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Fast: Not sure where you are located but you may want to add Daedalus to your short list. I recently visited Ferndale (north of Seattle) and had a chance to hear Lou's new Apollo series speakers (the Apollo 11). Lou has been refining his designs for over a decade now, retaining the warm musicality of his earliest work and increasing resolution, dynamics and soundstaging. The Apollo series feature a new 10" woofer and a new Eton tweeter, along with redesigned cabinets, internally sealed crossovers, upgraded crossover topologies and exotic parts, and other enhancements. The introductory pricing on the Apollo series speakers is in your range and given your room size you could go with either the Apollo or Apollo 11 (probably the former would work best--talk to Lou). I firmly believe that Lou is making some of the best loudspeakers out there, regardless of price. He is a pleasure to work with and the artisan woodworking and finish are exceptionally beautiful to look at while listening. If you are not in the PNW, he will be at Axpona in Chicago and then DC in the fall. Very much worth a trip out to visit and listen--I stayed in his charming cottage on the water and got a tour of his design and manufacturing facility. Good luck with your journey.
Fast, we have a number of superb reference speakers on display.
We have the Aeris, the Paradigm Persona, and the Kef Blades. We also have a demo pair of Polymer Research and the Dali Epicon 8.
So technically that is five reference speakers on display.
You may find it easier to fly into the New York Metro area where you can hear almost every reference speaker system out there.
We just had a guy who flew in from the Midwest to visit our shop which is 15 mins from Newark Airport for that same reason.
It might make it easier you can also save a boat load of sales tax which may or may not be offset by the products shipping.
Each of these reference speakers have their charms.
The ability to hear a number of great reference speakers under the same circumstances in the same room is a great thing and can be very helpful.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
I was in a similar position a few years ago. Fortunately, I lived in the DC area and had a number of B&M dealers; plus the manufacturers who offered in-home audition. The one thing that I learned is that speakers sound very different in the store (or show) and in your own environment - especially when you have a large listening space. Some speakers grow into a large space, and some die.
Good for you. Those polypropylene drivers are really dated. With AR electronics you really need some good speakers.
KEF Ref 3 have a great mid range, perhaps that is what appeals to you over the others you mentioned. Try to audition Harbeth, PMC and ATC - some other great British speakers with nice mids...
I don’t think Magico is worth waiting for. Better to stick to proven, time-tested designs like your AR gear! One notable audiogoner here also had some of the best in electronics but Magico instantly gave him a headache. You don’t need sizzle - stick to steak!
((((My amp is Audio Research, tubes, about 130 watts/channel. I believe this is enough power for both the KEF Reference 3 and 5. At least one person has told me that the 5 actually doesn't sound as good as the 3-- that despite more bass it sounds less integrated )))
Take that ARC amp and install it on the top section of Vandersteen Quatro's CTs
100 hz on up with the Hi-pass Think tight Bass or bloom in the bass your choice but you are in control. The built-in Quatros CTs amps are going to outperform any of the above in foundation with their tunable to your room compensation adjustment flexibility and total performance, you win because it is now bi-amped, seamless, full range, with drive excitment,balls and time correct as well.
Otherwise just keep your Proacs.
Describe the sound that does it for you, otherwise all this advice is throwing darts and probably why you keep looking. If you're not sure, keep listening and spend the money to do so. For your price range, you will know what does it for you when you hear it.
+ 1 for any show recommendations.
While the general party line is that speakers don't know what kind of music they're playing, there are definitely some speakers that work better or worse with different kinds of music. If you favor rock music, I would consider used Wilsons, which are excellent values, IMO. If you favor natural vocals and acoustic music, I prefer Harbeths or KEFs. The Monitor 40s are one hell of a speaker.
Aiming at a price range only reveals your budget and ability to spend. As others have already said you need to indicate:
- What sound levels do you intend to listen at?
- Do you need chest pounding bass or prefer balanced correct presentation?
- What genres do you listen to most?
- Can the speakers be well out into the room away from a listening wall or do they need to blend well into existing décor?
Answer the above if you want more focused/better recommendations.
Thanks. I listen mostly to classical music-orchestral, solo instrument, chamber and vocal music. Sound level is moderate, similar to a classical concert. I prefer noticeable but balanced bass. The speakers will be a maximum of 32” from the rear wall due to WAF. In other words I am not listening to ear splitting, floor shaking rock music. What I like about the KEF Reference 3 speakers so far is the imaging and soundstage. The sound appears to come from behind the speakers and is spread out over a very wide area where appropriate. The bass is also pretty good as are the treble and midrange.
The single point source driver that KEF employs is indeed stellar at imaging (thats what they do best) but I would also look at ...Martin Logan, they would be a completely different sound (u wanna talk about sound stage) from Proacs, and they pair very very well with Audio Research gear. Also, some of the best classical music I ever heard was coming out of a pair of McIntosh speakers, again these love AR gear (both of these companies make all sizes). Last but not least is Legacy Audio (made in Illinois) incredible speakers for classical or any music where full range is desired! Good Luck.
P.S. Of course Im going to say Dynaudio as well although maybe not as great for classical :-)
"Johnny R at Audio Connections knows more about speakers than you forgot. I have been in his showrooms and the Vandersteens blew me away, it didn't sound like the closed in treble shy 2ci's that I once had. It sounded like pure music. "
That's a bold statement about two people. One you know and one you don't. Be careful, that's a slippery slope for you there, partner.
Your opinion notwithstanding, my point is that it is very disingenuous to say that one and ONLY one brand of speaker has relevance in this big old world. That's some serious broad brush painting. No beef with JohnnyR, but it is indeed par.
I think fast summed up the KEF range well. The point of it has been point source imaging and soundstage with even off-axis sound, but they certainly have drawbacks. I have heard this line many times. I think fast has to decide if the KEF R3 is worth the expense is absolute terms and not just relative to the others before purchasing or waiting. The Magico A3 (considering the S3mkII, which is beautiful sounding) is not going to do what the Reference 3 can do but will do other things better. This is true of all speakers marketed here.
"Johnny R at Audio Connections knows more about speakers than you forgot"
ozzy62 never forgets. :)
The Kef Ref 3 is one of the more balanced and neutral speakers in your audition and provides that soundstage performance over a nice wide seated spot with well drawn out performances. It's been something a standout for Kef over the past couple of generations. Certainly go and listen to the Sopra, but its a different kind of speaker and you'll have to judge for yourself on what works for you. They aren't exactly neutral, but neither are they something to ignore. I feel they may sound larger, but won't have quite the same soundstage, in particular of the front to back depth and layering.
I like Revel, but the Salon2 isn't a very kind speaker for some amplifiers. Soundstage is exceedingly wide and deep, but just shy of being as finely drawn out on the stage. It has stood up amazingly well over the test of time, but well set up you would likely enjoy the sound.
Very little is known about the Magico A3, but from what has been said thus far, it seems that certain updates might make it a bit more forgiving over previous Magico designs. It also has a fairly small footprint and is a sealed design that seems to be able to reach fairly low in bass response. I'm sure some concessions will surface, but no one truly knows for now. One thing for sure, it won't win any beauty contests.
Not sure what fast's priorities are with a speaker, but the Vandersteens are an excellent suggestion. In your price range, I would also look into a pair of German Physiks (the entry level floorstander is ~$16-18K). Personally, of all the speakers I have heard (many, but certainly not all) in this price range, those are what I would buy. They have everything that I seek: A huge 3-D soundstage, smooth yet detailed treble, wonderful tangiability and timbre, finely gradiated dynamics, an "in the room with you" presentation, good bass (but I would add subs), and they completely dissappear into the soundstage.
If you are serious about the KEFs, I recommend two things: First make sure you like the tweeter's presentation. Some people, lilke me, find the KEF treble a bit too "in your face". Second, push the dealer for a professional setup. IME, KEFs really need good setup to realize their full potential, moreso than many other brands.
Thanks everyone. Like many of you, I have to consider the WAF. That’s a problem with the German Physiks. The only Vandersteen dealer within several hundred miles only stocks the Treo CT and below-the speakers which don’t have a powered subwoofer (thid would be an issue anyway because we have no power source near the speaker location). Would the Treo CT compete with the KEF Reference 3 and the other speakers I’m considering? Still would love to hear the KEF Reference 5 but, as I’ve said before, those also aren’t available for audition within several hundred miles. I’m tempted to pull the trigger on the KEF Reference 3 since they have become the standard I compare everything else to-and so far have come out on top for me.
+1, if you get them set up optimally with the Wavelet. I heard the Aeris in TX, manually tuned for the room with the older Xilica processor, and the sound was just OMG awesome. I've never heard that sort of mid range authority and clarity. We played this Boz Scags cut where he sings pretty low and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. At Lone Star Audio Fest last June, there was a cut with a huge sounding baritone sax on the left channel that similarly astounded me.
That said, I've also heard them when it didn't seem like the setup was very good, and they were not as impressive. But the potential for the price is awesome. If I could figure out how to integrate them into my receiver based system, I'd buy that set.
Go listen to the Treo CT
i can assure you the level of engineering in that box equals anything KEF can do
nothing wrong with KEF
as for no power outlets
decent electrician couple of hundred bucks each
full disclosure I am a happy Vandersteen 7 owner with a set of Treo CT on order
i could have gone North in the product line but figure the subwoofer would just $&@&$ ! Off the downstairs neighbors....
enjoy your quest
@bassdude - +1 on the Aeris. I have heard them three times. The first two were magical. The last was disasterous. The guy demonstating them is known to have pretty poor setup abilities, so I wasn't too concerned. While the Aeris/Wavelet combo will exceed your budget a bit, I think it's worth stretching. See if you can work with a dealer for at least a modest discount (or maybe a trade-in). With the exception of the German Physiks, the Aeris is what I would buy in this range. And they look really cool.
There’s a couple of pair of the Legacy Audio Aeris for sale on Audiogon and on USAudiomart - both like new... and... both at the low end of your price range! Don’t hesitate at these prices - $10,000 to $13,000!!!
And... you can easily safely crate them and ship them (with a freight carrier) for... say... $1000.
I’d buy either pair... except... I’m not sure I want to invest in anything that heavy (difficult to place, position, move) - like moving a refrigerator. And... I have insufficient room right now, until I complete my 20x20 media room over next year.
The real test is how absolutely realistic a cello, or double bass, or piano sounds with every bit of texture and detail and harmonics in every note, not to mention their incredible soundstage and imaging (of an open baffle speaker)!
But... there is really nothing up to $100K that compares!
It took me about a year to upgrade to my current set of speakers, a pair of Focal Sopra No2's I snagged when they first came out...paired with a pair of JL Audio F113V2 sub woofers. Though they were certainly "broken in" in about 200 hours or so, I'd say at about the six month point, they really seemed to "settle in". No plans to look for another pair of speakers.
I can only imagine that the bass on the Sopra No3's is fuller than my speakers, given the larger woofers and cabinet size.
Re Joseph Pearl:
I absolutely love the tonality of the smaller Perspective and Pulsar models. I’ve never read a single bad comment about the big Pearls.
Almost every comment, from writers covering shows, audiophile comments from shows and demos, and from pearl owners, ranges from "sounds great" to pure swooning.
If I had the money and space, those Pearls on A-gon would be mine!
I suggest you consider the Revel Ultima Salon 2. I have had them for about 1 year and am delighted with their sonic reproduction, which I think is about as uncolored and true as can be achieved. Although the list price is a little about the $20.000.00 limit they can be purchased for less than list. At least give them a try before making a final decision. I listened to a lot of speakers in that price range and, in my opinion, none of them sounded as good as the Salon 2s. By the way, I am not employed by or have any affiliation with Salon...other than my ownership of these great speakers.
There have been some long standing expectations for Revel to eventually rework the Ultima2 series, and they had displayed he very first change to them since their introduction. Two new finishes, one called Aston Martin Silver and the other rich chocolate that I hadn't seen named. In addition to the new finishes, pricing was updated to $20,000 and $26,000 respectively. Not that these are major changes, and I honestly hope they do have something interesting up their sleeve, but I don't feel they have something impending to replace them. Would be happy to learn otherwise.
When Revel released the Ultima2, it was benchmark product and over ten years later still holds its own very well. I personally do agree they would certainly be well worth a listen, with the only mention of note is the speaker will lean on its partnering amp a little.
Well if you fly out to the Seattle area I can let you listen to a pair of Wilson Beseech Vectors. So many good things about not only the way they are built ( carbon fiber cabinets ) but more importantly they do everything an audiophile would love, and even more importantly they do everything a person who really enjoys music would die for. Just shut down my business but you are welcome to come by and listen.