Zu just released a new model this year. I can't remember the exact model but it wasn't hard to find on their site since they only make a couple of speakers. I think the sensitivity was mid to high 90's.
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I found the Zu website and see they do have a bookshelf monitor called the 'Tone' that lists for $1,800 (more for non-black finishes). Their sensitity is an amazing 101db! I never heard of this company before; have you listened to them?
Paradigm does make some nice speakers for good prices. The main problem I have with them is the way they look. I don't think they are very nice looking.
The slightly larger Zu Druid has gotten great reviews all over the net. Search 6moons, Audiogon, Asylum etc. for many user comments.
Other very sensitive single driver speakers are made by Omega:
Again many comments available everywhere. Some other interesting speakers to look at: Spendor S3/5 (not efficient but easy to drive with tube amps), Reference 3A De Capo and Dulcet, ...
I like the Triangle Titus Es. Front ported. It is biwirable, 90 dB efficient and well within your budget. HiFi Choice Best Buy and Stereophile Recommended. The new Es model is bigger and IMHO better than the old Titus or Titus 202. Some say it sounds bright but not me, I think it sounds detailed, coherent and unboxy. Not warm, though, although it can sound lush enough. The 3 dB down point is 60 Hz. Exterior is fake veneer but a nice one.
Another nice one, more expensive than the Titus but with a gorgeous real wood finish, is the Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE. You can find different versions of this ribbon-tweeter gem, some with better crossover parts. Rear port, not biwirable. Not very efficient, 86 dB.
Tobias, thanks for the suggestions. I knew about the Triangle, but read some varying things about it... I just got the impression that it wouldn't fit what I am looking for.
The Aurum might be a possibility. It seems the Leisure 2 SE actually has an 88db sensitity, and the larger Leisure 3 is 89db. I also like the idea of the ribbon tweeter... and it certainly is beautiful looking. I have not heard much about this company, but will do some research.
Smeyers.. I wouldn't rely on what you read.. use your ears. If there is a Triangle dealer in your area where you could listen for yourself, you might change your mind. In particular given what you are going to be driving them with.
The bad rep about brightness was two Triangle Titus generations ago.. they got the hint by putting out a new line (202) which was virtually identical except for a new tweeter.
I have the ProAc Response One's and am extremely happy with them. Most of their life with me they've been driven by a 50-watt Audio Refinement Complete but I've also driven them with a reworked Sonic Impact digital t-amp that puts out 6 watts. You certainly can't play them at high volume with 6 watts but in the fairly small room where they are the sound level is quite acceptable. Either the Response 1 or 1sc is easily within your price range and all the ProAcs are beautifully made.
Thanks for the correction on the Leisure 2's sensitivity, Stew.
Forgive me if I sound like I'm labouring the point, but if you got a chance to
listen to the Titus Es with your tube amps, you might be surprised. I think it
goes extremely well with tubes. Because the Titus is clear but not warm,
there's good synergy between the two. YMMV, obviously, but a listen might
be fun if one came up.