Is it simply time for a change, or is something lacking in your B&Ws?
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Magnepan 3.7R's are $5500, just a bit above your range. The hegel is 220 W into 4 Ohms. That might be enough to drive the 3.7's. They are worth considering if you have the room to set them up properly. I spent the best part of a year auditioning speakers, and the Maggies beat everything I heard from Dali, Dynaudio, Areial, Sonus Faber, and Theil. Only the Magico V2's and Wilson Sophia III's at about 16-17K arguably bettered the Maggies. I just couldn't justify the price differential so I ordered the Maggies.
My living room is my listening room, and my last two speakers have been Maggies. I really wanted to try box speakers, and hoped the Aerial 7Ts would be my next speaker. They weren't close to the Maggies, and I heard them in the same room with the same equipment on the same day. Don't buy anything in the 3-5K range until you have heard the maggies.
If your amp doubles in wattage (or close to it)at 4 ohms vs.8 ohms, then it has enough current to drive Magnepans. The entire line sounds more like a concert stage than any box speaker and are very tweakable. This is a good time to get 1.6's or 3.6's used since the 1.7's and 3.7's just came out and many Maggie lovers have upgraded.
OP, can you explain what it is you are looking for your speakers to do differently? What kind of sonic change are you looking for? What would an "upgrade" mean to you? Absent that, we can only recommend "good" speakers in your price range, but we are looking for different things, for example I am much more concerned with midrange accuracy in timbre, and would sacrifice ultimate bass for that, which is why I own Merlins, they provide the kind of sound that appeals to me. Have you heard any speakers that you liked better than what you have, and if so, in what way? Maggies and Harbeth are very fine speakers, but they may not be doing what you are looking for, where a Vandersteen 3A might very well do. IOW, more info please.
I agree with Edorr that the original Revel Studios are a very good speaker, and a good choice in this price range. (I sold mine for $4,400, so they are in your price range.)
They have a very well extended treble response, and there are front and back tweeters, which have controls to adjust the level, in case you want more or less treble response. (FYI: The treble response, while very well extended, is not quite as refined as my current speakers, (the EgglestonWorks Andra II speakers, which have the renowned Dynaudio Isotar tweeters). But the Andra II speakers cost double what the Studios do, and it took a side by side comparision to hear the difference.)
The mid-range is excellent and very musical.
The bass response is deep and very quick. (They have really quick bass response, and no trace of boominess at all, IMHO, which is one of their strengths.) They are not quite a full range speaker though, as they don't quite go down to 20 Hz, but they do get pretty close.
They have very good imaging and soundstaging. The build quality is very good as well. For the price, used of course, they are highly recommended.
(However, I do understand that aesthetically, they are not everyone's cup of tea. However, both my wife and I both appreciated their contemporary looks, and they looked just fine in our fairly modern decorated living room.)
My two cents worth.
Good Luck in your search.
I think we would need more info to tell what would be best for you. What is the size of the room? What kind of music will you want to listen to? Is the wife's opinion a significant factor? How large a speaker can you use? Where do you live and will you be able to travel to review?
Without the above info we are each just telling you our favorites from our own perspective.
you are making sense Bob. I listen to program rock and classical-Radiohead,Pink Floyd, Neil Young and Jonny Greenwords classical composition. I am looking for the same class of speaker in terms of size- both room and speaker.
Thanks for the response .
Ps I love the condescending response from pubul 57 it was a big help.
Condescending? No - I don't takes this stuff that seriously. The point is that all
the advice being given absent knowing your preferences is close to meaningless
- hope that helps. What would help us is for you to tell us what it is about the
804 that you are looking to change or improve upon - what are they doing or
not doing that is making you look for another speaker. That will get you better
advice specific to your sonic taste. That being said, a similar sized and class
speaker in your price range that works well with SS amps would be the Thiel
I have never heard the Focals. When you say faithful reproduction, I assume you are talking about timbre (as oppose to sound staging and imaging) - which I think B&W does pretty darn well. Some of the most timbrally accurate speakers I have heard are the Merlin VSMs which may be in your price range used. They are not bass killers, there is some small sacrifice there, but very accurate and realistic in the mid-range. I would say the Thiel is in that camp too, very accurate timbre and revealing, resolved speakers. You are at a price point where there really are a lot of good choices. What if any dealers do you have in your area where you might be able to audition? Thiel has relatively wide distribution, Merlin, not so much, and while they can play with most any amp, they really do need tubes to show their stuff, whereas Thiel almost requires SS to be their best.
When I was auditioning speakers last month I checked out two Legacy Audio speakers. The first, the Focus SE, sounded great in the sweet spot and had superb bass, but did not disperse the high end well (not really a fan of the Mid-Tweeter-Mid or d'Appolito configuration or whatever you want to call it, at least not with ribbon tweeters). One of my basic requirements was for a speaker that dispersed well and could present a good soundstage in a large area, so they weren't for me. But if you're someone who parks himself in an easy chair and doesn't move around much, you might be able to find an older model used for less than $5K.
But the next model down, the Legacy Audio Classic HD, I found very impressive in its price range ($4450 to $4850 new depending on finish). It wasn't anywhere near big enough for the challenges presented by my problematic 28X16 sunroom with 15' ceiling - I ended up with Revel Salon 2s - but I thought it would be great in a smaller, less demanding space. They had very respectable bass, dispersed the treble much better than their big brother, and had a fairly coherent sound for a mid-priced speaker with a ribbon tweeter.
Another speaker you might want to check out is the Revel Performa F-52. It lists for $7k new, but should fall within your price range if used or demo. Has a nice, balanced sound. Not the most efficient speaker out there but your amp should drive them reasonably well in a room less than say 2,000 cubic feet.
I have seen some posts here and in other forums stating the Vapor Audio Cirrus bettering some real high end speakers at RMAF. After reading a bit about the design of this speaker I ended up ordering a pair. The cabinet is built like a bomb shelter and the components used are top shelf. Obviously they are worth looking into imo. www.vaporaudio.com
A similar speaker to your n804 that is a lot higher quality is the Salk HT2-TL. It is a clean sounding speaker as opposed to a warm speaker. It will capture the excitement of the performance better than just about any other comparable speaker. It has a fantastic midrange for the voice. The transmission line bass is deeper and cleaner. Not as wooly or boomy a bass as your B&W. The highs are chrystal clear with one of the best tweeters on the planet. You probably would have to contact Jim Salk to find an owner near you that you can review. I wouldn't buy any speaker without a personal review.
A great speaker that you can get used for around 2K is the Thiel 3.6 as many owners are upgrading to the 3.7 which sells for 13K. It demands high current amps as impedance dips down to 2.5 ohms. Your Hegel is rated at 120 watts into 8 ohms, 240 into 4 ohms so this should be fine. I also second the recommendation for the Thiel 2.4 and Magnepan 3.7 made by others above. In addition to A'gon try some Thiel dealers such as Audio Consultants in Chicago area for used gear.
If they're compatible with your room and decor, the GoldenEar Triton 2 should be a good match, even if it's a bit under budget. I've heard them and they can handle a wide variety of music, have deep propulsive bass, image well, have good resolution as well as dynamics, and have built-in powered subs, which make for an easier bass solution.
You mention that bass extension is not all that important, but I can't imagine enjoying Pink Floyd to the max without serious bass. Any kind of rock demands propulsive, clean, tight dynamic bass to make the whole sound coalesce and come alive.
If the Triton 2s are not to your liking (size, appearance) then I would agree with Bjesien and go with mini-towers or stand-mounted monitors plus well-integrated subs. The minis will give you great clarity and the subs will give dynamics and drive, and it's a modular configuration that integrates well with a lot of room situations. Powered subs offer the additional room optimization advantages of volume, crossover, and phase control.
If you go this way, don't scrimp on the subs. You could get a pair of sealed-box subs from SVS for under $1400 total which leaves $1600-3600 for the mains, and for that you could get some seriously good speakers. Another example would be Totem Model Ones and a pair of their Storm subs.
Or... how about a pair of Gallo Reference 3.5s?
See my posts about the Lahave Mela monitors (just do a search).
I don't want to repeat myself and bore people anymore.
I own a pair and recommend them highly, and I don't have any connection with the audio industry at all and I'm not selling them. No shilling here.
Oh heck, I'm going to repeat myself one more time from the other thread because these speakers make me happy more than any other audio component I ever bought (except maybe my Audeze headphones):
Call a dealer who sells LaHave Melas and ask for a good deal.
I have them after listening to/owning lots of speakers, including Dyn C1s. Just plain awesome tonality without fatigue. I sound like a shill now from my posts but I'm not. I just bought a pair from a private audiogoner and I LOVE these things. Search in the forums and you'll see my posts. I think they may have the tonality and overall enjoyment of $37K TAD monitors, and I'd have to think hard about trading them even-steven for TADs. My Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors that I really liked are in the closet now because of the Lahaves.
And my Harbeth SHL5s are sold also because the Lahaves are so much better, with much more reach into the music. You will be neither bored or assaulted by the Mela monitors, and they don't need expensive stands either.
YOu might try some egglestons or Wilsons in that range. WP 5's and Andras can be bought in 4 to 5 range. Even the Sophia would fit that range. With the Sophia you will want a sub, expecially for HT.
Also with those brands selling them used wont be a problem. They have decent name brand recognition and are built very well.
Will - In your price range, I would suggest a home trial of Ohm Walsh 2000 or 3000 (depending on the volume of your room). You get 120 days to use them in your home with your gear and tunes. I have owned the Walsh 2000s for about two years now, and I remain extremely impressed by their performance, which has improved steadily as I have improved my electronics, cables, and room treatments. IMHO, I think they present just what is on the recording, no more and no less. Check out www.ohmspeakers.com.
Audiokinesis )http://www.audiokinesis.com/ Makes speakers in this price point that perform well beside speakers costing multiples more.
They are easy to drive and rather full-range, going easily into the lower 30s or upper 20s, which is hard to find in speakers at this price point. Duke is a master at making crossovers and drivers work together, and integrating that with recent advances of understanding of how the human ear works. He is also a really great guy to work with! At this price point this would be one of my top contenders.
Emerald Physic CS-3's once fully broken in with an upgraded Boehringer cross-over. Doug Jessie @ Asi_Teknology rebuilt mine. Holy smokes these speakers are now absolutely phenomenal. One caveat is that I run them with a subwoofer.
The upgrade and the cost of the CS-3 speakers should fit into your price range. I also have Magnepan 1.7 speakers running with a subwoofer. Excellent, excellent sound. Defininetly these are in your price range.
Look for a deal. I got a dealer demo pair with full warranty. Cost me $1,000 cash plus full value trade in on Maggie 1.7's ($2,200) = $3,300.
My opinion is that you you should check out the 3.7's carefully before nixing the 3.6's.
Based on listening to 1.7's, the 3.6's are a whole lot warmer with just as much detail. Cannot hear the much ballyhooed discontinuity that supposedly exists with the different drivers in the 1.6's and 3.6's.
I have B&W 804s and have found their apparent problems to be highly correlated to what they are being fed. You have the Nautilus version which is a model earlier than mine. I am using Parasound JC-1/2 electronics with a HSU subwoofer and the sound I am getting is amazing. I use a Bryston D/A converter off a CA 840c, which eliminated a lot of the upper mid-range harshness in female vocals that often get blamed on the B&W. These do well with Class A amplification, the cleaner the better.
You may not care much for B&W for whatever reasons, but I caution you that perhaps some of the issues may not be just the drivers. That being said, in your price range perhaps you could consider a pair of 803Ds. These more modern versions have a lot of driver and crossover improvements over the Nautilus versions and can be had used for just above your price range.
Yes, and not only that, but the speakers that Audiozen recommends will make Eric Clapton sound like the best guitar player of all time!!
(Sorry, Audiozen, but I just could not resist due to your recent thread.) ;-)
>Best Guitar Player thread, in case anyone else is interested
However, Audiozen is correct, that you need to match your speakers to your room size, (as well as to your amplifier).
Good Luck in your search!
About a year ago I was asking the same question, and ended up buying a pair of Focus Audio Prestige FP80s. Obviously I love them. They list for $5800 but I got them for less. Great imaging and transparency, and they use a scanspeak revelator tweeter which is very well regarded. I have a smallish room (12x18), so they fit it perfectly.
Hi all ! I would check out the Tekton Design speakers as they perform way above what they....oh crap ,just remembered their most expensive speaker is only $2500 . OOPS , sorry they dont cost enough to compete with the $5000 ones . ( from a guy who replaced his $2800 speakers with a $1000 pair of Lore's )
I've said it before here, will say it again to anybody who will listen ... the Vapor Audio Cirrus is an absolute revelation in that price range. My search for years has been to find a speaker that fleshes out all the details in music, all the tonal richness and density ... but without sounding harsh, edgy, or analytical. For a long time I gave up and resorted to owning a pair of Harbeth HL5 and Micro Utopia Be at the same time. When I got tired of one I'd switch to the other for a change of pace.
But neither of those ever satisfied, the Vapor Cirrus does. It does intimacy better than the Harbeth, and detail better than the Focal. It's everything I was looking for and then some.
I've become a fanboy, yes ... but only after owning and loving the speakers. They earned my fanboy-ism :)
Will, A few more questions for you if you don't mind. Is this for home theater listening as well? If so, what is your breakdown of listening to music compared to movies? Is one more important to you? How loud to you listen? Are you willing to add a subwoofer? People have been recommending some great monitors. Is that an option for you? Is waf a factor? Lastly, Will you be in the the loft forever?