Early stages of choosing replacement floorstanders


My room: Hard floors, hard walls, 12X19X8.

Material: Movies/TV most of the time, not critical sound. When I'm listening to music it can be Dire Straits, Enya, Nora Jones, Pink Floyd...I'm actually expecting my enjoyment of a wider spectrum to increase with a good enough system that will be involving.

Size: I have an accepting wife, but I do have a wife so living around the speakers is a factor. I can pull them into the room to a degree, but something closer to the wall is better. What I'm replacing is about 40X17X15, and I can go a little taller, mainly looking to slim down (seems to be the way speaker construction is going anyway, so that's ok)

What I've listened to so far:
PSB Synchrony 1's and Imagine T2's. Liked them both, pleasantly surprised by how good they sounded. The Sychrony has been a little enigmatic - occasionally I've felt it sounded slightly veiled, then other times it hasn't. Electronics and placement has been the same

Theil 2.7's - I think that was the number. Possibly due to placement, but they left me cold.

Vandersteen Treo's - Liked them very much. They were obviously far better set up, in their own room, with about $15K+ of Ayre electronics behind them. Staging was wonderful, involving, very impressed, but tempered by the disparity of set up and associated equipment.

Focal 1028Be - read some reviews, and stumbled onto a dealer with them on display. His set up most closely resembled my setup at home. Powered by Marantz. Liked them very much as well. Heard details and air in some of my recordings I had never heard before..(like the change of direction of the bow across strings, or so it seemed. Details like that) Involving and engaging. I am concerned about that tweeter in my 'live' room though. Definitely pushing the limits of size.

Various B&W's in months past - liked most of what I heard, but would need to relisten in light of more recent speakers I've auditioned.

the questions I'm throwing out to any past/present owners of these is how flexible can I be with placement, can I keep them within 18-24 inches of back/sidewalls? Should I be cautious of rear ported vs front?
Should I choose the speakers I like best regardless of store setup/placement, and then treat my room once I have the speakers, or consider the room heavily in my auditioning before I buy (would that Be tweeter on Focal become to strident in a more live room? Avoid metal dome tweeters? etc).

Budget is less of a concern than finding what I can live with for a while - I'm replacing 25 year old mains now - and used is viable for me. What I've listened to has ranged from 3500-8500. My sources are streaming or discs through an Oppo BDP103, Yamaha receiver for HT, to an Odyssey Stratos. I also have a Hsu ULS15 sub for movies.

I don't expect definitive answers, I'm looking to glean usable information from the wealth of knowledge and experience here that I don't have. Thanks in advance
english210
"Vandersteen Treo's - Liked them very much. They were obviously far better set up, in their own room, with about $15K+ of Ayre electronics behind them. Staging was wonderful, involving, very impressed, but tempered by the disparity of set up and associated equipment."

I have a lot of experiance with Vandersteen. You can get incredibly good sound out of a pair of 2's or 3's. Don't rule them out just because their not expensive. They also give you a lot of options with it comes to placement. Using the back tilt and the gain controls on the crossover, you should be able to get them to sound good in just about any reasonable location.

Just to give an example, I'll use my main system. I have the 2's and the 3's. Currently, I'm using the 2's because they work a little better in my room. Also, I have 2 Vandersteen subs that help out a lot. For amps, I have 2 Ayre V-5's. My digital source is a Wadia 861SE that sometimes goes directly to the amps, and at other times, goes through an Aesthetix Calypso. Even though all of those components are much more expensive than the speakers, the Model 2's have no problem keeping up. They're not a weak link in the system.

"Should I choose the speakers I like best regardless of store setup/placement, and then treat my room once I have the speakers, or consider the room heavily in my auditioning before I buy (would that Be tweeter on Focal become to strident in a more live room? Avoid metal dome tweeters? etc)."

Yes. Pick the speakers you like best unless you have a very difficult room. I find that in the upper frequencies, problems are delt with using proper equipment selection. As the frequencies get lower, room treatment becomes more of a factor. You'll find, though, that there can be exceptions that require that you do things differently, depending on the situation.
Dealer disclaimer

I have not heard all the speakers you have mentioned. We did sell B&W for some time though. I really like the PSB's. if I planned on replacing what I have at home now, that's what I would go with. Pretty hard to beat for the money I think. PM me if you want more info. Good luck.
You might check out the new B&W CM10 and am loving what I'm
hearing even though they are going through the break in
period. I have super high hopes these are my last for years
to come. They will pull music & HT duty as well. Retail is
$4k.
Not sure if most B&W's measure like this, but the measurements of the 804 Diamonds in the most recent Stereophile were far from flat.
Thanks for the responses. One main question remaining is will the PSB's and/or Focals create the same depth of stage if they were hooked up to the same equipment and pulled out into the room 4 feet plus like the Vandy's?

I listened to the CM10's over the weekend, and they sound good. The dealer said they're not broken in yet, and they obviously hadn't been fussy with placement in the room, but the side to side imaging was good, and there was more height than I expected - on one disc, one track had the vocals positioned very high, as if he was standing, another had him much lower, as if seated. I hadn't heard that before, and it was interesting. Potentially bodes well for further listening. The room was very 'dead', completely opposite what I actually have, though.
Hi English,

I have about 96 hrs logged on my CM 10's now, and the first
~20-60 hours they went through a rough phase in that they
sounded good but a little veiled, then after about 60 hours
started to really open up big time and are sounding better &
better. Now (today) I went & bought new speaker cables so
those will now under go break in, so I am just going to
enjoy the ride and let it all rip, but they are amazing
speakers and my keepers!
I received one of (if not the) first pair and have been
playing them about 16hrs a day, so I know the dealers pair
are not near broken in.

BTW, We also watched a movie on them last night and they
were superb which is very important to me. Dialog very clear
at low volume with a lot of power & dynamics when called
for. I do plan on getting a couple of subs down the line for
HT only.
VSA VR22's and VR33's are made for very close to rear wall placement.
Telescope, how are they sounding now. What speaker wires did you get?

Harley - thanks, I checked out their site a little last night, I'll check them out further - 90 day in home is appealing.
Plenty of good suggestions, to which you might want to add models from the KEF R series, Revel Performa3, Dynaudio Focus.
English210,

They are sounding just fantastic, my wife & I love them. I ended up getting a pair of the Rocket 33 biwire cables. Seems to be a great match. Just bought two new subs and am working on getting them blended in now.
You listed some good speakers but I would pass on any B&W below the 802d. I had a pair of 703s when I first got started. They sounded nice at first but as I learned to listen I heard their coloration. They were also VERY fatiguing.

I have demoed the 1028be and 1037be and own thiel 2.4. All are ok and different in their own way. I like the focal but wanted more bass impact.
I have a blind spot when it comes to KEF, probably un justified, and partly because they have some many options, I'm not sure where to start looking - and of course I haven't found a dealer yet. I'll work on that - they obviously have a strong following. Revel I'm interested in, but no dealers I can find close seem to stock anything. Dynaudio is a new-ish name to me, but one I'm seeing more of.

Good to here, Telescope trade. I liked what I heard initially.

I've heard a disparity of opinions on the 802D/803D comparison. Some say the 803D is quicker and more precise in the bass regions. Not sure if I'll stretch to 5 figures, but a deal on used...?? I have to be careful of size. I think 802D would just be too big. I listened to the Thiel briefly at the place that had PSB and Vandy's, and maybe it was placement on them, but they didn't do anything for me. They had the new 2's (2.7's??). I wasn't blown away by the bass on the Focal, but didn't feel I was missing much either. My main focus was on what I heard from the tweeter, though. I liked that.
How much of a factor is room size in my decision making? Not from an aesthetic factor, but from a sound standpoint. It is well known that a speaker that impresses in one environ, disappoints in another, and part of the difference is the room. What guidelines are there in terms of room size to speaker size from an audio standpoint?
Sometimes, with a lively room as you describe, less can be more. How about a pair of kef ls50's to start? Add 2 or more subs optionally later as/if needed.

Also check out the audiokinesis line. One of those might be a nice fit as well.