Advice on buying a used speaker up to 3k

You all here on agon helped a lot in buying an amp (went with pass labs xa30.5 with you advice and my research) under 3k that I want your help again!

I love what the pass labs amp has brought that I have an upgrade inch again. My other components are an NAD m51 dac which has a 35 bit volume control and hdmi so it seconds as the preamp too.

My source is an oppo 103d which I use strictly for digital files and high resolution downloads used on a the flash drive on the oppos input. Also like dvds and blu rays on the system.

I have some Kef 104/2 that I really dig but I believe I am missing some higher frequencies with some of the new tweeters technology thats out. I have been impressed with what I have heard about the Raal ribbon tweets but there may not be a lot of choices at the price point.

The pass labs needs high efficiency speakers above 87 db. I also would rather want a tower over monitor but am open. I may be wrong but monitors seem to not be able to sound full range or complete as I think of it???
Others may disagree,but I know that amp and my experience is that I would look to at least 94 db's.Curious as to what other might say as I now have the Pass 30.8.
Nice pair of scratch and dent Von Schweikert VR-5 HSE, a little over 3,000 for sale now!That is a speaker I would sleep with,94 glorious db's.
I was so close to getting the 30.8 after pulling my hair out for a week researching I decided on the .5

My kef are 92 db and I have way more juice then I seem to need with this 30.5. I have not moved the meter past 3/4 yet and that was quite loud. I realize the meter is for current and not watts but it does seem to give you an idea what its driving.

I am researching as we speak the Emerald physics ep-x and sounds like an amazing speaking at its price??
I have the corresponding Psss integrated (INT-30A), and I'm with Jazzcourier: the more efficient the better.

I love it, but it's just not that much amp, especially regards the lows; I here respectfully disagree with the many who say the smaller Passes are "more powerful than rated" and mate well with fairly low efficiency speakers.

Two that mine did not mate well with were the Gallo 3.5 (88db) and the Montana EPS2 (92db). They sounded pretty good, but the pairing didn't quite come together. Too bad, because both are very good speakers, and can be had at your pricepoint.

One that did work very well was the Vaughn Zinfandel (98db) an augmented full range design with powered base, which helped a lot. You don't see them much, but they, especially in a not-the-latest permutation, could be had used at your pp. Might be worth emailing Jim at Vaughn.

Btw, the Zins are not headbangers. You didn't state your listening habits, which would be helpful to advisers.


If you don't mind buying used, Reference 3A Grand Veena or Veena are worth a look. If buying new the Silverline Prelude Plus is also a pretty easy load. I'd think both would offer more treble detail than your KEFs. Best of luck.
I can build you a pair of RAAL ribbon based speakers with a 8in scan speaker woofer in birch ply veneered cabinets. For 3k.
Johnk, whats the brand are do you do this independently?

Whats the db on them. Are the monitor or full size?

Tell me more! I am intrigued.
Jdoris, those Vaughn Zinfandel peaked my interest. Dont see much around used so it may be a waiting game if those are to be bought. Sounds like the gallo I can scratch off as I researched those a lot.

I tend to gravitate to jazz. I like recordings with female voices and a pin point image which the kef 104 do well with its dappolito array. So pin point voices would be a big thing.

The kefs are 92 db and seems like they are way efficient enough for the amp to my ears. Perhaps anything much below would be an issue??

Soix, I will digger deeper into those speaker suggestions. One speaker that still has my interest is the Emerald physics ep-x so if theres any users your comments would be welcomed.
My three grand...I would wait in the weeds for a great 6-7 grand speaker used that fits my specificities.According to research done by yours truly, the higher new purchase price of the audio equipment,the less it has been used,hence the better deal on the secondary market...? I have seen some eye poppin' systems sitting around like eye candy getting no love from the owner? the shame of it!
Just talked to Mark with Emerald physics on the ep-x and may be more interested. Problem is, they are so new that there is just nothing out on them.
I build a lot of loudspeakers and have used most RAAL models I would offer a ported monitor 91db 4 ohm 38hz-32khz I build under KCS you can look me up John Kalinowski on google.
Freemand-Look for a used pair of Focal 826w/836w the size of your room will determine which is best.
Probably hard to give a precise sensitivity cutoff, Freemand, because for various reasons manufacturer's numbers are only a rough guide (For instance, I've seen speaker builders sputtering about rivals overstating their efficiency.) That said, if you can't try the speakers in your room and see, 92 db seems a pretty safe cut off for your Pass. More would be better.

+ 1 with Jazzcourier on waiting in the weeds. :) Partly because the bigger models are a headache to ship, markdowns in the used market can be huge, and with 3k and some patience, you can be looking at 6-8k retail. You might get lucky and get a discounted price on a cash local sale, as I did recently, to come in around 40% retail. PBN Montana is one example of an excellent larger line that sometimes trades way below retail (There's a lovely pair here at 25% retail, but out of your price range, alas.)

And shopping is fun. Happily check the boards for a few months, and pounce if there's a really good deal that interests uou. (The better the deal, the easier the resale, if it doesn't work out.) Shows are also more fun if you are shopping, so you might hit one of those. Think of the shopping as practicing your hobby, not a chore.

A high efficiency line not yet mentioned is Zu. Great guys, nice speakers. They often have good deals on their site. I'm not a stickler for listening before you buy, but in the case of Zu, I'd try to, because they re pretty distinctive.

jdoris, the speaker hunt is a bit tricky due to its size and ability to try such speakers. So buying unheard using forums like this and reviews are a good avenue. I think the key like you said is buying at the right price so you dont take a hit if you want to sell them. Why are Zu speakers distinctive? I like there high efficiency.

I spent a two separate days talking with Walter at Underwood hifi at length about his Emerald Physics KC II open baffle design which where huge hits at the Newport audio show. They are brand new to market so there is not much info on them yet.

I am thinking the way of the future is open baffle designs (being able to build at a much lower cost due to the fact the box is the big cost we pay for speaker) and eliminating all the issues with box vibrations and such. You may need to ad a sub get to the low bass of traditional box speakers. I have 4 subs in my HT setup and would take the JL fathom 112 from that setup to mate with the KC II in my dedicated two channel room.

I have done extensive mods and tweaks to my kef 104 and many people would be surprised how these do for 26 year old speakers. That said, I need to experience what else is out there which is what this hobby is all about!

One thing for example is did some isolation of the crossover in the kef 104 and was shocked by the improvement. Fact is are these (and weakness of box speaker) intense vibrations on both the crossover, speaker connectors and wire in contact with the speaker box degrades the sound. We spend so much time isolating our speaker cables from vibrations on the floor with cable risers and put vibration control technology in speaker cables to thereby let that delicate audio signal get hammered with them in the speaker connectors, crossovers and and wires that touch the speaker walls.

Thats one aspect I like about the open baffle design. You have an external crossover you can isolate and put cones under and on a platform, and then wire the drivers from the crossover keeping them free from all vibrations on the cabinet. This is a superior setup to conventional box speakers crossovers and speaker connectors attached to the speakers box inside.

And at an intro price for the KC II at $1999, is so attractive. I am debating the whole used box speaker thing????

Anyone at the Newport audio show last month hear the Emerald physics KC II?
Hi Again! Walter knows a lot, is no nonsense -- and persuasive! I've bought several pieces from him in the past, and always enjoy chatting.

The standard story on OB is that they play best when well into the room, like 5-6'. Prohibitive for me, as I expect they are for many people, for this reason. Too bad, they can get great airy sound.

If you can do OB, you might consider building them. The carpentry can be pretty manageable. You might check audiocircle, which has a lot of OB people, including the highly regarded GR Research.

John, whats GR research?

Ironically, I kept my Kef out about 5 to 6 feet a few years ago and read something by Piere in Mapleshades magazine which talked about moving speakers back to the wall for better bass. I did that and it kept getting more bass the closer I put them. They are now a half foot from the wall. The kefs are about 4 to 5 feet from the side walls.

So I have no problem bringing them out that far. My audio rack is about 4 or 5 feet from the wall.

Sounds like when OB is set up right that box cannot compare for imaging.

Who else makes open baffle? Open baffle speakers are new to me until this thread, though I guess maggies are OB.

I may check out that thread as I have no idea where to start when DIYing a OB speaker.
Mapleshade notwithstanding, many speakers (exceptions like Northcreek noted) are designed to play some distance from the walls, and many of us find they sound better that way.

You probably picked up more bass with boundary reinforcement with your KEFs, but you might have lost out with things like soundstage, air, and imaging. If your room or kit is very bass shy it might still sound a net gain to you.

GR Research makes OB speakers and can be found on, another good audio site with more emphasis on DIY. Trading is free there, so many folks list their stuff there before trying here.


A place to start on OB.
John, you may be right. I was so enthusiastic about getting bass that the last thing I was thinking of was the imaging. Though, I dont recall any negatives after moving them back. The room is hyper treated so that may help perhaps.

I will go check out gr research some more.
Just signed up at audiocircle. Never thought about it before but there seems to be a plethora of things to research and do. Someplace to spend more of my time!

However, can seem to find a place where I can start a post and there is nowhere to contact anybody. Anyone familiar with that?
You may need to make a few response post to other threads before starting your own. This is keep spammers away I think. You can pm JonL who runs the sight.. I am a facilitator on the cinema circle. You could chime in there before you start your own post. I'm not positive that this info is correct, but you could try this approach. Todd
Toddnkaya, I figured things out. I put a post up yesterday to introduce myself with a question and its still waiting for approval.

How long is it before they give you full service on the site?