Another 2,000 Speaker Question

First off, let me say that I am not an audiophile, but a music lover (which means I need help!). I would like to start building my system by replacing the (mostly junk) I have currently with a quality system. Unfortunately, I am also not near a good high end dealer. The listening room is rectangular, but the speakers would fire across, not down, the room. I listen to blues, rock, acoustic music, some jazz, but little classical. I recently read a review in Stereophile regarding the Magnepan 3.6 speakers; while those are out of my price range, I often see the 3.5's used for about 2,000 or so. What are your thoughts regarding the 3.5's vs. the 1.6 Magnepans? I currently have a McIntosh amp, which will eventually have to be replaced (sooner rather than later if I go with the Maggies due to their power requirements) Does anyone have any thoughts regarding non-electrostatics in this price range, such as the PSB GOlds or Paradigm 100's? Also, have you had success with used components and their value vs. brand new product lines? Any help is appreciated.
I recently hear another Paradigm near but not at that price point driven by NAD electronics and a good (CAL CL-10)CD player. I felt that they imaged very well and had lots of detail, but maybe were a little "hi-fi ish". It was in a demo room with lots of other speakers and a TV monitor, so under better conditions, probably would have awesome imaging. As far as used goes, that's the beauty of this site; lots of good stuff and with a pretty efficent market. So far, have not yet had a problem with my many purchases here. Best of luck (and you probably could get a nice pair of Vandersteen 3a sigs in your budget range; lots of choices if you go with used, altho with big heavy speakers there's always the issue of physical condition and shipping.) Best of luck.
I have owned the Maggies 3.5Rs for two and 1/2 years now and have never regreted it. I listen to mostly acoustic jazz and jazz vocals and I have yet to hear any speakers in this price range sound as musical. I haven't heard the 1.6's to compare but they are probably not quite as bright as the 3.5s. You will need a reasonably large room to let these speakers breath. They have great soundstaging as long they are 3 or 4 feet away from the side and rear walls. If you listen to a lot of rock or electric blues, some recordings will make the 3.5s may sound a little bright. You would need to make sure your source components match up to your type of listening. Also, be prepared to spend many late nights for speaker placement (with all speakers of course but especially with the Maggies)but once you get them right, they sound beautiful! Since you are upgrading your electronics, before you purchase a new amp, you may want to check into biamping the Maggies, I have been biamping mine for a year now and it makes a big difference. Hope this helps and happy listening.
Thanks for the help, Sdzink and Swampwalker. The room is 15 by 20, and the speakers will go on the longer wall. Is this room big enough? On rock and electric blues, do you think that they will sound too bright, or can interconnects, source components, or amplification smooth this out?
I think the most important factors to consider are what your tastes are. You have already listed your musical tastes. Now it's time to consider the "type of sound" you enjoy. Perhaps make a list of the adjectives that you want to hear in your system. Warm, neutral, analytical. Aggressive, dynamic, laid back. Do your tastes lie in the bass and treble response of the speaker, or are you more interested in midrange presentation(the old "boom and sizzle" versus "Boston bland" argument). I do like the two speakers you mentioned, and was even a dealer for PSB. One thing I can tell you, the Gold i's are incredibly demanding loudspeakers. They require a monster amp to come alive. While that makes for dynamic sound, if you are more interested in music other than blues and rock, you may be better served by another choice. I am not sure if your next(or even the current McIntosh) will be tube or solid state, but that is a MAJOR consideration. If you will buy tube, you should definitely look at more easy to drive speakers. A short list for other brands you may want to consider include B&W, Coincident, Monitor, Triangle, and Vandersteen.
Thanks for the response, Trelja. It's very difficult for me to answer you, because your questions are so thought provoking (and I don't know if I know the language correctly), but I'll give it a shot. I think I would prefer the most neutral sound possible. For instance, when I put on Train a Comin and listen to Steve Earle play acoustic guitar, I want it to sound like an acoustic guitar, in real space (I am a guitar player, so I'm probably more of an expert on that instrument than others). I would guess that I prefer a good midrange than the bass/treble, since I prefer guitar and vocal tones over bass ones and trebly instruments (not that I'd want those muffled, obviously). I think I would rather have dynamic than laid back (if that means my recordings of Modern Jazz Quartet swing) and neutral rather than warm (if that means Robert Cray's guitar sounds like it did in the studio). I hope that helps. BTW the McIntosh is solid state.
Dunlavys should work fine and give you audiophile sound on the long wall with your room dimensions, but always best to listen for yourself. The SC-1V/A is worth checking out.
You may want to check out the Reynaud speaker line. You can read reviews at for starters and search Audio Asylum forums for more info. I am an ex musician (mainly guitar but keyboard and clarinet as well, but no longer play after busting up a hand in an accident) and find even their least expensive model to be very true to the music. They are easy to drive (I am currently using 7 tube watts/channel) in a room similar in size to yours and ran them with a 50-75 watt/channell SS amps as well. The next step up from my Twins are the Trente's which retail for around $2400.00, the Twin's currently retail for approx. $850.00. They are a relatively new line in the US. If you contact the US distributor at he should be able to setup a purchase with option to return scenerio with the dealer closest to you. I realize that my comments gush a bit, but most who hear a properly broken in pair of these speakers combined with decent equipment will feel the same way I suspect. They are exceedingly musical and get the instruments (those not requiring vey low bottom frequencies for support such as pipe organ, some concert drums and the like) right. My current set up with a 300b amp has "one" of the best piano and acoustic guitar sounds that I have heard and I am including planer speakers in this history.
Given your response to Trelja's post, I second Mikec's suggestion of Dunlavy speakers, although for your price range and musical tastes you might want to think of used SC IIIs, which have good bass to 40hz or so, fine for most rock, folk and jazz (I think you'd prefer them to the less-expensive SC IIs, which might sound a little bright or lightweight due to having less bass extension). Dunlavys work well on long walls, and are relatively easy to place and drive. Very neutral, and highly involving as well. Good luck!
I think you are already farther down the road of understanding than you think. You elucidated what you like very well. It feels to me like you will be a person who concentrates on the midrange. Guitars, perhaps other instruments such as brass and woodwinds, and a realness of human voice. I think that is an excellent place to set your sights on. You were quite correct in labelling yourself more of a music lover than an audiophile. I think that the people who have the most fun in our hobby are music lovers. May I make the suggestion that somewhere down the line, you will probably become a tube lover. That is based on what your preferences are. And more specifically, you will be most captivated by the magic of the EL34. It has a glorious midrange. Wonderful with guitar and the human voice. Not the best at either extreme, but you won't worry. The sense of realness and palpability of the music will keep you more than captivated. That being said, please at least audition the easier drive speakers. Coincident, Soliloquy, and Triangle should all be given consideration. They are different in sound, yet they are all great. The Reynauds are highly touted, but I cannot comment on them, as I have not had the fortune of listening to them. But, if I were you, I would make it a point. Good Luck!
I hesitated making Trelja's suggestion earlier, as you are focusing on speakers now, but I was thinking the same thing. The Dunlavy IIIs are, as I said, easy to drive, and my personal view from having listened to them for many years at my dealer's and from having owned John Dunlavy's previous design, Duntechs, is that they come alive with tubes in the midrange, so you can keep them on the list of speakers that will do well with tubes. Since you had asked about them, Maggies are excellent speakers as well, but the 3.5s really need a lot of power and a good deal of room, as noted above, to come alive; not sure about power requirements for the 1.6s, have heard them only with 200 watt solid state amps (I personally like them better than the 3.5s, and they might be a better choice for you as they don't need as much space and you don't really need the extra bass of the bigger Maggies) and they do have a certain magic to them. All of the speakers I've seen mentioned in this thread with which I'm familiar get the midrange right, but they do have different presentations, overall balances and strengths; if there is any way you can hear some of them, you should try, as you may well fall in love with one of them. Perhaps there is an audio society or group in your area with members who have some of these speakers? Good luck!
I will second... or is it third the J.M. Reynaud suggestion. I own the Trentes and they are excellent. They seem to get everything right and are very musical. As a musician I'm guessing this will be important to you. If you get the speakers be sure to get the Magic Stands which are made for them. Randy at OS is a very good guy to deal with.
To everyone who has responded, I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of your help in this. I am very intrigued by what you've said about tubes, so maybe that should be the first consideration. I take it that this means the Maggies are out if I choose tubes! Do tubes do well with faster paced music or intricate rhythms? Also, I mentioned the room size as 15 X 20; I forgot to tell you that it has cathedral ceilings; will tubes still be an option? I guess I would have to match them up with speakers that don't require so much juice? Or would I go with a monitor-type speaker with the tubes and then get a powered subwoofer for the bass (or does that result in an uneven tonal presentation)? Sorry if these questions are basic in nature.
No need to apologize, some of us are still asking these questions after years in this hobby! As far as Maggies and tubes, I have not heard them with tubes, but there are internet sites of the many extremely happy Maggie owners which may be of assistance to you; perhaps someone here can give the net address. Another alternative is to use a solid state amp but a tubed preamp; I know many Maggie owners who use that combination. If you go all tubes, they will do well with intricate and fast-paced rhythms. They generally may not have the instant-on/instant-off dynamics you can get from solid state, but I feel they have a more natural portrayal of real-life dynamics that you'd hear at an unamplified concert. Keep in mind I'm a tube fan, though! The size of the room and the ceilings won't be a problem, although you may want to look for efficient speakers that don't need a lot of watts to play loud (there are very powerful tube amps out there, though). On subwoofing, we all have our opinions, mine is that most well-designed tube amps will give you good bass down to about 40-50 hz, and the quality of that bass is excellent. If most of the music you listen to does not have substantial bass content below that frequency, go with a speaker like those noted in the above posts which have reasonable bass extension, then get a subwoofer later only if you think you really need it. Integrating a subwoofer is not as easy as we'd like, and you are better off doing it at a lower frequency than a higher one, as a general rule. Hope this helps a little; I'm sure there will be helpful posts from our other members on your questions as well.
Thanks, rcprince! I am confused about ss vs. tubes, frankly. What do you feel like you gain vs. give up with tubes? Are they difficult to maintain? It does sound like tubes may be the way to go, maybe matched with some Reynauds maybe (several have suggested these, and other reviews on the net seem glowing -- no pun intended). I am also interested in the speakers you're listening to as a match with your tube equipment.
Despite horror stories from some, tubes are not at all difficult to maintain in most cases. Just remember that electronics until the late 60's were all tube. And much more of the transmitting equipment at radio/tv stations than people realize is STILL that old equipment. Some solid state people will tell you that there is some type of magic to being able to operate tube equipment. Believe me, there is not. My father has a piece of tube equipment down at our shore house that has used the same tubes since he bought it(never even touches it). And that was AT LEAST 27 years ago. Yes, you will have to learn to bias your tube power amp. But, you will only do that once in a while, or when you replace output tubes. And if you can turn a screwdriver(literally), you can bias many a tube amp. Tube amps will drive a reasonably efficient pair of speakers in your room wonderfully. Just remember that pre-WWII, VERY low watt tube amps provided the sound for places like movie theaters, etc. What tubes do well is the midrange(most instruments and the human voice). To many of us out here, it becomes incredibly more real and alive than with a solid state amp. Now, you will not usually be able to run with ss in the deep bass or far treble, but depending upon your speakers, there is a good chance you may not even care about it. And by the way, my feeling is that you get the speakers first, and worry about amplification somewhere down the road. You have a nice list here. Coincident, Dunlavy, Reynaud, Soliloquy, and Triangle. You may also want to look at Vandersteen. Although they didn't match up with your initial list, you never know...
Trelja's post is, as usual, on the mark. I'm not the world's most technical guy, but I've had no trouble dealing with my Audio Research and now Jadis tubed equipment since I was weaned from solid state about 12-13 years ago. There is obviously more maintenance involved, as you eventually do have to replace tubes, and you may have to adjust bias (although some tube equipment is self-biasing). The sonic trade-offs with solid state are pretty much as Trelja states; there are also a lot of threads on this topic you could take a look at here, as you will see it is a never-ending debate. To me, tubes just do a better job of conveying the soul of the music, rather than the technical strengths and weaknesses of the recording itself. As far as what speakers I use, that wouldn't help you much, as I have a four-piece system which is not yet, to its designer's chagrin, commercially available, where I use tubed amps for the satellites above 200 hz and solid state amps for below 200hz (I listen to a lot of full scale orchestral and organ music, so I need the last octave of bass). I'd still prefer a tubed amp for below 200hz, but finding one that will handle 20 to 40hz is difficult and expensive. Trelja's also correct in that you should probably focus on the speakers now, just keeping in mind the possibility of tubes for the future. Too many choices at once can lead to audiophilia nervosa, or something like that!
a good compromise re: tubes vs solid-state, both for sonics, mainytenance, & ability to drive difficult speakers, would be to go w/a tubed preamp & a solid-state amp. many (myself included) are wery happy w/this arrangement.

re: speakers, i'd tink that maggies wood be wery difficult to properly place in your room, especially along the long wall. they need a *lot* of space behind them, & to the sides... others have mentioned dunlavy's as doing well along a long wall of a room - this is true, & dunlavy's are excellent-sounding speakers, imho, but thew have a *very* small sweet-spot, even when set-up perfectly.

if ya like the e-stat sound of the maggies, i'd inwestigate newform research's r645 (as many a-gon regulars know, and are prolly sick of hearing, i'm saving up for these!). they go for $2265 delivered, ya have a 30-day in-home trial, & if ya don't like 'em, yure only out return-shipping. also, at 91db/1w/1m, they're sensitive enuff to be used w/toobs, tho the owner/designer recommends solid-state digital amps. i currently own speakers that retailed for $3800, but, based upon owner comments on audioreview, i wanna czech these out. a few happy owners have also posted their comments here. the ancillary equipment used, and speakers compared, are really quite impressive...

good luck, doug

In the 2k range the Martin Logan SL 3 is a great transparent speaker- they are originally 3500 but sell for 2 and under on the used market.
I agree with Ljgj. The SL3 can be placed in your room. It has probably one of the most revealing mid ranges around. I few cautionary points: You probably won't want to drive these with tubes--while you can--and they sound great--they need a lot of current, which puts you into big buck tube amps. Sedond's suggestion of a tube pre and solid state power is a very good one for these speakers. Another important point--what is behind the speakers? If it's curtains--well, then it's curtains for these speakers--they need a sonically reflective wall behind them, otherwise the soundstage collapses.
Thanks, Sedond. I read the reviews on on the speaker you referred to. I don't think I've seen a collection of reviews that positive on anything. It's in my price range as well. I particularly liked the one reviewer who mentioned Keb Mo's Just Like You album, which is the type of music I mainly listen to. It can also handle tube and/or SS with it's sensitivity (is that the right word) So many options! As far as your compromise, I was thinking about getting speakers (all of the ones recommended here sound intriguing, though electrostatic vs. cone is up in the air), amp (possibly tube), and cd player w/volume (older units by Resolution Audio? or Wadia have been auctioned for reasonable amounts on this site) and foregoing the preamp. My other option is using the digital out on my Sony DVD player to a newer Digital processor (the MSB Link III's upsampling, for example seems like it's getting a lot of press), and getting a preamp. Any thoughts (I probably enraged about 90% of the readers reading this due to these equipment choices!).

Ljgj, thanks for the recommendation. A friend of mine just bought the Aerius second hand and has been gushing ever since about it. I may get a chance to audition at least its little brother.

Tubes sound the way to go for me, thanks Trelja and rcprince. I only purchase tube amps for guitar amplification due to their tone and 3-D quality; I guess much of the same concepts apply in audio (obviously audio components are far superior). I like the comment regarding the naturalness of the dynamics, I think that's right where I'd be going.
undertaker, while i really like the martin logan cls (tho they don't go loud enuff for me on many types of music i listen to), except for m-l's top-line models, i've never cared for their hybrids - but, ymmv.

re: not using a preamp, my experience is a nice toob preamp w/a not-too-expensive cd-player, will beat out a moderately-expensive cd-player, run straight in. (again, while there are many who will agree w/me on this, there are also others who don't!) and, a good toob preamp will drastically reduce the differences between inexpensive & moderately-expensive cd-players, imo. of course, i also listen to a lot of vinyl, *and* a lot of fm, so no preamp is not an option for me.

regards, doug

Undertaker4, I was waiting for the electrostat users to show up. You should make a point of listening to your friend's M-L, as the transparency of the midrange may be your cup of tea, and the lack of deep bass may not upset you. Abstract7's cautions are excellent, and you should heed them. As far as the preamp/no preamp debate goes, I think that if you like the tube amps sound, you should consider going with a tubed preamp as well. Going straight into the amps with a CD player will give you better dynamics (I actually tried this with my Jadis tubed preamp, which clearly softened the initial edge of transients but, again, in a way I find more approximates a concert hall) and probably a little more low level detail, but you may lose a little of the tube dimensionality and, all right, I'll say it, pleasing harmonic distortions(!). The main reason, though, would be for the possibility of using other sources, be they a tuner, SACD, DVD-Audio or, most importantly, vinyl. BTW, my brother is a guitarist as well (I am too, but only acoustic these days), and he also prefers using tubed guitar amps for the reasons you mentioned.
Again, thanks everyone. Has anyone had success with integrated amps from Jadis or Manley? I continue to read up on all this stuff, and was wondering if a relatively easy to drive speaker with one of these amps may be the ticket. Let's say I narrow it down to the Reynauds or the Newform Research; since I don't have a dealer for either one, what will be the differences that I hear? The big maggies are probably too much for my room, I guess, but some of the other speaker options sound great. The ss amp w/tube preamp sounds good too; how would that compare to a tube integrated? Thanks in advance!
undertaker, ewe mite wanna look into the pathos classic one integrated - this is a drop-dead georgeous integrated w/a tubed preamp & solid-state amp. also has remote. retails for ~$1900, i've seen used/demo's for ~$1k-$1.3k. may be there's still one f/s here on a-gon.

re: newform vs reynauds, whle i can't offer comparisons, unfortunately, perhaps ewe can get reynauds (or another *finalist*?) in yer house at the same time as, say, the newforms, w/a similar no-obligation audition - then ewe could compare 'em both & send back the one ya like the least. yule only be out the shipping - seems like it wood be a worthehile inwestment...

regards, doug

Undertaker, please don't lose fact, that which ever speaker you decide to audition, buy, demo etc. That you will be placing them on the long wall. Not all speakers and probably most will sound better on your short wall. I own Aerial 10t and this speaker will not work well on the long wall. One of the most or maybe the most critical factor in obtaining good sound starts with the room and placement. Maybe others can direct you to some sites about this subject. I suggest you find the best speakers in your budget that will work best in your particular room. Fuel for thought.
Thanks, Mikec. That was kind of why I had the Mag 3.5's in mind at the start of the thread, because the reviewer described his room dimensions as similar to mine, and said that he thought they did well in that setup. Unfortunately, I can't arrange the room the other way, because there are closets at one end, and the other wall in unusable as well for stereo. I'm glad you mentioned that point (due to that, does that mean that electrostatics would do better as a general rule, or does it change speaker to speaker?) I would love to know of some web sites that could give me more info. in this regard.
undertaker, i suggest ewe contact the mfr's of the models yure considering - they should be helpful in evaluating their product in reference to your set-up. i *know* john meyer of newform, will respond honestly & accurately if ya give him a call; no reason why other mfr's won't, as well...
Undertaker i'm by far not an expert and have not heard as much gear as many other posters. I'm sure that your questions are being answered by experienced and knowledgeable posters. They seem to be steering you quite well with valid answers.
The answers have been outstanding by everyone. I can't relate how much I've learned! I am getting excited about purchasing speakers, though I want to be sure I get compatible equipment with (1) music taste, (2) room positioning, and (3) potential future equipment purchases. It's a very intimidating field to leap into to someone like myself.
As I stated before, I think you are best served right now by getting your speakers first. That being said, I own a Jadis Orchestra Reference Integrated amplifier. To be brief, it is incredible. I knew I would be buying tube as opposed to solid state. I thought I would be buying a power amp, as opposed to an integrated. But when I heard the Jadis, I changed my mind... I knew it was a once in a however long time buy. I either had experience with, or went and looked at tube amps from many companies out there. AR, Air Tight, Audio Electronic Supply, Audio Note, Cary, CJ, Jadis, Jolida, Manley, Mesa, Pathos, Quicksilver, Rogue, VAC, VTL, Wavelength, etc. I found the Manley to be more along the lines of a musician's amp, as opposed to an audiophile product. Made to have a certain "tone", like a great guitar amp. There were only 3 amps that captivated me. A 2A3, an Air Tight, and the Jadis. I bought the Jadis, as it was a better real world amp than the 2A3. The advantages over the Air Tight were the fact that I can use many tubes(EL34/E34L/6CA7/KT88/6550/KT90) as opposed to only one, bass/treble controls, and cosmetics. The Jadis was able to rock out for my girlfriend's(yes, she auditioned too) dance music(HEAVY bass, and that's without jacking up the bass tone control). And Dar Williams was standing in the showroom before us singing "Southern California Wants To Be Western New York" from her Mortal City CD. I have NEVER experienced a realness to the female voice as with the Jadis. Please note that the Orchestra Reference is quite different from the Orchestra. It is in between the Orchestra and the DA30. Possessing the passive preamp section more along the lines of the Orchestra(only with tone controls), and the power amp section more along the DA-30(using KT90's, able to accept the above listed), but with cosmetics that put both to shame(girlfriend cannot complain about me putting it in a formal living room - unlike a Mesa).
Trelja, I think your post regarding tubes got me looking into my earlier post re Tube integrateds. The reference may be a little steep, but the regular orchestra is affordable; I read a review of it that had me salivating! I totally understand your discussion re: musician's amp vs. audiophile. Do you think the reg. Jadis is a good buy? If so, I think you had other speaker recommendations along those lines (I don't know if you have heard the electrostatics mentioned here, but you had 3 speaker recommendations that I have been researching diligently). Your amp sounds awesome.
Alon II
How about a PMC FB1?It is a two way floorstanding model but it's frequency response is 22hz-20khz.Best matching amp is a Bryston,PMC and Bryston combo is used in a lot of studios to monitor sound.
I just want to thank everyone for their help and advice concerning my choice of speakers. I have opted to purchase the JMR Trente loudspeakers. Since I an a newbie, I will probably opt for a CD player and integrated amp to keep the purchasing decisions as simple as possible. I have gotten strong recommendations for the Audio Refinement CD player. Thanks again for the help!
PMC FB1 speakers are just incredible. Tight tuneful bass down to 25 hz. Smooth highs with incredible extension and a highly detailed midrange. Dynamics are a real strong suit of the FB1 with imaging a close second. If Stereophile reviews these speakers there's gonna be a lot of peeved off high priced speaker manufacturers. These make a natural synergy with Bryston components. Read the reviews at
With regards to the Newform - I have a pair of the discontinued 840 or 845 I forget - I will not criticize their sound but they are not much to look at enough so my wife said bring them somewhere else. They are now in an elementary music class where looks don't matter and they have been fired up everyday - 7 hours a day - they are very sturdy in that regard.
funny how things change. i was waiting for newform's john meyer, who said he was gonna work on a design w/accuton drivers. when he abandoned that, i started looking into the vmps ribbons; now i'm leaning in that direction! ;~) another one of those "the hi-end mfr's will be pissed" kinda things, if they got reviewed in a rag like s'phile... their new retail $4600 rm40 just won best sound of the show at the recent '02 ces in las vegas.

doug s.