My concern is that the 40wpc will not be enough to drive the Soundlab speakers to the SPL that most audiophiles would wish to achieve. Most Soundlab users have amps in excess of 250wpc. Some still want higher power than that.
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It seems from your list that you are predisposed to panel speakers. Thats OK if you have a proper environment for them - hearing a well set up pair in demo will not tell you much about how they will sound in your room when you get them home - they can be very difficult to set up properly in any room, but in a medium to small room they can be impossible. If you haven't done any research yet do some before you commit. Having said that, if I had to choose between the speakers you listed I would probably choose the Quads - I lived with, as still have in storage,a pair of 63's. I think you will find the Quads a bit more transparent and they image quite well, much more like a pair of dynamic speakers than panel speakers, more precise, without losing the "airiness" of electrostats.
In describing the sound you wanted you used the term natural as opposed to neutral. For me, one of the things that I have found un-natural about panel speakers, even when they image well, is the compression involved in many designs. When I refer to dynamics I'm talking, not about their ability to play loud, but the level of the lowest sound as compared to the loudest sound. As I consider the dynamic ability of a speaker to be highly important in creating a sense of naturalness, I converted to dynamic speakers. If this is important to you, don't overlook Verity Audio Parsifals in your search - a bit over your budget perhaps, but you could come close with a used pair, and powerwise, they are not difficult to drive - tubes do quite nicely if your so inclined. Except for the fact that they won't fill an auditorium with 20hz sound, I think they can, when driven by appropriate electronics, produce about as natural sound as is available.
If you are openminded and just want to find good lifelike speakers, I think you should read the following thread on Klipsch and than perhaps audition some. Who knows...
Thanks to everybody so far. Newbee a good lesson from you.
My room is 30 x 20 feet but it could be possible that in future will relocate. In any case the audio room will never be smaller than 18 x 14 feet.
Talking now about sound quality, I don't like to hear a dynamic driver pushing sounds. Like better a more diffuse sound with a3d deep soundstage.
I will investigate all suggestions you made and welcome other ones ?
First the disclaimer: I'm a Sound Lab owner and dealer, and former Quad 63 owner. I'm familiar with both the Dynastats and M2's, and frankly the M2's are in a significantly higher league. I'd probably pick the Quad 988 or 989 over the Dynastats, personally. The weak link of the Dynastat is the woofer box itself. If you're willing to do some tweaks to the box the woofer-to-panel blend can be improved, but still won't be ideal. Wish I could tell you otherwise...
Between the Quad 989 and M2, the Quad will be easier to drive (less hidden amplifier cost). I have a customer who owned Quad 988's and 989's for a while, I loaned him a pair of M2's for a few months (they were too big and expensive to be practical in his situation so he ended up with Gradient Revolutions). Anyway, he told me he preferred the Sound Labs across the board (noting their lower efficiency), and he made particular mention of the better dynamic contrast and richer presentation of the Sound Labs. Pardon the hearsay evidence, but this particular customer has better ears than I do so I use him a lot. I can put you in touch with him via e-mail if you'd like.
I've auditioned the 988 and 989, and personally prefer the 988. I think it's extremely competitive in its price range, and more coherent than its bigger brother.
While we're on the subject, the InnerSound Eros is a superbly articulate loudspeaker with a better woofer system than the Dynastat. The Eros does have a narrow sweet spot, but you get world-class soundstaging within that sweet spot. The Eros also has the best dynamics of any electrostat I know of in its price ballpark (including my beloved Sound Labs). I do sell InnerSound amplifiers but I'm not a dealer for their speaker line, as I prefer the wide radiation pattern of the Sound Labs.
On the subject of getting panel speakers to work well in small rooms, I think that if you have the freedom to position them properly and treat the room as needed, you can get excellent sound in small rooms. I have a customer who used full-size Sound Lab M-1's in a 12 by 12 room with great success, and another customer who's using a smaller pair in a 9 by 12 room right now. The rules of placement vary somewhat from with a monopole speaker, but in some ways a dipole is easier to integrate into a small room (once again assuming freedom to place them well).
On the amplifier front, the Dynastats would work well with your Alephs, and I think the Quads and InnerSound Eros would work well also (though with some loudness limitations). The Sound Labs M2's sound wonderful with the Alephs but would be limited in maximum volume level to the mid to upper 80's at the listening position. I had a customer who used the Aleph 5 on his Sound Labs, but personally I'd like a bit more juice.
Anyway, best of luck with your quest! Needless to say, I think you're barking up the right trees!
I'm not familiar with all the speakers mentioned here, so I can't speak for any of them but I've gotten my Merlins a few days ago. It's right in your price range and great for small-medium sized rooms. I would check with Bobby at Merlin, well-worth your time to investigate if you're looking for speakers in this range. I haven't been able to turn off my system ever since I've setted them up in my 20x14 room.
Lifelike sound is my highest priority also. You have a mighty impressive short list. It tells me you have studied and listened. For the money, I really love the Quad 988. They sound very real but lack the extreme dynamics and deep bass extension. If I could have a second system, these would be my pick. I have owned the Soundlab M-2's. Excellent speakers for sure. Deepest bass of any electrostat I am aware of. The Soundlabs are a power sucking vortex. My 250 watt/side class A Bedini went up in smoke driving these speakers. Not kidding- big expensive stinky mess. My highest recomendation are loudspeakers by Shahinian Acoustics. At $4000 the Obelisk or world class sound with $8500 Hawks. I have the $12,000 Diapasons and gush with enthusiasm for these things. In my opinion and my wifes, these blow away every loudspeaker we have heard (some costing $75,000). The sound is easy to describe---Real!!! Unlimited dynamics!!! Vocals stunningly real- Acoustic instruments unbelievable. From the other room you would swear a band is playing. I'm not exagerating. Scott Markwell reviewed the Hawks on AVguide.com. He as well as John Marks of Stereophile, Peter Thomson of Plinius and John Bedini are owners of these magnificent loudspeakers. Unfortunately you need to go to Richards shop in New York if you want to audition them. The down side to the quest for the best.
Soundlabs are easier to hear. If your thinking of that route then go with Duke. He is truly first class, honest individual. Last I knew, he would reimburse you for the cost of travel to New Orleans for an audition if you ended up buying the speakers. You should verify that with him!!
You are missing a super deal. The VMPS RM 40's are to be listened to if you are serious. They are actually planar drivers. You can find more info at audiocircle.com in the VMPS forum. These must be heard and the price is excellent. There's a reason they've received so much rave from owners. You would be remiss if you did not investigate these. Cheers
All the above are great things to try.
Don't rule out the Von Schweikirt line; those speakers are quite passinate.
Frieds are another great,great speaker.
If you love ribbons, as I do, the Red Rose Classic has a sound that is to die for. Smooooth, defined, soulful, and powerful.
At a much lower price there are the Newform research ribbons.
All these speakers are a fairly benign load that Alephs should easily drive.