ProAc 1sc, nothing matches it if properly amp'd with solid state.
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I love my current system, Tube Technology CD player> Deja Vu Audio Preamp/Amp> JMlabs Original Micro-Utopias. It's organic and warm while still presenting plenty of detail. The Micro-Utopias are great sounding monitors, especially in my small room. They're easy to drive, love tubes, and have just enough bass.
Active speakers (great with MP3 and computer):
Audioengine 5 $400
Blue Sky Audio EXO and Pro Media $300 to 500
ATC SMC 16A $3,600
Passive speakers (hi-fi):
Paradigm Atoms $300
PSB Alphas $350
Era Design 4 and 5s $500 to 600
ATC SCM 11s $2,000
I second what S23change says. Hard to beat ATC--very neutral with excellent soundstage. They run circles around most speakers but require a powerful amp. They just came out with the 16A model with integrated amps. Very nice and precise--play all genres well.
The best small speakers I have heard are the Artemis EOS Signatures being driven by Gryphon electronics. Fantastic soundstaging, great tonality, and even reasonable bass from a small cabinet. They later also came with the bass modules, which reinforced the bottom end. I haven't seen too many of these used on Audiogon.
My favorite compact system is as follows:
Dynaudio Special 25 Speakers on Dynaudio stands filled with shot.
Ayre AX-7 integrated amplifier.
Ayre CX-7 CD player.
All wired with Nordost Heimdall speaker and interconnects.
Incredible sound quality, and can easily hold it's own against much larger and more expensive systems.
Mark-Daniel Maximus Monitor blows away anything I have ever heard in the way of small monitors in terms of approximating reality, soundstaging, depth, imaging and pure palpable vibrancy. Unfortunately, they gobble power to do this - I drive them with horizontally bi-amped Moscode 401HRs. And I have either owned or heard many of the speakers alluded to above - daylight separates M-D from the others...........
I have heard a goodly amount of the small speakers out there,all in good set-ups.The one consistent thing,is how really good SO many are!
When I got into this hobby(in the Jurassic period),small speakers sounded "small".We all lusted for the BIG designs,which sounded BIG!I had three different BIG Infinity designs,two of them having four box(towers,actually)configurations.Loved that "era"!
YET,now the tables seem to be reversing,as technology has given us some REAL, KILLER, small speakers which sound,not big,but HUGE!
My friend has gotten the Magico Minis,which I helped him set up,and voice.THEY ARE ASTONISHING!!Everything previously stated about them is DEAD correct!They are THAT good.
To me,there is NO competition in the smaller class of designs.The Magicos truly reign supreme!Sorry,but it's how I hear it,at my friend's home.
BTW,due to the typical audio mentality of criticizing something new,many friends purchase,which is out of the norm for many hobbyists,some from my little audio club simply will NOT credit these speakers for the accomplishment that they are...Jealous?..I think so!!
Best to all.
I would love to hear the Sasons,until I hear them im gonna have stick with the Dynaudio C1's,and then closely followed by the Green Mountain Callisto's they bring a Piano in the room nearly like Maggies do,now thats a acheivement.The Epos M12.2's are great for their impeccable timing,Pro Ac Tablellites throw a amazing soundstage and disapear to a invisable degree,a little known speaker the Dana 930's are excellent all arounders for $1595 with great dynamics as is the Selah Audio SSR's and the ACI Sapphire XL's.