I suggest Vandersteen Model 7s, truly great for any type of music, and the subwoofers can be tuned to any environment.
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Vandersteen 7 would be the best I know of and have heard, although those are a bit above your price limit unless you get them used. For new, Verity Amadis or Vandersteen 5A Carbon. I have the Verity Amadis in one of my systems and they are superb for symphonic and other large scale music. But the Vandersteen 7 plays in another league entirely.
Sorry to disagree with the other posters, but the Vandy 7 are not large enough to really do justice to a big classical piece, the Vandy's are too short to project a big enough sound stage nor do they really go low enough in the bass.
The Macintosh speakers are not transparent enough, but they do move a lot of air.
The best speakers for big classical music is the Scaena line array's they are both transparent and incredibly dynamic with extremely deep bass, as the speaker is almost six feet tall the sound stage is life sized and the system uses two 18 inch bass drivers with a 700 watt amplifier and a dsp crossover/room eq box the system's low bass can be tuned to the room, they also play incredibly loud and can be driven with either tubes or solid state.
Harry Pearson who listens primarily to classical and realistic levels uses the Scaenas.
I second the Wilson recommendation if you have a room that can make full use of them. Remember the sound you get is a function of the speakers and the room itself. Lastly, I have heard the JBL Everest DD 66000 and do not think they are serious contenders for reproducing good classical music, but then again it could have been that they were in the wrong type of room and their electronics might have been under powered.
You're right if the system can play classical music well then it can easily play everything else!
The right choice of speaker also depends on your electronics and room. I'm not familiar with the Cantons but all other 3 manufacturers make fine speakers, the problem is that most of their speakers in theses price points are generally difficult loads to drive. Your amplifiers are an important part of the equation here.
Personally I would bypass them all and look at horns for speed and large scale dynamics but that also depends on your electronics.
Disclaimer- Audio Dealer
The distinction between types of music relative to speaker design is silly. A well recorded jazz piano trio has every bit as complex and demanding a tonal pallette as symphonic music, and is only constrained or affected by level and room acoustics. A big system in a big room simply sounds louder, and the dynamic element of classical music at high level often has little to do with an actual live symphonic musical experience unless you regularly enjoy concerts on the podium sprawled under the conductor, or suspended by wires over the orchestra. Big systems in small rooms are dumb, and a small system in a big room means you might have to sit closer to it, right in the path of the servants trying get by you to serve the soup course to the Rothchilds.
Well you are correct but out of his price range!
If price is no object:
dc10audio L'instrument Grand Voix which was specifically designed to resolve big, fast, classical music with all its complexities and throws a sound-stage as big as the Vienna philharmonic thanks to the dual horns.
Or try the big Westlake audio loudspeakers!
If you are open to something completely different, I suggest that you check out the EARO Eight speakers. These are an active speaker, manufactured in Sweden. I own, have owned and have had the opportunity to hear a number of (what I consider to be) wonderful speakers in my career. But I think the EARO speakers are very special in their ability to accurately reproduce sound, especially large instrumented pieces, without congestion or "lumping" of the individual notes.
Frankly, this line is under-represented in the U.S. and while they have been demo'd at several shows, they are still pretty much unknown. There have been a couple of very positive reviews, including this one: Positve Feedback Review of the EARO Eight
Disclaimer - I have done some consulting work in the past for EARO and their U.S. distributor. I have no financial interest in the line, but I am very familiar with these speakers can recommend them without hesitation or exception.
Br3098 , I like horns and horn loaded speakers but active speakers with class D amps? That's a complete turnoff for me. I simply have never heard a class D amp that I could even accept as midifi, and I've heard a lot of them at many different price points. There are many suitable applications but imo its not for high end audio.
Personally, I usually try to avoid commenting on audio components I have never heard, let alone (probably) never heard of. But I understand your hesitation - I had similar doubts and questions for the designer, Mikael Richel, when I first heard these speakers at the Newport Show in 2011. And as good as they sounded to me, I was convinced that they would sound better with Class A SS or maybe SET amplification. I was wrong.
Mike is a very talented and knowledgeable audio designer, and who has worked with some companies in Europe who are on the cutting edge of audio technology. He has designed the speakers and selected the components to produce the best possible sound.
I know, talk is cheap. It is not my place or my intention to get into a lengthy technical discussion and further hijack this thread. You can go here if you want to read more about the technical details regarding the EARO speakers and their design philosophy: EARO Technical Information.
I still remember the old commercial that proclaimed "I used to hate it, till I ate it!"
In addition to the others mentioned (particularly Shahinian and Wilson), I'd add the larger Duntech and Dunlavy speakers, depending on the size of your room. Nearfield Acoustics Pipedreams also sound great with classical music. These latter three will give you a big sound that helps the power of large orchestral music, like the Sceanas do. I'll also put in a plug for the Nola Reference speakers (as you go up the line, the bigger the room they can fill); as a former Duntech owner, I find them to be very satisfying.
A lot of this does depend on your electronics and the size of your room. I would never suggest Duntech Sovereigns in a 15 by 12 foot room, for example, or an inefficient speaker if you use SETs. Can you give us some guidance?
I disagree based on experience to the contrary. It's relatively easy to find speakers that sound compelling with an acoustic jazz trio or quartet. Feed them a 100-piece orchestra and listen to them serve up inarticulate mush. Throw in a pipe organ and 8-part choir and it's just sonic wallpaper.
I have just come off a fairly extensive speaker search. The Totem Arro's were compellingly alive, fast and transparent with small group acoustic and jazz. Throw them an orchestra and they sound just like what they are--small speakers struggling to resolve all the complexity, never mind the dynamics. The soundstage disappeared with the change of scale.
I chose Magnepans. They were the only ones in my price range that could keep Mendelssohn's "Elijah" cantata sorted out, what with full size orchestra, four vocal soloists, and a chorus singing eight distinct parts. Before I got these Maggies it had gotten to where all I was listening to was Holly Cole Trio, Diana Krall, James Taylor, Miles Davis, Gary Burton, Brubeck, etc. After I got the Maggies I was rediscovering my classical library, pulling out Beethoven's Eroica and other symphonies, Respighi's Pines of Rome, lots of Big Band (Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, etc.) Bizet opera suites and Carmen itself.
Line arrays of all sorts (whether cones'n'domes, ribbons, planar magnetic or electrostatic) have certain advantages for large scale orchestral music relating to radiating surface and how it affects low level detail, control over inertial effects (ringing, overshoot), dynamic range, radiating pattern, and room interaction.
I've heard the Vandy 7s and 4s, Wilson Sophia 3s, Sasha W/P's, Alexia, Maxx, Alexandria X-2 and Alexandria XLF, plus B&W 800 and 802 Diamond. The Wilsons can do it, especially the big ones, but for a lot less money, so will Magneplanar 20.7s flanked by a pair of JL Fathom F212s. This is a room-filling full-range system for about $26,000, with phase coherence and a very low noise, highly dynamic presentation.
I listen to 100 piece orchestras frequently, always have, and have a well rounded background decades long in myth-free audio as a professional musician/recording engineer and hifi fan. I stick by what I say...for example, my current somewhat modest rig, using small driver coherant floorstanders and a great sub, can reproduce orchestras in my room with every single recorded note and tonal dynamic preserved and delivered to my ears with stunning fidelity and soundstaging, and at levels approaching ear damage. Again, obviously larger systems in larger rooms sound larger, but ask anybody who used LS3/5A based systems or lots of other small monitor speakers (or good headphones) and, although they obviously lack the slam and volume of largeness, to say that inherent orchestral dynamic nuance somehow can't make it from the amp to these speaker systems and out to your head is nonesense. Also, an acoustic piano, drum kit, and acoustic bass have together many thousands of tiny aural cues and overtone subtleties that easily rival any orchestra, if you care to notice.
Wolf, you're also right, and I should have further qualified my statements to the
contrary. In the context of the original post, there are a lot of speakers in the
$25-40K price range that can do orchestral. In the cones'n'domes category I'd
add a vote for whatever Sonus Faber offers in the OP's price range. However,
although the range of overtones coming from a jazz trio--grand piano, drum kit,
and acoustic bass--are complex, they still don't require the sorting out on
playback of "The Planets" or "Elijah." My experiences with
the Totem Arros (no WAY can those do large ensembles unless it's in a closet :))
and GoldenEar Triton Sevens vs. the Magnepans illustrate what I'm talking about.
If a jazz trio (grand piano, 4 drums, 4 cymbals, and a bass viol played pizzicato)
creates a complex set of overtones, how much more so when you add in 50
massed bowed strings, woodwinds, brass, and a full percussion section? Add in a
pipe organ and cantata-sized chorus and there's a lot of sorting out to do with
incalculable overtones. There are a lot of speakers that can't track all that but
still realistically reproduce all the nuances of a jazz trio. However, anything in the
OP's price range should be able to do credibly play back large scale orchestral
music, and some better than others.
There is still an economical aspect of planars. Magnepan's top line 20.7 costs less than the Wilson Sophia. Add in a pair of JL Fathom F212s and the combo still costs less than a pair of Sasha W/Ps, while being able to fill a room better than Alexias and more like Maxx's, with bass extension to below 20 Hz.
Big speaker systems usually have a couple of drivers and one tweeter, almost without exception (Magnapans and other planars are an exception...but still)...exactly like smaller systems, so the only qualitative difference is relative to listening space size and what it takes to get the mojo in that space. A smaller full range system will work in a smaller space, etc., or one simply asks the nurse to roll you closer...a large system in a small space sounds great from across the street.
I had a pair of Apogee Divas coupled with a pair of Vandy subs. That combo could do large scale classical! Something about dipole panels, they make it feel like you are sitting in front of a 50' wide stage filled with musicians, more so than any cone and dome has done for me.
If you could get a pair of those and rebuild them they would top most anything out there.
Your taste in music will have nothing to do with the speaker, since what makes it good for classical will also make it good for rock, metal, jazz, folk and so on. This is because its impossible to make a speaker favor a certain genre; if someone is able to do so they would be a millionaire overnight!!
The ability to play loudly without effort and full range is not a particular qualification. All forms of music sooner or later will be loud and have deep bass.
If you want good bass without breaking the bank, a set of Swarm subwoofers from Audiokinesis are very nice for the task. What’s nice about this is the main speakers are then freed from having to go deep in the bass but otherwise don’t have to take a back seat for either resolution or efficiency. This is because below 80Hz bass is omnidirectional due to the physical length of the bass notes in the room. Using the Swarms (which are a Distributed Bass Array system) the bass will be correct to 20Hz everywhere in the room and no one sub has to work all that hard. So you can set up a state of the art system without state of the art pricing.
Classical music is a far more demanding genre - from my point of view.
My desire that a system can reproduce accurate timbre ( not washed out as is all too common) far outweighs its other qualities, such as imaging, or collosal dynamics etc.
This possibly exaggerated desire for tonal colour leads me to believe I might have some form of chromesthesia (sound-color synesthesia).
Classical music especially, without good instrument timbres, is difficult for me to enjoy, whereas with rock I'd be looking for great dynamics or for pop it might be a great midrange.
Classical music with good timbral expression on the other hand becomes a joy. Especially piano and strings.
So I think it's a question of finding a speaker that excels at that quality that's most important to you.
All loudspeakers are not created equal, and few, if any, can do everything right.
Having said that, you wouldn't go far wrong with any of the BBC inspired designs out there. They're not always the first recommendation for rock (JBL/ Cerwin Vega?), but might fit the bill if strict neutrality in the vocal range is especially important.
If it's imagery and hall acoustics that you primarily want, then as was said previously, omni-directional designs might suit better.
So maybe even the distinction between classical and the rest might not be precise enough. It may depend upon just which aspect of classical you enjoy the most.
Hmmm, I would lean to the Rockports, Vienna Acoustics, Magnepan 30, or Joseph Audio. I have an admitted bias against Wilson and have listened to them many times. I have only heard one system with Wilsons that I liked. Similar issues with B&W. The only advise I can give is to listen to some violin music to determine if you can live with the upper frequencies.
Classical music is a far more demanding genreIt isn't. It is just as demanding as any other genre though. One recording that can bring most systems to their knees is the Soria series RCA recording of Verdi's Requiem (2nd track first side). But another recording that can do that with ease is the Vertigo white label pressing of Black Sabbath's Paranoid (first cut side one). Taiko drumming on Sheffield is certainly not western classical music either, but you need everything right in the speaker to play it.
Again, what makes a speaker good for one genre makes it good for another. You can't point to anything about classical music that makes it particularly harder to reproduce.
’Again, what makes a speaker good for one genre makes it good for another.’
If only all loudspeakers were created equal.
Then we could buy the delicate Cerwin Vega CL -15 for those Ashkenazy piano concertos and the bombproof Harbeth SLH5s for those full blast Motorhead live concerts and simply not notice any difference.
’You can’t point to anything about classical music that makes it particularly harder to reproduce.’
How about the following?
The widest variety of instrumental textures and vocal ranges?
String, woodwind, brass and percussion.
Soprano and alto, baritone and tenor.
Often all of them at once!
The greatest dynamic range?
Classical (along with jazz) has probably fared best throughout the loudness wars.
The most meticulous recording quality?
For years and years classical was the ONLY genre that many engineers and producers paid careful attention to.
Even today it’s the classical fans that tend to complain the most about the reduction of digital radio bitrates.
I suspect it’s also the classical fans that are the happiest with their lot musically.
So much choice and variety and a history that goes back centuries.
How about the following?That is why I mentioned the Soria series recording in my last post.
The greatest dynamic range?That Taiko recording I mentioned has similar dynamic range (that is why audiophiles play it), and that Black Sabbath recording can shut most systems down regardless if you try to play it at a lifelike level. OTOH a lot of Deutsche Grammaphon recordings from the 1960s and early 70s seemed to have hardly any dynamic range at all.
The most meticulous recording quality?The Beatles got a lot of attention too- which is why its so worth it to find the UK pressings of their material. There are many other good examples of care and attention in recording. It is true that the hifi era was ushered in with classical music. But if found its way to other genres soon enough!
Even today it’s the classical fans that tend to complain the most about the reduction of digital radio bitrates.I know plenty of people that complain about that! But it would be interesting to find out who the listeners of what genre are that actually complain the most. I didn't know there was any polling about that.
Anecdotally speaking, a friend of mine founded the metal scene here in the Twin Cites (Earl Root, RIP). He was also **way** into vinyl. He told me that when metal heads came into his record store (that's how he actually made his living) they really loved the fact that he had vinyl because it could get the cymbals right that the digital stuff just didn't.
Cerwin Vegas were built to be loud and durable. They are just as bad for rock as they are for classical. They are not genre specific any more than the JBL L-100.