Off your list I've only spent some good listen time with the Nola Boxers and the Hawks/Forrest. I liked both the Hawks/Forrest - decent sounding speakers and ceratinly fine for many people.
The Nola Boxers made a much greater impression on me and I feel compete with speakers costing much more than they sell for. If your a Bass freak, you will need a sub but otherwise, these are real charmers and I highly recommend you seek out your own audition.
I have listened on a number of occasions to the Nola Boxers, including at a local dealer's with our audio club and for a week in my 18 by 20 foot room in my system (amps are Lamm ML 1.1s). The Boxers are beautifully finished (get the cherry, the black gloss is too hard to keep clean) and are well-designed and cannily balanced to give a pretty satisfying, if perhaps a little warm, bass response while doing an excellent job of reproducing the rest of the frequency range. Jgwilson is right, though, for full-range bass you'll need a subwoofer. The Boxers do an excellent job imaging and at retrieval of detail, and it is only in comparison with Nola's far more expensive speakers utilizing an open baffle and ribbon tweeter (such as the Baby Grand References) that they can sound just a little "boxy" or lacking the last word in airiness and delicacy in the high frequencies (if this characteristic is high on your priorities, the Martin Logans (which I heard just briefly) are very good in this respect). They did a nice job filling my room with music; they can deliver good spls, too, but if pushed too hard they can get a little congested on full range complex orchestral works. Depending on your listening biases, they may be just what you're looking for; I think, though, that if you can afford them and you had planned on having the Boxers on stands out in the room anyway, the Nola Contenders offer the pluses of the Boxers in addition to a little better bass extension and smoother response in that region, and have a more relaxed presentation at higher spls. IMHO, of course.
IF you are auditioning the OHMS, be sure to allow adequate break-in time. Giving them some volume with a suitably beefy SS amp will help expedite that. Setup relative to walls is also important for the best imaging and soundstage.
OHMs set up well will never sound like a box design in regards to imaging and soundstage in most rooms. Its a different kind of presentation that one will either take to or not. VEry competitive with the better big floorstanders I have heard though and I have no envy there.
MLs I have heard are quite different as well but in their own unique way as well.
I have owned the Totem Hawks. It is a good speaker but bass shy. I now use Nola's Contenders which take everything the Nola Boxer does and adds an extra dose of bass.
However, the selection of an appropriate speaker is interdependent on your amplifier and your room. Don't try and select a speaker in isolation
I want to thank everyone who has answer this thread.
To KIWI, the NOLA Contender is about $2000 more than Boxer. I only briefly heard the Contenders in a very small room, and so could not reach any conclusion about their performance. Unless the Boxer's bass response is really anemic, it seems like the better value, and choice for my application.
To MAPMAN, YES, you are right, I have read that break in time is long with the Ohms. Whatever speaker I choose, it will only be used to change up the sound from my speakers, BUT also as a "possible" replacement for the Acoustic Zen Adagios which are very heavy, large, and dominate the room. However, they are excellent speakers
I may have mentioned previously that my concern with Ohm speakers OR ANY OMNIDIRECTIONAL IS THAT THE SOUND seems/is GIMMICKY, that is, too large and wide to be realistic, and which sacrifice accuracy and transparency to create this effect of sound "just being in the room" The question could be asked...."but where in the room??"
A omnidirectional and holographic soundstage reminds me too much of the old quadraphonic effect of the early 1970's, which was carried forward by Bob Carver Holographic Generator pre-amp pf the 1980's,... and today's surround sound obsession. Obviously, a soundstage beyond the boundaries of a speaker does give more of the sense of being there, instead of being outside the musical performance. There is or "was" a pair of Ohm-Walsh M-1000 for sale. They look nice and are definitely small enough to move around or tuck in a corner when not in use. Thanks again. Jim
Chances are you are not going to take to the OHMs with teh perspective that room filling sound is "gimmicky". Only in relation to the traditional box design. How is sound coming out of a box not a gimmick? Is that how sound works in the real world?
Omni's definitely take some time to get used to because they are inherently different. Once you "get" them though, it can be hard to ever go back, which can be a scary thing.
Starting off with them as an alternate to a more conventional design is a great way to test the waters over time and see.
I must agree with Mapman, omnis take some getting used to, but once you get used to them it is hard to go back. My speaker system is very similar in its presentation to an omni, and I have always liked the spaciousness and soundstaging of speakers like mine, the Ohms, Shahinians and mbls. I find it difficult to break away from that presentation, as it is one aspect of the reproduction of music through electronics that can, in my view, make a recording sound more like a real, live event (another being dynamics; there are plenty more that come into the equation as well), and one that I place a priority on. I will acknowledge that some of the soundstage is probably created by the speakers and the room they're in rather than an exact reproduction of the recorded venue, but there is still good image location and palpability within that soundstage, maybe not as pinpoint as with a traditional speaker but perhaps more like what you'd hear in real life.
All that said, there are different priorities that each person has in their listening biases, and I was impressed with the Boxers, I thought they were among the best monitors that I have heard. You will not find them bass shy unless you listen to a lot of recordings with significant output below 35-40 Hz, and in a smaller room their dynamic restrictions are not likely to come into play.
Thanks guys. Maybe "gimmicky" was the wrong choice of words. Unfortunately, the seller of the Ohms M-1000 does not have the boxes and does not want to take the chance of shipping them. I can understand his concern
Unfortunately, direct marketers place a lot of stress on themselves, and the potential buyer by the inhome trial strategy. I could go throw Ohm, but I would have to tie up $1000-2000 depending on the model and pay shipping both ways should I decide to send them back, which would run about $300; I am in Blue Hawaii, (not so blue today)
This dilemma of auditioning speakers in a showroom DOES NOT JUST only apply to DIRECT MARKETERES,but even to local audio outlets. I have often been chastized by members who declare that I should go out and just listen to speakers in question. Unfortunately, that is not a viable answer because unless you live in New York City or Chicage, possibly San Francisco, audtioning options are limited; unless, a buyer enjoys weekend road trips to other cities and audio dealesr.
However, my current dilemma, (if it is that at all) is not an emergency or serious, and so I 'll have to come up with another solution or just be quiet and return to my cave. Jim
Not to hijack the thread, but is anyone able to compare/contrast the NOLA Boxers to the Merlin TSM-Mmi?
"I will acknowledge that some of the soundstage is probably created by the speakers and the room they're in rather than an exact reproduction of the recorded venue, but there is still good image location and palpability within that soundstage, maybe not as pinpoint as with a traditional speaker but perhaps more like what you'd hear in real life. "
I would agree with this. I have heard some accurately describe it as taking the sound would would hear in the original venue as recorded and adapting that to your listening room. I think that accurately describes it and to me represents the best strategy for reproducing what you might hear live in your totally different room at home. It is not about sounding like traditional box/directional designs at all so I endeavor to not even go there except perhaps in comparison of specific aspects to other models.