The new Perigee DEFINITIVE full planar reference...everything Apogee could have been..and more!
Probably the Von Schweikert VR9 or the Sonus Faber Stradivari. For me, when it comes to buying $$$ speakers, it's also important to consider the dealer you can get these speakers from. I trust Jonathan Tinn of Chambers Audio and find most Sumiko dealers to be very knowledgeable and passionate so my choice is influenced by the dealers carrying the product as well.
Actually I would be happy with many speakers above about $1500 and can understand fully why my choice in speakers may differ from others... it all comes down to what it is designed for and your tastes.
The fact that I have spent many times more than $1500 on speakers does not mean that my speakers sound many times better. Unfortunately, as cost increases, it is always diminishing returns in performance after about roughly $1500, which is probably why the ultra high end manufacturers suffer from low volumes.....the value for money just isn' there anymore.
I guess there just aren't enough of us around who are so fussy or so wealthy as to spend so much $$$ for small incremental benefits to create a big market for high end gear.
On the MBL 101 E:
The MBL 101E idea of speakers that radiate in all directions is impressive and brilliant, they radiate in "full-space" mode. In conventional speakers only the base frequencies actually radiate in all directions (at less than about 300 Hz).
The MBL101E might have GREAT applications for concerts held at the center of large stadiums or at the center of a very very large room such as a gymnasium (if they can get the SPL levels higher).
Of course right and left channel would lose a bit of their meaning with speakers like this, and, without a change in recording studio and mixing techniques, I am not sure how they would sound on existing material. Current music is most often recorded and mixed in Studios for soffit mounted "half-space" sounding speakers.
Also I would be worried about all the reflections in home applications of this type of design. I agree an evenly dispersed sound field is a plus but most designers normally try to limit wall reflections not maximise them....so it is an even and forward radiating soundfield that is normally maximized.
Very interesting post, it would indeed be nice to see the volumes up on high end speaker sales such that prices dropped....but I am not holding my breath.
My choice would have to be predicated on my listening room and the equipment I currently own. Many of the "megabuck" super-speakers, such as the Wilson Alexandria's and the Alon Grand Reference, are simply impractical for the vast majority of listeners. And it would be pointless to buy hyper-expensive speakers without also improving the rest of the audio chain.
So, factoring in my current listening area and my electronics, I'd buy the Vandersteen 5A's.
I think Sdcambell hit it on the head.
For me it would largely depend on my room. Is it dedicated or a living space?
Room acoustics would not be an issue, there are ways around this. But the size and decor would play a huge role.
Personally if it was a medium-large sized room I would go with the SF Amati.
This speaker is the ideal speaker for me and one day I will own it...when i'm out of school and rich ;)
For now my Totem Arro's and Blue circle CS integrated serve me just fine.
Genesis 1.1,4 tower monsters. They look like the Infinty IRS V which I would buy if I could get my friend to sell his spare but perfect second pair or should I say quad to sell. The reality is that the opportunity to hear most any top of the line speaker even at the shows is rare, so who knows? It's a wonder they sell any at all.
Intuitive Design Denalis with Dale Pitcher himself tweaking them to perfection, on site. They'd be in a room that he designed and built, with all of his best electronics and cables, and they'd have their own dedicated electrical circuits and transformers. And I'd have time to actually sit down and listen to them, uninterupted, for at least an hour at a time. And, and, and.....Oh, never mind.
i recently got to audition the wilson alexandrias, perhaps the 2nd best speaker i ever heard (the wilson WAMM was #1).
funny, i might be able to afford them if it was THAT important to me to own a pair. but right now i have eggleston andra-2's, and when i came home from the wilson dealer, i listened to the same cd's, and the andra's were actually just as good in conveying the musicality and the emotion of the music as the $135k wilsons. perhaps one of the reasons (beyond personal bias) that i feel this way is because i have invested heavily in transparent cable, and have connected every component with ref-MM; all i can say is the folks at transparent know what they're doing- these audio cables have added another octave of bass, and added an openess and fullness to my system i wouldn't have thought possible- but i also can't recommend that people spend this kind of money on wire unless you're as crazy as i am.
anyway, sure, the wilsons threw a huge stage, and were great at dynamic swings,
the music floated all over the room, etc. in fact i was shaking my head in disbelief that they could be so good.
but OTOH, the system i have at home is 95% as resolving and most important, just as involving. would von schweikerts or something else do an even better job? (the MBL's image great too, but can they communicate what the musicians are feeling any better?) i couldn't say, but perhaps you reach a point where, other than getting an ever bigger-sounding system with an "amazingly huge image", you've arrived at a level of musical involvement where those factors don't have that much importance anymore. and i've always felt that speaker designers can build a great sounding product, even a "reference" product, without boasting that they cost as much as a mercedes (or two). anyway, i'm just as suprised as anyone, and it's just my opinion anyway, but perhaps i'm done looking around for something that will "blow away" what i already have. and it's time to go put on some music...
Acapellla Sapoahrons (on sale used for $77,000) look like the may have all, the Advantegardes have plus a super sophisitcated ion plama tweeter (that won't make you sick like old Heilco( frp,m 70's was that the name?).But there is one guy who has the smaller version in the "systems" and just from look,teck dscription etc they would be ebeyr interesting to listen to.Other chjoice would Rockport Antares with the insanely priced turnatable they m,ake to go with it that Stereophile made a new "A+" designatopn for.But as I was reading in Streophile there is a point of diminishing returns andthe majic dollar number seems to be about $20K.Abvantegardes,Avalon Eidons and the new top of the line Joseph ands Arriel seem to all the speaker andbody would need or could use.Unfortunately my budget seesm to be between 1/10 to maybe 4 times that.Beyond that I'd put dought into other parts of system and then other things novel liike savings for when sociual security runs out and elderly medical care.Trivial things like that.And I'm a wee 41 so one hopes that end of life care isn't around the corner.$20K should be enough to puit together an ENTIRE system that totally rocks especially if one usees A'gon and buys the right parts of it used (maybe not a cartridge which I never would trust or digital whjere you'd like some warranty.
The MBL 101Es are very intriguing but I've never listened to them.
For me it would have to be the exotic Kharma Exquisites. The most beautiful speaker I've yet seen.
Regardless of what others claim of their supposed sonic shortcomings, I'm convinced one could make any well engineered speaker adhering to certain fundamentals sound like a million dollars with the right amplification and other secondary components and accessories.
I have not heard the Alexandria's but when you mentioned the $ 135,000 price tag I thought I would have a look at the reviews. I have heard other lower priced Wilson's before and thought they sounded very good, although a bit too much harmonics (resonance) for my taste.
I was shocked to read that Wilson still uses ordinary commercially available driversin these exceptionally priced speaker; drivers that are used by many other speaker manufacturers.
Reasonably priced speakers naturally use third party drivers. This reduces construction costs by outsourcing the most significant components and leaving only cabinet design and driver integration to the speaker manufacturer.
I would demand unique higher quality drivers for that kind of price....not just good "modified" commercially available drivers.
If money was no object? I'd build my own. Not that I think I'm smarter than experienced engineers, and in fact I'd hire one to do some of the more critical design work for me. But I have a few ideas about what an "ideal speaker" would do, and would like to try my hand at it one of these days.
Or as an alternative, I'd fund the development of a high quality direct-drive electrostat/amplifier combination. The idea is to purpose-build a (most likely tube) amplifier that could drive electrostatic panels directly with no intervening transformer. The voltages required may be prohibitively high, so that might not be a feasible project after all.
If I had to "settle" for a store-bought speaker, I'd invest heavily in airline tickets and have some serious fun travelling and auditioning. There are too many fine speakers that I haven't heard for me to make a choice just yet, especially if money is no object!
I would like to thank you all for the valuable input, and would like to add to this again. I thought the mbl's 116e to be amazing as well and the fact that they are not so rediculously priced gets me to dream about owning a pair some day. But before I start to think of going that route I must consider the reality of trying to driver these speakers, it supposedly takes $25,000 of amplifiers to drive them correctly plus the $18,000 for the speakers. So I was supposing if I am not alone on this to let audio engineers and designers know that this is the sound we like, can you build a product that gives us the same sound with a price not so high?
I don't know if it would be the ultimate, but I'd like to see is a full range, crossoverless plasma speaker, hopefully with direct drive electronics. Several years ago Nelson Pass developed a full range plasma speaker, but few people had a chance to hear the pair he built before (I think) he decided to dismantle them because they were too dangerous. Anyone who ever heard the infamous Hill Plasmatronics 25 years or so ago knows what I'm talkin' about. That tweeter!
I heard it said years ago that the "perfect" (note the quotes) audio component has three characteristics: very expensive, dangerous, and not available. The Hill Plasmatronics were sort of available but surely met the other qualifications. The built in tube amps were pretty unreliable, so I understand, although that's surely not a desirable quality (been there, done that!).
Among "real world", *available* speakers today, I like full range single driver speakers a lot. With driver integration not being a concern, they stand a better chance of recreating the experience of listening to live music. Along with that, dispersion and sound radiating geometry play important roles in creating the illusion of live music including reflected sound, and in my experience few box speakers are capable of giving that natural sound quality.
Audio-movement(~kinesis :)) sez:
The idea is to purpose-build a (most likely tube) amplifier that could drive electrostatic panels directly with no intervening transformerActually, Duke, such a thing exists(ed). I had one. Used 5HB7 tubes, OTL circuit, electronic xover at the input. It sounded excellent -- WHEN it worked... which was rare. The brand is (was) Audio Exklusiv (german). The designer unfortunately died before he could perfect his design -- basically, stabilise the circuit.
A full-range ion transducer would be even nicer. Very big though...
My road trip would begin in Germany to experience the Acapella Spharon Excaliburs (closeout priced @ $325,000.). Then, it's off to California to be immersed in the new Magico Ultimates. And since money is no object, I'm going to specify them with a true uneq'd basshorn. That 88db sensitive Aura bass driver needs some help cosidering that it's paired with 108db sensitive horn loaded drivers everywhere else on this rig.
Yes there are some fine examples of the Acoustat X out there.
I have just purchased said speaker.
I've owned and enjoyed Quad 63, Stacked quad 57,ML CLS,old Tannoys, Mirage M3 si,and my first pair of stats were Acoustat Model 3, but with no tube servo amps.
The Acoustat X I am enjoying now have had the amps re-built and tweaked and the panels re-furbished.
When given good power cords, power conditioning and a decent front end these speakers can stand tall with the best of them.