Magico A3 vs. Focal Kanta 2


I have around 10k to play with for a new set of speakers. 
My current equipment: MC452 C2600 MCD550 Vienna Acoustics Mozart grand speakers, REL S5. 
My options include  Magico A3,  Focal Kanta 2 or used Sonus Faber Elipsa SE for around 10K.  These choices are based on on aesthetics (approved by wife) and reviews, I have not heard any of them yet.  I am not willing to change my amp/pre. My choice of music is 95% classical (symphony, solo piano, piano concertos) about 5% Jazz. Auditioning speakers would probably not be possible. I need to make a decision based purely on expert recommendation. If there are any other speakers in this price range with similar attributes I may also consider, but I would prefer to pick one from above. Also, would any of the above give a massive improvement in sound reproduction? Is SF Elipsa outdated  when compared to current Focal and Magico?  Thanks. 


ei001h
What don't you like about your present set up?  You seem to have a really well balanced system.
From that list with your gear my choice would be the Elipsa SE. 
Paradigm Persona 3F.  They would absolutely shine with your McIntosh gear.
I feel my electronics are far superior to my speakers and I'm not getting their full potential. VA Mozart seem too small, laid back, lack of detail at the top, do not accurately reproduce massive orchestral works or piano works. 

Paradigm persona doesn't look good to me. 

@jackd: Why would you pick Elipsa specifically ? 

@stereo5: Are you familiar with VA Mozart sound? Do you think it is unwise to upgrade and expect a markedly improved sound? 
I would add the Revel F228Be, it has the largest woofer out of the three.  Should be better with classical music.  8 ohms and 90db, easier to drive than the A3.
Firstly, I don’t consider myself an expert. And that would include 95% of members in this forum. That said, I recently auditioned the Magico A3’s for a review i’m writing. The fit and finish is excellent. The speakers sit solidly on their spikes. However WAF is purely subjective. I think they look really handsome. In terms of the sound, they portray piano and strings very very well. I think the A3’s are better suited to classical and jazz, than rock and pop. They do like a lot of power, and your Mac separates should have no problem controlling them. Magico sounds best with warm tube-like ss, or with some tubes in the mix.

I haven’t heard the SF Elipsa speakers, but from listening to other SF speakers, they will have a completely different sound signature; warmer, richer, a bit less resolving of micro detail and more forgiving (ie: gently rolled off). Though obviously beautiful looking speakers if you like a more fine furniture look. They are a sensitive speakers which presents an easier load to the amp & allows for greater dynamics. That said, you’d have to be comfortable buying 2nd hand in that case.

I got to hear the Focal Kantas at the Melbourne Hifi show a couple of years back. Under show conditions, I wasn’t that wow’d with their sound. They sound pleasant, but not that involving. Though show conditions are notoriously difficult. I do like the Focal Utopia speakers which are punchier, more resolving, transparent & natural sounding, but also a lot more $.

Another speaker which I haven’t heard, but greatly admire is the Joseph Audio Profile ($9.8k). That speaker images very well, is resolving, smooth and musical. It doesn’t have the heroic build quality of the A3’s, but is well designed and built. And is has the advantage of being a true 8 ohm speaker, hence dynamics should be effortless. Hope that helps!

I have had the Focal Sopra No2's since they first came out, driving them with a C2500/MC452 and am absolutely smitten by the way they sound.  I listen to mostly classical, some rock & roll, some jazz, some world music, and find the Focal's don't seem to prefer one type of music per se.

The one thing I would recommend, if you pick the Focals, is that you show some patience in breaking them in.  After about 150 hours of streaming content, first at a low volume, increasing it every so many hours, I thought they started to "settle down".  But after owning them for about six months, they really seemed to find their groove.

That MC452 really matches up well with all the Focal's I've auditioned.
In this price range I would also consider the Aerial 7T.
There is a pair of Bob Carvers Amazing Line Source speakers listed now on the Gon within the price range your interested in.


ozzy
I had Aerial 7Ts for over a year and listened to A3s on two different occasions. Speakers are about preferences. To my ears the A3s are at the next level of detail, openness, and realism. Not night and day, but next level none-the-less.
I listened to a set of the Focal Kanta 2's with some very expensive equipment. They sounded ok until I asked the salesman to play CCR "Green River" from a CD that I brought. 
When the first drum whack hit the little Kanta's 6.5 woofer distorted.

ozzy
I would not trade the Elipsa or the Stradivari for anything on earth. 

Not only are those tweeters and drivers top notch, but those wide baffle speakers are transcendent. They bring their own sense of acoustics with them in ways narrow baffle speakers cannot. 
ei001h

The Elipsa SE and your Mc gear are from the same company and have been voiced together and as such just go together.  In addition it's voicing would be more in line with your musical preferences.  Also consider that much like your Mc gear the Elipsa SE will hold its value better than the other two in addition to being much better looking.  It is just one of those "inviting" sounding speakers.  Others in that vein that may or may not meet the WAF at your house are Nola and Verity and maybe the Vandersteen Treo CT. If you are considering the Kanta I suggest you look instead at the Sopra 2 as there are deals to be had on that line and it is another level up from the Kanta.  The Magico would to me be the preferred choice if the competition was just the Kanta 2.
Does anyone know when SF Elipsa was discontinued? The one I'm looking at is at least 5 years old. How much wear is acceptable in those speakers? Which parts have the shortest half life in SF? This set was driven by Mastersound PF100 playing mostly Jazz, classical and opera. 
How would one test the speaker for mechanical integrity before buying? 

As far as Kanta 2 and Sopra 2, it seems they have a reputation for being too bright due to their beryllium tweeters. Is that accurate? 

Unfortunately Nola, Verity, Revel, Vandersteen, carver, aerial etc.  are not approved for my home. I need to stick to the aforementioned 3. 
If they speakers you are looking for were used with quality equipment and not abused then they are perfectly fine.  I still own speakers from the late 70's that are in as new condition and play that way too.  Since foam speaker surrounds went away speakers are good for decades.  As to when they were discontinued contact SF or Sumiko and ask then but Jeff at Tone Audio reviewed a pair about four years ago.  You can also join Audio Aficionado and ask there as that's where most of the SF frequent.
@ei001h, Sounds like you’ve ruled out the A3’s and Joseph Audio Profiles at this stage?
If your looking at the pair listed on this site in the Bronx they look to be in top rate condition from a quality seller so I would work a deal and be done.  
I haven't ruled out A3 or Kanta  but leaning towards Elipsa. Is there a way to know if a speaker has been abused just by listening? Perhaps a test CD? Or is it strictly done by faith on a used market? Yes Im looking at Elipsa from the Bronx, they look nice cosmetically and have been paired to nice equipment reportedly. 
I too am deciding between the Kanta and the A3, both sounded good at the showroom but I’m curious how it will sound in my listening room. I have the McIntosh MC601 monoblocks amp and the C2300 tube preamp. Any thoughts.
If you were planning on going to listen to them take along something like the Stereophile test CD and run it through the test tones from top to bottom.  Not likely that there is anything wrong with speakers in that condition used with that level of gear.  Plus if you pay him with Paypal like the ad shows you are covered and he has a spotless record as a seller for years.
Focal IMO had a reputation for being bright but after hearing the Kanta and Sopra 2 I would not consider them bright at all. About 12 years I auditioned the SF Creamora Auditor M and thought that was going to be my next speaker. Not as laid back as VA and to me with the mids and highs being better. Then later after hearing the original Dyn C1’s that sound was exactly what I was looking for (but IMO fugly looking). I wanted that sound and bought them. My only complaint was they needed to be turned up to sound their best. Later I upgraded to the C1 Signatures. They sounded much better at low to mid listening levels but didn’t play quite as loud. I never compared to the Platinums but some folks say they are a bit brighter and more forward.

Anyhow asking people on a forum you will get their opinion. Everyone has has different tastes and expectations. Do you hear Yanny or laurel?
https://twitter.com/CloeCouture/status/996218489831473152/video/1
I hear Yanny everywhere except through my computer speakers at work. My son only hears Laurel. Go figure?!?
You should definitely add the new Revel F228Be to your shortlist.

They have started to show up on dealers’ and available for demo.

I am very happy with them. I have had them for a few weeks now
Comgrats on your new speakers @thyname! They look like very nice transducers 👍.
All fine speakers where the equipment, cabling and room will dictate much of their sound.  Go with what thrills you on visuals and can be driven well with your gear!
The Kanta speakers are well balanced, dynamic and open/detailed.  No distortion unless abused.
Do not forget the B&W 804D3 , which may well be superior to both the Kanta and the A3.
I have a brand new pair of sopra no2’s for sale at $9600 shipped.  Cant be beat at this price
Thank you everyone for feedback. I got the Elipsa In graphite. They sounded sublime
with mastersound amps. Can’t wait to set them up with mc452 and c2600, though probably won’t get the same level of performance with my gear. Immense improvement over my Vienna acoustics Mozart. 
Congrats on the Elipsa’s!!  Enjoy
Vandersteen Treo CT will blow you away.
sunnyaudiovideo.com
Congrats but good golly those are massive speakers and I have no idea how they were wife approved, which was in your initial criteria (has she been sainted?).  I would have been really tempted to try the risk free audition of the Tekton Ulfberht if I was in the market for such a large speaker.  It's a different price point than what you were looking for I realize, but I did adore my KEF LS50s until I heard and was blown away by Tekton's Impact Monitor, which is all the WAF I could muster.  
Congrats you got what you wanted. They will be just fine with your McIntosh gear. If you get the urge to try a tube amp with them just pick one up used and if you don’t see an improvement turn it over again.
jackd92 posts07-28-2018 9:43amCongrats you got what you wanted. They will be just fine with your McIntosh gear.
+ 1. The Elipsa’s are certainly beautiful looking creations. Personally I prefer a more full range speaker, and philosophically prefer sealed box to ported designs. Horses for courses.
jimman2 

they're certainly bigger than I expected but incredibly beautiful and fit nicely in my living room. I have an exposed concrete wall and mid century modern decor with 10 foot ceiling, so they fit perfectly. They look like modern art pieces. Tektons seem much larger. 

jackd

Would need a high current tube amp, and the one I heard is 50k mastersound. Probably could never afford that. 

melbguyone

What do you mean you prefer a more full range speaker? I thought Elipsa was full range. I've Never heard a sealed box design. 
@ei001h, the Elipsa’s are a full range speaker. Even my old Infinity Reference 60’s were considered full range & they only dug down to 42Hz. I was eluding to my current speakers which have frequency response from 20Hz - 50kHz, and are +/- 2db to 30kHz on axis with a -6db point at 24Hz. Whereas according to the TAS lab report the Elipsas start to roll off at about 20kHz and their -6db point sits around 45Hz. That said, with room reinforcement, the Elipsa’s have in-room bass response to 27Hz, so they don’t lack for output. I’m talking more about ultimate extension, resolution and linearity. The SF Elipsa’s are designed and voiced in a completely different way to Magico, and never the twain shall meet.
Well you could certainly entertain switching to 2301's by making a trade with Audio Classics but I suspect there are other tube amps that meet the requirements.  You might want to check in at Audio Aficionado where most of the SF and McIntosh crowd hang out and see if they have any opinions other than the big Mc's.  Also if you have a Rogue dealer in your area you can look at their offerings and see if you can get an in home demo or call Mark or Nick at the company office.  Also a hybrid amp like the PS Audio BHK amps are popular with the SF's. 
Switched my cabling to MIT HD36 Prolines and HD38 speaker interfaces.  Results are warmer and more refined with greater dynamic swing...midrange is fuller and punchier.