$10,000 Speaker Recommendations?

Greetings all. I am looking for new loudspeakers as part of a total system upgrade. My budget is $10,000 give or take. Musical tastes are pretty eclectice from hard rock to orchestral, but my most critical and enjoyable listening is to jazz and acoustic music - particularly female vocals and stringed instruments (think Suzanne Vega, Nora Jones, Dianna Krall, Allison Kraus, etc).

I have a Mark Levinson 383 integrated amplifier served by a Rotel 1072 CD player (the CD player will be replaced after the speaker selection). Current loudspeakers are Sonus Faber Concertinos supported by an REL Strata subwoofer. I still love the sweet musical sound of my SF's but now (after 8 years with them) have the good fortune of being able to make a major upgrade.

One wrinkle to all of this is that I currently live in Shanghai, China which means my selection and ability to fully audition is rather limited. I have access to Sonus Faber, Martin Logan, and B&W (and several European brands I am less familiar with) and have been considering the Cremona, Guarneri Homage, Summit, Ascent i, and 802's accordingly.

My listen room is rather large approximately 8 meters x 6 meters (25 ft x 20 ft) So I am probably moving away from monitors on stands to a floor standing full-range speaker(though I have heard that the Guarneris support a much bigger room than their size would suggest)

Any thoughts or wisdom from this group?

Thanks so much! Brad
Have you had the chance to hear the excelent chinese USHER speaker brand ?
If you have a great degree of freedom as far as positioning goes it would be hard to beat the Summit or the Ascent i. The Ascent i has been discontinued which would give you a good deal on them should you be able to find a pair. They are not nearly as dynamic as the Summit but are very musical (I think that the panel/woofer integration is a little better)and would sound killer with one (or two) of the ML subs.

Also check out the Von Schweikert if they are available.

Good luck!
Hi, Brad. Since you like Sonus Faber sound( as I do ), I will concentrate on them. Your room is big enough to support Stradivari Hommage and Amati Anniversario, unfortunately they are currently not in your budget.
Cremona is better than old Concertino in every way possible. New Guarneri Memento( replacment for Guarneri Hommage from January 2006 ) is also worth waiting. But, since your room is big, Cremona will more easily fill it with sound( more bass as well ). Also, your No.383 is powerful enough for both of them.
Happy listening!
As far as your location goes,I see ads time to time from your area. I would say many/ most,at this site, try to buy from a local seller. In the recent past I have read ads for Wilson speakers,being sold from your area. I have just bought the Wilson Sophia;local??--How did you guess.
I haven't heard that many speakers,but I just sold my Merlin,MM's. Am I happy with this change?? You guessed it. A couple of my reasons for buying them were; they sound pretty good with whatever you drive them with and easy placement. I doubt you'd be looking for a sub with this speaker.---In speakers it's always compared to what speakers you now own. Since you now own a sub you may need to keep it; for those whom don't run a sub;these Sophia will give you more and cleaner bass than your used to. That's my recommendation.
Cremona !!!
Among those you listed, I think, the best is the ML Summit. It is a wonderfully tansparent, quick speaker with a nice soundstage. The best ML I have ever heard. Also, one of the best, I think, in its price range. I would also hear it with some tubes somewhere in your system. Maybe in the new cd-player to get what tubes are good for, harmnically rich and layered music. I dont think that Cremona or BW would be in competition with the Summit. Cremona is very musical, but somehow I found it a bit too slow. But I dont have any idea how it would sound with an ML 383. BW would be too bright and cold too my ears, although I only heard the N803 with ML 383. I also suggest to look for a Wilson Benesch Curve. Its maybe cheaper a bit than the ML, and has its own merits. Nice coherent and holographic sound. But maybe Summit is a nicer spaker. It really depends on what kind of soundprint you after. Any of these speaker would be a major upgrade compared to your current one. And of course, you really should upgrade your source.
checkout thiel cs2.3 or cs2.4 and save yourself a bunch of money. a friend of mine bought a 12,000 pair of reference loudspeakers and I like my $4000 thiels better!
Foxtrot, Usher is Taiwan based, not China.

As an Amati & Cremona owner, I can concur both are excellent choices if you want to stay in the Sonus Faber line. Cremona top end is not as refined as Amati, but that's in relative term and very very refined when compared to speakers of similar price range. Bottom end is not quite as detail as Amati either, but again difference is subtle and only obvious when heard side by side.

Usher is an excellent choice if you have access to their line up, Usher is the OEM manufacture for many high end drivers including Scanspeak. Their new Compass with Be tweeter should rival anything out there, their woodwork is to die for as well.
I think the Cremona would meet your requirements nicely. I have always liked the SF sound and the Cremonas are no exception... especially with the kind of music you prefer.

For full disclosure, I am not a B&W Nautilus or ML fan at all, so I personally would have ruled those out for myself almost immediately (leaving only SF)... but SF is a great brand IMO, and I think many people would have the Cremonas on their short list as well at your target price point.

Good luck,

I have had the chance to audition all the speakers you mentioned except the Cremonas. I also have a pair of MLs and used to have N802s.

If I was in your position, I would go with the Summits, but I am a fan of the ML sound. The Guarnaris are magical too, especially with strings as I recall.

They are all good but all have different sonic signatures. I would try to hear as many as possible and see what you like the best and go for it.
I recently purchased the B&W 802. I had to rehook up the 803 I replaced them with because I could not believe the difference. I cant imagine how I enjoyed music prior to these. They sound fantastic. Im powering them thru a mc 207 biamped that is getting the processing done thru a Rotel 1095 and the Marantz 9500. Me personally I would not go back and replace my old Rotel DVD/CD player dollar for dollar it wasnt worth the difference. Unless you are looking to play different formats. Getting power from your Mark Levy you would be in heaven for sure Im sure that the ML is better than my MC. Good Luck
Are you able to visit South Korea? I love my Köchel K-300 horns that are manufactured there. They are definitely keepers in my book.

Thanks for your helpful response. Do you think that the Guarneris are capable of supporting my large room? Again, 8m x 6m. Another consideration is that I have young children. The Cremonas put drivers well within reach of non-audiophile fingers! So the thought of another monitor - like the Guarneri provides an advantage if they can support my now much larger room. Thoughts?


For my very personal taste (and given that I listen & judge by classical), I prefer the Guarneri to all the others listed.
Although the Guarneri can fill yr room with music (I listened to them playing Mahler 8 in a big room), they will probably need a subwoof to offer extra energy below 40-50Hz (SF offer subwoofs).
Buying used you can also consider a pair of EgglestonWorks Andra II. They are fantastic... and you can easily find them in the Singapore market.
Only in-home auditioning will tell how your room will react to Guarneris. If you have a good dealer try to compare both speakers for yourself in your room. I have to admit that the biggest room that I heard Guarneri Hommage was 7m x 5m and my feelings were that it was too big for them. If you go for Guarneri wait new Guarneri Memento version, it will be a lot better. Cremona will support your room easily, it has more bass and is able to play louder. On the other hand absolute coherence and midrange magic are on the Guarneris side( especially new Guarneri Memento ). My opinion is also based on sound without sub. Sub is for me something like a diversion on Guarneri coherence( even Sonus Faber sub )...
Regarding non-audiophile fingers both speaakers sound good with grill in place( in some cases better without grill, it will depend on other gear in your system ).
Honestly, choice between Cremona and new Guarneri Memento for your room is a tough one... Both speakers are excellent so, call is yours.