Are these choices within your price range and size limits?
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Where are you located? There are 2 pairs of VMPS RM40 speakers for sale: one on the west coast and the other in the midwest. They are fantastic speakers that will not be outgrown no matter what ancillaries you put with them. Their used price is $2500. I know you said new, but this is a whole lot of good sounding speaker at a price of average monitors. If you like clarity without etch at all frequencies, dynamics, deep, clean bass, and as good of highs as you could want, plus a deep soundstage. I have a friend who comes over every few months and listens and is always amazed.
I have been enjoying my new Focal Sopra No2's for about 10 weeks now, very detailed, very musical.
I auditioned the Magico's and Wilson's before selecting the Focal's.
Before auditioning the Magico's the salesman asked me if I prefer "analytic" or "musical" speakers, hadn't thought about it that way, for me "musical" was the choice.
For me both the Magico's and the Wilson's needed to be driven to fairly loud levels to sound their best, and with source that has even the slightest harshness, I tired quickly listening to either of them.
Having said that, I think you have selected some of the best speakers made! Enjoy your search!
Frankie, i’ve heard the original Crystal Arabesque Mini’s & original Magico S1’s. I’ve also heard the Wilson Alexia’s in a couple of different setups, though not the new Sabrina.
These are all very different speakers. The Crystal Arabesque Mini’s are good sound stagers and disappear in the room. They are quite punchy/dynamic for their size, though I thought the tweeter sounded a bit analytical. However the new Arabesque Minimissimo’s BE dome is supposed to sound sweeter and less analytical, though that shouldn’t be an issue if you’re driving them with tubes. However note bass depth is of course limited being small stand mounts.
The original Magico S1 is a good speaker, but that’s all. I think both the S1 Mk2 and YG Carmel 2 will both be a lot better. No one outside the factory will have heard the S1 Mk2 as they are not due to start delivering until early Feb. I have heard th Carmel 2 and was impressed. Amazing build quality, very nice looks & the new model has better power handling, bass & smoother highs than the original Carmel. The Carmel 2 like other YG models sound very coherent and have good sound staging. But I think the much improved Magico S1 Mk2 should give the Carmel 2 a big run for its money. Of those two models, I would expect the S1 mk2 to sound a bit warmer with jazz and soul & have a bit more top end air/extension. The YG might offer slightly better sound staging. However this is pure speculation at this stage.
I can’t say i’m a fan of Wilson. I found the Alexia’s ported bass design flawed. The bass was punchy, but slow and flabby which smeared the midrange & produced a sound which did not sound tight, accurate or coherent. Though they sound stage well and have a ’live’ sound which I can see appealing to some. The Sabrinas would be worth an audition. I also see Wilson speakers being demo’d a lot with ARC tubes.
You may also want to look at 2nd hand Magico S3’s which are coming up for sale more often. They have good bass & a very open/transparent midrange. If you’re looking for a small form factor, those speakers are also worth considering.
I went with Vandersteen Treo's when leaving my Proac's after over 20 years. I love the newer Vandy line and the Quatro is in your range and ar killer for the price. Very clean, fast and natural sounding. The disappear easily too. I'm with Mel on Wilson's. I just don't get them. They use inexpensive speakers and spend money on the cabinet and marketing. Ton's of great marketing and they well because of the name. Similar to B&W. I have heard all of their line recently from the XLF's to the new Sabrina's. They keep telling me how great their soft dome tweeters sound. Why didn't they use these since day one? Even the silk ones are way too hot. The have a ringing upper mid range that just gives many a headache. I was at a Wilson dealer a few weeks ago and even the guy helping me out HATED them. It was hilarious as he ripped most of the speakers in his shop. There were two lines they carried that he likes, but we put the Sabrina's on with CH Precision gear. I know that gear sounds very good, but even with nearly 100k of gear the Sabrina's just didn't sound good. Even the owner came in the room and rolled his eyes. I joked that at least they sell and they don't need to spend much time with the customer. He agreed with me. That was all I needed to know. The owner used to be a VAndy dealer and wishes that he still had the line as he said that customer service was great and they were a great value. Sorry to go off topic a bit, but I thought it was a funny story to share in this thread.
Hope you get to listen to some of the speakers in this thread. Lot's of choices for you, but you'd be remiss to not have Vandersteen Quatro CT or even Treo's on your short list.
Dynaudio should be another consideration. I prefer the Contour (non LE) and Confidence. They aren’t as picky as some speakers as far as set up and disappear very nicely. But you should listen yourself. No one can tell you what YOU like. They are rear ported and do sound a lot better when away from the back wall
I'm a bit surprised your local shop recommended the S1.5 and not the S1, which is a proper floor stander. I haven't heard the Crystal's, but have heard the Magico S1 and Sabrina, although in different shops. I'm not sure I totally agree with the very negative opinions on the Sabrina's, while they weren't my favorite speaker, they're by no means terrible. If you're looking for slam, they definitely have that. Compared to the S1's, there's a lot more lower end as well (remember, you're comparing a ported 8-inch woofer to a 7-inch sealed design). I didn't feel the bass was flabby on the Sabrina either. I listened to them back-to-back to SF Amati Futura's (both powered by a Boulder integrated), and while the SF were more musical and realistic, with greater bass extension, the Sabrina's are about half the price. Like another poster mentioned though, I think the Sopra's are a better choice, for a bit less money, but these two speakers are voiced very differently. If you listen to the Sabrina's, and the sound appeals to you, then my advice would be to go for it. At least you'll be able to hear all three of these speakers in the same room, same electronics, in my opinion that's a much safer bet than buying something without hearing it first!
i agree with your comments about the Wilson speakers. I have heard most of their speakers and have never understood what the big deal is about them. I have listened to the Vandersteens 7's at the last 2 Newport shows and thought they produced some of the best sounds at the show. To me they sound so much more refined than the Wilson's. I honestly think some people buy the Wilson's because of the name.
I don't feel the Wilson's are a contender to any of the speakers in that class. They are dynamic, but not refined at all and they all produce an upper mid ringing that drives folks nuts. I was speaking with someone last night about the XLF's with the Boulder top electronics and DCS stack and we both were polite, but had to start talking and not listening during the first cut. After a few cuts we both had to leave as our ears hurt. There are too many choices out there for all of us to love and enjoy. We all feel passionately about what we like, but that doesn't take away from what others can do either. There are two lines of speakers that I just don't get and I listen to them often. B&W D3 and Wilson. I've heard a couple of the smaller B&W sound ok , however I heard that new D3 803 I believe is the first one released. I was their third down in the line I heard two weeks ago. It was so forward I thought the piano was in my lap, lol. There was no refinement and the rep was the one who set it up with what they want it to be shown with. I know folks buy into what we are told in ads or read on line, but that speaker was just bad. I had a Wilson dealer tell me that the cost of their drivers is very inexpensive, but they put a lot of R&D into their enclosures. Maybe if they gave you what Vandersteen or Magico or Proac does in their drivers, they'd be a contender. I always check out how many Vandersteen's from the Treo on up are for sale as well as other high end models. It's pretty rare and that's mostly because original owners get it and love what they have. You can find Wilsons all over the net. I'm sure there are Wilson owners who will now hate me or grill me, but the proof is in the pudding. All I ever hear from Wilson dealers is that the reason their metal tweeters never sounded good was because they needed to be driven by top of the line gear. Please stop it. Everything sounds best that way. Even with top of the line stuff, I've never heard a Wilson I can live with. JMHO
I was recently on a quest to get some new floorstanders and probably listened to 17 different models from the following manufactures: Wilson, Magico, Rockport, B&W, Vandersteen, Harbeth, Focal, Vienna Acoustics and maybe some I forgot. I think it depends on the type of sound you are looking for. I had an audio friend with me for most of the auditions and we arrived at similar conclusions on our sessions. There wasn't a Wilson we liked. Like the previous comments, the treble drove us out of the room. Subsequent to our reviews, I have listened to an upper end Wilson ($50K) that I did like, but the tweeter is different than the lower end line. The Magico S1 was too small sounding, & the S3 had a slightly tilted upper end. The Rockport Atria was very nice without any notable flaws but it just didn't get me involved with the music and the price went up. We listened to all of the B&W's. We both liked the 804 as the sleeper in the line. The bass in the 803, 802 got a little flabby. The Vandersteens carbon 5 and quarto were not our cup to tea. I know a lot of folks like them, but the bass didn't seem right and there was a thickness to the midrange. The Harbeth is not a floorstander but was very musical but didn't have enough bass. The lower level Focals (900 series) were ok but didn't seem to have the soundstage we expected and the midrange seemed a little recessed. We have not heard the new Focals. We then listened to the Vienna Acoustics floorstanders, nothing to write home about until be heard the Listz. It was one of those moments when the stars aligned. It was open, transparent, great bass, midrange, dynamics and the top end was sweet. This was the speaker that I bought. It handles all types of music well. I listen to classical, jazz, acoustic, vocals and rock. If you want a highly resolving upper end like a Wilson and to a lesser extent Magico, this won't be the speaker for you.
i was was at CES 3 years ago and heard the Vienna Music. This speaker blew me away. It was the most beautiful speaker I have ever heard. I sat glued to my seat for an hour. I didn't want to leave. The speaker at the time was 27k. I don't even know if they make it anymore. It is an experience I will never forget.
I hope the OP makes his choice based on what he hears with his own ears and, if possible, that he gets to try his speaker choices in his own environment. Lots of good suggestions in this thread, but also lots of people disliking lots of speakers and it would be a disservice for the OP to rule those brands out based on what other people heard.
When I bought my Wilson Benesch speakers, pre-owned, they sounded utterly miserable in the seller's living room. I don't know if it was the ancillary equipment, or the room, but they were awful. It was no wonder he wanted to sell them. I'd heard them before, so I knew what they COULD sound like, so I bought them and sure enough they sound like heaven in my room. Point being - you take any speaker anyone has mentioned in this thread, and in the wrong room or with the wrong equipment you can make it sound like crap. But that doesn't mean it won't sound like heaven to the OP, in his home, and with the right equipment.
You are way off base in your comments about B&W using cheap drivers. Unlike many speaker manufacturers, they do not purchase someone else's OEM drivers, but make all the drivers in the 800 series in house. That diamond tweeter, irrespective of how you think it sounds, is very sophisticated in it's construction and the result of years of research. The replacement cost on those, if you have checked, is over $1000 each. Not exactly what I consider a "cheap" driver.
First off anyone should listen before buying. That's been a given in audio and just common sense. We all hear and like different things.
As for B&W using cheap drivers, I don't think I said that and if I did, I'm sorry. Very sorry. Their drivers are very expensive in their D3 series. Wilson are the ones who use cheaper drivers than other speakers in their price range. All you have to do is look at the replacement costs of their drivers.
Here is the quote from what I posted earlier: Here is the first post that you probably misunderstood "I'm with Mel on Wilson's. I just don't get them. They use inexpensive speakers and spend money on the cabinet and marketing. Ton's of great marketing and they sell well because of the name. Similar to B&W.?" The similarity is the great marketing and them selling well. That was my last though in the sentence and what I meant.
Sorry for the confusion.