Very good topic and one where you should get a split in opinions. This is just my view: the benefit of using a sub woofer is that you can regulate your bass extension from one CD to the next by simply adjusting the settings on the back of the unit. This gives you I believe more flexibility than if you just had a large pair of speakers and just a bass control on your amp/receiver. It's simply amazing from one CD to the next how much I end up walking over to my sub woofer and adjusting it. For example, if I'm playing a CD by Four Play or Brian Culbertson (jazz), I have to turn the sub almost off. What size is your room and does it have thick carpet and much upholstered furniture? Is it on a first floor slab or wooden floor? In the $3K area, look at Rotel, NAD, Marantz, for integrateds. Is this to be a two channel system or home theater set up?
Since no one else has answered your thread and you are new here, I'll take a stab at it..
Tight, Powerful and Fast is really gonna cost ya. Like Wilson WHAMM or Duntech Sovereign.
Some suggestions on pretty good bass:
Vandersteen model 3 sig. or 2ce sig.
VMPS: some big ones with ribbons and 12" woofs
Snell: bigger older models esp. the Aiii had great bass
Sonus Faber: except for the really small ones.
Chario (impossible to find)
Nestorovic (also impossible to find)
PSB Stratus gold wasn't bad
AR (Acoustic Research) model 9, 3A, 11. All featuring the acoustic suspension 11" woofer. AR not really high end per say but great bass.
Bass depends alot on the Amplifier.. speed, clarity, current dumping/dampning factor all affect the bass in a big way. For example, I can hook up an old JBL L-166 to a pioneer receiver from the 70's, then hook up to my Eagle 4 and the bass will be COMPLETELY different (no boom just tight and powerful).
The speaker I heard with the tightest and fastest bass and within your price range is the Audio Physic Avanti III. I think it costs about $10k new but you should be able to find a used pair for under $5k since the revision V is out.
BTW, it does need a high power amp to come alive.
Better option, Def Tech Mythos ST's, <$4K/pair new.
Very efficient with bass down to 14 Hz via a powered sub in each tower. I had them in my rig and was pushing 110 dB peaks with bass to shake the room,
Generally a great sounding speaker to boot, you'd have to spend multiple times that amount to get similar response.
The SP Timepiece mini
Athough the smaller brothers of the Timepieces they are very similar:
'These speakers are among a handful of speakers that literally define the concept of "value" in the high-end audio price/performance ratio. Today that ratio needs supercomputing assistance to unravel hyperbole from fact. When I listen to my Timepiece 2.1 speakers, I am the sound of one hand laughing because, these speakers are among the best I've ever heard at any price.'
At $2995 cheaper than your 5k limit. Put the difference into better source components - the SP's deserve it.
The amps I recommend are the D100's from channel island audio if the new digital amps take your fancy:
But for untimate performance you really can't go past the Hugh Dean Soraya:
Not the most expensive amps about - but simply the best.
For source I recommend computer audio from a modded Squeezebox. The ultimate in convienience, and now sound quality:
The above is not the most expensive system on the planet, but is certain to be amongst the best.
Because you have a small/medium sized room, I would recommend spending only $3k on speakers and budgeting $2k on room treatment (Realtraps or GIK), as bass performance is often dominated by room acoustics in a small room. Maybe not the answer you expected, but probably the best one for bass performance.
Buy the Sheffield Labs Drum Track XRCD and go out and audition. Track 1 has the tightest bass and is very dynamic. This will seriously separate the men from the boys.
If you like electronica then you may be interested to know that the audio engineer for DJ and house music Kaskade is Mike Roskelly.
This is Mike's Salt Lake City Studio
Serious stuff but you can find smaller second hand speakers close to your price range that will work in a small/medium room.
I am listening to Kascade - Track Everything (Big Room Mix) at the moment If you like electronica then look him up Kaskade
I am not into electronica particularly but I am blessed that I like every genre of music that exists...
I have a buddy that has the Focus Audio Legacy HD's...awesome bass down to the depths. Might be worth a look.
ATC 19s. See the new review on www.sonicflare.com.
I'm going to put forward what I know. Have had virtually insatiable bass lust ever since being exposed to my first subwoofer decades ago.
Go MONTANA -- the higher up the chain you go, the more capability is there obviously. Pair them with Plinius amps and you are there.
I had to retire my dual 18" sub enclosures, because they now serve no purpose. The MONTANA/PLINIUS combination will astound you -- providing room-moving articulate fast and deep deep bass so profound that subwoofers are almost unthinkable. Since I had the subs before I got the Plinius amps, I kept trying to use them, but just stopped turning them on eventually. Now they are permanently retired.
anything is the Mark&Daniel or Von Schweikert lines.
I concur w/Maich and also w/Tafka Steve. Room does play a very important part.
For amps, I would go w/Ayre V-5xe. It's still a sleeper.
You can save a lot and find a well cared for pair of NHT 3.3's. They don't get mentioned much around here anymore because they're "old news", but they fit the bill in this application.
Thanks to everyone for your recommendations, this is really helpful and I learned a lot by following your leads.
I 've uped my budget for these speakers to around $7K now and I am leaning towards the Audio Physic Scorpios. They seem to produce good results for their size.
Comparing the Audio Physics, ATC, Montana and Focus which one would you go for given their relative size?
Also, elaborating about the room: although the listening area is around 11x11 - the entire room is actually 11x25, carpeted.
If your budget is now around $7k, the Vandersteen Quatro will give you the best of both worlds (given the integrated powered sub with 11 bands of EQ). However, I still would budget $1k for room treatments. It will be some of the best money spend on your system.
Within your $5K budget, I'd recommend the Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grands with a REL sub woofer. You only mentioned tight/powerful/fast. If you go with the setup I'm suggesting, you'll get that plus you'll hear the true character of the bass. With double bass you'll hear the woodyness of the body, with electric bass you'll be able to tell a Sadowsky from a Fender, etc. Lot's of systems get the TPF right but leave out the character. For your classical listening you'll really need that.
Hooking up with the Sumiko guys (distributors for VA, REL, OCOS, Sonus Faber, Pro-ject, Sumiko, etc.) will get you in with some guys that really know how to put a system together.
how about dunlavy sc4 or sc5; able to biamp using solid state on the woofers and tubes on the mid/highs; I ran a pair of sc3's like this with excellant results for several years until I moved into soundlab's m2 speaker.
ATCs work very well in their active line--which include built-in amplification. You should look at the new 16As at 4 grand, or their proven ATC20A, which is 8 grand. The 16A came out two months ago and are a great bargin, since you also get a world class 250 watt amp that seemlessly handles the cross-overs. I have heard the ATCs side by side with the Scorpios and you will hear better bass and drum sonics with ATC around electronica music. Vocals and mids are great with both, but you will likely find classical works better with the ATCs.
If you go with Audio Physics, be sure to demo them in your environment. I have seen many threads about how they need special placement to get the soundstage right. You should read the many threads on this site.
Revels are not mentioned much anymore but if you can give them a listen. I heard the F32 (I believe that was the model - sorry, don't remember what they were powered by) in a system and was very impressed with the tight, clean bass produced. Don't remember the room having tons of treatments either. Overall just outstanding speakers. They should be well within your budget with enough $ left for some good, clean power also.
Scorpios will be harder to correctly place and quite hard to drive at higher SPL's without a fair bit of IMD distortion - probably a fairly narrow sweetspot too.
7 drivers and four crossovers in one speaker is an impressive amount of hardware but quantity is not everything expecially if drivers overalap and interfere with eachother and most of your amplifier power is lost as heat in the crossovers.
John Atkinson review of measurements
is worth reading.
I would suggest you put the Scorpios to the bottom of your list behind the Focals, Montanas and ATC's, unless you simply adore the cool look of them!
Vandersteen Quatro will leave a smile on your face for years......the bass is amazing!