best 5-20K speakers for high-end tube amp?

I have a Jadis JPS2 tube preamp and Jadis 845SE tube amp combination, and want to get a pair of speakers which really show off their sound. I currently have a pair of B&W804s, and I figure that seriously upgrading my speakers will give me a significant improvement in sound (these speakers are in a much lower budget range, and not ideal for tube amps I believe). What speakers would you recommend to really get the best out of my equipment? I heard the magic with my Jadis amp in the store with a pair of Wilson Puppys 5.1 in the store. My home system has decent sound, but not at all 'magical'. My currently listening environment is about 17 x 25 feet (9 foot ceiling), and I generally listen to jazz, pop, world (everything from indian classical to spanish flamenco to andean flute music, etc...), and vocal music of all kinds.

I figure the budget will be between US$5K and 20K somewhere, and I will try to buy used, but this will be difficult since I live in China.
No Slouch,since I don't know what is the watts/current drive of your Jadis845SE is it's hard to make a recommendation that would match up with your electronics. But with the music you listen to you might love the sound of Magnapan 3.6s that are a great speaker at almost a bargain price($3,800.00). You have to spend much more to get a speaker that out preforms it,in my opinion. I do see they come for sale here on the GON so new or used they might be available to you in china. Hope this helps
You may want to consider Coincident's Total Victory for your application. They are an easy load for tubes. And they would be able to fill a listenting room your size with as little as 15 watts.
Silverline Audio Sonata MK3 great sounding speakers retail for $7,200 a pair and can be drvien with 10 watts SET amp.
Thanks for the responses so far. My amps are 20 watts per monoblock. My living room is actually about 17 x 35 feet, but through sofa placements I only use about half the room, or 17 x 20 feet or so.

Teajay, my preamp/amp combination retails for about 35K (luckily i got used for much less than half), would the Magnepans be a good match just from a budgetary point of view? (10:1 value ratio of amplification to speakers)
No slouch,if your Jadis mono-blocks could drive the 3.6s,I know that tube amps often sound more powerful than their formal rated power specs,than I do not think their is a budgetary mismatch at all. The 3.6s compete with much more expensive speakers in my opinion. The next step up in Magnpans is the 20.1s which are phenomenal,and I would argue are still a bargain even at $11000.00. However, the 3.6s give a great taste of what the 20.1s offer at a much lower price.My only concern would be if your very fine mono-blocks have enough power/current to drive them. Maggies with the right tube gear is a match made in heaven. Hope this helps.
excellent gear!!! (i am also a huge jadis fan) i suggest looking into horns made by avantgarde and acapella. they are super transparent and musical. if horns are not for you, i have also read great things about coincident (Nutella's suggestion). good luck!
Szutinglee,I'm Not a fan of Avantgarde speakers but totally agree with your recommendtion of Acapella"s,their great speakers. My only concern would be $ because to get to their speakers that really sing, because of their one of a kind plasma tweeter, would take No slouch way out of his budget. I believe you have to go past,at least new, the 20 grand mark which goes over his stated budget limits. If I'm wrong please let me know.
Nice sounding amplifiers!

The Maggies would not be at their best with the low would work, but not near their best. Coincident's Total Victory may be a great match to consider, and just as good if not better would be the Avante Garde Duos.

Good luck.
Hi No Slouch,

Sounds like you have some excellent electronics there.

Much as I like Maggies, I don't think they'd be a good match for an 845-based tube amp. Their sensitivity is rated at 85 dB for a 2.83 volt input, and since they are a 4-ohm load (and 2.83 volts into 4 ohms = 2 watts), their efficiency is only 82 dB for a 1 watt input. That's pretty low.

How important is a wide sweet spot to you? How important is dynamic contrast? Imaging? How important is the physical appearance of the speakers (size and cosmetics)? Any particular sonic qualities that you especially want to have? Any particular sonic anomalies that you especially want to avoid?

By the way, your English is probably better than mine (you don't even have an accent!). Where did you learn it?


Audiokinesis, I'm not sure I can describe what I'm looking for exactly, but my reasons for going for a tube amp over SS is that I prefer sweet, warm vocals and midrange over the ultimate in clarity/transparency. Having said that, I wish my current system had better soundstaging and overall detail (it sounds muddy now). The general tonal balance is there, but not nearly as refined as what I heard in the store (which sounded perfect enough to me that any desire for a particular sonic quality was just icing on the cake, as oppposed to a necessity as I feel now). Right now I feel not enough of the sweet sound is coming through.

I have a set of Feet of Silence, which improves the sound clarity remarkably under both my Levinson CD player and preamp. I only have one set, but plan to get an isolation rack. I didn't get one before, since I'm new to audio and wasn't convinced in isolation until I experimented with the Feet of Silence. I may even be convinced that isolating all my equipment would solve my problem..

As for the English, I'm Canadian-Chinese :-)

I'm going to Hong Kong next week, where many speaker brands are sold, that's why I'm hoping to get a list of candidates. I'll definitely check out the AvantGardes, Coincidents, and Acapella. I'll also listen to the Maggies, since I hear a lot about them on this site, even though they may not be right for my present situation.

Speaker size, appearance, and weight is somewhat important to me. I like the Coincident Total Victories for their slim size, and some of the Acapellas look stylish. The AvantGarde Duos' appearance may be an issue, however, especially the bottom half and the side pillars. I guess if they were only marginally better sounding than a great looking and space-economical speaker, I may choose the better looking ones.

Any further recommendations would be greatly welcome.
I agree with the comments made about Magnepans. I own
1.6QR's which I had been using with a Mark Levinson 27.5
amp (200 W/Chan @ 4 ohms). The 27.5 is an outstanding
solid state amp, but sounded constricted at higher volumes.
It didn't have enough juice to drive the Magnepans. I sold
it and got a Levinson 335 (500 W/Chan @ 4 ohms) and the
speakers opened up. I love Magenpan speakers, but they do
require a quality high-powered amp to sound their best.

I you have an opportunity to be in New York, I suggest you try to listen to the DeVore Fidelity Silverback References ($14k). I have a pair on order and will be upgrading from a pair of Vandersteen Model Fives. These speakers are very transparent, dynamic and even across the entire frequency spectrum.

As far as size is concerned, they are 47.5 inches tall, 8-11 inches wide and 17 inches deep. 91 db efficient,and a very stable 8 ohm load. In other words very tube friendly. You can find more info at

Good luck in your search!
Wilson Audio Watt Puppy,
Sonus Faber Amati, could be found in Hong Kong.

Audiogon member,Lafish in Hong Kong might be able to help.
I had a positive experience in my transaction with him.
Teajay is right about acapella costing big bucks. they do have the fidelio monitors for $6.5k (including matching stands) that sounded fantastic at the past 2005 nyc he show. ofcourse, being small monitors, fidelio lacks deep bass. but still very worthy of checking out. the acapella lacampanella (about $26k) also sounded incredible at the nyc show. i just can't get them out of my head since listening to them...

i wish No slouch the best of luck at finding great deals on his journey.
I am considering used Acapellas or Kharmas, but have some concern about their power requirements.

The Acapella website lists 25 watts as minimum recommended power for the Violon, while my amps put out only 20 watts.

From the low sensitivity (89db) and high power handling specs on the Kharma website, I get the impression that they all require large wattage- however, a pair of Kharma (Ceramique 3.2s?) were reportedly driven by 18 watt Lamm L2 amps at a CES show (conflicting reports stated L2 and L1 amps, however). And a magazine reviewer stated the L2s would work well with "high efficiency speakers such as the Avantgarde Trio, the Nearfield Acoustics Pipedreams, the Wilson X1 or X2, or virtually any Kharma."

Any help on this?
Merlin, merlin, merlin. The Merlin VSM-MXs fit your needs perfectly. I can't say enough about them. The TONS of user reviews here, at audioasylum, and at audioreview as well as the numerous professional reviews are VERY well deserved and don't lie. Not to mention, Bobby Palkovic, the Merlin designer and CEO, is always available to talk to anyone about audio, not just owners. If you gave him a call, he could really help you with your quest, even if the right speakers for you aren't merlins. He readily recommends Kharma speakers, soundlabs, rockports, and others to potential customers.

All the buzz surrounding the merlins is NOT hype...they are that good and will SING like mad with a nice tube, or even solid state, amp.
Do not buy the Avantgardes unless you are looking for high detail, transparency and speed in the upper octaves, with possible mild harshness also. The Mid range is very good but lacks the tonal warmth, soundstaging and solidity of imaging brought by paper cones. The bass is in a word despite modifications AWFUL.

As an example,of design flaws in this model. If you change the interconnects supplied by Avantgarde even with 10 buck ones you will get dramatic improvements - same with the internal wiring. Doesnt make sense does it?
"everything from indian classical to spanish flamenco to andean flute music"

No slouch - not to hijack your thread, but any recommendations for these 3 would be appreciated. I'm on a "expanding my horizons" kick, and this is right up my listening desires.

Avantgarde horns would do well within your budget, You won't get the good Acapellas for your budget. I have a pair of current spec AG Duos with valve amplification (Tron Meteor preamp and GT Audio rebuilt Quad IIs). Hence I have significantly less power to play with than you. My listening room is 35 x 18 ft and I barely have to push the volume past about 10 o'clock before my wife say that's enough from another room/floor. You can get deafening levels even from a PX25 amp with 5W with Avantgardes. It's true that you need to set them up well, otherwise they can sound, well, crappy. that's true of many things in hi fi, esp turntables.
Avantgarde Duos have never sounded crappy in my experience no matter what set up you have. They are alive dynamic and electric. But they ultimately fail in delivering good quality bass or natural tonality that robs the music from a lot of its beauty.
I owned duo 2.2 was a nice loudspeaker but had its problems.I much perfer oris or azura systems you can build most anything one would want.
Sorry about responding late to my own thread. I thought this thread had ended a while ago! And I still haven't found my speaker, despite tons of auditioning over the last number of weeks.

I have heard the Avantgardes Unos several times now, but only with solid state electronics. Audiojoy, I agree with what you said about their harshness, lack of bass, and unnatural tonality. Did you listen to them with tubes? Would that make a big difference? I really wanted to like these speakers, as well as the Acapellas. I heard the High Violin and the LaCampaniles, both with SS, and also found them harsh and overly analytical. Other horn speakers I have listened to include Odeon, Tannoy, and TAD/Pioneer. I found the Tannoy Churchill and Pioneer horn speakers the most musical and integrated, but the Churchills lacked bass detail and the Pioneers lacked a degree of transparency across the board.

I seem to be bumping up against a problem of detail/tranparency/immediacy versus musicality/listenability/tone/integration.

My favorite speakers so far, price aside, are the Wilson Alexandrias and Eggleston Works Savoy. These are the only speakers which have really 'wowed' me and let me consistently forget about judging them due to enrapture by music during auditioning. With the right electronics, I've also liked Kharma speakers, though I think they noticeably lack detail (after my first audition of the Midi Exquisites I listened to Rockport Antares, which were far more accurate. during my second audition of 3.2 and 2.0, the dealer himself did a demonstration with european folk music showing how an entire stringed instrument was muffled by both Kharmas, and rendered in full detail by a pair of German Physiks speakers). I also really liked the sound of a vintage pair of Wharfedales driven by McIntosh tubes, but wasn't allowed an extensive audition.

Since all of these speakers are over US$20,000 new, I may either abandon my speaker search for now (until I audition more speakers, or find the above at a used price), or change my budget. The Savoy would also require me to change amps.

My ideal speaker would have:

1) immediacy and transparency of high-quality horns, or a custom-built single driver Lowther I heard (but without compromised bass and musicality issues)

2) tonal balance and harmonic complexity of Alexandrias and Savoy (but without huge expense and/or need for huge power)

3) liquidity and listenability of higher-end Kharmas (but with more accuracy and transparency)

4) musicality and flavor of vintage horn and other older speakers (but without problems of detail, muddiness, soundstaging)

Please keep in mind I am new to audio and these are my personal impressions, I don't mean to offend anyone with any comments. I just hope to get useful advice from people out there.

Dseid, sorry about taking so long to get back to you. Some terrific recommendations for indian or flamenco music you could check out include:

Ravi Shankar (Indian sitar)
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Sufi vocals)
Prahlad Brahmachari (Bengali Baul music)
L. Subramanium (Indian violin)
Paco de Lucia (modern flamenco guitarist)
Camaron de la Isla (flamenco singer)
Manolo Caracol (flamenco singer)
La Nina de los Peines (flamenco singer)
Carmen Linares (flamenco singer)
Radio Tarifa (moroccan/flamenco fusion)

In general, I think Peter Gabriel's Real World Label is a good starting part to expand into world music. There is also a Rough Guide to World Music.

some random world music I like include:

Wu Jing Lue (chinese qin)
Han Hong (tibetan singer)
Zhou xuan (shanghainese singer)
Zap Mama (kind of R&B actually)
Manu Dibango (african jazz)
Teresa Teng (taiwanese pop)
Toto La Momposina (colombian/cuban fusion)
Alberto Pacheco (colombia cumbia)
Amalia Rodrigues (portuguese fado)
Cesaria Evora (african singer in creole)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo (south africa)
Angelique Kidjo (african pop)
Caetano Veloso (brazilian pop)
Ruben Gonzalez (cuban jazz piano)
Paquita de la Barrio (mexican singer)
Julio Preciado (mexican singer)
Astor Piazolla (modern tango)

I also recommend googling "world music" and sampling music online, or even taking risks by ordering highly recommended CDs. There is so much great world music out there (after all, music from most of the world's cultures would fall under this one category). One thing often leads to another, and it is exciting to stumble across hidden genre gems, such as Malagasy guitar music, South African township gospel, Sundanese gamelan music, etc. I have a weakness for cheesy female mandopop, but don't dare make any such recommendations on this audiophile site :-)

I stopped listening to music for the last few years :-( so I can't give you a more extensive list off the top of my CD collection is not with me, and I've forgetten lots of names of what I used to listen to. This is one of the reasons I want to get a really nice system now, to bring music back into my life. Feel free to ask if you need more information, however.

My current potential shortlist for future auditioning include: Carfrae horns, TAD 2404, Coincident Total Victory II, Green Mountain Audio, Merlin, DeVore, Von Schweikert, and a few will take me considerable effort to find these. For auditioning purposes, I would consider speakers of any cost, I am happy now even to know which speakers exist that I can dream of.
best 5-20K speakers for high-end tube amp?
This is the title of your request. Yet, you auditioned potential candidates with a SS amp? How could you possibly know what they will sound like if you're not even close to the configuration that you will have at home? SET & push/pull don't sound the same. SS is hardly the same species. I'm not trying to be offensive here, but I'd scratch all of your conclusions and start over. The speakers you auditioned will sound entirely different when mated with an amp that approximates your Jadis combo.

I auditioned many of the speakers exclusively with a tube pre/pro combo (e.g. Thiel, TAD, Mosquito, custom-built Lowther, Marten design), and many with both tubes and SS (e.g. Odeon,Watt/Puppy,Kharma,Goldmund, JMLabs, Verity Audio, Sonus Faber, Tannoy, ProAc, MBL, Martin Logan, B&W, Mission, ATC, etc.). In most of these cases, changing from SS to tubes helped but not decisively. In cases where this wasn't possible (usually either the dealer didn't have tubes on hand, or I wanted to check out speakers which require high power) (e.g. Avalon, Dynaudio, Wilson Benesch, Linn, Magellan, German Physiks, Revel, Aerial, Naim, Magnepans, Triangle, PMC, Focus audio, Rockport [hybrid amp], Acapella, Avantgarde etc.), I had to use solid state.

In the case of the Avantgardes, I had to go back several times since the dealer kept promising to hook them up to a pair of push-pull CAT JL2 amps, but each time there was a problem with the amps. That is why I still want to give the Avantgardes a chance, and why I asked on this forum whether anyone has heard gross differences on them when using SS vs tube on them.

I was already aware of the differences beween SS and tube amps, and kept this in mind when using SS amplification- only where a speaker's basic 'character' wasn't close to what I was looking for would I write it off in these cases. Room size and acoustics, digital sources, interconnects, etc. also all varied from place to place, but my strategy has been to audition speakers and consider further those that fall within the ballpark of my tastes. In the many cases where I used both SS and tube amps. I found that changing to tube amps would usually improve, sometimes surprisingly, my assessment of the sound, but not fundamentally change the character of the speaker. If I'm wrong on this last point, I would appreciate any suggestions to reaudition any of the above speakers I auditioned recently. I actually found that changing the CD player or pre-amp (e.g. even with a single type) made as much or more of a difference in many cases. I made changes somewhere in the source component chain where I 'felt' a speaker was far from reaching its potential in at least one way. If I felt a speaker was expressing its true potential in some way (I expect a speaker can have several or many kinds of potential expression) but I wasn't moved at all, then I took it off my shortlist.

I appreciate your suggestion, Boa2, if you still think I need to reconsider my strategy or go back and give any or all speakers a re-listen, I would not be offended by further advice. As you can see, I've been a bit obsessed by all this speaker auditioning recently, and still haven't settled on a single speaker. My quest has led me to feel speakers should be chosen before amplification. Much of this auditioning has also served to help me develop and focus my own subjective tastes and requirements, so definitely I don't feel all my time has been wasted. I think a great part of the reason I've had to audition so extensively was to understand my own tastes, and because my expectation of the high-end was higher than what I have encountered.

My priorities, in general order, seem to be: large scale of sound, tonal richness/balance/texture/musicality, transparency/detail, liquid/smooth midrange, bass extension, soundstaging. I expect the speakers I purchase, given the right source, could do most of the above superlatively whether using SS or tubes, although probably better with tubes. Is this expectation unrealistic? I would be willing to switch amps if necessary, but would prefer to wait until auditioning more speakers. The Alexandrias did it for with me with tubes, the Savoys did it with SS. Kharmas have come close with SS.

To follow your suggestion, Boa2, I guess I would go back through the list of speakers I tested with SS amps, and determine which deserve a careful re-audition with SET tubes. From that list, Avantgarde was on my reaudition list because it has been highly recommended, and because it is made for low power. I thought Focus audio and Magnepans were the most sonically pleasing to me, but was told these wouldn't be driven well with low-powered tubes. I would rather wait for future auditioning opportunities with new speakers at this point, than do something drastic like change my amp.
No slouch,
Thanks for your in-depth recount of all your auditioning. Man, you sure have been listening to a lot of speakers! I'm jealous, actually.

I am definitely not experienced enough to make specific recommendations from the vast list of brands you have heard. I've heard many of them, though not all. I'm sure that recommending an amp/speaker audition that approximates your preferences is not any revelation, but if it's me listening, I have a very hard time distinguishing the potential of a speaker when I'm simply guessing because it's being powered by an amp/source that isn't anything like the one I have. On the other hand, you may feel more comfortable with those parameters. Sounds like that might be the case, which is great, because you definitely are zeroing in on your final choice.

Based upon what you liked already--some A+ speakers, by the way--and your stated list of priorities, I too think that you will find the Avantgarde to come up short, particularly in the realm of tonal richness & texture. I hope that statement doesn't kick this thread into another (potentially argumentative) tangient. My comments are simply in response to the fact that the Wilsons, Eggleston Works & Kharmas were so pleasing to you. These aforementioned speakers are not remotely similar to the AG's, so I would suggest auditioning speakers in a similar realm to those that you already like.

I don't know if you have access to them there, but for your lower powered tube amps, you might really enjoy the Silverline OR Coincident line of speakers. Sounds like the Merlin's could be right there as well. You might even start another thread, asking for recommendations based upon the progress you've already made in your quest. Problem is, if you keep listening to speakers that cost several multiples of your $20K ceiling, you'll end up needing a ski mask and a good team of friends to help you find the money to buy them.

I finally heard the Avantgarde Unos yesterday (although I was only given a very rushed 15 minutes), since the dealer was accomodating enough to borrow a Jadis DA50 integrated tube amp from the store upstairs. Wow, what a difference! The first note brought a smile to my face. The harshness and edginess was replaced by a warm Jadis glow, in fact I would say the sound was too warm, as I've found before with lower end Jadis designs. As I hoped, these highly sensitive horns speakers seem to reflect their source more than many box speakers I've come across. I can only imagine how much better a sound my Jadis separates would produce. They also used a very inexpensive CD player.

I'm hooked on the possibility of horns now. Compared to the Alexandrias, Ivy, and Kharma speakers, and probably all the other box speakers I heard, I can make out more instrumental details and feel closer to the music. I hope that having the appropriate mix of source components can minimize or eliminate any possibility of harshness.

However, the physical size and appearance of the Avantgardes I find very imposing and unappealing and slightly impractical. I think the bass integration is somewhat of an issue as well, although that may be a necessary compromise. There is still something about their sound that is not as 'comfortable' as my favorite box speakers, but I could attribute this to listening habit and unfamiliarity more than anything.

Boa2 has flagged a possible warning about tonal richness and complexity. I suspect tonal richness could be provided by the source, while I haven't reached a conclusion about tonal complexity, which is one of the reasons I like the Alexandria and Ivy so much. However, the ability of the Avantgardes to resolve find detail, including previously obscure lines of instrumentation, may mean this might not be a big concern. I also like speakers to have what I call, perhaps wrongly, richess of harmonic overtone/instrumental resonance, but wonder whether how much of this is often an exaggeration of hifi systems.

I guess the Avantgardes go on my shortlist. I hope to compile a longer list of potential audition candidates, but any further research is going to cost me considerable time and effort. I am considering just settling on a speaker now, despite there probably being better and more suitable choices lurking out there, and just enjoying music and developing my musical and 'audiophile' appreciation for a better selection process down the road.

Boa2, your comment about my budget is well-taken. I originally thought that my stated budget range ought to take care of it for me. I guess I would spend up to about 30K now, and would like to buy used, so would probably consider speakers up to around the 60K new retail mark.

I guess I could restart a new thread with a better title (e.g. best 10-60K speakers for high-end tube amp), but would this cause more confusion than clarity? I should also state that I would consider trading in my amps for higher power tubes if necessary.

My future audition list, should I continue, now contains:

Von Schweikert
DeVore Fidelity
FAB model one
Verity Audio Sarastro
Coincident Total Victory II

Would any of these speakers match or exceed the qualities I found in the Avantgardes?
For $30K on the used market, you should be able to find your dream speaker. Actually, you could probably spend much less for that end result.

You might also look at the system of member skuhino. The Edgarhorns could be a perfect match for your sonic preferences. Horn immediacy & detail, with the ability to convey the breadth & body of the instruments.

Good luck!
Thanks for the encouragement-- I stayed up the whole night doing my speaker research, armed with my auditioning experience of the last few weeks. I also think I can put together a great system well within that budget.

I couldn't find "skuhino" using member lookup or searching in Virtual Systems.
Another speaker that you might consider is the Classic Audio Reproductions Project T1 or Project T3. The two are very similar, being full range (read: cutoff at 20Hz) and easy to drive all at once. Their efficiency is a little lower then most horns (97db) but they are a uniform impedance- either 8 or 16 ohms depending on options.

I have used these as reference for some time, and while I have heard some speakers that do some things better, I have heard no speaker that does all things better. They are easy to place in the room (mine are 6" from the rear wall, which makes speaker choice difficult in my room).

They are quite revealing and relaxed. Listening all day at any volume level is a treat. I would not put transistor amps on them though! Imaging is excellent and the speaker overall lacks coloration. Its faults: while easily as fast as any cone speaker I have heard, it is not quite as fast as some planar speakers, although for that lack it more then makes up for it by being easy to drive and dynamic, something that all planars lack. If you don't have to strain your tube amp to make it work, your system will sound better.

Finally, the price, which not cheap, is very reasonable compared to some of the lessor speakers listed elsewhere in this thread.

Good Hunting!
Sorry, No Slouch, it should be member Skushino.

Also, I believe that many Audiogon members would advise taking any recommendation by Atmasphere as golden. I think that he is pointing you in exactly the direction you want to go.
Hi No Slouch,

I'll second Ralph Karsten's recommendation of Classic Audio Reproductions speakers. You might try e-mailing them; I seem to recall their having a dealer in Hong Kong once upon a time.
If you like the Wilson WP sound then a Von Schweikert VR-4JR will give you the same (or better) performance for 1/5 of the price. The VR-4sr's will give you even better performance.
Is the converse true? I don't find the Wilson WP sound is giving me the lens into music that I'm looking for - too hifi sounding.
I will try to locate the CAR speakers. How might they compare to Tannoy Churchills, TAD TSM-300, Pioneer 2251, and Tannoy Exclusive (??..can't remember exact name, they were 2 huge corner speakers with massive woofers).

In a system with expensive Cello preamp/amp and Burmester 001 CD, I found the Churchlls to have sweetest and detailed voice reproduction, but extremely lacking in detail below lower midrange. The other Tannoy had great bass, but lacked treble detail, using I believe Chord amplification and Esoteric CD. The TAD and Pioneer units sounded OK, but didn't have the class of sound I wanted, in terms of transparency, harmonic texture, openness/airiness. They were both much lower budget speakers, however.

I heard a vintage Wharfedale speakers with Mcintosh pre/pro (240), and it sounded phenomenal, musically completely spot-on and involving. They were asking US$1000 for the speaker and over US$8000 for the pre/pro set. There was no model number on the speakers, and I had no idea if they were a good buy or not...I saw with regret today that they were sold. Was the secret in the amps or speakers? Why couldn't that sound come out of the Tannoys or Pioneers? I didn't do extended or critical listening of the Wharfedales, I assume they wouldn't hold a candle to the others along most audiophile measurements.

If I can't locate more speakers in Hong Kong, I may consider purchasing unheard, online. I worry now from experiences like these, however, that I am a very subjective listener, and even a highly recommended speaker of the right type (i.e. musically revealing, transparent, high sensitivity, possibly horns or Lowther single or multidriver box) wouldn't quite get it right for me. I hope I'm not that subjective in a picky way, just have rigorous criteria.

I came across a product called "zero" in a agon forum, which seems to make it possible to use low sensitivity speakers such as the Eggleston Works Savoy with low or medium power tube amps. Would this be a possible solution to expanding my options? Would I get full performance from such speakers, compared to SS? Are there any compromises, other than lower maximum SPL?
I just found the speakers for my system- a pair of $500 ELOD floorstanders that I had retired for surround duty when I got my B&W804s.

After upgrading most of my front-end (top-end tubes everywhere, good cabling, power conditioning, isolation), I started to get much better sound from my 804s, including noticeable bass extension and clarity, midrange smoothness, detail, etc., but they were still far from what I expect from my system. I've auditioned dozens of speakers in every price category (from 2k-40k) over the last month, but hadn't found my perfect speaker yet. I was desperate enough today to order a high-sensitivity box or horn speaker online without auditioning, when I figured I should try my old speakers I've had for 5 years.

Wow! My sound system came to life. The Elods completely outclasses the 804s with my tube amps, and the overall sound is on par or better than most of the high-end systems I've been listening to, including many with 20k to 30k speakers. I'm convinced with proper placement and room treatment, soundstaging and other 'audiophile' qualities would improve, but right now the musicality and sweetness of sound is amazing.

Talk about source first. I'm pumping about $60,000 of front-end into $500 speakers.

I just discovered this an hour ago, so I haven't tinkered with the front-end to see where the responsibility lies. So far I switched out the Kondo silver cabling, and the magic disappeared. These are absolutely amazing speaker cables, btw. I A/B'ed them against its smaller sibling which only uses half the silver wiring, and still extremely expensive. I was fully expecting to buy the 'cheaper' one, but the sound quality was at least double, proportionally in line with the price (I figure in audio if you're ever on the linear part of the quality/expensive curve, that's a good deal).

I wonder what even a 2-3k high-sensitivity speaker would sound like in my system. Perhaps these ELODs are just sensitive enough to get out of the way and let me Jadis do its thing, I haven't checked their specs. In any case, I definitely recommend against using B&Ws with low-powered tube amps, as I've seen people recommend. Anyways, I'm happy with the sound finally, and might wait until CES 2006 before making a more informed speaker upgrade than I was just about to do!

Unless I get the upgrade bug earlier...:-)
May I suggest build your own speakers?
Since you are in China, finding the right folks to build speaker cabinets for you would be quite easy.
For starters, I would recommend the vintage EV 12TRXB and Jensen CX-120 coxial drivers.

This is what I build for myself:

Here is a link on the ev 12trxb

One of the most sought after coxial is the Jensen G610 drivers.

With these speakers, you don't even need expensive audiophile speaker cables any more.
That's a great suggestion. I can't access your site from China (geocities is censored) on this computer, but I'll check it out soon.

I don't wanna put a lot of time into it though, this recent 'hifi obsession' is dominating all my free time now, seriously eating into other priorities..

I'm surprised those cables wouldn't still be useful. I guess you mean that with sensitive speakers, it wouldn't matter so much if the speaker cable degraded the source signal?

I've been experimenting madly with power cords on my CD player and preamp, and find they make a remarkable difference. I know there's huge debates about impact of power cords, and this is my first experience A/Bing them, and I find it hard to imagine people wouldn't notice the difference given a revealing enough system. My Isoclean Focus cables are practically unlistenable they compress the sound so much (maybe i shouldn't have said that, now i plan to hawk them on audiogon :-)...ok, we could say they add a certain rough texture/flavor to the sound, which actually sounds better on some instrumentation through synergy counts right?), I'm so glad I got these Siltech G6 cables on a risk, they really open up the sound. I've discovered now that without them, along with the Kondo speaker cables, my system doesn't have its magic.

btw, i think i'm gonna change my username, not that i'm hiding anything. i wanted to change it a while ago, but had all these threads going. since i might start transacting on audiogon, i don't wanna get stuck with a username i don't's plainly obvious i'm an audio slouch compared to everyone around here...
Hi been away.

Sold my Avantgarde Duos and bought a pair of Hyperion 938, my budget was $15000 but got these as an interim prurchase for $4000. Never regretted selling the Avantgardes once. Suddenly I had bass I had TONAL COLOURS with great inner detail NOT JUST WARMTH. A soundstage was suddenly once again apparent. It was quite plainly very involving musically. I owned the Avantgardes for two years so I did like them. Had valve amps, solid state amps had the Jadis JA 80's etc. No way does it compare to a good cone design.

Exiting and can be electrifying when set up right, but not a great all rounder and not the most natural sounding by a long margin in my opinion.

If you want it to be electrifying dyanmic and exciting you have to give up a little of the tonal riches which to me make music special. You use a Jadis and yes you get warmth but you lose transparency and a little of the electrifying presence. Their bass is one of the worse I have come across from any speaker and I have owned which include Audio Physic Avantis, Harbeths, Quads, etc.

Just look at the two two intermnet reviewers Steve roachlin and Sjragen, I believe they have both given up their duos for paper cones.
If you like the tube sound, try the Dan a Digital speaker (www./ I'm lucky enough to live in Australia to hear it out ( Aussie made speaker), but not rich enough to have one :(. Don't know if it's available in China, but absolutely you MUST listen to them. Hearing is believing. I never heard any kind of sound that comes as live concert from speakers. Don't laugh but I would have one when I win the lottery.