Speaker upgrade for classical music

Hi, I need recommendations for a speaker upgrade. I’m a classical violinist and listen almost exclusively to classical, opera and jazz. No movies, Atmos, etc.  I have a 17x14 listening room (doubles as practice room) with acoustical treatments (phase coherent diffusers at main reflection points and regular ones elsewhere).
Half my listening is in stereo and half in multi-channel (4.0 and 5.1).   All my recordings are either CDs or high-res—DSD and FLAC—audio files. I don’t have a turntable. 

My current system: Marantz SR 8012 amp, Yamaha S1000 CD transport, Exasound e38 DAC and Sigma streamer (connected to the Marantz with analog 5.0 inputs). Speakers: Polk Rti A7 stereo, CSi A6 center, Rti A3 surround, and dual REL T/7i subs. 
What I want: speakers with improved musical detail and clarity that really reproduces the expansiveness of the symphony hall or church. I like a warmer sound than a drier one.  What’s most important to me is to hear what the recording engineer heard. Budget: say 8k or less.

Recommendations?  One other thing: Can I try them out?  And how?  I’m in Santa Fe, not a huge metropolis with lots of audiophile shops. 
Thanks very much. 
I have been following this post very closely.  There are some great ideas.  So here are my thoughts for what it is worth.  Since you already have floor standing speakers for your front speakers, I would be looking at Vienna Accustics Beethovens.  I had a pair of these in the past and loved them.  Very articulate, and detailed.  Smooth high frequency, balanced midrange, and perfect bass. Very much like you would experience in a concert hall.

I also agree that Magnepans are an excellent choice.  Very detailed as well. Great for classical music.  They also require a powerful amplifier due to the fact that they are electrostats.  Maggies tend to have a sweet spot.  You have to do a lot of speaker placements to find the ideal spot.  Once you find that spot you will fall in love with the sound.

If you are thinking of bookshelf speakers, I recommend the Bowers and Wilkins  805 D3.  I currently own a pair of these speakers.  Great  articulation and detail a little lite on the bass, which can be enhanced by a subwoofer.  It is very important that you have good quality cables throughout your system.  Pays off in spades. By the way the B&W speakers run $6,000 a pair.  A little pricey, but worth every penny. 

Harbeths are another good choice for a bookshelf style speaker.  Great sound.  They do look a little rustic, but sound fantastic.  Highly recommended.   Good luck on your search for your next speakers. 


One word: Vandersteen. The best, most consistently pleasing sound I’ve yet heard from multi-driver speakers came from Vandersteen.

Agreed, but I’m biased. I listen to classical a lot, and my 2CE Sigs are wonderful for classical, and other musical genres as well. Great tone, which I think is the most important for classical, full body/range sound, not bright, detailed, and non-fatiguing. I listen for hours and hours at a time. Set them up correctly and wonderful soundstage. With the OP’s budget, he could also look at the Treo on the used market. That said either the 3A or new 2CE Sig 3’s are well within his budget new.
To all of you: I didn’t realize that there would be so many people with so many wonderful suggestions. Clearly Magnepans, Harbeth and Tannoys among a couple of others are the favorites. Thank you!

Some of you suggested I need to update my front end. So to that end, I’ve bought a couple of reasonably priced used Parasound Halo P7 pre and a52+ amp to start with. I know a couple of others who have really liked the combination of those with the Exasound DAC—the one I use.

Regarding speakers: I’ve decided to try out Tannoy XT-8F for stereo and center, and smaller ones for surround. Yes, yes I know, it’s Chinese-made and not the pure Tannoy sound. However, I liked the sound when I heard it nearby. (In this day of Covid, one really isn’t able to travel and try different speakers.) Would love to hear the Harbeth, Maggies and the other favorites if we ever come out of this alive.

But thanks (or maybe it should be condemnation) to @russbutton I ended up down the Linkwitz rabbit hole and got totally fascinated! I read as many of his writings as I could find and he really is a man of my mind. He tried to recreate the original sound stage and imaging and detail without the boxy sound. I haven’t read a single reviewer who didn’t love them! So I’ve also been able to find an LX521 kit for cheap and am going to put it together and see what that’s like. So  thanks @russbutton!!! I didn’t know about this guy at all. 

If I like the LX521, I’ll sell a couple of the Tannoy 8F and leave the rest for my surround and center. That way I have a fabulous stereo system and a good surround system for my multi channel music.
@andrei_nz You are not entirely correct. Evolution Acoustics speakers (MM series) are sealed box type woofers and bass amp powered but with transmission line loaded mids/highs.  The entire speaker is 93 db efficient with a 6 ohm impedance +/- 1 db, 15 degree max. phase angle, time aligned.  A 20 watt amp can drive it LOUD and clean but can take 100s of watts sa well. 

Von Schweikert speakers also don't have a woolly sound from transmission line loaded woofers, some with and some without bass amps.

EA's micro, mini 1 and mini 2, possibly with their small sub should fit the bill for you at your price point.   

@ssmaudio   The Linkwitz LX521 is intended for stereo listening.   A friend originally built his with the intention to have it sit on either side of his large screen TV set, but it seemed to me that that large flat panel interfered with his imaging.   When I heard the LX521 at the home of Siegfried Linkwitz, he was operating it strictly for 2 channel audio.   I run his older design, the Orion, and use it strictly as a 2 channel system and have my TV elsewhere in the house with a simple sound bar.

What's interesting is that the LX521 actually costs about $1000 less than the older Orion design and is more refined.  As with most engineering, design involves incremental improvements and the LX521 is a winner.

There is an on-line users group for all of the Linkwitz projects, with one sub-group dedicated to the LX521.   There is no fee to register.

I've always felt that the hardest part of building any loudspeaker was making them look good.  The LX521 will never be seen as a beautiful loudspeaker, but with some care, can be make to look acceptable.   If you haven't seen it already, there is an LX521 photo page at the Linkwitz site which will give you some ideas on what you might want to do in dealing with their appearance.  Some guys get into exotic veneers and some simply paint them.  One guy I know did a DIY project (not the LX521) and took his enclosures to an auto body paint shop, where they did a very nice paint job.  Not cheap, but it looked pretty good.  Naturally a pro paint shop could do anything you like, so that's an option most don't consider.

If I were building this project, I'd go with the miniDSP 4x10 HD DSP crossover.   Madisound includes the configuration file for the LX521.   And if you want to go even deeper into the technology, miniDSP has a calibration mike they sell for less than $100 and you can tweak the system response for your listening space.

Done properly the LX521 will result in something that nobody else will surpass, at any price.   Though Siegfried has passed away, his wife still hosts visitors to hear he LX521 at their home in Corte Madera, California.  The user group website does have a discussion thread devoted to people wanting to hear the LX521, but I don't know how active it is.

If you want to go for the amplifier spec of 8 channels at 60 wpc, the B&K AV1260 is a MOSFET amp that covers it.   12 channels at 60 wpc.  That's what I use.  I bought mine used at $500 13 years ago and it's been flawless.  There's one on EBay right now at all of $360.

One of the great blessings of multi-amplification is that it greatly simplifies the impedance load that an amp has to deal with.  No passive crossover.  All it has to do is deal with the single driver itself.  Good luck!