If u have the room the Infinity IRS Beta look like a great deal for around 4000.00..?
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The speakers you mentioned are very different from each other. What are you looking for? What size is your room, what electronics do you plan to use, what kind of music do you favor? Will this be a 2-channel music only system or will it also be for Home Theater?
Will the speakers be placed in a room that will force placement consideration/compromise? Many speakers require a lot of room to sound their best and some will need to protrude several feet out into the room to work their best. Can you tolerate this kind of placement?
$10K is a lot of money and it should be able to get you into a world class speaker. Unfortunately, if your room and electronics aren't optimal, the sound could be mediocre.
Give us some details..........
If you're looking at Wilson Sophia's, check out the new Wilson Duette's. I took a friend to Glenn Poor's in Champaign, IL last night to show him some good high end stereos.
They had just received the Wilson Duette's, they're 18-24 inch tall FULL RANGE MONITORS that can be set out into a room or on a shelf up against the wall.
They were absolutely unbelievable and only $11,000.00, $1,000.00 over the $10,000.00 you mentioned.
I've heard the new Sophia's and Watt/Puppy's. I like them, but have never entertained the thought of wanting to get them.
But if I had $11,000.00 for new speaker's, I'd have to seriously check into these Duette's. Natural top to very bottom sound, deep and wide soundstage, and as quiet or loud as you want, and these were five feet off of the floor sitting on a shelf butted up against the wall.
On the flip side, I'm perfectly happy with my $5,000.00 Harmonic Precision Caravelle's w/dedicated stands, so I'd be looking first to upgrading my wires and equipment, especially the DAC to the $6,000.00 Accustic Arts DAC with a 32 bit processor.
Sorry, didn't mean to ramble on. I wish that I had an extra $10,000.00 available to upgrade with, as probably do a whole lot of other audiophiles.
Good luck, there's lots of good choices on Audiogon for $10,000.00 and down. You really need to take some time and listen where ever you can within a 100-200 mile or maybe more radius, and read as much as you can.
Like Reubent said, there's a lot of things to think about, personal taste, associated equipment, desired usage, room, etc. before laying down $10,000.00, unless the deals are so good that you can buy something, try it, and resell it for about the same money if you don't like it.
If you're feeling adventurous, my hunch is that the Conrad Johnson Synthesis Reference 4 tower system currently on auction is probably excellent. I don't remember seeing them EVER for sale second hand. HOWEVER, I have never personally heard them (have heard a different speaker in that line), and due to one experience I had with a different brand years ago, I refuse to purchase speakers without first listening for myself. That will never change.
Welcome! I think you'll find that music well reproduced does good things for the soul, and I think you'll find your fellow audiophiles to be a very good bunch of people.
In my opinion, the worst deal in the world may well be to to fall for a great deal on the wrong thing. It's not the deal that matters, it's the end result. Unless your hobby is "getting a great deal". Of course you can always sell it if you don't like it, but a little groundwork can improve your chances.
The first step is to "know yourself". That is, to know what you want, know what you can live without in order to get what you want, and know what you definitely don't want. The best place to start is with a dealer. Go listen and see what you like. And then if that dealer educates you and you learn what you like and he has it, reward him by offering him your business.
This place probaly isn't the best place to start learning about which speakers you like, as the cost of getting first-hand knowledge is way too high. Those for whom Audiogon works well already have a pretty good idea of what they want (in speakers at least, as that's the most variable component). Knowledge really is worth more than a getting a great discount is.
Even at ten grand used, you'll have to juggle tradeoffs. That's why knowing what really matters TO YOU (not to me or to anyone else) is so important. Glance over this list and see what stands out to you:
1. Accurate timbre (the natural sound of voice & instruments).
2. Clarity & nuance (you can hear all the details).
3. Dynamic contrast (liveliness).
4. Superb imaging for a single listener.
5. Good soundstaging over a wide listening area.
6. Natural-sounding bass.
7. Extreme deep bass extension.
8. Unobtrusive size and visual appeal.
9. Sounds great at low volumes.
10. Sounds great at medium volumes.
11. Sounds great at high volumes.
12. Forgiving of less-than-ideal recordings and sources.
13. Ruthlessly accurate and revealing.
14. Freedom from little colorations that remind you you're listening to boxes, not live music.
15. Works well with your favorite amplifier.
16. Works well in less-than-optimum room or location.
17. Non-fatiguing over long listening sessions.
18. Laid-back, middle-of-the-concert-hall presentation.
19. Immediate, front-of-the-concert-hall presentation.
20. Especially well suited to a particularly demanding type of music (you specify).
Some of these are mutually exclusive, so you can't have 'em all. Which ones do you think you'd most want?
Best of luck to you!
I am in the same situation so I can relate what I have been looking at lately. I have spoken to a number of people about the Merlins recommended by Usblues. I talked to the owner of the company, and was very happy with the comments he made about their characteristics. I don't know what your room is like but the Merlins seem to be a versatile speaker.
I have also been considering the Harmonic Precision Caravelles. I talked to the rep from the company a few months ago, and have heard the product three times. It was surprisingly good for the size and price.
Another speaker that I have heard and liked is the Talon Peregrin. This is a discontinued model so only available used, but they have not kept their $$$ value very well, so they can be had for close to $5000. I think they're a steal for that price.
If I had the three in front of me, with the prices I have seen posted here in the last year, I'd have a hard time deciding. I don't know if that helps at all, but there it is.
If there's anyway you can hear different types of speakers you should. Those Infinity IRS Beta's sound great. I have to qualify this next statement as I sell Vmps speakers but somebody has some for 2700 bucks. They didn't win Best of HIgh End at the CES in 2002 for nothing nor get amazing reviews.
You should hear what you can. Two speakers at the same price will likely sound quite different. You're the only one who can say which sounds better. Good Luck