Silverline Face-off: Sonatina II vs 17.5

Got both in my home now.
(Just got the 17.5; Sonatina II's I've had for years)

Which do you predict will win the face-off? :-)

Need to break in the 17.5 for a week or so.
Subwoofer is REL Strata III.
Amps are Cary SLI-80 and YBA YA201.
Sources Cary 308T and EAR 834p phono (modified), driven by Basis turntable with modified Rega arm and Van Den Hull Frog.

Room is lively, 22 x 14 x 8 with openings to hall and dining room and fireplace.


Art - I've had the three previous versions of the SR17, as well as the Sonatina I, so I can hazard a guess.

As far as imaging the SR17's will should be a clear winner from my experience. Nothing disappears like them. I'm going to assume you're putting them on good stands as they really need that. That's not to say the Sonatinas are chumps at imaging, it will just be difficult for a 3-way floorstander to surpass a 2-way monitor in that department. As far as getting a full tonal range the Sonatinas should eek out a bit more, but I wonder if you won't be more enchanted with the magic of the SR17s, but that's a big room to fill with music and if you keep that Cary in Triode - well, I found 40 watts was marginal but could do the trick, though every so often had me wanting a bit more power. On the Sonatinas that amount of power would be fine. He makes some damn fine speakers - look forward to hearing what you think of the 17.5's.

If I had to bet my money, based on my experiences with the other versions of those speakers, I'd bet that with your space (room volume) and that amp, that you'll stick with the floorstanders. I bet it'll be tough choice though.
Hi Jax2. SO FAR, after a few hours of testing, I'd have to say you pretty much nailed it in terms of describing the differences. However, I've had the Sonatina II's for several years and the 17.5 are new to me. In a close call I'll keep the newer speakers. But you are right, the Sonatina II's do a better job of filling the room gracefully and have more height of soundstage too. 17.5 sound more pure, disappear better, and I think are a tad clearer. They sound so much more similar to each other than I expected!

What I did not expect is how different the 17.5 sound on different stands. Yikes! On sand-filled Skylan 24D they are extremely poised, natural, a tad restrained. On EPOS ST12 stands, they have more air, larger soundstage, seem to be enjoying them selves more, but a hair metallic compared to the Skylan, not quite as natural tone.

All 3 sound great. Right now I could toss a coin.

I did expect the Dynaudio drivers in 17.5 to sound more different than Sonatina II.

BTW my Sonatina II are serial numbers 1818. Alan once told me he made an important change around serial number 1800. FWIW.

Kill the sub, then listen. Then after you feel confident in your conclusions...add the sub back. Then listen again.
Agreed, you should definitely leave the sub out for basic comparisons and, especially,for comparing stands and such.
Hi Art - Yep, I'd agree, sub off. Mine were the Sonatina I's so did not have the same drivers. It's been way too many years at this point to comment on the SR17 version differences. You might try looking at the archives of my input on them. I seem to recall there was a significant improvement in the highs and overall clarity in the latter (vIII) version before he went to the 17.5. I cannot imagine what he did to warrant doubling the price on the SR17 Supreme version?! I think the differences from 1 to 3 were greater than those from 1 to 2. Beyond that, memory fails me.

Putting them on a good stand makes a very significant difference, no matter which version. I ended up with an Osiris, which I thought was great for those speakers.

For me I chose the greater fullness of the Sonatinas and had those speakers for several years before upgrading. They have a very rich and natural way with vocals in particular. Though the SR17's offered slightly greater clarity, and imaging to die for, I always felt the need for a sub or just more down low. Still, the SR17's always surprised me to hear that kind of bass coming out of an enclosure that small. You are of course dealing with slightly different speakers on both counts, and coming at it with your own set of preferences. I think Alan makes great speakers. My money will stay on you sticking with the Sonatinas, especially coming from having had them for so long. I would think that you'd miss the information down low if you've gotten used to it.
Hi Guys, I couldn't help notice the thread and just wanted to add my 2 cents as another Silverline fan... I had Sonata II's for many years and after truly loving them, my urge for a change got the best of me and I sold them. Last month I saw another pair available and bought them (I went from Briarwood to Rosewood), I really love Alan's sound. I'm interested in this thread out of curiosity about his monitors too... the 17's, 17.5 or I was even considering the 11's for my 22 per channel SET amp in my 13'x18' room with Rel Stadium 2 sub. The SR-15 also intrigued me as well, though supposedly not the same purist mini monitor detail and design as the others... It's nice to hear Silverline owners comments....enjoy.
update: Jax2 nailed it terms of sound. Well done.

What to keep? Apples vs oranges. On balance the Sonatina II presents a fuller picture of the concert. I am still likely though to keep the 17.5 because (1) it's new to me, and the fun of the hobby is moving on from pieces periodically even that you love them, to try other stuff. Also, (2) the smaller speakers don't dominate my living room quite so much.

Both of them have the family sound of Silverline, which works incredibly well for me.
I have a hard time parting with ANYTHING that gets in my house. And, if my kids dont take up my interests...I promise you, I will be buried with all my equipment. In a un-disclosed location. What? You guys think I'm dumb or something? Thats all I need in the afterlife is a bunch of audiogoons fighting over my grave to see who's going to get what. HAH!
What to keep? Apples vs oranges.

Exactly. They're both great choices, but excel in different ways. I have to say, the SR17's do look like little sculptures the way their designed - especially in the rosewood finish (my personal favorite). Great choices - both. Have fun, Art!
I try to force myself to decide things quickly, probably too quickly given the nature of the hobby, where subtle differences in gear can emerge over time.... but too slowly given my other commitments :-o

I am noticing this morning how they both share the same family sound. Also I'm starting to think that the Sonatina II has a substantial edge in the midrange, probably because of that separate midrange driver with the big dome. As you say Jax the 17.5 disappears a little better. Does the 17.5 have more detail or just more apparent detail due to a less prominent midrange. I'm guessing more due to a newer generation tweeter but who knows. But the Sonatina II has plenty. I'm loving how easy it is to move the 17.5.

I'm engrossed in testing stands now for the 17.5 This is a new dilemna. Stands sound different.

Also I'm testing 4 ohm vs 8 ohm setting on my Cary SLI-80 with 17.5. The difference is similar to that on the Sonatina II but less substantial. Perhaps the 17.5 has a more even impedance curve? To my surprise I gravitate towards the 4 ohm setting. It sounds more gutsy. Perhaps that will change when I hook up the REL sub.

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Jax, it ain't over until someone bids on the Sonatina II. You might win your bet yet. Remember that I'm kind of on the fence... :)
Well, the Sonatina II's were locked in beautifully. Years of experimentation with cables, ohm settings, positioning, subwoofer setup (REL Strata III), tube choices for amp are cdp (both Cary)....

17.5 sounds smaller but a bit more precise and refined. I do feel like I am almost starting from scratch to get it locked in though. Experimenting with cables beyond Audience, Nordost, etc... It turns out that my favorite positioning produces a HUGE 100 hz hump the likes of which I've never heard before (measured using Stereophile test disk 3). Moving these rear-ported speakers a few inches forward gets rid of 90% of the hump.

17.5 not quite as efficient as the Sonatina II. Cary SLI-80 in triode powered Sonatina II beautifully with volume set at noon. 17.5 needs more like 1 o'clock. And careful positioning to prevent the bass from getting tubby. And the ultralinear setting is tempting for more power.

Stands! Playing these speakers on Skylan 24D versus EPOS ST12 - they sound like totally different speakers! Each stand has its strengths. Skylan (filled with sand) has black background, sweetness, precision. Too restrained on some recordings? or merely correct. EPOS sounds open, bigger, rollicking, full of information going every which way, just a "kick in the butt" .... and a hint metallic at times compared to the Skylan.

Next I'll try sand in the ST12, kitty liter to replace sand in the Skylans.

I could live with either one and be happy but choosing? Apples vs oranges.

Then there is the daily variation in sound. I wish someone would figure it out. Power quality? temperature? humidity? my mood?