If you are not willing to go out and listen to speakers that are in your price range then I think that you should keep what you have and convince yourself that you just bought them and they are wonderful.
Asking for recommendations from strangers who do not have your equipment, room or music is a great way to become an equipment collector. Basing your purchases on reviews are just as unwise. When was the last time you read a review that was unfavorable? Audiogon is full of classifieds from well meaning so called audiophiles who continually "turn" equipment because they mostly buy without trying and read reviews. They listen to the component for a few months and move on. That is not the way to achieve bliss only frustration and a lot of wasted money.
If you sincerely care about music and building a synergistic system you have to put in the time and travel to hear what gives you goosebumps, anything less is a crap-shoot.
Well said Tom! Too bad we can't use this response as a "Sticky" blanket reply for everyone continually asking what's the "best" amp/speaker/cable,etc ad nausium. At best, the answers from well meaning respondents will be whatever THEY bought but doesn't take into account the O.P.'s systems/room interactions or the listener's preferences or bias. While I realize no one can listen to everything in their area, but when it gets down to major dollar purchases on an item as personal as a speakers, listening (preferably in your own system) becomes a must. If you live in an area with little choice, take a trip to a major city center. The cost of a mistake at this level is disappointing and costly. A'gon is littered with the heartbreaks of unwise purchases. Good luck.
If there is an audiophile club in your area you might consider joining and listening to what other audiophiles have. You can get a wealth of knowledge, hear their different speakers and associataed systems and also find out what they tried before their current set up.
One can get lucky and by speakers unheard that work well, but the obvious (and often repeated) advice to listen remains good. If you can't shop, could you go to an audio show, such as Rocky Mountain (Oct. in CO) or AK (Spring in MI)? You can hear a lot in a day or two that way.
Although listening "out" is helpful, it's hard to determine exactly how something will work in your room with your kit (that's why the obvious advice is, IMO, not completely helpful).
Fortunately, many companies with mail order business models allow in house demo's, which is the test that matters most (the downside is, it means buying new). On your list, that includes, Salk, VSA, and maybe Legacy.
Now, to add a bit on the question you actually asked. If you go Legacy, I'd stretch for the Whisper, which *might* be had for 10k (give Bill D. a call about demos and the like), and is a lot better than the Focus -- that is, very good. To add one not on your list, the Gallo 3.5 is lovely, and can be had at your price point (Call Walter at Underwood). I much prefer it to the Salk HT2-TL (and the VSA 33), which is a looker, but runs a little hard or analytical on the highs, on my hearing. A company that is often mentioned with Salk is Selah; I prefer Selah, and would talk to Rick Craig about a the possibility of a home demo.
So I think you can do it your way, but be prepared to spend on return freight!
My experience has been that, unless you have a acoustically-designed room, speaker choice may well be a trial and error process to see what speaker clicks with the acoustics of your room. I've been using the Opera monitors for a few years now. I've attempted "upgrades" by purchasing more expensive speakers that I truly wanted to own, but when I put them in my room, I just couldn't get them to work. So - if you can afford the expense and time, try purchasing some different speakers used and hope they work in your room. If not, sell at not too much of a loss, if any. I highly recommend you try something from Coincident. They are excellent speakers, very efficient and the used prices are highly below what they are worth, IMO. Best of luck.
1. In most cases for the speakers you've listed you'll need larger power amp.
2. If you don't have a listening capabilities it's realy hard to 'collect equipment' since there will be pricey shipping involved indeed.
I was just wondering what is it that your current speakers are not doing that is giving you the itch to upgrade;is it something specific?
Thanks for the replies everyone. I would much prefer to be able to travel and listen, but it's a practical impossibility for me right now.
I am certainly open to in home audition and don't mind 'investing' a bit in shipping costs.
@Marakanetz: I also have a pair of Bella Extreme 100w mono's that are being tuned up right now and will be returned to me soon.
@Rleff: A little upgraditis but I would also like a more upfront soundstage, more midrange presence, more oomph in the upper bass and a little more treble sparkle (but not bright or harsh).
I would at least consider Merlins.
Jfz.. like everyone else said if you don't audition the ones you want it's a total crap shoot.. The only reasonably safe bet would be to move up the Usher line, since you own Ushers.. You also didn't mention what you are using for cables or power line, so there could be substantial improvements lurking there. You can borrow cables and power products from the Cable Company http://thecableco.com/ and you might just find that these upgrades would move you closer to where you want to be. You also didn't mention how the speakers are setup, there also could be a lot of performance to gain in how the speakers are setup...
You can buy based on opinions and reviews, just not the opinions and / or reviews of 'audiophiles'. They all have this 'I know best attitude'. Just remember the old thingy: recognize the truth when you hear it, and be governed by it. I know of nothing in which this entire site is in total agreement. if you ask a question you get as many different answers as posters. Good Luck. It helps if you do not believe stereo components are magical.
Auditions are very good, but unfortunately one really never knows until the system is up and running in your room with your equipment. This means buying, trying and sometimes selling.
Like to avoid the selling part, but not always possible.
At the upper end of your budget is the Daedalus speakers. I auditioned some in my home a few years back and really loved them.
I second Daedalus. Not sure what the current pricing is, but I suspect that the smaller models (the DA-RMa and Athena) would fit into the upper end of your budget range.
Daedalus offers 30-day in-home audition privileges, less two-way shipping and a $200 re-stocking fee.
They represent a load that is very easily driven, with benign impedance characteristics, high sensitivity, and the ability to handle high power levels, all of that resulting in exceptional versatility with respect to amplifier selection. In terms of power requirements they would be a fine match for your amplifier. They are widely admired by those familiar with them for the naturalness of their presentation.
And Lou Hinkley, Mr. Daedalus Audio, is one of the genuine good guys among audio manufacturers.http://daedalusaudio.com/
I have no affiliation, other than as a very satisfied owner of the larger Ulysses model.
I agree with Al that Daedalus should be on your list, since their business model fits your circumstances. The monitor hits your price point, could probably play your pretty big room, and in my hearing, gives up surprisingly little to the big Ulysses. The sound, I think, tends to the laid back -- definitely mot brittle or fatiguing. As a bonus, drool worthy box work.
My humble thoughts are following:
1. $200 restocking + 2-way shipping could sum up for descent pair of monitor speakers. For these money you can travel to audition which may turn out to inflict some travel attractions by the way.
2. Even your Bella Extreame 100wpc amp would not be enough for some of the models you've listed(Mag 3.7, Legacy,
Von S.., VMPS love 200wpc+ amps) so the amp may be on your list of quests added as well.
If you can not go out I suggest looking on audiogon finding loudspeakers that are of interest. Buy them if not your cup of tea resell. It can be a cost effective way of hearing many loudspeakers in your home with your system.
Shameless plug for my Daedalus Ulysses currently listed...
There's also another pair listed by Audiofankj with a lighter finish, but without the outrigger bases.
I'm located in Missouri and Audiofankj is in Georgia.
These rarely show up on Audiogon... very unusual if not unprecedented to have two pair listed at the same time.
I'll third Daedalus. I went to Rocky Mountain and ordered the DA-RMAs on the spot. Lou at Daedalus has a number of users around the states who are happy to Demo. Contact him and see if someone is near you. They look stunning too. At 96DB sensitivity, they are driven easily by my 20 Watt SET. The other line I liked a lot was Devore Fidelity the Gibbon 8 I think is in your price range. Personally, I listened to Coincident and did'nt like them, it may have been the demo system
You should look into Audiokinesis speakers as well.
If we did not give our opinions to someone who has different equipment, room,
music, and sonic preferences, what would we at AudioGon talk about all day? I
say get the Merlin VSMs, though Audiokinesis mentioned above sounded
wonderful at RMAF 2008, though equipment, music and room were different
from mine - but still....
Of course Tom is absolutely right, but there is just very little most of us can do
about it - till you have something in your room, with your gear etc. you just
can't ever really know - unfortunately. Though I find much fun in the trying.
Audiogon in their infinite wisdom removed the ability to email people directly. Check these out, I would gladly put up against anything under $15-$20k.
They are easy to drive, I drive them with 30 watts, rock like crazy and have componentry reserved for mega dollar speakers. They start at $7200 and are designed and hand-built (yes, cabinets and all) in the USA!!
Not sure where you are located but if you can let us know you can come by and hear my Clearwaves....
I disagree witht he statement about having to try things out before you buy. I have purchaserd over 15 pair of speakers in the past 7 years all over $5k and all but 1 or 2 I never heard until I bought them. I live in Michigan and there just are not high end speaker stores around.
Every single pair I bought had pros and cons. Its mostly a matter of taste and preference more often than not. If your going out and buying brand new and paying retail its gonna cost you to sell them quickly if you don't like them. Buying here on Audiogon is a great way to try different things.
I'm with you, Mpit, as my previous speakers (which I used for five years) and current speakers, both of which I like a lot, were bought sight-unheard. Furthermore, I've auditioned lots of speakers, and generally don't go away feeling very confident (though I'm more confident eliminating than including).
At the same time, the other side will note that you've been through 2 pair of >5k speakers a year for seven years (!), which some might take as good evidence for shopping out/auditioning. I guess the lesson is that the home audition/be willing to trade frequently approach can work, but will require some investment of time and money.
I think Ann Abor has a couple of decent dealers, btw.
Clearwave looks interesting Acurus. Not much out there on these though. I would imagine it would be hard for anyone to demo those as well.
MAGICO V2 USED A GOOD DEAL AT 10K.
Try to listen to the new Aerial Acoustics 7T.
Magnepan 3.7, 20.1 or 20.7, or Joseph Audio Pulsar or Perspective. Keep the JL Audio f112 until you hear them in your listening room. With the big Magnepans or Perspectives, you probably will sell the subwoofers.
For Magnepan, would the OP also need to change his amplification?
Yes he would.
I've underpowered Maggies in the past (and it's not good).
Better to choose another speaker unless he gets more power.
On the other hand with his budget he could afford to do that if he could get the Maggies for a good price.
Get the Maggies used for a good price and buy a massive SS amp (high quality and clean like the RS). Maybe enough left over for a bottle of wine and a cigar.
I differ from most of the posts here. I spent 10 years trying to get a pair of speakers to sound as good as they did at the dealer where I auditioned them, and never succeeded. IMO, there is no substitute for auditioning speakers in your home, with your gear, and with your music. It also helps not have someone sitting near you waiting for your opinion.
Because of that, and because of some threads here on Audiogon, I went for a home audition of Ohm Walsh 2000s. Ohm gives you a full three MONTH audition. In my case, while I paid for shipping to my home, I live close enough to Ohm's factory so that I could have brought them back in my car to save return shipping. So, if I hadn't kept them, I would only be out the original $50 shipping. I consider that a small price to pay in order to find out if I can live long term with a speaker.
You can find my review of these speakers here in the user reviews section. I love these speakers, and expect to own them for a very long time. Your budget and room size make the top of the line Walsh 5000 or the maybe the 4000 the appropriate choice. Having spoken with designer and owner John Strohbeen, I cannot stress enough how helpful he is. You can call him directly and discuss what you are looking to do.
For someone who cannot travel to audition speakers at dealerships, I think the in-home trial route (with a no-restocking fee policy) is the best way to go.
If you like the sound of your 6311's why not jump up the Usher line? There is definite improvement to be had. Those Bellas will push most Usher models, I have been using a VAC Phi 110(110wpc) on my Be-20's for quite some time now, it works wonderfully. You can pick up used Ushers for great prices. Just a thought....
Goldenear! Can't go wrong. They're dreamy.