Maybe Shahinian Arcs or Obelisks.
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Genesis made a speaker you might like. I forget the model, but they look like Wilson Watt/Puppies and sold for about 15k. The bass portion of the speaker has an internal amp, so you don't have to worry too much about under powering them. Probably the best bass I've for a speaker in your price range.
I agree with Zd's suggestion of 2nd hand Genesis 5.2 speakers. Fyi, the latest 5.3 is about $25kUS, however Gen 5.2's can be had in good shape <$10k. Here are a few other options..
I would throw in 2nd hand Graz-authorized resto'd Apogee Duetta Signatures. You can sometimes even find resto'd Divas with all the Graz upgrades circa $10k. Those resto'd Apogee's have surprisingly good bass & fit your sound description. Though bare in mind Apogees need plenty of room to breath & like a lot of power.
While we're talking panel speakers, i'd throw in Martin Logan Summit X. The Summit X borrows a lot of technology from the CLX & ticks all the boxes. ESL's don't like dust I hear you say? You can pick up a pair of these dust covers which will do the trick. Cheers to Spincycle09 for that suggestion.
Revel Ultima Salon 2. You can find these <$10k. The Salon 2's have one of the best beryllium tweeters out there which sounds natural and airy & has changed the perception of hard domes for many audiophiles. A great overall package & high end bargain imho.
I'll even throw in a 'roughie'. A Dealer is selling a pair of classic Infinity IRS-Epsilon speakers in good shape here on the 'Gon, asking $9500, though I would think you could knock $500-$700 off that straight away. The Epsilon was the last classic Infinity speaker produced by Infinity & was designed by John Miller and Cary Christie. The servo-controlled 12" bass driver has a sealed box, whilst the lower midrange, midrange & tweeter used a 'transmission line' to control the back wave, giving them a wide smooth response curve. The IRS speakers are fast, open, detailed & had wonderful 3d sound staging. Though bare in mind this speaker *must* be bi-amped & they sing best with big ss amps & a tubed preamp (preferably ARC).
Hope that helps!
"Full range, with healthy output to the low 30's." When combined with the lack of dynamic compression and spaciousness requirements (the latter calls for positioning away from room boundaries), a fairly large box size is implied here. Since the room acoustics dominate what's happening in the bass region, it would be nice to have some adjustability in the bass region to get a good synergy.
"Spacious..." Spaciousness is a complex topic, but briefly we'd want a spectrally-correct, well-energized, fairly late-onset reverberant field. And we wouldn't want a lot of energy in the early reflections because those will work against us in several ways, so a fairly narrow pattern is implied. Spaciousness is easier to achieve in a large room than in a small or medium room because the reflection pathlengths are longer, but if the speaker is designed to work with the relevant psychoacoustic principles, we can still get good results in small rooms. I can go into more detail about this if you'd like.
"...and detailed but not bright." This is largely a function of using a very good tweeter but not relying on it be the dominant feature. Some tweeter adjustability can help deal with variance in room acoustics (overdamped or underdamped rooms).
"Does not suffer from dynamic compression." In my opinion this calls for taking both thermal and mechanical behavior into account, and ideally designing in enough headroom that, even on peaks, we hit no more than 1/10th the driver's rated RMS or AES thermal power handling (not "music program power", and certainly not "peak power"). This is another topic that is fairly complex, so I'm simplifying a bit here.
"Grain free." High parts quality and competent design, as well as knowing what matters to the ears and what doesn't. Some things that look bad on paper are harmless, and vice versa. Evidence of what is causing grain and glare often are not seen in normal measurements, so we have to look elsewhere.
"Glorious midrange..." This is where a speaker lives or dies. I hear way too many speakers that have barky mids, or harsh upper mids. Presumably these speakers measured well, but I suspect the measurements were incomplete. In particular, you're unlikely to get glorious midrange if your off-axis response is poor.
"...but not at the expense of a taut but extended bass and a sweet treble." Everything has to be taken into account. A speaker must not only have spaciousness and glorious midrange and taut bass and detailed delicate highs, but (and this is the hard part!), it must not turn around and do something so wrong somewhere along the way as to destroy the illusion it has just created.
I believe speaker systems that meet your criteria exist, but then I'm hardly an unbiased observer.
Despite Duke's comments, some of your criteria are easier to understand than others. I have heard four that might fit your wish list - Audio Note, the current Zu Audio designs, Daedalus, and Living Voice. Living Voice might be the most bass shy of the group. But much depends on speaker-room interaction and placement options and listening positions. Others that I have not heard might include Duke's Audiokinesis.
You might check out NOLA KO. I believe there is a NOLA KO2 now. Look at this link.
I have the NOLA Metro Grand 2 and love it. I have heard the older KO which was great too, maybe a trifle darker than the MG2 which I have, but broadly similar. Both are very refined speakers. Open baffle for mid and tweeter makes it very uncolored sounding.
I think Duke (as usual) makes an excellent point. The OP mentioned that he's heard speakers that meet his needs, with the exception of low bass performance. Duke (correctly) notes that low bass performance is - in the world of full/extended range high-end loudspeakers - as much a function of room as it is of speaker. So subwoofers, which offer placement flexibility to suit the room, might be the right answer for the OP.
Duke's four box Swarm subwoofer may be the most flexible solution on the market, but a pair of carefully set-up quality subwoofers will also do wonders in most rooms.
BTW, low 30hz is effectively full-range for music use, IMO. Of the +/- 1500 LPs and app 5000 CDs that I own, maybe a handful ever hit 30hz. Only one (an SACD of a pipe organ performance) has dipped (barely) below 25hz on my RTA (which I leave running full-time these days, partly for this reason). Conversely, the Audyssey set-up sweeps always hit 16 or 20 hz (depending on where I set set my filter) with full out-put at the 75hz set-up level.
I haven't listened to all 6500 ish recordings with the RTA, nor have I stared at it continuously with all the records I have listened to with the RTA engaged. However, I have a pretty large sample under my belt at this point. There may be low level output below 30hz (which wouldn't register on my RTA), but a speaker that offers full range output at 30hz is going to to offer some meaningful output an octave down from there, and that should be more than equate for the task at hand. On that basis, I'd argue that full response in the low 30hz range is effectively full range for 99%+ of available recordings.
Thank you very much, Martykl.
I have Swarm customers who have found that their near-total placement flexibility makes the four small subs easier to accommodate into a living room than one or two larger subs, but that will of course depend on the specific situation.
I've found that even a little bit of distribution of bass sources within the room, such as having rear-facing ports at a different height from the front-firing woofer, plus the ability to adjust the tuning frequency, can add up to a worthwhile improvement. I recall delivering a pair of speakers to a customer who was replacing a very well-respected (and twice the price) pair of transmission-line speakers. I was apprehensive that this would be a very tough act to follow in the bass region. The listening room was modest in size and almost square, maybe 13 by 14 feet. I took that into account when choosing port length, and we set the speakers in the same place his transmission lines had been. One of the first things the customer remarked on when we first fired up the system was how much smoother and more natural-sounding the bass was with my rear-ported reflex box! Who'd a thunk it??
Point being, taking room interaction into account is beneficial particularly in the bass region, even if something like the Swarm isn't practical.
I forgot to mention another speaker which could be worthy, the Evolution Acoustics MMMicro One. I've heard them & they have amazing bass & sound punchy. Resolution of course is excellent & the speakers disappear and throw a holographic sound stage with the right upstream gear & cables. My previous Marten Coltrane Alto's were more extended in the frequency extremes, but for such a small speaker...remarkable.
If you can find them 2nd hand: S.P. Technology/Aether Audio's Revelation or Continuum. I'd say these speakers have the whole package; coherency, dynamics, musicality in spades, very open-sounding, capable of high SPL without strain, and bass extension with both models in the 20's.
Very importantly they also exhibit a convincing authenticity of tonality that lends body, texture and a tightly woven "core" to voices and instruments, a trait all too rare with even very expensive speakers.
This speaker brand is one of the hidden gems of high quality audio reproduction, but sadly they're out of production - at least, as is.
Keep an eye out for a set of Meadowlark Blue Heron 2's, should be about five or six grand, maybe less. These went up against an array of the $20K to $25k highly regarded speakers like Talon, Eggleston, B&W 800S, etc.
I like a double bass woofer setup, they typically have a tighter bass than a single larger woofer.
Meadowlark used high quality components found in speakers costing well over twice the price. They are wonderful vocal and instrumental speakers, but can slam the rock when that's what you want.
"They do most everything right, but are just boring to listen to."
I've had a pair for almost four years and they've never bored me."
I didn't say not to buy them, I just said to listen first. Revel sells a lot of speakers so it would appear that many people do like the way they sound.
For $12,000 and in your choice of veneer, you can have Seas' best drivers and 4 eight inch woofers, each driven by a 300 watt Rythmik amp. Play much lower than 35 hz! I own them and they are the real deal - Salk Exotica 3's.
Design 3-way with servo-controlled, self-powered woofer section
Drivers (1) Seas EXotic T35 tweeter, (1) Seas Exotic W8 midrange, (2) 8" long-throw woofers (self-powered, servo-controlled
Response ~20Hz - 20KHz (+/- 3db)
Impedance 8 ohms nominal
Recommended Amplification 10+ tube watts
50+ solid state watts
Box Alignment Sealed midrange,
sealed woofer section
Weight 133 pounds each
(not including spikes)
(HWD) 43.5" H x 10.5" W x 16" D
(not including spikes)
In january the new Monitor Audio Pl-300 will come out. They will have the best response in timing in their price range. Ceramic with alluminium mid en low freq. drivers. The low freq. drivers are connected from the centre, this gives it a much faster response. The new ribbontweeter is bigger and wider. This give it a deeper and wider stage.