I would highly advise you to look at Green Mountain Speakers. I have a small room that is acoustically difficult to place speakers in. I have had a number of "box" speakers with mediocre results. After falling for a pair of Maggies when I bought my Monarchy DAC, I spent months researching what to buy. There was no way I could get a decent placement in the room with Maggies. They need to be placed far into the room (4 ft) and away from walls.
So after months of research, I happened to read a bunch of review of Green Mountain Speakers and became convinced that the time/phase coherent sound was worth a shot. I bought a set of used Europa's and feel they have all the good qualities of planar's without the size and placement problems. Since they minimize reflected sound through the design, they are not as finicky about placement.
Anyway, if you want to avoid large panels and still get the sound, try them - there are other time/phase coherent speakers on the market as well - search "Green Mountain" on the forums for more info.
The key is, take your time and listen to as many speakers and other components as you can before you make a decision.
PS: Big bucks don't necessarily guarantee better sound.
Well it sounds like you're heading in the right direction. I'm fairly fiscally conscious, but still full of lust for things I can't really afford. My best advice is to figure out what your budget is and work within it. Going into a high-end store and saying "I have a big bonus check" can easily get you listening to stuff you may really want but will blow your budget BIG TIME ;~)
Also see if you can't find a group in your area that brings people interested in this hobby together. It could give you a chance to see what other people have put together. Then you can peruse the classifieds here to purchase items used for far less than they'd cost you new.
This past weekend I got together with a group of 20+ like minded audio geeks at one group members home, and we all ate, had a glass of wine or beer, and enjoyed listening to the home owners rig. It exposed me to equipment I likely would never have a chance to hear without a sales pitch.
Good luck, and welcome to the addiction ;~)
Find a local Thiel dealer and listen to the CS-2.4.
Also be sure to consider room treatments like those from ASC. This can have a HUGE effect on your overall result and the side walls will be critical in your room.
I am happy to offer additional advice by e-mail if needed.
I wouldn't presume to tell you what to buy, but FWIW the speakers you heard and described will sound nothing like they did at in the dealers showroom when you get them home. NOTHING! If you have high-quality experience expectations from your purchases you will have to be a bit more specific, and realistic, about what your listening conditions are (going to be).
If you are listening to the speakers from a triangulated set up, then either could work but the panel types would require a lot of space between them and the walls behind them to sound as good as can be, say about 5 feet. But the good new is they can go closer to the side walls as they have a radiation pattern that allows this. But, the back wave can be a problem and you have to put diffusive materiels on the walls behind the speakers for optimum performance. And the non critical listening spot can be wide enuf for 2.
If that intimidates you, boxes are best. They can go closer to the wall behind them without creating major issues, but they need to be further away from side walls - how much depends what is on the walls near the speaker and how much you can toe in the speaker to avoid side wall refelctions.
If you are looking for a listening position less specific, for two or three people, you might consider omni type speakers which will give up a little clarity/specificity that you get in an optimup set up for panels for boxes, but you get a much larger sense of a sound in your room. Some folks really like them. They have set up issues as well.
So there, no answers, just something to think about. Sorry about that.
You owe it to yourself to hear a set of Quads. New or used. They may very well not be for you, but for a lot of very good reasons they have set the standard for clear reproduction for a half century.
If you liked the Maggies you have to hear a set of Quads.
Best plan is to take your time and explore and discover. No way would I rush into buying any components unless exhausted every dealer to hear the listening experience. That means get in your car and take a drive with the spousal unit and start hitting the two channel places not in your local area.
The Maggies are great speakers. Not all that dynamic, but so clear, so nuanced. I had 20.1's. It's true that you need them about 5' out into the room, that you may need something on the front wall to deal with the rear wave, and that they tend to need alot of power so you have to factor that into your budget (a powerful amplifier). They can go closer to the side walls. Quads will have similar acoustic considerations but require less amplification. They are less dynamic than the Maggies, but even clearer in the midrange and can really dissappear. So many choices - but you are looking at good stuff!
A couple of suggestions are:
1. Slow down and take your time. If you hear of or actually hear a pair of speakers that peak your interest research those speakers using the search engines on the Audiogon and Audio Assylum websites. There are plenty of other websites but this is a good place to start.
2. Use the search engine on Audiogon to search for a used pair. Similar to cars, a used pair of speakers can be purchased for 50% retail with 90% of it's useful life. Buying used speakers can be a little tricky for a rookie but if you buy local you can reduce most of the risk, and all of the dreaded shipping issues and cost.
On Audiogon's home page click on the search button. In the "by zipcode" tab type in the first two digits of your zip code. You should see a list of items for sale in your area. If you see a pair of speakers you are interested in go check them out. You'll want to evaluate the owner as much as the speaker.
3.One last thing when considering loud speakers. Think of the speakers and amps as a package. Pick the speaker first to match your room and listening desires, and then pick your amp to match the speaker.
You have taken the proper first step by asking questions.
Good luck and happy listening.
If you like the transparency of the Maggies but the heft of dynamic speakers try to find a pair of Apogees anywhere near you. Though no longer made you can still find them in the used market. They have a devoted following (me included) and nothing I have heard comes close !!. Be careful of the "buzz". There is a blog dedicated to them. You can find an inexpensive pair of Centaurs which will beat the pants off any of the speakers you have heard.
I have been involved in this hobby for over 35 years and have tried everything.
Well I have one comment, you don't need 5 or 7 channel as you state..
Definitely go for the best 2 channel gear that you like. I can suggest going and finding some shops that take in good used gear and speakers, you can find some gems that way too... Although today not as many hi end places with upper used gear around unless your in some of the bigger cities.
Deposit and home audition anyone??????
For someone starting out I would tell them:
1. Cost does not always equate to quality.
2. Many experienced audiophiles spend much time, effort, and money chasing the last 5% of quality which will give them perfection. Don't worry about this part (yet). Just concentrate on obtaining a well-balanced system. For example, do not pursue esoteric power cords, interconnect cables, or speaker wires (yet). Stick with stock power cords, well designed and built interconnects from someone like http://www.bluejeanscable.com
, and build you own speaker cables from something like these http://www.axiomaudio.com/bulkcable.html
3. Buy only gear you can audition (used or new, preferrably in your own home) and/or return for full refund, usually less shipping cost.
4. Check out gear from well established, no nonsense, scientific-based companies such as http://www.avahifi.com
5. Call these companies (owners usually answer the phone) and discuss with them your likes/dislikes. They will help you figure out what you're looking for.
6. If money is an issue you do not need to buy a speaker that plays into the 20 Hz region. You can add a (or two or three) subwoofer later.
7. Professional reviews can be used for a starting point and/or as guidelines, but don't buy just on someone's recommendation.
8. Once you get a decent, well-balanced system (sounds good for all of your music), before you spend any more money on upgrades, gear, whatever, the next step will be to address your room (acoustic treatments, equalizer, etc.)
Wow. I was hoping to do a better job by consulting folks who have been into audio. Thanks for the generous feedback one and all. This is all started with the CD player breaking and going to Best Buy and seeing Blueray and then having some reward myself money.
I am taking the advice and slowing down.
We also have a Denon AV355 which is from the 80's. Can I get great sound from this? Could I hook a DAC into this as we have a huge collection and all of Stanford Music library is at my fingertips.
In all the feedback I got, the Apogees sounded really interesting if they have the clarity of the Maggies and the deeper base response would give them a well rounded great feel. In my small 12 x 30 living room could these be worth searching out? I am happy to buy used speakers and keep what I have.
The place where I heard the KEF 207's had them powered by Chord 50,000 dollar amps. I just looked them up. OMG!!! I want to think about the music, hear the music, just enjoy it, and blind fold myself to the supercharged world of power and electronics.
I dislike wasting good things. I am thinking of buying a good CD player and plugging in some speakers that really fit my space into the old Denon and seeing what happens.
The denon might be fine.. Depending on the speaker you end up with… My friend has an early 90's Class A receiver from them, it’s a higher regarded piece, it sounds nearly as good as some of the mono blocks in the higher prices today.. So YES give it a shot, worst case you end up going and getting some new gear, but find the speakers you like best first absolutely.
my only advise...don't spend too much, and don't rely on first impressions...go back a couple of times as recommended above.
I second Jaybo and Newbee.
Don't rush into this. Take your time. I'd suggest auditioning Martin Logans given your taste - they have some convenient sized panels that sound good although not as dynamic as a box speaker. The speaker and listening room is crucial - select other gear AFTER finding your dream speakers rather than the other way round. (FWIW the difference between a cheap CD player and an expensive one is generally a lot less than the difference between cheap speaker and an expensive speaker)
You can do pretty good with careful selection of under $500 on a CDP source and $1K to $2K on amplification but you are just beginning to get into good quality speakers at around $2K and then consider you probably need a subwoofer for a 30 feet long room (and a good quality sub like the JL F113 is around $3K new).
I am a big Magneplanar fan and owned a pair for years.
They are hard to beat for the $$$ in regards to good sound and being "easy on the ear", meaning little or no fatigue factor. They tend to sound better the longer you listen. make sure this is the case with any other speaks you consider as well.
Larger maggies will do better in larger rooms in regards to authority in the low end (bass). They are also very sensitive to proper placement within the room to sound best. Make sure that this will not be a problem.
The only knock on Maggies is that they are a planar design that does not move large volume of air. They are not the nth degree in terms of dynamic impact but provide a very desirable mix of the best attributes speakers can deliver for very reasonable cost.
Also make sure your amp has the power and current needed to drive them to best effect.
A good sub can be added later if needed if you feel you are missing anything on the low end compared to other high end speaks.
Whatever you get, make sure the speakers fit nicely into your room with room to "breathe", ie that they do not overpower the rom from where you listen.
I replaced my Maggies with OHM Walsh design speakers (www.ohmspeakers.com) in my current residence mainly because I was not able to place them optimally without being in the way.
OHM Acoustics is a well established manufacturer that has been providing outstanding high value speakers and customer service for over 30 years. Their speakers are only sold direct from the factory in Brooklyn, NY, but they have a very buyer friendly in-home audition program for their speakers that virtually eliminates risk of getting stuck with speakers that you may not like much after a while.
I don't have anything new to add only that you might consider picking up a used helicopter. An old Agusta or something that's reliable will really expand your search range. The dealer always knows you're serious when you call ahead to arrange a rooftop landing or find a local pad.
Also, try listening to a few good SS compatible setups and a few good tube setups to see if you hear any preferences. It's easier to work some of this out early on.
I will have to agree with taking your time,listen and don't be rushed into a purchase;also if possible a home audition is best.
You may find gear with 30 day in home trial and if you can I highly recommend it.
Enjoy the quest;welcome to a hobby that never stops.
Newbee and Chadnliz offer outstanding advise.
I think you need to really nail down your budget for the entire system and what % of that will go towards speakers. A lot of people suggest 40% of total budget for speakers. That way, you won't waste your time investigating speakers you can't afford.
In your original post you wrote that the speakers must be bautiful. So, start with that. When you visit a retailer, take your wife, choose some speakers to audition that you can live with, looks wise, and that are within budget.
A lot of great speaker brands have been mentioned on this thread. And there are a bunch more that haven't been mentioned. So, I advise that you let looks, sound and price be your guide rather than the brand.
Also, see if you can find a retailer that will let you buy the speakers and return them within x days if you don't like how they sound IN YOUR HOME.
Keep us posted on where you go with this.
Listen to "systems" in your budget. Take your time, nail down your budget, and be careful with the advice you receive. I don't know if I subscribe to hard-and-fast percentage allocations. I think my system is balanced, and I didn't allocate anywhere near 40% to speakers (based on list prices).
Ayre AX-7e - $3,500 (Amp / Pre)
Ayre P-5xe - $2,700 (Amp / Pre)
Total - $6,200 (31%)
Ayre CX-7e - $3,500 (CD)
Total - $3,500 (17%)
GMA Callistos - $2,900 (Speaker)
ML Dynamo - $1,200 (Speaker)
Skylan Stands - $300 (Speaker)
Total - $4,400 (22%)
Teres 245 w/ Verus - $3,300 (Analog)
OL Silver - $1,050 (Analog)
Denon 103R - $380 (Analog)
Total - $4,730 (23%)
Purist Cables - $1,365 (Cables)
Total - $1,365 (7%)
Also, consider your room. The $1000 I spent on room treatments was essential (I cannot emphasize that enough). Without that $1000 spent, I may as well bought a Yorx combo desktop system. Also, if you choose to include an analog front end, you will need ancillary supplied (brushes, cleaning, etc.)
one rule of thumb with maggies:
you must have pacifist cats (if you do have cats).
them cloth slabs is mighty fun to kitty.
you're lucky your wife is in to music, though, my wife took one look at magnepans and shook her head.
they are awesome, though, for my money, the maggie 1.6 and the paradigm studio series (especially the 60) are the best value in speakerdom.
Don't go by % spent on parts.
Synergy overall (sources to room acoustics) is key. You don't have to spend a lot to get great results in most rooms.
Triangle Titus 202s are small monitor speakers that can match and in some ways even outperform much bigger Maggies in most rooms and they cost only a couple hundred used. Almost any amp will drive them.
Place them on good solid stands with any decent integrated amp and digital or analog source in most any room and you are golden. They are small and front ported so they even sound good close to walls.
I use a vintage Yamaha cr-420 receiver that cost me less than $100 on ebay, a $350 6 year old Marantz DVD player and an old Dual 1264 table with GOldring cartridge with them in my second 2-channel A/V system, and the results are hard to beat.
Add a sub later to fill in low end if needed and you are competing with some of the best sounding systems out there.
If it were me buying new, I would consider a Peachtree audio Decco or Nova (www.peachtreeaudio.com) as an integrated amp to drive a pair of Triangle Titus 202s.
These are sold direct or via some dealers and are designed to provide excellent sound from most any source out of the box. They use a tubed pre-amp section that helps deliver that tube sound many cherish at an affordable price.
I haven;t heard the Peachtree units yet, but from other's accounts and from what I have read, it is a very well thought out device at a value price. I think you will see more and more devices like it over the next few years as well.
Since the CD player is busted I plugged my iPod directly into the humble Denon AV355 with a Monster cable my brother in law gave me tonight. I got a little set of Mirage book shelf speakers. It's the cheapest oldest system around, but the Debussy is still great.
No TV tonight, just chatting with my wife and listening to Ethiojazz and Debussy Arabesques in my funny shaped little room.
I have been doing the virtual helicopter thing called the WEB, checked Green Mountain. I dig the physics approach. There is so much passion in this world of audio.
On the budget system page I am impressed by the old new system with tubes and home made speaker and the enthusiasm for the system. I like the zen minimalism, and I am drawn to the tube amp. I like it, but I don't why. I guess I am impressed by the desire to keep something that should have died alive and they just look individualistic. Do tubes really create a warm sound? Is it a total pain in the but to maintain?
How about a 2 channel system that runs off of our Macintosh laptop, No CD Player, but somehow going into a classic tube amp and then hitting the right speakers for our little space. Any recommendations on a DAC and a Tube amp that could integrate into a simple old and new approach. I was thinking it would be cool to have my Mac laptop plugged into a McIntosh 275.
Tubes have a limited lifespan and require more maintenance, like a phono cartridge, compared to SS. If that bothers you, start with just one or two strategically placed tubes to keep troubleshooting easy if needed and go from there as desired.
Be careful buying old tube gear....make sure what you are getting is in good shape, including life left on all tubes.
Its brand new and more contemporary but check out the Peachtree Decco DAC (digital to analog converter)/tube pre-amp/amp. You can even add a module to receive your digital sources wirelessly so your computer as a digital source does not have to be attached by a wire. And the price is right to get your feet wet with the latest digital source technology along with a smattering of tubes (just one) for starts. Plus I've read that it sounds very good!
That is good advice on the Peachtree. I am looking to keep it simple and focus on quality. We have a nice iTunes collection that I enjoy now but I am missing a lot.
Best speakers for my small space with this system?
I think there is a new Decco coming out that connects to video. This could keep the whole thing really simple.
"Best speakers for my small space with this system?"
I'm eyeballing the Peachtree for use with my Triangle Titus 202s when the need arises as I described above.
"best" is always a subjective determination since no two speaks sound the same, but the Triangle Titus 202s with sub combo is hard to beat.
As a Ph.D in music, I imagine your wife plays an instrument and/or has heard a great deal of live music. I highly recommend bringing her along for auditions. She will have a good ear.
If a dealer insists on turning up the volume walk away. Its an old trick to overcome a system's shortcomings. If it does not sound good at reasonably low volume (you can talk to your wife without raising your voice) then walk away.
Listen to several tube amps/preamps and several solid state amps. Tube amps tend to emphasize even order harmonics of which your wife is familiar. I'd be quite surprised if, after test driving, your wife did not clearly prefer tube electronics. Don't be afraid of tubes. If after some heavy test driving you don't like tubes, then you will know for sure. Keep in mind that many retailers will try to sway you from tubes because they take more effort on part of the retailer.
The maggies are one of the best values in audio. Trust your wife's ears :-)
If you can deal with a soldering iron, you will find tremendous value and engineering in these two sites: k and k audio (Kevin Carter), and Audio Note Kits (Brian).
Consider a turntable (used Lenco with RB250 tonearm).
The advice to take your time and listen to many set ups is excellent. Unfortunately, sonics do not necessarily correlate well with price or retailers advice. Trust your wife on this one. When you find a set up that is good for you, it will sound significantly better than your comparisons.
Might I recommend a tubed integrated with a digital input on the back so you can put an Ipod or external dac to the amp. I would go with the Spendor S9's. Those speakers are very muscical and will fill the bill of long term quality, you should never tire of them and they are built to last. If Spendors are your flavor, and they are for many, I myself have had a pair, then I would give a long look at a pair of Harbeths. These are only stand mounts so you will need a pair of stands for them.
FWIW, I don't agree at all with Jj468. Music is more often than not, properly played above speaking volume, even when in scale to smaller rooms. Being able to play well at low volumes might be a postive attribute, but, it is most certainly not the ultimate criterion for quality music reproduction.
Join an audio club ? Also, you will be amazed at the level of value in the equipment designed for studio use in the commercial venue. Lots of wasted time and monies with most lines of equipment.
If it does not sound good at reasonably low volume (you can talk to your wife without raising your voice) then walk away.
Baloney! I don't agree with that myth and am tired of hearing it. You'll be missing out on many wonderful speakers that don't have that attribute.
Ironically, some speakers require more efficient amps that deliver more current to sound right at lower volumes. If the amp can do that and can deliver enough current (not same as watts), and the speakers can also handle high volumes without break-up or distortion, then the system can go loud as well.
Get the amp AND speaks right to play at low and high volumes and you are golden.
Amps that double power or at least come close to doubling from 8 to 4 and then from 4 to 2 ohms will in general be able to drive more speakers well at lower volumes.
Examples of affordable amps that can do this are various models from Musical Fidelity over the years and many newer Class D amps.
Examples of speakers that will not sound as good at low volumes without proper amplification (lots of current) are Dynaudio, Totem B&W and OHM.
Triangles and Magnepans do well at low volumes with most any amp in my experience. Maggies are less efficient though and also require lots of power to go loud and clean.
Triangles sound great at low volume with most any good amp and are more efficient and can go loud as well with less power, which makes them them the most versatile I have owned in terms of sounding great all the time, in most any room, with almost any amp.
At the moment I am seriously considering getting the Peachtree Nova. The Decco had great reviews, and the new Nova takes it to 80 watts per channel. This should play the digital collection, and if I can learn to tell the difference I can go with un-compressed digital through the Nova, which is supposed to have a good DAC.
I am not sure about the speakers that would go with this really simple set up. I am looking to do quality 2 channel, and forget about home theatre 5 or 7 channel. Too much hassle with little benefit. I am not into bomb blasting type movies anyway and good two channel will be more enjoyable for everyday. My wife the Musician grew up in classical and helps run Stanford's music program, but she likes rock and likes to dance around the house. I like doing that too, but most of the time I have been listening to quiet classical piano pieces to mellow out after work.
I am interested in Maggie 1.6. My wife is not.
I am interested in the Spendor S8 or S9. It is pricey. My wife likes these, and they look good. She thought the Spendor sounded great.
I will have to check out the Paradigm. My budget is about 2-3k for speakers. Maybe they are out of league.
I wonder if the 80 watt Nova could work with the Maggie 1.6? Does a sub-woofer really help the Maggies? Which one should I look at? This would be an uphill battle which I will probably lose, but what I do know is that we both are tired and losing interest in music just listening to an iPod in a weak set up that sounds muddy.
I think the Nova would certainly work well with the Maggies.
I strongly suggest you decide on your speakers first!
"The owner cranked up the volume so I am not sure it was fair, but Beethoven was totally epic with some soaring highs. I told the Kef guy that I also listened to the Maggies. He said the Maggies were too specialized and would not work as an all around solution."
Sounds like a slick salesman to me - putting power before fidelity.
FWIW, I did not say that the ultimate test of a speaker is its ability to play low. I did say and I do believe that a "system" should be able to sound good at speaking volume.
I have heard many, many systems and I've never heard one where at speaking volume it sucked and when loud it sounded great. Not once. If power is your thing, then you might feel differently about it.
I've heard many "systems" that sucked when played loud that sounded much better at speaking level.
Poorly driven speakers that sound good loud most likely will not "suck" at lower volumes, but bass levels may suffer resulting in a less satisfying presentation at lower volumes.
I went from a 360/W channel relatively low current amp to my current 120w/ch amp with my larger OHMs for this reason.
The 120w/ch amp delivers cleaner, more satisfying bass with the OHMs and Dynaudios at most reasonable levels that I listen to normally.
The previous 360w/ch amp did fine at all volumes with the Magneplanar 1.3c's that I owned for years, as did an 80w/ch tandberg receiver that I used with the Maggies as well.
I also owned B&W P6s that I had to crank to sound right using that high power but low current 360w/ch amp.
Well I did it.
I got the Spendor S8e here at Audiogon. My wife and I really liked these at our local high end audio palace, the Maggies did not make it. Maybe down the road.
So thinking down the road. I am considering trying build something similar to mjcmt, the Old Tech and New Tech system. How simple can you do a nice digital music to old school analog tube on a mid range budget?
I would like to get the MC275 amp. I love the look, the sound reviews are high, it's a classic that has been around and improved for 60 years. I admire that being in Silicon Valley and being part of building amazing things, but things that don't last.
So I am thinking of getting a MC275 and then an integrated DAC-preamp. Would something like the DAC1 Pre be a good choice? I want to connect my TV through the DAC, MC275 out to the Spendors for everyday use. Is the MC275 stable enough and robust enough to be used like this?
You are where I was a number of years ago. Best advice I can give you.
1) find a good dealer that can teach you what to listen to. you will use him for advice and upgrades and traid in. I buy alot off here but my dealer has been an invaluable teacher he has been over my house 3 times setting up speakers and stuff. If the dealer will not come install or doesn't ask abouthte room they are going in find someone else.
2) learn to listen don't get trapped into that wow it has good base and bright highs. This is nice but hides detail. And besides with all the glass you are discribing highs willnot be your problem.
3) Get what fits the room don't go to big or to small and put them in the room correctly 3' from every wall etc... this is where the dealer helps. I had some great speakers that I listened to at 60% of there pontential for years not realising how much the room had to do with it. For you your lucky avarage size floorstanding will work nice.
I usally avoid giving recomendations and everyone one will recomend everything. However you said transparent. You should really go listen to some Vandersteen they are some of the best value and most transparent speakers I have herd and un like the maggies that are ribben speakers are alot less "speclised". They do excel in the mid range though for vocals and once you buy them vandersteen alwas makes upgrades avaiable, they don't change from year to year and holds there value. and when you want to go 5.1 or 7.1 you can alwas buy toneally matching speakers down the line, all his speakers are voiced the same every year. Hope this helps a bit.
"I want to connect my TV through the DAC, MC275 out to the Spendors for everyday use. Does this amp C275 stable enough and robust enough to be used like this?"
Maybe. How much TV are you going to watch? I might give McIntosh a call and describe your usage to get their feedback with regards to tube life. Keep in mind that tube amps need some room due to heat.
"Would something like the DAC1 Pre be a good choice?"
The Dac1 is probably as good bang for the buck as anything else at that price range. Good company with a proven product. Be aware of the digital input configuration. You are going to probably need an input for your tv's cable box, some sort of cd transport, and a music server (computer).
Mapman - you are correct. My bad. I completely misinterpreted your statement.