From my experience, I recommend the Merlin VSM-SE. They're floor standing, but really nothing more than monitors with good bass response.
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Choices, choices and still more choices. My vote for a really nice monitor (current model) would be the Coincident Triumph Signature - nice build, very easy to drive, maybe a little pricy by some standards but non-the-less a good buy IMHO. I also like the Platinum Audio "Solo" - super bass response for such a small speaker but can be harder to drive (85 dB spl if memory serves me right). I really like these alot and they can be found (rarely) used for around $750.
I have used the merlin vsm se's the sonus faber electa amator 1's and am now listening to the JM Reynaud Offrandes. All really nice (I use quality tube gear ) The JM Reynauds are my favorite in my system. They are extremly musical and do what I think a great speaker should. They are priced reasonably for there quality at $4100/pr. They therefore get my vote.
The best? Try the Harbeth Monitor 40. I believe this is considered to be one of the best monitors available in the world at any price. Truth of timbre, neutral, and most importantly musical. I only wished I could afford to own them myself. I went with the Epos which was the best I could find for 1100.00. Now discountinued and replaced with what's supposed to be an identical version, but includes shielding for use in Audio/video systems, and the cabinets are now sourced oversees for a savings cost of about $300.00. Good listening and good luck!
i've begun to compose posts on this thread twice before, only to resort to the "clear" button. here's the problem: damn near everyone who's stated an opinion here seems to have his/her(we can hope) own idea of what a "monitor" is. when i hear the term, i think of what i believe is the "classic" definition, a small speaker used in the playback of recordings or the "voicing" of components. usually these "monitors" are of a genus of the species called "nearfield." some of these nearfield monitors have made their way into the mainstream of highend. witness the wilson audio tiny tot, now the "watt" portion of the watt/puppy (version 6.1 most recently). others think of monitors as the equivalent of "satellites," as that term was understood bht (before home theatre). i think of satellites as small speakers specifically designed as limited range transducers that can be used with or without subs; generally, the cabinet size of these speakers contributes in large measure to thier superior imaging capabilities. the best of this genre i have heard (& owned) are ae-1 signatures; these are also among the most fabulously finished audio products of all time. yet another group appears to define "monitor" as any speaker with a small footprint. the best of this ilk i've auditioned recently is the avalon symbol, which can be placed in the near or far field effectively, depending on your listening enviroment's size and limitations. so, i'm still afloat in the sea of uncertainty. not sure what a "monitor" is. what'd you have in mind, rickeyjunior? -kelly
Using the proper "nearfield" definition, the Verity Audio Parsifal Monitors ($5.5k) are extraordinarily natural and coherent--nearfield or farfield! Ultrafast, clean, transparent (crossover's benign and way up at 5500Hz...sidewall reflections from tweeter "flare" are effectively minimized). Put 'em atop their woofer-base mates (crossed at 150Hz--STILL ok in nearfield!) and you have the "Encore" 3-way floorstander...$13k! I only compared the "monitor" tops to the complete Encores once, and found them to sound (and measure) even flatter in the 100-200 Hz region, but rolling off below 65Hz. The woofer-bases are SO quick 'n agile, however, that I never bother to run the Monitors alone...muddiness is never an issue. (As I was able to get the full Encore demos at cost ($8k) the increase in value compared to the full-price Monitors was a no-brainer.) Although you may also have a hard time finding used Verity Monitors for sale, I would consider it a wonderful find: all of the Encore's sound save the bottom 1.5 octaves, and maybe only $3-3.5K!...happy hunting...............FYI: My in-home auditions were limited to 803N (NOT coherent in nearfield! (I sit in 7.5' triangle)), Fidelios (tweeter integration not as seamless as Parsifals; non-reversible base), Aerial 7B and 8 (too much bottom!) Sonus Fabers, and several custom 6.5" two-ways developed from various Scandinavian drivers. The Verities use custom Dynaudio 8 and 1, and an extraordinary 5.5 from Edgwind Skaaning, ex-honcho from Dynaudio/Scanspeak. 89dB/w, flat impedence. Scarily well-constructed and voiced by fellow canucks! I fully expect to NEVER replace these musicmakers, so MY search is well over. Good luck in yours! Ernie. (Sorry about the bragadoccio-- wish I felt as good about my digital front end....)
i have owned several monitors over the past few years; kef 102, Shahinian Super Elf, Voce Divania, Acoustic Energy AE-2, Ruark Sepctres, Pro Ac Tablette 2000's and currently Totem Tabu's. All very respectable speakers in their own right, but i have to say for overall sound, dynamics, imaging, and bass the Totems are the best i have heard. While some speakers may excel at certain things the Totems do everything very well and would highly recommend them. you can find used pairs for about $1500.
I have once heard the Avalon Monitor's (now discontinued) they were breath taking for a small speaker. Also worth mentioning are the B&W 800 series monitors I listened to them for several hours and I can't say fell in love with them but at least I had an affair with them! and what more can we ask for.
SP Technology Timepiece 2.0s. Extremely revealing, yet musical.
Not many know about them...yet. Word is getting out, though, and in my opinion it's only a matter of time before they take off like a shot. Here's a link to the manufacturer's website, as well as a couple of reviews that articulate just how special these speakers are far better than I ever could:
SP Technology website
Enjoy the Music Review
Pro Audio Review
If you're considering a speaker change, get in touch with SP Tech now. Prices are sure to increase as soon as demand allows. In fact, it may already be too late to get the "intro" price.
Note: My only connection to SP Technology is the fact that I own a pair of Timepiece 2.0s and am amazed by their performance. I do not have, nor have I EVER had, a business relationship with SP Technology.
That said, they're the best speakers I've ever had, and Bob Smith (President and speaker designer) is one of the finest people I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with.