Best Two-Way Monitor Speakers under $700 New/Used

So, here goes. I have a good friend who needs audiophile recommendations (you guys) for two-way speaker replacement with a budget not to exceed $700 new (or used) for the pair of speakers. He will place the monitor speakers on stands - color is important. Expresso finish or black color is preferred because it matches his room furniture. With that in mind, let me know what you think. He's running a NAD integrated solid state amp (but I'm anxiously trying to convince him to purchase a tube integrated or separates). He has a Music Hall turntable and Morrow Audio interconnects and speaker cabling. I recommended Totem Mites, Dynaudio Excite 12 (used) and Paradigm. Any other ideas that come to mind? Thanks in advance for your help.
Those are all great recommendations.

I suggest he get out and do some listening. The favorites of complete strangers will not help him to develop his own ear for music and sound preferences.

He may as well do a search for $700 and under speakers and buy what looks good to his eye. He has the same chance of picking a winner/loser IMO.
Tannoy revolution DC-6 MONITORS; espresso finish
their performance was stunning and I bought them for my B system.

Their dual concentric driver configuration creates something special that needs to be experienced personally.
Check out the reviews and try to arrange an audition personally.
1. Green Mountain Audio Europa
2. Von Schweikert VR-1
3. Spica TC-50
4. Vandersteen VLR-1

Finding the desired color may be a challenge.

Every one of these speakers has its own set of virtues. It will be up to your friend to decide on priorities. None of the speakers in this list are bright. However, it seems Audiophile speakers today are bright sounding. It's the same old thing where the bright speaker during an audition wins out over the more natural sound. The majority of speakers are still designed for marketing, so advise your friend to be careful when listening.
I have a mint pair of three year old Spendor 3/5r's in black ash I was thinking of selling. If you are interested let me know. I would have to clear $700.00 so no paypal unless he pays fee. Great monitor. The price of these were 1395.00 new. Think about it.(860-583-5705)ask for Brett.
Hello everyone. Thanks for the responses. These recommendations are great! I'll share them with him and continue to monitor the thread for new ideas.
I own the Totem Mites and they require very good equipment with them to sound their best. They also do not put out a lot of bass. This may be breaking his budget a bit, but I would go for Ascend Acoustic Sierra 1s , which come in a Gloss Expresso, which is a stunning look. Ascend runs periodic seasonal sales and Labor Day is around the corner. I picked up my pair new for about $800. Outstanding speaker with exceptional presence.

The Triangle Comete ESs are often available and coherent from top to bottom and tube friendly, if that becomes a need.
Monitor Audio RX-2. Great sounding monitor. Is your friend considering adding a subwoofer?
Golden Ear Aon 2 or 3.
I don't think my friend will add a sub-woofer (at least initially, but I could be wrong). I think he would prefer to purchase a pair of efficient two-way speakers equipped with dynamic bass and mid-range capabilities. I really like Totem Acoustic Sttaf speakers but that price point is beyond his budget (even when you consider used equipment).
Those Spendors look like a good deal. Had a pair years ago and found them great. Kind of sorry I sold them. Great with solid state or tubes.
Monitor Audio at that price should buy a very good speaker, try to get the Silver series (in Black). I ran into an original pair of Merlin TSMs for less, but doubt you could find some today for less than $1,000-1200. I am using Hyperion 585s which are in your price range, Quest for Sound an Agon dealer is clearing them out so maybe you can get more Speaker for your money. Finally I'll mention NHT, most of their speaker monitors will cost considerably less but they may not be "Audiophile approved".
Monitor...misleading term used (being used) to mean exactly what?

You "monitor" with what you've got. Speakers used by professionals in most cases will not fit into this category. Now asking to find outstanding speakers for the amount specefied is a much more intelligent question.

Kind of like, years ago, asking if the "stereo is "hi'fi.""
Sonus Faber...Revel m20
KEF XW10B or XQ20B, list price $1500 and $2000 respectively, on blowout at for $700 and $800 respectively. Both in gloss black, all curved lines, which should fit in with modern decor. The Absolute Sound flipped over the XQ20s, and named both the 10s and 20s to their Editor's Choice awards that year.

Otherwise, I'd look at what's available from Dali, PSB, Epos, Mordaunt-Short, and Monitor Audio in his price range (unless he can score a used gloss black pair of Dynaudio Excite X12s). Is he allowing extra for the stands or $700 total? In that case he should probably shoot for $500-600 to leave room for decent stands.

As for an amp, if he's using a lot of digital sources he may want to look into a Peachtree with built-in upsampling DAC with multiple digital inputs. If a general purpose integrated (even with built-in phono), he probably can't do better under $1K than the Marantz PM8004. TAS review here.
Silverline Minuets. I will never sell mine, but I might give them to someone I like as a gift. I really enjoy these amazing little speakers.
Are you confused because there is a speaker manufacturer named Monitor? Otherwise it is used to describe a small speaker, which are frequently used by sound studios to monitor sources and playback.
I'd suggest your friend take a look at Tekton -- they make great speakers (including stand mounts) in his price range.

Mechans: Not at all. OP should have stated that if it was the requirement to have "Monitor Brand" product. Altec A7 is/was a monitor. Not small. I even had an opportunity to try and pitch a large Electro Voice to the Boston Symphony Orchestra about 1971, and sold some Altec 604s with cabinets to the Christian Science Publishing Company about the same time. So, size is not necessarily the defining factor, and not necessarily small either.
Gvsale: Since the OP mentioned that the user wanted something that would
blend into his decor and color scheme, preferably in espresso or black, and that
he would be placing the speakers on stands, I think that cleared up which use of
"monitor" we were talking about right from the start--a 2-way
stand-mounted speaker--the modern equivalent of a bookshelf speaker. Your
sweeping overview of all uses of monitor regarding playback transducers this
late into the thread is obviously not to clarify anything, but rather to give us a
history lesson and impress us with the circles you ran in 40 years ago.
Johnnyb53: Then I'm sorry for giving the impression, but then why does someone want to dress up the word "bookshelf" with the shiney "monitor" and make it seem that the term "misleading" has no validity? Is marketing the only thing that has value? In other words, any speaker maker now uses the words "monitor" and now that magicaly transforms what could be the most miserable drek into the "cats meow?"
Not considering the color, Tyler reference monitor would be a good choice. Sold used in audiogon at around $700. It is called monitor, but a bit larger than usual bookshelf speakers.
Gvasale: The use of the term, "bookshelf," has fallen out of use
because these smaller speakers are no longer designed or marketed as
bookshelf speakers. I.e., they are not designed or intended to be placed on

Bookshelf speakers are usually oriented for horizontal placement and have a
sealed or front-ported enclosure. The speakers of the OP have neither
restriction; many stand-mounted speakers now have rear-firing ports to get
more back wall bass reinforcement but they won't work that way if placed on

Technically one might refer to the speakers under discussion as a
"compact stand-mounted speaker," but that's four words and
seven syllables when in most cases "mini-monitor" or
"monitor" will suffice. There's not a word in the English language
that has only one meaning. Nor do meanings of words remain static through
the decades. Your strict definition of "monitor" was already
weakening by the '70s, four decades ago. The finer meaning of a word is
determined by context, and the OP was plenty clear on this: small, stand-
mounted, must be available in espresso or gloss black and fit with modern
decor. I think we can safely leave 140-lb. battleship grey Altec A-7s out of the
After reading your last reply, then doing a quick websarch for "bookshelf" speakers, I got plenty of hits from different brands, and only a few came back with the refined description of "monitor." But that's neither here, nor there. I have been also checking into what are also called "studio monitors" as well and I do see where smaller speakers than the JBL L100/4311 have come into play. Combining those particular trends and the fact that some pretty poor varieties of speakers have been used by recording studios to give passable sound quality for the boombox and step above variety. So we both understand each other, I assume and I'm being careful here. I also tend to think you're not angry trying to express your point of view either. But I'm not sure. I guess one can no longer just accept the request for "the best performing speaker for XX$"
Ascend Acoustic Sierra 1
Have a look at the Dali Zensor 1. Great sound at half your friend's budget.
At the beginning of this year I bought a brand new pair of Quad 12L Active stand mount speakers for $750 ($1,700 retail). Each speaker is bi-amped, with a separate amp for each driver. The detail, and dynamic capabilities of these speakers is truly incredible. Why waste money trying to find an amp that will have good synergy with speakers...when you can buy speakers that already have an amp designed for every driver in them.

They have an active crossover, which has tremendous benefits over passive, and a beautiful piano finish. I recommend checking out active speakers, as the bang-for-the-buck factor is huge. Unless you want to spend the time and money on separates...which admittedly, can be fun. :-)

My 2 cents,
I've auditioned the passive Quad 12L2's and they were very evenly balanced and musically engaging. The cabinetry is very nice. The active version avoids the possibility of a bad amp matchup. If you can really find some for $700 that would be ideal.
I had great results running a Musical Fidelity tube buffer between the Quad 12L Active and Quad 99CDP (which has digital volume control). So a tube preamp in front of the 12L Active should be even better. I also put mousepads between the 12L and the desk, otherwise they sounded "hard".
What do people think of MBS-02 from SVS. Its being cleared out at $399.
Sorry to add to the confusion....
@Wchang: Thanks for that information. That is exactly the setup I am working towards. I have the Grant Fidelity tube buffer I am going to use with them. It has cryo-treated 6SN7 EH tubes. I am planning on having a sorbothane vibration isolation pad between them and the stands. I just bought 2 pair of Totem Beaks for them as well. Lastly, I read that the DefractionBeGone pads make a huge improvement around the tweeter, so I will get some of those this winter too.

Good to see others that love these amazing speakers as much as I do. :-)
I agree with Telescope, Aon 2 or 3. You should here these.
@Branon: Those MBS-02 from SVS look nice. Impressive frequency range for a stand mount. Hard to find any good reviews on them, but for $400...why not try them. Easy enough to sell if you aren't a fan. The only caveat is they have a really low sensitivity at 82.5 dB, so make sure you have ample power to push them.

@Wescoman: Someone has a new in box pair of the Quads on Audiogon for $800. Maybe see if they would go to $750. You get $1,700 speakers, with no need to upgrade amps, for a song. Just an FYI.

Here's a test report of the SVS MBS-01, which is probably the earlier version of the MBS-02, as the cabinet dimensions are the same. The measurements indicate that the sensitivity is more like 87 dB and that it puts out usable bass to around 40 Hz.
Bose schlemiel speakers...the best I have heard !