I would give the Dynaudio Evidence Temptation a serious audition.
Nmurro, You are truly fortunate to have that much disposable income for this hobby. It is my personal opinion that many of the super speakers out there sound worse than some of the smaller speakers in the same product line. For example I thought the Wilson Watt Puppys sounded better than the Grand Slamms. Each and every design has some tradeoffs that we end up living with. In my opinion, given enough space, it would be better to have two or three systems available depending on the music of choice. For rock maybe I would have some real big horn speakers like the Classic Audio Reproductions Hartsfields. For vocals and acoustic material I would have a pair of electrostats like Soundlab Ultimate 1's or the Quad 988's. For pop music I'd have the Watt Puppy 7's with the Whow subwoofer. I haven't heard the Vandy 5's but have read enough to know it is one of the best regardless of price. I'm sure you would do well to audition a pair. If low level listening and stunningly real vocals is a priority I'm sure you'd love the Soundlabs or Quads. If you like chest thumping bass then avoid the Quad or Soundlab. The speaker that comes darn close to bringing all the above requirements together is the Shahinian Diapason. They will play very loud but not as loud as a big horn. They have stunning vocals but not quite as breathtaking as a Soundlab. They have powerful deep bass but probably not quite as chest thumping as some of the real big dynamic speakers. I am in the camp with Duke LeJeune of Audiokinesis. He believes the most realistic sounding speakers get the reverberant field right. Most of the speakers that do this are omnidirectional speakers or planars. Plain box speakers don't do it for me but this is a subjective arena we are in so let your ears decide. With your resources, I would be out listening to the following. (in no particular order)
Soundlab Ultimate 1's
Classic Audio Reproductions Hartsfields
Verity Audio Parsifals
Wilson Audio Watt Puppy 7's
Nearfield Acoustics Pipe Dreams
Avalon Eidolons and Diamonds
I suspect that if you take the time to hear most of these, in the end you will select a loudspeaker closer to $15000 than $35,000. Your budget affords you some travel money to seek out several of the above. It pays to take enough time to find a speaker you really love. The megabuck speakers are usually hard to sell if you don't like them.
Nice post, Holz. I too was overwhelmed by too-big and sometimes incoherent in the nearfield portrayals of larger great systems, and am happy with the room-friendly compactness and phenomenal performance of my Parsifal Encores (as I relate perhaps way too often!). Matching transducers TO YOUR ROOM is clearly the most critical element in selecting among the behemoths in the top end.
Ecxellent post Holz; we appreciate the info in doing research on speakers. I have a small room 13ftx14ft by 13 feet high, and require a smaller speaker. I would lean towards the Quad, based on reviews, but think it is just too big for my room. The Parsifal is an interesting choice which I had not thought about. I am also considering the Kharma 3.2; any thoughts on this, or any of the other speakers listed above? Thanks.
Tvad, a sub is not necessary with the W/P 7's. The bass is lightening fast, smooth, deep, and as tonally accurate as any speaker I have ever listened to. The addition of a properly set up sub, the watchdog in my case, appears to augment the entire range of sound, not only the bass. It is a subtle difference but one that can be heard and felt. It is not necessarily more bottom end, but the sub captures the ambient bass line in singers voices, strings, instruments, etc. for a fuller smoother all around presentation. It is not that the W/P 7 in particular is missing anything, any speaker system will benefit from this. I auditioned this set up in the same room with the mega dollar X-1's and I preferred the WP 7, watchdog combo. The X1's needed a larger room to sound their best.
..i would also include the piega c-40s' and their little brother c-10 ltds.i have heard the majority of the speakers mentioned so far and think the piegas' are superior....but that's just to my ears. if you are indeed going to listen to all the speakers you are interested in you owe it to yourself to find a dealer and listen to these great speakers.
Adding a sub to ANY great speaker is more about ironing out room-rez bumps, right? I remember hearing the W/P 6 just before getting my Parsifal Encores. The dealer (who sold both) was puzzled that the W/Ps were coming back from a customer who preferred the Encores. But we also noticed that the Wilsons prodigious bass was overpowering the room, requiring more careful placement than the friendlier Encores.
Certainly a fine sub, well-positioned, can allow for speaker-positioning with staging in mind rather than best bass smoothness. The W/Ps clearly need a bigger room than the Encores....
Smoothjazz, your near-cubical room is REALLY challenging!
You may have to set up a non-symmetrical placement, probably a nearfield triangle, to eliminate those huge primary bumps. Good luck.
If you like the transparency and realism of electrostatic speakers, but you are interested in dynamics it's now possible to have your cake and it it too. From everything I've heard from Green Mountain Audio C-3's owners they have Quad/Sound Lab/Maggie type transparency and realism through the mid range and ultra fast/tight bass that adroitly presents all types of music.
As appealing as it is to weigh in on this convo, I gotta agree with all those who mention the room environment and the listener’s expectations as a key to finding the right speaker. Do you want or require high volume “live concert” SPLs? Are we talking symphony or hip hop? The budget is enough to get great results any number of ways. Know the target before choosing the weapon!