesis - once again, no contest, and some very unhappy Genesis owners- too bad feedback cannot be modified. I took a couple of measurements which confirmed that regardless of the name- Genesis, DiVinci, Kirsch, Dahlton, Theatre Logic, Theatre Research, Ashton, Digital Logic, Digital Audio, Digital Dogg, Digital Research et. al - this stuff is not worthy of the term hi fidelity. The problem with the Genesis name is that there was a very good American made speaker brand of that name in the mid 80's, that went of business- the White Van scammers change brands often. New report:
If you would like to see what hobbyists think of this stuff see the Dollars and Sense discussion at audiokarma.org - we get a laugh out of reading the ad copy, but getting scammed is no joke.
I visted recently with an old friend, a leading British audio writer, who upon seeing the E Bay ads and the Divinci website first thought it was someones' idea of a joke -- his take in typical British understated fashion - " The claim that this logo was on half the speakers in Britian is rubbish, the products are so poor that they do not even rise to that level (rubbish), and the purveyors are simply scoundrels."