Speakers for Classical Music

Hello everyone,

Recently, I have listened to several speakers from low-end to high-end in order to find the best speakers of classical music. My criteria were sound clarity, sound stage, accuracy and depth. However, I was not able to locate approriate speakers to meet the above criteria. Therefore, I am seeking your advice.

What are the best speakers for classical music?

Thanks in advance.
What is your price range? Spendor is an excellent speaker for classical music. Odeon, with a horn tweeter, is also one you might give a listen to.
I listen to almost exclusivly classical music and I have tried a few speakers. I found electrostatic speakers are most suitable for that purpose. They are especially good with chamber ensembles, instrumental solos and voice. These speakers work best with tube amp and preamp. Also, the only way to reproduce classical music properly is listening to records instead of CDs. Good luck.
Classical music lovers tend to enjoy a British sound as a group. The Spendors and ATCs for example, have very nice voicing for strings and vocal. They tend not to play real loud nicely, but what they do produce is extremely musical.

Also, I've fallen in love with the Coincident Triumph, a Canadian manufacturer. I can only imagine what the floor standers are like to full stage effect. My main system floorstanders are Reference 3As and they are quite good with classical.

You've not listed models listened to or electronics coupled to these speakers. Perhaps the problem has been with electronics. Many dealers tend toward a slam approach setting the systems up to reproduce rock music well. Classical listeners oft tend toward tubes which enhance the orchestra sound. Perhaps not the most musically accurate, none the less very pleasing and that is what we are all after anyway.
Thanks for valuable advice/information.

My price range is flexible or not an issue since I could go with used one as long as it is right speaker.

In regard to models and electronics, I have listened to at so many different places with so many different equipments, and it's impossible to list them all here. However, they include: Acoustic Research, Bose, Cewin Vega?, B&W, JBL, Martin Logan, McIntosh, Tannoy, Wilson, Yamaha, Von Schweikert, Genesis, Diva, Avalon, Quintessence, German Physics, PSB, and others WITH McIntosh, Krell, Bryston, Sony ES, Pioneer, Yamaha, Accuphase, PassLab, Onkyo, Jadis, Adcom, NAD, Audio Research, Mark Levinson, and others. I think that's why I was so confused.

Your continuous advice/information would be appreciated.
It is my understanding that the majority of studios that master classical music recordings use B&W loudspeakers as their reference. I would believe that other British speaker manufacturers such as Spendor, ATC, Rogers, ProAc, and Castle are designed in a similar fashion. I have owned ProAc speakers and currently own B&W 803's. I would say that they both are able to present the majesty of the symphony while also being able to present the detail of chamber works. The B&W's sound more natural to me at this point. The ProAc's were not as fast or dynamic, but the were very enjoyable to listen to. Good Luck.
Listening to a solo singer with a guitar(ala/James Taylor..etc.) vs. a small Jazz combo vs. a full classical performance by 30+ people is a different live event. The size of the audio picture is a factor. A consideration if you are looking for that 10 rows back..dead center seat. You may want to listen to the Magnepan 1.6 and 3.6, as well as Martin Logan Sl-3 or similar models. The size of the audio picture that is provided by large dipole speakers is more in keeping with the presentation of a live classical performance.
Audio Artistry Dvoraks are hard to beat for classical music and can be had for a song (NPI).
I am currently listening through a pair of soliloquy 6.3's. Powered be a BATVK75SE amp, BATVK50SE preamp, and a Electrocompaniet EMC-1mk2 CDP. I don't know what kind of equipment you are using, but the soundstage from the 6.3's is remarkable. Very large soundstage. Great depth, and very, very smooth. Dynamics are terrific and speed is not an issue. Able to listen to them for long sessions without fatigue. I listened to speakers that were twice the money and could not believe what I was hearing, or not hearing. The other speaker that I liked was the Silverline Sonata 2, very capable. I listened to a pair of B&W 802n,s--very edgey, don't think I could listen to them for a long period of time. Let your ears make the choice, after listening to speakers hooked up to your system!! Audio Physic's is supposed to come out with a new Virgo that I am interested in listening to--supposed to be available in the next week or so my local dealer says. Good luck.
Joseph Audio's RM33Si- Accurate & can be driven by tube amps.
You should try REVEL ULTIMA GEM, Studio, Salon, System (GEM's with a SUB).
The very best when fed by a tube amp. Didn't find anything better for classical. I am a conductor.
Good luck!
Amongst speakers I have heard: Soundlabs, certain Genesis models, older Quads (not full-range speakers though), Sonus Faber (big models), the big Utopias, big Revels and big Avalons, big Kharma, Audioexklusiv 6 (can use a sub), Living Voice (horns), big Tannoys, the new B&W 800... my list is long & by NO means exhaustive.
Smaller, but good performers, are to be had from Spendor, Harbeth and other English products, evolutions of the BBC "school".

In a similar vein, and while speakers may well wish to play classical, it's the ELECTRONICS that have usually let *me* down. So, IMHO, identifying the "right" (for you) pre & power is critical!
I agree with the "British sound" being a good way to go. I am very happy with my B&Ws.
Even listening to classical music there is a significant amount of personal preference that goes into your decision. While we can give you advice, you really have to hear the speaker for yourself. I have listened to classical music on so many systems, many of which I did not like, but that doesn't mean that someone else would not like them.

My criteria is similar to yours, but there are a few other things to consider. One is dynamics. You didn't mention this, and perhaps it's not terribly important to you. Classical can be very dynamic, but if you listen to mostly chamber music, then that really isn't an issue. Another critical area is bass reproduction. While you didn't mention this, I think this is probably important, because you did mention soundstage. I find that you really need good bottom end detail to establish a context for the soundstage (a place for the other instruments to exist).
Lastly, you should consider, where you want to sit to listen to the orchestra. I don't mean in your living room, I mean in the concert hall. Do you want to be in row A? I don't. And I've heard some very highly regarded systems that put me in row A (or maybe I was in the viola section). It was too close to the instruments and I didn't like it at all. I prefer to be in row K. (I still can't get those tickets for the Baltimore Symphony--but I can in my listening room).

Now I can only offer you some advice as to what I've listened to (a small subset). I have listened to older Klipsch (La Scala's and K-horns). Very dynamic and excellent tonal accuracy. Significant problems are limited frequency range, poor soundstage, poor depth. These would not meet your criteria.

B&W 801 Nautilus. These are very good. In my opinion these are extremely well rounded speakers. Great dynamics, good bass, good imaging, good soundstage. Not the best on depth--low level articulation is lacking a little bit.

Revel Salons. I really liked these. They have great depth, articulation, soundstage, bass. The only thing I have to caution you on here is that I only listened to these for a few hours, but was very impressed. I think if I were in the market for speakers I would spend a lot more time listening to these.

Martin Logan Monoliths. I own these, so I'm most familiar with these. Most people know the benefits of electrostatic: imaging, soundstage (even without good bass), (vocals are amazing), coherency, low level detail. They are usually aware of the downsides: poor dynamics, poor bass (and as a result poor depth). For me the bass was really a problem. I couldn't get a convincing orhestra without convincing bass. I therefore modified the speakers with Focal Audiom drivers, biamped the sytem, and the result was excellent bass and dynamics that it desparately needed. I can't really recommend these speakers without the modfications--and wouldn't really recommend doing these mods--unless you're really into DIY. Their new line might be something to consider. I have only listened to the Prodigy speaker twice and both times I felt it was not set up properly--so in short--I really haven't heard that speaker.

I think I've used up enough space here--and hope it's been helpful.
Think and audition electrostats like Quad, Martin Logan, Innersound.
This is a topic that I have spent a long time with in the course of listening through the years. A good rendition of classical music is likely the hardest thing for a music system to reproduce. Just go to a symphony concert and then go home and listen to your system.
I currently use Waveform Mach Solo speakers with BAT electronics and that all does pretty well with making a reasonable presentation of the orchestra sound. Chamber music is really fantastic. Waveform is now out of production, so you are out of luck there.
I have found that B&W Nautilus speakers 801-803 do a good job, with proper front ends. The 804 just lacks too much in the bass for a good orchestra sound.
There are others out there as well. The things to look for in a speaker are it's ability to reproduce low level detail at low sound volumes, and good bass response.
Speakers that do well in these areas are said to be Coincident, Audio Physic, many of the "British" speaker companies.
Keep listening. Take your favorite piece of music with you and that will help you hear the differences. Good luck
Thanks for all. However, I noticed that some recommended two-way speakers while others recommended three-way speakers. I was wondering which is better of a two-way speaker plus a subwoofer in seperate or a three-way speaker with subwoofer in it. Thanks.
It really does not matter if it's 2-way or 3-way. It's all in how it is done and the music that comes out. Some times it is really hard to get a really good match with a subwoofer. However REL can supposedly match anything. In the end it all comes down to system synergy and liking the music one hears.
Check out Vienna Acoustics. Bachs Mozarts Beethovens and Mahlers. I think the names they give these speakers suggest that they would be excellant with classical music. BTW they are great on everthing else too. I have owned their Hadyns, Mozarts and Beethovens and I love the sound.
Sham makes a good point. Low level details at low levels would be high on my list. I've recently listened to a few speakers for various applications. The Spendor SP 100 is a great speaker for music overall. When used as a full range speaker I don't think you will find it lacking in any significant catagory even though many use Rel Sub woofers with them. The Spendors are a "great set it and forget it" set up and you'll probably listen to music for a long time before trying to improve your system ( which would be hard to do).
Ddhpank i like what Ljgj says THINK and listen(RESEARCH) the electrostats Ljgj mentions martin logan innersound and QUAD. i've did a post on electrostats and got alot of response. i've done some homework and made a few calls, seems the QUAD988 are the best. for monitors take a good look at VMP RIBBON MONITOR 1
I listen (more or less only) to classical music and came to the following: if you want to be really satisfied you must spend much money! I have a Genesis II, Wadia 270/27ix and McIntosh MC 1000, no pre. This is quiet expensive but you get back each single dollar in sound stage.
Some details:
1. I never thought of spending this amount of money but once I got into it I get to know that this is the best/only way.
2. By far the best to try out sound stage is to listen to piano. Not loud piano not extremely quiet, just quiet. Get a disc and ever try out with this cd. Take a DDD disk not a ADD. With piano music you hear the limitations of quality much more easy than with other music.
3. It is not true, that you can not hear classical music from cd. But it is true, that the quality of the cd-player is very important. Records have other big problems.
4. With B+W Nautilus I had very bad experience! I listend to the 801 much and in the end I would say they are far below the average in their price-range!
5. Electrostatic are generally a good idea. Some are not good in the bass, as other postings allready mentionend. If this would be a problem it is easy to solve with a sub.
6. Genesis is out of the market in the moment but I still would recommend these speakers.
I really like searchant's recommendation, the Audio Artistry Dvorak. That's an excellent speaker. I sell a roughly comparable system, the Gradient Revolution.

I have a customer who plays violin with a symphony. He owned highly modified original Quads, and before listening to my stuff told me that these particular Quads were the only speakers he's heard get violin right.

After we'd listened to his selections, he told me that not only did the speakers I peddle get the violins right, but they also got the cello and double bass right, which he said he'd never heard any speaker do before. We were listening to Sound Lab Millennium-1's. Needless to say, he ordered a pair.

Among speakers that I don't sell, you might check out the Heil Kitara's, Shahinians (especially the Diapasons), and the Buggtussel line.

Best wishes on your quest!