The Soundlabs must go-any thoughts on substitutes?

I am afraid that for family and space considerations I have to get rid of my M-1’s. I was
hoping that someone out there might have advice about either full size or monitor
dynamic speakers that capture some of the Soundlab magic--hopefully in the 10 to 15K
range. I am afraid that even hybrids will be too big, hence the search for more
conventional speakers. I use tube equipment (Wolcott amps, BAT pre) and I listen to all
types of music (about 60% vinyl and 40% digital). I do prefer a more laid back sound
rather than a brighter “metal tweeter” sound, and I do not need a lot of big time bass.
Thanks in advance for any help I can get.
the mini utopias are small and sound awsome. it will be an uphill battle beating the labs. they have awsome midrange. i replaced a-3s with jm lab utopias. i could live with either speaper. the utopias do look better in my room and are more dynamic though. good luck.
You may want to consider a used pair of Avalon Eidolons. I have two systems- one with Sound Labs and another with Avalon Radian HC speakers. The sound is different but both are excellent. I drive my Avalons with tubes and get great sound and am very pleased with either system.
Two really great suggestions above.

I am an avid Soundlab guy and would find it difficult to replace my U-1's with anything except another Soundlab.

That being said, the speakers already suggested are excellent and you might also look into used Audio Artistry Beethoven. When I heard the Beethoven at CES a number of years ago I almost considered them to replace my Soundlabs, they sounded so good !

One other thought, how about the new model Quads or even an old pair that has been modified by David Crosby? These are legendary among many audiophiles. Equal to Soundlab, at least in the important midrange area.

Another benefit of the Quads, they run superbly with the Wolcotts that you already own. Better still, you then have the option of pulling half the output tubes, reducing the possibility of damaging the Quads from being over driven.

I have a very good friend doing exactly this with his Crosby modified Quads. He is achieving absolutely state of the art sound in a very compact package. This cuts electricity, heat and reduces your tube use by half.

Please post your results. I am very interested in knowing how you do with this change.
The VMPS RM 40's ( still tall but not wide) or the Eggleston Andras beautiful but heavy design. I own both.
verity audio parsifals. don't over look these. and they love tubes. they are my next quads are already in the attic.
the best alternative i could suggest are the
Greetings Aitchnu,

Sorry to hear you have to find an alternative to your Sound Labs! I'm an owner (and dealer), and have searched far and wide for alternatives to the Sound Labs. I have yet to find their sonic equivalent in a conventional package. The problem is, you can hear the box in many otherwise very fine loudspeakers once you've been spoiled by the Sound Labs.

I owned a pair of Crosby-modded Quad 63's for a couple of years, but I must say that in my opinion the Sound Labs are across-the-board better. In particular I have a low tolerance for upper midrange problems, and to my ears there was a slight upper mid/lower treble prominence with the Quads that could put on an edge on close-miked female vocals.

I also spent a day in the home of Siegfried Linkwitz, designer of the Beethovens, listening to his pair. Stunning dynamics and an utter lack of boxy colorations. The voicing and presentation is different from the Sound Labs, though - a bit more forward.

I've chosen to become a dealer for a speaker that's conceptually similar to the Audio Artistry line, but with voicing more reminiscent of the Sound Labs. This is the Gradient Revolution. The Revolution uses dipole loading for the bass and cardioid-pattern pressure-relief loading (via large damped slots) for the mid/tweet module. This gives the Revolutions that elusive freedom from boxiness across the spectrum, and the mid/tweet module is a concentric unit so the sound is exceptionally coherent. The dipole bass loading gives the kind of naturalness and pitch definition in the bottom end that us Sound Lab owners would hate to give up. The combination of dipole and cardiod radiation patterns produce a reverberant field with the same tonal balance as the first-arrival sound, which is another rare quality they share with the Sound Labs. The biggest drawback to the Revolutions may be their price - they only retail for five grand, and so are way below your ballpark. See Don't be put off by the fact that the concentric tweeter is a metal-dome unit; it has none of the hardness we normally associate with metal domes.

Within the next few months the active version of the Revolution (first shown at CES 2001) should be commercially available, and passive versions can be converted to active ones. This would enable owners to add additional bass modules to upgrade bass extension and headroom. The active Revolutions I heard used two additional bass modules per side (retail of around twelve or thirteen grand total), and the presentation was magnificent, especially the rendering of massed large strings (we were listening to Mahler's Third).

Coming from a Sound Lab background myself, the thing that captivated me about the Revolutions is that they don't sound like speakers even in the bass (and in this respect they outperform speakers many, many times their price). Like with the Sound Labs, you can walk all around the room and the tonal balance stays pretty much the same (of course the soundstaging is best down the center-line of the room). Nope they don't have quite the inner detail and nuance of the Sound Labs, but then not much else does. But they do have that relaxing, all-day-listening naturalness.

I'm sure it sounds crazy to you for me to be recommending a five grand speaker (upgradable though it is) as a replacement for the Sound Labs. I sell other speakers that cost more than the Revolution, but as someone coming from a Sound Lab background the Revolution would be my personal choice, preferably in the forthcoming active version with a few extra bass modules.

Let me mention a few other speakers I don't sell that appeal to me as a fellow Sound Lab owner: The Maggie 3.6 and 20 (haven't heard the 20.1 but I presume it's even better); the MBL Radialstrahler; the Rethm; and the Intuitive Design Denali. All of these designs are coherent and natural-sounding, and have very low to non-existent levels of boxiness.

Shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions, and if the Revolutions sound promising enough to you I can arrange an in-home audition.

Best wishes to you in your quest!


Thanks to everyone for all the thoughtful responses--especially the extended discourses from Duke and Albert Porter. I do not have any high end dealers near me so my ability to do a lot of auditioning is limited and all the above comments will really help me narrow down the search. Thanks also to Audiogon for providing such a great forum to exchange info. I will definitely let you know what my search turns up.