Stacked Bookshelf Speakers -- Perplexing Nirvana?
I lived in the Bay Area, CA, but for two years I have been working in Beijing (!) which turned out to be a home audio desert. Perhaps due to the high density of living, people generally only listened to music via earphones or in their cars. So over time I brought over assorted electronics and a pair of cheap old Monitor Audio Monitor 2.5 bookshelves. Recently I acquired locally a pair of so-called full-range single-driver Fostex F120A (alnico) 10-liter ported boxes and ended up stacking them on top of the Monitor 2.5 which are on the floor.
Well, the F120A frequency response is dome-shaped, and the old 2.5's frequency response is bowl-shaped. While muting one or the other by remote control to compare their sound, I discovered an almost perfect balance by playing them both at the same volume. The F120A's driven by Bel Canto S300iu give an extremely transparent, zero-time transcient "on-stage" sound, but short on highs and lows, while the 2.5's driven by a very nice 300B SET provide an extremely musical, acoustically rich experience, but quite lean in the midrange. By combining, I can dial-in the sound perspective and degree of involvement, but usually keep the two sources balanced.
I have owned Quad ESL63 driven by ARC D70II, Monitor Audio Studio 20 driven by Quad 909, Quad 12L Active Monitors, etc., but I think this bizarre setup may be the best and truest I have heard. Naturally, I'm perplexed and somewhat unhappy with the situation!
My next quest would be for something simpler or more "normal". Next month I will visit California and try the Focal Pro Twin 6 Be (active pro monitors) and old-school Morel/Renaissance Duet, both bookshelve speakers that I _might_ be able to lug back to Beijing. Other candidates are the Monitor Audio Gold Signature GS-LCR (used as stereo pair) and ELAC floorstanders. Unlike American-made audio which are exorbitant in China (if available at all), both ELAC and Monitor Audio are nicely discounted.
Trying the Fostex turned out to be a surprise educational experience -- a "serendipitous discovery" for me. I have to say, hearing Gilels playing Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata, especially the longs runs, is glorious and so luxurious. I am fortunate to have attended many solo, small ensemble, and vocal concerts and now, listening to recordings of these fine artists and performances really takes me back to the live experience.
The stacked bookshelf speakers cost less than $1K together. The electronics are in the $5K range combined.
Equipment: Quad 99CDP, Bel Canto S300iu, Pureaudio 300B SET (vintage German input 6DJ8, rest are current Chinese tubes), Audience AU24 interconnect, Canare 4S11 star-quad speakerwire.
Recordings used: Baltimore Consort "On the Bank of the Helicon"; Claude Bolling's Greatest Hits; Rachel Podger's Bach unaccompanied "Chaconne"; William Christie's Fischer solo harpsichord; Kathleen Battle and Christopher Parkening "Pleasures of Their Company"; Gilel's Beethoven. Etc.