Von Schweikert VR-7's should be considered. Excellent sonics and equal build quality to the Wilson with much longer warranty...ten years, I think.
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Quite a few offerings, even at mega$ levels...:) The ones I liked (I listen to classical) were Soundlab (stators) with subs, Genesis 2 & 3 series, the big Avalons (with subs), the big Dali (albertporter has these), a pair of modified ATC 150 (?) actives, and the A-Physic Kronus.
Finally, in a different price category but outstanding sound: you might search out Linkwitzlabs Orions (dipole, active) or Beolab 15 (OK, I know this ain't a trendy hi-end brand...)
Reputedly, the Rockports and the Pass speakers are also excellent (the Pass are active, so no problem driving these).
The point is, all of the above EXCEPT the Genesis & the A-Physic were rather difficult to drive...
Of course, more info on what you like/look for in a musical reproduction would be useful!
I agree with the VR-7 suggestion. The new 7s were reportedly built to compete with the Wilson Alexandria, which costs 125k! I know someone who's heard both, and according to him, the comparison isn't nearly as absurd as it sounds. If you can stretch to the VR-9s--which I and several other 'Goners own--even better. I compared the 9s to the Maxx 2s, and my decision was an easy one. The VSAs are pretty special.
I would like to say upfront that I am a dealer for Von Schweikert, have been a dealer for Kharma and have owned most of the Wilson speakers that have been produced.
As Hooper and Hifimaniac alluded to, the Von Schweikert VR7SE's are incredible. They are probably the finest fully passive speaker I have heard. The Wilson MAXX II's excel at big dynamic swings and have very good bass extension but do not have the cohesiveness and clarity of the Kharma speakers. The Kharma's are very transparent and musical, but lack the real deep bass that gives foundation to the music as well as lacking the big dynamics one gets with the Wilson speakers.
Someone also mentioned the Rockports. While being a very musical speaker, they lack the ultimate clarity and dynamics that I look for in a speaker.
The Von Schweikert VR7SE's seem to have it all. Clarity and musicality, dynamics and plummeting bass, cohesiveness and highs to die for. They are also easier to drive than either the Wilson's, or the Kharma's.
Find a way to listen to as many speakers as you can. At the price range you are in, it might be worth it to fly to different locations to insure your investment.
Dear Muslover: I think that you can do a lot better in this way: go for a pair of MONITORS : Revel, JmLabs Utopia, Merlin, Harbeth, Spendor, Legacy, Talon, Dynaudio, Dali, Totem, Proac, Tannoy, Thiel, B&W, Sonus Faber, etc... and a pair of SUBWOOFERS: Wilson, Talon, Velodyne, Revel, Aerial, etc...
In this way you can get a 20K+ very high quality sound reproduction speaker system that is a " full range speaker system ", that can be competitive and can beat speakers that cost 50-60K+ and with many advantages over that very high price speakers:
- Many of the monitors models in a speakers line manufacturer ( between their frecuency range ) sounds better than the full range system, but not only sounds better they have better imaging, focus, less distortion, etc,..
- You can integrate easily the monitors to your room than a full range speaker and you can find the best room place for the frecuency range of your monitors: high/midrange, where the monitors don't have to worried about the low bass.
- With a full range speakers ( in one box/body ) almost always the best room place for the best bass room interaction is not the best place for the high/midrange frecuencies room integration: there are to many compromising issues that degraded the quality sound reproduction. With the monitors/subs fashion you don't have it.
- In the same way you can integrate the two subwoofers easily in your room: these subs are " separate/stand alone " of the monitors. So you can have the best room integration from both worlds: monitors and subs, you can't do this with a molithic speakers.
- Now, your tube amps are now " free " of the great power demands of the low bass frecuencies that now are handle for a dedicated amplifiers on the self powered subwoofers.
If you have time please read these links about:
Regards and enjoy the music.
Tell you what, I have recently purchased a Pair of Vr-8's Directly from the factory. I had a cool time meeting the group there.Instead of getting the money and dropping them in the van they hooked them up measured, played, Tweeked,, Xovers measured, tweaked, agian Unitil the crossover guru was A happy camper. ( 3 hours :). My 8's can be upgraded to 9 status. New 15" woofers with dedicated amp/xover unit. New Midbass 10" New midranges, new tweeters. This upgrade is about 7500. add that to the vr-8's used price its a steal. The man who traded in the vr-8's ordered a full blown pair of 140,000 VR-11's, which I watched them build on the tour. These people love thier work and it shows.
Back to your question. The Maxx IIs will make you very happy if you listened to them & liked them. The changes in sound will be based more on the equipment you use with them than anything else. There are lots of great speakers, but the latest Wilson Speakers are truly world class. Your room size will be very important as well. The competing brands mentioned here are also excellent but IMHO the Wilsons will compete with them & do better than most in ease of setup, long term listenability, cost, matching to your room (choose your color), ability to maintain them easily. They will do many things better than the speakers mentioned above. The Wilson sound is a unique sound which has evolved over the years and is really fabulous in the current iteration. To be able to compare the speakers listed you will need the exact same setup. This is almost impossible. Also just as an example often when you listen to a speaker if can sound different in different stores. Sometime the speaker can sound terrible on time & amazing the second time. If your dealer is able to setup the Wilsons well in your house you will be rewarded. Good luck.
Wilson Max IIs are "quite nice." Personally I would want a bit more for that kind of $$-- than "quite nice." If you got the power (and I mean power) and you certainly have the room: Maggie 20.1s. Lots of speaker at a relatively inexpensive price given some of the speakers mentioned. Maggies are quite addicting, once you've had a taste.
Wow the search continues. Dgad you are correct in that the only true way to compare speakers is with the exact setup and that is impossible. I'm going to try and hear the Von Schweikert speakers as I have heard great things about them. Sounds like a road trip.
Thanks again for all of your great input.
Raul: I would subscribe to your plan of combining an outstanding upper part ("monitor" -- say ~80Hz - ~30kHz) and stereo subwoof.
I wouldn't choose the Sophia for the upper part, though.
From reports, one good contender could be the Audio Machina speaker (with a suitable dipole woof -- just to be original).
Raul - that is the plan. I have one DD15 on its way as you're aware, one day in the coming years I will have the space and funds for another DD15 and the Sophias (or other next-level speaker I decide on. On my audition list are: Merlin VSM-MX, Audio note, Dyn C2, and Avantegarde duo) - current speakers are the Dynaudio S1.4s, no slouch either for a great monitor in the dynamic camp
For what it is worth,Raul has a very good point,regarding the monitor/twin sub configuration.Now,the monitors can be set up indepently from the subs.A very good thing!
Unfortunately,the industry,in the quest to sell higher priced product,has opted for the "All in one box" syndrome,which,as Raul is aware of,is a detriment to correct sound,in a home environment.Unless you live in Madison Square Garden!!I've heard a ton of them!
In reality,the one box mega systems,are a disappointment,if we can break free of the "Hype" thrown at us ,and really listen to some alternative set-ups.
What Raul proposes is to free the monitor(midbass/lower midrange),and position it out into the room,with the ability to deliver proper imaging.The sub/subs(room dependent,whether one or two,though one is more "ideal")can then be deployed,taking full advantage of correct low freq weight,and integration.
Once a set-up like this is properly done,it is "More" than competitive with the "Usually overpriced" big-rigs!!
A thinking music lover can put together a superb set-up in todays market,of plentiful products.Best regards.
VR -8 upgraded to a VR-9SE??? How on earth can you fit those upgrades into that cabinet(vr8) I would like to hear the details. I have the pleasure of listening To the VR7SE for the last 8 months and with the right electronics You may not find a better presentation. The ultra deep and tight bottom end with a seamless bond of the mids and highs is what impresses me the most
Yes the vr-8 exists I have a pair here. Only 1000lbs a pair..http://www.soundstagelive.com/shows/hifi97/pics/albertv.jpg
look under archives on the site.
I learned of the upgrade package directly from albert at the factory talk session. New Subwoof 15" dedicated Amp crossover, New Midbass 10" New dual mids New dual tweetes and all new xover boards
I recently purchased a pair of MAXX II's and I have owned several of the above mentioned speakers and a little food for thought for you.
-Every speaker I've owned is made with a certain brand of cable. Wilson are made with Transparent Reference XL ($11K)and all speakers I've owned sound the best with the cable they were made with.
-Wilson MAXX II bass cabinet and drivers need allot of big solid state power to controll. They will sound mushy in the bass if under powered. 500+ watts per channel will be required.
-Near field, far field, doesn't matter with the MAXX II, I am far field and they soundstage like a magician, hard to describe the dissapearing act.
-The new tweeters are the best Wilson has had very delicate and extended. Not "take your head off" harsh like the older ones. Just the right ammount of sparkle.
Consider a purchase of these to include a pair of at least Transparent Ref w/mm or up from there. and also consder it to include some big refined power, if it isn't the MAXX II will show how bad everything else in the system is.
I've heard the VR9 SE's and they are absolutely incredible. Until I can afford them, I'm using Dynaudio Evidence Temptations, which are also unbelievable. Having said that, you need good associated equipment, and especially , a good room. I've just moved into a dedicated room, and even without the full acoustic traetment (one wall's worth of panels are on order), the improvement in sound, with exactly the same equipment, is amazing.
Deshapiro - Yes, of course the speakers interaction with the room is the biggest concert/potential bottleneck in every music system.
Orangej4 - Congratuations on the MAXXes. What other equipment are you using with them? Can you compare and contrast your experience with the MAXX relative to some of the other well-respected designs you've had the pleasure of owning?
The Maxx II compared to Revel Salon,MaxxII is a complete sound, not detached between crossover freq. Compared to Maggie 20, equal is mid resolutin and bass to boot. Krell LAT-1 with Master Ref Sub, Maxx II beats these in all area even bass and bass tonality. Comparedd to watt pupy 5.1- 6.0, 7.0- Maxx II is bigger and Deeper bass and floor to ceiling wall to wall not just between the speakers. I have not had the Von scheiket in my room but if I had to switch speakers I would buy the vr9's.
If you want to be happy long term with your purchase, i'd recommend listening to a good first order design that will keep the original musical waveform intact. After all, we listen to music to hear the instruments and voices as they were recorded, not to hear 180 to 360 degree's of added phase shift. If you can, listen to some of Green Mountain Audio's offerings. Remarkable speakers that are also time and phase coherant.