Best high end monitors?

I'm considering monitors for a 2 channel setup (to be paired with a couple subs - probably JL Audio Fathom 113's).

Looking for suggestions on brands/models to consider. I listen to all kinds of music, but mostly rock and jazz. I'm looking for large soundstage, detailed with with meat on the bones.

I don't have a set budget, but wouldn't go as high as Magico Minis or anything crazy.

Thanks in advance.
SEAS exotic monitor

Any active speaker is better than any passive speaker.
"Any active speaker is better than any passive speaker."

What a crock. Never make blanket statements like that, you are simply showing your ignorance.

My first choice would be Harmonic Precision Caravelle's (but of course I have them and I'm biased towards them).

My second choice would be to seriously look into the Reference 3A De Capo i's. They're very good monitors.

The suggestion of Reference 3A MM DeCapo(i) is pretty solid, especially at their used price of about $1200-$1600. I previously owned them and enjoyed them.

However! I recently heard a pair of JMLabs/Focal Micro Utopia BE moniotrs at a friend's house, and All I can say is WOW! They were fantastic in his system. However, they are about $4000+ used w/ their matching stands.

The Micros produced about the best sound I've ever heard in a real system, with the exception of a lack of low bass extension. However, if you are going to use subs anyway, they certain deserve consideration if they are within your budget.


Merlin TSM-MXe needs to be on your list. Rel sub would probably be a better match. Cheers,
Agree with Spencer Merlin-tsm's-I recently had mine upgraded to the lead free versions---all I can say is-WOW!
he audiophile definition of monitor pretty much covers anything not nailed to the floor. assuming you have an amp, and you really mean 'monitor' in the 'passive, somewhat nearfield and probably on a stand so I could have bought a floorstander anyway-kinda way', check out all the brit stuff, old and new.
Thanks for the responses.

I'm considering non-full range speakers because my room is problematic. I want the sound of full range, but feel I might be better off being able to position monitors for the best soundstage and use an EQ'd sub to deal with problematic bass nodes.

Currently trying JM Focal Electra 1007 BE's. Don't have the sub(s) hooked up yet, but find the tweeter a little forward and the image a little smallish for my taste. I am considering the Micro Utopias because I've heard the tweeter (although BE) is not as forward and midrange is better. So I thought I'd ask about alternatives before moving forward.
check out German Physiks (google em) they make some really cool monitors. they are omni designs and can be placed with great flexability.
What amplifier are you planning to drive them with and how big is the room??
Harbeth SHL5s
Hey Floyd,

When I heard the Micro utopia BE's they were placed half way out into the room, i.e. room was 15 feet deep and the speakers were literally 7.5' out into the room. Not forward sounding and a huge image. Matter of fact, the speakers completely disappeared and the soundstage was deeeeep and wide. It was an enlightening experience.

Enjoy the hunt.....

Room is 14 x 26 x 7.5. Room is soundproofed and seems to retain bass energy. Current speakers are Aerial Model 9'
s and their 4 woofers produce too much bass.

Amps are Theta Citadel 1.5 (400 watt monoblocks)
Currently trying JM Focal Electra 1007 BE's. Don't have the sub(s) hooked up yet, but find the tweeter a little forward and the image a little smallish for my taste

Try something with a soft dome tweeter and definitely go for a sealed box. Something that begins to roll of gradually at 80 Hz would be ideal and place them close to the wall (within two feet).

The JL's are a sealed sub - so I'd definitely go with small sealed box monitors...nice and tight punchy sound to go with the JL's and less phase issues compared to a ported design.
Artemis Audio EOS Sig. 2-way speaker, they come up for sale once and a while and you will be amazed.

Go to this members site below to view, you would minus the huge bass units they are sitting on. I actually had these, I truly enjoyed the speakers but not the bass units and had them paired up with Entec subs.
ATC,Harbeth,Spendor,Reference 3A,Totem
My favorites are the Harbeth 40.1 and the Spendor SP100R, but that extending the term monitor to the max!
All the above have pluses and minuses but are at the top of the food chain.
Dynaudio C1's is my first choice followed by the Sonus Faber Creamora-M's then the Usher Tiny Dancers. First 2 are about the same price with the ushers being about 1/2 that (not having a price range its hard to recommend anything). Personally I own the Dyn C1's. You really need to demo them (preferably in your room) because everyone has different tastes and expectations
I have had two speakers that I could recommend. Currently I have Focal Micro BE speakers with an Electra sub. These speakers are effortless and have a great sense of space. I thoroughly enjoy this speaker. Footnote: they do take awhile to break in so make sure your demos have a few hundred hours. Also, they are not forward sounding at all. You get the sense you are hearing everthing without being too artifically detailed.

The other speaker is the Wilson Benesch ARC. Not as much top end extension (air) but the bass is deeper (not better). Very coherent. I think the WB can play at a louder level (not a real benefit for me). Both are easy to drive. Both have a teriffic midrange. I could live with either. See if you could listen to both. Not sure of your electronics but both work very well with tubes (I use BAT separates) Good Luck
Hope you can hear F300 from a new company called Eficion ( The top portion can be used separately as a monitor. It's midrange seemlessly crosses over to a fantastic AMT tweeter. It makes all dome tweetered speakers more or less the same.
Intuitive Design Delta Gammas, call Dale Pitcher.
There is no "best". With a good sub, any good monitor that sounds good to you mated to a good sub will sound great and deliver meat on the bones.

I've heard the Magico's...very nice indeed but overpriced IMHO for monitors. I use a meager pair of highly regarded $500 Triangle Titus 202 monitors with a decent M&K sub in my 2 channel a/v system and it sounds absolutely fabulous.
Might as well throw my hat into the ring. Vivid audio are among the best monitors and speakers I have heard at any price. I was lucky enough to have the B-1's in my showroom thanks to Philip O'hanlon of On a Higher note. Brief history. One former owner of B&W, and the designer of the Nautilus series set out to develop speakers their way. The Vivids are the result. The most musical, holographic and accurate loudspeakers I have heard. Shaming the likes of Revel and Wilson. I am not a dealer for Vivid, but wouldn't mind being one.

Ironically, you named the winner right in your disclaimer...Magico Minis!!
Monitor Audio PL100
Harmonic Precison Caravelles; if you can find them for sale. I had them and they are superb, but were a little too small for the room I have. Excellent sound, smooth highs and very dynamic. They can play very loud without distortion.
Helicon 300 MK2 are also very good speaker with ribbon tweeter combo.
Anyone else try Usher Tiny Dancers (BE-718)? Great reviews but (and this sounds kinda snobby), they aren't very expensive.

I'm very drawn to trying the Focal Micro BE's (as Rello mentioned) but I have bi-wire and this makes it a pain (as it is with the Electra 1007 BE's I'm currently using) because I switch speakers when watching theater.

When I was auditioning floorstanders, I tried the Dynaudio C2 and they sounded like bookshelf speakers to me at the time (bass was anemic) but I'm guessing the C1 would be a good contender.

Lots of suggestions for brands I don't recognize - I have some research to do!

Thanks to all.

If you are Mad about Floyd as in Pink FLoyd then do try to hear some ATC's.
David Gilmour uses them in Astoria (Pink Floyd's studio in London) as does their
engineer, James Guthrie, Das Boot Studio. Their stuff has been mastered by
Doug Sax, who has ATC's in his "Mastering Lab". Amused to Death
was done on Roger Water's ATC's in his home studio and also mastered by Doug
Sax. If you think Floyd make good quality recordings then ATC might be well
worth an audition -the passive 20's or newer 19's are a sealed box, which
should work well for near wall placement and they can fully exploit your hefty
power amp.
Here's another speaker for your consideration:

Green Mountain Audio Eos or Eos HD.

I have not heard the Eos or Eos HD, but I own the GMA Callisos and Roy Johnson (GMA founder and designer) says they best the Callisto in every way. While I find that a tall claim (as I think the Callistos are absolutely genius) I have read from some who have upgraded from the Callistos to the Eos and Eos HD who back up Roy's claim.

I would also recommend a pair of small REL subs. Run the speaker level tapped off of the speaker binding posts on the back of your speaker, and cross them over around 35 Hz (begin with 70% of the -3 dB low-end output of your speaker of choice). Physically move your speakers around for best imaging, then physically move the subs, adjust the output, and adjust the phase for smoothest low-end integration and overall impact.

I have a small, challenging room (see my system). While I love REL subs, I personally went with something less expensive that still had speaker level inputs, phase control, and a variable crossover down to 30 Hz - a pair of Martin Logan Dynamo subs.

I would say that I mostly listen to rock (Tool to My Chemical Romance to Band of Horses to The National to Iron & Wine) as well, with some things like Dead Can Dance, Michael Hedges, Enya, etc. thrown in. My system responds very well to each of these genres.
Thanks, Shadorne. Indeed I am a huge PF fan.

Before you do anything else, I'd add a (pair of) Bass Buster(s) or equivalent
product from another brand like ATC. The manufacturer can advise as to the
quantity and placement of these $350-$450 units for your room. My current
room was a giant, relentless pain in the ass until I added 2 of these and Voila!
massive improvement. Stereophile did a piece on this type of device and it's
in their on-line archive. Do yourself a favor and check it out. I was
sufficiently impressed that I put another one behind my piano!


PS - I'd toss Ohm (probably 100s or Sat 100s) in the ring as a main to
consider for use with the subs. The 100s are $1800 in basic black and very
good sounding loudspeakers which (possibly by virtue of their omni radiating
pattern) mate amazingly well with subs. They're sold factory direct with a
money-back policy for the unimpressed.

PPS You might also want to check out the Velodyne SMS-1 sub controller
which at app $500-$600 offers a very flexible low pass, fixed high pass, PEq,
and room analysis for any brand of sub you choose. BTW, before you choose
a sub, note that A-gon members Bob Reynolds, Drew Ekhard (?) and Shadome
are great resources with extensive knowledge on the subject.
Totem monitors have been described as meaty more than any other descriptive term. Several mfgrs voice with Totem. Imaging that will frighten you.
Zieman, of course, is a Totem dealer.

Which he did not disclose.

skip the subs, a good 2 channel system does not need'm! just buy the best speaker you can afford. the best; my vote, rockport arrakis, magico M6, wilson alexandria's. haven't heard the new focal's sure they are great as well as mbl or hansen. can't afford, who can? move down the line a little, i did, haven't consided a sub since.
I feel like a broken record, but SP Technology Timepiece 3.0 - You may not even need the subs with these.
Since no one here seems to have read the crucial line "the rooms...... seems to retain bass", I would put in a Manger Swing along with your JL subs. The Swing on its own does not play below 100Hz and hence will smoothly roll out to a pair of subs, no stands required, looks great. Call Daniela Manger, site , or if in USA call tmhaudio.
As far as a suggestion as the "best high end monitor" - I am a HUGE fan of the Ridgestreet Audio Sason granite monitor. There are many things within this speaker's design that seem to be missing from other monitors such as very unique impedance matched cost no object internal wiring and "best of the best" crossover components and the complete elimination of binding posts, cryod tweeters and much more to boot. The cumulation of all of these details combined don't even exist in speakers like Magicos, Kharmas (or anything I know of under the $30k mark). IMHO the Ridgestreet Sason designers seem to have attacked every single "lossy" parameter they could think of where other monitor designers haven't even considered in their designs comparably.
skip the subs, a good 2 channel system does not need'm!

Interesting notion -- dead wrong, but interesting.
Ok, they are going to be in the same league as the Magico Mini or the Ridge Street Sason, but you can pick up a pair here on audiogon in the $2,500 range. I've lived with mine for 3 years and they are great speakers. Link to review:
There is a pair of Ridge Street Audio Design Sason speakers for sale on audiogon. This is the first & only pair I have ever seen for sale.

If you live close to the seller (whose zip code is 49055), I suggest that you give them a serious & critical listening. They sound phenomenal & even look great!
The only drawback with the RSAD is there weight hence shipping is a problem which is why the seller is looking for a local sale
Otherwise they're GREAT Tony the Tiger say's
You're right, speakers and stands can be very heavy, especially the Sason's. Weight would be an issue for all the better high end monitors.

I imagine if he lived close enough to hear the Sason's, once he heard them he would probably buy them, package them snuggly & drive them to their new home.
So far the best monitor we've heard is made by High Emotion Audio. It uses what is arguably one of the fastest and smoothest tweeters out there- one of their own design, for which they have two patents. The 120 degree off-axis response is nearly the same as on-axis!

The speaker is easy to drive- 60 watts is plenty. The speaker is good to 40Hz- a subwoofer is being offered by them but we've not heard that yet.
Which model are you refering to and how much is it?

You come up with the most interesting things!

Pedrillo, we have had the S7 and the P7 in here. They are similar performance; the S7 is more of a box with a bass reflex port. The P7 is the same idea with a rear firing passive driver instead of the port and more of a pyramid form factor. It took about 4 times as long to break in. Either one is quite convincing down to 40Hz. The tweeter has a short break-in time, so most of the time breaking in the speaker is devoted to the woofer.

For years the monitor part of the market was always trying to come up with the next 'Watt killer'; a speaker that had performance equal or better than the Wilson Watt (and hopefully for less dollars). I don't know if that is a standard that anyone still uses, but this is definitely that speaker. It is smooth, ultra fast, extended but not bright, very detailed. The cabinet is very dead- its obvious that a lot of time was put into figuring these things out.

We had ZU Druids but they never got played again after the HEA speakers showed up. We've had a lot of speakers in here and we keep coming back to this one- it bests the best ESLs for revealing character that does not draw attention to itself; selflessly devoted to the music, you might say.

The tweeter is a dual unit that fires forward and rearward. Standing off to the side (180 degrees off axis) you get nearly the same highs as you do in front- the tweeter radiates in a dual cardioid pattern for those interested. Anyway they have a wise sweet spot, almost as wide as the distance that you have them apart. Standing off to one side you can easily make out the soundstage. Imaging is very precise, and easy to set up without fuss. I do not know of a speaker at any price that has a better tweeter system, although the new field coil tweeter in the Classic Audio Reproductions is in the same realm, but lacks the super wise dispersion. Most tweeters by comparison suck flat rocks in the bottom of some very stagnant pools. Once you hear it, its really hard to go back to puissant ordinary.
AAD 7001. Not widely known. Amazing sound and build quality.
FWIW I had the Be-718s and GMA Callistos in my room together for a weekend some time ago. The Ushers have deeper bass and a bigger soundstage, but the Callistos had a "live", in the room feel and better coherence. I sent the Tiny Dancers back to the dealer on Monday.....

It'll be interesting to see if the big RAAL ribbon finds its way into a few high end monitors.