After 8 years with planars, still have Maggies, I am enjoying single driver speakers paired with SET tube amps. The Omega Super 3 does vocals and acuoustic with less coloration than I heard in many top box speakers. I'm currently trying Omegas Aperiodic 8. I've only had them 5 days but indications are they may be one of the best speakers I've ever heard for this type of music. Good luck.
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Cats love grill cloth. That rules out 80% of the speakers out there.
Horns are tough at near field. They tend to need more space.
Wall hung Martin Logans with a metal grill may do it? This would be my choice.
Piegas have metal grills???
Finally, what about something wall or ceiling mounted that the cat can't get to like the ceiling mount Thiels?
Personally, I find that declawing the little creatures a cheaper alternative but, I don't love cats......
After Quads with Tympani's as subbies and several good cone speakers,I bought the Horning Alkibiades and found them to be the best all round speaker I have heard...if at all possible I would recommend you to have a listen to his speakers...the Agathon and Perikles are the smaller ones and you would love the tweeter...just dissappears...I have listen to the Acapella and Avantgarde in Germany and found them both not to my liking...the Horning is a very musical and well balanced speaker...Good luck ,Helmut...
How about the Fab Audio Model 1? They may be a touch over your price range, but I know they'd do the trick. I have mine in a 13x19x8 room, and listen to them quasi-nearfield (~9 feet from driver to ear) and they integrate just fine. They're a bit odd looking , and the driver complement doesn't make intuitive sense (10" paper cone with a 3/4" aluminum dome). But, but, but...
They're 97dB efficient, an easy load (flat 6 ohms), and as clean, clear and articulate as you could ask for. They have very natural but not really deep bass, and with the right amp they can carve people out of thin air. They sound very fast and very dynamic. I drive them with a 6 watt PX-25 amp to all the volume I need, even on symphonic music.
Before I got them I was thinking of trying to shoehorn Soundlabs into my room, but I realized it wouldn't work. Since I got them I haven't even thought about electrostatics.
You can see them in my system photos, and the web site is http://www.fabaudio.com/Model1.htm
Here's another suggestion that's well within your price range: the Reference 3A MM de Capo i. A friend has a pair hooked up to an 18 wpc SET, and they are absolutely terrific on vocals, jazz, chamber orchestras etc. They have a very nice tweeter, are good for semi near-field listening, are very transparent and have excellent bass for their size.
I absoulutely Love Soundlabs (a friend has U1's and had A1's/B1's in a pretty small space!). If I ever owned a house I would have a pair. But being a city dweller, I supose I will I never have the luxury. I used to own ESL-63's with full Crosby mods.
I went to dynamic speakers after the quads needed too many panels replaced. I never really got the sense of magic and midrange back. ALso in these NY apartments, you tend to listen pretty close to the speakers as well.
A few months ago I got a PS audio powerplant, and started to hear that magic again. The ease I used to hear, as well.
I suggest hearing it with whatever system you get. Back on topic, I have on order Cerious Technolgies Two/Bass speakers.
I am really excited to finally get them and post back my findings. I recently got a full set of Cerious cables, and I think they are onto something. Between the above mentioned, and the PS audio GCC-100 amp, I am hearing things In recordings I never heard with the QUads.
If I can get back that quality with Cerious's non traditional cabinet, that will be really interesting.
Also the new PS audio GCC phono stage is pretty special at a good price, and can drive an amp directly.
My current setup is quite good and in many ways better than when I had the Quads, I just need a really special speaker to complete the package. Look for my posts on the Cerious in the next month or so, hopefully.