Best speakers for my system

Hi everybody,

I hope you can give me some good advice. I have a Levinson No. 336 amp and a Levinson No. 390S CD processor. I have Audience AU24e interconnects and speaker cables and an Audience AR6T power conditioner with an AU24 powerChord. What speakers would work well with these components? I'm overwhelmed with the choices. My budget is probably something between $5 - 12K, depending on how much the economy improves this year.
Speakers are so personal!! First do you have ANY needs: ie they have to be small, they have to have WAF (wife acceptance factor) Do you want cool, cutting edge design, or very conservative, can they stick out into a huge room five feet, do they have to sit on shelves?
Do you want to 'Rock out" with 110dB subwoofer power washing out your guts, do you prefer string quartets and acoustic music only, do you want all of that?
Do you like it loud, soft? Can you play loud? or live in an apartment/condo?
Maybe you want speakers that can impress girls? or impress your buddies? to be able to say these sixteen gurus told me to buy these?
We need more info: What are you LOOKING for in a speaker.
Excellent ques. Elizabeth! Why do soooo many people on here ask or assistance and recommendations without giving us any details? I see this every day.
i have a question? how did you find gear like you have without being exposed to some good speakers? i am not being sarcastic ok? i am sure they didn,t just pop up at the local garage sale and if you want to drop up to 12k i am sure there are some dealers that would love to let you listen in their stores. you MUST have some ideas. what criteria are you using in this decision process?
Very generally speaking, I think that Revel speakers would match well with your Levinson gear, they are made by the same company. I've been impressed with every Revel speaker that I have heard, I own a pair of their Performa F30's. Look at their newer Performa F-32, or a used pair of their Ultima Studio or Salon speakers would be in your price range.
How long is your room? How wide is your room? How tall are your ceilings? How can anyone recommend anything without knowing what size room this guy has?
Thanks Elizabeth. The speakers can be any size. I don't prefer bookshelf speakers. Yes, I would like to play them loud but would also like excellent fidelity when playing not so loud. I like different types of music. Soundstage, good bass, mid-range and hi frequency and dynamics are more important to me than appearance, although cool appearance is OK, too, but secondary in importance. My listening room is about 20 feet by 12.5 feet with a low ceiling. Realistically, the speakers can come out 4 feet from the front wall and about 2.5 - 3 feet from the side wall. I have RealTraps catching reflection points. The dealer from whom I purchased my gear is no longer in business, so I have been reading Stereophile and Absolute Sound to see what's on the market--and I'm overwhelmed. I hope this information helps! Thanks again! Glenn
Based on your follow-up answers, I would suggest that you at least consider the following:

Wilson speakers - Watt Puppy or Sophia's (assuming used is acceptable)
Thiel speakers - 3.7 would be very nice

Both of these, in my opinion will deliver very much in the categories you say are important. I have owned both brands and have powered both with ML (331.5 amp) and I currently own the 390S CDP. I am actually considering getting another ML amp. I currently run both Wilson W/P speakers and also Gemme Katana speakers.

Gemme would be another speaker for you to consider. They are a little more polite than both the Wilson and Thiels (definately more forgiving than both). They provide a different perspective with regards to sound staging, with more of the depth behind the speakers versus infront of the speakers (Wilson and Thiel both present a more forward sounding stage IMO). They use almost the same exact drivers as Thiel, yet produce a more neautral (or at least more polite) speaker. FWIW, they are beautiful to boot.

There are a lot of really good speakers in your price range and you have amps that can drive most anything you will be considering. I would suggest paying closer attention to people who have run ML amps (not trying to dis anybody though) as the amp speaker relationship is so important. There are a lot of other speakers I have heard and like, but if I haven't listened to them with the ML amps, I hesitate making a recommendation as I don't have first hand experience.

Also, I would strongly suggest you get rid of all that really junky, awful, crummy, bad for sound RealTraps stuff. If you send it to me, I'll be happy to take it to the landfill for you ;)

Heck, I'd even pay for shipping :-)
Just top of mind....My list would enclude: Rockports, Aerials, Wilson, and Revels. All are good, but depends on what you are looking for. Wilsons tends to be more analytical. Rockport and Aerials more relaxed sounding. Revels in between. However, with such a large range in $$$ means there are choices within these makers and it depends if you buy new or used. If dealers are hard to come by in your area, recommend going to a show to get an idea or plan a trip to one of the urban areas with more stores. 5-12K is an investment.
I'd say you need to go to lots of different dealers and listen to lots of different speakers. Your needs do not really rule much out (other than panel speakers due to the low ceiling), so you need to figure out what you like. Some stuff to listen to in addition to stuff already mentioned - Harbeth, Devore, Verity, Sonus Faber, Avalon, ProAc, B&W.
Take a listen to the ProAc "Response D38R"
Geoch and Countingbackwards, you both recommend Proac's, which are a speaker brand I have high regard for. I have not heard them with the Levinson gear of this genre (or with any Levinson amp for that matter). Have either of you? I would be interested in your opinions as to mating them with the ML amps.

My experience with the 331/2/3 .5 amps and the 334/5/6 amps is that they are a little bit more forgiving than say the Krell FPB/C amps, maybe slightly softer on the details or a bit less strident may be a better description. Almost a very slight "softer" (rolled off sounding top range) and slightly lighter in the bass, but not weak. I actually like both this line of Krell amps and also these ML amps - I am not picking one over the other. I am actually looking at a new (used) amp and the 334/5/6 or the FPB 300C or 350C amps are being considered (along with a Spectron Musician possibly).
I'm sorry, I haven't.
But this is my preference for a high current, high wattage, SS amp. I've heard them with Pass, Musical fidelity, Goldmund, Nagra, & over a dosen tube amps. & they can manage to keep their unique personality above any of them.
I've had the Response D28, D38, 5, 4 over the years & I think the newest D38R with the ribbon tweeter betters them all in compatibility as an all-rounder & value in this price category.
But I'm not shure about the matching with the ML once I've never heard them together.

Kind Regards
Given your equipment and room size, I would second the recommendation for the Thiel 3.7. They like tons of SS wattage, but after a long break-in period, they will really sing. They are at the top of your budget range, but I can't imagine that you would ever want for much more. I've been lucky to hear them twice and walked away both times extremely impressed, and with a severe case of speaker lust....
Geoch, thanks for that follow-up. I think of the amps you list (at least those that I am familiar with), the Pass (depending on model) is more close to the ML amp (with the Pass possibly being a bit smoother - when in Class A operation at least). So I would think that if the Proac's are good with the Pass, they are also likely to be with the ML. Thanks also for your comments on the 38R vs. the 38. It seems like the Proacs would be a very good recommendation for the OP to listen to. I wouldn't think his ML amp would have any problem whatsoever driving the Proacs.
"Speakers are so personal!!”

Elizabeth is so right its almost trite. So, I figured, if you’re willing to to put a decision so subjective up for grabs, I’ll do a quick Audiogon search for speakers in your price range and see what jumps out. So I did; and here’s the problem: It’s not that nothing jumped out, it’s that nearly everything jumped out.

Advise: Get out there and listen. Have a ball doing it.
Phaelon, I agree with you that the OP must listen himself. I see his inquiry and the responses to it more of a direction than a blanket statement that speaker A is what he needs.

By providing us with a bit of information about his system, his tastes or objectives in sound, etc. . . I think those of us that have some experience can help get him started in a direction to achieve those goals. In a case like this, the OP (assuming that he is looking for the best feedack) would take the time to listen to a few recommendations and then come back and report what he likes or does not like about what he has auditioned. This would therefore allow for further fine tuning of recommendations. So far, there really hasn't been much of the "X speaker is what you should buy, it is the best" in terms of feedback. Most of the replies have been geared toward one or several brands that he should hear himself that the "responder" feels are both within his sound goals, budget and with a degree of (experienced) synergy with his existing equipment. This, I think, is what the OP is seeking.

But you are right, it is his ears that matter as should always be the case. Doing a search for "generic" speakers based on price range should never provide any level of experienced opinions. Much more than price range needs to be considered - synergy, sound goals, space, etc. . . A Buget is only a starting point in the sense that it can automatically rule out a specific percentage of speakers (in this case, nothing more).
I agree with you Ckoffend. If my post seemed terse, it’s because I also agree with Tom6897. Do you have any idea how many quality speakers fit the OP’s specifications?
Everyone, once again thank you for your advice. I am going to the Atlanta show in April and will listen to everything. Most of you must be dealers or long-time audio afficianados. You certainly know far more than I do.
Ckoffend, I wanted to ask you opinion about the RealTraps. When I put them in my listening room they did improved the sound stage and eliminated an unpleasantness that I later attributed to reflections. Why do you dislike them, and what would you replace them with? Thanks again!
I like them and think you should get rid of them by sending them to me!

You are well ahead of most by recognizing that the room is just as important as any component. It is hard to make even the best speaker in the world sound good in a room with really bad acoustics.

FWIW, I am not a dealer and never have been involved in the industry, other than as a consumer. My comments about the traps was purely tongue in cheek. Your plans to attend the show is probably the best move you can make in narrowing down what you want in terms of sound and what you like in terms of product. Best of luck to you.
Well, my listening room is long and narrow and I knew enough to know that I didn't know enough, and after reading Robert Harley (and once again feeling totally overwhelmed--information overload) I somehow connected with RealTraps. I can't tell you how much the sound improved. A real head-turning WOW! Real soundstage! Speakers really disappearing! I think I spent about $3500 and it was really worth it to me as compared to the cost of components; their technicians were available for installation and placement recommendations as well as my usual idiot questions. An excellent audio experience all-around. I would be interested in others' experience with baffles and deflectors, etc.
I'm a bit late in response, but I can't add anything about Ckoffend's question about D38R with Levinson electronics. I was simply listing brands of speakers that I've heard in the OP's price range, that would fit his (not so limiting) requirements. I actually am not a huge fan of Proac's - all I've heard critically, though, was a D28 driven by Ayre electronics. It didn't grab me, but if you're shopping in that price range, you owe it to yourself to hear Proac's and see if you like them, because many do. B&W are the same - wasn't my cup of tea, but lots like them, so you need to do your diligence to make sure that you make a buying choice from an informed perspective.
As speaker and system choices are very personal I can only respond to what I would want in a speaker and a system.

I personally am partial to high efficiency speaker designs, such as those made by Devore, Coincident Technology, and Vaughn.

So for me, I would likely sell the Levinson amp and buy a Coincident Techology Frankenstein 8 watt/channel amp or their 75 watt/channel Dragon amp. The Frankies are the cat's meow and are the best low-powered amplifier I have ever heard. They produce the strongest 8 watts I have ever heard and with also the cleanest and most grain-free performance. IMO, there is nothing better if you hook them up to the appropriate speakers. And their difference to most other amps is not subtle. You will recognize it immediately.

I would then choose between a Coincident Technology Total Victory II or Total Victory IV--or maybe an $8,500 delivered Vaughn Cabernet. Maybe a Devore Gibbon 9 or their reference Silverback. All these speakers are excellent and are easily driven with the Frankenstein's.