Gershman Gaps or even the Avant Garde.
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InnerSound Eros -- An electrostatic hybrid that is musical and refined and will play at very loud levels if need be. It has inspired both tears and goosebumps at my home. Beat my previous servo-amped Acoustat IIIs and the B&W CDM 9NTs I have presently in a second system. Provides truly amazing performance for the dollar when properly set up. Is more efficient than Martin Logans, more dynamic, and more coherent to my ears.
I have recently been in search for a "cost no object" (within reason for me) speaker. I have listnened to quite a few and have found that most of the time, the difference in price does not correlate with the sonic gain, except for two speakers.
The Rockport Antares and the Kharma Exquisites are the exception. I heard the Rockports in a somewhat difficult room (very low ceiling) and they were MAGNIFICENT! They absolutely disappeared and were so seamless, it was reminiscent of a planar / ribbon with none of the drawbacks associated with those types. The Exquisites did the same for me. Both are gorgeously built, neutral and incredibly dynamic. I wish I had the opportunity to hear them in the same room, but alas, that was not possible. Both were on a totally different sonic level than I have heard before.
Gosh ladies and gents. Is nobody out there familiar with the Revel Salons and Studios? The Salons were Stereophile's speaker of the year last year, and the Studios were there pick this year. And you can now find them out there at a decent price if you are looking for pre-owned.
I know that Stereophile is a breed of highbrows who get some special treatment from the high end industry, but they are right on the money with the Revels. I have spent many hours around a set of Salons, and, because of room limitations, I opted for a set of Studios. I am driving them with a Wadia 860 cd player and biamped Levinson 332's.
I agree that the Studio Grand was a great speaker IF properly set up. But, I also agree with the designer that the older Diva was better.
Did you ever hear the "cost no object" Apogee Grands at $85,000? Talk about goose bumps!
In my personal opinion (and prior to his making speakers, Dan D'Agostino's pick of the "best speaker on the planet"), the greatest speakers are actively bi-amped B&W800's.
I was a good little soldier in the army of electrostatic lovers until I heard the Revel Salons. Against the Martin Logan Prodigy, they made me realize (and quickly) that the big soundstage that good electrostatics throw can be as much a function of panel size as it is of source material.
The Salons can seem smaller on some material, but thats responsiveness, not lightness. For my wallet, they constitute a "price no object" purchase, and they still make me shiver when I hear the bass solo in Lonnie's Lament on Coltrane's Crescent.
Tannoy Churchills.....I heard these monsters at Peak Audio. They are big handsome boxes. A dolly was sitting in the theatre room when I walked by. It was for the crossovers....They ran the monsters with bryston, E.A.R. arcam fm23 gear with siltech gen3 cabeling. They were big, loud, live sounding....not my favourite speaker but like my newforms, whenever they changed something on them you heard it, immediatedly..a great speaker but not everyone's cup of tea. We actually preferred vocals on the sim amp when it was tried. Here in Nova Scotia, people are starting to clue in the little $400US axion 22SE speaker. A friend, whose ears I do trust is taking a pair home. Soundstage raved them...we'll see....also another friend is running original Quads....he hasn't bought anything since he got them except music....cheers
Kwb and/or those who haven't seen this one yet who might enjoy a bit of levity: I presently have an auction running at eBay of a pair of speakers that DO seem to live up to your standard, i.e., they bring tears to my eyes, albeit NOT by way of their sonic attributes! Here's an excerpt from an unsolicited email one recent viewer sent me: "Good evening, Just re-read your listing (I read it previously on your initial listing) only this time I encouraged my wife to sit in on the reading...We laughed ourselves sick, as I did the first time through..." Frankly, I don't feel it's really that funny, but IMHO it IS at least worth your having a look. If interested, check out: http://cgi.ebay.aol.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1303949992
If necessary, I apologize in advance for deviating from the straight and narrow.
This of course depends on musical tastes, but since I do not listen to heavy metal or rap at 110dB sound levels, the Soundlab M-1's must be given consideration as one of the all time great cost no object speakers. I have had extensive listening experience with the Revel Salons in my room, and the Salon's do not have the ability to portray microdymaics and scale of the musical experience like the M-1's. I also find bothersome inconsistancies within drivers of the Revels that simply do not exist with the single full range panel of the M-1's. Certainly the Salons have macrodynamics that an electrostat can not approach, but the M-1's come very close. The midrange is simply stunning with the M-1's. The microdynamics and tonal qualities of instruments cannot be reproduced by the Salons as convincingly as heard with the M-1's. The M-1's are easily the least fatiquing speaker to listen to for hours on end. The only other cone-based speaker system I have heard that might approach this charcter is the KEF Maidstone. Having likewise spent time with the Innersound Eros and various Martin Logan speakers (CLS's and hybrid models), the Soundlab M-1's exist in a class beyond what these other speakers are capable of offering to the musical experience. I feel the M-1's exceed the performance of the great Apogee Studio Grands. Given the trade offs one encounters with speaker systems as well as musical tastes, the M-1 msut be considered a great speaker and a true bargin for its performance is far beyond what price would suggest.