Well, my advise is to sell both the speakers AND the amps, and change out to what my friend has, who also has the exact same room size (but with a lower ceiling) and the exact same taste in music. (I.e. primarily classical, secondarily jazz, and a bit of classic rock.)
His system uses the Avalon Eidolon speakers, with the VTL MB 450 monoblocks. The soundstaging and dynamics are nothing short of amazing. The only minor drawback to this system is that the bass is slightly, (and I stress SLIGHTLY) rolled off in the lowest bass response. Other than that, it is perfect. It is the best stereo I have heard. The Eidolons do want LOTS of power though, in order to really open up. (My friend went through half a dozen lower powered tube amps before finally settling on the MB 450s.)
If you insist on keeping the amps, you might want to try the Wilson Sophia or Watt Puppy 7's. A fair number of people like these, and they are fairly efficient. (I prefer the Revel Ulitma Series myself, as I have the Revel Studios, but they need more power.) The sound is similar between the lines, in as that as they are both very detailed, and soundstage and image very well. (Not Eidolon great, but pretty dang close!)
My two cents worth anyway. Good Luck in your search!
You listen to classical (so do I) and most spkrs "cannot reproduce an illusion of an entire orchestra" as you note. If you want to take the comment further, try Mahler 8 or 5 on an average commercial pair of speakers. Or Wagner, for that matter...
A) I have heard of no PASSIVE speaker on the low side of $~40-50k that can do that without a built in active sub: Genesis Tech, A-Physic Kronos, the big Vandersteens, etc. I.e. you'll be biamping anyway, relegating the Thor to the "satellite" (mid-highs) which is not a bad thing.
B) Three unusual exceptions that I've experienced are:
*Linkwitz's Orion (www.linkwitzlab.com) BUT it requires 6-8 channels of amplification (it's fully active, all drivers connected to a dedicated amp channel). On the plus side, it costs less than 10k. More on the plus side, it's boxless so, "airy" much like a stat, with lots of dynamic impact. In fact, it's an exquisite sounding spkr.
*Beolab 5 (I think): OK, not our usual high-end brand-name, but these speakers are excellent. On the down side, they're fully active, so your existing amplification is useless...
*Classic Audio Reproductions: excellent drivers, very good and solid design; horn loaded and unusual...
Then of course, Pass also offers nice spkrs -- but these too are fully active and well over 20k
C) Known, "big" brands. From limited personal experience, some speakers that deliver -- more or, usually, less full-range sound, with reasonable or better dynamics and microdynamics: Acapella Campanile (or the cheaper Violon, but you'll need to keep yr subwoof); Genesis 200's or 300's used (too expensive new); Genesis 6,1 maybe...; Vandersteen 5a; the latest (i.e. more sensitive) Soundlabs, if you're still into stats; Duevel Jupiter -- omnidirectional highs, if you like the thing, I did actually; Bosendorfer as in the piano, the big model whatever it's called; the big Tannoy Prestige series, lovely "heavy" sound if you're into that sort of thing.
The bigger A-Physics are nice but expensive; likewise with the Accuton driver users club: Avalon, Kharma, and Martens Designs, etc. Finally, S-Faber make beautiful spkrs, but their full-range model is also well over budget. Full-range Wilson, JMLab, Rockport, while great, are stratospherically priced.
-this list is far from complete; just my experience and what comes to mind.
-The "unusual" spkrs in B are IMO mostly better (possible exceptions being the Acapella & Bosendorfer exceptions)
-You'll need to keep yr sub with all of the spkrs that do not offer their own active built-in subs.
D) You may want to give kits or "esoteric" designs a thought (apart from the Classic Audio, above):
-the 47 Labs speaker with a Hartley driver (don't remember its name but it was lacquered white);
-the Audio note speaker, the mid-high level offering
-the Lowther loaded Rethms
-some very unusual kits/products from Decware, Bastanis that are quite successful in delivering the goods, but lacking in brand/snob appeal:)
-the Oris horn kit (it's easy to put together and looks quite good, too)
I was looking into speakers myself a short while ago and enjoyed myself immensely!
You should give the EgglestonWorks Andra IIs a listen.
Soundstage is awesome, and they completely disappear. They are extremely dynamic and natural sounding. Supposedly a good match with Thor gear, but I haven't personally heard them with Thor.
No sub required, and they are rated at 89db/SPL. Highly under rated, IMO.
Have you tried Wisdoms M75 Monopoles. The Line source will work well with your Thors and the bottom would have to be driven by a separate amp. I would reccomend a Good solid state amp with plenty of horsepower. I listen to a pair at the long Island, NY rep Steve Rabitz's house. At the time he had a pair of Airtight Monos which were EL 34 Based and he had an inexpensive ATI amp on the bottom and it sure sounded great. Based on that audition I finally purcased a pair however it just about resulted in a divorce when I should up with them a month and a half ago. In any event I do think they are worth a listen. These could be had at $13.5k. A better choice for the bottom would be a Crouwn studio reference amp which I am currently using on a Wilson Whow III sub.
I'll say right off that I don't listen to Classical at all ,but think there has to be a "Kharma" to fit those Thor electronics.I am drooling at the thoughtr of having your problem.I am using the Kharma 1.0 speakers with Thor T1000 and TPA30 monos and can only dream of you 150 amps. I would guess that somnewhere in the middle of the Kharma range would be a good starting point.. Good Luck ! Boy do I wish I had your problem,,,,
You can have your cake and eat it too. Go to www.innersound.net and find your local Innersound dealer. For $20k you can get the Kaya Reference which comes with the best eletrostat panel that I have ever heard, and an incredibly well intergrated powered subwoofer/crossover. Pretty sure they will drop a pair off for you to audition.
PS - additional recommendations would include the above mentioned Wilson's and Revel's, and I would add the sublime, and much less expensive Paradigm Signature S8's. Great full range speaker.
If you want openness try the Vandersteen 5a they are the most open I found and have the biggest soundstage. They also have built in subs so you get true biamping and work wonders with tubes amps since the amps supply the mids and highs. I use quicksilver v4 120w and it is more than enough. I also upgraded to the 303/300 it is a improvement.
However the other part of soundstage is are the speakers positioned optimally. If not try pulling them out about a foot or two from where they are sitting if near a wall or next to things. I'm sure you have done this but just wanted to mention it.
I second 1markr's suggestion. I had a lot of speakers in the past and the Andra II are simply the best sounding of all. Great dynamics, transparency and an incredible "real" sound: you can easily imagine to be at a live event. Try to listen them, you won't be disappointed.
I agree with Macdadtexas. Innersound Kaya,
Congrats on your electronics -- great stuff.
The Wilsons and Revels would not work well, as they all drop to 3 Ohms or lower in the bass -- the vast majority of tube amps, even very good ones like the Thors, won't sound right on speakers with these impedences.
As for traditional speakers (non-horns, dynamic drivers), the Verity Sarastro is top speaker that would work, although they exceed your budget unless you can find a pair used. The smaller (and very fine) Verity Parsifel Encore is more on-budget.
The powered speaker idea of Vandersteen 5a's or Genesis works. In the same vein, a pair of Sonus Faber Guarneris with a top subwoofer (Aerial, REL) would sound great, but perhaps leave you wanting on big orchestral and rock.
There is of course the whole universe of horn speakers and horn-loaded hybrids like the Tannoy Westminsters.
The new Von Schweikert VR-7SE would definitely be my first choice, but it would stretch your budget.
I'm surprised nobody mentioned the "fabulous" EPIPHANY 12/12 speaker.15 thou,and worth every cent IMO!Your room seems perfect for these to open up in.I heard these in a room of almost exact dimensions,and with, as well as without the big buck Epiphany sub.IMO they were MUCH better without the sub.They,also seemed to get down quite deeply(don't believe the "bull" about these having a rolled lowend,or "vice like" sweetspot.Best of luck!!
BTW-Way too many people seem to be over the top "bass dominated" in their views.I guess that's why I don't enjoy stopping at red lights,only to hear a mega sub oriented car system BLASTING a tune that doesn't require any output below 80hz!!
I find interesting in that of the five speakers that people have mentioned I have owned 3 of them and of the two others I have owned speakers from the companies. I have had the Andra II's that I sold to upgrade to the Savoy's and also own every speaker in the eggleston works line except now the II's and the Ivy's. I loved the sound of the Andra II's so much that I bought a pair of Savoys. So my home Theatre consists of a pair of Savoys a custom made Andra Center Channel attached to an Andra I bottom and 2 pairs of Rosa's with a Wilson Whow III Sub. I also have a pair of Andra's in my den. The sound of the Andra II's were complete They were excellent sounding and relatively eay to drive. They reproduced piano extremely well as well as resolved female vocals flawlesly. The bass was deep and defined, truly amazing. The upgrade bug grabbed a hold of me and I went for the Savoy's. They are a bit more difficult to drive but I biamp and they truly sound amazing.
The Vandys also sound exceptional in the right room. Because of the integral bass amp they too are relatively easy to drive. The only drawback was that for them to sound their best I had to have them well into the room. about 6 - 7 feet away from the rear wall.
The Wisdoms I already spoke about and wish I could Keep. They also are amazing and provide great dynamic Contrasts.
The Innersound Kaya's I did not own but I did have a pair of the Isis. Extremely quick and resolving but too directional for my tastes. Also the bass could have intergrated a little better. The Current Martin Logan stuff sounds a little more coherent top to bottom but does not have the resolution in the upper octaves like the Innersound.
I have also owned Infinity Beta's (twice), Infinity Gamma's, Odeon 26's & Double 6's, Genesis V's, Mirage M1si's, M3si's & M7si's, Martin Logan SL3's, Apogee Centaur Major's, Maggie 1.6's, Wilson Watt/Puppy V's, and Gershman Avant Garde RX-20's.
Like I said right now I am extremely happy with the Egglestonworks line and Wisdom M75's. If you want to see some pics let me know.
Among the speakers mentioned, I could recommend the Vandersteen 5As and the Eggleston Andra IIs. The latter really benefit from lots of power, in many cases using big solid state amps. For example, Parasound JC-1s make them come alive. I wouldn't assume your Thor monoblocks would work well with them, but they might.
I cannot recommend the Wisdoms, mainly due to the crossover which not only is extremely complicated (thousands of possible settings) but also veils the sound. Wisdoms also tend to be used with big solid state amps.
It's hard to change from dipole speakers such as Quads to moving coil speakers, given a good setup. You didn't say how much room treatment you have, but it's easy to overdo it and in doing so rob the music of life. Other than preventing slap echo if it exists and getting the bass right, there isn't much to do. The Sound Lab full range ESLs I sell work well in a wide range of rooms and don't require much treatment, and the larger models are rarely used with subwoofers. The sensory experience of full range ESL dipoles, especially in the bass, is quite different from that of cone woofers. With woofers you can get more chest thumping bass, whereas with the ESLs you hear the bass that tends to envelop you more. An ESL that extends well down into the 20's can make the hairs on your neck stand on end when hearing things such as tympani at fortissimo levels, and you experience the space of the venue.
Your square room presents a challenge. I suggest you want a speaker that is more independent of room nodes, especially in the bass. I suspect the Quad 988s may not work quite as well as hoped due to their radiating characteristics as virtual point sources. An option to consider is positioning your speakers 45 degrees diagonally across the room, if possible. It may sound far-fetched, but try it if you can.
If you're seeking maximum dynamics then I'd second the recommendation of the CAR speakers, especially with TAD drivers. It's a very different sound, but they're quite efficient and can play very loudly. With the right electronics they can work very well.
Some pretty good suggestions above (e.g., Andra and the Innersound Kaya). I like the pair of speaker I own (S.A.P. J2001 (twin woofer)), but it is no longer made and is a bit above your specified range.
Some other models to consider that I think sound good and would do a good job with large-scale classical music are:
Gershman GAP 828
vip428,Boy did I love my Infinity Beta's.Had to sell them,as I moved to another state!
I'll second the Vandersteen 5A's: I have over 2000 CD's (including about 75 SACD's) and about 2500 LP's -- 98% are classical. Rameau to Revueltas, Dufy to Dutilleux, Praetorius to Prokoviev...hell, I love 'em ALL, and LOUD! I have season tickets to Disney Hall (live music...the best bargain in audio!). The Vandy's will do them all justice. In this exalted price range, though, you should listen around a bit, because we all have different ears, different selective memories of what "live" sounds like, and different emotional hot buttons. Be sure to try the Revel Salons (I prefer the Vandy's, but you might not), the Avalon Eidolons, the big Egglestons, and the Avant Garde Duos (did I spell it right?). The Vandy's have the advantage of INFINITE versatility of placement, as Programmergeek mentioned, and this is a HUGE plus in addressing the practical reality of getting great sound into YOUR room.
Dear Kjl: With the statement that your room is right on target do to the Echo Buster job, my advise is that you go for a pair of monitors : Revel, JmLabs Utopia, Merlin, Harbeth, Spendor, Legacy, Talon, Dynaudio, Dali, Totem, Proac, Tannoy, Thiel, B&W, etc... and a pair of subwoofers: Audio Physics, Talon, Velodyne, Revel, Aerial, Etc....
In this way you can get a 20K very high quality sound reproduction speaker system that is a " full range speaker system ", that can be competitive with speakers that cost 50-60K+ and with many advantages over that very high price speakers:
- Many of the monitors models in a speakers line manufacturer ( between their frecuency range ) sounds better than the full range system, but not only sounds better they have better imaging, focus, less distortion, etc,..
- You can integrate easily the monitors to your room than a full range speaker and you can find the best room place for the frecuency range of your monitors: high/midrange, where the monitors don't have to worried about the low bass.
- With a full range speakers ( in one box/body ) almost always the best room place for the best bass room interaction is not the best place for the high/midrange frecuencies room integration: there are to many compromising issues that degraded the quality sound reproduction. With the monitors/subs fashion you don't have it.
- In the same way you can integrate the two subwoofers easily in your room: these subs are " separate/stand alone " of the monitors. So you can have the best room integration from both worlds: monitors and subs, you can't do this with a molithic speakers.
- Now, you don't have to worried about your tube amp because your amp is now " free " of the great power demans of the low bass frecuencies that now are handle for a dedicated amplifiers on the self powered subwoofers.
Now you told us: " I would also like a speaker that does not require a sub. " : please read carefully to these links:
Btw, I really like your Discovery cartridge.
Regards and enjoy the music.