Speaker upgrade itch Opinions 2500$used

Hello all and happy new year!!!

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 is important, so very rare brands are out
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

Currently the only speakers on my list to audition are Audio Physics Virgo IIs so all other suggestions are appreciated!

Some info about my tastes:

My current system:
Tyler Reference Monitors
Rogue Audio Magnum 66/88 (pre/amp)
CAL CL15 (cdp)
Transparent Audio MusicLink Plus Interconnects
PS Labs Lab2 powercord on cdp
Harmonic Tech ProAC-11 powercord on amp
(no special room treatments)

Current room is 14x18, but will be moving again in 7 months, so who knows what next (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
Based on your list of what is important to you, I would suggest looking at Martin Logan electrostat's. If you like a big soundstage, it's hard to beat the "wall of sound" that they produce, and a lot of guys swear it doesn't get any better than tubes driving stat's (I use a Class A SS amp on mine).

In particular, you might consider the ML "Ascent". These go for around $2500-2700 used. As with any big speakers, shipping can be pricey, around $300, so a local seller would make your life easier. Additionally, the "Ascent" has a 3dB attenuator that can be switched in for the woofer if you want to spare your neighbors some of the low frequency energy in your music. These speakers don't have a huge footprint, but they are tall (64").

You can check out the info on them at www.martinlogan.com

Good luck,
Mburns is right, the MLs sound great. Very 3D. Precise imaging. But like all electrostats, you better give them a listen. They arent everyones cup of tea. Also, they can dominate a room, although not deep they are tall and wide.

Using your previous generalized posts stating how bad B & W speakers are, I am left wondering if you dont like the popularity of brands or if the B & W "house sound" is to blame. If it is the latter, a few brands come to mind.

Sonus Faber make excellent sounding speakers, with a lot of the attributes you listed.

I heard some Silverline Sonatina's not long ago that were very warm sounding, but it could have been the electronics (tubes). I dont have a lot of experience with that particular model. I loved the Bolero's, but they have a neutral and precise sound, with a seemingly unlimited upper ocatve. I really like the Dynaudio Esotar tweeter, which the Bolero's use (I really like Dynaudios).

To name a couple more....Spendor and Von Schweikert come to mind.

What do you want to improve upon from your Tylers?
If you can station them at least 2 feet off the rear wall,Soliloquy 6.3 speakers would be a fine choice.They love tubes and I have heard them with Rogue gear.I purchased the 5.3 which are nice but not nearly as dynamic as the 6.3.If the speakers need be closer to the wall I would highly recommend the Meadowlark Ospreys(which I also own).I drive them with a KT-88 amps(Sonic Frontiers SFM-75 Monos)and the sound is glorious.I have also heard the JM Lab Electra 926 sound marvelous with a Rogue amp.Both pair should be available at the $2000 price range with the Electra 926 costing a bit more.
I'm not against B&W at all, I just haven't heard anything by them that was impressive (granted I've only heard their lower lines.

I have enjoyed the Tylers. They are my first step into home audio unless you count my NHT SuperTwo's, but the Tylers are an ENORMOUS step-up from them in terms of clarity, seperation, imaging and soundstage. 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.

I've listened to a few sets of electrostats and have never been impressed with them. But it has been a few years since my last listen so I will make sure to audition some again as my appreciation of music/acoustics has grown over the years.
It's all about synergy I keep saying. There are some additional tricks and a couple of qualifiers to the recommendation I have to offer. For this money -- I would throw in JMR Trentes or Offrandes. You can get either within this price range and if you go with Trentes you get to pocket some cash. They LOVE tube gear and the soundstage they give is wonderful. The trick, and I told you there would be one, is that you will get the best results using non-terminated JMR cable. This stuff was made for the speaks and does make a huge difference. Add the cost of the cable to the mix and your still at your budget range. The Offrandes come with their own stands as for the Trentes, the Magic Stands that were an option are now discontinued but good stands are not that expensive and are reported to work well. Listen to these (ones that are broken in since they take some time) and you could find a nice little synergy with the tube gear.

Sonus Faber Grand Piano Homes

Reve F-30

Monitor Audio Gold Reference 60

IMO, all of these speakers sound better than many that cost twice as much -- try to audition them before buying.
Geoff, I see. All of the recommendations I previously posted are all fine speakers no doubt. But they are all somewhat on the warm side, based loosely on my misinterpretation of your desired sonic characteristics.

I would add. Dont be so fast to discredit the MLs. They are hybrid in design, using a dynamic driver for lower octave reinforcement. I have heard several of them and they are very impressive for music. I say "for music" because I prefer the dynamics cone drivers provide, when it comes to HT applications (especially if you like high volume).

I have been looking to upgrade speakers and amp for some time now. At this time, I cant justify the expenditure for what I like/want, at least in speakers anyway.

My current favorite is a Dynaudio's S5.4, for lack of a better word, awesome. Does everything right by my ears (which are, of course, unique). They are pricey and I havent fully explored the less expensive models but, I would figure that they are capable in their respective price range as well. If you can give some a listen. Second is Silverline's Bolero and third is B & W's N802. I havent heard PMC's OB1, I seriously want to hear these. I have heard a few people rave about PMC's little DB1s.

Anywho, as you can see I prefer speakers with more upper octave information. FWIW, even though I havent heard the Tylers, I have read much about them, all of it good. I guess to sum up, a lot of choice is available to you at that price range. One good thing about A'gon is that if you buy used and dont like them you can probably sell them for close to what you have in them. I hope I have been some help.
I would have to agree that the Revel F30 would be a good choice, but will need lots of power. I was going to suggest audio physic virgo II's until I went back and reread your original post. That's what I own and I absolutely love them! I had ML electrostats for a while in an apartment and liked them but not like I appreciate the virgos. I think the biggest problem I had with the ML's was placement issues. If you have room to pull the virgos off the back wall and also away from the side walls a little, I think you will enjoy them. Plus, good reasale!
IMHO, speakers are not your issue here. You should look into possible preamp/amp and interconnect upgrade and power cord down grade in price. What speaker cables are you using?
Believe or not, all these matters.
For preamp, if you like the octal tube sound then stay with it.
For the amp, you might want to consider different type of tube amps. I personally prefer 6L6GC sound. You can also try KT90 tubes in your amp.
For source interconnect, you might want something with superior resolution and big open sound cable.
For Amp and preamp interconnect, you might want something with more weight and tight sound.
For speaker cables, you might want to look into pure silver speaker cables.
For power cords, you might want to try Chris Van Hausen's cord.

I lend my friend a whole set of interconnect and speaker cables, and power cords and it gave him eye-popping results. The transparent cable has to go. It is flat sounding compare to many cables out there ( even my home brew cables sounds way better than that.)

Be open mind and re-arrange your setup before you jump into another set of speakers. I would never switch out of my ATC SCM10s.

Just my 2 cents
Try some beat up thiel 2.3's or 2.2's
Personally, I think the weakest link in your system is your preamp. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Rogue gear, and own the 88 amp myself. But I was not much impressed with the 66 preamp.

If you like the tube warmth, I would recommend trying an Audible Illusions preamp with your setup. If you want something more toneally neutral with PRAT, can't go wrong with a BAT VK-30 (I can say from personal experience that Rogue 88 and BAT VK-30 are a great synergistic match).

Used, either preamp should be well within your budget for cable experiments =).
S23, I'm running signalCable biwire shotgun speaker cable at this time.

Thanks for all the opinions!
To be honest everyone I haven't heard enough sound improvement in upgrading electronics/cables to justify going that route any longer.

Rather than try to milk the final 3% potential out of my Tylers I would much rather take the leap with a higher quality speaker.
The reason being that I hear little difference in running my rogue 66/88 + CAL CL15 vs my Denon 1801 receiver and Pioneer dvd player (which cost roughly 1/15 the price in total)

So I'm really stuck on making this a strictly speaker upgrade.
Geoffgarcia, IMHO, I can almost 90 percent sure that speaker change will not improve much in your current setup. The Tyler Acoustics reference monitors has pretty good transparent sound. The problem lies in your system setup. If your amp source is not clean before it gets to the speakers ( that's why you can't tell much difference between your denon system) then changing speakers will definitely not help. You can either start everything from scratch or working backwards from speakers.

Just my 2 cents
is that everyone else's opinion too?
Well Geoff, I cant say. I have never heard a single piece of CAL equipment nor have I heard your model of preamp (66), or you speakers for that matter. I have nothing worthwhile to add/detract from S23Chang's opinion. Which I presume is based on the consensus that Tyler's are good performers

I can only offer tertiary opinions. Such as, I have read many good things about the Tylers. But, pointing out the obvious isnt going to help much.

I can add my opinion on another matter. Others, I am sure, will disagree. In my personal preference, I typically find that system's which have an extended high frequency spectrum throw a more 3 dimensional soundfield (holographic). However, there is a downside. Too much high frequency info can be tiresome and some recordings have just that. Again, that is just my personal preference and opinion and clearly audio isnt a "one size fits all" hobby.

I dont want to get off subject, but instead of dropping a wad on speakers right now, you might try cable tweaking. Maybe a copper-silver hybrid. Pure Note Epsilons? You could even start a thread asking what cables give great imaging and a deep 3D soundfield. You can probably buy used and resell with little loss if they dont work out.

The reason I say this, is.....The Rogue's are not bright. The Tyler's are not bright(what I have read) and the Transparent's arent either. It could be cumulative. You may, stress on may, be needing a little "sparkle" to bring out that 3D effect your looking for. And changing a cable or two is a whole lot easier than the others.

Just an idea.
If you really want to scratch the speaker itch, and still have something that mates well with a wide variety of upstream electronics, you might consider Vandy 3ASigs, used should be right about on your target price point.
I say go for the speaker upgrade.

Gotta agree with the "bright = depth" assessment. The trick for me is finding the right cables to get the brightness down to a manageable level without getting in the way of the imaging and spatial presentation. I think I've got the idea now (don't have the cables yet but am working on them) looking to put them in sequentially (budgetary issues). When I put together the system I have now I was least knowledgeable about cables and thus have a mix. That'g going to change. Still. I stand behind the JMR recommendation. IMHO they throw a stage that is behind, in-front and well beyond the edges of the speaks. This is with a variety of hashy cables some of which were really muted in the high end. What I have now gives just a hint too much brightness. Not the speaker wire mind you -- it's the other bits. I've got two digital cables in-line as well as a lot of silver running from the analog outs to the amp -- hence the sparkle. Good insight though.

Choices choices choices!!!
Well after much thinking I've down to two options:

A) continue on the speaker path and choose between:
Audio Physics Virgo II's
Silverline Sonnatina II's
ProAc 2.5
Avalon Avatar
Soliloquy 6.5

B) change out some wiring/amp/pre
most likely by a/b'ing my current rogue gear with one of the following:
VAC Avatar int
Sim i5 int
Cary SLI-80 int
CJ CAV-50 int

just wish it was easier to do home demo's with this gear!
what I inevitably end up doing for most of my testing is just buying the stuff and reselling the losing piece.
I'm just not sure if I should go with path a or b!
Fathom, its a tough balancing act for "cool" camp guys like me. I am looking to try some warm tubes in my CDP, so you never know I might be converted yet =).

Geoff, you sound alot like me, always being torn this way and that way about upgrades. Suffice it to say that, if I win the lottery, AudioGon is gonna' have a banner sales day.

Amp, speakers, amp, cable, speakers, awe crap, I think I'll just buy a nice opposite flow Wort chiller and forget about it.
Thanks for everyones opinions!

I took some of the advice and got a bunch of gear! *hahah*

I opted to move away from the tubed gear because I wanted to be able to use my 2ch speakers in combination with my television which has no speakers (a projector)
I didn't want to put tons of hours on the tubes and wait for them to warmup..well you get the idea.

I moved over to a Plinius 8200mkII.
Sonically its not a major change to my ears. The tubes had a little more texture to the sound but nothing I can't live without at this time.

I then upgraded the CAL to a Muse 9 sig g4, which immediately was a big difference. I honestly wasn't sure I'd hear any difference, thinking maybe my ears are bad, but it was obvious, and for nearly triple the price of the CAL it should be. I was also very impressed with the sound of DVD-A. I bought a disc that I already had a regular version of, to compare with the higher sampled 2 ch DVD-A sound, and the difference is apparent. (Fleetwood Mac)

Next I upgrade my cabling. I sold out my MusicLink+ cables since I no longer needed so many (because of the move to an integrated) and I picked up a RidgeStreet Audio MSE gII.

The sound is better all around and I'm much happier!
I'm waiting for some mapleshade ampstands to arrive now so I can get the gear off of my coffee table;)
I got great deals on:
2 sets of heavy hats (weights for on top of gear)
2 sets of ultimate triple points (between platform/floor)
2 sets of isoBlocks (the under 100lb gear version, between gear and platform)
2 maple 2" thick platforms
and all for a very reasonable price! shopping around pays;)

My speaker itch continues despite all of my upgrades over the last 10 months and I'm still wanting to go out and audition.

I was just going through all the posts above and making a list of things to try to get demos of.

Audio Physics Virgos were very high on my list, last year there were 3-4 on audiogon every time I looked. Lately I haven't seen a set in about 4 months!!! so I wonder how easy they would be to resell in a few years! uh-oh!

Others on my list:
B&W N 803 (~2800 used)
Avalon Avatar (~2500 used)
SF Electa Amator II (~2600 used)
Merlin VSM-M (3200$ used)
Aerial 10T (~2500 used)
Jean Marie Reynaud Offrande (~2500 used)
Von Schweikert VR4 JR (~2500 used)
Von Schweikert VR4 III SE (~?? used)

any of these stand out above the rest?
BTW, my budget has increased up to about 3500$ used (if need be)
Hi Geoff,

I've been looking for speakers for many months now myself. I just auditioned the Merlin VSM-MM. I've listened to many nice speakers. But the Merlins were the first ones that I knew after the audition I was going to get. Soon I hope. They made beautiful music. Had amazing resolution and were smooth. I could listen for hours. Actually, I did. The build quality is second to none. They were gorgeous. You owe it to yourself to audition these. They are special. Good luck with your search.

Hi there,

I don't have a specific speaker suggestion for you, but let me tell you a bit about my speaker hunt this summer. My main criterion for a speaker is wonderful transparency, with great imaging and a large soundstage. I also like speakers with a very intimate and involving sound. I don't give a hoot about deep bass response.

I decided very quickly that monitors were the way to go. I don't think there's any floorstander on the market that can dissapear and soundstage more effectively than a pair of great monitors.

The speakers I chose were Silverline SR-15 monitors, and I love them. They're less than $1000 used, generally. If your budget is higher, than look elsewhere. But really, I think monitors are the way to go!

Just to throw out a couple of things you might want to look at: the JM Lab micro Bes are great, as are the Talon Hawks. And ask Warrenh about the Harmonic Precision Caravelles (though I haven't heard them)!

Good luck.
there are several pairs of Dunlavy SC-IVs for sale here on the fourum. They are hard to beat for $2,000.