I have Reynauds - the Evolution 3's.
I am in New Zealand.
I listened to everything in this country under NZ$15,000
They were easily the most musical and balanced.
Very immediate and emotional, great sound off-axis (the unbaffled tweeter), well-integrated drivers.
Seductive, warm, sweet - not the ultimate in transparency.
Jean-Marie Reynaud himself recommended I get the Plinius 9200. I already have a Bryston B100SST.
I am very happy with them.
If I were to ask for something more:
The bass is not super-tight but warm.
I listen only to acoustic music, so that's fine.
The treble is rolled off a little.
Sometimes I wish they had a bit more extension up top.
The new Orfeo is designed to address these wishes.
I have not heard them.
Bob Neill nailed them in his reviews on Positive-Feedback.
Write to him - he has been very helpful and straight-up, even though I am in New Zealand.
I have owned the Merlins TSM-MX's and now own the Harbeths SHL5's. The Harbeth's should be on your short list to listen to. I like the Harbeth's better.
I second Eril..,
The Reynauds are loudspeakers for life.
I listen to music most of the day ( at home ) and never experience any fatique.
They sound good in any part of the room so your not stuck to a 'hotspot' position.
I can't comment on the other brands since I haven't listened to them but you should have a listen to Reynauds.., whatever model.
BTW.., I'm running my Offrandes with Plinius.., a fine combination.
Good luck and lots of wisdom..!
The Merlins are a world class speaker. The quality of components, fit and finish are hard to beat at any price. Best of all, you get the support that is unrivaled. Bobby will be personally available to ensure that you match w/appropriate gear, and get the sound that you are intending.
With the TSM-MXs and a good tube integrated, you will likely be amazed. Natural timbre, transparency and immediacy are a few of the many strengths of the TSM-MX.
I own the VSM-MX and have heard the TSM-MX countless times in numerous systems and rooms. One thing is constant, the Merlins will allow you to focus your other upgrades around them, and let you hear the subtleties that each component brings. They draw you into the music like few components do. Cheers,
I have heard the Fountaines and while they are a good speaker I would not call them a great speaker. I have not heard the Reynauds.
I have Merlin VSM-MX's and I love them (as do many others on this forum). They have the esotar tweeter and do not have a large footprint. Merlin's are musical, well balanced, transparent and non fatiging. I think that they do best with tube amplification. They are also very well finished. I encourage you to read on this forum and audioasylum.
My understanding is that there is a very well matched integrated that perfectly complements the Merlins, it is called the Filharmonia and its retail cost is $3500. My suggestion is that you call Bobby Palkovic at Merlin and speak to him.
Yes, the integrated is from Ars-Sonum, a small company in Spain. I've heard some great things about it. It utilizes the JJ E34L tube, which was the winner in a recent tube shootout that a number of my friends conducted. Has custom output transformers, low negative feedback and high quality parts such as Mundorf silver-in-oil caps.
I look forward to hearing it! Cheers,
I also want to say that I have heard the VAC Avatar Super and it is indeed super.
pluto, do you have a $$ figure you are trying to stick to? reason being, you can spend surprisingly little and have a joule / merlin setup. the joule electra vamp integrated is a great integrated and a superb match for the tsm's. i bought my integrated vamp on audiogon for $1000. it is ridiculous what they are going for compared to what you get. jud stopped making them because he was losing money on them. and they sold for $3500. pick up one of those and a used pair of tsm's and you've spent about $2,500. i cannot think of a better speaker / integrated match for $2,500. but the point is it's not just great for the money, it's great by any measure. it's the sort of thing that can make a guy scratch his head when he looks at his 5 figure otl amp. i think that setup is one of the "secrets" with the tsm's.
in fact, i'll go one further. take the vamp integrated, tsm-mm, and mate it with the parts express sub. that's what i plan to do. my room can handle a sub though so keep that in mind. i plan to setup my tsm-mm in the same room as my vsm-mm speakers (in place of) and do a little comparison. integrated vamp, tsm-mm, parts express sub v. vsm-mm, joule vzn80 otl, joule lap-150 pre. huge difference in price. huge difference in enjoyment??? i will probably play with the sub with the vsm's as well. by design, there are things the tsm-mm cannot do that the vsm-mm can but i expect it to be a super setup.
bobby has said on more than one occassion that the tsm-mm actually betters the vsm-M (not "MM") from 50hz up. keep that in mind when thinking through what level of performance you are getting with the tsm-mm versus other things you are considering.
i also have the merlin vsm-mm's with the superbam and they are the best speakers i have ever owned. i went from paradigm studio 20's (still a fave in many ways), to dali grand coupes, to amphion xenons and have gotten off the upgrade highway with my merlins. they are clean, punchy and not the least bit fatiguing. my xenons went down to 28khz and the merlins do not, but to my ears, i'm not missing any bass--at least not in a musical sense. i am running mine with channel islands d200 amps and a modwright preamp. when i hit the lotto i will go with some joule/berning stuff but for now my ears can't tell the difference.
I have the Fontaines with an Opera Audio Consonance a120 Hybrid Integrated and I love the sound. My room is so huge I have to replace the a120, but the sound quality is great. The a120 uses a Sovtek 6H30 in the line stage for a dreamy sound, but solid state power adds a very nice punch. Great combo IMO.
You should really hear the TSM's, we're just die hard Merlin fans but does not mean it's the speaker for you, the VSM doesn't take up any more footprint really over the TSM but oh, oh, oh! There must be somebody near you with a pair of these.
I would go with either the Eggleston Fontaine or Merlin VSM.
I have owned most of what is mentioned above personally. They are all good suggestions, but you consider auditioning the 2 mentioned above. The Eggleston Fontaine with the Jeff Rowland Concentra is to die for if you need a warm and detailed sound, if you want more attack go with a Krell 500i or something and its absolutely enjoyable, I can NOT describe the sound, its just so much fun to listen, every CD sounds better than the prior...
The Merlins are easier to match since they are actually smaller in footprint size. The Eggleston are heavy for bookshelfs so..... but overall I prefered the Egglestons..you wont go wrong with either one for sure :) Good luck! Speakers of Esotar Tweeters, dont forget the Sonus Faber Electa Amators mk1 as well :)One of my favourites!
Pluto, my advise to you would be to use the system that Merlin showed at the Stereophile show in NY this year - Merlin MMX speakers with the SUPERB Filharmonia (tube) integrated amplifier. This was one of the best sounding systems I have ever heard at any of the major shows for the past 5 years! Absolutely breathtaking, musical, and non-fatiguing - in a far higher league than either of the Egglestons, which aren't bad, but suffer in comparison. This is a system one could easily hang onto for life!