$5k Pair Full Range Speaker Shootout - Help me pick


Hi Guys,

Around the holidays I will be purchasing a pair of (roughly) $5k/pair full range stereo speakers for use in a 2-channel only system. My current JBL Synthesis HDI-1600’s will be accompanied by the matching HDI-4500 Center Speaker and likely an Arcam AVR30 and used exclusively for Home Theater use.


Here’s what I’m currently considering for the 2-Ch speakers. If you all could relay any experiences or impressions you’ve had with these specific speakers, or speakers in their range, it would surely help me make the right choice. I know a lot of people say "I listen to all genre’s", but I truly do have an enormous digital music collection that spans all genre’s. Everything from current EDM and Pop to High Res Classical, Audiophile tester type selections, every one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 500 albums of all time in FLAC (classic rock and funk heavy), etc. I like to put all of this content on shuffle and just listen to whatever happens.

2-ch system will continue to be powered as follows:

Digital - Foobar2000 --> SMSL SU-8 v2 --> Classe CAP-151

Analog - Technics SL1300mkII --> Ortofon 2M Red --> NAD PP-3 --> Classe CAP151


The speaker choices:

JBL L100 Classic

https://ibb.co/yhjJHn1

Revel Performa F208

https://ibb.co/TK4PNBD

B&W 702 S2

https://ibb.co/D4qPFcH
Ea08d73b 65f6 4000 abd0 37a15a83cfdbdougeyjones
I’m familiar with the original JBL L100s but haven’t been able to find a single comparison between them and the new ones. Very strange, as that would be the first thing I’d want to know.

The originals are fabulous speakers, open, airy and clean and quick with just a bite in the treble. If the new ones are better then they must be excellent.

So then why has no one claimed that the new ones are better? Not even JBL. I’m now beginning to suspect that maybe they aren’t.

Whilst I’m certain that the B&W 702s will be excellently engineered speakers, how could they not be, I’d still go for the Revel F208s which will have a lot of practical and technical know-how behind them.
I’m familiar with the 702S2. Not a bad choice at 5k. I’d suggest adding Spendor A7 and the $5k Dynaudio model (forget what it is called) to your list if you are open to options. 

When I did my speaker search 18 months ago those were my top picks under 5k before I raised my budget. 

At 5k I also thought Focal 948 was solid. Those are the ones that come to mind, and maybe also a Linn model. Again, sorry don’t remember the number. 

Listen to as many as you can. Doesn’t matter what we think, only you. Those are what I liked at that price point
Go gently used, and you can widen your horizons considerably and get a lot better than those three.
I think you need to broaden your search. 
Considering your minor hearing impairment(mentioned on another thread), I would look at a phase/time aligned speaker like Vandersteen, or an electrostatic like Magnepan or Sound Labs.
Not that they would alleviate your hearing issue, but they seem to not aggravate it.
At least in my opinion.

Bob
 
bad choices in the lot
I'd go with the Revel.
Your amp doesn't have a ton of power. How big a room do you have? How loud do you like to listen? 

If you like to listen loud (at least occasionally), have a larger room, or heavily damped room, you may want to focus on fairly efficient speakers. None of these speakers is > 90db/w sensitivity, so 60w/channel isn't going to give you much reserve in a mid-size or larger room unless you never listen at higher volumes. 
I have experience with Revel F208 and think it is great in some unnoticable way. It is not a heavy metal speaker, but will play that good enough, too.

I also second the poster who suggested trying Focal 948.
I would add Usher MD2’s to the list. 
Rosso Fiorentino Elba 2
Tekton Double Impact
Dynaudio Evoke 50

Different sound signatures 
take the jbls off the list. they were a little meh when demoed

id go with used so you can go a level higher.


used pair of Dynaudio contour 20 or 30's would be nice
I used to have the Usher MD II’s, great speaker, I upgraded to the larger Ushers. The revel’s are very good too. Another very good speaker is the Totem Wind or totem forest. I used to have the Classe cap151 and it’s a nice integrated but not sure if it has enough power for the revel or totem to perform their best.
I do have two subs, and can split the bottom end off on my Martin Logan Dynamo 10” for music. Have a Sunfire True EQ 12” for HT. Though I wasn’t planning on using a sub for my 2-Ch setup. 

Totem is a good suggestion, I’ve loved their gear since I first heard them at the Alexis Park hotel @ CES in Vegas a few years in a row. 

I’ll check that out. 
Underwood HiFi, who now manufactures LSA speakers, is offering their LSA 20 Statement speakers here for $4500/pr (normally $7k) that includes a nice pair of speaker cables.  As they’re selling direct this offers a lot of value given their pedigree and quality of components, and they offer a 30-day trial, which is really nice.  Initial reviews are very positive.  Best of luck. 
They would not be my choice, but a number of people do seem to like Tekton Moab for $4500. Check current Tekton Moab thread (long long one, but sifting through garbage you may find some useful pointers) for pros and inconveniences you may encounter if considering them. They do not sound like Revel, Bowers & Wilkins, or Dynaudio, but if you could audition them before purchase....you never know.
I'd go with Revel

imThorek
Are revel and jbl the same company ??? My dealer told me the tweeter in the JBL 100 costs more than the speaker and the manufacturer them at a loss for some kind of marketing. This could be BS. But hey. 

Proac , PSB , paradigm , Spendor . They all have great speaker models at the close to 5k , especially Proac .
Remember the amount of power at hand and the efficiency of the speakers vs how you hear music , low , medium or loud levels , over 90 db .
On a similar quest, now. I’m looking into Dynaudio, Totem, and maybe Spendor, Revel. At 5k, I’d look at Legacy, Harbeth, Magnepan, too. Some of my own experiments (reported here on Audiogon, look me up and see the great advice I’ve gotten!) have shown how room specific the choices become. Don’t know what your room is like.

For me, a lot has come down to what I can audition. Crutchfield has been exceptional. While the number of brands they carry is limited, they’re good, and the tower speakers I just tried (60 day trial) cost only $20 (not a typo) to ship back. 
Used pair of Focal Kanta 2's, 3.7i magnepans, or a pair of Spatial Audio open baffle speakers.

Steve
Have you checked out the Monk 801 model from Schmidtlambrix audio?
Crystal clear highs with outstanding imaging. With dual vertical enclosures these beauties go very low in the bass Very efficient set of speakers! They only sell online but will set up in house demos.
Schmidtlambrixaudio.com
With a $5,000 budget and a medium powered amp - here is my suggestion - go with a Maggie 1.7i or smaller ($2,200 or less for smaller models) and then go with a multiple sub system for the bottom end ( self powered subs should not run over $3000).

the imaging and sound stage and high end clarity will blow you away.

just my two cents. I have been a Maggie user for over 30 years and I am still amazed how revealing a speaker they are. Every time I have upgraded something in my system ( source, amp, preamp, Cables, I hear the difference.
Humble yourself to buy some aftermarket cables, and actually learn something. 
Focal Aria 948 ftw.I have a pair, they sound great to me.but,like the other responses,every person has differen't likes and dislikes. I am  going to sell mine, and move up to a pair of Focal Sopra 2's. The never ending search for audio utopia, usually depends on  your budget ,and maybe your spouse, if you have one Don't tell my wife that I have $5000 dollar speakers.she would flip
i’ve heard well over 60 pairs of speakers in person including the revel and the b&w but not the jbl

revel is bright harsh and totally overrated IMO detail means nothing if you get irritated listening after 2 songs 

702s2 were much better overall no listener fatigue but not as detailed as revel 

best in that price range by far is going to be 
dali rubicon 6 as a first choice and the polk legend l800 as a second choice 

Sonus Faber Sonettos. I have the VIIIs bought at $4K (hard to find that great of a deal maybe). Easily beating Focal and Revel in this price range plus anything else I’ve heard; Dali are thee closest. Deep, fast bass extension, super clear mid, accurate highs that aren’t too bright.
Meridian dsp 7000. for the price used, Get a listen.
If you can handle its size and appearance then Tekton Moab is unbeatable in this range. Also incredibly easy to drive, and anything and everything you throw at it comes out perfect. They go big, they play intimate. They go deep, and they go extended. Well, to the extent my tired old ears can hear anyway. Which is another thing, they aggravate my ears much less than anything I’ve ever heard. While at the same time being faster, more detailed and dynamic than anything I’ve ever heard. My wife loves them, and actually asks to listen to music now. She even likes the way they look. An awesome combination.

The one downside: two month wait. Oh and there are none used. Apparently nobody who has them has any interest in selling them. When people tell you to buy lightly used, what they mean is there’s speakers out there so bad the buyer’s can’t wait to dump them. There’s a lot of them, and this approach is very popular around here. Not for me. But to each his own.
For just a bit more, and something completely different. you might also consider Ohm Walsh 5x models that can do it all and have adjustments on board to help fit into any size room. Same driver on refurbed cabinets if available might be had for somewhat less.
I still find the Ohm Walsh speakers the most satisfying musically for me. I listen hours on end. Not as easy with most others for me. 
For something more conventional, add Harbeth and KEF to the discussion perhaps. 
@justineasbach 
Bright? Harsh? 

That hasn’t been my experience with any of the Ultima or Performa lines that I’ve heard in the past. That actually is good info to hear, because it basically rules out the B&W for me, if you found it to be civilized where the Revel is not.


Maybe I like my treble a little hot then.. 


I’m also quite partial to the high gloss walnut finish they offer the F208 in. For those of you who said my integrated amp won’t be enough Yuice for these speakers, I’m gonna worry about that when I get there. 

No love for Vandersteens on this thread?

A brand new pair of the brand new version of the 2's?

A pair of 3's?

A used pair of Treos?

@twoleftears ,
At least we tried.
As they say:
You can lead a horse to water...

Bob
Oh yeah JBL 100s a Babyboomers dream rock and roll speakers...
A little bit more will get you a pair of Klipsch Cornwall IV’s. I bought a pair in January and to me they’re pretty awesome. Great dynamics, solid Bass. They play everything from Jazz to Metal with ease and since they’re super efficient you don’t need a lot of power to drive them.
Both the Ohm Walsh’s and the Tekton Moab’s seem to offer extraordinary value for money and both could be considered as alternate, if somewhat maverick choices.

They might not be flavour of the month right now but that could all change in the near future. Just when you thought you’d seen all the different designs out there...
dougeyjones,

Not to advertise any particular speaker, but I did not find Revel F208 harsh and bright at all. Quite the opposite, I would say. It just shows that personal perceptions and preferences will be hard to overcome in a written thread like this. Someone's harsh and bright will be someone's balanced and polite and vice versa. For example, the speakers I recommended you also consider (Tekton Moab) sound unbearably harsh to me while many call it "detailed". Best is to try for yourself.
proac
harbeth
tekton
vandersteen
magnepan (maybe)


Check out Salk Sound.. Custom made for you.. You pick your color.. Solid wood through out, no MDF !!  They're heavy.. Sound great.. I own the Song 3a ..Talk about midrange clarity !! Only issue is you'll wait about 3 months before yours is ready to ship.. Worth the wait. 
If the OP would like to message me about my Salk purchase process (7 months but particular to me), please do. Happy to share. The details would bore people here and some of the delay was due to me. Jim was a great communicator along the way but it has been hard for me to choose speakers over such a long time.
I have a very good experience on my B&W 800 D2, just a thought.
If you can stretch your budget or get them lightly used considers the GoldenEar Triton One.R....  fantastic full range speaker and not difficult to drive..  
2nd Big John the Cornwall iv looks awesome. They have a timeless look and will open up your future choice of amps as well. Pretty sure if you call around to some dealers you could hit your 5k target. 

As Miller mentioned the Tekton Moabs would be awesome for the kind of music you listen to and is also very efficient. I had the Double Impacts and still miss them. If I was buying a new speaker today it would be between these 2. 
This is an easy one, I have heard all three, get a revel F206 or revel F208 and a sub of good quality and it’s game over, you will be blown away.
I'm sure all the speakers mentioned here are great in their own ways. I'd check out the Salk Song3 BEAT. They're not solid wood as mentioned above, but they use a wood veneer and look great and you can pick pretty much any finish. If Salk had to cover the marketing, distribution, and dealer commission costs of the brands you're looking at these would likely be $8000 speakers or more. I have base Song3's (I'd buy the BEATS if I did it again), had Songtowers, and have a pair of Salk Wow1 monitors in my office. They just have a great neutral sound that balance detail and musicality so well. Each design just does what it's designed to do perfectly. Similar to Dynaudio in my opinion, but I like the RAAL tweeter a bit more. I haven't heard the beryllium tweeter yet, but the RAAL is the best I've heard. Horses for courses -- enjoy the journey! 

BTW, if I had the proper room I'd check out Spatials too. Once I get a space that will work with those I'll probably push to get the X5's, but the M series looks great too. One day....
+1 for the GoldenEar.
Wonderfully smooth yet accurate speaker with built-in subwoofer.
I've heard all three on your list and the Revels are hands-down the best of them, both in my subjective opinion and objective measurements. 

And regarding the claim that Salk builds their cabinets out of solid wood, uhh, no, that is false. They use real-wood veneer (albeit very high quality veneer) over MDF which is standard practice at this price point. 

Regarding mass-production speaker brands, Revel really is at the very top of the game in terms of objective performance. JBLs suffer from the quantitative weaknesses that any such design would and cater to a specific type of listener IMO.

The best bang-for-the-buck I've experienced is Spatial Audio. Their $5K speakers sound like the $10K speakers from these commerical brands. 
@mn2bttb & helomech

I’m leaning Revel, if my listening room is never going to be bigger than say, 20x12’, should I spring for the F208 or should I save a bit and go with the F206? It looks like they use the same mid/tweet and the only difference is the 8" woofers get swapped for 6.5" in the F206. Another difference is that the F206 is not offered in the high gloss Mahogany, which is a bummer for me.. I could do gloss black or white, but would prefer the Mahogany..

I have a Martin Logan Dynamo 10" sub that I like very much to provide bottom fill regardless of which way I go.
The Spatial Audio M series Sapphires are making a name for themselves in your price range.  High sensitivity and they love tubes.