“House” Character of Popular $20-$30k Speakers

I’ll be upgrading my speakers in a bit (after I add a turntable to my system). I’ve always thought that people two often end up attempting to correct or compensate for a quality they don’t like in one of their system components. My thought is that speakers and amps shouldn’t try to “correct” each other, but rather, they should complement each other, while sharing many similar qualities in their sonic signatures.

With that in mind, I’d describe my Gryphon Diablo 300 with the internal DAC (fed by an InnuOS Zenith MK3 streamer) as being rich, lively, engaging, slightly warm but moderately detailed, with dramatic dynamic swings that can often simulate a live sound. Smooth but energetic and engaging at the same time. My speakers I’ll be upgrading from are B&W 803 D2’s. Big full and bold sound but with finesse and moderate quickness too.

What brand of speakers would be along the lines of the sound I describe above? I’d be hoping to follow this sonic signature in my next speaker purchase, but adding some small capabilities with transparency and detail, imaging, and low end presence.

The speaker brands I have in mind to look into are:

-Magico (would check out the A5’s. I hear the A5’s could be too analytical for some, but have an excellent and clean bass presence.  Bust most rave about the A5)

-Sonus Faber (heard these are too relaxed for some?)

-Wilson Audio (if I can get over how they look)

-Monitor Audio

-Dynaudio: Maybe this brand could be a sweet spot?

-B&W: I’ve tested many and find them lacking in bass presence resulting in a mid forward style. That said the 802 D3’s I auditioned matched the sonic character of their upper ranges very well.

Would be interested in how others describe the house sounds if the brands above…





If you think that Dynaudio might be the ’sweet spot’, you should then consider Verity. That would be a brand and quality of reproduction that leans even more into the ’sweet spot’.

It can be tied to that thing about popularity not being peak, but merely the peak of the attntion of the mass of the group. Those two things are not synonymous. Real peaks are not always part of the attention direction of the mass of the respondents or overall group.

If you ventured off the well-trodden path a bit, you might find something you liked even better.  QLN, Rosso Fiorentino, Gershman, Audiovector, and many more.

“speakers and amps shouldn’t try to “correct” each other, but rather, they should complement each other” <——- I agree completely.  I think quite a few of us have gone about the other way for a long time

The new PS audio speakers are in your price range and available for 30 day home audition. If I were in the market for a new speaker it would be at the top of my list, but then again I’m a sucker for speakers with bespoke drivers of an unconventional design. 

I'm a Focal fan myself.  I've had the Electra 1027's for 15 years and they sound great. I upgraded everything else in my system and now made the leap to Sopra 2's - 22K,paying with interest free credit cards. I auditioned the Kanta 2's but felt they were very c,lose to the Eletcras. I didn't intend to be so extravagant but auditioned the Sopra's with very demanding classical CD's, (although not my favorite music in general), loved them and decided to treat myself.  You should give them a listen.

Dyn Confidence 30s for me please! Don't let the size of the bass drivers fool you. Those are amazing speakers.

If you like analytical try the Focals but otherwise you are on the right track with Dynaudio.

ROFL from bache's post. How about a used pair of Wilson Maxx or Alexia, or new Revel Salon 2/Studio 2, Usher BE-10/BE-20/TD-10/TD-20? 

I have the Aidas and love them, nothing "relaxed" transparent yes, but as dynamic as any of most speakers I audition. I have listen other Sonus and I liked most of them.

I understand that is a giant lip on faith for people in the USA, but $20K few speakers sound as good as the AvantGrade UNO XDs, the Fino would be ok for 25x25feet but I would go with the XD for that size.

At $30K gets you in the Duo and they are outstanding.

Close your eyes if you do not like horns, because they sound nothing like more traditional horns like JBL or Klipsch(?)

I have the Duos Primo behind a Onkagu and Trios XD, with just 1 set of subs, 3 was too much, behind a NHB-468,  and will never trade them, until their new gen, but there are other great German "horn" speaker that are at least as good as the AvantGrades.


The best one you named is Monitor Audio. (PL 500 is quite good) . Sonor Faber,B&W, Wilson Audio :gave not a natural sound : sorry for The lovers : Low isn’t real  , No emotion ,missing the holography and placement of the instruments  .Focal is à nice speaker too. Marten ,Borresen, Ilumnia Magister : i do like them: specialy The last one… 

I'm thinking that if you have a warm amp and add a warm speaker you may get too much warmth and too little details. If you really love warmth the go for it. I would probably try to find a neutral speaker to combine with a warm amp.

I don't own a system as expensive as yours but from  what I heard at shows and read I would suggest Focal, Borresen, Qln, Dynaudio and Marten. Focal Sopra 2 was one of the best I heard at the last show.

I would definitely try the monitor audio platinum series that MPD tweeter is unbeatable it's the best of the market right now and they're very neutral sounding speakers very three-dimensional, their driver technology is way ahead of everybody and their build quality is amongst the best 11 layers of hand polished lacquer and the best leather that you can get in England that's used in Rolls-Royce and other high-end cars.

I have tried a few of these.  Ended up with Wilsons (they look fine to me).  Auditioned the Magicos (M6), way way too clinical for me.  Sonus felt boring.

From what the op has described, I would say the Dyn Confidence or Raidho’s.

The Raidho’s would have to be picked up used unless you like bookshelf’s. 

So subjective I guess, but interesting... My list is limited to speakers I’d be able to audition in my area. I am wondering if I am up for lugging my Diablo 300 to the audition - I don’t really want to put my beloved amp through all of that trauma, and it would add to the stress for me, worrying about it! But I suppose I’ll need to. Most speakers in this range aren’t practical for in-home demos.

Without having listened to many other than B&W before, purely from reading reviews which I know is sort of worthless considering how subjective speakers and amps can be, I really WANT to like the Magico A5’s. But, I do hear many say how clinical and analytical Magico’s can be, which doesn’t sound like my style at all. I just don’t want to swing too far the other way either. I hear many say Focals are analytical too.

One thing I’m a bit tired of is large speakers that don’t have enough bass presence, in my admittedly larger space. I think it was Stereophile’s all-positive Magico A5 review that said they had a tad too much bass, but that it was very enjoyable. Review said if bass was 3-5dB louder it would be too much.

But maybe Dynaudio’s will be the sweet spot for me, or maybe I’ll prefer the relaxed-leaning Sonus Fabers. One thing about my current B&W 803 D2’s is, they are very relaxed and easy to listen to for ages, but they only got this way when I drove them with my Diablo. Almost like an old pair of perfect-fitting jeans, and they are not fussy at all anymore. Before my Diablo, with many other amps I tested at home, and with my prior Arcam amp, I actually slightly regretted the purchase of the 803’s! So, maybe the Magico A5’s won’t actually be clinical or analytical when driven by the Diablo.

One more note:  I actually really enjoy listening to a high-performing system at quiet levels sometimes, late at night.  When you can hear all of the system's character, and also imaging, at that low of a level, it becomes almost surreal.  I've heard that the Magico A5's excel at that.  Maybe it's because they are a "fast" speaker?

@nyev   You like fast?  You think Magico is fast?  Try panels.  Especially electrostatics.

There is a very seldom to be heard comparison of the Monitor Audio Platinum PL 500 II, B&W 800 D3 and the Dynaudio. I was set to purchase the B&W 802 until I heard this video. The way you describe your taste for music is similar to what I was looking for. Hence, I started looking at Gauder and Focal. The Focal Sopra no. 3 was on sale because the box had been opened for a presentation, but never played. I saved 6K Euro and I have the warm sound I was looking for. I have the PS Audio 250 Amp that matches very well. Anyway, the youtude comparison is worth a listen just hear the differences between the spreakers. Have fun and good listening!

If you can stretch your budget a bit higher the Rockport Avior ii would be well worth an audition. Matches well with your Diablo 300. 

I would consider Sonus Faber or Wilson.  You can get new or previously owned in that range depending on your preference.  I own pairs of both brands.

I concur with @styleman : you really should give the Focal a honest try. The Sopra 2 are within your budget and they excel at "transparency and detail, imaging" as you mentioned you like.


Sonos Faber nova 5 - are not bright as B AND W, the silk dome tweeter provides more neutral smooth sound, but in no way that would put it into a relaxed category. 

 If you're happy with the B and W then just upgrade from there but same brand.




How Much Fun...! New Speakers for $20k - $30k....!




My personal experience..? With My Diablo 300...? (I now run ARC separates)


Best Sounding - Wilson Sasha DAW $37k

Best Sounding and Best Looking - Sonus Faber Serafino Tradition or Amati Tradition.


I've listened to Audio Note, B & W - Dynaudio - Wilson - Sonus Faber - Magico - Focal - Joseph Audio - 


My ear always returned to the Serafino's. (Amatis if I had a larger room)


Musical - Detailed and Fast - Real 30hz bass - Imaging like electrostatic with a large sweet spot. I actually have mine toed way out lately. and....they are gorgeous...! They party..! Sweet on voices.... I find the Gryphon a little dark and clinical, so I think the Serafino's really rounded that amp out. 


I had the Diablo and the Serafino's for about 6 months. DCS Bartok and mostly Nordost wires and connectors.


Have a blast...! Im jealous...!

@clearthinker, my main issue with panels is that they ONLY sound good (and really good) in the sweet spot.  So much so that I feel like you might as well get headphones at that point.  But I agree they can sound superb in the sweet spot.

I would add Rockport to your list. I was in a similar situation upgrading from magico s1mk2. I auditioned the A5, s3mk2, Wilson yevette and sabrina x with the ro kport atria II. The Atria is a great speaker.

@nyev    Some many years ago now Martin Logan realised that if the driven membrane is arrayed in an outward curve the sound waves spread wider and widen the sweet spot.  Since then all MLs have a curved panel or, where there is a two-way system, eg CLXs, the treble panel is curved, as the mid and bass is much less directional.  This largely deals with your issue.

Having said that, dome tweeters and ribbons can beam as well.

All that said, I mostly listen alone, of course in the sweetest spot.

I agree with creditingkarma.  I think Rockport's are amazing. If I upgrade, they would be at the top of my list.  However, it sounds like you already like your current speakers. What don't you like about your speakers?  What's missing?  Are the tweeters too bright?  Will you be able to hear the new speakers before you purchase them?

Do you have subwoofers?  If not, I would add a pair of REL's because their high-level connection allows them to play like woofers and blend seamlessly.  I would make sure to buy their SHO or above subwoofers.  

You might also consider SALK speakers.  Jim uses really high quality speakers.  

it is, of course, a matter of taste, but I would say go for Magico. I have had three different pairs of Focal, including the Mezzo Utopia, a top of the range YG, but nothing gets even close to my Magico. I tried to like Dynaudio, but whatever model, it sounds to me like behind a curtain. BTW I have a pair of active Dynaudio - very convenient solution for non-critical background listening. But if you could stretch a bit or go for used the S5 both MK1 and MK2 are absolutely amazing and with the Diabolo I believe will make quite a good match. But of course nothing better then to try it first, ideally at home.

@larry5729 , I’d love to listen to the Rockports as they have a lot of fans. But I live in Western Canada and there are no dealers near me. Maybe I would consider using some Airmiles and flying to a dealer that sells Rockports and has a Diablo 300 as well? As I said their do seem to be a lot of Rockports fans.

Yes, I do like my speakers after finding the Diablo which made them much more engaging, natural and with excellent dynamic swing. Slight tonal darkness (from the Diablo) which makes pretty much everything I listen too sound great, even with noisy hard rock recordings (ie Pearl Jam, etc).

What am I missing? I’ve heard what the 802 D3’s can do with the Diablo 300 when I auditioned the Diablo. Far, far mor transparency with details in songs is never heard before, way more fully formed imaging, with instruments and vocals not just in a 3D space but sounding 3D themselves.

With both the 802 D3’s and also my speakers, I’m also missing some bass presence and the 802 D3’s MIGHT be a hair too mid-forward for me (but if they had more bass than they might be perfect). Also, the 802’s were very finicky when moving around - poor off-axis performance.

I feel like subwoofers shouldn’t be needed at this level. So what am I looking for beyond my speakers:

-More transparency and detail

-More bass, but not looking for crazy room shaking bass. Just a bit more.

-Better imaging

-I want speakers that are stunning at low volumes (like my current speakers with my amp. This might rule out Dynaudios from what I’ve read)

-I want a musically engaging sound. Whatever that means, but I know it when I hear it. I home demoed some Moon / SimAudio amps and found them to have wicked precise detail and pinpoint soundstaging but found the music so uninvolving it was depressing… Some may say that rules out the A5 but I’m thinking my Diablo could add the “life” as it did with my current speakers.

-I want speakers that are not fussy about where you listen to them. Wasn’t an important feature before but my current system is very unfussy and I like that about it.






I can  speak to the Sonus Faber -  last week I heard a brand new pair of Amati Traditions, and they were exquisite. Visually stunning (red stain) and beautifully voiced, they are the top contender for my next speaker upgrade.


Another great sounding speaker I have heard many times is the Magico A5. While, IMO, somewhat boring appearing, they are anything but boring to listen to. It is a lively, detailed speaker with excellent bass response as well as a sweet mid range and treble.


I am sure there are other fantastic choices in this price range (Paradigm Persona 7f, Audio Vector R6 Arrete, come to mind), but the 2 above are the only ones I have heard in person.


Good hunting!

@mournbladeiv, thanks for your thoughts! All brands you mentioned are available near me. How would you characterize the sonic differences between the A5’s and the Sonus Faber Amati Traditions and, looks aside, would you put one over the other in sonic performance?

For me looks are way down on my list of priorities, although my wife said she doesn’t like the like the look of the A5’s compared with my current speakers! Personally I think they look boring too, but also cool understated and very classic.

@nyev For me, I found the A5 could be a little strident at times, but if you are after absolute clarity, I give the nod to the Magico’s. For me, even though I generally listen to classic rock, prog rock and hard rock/heavy metal (with the occasional foray into classical and jazz) the Sonus fit what I was after: slightly warm, but with good separation, good bass (full disclosure: I am a bassist and even the Magico's could benefit from subwoofers IMO) and an excellent mid/treble It should also be noted that the Sonus were driven by Burmeister (not a good mix IMO) and McIntosh (truly beautiful) while the Magico’s in the other room I have heard through Soulution and MSB ( I preferred the MSB). All listening was done at Scott Walker Audio in Keller, TX with a full suite of Synergistic Research interconnects, power cables and room acoustics. I do not work for SWA, just a satisfied customer who wants to give full transparency.

@mournbladeiv, thanks for this and your experience seems consistent with what others say in general about Sonus vs Magico. I’ll definitely need to audition these both. I don’t want absolute clarity at the expense of being strident. But, it is very possible that the A5’s wouldn’t be strident with my Diablo, as I also found my current B&W’s to be very slightly strident (in the upper mids mostly) at times when I was doing amplifier home demos…. Including with a McIntosh 452 and tube preamp.  The Diablo totally solved that though.

I also seriously think it is worth putting Rockports on the list even if I have to travel. Anyone know of Rockport dealers who would also have a Gryphon Diablo 300 on hand?

There seems to be a strong but smaller following of Monitor as well, which are available in my region, but I don’t know anything about their particular “house sound”.




I’ve probably owned over 100-150 pairs of speakers, over the years. I don’t rightly know. It’s a big number.

I’ve probably heard near 1000 or so pairs of speakers under favorable conditions, ie showrooms, audio shows, people’s houses. All hooked up with quality gear, etc etc.

Note that I mentioned Verity. I mentioned verity as the OP gravitated toward the Dynaudio speakers. Verity is in the same ballpark, but also...an upgrade. Ie, ’Audio technology’ drivers. Where Ejvind Skaaning went after all the other companies like skan-speak and dynaudio. His own company. I had the pleasure of speaking with him once, for about a hour. I called up Audio Technology to speak about some custom designs, and his son, Per (who was running the company) was away on holiday and Ejvind was manning the phones.

Quite a few of the brands mentioned use similar technology or they used dynaudio and scan-speak drivers in their past and right now. Or, some use ’audio technology’ drivers.

Verity uses audio technology drivers, in the past and probably still do, right now. Verity is one of those speaker brands that people end up with after they’ve finally got their head wrapped around how equipment sounds and can translate that to how things should sound, and can move in that direction. Verity owners generally (in my experience) aren’t on forums, or, if they are, they’re not loud about it. It’s all about the music.

If i had to chose between my expectations in sonic qualities.. and what I’ve experienced... and then translate that into what the OP might be looking for..the audition set would be between Dynaudio, Verity, Sonus Faber and Magico. With Magico being the odd man out.

Maybe one or two of the others..but that would require more scrutiny of their construction, crossovers, driver design, etc...Not saying they are somehow better or worse, but I just don’t know their design intricacies well enough. And, in the final analysis, well, it’s just, like, my opinion, man...

I've owned Dynaudio Contour 30i and jumped to Sonus Faber Olympica range. The SFs offer much better midrange very relaxed and yet very detailed high frequencies and good low end definition. Go and audition serafino or amati tradition. I'm sure you will like them

Based on feedback so far, here is my prioritized order for auditions:

  • Rockport Atrium 2’s are now in my top spot.  Would need to travel to audition.  Anyone know of a Rockport dealer likely to also have a Diablo 300?
  • Magico A5 / Sonus Faber (would try multiple models). 
  • Dynaudio (Confidence 30 I think?) but I think possibly might not have the low volume performance as I hear they like to be cranked….
  • Monitor Audio, Audio Vector, Wilson, Paradigm


@bache - I think you hit the nail on the head in that folks that like Teton also like Las Vegas. I avoid both like the plague (or COVID).