Speaker suggestions


Greetings,

I know this is a difficult question to answer, but any opinions are welcome.

Here is my situation. I listen mostly to pop and classical, including many symphonies. About 15x25 feet (5x8m) untreated room. 20wpc Decware amp currently driving 15 y/o LSI 15 polks. Polks are doing fine, nothing wrong with them. I am the 2nd owner.

I am considering an upgrade to my speakers. Would like to have full (or near full) range speakers, no sub, strongly prefer something made (assembled, not just designed) in the US, with 2-3k budget.

One option is to refurb/upgrade the Polks. About 1k gets me new premium crossover, new damping material, full inspection, and cleaning with some cosmetic finish work at a local well regarded audio shop.

The other option is buying something new. I plan to keep the system for at least 15-20 years, so need something well built, with solid fit/finish, and good internal electronics so I do not need to recap for at least 15 years.

Prefer new but will consider lightly used option if find something specific I like.

Have been looking lately at Tecton DI and Impact towers. Some posts mentioned that they do not measure very well, but I did not see any charts on the forums or on their site. Mostly great user reviews,
Other options are Ascend Acoustics Sierra towers, Klipsch Reference, SVS ultra towers. I think those are all US made. Spatial audio has great reviews, but not sure how well they handle complex classical music. 

Can you please provide comments/suggestions? Any other options worth considering. I am not much of DIY person.

Thanks much.
sophie999
Since you have a powerful Decware amp, have you considered talking to Steve at Decware about which of his speakers would work best? 
Honestly, leave those speakers alone or sell them.

Monitor Audio Silver series. New or Used.
Also, consider room treatment.

Best,
E
Thanks for the suggestions.
Spatials would handle classical just fine; however, you'd want the Triode Master version of the M3. It was designed to work with 20w and below tube amps and has 12-16ohms!
My next speakers to hunt down are the Dali Zensors - try to hear them before buying any speakers though. They have clear sounding woofer and pleasantly transparent highs...They are Danish speakers - don't know where they are actually made, but there great speakers coming out that country.
Only reference quality, full range tower under $4000 is the Philharmonic Phil 3. It is 88dB efficient from 30Hz up, same as your Polk’s.   
 
The Sierra Tower (especially with the RAAL upgrade, making it ~$2800) is probably one of the 5 best towers under $4500. It however is not full range (34hz). A subwoofer would still be recommended in my opinion. 
 

Stereophile has measured Tekton. Due to its tweeter arrangement, it has a very narrow sweet point in the vertical realm, meaning going from sitting upright to slouching causes a decent change. However, they are pretty accurate with good imaging/soundstage. I would still take the Sierra+RAAL over them though. 
 
You could just keep your speakers and spend say $1000 in room treatment (<$500 if DIY).
I heard the Dali's. They sound like they measure, bright!

However, if you like lower volume listening, a good deal.

If used with room correction, the EQ will correct for that.

Best,
E
No doubt the amp/speaker match is very important for quality sound. Rather than suggesting my favorite speaker like most posters do, I'll make a comment.

Due to the parameters you mention in your post, a higher sensitivity speaker will be better.

Classical can be some of the most dynamic music available. I seriously doubt your current amp/speaker match can deliver that type of dynamic range. Compounding this issue is that the room is fairly large.

A speaker with a sensitivity of ~95db or higher on the 20 watt tube amp will take you to the concert. To get that type of dynamic range on the Polks would require at least 100wpc.


Ascend Sierra RAAL tower speakers are fantastic for the money. David is a great guy too. I had them for about 3 years and enjoyed every moment with them. They had no trouble with a tube amp but mine put out 48W per channel rather than 20W. They aren't power hungry but they aren't the most efficient either. 

Midrange and top end is fantastic, particularly with the RAAL ribbon tweeters. Bass was a bit lacking to me however. I would suggest a sub with these speakers. 
Great suggestions. Thanks very much.
@OP, 
Are you near any dealers? Nothing beats auditioning speakers with your own ears.
Bob
Hey Sophie 999,

I have heard 3 different versions of the Tekton Double Impacts--standard, SE, and the Bill Dion (grannyring) drivers, crossovers, and wire upgraded standard DI's.  The SE's are pretty nice but cost $6000.  The standard DI's are not as sophisticated sounding as the SE's.  Bill's a VERY experience DIY guy and has maximized several speakers closer to their potential along with electronics.  He also makes the very fine Acoustic BBQ cables on Audiogon.  His DI speakers  are quite a bit better sounding than the SE version.  You can find the DI's more used for sale than before because Eric has come out with 2 new models that are supposed to be freakin' awesome and people are trading up.  The speakers are not show pieces, however.

I just heard today at a dealer a pair of ATC SCM40 V2 speaker that are built extremely well (albeit in England) and weigh in at 78 lbs. each although they are only 41" H, 9" W, and 9" deep.  They have a lively, impressive sound with very strong bass and magnificent mids.  You could find some used in your price range.  ATC makes many of the top studio's speakers and they are very accurate and punchy.  I came away very impressed.  I own VMPS RM40 BCSE MLS speakers that have 40" of ribbon drivers along with two 10" woofers per side plus a 10" passive radiator.  The VMPS speakers properly set up and adjusted are very tough to equal in clarity, transparency and good bass.  I also have a pair of Vapor Joule Blacks that are even more impressive, but very expensive.  You could find a pair of VMPS used and might love the sound.  RM2's, RM30's, or even RM40's used could be had.  The 40's and 30'd have been highly praised by several different reviewers.  The 40's are 240lbs. each, the 30's are 115 lbs. each, and the RM2's are about 120 lbs. each.  The drawback of them is the designer passed away several years ago.  VMPS is no longer in business but there is some very helpful people on Audio Circle that can lend help if you had problems down the road.  I've bought several different speakers trying to beat the VMPS sound for me, and have been very ineffective.

Bob


A used Vandersteen 2CE Signature II or the 3A Signature for $3000 or less. Purely design and made in the USA
Depends upon your particular prioritization of:
- Dynamics
- Imaging
- Frequency response
- Musicality vs. Accuracy

Personally for me dynamics is top of the list so I am drawn to horn speakers (Klipsch La Scala) on a low power tube amplification.  My personal tube favorites are Klipsch horns or the outstanding Devore O/96.
Post removed 
I've been using some Living Voice Speakers from the UK for a couple years now 94db easy load designed for low powered tubes your 20wpc would be ideal for them. they only go to 35hz though but they are wonderful everywhere else. very musical, detailed and inviting speaker. you can find them used for your price range. 

Omega speakers are interesting but may not have the bass your looking for if you want a full ranger. maybe close enough check them out, you'd want one of their High Out put versions, I demoed a set of the stand mounters and was very impressed for $2k. 

May fined Coincident speakers used.

Rathm Speakers very interesting hybrid point source with integrated sub speaker line I've been eyeing them my self. there was a used set on here not too long ago in your price range. 

others here are low power high efficient fans so hoping some of them will also chime in. happy hunting. 

glen 
I agree with Eric.  Do not put the money into working units.  

As always, +1 for Vandy's, which is why I asked if you had dealers nearby.
B
Make 8 each,  2' x 4' absorbing panels before you spend a nickel on
a speaker.  Owens Corning #703 panels come in 2'x4' size. See your local insulation distributor. Yes they will take your money. $130ish for a package of 12 each. On the way home stop at Home despot and buy some 1"x 3" wood-any species will do. Oh, ask them to please cut them so you end up with 24 pieces at 48" in length and another 24 pieces at 25 1/2" in length. Go to their scrap pile (70% off) and get 24 pieces of 1 x 3 or 1 x 4, in the 24"length area for cross braces. See if the guy will cut both scrap piece ends with 45 degree angle cuts. Use 2 braces per box.Try to go at slower time or they may refuse all the cuts. Buy 150 ea. 2" wood screws and builders glue too. $100.  Last stop is
Joann's Fabrics for some burlap type fabric to wrap your panels in. Home Depot may sell burlap too. $10.
Material total cost- about $240 or $20 each panel. Assembly Required. When done Install 8 panels and  sell the 4 extra panels for $50 each and recoup some of your cost.
Good Luck Mr. Not very DIY. Perhaps you know someone handy?
Once you hear the new sound those Polks will seem a lot better.

One vote for Klipsch Forte III's. Had a pair, had to downsize a bit to Heresy III's but miss the Forte's dearly. Easy to drive, dynamic yet refined sounding. These are NOT your grandpa's Forte's....
Burchart S300 or S400....
I have owned both the Tekton DI's and Ascend Towers w/Raal. I would recommend the Ascends.. I loved them. The mid range and top end is killer. They do need a sub. In fact, I had 2 of them as I had a 16x24 room and wanted solid thumping bass.  The Tektons are a love/hate situation. I didn't think much of them and sent them back after my trial period. I kept the Ascends around here for several years before upgrading to Legacy's.    
If you can drive to pick these Silverline Sonatas up for $1000 I think they check all your boxes and will significantly outperform your Polks...

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649479570-silverline-audio-sonata-i/

I dont think you can do better for a thousand bucks.  Best of luck. 
I can't imagine how you will be able to buy an audiophile speaker for $3,000.  I would encourage you to buy the SALK Song3 Encores at $6,000 a pair.  Jim Salk also makes a smaller speaker priced at $4,500.  

Since he sells direct, he uses the best drivers and crossovers you can buy in that price range.

I listened to the Song3's at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in October and thought these sound better than a pair of $60,000 I listened to.  They literally smoked everything I heard priced $20,000 and lower.  They get down to 24 Hz and you will not need a sub.  
Tectone-is # 1 in the world audiophile speakers. 
#2 Golden Ear 
#3 ZU  Audio -
This brands is top of line in audiophile Industry . 
ProAc DT8 or studio 148 with Soundocity SEV9 outriggers.  I love my 148s (see system details).
Wharfedale diamond 225’s imo are worth three times the asking price, they sound wonderful to my ears. Stereophie also agrees, as it won budget component of the year in 2017....I like them so much I hardly use my spendor and harbeths believe it or not.....I own two pairs of the 225’s in walnut and rosewood....beautiful. No need to spend thousands to get good sound, these will surprise you. Dont let the asking price skew your opinion until you give them a listen. I know my recommendation may be laughed at, as some are suggesting to spend thousands....any how I like them, they are a keeper in my book. Keep in mind, these need to be bi wired to sound their best, and also require mucho amplification to bring out the bass imo. They also require rigid shot filled stands for support. Atacama makes some nice stands that go well with these. The rogue sphinx or a high powered marantz integrated really makes these sing......warm midrange, astounding bass, and liquid highs with zero harshness....I can listen for hours on end.
The harbeth compact 7es-3 are also a terrific speaker if you want to spend 4 grand or so. The stands for these alone are 750.....ouch.
I honestly cant think of a us made speaker I would own....there are a few nice Canadian speakers like totem and paradigm....
Thanks.
Will start looking at some on the used market. There is a pair of used Salk song 3 under 3K used in mint conditions.


Any opinion as to the Klipsch Heresy III? Compared to Salk song 3. 
@firstnot gave super advice most of us should be following.....
+1 for treating the room 
"Any opinion as to the Klipsch Heresy III? Compared to Salk song 3."

With the 20 watt tube amp, big difference in dynamic range. Klipsch will have excellent dynamic range and the Salks will be limited like the Polks. The Salks performance would be better with more power. The 20 watts is plenty for the Klipsch.

Talk to what about psa audio ? Mtm210t. Made in mineral city ohio..
Audiokinesis is a great speaker brand, too.
Try Tonian Labs. You might be able to find one used or Tony Minasian might custom build one for you like he did for me. I have a 30 w/channel Luxman can run very loud in my room. Sensitivity runs around 92. They have a full sound but do not dig deep below 40 hz. Enough for classical and jazz, though
I have a pair of Focal 926 Aria's. I really think their mid range and high end are stellar. They are ported, but work great with my Gallo sub. I highly reccomend these soeakers. I am driving them with new Peachtree Nova 150, but they are 93db, so they could work  well in a small room with less power.
Ilumnia Magister.. Perfect sound . Above 30000$. Never ever heared such a beautifull sound!!!
I own Klipsch Heresy IIIs for a second system in my den and love them. They do need a subwoofer however for the last octave or so, which you need for orchestral works.  I agree with tls49 that a 100 watt amp (solid state will give better bass control) would be needed for your Polks to get a concert level sound, and like tinear123 above I place dynamics high on the list of priorities so prefer horns.  If you want new, the Klipsch Forte III would be near your budget and you could get by without a subwoofer.  Another option would be a pair of used Klipsch Cornwalls. Any of the Klipsch will be well driven by your Decware 20 wpc amp. Good luck!
Thanks again. Looks like the used market is the way to go.
Get a Pair of ADS Speakers. Even though the Co does not exist anymore.
You will not be disappointed and save money.
Over the last 5 years I've been through hundreds of speakers...all used all what most here will define as mid grade.but not all...

There are TONS of speaker choices and price ranges.

one good speaker is the AR11(Acoustic Research)
a tad better than the AR3a imho

ads is a good speaker very very few if any are "duds" within the lineage.

new? no idea i’ve never spent money on new since there are plenty of very good uses speakers.

2 to 3 grand will but a damn fine(used) loudspeaker.
and less will buy a damn fine loudspeaker.

IF i had 2-3 grand I would look hard at a Vandersteen beyond the 2 series.but thats me.
I would talk with Decware since they make high efficiency speakers also. Their website says they offer 30 day free trials on their speakers.
@sophie999 
 
Most of the Salk’s are 88dB effienct, meaning 20W will make it 101dB, room gain will make it about 104dB (at 1 meter). 
 
The Heresey’s are rated with corner-loading, meaning instead of 99dB they actually are 93dB efficient, a decent amount over 88dB, but then you have to account for the Salk models being arguably better sounding. If the current Polk’s are fine volume wise, then so will the Salk models, and you can always move them a bit closer or move the seating forward a bit.
Polk's are fine volume wise. Never go over half way on the volume pot.
There are a lot of possibilities to purchase great speakers as it seems the 2K price point provides access to lots of great speakers. 

After months of research, I ended up purchasing a pair of Revel Concerta2 F36's last year and love them.  They also brought home many end of year awards.

https://hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/speaker/floor-standing/revel-concerta2-f36-tower-speakers-review...

https://www.audioholics.com/tower-speaker-reviews/revel-concerta2-f36-tower-speaker-review

https://hometheaterreview.com/revel-concerta2-f36-floorstanding-speaker-reviewed/

Monitor Audio
PSB
Goldenear

in no particular order.   Not sure any of these check all your boxes...they are just the brands in your range that I've had exposure to or owned, and have had great experiences with.  

Thanks for the response.
To me, one important parameter is US made. I would be ok with Canadian or Western Europe manufacturing. That is what makes it harder. Nothing to do with quality. Just one of my preferences. 


Another question.
For 2-3k I can get new tecton impacts, ascend Sierra tower, or Salk. I can also get used Salk or vandersteon higher end models in that range. 
Is there a sense that Salk or vandersteon is overall better for the money in sound and built quality? Is it worth looking for gently used Salk or vandersstein over new tecton or ascend?

I do plan to keep them for the next 15 years or so, so biult quality is very important.


The Sierra towers with RAAL is probably my choice for towers below $5K if deep bass isn’t needed. Salk is great too, and better looking usually.