Not that I think it's end all be all but Stereophile has a recommended components issue twice a year.Fi mag has a much shorter list.If your room is big enough and you have power from the Arc listen to Magnepans,B&W's,Thiels,Audio Physic,Dynaudio,NHT,Vandersteen's,Proac etc.Read reviews bide your time.The speakers you have would fit a system one tenth as good as yours so if you can swing $3-5K or less used you would have some balance.
The older JBL is not a very transparent speaker. You would be doing yourself a big favor to upgrade. I recommend you consider the JBL LSR speaker. Similar in size to the 4311, the LSR is a thoroughly modern design. It's one of the great "unknown" values in high end audio. In a slightly different direction, also consider the Classic Audio Reproduction (CAR) speaker line. They're high efficiency, horn designed speakers. The Avant-Garde Uno or Duo models should also be on your list. From your post, I suspect you value a speaker capable of high volume levels with an upfront, as opposed to the typical audiophile recessed, midrange. Any of the speakers I mentioned will provide these qualities, yet they'll also provide smoother bass, more extended, cleaner highs and more transparency.
Two speakers i own Snell C V. The PSB stratis Golds i have seen the golds as cheap as $700.00 on here these are a good start. With the ARC solid state the Snell, Ive heard them with a D100 which is in my closet they were a great match. I was using a CJ PF 2 pre.
It kind of depends on the music you listen to and how you listen. For me, I fell in love with Electrostatics. They are not really very good for listening to rock music--but I don't really listen to rock. They are great for vocals, jazz and classical (particularly with few instruments rather than a full orchestra). A used pair of Martin Logan SL-3 or Requests would be a very good system match--but more importantly you need to determine if they are a good match for you. You do have to be careful with placement of Electrostatics--they can't be back against the wall and the wall behind them needs to be sonically reflective to some degree.
Thanks for the suggestions so far. My musical taste is fairly eclectic but would lean to the jazz, blues, R&B, vocals instrumentals...not interested in much recorded beyond the sixties. Lots of MONO. I have considered the JBL LSR's and not had a chance to listen to them yet. An audiophile friend also recommended them. I should also mention that my listen room or "bunker" would be more like it is only 10' x 12'.
In that case SL3s, Requests would be too big. I listen to a lot of the same music. If you are into a very detailed presentation where the speakers just disappear and you listen at moderate volumes you may also love the e-stats.
Ntscdan don't you see what everyone is doing? Didn't you say that everything sounds great? Why do you want to go and rock the boat now? Sure those old JBL's may not be as transparent but if you are happy leave it alone until you become wanting for something more. When that time arrives, then start looking. Enjoyment from recorded music comes from your satisfaction not what other more experienced opinions have of your gear. When that enjoyment turns to a distraction of something missing from that enjoyment then it is time to look. Just one man's .02 cents but when I see so many trade perfectly good gear for something "different" or "better" in the quest to realize something that only exists in the concert hall maybe I'm just acknowledging something that many of us won't admit to.
Since you have ARC gear visit an ARC dealer and listen to their systems,ask questions, and make up your own mind.
I think onhwy61's suggestions comes closest to what appears to be your needs/tastes: high sensitivity studio monitor. There is a significant subculture among audio enthusiasts who find you can't do better for the dollar than professional studio monitors and the 4311s are classic examples of that. But with newer designs you could do even better. But I would add: don't forget Tannoys, and I don't mean vintage Tannoys (though they're great), but the modern DMT studio or comparable consumer series. Altec invented the coaxial driver, but Tannoy perfected it. . .happy listening. dr.joe
i go with tubegroover. if you are nuts about those speakers keep them. i have recently been in an upgrade fury and have improved my sound....but i have been doing more buying and selling than listening. now i am doing more listening...plus i am broke. i am a merlin fan for speakers though!
I second Tubegroover here as well. Sometimes, you just hit on a perfect synergy that you won't easily better. You seem to really like what you now have. Newer isn't always necessarily better. However, if you're unsure, see if a local dealer might let you audition a pair of newer speakers to see where you really stand.
Tubegroover speaks (er, I mean TYPES) words of wisdom. If it sounds good, go with it. Put on some Coltrane, pop open a bottle of high-end suds, and enjoy what you already know you enjoy for now.
All you have to do is go to the dealer from whom you bought your other equipment and borrow a pair of high quality speakers and just listen. I went through the same thing, and until I brought something home, I thought my speakers were just fine. They were not even close....
Ended up with Revel M20's. They, or the floorstanding F30's might be a good choice for you.
I agree with Tubegroover et al. I recently stopped thinking about equipment and went on a media/listening binge, and found it much more satisfying. I also agree that if you simply MUST hear what you are missing (or not missing) try to audition a pair or two. I've heard ProAc and Audio Physic are good matches with ARC, and also good in nearfield. There is a recent "what's good in nearfield" thread here as well. Happy listening!
Thanks to all the great suggestions! audiophiles are a decent bunch...as for dealers I only buy stuff from them when it is too heavy or difficult to buy off of the web. Our local dealers here in Vancouver, Canada suck. Lots of attitude...they are waiting for lottery winners to come in and buy $50,000 systems at full list. They also think that vinyl is a waste of time and would rather sell you the latest, greatest incarnation of digital or a surround sound system. I think that I am going to go slow on the speakers because I am really happy, but I hate to miss out...
I forgot to add that most of my gear came from audiogon classifieds and that the fellow at Hollywood Hifi in Florida whose name escapes me was first class in assisting me with my VPI questions even though I did buy it used from audiogon. He did however sell me a Grado Ref cartridge, stand and other accessories so I am not anti dealer, just anti lousy dealers.
I was pretty happy with some nice two-way monitors developed by two friends of mine in the early 90s (one now head designer at Boston Acoustics, the other runs Acentec, the acoustical engineering offshoot of the original BB&N); I helped with final crossover voicing; many were surprised at the speaker's dynamics and great bass. Over the years upper midrange/low treble roughness (tweeter resonance issues, I think) eventually resulted in me simply listening to music less and less.
After building my first 3 way, and thus realizing the difficulty in acquiring smooth, coherent bass/mid transitions, I decided to not screw around anymore, and perhaps embark on a search of established builders' fine-tuned successful results. Speaker design is HARD!
I waded through various Aeriels, Thiels, Nautilus (don't work in nearfield at all!), Paradigm, and Sonus Faber. I especially started to appreciate better quality midrange response.
I too discovered the Revel F30, and realized I now HAD to have midrange purity, and hopefully still get coherent full-range response in a 3-way for large-scale orchestral work in the nearfield. Unfortunately my wife couldn't handle the Revel's Califirnia moderne (cartoony?) looks.
I then discovered Verity Audio speakers, and fell in love!
Unfortunately the affordable Fidelios' rear-firing woofers didn't work in the nearfield, but I eventually found a demo pair of front-firing Parsifal Encores at a great price.
I listen to music at least 5 times as much this year as last, and have purchased probably an additional 50 CDs as well.
Owning these speakers has changed my relationship with recorded music. Transducer smoothness, proper room-loading,
coherence, and complete clone-like L-R freq resp matching have meant all the difference.
I certainly agree that if you enjoy the musicality of your system then you may not wish to spend the necessary time performing repeated home auditions. It's real work! Yet you may find yourself either stumbling upon, or evolving toward,
a level of musical satisfaction that in many ways equals (or in soundstaging transcends!) many live music venues!
Just one man's grateful story. Good luck with whichever path you choose! Ern
Ntscdan, you have the basis for an outstanding audio playback system. If you did not, I would not have been so quick to recommend you change your speakers. If you think your system sounds great w/ the JBL 4311 (which are not a bad speaker, but they are a 25 year old design), then you will be thoroughly amazed by what can be acheived with an up to date speaker design. There has been significant progress in speaker materials since the 4311 first left the JBL factory. Witness the carbon fiber construction of the JBL LSR series with their molded tweeter wave guide. My suggestion is to hook up with a good dealer who will let you do at home auditions. Try a number of different brands and models and compare them to your 4311s. Some may not sound better, but I would truly be surprised if you quickly didn't hit upon some model that makes the 4311 sound relatively unlistenable. The 4311 are holding your system back.
Yeah, you'd probably be opening up a can of worms, but your speakers are so far below the capabilities of your other equiment that at least not trying something else doesn't make much sense to me. It's probably going to take some time and effort. Up to you whether it's worth the effort or whether you have the time. If it were me, I'd start looking in a heartbeat. Good luck.
How ya gonna keep em down on the farm after they've seen Paree? The door is cracked open and there is no turning back now. Good luck with your search Ntscdan.
I am going to get a pair of the JBL LSR32's and give them a try. I'll let you know how it works out. I will be glad to see the last of the spring loaded clips on the back of the 4311's. Kind of want to keep the system all Made in the USA!