Demo'd a few sets of speakers over the past 2 weeks...

Today I heard the Magnapan 1.7s at my local Hi-Fi. I was interested in hearing the new Maggie LRS, but this is the closest they had. It was good but didn't wow me. Big sound stage, but didn't have the punch and dynamics and bass extension I want. Don't think I will pursue the Maggies any further...
I also heard the KEF LS50s. I think they sounded more Dynamic than the Maggies, big sound stage and good imaging for such a small speaker. Great speaker for what it is, but again, didn't wow me.
These speakers were connected to an anthem tube amp and a rogue audio tube pre-amp with built in phono stage (same electronics as with the Maggies). I think this could be a nice pair for a computer desk for near field listening, but just a tad bright for me. Again fantastic for what they are.
Last week demo'd the Golden Ear Reference Towers (about 10K for the pair) and McIntosh electronics in the neighborhood of 15k total. I found it to be musical, but something seemed off tonally couldn't put my finger on it. I was left wanting more.
Lastly, I demo'd the Klipch RP600M as those had been getting rave reviews (folks saying the brightness had been tamed in this model). I still found the treble too bright and fatiguing so I will not be pursuing these any further either. Too bad, as I was hyping these up in my head.

I'll keep looking, but the current set in my living room are still my favorites (Vandersteen 2Cs from 1989). These speakers can still wow me, but want to see if I can do better for not a high cost.
Next, I would like to hear a pair of 3A sigs and Tekton DI. The later my be extremely hard to get a demo without buying them and doing an in-home trial.
don't know where you live but there is a SpeakerFest in Scottsdale June 29th....looks promising and interesting.
The VLR CTs sound incredible. Better than my LS50s and 2CE Sig IIs. The only speakers I really like more are the Treo CTs, but they are way outta my price range.
Me thinks you have good ears.  Now do yourself a favor and order the DI's.  An in home demo is really the only way to make the ultimate call.  So your out return shipping.  We find ways to spend that sum for far less fun. Would be surprised if you ended up exercising the return option.
What electronics was driving the Rp-600m? I recently got them and this is the first time I experienced horn, and they are a revelation with my Line Magnetic tube integrated
Divertiti has a point and I'd like to reiterate how important your amp, music style, and sources are.

Please share?
Revel M22's over KEF LS50's for me w/ tubes. Find the Revel's warmer.
I suspect you lacked enough headroom for the Maggies.  However, they will never have massive bass punch.  It is all about component synergy.  Enjoy your joirney!
I have the KEF LS50 Wireless, and at first they were bright... having only put about 30 hours on them, they have definitely grown on me. Matched with a warm tube preamp, and they sound great with my vinyl collection. To be honest, with my vinyl preference for classic rock, heavy guitar and instrumentals (Hendrix, Alt-J, White Stripes, etc), a small pair of Audioengine HD6s sounded fantastic for the price. I decided to jump into the high fidelity ocean and keep the LS50Ws. 

Now if I can just trade my Cambridge Audio Alva TT for a Rega P3, I’d be happy! 
LS50s are very cool speakers. I want a pair bad! Just not for my my main system. I’ve discovered about myself that I need to have full low end bass with room filling sound without strain. So that means a good size floor stander.

Been wanting to hear the VLR CT, but that’s another bookshelf. I have heard the Treo CT and that is the best I’ve ever heard, but too expensive as they are 9K now.

The RP600Ms were not being driven by anything too powerful (I think was a small ELAC deal) but I could tell right away that it wasn’t for me no matter what electronics I threw at it. I can see why people love it though. It also surprised me how much of a holographic soundstage it threw out.

The Maggie’s we’re driven by an anthem tube amp. Didn’t catch the model, but after researching it looks like the it may have been the Amp 1 (I knew was a used amp). If so it’s only 40 watts per channel and that’s not nearly enough for those Maggie’s. May have to give them another chance.

Now to find someone around here who has some DIs...
Maybe you should stick with Vandersteen. I've heard most of the popular contenders in this price range and just bought the latest 2CE Sig IIs. I couldn't keep ignoring that I was missing the realistic note decay that I only ever experienced with Vandersteen speakers (the cheapest ones at that - 1Ci). The Maggie 1.7s are capable of faster bass transients but that's the only advantage they had over the cheaper 1Cis IME.

You seem to really like the Vandy sound, so why not just go up the line with something like the 5a available here now?
I haven't heard them in a long time, but you jogged my memory of how Involving the Vandersteen's are, with no listening fatigue. I nearly bought some way back when.

For years I used to go to audio Shows in NYC, listen, listen, monster systems, OMG, Impressive, but never heard anything more involving than my existing speakers, (3 horns and 15" woofers, 16 ohm, super efficient). Until, finally, I heard JSE Infinite Slope Model 2's. Had them for years, then re-coned my old one's 15" woofers, new Rosewood enclosures, gave the JSE to my son.

I would say the JSE are measurably more accurate than my old ones, but, I never forgot the sound of those old ones, and still drive them with the Fisher tube amps they were paired with back in 1956. 

When you cannot forget something you heard (that you can afford hopefully) you will know it! 
I may get booed but I recently purchased a set of Polk LSiM707's bcuz to me they sounded much better than the Maggies, KEF's, Paradigms and Focals I auditioned. The lesson I learned is that more expensive isn't necessarily better. It's a matter of personal taste.

If you have an Eminent Technology dealer near you, consider giving their LFT-8b a listen. It has a pair of magnetic-planar midrange drivers (similar to those in Maggies, but with magnets on both sides of the Mylar, for push-pull operation, hence lower distortion) for frequencies 180Hz to 10kHz (with no x/o in it's range!), a ribbon tweeter for 10K up, and a sealed-box dynamic woofer for 180Hz down. An 8 ohm load to the MG1.7's 4 ohms, so a better match for a tube amp. The LFT-8b is also more punchy, dynamic, and full-bodied (less "wispy"). You can read a very comprehensive review of the speaker by Robert Green in TAS on the ET website.

Another way to go is to get a pair of the new LRS (only $650 plus shipping) and some subs. That combination may provide you with what you find lacking in the 1.7.

If you like the Vandy's you probably need to stay with the brand and go further up the line. I was never grabbed by their sound but know they're a love em or leave em brand.
you wanna upgrade a Vandy?
get another Vandy ¡!¡!
or maybe a Cornwall
For $6,000 buy the SALK Song3 Encore towers.  They sell direct only.  They do so in order to use expensive drivers and build great cabinets.  Problem is you will have to listen to them at a show.  Call Jim Salk and he will amaze you with his knowledge.  He is also not pushy.
Hello bstatmeister,

     A great combination to consider would be a pair of Magnepan 1.7i combined with an Audio Kinesis Swarm distributed bass array system to supply the missing bass impact and dynamics down to 20 Hz.  Here's an Absolute Sound review of the Swarm bass system:

     I use the Swarm system with a pair of older Magnepan 2.7QR speakers and it's a very high quality combination.  All Magnepans are fast and detailed speakers that are excellent from the midrange on up but lack the same quality bass impact and dynamics with the exceptions of their most expensive and top models.  
     The $2,800 Swarm system consists of four 1' wide x1' deep x 2' high 4 ohm 44lb subs with a single 10" long-throw aluminum driver in each and a 1Kwatt class AB amp/control unit that powers them all and controls the xover frequency, volume and phase of all 4 as a group.  
     This bass system is the first one I've ever used that's fast, agile and detailed enough to match these same qualities the Magnepans provide on the midrange and treble frequencies to seamlessly integrate as a unified whole that's capable of reproducing the entire audible frequency spectrum just like the larger and more expensive Magnepan 3.7 and 20.7 models do. 
     You'll get the sound of the best Magnepans for a total cost well under $5K.


After buying a Peachtree Nova 300  I wanted to upgrade from my B&W 585s and ordered the LS50s from the factory and tried them for three weeks. Sent them back way too bright and not enough umphf for me. I'm thinking Tekton DI myself and even Peachtree recommends as a great match with clean, full Fidelity sound.
You maybe able to get by with a single sub for the 1.7i , I also can't imagine going with a smaller Maggie will satisfy. I hate the idea of spending more on subs than on my main speakers.
johnto: "I hate the idea of spending more on subs than on my main speakers."

Hello johnto,

     I believe you're referring to combining a pair of the $2,000 Magnepan 1.7is with the $2,800 4-sub Audio Kinesis Swarm DBA system. For a total system price of $4,800, I'm not aware of any pair of speakers by themselves that would approach this level of sound quality.
      I'm also unaware of any single sub, regardless of size or price, that would provide the accurate, detailed, fast, smooth and natural bass that matches and seamlessly integrates with these same qualities the 1.7i's provide on frequencies from 40 Hz to 22KHz.  Virtually any single sub will sound slow, lagging and disconnected by comparison.  
     The Swarm's distributed bass array concept and the bass accuracy, detail, smoothness, power, dynamics and speed resulting from four relatively small (1'x1'x2') subs with 10"drivers are the primary reasons for the exceptionally good bass reproduction.
     Any concerns about spending more on this sub system than one's main speakers quickly vanishes once the quality of the bass is experienced.  
     The fact that the Swarm bass system will also provide this exceptional bass performance with virtually any pair of main speakers and in virtually any room also means you'll never need another sub or bass system....Ever!   This officially makes the AK Swarm bass system a bona fide bargain.

Those 5a's look mighty tempting, even though likely a great deal at $7500 they are still above my pay grade. They have always been on my speaker bucket list and I hope to hear them one day. I have a feeling I would be blown away by them.

My understanding is that the 3a sigs with a pair 2wqs get you most of the way there to the 5a's, and if I try hard enough I may be able to get that whole package for under 3k (used) not necessarily all at once and that's fine.

Other speakers I hope to demo not mentioned are the Ohm Walsh's 2000's or 3000's. but besides the Vandy 3as with the Subs It seems like the DI's could hit all my notes as far as what I want in a speaker, so I am itching to hear those.
If you do decide on the 5A's touch base with Richard and have him help you with properly setting them up.  You'll love them even if not set up properly, but set up correctly really improves things. Make sure the speakers include the high pass filters (silver box that goes between the amp and the speakers).
I'm also wondering if one of the main reasons I really like my Vandies is that they are time and phase correct. I don't think any of the other speakers I demo'd are. I think I might need to try a pair of Thiels to test that theory...any recommendations on those?
@bstatmeister have you heard of Tri-Art Audio? I heard these open baffle speakers at Axpona and they truly amazed me and at a price around the 5K mark. Just something to keep your eyes out for. They are on my short list to demo again.
I find the tonal balance of Vandys to be very much to my liking, unlike JT era Thiels. 

But I don't like them more than my current speakers, which are absolutely not aligned the same way. 
I don't mean to knock the Vandys, I only meant to say, for me at least, time alignment has not been something I seem to be sensitive to.

@bstatmeister If you’re looking for that magic your Vandersteen’s provide, I don’t think you’ll find it in the Tekton brand.

I did an in home demo of the Electron, the little brother of the DI’s. To me--in plain language--I thought they were big, boomy, incoherent, resonant boxes. My curiosity was satiated and I moved on...

If you love the Vandersteen sound get the 2ce Sig II, 3A, or Treo CT’s. I would personally look for a used set of Treo CT's if you can find a pair.

You were listening to the wrong Magnepans. Demo the 3.7i with 200 watt SS amps. Down the line add sub woofers. That would be hard to beat for the money.
Yeah, I think I may need to give the Maggies another try. It seems they may not sound very well with too weak an amp. The one I listened to was a tube amp at only 40 watts/channel. I think you need around 200 watts per channel if not mistaken. Dealer could have done a better job to represent these, I think.
bstatmeister's exact words yesterday:

"My understanding is that the 3a sigs with a pair 2wqs get you most of the way there to the 5a's, and if I try hard enough I may be able to get that whole package for under 3k (used) not necessarily all at once and that's fine."
bstatmeister discovers this the next day:
"Also, holy moly! Look at the deal over at the listings site: "

Hello bstatmeister,

     I'm your guardian angel, Tim, and your wish is my command.  Now get your butt out to southern Orange county, Ca and go get your dream used speaker system.  
     I gave it to you for under $3K ($2,800 used but offer $2,500 for the travel costs and I'll make it happen), I gave it to you all at once and I even threw in a pair of M5-HP inline hi-performance crossovers for the pair of 2wqs subs ($1,295 new) just because you've been so good since your embarrassing big screw up last year.
     C'mon, man.  I've been working hard to make this happen for you and you're still sitting on the fence?  If you don't take the deal the Big Guy's going to think I didn't do my job and be all over me.  You know, he's really not as cool as people think.  He's actually kind of a jerk and reminds me of a lot of Tony Soprano.
     So we understand each other, right?  I'm going tell you know who you'll be halfway to Forest Park, Ca. by Friday. Don't let me down cuz I can be kind of devilish, too; "Yeah, I could of sworn he said he wanted to be the Lobster Man in a traveling carnival and married to the Bearded Lady. You think I'd misunderstand a goofy wish like that?" 

You're welcome,
Angel Tim
@nobel100, Yes, LOL. My dear god, that is a f$%#ing fantastic deal. It's more than 30 hours round trip in my car. Besides the amount of time, the biggest hurdle would be my wife's approval (WAF :( ). I think I would need to convince her that I would sell my dad's fly rods to make up for the cost, or somehow get creative with that, but I am gonna see what I can do. Are you AKA  hikmer the seller over on the listing site?

Also, I assume these are the latest iteration of the 3A's? There are no other updates?

Hello statmeister,

     No, I'm not AKA hikmer.  I was just having a little fun and messing with you.
     But I was struck by how quickly exactly what you were looking for suddenly appeared for sale and at under your expected price, almost like you had a guardian audio angel.  It really is a great deal at $2,800 and you have the travel costs leverage to get it for even less. 
     It seems a shame to let a fortunate coincidence like that just slip away.
I know if you really want the speakers, you'll figure it out and make it happen somehow.  You could always fly out and rent a nice SUV for the ride back.  Take your wife on a small vacation to Newport Beach for a short stay at the Newporter hotel.   Live a little and have some fun!

Best wishes,
Hi bstatmeister, I have the 3a sig, pair of 2wq subs and m5hpb ("b" for balanced xlr version) high pass filter combo that I put together over time. I can tell you that the 3a sigs are full range without the subs, rated down to 26 hz I believe. They sound great on their own. The subs with m5hpb crossovers not only adds the last bit of deep bass but because of the way they are implemented with the crossover between the preamp and amp/s they improve the sound of the main speakers by removing the bass load starting at the amp/s, in fact as mentioned this combo gives about 90% of what the 5a has and can be assembled as funds allow. You can even add one sub at a time. The 5a’s are more elegant solution with 2 boxes instead of 4 however. The 5a’s are basically 3a sigs 2wq’s combined in one box.

Personally I’m sold on the time and phase correct concept. I wish more company’s would pay attention to it.

And ya that listing for the whole package is a fantastic deal! Good luck with your choice.
Oh and as far as I know there are no newer versions of the 3a sigs. The signature version was an update to the 3a.
The 3a signature and Magnepan 3.7i are in the same price range.........
You really need to listen to the SALK Song3 Encore's at $6,000/pair.  They will simply blow your mind.  And no.....I do not represent or sell SALK speakers.
Try the ATC line , they sound real
Have a listen to Focal Electra 1038 BE, just bought a pair which are well priced and rejected the Martin Logan Electrostatic Hybrid. The Focal sounds awesome but does need quality amplification and pre amp.
I had Vandersteen 4s in the mid-'80s w/all tube preamp & amps (SS on the subs only) and that remains the best sound I've yet heard from big-time speakers. That is to say, I've certainly heard way more expensive gear, and sometimes the sound was amazing--but I can't really say it was more satisfying than those Vandies, perfectly scaled to my room at the time.

It has been all smaller 2-ways + sub in home office since moving to this house in the '90s. And the best of those speakers that I've yet heard is the ATC SCM12 Pro. Those are passive studio monitors w/a 6" bass/mid. Amazing sound--accurate, detailed, but humane & musical. In these ATCs I clearly hear the higher resolution & refinement of audio as designs have evolved in recent years.
Oh and as far as I know there are no newer versions of the 3a sigs. The signature version was an update to the 3a.
At one point they changed the 3A Signature midrange driver to the current one with the woven plastic cone. Vandersteen is known to make changes without changing model designation. 

Another unpublished, rather recent change is they no longer use gold-plated terminals. 
I got a pair of Dynaudio Special 40’s a couple of months ago. They really are special. Might want to get a listen to a pair. I’m driving them with a Naim SuperNait 2. I’m extremely happy 😊 
Regarding the Klipsch Reference series. They need a lot of run in before the upper frequencies mellow out. Proper setup is also important. I'm guessing that the RP600M you heard at the dealer had neither. Matching to the proper amp also helps as with any speaker.
Anybody have Devore’s on their list?.
Hi OP, Richard Vandersteen produces a great speaker and great value. One way to lift the performance is with subs but not just any subs. His own subs are expensive and I believe you can do better. One of his will just add bloat and boom to the power response and 'may' provide reasonable sound at one spot in the room.
noble100 has wisely suggested using multiple subs which is the only way to get truly good bass regardless of the main speakers' bass response. There is much to read on the subject, and I recommend you do. I could go on at length.
Perhaps take the time and look up Rythmik Audio. Brian Ding provides servo sub solutions that can be bought ready to go or as kits. Also GR Research. I have found Rythmik more helpful. The kits are a bargain and the dedicated plate amps are configured for fine adjustment

Servo bass is the best I have heard and Open Baffle subs the best of the best and would be a perfect match for electrostatics or planars. Now that I at last have a house I will be building OB subs to partner my Tannoys, also OB.
At the 2019 AXPONA, which unfortunately I did not attend because I live in a different country, many show reports mentioned the OB servo bass by, I think, Sound Insight partnering GT Audio Works planar speakers. The full towers, 6X12" drivers per side run about $28K a set. Read the rave reviews. Servo bass often awarded best of show at numerous venues.

The parts for 4 drivers and 2 plate amps excluding cost of wood, glue and finish for 2X 12" servo per side when I looked a few years ago was under $1500! These 2 will easily fill my 16 x 22 ft. room. The OB drivers are 16 ohm and 3 per side paralleled is popular. Then add in 1 or 2 more to balance the room. I helped a friend build and install OB subs and 2 sealed subs in sand filled enclosures because he watches movies a lot. Slamming, tight and awesome. No bloat or boom. Servo precision  Use something like Omnimic from Parts Express to measure and remove guesswork in positioning the subs. Its needed to optimise room treatment which is essential