after some additional research, seems like a used sonus faber grand piano might fit the bill.
second question, in case no one has any other suggestions: grand piano home, vs grand piano domus, vs grand piano concerto? thanks!
Selah and Fritzspeakers both make models that fill your bill, I'd think: comparatively relaxed speakers, which is how I think of the SFs I've heard.
For that money, you could also find the Montana EPS2 used, another non-fatiguing, musical speaker that I preferred to the Cremona M, and found impressively close to the expensive Elipsa. The Monrana is not small, but it is a front-ported D'appolito array that plays well close to boundaries, and can be set up surprisingly unobtrusively.
The EPS2's are wonderful --- I have a pair as my main speakers. I actually chose them in the same context you are in. I loved the Cremonas from SF but did not want to pay that much. The Montanas I bought were used (demos from a dealer less than a year old) and I got them at 1/3 the price of the SF speakers. The Montanas are great speakers... no doubt and often available used as so many have been purchased.
"Speakers sonically similar to Sonus Faber?"
None... Call me biased.
SF are always avail used/demo. The next closest speaker would be Vienna Acoustics. Finally, I would suggest an audition of Thiel loudspeakers.
Thiel is very easily my reference loudspeaker, after listening to many, many, loudspeakers over the years.
I do like SF and VA speakers, for the record. In choosing Thiel, to these ears, they are the "richest" sounding speaker to date. If timbre is your thing (like me), this is a no-brainer.
If you enjoy the Sonus Faber sound - and you're not alone, it's a very easy sound to love, very lush, warm, easy on the ears - and the Venere is out of your price range then there's a great chance you'll love an older pair of the Grand Pianos. You can pick up those up for $1200-1800 pretty easily, depending on whether it's the original version vs the "Home" version. Someone in my area was selling a pair of the floor standers last month for $1250, and I wasn't looking for speakers but I remember thinking that if I were in the market and had $1300 to spend I'd have a hard time beating that deal or getting more speaker for that amount of money.
I have owned the Grand Piano Home floor standers, and my only advice in regards to those is to have some amplifier power on hand. In my experience, they won't sound good on the end of an AV receiver - they need more power.
I've also owned both the Concerto monitors and Concertino monitors, both in "Home" version and the original bi-wire version, and they're all very nice. I found the "Home" version of both to be a little brighter than the original versions - the originals are a little warmer and sweeter in the top end, but the difference wasn't dramatic and you may not hear that same difference in your room, with your music and your own ears.
I've never owned the Domus so can't help there.
Whether you'll be happy with monitor vs. floor stander will depend on the volume levels you require, type of music, and whether you plan to use a sub. But with all the older SF stuff, they've been depreciated to the point that it's all very affordable and you won't lose much money if you try it and want to upgrade down the road. They're all great looking, especially with the walnut.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I think it might be hard to demo some of those before purchasing.
If anyone in the DC area has any of the aforementioned speakers, I'd love to give them a listen.
"In choosing Thiel, to these ears, they are the "richest" sounding speaker to date"
Not sure that THIEL is soft sounding ???????????
I'd throw in the Gemme Audio Tanto, a small floorstanding speaker with great sonics, similar to my old Sonus Faber Cremonas. Gemme has gone out of business, but they'd be easy to repair if necessary down the line, with readily available drivers. They use a pseudo transmission line design and have great bass too. They come up for sale now and then on Audiogon.
I have the Grand Pianos hanging off a AV receiver in the family room. We listen to the cable music jazz channel all day long...they sound very good even under those circumstances, never offensive. Hook them up to better electronics and you will be rewarded with even better sound. They're also very attractive, compact, and have been trouble free. Current prices make them a viable option IMO.
"Not sure that THIEL is soft sounding ???????????"
'Cmon bubba, it's not the '90s anymore. "Thiels are harsh" is an urban myth in this day-and-age.
I've been listening to Thiel's (1.6 & 2.4 SE) for 15 years.
Thiels are extremely neutral. If the recording is harsh, guess what?, Thiels will sound harsh. If your front end and/or cables and/or amplification are trash, guess what?, Thiels will sound harsh.
Are you detecting a pattern?
Saying Thiels are bright doesn't make you a hip hi-fi guy, it says you are not informed.
'Cmon bubba, it's not the '90s anymore. "Thiels are harsh" is an urban myth in this day-and-age, are extremely neutral.....
Neutral being a polite expression of an unit sounding somewhat lean or on the thin line of a razor blade quiet the opposite of S.F. sound
Sorry about that
I would stay away from the Domus line. They came in when there was a change in management at SF and the sound changed. With Olympica and Venere, the sound is back to being more like the early models. I have not heard the Toy Tower, but the small Toy was quite nice.
The US distributor Sumiko only services speakers sold from authorized dealers in the US. So, I would check with the seller on where they were purchased and with Sumiko on their current policy, if service down the road is a concern. That said, the speakers seldom fail, even the older ones.
I found a pristine pair of used SF Liuto Wood Monitors on Audiogon for a great price. My dedicated listening room is 11x13 with the rear wall open to the adjacent living room and two other openings to the adjacent kitchen.
I absolutely love 'em.
On a whim, I added a couple of inexpensive Pioneer SW-8MK2 subwoofers which are fun when I listen to bass-heavy electronic music but not really necessary.
Total expense including subs was about $1500 including shipping and sales tax. Talk about great ROI!
thanks everyone for the suggestions.
i went to another showroom where i got to demo some of them.
they didn't have the venere, however they did have the liuto so i could compare to SF
i demoed the thiel cs2.7 and vienna acoustics mozart and beethoven along side the liutos.
bottom line: i very clearly preferred the liutos. the vienna acoustics are my second favorite. so far it seems sonus faber has a direct line to my ears/heart
i've got one more showroom to check out, where i'll listen to some KEFs, totem, revel, amphion, and aerial acoustics
Ps - you got the liuto for under 1500? talk about a steal i would take that deal in a heartbeat
Liuto are a good option. Not surprised VA are second. I am a big fan of Totem and Aerial. They will be good comparisons. They are probably out of your price range, but if you can listen to the new Totem Elements do so. They are very nice, if they are well broken in. New KEFs also have a lot of followers. You have a lot of nice options. I will not be surprised if you end up with SF.
If you are patient I bet you'll be able to find a good deal on Liuto monitors. If you're also looking for inexpensive subs, the Pioneers go on sale frequently. As I mentioned, I bought them on a whim and while not necessary, they're fun to play with. My TOTAL investment for the Liuto monitors and the subs was under $1500. The Liutos came with the stand posts and top plates but were missing the metal floor plate. I fabricated a base out of 2" maple blocks I had in my miscellaneous audio items.
If I could figure out how to upload photos to this site, I'd show you the base.
After many years of living with excellent floor standing speakers, I've never enjoyed home music reproduction more than I do now with the Liuto monitors. They are lovely to look at, they fill the room with music and at the same time, eliminate the sense that the sound is coming from boxes. They sound sweet yet detailed. I am very happy.
I would recommend the Fritz speakers.
Scan Speak drivers, series crossovers.
I saw some SOLILOQUY 6.3 on the Audio Asylum. They're were asking $700.00 for them. They would fit your needs perfectly. If those aren't an option then try Silverline or maybe some old Meadowlarks.
so, has anyone heard odyssey kismet or lorelei, and also heard SF speakers (preferrably venere, liuto, or any grand piano model) and could compare them?
i have never listened to an odyssey speaker but between the looks and the reviews, i was always interested. many years ago, i had an opportunity to buy loreleis from a fellow agoner for 1400 shipped. i jumped on that but, supposedly, as the seller was packing them, he dropped and damaged them. i was really bummed out. i have a feeling that if i had actually received the speakers, i wouldn't be looking for new ones at this time
anyways, i'm pretty set on SF at this point but just wondering if anyone that has heard both brand could compare the two
oh and if anyone in the DC area has loreleis or kismet speakers i'd love to hear them!
I've heard the Venere 2.5 and 3.0 in one system, and the Liuto in another, compared against VA Beethoven Baby Grand.
The Veneres struck me as engineered for the mass market: impressive and ear-catching over the first 15 seconds of listening, but not for the long haul (too "Technicolor" a sound, the same way color and saturation is adjusted to the max for display in shops). The Liuto is in a different league, far superior. If you're considering the Liuto don't give the Veneres a second thought.
I listened to them carefully against the VA Baby Grands. The Liutos go deeper, but ultimately I preferred the treble presentation and overall integration of the Baby Grands. But it was a fairly close-run thing.
Gifted Listener has a pair of demo Liutos at a decent price. They also come up here used at very attractive prices (there was a set in Midlothian not so long ago). At Gifted (Centreville) you can audition them against the VA, some Thiels, Linn, etc., but start with the VAs.
Twoleftears, couldn't agree more on the Veneres, a dismal speaker.
Look for a pair of the 3.0 used - love mine. Ive owned a decent amount of speakers and although the fabers lack a wee bit of bass it makes up for it in non-fatigueing sound and warm detailed demeanor. On the flip side I also own a pair of the Venere S (the flagship venere) and to be honest, it pains me to say this (especially my wallet), but the 3.0's sound so much better. The Venere S remind me of Klipsh with a very harsh forward front end. Don't bother shopping around - get what you want, your ears arent lying to you - the venere sound wonderful.
Though they might be a bit too transparent, clear and detailed for your preference, the WaveTouch Audio Grand Tetons are about "as good as it gets" at any price / style of speaker.
Many are selling their high priced / high-end, brand named speakers for the Grand Tetons - because of there superlative sound, expecially for their paltry price.
While I've got several superb speakers, which would dazzle anyone - the Grand Tetons rival / exceed them all.
If you don't mind their "look" - you will be amazed at their incredible sound - which I find better than the Harbeths (any size) or the LS50's. Of course, you could always have them refinished to your taste.