Best small 2-way floorstander?


I'm looking to upgrade (sooner or later, I guess) my excellent minimonitors (Merlin TSM-SE) for some small floorstanders. Please share any thoughts on your vote of the "best of the best" in this category and if you think they work best with tubes or solid state. So far I've got the Merlin VSM-SE's or Kharma Ceramique 3.0s on the short list. I do give the edge to Kharma in the looks department, though. They look absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for your input!
hifinut604
A bit more info would be helpful. For example, how do you define "small", and what price range do you have in mind? A moderately priced small floorstander that has gotten a lot of good comments is the Totem Arro.
Try the System Audio 1130's.
I am looking for a speaker under 100lbs with a footprint under 13" x 16" that represents near the state of the art in terms of refinement in sound and build quality, although obviously not the last word in low frequency extension. My room is about 12' x 18' and I cannott have huge speakers that physically dominate the room. Assume that cost is no object here, since the two models I mentioned are already in the $7k range, which are extremely expensive for this size category. I've seen the Totem Arros before but they are actually TOO small, and would likely be a downgrade in sound quality to the speakers I already own.
I have not heard your spkrs but you might want yo give Meadowlark a try. I have the Kestrals and have been very happy with them. Good luck
HI-FI Nut - If you love your TSM's you should really love the VSM-SE now VSM-Millenium. But before committing this amount of money, if not sure, do more auditioning. I currently own the VSM-SE with battery BAM and it is certainly among the finest speakers I have ever heard at ANY price including some big systems. Their price makes them an excellent value. They are however forcing me to make upgrades to bring out their best. I don’t think these speakers have any limitations. Have since listened to many fine speakers since purchasing them, partly to validate my decision. After living with the VSM-SE for going on 3 months, every system I have subsequently listened to sounds like there is a veil over the music. The Merlins lay it all out, Resolution, dynamics, coherency, tonal and spectral balance imaging and huge sounstaging and that immediacy that you either like or don’t. THEY SOUND REAL and do it ALL except the bottom octave, I love them, if you haven’t guessed by now! Listen to the Kharma if you can so you don't regret making the wrong choice. I doubt there are too many systems, if any in this category that come close, maybe the Audio Physics Virgo (2-way floor stander). Good Hunting, Will
BT HI-FI Nut tubes all the way with the Merlins if you aren't using them already. E-Mail Bobby, he is always ready to help.
Thanks for clarifying what you are looking for. Your new definition conveys a rather different sense. Based on your last input, a hole range of possibilities opens up. The Vandersteen 3A Signature, which I own, has a footprint of about 16" wide x 8" deep. At $3500 retail, you won't do any better in terms of sound quality - different, maybe, but not better. You might also consider the Herons, or the B&W 803 Nautilus. All are excellent speakers and within your apparent price range.
Thanks for all your input guys, especially Tubegroover for a hearty endorsement for the VSM-SE. I'll wait a bit to hear the VSM Milleniums before I plunk down any green. No Kharma or Audio Physic dealers are available in my area yet, but I will have a look the Meadowlarks when I get a chance. One other promising candidate that I'm going to add to my list is the Dynaudio Contour 1.8 mk II. It only retails for $3.5k. Anyone have any experience with this one?
I have read great praise about the Spendor SP 1/2. If I had the time I would type some review quotes. Two things though, one, you asked for two-way, these are three; and two, the best part, they are $2,495. :) If you have any issues of The Absolute Sound, look in them. http://www.spendor.mcmail.com/classic.htm
check out proac's 1.5 & 2.5 - *excellent* sound...
(NT)
I agree with sdcampbell on the Vandy 3a Signatures. I doubt there is a better 3-way system under 5k, that beats them, at least I haven't heard it. Problem is you need the room for those speakers. They do have their virtues but the Merlins hmmmm..... Will
Coincident all the way - Conquest / Super Eclipse
I just sold my Merlin VSM-SEs with Balanced Battery BAM. I'm getting the Kharma Ceramiques if that tells you anything. The Merlins are excellent hi-fi speakers. The Kharmas are superb music makers. If you can appreciate what I mean by those differences, then go with the Kharmas and end the chase. I should note that the larger ProAcs (Response 3.8) would be my alternative choice to the Kharmas, but they're getting a little on the large size in terms of dimensions based on what you listed. If budget is a concern, the suggestion on Meadowlarks is a good one, but frankly it would be a bit of a downgrade (Shearwaters that is) compared to the TSM-SEs you already own. Having said that, I'm waiting on delivery of a pair of Kestrel Hot Rods for my second system, so that's not a knock on Meadowlark at all--I love 'em! Repeat after me--hi-fi bad, music good, hi-fi bad, music good......
Wow, Dkuipers, waiting for TWO pairs of new speakers!! Perhaps you need to join (or start up) AA (Audiophile Anonymous) in your area! :)
Wow, Dkuipers, waiting for TWO pairs of new speakers!! Perhaps you need to join (or start up) AA (Audiophile Anonymous) in your area! :)
Dkuipers I find your comments enigmatic. My question to you is how can we hold credibility to your choice on the Kharma Ceramiques as being music when you purchased a pair of Merlin’s and are now invalidating that decision by calling them Hi-Fi? Furthermore which I find quite frustrating is a common observation, why make a proclamation that a product is this or that without any constructive criticisms as to what you hear? Your paragraph said nothing! It holds no value to anyone who has heard neither speaker. Why don’t you instead tell us specifically WHY you don’t like the Merlin’s now and WHY you like the Kharma and attempt to articulate their differences? Obviously there was a reason you purchased the Merlin’s in the first place unless maybe you are just an equipment junkie.
Coincident all the way.The Conquest is an excellent choice.The Kharma guy is a real idiot.Anybody second my opinion.See how the Idiots in TAS reviewed the speaker.It comes with a 5499.00 stand.I bet any money that a pair of Coincident Super Eclipse 5499.00 will whip that 65000.00 Kharama the nobs at TAS are raving about.
Since I started this thread, I guess I'll try moderate the discussion a bit at this point. Tubegroover, I understand your frustration, but cut Dkuipers a little slack. Not everyone's an audio journalist. It's easier to tell the world which speaker you like but much harder to describe exactly why, and to put adjectives to paper (er.. screen). That's why some lucky guys get paid to listen to audio gear. I think Dkuipers is trying to say that he feels the Kharmas are more musically satisfying than the Merlins. Maybe he auditioned them after he bought the Merlins. My point is that everyone is entitled to an opinion, although not everyone may necessarily agree with it, and the opinion could in fact, be a very poor one. However, I do think that anyone who would simultaneously upgrade two systems with new speakers have got have some addiction to gear. Thanks for your opinion, Tml2, but unless you've actually auditioned the $65k Kharmas (or any Kharma speaker) and found it to be inferior to the Coincident, please try to refrain from any unsubstantiated attacks on Kharma. Heck, if I owned a $65k speaker (that weighs 600lbs!!!), I think $5.5k (less than 10% of the speaker) for beefy enough stands to put it on is not that outrageous. Geez, did I just say that $70k for a pair of speakers and stands is reasonable??? Well my name is not William Gates III, so I guess it's not! :-) Thank you all for keeping this discussion constructive.
A comment about "Hi-Fi" versus music. I just want to say one thing, Yes the Merlin's do ultimately sound like Hi-Fi that is to say you almost always know you are listening to an audio system instead of the real thing. I have only heard a few systems that ALMOST made me believe for a magical moment or two that I really was listening to live music. The Merlin's are included in that short list IN MY ROOM! All the talk about Hi-Fi versus music is a bunch of BUNK. Ultimately all we are really talking about is Hi-Fi systems and trying to approximate the real thing, at least that is my goal. If you don't believe it maybe you need to hear more live music and experience the obvious differences. Real music and Hi-Fi ARE TWO DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES. I really get on the High Horse when I see that phrase, which has become almost a buzz Mantra Hi-FI versus music, Hi-FI versus music, Hi-FI versus music. Maybe if you say it enough you will believe it. I say go hear some real music. My final 2 cents on this thread!
Sdcampbell, i have 3 mini monitors to recommend to you. The Reference 3A mini monitor. This speaker uses a 8 inch carbon fiber woofer and a silk tweeter. There is no crossover in the speaker. This speaker sounds so articulate. Here's a great pic of the Reference 3A http://shows.soundstagelive.com/shows/ces2000/product_13.shtmlspeakers.
Sdcampbell, The other 2 mini monitors i love, are the Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference. This speaker uses a Seas magnesium 6 1/2 midbase and a Scanspeak tweeter. This speaker looks and sounds great. Here's the review Soundstage did on them. http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/tyleracoustics_taylo.htm Here's another pic of them. This store is seling them on Audiogon. Check out how they look in this pic. They show the speaker in 2 different finishes. http://audiogo5.iserver.net/cgi-bin/auc.pl?spkrmoni&967863736&auc&3&4&
Sdcampbell, the third mini monitor i love, is the Aliante Pininfaria. This speaker look and sounds awesome. I saw a couple of people on Audiogon selling them. Here's a great pic of the Aliante Pininfaria http://www.aliante.com/aliproin.htm Thanks. JVC1040@yahoo.com
Hi, i meant to put Hifinut604, for the comments about the best mini monitors i heard. I put Sdcampbell by mistake.
Hifinut, Just out of curiosity, what are you trying to accomplish with the change? It seems some of the suggestions would not really be a significant (if any) upgrade to the TSM's - just a switch to floorstanders. If better low end response is the goal, have you considered trying to integrate your monitors with a really good sub (REL, Aerial, etc)? Done well, this will accomplish this goal better than any small floorstander. If it's decor-driven, or you have no additional separate footprint available, I understand.
i have noticed on a couple other threads that Tm12 seems to have more negative comments about folks that happen to like gear he either can't afford/hasn't heard/doesn't like. all i know about tm12 is he likes (& owns) coincident & rogue. well, tm12, much as i tried to give the rogue audio 99 preamp w/magnum upgrade a fair shot in my system, it's just way too coloured - if it kills the cj/krell/ar/ml/etc., as you say, perhaps you'd like another for a second system? meanwhile, yust cuz someone traded merlins on kharma's does *not* mak them an idiot. and, re: meadowlarks, i auditioned the kestral hot-rods - both in my system x'd over to subs, & in a stand-alone system - nice, but veiled - i'd surely go w/proacs - even the small tablette 50 signatures were more musical, imho...doug
i have noticed on a couple other threads that Tm12 seems to have more negative comments about folks that happen to like gear he either can't afford/hasn't heard/doesn't like. all i know about tm12 is he likes (& owns) coincident & rogue. well, tm12, much as i tried to give the rogue audio 99 preamp w/magnum upgrade a fair shot in my system, it's just way too coloured - if it kills the cj/krell/ar/ml/etc., as you say, perhaps you'd like another for a second system? meanwhile, yust cuz someone traded merlins on kharma's does *not* mak them an idiot. and, re: meadowlarks, i auditioned the kestral hot-rods - both in my system x'd over to subs, & in a stand-alone system - nice, but veiled - i'd surely go w/proacs - even the small tablette 50 signatures were more musical, imho...doug
Loudspeakers tend to be the least consistent devices (from brand-to-brand) of all the categories of audio products, and therefore will generate wildly different reactions from different people. In my experience, Avalon Acoustics, specifically the Eclipse and Arcus models, represents a nearly perfectly executed two-way design. The accuracy (in both measured and listening comparisons) is very impressive. This is a brand that certainly deserves consideration by any prospective purchaser striving for a reference class of product. Kevin Halverson
I've never heard an Avalon that I liked and I've never heard a Muse product (other than the subwoofer) that I liked. Different strokes....
I'll second on Tyler Acoustic's Tylo! Also, i believe the Tyler Acoustic's is one of the best loudspeaker manufacturers!
Thanks for keeping the comments constructive, everyone. I'm picking up some good feedback here. Saturn99: Those are good suggestions, but I already have a minimonitor. Inscrutabl: You ask a very good question, and it's one to ponder, especially after reading the thread on price/performance. I think that the $2-3k monitor is probably near the "knee" of the performance curve, and the extra bucks are mostly going to adding maybe 10-15 extra Hz lower and improved decor/WAF. I am still considering integrating a good small sub (Sunfire True Sub or Mirage Substrata 1500) if I just want to add the bass, although the bass from one sub might not be quite as coherent and seamless compared to a high flying floorstander. If I was going to spend the big bucks on a floorstander, I guess I want more than just a plain rectangular column. I suppose they don't strictly have to be 2-way as long as they aren't too big either. Anyone like Silverline Sonatina? Kevin: thanks for the suggesting Avalon. I've checked their website and they do look like something I would consider. I guess you would probably suggest that Muse electronics work well with Avalon speakers, right? (heh)
Thanks for keeping the comments constructive, everyone. I'm picking up some good feedback here. Saturn99: Those are good suggestions, but I already have a minimonitor. Inscrutabl: You ask a very good question, and it's one to ponder, especially after reading the thread on price/performance. I think that the $2-3k monitor is probably near the "knee" of the performance curve, and the extra bucks are mostly going to adding maybe 10-15 extra Hz lower and improved decor/WAF. I am still considering integrating a good small sub (Sunfire True Sub or Mirage Substrata 1500) if I just want to add the bass, although the bass from one sub might not be quite as coherent and seamless compared to a high flying floorstander. If I was going to spend the big bucks on a floorstander, I guess I want more than just a plain rectangular column. I suppose they don't strictly have to be 2-way as long as they aren't too big either. Anyone like Silverline Sonatina? Kevin: thanks for the suggesting Avalon. I've checked their website and they do look like something I would consider. I guess you would probably suggest that Muse electronics work well with Avalon speakers, right? (heh)
re: subs, i would consider vmps - even w/a separate amp & outboard x-over (tho you can use a cheap passive x-over), you can get a *two*-sub set-up (the *only* way to properly integrate a sub system into an audio set-up, imho) for less money than *one* decent powered sub. re: floor-standing speakers, also check out newform research - see their home-page, & see the feedback on audio-review. i'm close to ordering a pair of these... doug
Hifinut604, Let me tell you an amazing sub. Its a company called RBH. They make a sub that uses 2 10 inch alluminum woofers and a built in 200 watt Amp. My friend is using this Sub on the Reference 3A speakers. RBH Also makes a Sub with 1 10 inch alluminum woofer and a built in 200 watt Amp. Check out there website. WWW.RBH.com When your on the site, to see the sub that uses 2 10 inch alluminum woofers, click on signature series. To see the sub that uses 1 10 woofer click on MC series.
Hifinut604, i gave you the wrong site. The Website for RBH, is WWW.RBHSound.com
Thanks for your recommendation, Saturn99, I will check it out!