To my list of being considered I would like to add the Krell Resolution 2 and the Usher Dancer 8571. Any opions on these as well as the Sophia 2, and Sonus would be appreciated.
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I'm still glad I chose Aerial 9's over Sophias. I saw a black pair on the 'Gon for around 6K. Mine are stunning in Rosewood and with the dedicated stands, were 10,200 new, full retail. I think they are spectacular.
Rest of gear?
Cary SLP-05 (the new top of the line)
Rowland 201 monoblocks
Modded Absolute Truth 777ES
LinnLP12 decked out
Kubala Sosna Emotion
So with 40,000 of stuff driving the speakers, I did a lot of shopping for my last speakers (for a while?), and I ended up with the Aerials over
and a few others. Lots were great, but the Aerials played loud, soft, big, small, chamber, rock, etc... with equal aplomb. CHeck out a pair.
I am not affiliated with Aerial!
Wilson Benesch ACT speakers (current model). Extremely high-tech, extremely beautiful, and amazing sound. Used for anywhere from $9K-12K.
Excellent WAF and not LARGE speakers at all. They look amazing.
There were a couple of pairs just recently listed on 'Gon. They don't come along every day.
I absolutely love mine.
Great review from Stereophile, September 2004: http://www.stereophile.com/thefifthelement/904fifth/index.html
I own their little brothers the Shahinian ARC's.
As you read in the reviews the speaker has been around for awhile.
You'll be hard pressed to find a used pair for sale. For some reason no one ever seems to be parting with them.
You're best bet is to contact Shahinian direct.
They have few dealers.
http://www.venushifi.com/ is one of the very few.
You should consider the Intuitive Design Summit, possibly augmented with a sub bass unit like a Rel. If you need to spend more money than the 5000 dollars they cost brand new, with stands, then you could opt for the matching amplifiers that Dale makes to fit into the stands, which are 4100 or 4200 dollars for a "standard" monoblock pair and 5100 or 5200 for the "high current" version.
My Summits sit on Stillpoints with inverse risers, four sets at 400 dollars each, or 1600 dollars. Dale has the amplifiers mounted FLOATING inside of the stands, such that vibration and resonance are non-issues. I don't even have his amplifiers (but I have great Odyssey Stratos Extreme monoblocks) and the set-up still sounds phenomenal, at least to me. I've posted an excruciatingly thorough review of the Summits on Audiogon.
Usher Dancer 8571- I have lsitened to this speaker. It was at CES this year but was getting more playtime last year at CES. Its sounds great. The newer and bigger Usher BE-20 sounds even better though ( at 16,000 a pair). I would in an opnion only, rate them above Sonus faber offerings, but not as highly as some of the very interesting choices mentioned in this thread.
Yup, Tannoy Yorkminster for $12,000. Heard them this weekend.
I have never heard a speaker that does dynamic shading like the Tannoy. In 1 second I could hear how flat and lifeless my burned CD's were compared to orginal. Avante Gaurd horns claim to do it but, while they play LOUD there is no contrast ie. dynamic shading anywhere near the league of Tannoy.
Second - texture. Not detail as in hyped up HF, but texture which is the actual frequency of the instrument, not upper harmonics. Never heard a speaker that reproduces textures like the Tannoy.
Sound is somewhere betwen the lush sound of Cremona's and anylytical B&W. I would say closest is the new Spendor's or Wilson's.
As a bonus:
* point source sound.
* phase and time coherence
* Imagine a single driver speaker with F-R from 20 hz to 22kHz with silky smooth HF and bass in line with Wilsons.
* 94dB efficient.
You will be hearing raves about this speaker in the years to come at Stereophile but why wait for the mainstream to catch up?