16K to Spend. Help me make the end all Upgrade.

Hi, I'm in the process of upgrading my speakers; Aerial 10t's. I need to upgrade the speakers for a couple of reasons, one being the waf. I'm looking to get the best 2ch stereo speakers out there for 15-17K. I'm currently looking at Revel Studio2s and Dynaudio Saphires (although I don't think they're physically attractive so waf would be a factor), also possibly interested in JM labs 1037be's. I really wanted to get people's opinions as to what else is out there, what's better or comparable to these speakers. I don't want to upgrade these speakers again so I'm looking for something to hold me over for a long time to come.
There's so much stuff at your price range that it's impossible to enumerate -- short of recommending what I HAVE. My speakers are, of course, the best:)!

Seriously though:
if new, buy US made. If used, buy anything. Here goes.
1. The Aerial 10t sounds quite good, so:
the Revel offers some competition, they are good speakers (even though I don't like their sound); IMO the Dynaudio aren't worth the detour; the JM Lab offer little waf (I would reject them, let alone a wife). Do consider Wilson Sophias (not bad --not better than the 10s), maybe Genesis 6 or the new 5 (check for waf; these can compete with yrs, if you like the tuning), used Sonus Faber Amati (good waf, not bad speaker); Maybe Harbeth 40s (v. good sound, better mid-to-upper end than yrs, but need stands: check for waf). Kharma & the US equivalent, Avalon (which generally sounds better IMO), offer good waf, but not better sound at yr price point.

No waf: Vandersteen, vSchweikert, B&W, although they can sound reasonably good or better -- so forget these.
We need to know what amp you have.
My very good friend here in town has 10T's, so I'm quite familiar w/them. He's talked about upgrading & my recommendation to him is Montana. This is a speaker I've heard & really liked.
Too vague,room size,components?????Used,new?Come on,were waiting.....
If WAF is so important, give us a hint as to what is acceptable(e.g. modern & glossy vs wood, etc)
I'd recommend checking out a pair of Verity Audio Parsifal Ovations. In your price range you could pretty much have your choice of finish, and they sound great with very high WAF.

I don't think you can beat Bob Carvers new sub/sat for WAF. It also got a great review.
Ok, my current amp is a Pass X350. Although I'll probably trade that in and get something else. In the meanwhile I'll be running the speakers through and old B&K TX4430. Depending on the WAF I can have the speakers in the living room which is weird in that it start out as a triangle shape where the fireplace starts and leads to the dining area on the right side and a sliding glass door to the backyard on the left. The room would be about 11x19 but 4-5 feet of the 19 feet belong to the dining are which is part of the living room on the right. I (and the wife) prefer a glossy wood veneer or just something glossy if that's not possible. I've been considering the Studio2s because they look good don't take up too much space and when I hear the old Studios they sounded good. Somebody else mentioned the Sonus Faber Cremona M. Maybe a used pair of W/P 8's?
Vienna Acoustics Mahler have my WAF approval. They are beautiful especially rosewood finish and their sound is top notch, and you have money left for music. I suggest you to look also to the Sonus Faber line.
If you are getting rid of such highly regarded speakers over "WAF issues," we need to know what the WAF issues are--size? Aesthetics? Wood finish? Too much cloth-coverered-frame hiding odd-shaped components underneath?

Is she OK with large speakers as long as they look nice, such as something from Sonus Faber or Vienna Acoustics?

How about the Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento? $15K w/granite-based columns. Small, stunning to look at, and able to play louder and go lower than its size would suggest.

Could she go with something as large as the Legacy Whisper or Focus?

Or does she want something less obtrusive (and in this case less expensive) like the Totem Hawk or Wind? And I'm sure there are several attractive column speakers with petite footprints in your target price range.
Boy the Vandersteen 5A with Pass would be great plus you can tune them to your room with the onboard 11 band woofer EQ, while the top sock may be a turnoff the bottoms look stunning in both stock and many premium wood options and the have a reasonable footprint. I and a quite a few other view the 5A as the best speaker out there and a reasonable price that is right in your budget but there are some that take issue with looks....I dont think they draw alot of attention to themselves and maybe that is a bonus for you.
The Studios are pretty narrow in the front and the finish on them is nice. I need something that doesn't have a huge footprint. The Sonus Faber Cremona M's look very nice but they look like hulking behemoths from the pictures I've seen. The Aerials are big, bulky, boxy they look like R2D2 in the room. I have them in black finish so they're even more noticeable. I've gotten pretty good sound from them. I do remember auditioning the Wilson W/P years ago though and they were much more detailed and could go lower in the bass than my aerials. They sounded really good. I'm also going to use the speakers for a 2ch HT setup. They'll probably used 50/50 music and HT.
a 10k itch may get scratched, and you'll only get 'different' and maybe a baby step 'better'. keep the aerials, unless you just want some cool cabinets like avalon.

For a modest dual purpose space and given WAF considerations you might do well to consider small high quality two ways and a powered sub. You could wall mount the speakers to conserve space and you only need space for the sub.
*Ok, my current amp is a Pass X350. Although I'll probably trade that in and get something else.......The room would be about 11x19*

Why are you trading a Pass X350??? What's wrong with it? Also, does buying $16,000 speakers for an 11x19 ft. room make sense? I have Totem Mani-2 Sigs in my 12x16 LR. I think they sound & look great with the Totem stands. Paid about $3500 slightly used. I bet they'd sound great with one of the big Pass Labs amps :-)......
If you need to deal with the WAF maybe look at Avalon speakers. Great workmanship on the cabinets. If you get a chance, try to listen to a pair. Some people like the sound other do not but they look great. Can be power hungry, usually 4ohm. Look for a used pair? I have a pair of Radian HC and my wife said they look great.
Good luck.
Joe Nies
Dynaudio Confidence C1 or C2 would be good - the C1 should have good WAF, and depending on her criteria the C2 may work also.
I'm trading in my X350 because I already have a home heater in my house. It runs crazy hot. I'm looking for something more user friendly. Maybe a Spectron Musician III in the future. I'm definitely going to trade in the Aerials for something though, just haven't figured out what yet. I'm leaning toward the Studio2s.
My friend also has the Pass 350 w/his 10T's. A First Sound pre and Meridian CDP, along w/a 60" TV & Rotel DVD rounds out this system.

I've also heard 10T's w/Pass monoblocks & the bass, along w/the rest of the spkr, is a pretty good mix. You're going to have a hard time bettering that sound.

Most large floorstanders that are capable of full range reproduction are considered ugly by woman, if for nothing else but their size.

Anyway, you have a daunting task ahead of you, so I would suggest taking your wife w/you to at least start looking for something that appeals to her. That way you'll have an idea of where to search, 'cause I don't think anyone here can help in that department.
The Linkwitz Orion is an amazing speaker and really quite small. You can get it made in any finish you want which means that you can let the wife make that decision. It is however somewhat less than your budget!

Being active will however require you to ditch the X350 since it no longer will be needed.

I ended up with Quad 2805s after having listened to both, but the Orions were my second choice and that is mostly because I (apartment living) had to put low-level performance ahead of bass extention.

I have listened to the 1037s three different times (two different rooms). They are ok but not worth the asking price.

The midrange is very open and clear with a natural tone to it. The highs are very detailed and not hyper detailed in anyway. But I had a few problems with this speakers.

#1 while I was listening to Nora Jones her voice came straight out of the tweeter on some pieces. This was very distracting and made the highs did not seem very well integrated.

Second was the bass. It was very textured when the speakers were pulled out into the room but but was too thin. When we changed room (same dealer different location) and move the speakers closer to the back wall the bass was bigger but lots detail and texture. This was a deal breaker for me and I moved on. Sound stage was not near as wide or high as Thiel 3.7 or B&W 802D.

A speaker I really like (and is under your budget... for once) is Thiel 3.7s. The mids are extremely detailed! The highs were much more detailed then the Duettes I did an A/B comparison with. The bass was balanced, it was never boomy or lacking. The sound stage was HUGE and still pinpointed each musician. They were also the only speakers (in this price range) that disappeared for me. I though other speakers sounded natural in the past but after listening to the 3.7 it has given me a new perspective on what I was missing. I also could not here a crossover in any way. Not sure if your wife will like them.... I actually had my mom (she is 58) with me for the audition and she really liked the looks...
Von Schweikert has come out with a new speaker that fits your budget and room. It's called the unifield 3. It is like a mini VR9. It has a small footprint and comes in glossy wood or piano gloss black finishes. It features state of the art drivers and cabinet construction while holding high WAF. Well worth looking into.

Blessings, Bob
Thanks everybody for the responses. Just took a look at the Von Schweikert and although they have a small footprint their dual cabinet design don't appeal to me. Any opinions on the Revel Studio2s??? I thought the JM Labs 1037s looked good too, I haven't had a chance to test them out just yet though. The Avalons look pretty good too. I've also taken a look at Eggleston Works "The Nine" and that looks pretty decent, I just don't know if a dealer has it in my area though we'll see.
Take a listen to the Gradient Helsinki 1.5 or Pioneer S-2EX, both $7.5K, and put the rest of your budget toward the Spectron.
Avalon Indra has been favorably commented upon in the threads, and deserves a listen.
Now I'm debating as to whether to move up to the Salon2's; much better bass response than the Studios.
Check out the PBN Audio Montana KAS being sold by AudioGon memeber, Kenan. You can buy a demo pair from The Sound Station for $14,500. You won't be sorry.
Commenting upon some of the above items:

Generally, I would not spend all that money on speakers for a medium to small-size room that will also serve as a dining room. I would budget $10k for speakers and spend the rest on the other parts of your system.

Beauty is of course perceived by everyone differently, but I saw the EgglestonWorks The Nine last year at CES and thought they looked really sharp and was impressed with how compact they are (while still basically being a full-range speaker). I do not want to comment about the sound, as I heard them at a show. Audiogon member Talon4 is a dealer.

The Studio2 is appropriate for a room of your size -- as a former Salon owner, I cannot imagine a pair of Salon2's in an 11' x 19' room. I think the new Revels look like cheesey Canadian speakers, incidentally, but that's just my opinion.

I have not heard the Dynaudio Sapphires, but I have owned Dynaudios and found them to be superb speakers -- I have no doubt that the Sapphires are likewise superb and they will be impressive in the flesh, as they are very well built. Someone mentioned the C-2's and C-4's. The C-2's would be good for your room and are great speakers, but most people find the looks to be laughable (I'm one of them). In terms of bass performance, the Sapphires would be about as much speaker as you would want in a room that size.

The Aerial 9 will impress you with the quality of the cabinet finish (about as close to Sonus Faber as you will find) and they would likely work well in your room.

You will miss the smooth sound of your Pass amp, but as someone who ran high-powered monoblock tube amps for six years, I appreciate the concern about heat.
Alright guys, just auditioned the Revel Studio2s yesterday at my local dealer. He was running them with an all Burmeister setup, very expensive monoblock, amp, pre and cd player. Unfortunately for me he made me listen to the Nova Utopias (Focal) before the Revels. It wasn't even a close contest. The Revels sounded like Bose speakers compared to the Novas. Extremely 3 dimensional soundstage, strings vocals were much better on the Nova Utopia. I guess more money does buy you better sound. As I was walking out though with all my plans screwed I saw that he carried the 1037BE and asked him to hook those up just for fun. Nice speaker. Definitely from the same family as the Utopias. Obviously the bass wasn't as powerful as the Novas, the soundstage was also a little less 3 dimensional but everything else sounded great. Now I'm in a quandary. All along I was planning on getting the Studio2s now there is no way that I would.
Any other ideas as to speakers to audition in this price range. I'm raising the budget to a maximum of 20K.
Other speakers to consider: Eggleston Works Andra 2; Wilson Sophia 2; Usher Be 10 or Be 20, Vandersteen 5A, Von Schweikert VR5 SE (used); Wilson Watt Puppy 8 (used); and, if you have the room and amplification - Magnepan MG20.1 I have heard all the speakers except the Vandersteens which have received near universal praise. Good luck on your search.

It seems like you found a "house" sound that you like.... Focal. It might be best to stick with them. With your new budget the Focal Alto Utopias Be is in your price range. Many dealers are giving big discounts (20% or more) on the line because they are changing soon.... but then you might just want to wait. At least if you buy into the whole latest and greatest thing.

How did the tweeter integrate on the Nova Utopias? Was it more integrated than the 1037Be?

Again I listened to many speakers and was very very close to buying the 1037be and was thinking about getting the Alto (out of my budget but I would have financed) looking for better bass than the 1037bes. Then I listened to the Thiel 3.7.... Focal has not crossed my mind sense. The 3.7s are better IMO on every level than the 1037be.
Take into consideration the room
Why settle on performance with Bass and soundstage transparancy when you can have it all in your room with the Vandersteen 5A in Ebony or Kawazinga Gloss these speakers
deliver it all.
Cheers Johnnyr
Thanks for the info,getting the feeling your almost sold on those Focal.Remember they might sound different in your room.Can you take them home for awhile?If not I second Shadorne.Get some Merlins and a sub along with a SS amp.Perfect for that size room.Good luck,Bob
Used Aerial 20Ts are in your price range and should satisfy for a long time. Much nicer looking but also large.
*Posted on my other thread
Ok, things are coming down to the wire. Yesterday I auditioned Wilson W/P 8's and Sophia 2's. Gorgeous, detailed sound. Excellent clarity, soundstaging. I could see how people could say it's not the most musical speaker (W/P 8's) but I loved the sound. The slam, excitement was there. I would say the Sophia's gave 90% of the sound at almost half price. I really liked the W/P 8's but at 28K they're a little bit steep. I'm shopping around right now for a new and possibly slightly used pair of Watt Puppy 8's to figure out how much damage they would be to my wallet. I'm going to take a listen to the Avalon Indra's in the next week or two and finally pull the trigger. Focal speakers are out of the running as of yesterday. For almost the same money I wold go with the Sophia 2's. The final 3 contenders are Avalon Indra's (even though I haven't heard them yet), W/p 8's and the Sophia 2's. Anybody compare these speakers side by side???? I love the dark titanium finish on Wilson's btw. Anybody have any pointers about pricing on these beasts?
I'm not the most experience audiophile in these forums but I thought the 1037Bes delivered great sound for the money even beating out the Revel Studio2s. More musical, better soundstaging to my ears with the equipment I listened to. The high frequencies were better delineated and much better bass than the Studio2s. I can't figure out for the life of me why people are raving about the Revels. I guess Harmon group stuffs the pockets of all these magazine editors.
If you want Watt Puppy 8s, I would patiently check for one here each day. I'm sure one will show up. WPs are constantly traded here.

The JMLabs prices will be sinking I'm sure when the new Utopias come out in the fall (according to another current thread here). When the Utopia Be line came out in late 2002, JMLabs dropped their prices, with the original Utopias going from $30K to $20K (announced in big magazine ads). So if price is important to you and you have some patience and these are the speakers you want, just wait a short time. Maybe pick up some cheap box speakers here in the meantime.
Just my 2 (or 3?) cents.
" I can't figure out for the life of me why people are raving about the Revels."

Most high-end equipment will sound very, very good when used in the right system. Otherwise said, synergy among speakers and electronics is crucial. Taking your experience, the Revels in one system will fail to impress, while their performance in another will explain their excellent reputation. As for my own experience, I always thought the first-generation Salons sounded lifeless, saying to myself "I don't get it", until I heard them run with a top tube amp. I then bought a pair. Getting to the heart of this, one of the most important matches is speakers, amp and speaker cables - some are reluctant to say for commercial reasons, but ask the manufacturer of whatever speaker you buy what amp and speaker cables they are particularly fond of - it will help you avoid a misfire.

In addition, everyone perceives sound differently -- what is your preference in speakers and electronics will not be for others.

If you really want to do it right, demo a pair of speakers in home for a couple of weeks before buying. If you are sold on Wilsons, remember that the Watt Puppies have strong bass (and a notorious midbass hump), and may be too much for your space -- it could be that the Sophias are the better match for an 11' x 19' room. TAS reviewer Tony Cordesman auditioned the Dynaudio Evidence ($85k) and Evidence Temptation - the $55,000 cheaper Temptation sounded better in his room, the bass matching better - he bought the Temptations.
I just noticed your room size and 20Ts won't work. The sophias are the only speaker small enough for that room thats on your list. You might try a sub with them if you want deep bass.
The Sophia should be plenty big to fill an 11x19 listening room, even with some open architecture leading to a dining area. They only look small in a high end audio shop next to the Maxx and Alexandria. On their own, they're pretty big, weigh 160 lbs. each, and provide meaningful bass down to 29 Hz, which IME for 2-channel music is plenty for almost anything you can throw at it.

I also suspect it would be easier to get good sound in your room with the Sophia than with larger speakers which could overload your room.

As for WAF and the attraction to glossy finishes, you really can't beat Wilson Gloss. I think Sophias would stun in any number of gloss colors, such as burgundy, chrome yellow, royal blue, dove grey, etc.
Get another W - that's a better upgrade!

Sorry about the joke - how about a new Revel Ultimate Salon 1. Consider many as reference speaker in it's class.

Or MBL 111 - very different speaker but once heard you will want it. The The bass goes down to 20hz!!

Personally I suggest do not upgrade becuase of the room size is too small for any good speaker to sing unless you invest $$ into room treatment.
Ok, I took a tape measure and measure my room. It's 13'x19' but to the right we have another 8-9' dining area.
Your Aerial 10t are very good speaker and I think if you want to upgrade to another level you need to spend 30K+ to make a difference. Speakers in the 16K range will sound different and will not significanly better than yours.

As for WAF, this will cost you a lot because good looking and good performance speaker is very expensive and rare. I would like to get a pair as well but after trying for so many I settle with MBL 111. If looks are really important then I think I can settle with B&O 5.
Here ya go:

Have you heard the Maggie 20.1s or Soundlabs? Soundlabs should have at least 2 models in that price range.

There are some things they do that are almost impossible to match with box speakers, though of course box speakers compare much more favourably in your price range than at less. But before spending this much - you've got to at least hear the Maggie 20.1s (with proper amps) to know how they are different/similar.

Oh - and if you aren't sensitive to sweet spot size (I am) then these might be interesting:


I've heard some of his older speakers and they do seem to outresolve every other electrostatic I've heard... That is pretty tough to do!

But main thing is to listen to 20.1s and see what you think - if you are intrigued then check out some SoundLabs and the Sanders ones as well.
The only reason to get rid of an X350 is to get an X350.5.

I don't think I'm going to go with a ClassA amp again. They run really hot. The sound is great but I'll try something new. I'm going to audition a Spectron Musician III one of these days and see what they sound like.
and this amp - used or almost new goes for around 10K
Tannoys new or open box - around 6K.
Wonderful system......good looking too.
I think the Merlin VSM-MXe have a very high WAF, are smallish so they don't dominate a room, and are perfectly suited to a room your size. While it is down 2db at 33Hz, that seems to be a good amount of bass for a room your size, with the a great high end with the Dynaudio Esotar D330A tweeter. It is an elegant two-way that is pretty hard to beat in my book - and a lot less than 16K. It is also easy to drive and will sound fantastic with a high quality 30-50 watt tube amp, but they work great (and plenty loud) with the Pass XA-30.5 if you want to stick with SS - it is Class A, but runs a lot cooler than the Aleph did. It can be hard to think of a small two-driver speaker as an end-all speaker, but the Merlins is a very well sorted out speaker; worth a listen.

Incidentally, in the Bound for Sound review of the Merlin by Martin DeWulf where he said "'My review of the original VSM was published in 1995; it was a good speaker. But, there was no way of knowing that over the next 12 years, Bobby would refine, build upon and essentially perfect that speaker until it reached a prominence where with some confidence I can call it "the best loudspeaker ever made."' the amp he was using for the review was the Pass X350.5. I get nervous about any claims that anything is "the best", but it is a speaker that has kept me happy a long time and I'm unlikely to change (you'll hear that from a lot of Merlin owners).
What about the used pair of Joseph Audio Pearl's currently being listed? He has them WAY overpriced, but one day he might come down. I think they are a good-looking pair of speakers and you can change out the side walls for different colors or looks?

Speakers are being made thinner, visually at the expense of depth. Be careful, a 24" deep cabinet really needs a lot of room.

Why not stick with Aerial and get the Model 9? It's more a lateral move but much nicer in appearance. Or, I second a Verity Audio Parcifal.