I have not heard the three you list, but I would add the
Sonus Faber Concertos. They are just under 2K new (plus stands) and sound phenomenal for little speakers. For small speakers, they have really good bass.
The ProAc 1SC is our first choice from the three that you have inquired on. However, we have not heard the R3, but the 1.3SE might be too dry with your system. The Tablette 2000 (in the ProAc line) should also work well, being your least expensive choice, to meet your criteria. As a precaution with ProAc speakers, they don't match well with Kimber Kable (i.e. a tendency to be on the bright side), as something to consider if you have or are planning to use Kimber in your system.
There are others that we would recommend as well, and we're sure others would agree. The Merlin TSM-SE, Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitors, and although they are large, expensive ($11,500), stand mount speakers, the Talon Peregrine are full-range (19Hz[!]-25kHz) monitors, that will handle 1000 watts.
Our favorite choice to meet your criteria is from Voce Divina. With uniquely superb looks, in a choice of decadent finishes for the monitors, the Soprano/Baritone combination (i.e. minimonitors and bass speaker stands) will give you a full-range (20Hz-25kHz) sound that most floorstanding models cannot match. Build quality is second to none.
I like the way my ProAc Tablette 50 Signatures sound with my Simaudio Moon I-5. A much bigger sound than I anticipated. Since the Plinius 8150 has more power I would recommend the ProAc Response 2. If you have no objection to purchasing a used set of speakers, they can be found here in the classifieds for about $1300. Better bass than the smaller ProAcs but also a manageable size.
Red Rose R3 by far! I heard all the above mentioned speakers. The R3 is by far the better choice. Finesse and dynamic at the same time. Real good texture to the sound. By far the best small speaker I've heard so far.
first red rose second sonus faber electa amator
I'd add the Biro L/1 to the list. I've heard the Red Rose R3's, and they do remind me of the L/1's (which, by the way, I own)... and at half the price and with a bit more bass, the L/1's have the edge (in my opinion, or course).
Be sure to listen to the Spendor s3/5s (around $900), only problem is you won't get any work done you'll just listen to the music!
The Legacy Studio Monitor is a great speaker and looks good also.
This may not be fair because I'm selling a pair of R3's now, but here are some brief viewpoints on monitors that I've owned:
Tyler Reference Monitors: Since they can often be acquired on audiogon for around $1100, they represent the best buy for the buck.
ProAc Tab Sigs and Response 1 SC: Fine monitors, but they are really dependent on the front end. I'm not sure if they would mate well with Plinius - in general, they sound better with tubes.
Merlin TSM-SE: Very neutral sounding, clean and fast. Since the VSM-SE's don't really use up any more space when you take into account the stands, they are much better than the TSM's.
Dynaudio 1.3: More solid-state friendly, but as NW stated above, they come across being somewhat dry and analytical.
Red Rose R3: By far my favorite. They are by no means neutral. They are wet, seductive, and romantic, and they do justice to a concert grand Steinway in tonality and size. At the same time the ribbon tweeters render things like cymbals, bells, and other ultra fast transients with stunning vividness. Because of their small drivers, they will not load up a small room with dominating bass, yet the bass is very correct and satisfying.
Good Luck :-]
I have heard the Red Rose in the showroom demonstrated by "the master" himself, Mark Levinson. I have never known anyone that can do a demo better than him, whether it was Red Rose or Cello. Although they are totally different design concepts, they are both fantastic.
I personally own a $60k B&W/Krell setup, but when I heard the Red Rose R3's, I was blown away. I didn't get the visceral feel of my system, but the R3's were able to do things that I've never heard a small speaker do.
You can't and won't go wrong with the R3's. Buy them!
Not sure of the match with the plinius, but I would encourage an audition of the Piega P2ltd. I felt it did most things a bit better than the Red Rose R3's... which is a fine speaker. I am also a fan of the Voce Divina...fwiw
Thank you all for your great advice and input. I love this website. I'll add your suggestions to my audition list. My current speakers are B&W Matrix 803s and I feel that they need a larger room to really sing - although, I'm listening to the Eagle's Hotel California as I write and they sound pretty sweet! Oh, pardon me, Mr. Henley, am I in your way! The Ikemi is a recent addition to the system and has made me want better EVERYTHING!. Happy listening, Joel P.S. Grandpad, yes it is sometimes very difficult to concentrate on . . . gulp . . . work.
I'm afraid the Proac and Dynaudio aren't quite in the same league as the Red Rose. Not much is. These speakers are amazingly lush for such small speakers, beautifully voiced, and of course exquisitely articulate with that ribbon tweet.
My only (minor) reservation is, I don't know how they'd sound without those Red Rose tube amps driving them.
A somewhat larger and slightly more expensive standmount speaker that I would lean towards is the Cliffhanger Bulldog. The Bulldog is basically a compact full-range speaker with a very lively presentation - voices and instruments sound full-bodied and rich. Again, a ribbon tweet gives excellent air and articulation. But it is in the midrange that his speaker really shines - easily among the best human voice reproduction I've heard in its size or price range.
Nope, I'm not a dealer for either one.
Gosh, with all these great testimonials for the Red Rose 3s I'm becoming very interested in them. I've been living very happily the last few months with my ProAcs, but you folks have got me thinking now.
Especially, when the Red Rose 3s are described as being lush and beautifully voiced. Any thoughts on how they might sound with Simaudio amplification? Are they better suited to tubes?
I thought the doctor cured my last case of upgrade-itis. Oh well.
funny the red rose r3 uses a transducer suspiciously like the raven r3.1
I have listened to the Red Rose R3's a number of times and I was not that thrilled the first time ( I was in the market for this kind of speaker. Yes I did buy one of the speakers in question ). The second time that I heard them there were connected to the Red Rose integrated amp and they sounded fabulous. So I thought that maybe that the setup was bad on the first trial. But I went to hear them again with Sim Audio hardware and they were strident and all shrill and the two drivers were not matching well at all. Now, maybe it is different strokes for different folks 'cause I am obviously in the minority here. Recently I found out that a local audio store is no longer carrying them due to the same type of reasons as I have heard. I purchased the Dynaudio 1.3 Se's and I feel like a most favored man because I have found a speaker that sounds completely right to me. Go figure why don't ya!
Try the PMC LB1s. I've heard all the speakers you have mentioned and they were the best by a wide margin. I heard the R3s at a show and they were played so softly it was not showing them off properly. Anyways, if it were my money i would not hesitate to go for the PMC LB1s. Look on bryston's website for more info. Thanks
Agree with you Mcne. I recently heard the Red Rose R3's and they were thin, shrill and obviously cut of several different cloths. Very un-impressive indeed. Could have been the set-up--but?
This probably tells you that a home audition is a must when buying a speaker. Sometimes a manufacturer gets it all wrong but can't go back to the drawing board because of cost. I wander if this is happening a lot in the high-end these days.
I would highly recommend the Shamrock Audio Eires..extremely balanced throughout their operating range (38-Hz-20kHz).. they use two excellent ScanSpeak drivers..beautiful construction, including solid wood front baffles and high quality veneers...they have been favorably compared to the Sonus Faber Electa Amators... you get a 30-day money back guarantee if not fully satisfied.. I have successfully used them with various amplifiers both tube and solid-state ... there are audition sites around the US..you can contact Shamrock Audio to see if there is one near you
I heard the Red Rose. In my opinion the tweeter just does not sound as natural as those in some of the other monitors listed.