In Richard Hardesty's "Audioperfectionist Journal" he reviewed the Dunlavy, Vandersteen and Thiel speakers. He ultimately chose the Vandersteen 3A Signatures with a pair of 2Wq subs. He also gave reasons why. All of the above are time aligned and phase coherent designs.
Hardesty felt the Dunlavy had a little too much box envolved in the reproduction. Personally, I thought the large baffle around the tweeter and mid was responsible creating a little boxey sound.
He talked of how well Theil's were built and the all out design that went into them.
After going through more speakers than I care to talk about, I too, settled on the Vandersteen's with the subs. I found these speakers to be very revealing but more important, true to the music. The only caveat is you need excellent amplification, upline components and it is extremely important for the setup to be right.
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I really think the man is a straight shooter and he is certainly not at the service of the industry. He also has years and years of experience both retail and as a reviever.
You may ultimately not like Vandersteen's (which is absolutely ok with me) but at least he gives reasons (which I do agree with) for his decisions based on facts and sound, educated judgements. If nothing else, it is material to help you make a "Sound" decision. We need all of that we can get!
I think the speakers that sound most like Dunlavy's in order from top to bottom are: Thiel, Meadowlark and Vandersteen. I have not heard the Green Moutains, but, would guess that they too share some of the same qualities.
Bigtee's comments are interesting because I was thinking along the same lines when I read Roland's post. You might also consider Piega. The usual caveats apply since revealing speakers are always sensitive to components and cabling. Some of the vandersteen models have tighter bass than others so listen carefully. All of the speakers mentioned will require powerful amplification.
I'll point out that all the speakers you all have mentioned use 1st order designs. What I'm hearing from all this is is that it's generally thoujght that the 1st order crossover is most responsible for the sound of the speakers.
I must say that I never noticed the Dunlavys I have heard to sound boxy or anything like it. I've also owned a pair of Thiel speakers and liked them alot, but found them to be somewhat wanting in the midrange area. I like the Vandersteen line but also find it somewhat recessed in the upper frequency regions for my tastes.
I must admit that it's quite disappointing to see Dunlavy out of the mix, but sometimes you just have to move on. Keep on with the ideas--something has to be out there that's as good or better!
This maybe off the beaten path but what about some Innersounds.These use transmission loaded bass drivers.And I don't think you will find anything as detailed with great tonal balance as an Electrostatic speaker! Of course there best enjoyed while sitting..oh well can't have it all!
Cello Stradivari Master (Dynaudio driver version). I am using Pass X-600 to drive and it is sounding great. I believe X-350 can dirve it pretty good as well. However, Cello is out of business and you will need to find a used pair. Good luck.
I moved from Dunlavy 4s to the Avantgarde Duos. The Duos are a much more exciting speaker overall, and exceedes the Dunlavy 4s in every aspect. They are a little fussy, but when set up right they bring the music to your room.
Another speaker I would consider would be the Silverline Bolero. I compared the Sonata 1 to my Dunlavys when I had them and I liked most aspects of the Sonata better, excepet that I felt that my electronics better suited the Dunlavys and they were all around less fussy than the Sonatas. I heard the Boleros at a show and they sounded great, good looks small footprint and big bass, your wife would love you if you chose the Boleros over the Dunlavy 5s which are huge and not all that good looking.
Another speaker that I think is better and I also own is the Innersound Eros Mk 3. The Eros also like the Dunlavys have a small sweet spot, but they are much easier to place and less finicky than the Dunlavys in regards to electronics. They pretty much beat the Dunlavys in every regard in my opinion and once again they win in the looks category
If you're looking for something that sounds similar to the Dunlavy's, try and audition Snell or Coincident speakers.
All of the speakers recommended by others are excellent, but I think these two sound more like the Dunlavy's.
Rowland, This is why speaker decisions are so based on individual preferences. I don't find Vandersteen's recessed in the highs just as you don't hear the slight box sound of Dunlavy's . They are all good speakers deserving of their reputations.
I think the Theil's are slightly tilted up in the highs which would cause a slightly recessed midrange in comparison which you have noticed.
The point is, all are a trade off of some sort.
As you stated and as I mentioned earlier, they are 1st order designs. I like these because they don't throw the sound at you, they let you listen. I judge speakers by their capability to disappear in the room. 1st order speakers, to me, do this extremely well.
When I listen to the Vandersteen's in my room, I don't hear speakers---I hear the performers, soundstage, etc. They disappear completely leaving an open window to veiw the performance(as long as that recording allows it)
Best to you in your search and may the audio Gods smile on you!
This thread at another forum may be of interest to you, VMPS RM-40 owners: Before you bought your RM-40..What other speakers did you compare them to? http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=5521
A lot of good suggestions above. You might also consider trying Duntechs, which are similar in design to the Dunlavy's (same designer, similar design principles)--just not easy getting them in certain parts of the world. The Sovereign 2001 is roughly the same frequency response and size as the SC V, although it is a little warmer-sounding than the SC V and it needs an amplifier that can control its bass drivers to match the bass speed of the Dunlavy design. A great speaker for listening to music, although not everyone's cup of tea. Also, you might try one of the larger Dynaudio speakers, particularly the Evidence Temptations, which are superb speakers--they can give you that "big" sound that Dunlavy and Duntech speakers can.
Sorry to hear that you've had shipping problems but if you like the Dunlavy, I wouldn't give up because of shipping problems. Obviously I'm biased as I have a pair of Alethas, an SM-I and a pair of SCI-AVs. The Alethas ship in crates, not cardboard so I'd imagine the bigger SC series do as well. I would have thought they could handle the shipping.
I also own a pair of Vandersteen 2C's. In fact, the Alethas replaced the 2C's in my house (the Vandersteens have been relegated to my lake home). To me, the Aletha's were a huge step up from the 2C's. Before I bought the Alethas, I auditioned the Vandersteen Model 3. In my opinion, the Model 3 is better than the Model 2 but was no match for the Aletha. I felt the Aletha imaged much better than the Vandersteen and conveyed a better sense of dynamics. (I can understand Ejlif's comments about the AvanteGarde as nothing compares to the dynamics of a horn.) I did get to hear the Model 5 but I would be surprised if it sounded much better than the Model 3 in the mids/highs, as I believe the Model 5 is basically the same as the Model 3 but augmented with the built-in subwoofer.
I don't know where you live but there are a fair number of Dunlavy speakers being shopped around. If you're looking at the SC-V, they are massive and will cost a bundle to ship. If it were me and I really wanted the Dunlavy, I'd look to find a pair within a day's driving distance and pick them up myself. It may cost a few dollars more than straight shipping, but that's incremental when compared to the cost of the speakers. (There's 2 pair for sale here on the 'Gon right now; one in Colorado the other in Georgia.)
I'm not knocking Vandersteen. I have tremendous respect for Vandersteen, their cost/performance, and like I said I'm an owner of them. In fact, I'm toying with selling my Velodyne sub in favor of a pair of Vandersteen 2wQ subs. (My wife doesn't like the black Velodyne, so I'm thinking I have a window of opportunity here!) Good luck whatever you decide.
Dunlavy was on my short list to replace Apogee Duettas when they went out of business.
I ended up with the Green Mountain Audio Continuum 2i which I felt compared well with the Dunlavy 4 at less money, but i never got to the hear the Aletha. A 2nd choice wound have been the Vandersteeen 3a but they would have needed more amp power.
I also liked the Dunlavy V, and owned Dunlavy Alethas for a while but sold them in favor of Genesis V, obviously a different technology and sound, especially in the space and air departments. If you're interested I gave my comparative impressions at AudioAsylum a couple years back:
Later sold the Genesis for Talon Khorus. The Khorus are different sounding than either, but meet, I think, your objectives of tight, tuneful, extended bass coupled with a smooth treble. Good detail is also there, but never in-your-face. Generally warmer and less dry than the Dunlavys, and easier with placement requirements.
Just another suggestion. Ultimately you'll have to listen for yourself.
I am looking to buy two SC1AV for my rears.Prefer light oak will consider black.
Art Haaker 864-836-2732
You might want to try VMPS speakers.I own a pair,and enjoy listening to them.VMPS has expanded their speaker line quite a bit now,and are utilizing a number of Ribbon drivers .They have re-issued a model Tower II,Special Edition,Anniversary Edition with quite a bit of upgrades for a price less than 2k purchased and shipped directly from VMPS.You could go to their website at www.vmpsaudio.com to look at this and other models,or even call the factory in California and speak to Brian the owner.
I have replaced my much modifed Dunlavy SC4's in my main system recently with the new Caravelle speakers and dedicated Sistrum stands..These are remarkable speakers in everyway..The Dunlavys are for sale..I am a Caravelle dealer..Tom
You could try the Duntechs, John Dunlavy's former company. I just don't know if they will ship to the USA or if they have a dealer here. But at least they are still in business should you blow a driver, or whatever.
You might also like the Meadowlark Audio line, rather similar in execution to the Dunlavy. I have owned products from both manufacturers, and I was highly impressed. I really never should have got rid of a product from either company. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies in this hobby. We keep looking for better when we already have a great set up.
The VMPS RM-40 is a WMTMW design like the Dunlavys, but the drivers are better -- true ribbon for the tweeter and planar magnetics for the midrange. Above the RM-40 in the VMPS lineup is the RM/X which functions as a line array from about 200hz - 6khz with point source ribbon tweeter above that and dynamic bass below.
You might check out Green Mountain Audio. Both GMA & Dunlavy) from Colorado Springs. Both 1st order designs. Roy at GMA has certianly done his homework with his designs. You can find reviews of two of his speakers at 6moons.com. A google search will provide you with others. Amazing speakers.