Speaker upgrade help needed: 4500$ used

Like you all I have the upgrade itch and have decided that the speakers are what I want to change out next.

1. My goal is the most holographic soundstage and best imaging I can afford at this price range
2. I have no preference between bookshelf and tower speakers
3. I have no bass requirements as I currently live in an apartment and wouldn't want the bass to annoy the neighbors anyway!
4. Resale value and demand is very important, so rare/old models or companies that come out with new versions/revisions each year are out of the question.
5. My next speaker upgrade probably wont be for 2-5 years
6. Appearence isn't important, although I'd like to keep a reasonable footprint for the speakers
7. This is for a 2 channel only system

My current system:
Tyler Reference Monitors
Plinius 8200 mkII integrated
Muse model 9 Sig version 4 (cdp)
Ridge Street MSE gII interconnect
Harmonic Tech ProAC-11 powercord
Signal Audio biwire shotgun speaker cable

Current room is 14x18, but I do consulting work and move every year or two (so not shopping for room specific speakers!)

The cd's I've been playing a lot of lately:
Cyndi Lauper - At Last
Patricia Barber - Cafe Blue
Cowboy Junkies - Trinity Sessions
Paul Simon - Graceland
Peter, Paul & Mary - 1st LP
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
Steely Dan - 2 Against Nature
Laureena McKennit - The Visit
Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac and Rumors

I have enjoyed the Tylers. They are my first step into home audio unless you count NHT SuperTwos. The Tylers were an ENORMOUS step-up from them in terms of clarity, seperation, imaging and soundstage. However, they dont get me to the toe tapping, emersed in the music state that I am looking for eventually.

My ear and audio vocabulary isn't at a point where I could say what I would like to improve upon or what in particular I'm looking for.

Speakers I'm considering:
B&W N 803
SF Electa Amator II
Merlin VSM-M
Aerial 10T
Von Schweikert VR4 JR
Martin Logan Request

any of these stand out above the rest?
any to remove? other recommendations?

Thanks for any help!
You should consider Totem Acoustic either Mani2 Signature (Monitor)or Wind (Floor Stand). I'm current using and quite sastify with the soundstage.
I'd go with a used pair of Magnepan 3.6 speakers and save
yourself $1000.

Set up with excellent electronics and a good front end,
they will compete with anything below $10,000 a pair.
I've heard several iterations of the Wilson WATT/Puppies
and IMHO the Magnepans are better.
Magnapan 3.6 sounds like what you're looking for. Use the extra grand to buy the new B&W PV1 cicular subwoofer. I had the pleasure of listening to this combo and it leaves very little on the table.


I think you should give Vienna Acoustic Beethoven a try. I owned a pair of Beethoven almost three years and still loving it. I listen to a lot of jazz...Diana Krall..Patricia Barber, Mile Davis...!!!!
another vote for magnepans. Awesome with image and soundstage, and most of all a great value. They are not a "small footprint" however.
You can easily accomplish what you want at that price range.

Given that "holographic soundstaging and best imaging" are at the top of your list, then a first-order crossover speaker or a single full-range driver speaker are the most promising approaches. To the best of my knowledge, none of the speakers on your list use first-order crossovers.

Green Mountain Audio, Theil, Vandersteen, and Meadowlark come to mind among multi-way loudspeakers. I don't think full-range single-driver speakers are likely to work well with your amplifier; they tend to prefer SET or OTL amps. If an amplifier change is feasible, then your possibilities include Rethm, Omega, Cain & Cain, Lowther, and Supravox among others. Green Mountain Audio would be my suggestion among the multi-way speakers (yes I sell 'em), and the Supravox 8" field coil driver would be my suggestion among the full-rangers (nope, I sell Omega instead). InnerSound electrostatic hybrids also image extremely well (nope, don't sell those either). There is a tradeoff relationship between wide sweet spot and superb imaging, and most of the speakers I've suggested here trade off sweet spot width for best possible imaging.

Best of luck to you,

Silverline Sonata 3 used if you can find them. I listened to them at CES 2005 and they were AWESOME.

The list was around 7000 if I remember correctly. They were ahead of the VS 4Jr, Usher 6311, Gallo Ref 3s, Green Mountain Callistos and a host of other very worthy contenders.

After that-- yep-- Magnepan 3.6s would be a great choice too.
All good choices.I vote for the Merlins,they have soooo many positives,good luck,Bob
The new Gallo's are toe tappers with the soundstage and imaging you are looking for. Better yet they are below your target price new. A friend has these and they are very good.
With the music you have listed, and with very deep bass not being a primary concern, and with wanting a holographic soundstage and imaging, you would be a very happy camper with ReQuests I'll bet .

I still enjoy mine and have no plans to upgrade other than to get the gen 2 panel at some point. They are great speakers for the money and I think you are looking at more like 2200-2500 for ReQuests in the used market.

Don't know if they will hold value as you wish.

Have Fun
Check out the Reimer Tetons, my friend, they will make you smile, big time. Email me.

Yeah Maggie 3.6 are nice but don't be fooled by their "low" price -- they are much more expensive when you factor in the high-buck electronics that they demand like a spoiled child. They will punish you severely for any mediocre or second-tier equipment you put before them.

Read the reviews carefully and note the equipment used. Plus they will dominate your apartment unless you are The Donald.

I owned them, no, scratch that, THEY owned ME for 3 years. I had about $10K (retail) in cables, cdp, pre and amp in front of them and they didn't like that. My (box) speakers now (no I am not selling or shilling for them) are revealing but forgiving at the same time. The Maggies were both the best and the worst piece of audio equipment I ever bought.

They also did not sound too good at low or high volumes but that may have been my pauper's equipment.

If you can afford the primo gear to feed them and don't mind the look then run, don't walk to buy them.
Thiel loudspeakers are the most with equipment like yours. They completely disappear with some of the best digital. They have the widest and deepest soundstage that I have ever heard. You want to stick to models from the 2.3 and up. The 6 and (5i older model) and 7.2 are certainly magical and musical. Good equipment is not wasted on this speaker at all. Lots of space is required to sound natural. My current setup is:

Sony SCD-1, Theta Gen VA, Pass Labs x-2 , X-350, Thiel 2.3’s Harm Tech Pro Silway II, Pro-9, Audience Power Chords.

I also have to worry about my room measures 12 x 15 x 10 a non dedicated or closed listening room. I am using Jon Risch DIY acoustic panels (on the three(3) 1st reflection points and six(6) smaller panels on the front wall; these have made the greatest impact on sound stage depth. I also use 4 Jon Risch quick & dirty DIY bass traps. All of my materials cost less than $75.00. No tools involved. The Jon Risch DIY acoustics far exceed my expectations. Jon Risch is on the Audio Asylum. Under the Tweakers/DIY Asylum.

Enjoy, Dave
If you are after a holographic soundstage, IMO you are barking up the wrong tree to focus on speakers. The Plinius is not goin to yield that no matter what speeakers you pair off with it. I would recommend you go out an listen to a few tube-based systems if you are after a holographic soundstage. SET amplification would yield the most holographic soundstage. OTL would be a great candidate as well. Either may involve reconsidering both amps and speakers. Given the expense, I'd suggest you go give them a listen before taking that plunge. They would sound quite different from the SS you are used to.

I will agree with Kck in that Maggies come with a few more demands than some speakers. Placement and power have to be considered carefully. They have a large dealer network and a respected history, and don't seem hard to get rid of here. Seek them out in your area, then make your call.
I have used a Plinius 9200 with the Carolina Audio single driver (medium efficiency Jordan JX92 drivers)- very holographic, nice combination. Jordan based single driver speakers (Carolina Audio, Konus, others?) are easy to place in any medium or small room, amazing imaging/soundstaging, surprisingly accurate and coherent bass. These are the only single driver speaker I am aware of that match well with solid state.

You might also consider a system with digital room and speaker correction (DEQX, Tact). I have been using a DEQX preamp on multi-driver speakers, resulting in coherency and a holographic sound similar to single driver speakers. NHT has just introduced a DEQX-based system for about 5K that also includes the amplifiers. A set-up like that might get you a lot closer to what you are looking for than another overpriced pretty box.
Take a look at Martin Logan Ascents. They sometimes can be a bit bass light, but mids and ups are tremendous. Used pairs are well below your budget.
Hyperion HPS-938; I'm enjoying what you are trying to achieve right now :)

Thanks for the recommendations!

I've only heard planar speakers a few times and have not been fond of the sound. I suppose I should take myself to a few stores and give them another chance though since between the Maggies and ML's there has been some chatter on them!

Prior to the Plinius I was using a tubed Rogue 66/88 combo (amp/pre) and while I did like it, I would rather stick with a SS front because I use my 2ch audio system to provide sound for my projector television and would feel guilty burning through the tubes that much faster.

I'm debating upgrading my int to the Rowland Concentra as my next front end upgrade, or at the very least giving it a demo in my house.

That said, I'm going to be hitting some local stores in the Philly area tomorrow and I'll add some notes here to share how it goes.

A used pair of SF Cremonas is high on my list and are in your price range.
A little weak in the bass area so it fits your requirements for apartmrnt living.
I imagine they would be easy to re-sell later on.
I second the Merlins...

Happy Merlin VSM-MM owner.
I recently listened to Legacy Victorias and was very impressed with the size of the soundstage and bass given the dimensions. Very smooth and well rounded. Don't require a ton of power either.
a used set of Dunlavy Athenas or Cantatas would set you back between $2500 (probalby for contatas) and $3500 for nice athenas based on audiogone prices. I was considering Aerial 10Ts and B&W 801s before i heard the athenas. The Athena smoked those speakers and held their own quite well agaist a set of Revel salons (smoked the REvel F-30s as well)that were in a reverence system i was using for comparison at the shop with the Aerials. I paid $4600 for mine and thought i stole them, still do even though the price dove when Dunlavy closed up shop.
Yeah, I have wanted to hear those Dunlavy speakers for a while but dont know where I could go to get a listen! (I'm in the philly area)

Anyway, I just got back from a dealer and heard the Maggie 3.6s and they did sound very nice. Much better than I thought they would, but then I went to the room next door and heard the Revel F50's.
There really wasn't any comparison, with very similar gear the F50's were better in just about every regard. And they are the exact same price (actually Revels are about 300$ less! (new))

I'll go and hear another set of 3.6's before everyone chimes in that the room, dealer, my ears or gear must have sucked (I can hear the voices already saying that!)
Hey all, I've been out of the loop for a little while as my living arrangements have been in flux!

Finally found a place to live and will be back on the hunt for a set of speakers. My budget has increased by 1500$ up to the 6000$ range (used) so if there are any other speakers I should take a listen to please let me know! I'm going to go back for another listen on those Maggies for sure:)

I bought the Cremonas but like my B&W805-Sigs better.
Get the 805s Geoff.

Plenty of low end without driving the neighbors too crazy.
Hi Geoff:

Two items in this thread have caught my attention...(1) I listen to a lot of Steely Dan (2) The manufacturer of my Meadowlark Blue Heron's voiced their speakers around Patria Barber recordings.

I mention this because I may be selling my Blue Herons and will be asking right around the $4500 price.

If you have any interest, I can send you the spec info, reviews and pictures of my speakers.

Please do not take this as though I am trying to push a sale, just wanted to mention that I have a great speaker that is a good match to your requirements, even considering your increased budget.

If not interest, no problem & good luck with your search.

Please let me know if you have any interest or questions.


Sorry Guys...that was meant to be an email, not a post on the thread.
Jeff I heard the 804 Sigs and thought the Maggies beat them pretty well.

Barrel, the fact that Blue Heron is out of business is a turnoff, sorry!

Still hunting!
With up to $6000 you have a near infinite amount of options. None of us can tell you what speaker will be your magic ticket. Everyone has their own opinion. The blanket "Maggies are what you want" statements are inaccurate and misleading. Yes, they can make an extremely holographic soundstage - but any planar speaker has serious issues that you need to decide whether or not you can life with, ie. disproportionate images, less-then-punchy dynamics relative to a box, non-setup-friendly, etc.

The above comment that "get tubes instead" is also misleading and inaccurate. As per your experiences, tubes have their pros and cons, but your plinius is a good amp, and is certainly capable of stellar soundstaging. 99% of soundstage comes from the speakers and their interaction with the room's acoustics.

You list some fine choices in your original post, all of which some will swear by. Except the B&Ws. LOL just kidding. Really, the best advice any of us can give you is to try and hear as many different speakers as you can, and don't put too much faith in what other people say "this is what you want".
Look into used Innersound Eros, I like Maggies also, but they sound like a bedsheet is over them compared to the Innersound's
P.S. Innersound's downfall is it is a one person only speaker (very small sweet spot)
go with infinity! none sound beter. look for irs sigma's they are in your price range.
Infinity Rennaisance 90's. They are beautiful and have all of the attributes you seek.
Our musical tastes are similar and you could pick up a used pair of Merlins and have plenty of $ left with your new budget to put into your new front end. Give bobby at Merlin a call. He will tell you if your electronics (current/proposed) will work well with his speakers. I also liked the Hyperions very much when I heard them in NYC last spring. A larger footprint than the Merlins to be sure, but I thought that their sound was excellent (esp. with the Hyperion tube amps).
would have to agree with Mitch4t i also own renaissance 90's. they are extremely revealing and sound excellent. i just noticed the sigma's in the classified's here on agon. good luck with the decision making.
You should consider a used pair of Meadowlark Blue Heron II's. They can be had right now for $4500 used in Audiogon, and have $900 tweeters, let alone the rest of the Scanspeak midrange and dual woofers. That is why they were $12k new. The cost of the drivers plus solid wood cabinetry in the front and top make these a great buy. The fact that Meadowlark is out of business just makes them a better buy. I have never had a pair of speakers break in 30 years (don't ask about my CD players or amps! That is where you do the repairs!), and the drivers are all readily available. If an internal part were to go, any decent stereo shop could fix em.
Of course, they are heavy, so if you are moving a lot, this could be a pain. But even at low volume levels, I am getting very satisfying listening.
For 2800 new you can get a pair of Zu Druids. They throw a huge soundstage & bass goes down to 35-40Hz. They are 101db sensitive and will work with small tube amps & up to 300 watt solid state amps.

Here is the review from 6moons http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/zu/druid_5.html
It's been 2 months since the last post and I have been extremely interested in this thread and have been watching it closely, as my goals and requirements are almost identical to yours. So I really would like to know what you settle on and what your impressions are.
I have been in the Maggie camp previously, then the Eminent Technology camp, and long ago in the Vandersteen camp. Now, I'm blazing a new trail for myself with Chapman T-7's, and soon to be purchased T-77's. You won't find much on the net about them (but look at my system pics), but there is a loyal following on the West coast where they're made. Call Stuart (Chapman) Jones and he'll tell you all about them.
Serious quality and fabulous sound. Stuart's phone number is: 206-463-3008
Geoffgarcia and Studioray:

You may want to take a quick glance at the review I posted on the Intuitive Design Summit loudspeakers. I am exactly in the position that Geoffgarcia describes wanting to be in with respect to sonic satisfaction, perhaps beyond. Just a thought.
Actually I did make a decision!
I took a new job in Sept which has kept me working very hard and my mind just hasn't been into audio enough to go on audition after audition and keep that process organized and progressing.

SO! based on reading reviews and my room needs I decided to go with a set of Audio Physic Virgo II's (which I hadn't heard before!).

My room is roughly 15x13 and has almost no furniture except a couch for listening. I use a project television so there is nothing else on the speaker side of the room.

Since the Virgos are not a bi-wire set I also had to get rid of my signal cable bi-wire and upgrade to Analysis Plus Oval 9 cables.

I set the speakers up according to the Audio Physics guidelines (50% into the room, 25% away from side walls). The speakers sound great and are an obvious improvement (to myself and my friends) over the Tyler Ref Monitors.

If Virgos were to get a perfect 100 score then I would rank the Tylers at a 65 and my previous system (NHT Model 2's + receiver) a 5.
The sound of the Maggies was different no doubt. Some songs that sounded great on them don't sound very good on the Virgos, and vice versa. However I don't want to give the maggies a score as I'm not familiar enough with them to do that.

Given my room situation and desire for a less ominous speaker I think I made the right choice. Whether the Virgo's really are a better speaker than the Maggies is hard for me to say since I only had a short listening experience with the Maggies and that was so long ago. As I upgrade my ear has been getting more refined, so perhaps the next time I hear the Maggies I'll be able to see what areas they are better/worse than the Virgos. But compared to the Tylers I can say the the Virgo II's beat them in every way shape and form and if I had known what a huge improvement this was going to have been then I would have upgraded much sooner.

AP Virgos are a great speaker, from what I've heard. Congratulations on being satisfied with your choice! Have fun listening.