what is the size of your listening room and music you listen too?
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Thanks for asking, I should have included: 12 feet wide by rougly 30 feet long, with a staircase that bisects the room. Cathedral cielings, about 12 feet high at highest point. Not ideally shaped, but what can you do? Pretty broad music tastes, most of my collection rock/soul/funk, but recently collecting more classical.
just saw a pair of meadowlark heron 2i for sale here.. 2k for 7k spkr. 90 db. u may find bass for rock not as dramatic as ss amps tho so sometimes there is a tradeoff between the 2 types of power source. ntl, the herons are a fabulous spkr and at this price are a steal. classical will sound superb however along with vocals and acoustic instruments. fwiw, i have no relation to seller
Take a look at Reference 3a products .
I have the Di Capo i's . They are tube friendly at 92db.
eff. with 8 ohms impedence and a nominal impedence of 6 ohms . They are a two way design with only a capacitor for a crossover network and very good extension on both ends . Quite neutral and resolving .
You should be able to pick up a pair these standmounts for @ $1200 or a pair of the Veena floorstanders for a couple of hundred more .
Good luck .
Highly recommend Zu Druids. I'm using an 8w 300B SET amp and they fill my large, open room beautifully. They can "rock" with 8w in my large room...with 20w/ch you could peel paint off the walls. They are very musical and coherent (being driven from 40Hz through 10kHz by a single driver).
Having looked back at past Agon threads, it appears that Zu elicits some passion both for and against. I have no dog in the fight other than having recently tried these speakers and found them very compelling for my room and spouse considerations. Highly recommended!!!
You can look at Parker Signature 98 Speakers not very well known in Audiophile circles,But were made for SET Amplification in mind and is well under your budget. I have the model one lower then this playing my SET Amp in Triode mode of 1.8 watts. I have a 12x 28 foot living room and they fill up the space okay with sound.
Just type in Parker Audio and u will find his web site.
Thanks for all the ideas, much appreciated! You have given me a lot to read and think about. Always a trick, not being able to listen to most of the speakers in question. I am particularly intrigued by the Zu Druids. Regardless, I will let you know what I wind up doing, and if anyone has any other ideas please let me know.