Best monitor under 5k?

I am looking for some opinions on what monitor speakers under $5000 give the most bang for the buck. I may have to move into a smaller apartment and am looking for something that would work in a smaller environment.
I recently moved and had to sell my Magnepans as they were too large for the new room and also had to be further away from the wall than the room allowed.

Besides liking the sound of the speaker, your two primary smaller room issues are typically, 1) just the physical size of the speakers, and 2) the need for them to be closer to rear and side walls with minimal deterioration. The latter parameter will be hard to judge unless you can test drive them at your own house.

I ended up with a pair of Spendor S5e speakers that are small footprint floor standers (they also make stand models) and they also sound good even though they are relatively close to the rear wall.

The second place speakers were Dynaudio Contour 1.4's. Their main drawback was they were about double the price. That made my decision easy as even if they'd been the same price, it'd still been a horse race between the two.
Harmonic Precision Caravelle, Great monitor! $5,000.00 with stands.

I heard the Totem Mani-2s sound great in a small room in Montreal two shows ago. They have a warm balance not too dissimilar from your Vandys. I've always liked this speaker for putting a lot into a small and well-made package. They need a first-class, powerful amp and you have one.
I've lived in an apartment for 6 years or so and have had my Coincident Super Eclipse Series II for about 5 years. I use a SET amp with a BAT VK-50SE preamp. The Super's are not small, but they are narrow and don't dominate the room. They provide more bass than stand-mounted speakers and look nicer.

I know all about apartment living - like when you are unlucky enough to get neighbours with a nasty boom box + sub system and all you can hear is the thumping bass. They didn't stay long.

My apartment is old so the walls are pretty solid and the current neighbours are quiet.

What you need, though, is a system that sounds good at low levels. It's my opinion that an efficient speaker does this better. If you are going to get an efficient speaker you may as well get one that presents a benign impedance load - and now you have the right transducer for single ended triodes.

I compensate for the lack of punch and volume I can have with beautiful tone, easy listening at all levels, and that extra magic that SET adds.

A lot of stand-mounted monitors are inefficient and need some volume to get going, and that's not what you can do in an apartment.

Just one person's opinion.

Metralla is onto something here. If you are forced to go with a smaller speaker that will sound good at lower volume levels (be a good tenant!), you might as well go with a speaker that is efficient and has a benign impedance load. This will allow you to use almost any amp, including low powered SET amps. Some of the lower powered tube and SS amps are very affordable and sound fantastic within their power limits.

I'm currently using the Reference 3A MM DeCapo monitors. They are a very easy load, sound very good at lower volume (as well as higher volume) and can be used with almost any amp over about 1.5 watts/channel (for most listening taste). I currently power mine with either a 3.5 watt/ch 2A3 SET tube amp or a 40 watt/ch. SS chip amp. Both sound fantastic.


Harmonic Precision Caravelle is a (Must) listen to monitors,before you spend your money
Acapella Fidelio ($5k+) - a little over your budget but they are the best monitors i have ever heard in terms of speed, clarity, and realism when paired with Einstein gear.

Harbeth Super HL5 ($3k+) - easy to listen to, sucks you in, very good value


I believe it's hard to go wrong with the PSB Stratus Mini. They have an 86 db impedence and are a 4 ohm load and thus require a powerful amp, but are neutral to somewhat warm, sound good at low volume, and have more clean bass than a stand mounted speaker has a right to. And they are much less than 5k.
When we moved into a smaller condo I traded my large floorstanding Alon's for a pair pof JMlabs Micro-Utopias and couldn't be happier. The gains in transparency and resolution were addicting and the inroom bass and dynamics were more than sufficient. Also they're easy to drive, I've used SET amps though I'm now using a fabulous pushpull EL34 amp from Deja Vu Audio that puts out I'm guessing about 20 watts. Happy listening!
I second the De Capo i's recommendation . But beware that any speaker, for low level listening , must be accompanied with a system that will give you the detail , resolution and dynamics at that low volume level ! The speaker , alone , may not do it .
Though a fan of Thiel and Vandersteen, neither of these companies make what can be considered a full range monitor. I agree with Tobias that the Totem Mani-2s are the monitor to beat for that price. BUT you have to give them a stout amplifier to make them sound their best. They have a tandem woofer design (one inside the cabinet behind the visible one mounted on the baffle) arranged in a push-push configuration. This is what gives them the extra extension in the lower octaves, but also requires that the partnering amp provide sufficient current.

Dynaudio 1.3SE was one of the best monitors i've owned. A steal used.

I also like Wilson Cub IIs if you have the space and $...
perhaps the answer to the question you've posed is to ask the question? what is the associated electronics, and your taste in music? other than the established price parameters...
My associated equipment is currently...

Ayre V-5Xe amp
Ayre K-5Xe preamp
Modwright Platinum Truth Sony 999ES
Pranawire Nataraja Interconnects
Synergistic Research Resolution Reference X2 speaker cables

I tend to listen to a great deal of female vocalists, new age, and movie scores..

Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Josh Groban, Yanni, Enya, etc
Green Mountain Audio Callisto's should be on your short list to audition at $2900/pair
Have a listen to the Merlin TSM if you can.
If you like neutral sound, seek out dynaudio - Special 25, C1, S1.4, 1.3SE
my favorite is the chariot academy one. currently, i am looking for a pair myself.
Given the type of music you listen too, I'd highly reccomend you take a listen to the Harbeth Super 5s and GMA Callistos. I've also been in the market for a pair of monitors for $4k tops and so far these two have outshined many others on female voices. I listen to a lot of Shirley Horn, Etta James, Dianne Schur, Norah Jones, etc.
two short list items, A) the Sonus Faber "Guarneri's", and B) the S.A.P. "Trios" both are very good. The Trios tend to have a prominent upper midrange that gives the presentation of a lot of life and immediacy (good for jazz and vocalists, less good for large-scale orchestral music that needs a little more weight). It is one of the most neutral sounding speaker I've owned, with that sense of life, and the sense that a vocalist is standing right in front of you can be quite addictive! So much so, that you can actually tell what brand of perfume Norah jones is wearing... The Guarneri's are every bit as good, and can handle the more complex large-scale stuff. They both do the vanishing act, are easy too place, and are easy to drive 88, and 95 db's respectively.
I kept the "Trios" and see no reason to change.
good luck
Intuitive Design Summits, including the Path Stand System, come in right at your price point. I've reviewed them in detail on Audiogon. If possible I'd at least give these a listen.
The Harbeth Super HL 5 (list $4195) and Compact 7 ($2895) are great values, and make almost everything sound good. IMO better sounding than other similar "BBC" type speakers.

Discalimer: I sell these (have Compact 7 demos on sale). Contact me directly for more info.
harbeths compact 7es2, Monitor 30s and the SHL5-- these are great speakers!
Try to find used or demo Revel Studio Gems, these should cost less than $5K. Distant second for totem mani 2. If you want full range speakers go for revel f52s. The gems are breathtaking in midrange clarity and imaging.
I live in a studio apartment and love my Krells. The retail for $4,000, not including the stands. Their 8" midbass woofer gives them a respectable bass response for a stand-mounted speaker. They sound great!

Pic here:
I feel that the AAD 2001 is an excellent monitor speaker. It is a Phil Jones design. To my ear, they have great high frequency extension that is non-fatiguing, and tremendous bass extension (if not weight … as expected). The bass extension gives a nice "full" sound without boom or bloat in the lower mids. The bass response is fast; "tight and tuneful" as some would say. The mids are also very good. The mids give up a bit in ultimate detail compared to the most detailed monitors I have heard, but are well above average in this regard. I have found that the "best in class" monitors for midrange detail generally will not have the bass extension or clarity of the 2001 and can be fatiguing for me on the high end compared to the 2001. I have not listened to classical music on them but the AAD 2001 handles jazz, vocals (male an female), and all forms of rock/alternative/progressive/etc., with aplomb. Go and give them a listen and let us know what you think!

And remember, buy what YOU like not what I like!! ;-)

NHT Xd. Slightly more than $5K, but they include amps and stands. Better than the Dynaudio C1's and Special 25's that I used to own.
I have just gone thorugh this search and bought the Callistos new, full retail price direct from Roy (no dealers here and he is only 2 hours from my house). I doubt that you will find any used, but there are "wanted" ads. They seem like a steal at $2900.

I did not restrict myself to monitors. The callistos can compete with many floorstanders for fuul-range sound. They sound great with a very wide range of music. Neutral with pace, but smooth.

Sold my old Vandies and selling the Tylers I tried out. Both very nice speakers, but the Callistos kill them both for my tastes. If you prefer extra warmth, the Tylers might fit.

They really need 200 hours of solid break-in.

Pay attention to ports for a smsll area. Rear ported speakers seem to require more space behind them. The callistos are bottom-ported.
Jerrym303: Sold my old Vandies and selling the Tylers I tried out.

Which precise models were those, the vandies as well as Tylers? Congratulations on finding what works best for you.
If you are dead set on a monitor, you should seek out a used pair of Proac Tablette 50 Signatures. If you are lucky enough to find a pair for sale, you should be able to pick up a pair on audiogon for $1300 to $1500, depending on their finish. They are excellent monitors, and usually disappear the day they are listed unless they are listed at too high of a price or one of the unpopular finishes.

I own Ayre equipment (Ayre AX-7e and CX-7e) and have used these monitors very successfully in a small as well as moderate room. Currently, I am driving a pair of Proac Response D15s with the Ayre AX-7e...this has proved to be a sweet combination. However, I have my Proac Tablette 50 Sigs carefully stored and can not envision selling them in the near future. That's how good they don't want to part with them even when they are not being used!

Good luck!
Vandersteens were 2Cs now with a new happy owner. Selling Tyler Linbrook Signature Monitors I bought just for comparison purposes.

I do own a pair of Tyler Taylo Reference Monitors which I use with a second TV system. They are tremendous for that purpose and I will probably have them for 20 years. The equipment and speakers are in a built-in cabinet area (open) of about 6 feet wide by 5 feet tall and 20" deep. The enclosed area boosts the perceived bass ouput of the Taylos just enough and voices are very clear.