If you think the sound of the Shahinian Compass is the best you've ever heard, I suggest you may not think as highly of anything not made by Shahinian Acoustics.
The designer, Richard Shahinian, designs very much and closely to his own taste. All his speakers above a certain price point (about $6000) are polydirectional multi-driver units with 8" bass drivers in a modified transmission line enclosure terminated in 10" passive radiatiors. The Compass, while having only 2 drivers and no passive, is an attempt to duplicate some of the omni-directional qualities of his more expensive models. The obvious sound preferences, besides the spaciousness of poly directionality, include powerful dynamics, explosive bass and a rich midrange.
I have heard (and owned) only the Obelisks (c.$8k) and the Hawks (c.$15k). I have not, unfortunately, heard the Compasses but I am assuming they will share the family resemblances I have suggested and therefore, like the models I know and love, will be distinctive, not like any other speaker, really.
I have owned Ohm Walsh speakers, also omnidirectional but "single'' driver. They cast a soundstage similar to the Shahinians but they lacked the succulent midrange, the overall dynamic impact and the powerful bass.
But you can't, unfortunately, go to a showroom to audition. They do not market to the United States. The reasons for this are a bit obscure but definitely relate to the (not untypical among highly talented people) crankiness of the elder Shahinian.
But here's the good news. A new pair of Compasses costs only $4800 factory direct. That seems to be right on your budgetary cusp. And their factory is right here in New York. There is a waiting list since they sell heavily to the rest of the world.
I have no connection to this company. What I do have is a deep respect for their business practices, their straightforward honesty, and their glorious products.
By the way, the company is now run by Richard's son, Vasken.
Shahinians are sold by Jonathan Davies at dynavector.com.au
Shahinians are made in NY state I believe, they don't come up used much but they are still being made as far as I know.
They definitely have a following in Europe, I would love to hear a pair at some point.
If you are into omni's there are the Duevels out of Germany.Prices start at $1295 here in the states. Highly recommended by the rags.
You will encounter more difficulty trying to find circa 1968 amps but they still make them for theater applications I understand, but I may be wrong about home theater. As has been said Shahinian is still in business and yes used ones do appear here and ebay.
I lived in Berlin for years, music ALWAYS sounds better there than anywhere in USA.Ony Vienna has better acoustics.
@Schubert, having lived in Germany for a few years I would have to agree... however it due to the power being 220 volts v.s. 110 in the US. It makes a big difference.
I had briefly considerd Shahinian speakers as an upgrade when I shopped for speakers about three years ago. I could have taken a day and travelled to Shahinian, but that would not tell me how the speakers would sound in my room, with my electronics. Shahinian offers no return option, so if you don't like your new Shahinians, you have to sell them as used. I realize I might have passed up a great speaker, but I can't take that risk.
I ended up with Ohm Walsh 2000s ($2800/pr). Not having heard Shahinians, I cannot compare them. However, my experience with this current Ohm model is different than Rpfef's. I do use these with separate powered subs, but I did listen to them full range, and the bass was very extended, controlled, and clean. I would guess the bass went down into the mid-30Hz range before rolling off. I don't know if I would call the midrange "succulent", but it is very clean, smooth, and well balanced. Timbre reproduction is wonderful, and transients are present, but never hyped. The dynamic range sometimes shocks me, but these speakers seem to like very powerful amps, so more power than I have might bring an improvement in the macro-dynamic area. Micro-dynamics are excellent. Without having heard the Shahinian soundstage presentation, I can say that the Ohms provide a surprising amount of image solidity, unexpected in a quasi-omni design, with a huge soundstage. Best of all, the Ohms can simply dissappear into the soundstage. They just sit there, not apparently the actual source of what you are hearing. There is just music, spread across the front of your room. Ohm gives you a 120-day in-home audition. You only lose the round trip shipping if you don't like them. But I kept mine.
TS, live and learn, all this time I thought the notes preferred the more cultivated atmosphere.
Haven't heard Shahinian but RPlef's account with OHMs surprises me as well.
ITs possible that the amps that sound best with Shahinian will not be the same that sound best with with OHM. OHMs require lots of SS power and current to deliver what they are capable of. SO an a/b comparison of OHM versus Shahinian using the same amplifier might not be a good test of what both are capable of. The designs are radically different, so I would expect different results, though each done right should probably sound superb, yet different.
"Succulent" is a marvelous descriptor for (midrange) sound. I'm surprised I've never heard it before. Bravo, Rpfef.
So that begs the question: Is midrange in real life succulent? I am not so sure. Or is that something that only a good hifi can produce?
Our ears hear midrange best. I'm sure that has something to do with its appeal.
Probably not, but I still like the term for describing a certain desirable sonic quality.
The Vienna Philharmonic playing Bruckner in Carnegie Hall produces a full, rich, plump, microscopically textured wall of highly fattening tone which can fairly be described, overall, as 'succulent.'
This sort of symphonic plushness has been well captured on, for example, many Decca/London LPs. I heard the CSO under Solti in Davies Hall and was almost overwhelmed by the sheer physical gorgeousness of the sound. On a steady diet of that kind of experience, I am sure I would put on at least 25 pounds.
And, though the bass is a serious force here, and the harmonic richness certainly depends a lot on the smoothness of the 'treble', I believe live midrange is often and somewhat reproduceably caloric enough to be placed on the menu with Savoy Truffle and rock solid images.
As for comparing the Walsh 200 with the Obelisk and the Hawk, I drove both with a Sunfire Signature 600 which produces lots of nice current on demand. The Ohm is a fine loudspeaker but I was comparing it to two specific Shahinian models (and, of course, ultimately to live music) and--compared to them-- the midrange was A LITTLE BIT leaner, less 'succulent,' and the bass, while beautiful, detailed, deep and very musical, had not the dynamic power of the other speakers NOR OF THE LIVE MUSIC I MOST LOVE.
The original question had to do with the questioner's feeling that the
Shahinian Compasses were the best speakers he had ever heard. Again I say, if that's how you feel, you probably will not like other manufacturers' speakers as much. In other words, 'emulating' the Shahinian sound is difficult to impossible.
From what I gather with e-mails to OHM, Shahinian uses higher quality drivers than OHM. At least the cheaper OHMs. Hence the slightly better midrange.
Its hard to compare a walsh driver to a conventional dynamic driver because thd operating principles are completely different.
Good point about Carnegie Hall! Succulent is a pretty good adjective for what i have heard there.
There's a pair of Shahinian Arcs listed right now on Ebay for a buy-it-now price of $1000.
That's a steal even if you have to invest another $1000 into factory restoration. The Arc is the next model up the line from the Compass and is almost certainly similar in sound to the it only moreso.