Looking for a Speaker in the $15,000 Range


Category: Speakers

MY SYSTEM CURRENTLY CONSISTS OF QUAD 988'S, THOR AUDIO
TP-60'S, THOR AUDIO TA-2000 PREAMPLIFIER WITH PHONE STAGE
AND A CARY 306/200 CD TRANSPORT/PLAYER. I AM VERY HAPPY WITH
THE SYSTEM BUT MY QAUDS LACK BASS AND DO NOT CREATE ANY SENSE THAT 80-100 PEOPLE MAY BE ON STATE AT ONCE, AS IN A LARGE ORCHESTRA. DOESN'T CREATE A LARGE SOUNDSTAGE. PERHAPS,
ANOTHER SPEAKER WOULD HELP? MY POTENTIALS ARE:

1. VANDERSTEEN 5A
2. WILSON WATT PUPPY 7
3. AVALON EIDELON
4. VERITY PARSIFAL ENCORE

HAS ANYBODY HEARD ANY OF THE ABOVE 4?. MY THOR POWER AMP
PUT OUT 60 WATTS OF ULTRLINEAR POWER PER MONBLOCK AND
REALLY CAN DRIVE MOST SPEAKERS WITH GREAT EASE. I AM WONDERING IF THERE IS A SPEAKER SYSTEM THAT WOULD HAVE THE
MAGNIFICENT CLARITY OF THE QAUD 988 MIDRANGE, WITH A
LARGER SOUNDSTAGE AND THE ABILITY TO A MORE REALISTIC AURAL
PICTURE. I HAVE LEFT OUT THE KHARMA 3.2 BECAUSE AT $19,000
FOR THE PAIR IT IS MISSING BASS AND THERE IS NO DEALER
IN NEW YORK STATE TO EVEN AUDITION KHARMA. THANKS FOR ANY LIGHT THAT YOU MAY SHED ON MY SEARCH.
kjl
I have audtioned the Avalon Eidolons as a friend owns a pair.

I love the setup he has. It is the best system I have ever heard actually.

That being said, your amps will NOT have enough power to drive them. He uses a SS Classe amp with 400W/ch. (In fact he upgraded from a 300W/ch Classe amp as it did not quite have enough umph, to properly drive the speakers). He also has some 100W/ch tube monoblock amps, and he loves the sound, but he can only listen to small scale music at moderate sound levels).

You might want to give the Revel Salons a shot, as they are in your price range. I have the Revel Studios and they are a great speaker, but lack the truly deep bass of the Salon. (However, the Salon also needs really powerful amps as well. My Studios are being driven with a 200W/ch Levinson, which is a good match.)

(I note of caution by the way. I don't know what size your room is and if you do not have a really large room, you might be better off with a speaker that does not have a truly deep bass response. Sometimes too much bass response causes a "boomy" sound.
My room is decently large, 16'x24' and I have pushed the limit of its bass reponse with the Studios, although, I am firing them on the short distance.)

Good Luck in your search!
1. The Vandersteen 5A will work fine and be a nice match.
2. The Wilson WP 7 will be driven by the Thor, but not to their full potential.
3. The Eidolon definitely needs more power as well.
4. Although the Parsifal's are a bit low in their efficiency rating, they will sing with the Thor amps. If between only these four, this would be my clear choice.

I would suggest that you reconsider thew Kharma 3.2 speakers. As one of the largest dealers in the world for Kharma, I assure you the bass will not be lacking except maybe on the lowest pipe organ music.

Where in NY State are you? I may be able to setup an audition for you at a customer's house. The other thing to consider is the importer, GTT Audio is 30 minutes from Manhattan in Long Valley, NJ. He has the full line available for audition and plays them all with low powered tube amplification. Make the trip and give them a listen.
I've heard all of the speakers you're considering except the Watt/Puppy 7 (I wasn't very impressed by older models, but I know a lot of people like 'em).

This is entirely subjective, but I found the Parsifals to be unsatisfying with a floppy midrange and unimpressive bass.

The Vandys are excellent if somewhat unfashionable and unspectacular (which could be a good thing) -- a down to earth good speaker.

If you can power the Avalons (heed the warnings the others have posted), that would be my choice far and away from your list -- that's the speaker I would get for myself if I could, and it can deliver the "orchestra is there" feeling you want in spades. Its bass is not overwhelming (though quite adequate). Its real strength is in imagining and clarity. You will not only be able to count all 80 musicians, but probably be able to figure out what they're wearing.

The suggestion that you check out some Revels is well taken as they have excellent bass and are pretty good throughout the rest of the range too. You might want to look for a used pair of Dunlavy SCVs. They should come in at half your budget, present no challenge to your amps, and have more than enough bass for anyone.

Good luck.
Your first item on the list would have been my suggestion: the Vandersteen Model 5A. With good electronics, the 5A's are a superb full-range speaker that are as good as many speakers costing up to $25k.
Of all the speakers you mention, I have only heard the Vandy Fives. If I was willing to part with the kind of money you are quoting, I would get a pair in a heartbeat. In Canada a pair of Fives is around $18K. That probably means that the Five As are over 20K. Too rich for me. But there you have it, in this instance, thank the Divine Providence that you live in the USA and get yourself out to your nearest dealer. The Fives are not much to look at, but boy do they sound great!
Any speaker in that price range that does not deliver good response at or close to 20 Hz should be ashamed of itself!
You may want to consider the Quad 989's. They cost less, you will still get the Quad sound and more bass with the two extra bass panels. Before you consider the other choices (all of which are excellent), consider trying to audition 989's in your current system.
If you rule out the 989's, then consider how wedded you are to your amp since you may have to change amps with many of the other speakers.
I'm mote than a little bit biased, but you really should put the Innersound Eros Mk111's on your short list. They have all the midrange magic of Quads, but without the volume and dynamic limitations...and they really do bass. Good luck!
I would choose the Parsifal... But that's just me... I just don't know if they would sound good in your system (or any speakers for that matter). I guess you have to give it a try...

And by the way, I totally disagree with Kerimf. The parsifal have a very very sweet midrange.

Best Regards
I don't know if your looking for options but I'll throw my favorite speaker into the mix.

B&W SIGNATURE 800

They are a little out of your price frame, $20k
but they are the best speaker I've ever heard.
However I've never heard them with lower powered or tube amps.
I may of found my N802's successor!
I have heard the above speakers other than the Verity, also other speakers including Martin Logan, B&W Signature and JmLab Utopias. And the speaker that got my toes tapping was the W/P 7. Another speaker that you should look into is the Revel Salon, if you can get over how it looks, the sonics are first class. I would say on par with the W/P 7, Staging, dynamic, resolution, imaging, weight and more, these two pairs have it in spades. Of course the rest are excellent speakers, but these two just suits more to my taste.

Happy Listening
You might consider the Coincident Total Victory.

http://www.coincidentspeaker.com/total_victory.html

http://www.coincidentspeaker.com/opinions.htm
Hi:

You make a nice list of speakers.

You are looking for the illusion of 80-100 people on the stage at once and wonder if "another speaker would help."

I think you have very high standards. I have never heard any speaker at any price meet that expectation under the best of conditions and the majority of great speakers I have heard had no chance to do their stuff because of room problems. You are not going to create a symphony hall in the average sized (or most) listening room(s).

In any event, I think you are looking at some great stuff but I doubt if it will come up to the high standard you set.
I fear that you will always find you are missing something.

Buy season tickets.

Sincerely
I remain,
I heard the $14,000 highly efficient Cabasse Karas recently at the Home Entertainment Show in San Francisco. Also present were the above mentioned speakers. There was no contest. the Cabasse was the only speaker I heard there that gave a truly life size believable image of real performers at real volumes. The Cabasse was seamless throughout it's huge range.

I am a dipole die hard. Never have I been moved by dynamic driver speakers... Until I heard the Cabasse.

Kjl,

As a former Quad owner, in my experience it's pretty hard to go back to dynamic loudspeakers. The openness and clarity and natural ease of the Quads is a tough act to follow.

I try not to always post a "buy something I sell" post here at Audiogon, but based on what you've said, you might want to consider the Sound Lab line of full-range electrostats. They are probably the ultimate expression of electrostatic technology, and they do have genuine deep bass (while they don't give you the chest-caving whump of a good 15" woofer, their pitch definition in the bottom octaves is superb). Their limitations are low efficiency (in the same ballpark as Maggies) and a difficult impedance curve; unfortunately your Thors might not be sufficiently powerful.

On the plus side, Sound Labs give you world-class clarity and inner harmonic articulation; they do a superb job of letting you hear the individual voices in a large choral ensemble. They give you a very wide sweet spot and (with a bit of room treatment at the first reflection points) will give you a wide and extremely deep soundstage. Sound Labs excel at getting instrumental timbres and textures correct. The do not give you the pinpoint imaging of a world-class minimonitor, but they do a better job of recreating the feel of a live performance with their rich ambience. They do a better job of conveying dynamic contrasts than most planars speakers (including the Quads). The Sound Labs are utterly fatigue-free; you can listen to them for hours and hours on end.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Best of luck in your quest!

Duke
Disclaimer: I sell Quad, Pass Labs and Wolcott.

I would first take a look at trying a good subwoofer in your setup. I run my 988s alone or or with a storm subwoofer in my 25 x 14 vaulted room. I use them primarily with P220 Wolcotts. I prefer them alone for acoustic and vocals, but with the sub for more dynamic music. I'm in a new room now so I don't think I have tuned the subwoofer placement/damping optimally yet. I'm still getting a feel for the room and sound treatment. The real trick is to get them matched fairly high up in the low bass without causing interference to the midrange. When set up right, it actually improves the midrange considerably.

The best subwoofer's I have used are the Audio Physic Luna and the Rel Storm. You need something with speed and clarity, so the smaller high quality subs are best. The Storm is a little better because it allows you to specify an exact crossofer. The AP only allows 32.5hz and 46 hz but is extremely fast. I cross the storm at 38hz. The 988's are down 6db at 36hz.

I have owned the 5's, the Eidolon, and have heard the Wilson's and Kharma's. I went from the 5's to Eidolon's to the 988's. These are all world class speakers.

The 5's have the best low bass of the bunch, will work well with your medium powered amps, but will also dial out a considerable amount of midrange clarity. The 5a adds this back a bit. They are laid back like the Quads which may appeal to you. You will get the best bass out of these because of the integral subwoofer. Their high pass filter makes the 5 look like a monitor to your tube amp, so there is much less strain on your amps. I found I needed to biwire for good performance.

The superb Eidolons will not work with your amplifiers. I found they worked best with a 300w+ solid state amplifiers. Their bass comes alive at that point.

The Wilson's are world class speakers as well. I've heard them sound world-class with VTL and BAT VK-150SEs. They seem to sound best with ultra-high resolution tube gear.

I have heard the Kharma's at Jtinn's and feel they have one of the very best midranges and extraordinarily fast bass. They were driven with the 75 watt Tenor's/Meitner and formed one of the best system's I've heard anywhere.
I would suggest either as speakers that might let you get closer to the music, particularly in soundstaging, but have some concerns about the amp/speaker match. Unfortunately, I doubt that the pairing of Thor with Avalon will allow much above moderate listening at best (but it should be pretty magical if quiet!). The Thor/Kharma combo will probably have more luck. I have owned speakers from both, and personally prefer Avalon but loved the Kharmas as well (and plenty of A-gon regulars would feel the reverse).

... there's my $0.02 (MSRP)

Jacob
This is way above my league (my whole system cost $5000), but it strikes me that if you're completely happy with the Quads except for the bass and sense of scale of the sound then you should try to get a home demo of a good quality subwoofer, like a higher end REL, or audio-physic.
I was in the same situation with my system (based around spica-angelus, which have fabulous midrange and imaging, but can sound a little thin and lacking in dynamics) and the addition of a REL sub completely fixed my system. Now orchestras sound like orchestras.

It's worth a try before swapping speakers, and would probably cost you around $3k for a good sub.
The Kharma 3.2's should definitely be added to your list and listened to. Let's say when I put them in my system after having the Wilson Sophia's, and a couple of other fine speakers they brought new meaning to the word bass in my very large (55x44) listening room. I had Dynaudio Temptations before that, and they had better usable bass than them as well, not to mention better musicality, liquidity and a MUCH larger soundstage. I do have to say that this effect was much more prominent with SS (Bryston) than tubes (Tenor). Tubes with the Kharma's were sublime.Can't speak to the WP7's which I haven't heard, but compared to the Sophia's the Kharmas were just in a different league re transparency and spooky "they are here" imaging.
Get a pair of Klipsch cornershorns. Take the money you save and pay for one of your grandkids's college semesters!
Please go to Richard Shahinians shop in New Medford New York and listen to his Shahinian Diapason Loudspeakers. They cost $12,000 for a pair and I'd say they are worth much much more. They have the same magic as the Quads but with absolutely amazing dynamics. They are in fact designed to reproduce the symphony orchestra at levels anywhere from a whisper to a roar. The soundstage is simply real. I have heard the 988's and I have owned the Soundlabs. Both great speakers but the Shahinians rule the roost. As John Marks of Stereophile puts it the Shahinians are capable of reproducing the full gestalt of the original performance. Your Thor amp probably won't have the cajones needed to drive these babies but an inexpensive (relatively speaking) bedini or Plinius will.
I have owned more speakers than I care to admit- so I will only comment on the systems with which I have personal experience.

Here is my 2 cents

I love the Vandersteen 5s- transparent- open and natural- and with the powered woofer- really easy to drive

The Eidolons need a big room- the Opus is very close- and a lot cheaper and easier to drive- I own a pair in my current primary system- No faults that I can think of

The Wilsons are great special effect speakers- lots of boom and sizzle but NO music- they may audition well but after you have the chance to listen to what they do- especially on top- I would say this is the number one speaker in the world for those with serious high frequency loss in both ears.

Don't forget Spendor
Samuelg's response intrigues me greatly. I have not heard the Vandy 5's but they are at the top of my must listen to list. I know the Avalons are great but I have always ignored them thinking they were somewhat weak in the bass department. Have you heard my beloved Shahinians?
P.S. I agree with Samuelg on the Wilsons. My summation is they are the most overhyped loudspeakers of all time.
I have heard your first 3 choices and IMHO Von Schweikert Audios VR4 SE's beat all three for substantially less money. I have not heard the VR 5's or VR 7's, but with my experience with the 4's I would highly recommend you audition the VSA's.
Jeez Duke, everytime you describe the attributes of the Soundlabs I become more and more curious, heard the A-3 many moons ago but under show conditions. You, Albert Porter and Brian Walsh are just too compelling in your case to ignore. Sounds like my cup of tea if not their immense size and power requirements. Just had to get that out of my system, er, off my chest.

Question- Can one live with limited dynamics at the "expense" of "You are there" realism? Ah, if these aren't some damn tough choices in life I don't know what is. Maybe we should all heed Clueless's advice, attend more concerts!
I own WATT/PUPPY 7s and they're amazing, although 1/2 again as much outside your range. They through a huge stage, are extremely efficient at 92db/w/m, and are a rather benign 4 ohm impedance.
Give the Kharma 3.2 a listen before knocking its bass. In a modest size room with a top quality modestly powered amp, the Kharma's rock! Great pacing, tuneful, and puchy. Even though it does not shake the house, the bass sounds RIGHT!
Anyway, with the 60W TP-60, you may have better luck in bass with the 3.2 than with any of the 3 way power speakers you listed.
A new pair of EgglestonWorks (http://www.egglestonworks.com/Products.htm) Rosa's are in your range or possibly a used pair of Andra's could be the answer. The Andra II received very good reviews at the '03 CES show. You may also want to entertain the new VMPS RM/X Elixir, which was also the talk of this years CES show.

FWIW I think your list is too short, there a lot of very good speakers in the $10-15K range that you should research. There is also a short list of speakers in the sub $10K range that will hang with the 20 grand big boys. You may want to talk to Roy Johnson at Green Mountain Audio about his new C-3's.

Best of luck on your search.
Since Avalon's introduction of the "Diamonds," I have noticed quite a few Eidolons on sale in the $10,000-$14,000 range. I actually like these better than the newer Diamonds, in the set-ups I have heard (I've never heard them together, in the same environment). The Vandy's are among the best I have ever heard. They are practical, in that you can move 'em anywhere, what with the tuneable bass procedure. Both of the above have better soundstaging than the Quads I have heard, but I don't think you will ever hear a more integrated, neutral timbre than what the Quads provide. Both the Quads and Vandy's "disappear" in the right set-up. Also, I noticed a pair of Triangle Magellans for $12,000 on Audiogon. Take a peek at my review of Triangle's Volante...Magellans do all of that with bigger "presence," but they are 8' tall. Hope this helps. Good luck!
I totally agree with Gleeds above. Innersound Eros mk3 or new Kaya.