I have to say I heard a few and in my apt the Proac super tablettes were to me just the ticket. The best imaging I ever heard just floating in space all hocked up to a pair of quicksilver 8417 original monos.
71 responses Add your response
I agree with the above poster about the Dynaudio C1 -- a very good monitor (clearly better than the very good Special 25).
But Audiomachina's (Dr. Karl Schuemann's) Ultimate Monitors, which I just purchased and have been listening to over the last week, are the best monitor I have heard. The name says it all.
i just purchased the Marten 'Dukes'; a small stand mounted 2-way, for the rear channels as i have added multi-channel to my 2-channel room.
read about them here
i have not yet listened to them as 2-channel speakers but i am quite impressed by how they seem to compliment my front speakers.....the Evolution Acoustics MM3's.
i choose them because i had always thought the Martens sounded similar to the Kharma which has a similar sound to the MM3's. it uses the Acouton Ceramic mid-range.
they are not cheap at about $7500 list price including stands; but they are beautifully built and have that certain refinement typically not found in speakers in this price range.
another wonderful small monitor is the Dynaudio Audience 52se which i use in my family room with my plasma......it regularly suprises me with outstanding sound.....and it's around $1200 the pair.
additional thought---the Dukes would likely sound better on more types of amps than the Magico and are an easier load. i like the Magico but find it borderline clinical. i'm using a cheap (but good) digital amp on the Dukes and they sound natural.
b&w silver signatures sounded really spectacular years ago when i heard them, with exceptional speed and imaging. plus i liked the overall balance without straining to reproduce the lowest octave of bass, which would have screwed up the lack of audible distortion that they possessed. maybe they had some inherent flaws (according to the "experts") but i am perhaps not so critical, and to this day when i see a pair for sale i stop to take a long look.
I will add the GAMUT L3 to the list. This is a very fast articulate speaker with good (limited) bottom end. These speakers are very easy to set up and will fit in many rooms. They are truly a ref. monitor and are superbly built. Every time I think I want to upgrade to a 3-way design, I cannot pull the trigger because I have to give up some of what they do well.
I have recently switched from an Avalon Eidolon to the Magico Mini. I bought the Eidolon over other Acouton Ceramic based systems, which, I eventually got tired of and by now, after switching to the Mini I no longer miss.
If the Minis were too aggressive, you need to look elsewhere in the chain. They are simply telling you what the rest of the system is doing. Mikelavigne is right. Other speakers will be less transparent and almost always more colored and therefore more forgiving.
You mentioned Magico Mini fatigue from prolonged listening....you also mentioned you liked the Dynaudio C1.
I may hazard a guess that you might be finding the ceramic driver audible ringing to be fatiguing. There are a couple of ways that the inherent ringing of these lightweight rigid drivers are stiffled. The first is an aggressive notch filter so that the ringing is electrically damped. The second is to place rubber dampers on the cone (the typical dots you see on the side of the cone).
Stick to ordinary damped drivers like the C1 soft dome and polypropylene woofer (woven fabric or paper and composite designs are good too, provided they are well damped). You will have many more hours of fatigueless enjoyment without the ringing. Less rigid damped cones breakup also... but in a much less detrimental manner.
This is all quite intuitive...if you hit something rigid then it will make a noise and then ring like a bell at a characteristic frequency whereas something soft will just make a single thud (with no nasty extended breakup). If you don't believe me try this experiment; hit a pillow with a drum stick and then try hitting a cymbal.....one will give an impulse then nothing whilst the other will give you an impulse and then ringing. Now try hitting the cymbal with your hand but this time grab it exactly just after you hit it (dampen it) ....this is what notch filters and rubber dampers are doing on a rigid cone (trying to stop its natural internal tendency to ring like a bell)
IMHO, extremely rigid drivers are great in theory but fatiguing in practice unless very well controlled (exremely hard to do as you may have found with the cymbal exercise). My suggestion is to avoid them. There are very many great sounding monitors that use well damped drivers. Dynaudio C1 is already a good start.
There's a few smallish speakers that im going to audition. I've talked to several people that i trust in the audio business. I've longed for a small to medium sized floor standers but there is a chance i will be in a smaller listening enviroment once i relocate so to be safe im looking at monitors as well. Keep in mind i have to build a system from the ground up including components. So im opened to Solid State or Tube gear depending on the speakers i settle on. The speakers i want to audition are as follows.
Rockport Mira monitors (new)
Dyn Audio C-1
Mark & Daniel Maxiumus
Mark & Daniel Aragon
Ringing is just as bad as wobbling which all these soft cones suffers from. The Magico's uses a sandwich cone design that reaps the best of both worlds. Extremely stiff yet well damped for its constrained layer construction and also extremely light. Quite a bit more sophisticated them most drivers on the market.
Shadorne, I don't think the Magico Mini has ceramic driver. The Kharma 3.2 has a ceramic driver, but is overall warmer than the Mini. I haven't seen/heard the MKII version of the Mini, so can't say if the new one is different soundwise. I was impressed by the Dynaudio C1 for its outstanding performance and its relative pricing. On my list for sure, but just wondersing what else is out there. Thanks to all for your thoughts.
The best two-way I've heard to this day is a diy design bij Scan Speak, the Reference Monitor SE. http://www.audiocomponents.nl/speakers/scanspeak/reference/scanspeak-reference_eng.htm Here you'll find a description and some drawings. The one I've heard was even more painstakingingly crafted by adding a facetted baffle.
Shadorne, I don't think the Magico Mini has a ceramic driver.
Sorry, I meant to say rigid drivers.
Titanium is a very stiff light weight material, ceramic is another....they all suffer from ringing and need some form of damping to control severe break up modes. Perhaps the Kharma's do a better job of damping than the Magico design...
Have you had a chance to hear the Mark and Daniel Aragon yet. They say this monitor goes down to 28hz with the bass inhanced stands. I know Stereomojo is doing a review of the Maximus that should be on there website i think later this month. So im very interested in seeing what they have to say about it. Very interesting product. Also I havent read any feedback from how they sounded at the NY show.
Ringing is just as bad as wobbling which all these soft cones suffers from.
I agree it is a compromise...it is all about finding the right balance and then using the driver within its acceptable frequency operating range. The fatiguing designs step too far in one extreme or another. Too wobbly is indeed just as bad as too rigid. As is a driver used too far outside its good operating range.
Hi Chaz801, I have had the Merlin TSM very good indeed but still more like HIFI for me. I have been told that the Aragons, to expensive for me are maybe the best monitor on earth by friends. The Maximus I am told is still similar to the Rubys but more bass and somewhat less highs than the Ruby and sounded better with the Harmonizers. All in ALL for me the Mark and Daniels line is truily amazing as music can sound live which is probably the highest compliment in all of Audio>> The editor of StereoMojo emailed me that he loves the Maximus he is currently reviewing, also made mention that they sound better than at the show for him now.
Thats saying quite a bit about the Rubys that you like them even better than the merlin monitors. I know merlin speakers sound better with good tube gear than solid state although the latest versions are more versatile than the earlier models.
I like what im hearing about the Mark & Daniel speakers and dont mind spending a little more for something that will be a true giant killer. I heard one dealer say that he would put the Aragons up against the watt puppy 7s any day. I said what! Now i have to hear them at 1/3 the price of the 7s. Even if they come close to their performance would say a lot for me.
Jaybo and Rwwear
I wish they still made the chario jr's. I emailed the distributor for more info. Would love to hear them to see how i would like the sound. If they sound like a sonus faber i don't know if i would fall in love with the sound. I mean i heard the smaller stradavari cant remember the name at CES 07 and it was pretty good but didnt move me like some other speakers. I like a little punch and listen to jazz fusion, jazz vocals and some pop. I can see where classical would come in great on them. Maybe it was the room or the equipment i heard them on. Just my perception about what i heard at the show.
I think the pair of jrs are gone. There are a pair of i think the mini monitors they make listed. I think i saw them for around 1300 used. I just received an email from a distributor Savant of the Chario. He said they were discontinued however there has been a replacemet. This is his quote:
The Chario Academy 3 has been replaced by the Chario Ursa Major.
Current sale price for a new pair is around $8500 per pair.
I did a search on google and they look pretty nice. I think they go down to around 35hz at -3db. Thats about where i wanna be on a speaker or lower. Now the question is will they sound as good and dynamic as your Academy 3 with the lower octave?
the academy one monitor is rated down to around 50hz, but unlike many up the above mentioned monitor types, actually gets there in listenable fashion. so many monitors and mini's have specs that are science fiction, you have to try them in your house. there are also a pair to sonus fabor electas(another overlooked classic) up for sale for about 1300 on agon right now. they are also way more musical 'and deep' than most of the new mini designs. a more simple design than the electa amator, they would sell for 5k as we speak if a doug and buster type company developed them today.
Its true Chaz801, The Merlins were great don't get me wrong, I used a pair of SET Monoblocks to drive the Merlins as you mentioned. I also have had, Totem 1's, JMLAB Electra 906, B&W 805 matrix,3a Decapo and Royal Masters,Usher x-719, Omega Super 3 Alnico's, and since I have to Set Tube amps and Two Solid State, When I read the 6Moons reviewers had bought the Rubys and the MAximus, I thought they may be special. The Technology is also break-though and new compared to most driver type speakers. My feeling now is that when I listen to these with complex recordings the Drums, Guitar and all the instruments sound the Most real of all the speakers I have owned again, this is >>IMHO
I would have to agree with Tomer_tsin regarding the Wilson Duette and Revel. I have not heard this particular Krell but am otherwise familiar. I ended up with the Duettes and they are absolutely fantastic and quite flexible with placement. To date, I have not heard a speaker that I enjoy more from virtually every perspective (there are other speakers that go lower/deeper), but these are a very well balanced speaker.
First and foremost speak to Bobby - he's as helpful with suggestions as with analyzing suggested systems. Have Ruby Heart red TSM-Mxe's powered by BelCanto Ref 1000 monos and DAC3. Sourced with a SqueezeBox SB3/Boulder digital mod/power supply mod unit; all music stored in lossless format on terabyte server. Plays in a 12x15 room, speakers on Osiris stands.
I've owned Martin Logan, Talon, Red Rose and Gallo - in this room I'd put this system against any of my formers or collections at 2-3 times the price. Drop dead imaging and soundstage, excellent bass control and a visceral presence that draws you into the music.
The owners of Bel Canto and Merlin offer an accessibility that's rare these days, whether it's advice, customer service or support; couple that with the outstanding music reproduction and it's hard to justify other choices
Have you considered the Totem Mani speakers? For a very small monitor speaker they have a dual woofer arrangement that produces exceptional base for either a small floor standing speaker and certainly a monitor.
They image well, throw a deep stage, are overall a well balanced speaker.
To boot, there is a pair available on EBay right now, presently at under $1400 for the pair. Not sure what they will go for, but one could estimate somewhere in the 1750-2200 range, maybe more now! (no, these are not mine, not a friends of mine, just a mention).
If you can find them, KEF made some wonderful speakers 20 years ago that are very small and lifelike. Look for KEF models 104/2 and 102's. They have a cult following. They can be tweaked for great results.
You will also see many threads around Harbeth. They are used by the BBC studios and are very efficient. I have a friend who engineered many of the live BBC shows from the 1960's and 1970's (think Led Zep and the Faces) and he swears by these.