Speaker recommendation for married couple

I am the guy who opened the thread "Harbeth Love". Unfortunately, wife didn't like them at all. She listened to ATC, nope. Spendor? Nope. I do trust her ears too but we need speakers that we both like. I remember her liking this Sonus Faber speakers (can't recall the model but I know newer Fabers). She also likes KEF LS50 which I find good but not outstanding. Any help for this married couple?:)
Vandersteen Treo's or Quatro's. Nice sound and nice styling.
See if you can listen to some Tannoys. Current models, or as in my case, custom built 1975 HPD 315's are spectacular. Try and see if one of their models might be just what you're looking for.

Regards, and good luck,
 Vandersteens 2CE SigIIs or above.
If you want an emotionally engaging speaker it needs to preserve
the music without seems or spotlighting any one spot of the music.
  Even balanced ,Disappearing , engaging
 Try playing Nina Simone on Vandys and perhaps you can feel the music
 instead of analyzing parts of the stereo.
  Best JohnnyR
Listen to Johnny.  Just make sure you go to a dealer who has them set up right (like Johnny does).  Believe it or not, since getting Vandy 3Asigs, my wife has developed an interest in audio.  Just last week I had an Ayre amp at home to demo and she said to me "you're keeping that; the stereo sounds amazing."

Good luck and enjoy!
+3 on a pair of Vandys, I too owned a pair Harbeths. My wife liked the sound and look of Harbeths but they sounded a bit thin on the top and bottom. The mids were beautiful. With that said, comparing the two, the Vandy Treo CT was the clear winner, we both love the sound and look of the Vandy Treo CT. Plus, it has the full range sound and beautiful mids I wanted. She hated the boxy look of the 2 and 3 series but the Treos were perfect. Johnny set me up. I’m still breaking them in but I’m very happy so far. Take his advice and check out Vandys.
Vienna Acoustics. More in line with with the SF speakers sound but not as warm. Never bright. Amazing furniture finish. Much cheaper than SF used. At least worth a look.

Posh on all of you! How can you guys just recommend a set of speakers without finding the WHY and WHAT she liked about the Sonus Fabers and the KEFs.

First I find this rather odd but it could be system setup. Sonus Fabers are usually a bit on the warm recessed side with a prominent midrange, the KEF LS 50 are very clean with much greater detail compared to the Sonus Faber and is a leaner sound.

So the real question should be to find out what she liked about each setup with each set of speakers and then go from there.

You are also not mentioning what kinds of music you like, she likes, are you getting new electronics, what you currently own,  budget, how loud you play, room size, positioning in room, and are the visual look and or size of the speakers important.

As per ATC which ones did you listen to and with what gear? The ATC 19 around $4k a pair are really outstanding and have great detail and a very panoramic sound stage, also have great dynamics they sound very real and lifelike.

You both may love Dali loudspeakers which have similar detail to the KEF LS 50 but with a warmer midrange like the Sonus, the Rubicons are great so are the Opticons, Legacy are also a similar voicing. The Heil tweeters are warmer then ribbons, Jantzen speakers are also a nice blend of detail plus warmth. 

So in retrospect you need to evaluate what are the traits your wife loves vs what you love and how the system is setup. Different electronics, cabling, front ends all produce different sonic effects. So you may also be derailing your demo by listening to many different setups at different dealers.

Try to find a large dealer with a great selection of speakers and mimic the sound of your electronics or better yet bring your gear to the store and then demo.

Identify what your wife liked about what she had heard vs what you like and try to find something which may be of middle ground.

As per floor standers that sound like a mix of detail and warmth, Dali, Legacy are two brands which spring to mind.

Look for the Stereophile recommended components issue and look to see which speakers have similar attributes and then see if you can hear them.

Depending on what part of the country you are in this may be an easy assignment or a difficult one.

If you visit the NY Metro area there are a ton of good dealers that have many of the brands you will read about.

First, the basics. Use lotion soap like Nivea to wash your ears out extremely well.   You may come to like her tastes a lot more. :)



+1.  The man speaks the truth!
Audiotroy! The new Bo1972!!!
Sonus Faber have a high WAF plus exceptional sound. Maybe mix it up and steer away from Brit companies: Revel, etc. Vandersteens a tough sell: they are butt ugly.
Agree with audiotroy in that it is odd that she liked both KEF LS50 and Sonus Faber which are two totally different animals.  I went through this with my wife as well and came to the conclusion that she didn't like the "sound" of anything that looked like a plain, old fashion speaker box (e.g. Harbeth, Spendor)

I've never heard of a wife who really cared about speakers except for appearance sake. If a truck pulled up in front of my house with ten sets of speakers, my wife wouldn't say one word. How sweet it is! Joe
  Were the Sonus Fabers & LS50 paired with the same amp? Same room? Same source/music?
  I wasn't overly impressed by the KEF LS50 either, but their new Reference 1 are rather amazing, if they're in your budget. The R300 or R500 might also be options.
  And what didn't she like about the Harbeths anyway?  (Its probably not relevant to your situation, but my GF & I settled on ProAcs--still having the British midrange I enjoy, but framed in the more lively & bassy presentation she craves.)
Agree with audiotroy in that it is odd that she liked both KEF LS50 and Sonus Faber which are two totally different animals.

Maybe totally different sonically, but perhaps they were the two smallest speakers that she saw.  ;^)

I recall my wife many years ago pushing for those cute little Bose Cube speakers. She thought they were adorably unobtrusive, unlike my "normal" full range speakers.
She envisioned them being very easy to "hide".

I never did buy the Bose Cubes, and eventually she just gave up trying to steer my audio purchases. I allow her to run her fashion sense in every other room in the house.
My better half, eventually found what she liked, which is all that matters at the end of the day.  That is married life!  

The only other thing I can say listen To them, a lot of them and eventually she will have her choices & hopefully a few of yours. 

If they are a high high end shop or independent dealer they should allow you to demo them in your home.  

Good luck and be patient.  

Celo, good for you, for fully including your wife in the process!  My suggestion is, don't be in a hurry - ENJOY the quest together! 

I can't begin to predict what speakers lie within the intersection of what you like and what she likes.  If the visual appeal is indeed a high priority for her, flip though some of your audio magazines together and that should give you some general ideas. 

And maybe the two of you would enjoy a weekend together at an audio show?  

Best of luck to both of you, wherever your quest may lead. 


The spousal unit and I have just completed our first speaker search as a couple. My spouse, a musician, initially wanted stand mounts (Genelec, B&W). Based on past experience, I wanted floor standers (as close to full range as we could get for our budget). After considerable auditioning, we decided on a pair of GoldenEar Triton 3+. You could say that they have both "detail and warmth". They also had attributes we both considered important: large soundstage, generous sweet spot, transparency, coherence, dynamics. (Much to our surprise, neither of us liked the LS50s.) 

I am with audiotroy - what specifically did your wife like abut the Sonus Fabers and LS50s. (The house sound of these two brands sound nothing alike to me.) What kind of music do you both listen to? What's your budget? I assume you both brought along some of your favorite music to the auditions.

Just for the record,  I am the wife, and I am the audiophile.  So now, jnovak, you've heard of a wife who cares more about how a speaker sounds than how it looks. ;-)
My wife is not an audiophile, but greatly appreciates and acknowledges the sound quality of our system.  She only comments on whether she feels if the sound is better, worse, no difference, ad does not tell me yes or no regarding any of my audio purchases (although she does comment on some of my music choices). My last purchase was a pair of Omega Super Alnico Monitors (in cherry finish) on Skylan stands. That was over a year ago and she still comments on hearing things in a recording that she never notices before, and loves these speakers.  Before getting these we auditioned Harbeth M30.1s, Golden Ear Triton 3, KEF LS50s, and the Tannoy Revolution XT 8F.   I really liked the Harbeths, but thought to give the Omega a try (30-day free home audition, just pay return shipping).  We both immediately picked the Omega's.  Midrange magic (right there with Spendor and Harbeth) at half the cost of the Harbeth's.  My speaker path to today has taken us from AR (from late 70s), Altec Lansing, Polk, to most recently Spendor (BC-1 and s5e).  Louis at Omega makes a wide range of monitors and floor standers, does custom veneers, is great to interact with, and produces one heck of a speaker.
You realy do have to ask your wife if she can tell you why she liked the VAs and KEFs.  The let her pick from whatever else you may audition. Then  change your system around if necessary to achieve the sonic you actually want. 
Get Magico M3 they look great and are cheap at 75k.
The issue in this case is that looks clearly trumped sound for your wife...this is EXACTLY why I'm not married!!
I have 3 different systems. My wife likes the least expensive ones in our living room. Decware ERRx radial speakers, she's says these are the best even though I have Janszen hybrid electrostats in my listening room that I feel are clearly superior. There's something she likes about the Omni directional sound.
I bet she liked the small Sonus Fabers...

Buy whichever ones you like the sound of that she approved, and then buy her a couple of new coffee tables.

If she asks why liquids on the coffee tables are vibrating, just deny that you see any movement...
Monitor Audio is a very good brand to listen to together.  Most of their speakers are now rather slender too.


Thank you for the replies! I should have given more info in my first post, sorry.

My wife read all the replies too. So, let me try to give more info.

The Sonus Faber was a monitor. I still cannot recall the model.

With the Harbeths/ATC/Spendor, she said the vocals sounded flat. That was her exact word, flat.

I agree SF and LS50 are different sounding speakers. She probably again went for the vocals only (not necessarily same sound but probably the way she likes it). She does not like when the vocals make that "TISSSSS" sound where it scratches your ears. She also likes good bass, more than I do for sure.

We pretty much listen to similar music and not limited to artists below. We listen to heavy metal and rap the least probably.

Wilco, etc.

Lately, she started to listen more jazz/female vocals like me (I love female vocals).

Norah Jones
Diana Krall
Billie Holiday
Agnes Obel
Fay Claassen,etc.

We do not have the biggest room, about 300sq ft. but the problem is the ceiling (wood) is low, only 6ft.

Let's get back to recommendations.

All the brands I know and some I have heard. I always wanted to hear the Vandersteens but never had a chance to.

Let me rephrase Johnny because this is exactly what I want to achieve. ".. feel the music instead of analyzing parts of the stereo." 
I want to sit down and enjoy the music without any distraction and without trying to find out what can be better with my system.

Anyway, although we cannot probably find all the speakers to audition but we will do our best :)

Thanks again!

More info: In case there is an excellent price on a new equipment, I do not buy new. So, for a used speaker our budget is max $2000
Is the ceiling 6' only where the speakers will be placed or the entire room?
Unfortunately, almost entire room. It is an attic but we have furniture and stuff (it is our hobby room). Current speakers 32 inches floor standers. A friend did the measurements with his MiniDSP and the results were not that bad. He was actually surprised.
After reading your follow-up, the first thing I want to ask is if you've ever considered a tube pre &/or amp?  That can make a notable difference, adding a bit of both presence & smoothness to vocals.

One of the things that makes entry Vandersteens such great value is they have a very form follows function appearance--but not everyone will appreciate that.  Also they're balanced & subtle in a way you'll likely enjoy--but that might not wow your wife.

I briefly mentioned ProAcs above, but will say it again, now as an actual recommendation. (Unless, of course, she dislikes traditional looking speakers.)  They're a bit more immediately exciting & don't skimp on bass (including their standmounts), but still manage to sound refined--even on non-audiophile recordings.

Good luck & keep listening.

I am definitely considering a tube amplifier. I just ordered this passive LDR preamp so I used my option for the preamp there.

I used to have ProAcs. I was never too wowed with them. They were tonality right I think, but I remember getting bored after a while. They were ProAc Studio 125s (floor standers). The bass was too much for my room also. This specific model was just not an exciting speaker to listen to. 
Wow, she didn't like vocals on Harbeths and called them "flat?"
That's the first speaker I and many others would recommend if someone really cared about vocals on speakers.

I don't know what you do when the speaker probably most renowned for natural vocal range doesn't make the grade?   Good luck.  I think any recommendation is going to be essentially a shot in the dark.

(It's impossible for us to know if she was hearing what the various speakers can actually do, or if it was issues with set up, etc).

you need to get some room analysis software and pay attn to speaker & listener placement and room tmt
Just as another option, you may want to look into the single driver full range speakers the likes of Omega or Decware. I've only heard a couple of their models like the Decware DNA and Omega 3XRS and the vocals sounded incredible. They need very little power to come to life but may not be aesthetically pleasing depending on your taste. One other thing to keep in mind is tubes tend to generate a lot of heat and with a room that size, especially in an attic, you may find them uncomfortable during warm days. Good luck.
I would still recommend the Vandersteen's. Johnny Rutan can give you a great system.
FWIW, I have the Vandy Treo's, 2w subs, and Atma-Sphere amp and preamp and think it is about as good as it gets.
@celo - hum....my wife has very muscial ears and she never thought Harbeth were flat with vocals. In fact, far from it, it was the one area she though the speakers were very good. Same here, I always enjoyed the vocals with the C7s. I'm wondering if you have another weakness in your chain.  Did you mention your current amp and source?  
Tekton Design's Lore speakers would please you.
The only way you will know the sound quality of a particular speaker is to change only the speaker with the same electronics.

I am not a Harbeth fan, I prefer ATC to Harbeth, but that is not the point, your mistake is thinking that you have to shop used.

We and other area dealers have demo products that you can purchase for less, and in that way you can still here a good representative sampling of products which is impossible to purchase that way on the used market. 

 Your best resource is to find a good dealer and demo a bunch of speakers in your price range that both you and your wife like. 

You also need to be cognizant of the electronics can change the sound therefore you should either bring your own electonics
I like Audiogon forums; it’s a great forum where fellow enthusiasts can talk and share there experience and seek the insights of others with the same passion. And although I show a limited post count and limited member lifespan, I’ve been around here for about a decade (had to change my account since it was tied to my prior work email.)

So anyway - Since when did the forums here become a place where dealers could blatantly (or even more subtly) shill for their businesses?

Glad to see that AT’s post from a prior thread was deleted (perhaps he did that on his own out of good taste and/or self-awareness, perhaps it was the moderators, who knows) but I will say - All the passion and knowledge in the world can still leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth in an open forum like this where it’s obvious that it’s from a dealer pushing their business this hard.

AT has not necessarily made bad points or necessarily given bad advice, but the ulterior motives as of late have really been difficult to overlook, at least for me. Perhaps he’s a good guy In person but ....

Sorry for the rant guys and perhaps I should have directed this privately to the AG team instead but I’m not sure that all members and readers here are fully aware.


EDIT - In full disclosure I'll admit I haven't read the site policies pertaining to dealers so perhaps AT is well within AG's allowances for dealers and/ or product promotion.
I personally don't have a problem with dealers posting here as long as their input is objectively their opinion or experience. The dealers generally have a much broader exposure to different brands and models so it would be counterintuitive to not solicit input from folks who can contribute most, at least in theory.
My wife loved my old Martin Logan reQuests, with their full body and pleasing detail, yet not overly sibilant sound.  That is, until we put in hardwood floors at our former home.  They simply were too big for the room.  

When I bought a pair of used Von Schweikert VR-5 HSE speakers, she loved the lifelike detail, looks and smaller size.  Personally, I loved the transparency, detail and midrange much better than the reQuests, but the lack of lower end troubled me.  In all fairness, I was using a passive preamp and when I had a LampizatOr Amber DAC with boosted gain, I felt that lower end jump a bit.  However, when I upgraded to the LampizatOr Lite 7 DAC, the lower end was problematic until I purchased a Hsu Research ULS-15 Mk II subwoofer.  Problem solved!  In our room, it really shines on all sorts of music.  From what I recently saw, there is a pair for sale right now.  


again I will 
Again I will say Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grands. Why???? Because they are in the same family sound wise as SF. They cost a whole lot less used generally than SF. IMO you pay for the finish and looks for SF speakers big time. 

The Mozart Grands also have deep bass for a small floor standers. They are able to completely disappear. They are also 4ohm so a 70 watt amp that doubles is plenty enough power so you don't need to go crazy. They are in you price range used. The finish is better than most speakers in the price range. 

If looks are not an issue (not that they really look bad just not a show stopper) I would go also look at Golden Ear speakers. The ribbon tweeter are very musical and never sharp. Plus you get more bass than you would expect because of powered subs in the speakers. Also you can adjust the bass level allowing you to tone down bass in a smaller room. 
Take a look at standmount or floor standing from:
Ryan speakers, good value with Sonus Faber like qualities
Sonus Faber Venere or Olympica series very musical
Focal Sopra series great balance and resolution
B&W 800 series - either love or hate?
Audio Physic good at everything easy on the eye
Magnapan great at lower volume tough looks
KEF R LS, R series and Reference all great
You didn't mention budget?
Or what electronics you will use?
If your wife has "very good ears" why not let her choose. If she chooses something that is respectable in terms you agree with then why not?
Did she listen to the speakers in a dealer's showroom or at your house?  6' ceilings are extremely low, so you should probably get some panels mounted overhead first and foremost to try and 'disappear' the ceiling.  No doubt you are getting a lot of early reflections and comb filtering from the ceiling that are coloring what you and the Mrs. are hearing.  
(((She does not like when the vocals make that "TISSSSS" sound where it scratches your ears. She also likes good bass, more than I do for sure.)))

This is typical of many loudspeakers with a steep order crossover which causes a pre and post ring on transits with excessive sibilants not to mention removing parts of the music's timing.

 This is why many live recordings sound great with Cans yet loose it with
conventional  steep order box speakers.

In a well executed phase and time correct design most find obvious music's fundamental are in proper sync with overtones and harmonics.

This and other factors work to preserve the recordings whole venue instead of bits & pieces.
In listening to a 6 DB per octave phase and time correct design you experience dimensionality and preserve the lost time in the music while negating unwanted pre and post ringing that most women and men are very sensitive to.

Where are you geographically?

With 6 foot ceilings, you may have a lot of unwanted reflection from that source.

I have 7 foot ceilings, and I solved the problem by putting in a lattice of 1x3's, which are 0.75 inch thick strips of wood, in 1 foot by 2 foot rectangles. In addition to taming reflections, it gives an interesting and finished look to the place.
Thanks guys!

I will try to answer most of your questions/comments. And if I miss some, I am sorry.

I did mention the budget in my second post, $2000 used. Demo speakers are fine too. Just don't like to buy luxury items new.

Very good question:) We are currently in Europe. I can listen to pretty much every brand from Elac to Rockport, PSB to Magico.

I thought exactly like you did! I thought let me go by what she likes most as long as I am happy too. Almost wanted to end the search with the LS50 but we still want to listen to more speakers.

As I mentioned before the ceiling is all wood. No concrete. And my friend measured it with his mic/minidsp and found the acoustics pretty good actually. He was surprised too.

Thanks again guys!