Speakers around 20k

Since Jan02, I have listened four speakers around 20k (+/- 5k) mark. Here is my (very) subjective ranking :

1. Snell XA reference
2. Revel Salon
3. B&W 800N
4. Amati Homage

The amps were Brystone 3B-ST (Snell), ML335 (Revel & Amati), Burmester ?? (B&W).

The best room (IMHO) was Amati, worst: the Snell (!).

I think anyone shopping in this price range HAS to listen to Snell.

Drawbacks of the Snell? They are BIIIIIG !!!!!
Ikarus -

Thanks for your post - if I may ask, what was it about the Snell that separated it from the pack? Was it better timbre (natural sound & texture of voices & instruments), articulation (where you can easily pick out and follow a single voice or instrument), soundstaging, bass, dynamics, coherence, freedom from boxiness, or something else?

I fell in love with the Snell Type A's many years ago, but then the company seemed to go in a more mass-market direction, and frankly I haven't heard a Snell speaker in years. Since I have some familiarity with some of the other speakers you auditioned, I'd be quite interested in finding out what, in particular, made the new Snell stand out to you.

Best of luck to you in your quest!
Audiokinesis: I have difficulty putting into words what seperated Snell from the pack.

I guess I can say it is the totality of presentation. I have listened, among others, to solo voice (Rebecca Pidgeon - Spanish Harlem), got goose bumps. To Matheny & Haden, discovered how far down an acoustic bass can go; heard how fast & articulate it can be.

I listened to orchestral work and could pin-point location of groups of instruments in total coherance.

I could move around the room without any loss of imaging or detail.

... Music, Snell and me - I'm happy.

(Adsal, do you recognize the poem ?)

Audiokinesis, I read your postings re Soundlab U1/A1/M1. Do you know where I can listen to them in NYC or CT ? Soundlab did not return my e-mail.

One last word about the dealers. I have read some postings here complaining about the 'arrogance' of dealers. Auditioning these four speakers was a delightful experience. ALL dealers were very plesant and helpful. One even opened his shop just for me (never bought anything from him up to now) on a Sunday, others just showed the equipment and left me alone to listen - never interrupting and/or pushing one or the other equipment. I want to thank them all.
That's great what you said about dealers but I wonder if you could go back again without buying anything
Try Legacy's Focus (only $6,000), however, to my ears they are as good as 2, 3, and 4 listed above and you save $14,000 for that reference amp and preamp you will need to drive these beauties!
Von Schweikert VR 7's
Abruce - I did not buy anything. In fact, this is the first time I have been to two of the four dealers.

Acuujim - Actually I like VSR. I think I'm one of the first who bought a VR-4. I wanted to upgrade them to gen II, but, they were out-of-biz for a while (I think a flood). Then they run to financial difficulties (it is a while now - I don't remember). So, I sold them. Although there are no guarantees (see Genesis), above a price range, I would prefere a financially stable company. However, I don't know how VSR is doing nowadays.

Timo - Tks. I might give it a listen.
the newest model Piega may be a excellent choice.

Thanks for putting your impression of the Snells into words. You've done an excellent job of conveying a sense of what their presentation is like. "Goosebumps" is very descriptive - I think I'd like the Snells, too.

I was recently introduced to the local Snell distributor, and your evaluation makes me inclined to take the line seriously.

To the best of my knowledge there are no Sound Lab dealers near you, so I've contacted a Sound Lab owner (one of my customers) in your neck of the woods who would be happy to have you come over for a listen. I'll e-mail you with his contact information.

Best wishes,

The latest issue of TAS contained a nearly rave review by Tony Cordesman of the $15,000 Legacy Whispers. Cordesman compared them to his $30,000 Dynaudios, and said it was virtually a dead heat between the 2 speakers (despite a 2-to-1 price difference). I haven't heard the Legacy Whispers, but Legacy has recently established a group of dealers, so you might want to check them out. Here is the Web link:

Bill Dudleston, the owner-designer for Legacy, has developed a commendable reputation for his speakers. In the past, he sold his speakers via Internet, but the dealer network was apparently necessary to find a market for his more expensive models.

If I had $15-20K to spend on speakers, I'd certainly add the Legacy Whispers to my short list. The Whsipers, as is true of the Legacy product line, are very efficient -- around 94-96 db, as I recall. They can hence be used with virtually any kind of amplifier on the market and still produce high sound pressure levels.

(P.S. For those who are interested in speakers, and speaker design, I suggest you take a look at Legacy's Web site. It has some interesting info. You can use the link above to get to the Legacy Web site, and then navigate from there.)