u should consider the OHM Micro Walsh Tall ... Google for the latest review. They do show up used from time to time
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Thanks for the suggestions so far. The Von Schweikerts weren't on my radar at all, though I had thought of the Spendors in the new 3/5R version. I owned the 3/5 briefly and with the same weak amp and shrill source I had for the Totems, and I think I judged their highs unfairly on that basis--their mids and soundstaging did impress me, though I'm not sure how they'd be on even dispersion or dynamics (particularly macrodynamics). Any thoughts?
Timrhu--I'm still not sure how the smaller Vandies would be for me; the 2s at least have a very narrow vertical listening window, and that's the one thing I'd like to change as I switch by going to a wider-dispersion design.
I am factoring an additional 200-300 for stands into my budget, hoping for used. If it helps, my listening is 50% small combo jazz, 40% indie and classic rock, 10% classical, mostly solo instruments and chamber music. I appreciate the input!
The Totem Model 1 or Mani2 will fit your bill with one caveat, they must be deisel powered. With the 2 concentric bass drivers in each box they play much bigger than a monitor but you have to drive them with a high current powerful amp, think Simaudio, Bryston, Krell, Mac or the like. They might be a bit over your budget but they will not disappoint, considering your wishes.
I have heard both the Revel M20 and M22, they are very good speakers and do a lot of the things you are looking for. Neither are in the league of the 2 Totem speakers I mentioned but very good ( and much less money) none the less. The M22 sound bigger and more sophisticated, a big improvement over the M-20, that's why there are so many on the used market. If you don't want to spend the money for Totems the Revels would be a nice alternative that are easier to drive also.
Zenblaster, do you think my 150 watt NAD would be underpowered for the Totems? I know when I briefly ran the Model 1s with a 50 watt C325BEE, they had no bottom-end at all--but my Vandersteens were light on the bottom with that amp, too, and the C372 drives them fine. For now, I won't have an amp upgrade in the budget...
Alblang- IMO-you would be fine with the NAD, I would contact Vince at Totem and he would be THE person to ok the match.
BobReynolds- Is that your experience or something you read? I am currently running the Mani2 and they fill my room better than full range Alon's that they replaced. It could be just my room but it fills very well. So many variables though. Have to say that I really love these Mani's, just a super speaker that rocks the house and disappear like no other monitor I've heard. The deep bass they make defy their size.
Thanks for all the help so far. My short list is down to the Revel M22, KEF XQ20, and Spendor S3/5 (I know the Spendor's short on dynamics and bass, but it's seductive all the same...)
The B&Ws and Revel M20s don't meet the WAF, which is no real problem. I do have questions about two of my options, though.
First, I'm provisionally discounting the Totem Model 1 because of a few things I've been hearing (including on a current thread here) about the Dynaudio drivers going south over time and costing a lot to replace. If anyone has another perspective on that and/or I'm being completely irrational, please tell me. If durability isn't an issue, they'd be high on my list.
Second, I haven't seen anyone weigh in on the KEFs, and among other things they seem not to hold their value well for resale--any thoughts on this?
I owned the Totem Model 1s and the Revel M20s. The Totems were only in my system for a couple of months, less than satisfying results. In fact, poor bass was the main reason for their departure.
The M20s, on the other hand, were the finest stand mounted speaker I have owned. I do agree on their looks though, not very pretty. The M22s look much better, IMO, and are on my radar. Would not hesitate to pick up a used pair for a trial. Good luck with your search.
i actually just auditioned the kefs along with some psb synchcrony and imagine monitors. the kefs look good and have a nice, liquid midrange but a slightly tinny treble, not much bottom end and a quite narrow soundstage--compared to the psbs they sounded "small". to my ears, the psbs, along with the revels and some of the other recommendations above are superior to and a better value than the kefs.
Timrhu, thanks for the Totem/Revel comparison--very useful for me. You mentioned above that you owned Vandersteens, too. Since those are my current speakers, can you compare the Revel to the Vandy sound?
Loomisjohnson, thanks for the input on the KEFs, too. Based on your description of their treble, I'm removing them from my list. Next time I'm in an area with a dealer, I know I'll want to hear them, though.
My list may be narrowing to Revel M22 or Spendor S3/5 with a pair of Target HR stands. Any further input much appreciated...
ablang--by all means audition the kefs--your opinion is ultimately the one that matters. it does seem like kef has lost some brand cachet in recent years--you rarely see their stuff touted with the same enthusiasm as the quad, harbeth, proac and other brits. that said, i still own and rather like some of kefs '90s offering. one model in particular, the coda 70s, are freakishly well-built and good sounding for their price (around $300, as i recall)--rock solid, real wood veneer and very well balanced. if you find a pair on ebay or wherever, grab 'em.
Well you know what they say about insanity being doing the same thing twice and expecting different results? It looks like I may have done just that. After all this discussion and a lot of great ideas I bought a pair of Spendor S3/5, thinking they'd be a good choice and hoping to economize a little in the course of our move. Turns out they're feeling to me more like a false economy. I'd hoped that with a better CD player and amp than when I briefly owned them before that their treble would be smoother and that I'd get to enjoy their midrange magic and soundstaging, but after a month and a half I'm experiencing the same thing as before--treble that just plain makes my ears tired and makes me want to stop listening. The treble is plenty smooth, it just feels like there's too much of it. It's not as bad as it was when I had a cheap Marantz CD changer, and it doesn't feel super-emphasized, but if I listen over 70 dB or so I can only last about 10-15 minutes before I want to get up and walk away. I used to listen at the same or higher volumes with the Vandersteens for hours with no problems.
So now the question is, what next? I'm going to revisit some of the earlier suggestions, but any other thoughts would be welcome. I've messed around with setup a good bit, though the one constant has been a near-field setup of about a 5 foot triangle with the speakers a good ways into the room--3-5 feet--and 7-8 feet from side walls to minimize reflections. I've experimented with toe-in to change the treble balance, too, though it makes very little difference. Though I can recognize what so many folks love them for, it looks like the little Spendors just aren't to my taste. Stop me before I just set up my kitchen radio in front of my listening chair!
Thanks for your response--and I know my room does need some treatment, as it has wood floors, plaster walls, and a couple of very big windows behind my listening seat. I have bookshelves behind the speakers to provide some diffraction (and they do help the treble and soundstaging; I checked with and without). The speakers are far enough from the side walls (7-8 feet) that I don't think first reflection points are an issue, and the ceiling is high (12 or 14' I think) so that I doubt that I'm getting many problems from it. The floor and windows are problems, though: I'm looking for a rug and planning on some curtains. When I walk around the room or listen from another room the sound is very "live".
A few observations since I wrote that last post: I've moved the speakers again to do what I'd first intended and set the room up by the rule of thirds. At first I placed the speakers closer to the wall thinking that would give them some boundary reinforcement, but now that they're 4.5 feet into the room with my chair 4.5 feet from the back wall the bass has actually filled out and seems more solid. This is a good improvement, though I do think the treble character seems much the same as before--possibly because I'm closer to that very reflective wall and windows behind me? Second observation--after I wrote I switched my IC from a Tributaries Silver to a cheap pair of Markertek interconnects and found the treble a bit smoother and better integrated. I've never invested much in cabling and it may be time: my speaker wires are Tributaries-branded 12G zip cord that I've had forever. Now I'm thinking of trying Anti-Cables for ICs and speaker wire--they'd fit my budget and hopefully be a step in the right direction.
In any case, I'm going to take a little more time to try things out and see if I can make these little guys work for me. I have a few hours tonight to listen and work on set up. Thanks again for any and all help along the way.
I want to thank everybody for their input on this search. After two+ months of working with the Spendors, they're still unfortunately just not working for me. If you look at the measurements in the Stereophile review (of the 3/5 and the 3/5SE) the 3/5's tweeter is a little higher in level with an off-axis flare in the same region (4-10 kHz)--and lovely as they sound otherwise I think that's what's getting to me. It's surprising, as I don't think I've ever heard another person call the Spendors fatiguing, but that's what's happening for my ears.
So...I've posted a wanted ad for a pair of Revel M20 and am hoping they'll be a better fit. Any thoughts or other suggestions would be welcome. Thanks again.