You're looking to spend 25 to 40K and don't think your front end matters?
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I think what he means is that since his front end changes regularly, he does not have a need to match a recommended speaker to his existing components - that he can/would change as is necessary to match well with new speakers. That being said, I think his approach is correct in that it provides him maximum flexibility on finding the best speakers and not limiting his selection to only speakers that mate up well with his front end and other components. I did not read him to state he doesn't think the front end has an influence on the speakers. At his used speaker price range, I don't think changing pre, CD, or even amps will be that big of a stretch.
Lot's of speakers in this price range that are fantastic. More of what you are likely to experience is nuances more so than full tilt differences.
I'd add to the list Wilsons (which I like) and MBL's (which from a size perpective fit your goal). I really think in this price range, attending a show is the way to go. It will afford you the opportunity to hear many high value products in close time/proximity to each other. Running around to different dealers may be a bit much and so broken up in time frame that it makes it hard. At this price range I definately feel a show is the best approach.
I love the Avalon Isis speakers, and sonically, they are top notch, (but to be honest, I truly doubt you'll ever find them for $25K used - $35K used is the normal price range.) They are rather tall though, so your requirement for a smaller speaker might not be as fulfilled with that speaker. (Their footprint is not too large though.)
If I might make a recommendation, and that is to audition the Rockport line of speakers. They are really top notch, both sonically, (as that is the most important aspect), but also aesthetically.
If you could find a pair of used Antares, I think you would be more than happy. They are not very tall, and while the footprint is somewhat large, it is not huge by any means. (They are heavy though, at about 400 pounds each.) Used they probably go for between $25-30K. They are very accurate, but not analytical in the least. They are very musical, but do not have a hint of mid-range bloom. The bass is there when you want it, but there is no bass boominess at all. And the treble is outstanding, as it is very refined and well extended.
(In case you're wondering, No, I don't own them, (a friend does), but I certainly do wish I did!!)
My two cents worth.
Thanks for the feedback and recommendations! Also for the clarification.......yes of course the front end matters, obviously.....but I change things quite a bit, and look to do changes in the future, so I can't say this will be my pre or that will be my source, I just don't know so I wanted to keep this discussion to speakers! If someone has a speaker/amp combo they want to suggest, great!
The Vandersteen will get a look as well as the Rockport, I have read many good things about the Altair, although a used pair would probably get up in the mid $40's.
On another note, yes an audio show would be a great way to go, and I hope to get to the RMAF in the fall......I would just like to be pre-informed with somewhat of a shortlist before I attend! So, thanks everyone for the suggestions, also thanks for those that emailed me with links!
It is apparent that you know your gear and have the $ to be able to buy pretty much what you want. I also assume that you are totally familiar with room acoustics, and the basics of synergy between components and all else. These factors are HUGE in determining what is "best" for you. While I have not invested mega bucks (and that needs to be defined) ever on gear, I have arrived at my final system unless I move into a different house/ audio room. I am using the Green Mountain Audio EOS HD's with the Vandersteen SqW subwoofer. I have a Bent Audio autotransformer based passive pre, and a 25 watt push-pull Daniel Fabricant EICO St-70 clone. All high-end wiring and digital source - no vinyl. What makes this system magical is that the Vande sub uses a first-order cross-over as does the GMA"s - no phase issues. The low watt tube amp is "relieved" of stress to be able to properly produce lush musical mids and highs, by the Vande outboard crossover removing all under 80 hz, and that with amplifier impedance matching via dip switches in the cross-over. In short, you have a powerful, and yet extremely musical and dynamic set up. Sorry for all the embellishments, but this is what works for me and for a whole lot less money. If you want to spend more, get 2 subs for better spacial cues. PS - my mother was a very gifted concert pianist - my musical memory is quite keen and I know what sounds "correct". Have fun - Eric
I have said this on this forum before, and I will say it again, do try some Tannoys out. My custom thirty-five year old HPD 315's are among the most musical speakers in my long experience, are easy to drive, at 93db sensitivity, and are easily among the best I've heard in getting the scale of music right than most speakers I've heard.
Good luck in your search, and enjoy shopping,
I was in a very similar situation, looking for reference level performance in a relatively small form factor for our mixing,listening and dealer needs.
After an extensive search, The TAD CR1 was the speaker that fit the bill.
It feels like an extremely accurate transducer, that unearths cues and subtleties in recordings, even bad ones, that let's you know exactly what the recording sounds like, while still letting the musical intent shine through. For example, even some thin sounding Todd Rundgren recordings, shine with holographic bells and voices
If you ever visit the New York area and want to listen, feel free. We'll-also have the speaker at the axpona NY show, though who knows how good it will sound in a hotel room.
Thanks again folks! Eric, I agree on the room acoustics, I have some acoustic panels arriving this week and will see what they bring me! The equipment you mention is very intriguing! It would actually be great to end up with a somewhat moderate system and use the extra funds to play around and experiment! Also agree 100% with the word synergy! It is so important and wonderous when it comes together.........no doubt a more inexpensive system has the ability to embarass a high end system if the synergies are met or not met! That's part of the fun for me, and it sounds like you have been able to get there! I look forward to looking into some of the gear you mentioned.
Dan, thanks for reminding me about Tannoy......actually another contact of mine just told me about a fellow in Winnipeg that builds speakers in his own custom boxes with Tannoy drivers! Lots of options!
Emailist, I have heard much about the TAD as well. I am looking into what audio show best suits my schedule this year, and I'm sure the TAD will be there! How are the smaller TAD's coupled with a sub, in comparison to the bigger ones!?
Thanks Azjake.......of course I have heard much about Tidal as well, but very expensive! In my experience there is a premium for speakers imported into North America, like Tidal and Marten, Consensus.
Bullot, I just did something similar to what you are doing. After listening to Shelby + Kroll speakers. I made the decision to change from my Lowther horns driven by Audio Note gear, to Shelby + Kroll Nano Monitors and the S+K Woffer unit. All driven by an ATC SIA2-150 integrated amp. Yeah that's right, sold all of the very expensive AN tube gear and large Lowther horns for a satellite + sub solid state system. Pocketed a lot of green and absolutly LOVE what I'm hearing! Look into the Shelby + Kroll speakes you will hear what I mean.
I was on a similar hunt for my last speakers and looked at RMAf in 09. I settled on something much cheaper Daedalus Audio DA-RMa. I did'nt find anything less than 3 times as much, which was as good. They are very sensitive 96DB sensitivity, but can handle 250 watts, so you can have bleeding ears whenever you want.
The only other compact speaker I really liked there were Silverline Boleros.
I am feeling somewhat repetitive from other speaker posts I have made, but if you want a great last speaker I would go with either the Coincident Technology Pre Reference ($22,000) or the Pure Reference Extreme ($26,000-$26,800).
They are simply the best speakers I have ever heard and I have heard plenty that are far more expensive.
What is unusual about Coincident Technology is that besides their well-known speaker prowess, they also manufacture and design some of the best electronics too. While the Coincident speakers play excellently with good high quality powerful amps, they sound great with low-powered tube amps, as they are very sensitive and easy to drive. The Pure Reference paired with Coincident's own Frankenstein amp at 8 watts/channel ($5,000/pr) make the best music I have ever heard. While one would need more power for ear-splitting levels, anything less than very loud sounds unbelievable. Coincident makes a more powerful tube amp, the Dragon ($10,000/pr) at 70 watts per channel. It might be the best higher-powered tube amp around, but it isn't as great as the Frankenstein.
While the MBL unit you have is very good, Coincident's own Line Stage ($5.000) retrieves more low level information (which really is the sign of a great pre-amp). It only has 2 inputs however, which might make one re-think their front end. But if you play LP's, Coincident also makes the best phone stage at less than nose-bleed territory($5,500) and it also has an extra input, allowing it to also act as a pre-amp. All these Coincident products have received rave reviews--and deservedly so. Of course, I am sure you could start with the MBL unit and maybe get Israel Blume to send you his Line Stage for comparison. He is great to talk to and is easy to work with. Plus you get discounts for buying multiple products.
For me, the above is my ideal system. Only a great turntable and cartridge is needed, besides good power conditioners and/or AC regenerators.
I would suggest the Coincident Pure Reference Extreme T's. Like the Kharma, Tidal, Marten, Consensus Audio, Evolution Acoustics,and Avalon Acoustics,they poses the Accuton ceramic drivers. In the case of the CPRE's, Accuton is employed for midrange and tweeter. They are 94db @ 8 ohms (yet perform like 98 or 99db) and have the characteristics of percussion (horn) drivers, very fast, efficient, and extremely dynamic, while mantaining tonal purity (perfect tonality/timbre being my FIRST, MUST HAVE, of any speaker!!!). My experience of them is that of being more tonally neutral across the entire band width than any speaker I have experienced at any price. I am somewhat embarrassed to say... it's true Hifi musical love. They have won me over completely, both intellectually and emotionally. The CPRE's are that amazing.
I am living and enjoying a complete Coincident system for close to 4 years now, with the Coincident Pure Reference Extremes for almost two. That final upgrade was the game changer IMHO.
My source may change but I have no desire at all to change my Franks, Extreme cables,power chords, interconnects or those amazing speakers.The components together get out of the way and allow the music to really come through in a way that satisfies me all the time. It has to be experienced.
I couldn't describe these components any better then has already been said by the two previous posters. The system seems to get better everytime I sit down for a serious listen.
This is my last 2 channel system. I only buy music these days.
I agree with the suggestion of traveling a bit to audition different speakers. One that I can recommend is the new Magico Q3. I just heard it in Boston and it was the best "store demo" I've heard. It's $34K and would definitely be on my short list as a final purchase. Of course, amps are critical part of the equation. Sounds like a fun problem to have.
How is the bass is in the Von schweikert unifield 3?
Specifically, is it well-defined, controlled, and transparent. Sometimes I have felt that while VSR always had, well, perfect mids/highs/vocals (just glorious, simultaneously very resolved but totally non-fatiguing or abrasive or piercing with awesome percussion),
sometimes the bass could be opaque or loose or a little boomy.
(I always used to say my ideal speaker would be a Wilson Puppy mated with a Von schweikert midrange/tweeter module.)
Legacy Whisper and Helix are two you should definitely have on your list. Make sure you check out the latest version of the Whisper, with the new drivers. If you like to change the front end of your system, you might talk to Legacy about doing a custom speaker like the Whisper DSW, that lets you switch between passive and active crossovers.