Good speakers under 10K.

Looking for my first pair of decent stereo speakers. Will be buying used, my budget is around 4-7k, so I'm interested in speakers below 10k. I may not be able to audition the speakers given my current location.

1) My sound preferences would be something that is rather true to the source, having adequate detail yet not being overly detailed. Hopefully striking a good balance between precise analytic sound and overly colored. However, I don't mind a speaker slightly to the warm end of neutral if it is not muddy or veiled. I want to avoid overly hyped or harsh speakers with fatiguing top ends, and I like my treble smooth and natural and not overly pronounced. The speakers have to be musical also.

My musical tastes are varied. Mainly electronic, rock, acoustic, classical, soundtrack and world.

Can someone help me decide?


There are lots of great choices in that $$ range. Room size and amplification would really help home in.
From your description, if you have the room, Vandy 5 should be a good match but that is what I use so I could be biased. You also need to have the right amp. What do you use right now?
I'd second the Vandy recommendation and off the top of my head add Rockport, Nola, DeVore, and Joseph Audio as some other brands worth exploring. Best of luck.
The Vandersteen 5 is definitely a good recommendation IF you can find them within your budget. The Harbeth SHL5 would also work though they're probably the extreme end of the warm/forgiving side of things that you might consider within your price range. I'd also suggest looking into the Vaughn Cabernet. There's really too many options to narrow it down without knowing more about your room and other equipment.
Depends on your room and amp. Subject to that, I think Dali Helicon 400 mk2 is a speaker that has attributes that closely match what you are seeking. Try the 800 if you have a bigger room and powerful amp.
A used pair of B&W 801 Nautilus.
Just saw a pair of rose wood Vandy 5 up for sale here in Audiogon for $3,500. They are the same finish as mine. I paid $13,000 for them 10 years ago. I have no idea its price had dropped so much.
I know nothing about these, but a friend just sent me the link and they look very interesting for what seems to be a reasonable price. 30 day money back guarantee, worth a lookie I think!
I'm not sure I like the appearance of the Vandy's though, they probably wouldn't be acceptable. I have no amp right now, these will be my first good set of speakers, so I will match the amp afterwards.

How about Gallo, focal, Tidal, Aerial, Dynaudio, Revel?

Also, which rockport speakers would be in my budget?
If you listen to a lot of rock, I bet you would love Wilsons, as they have good low-end punch. While they are quite expensive new, I think they are very good deals used. Check out the Sophias or, if you have the room, the Watt/Puppys. I've seen both for well under $10K, which is pretty amazing, considering how much they cost new. If you like it loud with a big low end, you should listen.
I forgot, my room is a standard living room, around 13x24 with 3 wide openings on the sides, windows on the end like this.

-- open ------------- open -----

* wind/wall window/wall*

-- open ------------------- w ---
Vandersteen 5s get my vote epecially for dynamics when listening to rock
A couple of weeks ago I auditioned a pair of Sonus Faber Cremona M's. They were seductive and addicting. I think they have that balance of warm musicality vs. detail that you describe, and they'd certainly excel on all the kinds of music you like.

Yes, they list at around $12K, but it doesn't seem to hard to find them under $10K. When you add in how physically gorgeous they are, it's a beautiful combination of virtues--looks, construction, design, fit 'n' finish, flat response, detail, warmth ...

And their maple slat construction really works. The Stereophile measurements of various Sonus Faber speakers (especially the slatted ones) show unusually low cabinet resonances. This translates into great low level detail in the proper perspective and the ability to play complex music such as classical with clarity, even at volume peaks.
Thanks. I'll check them out.
Don't forget the Dali Euphonia M5's, occasionally go on sale here for around $7k/pair; retail at over $14k; a great and under appreciated speaker; it has the slight warmth you are looking for; with their wood-pulp drivers; and they have a great integrated ribbon/dome tweeter for nice room dispersion. Even their Halicon 800's at around $4k/pair sound very good...just my two cents.
Need a little more information. Hard to recomend a speaker when we don't know what amp you have. Best Regards
I am very happy with my Joseph Audio Pulsars.
If the speakers are going on the long wall I suggest a used pair of Revel Studio 2's. They are a good match for your stated preferences. The Vandy 5's will have more slam, but the Revel's have a very pure sound that somehow makes even marginal recordings listenable.

On a 13' wall, I'm not sure. A monitor/sub combo may be best.
Legacy would also be a good choice. At your upper price range you could get a new pair of Focus HD's. This is a truly full range speaker with good midrange resolution, smooth non fatiguing highs and extended bass. You can listen to these for hours on end with no fatigue. Kinda what you could call the "everymans speaker".
Yep, get a nice second hand pair of Vandersteen 5As. The price and sound match what you're looking for almost exactly. OK, exactly.
I know I'm biased, but you can't go wrong with Daedalus speakers. Beautiful to look at and they sound stunning, easy to drive, neutral, transparent, very quick, built to sound near to a live sound.

There is a used pair on the Audiocircle site under Trade Classifieds. My DA-RMa are staying for keeps.
OP asked: Also, which rockport speakers would be in my budget?
Mira monitor or Mira used. I have seen the latter used in the 8K range.
Vandersteen 5A's are a fine speaker, however it requires excellent care in setup and ancillary electronics for them to really sing....and sing they can.
Barefoot sound Micromain 27 (fully active), runs perfectly from a dac with level adjustment (ex: antelope zodiac gold+volticus) or a cdp with volume control (ex: wadia 381). Needs to have balanced outputs though as speakers amps are only taking balanced (xlr). Best bargain i have owned during my 16 years..
How about Gallo 3.5, Aerial 7t, Sonus Faber Luito, Focal electra or Tidal speakers?
Aqua -

Judging by your description I'd recommend Aether Audio's(formerly S.P. Technology) Continuum 2.5, Continuum A.D., or the (somewhat large) stand mounted Timepiece 3.2 - the latter of which can actually be had as a new pair within your budget.

They're all wonderful speakers with a very natural, honest, dynamic, whole, and organic sound; detailed and informative, yet never intrusive or analytical.
I also agree that Vandersteens would be great but see that you don't like the looks. Revel and Joseph are two others that I agree with.

But here's one I don't see recommended: Avalon Ascent Mk II. These rarely come up on Audiogon but when they do, they usually go for about $5K. They were widely considered the "best" during their day (early 1990s). I know someone who has these and he thinks they are more musical than any other speaker currently made including stuff like the TAD Ref One (which I consider to be the best speaker I've ever heard; I've heard the Ascents but it was ~20 y ago - they were fantastic).
Joseph Audio Pulsars. Fabulous regardless of what front end or amp you are using, an uncanny quality.
Lipinski L707 monitors.
Used Sonus Faber Cremona
Based on your room size, I would also consider the Vandy 5s. But you should budget for a dealer to pay you a visit and set them up. If that isn't a possibility, consider a pair of Quattros, new, at about $8K. That price should include dealer setup.

For something completely different, consider a pair of Ohm Walsh 3000s. New, they are $4K pr. Their sonics are very much what you are looking for, IMHO. They come with a 120 day in home trial, so you only lose the shipping if you return them. I've had a pair of 2000s for 2.5 years, and I can't think of a new speaker under 10K I'd rather own. You can read my review in the speaker review section. Used, might be a different story. But you need to audition before you buy, and a home audition is the best way. FWIW, your idea of buying the amp after you choose your speakers is the right way to go about it.
where are you located? Thinking of selling mine vandersteen 5 with an ayre integrated amp, (crossover in the amp) or you can use it as a pre amp.
I support the recommendation for Ohm speakers. It takes a leap of faith to buy a speaker you can't audition. I did just this and started with a pair of Micro Talls. I was so impressed. I got my tax return and upgraded to a pair of the new 1000's. If I could afford it, Id have a pair of the 5000's and never have to buy another pair of speakers as long as I live. Miss them at your own loss Joe
I would also advise you to read the thread "Micro Talls Who's heard them"? and visit the Ohm website, and if you're interested, call John Strohbeen and talk to him personally about what may be the best choice for you Joe
Have you decided on a speaker? I have a speaker in mind that might be what your looking for.
Check out a pair of Dynaudio C-1s, plus a REL Subwoofer like a stadium 3.

Also, Dynaudios pair well with SimAudio Amplification.
The Joseph Pulsars are indeed very good but will sound best when paired with a good Subwoofer. Two others (used) to consider in your price range are Thiel 3.7's and Verity Audio Parsifals. For an absolute screaming bargain you can pick up a well maintained pair of Aerial 10T's for under $3k. It is an oldie but "excellentie"!
if you have the space, and the upstream components up to task, i highly recommend the Magnepan 3.7s. I would have to spend 3-5x the price to get something better. Paired with a Velodyne or JL sub, you have full range goodness. A wall of sound. I own them and will be upgrading to 20.7s but hard to imagine anything better than 3.7s.
Has anyone mentioned Audiokinesis?

Very musical, revealing, easy to drive, good bass extension, and great pricing.
I recommend a used pair of Magico V2. Excellent resolution, transparency and
extension. You asked for GOOD. IMO, these are GREAT. And at used prices,
they are a superb value. Truly high end.
I can provide some feedback about Von Schweikert, Tyler Acoustics and Usher if your interested.

05-07-12: Aquablu8
How about Gallo 3.5, Aerial 7t, Sonus Faber Luito, Focal electra or Tidal speakers?
The reviews I've read of the Liutos indicate that they're sort of a "lite" version of the Cremona M's. There's one less woofer and the Liuto's use a dome tweeter where the Cremona M uses a ring radiator, which tends to have more speed and detail. The Liuto is considered an excellent speaker at the price, but I found the Cremona M to be ... breathtaking.

The best news is that the Cremona M setup I heard was being driven by a $999 Marantz PM8004 integrated amp. This amp uses the HDAM circuit making for an amp section with a s/n ratio of 125 dB. It was a fantastic combo. So what you spend on the speakers, you might be able to save on the amplification.
PSB Synchrony One. They are as good as the reviews claim.
The Philharmonic 3s are only $3.5k new and they probably would meet your requirements. One guy has highly reviewed and respected speaker that are $22k and $15k. He likes his Phil 3s better. The Phils have the most natural midrange that I have heard. The treble is not rolled off but it is smooth as silk so no fatigue. If you can stretch it to $8k, then the Salk SoundScape 8s will buy you a slightly crisper midrange, higher quality finish, killer bass, ability to play a bit louder, more efficiency, smaller footprint and totally dead cabinet. They are both hybrid open baffle speakers so you would need at least a couple of feet behind them to the wall.


07-09-12: Rsimms
The Philharmonic 3s are only $3.5k new and they probably would meet your requirements.

Order by July 12 and they're still $3K. Not bad when you consider that a DIY-er would be paying almost $2K for the drivers alone.
I think you should look for a used pair of Ridge Street Sason's they would fit the mold nicely
Aerial 7T a lot of speaker for the money. Good Luck
I have listened to philharmonic speakers at audio fest. My opinion is the are a nice sounding speaker, however the bass unit is very large and I believe it could sound better. Do not buy unless you demo you may be dissapointed. Also I would suggest listening to the new dyn focus line and the kef r900 both different in approach and sound but both very good. Best luck.
I wasn't at the CAF. As to sound, I wouldn't totally discount ANY speaker as show conditions are often not very good. Still some speakers do sometimes manage to overcome show conditions to sound good.