Organic, musical and natural sounding speakers up to $12K

Getting a new place next year. Living room will be approx 12-14ft x 16-18ft x 10ft.

Getting a new system and am starting with speakers. Brands I have shortlisted (recommended from magazines and forums) are:

1) Audionote J or E
2) Spendor (model ?)
3) Harbeth (model ? - perhaps 30.2/40.1 or ?)
4) Devore (0/93 or 0/96?)

I auditioned Audionote and Harbeth briefly a few years ago. If I recall, Audionote was organic, musical and natural. Harbeth SHL5 plus was natural and musical...but don’t remember if they were more organic than the Audionotes.

HF extension/air is definitely not a priority for I find it often translates to tizz to my ears. I love a large soundstage - big full sound!

With the 4 brands, am I heading in the right direction? Any feedback from users would be greatly appreciated. I am open to other brands too.


Vandy Quatro's would be my first suggestion.-They always perform above their price point.
If you want big sound, then electrostatics would be another choice.
Magnepan and Soundlabs.
Magnepan MG3.7i (magnetic-planar), Sanders Model 10 (electrostatic), but only if you can place them well out into the room (3' minimum, 5' better), firing down the longer dimension of the room.
Nice clean used 40.1 or 40.2 and you're done.  You're definitely heading in the right direction.
The Spendor D7 or D9 should be a nice fit! I never had a Spendor that I didn’t like!!

I would add Proac to that list as well. The D-30RS, or if you can squeeze it in the D-48R.
Ohm Walsh 5000's (you can tweak them to your liking)


Salk SS9.5

No particular order.  
Oops, I meant to say the MG3.7i’s big brother, the 20.7i. The 3.7i retails for around $6k, the 20.7i for about double that. They need an amp like the Sanders Magtech though, so you have to factor the cost of that in. Sanders makes a second version of the amp especially for ESL loudspeakers such as his own.
+1 @cmach
You need to include those 2 ProAcs if you are after "natural and musical" sound.
You will get recommendations of almost every brand in existence. 
Harbeths 40.2 are $15k retail, I would audition them first. With powerful high level amplification. 
Thanks guys for your input. Really appreciate it. Though I have heard of these brands and models, I have not had the opportunity to demo them yet. 

To be honest, I am most interested in the Audionote J or E for their organic and natural sound qualities especially for vocals and piano. Can anyone who have had first hand experience with the Audionotes give me some feedback on their performance against other speakers they have come across. 

Perhaps some advice on the pros and cons of corner placement. I am concerned of lack of depth or even boom in a home environment. Also, I also have tinnitus. Therefore I need to be really careful. Have to avoid a hot treble. A system that sounds organic and natural, even if a little dark, is preferable. 

I’ve been listening to Audionote Es quite a lot of late, my usual dealer has taken on the franchise and keeps saying ”come and hear this” if I drop in with time to spare. Not the AlNiCo magnet ones and mostly internal crossover models. I love the scale they do and they can rock well enough but they need a bit of corner or at least wall assistance so setup is critical but get it right and they seem to manage full range with their 8” driver. I hear some colouration if I listen for it but usually the music distracts me from listening for the faults. They don’t need a monster amp 10W will do but do like quality. Skip the base model.
You should really give a listen to the speakers you are mentioning. Start to narrow down your candidates for speakers. You never really will not know until you try listening to them. Everyone has different ears.

Try the Audio Note AN-E LX if you can with he copper wiring , will more than likely give you a warmer presentation. Audio Note speakers do not necessarily have to be corner loaded , but they do need to be close to the wall. That can be a nice feature depending on your room , so you do not have to have your speakers in the middle of the room. When set up right , can be very musical and organic , with really nice detailed bass

The Harbeth 40.2 speaker diffently fall into the category you are looking for also. The 40.2 version are more room friendlier than the 40.1 version. The 40.1 will require a little more room space to dial in the bass.

I prefer a warmer sound also and have tinnitus and I own the Harbeth 40.2 speaker. Prior to the 40.2 I owned the Harbeth 30.1 and The Audio Note AN-E LX before that.

Thanks yeti42 and timo62.

@yeti42 ... may I know which models of the E you have listened to and what you think of them? I wouldn’t mind an "euphonic and colored" presentation if it doesn’t fatigue. Tizz and fatigue will make my tinnitus worse.

@timo62 ... I was thinking of the AN E/LX too. I may have demoed it before. Not sure though as it was a few years ago. I am after a warm sound too, however, the top end has to be smooth and edge free. Hope I can assemble a system with those attributes. Can't afford to make mistakes, again :).  Just started my search last week.

Thanks again everyone.

I prefer Spendor and Devore to Audio Note/Harbeth. More alive and dynamic sounding. 
PC123v , 

Just take your time and listen to what feels right to you. 

Everything in your system will contribute to the final sound including your listening room.

I've owned Harbeth SHL5's and currently own my 2nd pair of 40.1's.   In my experience, the two speakers don't have much in common.  The SHL5's lack the warmth and organic, full bodied musicality that the 40.1's excel in.   The original poster should not let their experience with SHL5's taint their perception of how 40.1's would sound.   

Both the 40.1 and 40.2 are relatively easy loads, so unless you have a huge room and listen at high volume, you'll be fine with any high quality amplifier in the 70 to 150 WPC range.  I strongly prefer tube amps, but have had success driving 40.1's with all of the following amps:
  • Music Reference RM9 MK2 (current amp)
  • VAC 70/70 Signature
  • McIntosh MC275 MKV
  • VAC Phi 200
  • Plinius SA-102
  • Bryston 4BSt

Spendor D9. Currently using them with a VAC preamp and Ayre VX5/20 amp. Organic, musical, and natural in my well treated 14’ x 16’ X 8’ room. 
If you can, arrange for a home audition. Speakers sound very different at home.
Thanks Everyone for your help and input. Really appreciate it. I think it's between the AN E/LX and AN E/Spe. Since I will be moving to new place only next year...I won't be doing any serious auditioning yet.