Reference 3a MM De Capo's vs Totem Sttaf vs LSi9's

Hello, I currently have the following:

Museatex Bitstream DAC (Moray James Digital Interconnect)
Museatex CD-D (as transport)
SimAudio Moon i-5080 Intergrated (Harmonic Technology Prosilway interconnects)
Polk Audio LSi9 Monitor Speakers (Kimber 8TC cable)

I have one last wish before I seriously stop tweaking and spend my money on what I intially wanted, more music. My current setup is in a rather small room 12x15. I will more then likely moving this setup to a larger room 15x15 down the road. Although my LSi9 speakers are still glowing bargin, I want more of an upbeat sound within my mid band. I listen to alot of alt rock, classic rock, UK electronic...from Janes addiction, Nirvana to Bjork, Fatboyslim to The Band, The Led Zepplin...I want my next upgrade to COUNT.

I honestly am tired of always trying to listen for ways to improve...the way my music is reproduced. I consider this to be the final peice untill I can start all over in a few years...when upgrading to seperates or possibly a reference Intergrated...

Currently my LSi9's from Polk Audio are an entirely different animal then what is displayed at big box stores. They use a Vifa ring radiator tweeter and are detailed but ultra smooth. Nothing in its class, be it PSB Stratus Minis to Paradigm Studio 40's could touch it in this regard. I'm very happy with these speakers in that respect. What is lacking is the mid-band, and mid-bass regions. It really is quite hard to explain but perhaps this speaker is too nice, too polite. When the drums play on Nirvana tracks the kick drum doesn't sound the same as my much much cheaper old pair of PSB's did. The lower bass on the LSi's is much more detailed and sinks lower but something is lacking in the middle.

My two choices are the Sttaf and the Reference 3a MM De Capo's. I have no had a chance to hear either as of yet. I'm quite a bit aways from both dealers. But everything I have read has lead me to these two speakers. The 3a's seem to have that excitement I'm looking for and the Sttafs an excellent choice for my room considerations. I will more then likely buy either used. Can either of these speakers give me that excitement in the types of music I listen to while maintaining a musical and tamed higher frequency response. To my ears everything made by Paradigm, and B&W have a certain "Tizz" or sibliance on the high notes that I detest. I was wondering if anybody could give me thoughts or comments on the selections I have narrowed it down to.
There is a local dealer in Louisville, KY who sells the Reference 3a MM De Capo's, so I have heard them many, many times and really like them. I actually considered trading in my B&W Silver Signature's for them, but didn't think the monetary loss I'd take trading in the Silver Sig's was worth it.

I haven't heard the Totem's you've mentioned, but I have heard the Mani II's a couple of times at a dealer in Cinncinati, OH. I would take the Reference 3a MM De Capo's over the Mani II's.

If you go with the Reference 3a MM De Capo's, consider the one's with the piano black finish for $2750.00. They're $250.00 more than the standard, but besides sounding fantastic, they look great too.
Get rid of those 8tc cables and upgrade. They are awesome for the price, but if you are going to upgrade to better gear, make sure the cables are at the level of the rest of your stuff.

Having owned several Totems and the 3As, I personally would prefer the Ref. 3As to most any Totem, but I'm not sure they are a great speaker for the music you list. I found that they were best on classical/jazz/blues, less so on classic rock. However, I use a tube amp; I've heard the de Capos with an I-5 and was impressed, unlike most SS gear and the 3As. I believe the 3As are highly revealing and will emphasize any shortcomings in your system. Good luck,

Well, odd enough, I own the I-5080 and Sttaf combo right now, with an Arcam CD 23 front end. You are correct about the shortcomings of the PSB and Paradigm speakers. It seems you have a fetish for Canadian loudspeakers?

Keep in mind there is a significant price difference between the Totems and the De Capos (plus stands). For the price, I think the Sttafs are the way to go. They excell at the midrange and bass in your listening tastes. Nirvana, Brit pop/electronic, Bjork (great bass extension), and male vocal pieces (Jack Johnson, Lambchop). Hopefully you have a good subfloor. I always leave a door open in the room so I can let it rip.

The Moon amp only runs out of steam when playing classical recordings through the Sttafs (42+ attenuation), as both are rated at 80w/ch.You will blow out your ears before you clip the amp with rock/alt music.

When using the Sttafs, I noticed that Chem Brothers, New Order, Fat Slim all had crap recording values. The bass extension was noticably false, flabby and artificial. Bjork has nice warm happy bass, as do 3-4 piece jazz combos like The Bad Plus.

I have used several cable setups with this combo. Initially, totem sinew and Nordost blue Heaven wich was underwhelming. Then Cardas Neutral Reference (selling after Christmas Vacation, Hint, Hint) which brought about considerable synergy and bass extension. Then, most recently, Virtual Dynamics David cables. These are ridiculously good at revealing bass, ambience, symbals, and 3-D space.

The top end is what lacks in the Sttafs. However, this can be tamed by using spikes on a concrete or marble slab. As well as careful cable selection (not Nordost).

I was considering an Audition of the De Capos until I swapped cables. I am happy for now. If you don't want to upgrade speakers, and can afford De Capos, I would definitely audition them at a dealer first.

I'd cosider a cable or front end swap before swapping your amp. The I-5080 offers extremely good value. On that note, I have not heard your front end or cabling.
Krell-man I live in Southern Indiana and work in Louisville. Checked out your posts and you mentioned a "New store" in a post a few months back. What store carries the DeCapos and Musical Fidelity you mentioned?

Thanks MaxxC
Thanks guys. If I buy used I'll probably buy locally because I live in Canada.

Bshapperd, the frontend I am currently using was on par or given a slight edge in its favor against a SimAudio Moon Nova, provided the Moray James cable was used. I very much like the Prosilway cables, I prefer quiet cables. I personally don't like the characteristics of the Cardas cables, but honestly I've only heard the lower end Twinlinks.

After the speaker upgrade, the amp will very much be the weakest link, but again, I'm ok with this. I'd rather start buying more music. The speaker upgrade must keep me from not wanting to upgrade for another couple years.

I have heard the Ref3a's are alot more explosive and dynamic then the Totem's, I have heard the Mani II's and I dreaded them, but it was in a poor listening setup with brighter electronics. All of my upsteam sources are much warmer. I already have Sanus Ultimate Foundation stands and they will be more then capable of handling the MM DeCapo's. I'm thinking if I went with Totems I'd be better off with Hawks.
Hi Lush. While I am not here to recommend one speaker over the other as I have never heard the totem staff's in my own rig.Just my perspective on the subject and from a guy that owns neither speaker. A friend of mine was using a pair of staff's with all classe equipment a few years back before he was bitten by the sound of another friends all tube rig.. He ended up selling his classe stuff and bought a used CJ mv52 power amp and a Ear preamp. Although he has a decent cd player... he is pretty much a vinyl junkie with a top shelf table/arm cartrige combo. The Totem's and the 50 watt/channel of tubes didn't quite work out that well so he sold his totems and bought the decappo-i's. I have had the opportunity to hear his rig on more than one occasion and can say from an unbiased perspective that it is a very engaging system... a whole higher leaugue than his previous rig. To say the decappos are good is an understatement... they are simply amazing! I was so impressed with them I asked him if I could borrow them for a bit and he could listen to my rogers ls3/5a's while I put them through the paces in my own rig. His dedicated room is about 12 ft wide x 14 ft x 8ft ceiling. From the first few bars of Clapton Unplugged, I knew immediately these were very special indeed. They simply disappeared in his room, I was stunned at the dynamic range and scale of them and thought[at first] that this is because in his small room we were pretty much listening nearfield. The bass speed and bass weight is amazing for a speaker so small. An even bigger shock was when I placed them in my main rig. My dedicated sound room is 32ft long x 27 ft wide with a 12 ft ceiling and houses a pair of massive Tannoy Westminsters than weigh in at over 500 lbs each. The tannoys are 98db efficient and can play effortlessly at real live concert hall levels. The Decappo's aquitted themselves extremely well even in my large studio.They can sustain high decibel levels without changing tonal balance... a character trait that very few speakers could accomplish regardless of price as most tend to get glarey or hard sounding in the upper midrange/treble at sustained spl's over 90 decibles. The tweeter remains clear and clean even at high decibel levels. Further more: they sound incredible at very low listening levels as well and possess the ability to resolve both micro detail and nuance in proper scale with bigger dynamic instruments... akin to the speed of a good electrostatic. They remind me alot of the old quad 57 estat but with a lot more dynamic range. There are a couple of very demanding recordings I use as a litmus test. I believe that one should get the tone thing right first and foremost and everything else will come together much easier. I generally voice a system with a piano. The piano can cover every octave and is very difficult to get the tone correct and sound cohesive or coherent from the bottom octave to the top octave.Few speakers can get this right in my room. The decappo i passes this test with flying colours even in my overly large room, with power and speed as well as a percussive bass pitch down below 50 hz. The top registers float in space with a natural decay that's immediately identifiable. Try reproducing a full drum kit in room that approaches the spl's of a real live drummer. The last cut on the Sheffield Drum record is a incredible solo of Jim Keltner's power drumming talent. I am still in utter disbelief that the decappo can pull this one off. Gives me goosebumps down my spine ever time. Geez... I think I'm getting carried away here. If I were to make a speaker change in my home rig? The 3a decappo-i has certainly raised the bar and will now be the barometer that the others will have to beat.The decappo-i's placed on heavy stands and set up properly with good electronics in an appropriate room... IMHO the decappo-i is simply a no brainer!
'Lush' If you went Totem, the Hawks would be a better option. I think I will definitely seek an audition of the De Capos myself. I personally wasn't impressed by the Moon Nova, so it's good to know your player beats it.
Excellent post, Ecclectique. Thanks for your perspective.

At this juncture: I am waiting for the owner of the decappo-i's to come out to hear them in my reference system at the studio. He is presently away on holiday until the New Year. I am planning to set these up in my room at home before he returns. The room at home is much more conducive in scale for a stand mounted monitor [21ft x 15ft x 8ft ceiling]. I have the supratek syrah and a bunch of amplifiers to play with. I will update later. Lush.... Where in Canada? If you are anywhere in the Golden Horseshoe of Ontario... you are more than welcome to come and hear them.
Hey Ecclectique, I live in the gta, Ajax to be precise. About a 30min drive east of TO. I've found a used pair of MM De Capo's in Montreal, he's asking $1800. I might take a poke, the first time I've done anything on a blind bet. I have to unload my LSi9 speakers (I wonder how favorable the LSi series is within the used market) I'm taking a chance, but I have a feeling that even if I didn't like them they'd be very easy to get rid of. My problem is that no local dealers carry anything I like. Out east I have a place that carries PMC, Paradigm, PSB, and Monitor Audio. Once you get around TO you have Totem, (didn't like the Mani's but might like the hawks) Energy, NHT, Mirage...I cant' find for the life of me a dealer that has me totally stoked to hear their speakers.

Besides, I realize like all my gear I can only afford used. Having worked in retail, I'd never dare waste a persons time knowing full well the audition was really for a pair I was curious about on the used market.
Hey Lush. I am in Ancaster, about 40 minutes west of Toronto and the offer still stands. Email me for a phone number.
Metralla. Thank you for your kind words.
Lush - is that $1800 in Canuck bucks or Yankee dollahs?
Lush, I noticed in your original post that you are considering moving your system to a 15x15 room. be aware that this room will likely yield very uneven bass, especially if it is 8 feet tall as is common.