Having had my NAD C370/Canton Ergo RC-L for two decades, im now up for a very exciting and an serious upgrade. The Ergo is true full range, but a bit sharp in the treble, the combination gives a warm, intimate sound (a bit small soundscape, midrange with drawn, details ok), and by the way my Audeze LCD-2.2 with Burson Conductor Virtuoso sounds amazing to me.
Have spent quite some time auditioning speakers in different sizes, price ranges, brands, both here in Stockholm and last few years i was living in Singapore (Adelphi is a 6 story shopping mall with audio and high end only stores - go there if you get the chance!! ), ive made the following shortlist.
- Focal Sopra no 2 or 3 - Focal Scala Utopia v2 - PMC Fact 12 - Raidho C-2.1
- Kef Blade 2 - Wilson Audio Sabrina
i listen to Drum´n´Bass, EDM, Compressed Pop, Contemporary and classical jazz, some blues, opera and classical and modern and old fart rock. No LPs or CDs, only FLAC and lossless streaming.
Music and how the artform and the artists having created the music (-art piece) - moves me, affects me emotionally either by the fun and joy it creates or just being touched. I want the system to communicate feelings rather than presenting facts. Music and musicians play for me in the room, things should feel they happen in the room (in contrast to feeling transported into the recording, to another place) Slight warmth and very slight forgiving preferred to perfect neutrality. Electronics? my NAD M51 and the Mac Mini + Amarra will stick for a few years but i intend to buy ML, Pass Labs, MBL, Boulder, Burmester, Bryston, Plinius (also preferably demo or preowned) depending on which speaker i choose.
Live in Stockholm and will buy in europe, either new, demo or pre owned (thus the huge price range from PMC fact 12 to Scala Utopia 2 for example).
havent had the chance to try any of them in my 5,5x4.2 room (23sqm) with 3.1 ceiling, will move in a year or two and expect 25 - 40 sqm livingroom or livingroom+kitchen in the new place)
Have listened to most besides Kef Blade 2 (heard Reference 1 and 3 though), and Raidho only the XT2. The others ive listened to in different rooms, with different electronics (often weeks or months apart .... )
Anything ive missed and should include? Any recommendations or suggestions how the speakers compare, and in home conditions and after owning them for a while etc? Any recomendations on matching with electronics etc.
hifishark.com is awesome for second hand by the way!
thanks in advance, anny comments, suggestions or feedback apreciated !
Based on your price range, and taste I'd highly recommend checking out Legacy Audio speakers that fall within your budget. Not sure about their distribution in Europe. I just bought a pair of Signature SEs, they are mid tier, extremely resolving and musical at the same time. And sound great with all genres, which is the important part. All the upper tier speakers have the same AMT tweeter section but vary the mid-woofer and woofer units to get different responses.
Ahh... difficult to say. they are all incredibly good, and since the rooms where i auditioned them also adding different electronics, it makes the call a bit harder even.
Listened to Sopra No2 in a small room, 18-20sqm room with Naim and i wrote it off my list, then last weekend i spent 2 hours with them and just couldnt stop (100sqm and expensive Reimo electronics)
find PMC Fact to be very agile and live, but somewhat constrained compared to Focal, that could be good actually, perhaps a bit more organic. And the midbass is a bit weak, so kickdrums might not kick. besides they have the smallest footprint and easiest to get to blend in in the decors of a room.
Scala Utopia fleshier in bass and much more refined and detailed in upper highs but Sopra seems to have a larger soundscape and also guitars and voices sound a bit more coherent. Utopia definitely more high end and bigger and more dynamic but again Sopra is better on a few things. Sopra no2 doesnt sound like full range, its close but rolled off in lower frequences.
Between the Focals, it sounds like you're making the right call. My Focal dealer tells me he's moving the Sopra 2s out as fast as he can get them in - there must be something special about them. Would advise staying away from the Scalas - they have a pretty hot treble and can also be quite sibilant with female voices in particular - you need very high end stuff to make them behave but even then you can't make the obvious issues disappear entirely (I have to shelve down the treble which takes away some sparkle). The V2 is kind of weird since it didn't fix any of the real issues with the V1 and they already knew how to fix the problems since they aren't present in any of the other speakers in the utopia line.
Out here in Southern California I have had the opportunity to hear most of the speakers you have listed. I liked the Focal quite a bit but the best of the bunch for me was the Blades. I have not heard the Blade2 (only the big brother) but it looks like this maybe the best option for a normal sized room. I am going to go out and hear the Paradigm Persona 9H before my next speaker purchase. I will do this in Toronto in a few months since it is very hard to locate a dealer in my area with the 9H. It will take a lot to make me change my mind from buying the Blades.
I went to hear the KEF Reference 1 and 5 a few years ago because I loved the Blades so much. I was not as impressed with these speakers as the Blades. The way the Blades present the sound seems so realistic to my ears. The KEF reference line seemed more like normal speakers. Similar in sound presentation to many of the speakers you have listed.
Anything ive missed and should include? Any recommendations or
suggestions how the speakers compare, and in home conditions and after
owning them for a while etc? Any recomendations on matching with
You'll need good bass for the type of music you listen. If you can find a good used pair of Genesis V's, you may want to consider them. Best bass out of any full range speaker I've ever owned. The mids and highs are great too, but the bass is incredible.
I think an Ayre/Vandersteen combo would be a good choice as well. The 2 brands work so well together, you need to hear it to believe it. A pair of Vandersteen Model 2 or 3's, with a pair of matching subs, driven by Ayre 5 series electronics will probably be the last you ever buy. Its only fair to note that I have a very heavy bias for these 2 brands, and everything I just recommended I own.
Aerial would be another good choice. They play very loud and clean, and have tons of bass.
One last general recommendation I would make, is to buy a system that suits your needs.A common mistake a lot of people make is they go around and demo gear with a bunch of high end recordings, and when they take the system home, they don't like how it sounds when listening to the music they actually listen to. Some of the speakers you listed above are very unforgiving and probably won't match well with your music. Expensive "high end" components are not always the right choice.
As we discussed once before, we would welcome you to visit our showroom in Jersey City to hear both the Blades as well as the Paradigm Persona 9H in the same room at the same time which might make it easy.
Both the Blades and Personas are remarkable speakers that rival the $70k and above reference Wilson and JM Labs products, for a lot less.
With that being said both are tricky, the Paradigms have such remarkable transparency you have to tune them with warmer electronics, the Blades use side firing woofers and their bass quality and quantitity is affected more by room placement and configuration, they too have great clarity and dyanmics but are a bit less transparent and throw a gigantic slightly less holographic sound stage. Bass on both speakers is amazing, the Personas bass is a bit tighter and a tad more dry. The Blades bass is truly spectacular with a bit more thump.
Our pairing of the T+A electronics with the Personas is a stunning combination with remarkable clarity and a spooky holographic feeling.
In our experience, the T+A equipment reprsents the highest quality electronics with some of the most uniue technology and some of the best sound you will ever hear.
The T+A integratred amp at $19k was compared to $120k worth of CH precision equipment, in the TAS review, March 2016 issue, you can read it on line, and Allan Taffel was having a hard time differentiating which was better. There are very few affordable amplifiers that can play at that level, the T+A gear is such.
T+A runs their solid state devices on high voltage rails which mimics the sound of tubes but without their limitations, add in a massive power supply and the amp produces 300 watts at 8 ohms and 500 watts at 4 ohms and basically appears limitless. Combine that with a huge sound stage and a warm midrange, this is truly amazing gear.
You can compare the T+A gear to Boulder, CH Precision, Dagastino, and you will find that their equipment is in that uber league yet costs considerably less.
No Bar81, I don’t. This gentleman is inquiring about Blades which we have a lot of experience in and Personas which we also carry.
As per shilling, not even close.
My personal feeling is along with our store owner, is that the Blades when setup properly rival a lot of way more expensive speakers, now same with the Personas.
However with that being said, you almost never hear prospective clients on these forums talking about the Blades, what you hear is Wilson, Rockport, etc.
We were at the NY audio show in 2013 and we listened to the $107 YG and they weren’t better than the Blades at $32k.
Most of the audio press is more beholden to their advertisers and very rarely will you ever hear that kind of honest expose that a product from a more mainstream company is building as good or perhaps better product then the boutique companies.
I am not saying Wilson, Rockport, Magico aren’t great speakers, we recommend that people listen to those brands as well as the Kefs and Personas.
Also if you have been following this thread the OP feels the same as we do.
I am just so sick and tired of hearing that company X is the best speaker when there are alternative sometimes at half the price that rival or may exceed their performance, and snobishness and eliitism is what is holding these brands back not performance.
I have never said that my brands of speakers: ATC,Dali, Kef , Legacy,, Paradigm, PSB, Gradient, Tannoy, etc are the best speakers, I have said that in many ways some of our speakrs, in particular the Blades and the Personas, may rival or in some ways transparency, and image holography may actually improve upon some of these others brands and do so for considerably less.
You can see the vitrolic attitudes when one guy met my friend and store owner, at an audio show and was pissed off that Dave was presentinng the Usher BE 10 as a rival to Wilson at $7k less.
Our store philosophy has always been about finding amazing products and were ever possible find products that perform higher then their price points.
It is our opinion that many stores sell by brand not by sound.
I would put it to you that how many $19k products have been compared to $120k worth of really expensive Swiss electronics with the conclusion of the reviewer being that the $19k piece was so close to the big rig that he had trouble determining which was constantly better.
If I was a regular consumer I would be reallly interested to check out that product and or brand and not sit back in my little ivory tower and not question about a possible upgrade if that product made sense.
Too many audiophiles will never question if there is something new and better from a different brand or one of these new vanguard products from the larger players.
All I know is we are commited to finding value as well as extraordinary products at sometimes at way lower products.
You don’t know us and you certainly don’t know of our motives gee Bar I wonder if I read your posts what brand of products are you enthusiastic about. If you are on the East Coast and you want to come in and meet us please see for yourself the kinds of products and sound we can make and then judge for yourself our character and motives.
Sorry for the off topic I was responding to ZZsatntabarabera
This is an interesting list, except that the Sabrina should be Sasha in the same ball park.
Kef Blade 1 is more competitive vs Scala Utopia.
Blade more deep bass, plays louder, more focused image
Scala, more transparency in the highs, a bit fatter in the midrange, a punchy, airy sounding speaker, it depends on what you like the Focal's Beryllium tweeter is more detailed and a tad more airy, Blade ones sound bigger with more deep bass. A harder call with the Blade 2,
The fact 8 is a nice speaker less magical in all ways then all of the others, nicely balanced smooth treble tight tuneful bass.
WIlson Sabrina or Sasha tweeter not as good as the Scalas, punchy big soundstage, not as articulate as the Blades or Scalas, a great rock speakers. I would probably take the Scalas, as the treble transparency is better, The Focals don''t have as precise an image as the Wilsons.
So it comes down to what you prefer, these are all great speakers, I would go for the Scalas or Blades.