Best spkrs for rock: Dunlavy V-Watt/Puppy-Revel??


I listen to mostly rock, classic rock and female vocals, VERY LOUDLY.

My main system now consists of:

NHT 3.3s,
NHT SubTwo Subwoofer (60Hz & below only)
Sony SCD 777es SACD player,
BAT VK5i preamp,
Audio Research M300mkII tube monoblocks,
MIT 750 Shotgun Tube Biwires,
MIT 350 Twin 30' ICs.

I will also be buying a used Cary 306/200, Audio Aero Capitole MkI, Wadia 860x or Electrocompaniet EMC-1 CD player as my main source.

I have a LARGE listening room with lots of glass & high sloping ceilings, app. 20x40 ft.

I want to upgrade my speakers, and I am considering a used pair of either Dunlavy SC-Vs, Wilson WATT3/Puppy2s, Aerial 10-Ts, Revel Ultima Studios, etc., etc.

My system is a tad bright right now, but not objectionaably so. The imaging is stellar, and the soundstage depth is good, not great. I want smooth, rich, warm sound, yet detailed and clear, and as I said, I listen at VERY loud volumes for extended periods of time.

Because of the size of speakers involved, I will obviously not be able to hear them with my system 'til I buy them, but, I guess I can just buy a good used pair here on Audiogon & sell them and try another pair if I need to.

Any comments/suggestions?

Thanks - Jeff
There is a pair of B&W800's on sale today on this site at a steal.

The will produce 120db at 12ft.

Considered by many to be one of the best speakers ever made.

(I also own a pair that I have loved for over 10 years.)
I think that the Dunlavy's would work the best for you out of those mentioned. That is, if you can get them far enough apart and sit a reasonable distance away from them.

There is no substitute for surface area / power handling / low distortion when looking for high spl's AND good coherency. All of this is accomplished via sharing the load amongst several drivers for each frequency range. To top it off, each driver is able to concentrate on what they do best within a limited bandwidth in a four way system, so nothing is stressed. Ya gotta luv it... Sean
I wouldn't get the old Wilson Watt Puppies. The Wilson Watt Puppies 6 and 7 were there best versions. I would recommend the Dunlavy 5 speakers or the Aerial 10T. The Aerial's sound very dynamic. The midrange is very good on the Aerial's. They have an upbeat sound and the bass is awesome. The bass is tight and fast. The Dunlavy's have this amazing midrange and the bass is great. Another speaker I would recommend, is the JM Lab Mezzo Utopia's.
None of the speakers you mention will do rock better than your current NHT 3.3s. They are all very good speakers, but the areas in which they better the NHTs will not be readily revealed on typical rock recordings. You might want to consider some of the powered ATC models.
NHT 3.3 is better than a Dunleavy 5 what have you been smoking? no way no how is this statement correct. Sorry simply not factual. You actually heard Dunleavy 5 speakers? A sick Dunleavy 5 will easily trounce the 3.3. of course this is just my opinion, I could be wrong. But I'm not. Nothing personal to the previous poster. The Dunleavy 5 has the correct amount of resolution needed for loud volume rock any more resolution would be too much resulting in bright, hard overetched qualities. Also takes quite a number of drivers to play loudly without failure,like the 5 has.
cannot think of a better speakers for the authors requirements.
I would recommend high-end JBL speakers. I live in Asia, and JBL still markets some really high-end speakers out here. However, these high-end beasts are classic JBL in sound - absolutely awesome for any type of rock, classic rock, or live music or band presence!!!

There is one pair, JBL 4344, which I saw on Audiogon for sale last week for $3,500, which I believe is still available. They retail brand new for around $11,000. I have heard "Eagles - When Hell Freezes Over" on them, and they sound absolutely incredible. (I currently own the B&W Nautilus 801 - while they are fabulous at classical music, they don't even come close to the JBL 4344 in rock music).

Another new high-end JBL is their K2S9800 series of speakers ($25,000 list price/pair) they recently launched around the world, including the U.S. Please see ( for details. I have heard them out here, and they are truely amazing! So if you are truly after a high-end "rock music" speakers, I recommend you check them out....they will easily handle 3x the size of your room.....
Hum..toughy. The Dunlavy 5's ARE a faster sounding speaker than the Aerial 10t's for the record. The perception of speed is reinforced by dual tandum drivers at the different frequencies(For the Dun's)in a time aligned coherent array. This set up is hard to beat for speed of transient response, and lack of perceived distortion. Although going ACTIVE helps they dynamic potential and speed of drivers when applicable(note the ATC's, active PCM'S,ETC)
Also, the Aerials are a tad laid back sounding in the pressence reigion for Rock. I'd rule them a NON-HARD CORE ROCK SPEAKER personally.
The Watt Puppies do well as a PASSIVE speaker also in the dynamics department, and are helped by dual woofs and HIGH SENSITIVITY.
If you're indeed a rocker, Might I suggest considering A potentially supperior dynamic route, in the POWERED OR ACTIVE speakers if you want to step up the dynamic capabilities of your speakers?! Also, for you, in your "GLASS SETTING", with your tastes, may I suggest considering the highly dynamic/powered HORN LOADED Avantgardes?!!! If you don't mind sitting in front of the speakers (off axis drops off like a rock! pun) that is.
The tremendous lack of OFF AXIS sound reflecting from the speakers to the windows, back to your ears, will be greatly improve your potential sound in that room! The traditional design speakers your discussing will have more serious room reflection issues to contend with in your room! (NOTE: ACOUSTICS, system set up, and gear placment are all serious factors in your overall immaging and sound quality!)
I just think you'll have a great DIFFICULT to beat sound for Rock from some used Avantgardes in your room, really!
You can do well with others if you treat your acoustics or set up right though.
Still, I think you might be happy with the upgraded refinement "potential" in a "Puppy", Revel or Dunlavy switch, but they all have trade-offs for your applications, and are still ONLY PASSIVE SPEAKERS! It's hard to get more dynamic prowess from a passive speaker going through the passive crossover net work. Actives have better control over the drivers w/better damping. So, you find a high end sounding, ultra detailed(another area the 3.3's can improve from) full range speaker in either Horns, or Actives, or at least POWERED WOOFER'ED speakers(like upgraded NHT VT3's, reviewed as better than 3.3's in ALL AREAS!), like Infinity's MTS prelude highly regarded speakers(although soundstage not as deep as others, yet clear, detalied and dynamic!).
First you might want to consider what, if anything you can do acoustically to deal with your room, so as to tlet the potential of any speaker you get play through in the first place. If you can't, the Avantgards will be virtually unsurpassed from the listening seat for you, and you can sell your expensive tube amps for lower powered ones!!!...a plus.
Do rember however, that most of your ROCK material won't be recorded as well as a lot of vocal and instrumental stuff available. There is some however, as you probably know...lot's to factor in finding an upgrade for you indeed.
Well, hope this helps. But even the powered NHTvt3's will improve for you. But if you are trying to dig into Class a refinement all around, note that most all of those passive offerings have lilmitations dynamically for loud rock! I don't think you'll lose tyring any of em(like maybe the Wilsons or Revels or big Dun's, just to see/hear), and you can sell em once you're NOT SATISFIED, or currious elsewhere. That's the beauty of the used market!
Still, I doubt if you go the the CES show this year in Vegas and listen to some stuff with your music, at your levels(note people will run out when you play rock loud!..ha!), and you'll get a better idea.
P.S., Avantgard Uno's can be found at like $5k or better used. Good luck
Listen to Sean, he knows of what he speaks when it comes to this... :-)

Onhwy61, I don't have personal experience with all of the above speakers, including the 3.3's, but I must agree with Mejames when you propose that the speaker differences will be meaningless if listening to rock music. I think I know what you're driving at, and yes, there are some possible differences - in all parts of a system - that might be more meaningful or easily perceivable when reproducing naturally recorded acoustic music, but those qualities will still translate, to one degree or another, into the sonic result no matter what type of music is played, especially if well-recorded (although these differences may not confer upon studio rock an advantage that better correlates to any remembered 'absolute sound reality', instead just being matters of preference and accuracy to the source). There is also a flip-side to this issue, in that reproduction of naturally recorded acoustic music will not always stress certain aspects of a system in ways that will necessarily tell you everthing you need to know about how it will perform on rock. So for me, I always audition with natural acoustic music because I want to know the fine details of a component's performance envelope, but I also use rock as well, because that's what I listen to 75% of the time, and for a speaker especially it has to pass both tests.
The rear's of your NHT3.3 speakers must be placed within 3 inches of a very sturdy wall, or the woofers won't couple correctly and this will cause the speakers to sound bright. If you have a lot of glass in the room, your probably losing bass energy thur the glass, again not helping the speaker's situation. This is the way NHT designed the speakers (to be placed against STURDY wall) call them. If you do not have a sturdy wall (lets say like a 2x6 exterior wall)to place them against, then it might be wise to sell them and move on.
For another time/align speaker, consider the VonSchweikert 4.5's. The 4.5's can be purchased here on A/Gon for around $2000 plus shipping (300lbs per pair) The 4.5's have upgraded Audio Magic internal wiring and premium Hovland caps. Albert's back in business and sadly John D. has just exited. There is also a upgrade for the VR4.5's that is supposed to take them to a much higher level. It should for $2500 a pair plus shipping. Good luck hope this helped
The revels are fantastic. However if you are only going to play rock music at high levels, I would agree with others that what you have will do the job. You haven't mentioned any acoustical treatments in your room and I would look at this before going to a different speaker.
Legacy Focus 20/20.

Thanks to everyone for all the input. I ruly appreciate it!

Here's two other thoughts - Genesis speakers? Like maybe the APM-501s or Genesis 300s?

Wilson WITTs?

Thanks again - Jeff
Mejames, before going off half cocked you should at least try to understand what somewhat writes. Compare your response to Zaikesman's. It's not important that we agree, but if we do disagree we should at least accurately describe what the other person wrote.

I still stand by my earlier statement that powered ATCs will better any of the listed speakers for Jeff's stated task. A few years back Mix Magazine did a comparison of the Dunlavy V to the ATC 200 and the listening panel (all professional engineers) was split by the type of music they primarily worked with. Acoustic music types preferred the Dunlavy and electronic based types were drawn to the ATC.
The WP 6's are a steal used right now. Great match with your equipment....
I looked back at this to see feedback and after thinking about the issue think I was right originally. Before I would spend money on new speakers I would seriously consider acoustics and other tweaks to the listening enviroment. You have good equipment and while I love rock music it is probably only 1/3 of what I listen to. If it was the majority than the type of equipment would be greatly impacted. However I think most people make a mistake in simply trying to buy up before creating a decent sonic listening space. If your room is a cavern why blow a lot of money on equip. I don't know what your space is but consider working on it first rather than the equip.
Disagree with all the statements about Rock & Roll not benefiting from the best quality speakers that a listener can afford - assuming that the listener LIKES Rock & Roll, that is. We like it, and we like it loud, soft and in-between. We also like all other kinds of music (well, the wife has a negative 'reaction', shall we say? to opera and rap music).

Dunlavys (unmodified) are very dynamic and clean, but are not capable of reproducing a lot of detail, and so a lot of music in the midrange will sound 'hard' or 'cold', the bass will lack definition, and the harmonics will be blanched (we lived with the IVs for 3 years).

Here is where something like the Revels excell and the midrange notes will have much more texture, be more involving and realistic, and will be less likely to cause ear bleed. The Revels, to their slight detriment, are also designed to be the tinest bit laid back at certain frequencies, presumably in order to cure that 'brightness' problem many rooms posess.

The Avantgardes would be an interesting solution - though their integration with their woofer is suspect - more so in the less expensive models and like foreverhifi said above, they are very directional.

B&W Nautiluses (Nautili?) are another possibility, if you do not point them directly at your ears as they are somewhat directional with those streamlined tweeters.

The lower-priced Rockports might also be an option - being most like the Dunlavys in that they do not emphasize or deemphasize various sonic signatures but are able to render the details that the Dunlavys are not.

Another option is the Acapella Violins (which we sell), being similar to the Rockports in their honesty but being more smooth and rich but having a little less slam at the bottom end (less so as you move up to the Violon High Subs).

Oh, the Wilson Watt/Puppy 7s (or Sophias) are another option. It seems like they have fixed all the major problems and the minor ones (and everything has minor problems) might be that they are a little on the cold side, and still perhaps retain a little of that Wilson brightness?

All these speakers, imho, will be way, way better than the NHT 3.3s - especially given the size of your room - and all of them will rock out. None of them are bad choices. You are in for a treat!

never had any bass definition problems with either the Dunleavy 4 or Dunleavy 5 speakers I owned previously,actually partial traded my top of the line Kinergetics sw 800 sub woofers System [5x10 in.] Each channel with upgraded XLO SIGNATURE internal wires,for the Dunleavy 5 using Conrad Johnson premier 8 amplifiers the Dunleavy had every bit of bass definition the woofer system had. possibly this result because of the Wadia 27 converter which has very nice bass. BTW changing the stock binding posts with Cardas rhodium posts really improves all Dunleavy speakers quite a bit.
What you need is
and if you think VMPS is a bit pricey then go for ,
and also my last suggestion is
3.MONTANA XP (already there is one for sale on audigon)
Listen to a pair of ProAc 3.8's before you make your final decision. All of the speakers listed are very good choices. Many of them are designed to be extremely accurate monitors. I would say that rock music is not necessarily designed to be listened through these types of speakers. I think that you will find that some recordings will sound unbelievable and some recordings will sound very poor through some of the rather accurate speakers that you have listed. Revel, Wilson, and Dunlavy, in my opinion, fall into this category.

The ProAc rocks. It does not have a bright presentation. It may not be as accurate as the Revel or Dunlavy speaker line, but I would argue that it is a more musical speaker line. It errs on the side of easy to listen to and less detail specific. The ProAc 3.8 rocks.

I would think that of all the speakers mentioned so far the other great rock choice would be the Legacy speaker line. I have heard them in other peoples systems who prefer rock and they had a great sound. Listen to as many speakers as you can with your equipment before making a decision, but do yourself a favor and make sure that a pair of ProAc's are on your list.

Good Luck,
Haven't heard them, but as a design consideration for high-level use in a large, reflective room, I wouldn't overlook checking into some of those newest large Dynaudio models in addition, which at least on paper seem well-engineered to cope with your type of situation.

Onhwy61: Listen, if Mejames has owned as many of John Dunlavy's speakers as he proclaims, and still can't spell the man's name correctly, I wouldn't get too worked up about what he says...
Some very instructive advice above. I'll second Onwh's mention of active ATC's: keep them on your list. I have heard them with jazz, rock, blues -- loud. Detailed sound, "monitorish", but good musicality if a bit forward sounding. The ATC (100) sounded good on classical, too. You'll have fun!
I own Watt/Puppies and have heard the others you mention except for the Dunlavy's.

But I'd suggest none of the above. I'd look for a pair of Genesis V if you want smallish speakers (Wilson size) or the bigger Genesis if you can handle larger.

They will play extremely loud, extremely deep, are very transparent, and have a range of adjustments to tweak to your room.

I was in a hurry when posting. Its my voice recognition software which spells it as Dunleavy I forgot to correct the incorrect spelling which should be Dunlavy. So I do know how to spell it correctly. I also know very well the capabilities of these speakers have about 4 years listening experience with them. I didn't know this was English class thought it was audiogon?
Color me impressed. It's all good, Mejames. Just having some fun. :-)

You should add the Talon Khorus & Ravens to your list.

With your ARC amps, they'll rock.
As Jeff certainly knows, it is not a waste of time or money to build up an audiophile system and then play rock music on it. It is just elitist tripe to say that there is nothing to be heard in rock music played on top notch gear that can't be heard just as well on a PA system. There may or may not be an acoustic event to be reproduced on rock recordings, the way there always is in acoustic music, but that's beside the point. This is the old absolute sound fallacy, where an oboe is an oboe is an oboe. But, of course, it's not. Unless you were there to hear that oboe in that space at that time before the sound went into the microphone, then the sound of that oboe over a speaker is no more valid a means for distinguishing among speakers than is a Moby track or a Credence track. All of the things that good equipment does to bring us closer to an emotional and spiritual connection with acoustic music it does in equal measure for rock. Some rock is better recorded than other rock; some of it is great, some of it sucks, but that's true for every other musical genre, too.
If you want obscene volumes, dont go with the Dunlavys. I own a pair of SC-V's and they play as loud as I care to listen to music, but with sustained 90db levels at the listening position they begin to sound strained.
By the way, the specs in the manual state these have a maximum sustained output of 105db @ 1m and can handle peaks of 115db for EXTREME short time periods.
With the price of this speaker system, I would not attempt to come close to this rating. '
I use a pair of Vandersteen 2wQ subwoofers with high pass filters on the inputs to my amplifiers (Classe CAM-350) and the Dunlavys have more headroom now, play louder with less distortion without strain, and have much more punch.

the Dunlavy 5 doesn't sound strained at 90 db if your amplifier has enough power doesn't at 100 db either if fed enough power example Conrad Johnson premier 8 no strain whatsoever at over 105 dbc at listening position 10 feet back. Couple hours a day at these levels didn't seem to effect their drivers in any negative way over the 3 + years I owned them for.
I agree with Mejames--if you are hearing strain from a pair of Dunlavy SC_V's, I sure don't want to be in the same zip code as the system.
Dear Jeff J:

Your thread began back in December, so I don't know whether you are still looking for speakers, but I would second the comments about Dunlavy SC-V's having loudness limitations. My closest hi-fi friend has had them for three years and I have spent many hours listening to them, often times at very loud levels with rock music. They do go very loudly, cleanly, as there are seven drivers in each speaker sharing the load, but they are not ported (the drivers are the only source of sound) and the quote from the owner's manual about peak loudness is correct, if I recall. The comments about the ATC powered speakers are correct. The Revel Salons and Dynaudio Temptations, if you can find either of them used, would not disappoint you.