Have you had a chance to listen to any of these yet?
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Yep - Silverline Boleros. At least they float my boat. I have them in a 19.5x13.5x9 room on the short wall. I drive them with all tube systems. Great resolution of detail with out any glare or brightness. Maybe a small BBC dip in the mid-range adds to warmth a bit. Retail is above your range but they are available for less. My 'last' speakers. I think John Potis' review on 6moons is a fair description. A great solution to high end angst for folks who just want to listen to the music I think.
I second Newbee's opinion. The Boleros, which I heard once at a HE show in NYC, have stuck in my mind, along with Roman Audio Centurians, as the most musical, listenable speaker I've heard. Perhaps not dead-on neutral, but breathtaking. My dream speaker in the under $20K category. Good luck getting an audition unless you live near the CA home of Silverline, though. Very few authorized dealers, and not all of those have Boleros on display.
very nice list. love the thiels and the revels. i would add sophia's to that list as they seem to be a similar sounding speaker to what you are looking at and can be purchased in that range.
mine would be a battle to the death between sophia's and revel's with the revel's most likely winning. they just do everything damn near perfect (for me)...
IMO given your short list I would lean toward the Focals or the Revels.Never liked Theil at all,know nothing about PBN,pass on Dynaudio unless you step-up to the Confidence line then your talkin.....and would definately add the Sophia 2 to the list(big mistake if you dont listen to them before a purchase)
The reason why I suggested cables is that you indicated the Dali's were satisfying in the bigger room. That means they may have potential in the new room with a little work. Plus, there are no perfect speakers out there, and your new speaker may have the same issues. You mentioned alterations in speaker placement, but I would try without any toe-in and spaced as wide as you can get them if that has not been done already. Also, try inverting the phase of the speaker cables at the speaker end. This can be the cause of your problem, too.
I think Cardas is a pretty warm cable, perhaps at the expense of detail and bottom end extension. I do not know about Acoustic Zen. There is plenty of info on the cables I mentioned. There are cables out there that provide a full midrange without compromising other aspects. My initial impression is that Jade Audio fits that bill, but you would only know by trying.
Or perhaps it is time for a change. As for your choices, you will get opinions all over the map.
I am thinking the same as you are and looking at some of the same speakers. I don't even know where to begin. You can read reviews I guess and go to dealers to hear them but until you get them home only then will you know. I guess the only way is to start buying them used and if you don't like what you hear then sell it and go on to the next one.
Of the choices you mentioned I personally would start with the Revel and then go to the Thiel next. I think the Sophia 1 should be on your short list as well.
Philefreak, You would be cheating yourself if you are not strongly condidering PBN Audio. Although I have not heard the EPX I am a current owner of Peter's new SPI. They are by far the most refined, nuanced, dynamic speaker I have owned. Coming from Silverline Sonatina III's and a nice Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor there was no comparison. Peter uses some of the finest components avaiable and cabinet construction is top notch. Most of all Peter is is by far one of the nicest people I have dealt with. Very responsive to emails and any other request I have had. Intially I was looking for the now discontinued SP3's, They have since been replaced but Peter offered to build me a brand new pair if I wanted. Ended up with a demo pair of SPI's and have no doubt I will be a PBN customer for years to come. Just my experience! Hope this helps
The Apogee's are not electrostatic but I think I know where you're going. Actually, the Sound Labs that I owned were VERY dynamic--not bass thumping as in a subwoofer, but PLENTY realistic enough for my musical tastes. Plus I was using them in a room that's about 25X22X20, and open into a kitchen area through two 6'plus casement doors at the opposite end of the speakers, and open above and behind them to a loft area on the second floor. Needless to say, VERY large an area. So any lack of dynamics would have been easily a problem in that size room.
Maybe at least looking at current day Electrostats of Sound Lab quality might be worth while. With your budget, I would think you could find something. IMHO
Have you considered Dali MS4? Very nice speakers. You do need to carefully select associated components and cables with the Dalis but you can certainly make these speakers work for you.
Dynaudio S5.4 will be very good. Although these are on the opposite end of the Dalis as far as presentation. Dynaudio are smooth, with silky highs and very nice midrange with no glare at all(at least I don't get it in my system).
However, I think the Dyns are a bit more relaxed than the Dalis when it comes to dynamics. The biggest advantage with the Dyns is that you can listen to music for hours and hours and never get listener fatigue.
Another choice for me would be B&W 803D.
it will be tough to beat the resolution of the Dalis though.
Bottom line is, go and listen to as many speakers as you can. Only way to determine what you like.
If you like the Dali soundstage I suspect some of the choices on your list may be a small step down in that department. I would suggest you add Avalon Ascendants to your list. The soundstage is to die for and the midrange and treble equally so. Sophias are nice too. Once your list gets short enough you need to go listen to them.
I have heard Dali speakers many times. IMHO they have only sounded good with tube gear. In fact the best sound I have ever heard was a pair of Ms-4's going through a Wavelength amp and pre-amp. I am currently a Dynaudio user but I would have no problem owning a pair of Dali's.
Out of all the speakers you mentioned I have only heard the 5.4's. I think they are a really great speaker but I would still stick with what you have and work around it. Try to borrow a tube amp and some different cables. That would be my first choice before buying other speakers.
Have you tried any room acoustic treaments? You claim the speakers sang in your old room. What guarantee is there that any of the other five contenders will sing any better in this room than the Dali speakers you already know can satisfy you when they were in a different room.
Is the glare a function of brightness caused by reflections in the room, or perhaps a bass cancelation? You do mention the speakers sound leaner in the new room. Most likely you have a bass problem that makes a frequency stand out as a glare. Check out GIK acoustics for some afforable bass traps and corner traps. It does require a significant amount of experimentation to obtain the right mix.
Philefreak...PBN has no large following(if any),too hard to sell when the time comes.They may sound great but not for me because I consider resale when I buy gear.The Sophia 2 is well worth the extra money if you are seriously considering the model 1 .Im guessing in a few months 9 grand or less will buy a nice pair.If you like Dynaudio the confidence line C2/C4 is worth hunting out(6-8 grand will do it)..Focal and Revel are also winners..and as always this is just my opinion
rhljazz has a good point. great speakers can sound like crap in one room and xlnt in another as u know. imo, most gear questing is a failure to create a good acoustic space that matches the current eqpt. but no one in industry wants to mention this pink elephant in the room cause there is no $ in it and low sex appeal.
Veroman is dead on! Play with setup first and foremost before any more money is spent. Years of experimentation and research has made certain approaches more successful than others. Use the long wall if possible with your head against the opposing wall (treat wall behind your head with dampning material). Spread speakers as far apart as possible and sit within an isoceles triangle configuration (even with or a little closer than the speakers are apart). Speakers shoul be at least 18" from the side walls and 2 to 3 feet from the back wall (test for slap echo by walking out from the back wall while talking until your voice goes dull and you hear yourself across the room). Angle the speakers in only enough to achieve realistic imaging and depth...do not go for pinpoint placement as it will decrease dynamics and shrink the soundstage along with hardening the tonal balance.
Great advice being given in regards to room acoustics. However, with regards to specific brands and resale here is a few thoughts. Much of what you pay for when you go with a "Big brand" is marketing and name. Just because one speakers is made by "X"company Big Brand, good resale doesn't mean it will sound better than "Y" company smaller less know designers. Many cases the smallers companies offer better build with better materials for less money. They also tend to offer fewer models, focusing on R&D for one or two designs rather than a number of different series of speakers within one brand. With regards to resale, it is comforting to know what you have purchased will quickly sell if you choose. Many of the companies that sell quickly on this site sell because of the name itself and not the quality of sound. Many of these brands carry a hefty price tag and the the big name and people think that is must be good. I would be lying if I said I have never have done this, I have in the beginning and learned my lesson. I am not saying I will not purchase from the bigger name brands I own and will continue to purchase what ever I feel fits my needs wether it be from a big brand or not. Just keep in mind there are some extremely good speakers out ther that don't fit in the Big name circle and for people to tell you not to consider them because they don't have a following or not the best resale is not very good advice at all. If you purchase something and immeditely consider resale you will be on a merry-go-round
of wanting,what next,shoulda, woulda, coulda. The last thing coming to your mind when looking for a reference speaker is ahhhhh finally!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just some thoughts.
As I posted in a separate thread, I tried the Spectron Musician III with my Focal 1027be's. No synergy to be found, especially the bass which was surprisingly loose and flabby (maybe the demo amp didnt have enough hrs?). The Focal 1037be may be a better match but I doubt it. I really wanted to like the Spectron after positive reviews but, as always, a serious in-home audition with my room accoustics, cables, front end etc, proved the only way to judge compatability.