There is no definitive "best" of anything. There are way too many variables involved. The "best" you can hope for is to find something that works well in your system. You can then say it's the "best" for you until you find something you think is better !!!!
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Vandersteen 2Ce Signature II: gets you a fat helping of what high-end has to offer at a (relatively) affordable price.
"looking for good soundstaging "
Does that as well as any speaker I've heard regardless of price. Compared to the very best I've heard, the Vandies lack a bit of resolution and can't quite deliver the frequency extremes (especailly low end, not suprisingly). But they are *very* musical and there is nothing <$5000 I would trade them for and only a couple in the $10K range I think are better. The only caveats: not so great looking in your living room and they need a bit of room to sound their best.
For me, this is the high-end question to which the answer never changes!
(Obviously there are lots of choices out there, but these 3 have been around forever.)
Vandy 2.x has been my default $2k recommendation for +/- 35 years now.
The other 2 options have only been around for 25 years or so:
The Eminent Technology 8.x planar hybrid.
The Ohm acoustics (omnidirectional) $2K offering of the moment. Ohm changes the model designations more frequently, but IMHO these models are essentially evolutionary improvements to a base design, not unlike ET and Vandy.
Different ways to skin a cat, but all are excellent designs that off both high end performance and wide bandwidth. If you look at these three, it's hard to believe that you won't find at least one very appealing solution. At the end of the day, a lot of it will come down to personal preference for a forward firing, vs. dipole or omni design.
I would suggest an in-home audition of the Ohm Walsh 1000. As long as your room is not too big for it (there is a size guide at the ohm web site), they should give you everything you desire according to your post. I own the 2000s, and they are exactly that - warm, yet detailed, clean and unveiled, with a soundstage that is huge (source material permitting), yet with imaging solidity that is very surprising for a mostly omni design. Ohm gives you a 120 day in-home trial.
Some kind of planar speakers are what you will prolly want. Nothibg will approximate your headphones however. The other issue is whether "mostly classical and jazz" speakers can play Hip Hop well in addition. Can you audition anything? It is always best to do that, otherwise used Maggies, if your room can take the size and a pair of Cerwin Vegas in the closet to use when you get rowdy.
I thinks he means the sound refinements to the Walsh line specifically in recent years have each been evolutionary, not revolutionary, ie refinements to prior models. That is what JS and OHM advertise with the current line and I have read comments from owners that indicate they agree.
The Walsh line started in the early 80s and is clearly a different beast from all OHMS that preceded it, including the original single driver OHMs with the wider range Walsh drivers.
I'll still disagree with your assertion by inference though that the Walsh drivers in the newer models are not "true" Walsh drivers. That debate is already well documented in the audiogon archives if anyone is interested.
I'll also chime in and concur that the OHM Walshes are worth consideration by anyone looking for top notch $2000 speakers. Whatever you call whats inside those cans, its the sound they produce for the price that matters.
Wow, thanks everyone for your responses and I really appreciate them. I will look into all the speakers you guys have mentioned. I appreciate the spring board you guys have provided for me so that I can have somewhere to start my search.
Unfortunately I live in South Korea right now and there is a lack of shops in which I can listen to many of the speakers that were mentioned.
I forgot to mention a couple of things in my initial post that might make a huge difference. My apartment is not that big like many homes here so my living room is actually small (12x12) with one wall being a large sliding glass door and the other side wall being non-existent (it goes to the dining room and kitchen).
Also I listen to music at very moderate level because of living in an apartment and I am past the phase of ridiculously loud music. I also have looked into Gall Stradas and wonder if this would be a viable solution for this room make up. Their size make it convenient since there is limited real estate as is.
Thanks again to everyone since it has made my search so much easier.
Gallo Stradas would be a good choice, and I almost mentioned them initially. They will not go super deep without the sub, but the sub might not be a wise move in an apartment anyway. I'm guessing you don't want to deal with boutique American speakers (like Fritz) in S. Korea. Even if no one handles the Stradas over there, they are small, and likely will ship comparatively cheap, esp. if you go for the wall mounts and not the stands (I hunch the stands sound better, but you might research this.) They will also be comparatively unobtrusive, and sound pretty good, in a small room. They'd be a fine choice. John
Given your constraints, a pair of monitors with or without a subwoofer would seem to be the obvious solution. I am currently using Hyperion 585s which are decent and well within your budget. I happen to really like the sound of JM Labs which are my main speakers. Occasionally you see some really good deals on older mini and micro Utopias which are of course outstanding. Immediately you could get a pair of the Electra series monitors. I suggest that you peruse the monitors for sale and see what you can get. There are tons of them out there, but again, don't expect them to sound like your headphones. I would anticipate that you will also need good cables for them so try and figure that into your overall cost.
In general, for a room like that I would look for the smallest good monitors or floor standers I could find. Better to not have the speakers overpower the room and limit placement options.
Some good options I have heard and could recommend to consider might be OHm Micro Walsh talls or shorts, Totem Arro, Triangle Titus or Comete, or smaller Dynaudio monitors.
Probaly best to try to keep any of these out away from teh walls a bit for best results. Also, I would probably look to have the glass sliding door behind the speakers if possible.
I'm guessing small speakers with limited bass output, narrow dispersion, that aren't too bright on axis, positioned with a rather high degree of toe in, and designed to be close to the wall behind them or with close listening position driver integration, might be the ticket. Putting some very absorbent material (heavy drapes?) on that large glass surface would be a very good idea.
Sounds like a difficult space.
I might be tempted go with Magnepan MMGs and a subwoofer in that room. There's a null in the output of the MMG at 90 degrees, so the tight sidewalls aren't quite such an issue and the sub will allow for some degree of bass smoothing via careful placement.
The Maggies are best placed a few feet from the front wall, but if that visual is too dominant, put 'em against the wall for casual use and only pull them out for critical listening.
A sub-controller like the Velodyne SMS-1 would probably be very useful in that space. The MMG is app $600/pr and the SMS-1 is $400. $1k will buy a very good sub, with some change back.
There's always someone who has to state the obvious "there is no best whatever...". No kidding, this is a subjective opinion that someone is asking for. Does that even need to be said???
Monitor Audio RX8s were the best speakers I auditioned when I had the exact same question a few months ago, speakers under $2,000. After buying them and breaking them in, they so much better than I originally thought. They have a tight but driving bass (out of 4" cones), but I like bass and they simply have superb sonics and imaging. I listen to music for up to 5 hours straight. Where the B&Ws got a bit fatiguing, these just get better the longer they play. I could not be happier that I bought the RX8s.
I don't think you could go wrong with used B&W 805s either, although I've never heard them, I've owned cheaper B&Ws which I love. I imagine the 800 Nautilus series is incredible as well.
High quality speakers for a 12x12 room? I can't think of a better reason to get a pair of Nola Boxers.
Positive Feedback Issue 46
Positive Feedback Issue 49
Absolute Sound Comparison of DALI Mentor Menuet and Nola Boxer
The Boxer also received five 2012 Editor's Choice awards from The Absolute Sound.
There is also a very small but balanced and elegant-sounding floorstander called the Neat Acoustics Motive 2 that retails around $2295. I heard these and they redefined for me what a speaker can do at that size and price. They have mid-30s bass extension in a 30" high mini-floorstander. Very easy to listen to and very room-filling dispersion. In other words, natural sounding and musically involving.