Recommend you add Von Schweikert VR-4jr to your short list, as they may be the best speakers under $10k. I personally don't care for B&W or Paradigm. And while I've not auditioned JM Labs, others have said they're not the best sounding speakers for the money. Also, recommend you avoid metal dome tweeters. The VR-4jr is a time and phase coherent design, so it images very well. It sounds good with tube or solid state electronics. An audiophile friend of mine prefers his with solid state amp and tube pre-amp, maybe the best of both worlds. I predict if you go with one of the items on your list, you'll soon be looking for something better. On the other hand, the VR-4jr is a keeper you could live with forever.
Let me tell you Im a hard person to satisfy. Ask my wife!lol. I just purchaced the 803Ds in Jan I believe. I have never been more satisfied with anything I ever bought. Theyre being powered with only a Rotel 1090. My father spent over 45000 on his speakers in his system. Now my father has been looking in to The new B&W Diamond line for a possible overhall. On the other hand my dealer lets you bring home speakers to try out on the weekend. We had the paradigms up against the B&Ws, no chance. The B&Ws worth every dime more. Ill grow old with these theyll be the speaker that my grandkids get. Good luck
Without knowing or being able to control all of the variables - the most important being our hearing vs. yours - it's going to be hard to do more than offer encouragement to A/B as many of these as you can. Any input you get is really just personal opinion and based on situations and stuff that's not like yours. Some will really like B&W over the others, some really dislike B&W vs. Sigs or VS or JM Labs or whatever. Those are all really personal opinions and personal preferences. Our opinions are just that - they're ours. You need to form yours.
We all differ physiologically and our wiring and experiences aren't all the exact same - bottom line is we all hear and perceive a little differently. Objective reviews with meaningful measurements can get you part of the way, but there is absolutely no substitute for your going out and auditioning (and hopefully A/B'ing) your choices. You're talking about a little more than chump change here, so my suggestion is that you invest that time so you'll have a chance to be as thrilled with your choice as folks like Mattblueg35 are with theirs. Good luck!
I would go for the Von Schweikert over all speakers listed above.
You can check Dynaudio's Contour S3.4 ($5,000) or S5.4 ($8,000). Of course it depends on your personal preferences. Dynaudio's are known for very tight, extended bass and smooth silky highs. Their first order crossovers are best suited when controlled vertical dispersion is needed (this helps to tame hardwood floor reflections). I've owned the Contour 3.4s for over 2 years and compared them with B&W's 802, Paradigms S8's and Thiel's 2.4. I prefer the Dyns for their smooth, unfatiguing and uncompressed sound and great dynamic range. Build quality is also first rate.
B&W and Paradigm use metal domes, which ring and cause fatigue over longer listening periods. I haven't had a chance to check the new B&W diamond speakers, however.
I did listen to the new Paradigm S8 and I was very unimpressed. The bass was very loose and the highs and mids muddled.
Regardless of which speaker you get, however, be sure to place a rug or something on the floor to tame the harsh sound caused by a hardwood floor.
I owned B&W (forget about them), Jmlab Electra 926 and now Dynaudio 3.4. Jmlab were exellent speakers for the price, more neutral, smoother and much more musical than B&W. They have much better tweeter, extended detailed and without that metalic glare. They are fast, play with authority, convey spatial information. Bass is not too deep.
Dynaudio 3.4 are even better. Deeper bass with exellent control, midrange to die for and smooth, natural simply excellent highs. Dynamic as good as Jmlab's and uncompressed (better in this respect than Jmlab). You can listen for tham for hours, Jmlabs were not bad either in this department, B&W pretty tiring.
Hope this helps.
I auditioned the Paradigm Signature S8's and they were good, but not substantially better than my Paradigm Studio 60's, so I could never justify the price. Very similar speakers. I like B&W speakers, unlike some of the others who've responded, but I also agree with the others that the Von Schweikert's are hard to beat by anybody at the $4k price point. They are just wonderful. I will be replacing my Studio 60's in about 18 months, and I will likely opt for the Von Schweikert's unless I decide to go into heavy debt for Wilson Sophia's ($12k).
In your price range, you might also consider an Audition of the Aerial Acoustics Model 8B ($6k), Dali Helicon 800 ($6k), Sonus Faber Grand Piano ($3.5k) or Cremona's ($8k), or, as said before, the Dynaudio's.
My reference system (the Studio 60's are in my HT system) has the Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home speakers. I would NEVER replace these with the Paradigm S8's. Now, compare the prices! I think you could love these over the long haul, too. I've never gotten anything but joy from them for 4 years now. Mine are in a similar sized room (slightly larger), also with wood floors.
With few exceptions B&W are dry, sterile, and boring speakers lacking musicality in the midrange. Stay away.
The Von Schweikert recommendation is excellent. Tons of performance for the money and they will embarrass the 803D.
Thanks for all the responses! Where I live the only dealers around are B & W and Paradigm. That is why I posted this thread. If I am going to travil to Atlanta, I wanted to know what to look for and listen to. I will campair the B & W and Paradigm locally but there seems to be a consensis that they will not be what I want.
I will difently listen to the Von Schweikert (I emailed them to find the closest dealer), Dynaudio's and JM Labs before I make a decision.
Has anyone compaired the last three I mentioned head to head? Has anyone had any problems with the last three?
Thanks again for your responses,
Ok, I listened to the B & W and Paradigm and am not impressed. The Von Schweikert VR4-JR and VR4-SR have my intrest. Can any one compair the JM Labs electra 936, 946 to the Von S. Also, how do the Tyler Linbrook Signature system compair to the other two?
Price wise it goes:
Von Schweikert Vr4-Jr - $4000
Tyler Linbrook Signature system - $5,500
JM Lab electra 936 - $6,000
Von Schweikert VR4 - SR - $8,000
JM Lab electra 946 - $8,000
I planned on a $8,000 Max budget when I started. If I can get out for less I would be happy! I would also like this to be the last pair of speakers I buy for a long time. I dont want to be let down and have to upgrade later.
I plan on listening to the Von Schweikert's next week when I will be close to a dealer. My problem is no dealers for any of the speakers mentioned are close by. Any and all advise is wellcome.
I own a pair of JM Lab 946 Electras and they are a great speaker. IMO almost Utopia sound at fraction of the price. I have heard the Paradigms and the B&W 803 and IMO and again just MY opinion the 946 Electras are much better hands down. Another thing to consider is how much power you have to drive them. The Electras are very efficient 93 db sensitivity and myself coming from owning a pair of Infinitys, there is really something to be said for efficient speakers. The Focal drivers are fast and accurate rivaling that of electrostat or planar drivers IMO. The 946 is a fairly large floorstanding speaker and also IMO a smaller speaker DOES NOT give you the same type of large, live type sound as a larger one. Especially one with a high sensitivity like the Electra. As good as the JM Labs are though, the only drawback is their price. I think they are priced a little higher than they should be but you can often get an almost new demo pair as I did for almost half the full retail price and then they are a huge bargain. As others have said though it is always best to listen with your own ears to judge for yourself but often this is not always possible without traveling great distances. All in all though I have not heard every other speaker in their price range BUT I don't think you would be sorry if you got a set of 946s. I have never heard the Von Schweikert speakers as there are no dealers anywhere near my area so I cannot comment on them but for my listening preference the only thing that I have heard that betters my 946 Electras are the higher end models in the Jm Lab Utopia line or possibly something from Wilson Audio, all much more expensive.
Another thing to consider - customer service. Excellent with both Paradigm and JM Labs - some trade-in upgrades in my experience. Not so with B&W and Von Schweikert - plus bad people to deal with just generally.
I doubt many on Agon have heard these, since they're relatively new, but JM Lab did release their Electra 1000BE series based off the success of the 937BE limited edition with the Berylium tweeter that's trickled down from the Utopia experience. Those may be worth a shot (and have been getting good initial reviews, esp. comapred to the 803d) over here in the UK. I'm personally not blown away by B & K, but there are many here who see the magic so I guess trust your ears.
I have the JMLab Micro Utopia Be's with a Velodyne DD15 subwoofer. I think this is a spectacular system for the money. Much better to my ears than the B&W 803Ds or P'digm S8s.
I use these in a 5.1 system with the Utopia Center and 907s for surrounds. The Micro Utopias sound better than the 907s, noticeably so.
I also have the B&W 802Ds in a stereo only system in another room. I haven't ABed them side by side but the Micros/DD15 for stereo listening sounds so good that I use the systems pretty much interchangeably.
I have compared the JM Lab Electra line to the Paradigm line. The JM Labs are much better. Before you decide on an
Electra 936 or 946, listen to the 926 as well. I did and did not think that the price difference was justified. Imo.
The Electra's have been called the poor mans Utopia's.