The search among the great ones - 20k+ speakers


I have started the "speakerjourney", where I want to be able to decide for _the_ speaker for me. I rather save up and spend some more and hopefully live with one of these speakers for a long time.

What are you guys opinion on the following speakers? Have anyone several of them?

The only thing I have now, that I want to build a system from, is a Modwright Transporter. I am going for a digital based hdd-source.

*Evolution Acoustics MM2
*Von Schweikert VR-7
*B&W 800 Diamond
*Burmester B100 Reference
*Rockport Mira II Grand
*Focal JMLab Maestro Utopia III

I want a speaker that I can live long able to play all different kinds of music, and recordings without running out of the room because of "sharp/ringing highs"

I love my Magnepans. If I was building another system I would buy all Shindo gear including speakers. What price range are you targeting.
By range i meant 20-25k or 20-100k?
I have both Totem wind and Shamans both are very good speakers and happy withe their range and depth
but before spends a lot of money on speakes make sure
you have a good DAC I have the MSB Player III the sound that comes out of both of these speakers overwelm me
I would include the Revel Salon2's as well. I don't own them but I just read the June '08 review and they seem like they belong in this group of fine speakers.
Melchor -

How about going active:

(or, if looks doesn't matter much you'd save money with this variant:

A good DAC with a build-in volume control(a la Bel Canto's DAC3.5, or the likes), and you're up an running with an extremely capable, simple, and reasonably priced system.
I would add to your impressive list the TAD CR1's (and not just because I sell them).

They present a tremendous amount of detail woven throughout the spectrum, yet are not bright, brittle, fatiguing, thin or mechanical sounding.

Either tube or solid state can yield very natural results. I get to hear live acoustic instruments from up close on a regular basis and the CST beryllium driver delivers many of those qualities I hear live.

Another thing it excels at is taking average or lesser recordings and revealing so much information that they will sound like an audiophile recording. I've heard pedestrian recordings on outstanding cutting edge systems (that are great with stellar recordings), just kind of lay there. Back at my system those average recordings come to life with inner detail, vitality, complexity, drama and naturalness.

Best of luck in your search for a reference speaker.
>>10-22-11: Emailists
I would add to your impressive list the TAD CR1's (and not just because I sell them).<<

Oh, I'd bet that has something to do with it.

Every one of your posts is about something you sell.
You are all over the board, the Maestro's are ~$50k, and the 800's are like $24k.

All are good speakers in their own right, but you need to go listen to them as you will be the one living with them!

I have heard the 800's, VS 7's (don't like these at all) the Burmester, and Focal.

I went with the Sasha W/P's though the Focal Maestro's were my other choice, YMMV......... I didn't hear the Rockports until after I had pulled the trigger on the Sasha's but they would have been in the running, not sure which way I would have gone as Rockport makes some insanely good speakers.
You should listen to them yourself. I heard the Burmester and B&W and was not all that impressed for the money. I would take the Dynaudio C4 MKII/Signature over either in a heartbeat. A step up would be the Evidence Temptations then the Masters.

Can't recommend enough listening yourself. It's your money and ears not mine or anyone else. Take your time too!! When you hear the right speaker for you YOU will know it :)
Your list should also include:

- Revel Salon 2
- Wilson Sasha
- MBL 116F
- Sonus Faber Futuras

Good luck through this journey!

I you want a list of all $20K+ speakers, buy Audio magazines equipment directory.
You may want to include the Legacy Whisper and its ultimate big brother, the Helix in your search. The Helix is a 4 way, quad amped speaker system, steered by a Xilica XD 4080 digital crossover and custom set up by Bill Duddleston, President of Legacy Audio, in Springfield, IL. These speakers sound superb and can fit into almost any size room with no concerns.
From impressions at the recent RMAF I'd suggest adding to your list (prices all over the board as well):

Wilson Sasha (seconded - and I'm not a Wilson fan)
Daedalus Ulysses
YG Acousics (smaller model)
Vivid B1

Further recommendations from past experience:

AudioMachina Maestro S (client disclaimer)
TAD (did not like the recent RMAF demo as they were overpowering the small room they were in, but I would otherwise recommend these in a heartbeat based on three previous listens to them) - the smaller model
Hansen Prince
Avalon Eidalon Diamond

Obviously you should consider the size of the room you will be putting them with and what amp you are using as well. That should go without saying.
you might try to audition vandersteen 7's too - I was mightily impressed by them.
What, no Proac. There top of the line is a great sound.
Investigate a pair of OHM Walsh speakers with in home trial first for ~$1800-$6500 depending on room size first before dropping $20K on speakers.
"The only thing I have now, that I want to build a system from, is a Modwright Transporter.”

Are you planning to buy the rest of your system piecemeal (speakers first) or as a complete system? Do you have a preference for amplifier type/power?
Also, your room and set-up restrictions will have as much to do with choosing a speaker as you will. There is nothing wrong with your question, but with the limited information offered, members can’t really advise you so much as offer you their personal experiences.
Add Tidal and MBL to your list.
If you live reasonably close to Nevada, go to True Soundworks and audition the Apogee Divas or Duetta Signatures. It would be well worth the trip. True audio Nirvana--IMO
Elaborating on comments that were made above by Marco (Jax2) and Phaelon, in narrowing down your list of candidates I would encourage you to consider the constraints on amplifier selection that each candidate would represent. For instance a speaker that requires the amplifier to be able to provide high power capability and high current capability, in addition to providing sound quality commensurate with the quality of the speaker, could very conceivably necessitate an amplifier investment comparable to the cost of the speakers, or even more, as well as constraining your ability to change amplifiers in the future.

As an owner of the Daedalus Ulysses speakers that were recommended above by Marco, I can attest to the fact that they are exceptionally versatile in terms of amplifier selection. They represent an easy load by any definition, they don't require a great many watts, but at the same time they can handle large amounts of power if necessary. And they definitely do not have "sharp/ringing highs."

Coincident speakers are another well-regarded brand that comes to mind that provides both high efficiency and benign impedance characteristics.

Good luck in your search.

-- Al
Melchor, which one or two speakers have you heard in you life that you truly loved, that might help in recommending speakers that might appeal to you based on the kind of sound you like. As a general principle I like the type of speakers that Al likes, at least as a starting point - efficient (89db and higher) and easy to drive with tube amps (smooth impedance characteristics).
With that kind of budget, why does cost matter and why mention it? Sure, I'm jealous but not really come to think of it. You could spend $20k on speakers without ever realizing that there's $10k speakers that sound better. To give you an example, I've listened to many $20k + speakers and none of them have sounded as good to me as the Harbeth 40.1. If I won the lottery tomorrow, that's what I'd buy. I would choose them over any other speaker in the world. It looks like something my uncle built in his garage, but to me it is the best that any money can buy because to me, they sound the best. Are you looking for good sounding furniture or good sounding speakers? Sorry to sound like a jerk, but your post comes across as a young doctor who's entertaining in 2 weeks and is desperate.
Sorry to sound like a jerk...

Then why sound like one?
Agree with the Vandy 7 audition.
If you have the room, you need to hear a good line array.
Because I can and I will. Any other post about buying speakers is replied to by asking about the listening room, etc. As soon as someone drops a $20k + price all of a sudden the important things don't matter and everyone chimes in trying to help this person spend money. It doesn't make sense. Oh, all of a sudden $20k has no room limitations or synergy with the rest of the equipment? Go give a colonoscopy Phaelon. It's people like you that keep Von Schweikert in business.
"It's people like you that keep Von Schweikert in business.”

Why me? I never bought anything from Von Schweikert.

"Go give a colonoscopy Phaelon.”

I’m sure that’s funny, but I don’t get it.

"As soon as someone drops a $20k + price all of a sudden the important things don't matter and everyone chimes in trying to help this person spend money. It doesn't make sense.”

You know what? You might have a point there. It does kind of seem like that. To bad you choose to obscure your good points with pointless rants.
Other than saying you sound like a jerk, was there something in Phaelon's previous posts to OP you found objectionable, sounded like reasonable advice; namely, let us know about amplifier considerations and the room you will be using it in. I do agree you don't have to spend 20k for SOTA speakers, not by a long stretch, but if you have the $$$ it gives you more speakers to consider, though you might very well end up with a less expensive speaker - like Harbeth 40.1 - very fine speakers indeed, if you have a large enough room or treatments to deal with the generous bass output it is capable of.
Last weekend at the RMAF show I had a chance to listen to the Earo active horn speakers again. Very impressive. They just sound like music. I think that the smaller white speakers are particularly amazing for their size.
Hello again

Ok, first off..I should have been more clear about what my preferences are:

*This is what my apartment look like

The livingroom is where it says "vardagsrum" I am from Sweden.

*A lot of speaker manufacturer that´s been mentioned here is not available in Sweden, so I will not be able to listen to Vandersteen, OHM, Legacy etc.

*I am trying to collect info on what people think about speakers I mentioned and limit myself to them.

*$20k is max for the speakers, but I know like the focal costs $35 used so they have to be EXTRA special to make that leap.

*I am looking to buy used speakers!!!

*I have nothing more than a Modwright transporter right now, I am starting from sracth besides that.

*I have ripped all my cds to flac and will use a mac mini+NAS to store my files.

I am not sure I can hear the Evolution Acoustics nor the particular Rockport Mira Grand II speakers in Sweden :( so I might wright those down.

Donjr: No offcourse not, it´s not like I NEED to spend 20k on speakers, If I find speakers that sound REALLY great for 10k, then that´s what I buy. Not that I am looking for used speakers.

Speakers I listened to and that I like is TAD Reference one (don´t have the $), Audio Note An-e (cant remember the exact model)+Ongaku = Now THAT was music! Focal Diablo was really nice too.
Ok, seems like I am forgetting Tidal!
Tidal Contriva Diacera SE or Tidal Contriva is on my list
I have to agree with ( Ritmo } When properly setup the Revel Salons are the best speakers I've heard at any price .
Tmsorosk: I have heard Revel Salons 2 at a dealer and thought it was ok, nothing special. Hopefully I´ll have another shot to auditon them.
if you find Diablo Utopia(without subwoofer) sounds nice to you then Maestro would be VERY good speakers- they retain all speed of Diablo with added "less shouty in your face presentation"- to the point where speakers can be enjoyed in long term listening. and VERY much BIGGER and authority to put same speakers in a shame, which sound slike matchbox comparing to Maestro. Maestro can play anything - from subtile 60'ies jazz to large clasical, from folk music to metal. I can not say that for any speakers including focal scala and diablo (Focal Diablo can play only vocals and small jazz groups IMHO )

but Maestro need VERY high current amplifier (not very powerfull, but very low ohm capable)

It also sensitive to equipment (thoses speakers love good amp) but they do not sound ear bleeding with medium amps/dac.

if its your sound theese speakers can be keeper for long time.

hope this helps.
IMO, good start on a short list although I would eliminate B&W imediately and having heard the Focals alot I would scratch them off as well..but you should include Vivid and Raidho
Vandersteen 5A Carbon at $24K
"heard the Focals alot I would scratch them off as well..but you should include Vivid and Raidho”

I have heard Focals and Raidho a lot and prefer Focals by quite a margin. So Melchor, where is this really getting you. There are a lot of astute folks on Audiogon who spend considerable time and effort putting together their systems. They go to the same audio shows, belong to formal and informal listening groups and yet, look at the diversity of their systems. Like Pubul57 and others here, I would like to know a lot more about your personal listening preferences. Can you appreciate the virtues of tubes? SETs? Do you prefer warm and intimate or do you want a microscope on the music. Is it more about appeasing your frontal lobe or stimulating your Amygdala. Listen to Almarg. While you don’t have to buy them together, you should at least know what kind of amplifier you eventually intend to buy.
Ive not only heard Focal and Raidho ..but owned both of them!Your suggestion about SET amps is ridiculous,and one should always buy speakers first then match the amp to them.The college verbage may sound correct but doesnt really apply,IMO.
What ridiculous suggestion did Phaelon make regarding SET? I can't find it. Yes, it starts with speakers than finding the amp to drive them, but if you know you want a tube amp right from the start, that will limit the speakers you can rightfully consider. Now maybe one should not be obstinate about insisting on tube versus SS - but that the listener's business.
I think you misunderstood my point, which wasn’t to debate who was right between you and me, but to illustrate to Melchor the role of personal preferences. Also, I didn’t suggest SET amps or, for that matter, anything at all yet. I’m still just trying to get a feel for the OP.
I second the Vandersteen 5a Carbons. I just got back from the RMAF and the only speakers that I would consider replacing my Salks for were the Vandersteen 7s. If the 5a Carbons are anywhere near the sound of the 7s then they would be a steal.

"Can you appreciate the virtues of tubes? SETs?”

I can see how that might be taken wrong (guess I should go back to college). My intention was only to provide Melchor with examples of the type of questions he should be asking himself, and then sharing with us. My only wish is for Melchor to put together a system that suits him. Don’t we all know people who have allowed the strong assertions of “experts" to over influence them?
Perhaps it would be helpful if you told us what was actually available in Sweden for audition unless you wanted to cover Denmark as well.
Do you also consider horn or/and panel speakers?
You are right, Revel is okay maybe even good but you can do much better than that.
I'm not a fan of any of the mentioned speakers but VON SCHWEIKERT would be your best bet for the list. But for the amount, there are so many other speaker systems to me that are far better then any that are mentioned. You can get a used infinityr RS series for that amount and if you're into electrostats and planars, there are so many like magnepan 20.1 or a soundlab or martin logan. There's just too much to choose from. Maybe a DUEVEL even or mark and daniel?
From your initial list of speakers it seems that you are looking for cone drivers. Have you heard planers or better yet full range ribbon speakers before? They are genenrally less money for state of the art sound.

I was not a believer before and loved my dynamic drivers over any Maggie I heard, but then I heard some rebuilt Apogees and fell in love. You owe it to yourself to check out some rebuilt Apogees. With the right amp it could be the answer you are looking for.
Expensive speakers may be bigger and better. BEtter is good but bigger is not always the best solution. It depends on the room. You need a bigger room in general for bigger speakers. So be sure to keep to the room and how the speakers will integrate into it as a primary consideration when looking at speaekrs in this price range. Depending on modelyou can pay for size sometimes as much as quality. Focus on getting the right size high quality speakers that sound good to you to help narrow the field effectively.
What type of power do you plan on using or are you getting the speakers first?
The reason I continue to show with Classic Audio Loudspeakers at shows including the recent RMAF is that I feel that he makes some of the best speakers out there. Easy to drive (98 db), easy impedance for tubes (16 ohms), bandwidth to the bottom octave (20Hz with two 15" woofers, field-coil powered), transparency, imaging, no worries...

The room we used (Lupine) turned out to have a false wall, which extended a couple feet above the false ceiling. Not exactly the best setup for showing off how well a speaker can play bass!

Almost any speaker represents some combination of compromise. In addition, some will work well with tubes and others will not- you have to know the amplification first!
I have Kef Reference 205/2 speakers but if I had the
Money love to own Kef reference 207/2 speakers. I've heard
Them, and loved them. Great sound stage,& imagining & open
Sounding! Just my 2 cents worth.