I love my Aerial 7Ts and you should be able to find a used pair for under 6K. As the saying goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and with speakers, "beauty is in the ear of the listener." I'm not suggesting they are perfect or for everyone, but after attending RMAF 2015 and listening to several speakers I submit they offer outstanding value.
Hell, I'll throw another one at you that's not on your list. A shout out for my Reference 3A Grand Veenas. Especially the older model with the Murata Super Tweeter and soft dome tweeter.
Very extended, yet never harsh or bright. I see a used pair listed for only $3000. These were a steal at their list price of $8-9K depending on finish.
I've owned $20K speakers, and I like these GV's better.
You could put the money saved towards a better amplifier, or a vacation. ;^)
You have so many choices in your price range and without a doubt your going to get ton of responses. You state auditioning is a bit of a challenge but it is an absolute must.
I’m in a similar situation living in a rural area where auditioning is nearly impossible especially in my room. After countless hours of research I decided on a different approach. I took my original budget and divided it in half and purchased two pairs of speakers from the top of my research list. Then I started playing king of the hill (keeping the pair I liked best and selling the other pair).
Once I found a speaker that had the sound I was looking for I sold both pair and bought the best speaker in the manufacturers line. I must of cycled through 10 or 12 pairs of speakers that winter and not only did I learn quite a bit about various speakers I had a blast in the process. Hell I think I even made decent profit.
The best part about the whole thing was I ended up spending far less than I had originally intended. In fact I have done the this very same thing with my entire system.
Best of luck with your search.
If you like transparent sound with excellent imaging, dynamic sound at all frequencies, defined bass down to 24 hz., with the all important midrange to die for. They have 40 inches of ribbon drivers for the mids and highs, plus two 10" woofers (1 mid-woofer and 1 subwoofer) in each speaker. Read the many reviews--the VMPS RM40 is your speaker if these sound qualities appeal to you. If you can find a pair with the upgraded TRT caps and preferably built after 2005, you can find them around $2200-$3200, depending on the upgrades. These are large speakers and they make effortless music. They are also adjustable to any room--yours would be awesome. There are pots on the rear to adjust mids and highs in very small increments. The bass can be adjusted to sound about any way you'd prefer from very tight and punchy to more rounded and full. They are 240 lbs. (66" ht.) each--260 lbs. each if you find the BCSE full blown edition Brian Cheney made. The VMPS speakers are no longer being made since his passing, but there are many helpful people on Audio Circle--VMPS that can assist with any potential problems. The standard VMPS speaker went for about $4500 new. The BCSE edition went for nearly $8000. No matter what other ancillary equipment you surround it with, the RM40s are more than up to it. They sound fantastic with any type of music. After buying a pair of the lowest cost speakers Brian made, I was so blown away I asked him if I could demonstrate his speakers in my own house. I did so for the final 5 years of his life. No one gives you more speaker for the money than VMPS.
Just like mesch, I agree. Reread chrshanl37s post.
I also like this approach to find the a speaker that is "best for you". And not someone else. While it may be impractical for some to buy several pairs and then sell them off, you can order a pair at a time, audition them and return the pair you don't like often within a very liberal amount of time. The point is to be able to audition them in your room and with your electronics. Good luck!
Magnolia/Best Buy has a very liberal return policy and for the sake of a 75 mile drive, suggest you take advantage of this and buy a few a pairs knowing you can get a full refund from them.
B&W's have metal tweeters or in the case of their 800 series, synthetic diamonds. Sonus Fabers have soft dome tweeters and both brands sound pretty dissimilar from one another. It up to you to decide which you like better. I think your on the track here. Good luck!
Id feel a little guilty buying a few pair of speakers from Best buy and returning all of them.
So would I. But I would not feel guilty if I tested a few pairs and bought at least one of them. I assumed this is what you were going to do as your initial post said that auditioning was a bit of a challenge and the your nearest Magnolia was 75 miles away.
The GE's are universally lauded. All of the brands you mentioned would serve you well in that price range.
I'm going to second jmcgrogan2, though, and shout out the Reference 3A Grand Veenas. Simply incredible over-performing floorstanders.
For your streaming and style tastes, coupled with your Parasound HINT, you may also consider any of the Devore speakers, or any of the Harbeth range.
Listen to what you can; read up on the rec. components in various audio mags, read reviews here, make a choice and know that you're going to get great sound.
Your Parasound puts out 240w at 4 ohms and 87db sensitivity, which puts it at the top range of the Salk Soundscape 8 ($9K), which is rated 100-250w. However, I doubt you'll be driving it for very long at those high wattages.
The Revels ($5K) are about 89db and can take up to 350w at 8 ohms. Your Parasound puts out about 160w at that resistance, so it should drive the Revels. The Revels are also tremendously well-reviewed.
The Monitors ($7K) are 90db and should fit very well with the Parasound, though I'm slightly biased against huge outfits like Monitor, even tho their speakers are quite good. Still, they use underhung voice-coil technology and for that I'd choose my Acoustic Zen Adagios.
I have no experience with the RBH's.
All of these are big speakers, so fit and finish should also be a consideration unless you don't mind sharing the room with two robots.
OK. This is easy. The most extreme value you can get at your price point is the Linkwitz LX521. Most build it as a kit, but there's no reason you couldn't buy the kit from Madisound, along with the cabinet kit, and have a local woodworker assemble it. Alternately you could just have a local cabinet maker fab the speakers for you. They're not hard to build and finish.
The Linkwitz LX521 has extraordinary imaging, low end and some of the most natural and effortless mid-range you've ever heard. Everyone who hears your system will leave with envy. Everyone.
Google "Linkwitz LX521". You buy the plans from Linkwitz for about $150, the drivers and miniDSP active crossover from Madisound for about $2000. Do your homework on it. Look around to see if anyone in your local area has built a Linkwitz design, whether the LX521, the LXmini or even the older Orion design. This is extreme hi-end at a price we mere mortals can afford because all you're really paying for is cost of materials.
Were a manufacturer want to build and sell this directly, they'd have to charge a good $15k to $20k for it due to marketing and distribution costs. At the bottom of the link below is a list of Orion owners who welcome visitors to audition their Orion systems.
Rick Craig at Selah Audio (http://www.selahaudio.com/) makes some fantastic speakers. He has several standard designs, and will modify any of them, or even make a custom design based on what you are looking for. He designed a front LCR set for me. When I bought an Anthem receiver, the salesperson came out to do the setup. He had heard all kinds of highend speakers over the years and was very impressed with mine. ... I love the small, direct-buy shops. You get great value. Rick's stuff would cost 2-3x more if he had a dealer network.
Alta Audio has two speakers in that range that are absolutely amazing. I've heard them against many of the so called reference brands and they walk away winners every time. The Rheas at 4,900 a pair and the( forgot the name ) at just under 9k a pair perform way above their price point.
I'm simply in awe of what his speakers can do
I went through the same process when selecting speakers when I became an "audiophile" wannabe as a hobby. Still learning as I go. All the posts I read gave you good advice. I ended up with Bowers and Wilkins 802 D's. Great speaker but I was disappointed at first. Sounded not nearly as good as the demos in the listening room at the store. My opinion is that whatever speaker you choose, even if you have to downgrade your budget some, spend a little time (and hold back a few of your budget$) learning about the acoustic properties of your listening area. There are many options for attractive acoustical treatments which can be customized to effectively disappear in your decor. That's what I did and I'm still tweaking! My B&W's now sound as good as they did when I auditioned them. "Tuning your room" is the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck with any speaker you choose. Unless you already are ahead of this game, research home acoustical treatments. Made all the difference for me.
Blackjack - you mention auditioning is a challenge. 30 min from Phila. means 30 min (to an hour, I'd guess) from a number of brick and mortar audio shops. 2 that come to mind are Community Audio in Germantown and Quest for Sound in Bensalem. I'm certain there are a few more. I'm not saying you will find all the speakers previously listed in this thread but, regardless, making time for in store listening, if at all possible, would be educational at the very least. Good luck in your search.
A key issue you want to consider is if the speaker uses proprietary drivers. I'm a Snell fan. Snell is out of business. Not a problem for me because ALL of the drivers in my Snell Type B's are off the shelf Vifa drivers. The last speakers Snell made were $50.000.00 at retail. They had proprietary drivers. Bad for when replacement time rolls around. I bought a pair of 20 year old Type B's on that other site. I bid $2000.00 and won them for $660.00 The midrange drivers were delaminated. I bought the replacements from Madisound for $80.00 a piece or less. They sound like new and to me, it was a bargain. The Type B's by the way were designed by Kevin Voecks who also designed the Revels you are thinking about. It is necessary to consider that any or all companies in this industry can go belly up. Protect yourself by buying equipment that will be as future friendly as possible. The Type B's are now 20 years old. Do not think that new speakers can or will out perform an older model. I love going to audio shows. I've listened to speakers costing six figures. ( I realize that hotels aren't ideal listening rooms). Still I've heard my Type B's sound as good or better than most. My 2 cents. Happy hunting! Joe