If you listen primarily to classical, and are not concerned about a lot of bass response, why not consider a SET amp? I'm quite partial to the Mono 3.5's from George Wright, but there are obviously a lot of excellent alternatives. The Audion amps are wonderful as well. As far as a speaker choice, the SET/Klipsch La Scala makes a superb combination for classical/jazz/etc. If you are not a horn fan, you might try the Silverline SR-17
monitors, which will knock your socks off.
You might want to audition whatever is available in your region, especially since you know exactly what kind of music you primarily listen to.
Hope that's been a help. Please post whatever it is that you end up buying.
All the best,
I have two suggestions Eminent Technology LFT VIIIa
or A pair of Magnepans
The LFTs will give you bass down to 25 hz or so. They aren't analytical but have depth and speed. At 13 inches wide and 60 inches tall with 1st order crossovers and a three position tweeter adjustment... These speakers are very user friendly .
Thanks for the responses guys. This is all stuff I hadn't considered. I realize it might be helpful to tell you all what I've already found...
I've looked at the JM Lab Cobalt 826-S and Electra 906, the Joseph Audio Rm7si signature MkII, and the Joseph Audio Rm22si signature MkII. I found the Cobalts to be a little tinny for my taste, especially on the high end. I liked the electras much more, but heard them in a really bad room. I'll be hearing the Electra 926's tomorrow, which should be great, but they're realy stretching my price range. The Joseph Audio sounded really good, very warm (I actually liked the monitors more than the floorstanders), but there's not available used as far as I can tell. I'd also prefer something with a bit more presence, and try to add warmth with the components.
From my experience, larger speakers will perform much better for ochestral and classical. The monitors are nice but it doesn't have the big presence.
If you have enough space then I would consider a coaxial or horn setup.
I have both setup.
I use Maggie 1.6 in a room about the same size. Put bass traps (build them yourself and save a bundle) behind the woofer panel (write me for specifics if serious) and you will have all the tight and articulate bass you will ever need and a soundstage much wider and taller than the room itself. I say again, I can not begin to tell you the difference the bass traps made as the speakers are really pretty large for a room that size. The smear in the soundstage just really cleared up.
A used pair of Maggie 1.6 go for about $1100 average on this site depending on age and condition. I hope to get a pair of Mye Stands also for mine and maybe some other tweaks. Very happy with these speakers! Smooth and clear!!! and they will handle the large musical passages. Make sure your amp can deliver some "muscle".
The Harbeth Monitor 30's are a superb loudspeaker, and would certainly be worth considering in your situation, although they may be at the top end of your budget. I had the opportunity to listen to the PMC TB2's the other day, and was floored by these smaller monitors. Smooth, spacious and dynamic, and get the midrange right. Great bottom end down to 40hz. Among the very best smaller speakers I've listened to. There are a pair or two for sale on Audiogon at present, well below your stated budget.
If you liked the Joseph Audio's, I would again suggest listening to the Silverline SR-17's. You can find a used pair for around $1300, and they are extraordinary. You can drive them with as little as 5W. They have a huge soundstage, and you will not want for a floorstander, especially for your taste in music.
Alternatively, I've converted a number of avowed 'horn haters' with my George Wright/Klipsch setup--as open, airy and natural sounding as anything I've ever heard. I would recommend at least auditioning the SET amps, especially for your musical preferences. You could well find yourself in musical nirvana.
I'll second the SR 17's or any of the Silverline speakers.... They sound like just what you're after and can be driven with almost any of your favorite flavor amps (from SET to SS muscle). The Coincidents are also worth investigating for similar reason(s). Good luck and happy listening.
Thank you so much for your advice, I really appreciate it (same goes for everyone else). I see that there's someone selling the Silverline Sonata II's for about $1700. It seems like that might be a better way to go than the SR-17s (no one has a pair for sale at the moment anyway).
What's a SET amp? Is that a category, or a specific brand? Sorry for the ignorance, this is my first serious hi fi purchase. Also, I'm interested in the Wright monoblocks you mentioned; I had no idea that any speaker could be driven with so little power... Obviously there's something I'm not understanding here, but how can 5wpc monoblocks cost more than some 150wpc ones? The quality difference can't be THAT drastic. Can it?
The Silverline speakers work very well with both tube and SS amps. They have a very open and warm sound, and are highly efficient. The SR-17's are superb monitors. I've heard the Sonata III's, but not the II's. Other than the fact that I'm so partial to the Klipsch's, I have to say that the Silverline's were perfect to my ear (and to my wife's as well). We auditioned them at the Silverline headquarters.
SET stands for Single Ended Triode. SET amps are usually lower wattage, are direct wired, and have a glorious, liquid-sounding mid-range. If you are interested, you can search here for an explanation of SET technology, as I'm definitely not knowledgeable enough to offer one. I can only tell you what I hear. I find the triode sound to be the warmest in the tube realm, and the single-ended triode (SET) to be the most seductive and holographic sound, and particularly well suited for classical/vocals/jazz/instrumental music.
With an efficient speaker like the Silverline (or the Coincident, as mentioned by Lissnr), you can easily fill your room with a small wattage SET amp. I run the George Wright 3.5's in the same size room, and I never turn the preamp (also a George Wright) past the 11 o'clock position. I believe these 3.5's peak at 5 watts.
I have two friends whose years of audio experience was passed along to me, and I just lucked out in that I am overjoyed with their recommendations. I've auditioned a lot of equipment, some costing many multiples the price, and have yet to hear any system that I like more.
Remember, your ears are the only ones that count. This is exciting, no?
ATC SCM 12s. New $2200, used $1300. Best cone speaker I've ever heard period. And I travel the country alot and slip into audio shops everywhere.
Whoa! Soundstaging depth is predominantly the purview of room geometry and listening position. If you set up a fairly small triangle with lots of space behind the speaker plane you have the potential for a VERY deep stage.
If not, then only subtle spectral colorations (various speaker choices, cables, dedicated lines, etc) can provide some aspects of depth. One interesting extension of this is to "mirror" the geometry by using multiple speakers in an HT arrangement, where-in the "depth" exists predominantly in front of the speaker plane which is usually back near the video, if not on the front wall!
I'll let the eyebrows relax by certainly acknowledging that soundstage WIDTH and horizontal detail are provided predominantly by very well matched stereo pair monitors, especially when carefully positioned to optimize sidewall reflections. (Indeed, some reflection can be desirable to balance off-axis midrange vs tweeter responses (flare), and to widen the stage beyond the speaker positions.)
I fall back on my current systems by example:
2 channel uses a 7.5' equi-triangle in a 14x24x8 room. Asymmetrical, damped sidewalls (stuffed furniture, angled fireplace, window array broken up by molding, etc.) a few feet away, but with 10 feet space behind the speaker plane (no choice...Steinway B sitting there). Soundstage depth is remarkable. Easy to accomplish with any decent pair of monitors. By assuring VERY-WELL matched clones of drivers (Verity Audio Parsifal Encores), and slight tuning of sidewalls with throw pillows, etc., as a function of recording balance, I routinely achieve a 15' wide stage that easily goes deeply past the front wall out into the bushes! But it's more about the room geo than the optimization care I use to tweak it, methinks....
HT system: Spendor front trio (S3/1p and SC3) 1-2 feet off the front wall, flanking TV, with Boston VR-MX rears 15' back in a 14x24x cathedral 8-10' ceiling, VERY undamped. Spendors chosen because they're forgiving of bright HT mixes, a live room, AND their drivers are pretty carefully cloned for stereo imaging too. Yet my nearfield listening position yields NO depth beyond the speaker plane (I know, the TV doesn't help), and a 3D "space" erupts only when the rears are called into play (which the NAD receiver's "EARS" coder does well on 2 ch, thankfully).
(Further, I often listen to this system for background FM while on the computer at the opposite end of the room, where the 5.1 array is now FULLY "behind" my back. I have compared straight 2ch to 5.1 "coding" from this position often, and almost always prefer the spaciousness of the 5.1, since the "rears" now act as "extra-far" left and right speakers, as the main Spendors are 20 feet away.
So the perspective is having lots of "depth", but only in FRONT of the speaker plane....
As an example, if I'm listening to a live FM feed of the BSO at Symphony Hall on Friday afternoon, I can walk back and forth between the NAD "fake" 5.1 in front of me ( oh so BIG!) and the much more accurate 2 ch deep stage behind the speaker plane. The former is somewhat like my cheap-but-good 2nd balcony subscription seats...the latter like the pricier front orchestra "Brahmin chaises".
Sometimes programming material, mood, etc., dictate my preference. Usually commercial "multi-mono" rock and jazz recordings are so artificial that they're more fun in the sloppy "backwards" 5.1 HT system in this lively room. However, all acoustic 2 mike jazz of course sounds better in my $$ 2 ch ref system. And an odd rocker like that Stones' "LIVE" disc sounds phenomenal on the ref system. Stage depth back to Canada!
Sorry for such a long post, but I just wanted to emphasize that speaker placement/room geo is the predominant requisite for stage DEPTH creation, further optimized by speaker pair cloning and component quality only secondarily.
That being said, for under $2k, my limited commercial-speaker experience points to the Revel M20 for accuracy in a well-damped room, and Spendors for a more forgiving spectral tilt in a livelier room. There are of a course a myriad of choices, some as posted above, but paying attention to L/R speaker matching is important, and unfortunately well-practiced by only a few manufacturers, especially in the lower price ranges. It's interesting to note occasional disappointments that occur when someone insists upon buying a NEW pair of speakers instead of buying the dealer's demo pair, which as often as not might be randomly "matched" better! Driver sensitivity and response specs certainly have tightened as a rule throughout the industry over the decades (thankfully), but I still pay careful attention to makers' claims that drivers are referenced to tight response norms...it makes a BIG difference in soundstaging....
Sorry about the length of this post. You got my second cuppa joe! Ern
Audes Blues would also be worth your time to listen to.
ProAc Response 2s is a very good "classical music" speaker and pretty easy to drive. As Subaruguru said, proper set up is too important to overemphasize. The ProAcs sold for $3,500.00 new, you should be able to get them for about 1/2 used. Still will need stands, though. There are other ProAc models, 125 being one, that are floor standers and quite good speakers.
Thanks for the contuining advice everyone. Today, I heard the JM Lab Electra 926 and the Silverline Sonatina Mk II from a dealer in San Francisco. I liked the JM Lab, but I LOVED the Silverline. It's not as fast, accurate, or detailed as the JM Lab, but it's twice as musical. The sound is sweet, the soundstage is huge, the imaging accurate, and you can really hear how each performer intended to phrase whatever it is that he's playing. The Silverline didn't have as much ease in the sound as I would have liked- there could have been more space in the sound, a bit more air. But for what I value in music, they are pretty close to perfect.
Sehring 700 series (700 monitor, or 702 floorstander)
One caveat, I am a dealer but I feel strongly that I should post on this question. I believe that the new Sehring speakers, handcrafted and designed in Germany, would absolutely fit your desires.
They are the most liquid midrange of any speaker I have heard, the BEST tweeter (extended, wide and not sharp at all, very very lifelike), imaging is the best I have heard, depth of stage is the best, width is the best. All in all, hard to make these claims but they are my favorite speaker.
The 700 monitor is perfect, but is lacking a little in the deepest octaves. The 702 adds the deepest octaves and provides an almost spiritual experience when listening to orchestras.
Do you know of anywhere I might be able to hear a pair of the Sehrings? I'm very intrigued, but I need to hear them before making any decisions. I'm in the San Francisco area.
Contact me offline, I could arrange to have you demo a pair of either the 700s, or the 702s.
audio physic virgo's. really surprised nobody mentioned these.
they totally disappear and have been stereophile "a" reccomended for years.
i recently pu the libra (one up from the virgo- i was orginally looing for virgos and found these locally) and i am really surprised by how well they disappear.here are a couple pro and cons of the speaker:
1. nearfield listening is required ( go to the immedia site and see if the speakeres will work in your room- they are VERY room specific.
2. totally disappear
3. very musical ( greatest strength)
4. warm sonic signature
5. a friggin deal at &1700 - $2100 for a used pair ( version ii is said to be the best. the libras go for $3k
6. holographic imaging ( greatest strength)
7. audio physic house sound- either you will love it or hate it
1. Nearfield listening - they are VERY room specific.
2. careful setup is reuired to sidefirng woofers- bass can be boomy if not placed correctly.
3. ok dynamics ( this is where the libra smokes the virgo)
4. warm sonic signature - requires gear and cable synergy
5. not the deepest bass- good to 35 k ( libra is better here again)
6. careful setup - takes a long of time and patience to find the sweetspot
7.audio physic house sound- either you will love it or hate it
the nearfild listening position is very close to the speakers (6-7 feet- takes a little bit to get used to.
the setup requires 4 feet from the back wall and some space sround the speaker- preferred setup is on the long wall ( i use mine on the short wall fine though. you will get good bass response in your sized room and the speaker disappearing act in your room if positioned correctly.
the footprint is a very narrow but deep box ( btw,the wife commented on how these were the best looking speakers she has ever seen (i have ever brought home)
check the virgo threads and audio review. it is a awesome speaker and in the price range youare looking for. if you like the audio physic house sound- the question will be if you want the version i or the version ii.
I demoed the Joseph RM7si versus B&W 805, Totem Mani-2, JM lab Micro Utopia, Audio Physic (forget the mode). When I heard the Joseph I knew it was right. Your description sounds like I was looking for the same qualities as you are - detail and air and not that in-your-face sound. All of the other speakers sounded as if the music was being hurled out of the boxes at you whereas the Josephs disappeared. I ended up springing for the RM25is for the added bottom though I loved the 7.
Your choice of the Rogues is a good one. They give more for a dollar than anything else. I have a Rogue 88 that I use now with a Lamm LL2 which recently replaced a Rogue 66. I miss the warmth of the 66 but the added detail of the Lamm makes up for it. You might think of a Rogue 99 instead. I have never heard one but the review descriptions give the impression that it's worth it. Reviews on sites like this I have found to be very helpful. The descriptions almost always agree with what I hear, not that I like everything the reviewer does but the qualities are the same.
For your needs: Vandersteen