I would go with the Spendor SP-1s or SP-1/2Es. I have both and haven't heard a speaker that size I would rather have. I use to be a Spendor dealer but of the 6 pairs I now have I bought 3 used. See REGONAUDIO review. I also have a pair of Mini Utopias but overall I would go with Spendor. Spendors are fairly efficient and an easy load so tubes are fine, buy used , you will get a lot more speaker for the money, I have bought a lot of them used and never had problems.
13 responses Add your response
Wow, great list of speakers.Any of them would be a good choice.The Devore sound great with tubes.They are not bookshelf speakers but floor standing.I personally love spendor speakers .They have what I consider one of the most important characteristic a speaker should have,excelent tonal quality.To me , no matter how good a speaker might be in certain areas, if a guitar does not sound like a guitar it just doesn't do it for me.On another note,your proac speakers are by themself excelent.I use to have proac studio 1 speakers and they were fantastic reproducers.I personally don't think speakers have advance all that much .There are speakers long gone that would give modern speakers a challenge.Dalquist dq-10 , Spica TC-50 ,TC-60 and angelus models ,Celestion SL6,SL 600 and many others.Hope this was helpful.God bless.
With this list of speakers, you cannot make a bad decision. I personally own the Harbeth's. Like you I was orginally leaning towards the Spendor's, but then I got to hearing a lot of good reports about the Harbeth's and I gave them a listen, and fell in love.
Like you, I too was concerned about the the metalic tweeter, but this is really not a concern, as this tweeter turned out to one of the smoothest, sweetest sounding high ends I have heard.
The 'radial' driver material is not an advertising gimick! This thing is absolutely fabulous. Very similar to the Spendor, in a lot of ways, but with more inter detail and clarity. However, as previously stated, there is not a bad choice on your list, and the final decision is what you are happy with.
Good luck, and great listening.
I have Spendor SA1's and have owned SP1's. I am a big Spendor fan. The SA1's, which I use in my BR system, are terrific little speakers, with more life than the SP1's and unbelievable soundstaging and imaging. Vocals are eerily natural and realistic. Bass is not very deep but you will be shocked at how tuneful and accurate the bass is. They need power (I would say at least 100 w/ch and good cables. The best compliment I can give them is that I have forgotten about them.
Mezzanine...i thought i'd highlight this deal in case you were not aware of it as it may suit your purposes as well (http://www.musicdirect.com/product/86300). Of your speakers though, I believe the Devore Gibbon 3XLs are going to be the most tube friendly as they are 90db/80hm design and typically Devore speakers stay above 6ohms across the frequency spectrum. I have not heard the 3XLs but I have heard his floorstanders (Super 8, 9, and Silverback Reference) and they are all excellent speakers.
I have listened to PMC LB1 Signatures, PMC EB1i and IB1, Proac Tablette 50 Signature and D25 and Harbeth P3ESR, C7ES3, M30, SHL5 and M40.1. I think the speakers mentioned in your list are all good speakers as it boils down to personal preference in choosing the right one that fits your listening criteria.
PMC speakers are quite power-hungry, even the small little ones with 4 ohm impedance and need a bit of power to come alive. They are more neutral and accurate compared to the warm Harbeths and have better bass response due to the TL design. The Harbeths present music with more emotion, has more in the midrange and are a lot more easier to drive. The Harbeths are also less picky on amplifiers and will sound equally good on lesser amps. I have not listened to the Proac D1 and D2 but reckon they will sound closer to the PMCs with more extension in the highs. The Proacs are also easier to drive compared to the PMC. Have not listened to Spendor but read that they sounded quite similar to the Harbeths -warm with low listening fatigue.
If you want to get a different sound from your 8 years old Proac Tablette 2000 Signature, I reckon the PMC, Spendor and Harbeth will give you more of that than the newer Proacs although the D1 and D2 are excellent speakers. No experience with Devore. Personally I would not go with speakers that have drivers smaller than what you have right now in the 2000 Signature(the DB1i and P3ESR have a 5.5" and 5" woofer respectively).
There is often a misconception that all speakers with metal dome tweeters will sound bright with high listening fatigue. Actually it has got more to do with the tweeter's crossover frequency that the designer has set on the speakers rather than the type of tweeter.
It too think you have alot of good speakers on your list. Given your use of low/medium powered tube amps, I would recommend you also consider the Merlin TSMs. Not sure what the British sound is, a mid-bass bump? The Merlins are highly resolving, very tube-friendly, and among the best "book-shelf" speakers I have ever heard. Having said that, the Harbeth's would be my choice of the speakers on your list, but I would think you could live with any of them happily as long as you amps are up to it. If you do move up to 50 tube watts I don't that will be an issue with any of them.
All I can add to this discussion is : Devores that I have heard were fantastic for classical and jazz, but not very good for rock. Integration between two drivers was wonderful and the top end was soaring and open. Also tonality was spot on. I felt Devore would be a great choice for quiet listening of classical or jazz. I felt they were falling apart musically once I turned them loud.
Overall I was very impressed with Devore and would definitely consider them if one could live with a few limitations I have mentioned.
I have heard the PMC's in my room and compared them to my proac 1SC's and althought they sound good,in an a-b test the proac's were clearly superior.I replaced my I sc's with the new Ref. signature eight and think they are the best monitor Proac has ever made.All the PMC's sounded abit bloated in the bottom end.I think it's because of the transmission line design.
I'm running them with the ARC vsi60and my cables are Cardas Neutral Ref.and they sound incredable.
As someone whom is known as a diehard mini-monitor lover since joying our shared hobby in '82, beginning with a pair of Roger's LS 3/5A's, then the original Linn Kans - then Kan II's, followed by just about every version of the ProAc Tablettes minus the ones made in 2000, then their Response One SC's, then original Totem Model One's, followed by Harbeth LS 3/5's and original HL P3's, Audio Physic Step SLE's, Vienna Acoustic Haydn's, Reference 3A Dulcets, Splendor SA 1's and finally the DeVore Fidelity Gibbons 3's.
And in all honesty, the Gibbons 3's have become the most balanced, best sounding, better integrated Musically of the bunch.........., as for once in my life, I'm hearing bass, as with many of the others, one loner for a sub-woofer with the possible exception of the Totem's, the Response One SC's and the Haydn's.
Yet, you have overlooked the ATC Speakers as these are wroth your consideration as well, it merely comes down to given a set budget - which speaker is best balanced to your ears?, in your room and with your system and your priorities that matters most!.
To me either the Gibbons 3's or Dulcets will bring a smile to your face in a manner the others can't come within spitting distance of.
Just food for throught based upon one having an open enough mind to trust in what ones ears and/or heart tells him what Musicality is meant to sound.