Speaker decision $3000-3500...help

I have been around auditioning speakers around the $3000-3500 mark.

I am looking for speakers that are musical, open, dynamic with a hint of warmth!
I listen to Soft Rock, Pop and some House/Dance music.
Mostly multi-track and digitally amplified stuff.

I have auditioned PSB, B&W, GoldenEar and Amphions.
I was most pleased with Amphion Helium 520s, since they are very engaging and natural sounding. Jack of all trades.

If you think there are other speakers for my preferences in the price range of 3000-3500, please guide me, i will audition them as well.

Otherwise i will pull the trigger on the Amphions and will need suggestions for Amplification for them. Budget would be $1500.

Please, any advice either on speakers or amplification would be appreciated.
I like the Vandersteen 3's. The only caution I would give you is that you have to match them to other components carefully. They're very revealing and will easily point out any flaws in your system.
I auditioned a bunch of speakers in that price range and settled on the Dali Mentor 6. They're an excellent all-around performer, easy to drive, and have a very classy design and furniture-grade finish. I have a sweet spot for female vocals and their hybrid ribbon tweeter really nails it for me. Conversely, I also listen to a lot of extreme metal and it holds its own in that realm too. Pair it with a sub if you need to dig deep on the bass and you can't go wrong.
AURUM CANTUS - V3M would be great, great sound, great value.
The Gallo Ref. 3.5 is, IMHO, the very best speaker in that price category. It does soooo many things right: virtually crossover-less, 0 diffraction "cabinet", incredible tweeter and mids that are VERY fast with sweet-spot a mile wide, time aligned drivers, and on and on...

Maybe not your cup of tea, but hometheatershack.com is just in the voting stage for their $3k speaker (pair) evaluation thread. The $1k and $2k speaker threads were really well done, so it may be worth some reading time.

If musical, open, dynamic and a touch of warmth is what you're looking for, I'd take a look at Harbeth and Zu.

Actually, there's a Druid MKIV with nanotech drivers upgrade listed right now for $1900 asking.
A used pair of Clearwave towers or monitors would trounce most others in the same price category.
Magneplanar 1.7s plus $1500 worth of subwoofers, which, for example, could be a pair of Gallo TR 1D-8's at $1198, a single JL E110 ($1800 list), or a pair of SVS NSD-12SDs for $1198.

These panel/sub combos would give you the honesty and immediacy of the 1.7 panels combined with the speed, slam, and bass extension of any of the subs recommended here. I am confident that you wouldn't find a $3500 full range speaker to match the Maggies with any of these subs.
Adurlabhji --

Within the stated $3000-3500 how about the Amphion Argon 3's? There's also the newly upgraded ATC SCM11, which has been very well reviewed over at http://www.whathifi.com/review/atc-scm-11-2013. Both of these candidates appear to be some of the best bargains in their price range, but of course an audition is required to see (i.e.: hear) whether they suit your audible taste.
A used pair of Dynaudio Special 25
Listen to Monitor Audio GX200. The biggest difference with most competitors is the speed and wider and deeper stage. Monitor Audio is exeptional good in making fine crossovers. this make the stage bigger so you get a better separation of all the parts of a recording. Thgey also have a faster response. And there ribbon tweeter hadles high with more openness and authority than standard tweeters. Just take a listen!
Lipinski L-707 or L-505 (smaller speakers) sound great with any type of music that I've played throught them. Tube or SS friendly.
Bo, what power rating amp would you suggest with the GX200...?

I'm curious about the ribbon tweeters impact on the choice of amp.

Class D amps? 50-60 watts?
Noooooooooooooooo Class D. The primare class D are for class D vey good. But if you want to go for stunning you need to look for better. Used XA30.5 is stunning with the GX200. The GX200 have on of the best crossovers in their price range. So use them!! Or go for a used older Primare class a/b combi. You need an amp which can give a wide and deep stage. Only then you get the max out of them. In my country most ( stuppid) shops ( I guess over 95% are) sell 2 dimensional amps wiht these speakers. Most people in audio overhere have the knowledge and insight of a rock!
Class D amps have come a long way. Listen with your own ears, before you take someone's advice. Bo1972 consistantly recommends Pass and Monitor Audio. I have listen to several Monitor Audio speakers and submit they are nothing special. Pass amps are okay, but they produce a lot of heat.
Thanks, gents. Apprciate it.
Monitor Audio uses very good crossovers. But....most audio shops use 2 dimensional amps. They will sound like many other.

When you use an amp what can give a deep and wide stage it changes. That is why I only sell amps which can give a wide and deep stage.

Pass Labs is one of the best brands in highend poweramps. Because they can give a wide and deep stage. But also the class will let you hear all the differences in timbre.

Just read the reviews. Audio is all about how you use it.

From 2007-2009 I sold a lot of Primare with Monitor Audio in a shop I did run at that time. I could send my clients to any other shop to listen to: B&W, Dynaudio, KEF, Focal, Dali etc.

Because for that money all other shops sold 2 dimensional sound.

It was so much fun, people came and said often: But we do'n't want 2 dimensional sound. It is very easy to teach people the difference between 2 and 3 dimensional sound.

After that the overall sound does it's work!
What's an amp that's not as large as Pass that works well...? (other than Primare)
>>Class D amps have come a long way. Listen with your own ears, before you take someone's advice.

THIS is good advice from Ricred1. Blindly ruling out Class D amps is myopic and dumb. Try one first. I made the mistake of giving too much credence to comments on here about Class D amps being "sterile" and "cold" and "clinical" and "non-musical", then decided to try one for myself. There are many fantastic choices in Class D, with small footprints, lower heat output, lots of power, and without spending 4 mortgage payments. Peachtree, Bel Canto, Wyred4Sound are just a few. Listen for yourself and enjoy.
To get a musical sound and a 3 dimensional stage: Pathos.
I really like what Clayton is doing over at Spatial Audio. Check them out. His Lumina series looks excellent. I've heard his earlier works at Emerald Physics and these are supposed to be better.
Class D amps are not sterile, that is a thing for sure. The first ones could be quite harsh. These days it is a different world.

But when I compare the best Class D amps with the best Class A amps. They still have more flavors in the mid freq. Compare them with classical music with 4-12 instruments.

Enjoy the comparing. It can be a lot of fun. I hope you like it as well.

Update: I bought a pair of MA GX200 and I'm pairing them
with my Bel Canto c5i.

Impression 5 hours into listing:

1. I've unplugged my subwoofer. No need.
2. Holy cow, the resolution is nuts; depth is pretty good
for being 10 inches from the real wall (I'm space
constrained, unfortunately)
3. These are some good looking speakers-wife likes 'em
4. I have owned both Pathos and Pass,and I can see where Bo
is coming from. The Pass would flesh these guys out a bit,
the Pathos would make them disappear completely.
Bel Canto is a brand who also can build a deep stage. This is not a bad option.

When you use a good amp the GX200 can give you a level almost no other speaker can give to you.

I had a discussion with MA Holland about the amps they and other shops use. I did take a look what amps other shops use who sell Monitor Audio. Most of them ( more than 95%) use 2 dimensional amps.

They don't know what they are doing. MA will come to me in a few weeks. I will take them to a few different clients of mine. I want to show them that I have created with all different Monitor Audio spakers a stunning physical 3 dimensional image everywhere.

They demo it also with 2 dimensional amps. What can I say!
The MA GX200 need 400 hours to brake in the ribbon tweeter. It will become more open and less harsh.
Thanks, Bo..!
DALI Zensor 7s ($1,300.00, Amazon)
Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum w/KT120s ($2,300.00)
You will be hard-pressed to find a more open ,warm, and dynamic musical experience for the money!
Dali is a 2 dimensional brand. For 3000-3500 you can buy 3 dimensional speakers. You would be a fool to spend this kind of money on 2 dimensional standard audio speakers.

I send my clients to shops who sell these speakers. To make clear how big the difference is between 2 and 3 dimensional sound. Audio can be that simple and convincing.

I sold Dali for over 8 years of time, so I know exactly the properties and what they can.
Not sure what you mean by 2 vs 3 dimensional speakers but if you are referring to 2 vs 3 way speakers:

IMHO a well-designed 2-way is always preferable to a mediocre 3- way so I believe there are no hard and fast rules.

The Spiral Groove Canalis Anima for example, is a 2-way which possibly sounds better than many 3-way speakers at the same price.

I was trying to explain that the Zensor 7/Cronus Magnum combo will sound extremely satisfying at $3,600.00 all together.

I believe that a two way speaker of modest size is very, very, hard to beat, particularly on voice, and particularly if the best technology and components (active crossover) are used.

If the very best clarity, accuracy, lack of distortion, and realism is to be maintained then the mid / bass driver must not be asked to perform beyond its best design envelope in the low bass region.

If low bass response is of critical importance to the listener, then the best result is probably a 3-way design. Reason why I also recommended the Triton 2s.

One last note, very high priced designer fashion and marketing statements do not enhance audio performance.

My current speakers are GoldenEar Triton 7s. They cannot play rock or other forms of “power” music at high volume levels. Then why have them? Mainly for their uncanny ability to reproduce a full-bodied sound that is extremely easy to listen to for hours without fatigue.
I've listened to Monitor Audio PL200s and PL300s. To my ears there are several speakers in their price range that are more balanced. They have a bright, forward sound to my ears.
Which amps did they use and which cables?

I had many discussion's with Monitor Audio about this. They asked me to see what amps shops use for Monitor Audio speakers.

Often they are 2 dimensional. They way I sell Monitor Audio is what makes it superior to other brands.

First you need to know the properties and then you need to use them to the max. Knowledge and insight in above 95% of the shops is too low. They make a lot of mistakes.

Then other speakers can sound better. Often these speakers are 2 dimensional. When you use the right amps you will crush most speakers. That is why I only use 3 brands. Because they give the best results for their price and all give a 3 dimensional stage.

When you use a 3 dimensional amp and an amp which has the perfect balance in sound for Monitor Audio. It is easy. In 16 years of time, I never had a brand which gives me this advantage over other speakers so obvious.

Last year when I was the absolute sound, Monitor Audio from my country invited the people of Monitor Audio England. They said: we never heard a demo with our speakers this good. They also do not use the right amps and cables for their speakers at shows.

Because I use them to the max. This is based on properties. When you don't know and understand these properties. It is not possible to get the best out of the speakers. It is that simple....for me!
Yes, electronics can make a difference, but every speaker has a house sound. My personal opinion is they are forward/bright speakers.
The Platinum speakers have one of the best 3 dimensional physical stages in their price range.

But most shops ( are F....idiots) and use 2 dimensional amps. This makes clear how low the knowledge and insight is.

I crush every speaker in their price range because I can build the widest and deepest stage with these speakers. Within this stage I can even create the sharpest intimate indivividual focus.

When I demo this, I can send people to all shops. Because they never can reach the same speed, timing, resolution, blacks, wide and deep stage and physical intimate image.

I sell a sound; this is a 3 dimensional extreme wide and deep stage. And within this stage a physical intimate stage. I use properties to create this.

This is a totally different way than others do. Other people do not have this level of insight to use tools just for their properties.

That is why it is so easy to win from other shops. Because the most convincing and involving sound Always will win. It is that simple!
"06-10-14: Ricred1
I've listened to Monitor Audio PL200s and PL300s. To my ears there are several speakers in their price range that are more balanced. They have a bright, forward sound to my ears."

Why do you think the speakers were at fault? You can't listen to just a pair of speakers. They have to be part of a system. The bright sound you experienced could have come from other component(s).
Zd542; I understand his remarks. Don't forget many demos are often very average or poor with many different brands.

Because many people who work in this busienss do not know a lot about properties. This happens all the time.

At shows the same kind of errors are made constantly.
I'm with Ricred1 on this . I personally have never listened to a Monitor speaker that didn't sound tipped up and unbalanced. That said maybe Bo1972 has found electronics to get a balanced sound. As far as the 3 dimensional sound, I have heard many different speakers or systems with excellent 3d presentation. Much has to do with source , room and speaker placement. I have a dealer in my area which he had a pair of monitor pl300 that he took as trade towards new speakers he was selling. In attempt to get good sound to demo for potential buyers he found no front end or amp to tame them. He sells many different manufacturer of both solid state and tube . He said the sound always was bright and fatiguing. Again Bo1972 may have the balance needed with matching components but it seems that you are quite limited on your amps. Also as everyone on this site knows everyone hears differently and has there idea of what they like. I am not knocking Monitor I am giving my experience with the models I have listened. If you are enjoying them then I say GREAT.
Bo1972, is Focal a 3d brand ?
It has nothing to do with 2 or 3 way. It is the stage that is being build behind the speaker. And even beside and in front of the speaker.
Ribbon tweeters can give a bigger stage because they can project the stage further infront of the speakers.

So you get an extreme holographic stage. The head editor of the biggest Audio magazine in our country loved the 3 dimensional image I had on a big show last year. He said; you were the absolute sound by far. Many distributers had the same opinion.

During the day for shopkeepers many people who had a shop came to me and asked how I can create such a big stage. Many never heard music so physical touchable in there whole life. I used a professional measurment. It doesn't matter anymore that the room was so average in acoustics. The endresults are Always exeptional good.

This I do since 2007. I only sell and create 3 dimensional sound. In 2010 I started to use acoustic measurments.

Instruments become fully loose and apparent in front of you. This is so Obvious and precise that many audio lovers during the show came to me and said: this is of a whole new level in sound I never experienced.

Many did not understand that the subwoofer fully dissapeared. People got on the knees and put their ears on the centre. They thought I used the centre during stereo.
Even people put their ears to the during the show.

People don't know this level of integration. And most of them never heard a 3 dimensional stage this physical.

I also could let people hear a much higher level of micro information. I did let people hear the breathing during singing. Word endings on sss, ttt and th. And moving lips during singing.

I said to them: ask for these numers on any set of the show. You easilly will hear there is less information on any other set on the show.

Every single part in sound I can raise to a higher level. Hearing is believing. What you hear is the thing that counts.

I want to make audio more easy to understand for every single person.

In a few weeks I will take Monitor Audio in my country to many different clients who all have a stunning and extreme 3 dimensional stage.

I want them to convince that I create a suprior level in endresult with every single Monitor Audio speaker compared to any other shop. They know for years that I can create a much higher level than any person can achieve.
Mystery solved; Monitor Audio for everyone!!!!!!!!!!
Throw away all other "2D" crap!!!!!!!!!
There are more 3 dimensional brands. It is a fact that people prefer 3 dimensional far over 2 dimensional sound.

The intensity in listening to music is much bigger. It pulls you into the music. When you do this for 7 years like I do, you know how succesful it is compared to any 2 dimensional sound.

People enjoy music a lot more when they listen to their beloved music with a 3 dimensional stage.

It is not only the 3 dimensional stage what makes it more involving. The small and intimate stage within the wide and deep stage is another part of the succes.

3th part is creating a musical involving sound.
I beg to differ Bo.
No offense but it sounds to me like you're just trying to sell your product.

My first real venture into the so called HiFi world started with an Alpha 10, Linn Kan, and SL1200MKII (let me guess, 2D?). Well, it sounded fantastic to my ears!

First, not everyone has the means to spend loads of money to buy MA, Pass, Pathos, etc.

More important, I am most certain that I am enjoying your "so called 3 dimensional sound" with my current set-up.

The level of depth, resolution, balance, soundstage, and imaging that the Cronus Magnum/Triton 7 set-up produces in my listening environment is simply staggering!

By the way, you haven't answered Schubert's question. I'm intrigue to find out if you consider Focal's sound to be 2D or 3D?

No hard feelings.
You can get the GIANT KILLERS.. Yamaha Soavo ns-f901's for as low as $2800 !..
Focal use exeptional good crossovers in the 1000 and Utopia series. They can build a wide and deep stage.

Some people don't like the sound of Focal speakers.

But when you use a musical and warm sounding amp you can get a very good balance with the speakers.

The low freq. can give some difficulties in the setup. But they are more easy to setup than Wilson Audio.

At shows often the demos are not that good with Focal loudspeakers. This has nothing to do with the qualities they own.

When you use the right stuff, they can give a stunning 3 dimensional stage.

There are more 3 dimensional brands, at the end there are a lot more who are 2 dimensional.

I do not say that people cannot enjoy a 2 dimensional image. 3 dimensional stage is more entertaining and a lot more addictive.

Many clients said; that they enjoy their music again since they have a 3 dimensional stage. It pulls you into the music.
I admire your passion. That said, do me a favor and listen to a pair of Canalis Anima with a 3D source of your liking. Then tell me what you think.
Happy listening.
I said it quite often; In the US there are many brands which are not that common in Europe.

I keep on promoting 3D sound. When others do the same, I am a happy man.

I said it many times; it is not about me. It is about the best sound. I want more people to be happy with their system.

I know that 3D sounds give a much higher level of enjoying your beloved music.

Maybe I can be hard, but.....every single person deserves the best sound.
Bo, you talk about how important it is for a speaker to have a good crossover. I'm sure most of us will agree, myself included. The question I have is what exactly are you looking for in a crossover? I know you like Monitor Audio (I do too), but what is MA doing with their crossovers that other speakers do not?
I owned the B&W 802N and 800S for over 8 years of time. I loved the focus of instruments and voices a lot. And the sound with classical music. But I Always was aware of the limitation of their crossovers. It gave me the feeling that the music was not fluid. Like the freq. were played separated. I missed depth when I listend to other speakers who did this better. I am a perfectionist and I compare all the time. The best is the only thing that matters.

I started selling the Platinum speakers when they came out in 2007. I owned the Pl-300 for 5 years of time. I liked them a lot. But there was one thing I didn't like about them; I could not listen to classical music with them. In 5 years I did not play classical music. The B&W 800S did this a so much better. But in 3d stage, resolution, speed and decay it beat the 800S. The 800S got down to 25hz. I missed the lower freq. as well. But I did not want to go back to a less wide and deep stage. I thought about buying the B&W 800D. After hearing them I thought; No....I want a bigger stage. Because this is a higher level of listening to music.

The Pl-200 is a stunning speaker. It is a lot more natural in the mid freq. compared to the Pl-300. I started listening to classical music again. The stage is bigger and wider than the Pl-300. I had discussion's about this with Monitor Audio England. They agreed that the Pl-200 is a better speaker. So I asked: why you don't change the crossovers of the PL-300? They will not change it anymore. It is about costs. What can I say?

The Pl-200 is extreme fast and dry. In this price range I can create a huge wide and deep stage. But within the stage instruments and voices are sharper focussed than competitors. The ribbon tweeter makes the stage bigger in front of the speaker. It plays music fully loose and physical in front of you. The integration of the 3 way system is exeptional good. The response is stunning as well. For a small speaker it can play at extreme volumes. ( spl= 118db)

In 2009 I had the Wilson Audio Sasha for about 6-8 weeks to listen at. The Pl-300 had a wider and deeper stage with the same amps. I love to test speakers. I Always want to know how wide and deep they can build a stage. The second question is: how intimate and sharp are instruments and voices focussed within the stage.

I sold Avalon for over 6 years of time. In my opinion the weakest point of Avalon is the sharpness of the focus of instruments and voices within the stage. When you compare this part with the Platinum speakers you understand directly how much better the Platinums can focus.

I have created a live stage experience with the Pl-200. The PLW-15 with Audyssey Pro give me the stealth integration I Always dreamed of in the past. Now I have superior low freq. even compared to my old B&W 800S.

Audio is like a formula one car, looking for the best setup. Don't forget I spend a lot of time on testing and comparing. People who do this for a hobby do not have this much time and possibilities I have.

My clienst know that they never can beat me in endresults. I can see 3-4 steps further than other people in this business . I can proof this with sound. This is how I work. Just listen and you will understand.

In 2015 there will be the new Platinum series. I am looking forward to these. Every new serie they bring out Always is a big step further than the old one.
I remember back in the late '60s, when contact lenses were very expensive--
$120 in 1968 is equivalent to around $800 now. When someone lost one,
everything stopped while people joined in to try to find the lost contact lens.
Basketball games would be even be delayed while a player and teammates
searched for a lost a contact lens.

Soon, a popular prank was to pretend you've lost a contact, and once you have a
crowd of bystanders helping to look for the non-existent contact, you quietly slip
away. This thread reminds me of that prank.

Has it occurred to anyone that this is a 6-1/2-month-old thread with 47
responses with not one acknowledgement or clarification from the OP?
06-14-14: Johnnyb53

"Has it occurred to anyone that this is a 6-1/2-month-
old thread with 47
responses with not one acknowledgement or clarification from
the OP?"

That's funny. It happens more times that I can count.

I call it "drive by" posting. My guess is that
the OP(OP's) goes to many forums and asks the same questions
and gets his/her answers elsewhere.

What can you tell us about the new Platinums and when they will come to market?
Also, what amp with the PL 200, gives you 3D?