Audio nirvana starts with Lowther/Korneff 45 DH SET this combo left my Maggies in the dust.
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I also disagree. My Acoustic Energy 1 Signatures seem to match most electrostats in detail and soundstaging, and no electrostat I have ever heard has enough DYNAMICS to sound real to me. A drum kick should hit me in my gut, not gently caress my face. Some people live for electrastats, so its a personal thing.........
You wrote: "...or go for a middle class Avalon?"
Avalon = Middle Class?
Did you mean that you thought Avalon speakers are middle class, or did you mean picking a middle of the Avalon line (i.e. Opus)?
Avalon speakers, especially the Eidolons, are not middle class, in any way, shape or form. With the right equipment, (which means only the best electronics, as well as a very powerful amp), these speakers give you the very best sound. (At least the best sound that I have ever heard, and that includes stereo stores or stereo shows).
A friend of mine has them, after he had experimented with Martin Logan, Thiel, etc.. In fact, after hearing his setup, I gave up my Martin Logan speakers (Sequel II's), in order to upgrade to the Revel Studios. My new speakers have several qualities better than my Martin Logans, including better soundstaging, dynamics, LF response. (I believe that the Martin Logans are good, just not as good.)
While I have not heard the Soundlabs, I have heard the Quads. I like them quite a bit, but not more than either the Avalon Eidilon or my Revel Studio, although, better than the Avalon Opus, (which just seemed to lack a certain something).
Therefore, in my opinion, the planer/electrostatics do not necessarily mean best. (Although, I will admit, that my previous favorite was the Apogee Diva speaker, which was of the planer (ribbon) type of speaker!)
In addition, planer/electrostatics do not necessarily need more power than more convential speakers, as the Eidolons like to have 400W/ch to really bloom, and my Revel Studios like 200W/ch. (Although the Divs's would eat power for lunch, since they dipped down below 1 ohm, ouch!)
Those are my two cents worth anyway.
I have heard Avalon Eioldon speakers at a friends house and was very impressed with their musicality. He was using wonderful tube mono blocks made by (Nervostatic or something close to that - the guy that made the well regarded speakers). I really enjoyed them. Having said that, I really love my Martin Logan ReQuest speakers with cj tubes running them. It is the end of the road for me as I can't see spending a lot more money when I am extremely satisfied with my system now.
I think that stats and tubes are pretty much it with the exception of slam and dynamics.
Quad's are hard to beat, especially for jazz, but as others have said there are tradeoff's. Dynamic compression is the major one, sound level (not for jazz) is the secord one - they don't play loud, and pinpoint imaging can be hard to come by - reduces apparent resolution at times. They are not plug and play (for best results) and require careful placement and room treatment to get their best. Amplification makes a huge difference as well. After 5 years I got some full range dynamic's based on Dynaudio drivers and haven't looked back (much!-I still haven't sold the Quads!) In my book, for low to medium volume listening you just can't beat properly set up electrostats.
Every single speaker will require some type of trade-off.
I owned the Innersound Eros MKII electrostatic and it was a great speaker - the problem was the sweet spot was only about a foot wide. I heard the Martin Logan CLS and it sounded great - although to me it lacked bass and for my experience, driven by Krell electronics, it wasn't able to go very loud before it clipped. Then I purchased a Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III and I thought/think that's a great speaker as well. In the end it's all a personal choice, I will stay with Von Schweikert.
Best of Luck