all mentioned are good..the castle harlech on agon today is the steal of a lifetime...the metal dome tweeter is not harsh or fatiguing either. a classic with deep bass too.
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I have owned the B&W N805 and contrary to your experience I don't find the speakers to sound bright with high listening fatigue over extended listening sessions. As a matter of fact I find the N805 to be a warm sounding speaker with the distinctive B&W house sound. It may be worthwhile to explore room acoustics if you haven't given a thought about this yet as this solution is pretty cheap. Some absorption on 1st reflection points on side walls will take off rough edges and give a more smooth presentation in your small room. You can try Foambymail.com as an alternative to changing speakers.
If looking at another different speaker to get to the sound that you want, the three floorstanders above will give you the bass and speed that are missing with the N805. I have listened to the Proac Response 2.5, the bigger brother of the 1.5. Very good speaker and a good all-rounder. The 1.5 might work for your listening preferences given that you find the N805 lacking in bass and faster music. As for Totem, I have only listened to the small little Model 1's. These are bright speakers, definitely brighter with higher listening fatigue compared to your N805. The Forest may be less bright and forward with considerably heftier bottom end. No experience with Usher.
Hope that helps.
When you install the Proacs set them up so that you can
see just a little of the inside of the cabinets walls.
The mirror image positioned tweeters should be placed on the inside and they will disappear nicely.
Make sure they are level and If you can Bi wire but if not I would hit the top Speaker posts first and jump down.
Good luck great speakers that will grow with you, your equipment and music.
ryder - totem speakers are anything but bright. you must have been driving them with not very good electronics. i have owned/currently own 5 different pairs of totem speakers (from the arros, model 1's, in-wall taw, and a couple of pairs of mani 2's) all driven by very nice equipment. if you drive any totem with small amps or amps with no power they will sound terrible. they are dull, thin sounding, and maybe that is where you get the bright sound from.
the forest would be my pick out of the 3 you posted. they are easier to drive and would be more suited with your 100 watt mcintosh. the proacs are decent but i didn't like them as much as the totem or usher. if you are looking for a better deal,look into the totem hawks. not as easy to drive, but $500 cheaper used and are very close to the sound of the forest. some like the hawks better, it would be a toss up for me. if you are going to spend up near $1800 and you might want to get a more powerful amp in the near future, i would spring for the mani's. blows away the 3 speakers you listed, but needs at least a good 200+ watt amp with power to it.
Rbstehno, I do know the Totems would need quite a bit of power behind them in order to sound good, and my experience with the Model 1 is it sounded substantially forward and bright compared to the N805 although I did not compare them side by side. I am not using small inferior amps on the Model 1 and base my comments on comparison with speakers that do not exhibit this forward character. Don't get me wrong, I am not implying that the Totems are bad speakers due to the perceived brightness that I get when compared to other speakers. They are excellent speakers and the Model 1's got fantastic reviews in Stereophile. In fact some folks like the sonic character of the Totem a lot, like yourself for instance when compared to other speakers which others may call as dull or flat. These flat and dull speakers may appeal to some other folks who thought of them as smoother and easier on the ears. Most people hear things differently anyway.
I have not heard the Forest or Hawks and my comment on the brightness of the Totem is entirely based on the Model 1's, in comparison to other smoother speakers. The Forest or Hawks may work for the starter of this thread but I won't recommend the Model 1 as a replacement to the N805 based on his criterias.
I owned the Proac Response 1.5s a couple years ago. My initial reaction was favorable. They did a lot of things right, but for me they lacked the three dimensional quality I like. Also have owned both Totem and Usher speakers but only their monitor offerings (Totem Model One and Usher S-520). Honestly, I wasn't all that impressed with them.
As for the three dimensional quality mentioned, I find it with time coherent speakers such as Thiel, Vandersteen or Meadowlark Audio. Good luck with the search.
I have not heard Proacs in several years,but have spent time with the Totems and Ushers at a local dealer.They are certainly different sounding ,but bath are excellent! I find the Ushers to be more complete and rounded.I purchased the Usher 6311 after direct comparison to the Forest(and a couple of others)with several different amps driving them.I also considered the 719 (which I loved) ,but I prefer a floorstander.You could build a terrific system around either!
I havent heard the others but I have the Forests (now for over a year). in a 19x 14 x 8.5 foot room driven by a Pass X250. They do great bass and play incredibly loud, they move air, and they image extraordinarily well for floorstanders. Prior to the Pass I ran them with a mosfet 100 wpc amp very nicely, they will match very well, I think, to your Mac amp in that slightly smaller space. At low levels they are very defining too. Definitely worth a try, they will resell easily in the used market at your $$$$ if they're not for you. My 2 c..
I have had a pair of Proac Response 2.5 for about 10 years now and could not be happier. These speakers replaced a pair of Thiel 2.3 which I could not listen to. Way to harsh no matter what I tried.
My Proac 2.5 is the first speaker that made me stop listening to anything else. They are just pure wonderful music and can listen for hours on end..........
ryder - every B&W speaker i have listened to (except the cdmt with classe equipment) sounded bright/thin compared to other top brands including totems. I have heard that is why B&W partnered up with classe to take some of that zing away. i use all classe equipment in my audio room and it is a warmer sound. i have paired up the totems with equipment like classe, mcintosh, and even odyssey monoblocks with good results. iMO, i would take totem over any b&w for long term listening sessions without fatigue. i am also familiar with the ushers since i have been using them for a couple months now instead of the mani's in my audio room. i went to a larger floorstand usher in my large room. if you are going to spend up to $1800, you need to check out the cp series usher's. the only problem with users is their weight and the cost of shipping. an user cp series floor stand speaker will weight anywhere from 100lbs up to 250lbs each compared to totem at 30 some pounds for each mani. also, you will need good stands for a bookshelf type of speaker. good 1's cost $450 on up.
Rbstehno, when I had the N805 I was driving those speakers with the Plinius SA100MkIII. I thought the speakers sounded warm and lacked high-frequency extension. I was craving for a more revealing treble. On the other hand, the Totem Model 1 sounded forward and bright in comparison with high listening fatigue. With this forward character the Model 1 is excellent for dynamic punchy music and rock material but isn't quite ideal for long periods of listening session. Both were in the same room but not auditioned at the same time.
I hope your comments made above were not on the Model 1 but other models in the Totem line of speakers.
alright guys... long story short i bought the response 1.5's and usher x-719's.. in the meantime, i have the fritz carbon 7's, totem forests, and joseph audio rm7si's in my room
time to do some listening!
here's a quick snapshot if anyone cares
update: the totem forests remind me a lot of the 805's openness and detail, but with less fatigue/harshness and better attack/PRAT... the bass is incredible and definitely better than the 805's, which isn't too much of a surprise. overall, i'd take these over the 805's anyday.
however, fritz dropped off his carbon 7's this weekend and long story short, i think they're better than the totem forests, and for half the price too. it images just as well and throws an equally huge soundstage as the forest, but it sounds a lot smoother w/o losing any detail. the timbre is quite accurate and the sound is a lot more natural/life-like compared to the totem's.
anyway, i still have the proac response 1.5 and usher x719 on the way... so i'll update once i listen to those
i just got a pair of x-719's and they sound very good. i have them in my audio room with classe equipment right now waiting for stands to put in my family room. they disappear, are smooth, good bass, and fill the room with ease. it is a 13.5' x 24' room. i hooked up my little jolida 1301 to them and they sounded ok, little under-powered. i now have the larger usher cp-6381 in my audio room. very nice. if you can afford $2000-$2500, you should audition them. or the cp-6311's for around $1000 used.
Pro-Ac is a good speaker. So is Usher bookshelf speaker.
Totem Forest is a good speaker and a very handsome one. The Forest is quite smooth on its high and has decent bass. My only nit picking of the Forest is their cheap China made Hi-Vi drivers.
I don't care much about Totem Model One or B & W 805.
Fritz Carbon seems a well built product. The gentleman who built them got so many positive feedbacks which probably means that he builds quality speakers.
Have you ever tried the Dynaudio? They have a good reputation of building all around speakers.
My thoughts are bias because I own a pair of Dynaudio and probably will get another pair of Dynaudio for my 2nd system.
I do think Dynaudio' Contour & Confidence lines are very very good and you should check them out. Not because I own Dynaudio and I recommend the Contour or the Confidence bookshelves.