I would like to know how Avalon's sound compared to Wilson's. I heard that they have a similar sound, but just want to make sure from other peoples experience. I have heard, Sophia 3's, Sasha w/p, and the x2. I liked all 3 models. I haven't heard any Avalon's yet. I will definitely be looking to audition. Just thought I would ask for now.
My budget ($15k-$30k)is pretty broad for the sake of keeping an open mind. Realistically I'm thinking $20k'ish. That price is just for the pair of speakers mind you.
My current setup consists of Paradigm studio 60's v.5 (mains), cc-590 v.5 (center), studio 10's v.5 (rear's), Arcam avr-600. Primarily its an HT system, but I use it for music alot as well. It's a pretty good sounding system, but I've grown out of it for music. Its a superb setup for gaming and movies though. This is pretty much why I'm thinking of a dedicated 2ch setup.
Second option, is to upgrade my current system with better speakers. Use an outboard dac dedicated for music in conjunction with the avr-600. It would still be a 5ch system in the end though.
I spent quite a bit of time comparing Avalon Eidolon Vision, and Wilson WP8 and Sasha, before settling down on the Avalons. The two brands sound, really, as different as can be. Both are incredible speakers. It all comes down to what sound you prefer more. Sometimes I wish I had more money in my bank account, and more space in my house. I might have purchased both if I could, and enjoyed each one depending on my mood....
Wilsons are incredibly clear, resolving and detailed, with amazingly fast dynamics & bass slam. Negatives for me are that Wilsons sound too analytical and metallic (for example, a traditional violin loses its wooden-case flavor, and sounds more like an electronic violin), and cause a bit of listening fatigue. Avalons sound much more transparent, holgraphic, and tonally accurate (i.e., traditional violin sounds the way it should), and throw off a huge sound stage, although not as clear and detailed as the Wilsons. One analogy I have heard is that Wilsons are great if you want to listen to examine the quality of a CD recording, and that Avalons are great if you just want to listen to music.
One caution though. Both brands demand the very best quality in amplifiers and cables to bring out the best in them. Hate to say it, but I don't think your Arcam will cut it...
In the end, you really need to audition these speakers to decide which brand YOU (and NOT anyone else) like better, and make sure you do the speakers justice by pairing them with high quality amplifiers and cables so you can hear how incredible they can sound!
IMO, I have to agree with the above poster.Ive listened to Wilson and Avalon alot.I could easily live with the Sasha or Sophia3(both excellent speakers)but if I was dropping cash, Avalon would go home with me.
Although at times Wilson can be a fun speaker to me the Avalon makes them sound musically disjointed. The Avalons do an amazing job at blending their drivers and the speaker sounds as coherent as can be. For me this is critical in recreating the illusion of the sound of real music. That being said there are obviously many who find Wilson's sound musically rewarding.
Avalon and Wilson have different objectives in mind when it comes to reproducing sound and you have to decide which of two comes closest to the virtues you desire.
I've owned Ascent IIs, Monitors, and still own Eidolons.
After listening to WP7s, Sophia 2s, and WP8, my vote goes to Wilson. WP7 and Eidolon used prices are roughly the same. The Eidolon's accuton and possible the crossover makes it borderline grainy and very intolerent of anything that doesnt have a syrupy-smooth high-end. Not so with the WP7s and above. With Avalons you buy woodwork, with Wilson you buy auto body shop craftsmanship.
And I assume Eidolon Diamonds are similar in $$ with Sashas?
My vote goes to the Avalon Eidolon Diamonds. A good friend has had both WP8 and now owns the Avalon Eidolon Diamonds and the difference are close between the two speakers as far as quality of sound and build quality goes. That being said when, I go over to his house I want to keep listening. Just one more song just one more record. That never happened with the WP8s.
Thanks for the response guys. I appreciate your comments very much. I know I have to audition these. I will not spend money on anything until I hear it. Other responses did clear up some other questions I had. I had a feeling the avr600 wouldn't cut it. Thats why I was thinking of going with a dedicated music setup.
I feel I'm willing to go as far as the Avalon eidolon diamond, or the current sasha w/p. I feel the sophia 3 wasn't as fast in response as the w/p.
I have a local Avalon dealer. The only problem is that he works out of his house. So auditions are done by appointment only. He had a set of Avalon Ascendents in the room, but they were not hooked up. I did however listen to the Magico V3's with a Jeff Rowland Preamp, VAC phi 300.1 tube amp, and MSB cd IV transport. It was a pretty good setup I have to admit. The Magico's just didn't do anything for me. For such a large speaker I was unimpressed with the lack luster base. Transparency and sound stage was very good though. Just overall it didn't win my heart or anything. That speaker goes for $27k+
"Avguy" I will have to agree with you about the analytical sound. I noticed that it can sound a bit metalic in some situations. It doesn't necessarily sound bad, but rather a prefered taste. I don't mind a bit of a forward sounding speaker. I noticed the wilsons are like that at times, as well my paradigm's actually. I noticed they can sound just a little bright at times, and I do mean little. It isn't ever to the point of being intolerable though. Just natural characteristic of the speaker. Its hard finding a speaker that is very natural sounding with superb imaging without getting a little bright.
If I were to predict which I would like better, I think I would probably like the Avalons a little more on the music side. If I were to upgrade my 5ch though, the Wilson's might be the way to go. Wilson's also have center channels which is a plus, and the speakers are really efficient so my avr600 will have no troubles. If I go seperates for my dedicated music setup, I'll look into Jeff Rowland, Simaudio, or Ayre. I love Boulder, but its too rich for my blood. As for cables, I'm currently using a bi-amp pair of Analysis-plus oval 12 for my 60's. Another company I've been wanting to try is xlo electric. If xlo is good enough I would use that for a dedicated 2ch setup. I really don't believe in cables that overall tune the way a system sounds. I really do prefer a cable that has no sonic signature at all. The two companies xlo, and analysis are known for that. I do not like nordost, mit, or transparent audio. They have a sonic characteristic that is unatural to the source in my opinion. Thanks guys keep it up!
I've heard both extensively but the Wilson's more often. Avalon would be my choice. Much more musical with great timbre and timing. The Wilson speakers are fast but dry and analytical, what I would want in a hearing aid.
Both seem like great companies so you should listen for yourself.
I've heard the Vandersteen 5a's with electrocompaniet seperates. I want to say I liked them, but when I auditioned with a friend I had a bit of a head cold and my hearing was muffled. My friend really liked them. They seem to sound pretty good. I'll have to arrange another listening session over at one of my local dealers.
If you want to merge your 2-ch and HT into one, get the Sophia 3. The easiest to drive, high efficiency. The Avalons do not have the dynamic capabilities for HT IMO, Sashas beeing to difficoult to drive for Arcam receiver.
Ragarding previous posts. IMO most of them are based on stereoptypes. Wilson sound have changed almost 180 degree in recent years. W/P Sasha does not sound hard / metallic like the older Wilsons did. With the right choice of electronics, they can have texture to die for ! On top of that, they have better articulation, much better resolution and vastly superior dynamics than any Avalon.
Avalons are only good for chamber music IMO. Play anything louder / more complex and they start falling apart. Cellos sound lovely though (although not more so than on the Sashas).
PS. I have owned Avalon Eidolon Vision for a year, and now I have been using W/P Sasha. Couldn't be happier. An outstanding speaker. I listen mostly to Jazz/Classical music.
I agree w/ Elberoth that Wilsons now have a different sound than before. Its not hard or sterile. Its actually warmer, fuller, quite musical to say the least. Since I have not heard the avalons, i cannot comment on these speakers but am sure these are also very good speakers no doubt.
Man its really going to be a tough decision just from the sound of these comments. I really like the Wilson's because they are revealing. I like audio that doesn't lie. A speaker that's revealing tends to be the most accurate "to me".
I don't know maybe the Arcam is enough maybe it isn't? Peter Moncrieff did drive seven 802d's with the avr600. The ones he had were the last generation 802d's which were about 2-3db less efficient than the current 802d's. The current Sasha is more efficient than even the new generation 802d's. Now I know the avr600 isn't the best sounding thing in the world, but its still a pretty darn good piece this. It sounds better than Krell, and Rotel to me. Maybe Ayre separates down the road perhaps?
Can't help you with the Avalon vs. Wilson thing. However, you are taking quite a leap from Paradigms to either of these. And the upgrade will be underwhelming with your current system. And if you really use it for mostly HT, you will still never get the best music performance out of any high dollar speaker when you optimize them for movies. This goes for electronics AND positioning.
the sophia3 are revealing but at the same time, modest gears sounds really good with them. I heard my dealer use a luxman integrated amp w/ an ipod as source. It sounded better than what it should sound. I dont think you can go wrong with these new wilsons.
Some of the above comments regarding stereotyping may be correct in my case. I am familiar with the old Watt Puppy 8, Sophia 2 and the Maxx 3. Never heard the newer models. I will have to give another listen because based on some of the comments they must sound really nice.
You might consider resale as well. Wilson stuff really seems to fly out the door when it goes up for sale. Don't know about Avalon resale.
Finally, you will want to budget in some other upgrades to get the best performance out of any of the above speakers.
I agree w Shakey but for slightly different reasons. The Wilsons, or any other highly resolving speaker is gonna reveal the limitations of your upstream components. You didn't mention your source, but the Arcam, although v. good for an HTR, is not gonna deliver the goods. The Wilsons will let you hear their limitations quite clearly. I'd recommend putting the $20K into a high quality integrated w HT bypass, a top notch source, and a good pair of fronts. There are lots of possibilities. I'm a tube guy and could heartily recommend a VAC integrated and a pair of Merlin VSMs. For $20k you buy them new. If you went used, you get Merlin TSMs for the rears and a new (v. hard to find used) Merlin center. For Solid state, maybe a Pass integrated (not sure which speakers would mate best, but there are tons of options in the price bracket you are talking about).
really, it depends on listening preferences (but wilsons will cover more musical genres than avalons). if it were me, frankly, i'd do the following: A) buy wilson WP 8s or Sophia 3s B) have dealer set up properly C) use balance of budget for better electronics & room treatments
i own WP6s, and after years, i still find fine tuning them to bring heretofore unknown revelations on my recordings, while being very musical (thanks to good gear, proper cable matching & removing AC grunge).
I haven't heard the previous versions of the Sasha, but the new one is a great speaker. Its superb with music and movies. It features a new midrange driver that was co-designed with its supplier exclusively with Wilson. Whatever they did does wonders because I really enjoy the Sasha.
Bjesien, I'm very grateful to even own what I have now. So I can't complain. I'm a fairly new audiophile, and I don't want to make mistakes with my purchases. Believe me I'm not anywhere near loaded nor do I make a 6 figure salary. I will agree with you about a budget on source upgrades though. I haven't quite factored that in yet, and I should. I should be doing a budget for everything and not just the pair of speakers.
Elberoth2, that is what I worry about in the Avalon's (dynamics and detail). Those two qualities I would say are extremely important in a listening experience. If it sounds to warm or too lush I do not perceive that as a natural sounding speaker. I don't think those characteristics in sound is a viable solution to my goal. Then again I may hear them, and think differently.
If for whatever reason I decide not to go with the Sasha and/or Avalon's "assuming I like them" I will go with the B&W 802d's. I like the 802d's better than the Sophia 3's personally. The 802d is a really fast speaker. It might even rival the Sasha in speed. Now granted the 802d doesn't quite have the imaging qualities of a Sasha, but the sound quality is similar. One of my local dealers does carry both brands, I should see if I can arrange a side by side comparison.
This is where I feel I'm at right now for potential setups. It's one or the other as I've mentioned before.
-2ch- *est* >$40k speakers: Sasha or Avalons source: Jeff Rowland, Ayre Acoustics, Simaudio cables: Analysis-plus solo crystal oval 8 speaker wire, and solo crystal interconnects / xlo electric
I already have a Shunyata Hydra 8 v.2 power conditioner, a Richard Gray 400pro power conditioner, 12ft and 8ft pair of Analysis-plus oval 12 speaker wire, and 9ft Analysis-plus oval 12 bi-wire. For audio source I'm currently using a custom computer I built that fits in my rack connected to my avr600 via digital connection. All the following is in use on my current setup.
I know in the end its really up to me to decide which path I should take, but it is really nice taking all the advice I can get. Thanks guys
Ive heard tons of remarks about the 802D but never ever that it was fast.If anything one of the major slaps about that speaker is its way too slow and bloated in the bass,extremely "lush" with that famous Brit sound BTW I hate...and to say Avalon is "to warm or too lush" is just silly at best.Your talkin to the wrong people my friend.IMO listen again to those 802s before ya buy!
I haven't heard Wilson and Avalon extensively but one perspective I've noticed hasn't come up a great deal is Musical taste in the thread. I've heard Sashas , Maxx3 and various Avalon's except Eidolon's. At the money you're talking I think their is a clear difference between the two ranges and they suite different tastes. Like others have mentioned tonally the Avalons are exceptional but they lack the heft of the Wilsons. If you're a rocker I'd expect you'd have a preference for the Wilsons if its classical/acoustic then perhaps the Avalons. The Sashas get much closer to the Avalons than WP8s in terms of top to bottom coherence if not quite there but then they both shift more air than an Indra and you really notice that listening to rock/pop etc material.
Missioncoonery I perceive the Avalon's sounding as they do from what I was reading on this thread so far. I haven't heard the Avalon's yet, but I will soon. Fyi, for you to discriminate "British hifi" is clearly a fan-boy comment. And yes the new 802d is a fast speaker, and I like how it sounds. Just because you don't doesn't mean you need to criticize. There's a lot of hifi gear I can't stand that other people talk about here on the forums (not this thread in particular), but surely others.
Defride, I know both systems are completely different. One is 2ch, the other is HT. Budget is different because I would have to get a bunch of new gear for a 2ch setup which explains the price gap. The HT setup I would only be upgrading a few things. Plus it would be focused as an all arounder type system so yeah its not gonna be perfect. I would call it the jack of all trades but master at none. It would still be a really great sound system though.
There is nothing fast about the 802D... There is substantial overhang in the bass. It could be delayed port noise but they are slow. Look at the measurements in the link I provided below. You can see that the port is still making low level noise up to 400hz. Because of this they will also need a lot more distance from rear and side walls to sound balanced (downward port too). If you think the 802Ds are fast you have simply not heard enough. If you want a fast speaker think Wilson, Magico, or Thiel. As a side not if you want a cheaper speaker with similar sound as Avalon demo the Thiel 3.7s also.
The Sophia 3 has higher resolution and transparency in the midrange than the 802D. Only at ear bleeding levels do you get the same level of detail out of the 802D's midrange. The Thiel 3.7 is even more detailed in the midrange than the Sophia 3. None of these speaker's mids are bright.
Bass: Sophia is the clear winner. It has texture and slam the 802D can't touch and is much faster. The 802D has very good bass power but to a fault. It is slow and booming is anything but giant rooms(15X30+). The Thiel 3.7 is very fast and VERY textured in the bass. It has more detail than the Sophia at it lowest not around 30hz but come up short in shear power. The bass from the 3.7 will be very good in an average room(12X15ish).
Highs: 802Ds highs are great. They are well dispersed and have what I call a rockers high that fill the room much like a real cymbal. They are detailed and never get out of control. One of my favorite sounding tweeters but they do need to be played loud to shine. The Sophia 3's tweeter is not quite as detailed but is also well dispersed. It has a natural sound to it but does not reach for the stars like some better tweeters on the market. Not bad not great IMO. As for the Thiel 3.7 tweeter, I am really not sure. I have demoed them many time and for the life of me I can't recall how they sound. The mids and tweeter are so integrated I can tell where one stops and the other starts.
Over all sound: The 802D are colored but can be fun to listen to. Because of the coloration I do not think they are worth their asking price. The Sophia 3 is a good balance between resolution and musicality. They have real bass and are also fun. The Theil 37s is a class act and a truth teller... make sure you can handle the truth (most can't). They will be as fun or as cold as your source music/equipment is.
As alway use your own ears.
PS. all my comments are on the 802D and not the new 802Diamond.
James63, I appreciate your comments greatly. You were very professional about it. I trust your judgment on the 802d's, but the new ones were improved significantly from what I've heard. I did hear the last gen 802d's, but it was a while ago and I don't remember much from the experience. I have heard the thiel 3.7 in a side by side comparison next to the newest 803d using the same electronics, and I actually liked the 803d better. The biggest selling point for me with the bowers is the diamond tweeters. There's nothing that sounds quite as good as the diamond IMO. The sound is so pure. The Thiel is good, but it doesn't do anything for me. Neither do Magico's especially when you consider the cost for them.
I want the Wilson Sasha really bad, but I would have to get a deal on it. Plus one of my local dealers I'm pretty sure is marking up the price on the Sasha. Its suppose to be msrp of $26900, but from what the salesman told me its $28k. I never pay full retail for my hifi, I always work out some sort of deal.
When I get closer to making a decision on speakers I'll be sure to demo as much as possible. No sense into dropping this sort of money when you're not sure. So far though I'm really feeling the dedicated 2ch route. Thanks again
I honestly can't comment the Sophia 3 or the Sasha directly to the 802d. Although I heard all three, they were at different times. My situation in hearing them was a little odd as well. I have two dealers I visit, both carry bowers, but the one carries both Bower's and Wilson's. I heard the 802d's at the store that doesn't carry the Wilson's. The electronics involved was a Arcam av888/p777, Arcam bdp-100 transport, and Analysis-plus cables.
As for the Wilson's, I heard them in separate rooms. The Sophia 3's was connected to what looked like Ayre R series mono blocks, Ayre pre-amp, and Ayre cd transport. The Sasha's were in the room next door. The electronics for that was a sony blu-ray transport, Ayre v-5 amp, Meridian surround processor as the dac, and I do not remember what the pre-amp was. Now obviously Sophia 3's had an advantage over the Sasha's electronics which is why I liked the sound better. Even though that was the case I could still pick up the characteristics of the Sasha which was clearly superior. The Sasha is a much tighter speaker. If anything I think the speakers should've switched rooms.
You are right about the full body sound. I like that in a speaker, which is probably why I like the Wilson's so much. The Thiel sounds good to me, but its just a tad bit on the thin side. We all have different frequency responses and taste in sound.
I have heard all these speakers over the last year and you are right on in targeting the Sashas. I used to *hate* Wilsons, but not anymore. It is remarkable to me that they have done such a remarkable makeover on the house sound of their "entry level" speakers (Sophia and Sahsa). Coherence, realistic midrange, you are there soundstaging. The Avalons are very nice, but the Sashas are better. The new B&W 802D's are also good, but not in the same class as the Wilsons IMO.
As for the Arcam reciever - it is a remarkably good sounding AVR. I auditioned it carefully recvently and was surprised how good it sounded with decent 2ch. gear surrounding it and speakers from Vandrsteen and Dynaudio. No, it won't extract the last bit from any of the speakers listed above, but it will drive them all well enough to really enjoy music or movies. It might do a better job with the Sophia than the Sasha as already suggested, but the Sasha's are to die for in my book, and would justify much better electronics in the future - I recommend front end and amplification from Audio Research as a splendid match if you eventually upgrade from the Arcam.
Kazman..I wasnt trying to get your panties all in a bunch by "attacking"your fast 802s so freakin chill.They are slow,most would agree.You dont think so listen to more speakers as another suggested and if you are still in that mind set buy them..Not sure what fanboy means and dont really care I guess but if its meaant as thinking the Wilson Sasha and the Avalon will smoke that 802d Ill take that as a compliment.
Well I went back to my local dealer to listen to the 802d's again. I had them pair it to Simaudio moon evolution series electronics. We used a Supernova cd player, Simaudio p7 pre-amp, Simaudio and a w-7 dual mono amp. The cables were balanced analysis-plus solo crystal IC, and Analysis-plus oval-9 speaker wire. The sound was very neutral, and natural sounding. However you guys were right, they weren't quite as fast as I remember or at least thought I remembered. They weren't bi-amped which would help a bit. My experience with bi-amping especially with my paradigms was a big improvement. Thats probably part of the reason why I thought it was a fast speaker. When I first heard them on the Arcam gear it was bi-amped. Either way though they sounded great. We also played the thiel 3.7 on the same gear, and they are really tight speakers. Very natural sounding as well. The Thiels are very well articulated from top to bottom, but I still like the bowers a little better.
Maybe some good news for some of you guys though. One of the employees at the store was recently at the Thiel factory, and apparently they are working on a new flagship called the cs7.5. I'm not sure if you guys knew or not, but I thought I put it out there.
In my experience I have found that a speaker that hits you over the head with it's detail fools one into believing it has detail, but in reality it does not.
A speaker that allows one to listen into the sound is the speaker that brings out all the subtly of detail in the music that reveals its life.
I have yet to hear the Sasha. The last speakers that I heard from Wilson have been the Maxx 2's and the WP8's, Neither of which IMO had anywhere near the resolution of detail , clarity, tonal neutrality, and especially the coherence as the Eidolon Diamond.
IMO Wilson's greatest strength is unfettered dynamic scale and for many rightfully so this is a very desirable virtue.
If you go with the Sasha you will need to step it up with the amplification and source equipment. The V5xe will not be enough to properly drive the Sasha IMO.
I have not auditioned Avalon Acoustics but I am told they are very good by an audio friend. One thing to consider is speaker placement in the room. I am told that the Avalon's need to be placed much further out into the room than Wilson's. I have Sasha w/p and they ended up closer to the wall than I ever imagined. This would be something to consider. Perhaps someone can shed some light on this subject.
Something you might consider would be not to push for too much of a price break on the speakers, but rather push for a high level of service from your dealer. I would ask to hear them in my home with my system. If needed, offer to pay for his time to deliver them and set them up, and deduct that fee from the price is you keep them. Also, the dealer should bring with him a broad selection of cables for you to audition.
My entire system costs about $30k I guess. I didn't keep up with it too precisely. But it's well matched and others have said that it sounds better than some of the $50k systems in town. One weekend the guys at the shop sent me home with about $12k of speaker cables and interconnects. They let me keep them for about a month. I got my system dialed-in. If you find a shop that gives you this kind of service, it's worth the money. As you said, you can't afford to just throw money away.
I would also encourage you to trust your ears. In setting up my system there were two instances where intellectually I wanted to like a certain component, but in the end I had to go with my ears.
The first was with some vintage Audio Magic Sorcerer cables. They have a lot of silver in them and I really wanted to like them, but my ears took me to the Kimber KS-3035 cables and that's what I got.
In one of the tube positions in my monoblocks I intellectually I wanted to use the Telefunken 12AX7 tube. I had a pair of new old stock, extremely quiet tubes. They are very rare and live a very long time. I wanted to like them. I put them in the system and listened for a while. Then I replaced them with some RCA 5751 tubes. The sound was more musical and pleasing to me. I left them in for a day or so. But I wanted to like those Telefunkens, so I put them back in for about three days. Then I put the RCA's back in and upon hearing music through the system brought a relaxing, "Ah" from me. I stuck with the RCA's. But don't get me wrong, I have Telefunkens in my headphone amp. My point is simply that I think you should listen to your system and trust your ears and not get intellectually attached to a particular component. And that "ah" moment with the RCA tube is really what it's all about for me: the music moving me emotionally rather than intellectually.
Also, if you are planning to use these speakers in a home theater and for music, I would suggest that you consider amps that can drive them full range.
Whether you get the Wilson or the Avalon, at the moment it sounds like the weak link would then be your upstream system components. You may want to wait to dial-in your cables until you have your final system. You don't want to pay for high-grade wire twice. I think a very good value in wire is Kimber 12TC speaker cables. But they may be too detailed for your upstream components.
I've seen a lot of guys come into the shop here, and I mean a lot, who have listened to a set of speakers in the shop and fell in love with them, bought them, took them home, and guess what, their upstream components weren't as well matched - their components were good, but not as well matched, and they weren't happy. Some come back and buy the rest of the stuff they heard in the shop, some sell off the system. There's one guy who I have seen go through about four systems over the past year and a half. He never dials-in the system. I'm not even sure he thinks about what he is doing, but he's been through some good stuff. And I'm not a dealer, just a regular at the local shop.
And don't buy a pair of speakers that only sound good with a $30k amp driving them if you are not going to ultimately get an amp of similar capabilities.
Anyway, I apologize for being so long-winded, but it just sounds to me like you could waste your money if you are not careful. And with the wrong upstream components you can easily waste your money with either speaker you are considering.
Years ago I spent a lot of time listening to a big Spectral/Avalon/MIT system, a roughly $60k system. I liked it just fine. I also recently listened to a BAT (solid state monoblock)/Esoteric/Wilson Sasha system. Another $60k system. It sounded very clear, very nice, but it didn't involve me emotionally. That's not to say that I couldn't have gotten it dialed-in once it was in my home, but I sure wouldn't spend that kind of money unless I heard it in my home and actually arrived at a sound I liked. It's the difference between a system transporting me to the concert hall versus bringing the orchestra into my listening room. I prefer the latter and that's what I have achieved with my system although as I mentioned it costs a lot less.
Good luck to you, and I again suggest that you trust your ears and pay attention to the emotion the system gives you rather than getting too attached intellectually. And also audition in your home. At least, have them assemble the system in the shop. If the components you ultimately want are in different listening rooms, make an appointment with your dealer to hear the system you want completely assembled in one of their listening rooms.
Kazman: I´d like to throw in my experience. I had Avalon Opus Ceramic and Eidolon Diamond as well as WP 8´s. I now use Consensus Audio Magma speakers - head and shoulders above both (although beeing very good products). Unfortunately Mr. Fekete of Consensus Audio died this year - so no more Consensus speakers are available which is a real loss to the audio world. But if you can get hold of a used pair either Mahmas or Conspiracy´s - go for it. When it´s just nailed down to Wilson or Avalon: my vote clearly goes to Avalon Eidolon - whereas I would strongly consider the Kharma Mini Exquisite II as well.
Kazman, for the budget you have, I would suggest spending about 20K on the speakers then the rest on upgrading your CD, pre-amp combo and then finally the cables. (power cables first then the speaker and inter.) Then you there in one shot. no going around in long circle. However, before any upgrades, you need to decide on the speakers first. For 20K range, from the ones I have listened to, I wholeheartedly recommend two, Revel Salon 2 and KEF 207 2. Perfectly designed, they measure perfectly in testing, and they sound absolutely top-notch. They have everything you desire with no weakness. Sasha which I did listen to and liked, cost 8-10k more and by the time you upgrade rest of your system to bring full sound out of Sasha, you will be way over your budget.
Not sure you ever decided on a speaker but I wanted to add some of my opinions of a resent demo of the new 802Diamond. In an early post in this thread I stated that the 802D was not a fast speaker but I have to eat my words on the new 802Diamond. The bass is very quick and punchy and much faster than the older 802D. The highs are also much improved.
I honestly have not been a huge B&W fan but the new 802Diamond is a speaker I could live with. I directly A/B the 802Diamond in the same room and system as the Sophia 3. I would choose the 802Diamond if it came down to those two speakers.
Let me know if you would like more details on my demo. If you do I will write you up a detailed overview (music used, equipment, my opinion, etc).
James63, what electronics did you hear with the 802's? I heard them with Classe gear and thought they were nice, but not transformative. Right afterwards I listened to the Sophia 2's and then the Sasha's both with ARC gear and thought the Sophias were also "nice". But thought the Sasha's driven by fairly high end ARC stuff were some of the best speakers I have heard to date. Given your comment and recent review I read of the 802D makes me think front end is critical factor in this discussion. I just didn't hear what others are talking about but would like to give them another try at some point.
The front end was Audio Research sp17 preamp, CD5 CD player, and Classe' CA-2100 amp.
I have heard the Sophia 3 before on musical fidelity equipment and thought it sounded better than the front-end above. I thought they lacked bass impact on the audio research/classe combo.
The 802diamond had a lot more bass impact and slam (i like hard rock). The highs were much cleaner, detailed and extended. The mids were better on the Sophia though. The Sophia's mids are not as detailed but sounded more open and natural. B&W's mids are like a microscope into the recording. I heard background singers I completely missed on the Wilsons. But the sound-stage seemed a little un-naturally focused (small some how). I should note that the 802damond is a good bit more forward than the 802D.
Anyway at the end of the day I found the 802diamond more engaging. The Sophias were nice but left me wanting more in a number of ways. I will probably not buy either of these speakers though.
Just a warning about going with Wison: if you like instrumental music, they are great, but they tend to be very fatiguing with vocals: sibilants and other consonants will shred your ears at times - not on all material, but a lot of it (even good recordings).
In my opinion, the Sasha and Sophia 2/3 are great speakers but the tweeters have been modified to sound hi-fi, which can sound nice on classical music and jazz, but the vocals are unnaturally painful. Even with careful setup and fine upstream components (where this characteristic can be somewhat mitigated), you are going to have to contend with this.
Again this is my opinion, not fact. I have heard the Sashas several times, at least three times set up by Wison, and own them myself.
Madfloyd, i have a pair of Wilson Sophia 3s & i agree with you initially that they can be fatiguing especially at higher vol levels. But after a good 200-500 hours, they are non-fatiguing at all on any kind of music. I think its just a break in issue.
You guys have a great thread going here! I find it interesting that the 802D has entered the thread. I started looking into new speakers 2 months ago and I have narrowed down my search to the Avalons, Sophia 3's, and the new version of 802D's. Please post any opinions that you have on these 3 being driven by 150W tube amps. Do the Avalon Indra's give up too much on the low freq end vs. the Eidolon's. Thank you.
I do not find the Sophia 3 fatiguing either. Maybe you are sensitive to it? But you own them so I will not argue...
Just a thought though, could it be the midrange breakup node you are hearing and not the tweeter? From Stereophile's measurements it looks like the tweeter does not come in until 3k which should be pretty much out of the vocal range of most singers(not all). The mid seems to break up around 4k and is only down 5-10db at that point.
Anyway just a thought, and still a great sounding speaker.