Best speakers out there for Midrange and Highs


Hello Everyone!

I would like some advise about what are some of the better speakers out there for a 2 channel system - with use of subwoofers.

I currently use a pair of significantly large - full range speakers (Revel Salon2), that go down below 20hz. Even though my speakers go down so low, I still desired more air movement / sound pressure in the room - to make the sound as palatable as possible.

I found that combining the Salon2 with an external active crossover (JL Audio CR-1) and 2 Subs (JL Audio F113s) sounds excellent. Soundstage is close to like being at a concert, and surprisingly to me, was that imaging has not been lost. Furthermore, adjusting the phases on the subwoofers basically made the speakers and subs act like a singularity and helped the system sound even more exciting. I cross over at 90hz with a 24Db decay.

However, can’t help thinking about the obvious - that I am waisting all that available bass capability on the Salon2s. So I was wondering what speakers out there could be even more appropriate for my configuration. These speakers need not go down so low - Down to 55HZ would be more than enough. On the other hand, Salon2s also have a very strong midrange and highs, so I would like the new speaker to be either:

1) Better in the mids and highs (whether same price as the Salon2 or possibly more expensive), or
2) As good in the mids and highs as the Salon2s but less expense

Very much appreciate your recommendations.

Thank you in advance!

Ag insider logo xs@2xjmarshak
The TAD ME1 monitor maybe better on the mids and highs than the Salon. I owned Salon1 for a long time and I actually prefer my KEF LS50s over the mids and highs on the Salon1. I understand the Salon2 has the BE driver but I am not a huge fan of the top end on the Salons. The bass on the Salons are awesome, especially in my former large room. The TAD ME1 is an extremely good speaker. A couple of newer monitors that would work with subs are:

TAD ME1
Vivid Kaya S12 (new model not yet released, I like the Kaya 90)
Vimbeg Amea (a bit of excitement on this one)
KEF Reference 1 (is now an oldie but I love this one too)

I am going to buy the Yamaha NS 5000 and the mids on that are extremely realistic.  There is an A'gon thread by me on this speaker giving details where you can hear it. It is a unique cutting edge design with a unique driver material.
I am a huge fan of the Kaiser Chiara.  I think they are $22K but are arguably the speaker I think all monitors should be measured against.  Cabinet is interesting materials and is a composite sandwich of wood, fiberglass and rubber.  I heard these driven by VAC amps and it is one of the best sounding speakers I have ever hear.  

Raidho is also worth a listen.  I haven't heard the TD1.2 yet but the old D1.2 is phenomenal.  The C1.2 is also spectacular.  Typical cabinet but the big thing with the Raidho's is the amazing tweeter that they produce along with amazing mid-range drivers.  I think the Cs are $18K new and I am not sure how much the TD1.2s are.  Placement can be a bit finicky but once you get them setup correctly, amazing detail and works really well with SS amplification.  

You could look at the Focal Diablo Utopia which is a great speaker, particularly matched with Naim's high end gear.  I don't know the price off hand.  I have spent time with the Sopra and with the right amp, it is in the same league as the Revel and would save you a bit of money.  The Utopia is better.  Amp matching is really critical though.  Naim is going to give you best results.  

Wilson-Benesh has the Discovery II and the Endeavour.  Both used carbon fiber cabinets and they have some pretty great drivers.  Don't know pricing off of the Endeavour but i believe the Discovery II is ~$10K.  

Check out Marten Duke 2 using amazing Accuton drivers.  Wilson has the Duet IIs.  Also brilliant and great with near wall placement.  I would second Vivid.  There are a lot of wonderful speakers.  

Finally, I personally make a monitor I think is in this league as the Revels.  My Blackthorn 1 is a great speaker and is well priced at $7k.  Phenomenal detail with spectacular highs.  Even better with the Silver Reference upgrade which uses Mundorf Silver-Gold caps at $9500.  Cabinets are made from a Carbon Fiber sandwich with a magnesium composite driver and ceramic/magnesium tweeter, both from Eton.  Prices are sharp because we are consumer direct.  Perfect with a slightly warm amp as I typically have them matched with an 845 push pull.  We do a 30 day in-home trial.  

Thank you for your recommendations. I have been thinking abut TAD CR1 and always had Raidho on the radar. The Wilson-Benesh and Kaiser Chiara both look awfully interesting but would need to hear them!

I am very well acquainted with practically all Focals up to 20k and have owned the Diablos. Excellent speakers. I must say, I was really impressed with the Revel’s mids range, especially once the speakers were relieved from heavy bass duties.  The amps probably have a lot to do with that :)

Thank you for letting me know about your own brand.
@verdantaudio I will give it some thought.

Wait.  You’re crossing over the subs at 90Hz with the Salons?  Why???  That makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.  First, you can probably crossover the subs at 40Hz or less with those speakers, and second the sub becomes more directional and audible above 80Hz.  My opinion — you have a lot more work to do integrating those great subs with your great speakers.  With the $ you have invested in your system, I’d recommend some sort of sub-integration device (i.e. DSpeaker, etc.) because I don’t think you’ve heard the full potential of your system yet.  FWIW. 
I heard the Kaiser's at Rhapsody Audio in Manhattan.  Rhapsody and Singer are still listed as dealers.  They are also both Raidho dealers.

I heard the Wilson Benesch's at Singer in Manhattan.  It looks like he doesn't carry them anymore.  My demo's were 4 years ago I think.   

At that time I ultimately settled on Raidho X-1s which I picked up for a really good deal.  I spent quite a bit of time listening to the Revel Studio's (not the Salons), Wilson Sabrinas and the Magico S1s.  At the time I was stepping up from Performa3s.
Hi @soix , Thanks!

Definitely happy to try more sophisticated room corrections although I have spent some time on that already. I’ll read about the DSpeaker… was not aware of this product. Thank you for pointer. Again, I am enjoying the set up right now, but you are correct that there is always more one can do.

Regarding the cross over frequency : In the past, I used to think exactly as you describe...If the Salons2 have so much to offer at the bottom, why would anyone cross over any higher than 40-50 hz? - and so, I’ve tested at 100 down to 30hz at 10 Hz increments :). Between 100, 90, 80 - started liking sound more..I can confirm is that the ’relief’ on the Salons below 90hz had a much greater positive effect on the overall sound than any minor directionality (which I could not really recognize) which could hear from the subs. Music sounds more engaging, better dynamics, just has more fidelity. I believe many have found the same to be true.

My subs are actually positioned on the inside of the speakers. Further, at lower frequencies crossover, I felt less room sound pressure - not sure if this effect is caused because the subs have less leeway of operation. Again, surely the main amps have alot to do with choosing the optimal cross over frequency...I am using tube amps right now. The combination works nice. Just want to see if I can use the ’unused bass’ money to finance better mids/highs ’if possible’
@verdantaudio thanks for the pointer.  Rhapsody is a cool place to visit
For clear mids/highs have you looked at anything in the Wilson Audio realm? Sasha’s, even Sabrina’s (smaller) or used Alexia’s all would fit the bill. The mids will smack you in the face without being harsh (depending on source of course)... of course, speaker placement and room can make all the difference.
Hmm.. and non harsh smack in the face?... I like that that in my music :)

Basically, yes, I heard the Willson in many different reincarnations for as long as I can remember. I love all of their speakers.  

But I guess to summarize my objective... it's to get look for fanatically large bookshelves like the TAD CR1s … but the TADs are really,really expensive... so hopefully cheaper.
Maggies or Martin Logans. Nothing beats electrostatics for mids and highs.
Quad speakers are known for their fascinating mids. I have owned all models of Quad speakers. I have not yet found any speaker that can beat Quad's midrange. My favorite model is 57, but 2912 will be the best choice if you like to listen on higer volume levels. Match it with tube amplifier like EAR or Atma Sphere and you'll have a system which is almost impossible to beat, regardless of price.
+1 mazian

But i would have a listen to the new Sound Lab Majestic 545 or 645. I have the Majestic 545 integrated with a pair of the very latest REL10" Inch Driver Subwoofers and can not imagine sound much better than this.

The Sound Labs now run in are out performing my old full Ribbon Apogee Duetta Signatures,

Room treatment was needed to get the best out of my Sound Labs, 2 GIK 244 full range bass panels behind each Speaker in my room really improved the imaging, clarity, resolution and focus.

I have owned many box type Speakers including open baffle Alon's and the newer Nola's but i find nothing can match Electrostatics for speed, timing, openness, midrange and top end. YMMV



Have you auditioned anything from the Goldenear Line? I have Triton 5’s and I too use to JLAudio Subs, the Dominion D108’s. Their tweeter is really spectacular. Here’s the specs on the 5’s which is just one level up from their entry model.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/goldenear-triton-five-loudspeaker-specifications


I like the Martin Logan 15a. I use them with McIntosh 601 mono-blocks and McIntosh C47 Preamp  A little expensive but awesome smooth sound. Getting ready to upgrade from a blusound node2 streamer/DAC. I bypass its DAC using coax cable and use the DAC in the C47. Sound  is awesome but looking to upgrade to  the Lumin T2, which I will be using it’s DAC And maybe snake river cables 
The Discovery 2's are over $24K... the Endeavours are almost $50K

I have no idea where some of the quoted prices are coming from.
The Martin Logans 15A’s retail for 25k pair 
Whoops.  The Vertex’s are $9500.  Those are the one I have heard.  Carbon fiber cabinets are obscene.  Feeling better every day about my pricing.  
Bowers & Wilkins 800 D2 or D3
Vandersteen are well known for their great midrange and tweeter.
Harbeth Compact7-Es 40th anniversary are superb with subs, likewise the Quad 2912 will inthrall. Good luck on your quest.
Magneplanars.

Period.

NO cone speaker even comes close.

BUT, make sure your ROOM is conducive to the music you want to hear and what parts you wish to emphasize.

Bring your fav tunes to the store, listen there (you will be amazed--try Baez singing "Diamonds and Rust" or any Muldaur or Ronstadt or Harris or an opera that has a star soprano--Sills?).

THEN, have your dealer set them up in your room for you and "tweak" them as needed. One inch of adjustment can make a huge difference.

Finally, you will hear any "flaws" in your hardware and you may have to change some of that as well. Hazard when you finally get transparent speakers, but isn’t that what you are seeking?

Enjoy the music!
If you're willing to stay in the sweet spot, it's hard to be panels for mid and hi frequency reproduction.  Especially for the money.  
What ever Tidal speaker you can afford.
LOL, this is getting funny... you will get 10,000 opinions

I personally own Wilson Benesch.  I have owned a lot of speakers over the last 15 years and the Benesch are very pure and dynamic sounding.  There is no crossover on the mid-range with the Benesch and it sounds like it.  Good luck in your search
@jmarshak,

Nothing, apart from damaging volume levels, causes more distress to the reproduction of recorded sound than the stresses generated by the attempt to reproduce bass. Naturally enough these physical stresses increase in relation to the amount of bandwidth demanded.

Sure, you might argue that some designs can handle these pressures better than others, but they all feel them. 

Taking the low bass out of the equation always makes life easier for any loudspeaker - including the Revel Salon 2s as you found. That resulting freedom of expression is what you're after I suspect. If so then your problem might just be the sheer overwhelming number of options open to you.

Always difficult to recommend any speakers as you really need to hear them first, especially so in your case. Having said that you can't ever go far wrong with any of the classic bookshelf Spendor/Harbeth designs (esp the Spendor S3/5R or the Harbeth M30). 

I suspect that the Eclipse TD712z's would ultimately be very hard to beat (at any price) if you can get them to combine with your subs. Ditto for the Joseph Audio bookshelf models - another stratospherically regarded limited bandwidth design.
@jmarshak
You mentioned Raidho. The XT series is very dynamic but lack the layers of resolution of the D series which is less dynamic. That said with the D series you really want the D3.1's for the best midrange. I had the D1 D2/D2.1 and D3.1. The D3.1 and up are the best. That said positioning with Raidho is pretty criticle. Ideally they need to be about 9ft apart (and more is better if you have the room) and toed in pointing to you shoulders. I have not heard the new TD series so they could be more dynamic.

But if you want even more dynamics and clarity check out the new Borresen speakers. I have the 03's and one main reason I got them after the D3.1's is they make the D3.1 sound muffled. The 01's and 02's are better than the D1.1 or D2.1 the 03 (and 05) have much clearer midrange. The Borresens also sound best when positioned like Raidho's.

Best of Luck with you're search
Focal Diablo are likely to offer a significant improvement. Much of the money in the Studio 2 goes to the large cabinet and bass drivers. 


I would look at the new A1 from Magico as well.  All depends on what you like and if you run subs 100% of the time. 


As noted, not sure I would cut off the Revel so high (or at all). Could look at them as part of a bass array with the subs.
Wow, lots of opinions indeed! Thanks everyone!
I’ve comprised a list from all the above (Apologies if I might missed anything in the thread). Perhaps the summarized list may help others reading the thread:

TAD Ref
Vivid Kaya S12 - tried
Vimbeg Amea
KEF Reference 1 - tried
Kaiser Chiara
Raidho -
Focal Diablo - tried and are go to speakers
Wilson - tried, not small enough :)
Marten Duke 2
Blackthorn 1
Bowers & Wilkins 800 D2+ - not small enouth :)
Sound Lab Majestic 545, 645
Goldenear Triton 5’s
Martin Logans 15A’s - tried
Vandersteen
Harbeth Compact7-Es 40th anniversary
Quad 2912, 57
Magneplanars.
Tidal speaker - cant afford any of them:)
Wilson Benesch Discovery 2 - Interesting

Plenty of food-for-thought here going into the new year!  Some of speaker types on the list I never considered before - not sure why.   Again, thanks everyone for sharing.

Happy Holidays and happy listening!
Hi @audiozenology  - I tried having the revels set up as part of the bass array first, it was the cheaper option.  After that, when I set the system into my current configuration, the sound was more 'together', and my heart beat lower.  My audiophilic friends all agreed (for the first time).  Hence the thread cause I know I am giving up bass potential.  Believe me I would have loved to be wrong.  I also spoke to a couple of amp manufacturers who agreed with the configuration.  Happy to discuss further if you would like, please feel free to pm me.
You will need to use REq or similar to help measure, place and adjust the subs. Problem with floor standers that go deep is best positioning for bass and for everything else unlikely to be the same except in a designed room.
The Radial midrange in the Harbeth 40.2 can't be beat.  So another one for your list!
Hi J

About a year ago I was looking for some bookshelf speakers to pair with my SVS SB4000 subs. I listened to the bookshelf versions of (sorry I don't remember the models) Focal, Spendor, B&W (805D I believe) and the little larger than bookshelf Vandersteens. None of them in my opinion were great. The midrange was fine but the highs were off a little bit, just not clean or as clear as I would have liked them to be. I was resigned to the fact that the B&W's were probably as close as I was going to get to the sound I wanted until I stumbled onto a pair of Wilson Audio's Tune Tots. Never in a million years did I think that I would own Wilson Audio but the mid/hi combination of these speakers was exactly what I was hoping to find.

I to, use a tube amp and an active crossover and actually crossover higher that you do. I built a couple of small tables for the Wilsons to sit on that straddle the subs so the drivers are aligned along the "Y" axis with the Wilsons about a foot more forward

As a previous poster mentioned, I would love to a have pair of Magnaplaners in my system, I just don't have the floor space for them.
Excellent, thank you @audiorusty.  Very interesting and coincidental!
btw, I suggested a friend of mine get 2 SB4000 into his system...he did absolutely loves them.

Wondering if you are still running the same configuration in your system? 

 And that straddle setup over the subs was exactly what I was thinking about to save on floor space.  Probably looks nice too.
@twoleftears  Noted, thank you  :)
I disagree that you are wasting the bass capabilities of the subs with the Salons.  Heck, people add subs to Wilson Alexandrias, so that should tell you something.

I still think before making any drastic changes, especially since you seem to like your Salons, you should first at least try something like DSpeaker anti-mode 2.0 rather than integrating the subs by ear.  There’s one available on eBay now for $575, which is like half price so you can probably resell for little/no loss after trying it.  The anti-mode 2.0 corrects for several things in addition to integrating the subs, so you might be surprised at the results. 
Piega coax 711. One of a kind.
Nothing beats electrostatics for mids and highs.
This is, more or less, what I was going to say.

Electrostatic mids and highs are pretty much unparalleled with regards to air..

However, can’t help thinking about the obvious - that I am waisting all that available bass capability on the Salon2s.

I’m mot so sure that you are wasting the capabilities of the Salons.

It would seem to me, that by removing the lowest bass from the Revel’s, their woofers will sound even better in their new limited range that they are reproducing.

And also, the subs would be reproducing the frequency range they are best designed for.

Seems like a win/win to me.
I’d have to concur with the Harbeth 30.1 / 30.2 or 40.1 / 40.2.

Very few speakers have mids and highs to rival these when driven by well matched components. Very similar to the Quad ESL 57’s in that respect, which have the best mids of any speaker. Very magical, musical, airy sound with great resolution of detail, transparency, soundstage and imaging. Better dynamics, and clarity than most other dynamic speakers, which rivals ESL’s and ribbon drivers (e.g. Magnepan).

I can suggest other dynamic speakers that have much better bass, while having great mids and highs, but they’re much larger, and more expensive (e.g. Legacy Audio Aeris, etc.). None of those mentioned above can really match them, other than perhaps the higher end Wilson’s, TAD’s, Nola's and maybe Raidho.

For my money, I’d go with the Harbeth 30.1 or 30.2 with the MacIntosh Tube / SS hybrid integreted amps or, possibly the Hegel integreted amps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E8ExBUC64c

You won’t look back.
@jmarshak 
i use a similar configuration to what you have , a pair of  jl audio f113v2 placed center to a pair of kef blade2, with cr-1 crossover at 90hz, 24 dB slope, run by ayre Mx-r twenty and kx-r twenty electronics.
i had the same question about a year ago and I tried and talked to a ton of people . Magico was the name that kept popping up . Focal I tried didn’t like it. But even magico did not make any positive improvement. So here I am . Finally upgrading to the blades from blade 2 just for a change in visual impression lol. Thanks for posting the question . I guess the answer is if u have a system that works for you don’t change . Grass is not always greener on the other side .
another point of note is crossover set at 90hz and a crossover and sub . omg that made a lot of “audiophiles “ upset. A straight short path they said, lol. But the fact is no one knows  how good it sounds when u have a good sub integrated with the main speakers with an awesome active crossover like the cr-1 when it’s done right. Key word “done right” . Love your choice of word “singularity “ . Barry Oder aka the Sounddoctor is the one who integrated it for me.
happy listening and glad you got the subwoofer settings right 😊
HI @newtoncr,

Very interesting. Thanks for the reassurance (and picking up on the ’singularity’ reference:) )

I can only imagine how your system must sound ! - No doubt, the word ’upgrade’ must take on a new dimension for you :) Certainly, if you can use Subs with Blades (there was also a reminder that Subs are sometimes even used with Alexandrias!), I can stomach using Subs with Salan2 (even cross over at 90hz :) ).

Again, I really like the midrange and highs on the Salon2. They are wonderful, I was just not sure If I’ve ’over built’ with the bass. But i must say, I am a bit calmer about it based on some of the responses in this thread...

Still, all the Electrostatics-phile comments got me thinking :)

@bassdude  I got the Harbeth on the list! thanks

@mountainsong  Piega coax 711, got it. Thanks :)

@soix -  This DSpeaker its a DAC.  What do I do with my pride and joy DAC and Preamp?  I am not sure how much more my already treated room needs correcting  I am wondering the pros and cons of investing time and money into this thing 'temporarily'. 
Since you have Raidho on your list you could also check out Borresen 01 from the old Raidho designer. A bit more expensive but they are working on a cheaper model. Or get the 03 model that is for sale now on Agon. I have heard the 05 and they were fantastic but for a price.

Also MBL 120 are really good but must work in your room.

@jmarshak — Yes the Anti-Mode 2.0 is also a DAC and preamp, but you need not use those functions. It also does room correction and sub integration, which is where it may have significant value for you. Like I said, for a relatively modest investment of $575 you can try it and if it doesn’t work out sell it for likely no loss, so what do you have to lose? My bet is you won’t sell it and you’ll no longer be asking about replacing your excellent Salons with monitors. Read the reviews at Absolute Sound and Stereophile. 


@headphonereams - Borresen appear to be really nice, but will require more milk money collecting :) And I know the MBL 120 speakers you are referring to.  Very nice.. but agree, they need a lot of room :). Thanks! 
Hi J,

Excellent, thank you @audiorusty. Very interesting and coincidental!
btw, I suggested a friend of mine get 2 SB4000 into his system...he did absolutely loves them.

Wondering if you are still running the same configuration in your system?

I'm assuming this question was directed to me. I am currently using the system as described in my post and have no plans to change it. I like the way it sounds and the control I have over how it sounds.

Thanks
     Deep and powerful bass response along with impressive musical dynamics are instantly recognizable qualities that I believe distinguish live music heard in person from music played back of recorded music in one’s home. Due mainly to the extreme length of deep bass soundwaves that typically exceed the dimensions of most domestic rooms, however, high quality bass performance is far more difficult to achieve than high quality midrange and treble performance.
     As audiozenology correctly stated earlier, "Problem with floor standers that go deep is best positioning for bass and for everything else unlikely to be the same except in a designed room." IOW, the optimum positioning of the bass drivers in a room for bass performance at the listening position is highly unlikely to be the same as the optimum positioning of the midrange and treble drivers in a room for mid/treble and imaging performance at the listening position.
      The best solution I’ve discovered thus far for this dichotomy is to treat my system as two systems; a bass system and an everything else system. I utilize an Audio Kinesis Debra 4-sub distributed bass array (DBA) system to first get the bass optimized in my 13’x22’ room. This bass system consists of four relatively small (1’dx2’wx2’h) subs with 10" aluminum long-throw 4 ohm woofers all powered by an included 1K watt class AB amp that also controls the volume, xover frequency and phase of all 4 subs as a group.
     This complete 4-sub bass system costs about $3K but provides powerful, fast, smooth, detailed and dynamic bass down to 20 Hz in virtually any room and seamlessly integrates with any pair of main speakers. There’s also the option of creating a custom 4-sub DBA system by adding 2 subs to your current 2 subs. These added subs are not required to be the same brand, model or size as your current 2 subs. However, the downside is that the volume, xover frequency and phase controls would need to be optimally set individually, rather than once as a group of 4 with an AK Swarm or Debra DBA system.
     Once the foundation of a high quality bass system is in place, it’s just a matter of optimally positioning my everything else system in relation to my listening position, consisting of Magnepan 2.7QR main speakers and some room treatments.
     Like the OP, jmarshak, I’m also very interested in improving my system’s midrange, treble and imaging quality. I’ve decided to upgrade by asking Santa for a pair of Magnepan 3,7i speakers and some additional GIK room treatments for Xmas.
     Sorry for the length of this post but my main point is that treating your system as two systems and establishing a high quality bass system as a solid foundation, allows the freedom of choosing whatever main speakers you especially enjoy the mid/treble and imaging qualities of.
     Creating a high quality 4-sub DBA system will not help you with a high quality everything else system, but it will allow you to choose a pair of main speakers you really like the mid/treble and imaging qualities of without regard to their bass performance quality. This will be something very beneficial whenever you choose to change your main speakers.

Best wishes,
Tim
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My vote is quad 57 for best mid range. Adding a good ribbon tweet crossing at 5k hz, even high frequency is excellent when placement of ribbon is correct.