I was very pleased with the Dynaudio Contour S1.4 which I owned twice and The Volent Chorale CL 2. I think it is important to look at monitors that will play down to around 35Hz-40Hz and not be down more than 6db. This gives you all but the last octave. Very little musical content is recorded below 32hz, Home theater will have LFE into the low 20's.
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Check out "the clue" from Sjofn. At your price point you could get two new stacked pairs and still have money left over for stands. I heard these at a NY audio show and couldn't believe the quality bass this configuration was pumping out, and they sounded great across the rest of the sonic spectrum as well. I think there's a review in Positive Feedback that captures the essence of these speakers fairly well. All I can say is I left that room shaking my head in disbelief. Best of luck.
I started a very similar thread on this same subject a few months ago. After auditioning a few monitors I settled on a pair of Soundfield Audio Monitor 1's. They are a unique design using a Kef Uni Q coax midrange/tweeter augmented with a powered 8" subwoofer in each cabinet. They are phenomenal speakers and the bass drivers can be fine tuned via controls on the back.
Before I purchased these I had intended on getting both the Sjofn's and the Mani-II for an audition.
Best of luck in your search.
I think you are comparing apples and oranges. My experience tells me that monitors give you excellent sound staging and a disappearing act and floor standers give you deeper bass and a bigger presence, depending on amplification of course. How deep do you want your bass? How large is the room? I just don't know how to compare them side by side. It's a tough decision and I'm afraid you will have to buy some used speakers and trial and error. Good luck.
If you can live without the room-shaking bass, look for a used pair of Sonus Faber Electa Amators. With a 6" woofer, and the famous Dynaudio Esotar tweeter, you would be hard pressed to find a better sounding speaker, IMO. At around $2.5-$3K used (with the original walnut/marble stands), I believe you would find what you are looking for. Just my two cents!
In general monitors give a more touchable and free image of instruments and voices.
But when you have brands which make exeptional good croosovers, even 3 way spakers can give the same level of a touchable and full free image of instruments and voices.
When the freq. response is bigger you hear more information and yess the overwhole sound is more fun.
I did a comparison with the Dynaudio C1 and the Monitor Audio Pl-100.
Monitor audio makes even better crossovers than Dynaudio makes. The stage is wider and deeper. But also the rinnontweeter of the Pl-100 gives a better touchable image than the Esoar tweeter does. There is also more authority over the high freq. There is even more decay. With live recordings you can easily hear the differences.
Thank to all who have responded so far.. All are interesting suggestions, especially the Sjorn speakers called "The Clue" The press and show reports rave about the performance of this smallish monitor. In particular, the bass is supposed to be amazing. At $999 a pair, it is steal, if they really sound as claimed. However, they are placement dependent, and set-up has to be by the book and accurate to bring the speaker to its full sound potential
The Reference 3A De Capo speakers have been around for at least 12 years have been upgraded several times, but they are somewhat overpriced whether new or used
That is a long list to regurgitate ,with many contenders that can even soundly smoke floor standers , starting with the various Harbeths and the ATC SM 11s new model.
The shorter answer to that question itself is directly dependent on what the rest of your system is, with particular reference to the front end and amp.
I got a pair of Tannoy Definition DC8s, and they are tremendous. Best stand-mounted speakers I've heard to date. Doesn't matter if I'm listening to Tool or Jim Evans Trio...they sound fantastic no matter what I throw at them. The only con to them is they are a bit directional. Worth a look.
I also recommend the Decapos. They are among the very best monitors anywhere close to their price I've listened to but then some might be a bit turned off by their liveliness, a reason I prefer them, among other attributes that I haven't heard in similarly priced monitor speakers. They most CERTAINLY compete quite well with my long term well regarded and reviewed former 2-way floorstanders. You won't get the lowest octave but you will get fast accurate mid/upper bass, great staging and excellent imaging. Very punchy natural drum attack and great with percussive instruments in general.
I also recommend the Decapos. They are among the very best monitors anywhere close to their price I've listened to but then some might be a bit turned off by their liveliness, a reason I prefer them, among other attributes that I haven't heard in similarly priced monitor speakers. They most CERTAINLY compete quite well with my long term well regarded and highly reviewed former 2-way floorstanders and exceed them in several key areas of performance, at least to my ears and expectations. You won't get the lowest octave but you will get fast accurate mid/upper bass, great staging and excellent imaging. Very punchy natural drum attack and great with percussion instruments in general. Solo piano is just sublime and most natural.
I also concur with Akg_ca, it really is dependent on the rest of your system.
It all depends on your room and electronics. All of us who have monitors will tell you that what we have is best, lol. Have you had a chance to go listen anywhere? Educate yourself if you can. Heck, I was a monitor guy, but ended up with a pair of Proac Super Towers (that I'm finally selling to upgrade). I have the matching Studio Monitors too and the floorstanders take up the exact amount of space as the Studio 1's on stands and they sound even better and image just as good.
Are you sold on monitors? If not, you can have it all in that price range. Again, room and electronics/cables?
I remember the Atohm 1 from a few Newport Audio Shows ago that really impressed me. Astonishing bass from such a small monitor with great coherence and musicality. Unfortunately it's way above your price range but they have another model called the Sirocco 1-0 that, if anywhere near as good as the Atohm, may be your ticket.
I haven't heard the Sirocco but if you can get an audition, if might be worth it, and it's more than a bit below your budget.
All the best,
Why won't you consider augmenting with subwoofer? Even a tower speaker with built-in powered subwoofer can't do what monitors plus subs can do. There's far lower cabinet resonance in a monitor and it's easier to place bass generators where they work well with the room while placing the monitors where they image the best.
You could, for example, get a pair of KEF LS50s, which are class A sound down to around 60 Hz, and have the rest picked up by a good, fast sub or two.
Overpriced is relative. Something's worth whatever you pay for it. To call the de Capo's "overpriced" without having had them in your system is a bit myopic. I've had everything from Triangles to Maggie 3.6s to Focal 1027 to Devore 9's to Totem Staffs. The de Capo's are easily the best of the bunch (well, besides the Maggies, which are unparalleled).
How can anyone say their speakers are the best for anyone else's situation when you don't know his room or the whole system they are using? That's what I never understood. Not trying to be a jerk, but if you ask anyone who knows, they'll tell you that room and the rest of the systems is everything. I've heard the same system in two different stores on the same day, sound totally different. Similar traits etc... but midbass to midrange were completely different. I've heard most of the speakers mentioned in this thread and some I have loved. I have liked a couple and not liked a few. Again, my ears are different than anyone elses...
Just an observation. This is a good starting point for him to go out and listen for himself. I personally have never heard a sub/monitor system that works for me. No continuity and I can hear it pretty easily. I have however heard subs work well with full range speakers to smooth the bass and augment just a bit. Anything is about proper execution a most know. Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes.
Here's the problem - bass response. The ideal here would/should be bookshelf sized speakers and subwoofers, but bookshelves are still all made for at least decent bass response when you really don't need them to get much below 80hz. This means that you will be hard pressed to find a 2 way that isn't made inefficient (less than 90dB) and doesn't allow for high power handling to give you this unnecessary low end. Find something like Gedlee speakers that are made to be used with subs as opposed to ones on the market that will be helped by subs but don't need them.
The increased internal volume for a floorstander (assuming
roughly the same footprint) gives it a significant advantage
in bass extension and/or efficiency relative to a stand-
mount. The standmount can be designed to take advantage of
boundary reinforcement (a la Sjofn and Audio Note), but then
so can a floorstander.
So if we compare roughly equal-cost/equal footprint options,
the floorstander enjoys some advantages compared to the
standmount + stand... depending in part on how expensive the
In my experience most stand-mount speakers usually benefit
from at least some boundary reinforcement. While it's
possible to build a stand-mount that doesn't need any
boundary reinforcement, such would tend to be either very
low efficiency or very large. So I guess my first questions
- What's the room like... size? Open into other rooms?
- What are your speaker positioning options?
- How important is performance (soundstaging, timbre) when
you listen from outside the ideal "sweet spo"?
- What sort of amplification do you plan to use?
By the way, I've been consistently very impressed by Fritz
speakers, and the concept behind the Sjofn Clue is
brilliant. The guy who designed the Clue is really good,
and I'd trust his work.
Sorry about the weird spacing; I'm not trying to write
To Simao, In the noble hobby of hi-end audio, there must be some standard of performance/satisfaction versus price. The YG "Sonja" which retail for a cool $109,000 are probably great sounding speakers, but where in this calculation of retail price, does the standard of "good value" emerge??? Sure, if you have the money to buy them, and also can afford to use the absolute best electronics, there is no issue about price vs performance\satisfaction ratio.
I have heard the latest version of Reference 3A De Capo on two different occasions in different show room systems, and I just don't hear $3000 worth of speaker. They do sound very good, and the bass is as described by others: punchy and clean, but so are a lot of other monitor speakers that are $500-1000 less, like the Nola, PSB Imagine B and even Monitor Audio's PL-100, and a few in the ProAC monitor line-up. ( I wish someone could get a pair of the Sjorn's "The Clue" speakers recommended by AG member Soix, and provide an in depth evaluation as to whether they are the real deal or just another episodic phase of audio hype that pops up in the market several times a year.)
I think it is a bit nuts to just accept what many manufacturers's claim, and then try to justify as their "suggested retail price"
To Grinell, If you come across a clean pair of DECapos at $1200.00, please let me know. I have never seen them sell that low on AG
I still don't get why subs are out of the question. I sometimes think one should start with the subs to define how you want to pressurize the room, and then get the stand-mounts that finish off the overall sonic picture.
I already had my subs when I got my Mag 1.7s. I knew they would be articulate and fast--up to the task, and would energize the listening space. The naysayers kept warning me that Maggies are too fast for most subs, but I was right. They blended seamlessly from the get-go and provide the fullness, dynamics, and drive that bring out the best in the Maggies. For the record, I have a pair of out-of-prouction Mirage MM8s, tiny 9" cubes with 1200 watts peak power (380 rms) with high excursion 8" aluminum cones with two matching passive radiators per cube. They don't do much below 35 Hz, but what they do from 35 up to wherever you need to cross over is magic. I cross over around 50-60 Hz.
I loves my Maggies, but the subs pretty much obliterate the downsides people talk about--dynamics, extension, sensitivity, etc.
Part Time Audiophile raved about the Soundfield Audio Monitors as well. Here is an excerpt:
AJ specs the Monitor 1 to 38Hz, but check out the in room response he was getting at AXPONA! He measured seven different seats in two rows to generate the average responses and graphed em all for us. Whats the bottom line (as it were)? Its 10dB down at 20Hz and flat to 30dB.
These definitely compete with floor standers.
AJ the designer built these specifically for people who want full range sound from a monitor without having to augment them with subs.
Simao mentioned the Part Time Audiophile review of (the clue), and I've found him to be a pretty straight shooter although I'll say our tastes are probably similar since I love the JA Pulsars (and all JA speakers) as well. Also read the Positive Feedback review if you haven't. Having heard (the clue) in person I can personally vouch that he's not exaggerating and pretty much heard the same things I heard.
As for your prior comment on picky room placement, I'd kinda disagree there. Yes, you need to place the speakers 2" from the wall with a specific toe-in and distance to the speakers. But how nice is it that a lot of the work has already been done for you and that you can just follow a known formula and pretty much be done with it? And how nice is it that you don't have to spend weeks or months fiddling with moving speakers around and that you don't need to have the speakers 4 or 5 feet into the room to sound balanced and image well? I'm not a fan of speakers up against a wall and mine are a good 6 feet into my room, but (the clue) really changed my perspective on that given what I heard.
Lastly, if you don't live near a Sjofn dealer I think you can get a 30-day trial at home, so what the hell? And if you live near a dealer have them let you demo at home. If they're anywhere near as good as what I heard I doubt you'd return them. And no, I have no affiliation with this company at all. Still just flabbergasted by what I heard in NYC that day. Just surreal. By the way, I'm also a very big Ref 3A fan and may even own a pair one day, but I just don't see their smaller monitors (or any that I can think of) doing the extraordinary bass thing I heard out of (the clue)s if that's an important consideration. Hope this helps (again) and best of luck (again).
Czarivey was the first to mention the obvious choice, the Totem Mani-2 Signature. There is a pair currently for sale on A-gon in your price range. Furthermore, here's the Stereophile Review, plus measurements, plus updated measurements from 2009. The averaged response curve is remarkably flat, and indicates an honest -6dB point of 28 Hz. This would be excellent bass in a floorstander, but is totally remarkable in an 8.5"x16.5"x12" monitor.
PS: I have no affiliation with the seller listing those Mani-2's.
Agree with Johnny. I've heard the Mani-2s and they are remarkable for their bass output (as well as many other things) for their size too. The thing is, (the clue)s are rated at -3dB from 28 to 33Hz (room dependent) and are about $1000/pr. new. That's the rub with these ridiculous speakers. The Totems listed, as good as they are, are $2800 used. For that price you could get four stacked (the clue)s and a pair of decent stands NEW, and with four of them working the bass would obviously be even more formidable. That's the way I heard'em, and WOW. I think their somewhat unfair advantage is that the designer figured out a way to use the walls, ceiling, and floor to synergistically bring these small speakers to a completely unexpected level in comparison to more traditionally designed speakers. I also think there's some innovative thinking going on in the crossover in these speakers maybe not too dissimilar to Joseph Audio's infinite slope design as it seems to be a sliding crossover slope. However they do it, the imaging despite being shoved up against a wall was very impressive. Whatever. What I heard was seamless, natural, and absurdly bass proficient -- more than anything I've heard anywhere near their size and certainly their price.
I realize I sound like a complete shill, but really just forwarding impressions from a product that literally knocked my socks off. And that just don't happen much. For what it's worth...
I think there is some heavy-duty "marketing" going on with Sjofn's specs. A standmounter with a 5.5" driver and a small-moderate sized cabinet is not going to do 28Hz on the bottom. It may have a very impressive low end, but I find that specification very suspect. So, if someone feels it might be able to compete with a floorstander on the bottom end, give it a listen first. Admittedly, I haven't heard the speaker, but I'd like to see a little more accuracy in the way things are rated. It kind of reminds me of the little home theatre in a box systems bragging about having 1500W (probably rated one channel driven at a lower impedance for a nanosecond at 20% distortion multiplied by the number of channels).
"I think there is some heavy-duty "marketing" going on with Sjofn's specs. A standmounter with a 5.5" driver and a small-moderate sized cabinet is not going to do 28Hz on the bottom."
The claimed low-end extension is dependent on the speakers being placed as recommended for optimal boundary reinforcement. The designer has tailored the low-frequency response of the system to be the approximate inverse of the anticipated boundary reinforcement, so that when placed as recommended, the net result is extension instead of boom. I use a similar approach in some of my designs, and call it "room gain complementary tuning". Taking advantage of boundary reinforcement is about as close as it gets to a free lunch.
dealer/manufacturer/admires the Clue from afar
I have to agree with Soix about Totem. I have been enamoured with the brand for more years than I should have. My target speaker was Totem's "Hawk" speaker a short floorstander with outstanding soundstaging and to a like degree imagining. The next model up, "The Forrest" was never in my price range used or new. As far as their monitors, like the Mani-2 Signatures are excellent speakers, but grossly overpriced, and therefore overpriced used. I have e-mailed Vince Bruzzi several times over the years asking why his speaker were expensive and got the same rap every time about mil. spec driver components, and especially crossovers network OK, touché but..... I had a similar argument with Alan Perkins when he was the Audio Physic rep, as to why the original Virgo speaker, and other models cost almost 30% percent more than other similar designed speakers of notable brands. His argument was excellent sound quality can not be measured in dollars. He claimed the same theory guided him to buy, a Volvo, not a Honda Accord.
That is horseshit, and designers, reps, and manufacturers who take this position know it. Is it the same attitude as the grocery shopper who chooses a generic brand over a name brand to save money??. Obviously, buying a high end speaker system, is not like buying a box of cereal or clothes detergent But as I argued before, where does product 'VALUE" cross WITH PRODUCT PRICING. Yes, plenty of expensive R&D go into creating a great audio product, but when a manufacturer tries to recoup his development and manufacturing costs by literally gouging the customer, that is unfair, and just stupid ass business practice on the part of the manufacturer.
We may have younger members on AG who dismiss ( or ignore) the fact that 40 years ago, manufacturers, like Dynaco and Advent could not turn out their speakers fast enough. Millions of A-25's and Large Advents were sold, as well as Infinity's model 2000. Price always seemed to legitimately match the value of the speaker, that is, the sound it produced. Can we say that is the case with some speakers today???
When YG introduced the model: The "Carmel" about 4 years ago. it retailed for $18,000. The reviews were spectacular, especially the one in TAS which concluded that this design was doing something special and great to produce the level of sound quality. I heard the speaker at a local dealer in Honolulu, and it was excellent, bringing CD and vinyl to a new level of musicality. I happened to jokingly say to the owner of the shop,..."where does $5000 of musical satisfaction begin and end, and when does $10,000 of musical satisfaction kick in, and the REMAINING $8000 of its retail value, what will that add to the customer's enjoyment. Even the dealer had to laugh, as I was "benchmarking" performance levels based on price increments.
I am sure there are memebers foaming at the mouth at what I jokingly commented to the owner of the shop; however, I have to reaffirm that price should reflect the value of the sound provided by a speaker system. Using the barometer of long term musical satisfaction, or product development costs does seem to me a viable way to determine MSRP. Thank you to all who have responded!!!
To NoNoise, I checked out the Atomhn website. Nice speakers. The Sirocco is reasonably priced at $1495.00 but the other monitor called the "Grinell"(?) is $3995.00. If you heard both on the same day, tell me where and how you thought value, (that is, musical satisfaction) legitimately reflected price.
I am sure we both, and other members could clearly discern the differences between this speaker, the Reference 3A DeCapo, and the much scorned and lowly Sjorn's "The Clue"
Thanks for your recommendation
Sunnyjim: How can you say that the Totem Mani-2 Signatures are overpriced if they do something other monitors can't do at their price--provide true deep bass and room-filling dymamics from a stand-mounted monitor?
The Joseph Pulsar also qualifies, but it's $7,000.
If you want a stand mount with a full bass for less, there's the GoldenEar Aon3, but those are only $1K/pair. They *do*, however, give you excellent imaging and dynamics plus the tonal balance of a mid-sized floorstander.