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T930 vs. ??

Terry Mc

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Hi Guys,

nice sight! I was wondering from my fellow Boston fans, what you would consider for an update from my old T930's.

I will be sticking Boston but I am adding a VR12 center to my hometheater and was considering updating my beloved 930s to maybe a VR40 or maybe some VR3's or VR-M90's if I can find a nice set.

My thoughts are that the newer series will match the timbre better with the VR tweeter.

What are your guys thoughts on this?????

Would this be an upgrade or just substituting something newer and lesser in sound quality?

My musical tastes lean mostly to classic rock and fusion jazz.

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The T-930 was an excellent, straightforward 10” 3-way acoustic suspension speaker, designed by BA Founder and President Andy Kotsatos and Gerry Sheetoo. In every measured and listening respect, it was a fine product, very much in the tradition of the best modern AR’s, like the AR-12 and AR-11.

The VR series was designed in 1993 and introduced in fall 1994. These represented a ‘new’ direction for BA. With a new group of home loudspeaker engineers, more familiar with the intricacies of ported/computer-aided design, they moved away from the older sealed designs and went to vented speakers.

The VR20, 30, and 40 were done by Dave Fokos, a very talented designer who’d had a direct mail-order speaker company under his own name for a short time before he joined BA.

A new transducer-design group was in place, headed by former AR engineer Dave Cahill, and they came up with several truly excellent drivers. One of these was the aluminum 1” VR tweeter, made in Peabody (as were all of BA’s drivers at the time) to phenomenally tight tolerances on their incredibly advanced robotic assembly line.

The VR12 center channel speaker was an outstanding speaker: dual 6 ½” woofers (interestingly enough, the VR12 was sealed), and it was the industry’s very first three-way center channel speaker with its midrange and tweeter in a vertical line, to avoid the destructive picket-fencing horizontal radiation pattern that afflicted virtually every side-by-side M-T-M center speaker that existed at the time.

The aluminum VR tweeter had a somewhat sharply-etched sound character, very detailed (but not harsh, per se), so I don’t think it would be a particularly good match with the T-930’s soft dome.

The 3-way VR40 (dual 7” woofers, 5 ¼” mid, the 1” VR tweeter) is a perfect match with the VR12, and that is a wonderful system. The VR40 has a sweet, musical nature and is one of the truly unsung, undiscovered gems to be had out there.

The VR-M90 was the top of the line of the series that came two families after the original VR’s. The VR-M’s included the VR-M50 and 60 bookshelf monitors, and the VR-M80 and 90 floorstanders. These were designed by Michael Chamness, who had previously done a lot of work at DBX on their Soundfield products. The VR-M90 used dual very low resonance 6 ½” woofers and it reached lower than the dual 7” woofers of the VR40—cleanly down into the upper-30’s Hz range. The 90 also used an amazingly advanced 3 ½” cone midrange with a 1 ½” voice coil, in a cast aluminum basket with heat-sinking fins, powered by a big neodymium magnet. An incredible driver that handled amazing power with vanishingly low distortion and linear response. The VR-M90 is a no-excuses, wonderful speaker.

The VR-M90 would also be an excellent match with the VR12 (or the smaller--but still 3-way--VR-10). There was also a terrific slimmer 3-way center called the VR920, which was quite possibly the best center BA ever did and one of the best anywhere. It also used the VR tweeter.

There were informal plans to do a “VR-M100,” which would have used three 6 ½” woofers reaching the low 30’s and dual 3 ½” mids in a taller enclosure and it would have sold for about $2000-$2500 each (the M80 was $1000 ea; the M90 was $1350 ea.) But the market for very high-end speakers was weakening at the time, and the VR-M100 project was cancelled.

All the VR-M’s used the aluminum VR tweeter.

The VR-M series was also quite attractive, with its real cherry veneer and creative appearance of the tweeter facing and woofer grille. IMO, some of the nicest-looking speakers ever designed. The ID team of Charles Rozier and Jim Petronio of Rozier Design Studio were responsible. The VR-M50 won a Best Industrial Design award the year it came out for Best Audio Product.

The VR1, 2 and 3 were later products, and not even close to being in the same class as the VR40 or VR-M90 in my opinion.

Steve F.

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Andy Kotsotos did the original T1000 and T930 towers. Both "originals" had the tweeter above the midrange.

The T1030 was a refined version of the T1000, with the midrange above the tweeter.

The T930 Series 2 incorporated refinements gained in the development of the T1030. So, the T930 Series 2 also has the midrange above the tweeter (like the T1030).

Though virtually identical in the type and drivers used, there ARE sonic differences between the original T 930 and the 930 Series Two. Depending on the source materaial and how the speakers are postioned, these differences can range from very subtle to pretty dramatic. These differences arise from the different physical positioning of the drivers, the different crossover networks, and the resulting radiation pattern that determines overall sound charateristics for a partcular speaker location/ room set-up .

In my opinion, the "proper" choice of a matching center channel for either the original 930 or the Series Two isn't really governed by which version you have. It's how you listen and the degree of effort expended in placing the main speakers optimally (varies from listener to listener and room to room).

The center channel is "on" virtlually all the time when used as part of a "home theater" in the pro-logic or 5.1 mode. When listening to "stereo only" music NOT specifically mixed with a center channel in mind, using a center channel can sound "weird" at times (depends on the the way it's recorded/mixed).

So, depending on what your primary use is (movies or music) and other factors I've mentioned, I'd audtion them to see which center channel sounds best with YOUR 930's in YOUR enviroment with YOUR program material.

Gerry S

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By the way !

I must add that Andy Kotsotos (Boston Acoustics co-founder) gave me that rare opportunity to be engaged in my most challenging and rewarding career EVER. He personally mentored me in the basics of "voicing", which is the "art and science" of loudspeaker system design under "real world" conditions.

How often does one get paid to "have fun" while enhancing the listening enjoyment of music lovers and home theater enthusiast who bought Boston Acoustics products worldwide ?

Thanks, Andy !!!!!

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Steve Thank you for the thorough information it confirms what I have thought which is that I while I love my old 930's, I will probably be happier when I can afford to add the 40's or maybe the 90's I figured that the tweeter match would be the center of my excuse to make a change.

I do not make changes very often, as I know way to many people that upgrade only to find they went the wrong direction.

Gerry I have to thank you for your work on such wonderful speakers, they have served me very well and continue to do so.

They are currently matched to a Boston acoustics AVR7120 which is also a prized piece (I know it is really a Sherwood Newcastle, but the Boston has a nicer face and keeps the family name)

Surrounds are a combination of CR towers ( I have to check to see which ones) and my old faithful HD5's. The current center is an MB Quart which can be harsh at times.

source is currently Denon DVD-2910 but is also being updated with a used DVD-3800BDCI. Bass is backed up with an ancient Legacy Audio Foundation Subwoofer (2x12's in a ported enclosure) supported by

an equally old Adcom GFA-555 series 1. Most of this is a collection of others getting the upgrade bug and not utilizing the excellent components they already had.

the system primarily gets used for HT usage but I love my times when I can just sit and listen to some audio. I just discovered that my favorite artist (Al Di Meola) has released a new Blu ray disc in the past year and

look forward to seeing what the combination of the new center and the lossless audio format will provide me.

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  • 11 months later...

Well, I have the same problem: an old pair of T930's which I bought for my girlfriend a few years before I married her 18 years ago because they were the cleanest sounding (for classical/opera), relatively efficient, sub-$800 speakers I could find, but which after our marriage were always our second system because they couldn't compete with my more expensive and refined KEF's or later with my even more expensive and refined Theils. I have recently re-foamed the T930's, which had developed some gaping holes in the foam, so they are sounding almost new even though they look terrible because the vinyl is peeling off the boxes. The T930's make a very nice 2.0 system for my big screen tee-vee, but I want to upgrade to 5.0 (I'm thinking that with the T930's I shouldn't need a sub--do you agree?) Anyway, do any of you have a specific recommendation for a legacy center speaker? Steve F. above suggested that a BA aluminum tweeter-based center might not play nice with the T930's. I have seen the BA Centersat7 recommended for the 930's on the theory that it shares the same dome tweeter as the 930's. Any truth to that? Any other recommendations?

A couple more questions from this old-style audiophile who is newly mystified by home theater sound: how critical are the surrounds--will any good bookshelf speaker (such as a pair of old Paradigm Titans) play nice with the T930's?

And another thing about which I'm wondering--when shopping for a center or surround speaker on e-bay or Audiogon where I can't audition the merchandise, should I be looking for something with the same efficiency numbers as the 930's so that the system is volume-balanced? Also, would re-foaming the 930's change their efficiency numbers so it's a fool's errand trying to match?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Yes, the CenterSat7 would be a nice match to the T930. I don't know what HT electronics you have (or are going to get), but many newer receivers and pre-pros have separate tone controls or even EQ's that can be applied to the channels individually. If that is what you have, then I'd actually look for a BA VR10/12, 910/20 center, which are really terrific speakers--clean, articulate, good PH, etc. You can dial back the center treble a tick or two and everything would be fine.

Re: sensitivity, all HT electronics let you vary the channel levels individually, so that's not a concern. If I recall, the 930 is of 'average" sensitivity (somewhere around 87-89 dB), and the aforementioned BA centers are all within a dB or 2 of the 930. In any event, that will not be a problem.

BA's generally work nicely in an HT system because of their clarity, good PH and ever-so-slightly forward quality that makes vocals and other low-level details come through clearly. Plus, they sound very good with music.

Steve F.

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  • 2 weeks later...

todtubbi.... "The T930's make a very nice 2.0 system for my big screen tee-vee, but I want to upgrade to 5.0 (I'm thinking that with the T930's I shouldn't need a sub--do you agree?)"

As good as the 930's bass is for music,"Movie Bass" is a whole other animal. It can't hurt to add a powered sub for "home theater". I personally use a Hsu Research model with fantastic results.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Andy Kotsotos did the original T1000 and T930 towers. Both "originals" had the tweeter above the midrange.

The T1030 was a refined version of the T1000, with the midrange above the tweeter.

The T930 Series 2 incorporated refinements gained in the development of the T1030. So, the T930 Series 2 also has the midrange above the tweeter (like the T1030).

Gerry S

Hi Gerry,

Not threadjacking but it may be relevant here.

I have a pair of A400's and T1030's and would like to get your opinion on how the A400 which was TOTL in A series compares against T1030 which was TOTL on T series.

Thank you kindly.

My experience is below:


Boston Acoustics T1030 vs A400 Comparison

This is limited to moderate volume (not high) and in a small room.

Results may be different at louder volume in larger room.

T1030 (All Original, foam surrounds look good, no tears, not rotting but they may be softer due to age):

Very smooth sounding speakers with great but soft bass thump.

Mids/highs are very good except they sound little softer/smoother and slightly recessed when compared against A400.

I can hear soft bass extension that doesn't end too abruptly.

A400 (All mids and woofer foam surrounds re-foamed with genuine fillet foam surrounds few months ago):

Almost exact sound characteristics as T1030 but little more dynamic, specially the highs/mids sound more open, brighter and louder.

I hear more high frequency musical instruments with vocals while in T1030, some high music notes are not at the same level as vocals.

That adds little more sizzles on A400's and sounds little forward.

Bass is tighter in A400's and it ends earlier than T1030 so it feels like bass is punchier in A400's while softer in T1030.

Overall, A400's feel like they have little more grunt/power on everything, highs/mids/lows.

Strings sound brighter in A400's but not too bright.

I'm guessing if I listen to speakers all day, T1030 may be better as it's slightly smoother and may not have ear fatigue over the long run.

But if I have to pick one pair, it'll be A400's without hesitation.

A400's just sound very free, open and like live music.

T1030's are not far behind but feels little bit constrained on everything by slight margin except longer low extension.

When listening to songs on A400's, it feels energetic while T1030's sound little relaxed.

T1030's are on my top list along with A400 and L100T.


PS: If a new thread is better option, I'll do that.


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Dear Mystery. Regarding post #11. The A400 was "before my time" at BA. It was Andy Kotsotas's VERY FIRST SPEAKER when he founded the company.

I did listen briefly to the A400 flagship, but did not use it as "a reference" while doing the design work for the T1030. Note that they are VERY different speakers as far as loudspeaker placement is concerned.

The A400 was designed to tackle the "Allison effect" by having the woofer very close to all the boundaries (for smoothest bass into the room). The wide baffle minimized diffraction from the cabinet edges. For the system to work as intended, it must be placed against the wall.

With a smaller "footprint", the T1030 was designed to give the user greater flexibility in it's room placement options. When I "voiced" the T1030, I gave particular attention to it's "nearfield imaging" capabilities. I don't know whether Andy did the same for the A400. I do know that the A400 was/is highly regarded in the audiophile community. For all I know, the A400 could "image" as well or better than the T1030.

Again, I have not "A-B 'ed" the two to see which is "better". IMO, really pointless to do so because it's really like compairing apples to oranges. I've found that when comparing two systems that are competantly designed, the differences heard can be attributed as much to the recordings and room acoustics as to the speaker themselves. Sometimes, these two variables can SWAMP differences in "design philosophy". Which is why I don't pay much thought to exotic (expensive) cables and such.

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Thank you for comment Gerry.

Did you mean that A400's should be placed as far apart in the room as possible whereas T1030 can be placed closer when you mentioned the boundaries?

Also, should both pairs be toed in or just place front facing?


The A400 isn't meant to be be "pulled away" from the wall behind it. Doing so will weaken the bass considerably. Nor was it designed to be "toed in" (which pulls the speaker slightly away from the wall behind it. The T1030 can be used near or close to walls, but also several feet away to minimize wall reflections which can slightly "blur" the stereo image. You can also toe theT1030's in..also to minimize blurring the "first arrival" stereo image.

I personally believe that speaker spacing is best between 6' to10' apart depending on size of the room (for either system) and how far you can sit behind the speakers and still have good imaging AND good, smooth bass at the listening location. There is no hard/fast rules to exact distance..depends on the room and aesthetics.

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  • 7 years later...

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