Attractive Bookshelf - Under $3k

I'm looking to upgrade my Dali Ikon IIs for a living room, where the aesthetics are a big part of the decision.  I'm heavily leaning towards the SF Sonetto IIs, but I've never heard them, and that is purely based on the appearance and a few reviews.  I plan to drive these with a Belles Aria integrated.  I know it's a long list, but I'm just hoping for some thoughts, or perhaps a good reason (or not) to go with the Sonettos.  While I'd love to listen to them all, It's unlikely that I'll find them on display.  I've already heard the Vandersteen CT which was when I auditioned my amp and think they're awesome.  I'm just not sure they're "pretty" enough for the room.


Triangle    40th Aniversary Comète
Sonus Faber    Sonetto II
Dynaudio     Special 440
Dynaudio     Evoke 20
Focal    Kanta no 1
Focal     Aria 906
Vandersteen    VLR Wood
Vandersteen    VLR CT
Dali    Rubicon 2
Harbeth    P3ESR XD
ProAc    Tablette 10
ProAc    Tablette 10 Signature
Fyne    F500 SP


Thank you everyone for the informative responses, and apologies for not responding sooner.  From the feedback provided, I started to put together a flexible shortlist, and some of my reasoning.

Vandersteen    VLR CT - I also heard these with my Belles from Johnny, and though they were awesome, so must be considered.

Salk - A name I've never heard until a few days ago, along with the number of people who suggested, I love number of different finishes, and find it very interesting to see a variety of models at the same price point.   I also like the idea that they're handmade, and don't mind waiting a while for it.  After all, that's part of what I found appealing with the Belles, hand made in the USA.

Sonos Faber Sonetto II - I've always thought they just look great.



After showing my wife the Salk Songtower and explaining that it is only 8" wide (44.5 H x 8 W x 12 D), a thin tower is now an option.  And then it got better.  She asked me, "If you spend $5k, will they really be much better?", and then upped the budget to $5k.  There's 1 minor catch.  As the reason for a bookshelf because the speaker needed to be above any objects directly blocking it (like a chair), I'll need to have the bottom of the lowest driver at least 30" off the ground.

So I'm not sure if I need to start a new thread on a new topic due to the increased budget and now open to a few thin floor standers with highly positioned drivers.

I showed her the Dali Rubicon 5 in walnut and she loved it.  I'm slightly partial to these as well because I've been very happy with my Ikon IIs.  The salesmen at the time described them as a lot of bang for buck, and I agree, so I'd expect similar with the higher end models.

So is it a no brainer to get a tower, or is there the opinion that high end bookshelf can easily compete with a quality tower in terms of the low end frequency range?

the Sonners look great too (never heard of them, but. Good reviews)

I am not sure the SF is the best bang for the buck 

I would stay away from the Dali, not the same quality as the rest of your list

It's interesting you mention the build quality of the Dali.  I'm right now contemplating ordering replacement grills for my Ikon IIs as they got damaged, and when I tried to repair, seemed a bit flimsy.  There's also a small section where the veneer seems to be not just right.

I also noticed that even the Epicon (top of the line) mas made out of MDF.  At the risk of asking an overly subjective question, is wood always better than MDF?


I honestly don't know if MDF is worse than wood FOR a speaker. A lot of great speakers are made with MDF, because it can be used and built in ways wood couldn't be. 

And to be fair, if you love the look of the Dali and the sound, and you compared it to other speakers, no one should steer you away from it. My opinion is based on what I read. 

you seem to like Danish speakers, and I do too. I'd check out Buchardt speakers too, (I couldn't, none in my area, but decent return policy)