Based on your likes and dislikes above, you might want to take a listen to the ProAc Response 2.5's. I have them and think they have all the qualities you mention, but offer a somewhat better sound than the Grand Piano's in my estimation. I spent quite a bit of time auditioning both the GP's and the 2.5's with a variety of electronics, and I enjoyed both of them, but in the end walked away with the ProAc's without hesitation. I've paired mine with tubes, but the designer recommends a solid state amp (the ARC 100.2) as his ideal pairing. As a caveat, I should mention, there's about a $1k difference between the two, which depending on your budget may make a difference. Anyway, just some food for thought.
Hi Nezwek. While I've never owned floor standing speakers like the ones you're considering, I do have great experience comparing Sonus Faber and ProAc mini monitors. I own both Sonus Faber Concertinos and ProAc Tablette 50 Signatures.
Like Kjg's post above, I enjoy the listening experience much more with the ProAcs. If you are concerned with bright sound, the SFs are more forgiving in my system. They also have a fuller midrange and less extended highs than the ProAcs. The ProAcs have a slightly leaner midrange and more extended highs. And if you don't have a lean system the ProAcs will reard you with a massive soundstage and lifelike experience the Sonus Fabers won't be able to match. The Concertinos have a very nice sound, but the Tablette 50s are so much more accurate and involving.
If you can, definitely audition a pair of ProAc Response 2.5s. I've had great results with the ProAcs, but only your equipment, your room, and your ears can verify that. Good luck!
Classe gear is a good match with the Meadowlark Shearwater Hotrods. I think there is a pair for sale here. They are detailed, warm, dynamic and transparent. They are also easy to drive. I had a CA151 with Meadowlark Herons and loved the match. I did demo the Grand Pianos, and prefered the Shearwaters.
I looked for a dealer of ProAc in the Seattle area
but I had no luck so far. I will definately try to
hear the 2.5s before I get the GPs. I must say that
cymbles on the GPs sound so rich and sweet. That's
what really grabs me is the sweetness of the GP sound.
I do sense that I wish the GPs had more omph in the
dynamics and breathed a bit more in the soundstage
department. I heard Lionel Richie in an outdoor
performance in Dallas over the weekend and there is
just something special about "live" dynamics
that I miss when I listen to audio components.
Nezwek, don't kill yourself trying to find ProAcs if it's that difficult. :) It just happens that my personal preference is ProAc Tablette 50 Signatures over the Sonus Faber Concertinos. You might not feel the same way. But, maybe I can help a little more.
You mention that you enjoy cymbals on the SFs. The first thing I noticed when hooking up the Tab 50s after owning the Concertinos for a year and a half was that the cymbals sounded more pronounced and a bit drier. The Sonus Fabers while not as defined, sound smoother when reproducing this instrument.
That was two months ago, but now I definitely prefer the ProAcs overall because of their lifelike presentation. It may be that I just got used to them, I'm not sure. Since first getting the ProAcs I've made many more upgrades and tweaks, so that may have contributed to my change in opinion too.
So to answer your last post, if you enjoy a sweeter sound, I think the Sonus Fabers will please you more. However, I feel the ProAcs definitely create a larger and more accurate soundstage, and a better sense of air.
Also, I should mention. My comparison only involves the two mini monitors I own. You're comparing floor standers, and that may be a whole different ballgame. Good luck!
Tom: It would surprise me if there were no dealers at all for ProAc in an area the size of Seattle. Audiogon has contact info for just about every manufacturer off of their home page and they do have a listing for the ProAc distributor
. You might want to give them a ring and find out who handles them in your area.
One of things I enjoy about the 2.5's is precisely what you're asking for -- sweetness in the mids and highs, and a huge soundstage. Also, they have a wonderful bottom end, which is pretty stunning considering the size of the drivers, and isn't matched at all by the GP's. As I mentioned before, I think very highly of the GP's, and Sonus Faber in general, but I found the ProAc sound much more to my liking.
Either way, they're both very good speakers so its hard to imagine you not ending up happy whichever way you go.
I like sf speakers, but they tend to need a lot of power. Heard the GP with copland tube and the sf musica amp. pretty shut in sound, i thought. They like to be played fairly loud. If you've got a lot of amp power think about the electa amator 2. Fabulous. Personally I prefer the dynamics and microdynamics of high efficiency speakers. Find they can make for a much 'lighter' more listenable sound, with good reproduction of transients and harmonics. I ended up with the kef reference 3.2 which im delighted with.
I heard the ProAc Response 3.5s this weekend.
A two hour drive with my classe in the back
but I'm not complaining..
ProAc? Well not to offend anyone here but this
was a clear last place finisher for me. I found
it to be very dry and the midrange wasn't right
somehow.. I heard them with my classe and with
the dealer's top end Audio Research Tubed gear
and heard the same things. Cables were all top
Has anyone heard the Von Schweikert VR3.5 ?? What
does this guy sound like.. Another brand I will
probably need to make a pilgrimage to go hear..
I cant believe that no one has mentioned the Merlin speakers. The TSM-M (newest model, but most older models can be upgraded) is a bookshelf speaker that I really, really like. THe VSM-M is the floorstander, and is quite pricey new, but uses incredible parts, and can be had on the used market rather inexpensively, then upgraded. I own the Nautilus 805, which many people seem to prefer over the 804 as a more coherent and dynamic speaker (obviously a bit less bass, but the actual difference might just surprise you-the 805's give up about 9 hz to the larger 804). Not worth
the $1500 price increase, mostly because the 805 sounds more like real music than the 804. You mentioned that you didn't like 804, but I might suggest that you give the smaller Nautilus speaker a try. Matched with a REL subwoofer, it is said to be sonic heaven.
Agree with the previous comment re: Meadowlark Audio speakers, but they have specific distance from listener requirements that made them too much trouble for me. I think the Hales Revelation 2 or 3 would be perfect for you, but they aren't in business any more. Sad.
I liked the Sonus Faber "sound" too, but I thought the treble was a bit too zippy. Stereophile's review and measurements a few years back showed a tilted up high frequency response, too. THe EA2 might just be what you really need.
Tom: I'm sorry that you had to travel so far to listen to the ProAc's. In my area there are several dealers, so it was convenient for me to give them a few auditions before I made my choice. This is probably a matter of personal taste, and the tradeoffs that each of us makes in deciding what is a "good" sound to listen to. Also, I run mine with CJ electronics which warms and sweetens the sound a bit (as it does with just about everything). Hopefully you were able to listen to a few other interesting things while you were down there to at least make the trip worth the while.
Anyway, its hard to find much fault with the GP's, especially in their price range. They're certainly a quality speaker and should provide a great listening experience. Let us know what you ultimately end up with.
You liked the N805s over the N804s ???
I heard them both on my Classe and also with
Mark Levinson and I thought the N804s
were far and away better. The 804s presented
an incredibly wide and deep sound stage
with excellent and tight (almost taut)
bass. I really took a liking to the N804s
and if it were not for the hardness in the
high frequencies and tendency to sound cold
I would have went for them because I do so
many things right and they really grab your
attention right from the get-go. A real
thriller of a loudspeaker.. But I was
fatigued after a while. Just like a
rollercoaster.. A big thrill, but you can't
do it all day... For me it was a huge thrill..
Von Schweikert VR3.5? Someone tell me..
What do these sound like ??
Your desires from a speaker seem to be tailor made for the Newform R645 planar speakers. They are only available direct, but come with a return period.
Check the reviews at www.audioreview.com, or their web site www.newformresearch.com.
I had a pair a while back but thought they were too sweet and forgiving. However, I use and enjoy Wilson speakers, so if you are one of the many who find Wilsons bright and harsh, you should love the Newforms.
If you like tight bass, GP is probably the one you need.
But I don't think it's midrange is smooth. For the same amount of money, I will consider Silverline, Totem, Jean Marie Raynaud, etc... Dynaudio has a sweet high, but the bass may not be what you are looking for.
Nezwek even though you didn't like them, I'm glad you were able to hear the ProAcs with your gear. Sorry you had to truck your gear so far for the experiment. But now with all the other good speaker suggestions given, the search gets even more complicated and fun my friend.
Von Schweikert, Newform, Silverline, Totem. I haven't heard any of them. I wish I could get in on your listening journey. Have fun and inform us of your progress.
The search has all but tired me out. There may
be a better speaker for me that I have not heard
yet, but its time for me to make a move on something.
Here's the list of speakers I tried:
Martin Logan Aerius i
Viena Accoustic Beethoven
B&W N804 (A very exciting speaker!)
ProAc Response 3.5
I'm going to go for the Sonus Faber GPs..
Thanks for all the advice on this thread..
Tom, good choice. The Grand Pianos sound nice, look good, and if you buy them on The Gon used, you'll save a bunch-a-green. Now to decide whether you want the HOME version or the older ones that were biwireable. Have fun! Dean
BTW, what was your impression of the Merlins? Were they the TSMs ot VSMs?
How did the older series GP sound different from
the new series? I heard the new ones on my Classe
and they seem to really sing with Classe...
You know equipment matching is really the key..
I heard the Viena Beethovens on the $15,000 Krell
Dual Balanced amp & pre before I swapped in my Classe and
I must say that the Krell & Beethovens were probably
the best I have ever heard.. Really.. But when I mated
my Classe, the Beethovens turned into a muffled, resonant
and boxy sounding nightmare. I mean really bad.
I also put the Areius on the krell and nearly lost my
hearing from the perceived +100db bump in the high
frequencies. I am not joking here..
Since I can't afford $15,000 worth of krell, the $5000
Beethovens wouldn't work out for me. I hope others
that read this take away the knowledge that components
will sound completely different depending on how they
are mixed with other pieces..
But again.. Tell me more about how the older GPs
sound vs the newer ones...
Tom, from what I know of your Classe gear it is on the forgiving/musical side. Krell is more transparent and revealing. I've heard the Vienna Acoustic Beethovens in a store and the VA Haydns in my house, and in both cases they were smooth, musical and warm. It doesn't surprise me the VAs really sang on the Krell amps but sounded muffled when matched with the Classe amps. Therefore, you could probably take greater risk than some people in coupling your Classe amps to more revealing speakers. Conversely, the Krells might benefit from being matched to less-revealing speakers.
People have posted in the forums here that the new Sonus Faber HOME speakers are warmer and fuller sounding than the previous models. It'll probably be tough to find a place to audition the older models since the HOME line has been out for awhile. But many forum members seem to think the newer models are better. So it looks like by purchasing the Grand Piano HOME you'll have an improved model and will also be able to save some cash by only having to use a single pair run of speaker cable, since the new models can't be biwired.
While the Sonus Fabers are good in my system, they were definitely bettered by the ProAcs. However, it seems the Grand Piano HOMEs might be AT home in your system. Good deal, because this way you'll save a ton of cash, and will have a system you really enjoy. This is what it's all about isn't it? Let us know what happens Tom!