Has anyone compared the Nola Viper IIa's..

to the Nola Viper Reference. I heard the Viper reference and I liked what I heard, but the II's were not available for auditioning. I want to know if the reference's are worth the extra $7000 over the II's.
I've heard them on the same day in a dealers rooms. I found the Viper IIa's to be competent but not spectacular. They were in the "ok, that's nice but lets move on" category. I agree with you about the Reference, they were wonderful to my ears, everything I find desirable in a speaker. They were on a much higher plane of musical accuracy in every respect. As one who likes well integrated, musical speakers that avoid analytical dissected type reproduction, I found the them near ideal. The dealers rooms weren't ideal, so that may have been a factor. If I'd had the more than $10k, I'd have taken them home.
Your response is quite helpful. I'm a little disappointed with Nola (Alon). Their newer products don't seem to capture the same magic of the music as the older products (Alon I's, II's, IV's and V's), unless you go up much higher in the range with the corresponding cost. Its a shame because I've long been a fan. The old products just had so much more value.

Again, thanks for your thoughts. Looks like I may have to consider a used pair of the Viper references. My other choice of speaker are the Focal 1027be's. I'll need to do some A&B auditioning if I can find a shop which carries both speakers.
You're right, I wouldn't say that the Nola Vipers were a high value product. I've heard any number of speakers at or below their price point that sounded better to my ears. A good pair of References at used prices, that's a different story.
I'm thinking about setting up an audition with a dealer to hear NOLA Viper IIA, but after reading the above, would it be a waste of time? Are the $12,000 Viper Refs, allot better and worth it? I guess by todays prices, 12K might be inline, if the sound is first rate. I own SoundLabs, but don't have that kind of $$$$ anymore, will NOLA be a waste of time to bother with?

I wonder what amps you guys listened with? I bet it was solid state.Probably something like PASS or something. I think NOLA uses ARC as thier house brand ? At least a photo on their web shows ARC amps with the ultra HE speakers. I have read these are great speakers for SETs too, can anyone verify? Welborne Labs lists these as something to check out with SETs.

I'm an interested in a speaker that is under $10,000 USD, but yet won't dissapoint me like almost every speaker I have listen to in the past few years. I don't want to spend 10K on something that should be 2K, or something I could just build myself. I wish Photon46 would give a list of speakers he finds better. The Viper IIA look better built than most in this range, but I have not seen them in person, At least they don't look like a carbon copy of the dozens of mass produced brands.
6550c, as I recall, the Nola Vipers I heard were paired with Cary equipment. Both amp & preamp were tubed. It's been too long to remember the models, although I think the preamp was the slp98. As to "speakers I think are better." what's the point? I freely admit that I've not heard enough good speakers in good rooms to make any claims to being a good guide to the myriad of products out there. At the time, I'd been looking for a speaker to replace my Magneplanar 1.6 and I was visiting those audio dealers who had products of interest to me. As I recall, I was listening to various Von Schweikert, Gallo, Usher, and Nola speaker systems. Just so you know my preferences and prejudices, I have no interest in audio reproduction that tends towards audiophile hyped up detail or tonal exaggeration. I suppose the primary thing that I like is a sense of musical palpability for lack of better term. The sense of real instruments vibrating in a definable space. The Nola Vipers, in that room with that equipment, as well as every other speaker I heard that day(except for the Nola References) failed that test for me. The system I'm listening to now has that ability to give a musically palpable impression in spades, so I've not done too much further auditioning since. BTW, I did go back and listen again to these speakers and the same impressions persisted. All this said, it's obvious from reviews that some listeners had a different impression of the Vipers and that's too be expected. It just takes some luck and work too get the right equipment synergy with every speaker it seems. FWIW, Reference Vipers pop up now and then for 6-7k on this site.
As a long time Alon and Nola owner and having a pair of Nola Viper 1A's in the main rig and a pair of Alon Lotus SE mk ll's in another both driven by tube amps, I can say with extensive experience that the Viper 1 and ll's are a trickle down speaker from the Viper Reference, which use AlNiCo magnet tweeters and midrange drivers. When the tweeter and midrange drivers are upgraded in the Viper 1A and the Tweeter upgraded in the Viper llA's to the Viper Reference AlNiCo drivers, this alone makes a very substantial difference in musicality and purity.

Keep in mind it is not the same tweeter with an AlNiCo magnet thrown on but a totally different animal and a MUCH higher resolution driver and the same holds true for the midrange driver. I have upgraded both the midrange and the tweeter drivers in my pair of Viper 1A's and the results are NOT subtle. Music takes on a sense of ease and purity that one recognizes as "musicality" and a purity that is very addictive and revealed that my digital source in the main rig was not as flawed as I thought it was as heard thru the stock drivers.

One can also upgrade the Aluminum bass drivers to the magnesium bass drivers used in the Viper Reference in both the Viper 1A and llA's with the Viper 1A now being designated the 1X of which I plan to do but Nola is currently back ordered on the magnesium bass drivers.

Long story short, if one's budget cannot accomodate the Viper Reference, one can buy either the 1A or the llA and upgrade the drivers when ones budget allows and come VERY close the Viper Reference performance in a smaller package and it is well worth the money as once one hears what the AlNiCo drvers bring to the party, it is very hard to live without them :-)
I have purchased the IIA's since starting this thread, and while I do still believe that the References are in a different class, by no means do I frown upon the performance of the IIA's, especially when you consider that I paid less than $2,000 for them on Audiogon. With proper system matching and eventual upgrading as suggested by Musicman, you may not ever want to part with them.