Best Floorstander Under 10K?

This thread is prompted by another that started to head in this direction. I've been looking for over a year for an attractive floorstanding speaker with outstanding musicality in a two channel application. Much of what I've heard has been pretty disappointing--barely or not at all bettering my Harbeth Compact 7's at $2500. I'm interested in hearing from folks who are passionate about their floorstanders. These could be current production or something from past years that provides excellent sound and value. Perhaps I've missed the diamond in the rough. My listening room has grown to 26 X 14 X 9 and I really would like to find something the wife will find attractive/unobtrusive and provide a fuller sound but preserving the "rightness" of the Harbeths. Any thoughts?
There are a couple I would recommend you audition in no particular order...

The Von Schweikert DB99s at just under 10K new (maybe 6K used) impressed me quite a bit at THE Show in Vegas last week powered by sanely priced Consonance electronics. They had very tight, full-sounding bass, and a very natural midrange. They personally are not to my taste visually (not to say they are ugly or anything), but they look good enough, and they were not obtrusive at all.

The next pair of speakers I own... They are the Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System speakers (the 4 piece version). They can be had direct from for about 5K new (about 3.5K used). Subjectively a better value than the DB99s (same level of performance for 50% of the price), but somewhat more risky purchase as Ty sells Internet direct only.

The Linbrook 4 piece System features a very solid midrange, excellent soundstaging, and tight bass... Highs are very natural sounding, but not fatiguing at all to my ears. They also look quite good, IMO.

A dark horse contestant might be the Dali Helicon800s:

While these were not quite as good as the two speakers above to my ears, they were close enough to merit strong consideration for anyone looking in the 10K or less price range... The Helicon800s retail for $5900/ pr. new (about 4K used), and they impressed me quite a bit with their reproduction of brass and wind instruments in particular. Their fit and finish rivals the best I have seen at any price as well. Worth a look.

Good luck,

Krell's Resolution stuff. Go heard those! I like my Mcintosh LS360's but the Krell are the best I've heard in years for below 10k speakers.
How about a little help, what's the rest of your system? Where will the speakers be located? What kind of music do you listen to?
PE LEON Nobilis
Thanks Jphii. Over the past year I've slowly upgraded my entire system--except the speakers and thus the post. Current equipment, which I expect to keep for a good many years, includes:
Audio Research 100.2
Audio Research SP16 w phono
VPI Scout/JMW9/Dynavector 20XH

Speakers will go on the short wall positioned a maximum (unfortunately) of 3 feet out from the wall. Good clearance on the sides--4 feet on one side and on the other the room opens to the dining room. Area rugs over hardwood. Thanks for sharing your suggestions.
What's wrong with your Harbeths?
Those Harbeth's are a tough act to follow, but for 10K you might be able to find a used pair of Vandersteen 5A's. They sound great with your amp and will fit your room nicely. They also look great and aren't too large, so your wife will be very happy.
Dodgealum, I'm a big fan of the Merlin VSM speakers in the price range you mention. While I'm not an owner, two members of our local audio group have these speakers and I'm tremendously impressed every time I listen to these speakers in their systems. The Merlins would be at the top of my candidate list in your price range and above, they are clear overachievers. If you do a search here, you'll find lots of comments.
I second that, Rush., my VSM-MM is so far the best I've heard.
I will second the db99 from Von Schweikert, I am enjoying them too much for a speaker in this price range! I was not at T.H.E. Show but from others I have talked to(and trust) who have heard the db99's in multiple locations, did not feel the performance at T.H.E. Show did them justice. These speakers don't seem to do anything wrong and are so much fun to listen to, they can do it all from rocking out or playing chamber music. Break-in is horrible and it can be troublesome getting them set up properly, but once you are even close they sound really good. They image much better then my Avalon Eclipse's did, and that speaker is known for its imaging. There is also going to be an add on ribbon super tweeter available sometime in the summer of 05 which will increase freq. response and add even more air and better imaging!

To me the best part of these speaker is the choices of amplifiers! They are so flexible you can achieve full dynamics with as little as 3 watts! So if you want to run a little 2a3 amp or something you can, and with the bass "booster" you don't lose the bass.

My only complaint with the speakers is that the finish isn't spectacular and the iec jack on the plate amps is to close to the heat sinks- you can't use most aftermarket powercords, unless they have a very slim iec plug.
I'll second the Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System. I just broke in a pair of the 1 piece systems. Very balanced, neutral and revealing, without undue upper range emphasis. Very smooth. Tight bass. Big soundstage at low to moderate volumes. They run a very close second to my long time favorites which are no longer available and rarely on the used market, the Paragon Jubilee/Gem. The fundamental difference between these two speakers is the Linbrook presents a much fuller soundstage at low volumes at the cost of a tiny bit of resolution in comparison the the Paragons. You have to apply some power to the Paragons to get them off the ground, but at mid to loud volumes they are one of the best speakers at the sound stage thing. They are also neutral and smooth. Although the Tylers are 4ohm speakers I've run them with as little as 35 tube watts very satisfactorily.
i will be the third to throw my vote in for the tyler linbrooks. i have had mine for several years and drive them with a cary v12i. this is one hell of a speaker. granted my firsthand listening experience isn't equal in measure to many audiogoners but i have never felt shortchanged or been left wanting listening to my linbrooks.
i have never suffered listener fatigue whatsoever. they are not the last word in detail or low, low bass extension, but they clean house over a realistic freq distribution for a speaker of this size. they are an incredible value competing with speaker twice the price.
i do not have the bass modules since my room is not large enough for me to really derive benefit at the moment. i would buy them in a heartbeat if my room warranted it though.
there are lots of speakers to choose from out in the market , take your time and find something you can live with long term, sit back and enjoy some great music.
hope this helps
Anything in the Tyler Acoustics Linbrook line. I'm impressed with my Tylo Ref 1's, and would have complete faith in a blind purchase of Linbrook's.
Are you totally against panels i.e. electrostats, or ribbons? Your 3 feet of space might not be optimal but just enough for a pair of Maggie 1.6 or 3.6's, or Martin Logan Ascents............. Both really great speakers. Your amp would probably power the ML's better, but would work pretty darn well with the Maggies too.
The new Penaudio Serenades introduced at CES will work well. See, day 3, Wes Phillips goes solo.
The merlin VSM-MM and even moreso the VSM-MX are unbelievable, overachieving speakers. My pair of VSM-MMs is one of the best purchases I have made, ever. It greatly outperforms everything else I've heard. I can only imagine how good the VSM-MXs are. Not to mention, Bobby Palkovic, merlins CEO and designer, is a hell of a nice guy, unbelievably helpful in all areas audio, and readily available. His insight and advice alone is one of those incredibly valuable resources that make or break and audio system.


I have had the opportunity to hear the Harbeths that you own and was very impressed with them. My suggestion, as long as you have listened to others in and above the price range and still find the Harbeths equal to or better than most, is to add a high quality subwoofer to your existing system. In addition to the increase in low frequency response I believe you will find a great improvement in almost every parameter, especially soundstage presentation.

There are many excellent subwoofers that are available on the new and used market. I have had great results from companies such as REL, Definitive Technology, Sunfire, and VMPS. There are many to choose from.

I hope this helps. Good luck in your search.
I would strongly consider the Merlin VSMs or the Sonus Faber Cremonas. Both are incredible speakers. The Sonus are also DROP DEAD GORGEOUS! Good luck..

Reimer, reimer, reimer. I have A pair of Tetons being made right now. They are full range 15hz-25khz and AWESOME. 95DB efficient, bass to die for, with musicality I have never heard from a speaker in any price range. I recomend trying to audition the wind rivers, or the tetons, then stop and enjoy the music.
I don't want to sound like a broken record here but.....The Tyler Linbrook System really is an outstanding speaker. I have the front ported one piece speaker. I've had B&W Matrix 801 S3, Von Schweikert vr4 jr, and JM Labs Electra 926, in my room at one time or another. The Linbrooks win. I had a hard time believing that these were going to be the speaker to stop me from looking - but after they broke in - I was sold. Mid's and high's are beautiful and well balanced. Bass is tight AND deep. The bass was my biggest concern following the 801's. I didn't think there was enough slam or weight, but now after break in, I feel as though I'm missing nothing, as far as bass is concerned. Plus the sound stage is huge, and the speakers are easy to place, in the room, as well. Plus they do look beautiful. In case you can't tell, I really like 'em. :-) Great speaker for twice the money, and Ty is one of the best Agon dealer's I've dealt with.
Dodgealum, not knowing what music genres or part(s) of the audio spectrum you favor, I suggest the following two current models for MUSICALITY, accuracy, balance and long-term enjoyment with your ARC system:

"Equation 25" (

"Stonehenge" (

Equations are beautifully finished and provide more apparent but not boosted bass and are more forgiving; however, Stonehenges have a wonderful presence and reproduce anything, bass included, that's on the recording.

Stonehenges are very efficient and mate well with quality SS and, especially, tube gear. Since you're a vinyl fan, you'll hear things on your LPs you didn't know were there.

Both speakers' cabinets are very well made, contain top quality drivers, wire and crossovers and are great values.

Good luck!
Tyler Acoustics Woodmeres. While 6 feet tall, they are only 18 inches wide and deep. Being front ported, I've been able to place mine quite close to the front wall. Very unobtrusive physically though the looks always draw the attention of visitors. The pictures don't do justice. Oh, the sound? Very natural with either solid state or tubes. The dual 10 inch Seas woofers give the most realistic rendering of bass notes I've ever heard.

Good luck, whatever you choose.

Thanks to everyone and keep the suggestions coming! I've researched a few of the lesser known brands and am happy to have widened my horizons. To those that suggest I keep the Harbeths--I hear you. If it were not for their unattractive appearance and the newly decorated living area, I would be set for life with the Compact 7's. A truly superb speaker, particularly for the money. Vandy 5's are nice, I've heard them and like them a lot. Just too big for the space. To be honest, I'm a little fearful of the Tyler speakers--seems like he just pops the same drivers in different size boxes. Without being able to hear them I'm not comfortable going there. The Krell Resolution seems interesting. I'll try to find those. What about these which no one has mentioned--any thoughts:

Proac D38
Aerial Acoustics 7B
Ruark Solstice
Wilson Benesch Curves

I've heard all but the Curves and D38 (but did hear the old 3.8). Any opinions on these as possible options given my equipment and love of the Harbeth sound?
Merlin VSM range.....MM or MX,depending on amplification.
Just for reference, if you want to hear the Tylers (very understandable), you may want to click on the Demo link in the top left corner of the Tyler web page... Ty now has a list of owners that have volunteered to let you and others hear their speakers in their own homes for "real world" trial (I plan to join that demo list soon).

Of course Ty also has a 3 week home audition period, but you would be out the 2-way postage (and that can run $100-200 each way for many of his larger speakers).

Just for reference though, Ty definitely does not just plop the drivers into any old cabinet and call it a new model... He is actually a master speaker builder as far as I am concerned. If you seek out an audition, I think you will quickly see that too.

Good luck with your auditions...

You may want to visit your local Vandersteen dealer again. In addition to the Model 5s he will have Quatros this summer. They are essentially the head unit of a Model 3 with a built in 2WQ sub on either side (this is a great simplification for the sake of brevity). If you like the Model 5 this will be a slightly smaller speaker in some respects.

Still, it's too bad the 5 is too big for you. I think it takes up about the same floor space as any other high quality speaker.

Good luck!
Silverline Audio Sonata III in Rosewood finish
Dodgealum, if the Vandy Model 5s are too big, then wouldn't the Response 3.8s or D38s be also?

Re WB Curves: from, excuse the source, HiFi Choice: "However, the Curve is also leaner than the ACT through the broad midband, 150-600Hz, so that a 700Hz-1kHz peak - visible on both - stands out as rather more isolated and obvious. The result is clearly audible as a rather less neutral balance overall, the Curve sounding thinner with less harmonic richness, especially with wideband orchestral material. Speech shows a similar character, with clarity and articulation, and lots of explicit detail, but also some leanness and lack of 'chest' on male voices in particular." Not a great endorsement of a $7,300 speaker.
I like the Wilson Sophia in that price range.
Don't bother with the WB Curves... If you're going to get Wilson Benesch's, you have to get at least the ACT's.

Which you should be able to get for about $10K from a dealer if you really push. ($12K retail)

The Curves just do not have enough bass.

My two cents.
LSA Model 2. Soon available nationally.
Speak up theaudiotweak, and 84. Tell 'em what to expect for $1800. per pair in real Rosewood finish. The time has come to let the cat out of the bag.
(Cats hate bags, so I am told.) HA!
The LSA's are better than the B7W 801's for $11K, and that's a start. You guys out there?
Make that the B&W 801's sorry for the typo.
It's hard to know what to say about lrsky's speakers. You won't believe how good an $1800 speaker can be until you hear it. It is an absolute imaging champ, and it has tons of textures and a life like presentation that is difficult to imagine. The speaker has great clarity and detail with no harshness, and it will blow away products that cost several times it's price. I'm on the list to order 2 pair when they go in production, they really are that good!
Once again, thanks for all your help. Where can I get more info about the Irsky LSA Model 2? Also, Rsquared, thanks for the heads up on the Curves--I hadn't seen any reviews. I'll also look into the new Vandy's. The Model 5's really are quite large (wide at the bottom and deep) I think the Proacs cut a much less noticable presence. Please keep your suggestions coming.
P.S. I also like the Sophia. However the styling is too modern.
I heard the LSA 2's a few times.Yes they were easy to go back and listen to each and every time..They were also easy to discern differences when changing electronics or component supports or for that matter power cords. Fit and finish visually spoke of a 10k pair of speakers.Soundstage was wide detailed and fleshed out, imaging was visual. These speakers easliy compete with the large boastfull widely advertised big boy speakers as well as the more serious monitor types..The LSA speakers are musical and are of great value..Next step is to hear them with my own rig in my own room..Then I may say...without any reservation Larry you nailed IT...Tom
Lrsky, correct me if I'm wrong, but LSA is Larry Staples Audio and you are using this forum to promote your own product.
The question was "best floorstander under 10K, not who builds it, so I am thinking that anyone can speak up who wishes to do so.
Rich Vandersteen, Jim Thiel, Gayle Sanders et. al. have similar thoughts probably, and are presumably free to indulge themselves.
I will soon, as time approaches, register as a commercial poster, as you are Essentialaudio...
I've been around this and other forums for quite a few years. I haven't seen the people you mentioned post, but folks such as Bobby Palkovic respond to questions in an informational, professional manner. For example, if Bobby were to come on and post a promotional piece about something new that he has he would likely incur the wrath of others and deservedly so. By the way, I don't sell Bobby's speakers, so there is no conflict of interests.
Larry, got any pictures of your speakers?
Personally, I have no problem with anyone posting to promote their own product, provided there is disclosure. In fact, I'm quite interested in hearing about products that are outside the mainstream as they may represent a better value than those that are more well known (and hyped). Larry, please send me some further information and photos.
I have both the Merlin VSM and the Verity Fidelio. Both seem to me to fit the bill of what you are after. I might be alone in this, but I slightly prefer the Fidelio. Set up right, these speakers can sound utterly gorgeous. The Merlin is less laid back and more impressive/spectacular, so I guess it is a matter of how you like your music presented.
Essentialaudio- Thanks for the heads-up on the LSA speakers. All posters should disclose their conflicts of interest, whether potential or real.
At the risk of sounding cynical, you don't know Essential personally, do you Pmi guy...or do you?
All I did was HONESTLY answer an (albiet self serving question) honestly.
I think Essential is within his rights to point out commercial versus private, but Audiogon polices their site pretty well; I am sure that they would slap me back if I weren't a long time sincere contributor.
Again, sorry if anyone was hurt by this revelation of my new design.
Larry R. Staples
LSA Group
Since some folks are promoting their own wares, I'll throw in my favorite...the Focus Audio FS-888. My disclaimer is that I'm a Focus Audio dealer, but I only sell gear that I own for myself, and this is my favorite speaker under $10K. They do like a lot of power, and they certainly benefit from a larger room, but when set up properly they are spectacular...

Here's a review by Wes Philips:
PSB Stratus Gold i's at $2700 will give a lot of stuff under 10k a very hard run for the money. They need quality electronics and sources and lot's of juice.
ACI Jaguar LFM's
Allow me to introduce you to the Moderation Guidelines, linked from the lower right corner of the Main Forums menu:
What we will decline:
We hope to decline very few submissions, but we refuse to post statements that take away from the usefulness of these forums. Here are some examples of the types of posts that will be rejected most of the time:

* Questions that you can answer for yourself by searching the previous answers, or by following a known web link, or by reading the manual.
* Questions that only you can answer, such as "Will that subwoofer have enough bass for me?"
* Questions with no answer, such as "Is this amp any good?"
* Posts that do not give sufficient information about your system, your experience, or your tastes.
* Posts that are off-topic or casual bantering.
* Posts that are obviously trying to sell something.
Check out that last one above, it's a doozy.

Perhaps you haven't read the posting rules, or at least you don't agree with them. Common sense should tell you it isn't kosher to self promote, but then maybe I'm jaded from being in the trenches as an ordinary joe consumer for thirty years before throwing my hat in the ring. If I want a sales pitch I'll watch late night TV infomercials. Dude, this thing is supposed to be fun.

Sorry to all for venting and sounding like some kind of creepy net cop, but it had to be said.
Dude,(least you forget that this is 2005, please) Larry will do just fine.
"In my experience and opinion full range dipoles do it best."
That was your answer to, "Which speaker renders piano best."
If I am not mistaken, YOU are a Sound Labs dealer, and I am sure that anyone who is a thinking person, finds this to be completely (if not your honest opinion, in fairness) self serving to your cause. To put the fine point that it was no doubt truthful on your part is a waste of time, so was I.
You only haunt this site to hawk your wares, so please don't be duplicitious.
If you read 99.999999999% of all my posts they are benevolent and time consuming answers to people wanting honest answers to questions, (as was my own self serving mention of LSA).
I have spent several hours waxing poetic over the DK MK II for no reason other than to "pass it on".
Give us all a break and quit the 'police' routine here.
How pious of a registered 'commercial' user, who takes every opportunity, however subtle, to further his cause. You are only here for financial gain, and anything thought to the contrary is naiive.
We have ALWAYS gotten along. Let this go, in the name of common sense.
I wish you well, and if you look back, I apologized three times for having 'offended' anyone.
Following your, "I think dipoles, (Sound Labs by any other name, do it best"...) is very close to 'selling something'.
At least I was completely open about my answer.
My credentials as former Vice President of Sales and Marketing International for THIEL Audio, and President Emeritus for Von Schweikert Audio, give me perspective, and credibility among those who follow these writs. Plus, I spend hours weekly answering questions privately, (for no gain) from Audiogon followers who seek my advice because of my credentials, none of which anyone sees.
PLEASE let it go as a minor, unimportant gaffe, and fit of oportunity on my part, and zeal over my new babies.
Good luck on selling Sound Labs... though to be 'honest' mine tragically broke after only five months of normal, gentle use...propelling me into what will undoubtedly be a non refundable $500. freight nightmare, plus weeks of down time. I hope everyone else has better luck with $18,000.00 speakers than I did. Maybe another reason why a 'free', virtually no time involved fix for a dynamic speaker suits me better, however wonderful the Sound Labs may sound, this is gut wrenching.
Good listening to everyone...and please Dude, (oops, Brian)let this go, it's not that important, and you couldn't possibly THAT offended, given YOUR opportunistic bent here.
I have ALWAYS tried to indicate my affiliations, as if my moniker isn't clear enough to indicate I'm a dealer. You are only guessing, rather badly, as to my motives for posting.

Take a look at some of your own posts, including the ones in this thread (need some links?). Who's being opportunistic?

As to your credentials, what is "Professor Emeritus" supposed to mean? Do you have a Ph.D. and teach at a university?

Sorry to hear about your SL speakers, as most folks don't have problems. But then you chose to air your grievances, despite their concerted efforts.