it takes more than just speakers. you need to have some damn good upstream components (class A amp helps too). oh, and a great room helps.
rockports do it. merlins do it. acapellas do it.
rockports do it. merlins do it. acapellas do it.
electronics do play a role..but even with my Spicas and an older SX series Pioneer receiver...imaging did not improve with either a musical fidelity or arcam amp...there was more detail and better bass control...but 3-d imaging was obtainable with every amp I used with the tc-50s....I believe it has more to do with speaker design than electronics....a speaker either has "it" or it doesnt in my opinion
I owned the SPICA TC 50 for ten years and even went out to the shop in new mexico.I still love them but when my pockets got deeper I searched for about one year for a speaker that eschews all the virtues of the TC 50 had better extension in bass,a more holographic mid and a smoother high frequency extension and it had to be very efficient for low watt tube amps.My search ended about 3 months ago when I purchased the REFERENCE 3A DECAPO i which is the latest iteration.The ability to demo them is weak so you will have to look and travel high and low to hear them but for anyone who loved the SPICAS like I did these DECAPOS are the heir apparent to that venerable design.Good luck and happy holidays.
Nucleus Gallo Solo or Reference. These are the older version that's been discontinued, not the newer HT focused speaker line. These don't come up used all that often, but there is a pair on Agon right now. Check out the reviews on AudioReview. These speakers are the most transparent, best imaging, 3d, blah, blah, blah speakers I've ever heard and I've heard all the big boys. They are not the ultimate in low frequency extension and I don't think they mate all that well with a sub, but from 80hz on up they are simply stunning.
I have heard the Maggie 1.6s on several occasions..and Im probably going to take some heat for this..but as impressive as they are... dont quite have the 3-d "magic" on vocals that Spicas,Spendors, or Vandersteens have...I am by no means "bashing" Maggies...they just excel in different areas...such as speed,detail,transparency,etc...and I am not implying that Spicas,Spendors,or Vandies are the "answer"...every speaker is a compromise of sorts...and I am also not implying Maggie imaging is "inferior"...please dont rip my head off!
Other speakers that excel at imaging include the Meridian M-2 and Snell Acoustics Type A (both dating from the early 80's); the Quad 63 (and presumably its successors, the 988 and 989); InnerSound electrostats and metal-frame Sound Labs; single-diver speakers like Lowthers and such; co-axial speakers like Gradients; Avantgardes; Pipedreams; and Intuitive Design speakers. This list is of course woefully incomplete, but includes speakers whose imaging is especially precise. Personally I place a higher premium on a convincing sense of rich ambience, which would be a different list with only one or two speakers from this list showing up on the ambience list. Disclaimer - I sell a couple of these.
I believe that the Hawks are about $2200 retail and $200 more if you want the cherry finish. The cherry finished Hawks do sound better than the standard black or mahongany, a mellower fuller sound. The designer said it has something to do with the way the veneer resonates.
I also, had a pair of Maggie 1.6qrs and I agree that they do not image as well as the Spicas or Hawks. The images are diffused and have no solidity to them. Perhaps a big 200 watt tube amp would help (?).
Flat panel tends to sound big and detail (guess the air move like plane wave). But to my ears, it is like a big peace of glass, huge sound stage but brittle. For vocal, the soundstage is sometimes exagerrating too much that I feel it like a big picture of mouth, huge but the big mouth does not have enough depth for breath.
Somehow I like solo vocal from small boxed speaker like ProAC 1sc, merlin, or SL600.... I think they have the right size for the vocal and if you place them right, they have depth too. For good recording, you can even feel the singer's head is rotating left and right. Flat speakers although have great detail but did not convince me that they can pick up good image over good box speaker. It is not easy for a head big like that can turn natually. For details, yes, flat speaker are very good. But to me, image is not just about big picture and details.
I am only talking about image on vocal. For big band music flat speakers have its own strength (soundstage, details) and weakness (bass shy).
It takes a lot more than just good speakers to get 3D imaging. There is source, amplification, cables (esp IC's), room acoustics, speaker setup, and proper listening position. Of the speakers you have already discounted I wonder how many you auditioned in your system. I've heard excellent imaging from revel and thiel. If you've only listened to these speakers in a showroom you've probably missed something.
Jazz..point well taken...but speakers excel in different areas....and voices...which are kind of the reference point for imaging...are difficult to "nail"...whenever I audition...I opt for vocals first...kind of back to the basics...Thiel and Revel are very good speakers...however...for that truly elusive vocal magic...placement is critical....maybe more than the speakers themselves at this level...