Can speakers be too good?

Now that I have over-improved my house, I am on to my stereo. I have what is, for me, probably my final 2 channel front end: Sony SCD555ES CD/SACD, Musical Fidelity A3.2 Integrated, Music Hall MMF7 table, Kimber Kable interconnects, Monster Cable power center. My thinking was to get the best quality electronics for the money, which I think I came pretty close to doing, and then concentrate on the speakers. I currently have PSB Image 7PT. I listen to mostly singer/songwriter, jazz, blues, alt country, roots rock. Mostly stuff that is not demanding in a dynamic or low frequency sense, but places importance on spaciousness, imaging, naturalness in the mid-range, etc. Also, my room is fairly small – 11 x 18 x 8.

My question for the forum: Is it possible to spend too much for a speaker to finish the system? (Within reason – I am not looking at anything in five figures.) I am a musician with a fairly well developed ear, but I am definitely not into chasing the last 0.5% of resolution at any cost. I have always been able to hear more of a difference between speakers than between electronics, although I can hear the difference between, for instance, my generic Sony DVD player, previous Cambridge CD player and Sony SCD555ES. I am thinking of a very high quality monitor in the $3 - $5 k range (basically equal to the entire rest of the system). Candidates would include Dynaudio Special 25, JM Lab Mini Utopia (used), Spendor 1/2e, B&W N805 Signature, Tyler Linbrook Signature, Totem Mani2. (Have heard some, but not all. Just giving possible examples in the price range.)

Does this seem like the right allocation of funds? Will I be able to get the most out of these speakers with my existing front end? (FYI - I am not likely to change the guts of this system anytime soon, although I would be open to tweaks/adds such as cable upgrade, power conditioning, outboard DAC, phono stage, etc.) All thoughts are welcome.
too good is better and too better is best.
It probably depends more on the particular speaker design than the cost. Used Merlin VSM-M speakers would be in your price range (and they are excellent), but they would show the limitations of your system and that's not what you are seeking.

I heard the Dynaudio 25's in someone else's system last week and I thought they sounded good without being *too* revealing, but I can't compare them to the rest. Unfortunately, it's really going to have to depend on your taste and preferences. The models you listed are all going to sound different (some extrememly different) from each other.
I think speakers can be too revealing. With Musical Fidelity and Kimber (and being a musician) you'll probably want a speaker on the kindly side. I know you say you're looking for a monitor, but listen to Vandersteen and Aerial in that price range and see what you like.
Price has nothing to do with good sound(with-in reason). It's all about system synergy. I personally chose some Von Schweikert VR-1 monitors over some used Revel Gem's, JM Labs Micro Utopia's and Dynadio 25 Specials after hearing them in my system at home. All the other speakers sounded good, but with MY system the VR-1's just sounded the most balanced and natural to me. In your system one of the other speaker I mentioned may sound the best to YOU, and that's what's important. It took me almost a year to finally decide on which speaker to buy, so don't rush it. If you want to spend a lot of money, fine. But don't ignore the lower priced speakers out there just becuse of their price. You may find a $1000 speaker that sounds better to you than the one's you mentioned (or you might not). That's what makes audio so interesting.....
Its not that speakers can be "too good" its just that top end speakers are so revealing that you will hear all of the problems in your electronic's which you have never noticed before. Then you start buying new electronics to match your speakers. In your situation I would try to get speakers which match your electronics. I fear that most of the speakers that you have mentioned might be "too good" and seem bright and unnatural with your electronics, although the Spendors might work..I agree with the Vandersteen recomendation.
The smaller Pro Ac speakers may work well as I have always been very impressed with them.
I also agree though not a monitor the Vanderstein speakers would probably be a good choice.
I don't sell any of the above speakers.
Your post indicates that you will not make the mistake of selecting speakers that don't match your electronics physically.
At the risk of being glib,as you are a musician,as you know your budget and we do not,listen to speakers till you find a pair you like in your price range,buy them,and don't second guess yourself.
Enjoy the search.
Another speaker you should look into is Green Mountain Audio's Europa. You can do a search on this site for feedback on these speakers (all of which is very positive). I've spoken to Roy Johnson (the designer and owner) and he's not only extremely knowledgeable, but is also a very nice guy.

FYI - I have no affiliation with GMA and have not heard the speakers myself.

You are, according to you post, a musician and you like vocals, so why not listen to one of the Harbeth lines, they are simply amazing speakers.

All the best.


I own the Green Mountain Europas. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with these speakers. I just heard the Von Schwiekert VR 1s 2 weeks ago, and they are just as good as the Europas, perhaps better base. Plus, the VR-1s are nice looking. Both speakers retail for aroung one thousand.
Scott- I am not a musician, but I listen to the same kind of music, and have Vandersteen speakers for years. My room is a tad larger than yours, but not too much. You could go with new 3Asigs in your price range, or a used pair with a 2WQ sub and then add a second sub later. Don't laugh, there is a lot to be said for adding the subs. But make sure you get the fixed value filters, after determining the best value for your system (assumming that your integrated has a pre-out and amp-in set-up). Otherwise, the Vandy 2WQ will not work, although its possible you could get the HT sub (forget the model #) and run if off of a line out on the integrated.
I will vote for SF Concerto Home line or older Signum, EA1/2, or Cremona Auditor. All are high resolution monitors with decent bass, musical without being too analytical or hyper detail, and under your price range.

EA II in particular might work very well in your room because it's not ported and can be placed close to rear wall if needed.
You should listen to Maggies and Logans. I Love how singer songwriters and folk type stuff is rendered with Logans. A buddy has Maggie 3.5's and they are also excellent. Both used are well within your budget.

Have Fun!!!
Thanks to all for the input. Some good speaker suggestions that I will look into and some good feedback on the general concept of system balance. I am particularly interested in the comments recommending British speakers (ProAc, Harbeth and Spendor are Brits, correct?) I always loved the Kef 103.2 when I was a starving college student 20 years ago and could not imagine spending $900 on a pair of small 2 way speakers. How things change, huh?

Is the consensus that my front end might need some warming up versus a very revealing speaker? It is so hard for me to tell with my existing speakers that are not revealing at all. I am cool with a “musical” speaker, by all means. BTW, several people suggested Vandersteens, which I know are pretty much universally loved and thought to offer great value, but they have just never done the hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck thing for me. It is all very personal, I know.

Also, given the difficulty of directly A/B’ing multiple speaker lines, what does everyone think of the concept of getting a well-regarded but inexpensive reference (Triangle Titus/Paradigm 20) and then bringing a series of speaker in to compare or even taking the reference speaker with me? Then it would move to the rear channel in my surround set-up. Just an idea I had. I know that acoustic memory is VERY unreliable and auditioning a bunch of different speakers on different days in different rooms with different electronics is hardly ideal. I used a journal with the same music in the same order the last time I did this, and it was better than nothing, but still not great.

Fun problem to have, though. It beats working.
don't forget the ATC speakers too. They're also British and are widely accepted by recording studios.
I would suggest, if you can find them to listen to, some Royd Audio speakers . They are a smaller british company and make some fine sounding speakers.

Castle, Rega, and Neat are some other british speaker companies to try. Castle makes classical british sounding speakers as does Rega. Neat Audio is unique becuase they use their own dome ribbon tweeter.

Good luck with your search!!

It is possible for speakers to be too good for your system. There are speakers that will not be right for your system or your room. I would guess you would be happiest with a two driver monitor. The simpler crossover (assuming you buy from a reputable company) should provide a smoother midrange. You will give up a little on the bottom end, but if midrange, imaging and soundstage are your biggest priorities, this should be a good trade for you.

More often than not, you will sacrifice the midrange and soundstage for deep bass.

If you are brave enough try a singe driver like the Lothars!
Funny Dave suggested Royd speakers because, as their slogan says, "The best loudspeakers you've never heard of... " I auditioned a pair of Minstrel SE with 12W of italian tubes and I was amazed at the quality of the sound. THey looked really puny, sitting there on the floor as I looked down at them, but man was the sound ever so life-like and big. Amazing bass too. Very impressive.

One day I will have a pair of British speakers like that. I am slowly finding out that in general Brits like the same type of sound I do. Otherwise, many good suggestions already listed above. Good luck! Arthur
I thought Audio Physic Virgo 3's sounded excellent with the 3.2 integrated. Better than Sim's integrated. Made me think about getting rid of my B&W.
I would stay away from ATC because the 3.2 will not have enough power. Same goes for Revel M20.