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The speaker line with the best reviews this year seems to be Alon by Acarian. The Absolute Sound has had a piece or reference in each of the past few issues. The Lotus Elite Signature made Harry's Super Components list...and that's the speaker I'm currently using. The Lotus Elite (not Signature, but same cabinet)--$4500--just got a fabulous review on HiFi+, which you can read from the website (alonbyacarian.com). And these speakers do well with cj, according to the designer. The Elite Signatures got terrific reception at CES and HE Shows (check most any show report). They are nice looking, nice size, easy to place. They lay out a soundspace (being dipole) better than most anything out there. And, of course, they're wonderfully musical (once broken in!). You may hear lots of good recommendations, but these speakers are a cut above!! Good luck.
No search for speakers powered by tube amps should be completed until you have tested the Tannoys and the Kef Referance. Tannoy is a great speaker and has long been a favorite of people who have McIntosh Tube Amps. Kef very recently came out with a new Referance line starting with the 201s and stepping up to the 207. The 207 is a bit big for my room so I recently picked up a pair of 205s and the music is everything I want.
Remember that speaker placement is of the utmost importance. Vanderteens like to be a little farther apart than most. This makes the sound more open. Follow the setup instructions included and tweak by 1/2 inch movements in all directions. Also try different divisions of the room. 1/3,1/5,1/7,1/9 as suggested. They will not jump in your face unless too close together.
I love my ProAc Response 2.5's $4500. Surprising bass extension, and great dynamic range with my 65watt Cary SLA70B sig (now using KT90's!). I really hated my Magnepan MG12's with my tube amp. It could have been a number of things. Tube amps tend to have high output impedances, and Maggies tend to be 4ohms. Because of the high output impdance, tube amps tend to be voltage sources that like to see high impedance (8ohms or more), and generaly smooth impedance curves for the best voltage transfer. Maggies dont usually have such characteristics. Now, I have to quilify this with the fact that I have heard MG3.6's being driven by some serious tube amps (Manley monoblocks) that sounded fantastic... I digress, listen to ProAcs if you can.
Thanks for all the suggestions - my search is going to be complicated by the fact that my local dealer is big-time into HT, plasma TV's, etc., etc., etc. Not alot of high end stuff on display for audition anymore. I did have a chance to listen to a pair of Ariel Acoustics 7B's this weekend - NOT my cup of tea - way to laid back and reserved.
Here is a simple recommendation. If you are investing in a tube amplifier, your investment dollar will be best served if you get a speaker that is at least 8 ohms, particularly in the bass region. 16 ohms is even better. All tube amps, regardless of technology (push-pull, SE triode, OTL, etc.) will show improved performance if used on higher impedance loads. Output transformers will have wider bandwidth (particularly in the bass region) and less hysterisis loss (which can be up to 20% in some designs).
As a result, all other things being equal, a tube amp will measure and sound better on an 8 ohm speaker as opposed to 4, and better yet on 16 ohms (providing a tap is available) as opposed to 8.