Advice about warm, gentle speakers...

Help. I need to use a home theater system for 2 channel music. The system is based on a mid-level Denon DVD player and a Denon receiver and right now the ONLY variable I can change is the brand of front left and right speakers (presently Paradigm Titans). I would like to get something that can soften the digital glare (besides turning down the treble!). The speakers need to be either monitors or small floor standers and I am aiming for a price less than $4,000 new or used. Finally, I am not in a location where I can audition different brands so I hope to narrow it down to a few choices for in-home trials. I listen to all types of music but not louder than about 80-85 db. From reviewing the forums it appears that more “serene” brands include Green Mountain, Spendor, Sonus Faber and Vienna Acoustics. I really appreciate any input on this—thanks in advance for the advice.
lots of choices between your titans and the 4k budget...but only consider brands you can audition used or new. of the brands mentioned, only spendor will temper your receiver.
Look at this old A'gon thread. I had very good luck with this inexpensive change .
If i were spending $4k, i would buy speakers and a dedicated hybrid integrated amp(ya need tubes in there), and run your DVD into that. I asume you have a sub so maybe Spendor 3/1 or 2/3, or Harbeth 7ES2 with a Used Pathos Classic 2 hybrid integated or something like that.
Polk is excellent match with denon, the best I have heard with any of the denon amplification to be honest, I know there is a real good pair of polks rated like some real hiend speakers, and way less than 4000.00... Ahh, yes the LSi15 and I am sure you can probably find them local for audition.. Look them up all very stellar reviews on here and or anywhere for that matter, probably the best speakers built under 2000 competing up with much higher cost... By the way, from word of mouth these are better than the Lsi25's because they are warmer sounding and the lsi25 sounds more disconnected compared to its slightly smaller brother... Check them out trust me.
I would suggest you investigate Harbeth's. While under your budget by a long shot they will provide a warm and inviting sound with your electronics. I'd consider the Super HL-5's or the Compact 7ES-2's depending on room size. BTW, if you have $4K to spend, you may want to consider allocating $1500 for a pair of Compact 7's and then use the other $2500 to upgrade your amplification and source. While I don't think you can do better than the Harbeth's unless you go way up in price, you will get more out of them with better electronics. Consider Naim, Audio Research or Plinus as a few options that all sound nice with the Harbeth's.
Tyler linbrook Monitors...easy to drive, can go loud without strain, and with a tweeter that never sounds harsh.
That's a tough one. First thought that came to my mind had been your room acoustics. When you mention turning down the treble I got the impression that the sound you're getting is bright and harsh. This is something you should research as acoustics play a huge role in the sound of any speaker.

I used the Titan's you have as a rear channel and had tried them on their own to see how they sounded. I don't remember anything about being harsh. Your receiver can also be part of the problem. Most importantly is the Room Acoustics.
I would recommend that you give a pair of Verity Audio Tamino X3 Loudspeakers a listen.

I've owned Sonus Faber and Vienna Acoustics, and yes, they are sweet, warm speakers. However, my current Verity Audio Parsifal Encore's are in another league entirely.

There is a pair of X-3's on AudiogoN now for $2399, and no, I do not know the seller.

Happy hunting,
I have heard most of the speaker brands you are looking at and I think you are on the right track... I have specifically heard both speakers from Vienna and SF on a Denon 3805 and I had very different results... The SF Grand Piano Homes (the model line before SF switched to the new Domus lines) surprisingly sounded *very* good with the Denon, and I can easily recommend that combo. The VAs by contrast (I think the model was Mozart) sounded lifeless and dull... definitely a bad combo to my ears at least.

As for Spendor and GMA, I love both brands, and highly recommend them (the Spendor 3/1Ps and GMA Callistos are particular favorites of mine). That said, I heard them both powered by high-end tube amps, so I don't know how they would fare with a Denon receiver.

I posted this yesterday 6-19-2006 and it never came up on your thread, very weird... But anyway POLK is the best match for Denon amplification, and some of the best polks made, which you can look up on this board and etc... are the current model LSi15, suppose to be very smooth and warm, with great sound.. and are considered to be even better than the bigger LSi25, Can be had for way less than 4000.00 as well :) Good luck...

-- I have a newer denon receiver 3805 for a 7 channel surround in addition to my 2 channel system, have some older polks on it, excellent match, always sound good... And the good thing is you should be able to find a pair local for audition and see what you think in the first place, give em' a shot trust me, they will mix better than the paradigm in my experience.
Perhaps you should change the position of your speakers before spending money. Try towing then in until they cross just in front of your listening position. Also try to have them out into the room at least a third of the room depth.
try to listen to the Quad "L" series (at least the 12L or the 21L) To my ears, using a new rotel receiver, they are full sounding and laid back but detailed and have never uttered a discouraging word. The fit and finish are well above the price too. Milo
Thanks to everyone for the excellent advice. I appreciate the thoughts on changing speaker position, room acoustics and electronics but my problem is that I cannot mess with any of these variables—I can only change the speakers (It’s a long story--I used up my family’s tolerance for audio craziness with my main rig that includes tube equipment and full range electrostatics. If I started cluttering up the household home theater with audiophile stuff I would be exiled--my only option is to fiddle with the main speakers to try and tame the sound). I will definitely look into the various suggestions--I am very intrigued by the recommendations for the Polk and SF brands as well as the others.

Thanks again to all for taking the time to reply to my question and thanks to Audiogon for providing such a great resource!
The other brand that comes to mind is Vandersteen. Not sure if they will work within your space constraints, however.
Would 4K have to include the stands?
Vandersteens do work well close to the wall as well as Snell.
I do like Vandersteen sound but I need a narrow speaker to fit into the present space without being too intrusive. Mdhoover--I can get the stands separately in addition to $4k for the speakers. Thanks again for all the help!
Aitchnu: From reviewing the forums it appears that more “serene” brands include Green Mountain, Spendor, Sonus Faber and Vienna Acoustics.

Just my take: GMA look ugly, SF's are usually overpriced. I have owned Spendor for years but must say that now a days Harbeth is a better choice for that kind of sound. Other than that you should put Silverline, Salk, Tyler, Acoustic Zen Adagio, and Zu on your list.

Sorry I can't narrow any further for you. :) Good luck.
I've been listening to a pair of GMA Continuum 1.5's for the past several days, and all I can say is these speakers are outstanding. In my opinion, so many box speakers have a difficult time in 'letting go' of the music. In other words, there is a distinct conversation that can be heard between the speaker and the music, which makes the music sound tethered to (and encumbered by) the box. With the GMA, the music leaves the speaker so freely as to deliver the music with a liveliness that is entirely non-hi-fi. It literally makes many other speakers sound like they are restraining the energy of the music. In addition, the GMA's have the most tight-fisted bass response I may have ever heard. If the bass response of most speakers is as loose as the planet Saturn, the GMA bass sounds as if the rings have been removed.
"I can get the stands separately in addition to $4k for the speakers."

Then you will certainly want to audition the magnificent Intuitive Design Summits. I was (and still am) so thrilled with how they sounded, that I posted a review in November, 2005 on Audiogon. I don't really expect people to believe all of what I said, but hopefully it will prompt a few folks to at least LISTEN to these if they're in the market for speakers (even if they have to drive somewhere to do it--these are very special and it would be worth the effort, in my opinion). Only then will they see (hear) what I mean.

Here's the link:
Intuitive Design Summit Loudspeakers--An Unsolicited Review
The Green Mountain speakers are awesome, but probably too revealing with the Denon gear.

Tyler Linbrooks would be warmer and might be a better match. The Taylos use a slightly brighter tweeter and don't put out near the low end that the Linbrooks do, even the monitors. See if they have someone near you for their home demo program (customers' homes).
The Green Mountain speakers are awesome, but probably too revealing with the Denon gear.
Good point, Jerrym303. The Tylers are certainly warmer, and probably a more forgiving match.
They are warmer, but they aren't more forgiving IMO. I have tried my various Tylers on several pieces of electronics at various price points and manufacturers... Each time the speakers revealed differences in the electronics feeding them to my ears, at least. As such, I am not saying Tyler/Denon is a bad match (as that is not a combo I tried), but only to be careful there as the Tylers will reveal the Denon's character through them, and that may or may not be a good thing.
I plan to hlod onto my Taylo Reference Monitors until they die or I do, whichever comes first.

It's just that folks were recommending that Aitchnu look at both Callistos and Tylers. Having compared these side by side in my system with various electronics over the past 45 days, I got good a feel for the comparison.

Aitchnu noted that he was getting some digital/treble glare. I think that I can say for sure that the Tylers will be more livable with that situation. The Callistos will put it right back at you.

I agree with you that Tylers don't sound the same regardless of electronics. I bought them as a finalist becasue they are very good speakers plus Ty is great. Each piece sounded different through the Tylers, but they were generally more comfortable sounding with brighter electronics/cables then the Callistos were. I guess that you could say the they are more forgiving of bright electronics while the Callistos might be more forgiving of darker electronics.
I hope you did not misinterpret my post as an attack on your analysis Jerry... That definitely was not my intent. My point was that a Denon/Tyler combo may not give the results the OP is looking for, as the Tylers will reveal the character of the source electronics quite readily. The same can be said of GMAs, I am sure (and I too am a big fan of those as well). I have only heard the Callistos on a Manley Steelhead (that was a perfect match, I might add), but have no experience as to their sound differences on various electronics as I don't own them and only heard them on one system. No offense or attack was intended.

Each time the speakers revealed differences in the electronics feeding them to my ears, at least.
Every speaker reveals the differences between upstream components. However, warm and neutral are not the same, and yet your post would suggest that the Tylers are both. I find them to be quite warm, even softening the sound of gear that I have otherwise found to be harsh, or edgy. In my vocabulary, this translates to also being forgiving in nature. On the other hand, Dynaudio or B&W, for example, are not similarly forgiving.
I hope you did not misinterpret my post as an attack on your analysis Jerry... That definitely was not my intent
That was not my intent either, Dave, with respect to your post.

I find that it can be quite difficult to make recommendations to people, for precisely the reason you state in your latest post. It's close to impossible to quantify what it is that someone else is seeking, how it will behave in their system, or whether or not they would even hear it the same way that I would. Oh...what to do???
Thanks again for the additional suggestions. I had forgotten how much fun it is to scour the internet looking for details on each recommended brand and model. Kind of a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance thing: “the journey is more important than the destination”. In any event, I am looking at all the options suggested and I really appreciate the time everyone is taking—there is no way I would be able to learn about the sound qualities of these brands on my own (or even the potential sound qualities such as those discussed regarding the Tyler speakers. BTW, the Tylers are an option I would never have considered without your collective input--thanks). Given the constraints of my situation I recognize I will have to put up with a number of sonic compromises but with these suggestions I think I will be able to mine a lot of good sound from a restricted set of resources. If I can get some of these speakers in for an in home audition I will try to post my observations for others like myself that are trying to extract listenable sound from a limited home theater rig.
You may want to consider some single driver "tweeterless" designs. The Omega Super 3 meets all your criteria and costs less than you've budgeted. The Carolina Audio Jordan Monitors also come to mind. Note that I've never heard the Jordans and know them only by reputation - very highly regarded in the single driver community.