Speakers under $50k that rival $200k+ speakers?


Curious if there are any used or new (less likely) speakers out there that rival flagship speakers like Focal Grande Utopia, Rockport Lyra, Marten Coltrane Supreme 2, Magico M6, Raidho TD 4.2 or D4.8 etc?

I'll throw out a contender. If you look on ebay and the used market you can sometimes find a Von Schwekert VR 10 for around $18k CAD and from what I heard it can rival many TOTL speakers like the Grande Utopia. Do you guys have any thoughts?
smodtactical
I bet all $50k speakers rival $200k speakers. But for speakers above $500k...........well, nothing can touch them.

Edited to add:  ;-)
Hearing is literally individual in wiring and mental wiring of interpretation, inside the individual. There is correlation and similarities but all 100% individual in build, components, and wiring. (biological, neural, etc)

Therefore no single speaker will be intepreted as exactly the same by any two people. Similar, yes, no doubt.

At $50k, we are talking ’nuance’.

Nuance is going to be personal. Very personal.

Individual.

Thus... no speaker in the pinnacle area is going to be inherently best over another. On paper, yes, one will be better via measurement and engineering criteria and weighting applied to those given tests and comparisons made.

Our measurements are imperfect, incomplete, and do not tell the whole story well enough to have the measurements be the arbiter. Not by a long shot. The ear is king in these things, and it’s not about the personal interpretation aspect, either.

In the final analysis...regarding the individual idea of satisfaction with the given speaker - anything goes and anything will go.

Buy what you like, price is nearly meaningless at this level. (and almost meaningless at all other levels as well, to a large degree. It's a complex story to unravel such a point -at best.)

There is no black and white fixation and fixer to help cling to here. Work for it, there will be no free rides on the coattails of dogma, in this case.

@teo_audio Excellent post!!!!

kef blades are under 50k. They are full range
This question can be applied to any product category ( we are talking audio equipment, right ). In my journeys, and we are talking speakers, some expensive $ speakers fell short in living up to their capabilities, because of the inadequate room, associated gear, and other conditions presented before them.
With a sub, properly integrated, Revel, Fritz, Joseph YG, Sonus Faber wide body speakers, and the smaller Gryphons, given modest sized rooms, treatment and limited listening location.

I'd put them up against any speaker at any price in terms of soundstaging and ability to play a variety of music very well, and having a smooth tonal balance without artificial harshness or detail.

What I want out of a super speaker is a wider listening location, ability to fill a larger room, and exceptional dynamic range.

But, limit yourself to modest homes/listening areas and there's a number of speakers I would argue would sound as good if not better.

Best,
E
I bet all $50k speakers rival $200k speakers. But for speakers above $500k...........well, nothing can touch them.
^^^^  This!   ^^^^
Insert gif of me "I'm not worthy"-ing to n80
that should say +1 erik_squires
I agree with Eric. I’ve heard a number of mega buck systems and they had their sound signatures unique to them and they all sounded fantastic. I also think there is a law of diminishing returns with performance and cost. If you’re creative you can actually best the sound of these systems because you can overcome one of the biggest issues namely the “room.” 

- Steve
If you restrict bass and max output, you can get amazing towers for $3000-$5000, such as the Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL upgrade.  
 
There are very heavy diminishing returns once you go past $5K. Will a $20K speaker sound much better than a $5K from the same brand, sure, but does it sound $15,000 better? 
 
The Revel F228Be for $10K is amazing if you don’t care about bass. 
 
I always recommend subwoofers (unless in an apartment/condo), and I also recommend dual or more subs, as they are easier to integrate and sound better due to the benefit of room mode cancellations. 
 
For $16K you can get the F228Be, dual Rythmik G25HP’s, and $1000 in room treatment, that would be an amazing system.
Anything installed in an air cooled 911 under $49.999999 K
https://www.stereophile.com/content/tidal-audio-akira-loudspeaker

I'd like to hear the Akira though. $70k in accuton drivers. Yeah, it's 215k, but if I was a 0.1%er I'd buy these.
Tidal speakers without a doubt
If you have the space the Magnepan 30.7 at $30k is hard to beat.
IME, the German Physiks Borderland Mk IV competes well with any 6 figure speakers I have heard.  But, like all speakers, they are not for everyone (but they sure as heck are for me!). 
Daedalus Zeus--heard them at 2018 CAF after spending ten painful minutes in the big VAC/Von Schweikert room (was it $1 million?). The Zeus don't bring bling or boom but the the sound is effortlessly enjoyable and right up there with the best I have heard--all that for $30K.
With a sub, properly integrated, Revel, Fritz, Joseph YG, Sonus Faber wide body speakers, and the smaller Gryphons, given modest sized rooms, treatment and limited listening location.

I'd put them up against any speaker at any price in terms of soundstaging and ability to play a variety of music very well, and having a smooth tonal balance without artificial harshness or detail.

What I want out of a super speaker is a wider listening location, ability to fill a larger room, and exceptional dynamic range.

But, limit yourself to modest homes/listening areas and there's a number of speakers I would argue would sound as good if not better.

This is one thing I wondered. Could a smaller well made speaker in a smaller well treated room rival a super speaker that is in a huge room?

Also could the smaller speaker in the smaller room out perform a super speaker in the same room just because it is a better match for that room?

So perhaps the answer is yes to both of these.

If you restrict bass and max output, you can get amazing towers for $3000-$5000, such as the Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL upgrade.  
 
There are very heavy diminishing returns once you go past $5K. Will a $20K speaker sound much better than a $5K from the same brand, sure, but does it sound $15,000 better?
 
The Revel F228Be for $10K is amazing if you don’t care about bass.
 
I always recommend subwoofers (unless in an apartment/condo), and I also recommend dual or more subs, as they are easier to integrate and sound better due to the benefit of room mode cancellations.
 
For $16K you can get the F228Be, dual Rythmik G25HP’s, and $1000 in room treatment, that would be an amazing system.

Thanks. I think I agree with your threshold for the rise of the diminishing returns. Right now my system is PC > SOTM 200 ultra > Denafrips terminator > HE9 > dual 4bsst bryston monoblocks > Paradigm signature s8 v2s (and dual PSA V1800 subs). Its a great system especially for the money imo. My room is small, 12 x 16 x 8 ft. But was thinking of a dedicated listening room and was wondering about upgrading my system to get even more.

Today I listened to a 200k+ system [dcs streamer + dac > VAC statement > esoteric m1 monos > Stella utopia evo] and was really immersed in the sound which was very detailed with a wide open sound stage that filled the room which was longer than mine. However its hard for me to say it was worth 10x more money than my system.
If you can afford $50k then I think you should focus on finding the, in your opinion, best sounding speakers for that amount. Don't worry about more expensive speakers. 

If you want to compare $50k speakers with $200k I am no expert. I have heard both the m6 and some Utopias. My memory is that they had dynamics and an effortless that I have not heard from any sub $50k speakers. 

A much cheaper speaker that also impressed without being as good was the Kii Three with bass modules. And Boenicke but I only heard the standmounts. MBL 101 sounds very good and starts around 70k if you can push your budget.

Good luck!

Paradigm Persona 9H’s = $35k/pr.

There, I saved you another $15k - you’re welcome!  😂🤣
I don't believe you should try to find $50K speakers. Find the best speakers you can afford, and if they cost $20 each then so be it.

The idea that you MUST spend a certain amount because that's what you have is the tail wagging the dog.
@ smodtactical
Your room size is about the same as mine (11x15.5x8). I have had towers(Snell CV),  OB (Caintuck Betsy w/ Hawthorne OB bass augmenters), 3 different Omega speakers (Compact Hemp, 6 Alnico monitors,and XRS 8 Alnico all with Omega Deep Hemp subs),  and Shelby+Kroll monitors with matching subs. With the S+K I used the Dspeaker Dual Core for room correction and sub blending. Of all the systems the best sounding was the S+K Dspeaker combo until the set up I have now. Read on...

Right now my system is PC > SOTM 200 ultra > Denafrips terminator > HE9 > dual 4bsst bryston monoblocks > Paradigm signature s8 v2s (and dual PSA V1800 subs). Its a great system especially for the money imo. My room is small, 12 x 16 x 8 ft. But was thinking of a dedicated listening room and was wondering about upgrading my system to get even more.

The way I see it is you have two choices with your current room size:
1) Add a Dspeaker DX4 as a dac, preamp and room correction device. I listened to a system that had diy horns with subs and it was completely transformed and made "right" with the DX4 in play. You could sell your front end or keep it and add the DX4 in the chain. The DX4 is completely transparent with its analog to digital conversion.
http://www.dspeaker.com/en/products/anti-mode-x4.shtmlhttps://www.underwoodhifi.com/products/dspeaker

2) Purchase pair of Charney Audio Companion horns with the Voxativ AF 2.6 ($8900) or with the Voxativ AC 2.6 ($12,100) I have the AF 2.6 in my room and want for nothing in sound. My digital front end utilizes a nos chip as well but my preamp and amp are tube (300b). Don’t let the size of the driver fool you these are serious producers of clean deep coherent bass with highs and mids that draw you deep into what the artist is conveying. This is all due to the cabinet designed on the Tractrix theory which you can search or read about on the Charney site. No room correction needed, minimal room treatments, and no sub needed!

I banged my head on the wall for years trying to get sub(s) to integrate musically in my room. Spent a lot of money and was always frustrated with the results. Now with the Companion horns I don’t need to think about it and just listen to sweet emotionally involving music. If you can, get to NJ and make an appointment at Charney Audio. You’ll be glad you did on many levels.
http://charneyaudio.com/
BTW The Charney Concerto with the AER BD-3 ($28,000) will rival all speakers in the 200k range!


Altec a5 with modern crossover and a good tweeter will be as good as $250,000 speaker systems plus they are far more fun. 
I believe in the law of diminishing returns.

I believe the law law may kick in as low as $3,500.

I believe it kicks in for sure at $5,000.

I believe that it seriously kicks in at $10,000

Someone said that everyone’s ears are wired differently. I agree. Over $20,000, it’s personal preference for sure.

The same folks who wanna spend $600,000 on a pair of speakers wanna spend $500 per foot on speaker cable (I use chicken wire 🙄).

Then, surely you’ve heard the joke that the size of a guy’s speakers are inversely proportional to the size of his dick?

My speakers are pretty damn big, 😳, ... but my wife hasn’t been complaining.
That material has all been used before. You should get a new writer.
If you want that "big buck sound" for under 50k, I believe you would be wise to look into the Grandinote Mach 9's.  They list for around 42k, and they are a wonder.  I own their big brother, the Mach 36's, which retail for around 150k, and although the 9's aren't quite up to the 36's in terms of sheer magnitude, they have very similar characteristics, especially when it comes to the sound-stage and neutral coloration.  I know these are not well known in the states (they're manufactured in Italy), but if anyone here is in the NY area and would like to hear the 36's, I would welcome you to come over to my house for a listen, perhaps embellished with a fine dram of single malt.

By the way, the Mach 4's, which run about 25k, are also an amazing speaker, especially in a smaller room.
geoffkait, in this forum you are correct.

I’ve recently moved, and new friends and new guests who are not audio geeks come over and the first thing they see are the damn speakers and they go wtf because they are all sound surfing on buds these days... so they have not heard the wisecrack and it has become a reflex of late. My bad.
Agree with the Magnepan 30.7. But as others say, it depends on what your priorities are. The Maggies excel on acoustical music, they have a spooky realism to them. Even my old Tympani IVa's can be jaw-droppingly realistic (talk about bargains -- maybe $3000 used), and the 30.7's better them in every respect. 
For a full range speaker it's difficult to go past B&W 800D3. 
Probably lots of speakers would fill the bill but one I'm sure of is a used pair of Rockport Cygnus.  
The only speakers on those price ranges I’ve heard were Wilsons. Not impressed.

That said if I had $50k speakers there’d be an investigation. Or $10k for that matter.
I’ll take the big Raidhos on looks alone. Wow! I don’t really care how someone thinks they sound. The sound is a function of a great many things. Almost any speaker can be made to sound great.
These were mentioned above, but the 2 models that always come to mind for me are:

Joseph Pearl 3

KEF Blade
A year or so ago, I was at Boulder Amplifier and heard their reference system (and room) built around Stella Grand Utopia's.  Easily a > $500k system, not counting the cost of the room.  They poured a separate foundation for the listening room, built the room, and then built the factory around it.  Delightful overkill :-)
Not that long thereafter at a Colorado Audio Society meeting, I heard a member's system that featured a set of Acoustic Zen Crescendo II's in a smallish room.  (His electronics were home-built).  I was struck at how similar the soundstage, dynamics and overall voicing was to the Grand Utopias.  They are $25K new and I recently saw a used pair advertised on Audiogon for ~$9k.  Didn't have the spare change lying about or I would have pounced without hesitation. 

I think they're a must audition in the price range you're talking about.
The Yamaha NS 5000s are probably as good as anything regardless of price.Certainly in terms of sounding real and natural.Other far more expensive speakers might sound more impressive and more "hi fi" but I doubt they are better.
All speakers over $10,000 rival each other.  Pick your look and pick your sound.  It's totally personal - no better or worse.
If you can afford $50k then I think you should focus on finding the, in your opinion, best sounding speakers for that amount. Don't worry about more expensive speakers.

If you want to compare $50k speakers with $200k I am no expert. I have heard both the m6 and some Utopias. My memory is that they had dynamics and an effortless that I have not heard from any sub $50k speakers.

A much cheaper speaker that also impressed without being as good was the Kii Three with bass modules. And Boenicke but I only heard the standmounts. MBL 101 sounds very good and starts around 70k if you can push your budget.


- I'll look into those suggestions, thanks.

Paradigm Persona 9H’s = $35k/pr.

There, I saved you another $15k - you’re welcome!


- Just heard the 7Fs and was really impressed with their incredible resolution and precision. I think you might be right on the 9H which should have much better bass.

I don't believe you should try to find $50K speakers. Find the best speakers you can afford, and if they cost $20 each then so be it.


- I agree, probably my post should have been about the best speakers under 50k.

@ smodtactical
Your room size is about the same as mine (11x15.5x8). I have had towers(Snell CV), OB (Caintuck Betsy w/ Hawthorne OB bass augmenters), 3 different Omega speakers (Compact Hemp, 6 Alnico monitors,and XRS 8 Alnico all with Omega Deep Hemp subs), and Shelby+Kroll monitors with matching subs. With the S+K I used the Dspeaker Dual Core for room correction and sub blending. Of all the systems the best sounding was the S+K Dspeaker combo until the set up I have now. Read on...


- very interesting suggestions, haven't listened to horns yet will look into them, thanks

Magneplanar!


- got to hear them

Altec a5 with modern crossover and a good tweeter will be as good as $250,000 speaker systems plus they are far more fun.


- thx

I believe in the law of diminishing returns.

I believe the law law may kick in as low as $3,500.

I believe it kicks in for sure at $5,000.

I believe that it seriously kicks in at $10,000

Someone said that everyone’s ears are wired differently. I agree. Over $20,000, it’s personal preference for sure.

The same folks who wanna spend $600,000 on a pair of speakers wanna spend $500 per foot on speaker cable (I use chicken wire 🙄).

Then, surely you’ve heard the joke that the size of a guy’s speakers are inversely proportional to the size of his dick?

My speakers are pretty damn big, 😳, ... but my wife hasn’t been complaining.


- I compared the 100k+ stella utopia to the 20k+ persona 7f and I would say there was a pretty big gain in sound stage and separation but obviously not the kind of difference that would justify the price, but ya the law does work hard at these levels

If you want that "big buck sound" for under 50k, I believe you would be wise to look into the Grandinote Mach 9's. They list for around 42k, and they are a wonder. I own their big brother, the Mach 36's, which retail for around 150k, and although the 9's aren't quite up to the 36's in terms of sheer magnitude, they have very similar characteristics, especially when it comes to the sound-stage and neutral coloration. I know these are not well known in the states (they're manufactured in Italy), but if anyone here is in the NY area and would like to hear the 36's, I would welcome you to come over to my house for a listen, perhaps embellished with a fine dram of single malt.

By the way, the Mach 4's, which run about 25k, are also an amazing speaker, especially in a smaller room.


- Cool suggestion! Never heard Grandinote, will look into it

Agree with the Magnepan 30.7. But as others say, it depends on what your priorities are. The Maggies excel on acoustical music, they have a spooky realism to them. Even my old Tympani IVa's can be jaw-droppingly realistic (talk about bargains -- maybe $3000 used), and the 30.7's better them in every respect.

- whats the downside to the maggies?

For a full range speaker it's difficult to go past B&W 800D3.

- heard it vs the persona 7F and have to say the persona was much sharper, crytalline in its detail and had better imaging, bw perhaps better bass, but overall prefer persona

Probably lots of speakers would fill the bill but one I'm sure of is a used pair of Rockport Cygnus.


- i would love to hear the cygnus, there is a used one going for 40k

I’ll take the big Raidhos on looks alone. Wow! I don’t really care how someone thinks they sound. The sound is a function of a great many things. Almost any speaker can be made to sound great.


- thanks, Raidhos do look interesting, i want to hear those diamond woofers

These were mentioned above, but the 2 models that always come to mind for me are:

Joseph Pearl 3

KEF Blade


- thx will check these out

A year or so ago, I was at Boulder Amplifier and heard their reference system (and room) built around Stella Grand Utopia's. Easily a > $500k system, not counting the cost of the room. They poured a separate foundation for the listening room, built the room, and then built the factory around it. Delightful overkill :-)
Not that long thereafter at a Colorado Audio Society meeting, I heard a member's system that featured a set of Acoustic Zen Crescendo II's in a smallish room. (His electronics were home-built). I was struck at how similar the soundstage, dynamics and overall voicing was to the Grand Utopias. They are $25K new and I recently saw a used pair advertised on Audiogon for ~$9k. Didn't have the spare change lying about or I would have pounced without hesitation.

I think they're a must audition in the price range you're talking about.


- the zen cescendos look good i wonder how the zen maestros sound

Yamaha NS 5000s

- a friend on my audio discord strongly recommends these, i will listen




@janehamble , "All speakers over $10,000 rival each other. Pick your look and pick your sound. It’s totally personal - no better or worse."



So personal that in fact all too surprisingly often they can appear to sound worse.

Sometimes so far worse that you have no idea what the designer was thinking.

Or why nobody had a word in their ear.
I've heard and lusted after Sanders 10e speakers (only 12k including room correction). Only other speaker I'd consider is the Avant-garde Mezzo's at 70k. Nice to dream.
Nice mention of the Yamaha NS 5000. 

Tomorrow, my dad, who resides in Canada, is going to be my proxy ears and demo and compare the Paradigm Persona 3F and Yamaha NS 5000 with the Anthem STR preamp and an unknown amp (maybe Anthem STR). The Yamaha is not available in the USA where I am located but I can get it from Canada.

Interestingly, someone on another audio forum compared the 3F and NS 5000 at the store my dad will visit and stated a preference for the 3F. Really the first negative thing I have read about the NS 5000.

To the OP’s question, the KEF Blade mentioned previously is an awesome speaker if you have the space.
I think the Yamahas are really for musicians and music lovers rather than audiophiles.They are not about sonic fireworks or awesomeness .They are about musical and tonal purity.Like Bakoon amplifiers and Supratek preamps.Using Anthem pre and power amps would not do them justice.If any company knows how instruments should sound it is Yamaha.
@jtgofish Comments like yours are why I have been keeping the NS 5000 flame burning instead of just buying the Persona 3F. I have auditioned the 3F and liked it. The Anthem STR pre is something I would HAVE to consider using if I went with the NS 5000. I would need DSP to shoehorn in the Yamaha into my small office space. I am looking at the Luxman m900u amp for whatever speaker I get and that amp is reference caliber great.

Thanks for your private comments to me on the NS 5000 maybe 6 months ago. The wheels have been turning since then to figure out a way listen to them. Should be exciting tomorrow to hear my dads feedback on the 3F and NS 5000 comparison.

@jtgofish Comments like yours are why I have been keeping the NS 5000 flame burning instead of just buying the Persona 3F. I have auditioned the 3F and liked it. The Anthem STR pre is something I would HAVE to consider using if I went with the NS 5000. I would need DSP to shoehorn in the Yamaha into my small office space. I am looking at the Luxman m900u amp for whatever speaker I get and that amp is reference caliber great.

Thanks for your private comments to me on the NS 5000 maybe 6 months ago. The wheels have been turning since then to figure out a way listen to them. Should be exciting tomorrow to hear my dads feedback on the 3F and NS 5000 comparison.

Have you gone up the line at all? I hear the 7F and was very impressed with the crystalline midrange. It just sounded so real and precise. Was easily superior to the 800D3.
I have gone up the Persona line to the 5F. That speaker plays bigger than the 3F but I of course want something for a smaller space. I heard that with a very good SimAudio 860A amp.

I have another huge room downstairs that is currently my toddler's play area. Once he is a bit bigger and I can take over that space I am looking at the Persona 9H or a KEF Blade to put there. I would not get the 9H if I get the 3F for my small office space upstairs. 

My understanding is that the Persona mid and top are very similar in the lineup. The bass is the biggest factor going up the lineup. I have heard the KEF Blade tons and I love that speaker. I think the Persona and the KEF give good value for the money. It does not hurt that I love the sound of both.

I recently contacted the distributor of Vimberg speakers to have a listen to why it is getting all the great feedback. In the future, I am looking to do something similar to you with a $50K and under speaker.
Soundlab Majestics. It is a shame that more people do not get to hear these speakers. Not only can you get them for less than 50K but there are a number of people who think these are the best speakers you can buy period. All you Maggie folks out there. Maggies are a huge value but if you want to go one step farther this is it. I understand that most Atma-Shere MA2 s go to power Soundlabs!
@smodtactical I get the impression you are in Canada. If you around Toronto you may want to have a listen to the Vimberg at Wynn Audio. They are a distributor but have opened up a listening room for high end speakers.

http://wynnaudio.com/contact/

https://www.monoandstereo.com/2016/11/wynn-audios-grand-opening-in-toronto.html

https://www.soundstageultra.com/index.php/106-uncategorized/854-jeff-buys-loudspeakers-the-vimberg-tondas

From the review above
I also toyed with the ideas of the Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 and the Paradigm Persona 7F, though I’d place those models a fair bit behind the other three.

If you do how about posting your impressions on the Vimberg.

BTW Kennedy Hi-fi in Toronto put together the Persona 9H system for one of the TAVES shows. They also have the Yamaha NS 5000 for demo.

BTW 2 - One could argue that the design of the Persona Line originates from the Yamaha NS 1000 from the year 1976. The NS 5000 is the successor to the NS 1000 and uses new driver material.
I just heard back from my dad after he did the Persona 3F vs Yamaha NS 5000 shootout today in Toronto. The electronics used were actually the new Yamaha gear (likely top of the line ones). My dad and a family friend who went were both unanimous in their praise of the Yamaha over the Persona 3F. My dad also thinks the Yamaha would fit into my room without DSP but I think DSP is needed for that woofer.

The words my dad used to describe the Yamaha were similar to what reviewers have been saying. Incredible mid-range, very coherent sound, and the feeling of listening to a live performance. The Persona 3F was also very good in these qualities and why I had them as the speaker to buy. However, now, I think I will go with my dads opinion on this and buy the Yamaha, unseen or unheard by me.