These are under your budget, but what about Vandersteen 5A and Egglestonworks Andra II? Neither is exactly great looking, of course. And what about the latest Revels, or do you have the latest?
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I have heard the Vandersteen 5, (but not the 5A), and while good, it did not thrill me that much. Its looks are okay, and I could live with it though.
I have not heard the Andra II, but I have read good things about it. But its looks would probably elict a "No Go" from the wife. (Even I am not partial to the looks of them).
I thought about the MBL, and have heard them at shows, but they too are rather expensive, and the one that I could afford, the 111E, is not really full range either. (But I would put it in the same category as the Avalon Eidolon Diamond).
And I forgot to mention that I am not really a horn fan. So the TAD is probably not in the competion. (The only horn speaker that I ever liked was the Acapella, and those are, again, really expensive for the full range model.)
The Evolution Acoustics were suggested by a friend, (I think I could afford the MMTwo), but the looks are not something that I think I want to look at for the next ten or twenty years. (That WAF thing would again come up too!)
I have not seen the Pass Labs Rushmore yet, (and they don't mention it on their website), but I will check into it.
The Sonicweld are not my taste aesthetically at all, and the Polymer Audio Reseach, while okay looking, is not that good looking (a box), and it is not quite full range either.
Thanks for the recommendations, and if you think of anymore, pass them along.
Kurt, my setup is somewhat similar to yours and I had Revel Studios on loan for over a month and really liked most of what they did.
But in the end sent them back to the dealer in favor of Verity Parsifal. These speakers really make music.
Btw, the setup includes Basis 2500, Vector, Shelter 90X, Tom Evans Groove to Lamm pre and Lamm M1.1 amps.
So my advice is to look into the Parsifal or Sarastro as possible options.
I think you owe it to yourself to hear the Linkwitz Orion even though they are much cheaper than your budget (around $9k fully built). Your earlier ML speakers indicate that you are open to the idea of a dipole speaker.
I heard them at an owner's house and they were wonderful even though I ended up with Quad 2805 (I live in an apartment where low level performance trumps the much higher SPL and low bass of the Orions).
They are surprisingly small and you can get them in almost any color or wood that you like. This may help a lot in getting your wife's acceptance.
One problem though: You Lamm will go unused, that may be hard to accept.
Well, I really like (love actually) the looks of the Rockport Antares in the Lamborgini grey. (It is a metallic grey that really looks classy, in a modern sort of way, IMHO.)
Also, I like the looks of the Sonus Faber Stradivari. Again, just classic looks, but with a modern flare. (I am somewhat surprised that I like them actually, as they are rather tall, which I am not into that much, but since they are somewhat thin in depth, it seems to work for me.)
(FYI: I like the looks of the original Revel Studios, the ones that I own, (with the piano black body and the aluminium side panels), as they have a modern flare to them, without looking robotic, (like the Wilson speakers do). On the other hand, I do not like the looks of the new Studio speakers, although I have only seen them via pictures, and not in person. Too bland.)
The Avalon Eidolon Diamonds have classic looks and lines, (and I actually prefer it to the Isis for looks alone). The Avalon Sentinel is a bit much, IMHO.
I don't much like really tall speakers anymore, so the Dali Megalines, and the Pipedreams and all of those 7-8 foot tall behemoths are just not to my liking, and my wife would probably bury me in the box they came in, if I were to bring some of those home. (FYI, I have a fair amount of art work on the walls, and having such tall speakers interferes with the viewing angles to the art work. I'm a multicultural art lover, as I like to both listen to, and see, the art that I own, and at the same time no less!)
I seriously thought about the Andra IIs, but the more I looked at them, the less I liked their looks.
Wow, we do have similar systems.
I will check out the Verity line. Thanks!
FYI, do youself a favor and see if you can beg, borrow or steal a Dynavector XV-1S cartridge to test it out. It is a real improvement on the Shelter 90X. (Which was my previous cartridge, for the past two years, that I just upgraded from, just a couple of months ago!) It has virtually the same bass response (which was the Shelter 90X's claim to fame). It might be just a smidgen less bass extension, (but very, very close), but it is a bit tighter bass. The mid-range and treble are more refined, and the noise floor is considerably quieter. And the soundstaging and imaging are incredible. (My studio speakers have virtually disappeared on most recordings!) It is just a more refined cartridge all around. (I think I will be sticking with this cartridge for a long time!) :-)
Thanks again for the tip about the Verity speakers.
Did you go the 2007 RMAF? Plenty to listen to there, so if you didn't, then you may want to consider going in 2008. Of course, such a venue has severe inherent limitations, and it's very difficult to compare and contrast entire rooms because of differing electronics, music, etc. So trying to compare and contrast individual components and speakers is even tougher, in my opinion. But it's still probably better than doing no comparative listening at all, especially if you're planning to sink such a huge amount of money into speakers.
As long as we're naming so many speakers, how about the Hansen .
Here's a link so you can view the line. I heard them at CES, best sound at the show in my opinion. Note: the speakers DO have grill's, which seems to not be shown on web site images.
I own Verity Parsifal Encores (previous generation of the Parsifal) and they are wonderful. I also own SF Cremonas and Merlin VSMs which are, respectively, a bit warmer and a beat leaner than the Verities. All are manageable size, good looking (great in the case of the Cremona), full range (to below 30hz in my room), and fit your budget. Depending on preference for tonal balance and looks, any of the three may do the trick.
One more thought is the Salk HT-3, a DEQX based speaker that is reasonable in size and housed in beautiful cabinetry. However, while the DEQX will offer great in room bass and optimized x-overs, it will require ADC for your phono source, as well as tri-amping. I thought it worth mentioning, nonetheless.
Not to start a war with Audiofeil. I always suggest everyone to trust his/her own ears, there are tons of great reviews on Usher BE-10/20 and I am a believer after hearing them a few times, your Rockport Antares friend can tell you what I have owned in the past (over 30 pairs and keeps on growing). Usher is super detail, produces the most realistic leading edge attack, and the micro dynamic is second to none. It might not be everyone's cup of tea; Audiofeil for one does not like them.
There is a dealer in Campbell that has them on display, go hear them.
No war at all, you're entitled to an opinion.
I don't care what reviewers think; they are paid entertainers trying to make a living.
However, in almost 50 years of listening I find the BE-10 and BE-20 to be extraordinarily ordinary, fatigueing, and incredibly overpriced. I'd own comparably priced models from Vandersteen, Verity, Revel, Aerial, and even Wilson before those underachievers.
To each his own.
Apparently, you also live in the bay area, and you know our mutual friend with the Antares Rockport speakers.
Re: Usher Speakers,
I should relate, (although, you probably know this already), that he and I went to CES (last year) and we specifically made it a point to hear the Usher speakers (both of us wanted to hear them, as we both were in the market for an upgrade, albeit he more than I at the time, as he had not yet gotten the Antares). Now, admittedly the electronics that they were using were merely mediocre, and the room was not good (when are they at a CES?!), but still, the sound from the big Usher was pretty disappointing nonetheless.
However, you are correct, that perhaps I should give them a shot again, in better surroundings, as I too have read some really good reviews, and they are not a bad looking speaker.
As far as the store in Campbell, I assume that is Nick's True Sounds store? (That is the only stereo store in Campbell that I know.) And, I will be honest and state that I dislike using audio stores for my auditions, and prefer to either use my friends experience, or better yet, listen to friends systems, to see what I like. Our mutual friend, has allowed me to experience quite a few pieces of high end gear in his system, and my knowledge base has grown considerably because of this. (Plus, it seems somewhat dishonest to me, to use a store's facilities, when I know I will not be buying from them.)
Re: Revel Salons,
I briefly thought about the Salons, but they are just bigger Studios, and while having full range would be great, (and a nice step up), it still would be the exact same sonics, and while I really like the Revel sound, I want something, well, different. (I am looking for a more refined sound, and while the Revel Ultima series is very good, I am looking for great, and I realize that I will need to pay through the nose to get it!)
Re: Verity Speakers,
I have researched (but have not heard, obviously!), the Verity line. I am not sure if these are for me. One thing that I want is a full range speaker, and that probably means one of the larger Verity speakers, like the Sarastro. But, in his review of said speaker, Mikey Fremer states that these speakers need to be pulled into the room so that they are four feet from the wall, or else they will sound boomy. This would not be workable in my living room. (A couple of feet, sure thing, as that is how my Studios are now, but four feet is just not workable due to the WAF, and even I would not want a speaker that far out from the wall in the room as it currently is set up, and I really don't want to rearrange the room, as it does sound pretty darn good as it is currently arranged.)
I will keep researching some of the other speakers that have been recommended. Thanks guys, and if you think of any other speakers, feel free to suggest them too!
Hansen Audio! The Prince V2. I haven't seen them used yet, but they are an incredible speaker. They have a sense of refinement I've not experienced in any of my previous speakers. I sold my Evolution Acoustics MM2's to buy them. I haven't experienced one moment of regret. You have to hear them to fully appreciate them.
The Italian company Opera (a favorite of Sam Telig) makes some very nice (and gorgeous looking) speakers. I own the Quinta, which is not in the range that you are looking at, but is beautiful sounding and very well made. They make a couple of upper range models: the Tebaldi and the Caruso. Their website is www.operaloudspeakers.com.
I started following the USHER speakers every since I heard them at the Stereophile Show in SF a few years back. That was probably the best demo they've ever had. I've not been impressed with any of their setups since then(Hi-Fi Tapei, Stereophile L.A., RMAF) I was even disappointed when I heard them at their flagstore in Taipei.
But I recently heard them at the Audible Art when BAAS (Bay Area Audiophile Society) organized an event at the location a few weeks ago. They had all VTL equipment and an VPI HRX/Airtight PC-1 driving the BE-20. I was really impressed. A friend of mine who had auditioned the BE lines extensively when he was in Taiwan said that this setup was the best he's heard. He had previously audition the BE-10 at the same store before as well and told me it was not worth going there.
But these have large foot prints, I think they are even too big for the listening room of our mutual friend who owns the Antares.
As for Verity speakers. The bass unit can be turned to fire forward. I had the same concern, but Verity told me to set them up facing backward first. At first, the bass was bloomy, but I was able to solve the issue w/ some home-built room lens. You'll see when you come by. Mine are about 3 feet away from the backwall.
I have a pair of the BC Acoustique model A4's. These stand almost 5 feet tall and weigh 178 pounds each side NET!
Price is only $12,500 or so and these are full range.
I think you should check this company out. These are incredible sounding, full range speakers and the best part is that they are 4ohm impedence and 95dB efficient.
For the money, they danced in circles around many more expensive brands/models I tried.
Ironically I find myself agreeing with the very outspoken Audiofeil, esp. with regards to Usher. I haven't heard a speaker using metal tweeters that is tolerable and sounds like music. I tend to find ribbons unacceptable as well. Yet I do appreciate HF extension and air, just not at the expense of imposing unnatural zinginess, grain, and etch.
FYI: As an update to this thread, I did upgrade my speakers about six months ago to the Eggleston Works Andra II speakers. (I found a very lightly used pair for sale locally at a great price. The seller even let me try them out first in my system.)
They are indeed a more refined speaker than the Revel Studios, especially in treble response. (The Isotar tweeter is amazing, IMHO.) They also image and soundstage better than the Studios.
The bass response is defintely more forceful, which is both a good, and a not so good, thing. Good, because now there is that chest thump that I was looking for. Not so good, in as that there is a small mid-bass hump, which I feel will require some room treatments to solve. It is also possible that the cause of this mid-bass hump is the room itself. (FYI: It is not a huge mid-bass hump as it is still very listenable even with it, but it is worth mentioning in case anyone else is following this thread.) I am probably nit-picking about this particular sonic attribute, but given the system I have put together, this is about the only thing I have left to nit-pick, and being an audiophile means picking nits, if you know what I mean!
All in all I am very happy with the Eggleston Works Andra II speakers.
PS Their looks, originally a stumbling block to my picking them, look much, much, better than the picture you see of them on the Eggleston Works website (and in all the reviews). That picture gives them a barn like appearance, IMHO, which I did not like. When in fact, in person, they look great actually, especially with the black granite sides. And I much prefer their looks with the grills on, unlike how they are shown in said picture. (And since they have an incredibly thin fabric grill that does not affect the sonics, this is not a problem.)
I live in the pro studio world and very rarely audition consumer electronic products. We like to refer to your world as the "dark side," where consumers routinely get screwed buying into the hype of the next new and greatest sonic invention. I rely on products that are true reference products, bombproof, reasonably priced, and can't afford to have ANY down time. Companies like ATC, Chord and Benchmark.
Occasionally, I stumble across consumer electronic products that just sound right. With that said, I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard from Dali (The Ikon 6 is a steal at $1,600) and TAD/Pioneer's new EX line. I have a friend who is the father of HD television editing and he has wonderful KEF 207 speakers.
Given your budget, you might want to "downsize" into pro products that, IMHO, deliver striking price for performance, rather than some flash in the pan reviewed product that will be yesterday's news in 2010. Your consumer electronics industry delivers that worst depreciation of any product category--usually 50 to 80% off the retail price over a three year period. If you have money to burn, fine. I just can't get excited about buying the sonic road kill being offered up in the threads above.