Help with speaker choice

I'm looking to replace my Totem Acoustic Hawks with something that offers heftier bass and more airy highs. The Hawk is an overall great performer with wonderful midrange and surprisingly deep bass for its small footprint, but I'm ready for a more powerful and more sophisticated replacement. I listen exclusively to records, mostly jazz and some rock, and use a solid state 2x50 watt amp, which will also be replaced at some point by a more powerful amp.

I'm looking for speakers that cost up to $5000. The 4 speakers I'm currently considering are:

1. Acoustic Zen Adagio
2. VMPS RM30
3. Vandersteen 3A
4. Silverline Sonatina III

I've only been able to listen to the Vandersteens and I do like the sound quite a lot. I think it's a great speaker for the money, but I've also heard great things about the other speakers. If anyone can offer advice or owns or heard the other performers, I'd really appreciate their feedback.
of your choices, i can vouch for the vmps rm30--very easy to place and drive (93db efficiency), good low end extension and really, really nice transparent highs. your other choices are all well-regarded (i haven't heard the adagios), but i'd look carefully at whether your 50w amp will be sufficient. actually, my other top picks in the 5k range would be either the paradigm signature s8 or psb synchrony; they're both exceptional, with the paradigms perhaps being less placement-critical and a little easier to drive with your lower powered amp. good used deals abound on both of 'em. you're priveleged to be looking at such nice stuff--good luck to you.
Check Hyperion HPS-938 reviews. It had a lot of "Editor's Choice" awards (about 10) and even "Component of the Decade" from Enjoy the Music. It is very resolving and dynamic but at the same time laid back and relaxed. I cannot find CDs that sounds bad with them (warm and musical). Imaging is very good and the midrange is incredible.

New is about $5k - I bought recently 6 month old dealer demo for $3k. Used (without warranty) are even less.

It is also quite efficient (90dB) and delivers a little more power because of 6 ohm impedance.

Unfortunately it is very ugly IMHO (resembles coffin) but you might like it.
I have read some very good things about the Legacy Audio Focus 20/20 loudspeaker

just food for thought, I was salivating when I read about them, I have not heard them...
if you have not considered them, Devore Fidelity Gibbon 9 speakers are phenomenal and offer everything you are looking for and are easy to drive (also tube friendly given benign impedance curve if you are contemplating tubes down the road). should be under $5K used or for dealer demo.
I would first borrow a much better and more powerful amplifier to demo the Hawks before I dumped them. You could find more extension at both ends (the air you seek for the highs). Totem makes a very good product and tends to showcase whatever improvements have been made on the front end.
Your correct to get rid of the Hawks I had them for one week and sold them you should try the Winds. I have the Sharmans,winds and Forest for my home theater and I like the winds the best. Great sound stage and detail
The hawks have totally diffent drivers than the other three.the guy above is wrong no amp will help the hawks i have plinius sa 102 with MSB DAC and they still sounded like crap
Another strong vote for the DeVore Fidelity Gibbon Nines. They excel at meeting the stated needs of the OP!
the guy above is wrong no amp will help the hawks

Wow, Robert,you've heard the Hawks with every amp ever made.That's freakin' impressive.
If you are willing to buy used and interested in silverline, there are a pair of bolero used for sale now (not mine) well within your price range. much more speaker than the sonatina and match your criteria well. easy to drive and look great. fwiiw

I second Gary's comment! The Boleros are probably my favorite speaker, certainly my favorite under $15K. The current version lists for $12K, so the pair for sale are a steal. They are efficient, so your amp will drive them just fine. They are abit euphonic, with a little Gundry dip in the upper-mids/lower-treble, but they are not dark sounding, nor do they lack detail. Heard them years ago and the sound really stuck in my mind. Totally smooth, yet dynamic and involving.

I have also heard the Hyperions and agree with Kijanki. I would also consider Ohm Walsh 4000s, which might need more juice than your current amp, but offer airy highs and really solid, deep bass, based on my experience with the 2000s, which I own.

I've heard the AZ Adagios - also a great speaker, and another one that would be better with a heftier amp. the highs were very smooth, IMHO.

Let us know how you make out!
how about Zu Essence? should be fine with that power level and they are supposed to sound good given how often they show up in demo stands at shows. Leaves $1500 left over for cables/DAC/whatever?
Check out the Salk line of speakers. I think the HT2 or the HT2-TL might be a good choice. You can check them out at

I own a pair of HT3 and loved them however with $5K to spend there are some amazing speakers out there both used and new. The people here on Audiogon will offer you some of the best advice you can find.

Good luck.
Thank you all very much for your advice and suggestions.
I'm going to travel to LA next Saturday to audition the VMPS so I should have a better idea how they stack up against the more conventional design. Also, I actually did hear the Gibbon 9 from DeVore Fidelity a few years ago when I lived in NYC. I wasn't looking for speakers at that time so I didn't really concentrate well enough to fully appreciate the speaker, but I remember it to be very transparent, detailed and "clean." However, I also found it to be a little lean and given it $6500 price, I think the speakers in my original list, especially the Vandersteen, might be more of what I'm looking for.

I too find the Hyperion look to be rather unattractive. Their reviews are superb, however, and they are selling "B stock" of the speaker at 50% discount on their website. I emailed Hyperion asking what "B stock" meant in reference to this particular speaker, and whether there were Hyperion dealers in California, but the response I received was quite disappointing. The manager completely ignored my inquiry about B stock and simply apologized for not having dealers in California where they are based, which I must say I find very strange. I asked again and my email has been ignored. At this price point, it is simply unacceptable and extremely unprofessional, and I won't be buying Hyperion speakers any time soon if that's the level of customer service I can expect.

I wish there was someone on the forum who owns the Sonatina as I absolutely love the look of this speaker and if it sounds as good as it looks, it might be the winner.

The search continues...
Actusreus...just a quick response on your comment about the Devore Gibbon 9s. I have heard them at my dealer a bunch of times and "lean" is not an adjective I would use to describe their sonic attributes. I actually found them to be a bit warm with good authoritative bass, very clean mids and smooth highs. I have a pair of Thiel 2.4s and some people describe my speakers as lean (I do not think they are when set up properly and with the right amplification). Anyway, I urge you to seek out a pair to audition to make sure you don't rule them out. And if I remember correctly something like 2-3 reviewers ended up buying the speakers (out of 6 maybe), which speaks quite highly of these speakers. Here is a link to a pair that just came up for sale on Agon (i have no affiliation with buyer):

Anyway, good luck and happy hunting.