I do not know about the others but I demo'd the S2's and was very impressed with them. Beauties too.
I ended up with Merlins, which I would normally suggest but I don't know if they would be a good match for your setup.
all you mention i have heard and are very good choices but you might want to consider linn tukans on the used market, they show up reasonable they are a great monitor balanced just somethingelse to throw in the fire.
S7horton - The best advice is - don't listen to anyone's advice. Listen to them all, and pick your favorite one. Support your local dealer - buy new! Buying new is way more fun anyway. When I make a long-term audio purchase, I don't want someone else's used goods. I certainly am not a fan of sloppy seconds.
With that being said, get the Dynaudios. LOL
I was a B&W 805 believer.
I still have nothing bad to say about them.
I found, however, that teh JM Reynaud Trente, for me, made beautuful music. I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who will listen to me.
Thanks for all the responses. The Linns are not something I had considered, but would like to give them a listen. most of the above I don't have the chance to listen to without driving two hours. One of my good friends had the JM Labs Concord. The big brother to the Trente. I can't say they did anything for me.
As far as supporting my local dealer, I would love to. And have many, many times in the past. But, I'm tired of what they have to offer. (With the exception of the Paradigm Sig) Has anyone listened to a JM Labs/audio refinement setup? I heard one about a year ago and was very impressed. But, once again, about a two hour drive in the opposite direction as the rest.
There is a pair of Platinum Audio Duo's for sale here on Audiogon, and although I only owned mine for a short time, this was a uniquely endowed monitor speaker. Can sound special in a moderate size room. Of course, my idea violates the "rule" about first hearing for yourself, but when you read about them on the net would be easy choice.
I have no relation to the seller, but if a used speaker is a possible choice then worth checking out the ad.
You should consider adding Merlin TSM-MX's to this list. I own a pair and love them. But first,...
Revel M22 is a very good speaker. The only reason I can't call it great is because I've never heard it image well. I've listened to it extensively (2 hrs.) in one showroom on multiple occasions, and briefly (5 songs) at another dealer. It has excellent frequency response, bass extension for its size, is smooth and not shrill, and try as one might, it's difficult to find a weakness. No suckouts, gaps or exaggerations. But the puzzling thing to my ear is it just doesn't seem to throw up a soundstage.
The Paradigm S2 is also a very good speaker. I did a head to head comparison with it, the S4 and the M22. I was initially bowled over by the S4 and S2's, but after extended listening, it became plain as day to me that the M22 had the better midrange. It was more articulate and detailed. Male vocals were more distinct. The Paradigms image better than the M22, and have more bass extension, but I preferred the uniformity of the M22, and its versatility for all kinds of music.
Haven't heard the Dynaudio, or the B&W 805 Signature, but I have heard the new 805S which is supposed to be close to the Signatures. In my opinion, both the Paradigm and the Revel are better choices.
The Merlin TSM-MX's... they are smooth, uniform, have no frequency suckouts, gaps or anything like that, AND they image like crazy. They sound three dimensional like 2 channel stereo is supposed to do. I don't have enough technical background to elaborate in objective terms, but I'm telling you, they make me want to listen to music more and more. I never felt that way with my previous set of speakers (B&W CDM1NT's). They teach you quickly what you're best recordings are and which are lousy, then they make you want to listen again and again to all your good stuff, and then buy more good stuff and listen to it. They aren't perfect and they aren't for everybody, but in my opinion anybody looking at the other monitors you mentioned should consider the TSM's. You should email their manufacturer, Bobby Palkovic, and let him help you see if they'd be a good fit.
Thechair, thanks for your well thought out response. Your comment about B&W is quite interesting to me. I've owned the sig 805, and the 805S. I prefered the sig, but they are very close in comparison. For you to state that the M22, and Paradigm are better is encouraging to me.
However, I've heard good things about Merlins in the past. I don't know any price ranges on the Merlins, but do have interest in checking them out. When you bought yours, did you audition in home, or at the retailer?
In your case, I would just replace the amp. Love the sound of the good old McIntosh MC240 to go with the B&W 805 series.
I bought mine without having heard them first, something I thought I'd never do. "Bluebull" on this website convinced me to research the TSM's, and so I read nearly everything online I could find about them. At audioreview.com, you can follow the personal owner reviews as the speaker has evolved into its present TSM-MX and TSM-MM versions. I regarded reviews for those two as nearly equivalent for my purposes. The evidence convinced me to give them a try.
When I first got them, they were not what I expected. What set me to speaker shopping was lack of bass extension and dynamics in my CDM1NT's. I suppose I was looking for thumpety-thump. If that's what you want, go Paradigm. I quickly learned that's not what the Merlin TSM-MX is, although as they broke in, their bass got more extended. Instead, they reproduce accurately 97% of the music (everything but the lowest bass) of 99% of my eclectic collection. We listen to a lot of female vocals around here, but I like everything from Led Zeppelin to Johnny Cash, classical and church hymns. These speakers shine on everything, and just let me relax and enjoy my music. On the other hand, they tell you quickly what your bad recordings are. After some post-purchase comparison, I've learned I can trust them as a reference. Now, I have a thirst to buy more good music and to listen again and again to what I already have.
You need to talk with Bobby Palkovic at the merlinmusic.com website. He can tell you where you may be able to audition his speakers in your area, and where there may be a dealer.
Thanks for all the comments. I noticed not many have mentioned the Dynaudios. Is that because they are too new and many have not had a chance to audition them?
Not going to ad my opinion.At this stage,I think it is quite clear ....
This may muddy the waters a bit, but it may also be useful to consider the Totem Mani 2 (reportedly finicky about its electronics), the Totem Tabu (great little speaker), the Induction Dynamics line (their little 3000 dollar monitor I heard in Naples, Florida was GREAT). In terms of JM Labs, I've heard the Micro Utopias which sell for around 5000 dollars. If THOSE are the JM Labs you're talking about, then, yes, they sound very good. However, IF you're planning to spend THAT much money on a monitor, then I'd strongly suggest first listening to the Intuitive Design Summits, which go for around 5000, INCLUDING the stands (about 3500 for the speakers and 1500 for the recommended stands). However, the Summits are NOT a good speaker to listen to after having purchased a different speaker that you thought sounded good, in my opinion.
Here's a link to another Audiogon thread that is very similar to yours, and is fairly recent:best sounding small speakers
hi S7horton, speaking as a proud Signature 805 owner, if you are looking to change the flavor a bit, try Harbeth Super HL5 (retail $3,995) and Acapella Fidelio 2 (retail $6k+ with stands). The SHL5 are very laid back and they just suck you into their song. The Fidelio are just electrifyingly transparent, neutral, and lively.
personally, i would not replace my pair with anything less than B&W Model Nautilus, Acapella Violon, Avantgarde Trio, or Tannoy Westminster... even when i do get new speakers, my Signature 805 will still be with me in another system.
best of luck!