I gave a serious listen to all three. These were on different days, in different stores, with different front ends. That said, I would rank the Magico above the others, especially given your criteria. For the money, I was disappointed with the Aerials, and they were in a good room with a superb front end. I agree the Dalis offer a lot for the money. I wanted to hear the 800 MK2 but did not get the chance. I liked the Wilson Sophia III's better than the Magicos. If you haven't heard them, I suggest you consider putting them on your list to hear. I ended up buying maggie 3.7's.
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I heard the wilson's on the same components as the aerial's and overall I was more impressed with the wilson's although I felt the aerial's had a deeper sound stage and imaged better. They're also 8k less. I haven't heard the magnepan 3.7's but I've heard the 1.7's and was very impressed but I would definitely need a sub. I'm also not quite so sure my wife would approve of maggies in the living room.
I agree that the Dali's are a lot of speaker for the money and are the cheapest on my list which puts them near the top. The Magicos are pricey but I'd be getting a demo pair and that knocks off a couple grand, which puts them close to the aerial's. I agree that the Magicos are the most impressive of the bunch but it's still a tough decision when you factor in cost.
Minibox, As I'm sure you can imagine, the 3.7's are a much better speaker than the 1.7's. As it turns out, I auditioned the 3.7's and the 7Ts on the same day in the same room using the same superb front end. On the music I listen to, mostly orchestral stuff, I did not really miss the lower octaves that the Aerials bring to the party. I may add a couple of subs at some point, but its not a high priority for me. I found the bass on the Aerials somewhat tubby, but that could have been room placement issues. For me, there was something not quite right with the Aerials. The timber seemed off just a bit. The Wilson's hit instrumental timber dead on. I am sensitive to pitch and timber, to the point where something being just a tad off is a show stopper. The Dali's also got that right, as do the maggies.
With respect to WAF, my wife thinks the maggies look cool, and they are in our living room, 5 feet out from the back wall. She hated the appearance of the Wilsons, and fortunately, I had the good sense not to show her the Dalis and Aerials, both of which are just drop dead gorgeous visually. Any chance you could audition the Dali 800Mk II's? I really worried about the 400's with orchestral stuff. In the end, you are probably not going to go terribly wrong with any of the 3 you are thinking about.
Have you considered going with any of the higher sensitivity speakers? Your Bryston is a stout amp and I suspect would work well with any of the speakers you're considering, but conceptually there are limits to pairing low/mid sensitivity speakers with high powered amps. At least that's the thinking in some audiophile circles. I'm not sure I completely buy into this line of thought, but is interesting. Have you heard the Coincident loudspeaker?
I had some experience with Dali Helicon 300 mk1 paired with a Bryston combo, i.e. the 4BSST power amp and the BP25 pre. The combination was not bad. Also, to me the Helicon 300 complemented with a sub were much much better than the Helicons 400s and more satisfying than the Euphonia 400.
The Helicons are extremely beautiful (see my old system page). My wife still remembers them. However, while good speakers, you can find better speakers. The Focal Micro Be that I own now easily outclass the Helicons 300 (IMO). Have a look at Focal Alto Be for example. Also, you might want to check the new flagship series from Dali, Epicon. They are quite nice and sound very very clean.
Regarding the Magico dealer, I agree with you 100%. I would definitively not give him my business.
I do not have any experience with the other two speakers ...
If you like the Aerial 6, the 7b and 8b have a very similar sound and are a lot more speaker for your room. I have owned all three and still have the 7b. I believe the Dali MS4 is way better than the Helicon 400. I owned the MS4, actually replaced Aerial 8's with them, and a close friend had the Helicon 400 and replaced them with the MS4.
Minbox, the cremonas are terrific speakers but if your priorities are detail and transparency they may not be the way to go. They are superbly musical, and I almost pulled the trigger on a pair at a great price.
If you don't mind me asking, what kind of music do you listen to? The dalis are superb on vocals. If I were an opera fan, I'd lean hard in that direction. I thought they beat everything I heard (including the maggies that I bought) on vocals. I thought there was too much congestion on complex orchestral passages with the 400's, hence, my interest in the 800's which ought to handle climaxes better. At some point, I will probably buy the 400s for my bedroom. Loved those speakers. There are just too many wonderful speakers and I would love to own them all.
I mostly listen to vocals but depending on my mood I'll listen to almost every genre with the exception of hip-hop and rap. I've been listening to a lot of acoustic guitar and percussion guitar lately too. When I'm working, I'll listen to classical and speakers that can recreate the feeling I get when I go to the symphony impress me the most. I asked the local Dali dealer about the 800's but he said the midrange on the 800's wasn't as good as the 400's. He also mentioned that if I wanted the impact of the 800's he knew of some subs that would be more than adequate for less money than the difference I'd be paying for the 800's.
I have heard all three speakers you are interested in and wrote a review on the 7T for my website hometheaterreview.com. It's always personal taste and system synergy, but I found the Aerial Acoustics 7T to be a much better performing speaker then your other choices. For details why take a look at my review.
I've heard the Sophia III on the same amp I use for my 7Bs, but different front-end and cables.
While the Sophia had the edge as far as tight, deep bass and a bit more clarity, I wouldn't say they had a $10k edge (about how much more they cost, used). In general I'd say the sound is somewhat similar, with the 7B being a bit more overall "musical" to my ear (and definitely better looking), and the Sophia having just "a bit more of everything". Not that I was ready to spend 10k+ on speakers when I bought. When I am, I'll look at more than the Sophia's, although I did definitely like them.
I agree, the Sophia III did have "a bit more of everything" but you are right, "I wouldn't say they had a 10k edge." I was especially impressed with their lower end over the Aerial's but I believe I could get the same results with a good sub to match either the Aerial's or the Dali's. I will say that Beethoven's 9th sounded incredible on the Dali's and beat the pants off my Aerial 6's.
I read your review previously on hometheatrereview.com. Thank you for such an in depth and well written review of the 7t's. My jaw dropped when I read about your friend selling his recently purchased Q3's after hearing the Aerial's. I've heard the Q3's and was extremely impressed, although I do believe they're overpriced. Each time I heard the 7t's I had a "wow" moment with their transparency and detail but I really need to get them in my own room and hear what they do.
My vote is for the Magico V2 solely based on one incredible dealer demo with my own LPs. At demo or used prices, I have not heard anything that I like more. Obviously I haven't heard everything and I'm not familiar with the Dali or Aerial models you mention, so mine is not an opinion based on a lot of experience.
I would forget that Magico dealer and buy it used on Audiogon or from some other dealer. You can't always hear a component in your own system, and it might be a mistake you will regret if you eliminate those from your options. The Magico will require lots of good clean power to sound its best and very careful set up.
I heard the V2 at a Boston dealership and it was the best dealer demo I've ever heard of a speaker in this price range.