Help with speaker selection, please

I run everything in my system through my main speakers...satellite, PlayStation 2, VCR, CD, etc. I also listen to virtually every type of music--rap, country, classical, jazz, and so on. I'm about to buy new speakers in the $8,000 range, and I prefer to use solid-state equipment, although I will be buying a new amp with whichever speakers I choose. Would you please weigh in on the following possibilities:

Quad 989
Merlin VSM-Millenium
Red Rose Classic
ProAc Response (new 3.8's or used 4.0's)
USED Talon Khoruses
USED Avantgarde Duo 2.1

Any other speaker you might recommend. Thanks so much for your input.
I've heard a lot of good about ProAc I just can't seem to get by how plain they look. For a very good sounding and slightly more appealing speaker look to Avalon and Revel. For 8K used you can get one hell of a set of speakers from many companies. Best wishes and let us know how you make out! Tim The Tire Guy(It feels good to be back, everyone WELCOME HOME!!!)
I am opinionated!
Since most music is mastered on B&W speakers, I usually recommend that if you are choosing between several speakers, try to always include B&W's in the possible choices. Since you like a wide variety of music, I would stay with dynamic speakers, as electrostats won't give you the "slam" needed for big classical, rock, or rap music.
In your price range the choice, using my advice, is fairly easy: either new B&W802N's or used B&W800's, which can be actively bi-amped to produce one of the "best speakers on the planet" (per Dan D'Agostino of Krell).
Have fun choosing!
It would be helpful if you could give us an idea of the amplifiers you are thinking of.

Also, if you have a cable TV feed, make sure that the cable feed isn't limiting your systems potential by introducing a DC voltage on your AC/system ground.

Can you list the rest of your system?
Wow, that's a W I D E range of speakers you have listed, everything from electrostats to horns to heavy hitters. Each of these designs will have idiosyncrocies that you absolutely MUST know about. For example, I would think the Quad ESL's are probably not going to be dynamic or "punchy" enough to make playstation or rap as exciting as the Talons or Proacs. Yet, I would guess that the Avant Garde's might drive you out of the room with some of the sharp and shrill sounds of the Playstation.

It has been my experience that "conventional" speakers (box, woofer, tweeter) tend to make for the best "all around" speakers. The exotic designs will do certain things better than cone speakers, but they're usually pretty picky about the rest of the system too.

No offense, but your asking about that collection of speakers tells me that you are not sure what "kind" of sound you want. And unfortunately, it is hard to tell what that sound is until you hear it. So, my advice would be to start with a conventional design, which will work with a wider range of music, and a wider choice of amplifiers. To push it into the "opiniated" category, I'm a fan of Proacs and Merlins.
It's me...the poster of the original message. My system consists of a Theta Data Basic II transport, which I intend to replace with a high-caliber universal player over the next couple years. It runs into an MSB Gold Link III DAC, which will be able to upsample my universal player to 24/192. My interconnects are all Kimber Select 1030. My pre-amp is an Adcom GFP-750, which I intend to keep for a while. My amp, a Rotel RB-981, will be replaced with the speakers, as will my kimber 4TC speaker cable. My thought is to get the best amp I can afford for whichever speakers I choose, and also buy the appropriate speaker wire at that time. As I said originally, I run VCR, DSS, PlayStation2, CD/DAC into my pre-amp, as my living situation requires that I have a single, comprehensive system. Again, thanks so much for all the input that's already been supplied, as well as for any further assistance you might provide.--Brian
It may be best for you, if you have the chance, to listen to as many of your speaker choices with some of your favorite music. And then make your speaker choice.

The best amp for the Quad's may not be the best choice for some of the others...etc.

The forum history is a great place to find info on many of these possibilities.
As others have pointed out, each of those speakers may have different drive requirements. Besides that, your "short list" is so diverse that i see NO continuity to the choices. In my opinion, NO electrostat or "monitor" type speaker can do justice to "rap" or anything with a LOT of high level low frequency output. While i hate to sound like "Mr Negative", you really do need to sit down and figure out what your main priorities and goals for this system are and then make your selections based on that info. There are TONS of good speakers out there, but some may be MUCH better suited to your tastes and goals than others. Sean
I have owned the ProAc 308's and enjoyed them in my system. At that time I ran them with a Bryston 4B ST and a Bryston BP 25. They were not at all difficult to run. I know of people who use relatively low powered tube amps to run their ProAc speakers. It is a speaker that sounds very good with many different types of music.
Many of the speakers that you have listed sound exceptional with certain music in certain setups and sound poor with other types of music and different setups. I believe that the ProAcs will sound very good with many different setups, in many different locations, with many different sources. A safe bet. Good Luck!!!!!
If you've got $8k to burn, you might be best off to get 2 pair of speakers on the used market. Allocate, say, $1000 for a pair of thrashers to listen to rap, country, and your playstation on. Then funnel the remaining $7000 into a worthy pair of exotics to listen to MUSIC on. Let your ears be the judge. And as many have pointed out, different speakers will behave differently with associated equipment. What is the output voltage and impedance of a playstation anyways? Yikes! The very thought makes me cringe. And just out of curiosity, what type of performance/ characteristics does one look for in a pair of $8000 video game speakers??
Interesting... all of the speakers have excellent qualities, but are soooo different. If you like the glorious but limited sound of the Quads, but want the transparency of the Merlin's, with the speed of the Talon's, the beauty of the ProAcs, and some of the dynamics of the Avantgarde's, I might suggest a speaker that has a combination of all of the above... the Piegas.

I was quite impressed with them. They do everything so well and are very easy to drive. They like solid state amplification as well as tubes. They give you the best of the ribbon speakers along with the dynamics and bass of the box speakers.

I would highly suggest you add them to your short list. There are not a lot of people who have heard them, but I could put you in touch with a few other people that have replaced much more expensive speakers with them. You may look at the "Golden Ear" issue of T.A.S. where Jonathan Valin touted them so highly.
I have the most eclectic taste in music of anyone I know (everything from folk to electronic) and I've found speaker happiness with proac AND a rel stadium sub. Unless you spend kilobucks on a full-range, you'll never get those 20-30 hz 'notes'! Properly set up, the sub will only improve your sound.
Thank you to all those who have provided me with valuable guidance and assistance in this forum. I especially appreciate those of you who were able to comment without being obnoxious and judgmental. PLEASE bear in mind, we lost our Audiogon forums in part because of obnoxious and judgmental people and the feelings they engender, so let's watch the smart-ass remarks before the forums vanish again.

Of the brands mentioned I would choose the Proac 4, but you might want to look into used Avalon Radian HC and if you are lucky maybe used Avalon Opus. Both the latter are better speakers to my ears.


When I was shoping for full range speakers, I compared the Proac 3.8's with the Dynaudio 3.3's. Both speakers sell for about the same price. I would recommend you listen to the Dynaudios. Although I primarily listen to cd's (of all genre), the Dyns are also used with my satellite dish, DVD and VCR. They sound great. IMHO the Dyn's were more dynamic with excellent tonal accuracy. The bass was taut, controlled and detailed. The highs had no grain and mid-range was exceptionally neutral. Voices were very life-like. The Proac 3.8's did not sound as dynamic and the bass had a bit too much slack for my taste. Although, I liked the look of the Proac's over the Dyns.
Brian aka TheDautch:

Sounds like you have an interesting system, with so much running through the same speakers!

Unfortunately, even at eight grand a pair, you will have to make tradeoffs.

From this list of qualities, what are the ones you prize most? In what areas are you willing to make compromises? Please feel free to make your own list, of course!

1. Timbre (the natural sound of voices and instruments).
2. Clarity & nuance (you can hear all the details).
3. Dynamic contrast (liveliness).
4. Superb soundstaging for a single listener.
5. Good soundstaging over a wide listening area.
6. Natural-sounding bass.
7. Extreme deep bass extension.
8. Unobtrusive size and visual appeal.
9. Sounds great at low volumes.
10. Sounds great at medium volumes.
11. Sounds great at high volumes.
12. Forgiving of less-than-ideal recordings and sources.
13. Ruthlessly accurate and revealing.

Note that some of these qualities, like the last two, tend to be mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any speaker that does all of these things well. I know of plenty that claim to. If you're up for arranging this list (or your own) in some kind of order so we can see your personal priorities, you'll be able to pick our brains a bit better. See, it's easy for me as an audiophile and a dealer to tell you what I like, but it would be much more valuable if I can tell you which speakers do the things YOU like!

One final note - your decision to defer your amp choice until after you make your speaker selection is brilliant. In my opinion, the matchup between speaker and amp is the most critical one in a system, especially if you go with an exotic speaker like the Quads or Avant Gardes.

Best wishes to you, Brian!
You have really boil it down regarding the speaker compromise list. I'll keep it handy even for my tweaking since it's so complete!!!!!!!
Very good for all of us even novices!!
Here's my ranking of the categories listed by Audiokinesis, in descending order of importance:

Single-listener soundstage
Great at low volumes
Great at medium volumes
Natural sounding bass
Great at high volume
Extreme bass
Wide-listening area
Thanks for the ranking system idea! very helpful

Greetings Brian,

Thanks for taking the time to give us your list of priorities.

Based on your priorities, from the speakers you mention in your original post I'd suggest the Quads, paired with a very good amp. Electrostats give you unequalled clarity, especially at low to medium volumes. While it's true an electrostat won't play as loud, dollar-for-dollar, as a dynamic, their superb clarity means you don't have to turn it up as loud to hear all the details. Soundstaging is somewhat dependent on room set-up, but the Quads are capable of incredible soundstaging. You get the dynamic contrast by pairing them with the right amps - otherwise, electrostats can be lacking in dynamic contrast.

Another line that I think would work for you is Piega, suggested above by JTinn. He's more familiar with them than I am.

I was very impressed with Buggtussel speakers at the 2001 CES - they match up with your criteria quite well. Very high quality dynamic drivers in transmission line cabinets, articulate and lively.

You might want to consider the InnerSound Eros, which has superb imaging for one, is exceptionally dynamic for an electrostat (it's a hybrid), and has great clarity. Setup is a bit more critical than for the others mentioned here, but you can handle it.

I'm a dealer for another electrostatic line, the Sound Labs. Alas, most of their models are out of your price range. But Sound Labs truly excel at timbre and clarity, and you might find a used pair in good condition in your price range. Frankly, if you come across a pair of metal-frame Ultimate 2's (now discontinued), they'll soundstage better than the wooden frame models.

If I can answer any questions, let me know. Best wishes to you on your quest!