They're initially overpriced v.s. performance.
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They are an absolute steal at their used prices! Opinions may vary, and thus the creation of a marketplace. Where is Adam Smith when we need him? Or maybe Joseph Schumpeter - the economist who coined the term "creative destructionism" whereby the creation of something 'new and improved' tends to 'destoy' the demand (or at least dampen it) for older technology. Talon seems to have done this to their own very excellent products. Mike Farnsworth is determined to build the best speakers that he knows how - but by introducing so many new models...
Do a search in the archives for Khorus and/or Talon and you should find this very same topic was brought up a couple of months ago - there were some excellent responses, including opinions from dealers and others who had some insight on what has been happening with the Talon line. I'm a big believer myself, so perhaps am biased by an all-Talon 7.1 HT purchased entirely here on Audiogon in the used market at the prices you've been seeing. (2 Khorus, 5 Peregrines with Sound Anchor stands and a Roc for about $11.5K). Can't be beat on that budget!
I am another audiogon member who got a great deal here on a demo pair late last year. In the $10k-15k range, there are so many choices that I suspect I would ultimately find a speaker I would prefer.....for one minor reason or another. But when it comes to the $3k-4k range, these are an absolute runaway best buy. If only the average audio consumer was aware of such value as this, why would anyone pay as much for new products at their friendly neighborhood chain that do not even begin to come close? So I am forever grateful to designers of products lines like this who never stop improving their line and thus cause a wave of the previous line to go on the used market at a great price.
As a long time Magnepan fan, I miss some of the magical qualities with those, but the Talons bring on a level of dynamics and resolution I had not experienced with the Maggies. There are always tradeoffs. Ideally, I think the Talons on the used market take you close to the point of diminishing returns for a HT system but perhaps not the greatest choice for music-only based systems....unless you are a 130db heavy- metal kind of listener!
I think the talon's are one of the best speakers I've heard. They have outstanding bass response. Their high range and upper mids are 1/2 a notch below the very best (which are in the 20-40k range or have limited bass), but the overall sound is excellent. They fill in the lower registers better than any other speaker of their size and price (the 15k retail one). They are also fairly efficient so they allow you to use a medium sized tube amp (like the tenors). There is nothing quite like having the foundation of a full range system.
I think they just had rocky start with some of their model/manufacturing changes and pricing strategies. Some of the models on the market were kind of 'interim' models. The old style khorus cabinet with the khorus X crossovers for example. There were quite a few of those on the market once the full bore Khorus X was out. I think quite a few dealers were scrambling to get rid of them which in turn hurt the value of the entire brand.
I think they are one of the very best sounding speakers out there. For a full range, they are in the top 4-5 models that I would consider for myself. I hope to see them around for many years to come. Their products deserve it.
Now, I've only heard the (original) Talons once at a dealer (on a very nice Wadia/Rowland setup), but I'd have to say that, if I had $3-4k to spend on a new pair of speakers and a room to fit them, I wouldn't hesitate at all to grab a pair at that price. I don't think that you can be 100% sure that any given set of speakers will work for you in whatever your particular situation happens to be prior to actually giving them a whirl, but I'd be happy, pleased and eager to give the Talons a whirl at that price.
I have listened to the Talon Khorus X MkI & MkII and they are great speakers, I don't think they are worth there silly retail price of 14k or what ever it is. But for what most of them go for used 4k+ or - they are a good option. That being said in the same price range I wouldn't even think of trading my magnepans for them- both are very different creatures and I prefer the magnepan sound hands down.
I also think the $4k 3.6's are one of the best out there, but we're comparing apples to oranges. They are the best for the money if you can live with the constraints of placement, appearance, amplifier load. They don't have anywhere close to the bass of a big boy full range speaker. Don't get me wrong, I think they are awesome, and they are easily the best speakers out there for conveying large scale music. Nothing else is even in the same building.
When we start talking about dynamic driver $15K speakers verses 5K speakers, what you are paying the extra 10K for IS the bass. As an example, one company I know of sells a $2500 monitor that has some of the most expensive and highest quality drivers out there. They also sell model for $8000. The top two drivers are identical to the monitor. It's pretty easy to hear this when they play side by side too.
It's expensive to add in that low range. I have yet to hear a speaker below 12-15K that had powerhouse bass AND high definition. To me, the $13K Vandersteen 5, the 15K Khorus X, 38K Wilson MAXX, 70K Karma 'Grand Exquisite?' are all in a class by themselves when it comes to bass. These speakers can produce a 'weighty' soundstage that makes you believe an actual performance is taking place. I use $23K avalon eidolons and don't include them in that club, nor do I include the Wilson Watt/Puppy.
The talons recreate the music more realistically than other speaker i have heard. Now the jm labs have a very different presentation they create huge thin but still rich sound. The talon sound is creamy and buttery but still oh so clear. The soundstage is smaller and personal. I dont hear any frequency roll offs in any extreme and if i had to choose between my talon peregrine xs or the utopias it would be a hard choice. The mids on the talons are so much more real sounding but the highs lose out to the uptopias. In the bass obviously there is no contest the talons are so much better its hard to compare but really no one compares in this region to the talons so its a moot point. Anyways they are very different sounding the talons are sweet intimate and exteremely palpable while the utopias are thinner and grander but more natural and the sound flows out more easily. Still its hard to say which is better niether is perfect. The talons are easily worth their 17k retail price as honestly i cant think of one speaker better than them for less.
I was offered for them the price of $6500 demo-used from the respected dealer and auditioned them in relatively good and treated room and they sounded boxy and laid back like the sound would never come out these pyramids even on significantly large volume levels. The source and amplification components were solid rated class A and sure worth their ratings. I figured that they're not worth $6500... Maybe with X- crossover modification they might do the right job for the money but there the price for them dropped bellow $4k since it still need work to sound. And I would say man, I want to listen to the music, not to the Khorus indeed!
Everything there was present bass increadibly low and deep, mids, highs, dynamics except the main i.e. music and that's where the rest of speakers in this price range outperform them.
To prove my observation I'd like someone to try to get used Avantgarde Unos that can't outperform Khorus' bass, slam, and certainly volume for the same used price as Khorus. I'm not tobe here among the horn lovers but Unos let's shortly say did a bunch of things that I realy love during hm... 2 hours of auditioning comparing to fatiguing 30min of Khorus...
I've owned the Verity Parcifal Encores, Magnepan 3.6s, Usher 8871s, Khoruses (in that order), currently live with a DIY speaker called the Orion by Linkwitz and have listened extensively to at least 10 speakers retailing over $10,000. That said, I have regarded the Khoruses from their first iteration to most currrent version as among the best speakers I've ever listened to. They are musical, seamless and very dynamic. I would take issue with those who say they are overpriced above $10,000, they are not. They are fair value (relative to what is fair value in this hobby!) at their retail price and a steal in the $4,000 to $8,000 range. At this class of speakers it's like comparing Sacher Torte to Strawberry cheese cake, whether it's the Kharmas, Wilsons, Dynaudios or Talons, it boils down to taste and effective selection of associated components.
Talon was the subject of controvery from the very beginning, running up against an established line up of speaker companies. Their continued pursuit of product improvements and revisions to their lines have caused significant aftermarket price reductions. This has obviously angered alot of people (Talon owners included) and probably was not the best business decision, but does reflect Talon's dedication to excellence. For this, they should be commended and for those who want high end sound at low prices and are willing not to have the latest model, a great opportunity!
As a Khorus (non-X) owner, I also think they're a good deal at their used prices. Whether YOU like them or not is another story. I've recently owned Genesis V, Proac 3.5, Dunlavy Aletha, and I like the Khorus best. But the highs do seem a bit subdued. And the mids can be a bit thick/over-ripe. But they're very musical, to me anyway, and draw me in to the performance in a way and to a degree the others haven't. And they play all kinds of music well.
I haven't found used prices a very consistent of quality. For example, I sold the Dunlavys for more than the Genesis, but felt the Genesis to be much superior, at least in my set-up.