" Especially Spendor but they don’t seem to have a large market in the US."
That’s not true. Spendor has many dealers in the USA. The Harbeths are to be used with the grills in place so why do you care about the screws? Proac has the least dealers of the ones that you mention. ATC is another one that you can add to your list!
BTW, I have owned many of that type of speaker and the Harbeth is my favorite!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqFIaiPT_kY
I wasn’t saying they don’t have many dealers, more that the used market doesn’t seem very strong. Far as using the grills with Harbeths I don’t find that much more appealing than staring at the screws. I may still end up with a pair, but I sure wish they were better looking. I can’t imagine anybody is a fan of all the screws and don’t understand why they wouldn’t do away with them. Almost like they are proud to make ugly speakers because the design is classic or something.
In case you didn’t know Harbeth speakers per Alan Shaw are to be used with the grills on. BTW, many including me find the fit and finish great looking!
I've had both the Harbeth P3 and the C7 over the years, and I was impressed by both. Harbeths are designed to sound their best with the grilles on. With a 3k budget, you can probably find used C7s or (maybe) 30.1s if you're patient.
I would recommend looking at Dynaudio as well. The Special 40 is a great speaker at 3K, and it seems to fit what you're looking for. The new Evoke series is very good at a lower price point. For my taste, Dynaudio tweeters (I've heard four different models) are perfect - smooth, no grain, nice detail. Dynaudio bookshelf speakers typically have great bass for their size and image very well.
Just my two cents,
proacs and spendors (d series) would be where i would direct you
lively tweeters but well integrated into the overall highly coherent sound, narrow baffles for great imaging, loves tubes (easy to drive impedances, decent efficiency, hot tweeters benefit from a little ’cooling’ from tubes), modern sleek form factors
i think harbeths driven my mac tubes would be a little too round, too warm, too low impact, esp with you being used to what totems do...
I think ProAc, Sonus Faber, and Spendor are all great options, and I’ll add Joseph Audio that are masters of disappearing and to my eye look great from the Pulsars on up. Verity Audio, Nola, and Rockport would be some others to look at. Best of luck.
Give Dali a listen. The Opticon 6 is a great speaker. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed musically or aesthetically.
I have Ascend Acoustic's Sierra towers with raal ribbon tweeters paired with a Vincent sv 500. This set up checks all the boxes for me and you can get them new for your budget. I don't know how much they bring used. For me they are definitely worth the money new.
The spendor and the harbeth are designed as studio monitors so the screws are functional but spendor puts the screws on the back instead of the front the screws are for any repairs needed in the field but i would look for a spendor s100 it is the big british monitor 13.5 inch three way about 90 pounds and it will outperform the other models of british monitors.
In your budget, I would audition one of Ohm's Walsh line of speakers. I think they tick off the boxes you listed in your original post. You can afford to buy new if your room isn't too big for the 2000s (my current speaker, bought over 10 years ago). Check out the room size and model guide on the Ohm web site. The looks appeal to some more than others, that's your call, of course, but IMHO, the value preposition is off the charts.
I have Monitor Audio Gold 100 bookshelf speakers and absolutely love them, beautiful airy highs from the ribbon tweeters, great midrange and bass so deep and tight I removed my subwoofer from the system. Keep in mind that mine is in a smallish bedroom set-up, though well treated, too. Sound is via a NAD M33, 200 wpc into 4 or 8 ohms. The speakers are 4 ohm and the M33 can drive them to levels well over what anyone would sanely listen too. I was so taken by the MA’s that I bought their silver line 100’s for my living room set-up, both right and left, as well as a center channel. A bigger room might call for floorstanders. They come up occasionally here and on US Audio Mart.
Suggest you audition planar speakers. Different sound, but can deliver what you say you want.
I would add a new KEF LS50 Meta to your list. I personally own them and love them for the all characteristics you are looking for. Easy to audition (e.g. Crutchfield 60 day return policy) and easy to resell. They are more neutral in balance than your totems, but I think would pair well with your warm McIntosh.
Another one that I can recommend from personal experience is the GoldenEar BRX. While I personally like the LS50 more and think it is a better overall speaker, the BRX has a beautiful, immediate, and addicting upper midrange/treble that some might fall in love with. The bass it produces is also different in energy and slam than the KEFs (passive radiators vs reflex).
Appreciate all the options mentioned. I think of all the suggestions the Dynaudio special 40 may be the most appealing to me. Some of the speakers mentioned which I’m sure are potentially great I just won’t invest in do to the companies style of business. I truly hate when a company makes a line up where they simply increase the cabinet size and the woofer size or quantity as you go up the line. Generally they turn there whole line over every 3-5 years. I find it very difficult to believe these companies provide the most musically tuned speakers. The exception being when they actually take the time to develop a particular speaker such as the special 40 or the ls50. It seems when they do this they often have smashing success. If they would only do it more. Although I think the KEF is a great speaker it isn’t quite what I’m looking for. Maybe for lack of a better word a bit sterile to me.
I really wish Harbeth would attempt to make a “modern” speaker. I would definitely be a buyer. The explanation that the screws were for on site repairs as studio monitors I find pretty amusing. I can only imagine how many Harbeths are actually in duty as mobile recording monitors. Too funny really. Very ironic to me that the official “pipe and slipper speakers” need to have 20 exposed screws for on site repairs. I suppose Harbeth tech support is some guy in mechanic outfit that shows up to your house with a giant tool truck. Anyways I’ll quit ranting.
Ohm also is very intriguing to me but I’m not sure about the look. From what I’ve read I truly could love how they sound. Unfortunately my setup is in the living room and has to meet the wife’s as well as my taste. I’ll have to check them out more and see if I can adjust to there different look.
Anyways thanks and keep them coming.
There is an award-winning speaker designer and manufacturer in my hometown of Kingsport, Tennessee, that has been in business since 1958: WATKINS STEREO & LOUDSPEAKERS. Their newest speaker, the Watkins Generation Four, received The Absolute Sound's "2017 Golden Ear Award" and their "2021, 2020, 2019,& 2018 Editors' Choice Awards". From a review in The Absolute Sound:
"Had I auditioned the Gen Four blind behind a curtain and had to judge its value in the hierarchy of high-end audio I would have been happy to recommend it even at a price tag of $7k. Its asking price at a fraction of that is partly due to the direct sales model—there is no dealer markup. It simply sounds like a much more expensive speaker. And I should add that the Gen Four felt comfortable in the company of far more expensive components in the price range of $15k and upward."
In addition, the Watkins WE-1 loudspeaker was chosen as editor's choice by Stereophile Magazine. Owners of several U.S. patents on loudspeakers, Bill Watson designed the "Infinity-Watkins Dual Drive Woofers", renowned for their ability to reproduce low bass.
They sell them Factory Direct for $2,495.00 a pair.
OP, have you heard the Metas?
Have not heard the Metas. Not much a fan of the KEF dealer that’s is close to me.
Dynaudio or the Martin Logan motion 40 or 60’s
If you are using stand mounts the new series Elac Vela 403 loudspeakers from Germany have excellent balance look on YouTube
the latest Jet 5 AMT tweeter is Very good is built in house as well as their sandwich paper aluminum ,mid -woofer looks very good and sounds very natural, and for its size excellent bass .40 Hz - 50khz which is better the most,
and has a very wide dispersion pattern and a down firing port built into the raised angled bottom of the speaker. the drivers are first rate very robust and for $2500 retail competes with speakers of much higher cost.
Given what you’ve said about Totem, Spendor, Dynaudio and some other comments about price range, imaging, disappearing, and midrange, you might seriously consider either Fritz’s Carbon 7 line or his Carrera line. They hover above and below the 3k mark. I spent about 6 months with the Carbons
and 3 with the Carreras
, and found them excellent. I’ve heard the Dyn 40s and, to my ear, they’re very good but not as warm and simple/honest a sound as the Fritz. I’ve not heard the larger spendor towers mentioned, but I’ve heard the smaller A series and the Fritz are much better for imaging and bass. I’ve also heard the Dali mentioned and, again, Fritz is much better in those same aspects. One value added element about the Fritz, too, is that he’s a small, US based maker, whereas the Dalis, Spendors, Dyns all have to cross the ocean to get here. Fritz will discuss trial with you, too.
Given the stated criteria, I find it curious that Revel hasn't been mentioned until now. I run a MAC amp and have recently done serious seat-time with 18 different pairs of speakers searching for a replacement over my old trusty Paradigm, another name to consider. I went with Revel. Good Luck!
Take yourself to a Magnepan dealer and LISTEN to them. THEN, take some home and listen IN YOUR ROOM. If they do not produce accurate reproduced music based on your source material, do not buy them as they are not for everyone.
All boxes, horns, etc., have issues with distorting the sound and changing the experience for the listener. Maggies, set up correctly and driven by quality gear, do not.
Don't take my word for it. Put them next to any other speaker and pick the one you like best IN YOUR ROOM.
my suggestion to consider only speakers with midrange driver. two way is short cut and cannot produce reality life full body sound
Magnepan 1.7i's. Great value. Highly rated.
I was considering a Fyne speaker. The ones I heard was very good and there are many models to choose from.
You are truly describing Audio Physic with what you’re looking for. For WELL below your spending limit you can get a pair of Audio Physic Virgo II (get the I’s or II’s, but nothing newer than that, just not as good).
@bache I think you might want to qualify your post as your opinion, perhaps based on your own experience. In my own experience, I have heard two way speakers that were fantastic (Ohm, Roman Audio, German Physics, others), and three or more way speakers that were unlistenable. Speaker design is both an art and a science.
@bondmanp one hand you right , the good design 2 way may be better than some 3 way, i cannot explain all in my post , but you know that ALL truly audiophile expensive speaker is 3 way design , we design LS based on wide range driver with no crossover ( produce exellent midrange)
I think you would like the SALK line. Very accurate sound with great drivers and cabinets.
salks and fritz speakers have excellent reputations and loyal followings, am sure they are excellent (in fact frank van alstine runs salks in his main system - if they are good enough for frank to voice his gear, they are no doubt great sounding and also basically pretty neutral)
@hilde45 -- i have been curious about fritz’s speakers, haven't tried em yet ... how would you describe the sound of the carbon vs carreras? (and iirc you had harbeth c7’s as well, yes?)
as for the statement about all great high end speakers being 3-ways... well, i’ll be nice... let’s just say it ain’t so...🥱
@larry5729 I certainly agree that Salks are excellent -- I own some. The only thing that prompted me to suggest Fritz was the OP detail about "up to 3k." I think Fritz is hard to beat in that range because his finishing process is simpler than jim's and Jim's take a long time to have made.
Fritz Carbon are a very natural great speaker. You probably won’t find them used though. Harbeth 30.1 is the next choice.
Dynaudio for sure. I would compare the Evoke, Special 40 and Heritage, used Contours too.
Hilde5 I never heard of Fritz speakers. What do you think of the Focal 948 Aria’s? I like the detail but thought they lacked bass. I wonder what they would sound like with a pair of RELL S2’s? I have a pair of Paradigm Prestigue with a pair of REL S2’s and I am not pleased with the higher frequency detail. Wish I was rich and had a wife that would allow me to upgrade. Wives are the gate keepers. Seems like many like me make mistakes with their first system and they end up correcting their mistakes. Do you own Fritz speakers? Where do you live? Are you a dealer! Nice to hear from you.
@brylandgoodman - I understand the aversion to "sterile." I tried the Benchmark LA4 preamp, and hated it. However, I find the KEFs to be very transparent, stepping out of the way, revealing the signature of your front end gear. I asked if you'd heard them because I think you'd be surprised - I'd actually agree with HR's adjectives describing them (the original ls50s actually) "lush, überclear, and corporeal" - I don't find them sterile at all. Anyway, I'll shut up now. All the best in your search!
I see a lot of brands mentioned that are capable of producing a great sound. Off the list for me would be KEF, Only like the HL5 from Harbeth-And it would not cost a penny for Harbeth to use screws that match the face. If the grills are meant to stay on then build them that way!
Mr. Bry, did you mention your amp? Synergy counts more than the difference between your brand choices.
@larry I’m not a dealer, I’m a teacher. I live in Denver. Don’t own Fritz, only Salk.
Amp is McIntosh MC302.
These Fritz speakers are interesting. I wish the did a little more with the cabinets. Even a bevel or rolled edge I think would go a long ways. Does anyone know what goes into one of their designs? Are they simply a company who sources very good drivers and fits them with suitable crossovers and cabinets, or is the designer known to have a good ear and spends considerable time. I guess I need to read some reviews.
Also what’s people take on P3esr filling a medium sized room? Basically if they could play safely as loud as my Totem Rainmakers then they may be all I need. I find they look much more tolerable than the larger models. I can also find them in black which goes a long ways to hiding the screws a bit. I am also limited in how far I can bring the speakers off the front wall. With the Rainmakers about 15 inches. Side walls are about 10 feet away which helps a lot.
To be specific the room is 11ft by 22ft with a 5ft opening into a short hall that leads to the kitchen. The speakers are in the middle of the long wall.
Fritz uses extremely high quality drivers in unique crossovers which are often the best of show or nearly the best.
For 2-way speakers you simply cannot find a better value, and often can't find better performing speakers. The Scanspeak models are also exceptional for the sheer amount of bass they can produce in relatively small speakers. Outstanding.
Fritz is close to a one man operation, and he's been doing speakers for 40 years. He has a great ear and uses excellent parts. He's very easy to talk to and does not hard sell. If you call him and ask him questions, he'll answer honestly. He knows what works with his speakers in terms of amplification, too.
In my opinion, the recommendations you've gotten here are all excellent. You're considering truly excellent speakers. If I were in your place, the question which would be foremost in my mind (after getting close to the sonic type of speaker you want) is, "What can I audition and at what cost for trial?" Because I really think you need to try things in your space and see what turns you on.
Crutchfield has an excellent try and return policy, but they don't carry some of the speakers mentioned here. They do carry Dynaudio and Revel and other good brands (Martin Logan, Wharfedale, and more). Safe and Sound and Music Direct also have return policies, but I believe shipping will cost you more.
"room is 11ft by 22ft"
it sounds like bookshelf speakers... I had both Monitor Audio and Dynaudio and ended up going for Dynaudio.
Monitor is much more precise, neutral, Dynaudio is harsh and sweet, a bit worse timing but more personal, irresistible
I went through the same thing recently. I loved the sound of my system and just wanted to change it up a bit. I picked up a Willsenton R8 tube amp. It’s got the option to swap from Triode to ultra linear, and is compatible with multiple power tube types (el34, 6550, KT88). I haven’t tried tube rolling yet, but it’s fun comparing the tubes to my SS amp (Simaudio W3). Keep your gear, just add a tube amp for some color, maybe one that can use EL34s for the midrange you seek.
allenf196338 posts03-07-2021 12:16amThere is an award-winning speaker designer and manufacturer in my hometown of Kingsport, Tennessee, that has been in business since 1958: WATKINS STEREO & LOUDSPEAKERS. Their newest speaker, the Watkins Generation Four, received The Absolute Sound's "2017 Golden Ear Award" and their "2021, 2020, 2019,& 2018 Editors' Choice Awards".
I know, right?!!! I bought the Watkins Generation Four speakers and listen to them almost everyday! I am an avid vinyl enthusiast (with an ever growing collection...but that is another story.) Quality craftsmanship and design that Watkins has been known for since they came on the scene ages ago with the Watkins Dual Drive woofer for Infinity's high end speakers. You can Google to read more about them. Or go to their site http://www.watkinsstereo.com/
I auditioned them at their store in Kingsport, TN...nice guys.