2017 ‘Keeper’ speakers under - $25K


Heading towards the second half of 2017, I thought to ask here what other’s feel based on their experiences, wants or desires, exactly which recent production speakers under $25K, would be the ones you would want to marry.

Or be in a very long term fundamentally though not totally committed, relationship.

One wherein if they promise to satisfy on demand, you promise to keep them clean and sufficiently supplied with power and the purest of signals, not to leave dirty clothes on the floor, and to take the trash out daily, er, uh, regularly.

Actually, those last two items are predominately conscience driven and do not command perfect adherence.

Which speakers hands down just flat out captivated your attention, fancy, or were so compelling they made a significant impact.

In short, Speakers that have taken your breath away .

As speakers are merely one part of the ching let’s qualify things somewhat.

1. Speakers which can run very well in medium sized rooms. EX. 14 to 18ft wide, and 17 to 25ft long or deep, with ceilings from 8.5ft to 10ft H, or so.

2. If a sub was or should have been added, please, mention that as well.

3. If an Ultra high end setup, massive SS power amps, Tubes, or flea watt amps, were feeding and or driving them noting it would be appropriate.

4. Recent production since 2015. New or used.

Although it seems prudent to list only current production speakers, I know adding on the facet of pre-owned adds a lot more choices for the ‘desert island’ I got mine, you get your’s, scenario, but what the hey. It beats that 250 to 500 plus hours of run in new units usually insist upon.

If links to accounts or info on them is available, please include it.

As this is about options anyhow, let no design be excluded.

blindjim
Quad, Sound Labs, big Maggies, etc.

see the trend?

Persona, Revel, Vandies, etc. if you cannot live with giant panels in the room

at a certain point, the best SQ/$$ will be obtained by building a listening room for the speakers...
In that range I'd look at: Wilson Sasha (version I or II), Eggelstonworks Andra III, Vandersteen Quatro Wood and Magico S3 or S5.
The wedding vow thing always intimidated me a bit (although I've been married for a long long time), but equating that to speakers made me laugh. Anyway, if you want a commitment, I guess Lowther speakers are the way to go. This is straight from there website: 

 Lowther Is For Life

What we mean is that once Lowther Loudspeakers are listened to, audio and hi-fi perfectionists stay with them for life, and those that stray come back. The reproduction is the most life-like available, and gives the feeling of being in the concert hall.

Marketing aside... My experience with them has been positive & I've been listening to them for approx. 15 years. They do require low powered tube amps (single ended preferred IMHO). I have the fideleo horn cabinets & use an REL sub for deep bass, as Lowthers in this cabinet have very little by themselves. What they do have is speed with a wide deep stage & wonderful 3d imaging. You can get speaker cabinet plans free with your purchase of drivers from "Commonsense Audio". There are a lot of different configurations. If you're inclined you can make them yourself. If not, a cabinet maker could do it for you. Either way, you'll be way below the 25K mark including the sub. I don't see them mentioned much around audiogon so suspect others have a different opinion on there value than I do. 


for life?

that could be 40 years if bought about age 30

I'd think technological advances in cone materials, surrounds, etc. would occur over that time period (besides the ability to run numerical calculations for a non-rectangular enclosure & etc.) -- diffraction effects, phase alignment and other things have all occurred in my lifetime and I expect others will too

I only kept my first set of Maggies for 20 years or so and very significant upgrades were made in that time period.
Post removed 
What Randy said. I bought Quad 2905's about 10 years ago. Since then, I've hotrodded them, bought more of them, and become more and more committed to them. So the analogy is apt.

I built my own full complementary push-pull amps to drive them, and changed the step-up transformers to a Vanderveen design (75:1). With +/- 25 VDC rails, the amplifiers cannot drive the Quads into protection - it's theoretically impossible. Therefore I could eliminate the protection circuits with impunity, with corresponding gains in transparency. Oh, and changing to air-gap capacitors for the delay ladder didn't hurt either.

Long live Class A plus ESL !!!

Martin Logan 13A or 15A.  Wonderful speakers and woofers can be adjusted to your room using Anthem Room Correction.
Audio Physic Avantera+
https://goo.gl/images/gQYNkH
Bought this year, keepers. Also love the Vandersteen Quattro Wood. 
Living Voice OBX-RW3, I heard the OBX RW's and well they are fantastic but they could use a sub in a larger room. 94db and an easy load so SET friendly. too bad I can  not afford the top line ones so I settled for the Avatar 2's and am very happy.
Spendor SP100R2
Revel Studio 2 and Salon 2
Wilson Yvette. Spectacular. 
blindjim, shoot me a message, my friend. We'll have a beautiful conversation. :) 


Many options. My personal three would be Zu Def 4, Audio Note ANE, and Living Voice. However, there are other variables that you should consider (such as any placement issues); and at that price in-home audition should be a must.
Golden Ear Triton Reference. No sub required/needed.
Acoustic Zen Crescendo MKII.  Get it right and live the good life.  


 thanks much.

recent entries to the audio world have gotten my speaker buying trigger finger.

Prudence, we all know her, says slow down big boy. No. she actually said it! so I will and listen to everyone's esteemed consel.

randy-11
Persona, Revel, Vandies, etc. if you cannot live with giant panels in the room

Panels frighten me. I always feel someone is hiding behind one waiting to pounce on me. Cones are more my cup of tea. Although, I’ve heard some outstanding flat speakers, though in fairly ‘spensive arrays.

Those with subs seem to keep my interest.

I just can’t seem to get very far away from the impact and punchy aspects of Big Band Jazz, R&B and Blues which speakers must deliver.
.

dweller
In that range I'd look at: Wilson Sasha (version I or II), Eggelstonworks Andra III, Vandersteen Quatro Wood and Magico S3 or S5.


Agreed. Tanks.


boxer12
Lowther speakers are the way to go.

My pleasure entirely. Tanks for the path less traveled.


randy-11
for life? that could be 40 years if bought about age 30


it could be just a few months depending on the doctor too. ‘just saying.

Not many go into anything passionately figuring its gonna be all over quickly. The fullness of our dedication surprisingly watch only their clocks, and formulate their own epitaphs, and will depart from us unexpectedly. , were we the sole prophet of the term we had intended for the partenership.


terry9
What Randy said.

I’m sure.
Falling out of love hurts more than falling in. plenty of Quaad owners sure say so.


c53

Tanks. Only come close to buying a pair of APs.


glennewdick
Living Voice OBX-RW3

Super. Thanks.


zavato
Revel Studio 2 and Salon 2

I’ve never been able to warm up to either. Likely from the setup, not the speakers.


4425
Wilson Yvette. Spectacular.

Wilson, like the Revels have not been ones which have utterly grabbed me. Both IMHO, required something more or less in their setups. Tubes? Wires? Purely on basis of ‘potential’ and expense, I have been attracted to Sophias and Egg works Andreas, in past years. That affinity has worn thin. Especially with the onset of some newer tech and arrangements in present materials, metals, and cabinent construction techniques.


gsm18439
Zu Def 4, Audio Note ANE, and Living Voice.

Check. In home audition? The primary obstacle associated with this endeavor. It sucks.
But yeah, dropping that sort of dough is gonna take a bit of pondering and ruminating, and a whole lot of praying.


gdhal
Golden Ear Triton Reference. No sub required/needed.

Cool. Thanks.

  The VSA + Endeavor union has gained in prominence in my book, but especially the Endeavor 3.2. At $7K they’re said to be exceptional over achievers.

Too bad the next steps up to the 5, or VSA VR 55 are so extraordinarily priced so far apart, at $35K and $60K respectively.

Now that there is Yikes money!!

Its not serious money. Serious money is when you get chastised for spending or trying to spend it on such things by the money itself!

Yikes money is what someone you know will say when you screw up and actually tell them how much you paid. Well, its either ‘yikes’ or ‘Crazy’ money.

This is of course once they have returned to consciousness.

I usually think of money in different terms so I don’t faint dead away hearing what some stuff costs. I prefer to think of the prices in Yen, or Pesos or Sea shells and pieces of colored glass or beads.

I quit telling my ‘uninitiated’ friends what things cost long ago. I won’t tell them now unless they want to either touch it or borrow it.

Keeping prices confidential cuts way down on any ensuing ‘interventions’ people might arrange for me later.

blindjim, assuming you are still considering more recommendations -

Several brands/models fit your list, and many good ones have been suggested.  But I believe the current Janszen models belong there too.  As a long time hobbyist I've owned monitors and floor standers, cones and panels (electrostatic and planar), HE and inefficient, and for my taste the Janszens offer the best balance overall.

I'll say considering sonic performance, room placement, component compatibility, looks, construction quality, and cost, I'm extremely satisfied with my Janszens.  David offers both stand mounted and floor standing models, while the latter can be passive (if you'd prefer to choose your own amplification) or powered.  I don't have subwoofers as mine extend with reasonable levels down to at least 40 Hz.  He offers an extended bass version with the powered model but I've not heard that.

Even friends who are not audiophiles offer positive comments upon hearing my set up.

 pryso

Janszen

Never heard of 'em. but that don't mean nuttin'.

yes. I'm still taking notices. I'm catching up after a few years out of the loop.
Thank you. the only sure thing I know, is I don't know enough yet. although, the next direction will definitely include tubes. Where, what and how many, is the question. I'm thinking either mixed as pre and amp, or in both pre and amp. speakers will be the dictator.
I have the Tekton Design Ulfberhts, and they are  miraculous speakers. For $12k, they are a bargain, easily besting speakers that are multiples of their price. Bass and midrange to die for. Not picky about amplifiers, either.
   www.tektondesign.com
blindjim

Well I have been an audio dealer for about 12 years and am retiring. The speakers that I am taking with me are the Wilson Benesch Vectors. Best that I have ever heard. Easy to drive, 30 tube watts. No subwoofer. They make music so accessible. Will work in small room, or very large room. 

Good luck
Jim 

Of the speakers I've heard, used Joseph Audio Pearls or Vandy 5A Carbons would be up there.  Speakers I haven't heard but would also consider are Rockport Atria and Vapor Audio Nimbus.  So many others but just off the top...
Rockports Atrias are what I would like to hear. I understand that there is an Atria 2 out there?

Alan Goodwin of "Goodwin's HighEnd offered me a pair for 15k and saw a pair offered here from a place in Denver for the same.

Would like to see 10-12k
If I was going to drop that kind of coin, I would definitely listen to the latest from Horning and Classic Audio Reproductions, driven by tubes. 
Vandersteen Treo CT. with Vandy 2Wq sub(s). Very good sound that won't break the bank. IMO.
Doug... PM me. Thanks.


swampwalker
If I was going to drop that kind of coin, I would definitely listen to the latest from Horning and Classic Audio Reproductions, driven by tubes.

Thanks Swampwalker. Long time huh?
Are these horns?

I’ll probably be able, but not so sure I really want to lay out that much. So, I’m thinking squeakers between 90 and 95db or so, give or take a db or two. Around $10 to $15K or so.

To go all in, I’d be lurking at pre owned stuff from Magico or something that begins with an “A” or an “E”.


mr_m
Vandersteen Treo CT. with Vandy 2Wq sub(s). Very good sound that won't break the bank. IMO.

Thanks. These are in hard cabinents?

If you are speaking to me, the Treos are in hard cabinets. The sub has top panels and socks.
Hello,

this Bastanis Speaker are the Best i ever heard sounds holographic 
like a Electrostatic Speaker combinated with a active Ripol Bass great.
http://www.bastanis.de/index.php/audio/open-baffles-1/open-baffle-sagarmatha-duo

Cheers, Stephan

P.S a little good Tubeamp 7- 10Watts works very well..



Jim, Janszen is an old company with a history back to the '60s.  David Janszen's father developed advancements in electrostatic panel designs for his own company as well as others, such as the famous KLH Nine full range electrostatics.  I became aware of them in the '70s when they offered a few hybrid models which appeared like other standard bookshelf speakers but utilized electrostatic mid/tweeters with dynamic cone woofers.

More recently David revitalized the company with updates to his father's basic designs.  Reviews have been offered in TAS and Positive Feedback as well as owner comments online.

None of this is to be confused with the Jensen speaker company.
 

mr_m said: …the Treos are in hard cabinets. The sub has top panels and socks.

Yeah. I was. Thank you.


, Stephan Said, Bastanis Speaker are the Best i ever heard
http://www.bastanis.de/index.php/audio/open-baffles-1/open-baffle-sagarmatha-duo

thanks much for the input. Cheers, Jim


pryso
Jim, Janszen is an old company with a history back to the '60s. David Janszen's father developed advancements in electrostatic panel designs for his own company as well as others, such as the famous KLH Nine full range electrostatics. I became aware of them in the '70s when they offered a few hybrid models which appeared like other standard bookshelf speakers but utilized electrostatic mid/tweeters with dynamic cone woofers.

Cool. Thanks a lot. Active subs on panels would be the only panel speakers that would interest me, if then. To date, IMHO, the articulation and imaging of panels is alluring, if setup well, yet they just lack the boogie factor I’m prone to lust for periodically.

I’ve been poking about online articles and user opinions regarding way too many speakers. Its confusing but enlightening.

Some names have not appeared here from other A’goners, like YG; Legacy Aries; GamuT; AZ Cresendo, Daedalus, Salk, Focal, or even Coincident.

Lots of panels, a couple horn mentions, some open baffle sorts and I must admit I’m still stuck in the mud on seeing traditional built cabinet types as hwere I’d be prone to hang my hat. Old habits die hard.

I have always liked Martin-Logans (though they were always with a subwoofer, usually beyond my budget). I liked the newest, bigger Maggies.  Never ever liked Golden Tritons, I thought they were un-listenable or so restricted to a sweet spot they were worse than almost any electrostatic I have ever heard. Good dynamic speakers - Vandersteen, Wilson, etc., I usually liked (especially those two mentioned) but to me they were possibly missing just a bit that I hear from electrostatics or good ribbons. At the LA Show, I really liked the Wilson-Benesch, mbl, and liked the bigger RaidHo in previous shows (one or two away from the top), but those are all way beyond the budget the OP mentioned. 

For realism and accuracy,as well as sound stage, I liked Bob Carver's new ALS (Amazing Line Source) which are well within your budget, do wonders in a big or small room, come with a good (maybe not great) sub, and are almost infinitely configurable, as they come with an outboard cross-over (and a dynamic sub adjustment with the external sub amplifier). They are a mix of ribbons and dynamic conventional speaker cones.  They were so close, imv, to big Martin-Logans that I bought a pair from the second production run.
Really like my Thiel 3.7s.  A bargain at 16 K retail.  Now probably 6 or 7 k.  They are a great speaker.
QUAD ESL2912 WITH 4 KEF sub-woofers and  2 Raal Ribbon Ribbon Tweeters...  
http://www.quad-hifi.co.uk/product-detail.php?pid=11

Few things can approach the transient response of an electrostatic speaker.

So Blindjim tell us what you value in speakers. Are we talking midrange? big fat sound? Bright sound? Sound stage, hight, width, depth of stage?

Do you like transparency? Do you like  speaker that get you really envolved? Emotion?

Do you have the gear to support these things. Is your upstream very transparent?

All this would help us.

Best
Jim 

Recommend Marten Bird 2
Wilson W/P 7, 8 or Sasha (any model) with VTL preamp (2.5 or 7.5) and VTL amplification.
Tyler Highlands.
I thought I would be a planar guy forever until I picked up a used pair of Kipod 2 speakers from YG Acoustics.  I could never afford a pair of these new ($48K), but they were obtainable on the used market.  I am totally in love with these speakers. You get the same beautiful midrange that the planers have with a much improved sound stage and imaging.  They play loud enough in my medium-sized listenig room, but they are not for headbangers.  My taste in music is eclectic, but I listen to classical mostly.  I have tube and ss amps and preamps, and they sound great with both.   I hung onto my Maggies (1.7) just in case, but I am not sure I will be needing them.
Find a Dunlavy SC-4 and live it!!!

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/full-range-dunlavy-audio-labs-sc-iv-signature-speakers-vintage-glo...
Sanders Sound Systems 10D with digital crossover and room calibration. Tricks my brain into believing there are real musicians in the room. But very very small sweet spot. But If you want great HIFI type sound with wide dispersion have a serious look at the new Paradigm Persona speakers with Berrylium tweeters and mid drivers
Harbeth 40.2
"Gunned" Magnepans with a good amp behind them.

indiespinzone.com/magnestand.html
Dynaudio Confidence C4 Platinums are at your upper limit but they also have other models that are quite good for the money like the new C30 and C60. Although with the C30/60 you will lose a layer or 2 of resolution. Room placement is pretty easy too.
ediver
blindjim > thanks so very much for the thoughts and appraisals.


Bmontani > Really like my Thiel 3.7s. A bargain at 16 K retail. Now probably 6 or 7 k.

Blindjim > Do they still make part of the cabinet out of concrete?


Davidclarke > QUAD ESL2912 WITH 4 KEF sub-woofers and 2 Raal Ribbon Ribbon Tweeters... http://www.quad-hifi.co.uk/product-detail.php?pid=11

Blindjim > Appreciate it greatly. However, my chences are mighty slim I’m opting for ‘Stats. Its just personal preffs.
Though some other readers might. Tanks.


Soundsrealaudio > So Blindjim tell us what you value in speakers.

Blindjim > like anyone, ‘everything’. I want it all.
I listen to nearly every genre save for Rap and Hip Hop, and current R&B which is usually the aforementioned in disguise. Not much symphonic or opera but that could change. Biggest favs are big band jazz, R&B, Folk, acid jazz, contemporary jazz, country, though not much of the current ilk. Blues and Rock, but not much metal head stuff. Alternative. Americana. Etc. Pop but not those stuck in Electronica. In short, music that makes sense. Not just someone talking a song while a synthesizer does the sounds.

Speakers should be accomplished at Imaging, fidelity, feel it kind of impact. Neutrality which lands spot on or merely a degree or three to the warmer side… though doesn’t obscure deatail or separation of performers. Coherency, and cohesion. Range.

I loved the dynaudio Isotar tweeter in my previous Sonata IIIs.

As for bass response, this area remains open or debatable. Depending…. I’m not aginst the addition of a sub or two, though it is not the primary aim going into this next system build.

Were I forced to choose to forgoe any part of the bandwidth, I’d have to say I’d wind up with monitors and sacrifice buying speakers with poor, bad, or no bass. Its important to me, but not the deal breaker it used to be. I’m not big on pipe organs anyhow.

However, the tweeter is or can be a deal breaker.

Loads of factors abound which can dictate a resolution, room, power amps (glass or SS), and of course the speakers that land here.

IMHO, speakers should always be the windows to the music and your up river gear. But not so critical and incisive the musical experience is shelved at the expense of rendering sonics with an acid etched outline.

I’m not yet a detail and resolution at all costs freak just yet. Though I see their necessity.

“Do you have the gear to support these things. Is your upstream very transparent?”

God willing and the creek don’t flood, yeah. Soon.

I’m figuring on dropping around $40K. less, of course if possible, a bit more if necessary. Wanna stay under $50K total.

As I’ve always been shown the front end means the most that’s where the budget is tilted. This aspiration should allow for more speaker investing though… and why this thread. And the amp & cable threads initiated simultaneously..

Nothing is set to stone but amps I like just now are the Constellation imagination ? entry level, VAC IA line, one or two more and all range from $8K to $15K. predominately. Once more, the speakers will certainly influence and likely command the power amp decision.

So I’ll be more attracted to squeakers with 89 – 90db to 95 – 96db, for I would prefer tubes. I think. Their upkeep could alter this view point. Maybe.

a Thor MK II will remain the controller, until I feel it too must or has to be preplaced as it is SE only. Most amps in the upper ranges are true XLR, ie., above.

Digital source and cabling options are catch as catch can and will be an ongoing pursuit. Albeit, I have ideas there too and a Bel canto DAC 3, some decent PCs and spkr cables, left over from my former array.

The goal is to update and upgrade everything. Eventually so this venture becomes ‘the’ destination outfit. Which I find, pretty funny. But for some years, I should be pretty happy with what ever lands here. Time, weather, inclination, and so forth will push it into the ‘ever evlolving’ phylum I’m sure. Acquiring music should then take the reigns.


Kollamala > Recommend Marten Bird 2

Blindjim > appreciate it.


Phillipsus > Wilson W/P 7, 8 or Sasha (any model) with VTL preamp (2.5 or 7.5) and VTL amplification.

Blindjim > I sure do feel ya on the tubes required with Wilsons.


deepee99 > Tyler Highlands.

Blindjim > thank you. I keep hearing from tyler owners, as with other brands owners, they like what they got.


russ751 > I thought I would be a planar guy forever until I picked up a used pair of Kipod 2 speakers from YG Acoustics.

Blindjim > thanks. Funny you mention the YGs. I read an article about their Carmellas ? that interested me. Some. The review said they were frightfully revealing which concerns me a good bit.

Did you hear any other YGs or the Carmellas?


Ilkeresmer > Find a Dunlavy SC-4 and live it!!!

Blindjim > tanks. Not likely. Sorry. Too old. Too hard to drive.


kingdomtrading1 > But If you want great HIFI type sound with wide dispersion have a serious look at the new Paradigm Persona speakers with Berrylium tweeters and mid drivers

  blindjim > these already sit on the short list. Which model is another story completely.

To which models have you listened? With what power train and source?

I’ve not heard these but they are definitely on my short list:
AZ Crescendo latest ver.
YG Carmell latest ver
Focal Sofera latest ver.
A great deal on a Wilson might impress me.
Endeavor 3s latest ver.
Audio Physics and that Austrian speaker maker always make pretty good upper end units.
Daedalus Poseidon
A couple I can not recall this minute, and a wild card pre owned model which I can’t afford as new at all.
Hope that helps.

Martin Logan Expression ESL 13a electrostatic and dynamic hybrid speakers.  The finest and clearest sound I have ever heard from 30 to 20,000.
Wilson Sabrina  these speakers are something special!
blindjim - you may want to audition KEF Blade 2's.  

A little above your budget is the Avantgarde Uno XD's.  Pair with a sweet little SET amp and you have outstanding dynamics, extended bass, etc.

Maggie 20.7's and ML ESL 15a's also fit within your budget and worth auditioning if possible.

Mike
If you like SET Amps, then Hornings are very nice and no subs needed.
 
I'm very happy with mine!
Used high-end Thiels, and especially the 7.2.
Raidhos - PM me if you're interested (dealer disclaimer). I can make you a good deal