A set of Spica TC-50s w/ subwoofer.
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I have to agree with Eldart on this one... I have a pair of Maggie 1.6's in my second system and have been tempted to sell them and get something else (they aren't too abtrusive, but in my living room a nice set of pretty floorstanders might be better looking)...
Anyway, everytime I get the itch I realize it would probably take 3K (used) to get what the Maggies are giving me for about $1700 new... They do very well in HT duty as well.
Some top yesteryear speaker models are still made today. If the same speaker has been in production for more than a decade...then go for a second hand model of that (it will be old, relatively cheap, tried and true)!
As for speaker designs that constantly change, one can only wonder why they keep getting it wrong or if design changes are driven by marketing hype rather than top sound.
Cheap speaker with HUGE sound, very seriously, Polk LSi 15, with the unbelievable Ring Radiator tweeter. Much discussions to be found in the Audiogon forums on this unit. If you can stand the Polk badge staring at you (and why not?) there are the BEST speakers for around 1K (probably even less) you can find. Real wood, classy looks, great sound, what's not to like for so little money?
Laughed at by snobby hi-fi shops, (would make more expensive speakers a tougher sell), too expensive at their retail price point for Circuit City shoppers, they are a beautifull oddball that are worth seeking out.
Check them out, they put many more expensive speakers to shame.
I once owned (no kidding) some VERY expensive speakers. We are talking the price a new car here. Are the Polks in the same league? Of course not. But up to $ 4,000.00, they ARE in the running, and this is no joke.
Soniqmike: Thanks for reminding us about Polk LSi 15. We would all do well to remember that our quest is good sound, not snobbery. Well, for many of us at least that's the case, can't speak for everybody. :-)
I would like to know which speakers have you had a chance to compare the LSi 15 with? Woud they be at par with Quad's L line? (Seem to be similarly priced.) With the likes of Salk Veracity HT2, Zu Druid, and similarly priced floorstanders from Tyler, Silverline, GMA? Proacs, Dynaudios?
There is so much overpriced junk out there that and any decent speaker would be better than "many costing a lot more". Such statements ring empty. It would be good to have a concrete reference.
As I said, forget the snob appeal of names, let's just talk sound.
Just so happens my previous speakers were Quad L22. Very, very nice.
In direct comparison (using an Arcam A-85 integrated I had at the time on both the Quad and Polk:
Softer, more ''romantic'' I guess, forgiving of harsh cd's, it's as if there is this ''warm blanket'' that wraps around every sound Quad makes. A very relaxed midrange. Great finish and attention to detail. Very nice. Cons: Not the most dynamic, sounds congested at medium to high volume levels. Some box colorations that are audible. Will not fill a larger romm with authority the way a Polk Lsi 15 can.
Polk LSi 15
''Huge sound'' with wide and deep soundstage - maybe a function of the high position and quality of the tweeter. Impression that the sound is exceptionnaly fast, quick. Wide dynamics, sounds ''loud'' even at low volumes. Some midrange colorations, but quickly forgotten given the other qualities. Lots of detail. Smart lookers with the glossy black and real wood cherry sides. Looks way more expensive that it is. Nice tall and slim. Speaker grilles are el-cheapo's (don't use them) looks better without anyways.
Note on the amp: The Arcam a-85 was a good match with the quad, and an exceptionnal one with the Polk. The way this amp can trim some frequencies, combined with the lively nature of the Polk made them a perfect pair.
It's definitely a budget combination that will satisfy beyond expectations. Invite your friends an watch their reaction....
B-T-W, Also great results with the Cayin A 88-T, (THE tube amp in this price range) balsy bass came as a surprise with this combination.
Hope this helps.
Some may scoff, but my NHT SuperTwos have more than held their own among Spendors, Maggies, B&Ws, PSBs and others costing quite a bit more. They've been out of production for a number of years, but each time I try to find a clearly superior speaker for a reasonable price, I find I can't do it (of course, I haven't tried EVERYthing). The SuperTwos do so many things well--including all the things you mentioned--and so few things, if any, poorly that they have stood the test of time extremely well. Just my opinion.