Excellent Speakers for Classical Music - $2,000 USD Budget


Hello All...I am primarily a classical music listener, leaning more towards solo piano, symphony/orchestral, and chamber music. I have a Rotel A14 integrated amp in which I plan to add mono amplifiers to at some point in the future. I let a pair of B&W 804 Nautilus Speakers slip through my fingers recently. There is a B&W 804 Matrix set for sale near me, but don’t know if the Nautilus are better than the Matrix. So, I let a good pair slip through my fingers. But, it got me to thinking...Are there any other brands that I should consider besides B&W? I had in mind to audition Magenpan and Martin Logan electrostatics. Seeing that I only want to spend around $2,000, does anyone have any ideas?

In my office, I use Adam A7x nearfield monitors with ribbon tweeters, and for headphones, I love my Sennheiser 800S’. I like a nice detailed, clear, and forward sound. Would another ribbon tweeter floor standing set do it for me? Electrostats the way to go?

Looking forward to your suggestions.
D8a2362d 8d6c 4551 88e9 a5ad8e652e6ddfwbach
There is a pair of Aerial Acoustic 6Ts on eBay for $2500.
I owned ribbon and electrostatic for most of my life… always pursuing that ethereal magic. I got season tickets for the symphony about ten years ago and have attended religiously since, 7th row center. Separately, but as a result of the connection with live acoustic music, I got rid of my finicky ribbon speakers and massive amplifier and bought traditional dynamic speakers… Sonus Faber (not a specific recommendation for you.. not sure any are in your price range). Since then not only has symphonic music gotten better on my system, so have all other music types. The exotic speaker designs often come with costs; to power them… for an exceptionally clean signal, very musical, and massive power. You might consider traditional speakers… maybe with a Heil driver if you really need the venue painted out and to clearly hear movements of the conductors foot. I would listen to a lot of them to find some that really grab you. I had heard Sonus Faber years earlier and they had struck me as having a unique sound. At the time I didn’t think much of it. But when I started listening to the symphony… they popped up in my mind. I bought a used pair to verify my hypothesis. Within two weeks I ordered a better pair… then a few years later upgraded again. You can see my current systems by clicking on my user ID.


B&W 800 series Matrix are still very good sounding speakers, we have five 805s for our home theater an a couple of 800 subs. 
Ohm Walsh slam dunk. 
dfwbach

B&W 805 is a consideration. These are excellent monitors with an option to add a Subwoofer if needed.

Happy Listening!
I also listen to a lot of classical music and can recommend Ohm speakers. I have the 1000s which are right at your $2K price point.  Ohm gives a 120 in-home trial -- you only pay shipping if you return them.
I’d recommend looking at the LSA-20 Signatures available here from the manufacturer for $2300 with a home trial.  You can read the reviews — the new LSA speakers offer a lot of performance and quality for the price.  Best of luck. 
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+1 mapman & mlsstl! Ohm Walsh speakers are excellent! I have a pair! 3-D room-filling sound from any spot!
I have no idea if they're still produced but I've never stopped loving my NOLA Boxer speakers. Yeah, I use a subwoofer to descend below about a hundred hertz, but above that it's all clean, beautiful, spacious tonality.  They can and often do put a chamber ensemble in my room.  Solo voices and small vocal ensembles, as well.  Sure, operas and full symphony orchestras are reduced in size, but they sure sound true and lovely.
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There are literally hundreds of speakers in the very competitive $2k price range market. Some of my favorites are: Vandersteen 1ci, Ohm Walsh Tall 1000, Magnepan 1.7i, and Wharfedale Linton 85th Anniversary.  

But with you saying, "I like a nice detailed, clear, and forward sound," maybe try the Magnepans or perhaps Klipsch? 

How big is your room? Perhaps you could tell us about what speakers you've heard in the past and what you liked and didn't like?
Also, where do you live? Do you have a reputable Hifi dealer by you? Have you gone out and listened/ demoe’d anything?

That is half the fun!!! If you have the ability, get out there and listen.
Having sold Ohm Walsh loudspeakers for 4 years at Luskin's HiFi in Miami Florida. I can say that they are certainly room filling and have a confused image probably from too much reflected sound but, I never lied the high end either. 
In your price range with your current amp I would be inclined to recommend a set of used Klipsch Heritage speakers like Heresy's or Cornwalls. Martin Logans will be OK for your purposes. I really do not like Magnepans until you get to the 3.7i which is a great speaker for the money but have neither the power or finances for them. You want an efficient speaker with reasonable directivity. This is where horn speakers excel. 
Reproducing a symphony orchestra is no joke. You have to be ready to reproduce 100dB peaks effortlessly if you want to get bass and Kettle drums right. 
ASAP, I saw a pair of Emerald Physics 2.7s MSRP ~ $6,000 for < $2000. These are beyond amazing speakers. I own the 3.4s which is a single 12" concentric driver with 1" polyester tweeter. My room is quite large so I have 2 subs for deeper bass, that are probably no where near as good as the subs in the 2.7s. There are some outstanding reviews you search for
hth
A used pair of Rogers/KEF/Goodmans LS3/5A's plus 28" stands will sound better than 99% of the above speakers for listening to classical music! I have the Rogers - bought on eBay from a seller in Lithuania (!!!!) for $960! The LS3/5A is now back in limited production from Falcon and another company in the UK. The price is high - over $3K!
Let us not forget the venerable Quad 57 - Walker's Wonder! What's better than one pair? Two pairs! The 57 remains a true legendary design! I have two pairs, bought over the past five years. I originally had a pair in daily use from 1981 to 2000 when I stupidly sold them! A great speaker for classical and jazz! Can be found for around $2K!
Sorry, should have mentioned that my room is 16 feet by 20 feet.   I would sit around 7 feet away from the speakers, and could move my seating position back further, if needed.  I'm only at the research phase now, but I did hear a couple of brands.  I heard Kliptsch Reference 800, I believe, and they were great, but something felt like it was missing.  I heard a pair of Revel speakers, and those sounded great, but can't remember what they were.  I do plan on going out to do more listening, but the responses already have helped me to narrow things down, so thank you!
Also, live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  I am going to San Diego this week for vacation, so if anyone knows good dealers in SoCal, let me know so I can swing by.  I will be with my entire family, so I'm already looking for a good excuse to get out of the house :)  My wife would also go with me, as she doesn't care about audio, but also wants a good excuse to leave, and for once, she would love to audition speakers with me! :)
Monitor Audio Silver 300s have a fast, but refined sound which I find works well for acoustic music such as classical and jazz. By "fast", I mean a speaker that sounds agile and responsive. I mention "fast", because that is what I do like about electrostatics and you had mentioned an interest in electrostatics. However, unlike electrostatics, the Silver 300 is easy to drive and you (and your wife) don't wind up with giant panels in your living room that look like room dividers.

When auditioning speakers, I also listened to the B&W 704 S2. They were similar in sound personality, but the Silver 300s had a sweeter top end. If you are looking into used speakers as well, the Monitor Audio Gold 200 has an even more resolving top end. Basically, everything the Silver 300 does well, but even better.
Yes I heard about those. Just need to find a place to audition them. Would you say they are warm at all? I had heard that they were, so I had sort of discounted them.  
Wharfedale Lintons + stands. $1800.  A number of places have them so you should be able to get a 30 day home trial.
I’ve been very happy with my Salk stand mounts for classical. In your budget, you might consider these towers:
https://www.salksound.com/model.php?model=SongTower
Email or call Jim about classical music and see what he recommends. With the above model, I like the tweeter in the middle arrangement (MTM). They’re also quite gorgeous to look at. And you can return them if they don’t work out if the chosen veneer is standard and not specialized.

For a bit more, a similar design with a RAAL ribbon tweeter might be especially suited to classical: https://www.salksound.com/model.php?model=SongTower%20RT

I auditioned Focal, Klipsch, Fritz, Martin Logan, Dynaudio and Salk was my favorite.
@dfwbach The Monitor Audio Silver 300s are just warm enough to avoid sounding harsh. To my ears, they are pretty neutral and quite revealing of upstream source components.
Are you looking for new or used speakers? For used, you will get much more speaker for the $$. +1 for Ohm Walsh. If you like ribbons, the Ohm might not cut it. Quad 57 and Maggie are great substitutes if you like ribbon sound.
Don't worry about if the speaker is good for classical. What makes a speaker good will be equal for jazz, classical, rock or what have you. No-one's figured out a way to make electronics (including speakers) better for a particular genre. This is a very old and prevalent myth.
op

for very nice re-creation of orchestral music try an older spendor or harbeth model that fits your room - fritz makes some very nice monitors as well

your rotel amp is a little lean and bright, best to go with speakers that have some innate warmth

the brands you mention - b&w martin logan are all known to be rather bright, so unless you want your music to have quite accentuated highs, you should stay away from those - most classical lovers like more balanced speakers with more warmth and body

magnepans can be very balanced but you will need better amplification and patience with placement
I do plan in adding monoblocks down the road and I would prefer to buy used as I would get more bang for my buck. 
+1 on this. I owned the Spendor 9/1 and wish I still owned them. A great and beautiful speaker. Easy to drive. I sold for the same reason as the person advertising. Too large for the apartment where I was living. 

jjss49

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649742043-spendor-sp91-floor-stand-speakers/

^^^ these would be absolutely wonderful ^^^

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649643178-spendor-fl10-speakers/
https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lisa733i-proac-dt8-floorstanding-speakers-full-range
https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lisa96da-proac-response-2-5-full-range
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649747501-devore-fidelity-gibbon-88/

^^^ any of these would be quite good but not nearly as good as the 9/1’s ^^^

Holy sh*t --those Spendors. 1/3 the MSRP and dynamite product. I'd buy these in a heartbeat. @jjss49 has got great ears and lots of experience. Listen to him.
I wish I could audition the Spendors as I've never heard them before. I've heard Harbeth is great, but I had to chance to hear them in Japan and they were too warm for my taste.
The Spendor 9/1 is effectively a floor standing SP 100. The SP 100 retails for about $12,000, plus you need to buy stands.

If you don’t like that resell them. These do not come up for sale often. The Rosewood finish is stunning.

I used to own these and I agree that the Harbeth are too warm.
op will learn -- you snooze you waffle you worry about audition

cherry used gear, universally beloved, at good price... doesn’t last
But the regret does. 
Not sure what the worst that can happen is. $2200 speakers, offer 1800 and ask for shipping, they reply with $2000 with shipping and you try them for 6 months. Sell for roughly same price and maybe take a hit of $400 or so? Just back of the envelope but if you keep them, big big win.

And here's another pair for $1800: https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649731954-spendor-sp91/
Offer $1500 for these maybe!

Here's a recent price history for these, used -- https://www.hifishark.com/search?q=Spendor+SP9/1
Used Joseph's audio jump a pair ASAP!!
But the regret does.


man if i lived on the east coast i would be there in a jiff with a hifi bud and big suv to get those sweetheart 9/1’s... they are monsters though, certainly a challenge to handle and move around without knicking the lovely cabinets - i guess being a floorstander they can be ’walked’ around more easily than a large hundred pound standmount!
Thanks everyone for your advice. I was able to virtually listen to a newer set of Spendor speakers, and boy was I blown away by how good they sounded. Good thing is that I'm going on vacation tomorrow so I'll have plenty of time to figure out the logistics and to figure out if I go for the B&W or thr Spendors. Either will more than certainly fit the bill for classical.  Thanks again! 
Between B&W or Spendor, there would be no question for me. Between those two, Spendor is the far more natural sounding speaker to my tastes.
There’s great speakers at your price point. Audition, listen to friends systems and try to get a home trial. 
I think Maggie’s could be enjoyable given the room size and I prefer Sonus Faber - used Sonettos could be an option. 
IF you have sufficient placement flexibility I suggest Magnepans, be they new or used.

When positioned about five feet out from the "front" wall, the spectrally-correct backwave energy of the Maggies arrives after a sufficiently long time delay that it does a good job of conveying the spaciouness and envelopment of a good classical recording without any significant downsides.

Duke
speaker designer, long-time Maggie admirer, and sometime Maggie owner
There is a pair of the Spendor S8e listed here for $1395.00. The dealer is Gene Rubin and he is located in Ventura CA. I have owned those speakers and I would recommend them without hesitation. Since you are going on vacation in CA you might want to give him a call
How about a pair of Shahinian Acoustics Obelisk, used they are right at your price point and worth a listen if you are able to find a pair
Timely thread.

If you're ML curios as I have been.  I'm considering letting go a pair of ML Theos. Perfect tryout model without too much cash outlay.
Born on date of my particular Theos are only 2015. Also last year of production. 
https://www.martinlogan.com/en/product/theos

ESL 9 is the current  replacement. Improved  but Theos still relevant. Updated woofer setup, but same panel. 

PM me with any detailed questions. I'm not a fan of gloss back.  Wonderful sounding speakers. 
I’d highly recommend the Lore Reference with the Beryllium tweeter upgrade from Tekton (based out of Utah).  I’ve had them for about 6 months connected to my Luxman 550 ax II class A amp, and Marantz 8006; and absolutely love them.  They sound as good if not better than $6k/pair for Spendors or Paradigms.  Save the cash, and get the Lore Reference.  They are simply amazing.  
I tend to agree, the best value you’re likely to find will be a pre-loved quality pair of speakers.

You’ll get rungs up the ladder from new, and when you do have more budget, they will depreciate considerably less if you take good care of something with a widely accepted good reputation, for resale.
Everyone owes it to themselves to own a set of Magnepans at least once. I would also consider the KEF LS-50 and a small, fast subwoofer, especially if your room isn't too large.

Martin-Logan, Golden Ear, Monitor Audio, Focal, all make extraordinarily good speakers in your price range. But none will have the aural size, depth, and detail, especially on classical music and jazz, of Magnepans. 
Everyone owes it to themselves to own a set of Magnepans at least once.


i agree with this... what maggies can do, in the right situations, is very special

but there are also significant flaws and issues/challenges as well

no dedicated audiophile should go through a lifetime without owning maggies and quad esl's....
1. I will second  stevea11757's suggestion for Shahanian Obelisks. Or Hawks. Or Diapasons. You can never have too much of a good thing.

2. I will disagree with the estimable atamasphere. Most speakers I have owned I felt were better with certain and specific musical genres. I know that this shouldn't be the case theoretically but my ears tell me it's so. My opinion only...

3. Having said that, there are a couple of speakers that come very close to making atamasphere's statement true. The above mentioned Obelisks, the Larsen 4/6/8 speakers (I don't have any experience with the 9), and some models of JBL horn monitors.

For the last couple of years I have been using a pair of JBL L200T3 speakers in my living room and they continue to blow me away with how great they sound with (almost) all music. These are the home version (meaning cheap cabinets) of the 4425 studio monitor. They use the (in)famous "baby butt cheeks" (aka Dolly Partons) biradial horn flare. Simple 2-way xover and work with almost any amp but a little power cranks up the low notes through the 12" bass driver.