The under 10K speaker

I've been auditioning and reading for at least a year now, looking for a speaker I can live with blissfully for a long time. I tend to hang on to my equipment for maybe too long so I want to make the most informed decision on speakers. My current setup is a pair Classe CA100's in mono driving Def Tech's BP2000's(don't laugh). I sold my AR LS15, Classe Dac1 and Theta Jade. I'm running a music server (EAC ripped/FLAC encoded) through a Squeezebox3 direct to amps. I'm waiting for the Slim Devices "Transporter" and contemplating a pair of Mono Odyessy Extremes depending upon choice of speakers.

The best I've heard so far were the Wilson Sophias. I've auditioned B/W's all models, Revel's (Sound excellent), Paradigm's, Thiels, Von Schweikert (not the VR4 SR's), JM Labs Utopia, Sonus Fabar, Usher's and others.

I'm thinking about the Wilson Sophia's. I'm interested in the VR4 Jr, The Acoustic Zen Audiago's, Usher Dancer, Revel F52, Daudeulis? DA1 (can't spell them but people love them).

I wish for a full range speaker but adding a subwoofer isn't out of the question.
Hey, this can be fun..
I have been auditioning speakers for the last month or so to replace my Platinum Solos. I listened to the Wilson Sophia 2 & Focus Audio FS-888 at the dealers & IMO they are both very accomplished speakers, at least in comparison to my Solos.
The amp used was a pair of YBA monos plus a Herron VTSP-2 pre & CDP was the Meridian G08. The Wilson & FA have very different character/presentation though & I thought the FA is more neutral (livable?) compared to the Wilson's analytical nature & as usual YMMV.
Regarding the Wilsons, I've read other posts where they referred the Wilsons as being analytical in nature. When I auditioned the Wilsons, they were using Macintosh SS Amps-the big ones-as well as I believe, a very high end CD player. Whomever was singing, was there, and, whomever was playing those drums, I wanted to wipe the sweat off thier brow. Perhaps in retrospect, or was it luck, that the owner of this store actually cared about how his equipment sounded because it seems to me, few do. I find myself attempting to interpet the musical performance or rather, the audition through mismatched, broken or strewn together audio systems. Makes me wonder how dealers sell anything... Most of what I think I know is from reading other audiophiles writings and reviews.

Me thinks I enjoy listening to all the nuances in music and hell, if I hear the performer fart, or the echo from the studio walls, all the better. Don't give me polite, and don't give me glare or etch, but I'll take slam when somethings slamming! Keep it real.
I would add Wilson Benesch ACT to your list. I heard both the Sophia and it left an impression on me but when I got to hear the ACT, it did everything just a little better.
I haven't heard the Sophias. But, I have listened to the Duette and Alexandria. If I could afford the Duette, I could easily live the rest of my life without ever buying another component, except as a replacement for wear.

I did not find the Wilsons to be colored in any way. I heard them with CJ solid state gear and they burned their synergy into my brain permenantly. The Wilsons do project their sound forward quite a bit, but I didn't get any sense of pushiness like most speakers that are forward give me.

Yup, Wilson will be my final speakers at some point.
I would go for the Avantgarde uno (used), with 10k you could get the duo even...You want detail and slam, thats the ticket.

If your room is big enough get the Genesis 201 (used).

I love array speakers, probably you can even scratch for the Pipedreams with 10k...

All else is not at the level IMHO.
If you will consider used loudspeakers, the possibilities open way up. For example, Eggleston Works Andra II are amazing loudspeakers...detailed, resolving, and yet organic. And, used Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE are a stunning no-brainer in the low to mid $3k. VR4SR are a great speaker in the mid to high $5k range. You can also do really well with the Tyler line. Heck, you can buy (and try in-home) the top-of-the-line Tyler Woodmere for $8k, or so.
FYI - although its a couple of years old, here's a review of the Focus FS-888 with comments comparing it to the Wilson Sophia:
After auditioning many of the above speakers I went with the Tyler Woodmere,s. If your room will handle their size they are hard to beat. I think he has a used pair for sale now on audiogon.
P.S. you will never need a sub with these
I've been a Paradigm fan for years ... maybe because I live so close to Canada but mostly because I just like the way they sound. I'm running the S4's now on my main system with a pair of older but very sweet sounding Levinson amps setup in a bi-amp configuration pushed by a Modwright SWL 9.0 SE linestage. For input I run a Levinson 360S DAC tied to my PC (love FLAC) and to a Krell 20i running as my redbook transport. I run a sub but it's crossed very low and I keep the volume down. I have to say I am very happy BUT I have future mountains to climb. Your post caught my attention because in about a year I will be right where you are. My next step is to finally replace the Paradigms.

I have run through a few demo sets and the B&W Signature 800's caught my attention. They seem to be just out of $ range for me. I didn’t really feel the other B&W models that I could afford were as much of a leap from current setup. If I'm going to shell out $5-8 grand for new speakers (used) I will want a significant improvement.

My next demo will be Aerial Acoustics - I keep seeing posts raving about them. I have setup a demo in a few weeks.

If you haven’t already done so - checkout some of the recent posts (there is one regarding the VR4 Jr last week) I understand the person who founded the company came from ADS ... I know 3-4 old 70's hi-fi buffs who swear ADS made some of THE most fantastic sounding speakers of that era. Aerial seems to be the next step ... The 10T has a very loyal following from what I have been reading. The first thing I noticed is Aerial makes a hell of a nice cabinet. I figure at $10,000+ a speaker should be well made and look like $10K, as well as sound fantastic.

Anyone out there want to add two cents? I'd love some input here about Aerial Acoustics.

I want to thank you for the post - I will be reading it to see what people have to say. I intend to hang on to my next speaker set as long as the Paradigms. In fact I will still hang onto the S4's they will go into my office setup. I love the way they sound with tubes. The smaller S4 is fairly easy to drive and I'm not into real loud music much anymore.

Please post your thoughts when you are done ... I'd like to read about what you selected and how you think you did. I adding the Wilsons to the demo list.
I'd give the Aerial 9's a listen too - they are very very good.

Good luck with your search - you've listed several great speakers.
I recently undertook a similar excersize and heard many of the above. I went with SF Cremonas (in this case, cosmetic issues trumped performance at the margin). I liked the Sophias a lot, but - on performance alone - I thought the Vandersteen Quatro was the best of the lot. I'd also check out the Acoustic Zen Adagio which, while not delivering deep bass quite in the same league as the Quatro or Sophia, represents compelling value at $4,300. IMHO.

Good luck w/your hunt.

Klipsch is re-issueing the awesome "Klipsch Horn" at pressent. To my ears it is deffinately the best sounding speaker in the under $10,000 price range. Happy listening
Dsremer I certainly would love to hear your review on the awesome looking Woodmere's, with those gorgeous dual Seas Excel W26's, 10 inch woofers. To my mind the most musical 'subwoofer". How do they meet the dual W18's? I would guess Ty has the W26's crossed as high as possible and the dual W18's as low as possible, which would give a seamless image. As I know the T25/Millinium is "beefy" enough to meet the W18's at least to 2K hz(if not 1500hz's w/o breaking up!!!), comfortably. The woodmere to my mind is the finest fullrange speaker on the market.

Look forward to your review.
You are hard-pressed to do better than Zu Definitions in your price preference. $9,000/pr in basic satin finish and a little over $10,000/pr in high-gloss automotive finish. They will give you both high power handling and very high efficiency for terrific dynamic range. Definitions will work well with the widest variety of amplification of any speaker you've mentioned, give you outstanding tonal accuracy, soundstaging, and octave-to-octave consistency in transient behavior. You also get freedom from the tone-choking effects of passive crossovers. 60 day trial period in your home.

Hi Desalvo,
Under $10k leaves a lot of options. Many of the options you mentioned are exceptional. Being a dealer for the Usher and the Adagio, I can only recommend you audition them. You won't be sorry.
I was also a dealer for the Daedalus DA-1 which is another great option to consider but you will have to contact Lou Hinkley at Daedalus to set up an audition of find a consumer that has them. The Daedalus are now sold direct. They are a very nice speaker but a different flavor so an audition would be very important. Good luck with your search and happy listening.

"Build your system for yourself, not the critics"

I think you have many good suggestions...many of which I have heard some I have not...I would second the Wilson Benesch ACT.

Wow some great recommendations. I'm looking at new and used speakers. I know nothing of the Tylers other than the numerous adds I see on this site. I'm not familiar with the Wilson Benesch Act. What I've understood was that the Sophia is Wilsons best for the $$$ and was stunning in presentation. They're seem to be a lot of folks however that feel Wilsons are not as good as the Von Schweikert's. Wish I knew where to find the Aerial 9s. I live in the SF Bay Area. The Focus FS88 is another speaker I'm wholly unfamiliar with. Perhaps I'll do a Google search for a review. Never heard of the ZU definitions either. Damn there are a lot of speakers on the market.

I did check on the Acoustic Zen Adagio reviews. If I were to take the reviews on these speakers so seriously, I might pick up the phone and order them now. They certainly are lookers. It seems though that most are using tube amps for these jewels. Not knowing tube gear I'd be beating my brain trying to find a tube amp setup I'd be comfortable with. I may add a Dodd preamp to the mix, if they ever ship..
I would recommend Verity Audio Parsifal. I've listened to Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE (very detailed) and Sophia (Dynamic with very good soundstage), but I ended up keeping my Parsifals because it has more texture and is the least mechanical sounding.

I've also listened to my neighbor's Acoustic Zen Adagio a few times with all Acoustic Zen cabling, Gamut D200 MK3, Nuforce amp, and Audio Note M6 preamp. I found the sound of the Adagio on the dark side and uninvolving. I don't know if it's just an equipment mismatch since I've read rave reviews about this speaker, but there are also at least 4 pairs for sale here on Audiogon, which is a lot for a speaker that just came out.

You should pick speakers that match your tastes, because it doesn't matter what other people or reviewers say about speakers unless it appeals to you. We don't get married to the same woman, do we?
Wilson Benesch ACT (current model).

Sounds like you're on an epic quest for a speaker that you will live with for many years.

To a certain extent, high-end audio is about coming to know yourself. You have to become an expert on what really matters the most to your ears and listening style, and you have to know what compromises you can live with.

Obivously you've been into this hobby for years now, and on this quest for a good while also. What can you tell us about what really matters to you, and where you can compromise if you need to?


I'm surprised nobody has suggested Martin Logan Summits. With the standard finishes they retail for $10k, but you can usually get them for a bit less. New or Used deals occasionally pop up here on A'gon (where I bought mine). The Summits *DO* require painstaking setup with room placement and bass setting adjustments. However, the new ice-powered design (400 watts into dual 10 inch woofers) overcomes a lot of the prior issues with "stats" and can be easily driven with either tube or SS amps. When matched with appropriate components, and properly placed, they are ASTOUNDING!
I'm not familiar with the Wilson Benesch Act
Audio Visions in SF carries them, and the Von Schweikerts. Both are definitely worth a listen, IMO. As I noted in another thread, the VR4Sr's got progressively better as the dealer moved them from one system to the next, and ultimately into my friend's home. If you go to Audio Visions, make sure you hear the speakers on either the wall opposite the entry to the main room, or on the left side. The right side creates some funky reverberations, and they'll tell you as much.

In case you didn't know, Music Lovers (both in Berkeley and SF) carries Wilson.

If you check on the Tyler website, you will find owners who are willing to audition their speakers. If you can't find a Woodmere owner in the Bay Area, I know there is one here in Sacramento. He's a superb host. I've heard his system twice, and it's also terrific.

Other recommendations:
Silverline La Folia - they are in Walnut Creek, and they are outstanding speakers
Zu Definition - Find a Bay Area owner, or try the 60-day audition.
Joseph Audio Pearl - Superb speakers
Eggleston Works Andra II - What's not to like? They're fantastic.

Much will depend upon the amp you use, the room you're in, the type of music you like, and most significantly, EVERYTHING that Duke (Audiokinesis) writes above. Anyone can tell you why he/she prefers the speakers they've chosen, but you will never hear the music or the components exactly as they do. Trust your ears. Take your time. Listen to as many of these as you can. That's my advice, anyways.
Intuitive Design Summits supplemented by a Rel sub bass unit. I have the Storm 3.
More great recommendations. When I was 9, my Dad and I built the first generation Bose. He purchased 18 long throw 4" drivers, scewed them into a homemade cabinet shaped more like a small pallet, and this along with a Mac 1700 and a Sony bi-directional reel to reel recorder was my first system. Cool huh? In reflection, it sounded horrible I think, although at the time, it was the center of attention. My Dad (now 88) then purchased the DCM Timewindows. We still have them along with the Mac! At 19 I purchased my first high-end system consisting of the Yamaha NS500 speakers, a Yamaha CR820 receiver (sitting right next to me), and a Nakamichi 580 cassette player. At 40 came the Def Techs/Classe/AR/Theta system. I'm 50 now so to sum up what I look for in a speaker, I think is pretty easy. I want top to bottom clarity, truth, the recreation of an event accurately portrayed in the confines of my living room, just like everyone else? I know no one component will deliver this. I beleive it starts with the speaker, whatever flavor I choose. I'm hopeful the Slim Devices Transporter will deliver the music accurately, that remains to be seen. It's a quest yes, and one that I feel compelled to share as so many have in these forums. I take what is recommended seriously and will make the effort to audition what I can and if nothing else, become somewhat informed because after all, this is fun. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge. I note that there are repeated mentions of certain speakers I've never heard of. Off to San Francisco..
Desal, look at tyler's home demo link on his site. There are several Tyler owners in south california, and if you write Ty, I'm sure he knows of others, who possibly live closer to you, and that are not on that list that may let you audition their Tyler's.
I want top to bottom clarity, truth, the recreation of an event accurately portrayed in the confines of my living room, just like everyone else?
Speaker manufacturers all claim to be after truth and accuracy of the recording. And yet, they all sound different from one another. Is a horn more accurate than a planar? A single-driver more truthful than a 3-way? Every speaker made has its fans and detractors alike. Your choice of words is certainly appropriate. Choose your 'flavor' of speaker, and call it good.
You should listen to any of the PBN Montana offerings under 10K, like the EPS2 or the SPX. At 5500.00 retail, the latter might be all the speaker you would ever need. Peter Noerbeck is an absolute genius and his speakers have no business sounding as good as they do for so little $$.

Desalvo55, Do yourself a favor, go to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and listen to the speakers before you buy. I was always a Single driver fan, when I got there I hated all systems with single drivers in the show and noticed that to my taste the best speakers for me where the Arrays. I loved every array I listened to, cheap and expensive ones.

Go there and you might be surprised. You seem to be going all around with your speaker search, I listened to the Wilson audio and the Dedaelious and they sound completely diferent. A friend has the Usher Dancer and again very different probably more to the Wilson side.
Go there research in one place on one weekend what you like, dont go spending good 10k without it. Spend 1k on the RMAF and use 9k for your speakers it will be worth it!
I want top to bottom clarity, truth, the recreation of an event accurately portrayed in the confines of my living room, just like everyone else?
for monitors under $10k, i suggest auditioning:
Acapella Fidelio - stunning clarity and 3-dimentionality, jaw-dropping, unforgettable
Harbeth Monitor 40 - laid back, seductive, sophisticated, plenty of refined detail

for floorstanders used under $10k:
B&W Silver Signature 30 - beautiful tonality, refined
Tannoy Prestige Series - grand, lively, golden
Avantgarde Duo - like what Jsadurni said: slam, immediacy, larger than life imaging
Duevel Jupiter or Bella Luna - super wide sound stage, lively

best of luck and have fun!
If I were in your position, I'd wait for the Thiel 3.7's before making any purchases.
Aren't the Thiel 3.7s the ones with the hubcaps?
I think that you should listen to the Merlin VSM-MX's which are slightly higher retail than the $10K but perhaps you may be able to negotiate a discount. The speakers have a small footprint, are extremely musical, are very highly resolving, throw a large soundstage and have the best customer support in the business. I suggest that you look at previous posts. You can also call Bobby the manufacturer directly. BTW he doesn't believe that his speakers are for everyone (and he will tell you).
Attend the Rocky Mountain show in October and listen for yourself to create a short list of speakers that you would like to audition further. Then hook up with dealers later for a more in depth audition.

I was in the same boat searching for a new pair of under $10k speakers and focused my time at the LA T.H.E. show in June listening to speakers. Unfortunately, many of the manufacturers did not show up at the show. The speakers that impressed me (under $20k) were Verity Parsifal Ovations, Usher Be-10, and Hyperion 968s. The Hyperions go for $7k, and the Ushers and Parsifal are aroudn $15k. If schedule permits, I am planning on attending the Rocky Mountain Fest for more auditioning.

Green Mountain Audio's "Calypso" is one damn fine speaker right at your $10K/pair price. You'd be wise to listen to a pair before buying anything else.