Looking for thoughts; starting out system...

I have a pair of Audioengine A5's fed by my Apogee Duet and assisted by a Sunfire TS Junior 8. I've enjoyed the sound, but I want to upgrade. I was recently given a Luxman TP-114 pre-amp and Sherwood AM-7040 200wpc solid state amp, and decided to try upgrading my speakers... Am now overwhelmed!

I'm currently 'auditioning' broken in Dali Helicon 300mkii in my 13'x18' room with some $200 in new cables. I listen to lots of different music, from modern electronic music to high-res 24/96 classical and everything in between. I feel the sound I'm currently getting is too forward and bright, and is tiresome to my ears. Not to say that it isn't phenomenal in many respects (great staging, dynamics and weight). I'm hearing lesser recordings sound, well, much lesser, and only the best recordings shine. Part of me feels that these well-ish reviewed speakers are being improperly driven by my vintage solid state equipment. I also think that the sound they're putting out is at the threshold for my size room. They sound both better and worse than the A5s I have been used to.

Ultimately I want a pair of speakers that will be as enjoyable and 'musical' as possible given my current equipment, that are perhaps more laid-back and forgiving until I can afford better components that will make such speakers sound more exceptional. I will spend up to $2k and am open to floorstanding speakers and stand-mount both. Could the Helicons be the ticket? I'm not sure. I have a truly great standing deal on them, so I'm not opposed to this route. But I'm also considering a pair of Vandersteen 1Cs which for some reason hold un-heard appeal. I am interested in Nola Boxers (though nobody has them here in Los Angeles). I listened to PMC and they sounded like a studio monitor. My friend has B&W 80something and they sound OK, more well rounded I suppose and more expensive (though he brought his small $1k B&W that he uses as rear channels over and the price/performance ratio of the Helicon really showed up clearly, ie they're at least 4 times better...)

Usher Be-718?
Speaker Art Super Clef?
Would I be trading apples for oranges? I think i want to trade apples for stewed apples... Easier to digest.

Am I wasting my time with the Luxman and Sherwood?

At any rate, I'm having a ton of fun with the whole process! Thanks in advance for the comments!
Actually, the Luxman, and to a lesser degree, the Sherwood early SS gear was above average for sound quality in their time, IMO.

That said, source gear will ultimately limit how musical or fatiguing your system is.

I haven't heard your Dalis, but have read many comments that suggest they will be bright sounding with most of the electronics likely to be paired with them.

I recently upgraded from Vandersteen 1Cs to Ohm Walsh 2000s. My full review is posted here:


Without knowing your ceiling hieght I cannot say for sure, but I suspect the Walsh 1000 will be appropriate for your room and budget. Although I do have a tube preamp, my amp is SS and the 2000s continue to delight on almost everything I listen to, even recordings that are not very well made/mixed/mastered. And I don't own much in the way of audiophile recordings.

Since the Ohms are available with a 120-day trial period, you can A/B them at length with the Dalis. IMO, if the 1000s (all Ohm Walsh speakers sound nearly identical, the differences being output capacity and bass extension) are relatively an improvement over the Dalis to your ears, but are still too bright, you will have to address the electronics chain to make an improvement. And please read my Ohm review before you buy the Vandys. They are good speakers for the money, but my Ohms do so many things so much better than the 1Cs, it's no contest.
Vandersteens -- 2Ce Sig IIs or used 3A Sigs -- would be a good choice if you don't like forwardness or brightness.

I've only heard the Dalis in a highly treated showroom. I liked them (and it doesn't hurt they they are beautiful to look at), but they did seem to be speakers for those who like lots of treble energy. I felt pretty much the same about the various B&W 803/4 models.
Hi, I listen to a lot of eclectic modern music and I would say just cause you find the Dalis indelicate (so do I), it doesn't mean you should go for "boring" sounding speakers. I also wasn't really convinced by PMCs I've heard, and really seem to dislike most B&Ws I've auditioned as well! Maybe we have the same preferences?

Speakers are a very personal thing and performance is hugely dependent on system synergy with your amp and of course, your room. That being said, I would say audition as many speakers as you can or take some punts on the used listings here to save money. A few suggestions would be PSB Image T6s, ATC SCM19s, Focal 826 or 836. From the current ads, some interesting listings are the Triangle Antal ES (very dynamic speakers), Zaph ZD5s and Paradigm Studio 60 v5s. Remember to budget for good stands if going for monitors. Good luck!
speakers are personal preference.listen to as many as you can.the ohm is i think a good choice.moonitor audio are accurate.von schweikert is excellent with one of the best midrange i have ever heard.
I think you are simply combining components that are all biased to be very technical, detailed, forward, to use a few terms used in reviews. You will have to decide what to swap with a laid back component to bring the system back toward being balanced. I don't know how loud you like it, but the louder you want to play, the physically larger the speaker will need to be, in general, to avoid pushing the speaker out of it's sweet spot.

A couple of brands that are 'laid back' but still sound good are PSB and the bipolar towers by Definitive Technologies. Both are pleasant, good detail, but without that etching high range so many speakers have.
Thanks all for the helpful suggestions and thoughts. I've since my original post decided that I simply can't live with the Dalis. I also took on loan a Bryston B-60 integrated to verify that the Dali are too fatiguing. They sounded great and in many instances were exceptionally rewarding, but my tinnitus acted up after every session, and that's not good.

I then borrowed some PMC TB2i speakers and tried them with both the Bryston and my Luxman/Sherwood combo. With the Bryston these speakers were quite enjoyable and displayed an excellent soundstage, and a balanced frequency response. I really liked them in all areas except the bass performance, and unfortunately it did not seem as if my Sunfire TSJ was up to the task of mating with the PMC speakers very well. I tried but it seemed as if the PMC was just too flat to really match with anything more than a 30hz crossover. So I was stuck with small, yet tight and well defined, bass. I like lots of bass, and I liked the bass of the Dali more, though its bass was achieved at the expense of midrange clarity. I liked the midrange (and treble and presentation etc etc) of the PMC much more however, so I was tempted to keep these speakers. But then I started to do some more research...

I then matched the PMC, which I've determined to be somewhat neutral and honest, with my Luxman and Sherwood. I was amazed at what happened. The bass became much more full, and the music became darker, richer, and almost palpably SLOWER. Massive Attacks 'Angel' literally seemed to have lost 20bpm somehow in this shift of equipment. And I loved it. So my 'vintage' equipment is certainly powerful and I think also capable of nice sound, but the tweeter on the Dali took the power a bit too far, I think, and the PMCs just didn't have enough bottom to make me want to dance. Perhaps the 'right' subwoofer is the solution, and I'm open to that happening if my last effort doesn't work out...

I've returned the PMC and Bryston, and am now interested in auditioning a pair of Totem Mani-2 signatures. My 200wpc/8ohm (350wpc/4ohm) Sherwood will have no problem driving them, and I'm curious and also somewhat confident that the sound will be pleasant in light of my recent PMC experience. Eventually I could get something 'better' to drive the Totems but for now I think this might be a way to get the bass I want with a less aggressive treble and more appropriately defined & balanced mid-range. This is my hope at least, based on what I've read and done so far.

Any further thoughts will be appreciated!
Oops, just bought the Mani 2 signature... All I can say at this point is that I have a giant placeholder in my living room. To be continued...