Non fatigueing speaker under 1500

I'm looking to purchase a non fatigueing speaker under $1500. I'm very sensitive to hardness and glare. I'm searching for a set up I can listen to for hours without draining me.

System is Aragon 4004 mkII fed directly by a Theta Miles. Speaker cables are Sumiko OCOS and interconnects are MIT PC Squared. Electronics are plugged into a Tice Power Block.
Room has little furniture and hardwood floors.

Under consideration are:
Vandersteen 2CE Sigs
Meadowlark Swift

Thanks - Jack
I think the Meadowlark Swift is a good choice, but I like the Vandy's too. You may want to consider the fact that alot of your "hardness and glare" comes from the CD's that you listen to. If you played vinyl, much of that would simply not be there, and much more music as a bonus.

Also, your bare hardwood floors and little furniture are not helping matters any.
I too am on a similiar quest. One possibility is Spendor loudspeakers. I'm familiar with the S 3/5 and if the larger
models are voiced similiar but with greater bass that might
be the ticket! Another possibility might be Vienna Acoustics "Bach." I have not heard this loudspeaker personally, but I might that the plunge sight unseen because
I like the size, appearance (Beech finish), and price. Vandersteen 2Ce Sig. could also be a possibility. I owned the 1B for a time and I enjoyed them. If the size doesn't
bother you they are a good choice. I don't know if video
shielding is important to you. The Spendors and Vienna Acoustics are shielded, I believe, however the Vandersteen
are not. If you are near a Snell dealer you might want to check out a Qbx series floorstander. I have no idea how they sound but if they sound somewhat like their older products that's good. Speakers with soft-dome tweeters are probably a better choice for the sound you're looking for.
Hope things work out well. Bill
I'm a fan of the Magnepan 1.6QR: very seamless and coherent, spacious, clean high frequencies without
sounding harsh or brittle. It retails for slightly
more than your specified $1500, but is occasionally
available for $1100-1200 on the used market.
Second the vote for Spendors...the 2/3s or possibly a pair of 1/2s used. My experience is that the more you listen, the better they sound. Heavy, solid stands improve the sound of either speaker and I found that biwiring is beneficial with the 2/3s...don't know about the 1/2s.
Good Luck!
Soliloquy 5.3 Used or b-stock. Do a search for the various
Spendor's new S6 is my vote.
Of your choices the Vandersteens are very good indeed. If after you purchase them, there is any residual hardness, look elsewhere in your setup! ( like Spendors also.)
I'd suggest a used pair of original Quad ESL's (the "57's") as among the most non-fatiguing speakers at any price, and if not Quads then Maggies.

Boxiness is a subtle but persistent source of listening fatigue, and it's fairly expensive to build boxes that don't sound like boxes. So in your price range, if non-fatiguing is the primary criteria, I enthusiastically recommend dipoles such as the Quads or Maggies.

The Maggies are more much forgiving of listening position, while the Quads are a bit more forgiving of speaker position. The Quads like low-power (usually tubes), and the Maggies like fairly high power. The Maggies don't really come to life at low volume levels like the Quads do.

On the other hand, if you gotta have boxes, the Vandies would be a good choice.
Disclaimer: I am a Meadowlark dealer.

Duke makes some very good points concerning listener fatigue in relation to cabinet resonance. This is often overlooked and many times fatigue is caused by this effect, and NOT the drivers.

Gooddomino...As far as my recommendation, all of the suggestions mentioned so far are good ones, however, I have a hunch that the reason more folks didn't recommend the Meadowlark Swifts (which you brought up) is that they haven't heard them (I could certainly be wrong). Anyway, we finally received our store demo pair last week and as impressed as I was with them before, after spending more time with them, they are INCREDIBLE speakers for $995. For a speaker to have the holographic imaging, soundstage, and bass that these do for their asking price and size is VERY rare (I am sure there might be others, just haven't heard them yet). They completely disappear and have zero box resonance (that my ears can perceive anyway). Congrats definitely go to Pat McGinty for a wonderfull (and affordable) design.

Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
I agree with the many who have already stated the Vandersteen is a great choice. I am of the opinion that it is the best value in a full range speaker. It is a steal at its price point.

The Magnepan 1.6QR is a great speaker as well, but it presents many potential problems. It requires quite a bit of current as is extremely sensitive to placement. In the right situation it could outperform the Vandersteen 2CE Signature. I would say that 90 percent of the time the Vandersteen will be the better choice because the speaker is not at all picky about what is being used to drive it and it is not anywhere near as placement sensitive as the Magnepan is.

Good Luck.
I'd say your on the right path for a non fatigueing speaker. I will say that there is simply no way the Maggies can be considered non fatigueing. I've had Maggies in the $1000-$1500 range in and out for at least 12 yrs. and I've never found them to be non fatigueing. Pretty darn good speaker for the money but, definately fatigueing after a couple hours.

Sorry, just my opinion. But, the recordings I listen to are pretty crappy quality, which will bring on fatigue much sooner.But, then again I listen to what's available commercially, not some damn audiophile crap.
I too agree you have a good list going. I'd add spendor to the list as well.

I just received a new pair of the Meadowlark Swallow's, the monitor version of the new Swift, a couple weeks ago and they are absolutely fantastic. I echo all that Mike of Father & Son Audio has said. I agree they have holographic imaging, soundstage, and bass and no detection of cabinet resonance, but let it be known as well that they are very accurate in tonality and timbre. They possess a natural and balanced tone that is very non-fatiguing and engaging. A music lovers speaker for sure (Swift or Swallow).
just listened to the new ProAc not sure the model number but the price was $1500 and it sounded pretty good for a cone design in that price range.
Many years ago I tried professional studio monitors, reasoning that people who (a) have to make their living listening to music and (b) have to listen for hours at a time every day, would be very sensitive both to accuracy (for want of a better word) and whether a speaker was fatiguing or not.

So far it's worked for me. I've now used Tannoy System 12 and 15 DMT monitors for several years and still marvel at the combination of detail and dynamics that never grates or irritates.

Of course, one's source components are an essential part of this equation. Also, if you want real 20 Hz bass, you'll need a subwoofer. Standard practice with studio monitors, even the huge main monitors, that use two large LF drivers, sacrifice the last octave in favour of sensitivity and dynamics and use a sub for LF reinforcement.

Driving 95-100 dB speakers with 1000 watts on the bottom and 500 on top may seem like madness, especially those who favour 5 wpc SETs for this purpose, but I've listened to a lot of audiophile setups, some costing as much as my house, and none compare to what I've heard from the main playback monitors (not the mixing monitors) in a good recording or mastering studio.

Some of my friends use the Tannoy DMT series speakers, too, and have rebuilt the crossovers with paper-in-oil caps for what they find is a smoother sound.

Hope this helps.
Soliloquy 5.3 would be an ideal choice with "non-fatiguing" sound. I have the 6.3 and can listen to them for very extended periods of time. The 5.3 are slightly smaller, but very musical also. They can be found used or b-stck at or below $1500.
go buy yerself a used pair of ProAc 1SC's for around 1200. At the bottom of every page in the ProAc owner's manual are the words "perfectly natural". And on this, I would definitely agree. I do appreciate the comments regarding Meadowlarks - I have owned the Kestral HR, and have heard the Swift. But honestly, the ProAc's are in another league altogether. Down the line put a good sub on them, you'll then have the whole enchilada, and for the money you'll be in audio heaven...
Rg- In what ways are the ProAc's "in a whole other league" compared to Meadowlarks? I mean this in no argumentative way, I'm just curious to hear what it is specifically. I have never heard the 1SC's. Are you talking better in every way or better resolution, better tonality, better...? Thanks.
It AIN'T the speaker that is fatiguing - it's your amp IMHO! With only 200 Watts, I would suspect that it must be clipping, causing the fatigue that you hear/feel. Suggest that you Beef up your power!

Dr_joe, interesting point. I read a pro-audio magazine review on B&W 602's. They thought they were great as a monitor being flat, accurate and all that. However, they had two complaints:
1) Lack of bass control - passive speakers can't compete with active speakers in this respect since the amp is right at the bass driver for better control.
2) Too bright. But I would also want to know about their electronics which could also cause this problem.
I believe that you do not need to spend 3K+ on good, non-fatiqueing speaker, especially monitors. At the under 1500 price point, the best options have been mentioned. Maggies are not fatiqueing, but you need to consider your room and cables. The Spendors 3/5 are lovely, but after a while you realize the bass is not there. If you want Spendors, be prepared to add a sub or go with a larger pair. I cannot comment on the 6's. The ProAc Response 1SC are one of my favorite speakers. They will not sound as good as they can unless you have a very good amp. With a sub and tube amp, they cannot be beat. Now, Meadowlark. The Swifts and Swallows will blow most speakers under 2K away. The new tramission line technology that Pat McGinty developed impacts more than just the bass. They entire speaker is more natural and musical. I would really like to see how they compare to the Maggies side by side. My vote for serious consideration(not in order of preferance, as this is your choice): Maggies, ProAc 1 SC, Meadowlark Swift or Swallow. If you are not satisfied, then look at chaning your amp. The Theta Miles is just fine. Good luck.
OK Figuy, first things first, Meadowlark makes a real nice speaker. Bang for the buck wise, some of their stuff is a no brainier choice. But the ProAcs have tonal quality, and a certain delicacy and finesse that is just very special. An uncompromisingly clean midrange makes this speaker extraordinary to listen to (read non fatiguing). Along with lots of other qualities, without exaggeration, the 1SC has a top end that on certain cuts will rival electrostatic quality. While I believe these to be a world class mini, they wont deliver all the goods (they’re not intended to), which is why I think most people would want to sub. But if $1500 is the current budget, I’d rather have these and save for a sub, than have something else that wont come close to doing some things that the 1SC will do. btw, bare floors and no acoustical treatment (or at least some bookshelves, cushioned chairs, sofas, n stuff) is for sure some of the reason Gooddomino is dealing with listener fatigue IMO...
Gooddomino, FWIW I've had some nice variable analog out players, but never really had great luck going CD direct - harshness was always an issue until i solved it with a tube pre
Jack -

Angela100 brings up a good point - your amplifier. In my limited experience, the Aragon amps have generally sounded dry and edgy.

Any chance you might give tubes a try?? For about a grand plus the proceeds from selling the Aragon, you could get the tube-friendly Swifts and a nice, warm little Jolida tube integrated to drive 'em.
A nice tube integrated frome Rogue, Jolida, etc. (good advice Duke) and the Swifts would be a match made in heaven. Probably about as musical a system as you will find for not a lot of money.

Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
Thanks to all for the input! I was curious if my amp would be mentioned as a possible culprit. I did have a chance to listen to the Swifts today. When played through a Rogue 88/99 Magnum and Sim Moon cdp the sound was better than with Parasound SS/CDP but.... I was not impressed. Still a little too much in my face and the bass was there but did not boogie. I really wanted to like the Swifts for many reasons,price,size and looks.

Maybe I need to look at bigger more expensive speakers. Maybe I need to listen to very "tubey" sounding tube amps/pre. Am I learning digital just doesn't cut it.

Currently I'm leaning towards the Vandy 2CE Sigs. They are larger than I wanted to go. I've heard that ARC and Quicksilver amps drive the Vandies well. What about Rogue amps? How much tube power would be necessary.

Thanks Again - Jack
Now, Now, Audiokinesis, I never said the Aragon amp was dry or edgey or in any way not a good amp, I just said that 200W is not enough power and is probably clipping. SS or tube, you need more power to really drive speakers without distortion and clipping.
If it was me, I would begin looking at upgrading the amp, then listening to my speakers with that amp and then deciding what to do. Do you have a friend that would let you "borrow" their amp(at least 300W, preferably more) just to see what it does in your setup?

Angela - Assuming Gooddomino were to purchase a 90+db sensitivity speaker, what on God's green earth would he need 300+ wpc for? Since when is 200wpc not "enough" power?

Aren't you the one who's spouting about garbage in, garbage out? If the "quality" of the source component is so important to you, why would the quality of the amplification not be equally important? Do you have any idea how expensive a quality 300+wpc amp would cost?

Please explain your reasoning.
Dan, I am just talking about what may be causing the fatigue is all. And clipping is a real reason and could at least be tested by putting something in the chain that wouldn't do that and see if it "sounds" better. That's all I am suggesting. I am a fan of getting to root cause and I think that you would save money in the long run to find out what is really causing the problem, then buying this and buying that and then buying something else. My intent was to get some thinking about what is really causing the problem, than just jumping to the conclusion it's the speakers. Does that makes sense? -aj
Angela - Makes sense...although I guess the easiest solution would be to turn it down and see if that sounds any better. We don't even know what speakers Gooddomino is driving with his 200wpc. Unless they're grossly inefficient, or he listens at extremely high levels, odds are good that there's no clipping taking place.

While I feel that it's important to find the right speakers for you personally, they're only going to sound as good as your room (and setup) allows. You mention that your room has hardwood floors and little furniture. Once you decide on a pair of speakers, I would strongly consider doing a few simple things to "tune" your room. A couple of rugs in front of (and maybe behind if you buy dipoles) the speakers would be a good start. Maybe a couple of tapestries or other wall hangings in strategic places. Nothing gawdy or expensive, mind you, but simple and tasteful additions that will greatly enhance the listenability of your system.

You haven't told us what speakers you're currently using, so we can't speculate as to whether or not they're known for being too bright or forward. I would hazard to guess, however, that the most likely suspect contributing to your fatigue is the room itself. A very "live" room with a lot of hard surfaces causes sound to reverberate all about the room and arrive back to your ears at various times. It's a lot for your brain to process.
Dan -I owned Vandy 3's for 10 years. They were just too big so I sold them. They also gave me fatigue at higher listening levels and just not enough detail. I then purchased Thiel .5's. Great detail,I heard things I never heard before on my CD's. They just couldn't "jam" and when trying to jam they became fatigueing fast.

I heard that the 2CE Sigs had the 3A's tweeter so they might further reduce fatigue. It looks like I might need to just do the best I can at this price level.

Hey Gooddomino-- I would say that the Swifts and ProAcs are your best choices. The Swifts represent a great option but can be amp selective. The better the amp, the sweeter they are. I have not heard the combibnation that you mentioned, but the Rouge amps just do not do it for me. I think the Miles is a good player, so look at some different amps and take it with you. I have a CJ MV 60 and old Music Fidelity A1 and love them both. They both sound great at different times and moods, but I keep coming back to the Meadowlarks. There is something about the Meadowlarks that I like more than the ProAcs, but I can live with either. Maybe its my room or the speed of the Meadowlarks.
2CE Sig's with tubes. I am always amazed at how good the Vandy's are when properly driven. Even the little ones sound so much better than I expect even driven by modest gear. Otherwise, look at ML CLS's or Quads (57's or 63's). Dollar for dollar the Vandy's represent excetional overall sound and amazing value. BTW, I do not own them. They would, however, be on my short list if I were to stray from my large, hard to power esl system.
Gooddomino - when you say "jam" does that mean you like to listen with the volume up? Music does sound better loud, that's for sure.
Those are some quality speakers that you had/have.

You should give Pat Mcginty a call at Meadowlark. He just starting shipping the new Osprey. Ask him what's next. He has to be introducing a new speaker priced somewhere between the Swift and Osprey, so you may find yest another option. He's on a roll!
Here, I'll say it - the Aragon is an arc-welder: brittle, glare, etc. If you don't like fatiguing components, gooddomino, you might be going a little crazy by now. So, dump the Aragon, pronto, get a nice integrated tube amp - my recomm is the VTL 85 - mate it with the ProAc 1SC's with decent wire (look at the Coincident stuff), stick a good PC on the amp and CD player (Virtual Dynamics on CD/ Custom Power Cord Co. on amp) and save for the ProAc 2.5's used at @ $1800 or less.
Cellorover - Meadowlark is coming out with a Kestral II. Might be more to my liking.

Asa, looks like they're still talkin 'bout Meadowlarks....which is OK. If he never hears the 2.5's, no harm done. But if he ever does (after already buying something else), he'll surely be grateful for the secondary market here on Agon! 2.5's on tube gear with some NOS Siemens or Mullards...oh my! If that dont cure listener fatigue, then I'm afraid we're gonna hafta shift the suggestions to remidies non audio related :)
You may want to consider taking a listen to some of the speakers manufactured by the UK company, Castle Acoustics. Quite nice and possibly possessing the attributes that you seek. I have grown to really appreciate the Castle Howard speakers that are set up in my stereo system...smooth and very non-fatiguing with a very 'big' sound to them. This sound should follow throughout their product lines to some degree. Good luck.
Asa and Rg - I see a pair of Proac 1.5's on sale now. Is the step up to 2.5's that significant. How much tube power do they need? Any certain brands?
Gooddomino, I'll try one more time and then I'll step out of this discussion. Do you like to listen to your music at high volume? If you do, then your amp is underpowered and you are looking in the wrong place to solve your problem. Enough said, and I hope that you enjoy your journey.
Angela - Thanks for the input. I usually listen at normal volume levels and occassionally like to jam. It's like a sports car that goes 140 mph,won't always use it but nice to know it's there.
Gooddomino -- I knew about the Kestrel II but was not sure if Pat wanted to make it public yet. They are amazing. They have Pat's head spinning. Good luck.
I was gonna suggest the 1.5, but I didnt want to get too yappity about all this. But now that you've brought it up, they are one of the nicest speakers you could buy. They are not as good as the 2.5, but may actually do better in a smaller room. Vocals out of this speaker are outrageous. The pblm with this model (IMO) was that it really needed a touch more bottom to make most people happy. So now, if yer gonna sub, you might as well have the 1SC - which is a better speaker on the top end. I do suggest you at least hear this speaker before you buy anything. It is silky smooth yet not veiled. I have heard them driven beautifully at a dealership. Uder the right conditions with the right gear they sounded like all I would ever want or need. (I drove mine with a MD-208, and they didnt sound as good, although maybe the room had something to do with it.) I owned the 2.5, 1.5, and Meadowlark Kestrel HR all at one time a couple years ago. I eventually traded off my 1.5's for a new pair of 1SC's with sub, but if I could only have one pair of speakers for one smallish room, properly driven the 1.5 could very well have been it. I've already said how much I like Meadowlark, but they were the first to go, and I never looked back. The 2.5 for me, all things considered, is the perfect point of compromise in a speaker. But I did spend some money to get them to do all that they are capable of. I have not listened to your amp, so I've kept quite about it, but I have no idea why 200 watts wouldnt be way more than enough to drive any of these speakers...
I heard the Proac 1.5's with solid state - McCormack, and they were much harsher than the Thiel 1.6's I was comparing them to. So, I would be hesitant to classify them as non-fatiguing with solid state. The 1sc's with tubes, though, that can be a magic combination of detail and involvement. You'll won't know what you're missing, with that setup.
Don't know of any under $1500, but the Martin Logan Aerius is a still at $2K+! I bought a pair in 1995 and still have and enjoy them. I also own a pair of Wilson Watt/Puppy's, and the sound is not a 15K difference! The Aerius sounds like a high-end speakers on the plus $10K price range!
We may be straying fom target. Your amp should have enough power for most applications, though I doubt many would consider it the antithesis of "hardness and glare". I'm a Thiel owner, but considering your original post I would suggest the Vandersteens, the Quads (if you can find them at your price point) and though I am not personaly familiar with them, the Meadowlarks, as they are suggested by people whoose opinion I trust. Please let us know what you decide on.
I recommend VMPS Ribbon Monitor 1's at $1580 per pair including shipping direct from VMPS.

The ribbon midrange and tweeter are both adjustable via rear panel controls so you can compensate for your room, ancillary equipment, and taste. The bass is also adjustable via loading of putty on the downward-firing passive radiator.

Your present equipment will be awesome with these. They like an amp with lots of current and well-damped bass, and any brightness can be tamed via the tweeter adjustments.

The only negative is a small sweet spot. But they are great for non-fatiguing casual listening since the highs roll off off-axis. On-axis you get the detail retrieval of a Thiel without any brightness in the upper midrange or treble. From every listening position, they deliver a richness that makes the middle and lower piano registers sound real and full.

The WAF is also not the greatest, since they are 38" tall, 12" wide towers, but they are much more elegant than Vandersteen 2's or 3's.
Thanks for all the input. I've decided on PSB Stratus Silvers or Bronze. They are forgiving,have a small footprint and are reasonably priced. Many good future options were presented for when the speaker upgrade bug hits again.
Hi Gooddomino,

I noticed your 1st two choices were a bit, um, forgiving… Then I see your tentative final choice, and what you have to say about them: "…the speakers are forgiving…" didn't you know that, in audio, *forgiving* is just a polite way of saying *veiled*? ;~) May I suggest, perhaps, a pair of original larger advents? *Those* are forgiving! :>)

For a truly pleasurable audio experience, I suggest you look further upstream as to what is causing the fatigue, as opposed to hiding it. Other suggestions already made, will get you started in the right direction. A truly enjoyable non-fatiguing audio experience *can* be had w/all the detail present & accounted for.

Audio is a lot like life - you can hide the truth, ignore the truth, but it won't go away. Ultimately you'll be happier with as honest & truthful a presentation as you can get. As in life, get *all* the info there is to get, don't be fooled into complacency, hiding behind veils. Ain't that right, Rg? ;~)

Dug Seed In
hi jack,

here's a response w/a bit more specifics... ;~) if ya liked the thiel .5's but they didn't *jam* enough for ya, for ~$1500, if you're patient, you'll find a used pair of 3.6's. these are full-range, plenty of detail, & they will disappear as well as any monitor. while jim thiel is known to come out w/a new model every now-n-then, there's a reason this particular model hasn't been changed in, what, ten years, at its price point...

i also recommend picking up a used tube preamp down the road. (i'm partial to melos, there's several f/s on a-gon at present.)

for amazing digital on the cheap, pick up an art di/o dac from for ~$120, have it sent directly to wayne @ boldercables for mods that run ~$265. then add a $4 upgrade power-supply from, & pick up a couple $300-$600 isolation transformers on ebay for ~$25-$50 each - one for the transport, one for the dac. absolutely amazing performance, considering its price. amazing performance *period*, imo, even *not* considering its ridiculously low price. if you're handy w/a soldering iron, you can buy all the parts needed for ~$100, & diy, instead of sending it to

you will have a system that does *not* hide the truth of the recording, yet it will still be eminently musical...

oh, and, re: subwoofers, for possible future consideration: even the thiel 3.6's, full-range tho they are, will benefit from a quality subwoofer system, imo - outboard electronic x-over, outboard amps, and a *pair* of quality passive subs. my old thiel 3.5 certainly did, & they go even a few hz lower than the better-in-every-other-respect 3.6's...


doug s.