no speaker is ultimately cat proof. a 'man' cave is essential....after 30 years of marriage, and more animals than a circus, these are the painful facts
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Jaybo is correct. Unable to cat proof.
I kept my speakers covered in the plastic wrapping they came in when I wasn't in the room, listening. This works. So, get whatever you want.
But now I have a man cave, separate building(!!!), and this is not an issue in spite of the fact that we have 7 in and 2 out. I love them and I love my stereo.
I was at a friend's house once. He had a Siamese cat. We were in the kitchen. The cat walks in, sits in front of the refrigerator, looks up at the top of the fridge, and with one mighty leap, the thing jumped from the floor to the top of the fridge!!! My jaw hit the floor. I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself. Jumped from the floor to the top of the fridge!!! Supercat. No speaker is safe.
I caught my cat jumping up on my Spendor 1/2e speakers one day shortly after purchasing them. It was the first and last time she did it. Yes she is still alive (turned 16 today) and still has her claws. We came to a verbal understanding on that occasion, but just to be safe, when I am away for a bit I use BBQ grill covers on my speakers.
So just find a pair of speakers you like and get some covers for them. Plastic or vinyl will be better as cats aren't as fond of it.
When not listening I have put boxes from u-haul over my speakers but found it easier to wrap plastic carpet protector material, with the little bumps facing away from the drivers, around them. I attached Velcro strips to fasten the ends of the plastic together. It is an inconvenience but a necessary compromise to protect my Audio Physics and live with cats.
Back in the 90s I had a pair of Avalon monitors..We had 3 large maine coon cats.My girlfriend took large pillow cases and sewed a wide stick tape to them at different locations .When not in the room the speakers were covered and we had no issues .Cats hate anything thats sticky...But as stated the best is to have a dedicated room with a door that shuts..
Merlin VSM (used), may be a good choice in your price range.
You may also want to buy your Cat; a scratching post, cat bed, or other Cat toys and put some Catnip around those items to draw her attention away from the speakers, and towards something more pleasant. Although, Cats don't play by the rules!
You could spray her with a water bottle, or blow a horn if you catch her messing with your speakers. You could also tie ballons around the base of the speakers with string and if she pops one then, she probably won't mess with them again, but just make sure that she doesn't swallow the popped ballon.
You could also have her de-clawed, and I'm not taking about the Cat. "Only Kidding"
If you really must upgrade the Spendor Classic Series are really nice. I've owned three pairs (3/1, 7/1, and 1/2e). In your price range the 1/2e's come up fairly often. You'll want to budget for the Sound Anchor stands though. Also, check these out:
They have been modified but they are fantastic speakers for the money and floor standers. Spendor doesn't make them like this anymore. The cabinet was too expensive to mass produce.
Home-made pepper spray works for me. Spray the area around the speakers as well as the grills (remove the grills, take outside and spray generously). Here is the recipe for the spray:
Mix 1 cup water with about 2 tablespoons dry red pepper flakes (seeds - like the type you would shake on pizza). Microwave until very hot, but not boiling. Let steep and cool overnight (cover with plastic wrap.) When cool, strain off the pepper flakes.
Pour the brew into a small spray bottle for use.
The concoction will make your eyes water and you may sneeze when spraying, so spray quickly and leave the room. When dry, you will not be affected but your cat will not come near that area - ever.
This technique works wonders, is cheap and should not stain darker fabrics (like speaker cloth).
You can use this spray on the sofa arms (etc) as well.
I would recommend speakers with the drivers and grills high up on the cabinet, so that the Cat can't reach them with their claws while stretching on their hind legs.
A slippery, automotive type finish is also better than a stained wood finish that the can dig their claws into.
That's why I had suggested the Merlins.
There are a fair number of floorstanding speakers where the drivers are placed at the top of the column and the grille covers only that part. The Merlin is an example, so are some ProAcs and Wharfedale Diamonds.
A second alternative is to get speakers with punched metal grilles. AV123 currently makes some models that way and the later ADS floorstanding columns had punched metal grilles as well, including the L1090 and L1290, and the generation that followed including the M12 and M15. These were very clean and linear speakers in sealed cabinets, so there's no port either.
I got a pair of L1090's right after our first baby was born and I had no worries about her poking her fingers into the drivers or stuffing toys into the ports (cuz there aren't any).
There are several ADS speakers, including a pair of M15s in like-new condition (I've seen 'em and they are definitely 9.5 condition) available here.
If you're not using burlap sacks for grill covers the cat will probably ignore the speakers.
A scratching surface in his preferred orientation (horizontal or vertical) in the same room will be preferred because it feels better.
And if none of that works, there's always spray from a water bottle.
I've had a cat with various speakers for 9 years and no problems.
I'll assume you know your cat better than I do, but I thought I knew mine pretty well too until she made the 1m vertical leap from the floor to the top of the Spendor without a hitch. It was a fast and delicate exercise on her part. Not a scratch on the speaker as a result. On the other hand my other cat had no interest in leaping on top of speakers. Her forte was more like 2m plus leaps from ground zero to the top of cabinets and the like.
YOu can put a plant or something on top of a pair of OHM Walshes with no ill sonic effects and keep the cat from jumping on top with covers on.
Refurbed OHm Walshes with the older pyramidal shaped cabinets might prove challenging for Mr Jinx to knock over even if he tried compared to the newer, more slender cabinets.
Or, with covers off, the metal protective cage that encloses the driver would be fairly cat proof. Not to say if Mr Biggles is determined enough, he might not be able to scuff the black finish on the metal cages up a bit though ......
If he gets on top and gets the urge though, things could turn ugly!!!
Yeah, practically, don't let a cat run your life. Just give kitty a really nice and accessible scratching post in another room. If he goes where cats were not meant to be, a water spray bottle is the best solution. He'll probably put two and two together and stay away.
If its any consolation, I once owned 3 cats and a pair of beautiful Magnepan scratching posts and this solution worked just fine for me.
BTW, two cats may be better than one in this scenario. Nothing is more ornery than a bored cat! A playmate can help.
I Use Plinius 8200mk2 as well, and I have a pair of Spendor SP2/3R bookshelves. They are rather large bookshelves, if your listening room isn't too large, SP2/3R is a good all rounder. I have two cats on my own so i know how annoying it is. As i found out one of my cats jumped up the speakers at night, i now get some cardboards with spray on(called "keep off"), and leave them on top of the speakers overnight. Yet if your speaker stand is 50cm or below, cats can reach it, they won't understand why you are raising your voice and run toward them while they are having fun scratching.
Just experiment some smell with your cat, get the strong smell it doesn't like and place it on top and around it, so your cat will be conditioned to dislike that area, mind you cats only have memory related to feeding and hunting, for everything else, it's your effort to remind your cat on daily basis!