Best moderately priced speakers for classical music


I mostly listen to classical music and some jazz.  The violin is my favorite instrument and I am looking for speakers that make this particular instrument sound the closest to the real thing.  When I say moderately priced, I mean speakers that I might find used for less than $5,000.  I have a Lyngdorf TDAI-2200 integrated and Lynn Unidisk SC player.  I'm probably not going to change anything but my speakers (Tyler Decade D20).  I like the speakers I have, but my room is rather small and the huge Tylers are a bit much for certain recordings and genres. I look forward to your suggestions.  Thanks
cal91
Harbeth Model "30.1 or 30.2 Anniversary" models or Sonus Faber "Sonetto 2" on good solid stands or the "Sonetto 3"small floorstanders will suit you nicely!
Find used and less than $5k...Used - any of the Salk models with a RAAL tweeter....often sold on Audio Circle


New...the Ascend Sierra tower with the RAAL tweeter ...see their website


The RAAL will bring out the beauty and detail of the violin and other string and horn instruments...and it will give you really nice dispersion, horizontal and vertical and the models above are easy to place and easy to drive.
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can you define rather small room? Most speakers capable of throwing a soundstage big enough for a classical orchestra need to be ~ 4ft from the front wall. If that's doable, definitely check out Emerald Physics various models. I have enjoyed my KCIIs, but in my large room they need 2 subs to adequately pressurize my room. In a smallish room they could be just what you are looking for
These:
https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis9f5d4-audio-note-an-j-lx-monitors
No relation to the seller I own the same speakers and they are fantastic for jazz and classical and string tone in particular. New they are right around $5K.
I think Tweak1 is correct. What is the size of your room? With 200 wpc, you should be able to drive just about any speaker.
Allow me to throw in another brand:
Vandersteen.
A pair of Treo's used or a pair of VLR CT's new would be within your budget.
Bob
There is no one speaker that's best.  We all hear differently.  A good speaker will sound good on anything.  Ask any top designer and they will tell you the same thing.  
Im not a 'top designer' but I have owned quite a few different speakers in my same room of 24 years, and that sir is BS
Thanks to all who responded.  Perhaps I should have worded my post a little differently.  Instead of saying "best" which is subjective, I should have simply asked for suggestions for speakers that are recognized for certain characteristics.  Many of the suggestions so far are speaker lines that I am considering.  A few more that I'll throw out there are Sonus Faber and Vienna Acoustics. Thanks again.  cal91 
Harbeth, Proac, Spendor, Audio Note, Silverline, Vienna Acoustics, Salk, Fritz, Daedalus.
Atc. Dynamics in that frequency range are startlingly realistic. Instruments sound like they should.  Small room plays well. Scm19. You can go new in you price and still have money for stands. 
Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors are very good on string tone.
If you have to put speakers near the corners or back wall, or have any other specific requirements it would be helpful to know this too;  I like the various Audio Note speakers when placement near walls/corners is in the picture.  Along with the Harbeth 30.2's that were mentioned, I would also recommend looking at ProAc D2, or one of their larger models with a ribbon tweeter if you can swing those speakers.  ProAc does a good job with integrating ribbon drivers with their other drivers, something that is not easy to do, apparently.  On the other hand, pleated ribbon drivers (the Heil Air Motion Transformer) seems to be easier to integrate, given that I've heard several speaker models with these drivers that sound terrific.

Vandersteens have a full sound that works well with classical pieces as do DeVore speakers.  I heard, at a show, the Tekton Double Impacts playing classical music and they sounded quite decent; these you will have to hear at a show or order them on-line for an audition.  At a show, I heard some Ginko Audio speakers (the people who make vibration isolation platforms) that sounded very good and would work well for your purposes.

If you can actually locate the speakers away from the back wall, the Magnepans that were mentioned above, or the smaller model will be something else to consider.  I think electrostatics and hybrid electrostatic/dynamic drivers also sound decent with most classical fare. If your preference is mostly chamber music, and not Mahler's eighth, the old Quad 57 would be terrific, but, you would need to look for something that delivers much LESS power.  


May I strongly suggest a pair of Omega Super Alnico Monitors (SAMs). Wonderful for classical, jazz, acoustic.  High efficiency, beautiful midrange, and wonderful tone!  I was going to get the Harbeth M30.1, had did a week long home audition. Ready to pull the trigger when I heard the SAMs.  Was blown away with their sound.  To my ears much better than the Harbeth’s, at half the cost.  As background, these are the speakers that finally replaced my Spendor BC-1s, and while my musical tastes are broad, I listen to lots of classical (chamber, solo instruments, and symphonies); acoustic Americana, bluegrass and folk; and small jazz.  The SAMs reproduce strings, piano, and horns second to none.
The best speakers for classical music will also be the best speakers for all other types of music unless you need extreme volumes for rock. Now if you want bad recordings to sound less bad then this changes things.
Hi, When I used to go to the CES show every year I always stopped by the "SHAHINIAN" room and listened to classical music. In my opinion they were the best speakers that I heard at the shows for this type of music, they just sounded coherent top to bottom. The ARC ensemble and the DIAPASON ensemble and maybe the OBELISK depending on room size and price considerations. Look for a used pair they do come up for sale once in a while.


Good Luck, TISH
YES!  Shahinians are much overlooked speakers that sound good with all sorts of music, but, are particularly good with classical fare.  I too have visited the Shahinian room at CES when the old man use to do the demo.  He liked classical music and that is what was used for the demonstration.  The sound was always full, relaxed (but not mushy/muddy) and expansive.
Talk to Tony Minasian at Tonian Labs
cal91, I know your amp very well. One of the smaller Sonus Faber floor standers would be excellent as would used Magico or Wilson floor standers. But, if you really want to feel as if there is a violin in the room then get a pair of Soundlabs Audiophile 545s. They are a smaller full range electrostatic speaker and just 24" wide. They go into small rooms nicely are beautifully made. You will never look at another type of loudspeaker again.

Mike
tweak11,000 posts06-24-2019 3:30pmIm not a 'top designer' but I have owned quite a few different speakers in my same room of 24 years, and that sir is BS

Very rude response, but hey it's the internet.  If a transducer is accurate, it will playback accurately what it's fed regardless of genre of music.  This is why I personally need a speaker that is a true full range as I want the bottom octaves.  


I made my decision and it was a line of speakers that was suggested by numerous people.  I did a lot of research on many of the speakers suggested.  Unfortunately, I was not able to audition any of them because I live far away from any high-end stores.  I thank you all for your valuable advice.  
You must have grown up when trophies were given to  every participant. and schools give attendance ribbons

As Fox Mulder said 'The truth will set you free' 
The truth is that, except for SPL, an accurate speaker is not choosy as to how which form of music this accuracy is applied. 
A great loudspeaker will play everything. Unfortunately, very few can put you in the 10th row at a NIN concert. I’m sure there are more but I have only heard two do that.
I have a friend with the top Golden Ear speakers - maybe called the Reference.  I listened to some Vivaldi concertos and their sense of refinement was excellent.  It was easy to tell, for example, when the violins were applying a delicate touch with their bows.
Lots of people say Magneplanars are good only for Classical and Jazz (I disagree), so there is the new LRS, which with a sub or four should fit the bill. An alternative is the Eminent Technology LFT-8b. Both those dipole planars need a few feet between them and the wall behind them, and a fairly beefy power amp (more so the LRS than the LFT).
One of the very most musical systems I've ever heard, period, was a 1976 vintage pair of KEF Calinda loudspeakers being driven by a Marantz 8B power amp.    You mostly find the Calinda in Europe, but they can be  had for about $400/pair.  Match them up with a suitable tube power amp and you will have sheer magic in your home.  
I am sorry, but I must live in a very different world where a $5,000 speaker is not moderately priced. You are approaching the value of my car. 
I think any Magnepan with a good solid state amp that doubles power into 4 ohms.
You requested modest price. With this in mind, is day go with NHT. I don't think Harbeths and Salks, both excellent speakers, can be construed as modest in price 
Best value I've seen are the superb ATC SCM12 Pro speakers. I have these and the more expensive ATC SCM20PSL. Both are "pro" speakers - they do not have the finished cabinets of the corresponding ATC SCM11 and SCM19 audiophile models, which are more expensive. The 12 Pro's retail for roughly $1850 in the US, and can be bought for less. Built like tanks, and have an amazing sound for Classical and other genres. 
Don’t be “side-wined” by other responses! For the MOST ACCURATE rendition of Live Instruments in a CONCERT HALL SETTING- in your listening room (incontrovertibly)... SPENDOR, SPENDOR and SPENDOR! 

New company line: D7 (D7.2) or A7 - or classics SP1 /2 3r2 but be SMART and even “SMARTER. The true “VINTAGE Spendor line designed by the “MASTER “ himself, Spencer Hughes..... Used Spendor BC1 or SP1; —— nothing can come closer to a live classical or operatic concert replication than these 2 vintage , classics!!! eBay is the key source and the driver condition or PREFERABLY ... auditioning at buyer location. You’ll not be disappointed EVER!!! 
Howard
Depending on the size of the classical music image you'd like to present, I encourage you to consider the Shahinian Acoustics line of speakers as well.  Shahinians are floorstanding omnidirectionals. I have heard several of the other speakers recommended in this thread at shows over the years and they are certainly high quality, high sound quality speakers. I would put Shahinians in similar quality levels, but expect you would find the effect of Spendor/Sonus Faber, etc. vs Shahinian quite different. Directionals tend to project details quite well, and you can localize sound images very specifically - BUT, with narrow space where sound is truly optimized (i.e., a single "money seat" where sound is perfect - seats to sides of that seat don't sound quite as good). I like directionals for featured individual voices, or individual acoustic instruments.

In contrast, I find Shahinians and other omnis (such as MBLs) are great at symphonic, organ, and other "large presentation" content, where presenting a large scale is important. I like my Shahinian Arcs, too, for jazz and rock combo pieces - where I'm not focusing on the specific placement of singers or instrumentalists, but more on the blended presentation of the group. Shahinians provide surprisingly deep bass for their size, through use of passive radiators. I expect they would go much deeper and much stronger in bass than some of the other speakers recommended here for a comparable price.  You should be able to get either a used pair of the Arcs, or even better the larger Obelisks well within your $5000 budget.

Bob C

Falls Church, VA

Fritz with the ring radiator.

Also, room acoustics help small speakers sound much bigger and go deeper.
Agree with Fritz.   Also a big OHM Walsh fan for classical and others.
OP it would be nice if you would let us know what you ended up choosing & it might also help someone in similar situation in the future.
I was thinking the same thing saying you made a choice and not telling us what you chose is borderline cruel. :)
I’m a retired professor and performing "classical pianist" so I found the replies very interesting and informative regarding what kind of speakers are best for classical music. I also listen through 3.6 Maggies (plus a sub) and like them but I would think that any fairly flat speaker would be ideal for all kinds of music depending on the acoustical listening environment, source (LP, downloads, software, etc), electronics, cables and AC power. Once a year, I find my Maggies way too bright and end up switching out my solid state preamp for an old Spatial Coherence pre. I like the relaxed and natural sound of the "Knapp TFET-valves," (yes, I know that the Spatial is not a tube amp). After several months, I want to hear more inside and distinct clarity from recordings and go back to my solid state pre. My point is that there’s no one right way or wrong way to listen to any kind of music! Whatever takes you into the music, whatever enables you to hear what you’re listening for-that’s the speaker for you. But before making a decision, go to a few symphony concerts! No two halls, no two orchestras, not even two identical instruments made my the same manufacturer will sound alike. Absolutely, not even ONE, specific piano will sound the same after different technicians voice the (felt) hammers or even tune the instrument. Not only do Hamburg Steinway pianos not sound like New York Steinways, German hammers and New York hammers will even sound very differently on the same piano! And this is not to mention how different artist play or even how humidity changes tone and intonation in an orchestra or band. So, again my point, there is no one speaker that will deliver perfection from an art that has no "perfect" one way!

Another brand you might consider is Larsen speakers ( http://www.larsenhifi.com/en/index.htm).  Rears ago I owned a pair of Sonab speakers, which were designed by Larsen in the late 70's.  The Larsen 6.2 is in your price range, and they are designed to be placed next to a wall.  TAS had a very favorable review of that model ( http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/larsen-model-62-loudspeaker/), and in particular raved about its performance with violins.  The frequency response also extends down into the 20Hz range.  I'd suggest auditioning them.
maxthedog, great post. I enjoyed reading it. I have a lot of friend who are musicians and use either Vandersteen's or Maggie's.  Billy Drummond uses both speakers in his home systems.  Many of us who listen to music more than we listen to 'gear' agree that there isn't a right speaker for a specific genre.  A nice 'flat in the room' type of speaker matched with great gear will be highly satisfying on anything you want to listen to.  

Most who love music that is truly full range will want a floor stander that has more bass (as long as it's a speaker that can reproduce bass properly).  
For orchestral, opera or any complex music I strongly agree with the recommendations for Shahinian, Larsen or Ohm.  The Larsens can be (must be) placed directly against the wall, the others will vary based on your room.  Only radiating, omnidirectional speakers can even try to resemble a concert hall venue.  All can be purchased new for under $5K (lower models) and all are often available on the used market.

In a small room I would look at the Shahinian Elf and the Larsen 4 or 6.  I have never tested an Ohm speaker so I won't recommend a specific model but I have heard them several times and they sounded very good.

Just FWIW dept.: speaker don't care what music you play through them. The qualities that make for a speaker that plays classical well are exactly the same qualities that make it good for rock or folk music as well. The idea that a speaker is somehow particularly suited for a certain genre of music is entirely mythological, and likely the most predominant myth in audio.
Klipsch Heresy IIIs with a couple of subs are in your price range...put good amps in front of them and let the fun begin. Atmasphere is absolutely correct about good speakers not caring what they're playing, except my Heresy IIIs can't play certain mumblecore or shoe gaze stuff because, hey, I won't let them (so I guess it's just me).
Ohm walsh. New or used.  If used they can be repaired or upgraded.  

Good speakers for anyone that likes that live big sound.  
My Spendor D7s make classical music sound amazing!  They are so fast and dynamic with near HE speaker attributes.   I was listening to Mahler's 9th last night and was blown away!  
speaker don't care what music you play through them. The qualities that make for a speaker that plays classical well are exactly the same qualities that make it good for rock or folk music as well.
With all due respect to Ralph, who is both smarter and better looking than me, I don't agree with your assessment.  I thought the same way, for years.  But I firmly believe that it's hard, nee impossible, to find a speaker that excels at all musical genres.  Not considering room and ears differences.

As I mentioned above, I feel that only an onmidirectional speaker can properly convey the sense of space and separation of instruments for large scale classical music, grand opera and large choral works.  IMO the best speaker (I have heard) for this was a pair of Shahinian Hawks.  But for jazz or rock - they are absolutely not my cup of tea.  The Larsens are better and I think if I were limited to one desert island speaker it might be the Larsen 6.  But I listen to a lot of classical music.

Right now I have a pair of Omega single drivers in my living room.  Fabulous speakers; work with nearly every tube amp I throw at them.  Although they don't so do deep bass (I mate them to a pair of subs) they sound fabulous for most of the non-classical music I listen to.  They are also great for chamber and smaller classical ensembles but with large, complex music they just clog up a little.

Occasionally (mostly when the Mrs. isn't home for a few days) I schlep my Altec 19s out of storage.  Also fabulous speakers, IMO the best horn speakers ever designed for home use.  They are better than OK for large classical but not ideal.  The notes are well separated but there is not the same sense of space and venue provided by a good omnidirectional speaker.  Again, IMO.

You can come close using bidirectional speakers but not quite; although they can do some things better.  I have to say that the best reproduced classical performances I have ever heard were played on (3) Magnepan 20.1 speakers and a Meridian 568 processor using Meridian's Trifield 3-channel mode.  It was the closest playback experience to a live performance I have ever experiences.  The Downside - requires huge speakers in a huge room.  But if I had Ralph's money... I would burn mine. ;-)

I'm with Ralph. I don't listen to just one genre. I expect a speaker to get the job done no matter what I throw at it and if it doesn't, it's not my speaker. 
Exactly, great systems will play anything you throw at them. Unfortunately due to cost restrictions we frequently have to compromise. If that means selecting equipment that plays what we like, so be it. The problem comes when you like everything. How much do you have to spend to construct a system that plays everything at satisfying levels.
Soup to nuts I'm am going to guess at $50,000.00 in todays money. That includes phono equipment and computer audio as well as a disc player. 
Anybody do it cheaper?
Guys, everything that is made is a compromise.  That's the baseline of any audio.  Then we chose what manufacture, who's compromises we can live with and love.  Usually it's speakers first and then we design a system AROUND them.  It's electronics, so not everything will work, regardless of how highly rated, or expensive or loved in other systems.  

I asked this question again to a couple of well known speaker designers as well as two amp designers (not recent for either amp guys as one was the late Charlie Hansen).,  The speaker guys make totally different types and sounds of speakers.  It didn't matter as each said virtually the same thing....It doesn't matter.  They each said that if you ask top designers, they will tell you similarly.

What they will say is that some music may not have to have as much low end so some will save money and buy stand mounted speaker.  When talking about Jazz, Blues, Classical or Rock which are major genres, you want a true full range speaker that will have the house sound which will allow us to be involved with the music.  

I'm sure there are exceptions to the folks I spoke with, but even reviewers I'm close with agree with this.  Some will disagree as they do in this thread, but I bet that the majority in audio who actually listen to a ton of products and systems will agree.