Vandersteen. Whichever of the series you want, new or used. Heckofa bang for the buck and will do what you need them to, according to your description. (My 3As are in a 10 x 16 room and play great.)
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I personally have found the Vandy 3A to be a very weak performer. Polite and inoffensive but falls way short of what the best has to offer. It sounds to me like it chokes off the music and is sluggish. It is the only speaker I've heard that actually seems to drag out the music and seems to slow things down. I know it is a popular speaker so I would advise an audition before purchasing.
My recommendation would be the new Gallo Reference with the sub amp. A very nice speaker for the price.
The VS VR-4jr isn't too bad and, looks outstanding. The Gallo Ref, as already mentioned, is a first rate speaker too. I like'em both quite a bit. I have also read some mighty good things on the Zu Cable Druid speakers. Might be worth looking into. And, I know of no better return policy in the industry.
Those are pretty good designs you mention in point 8.
My own musical preferences may not be too far off yours, and my amps are similarly powered, my room has similar limits.
I prefer ProAcs to Dynaudios, but I liked Meadowlark Shearwater Hot Rods and Audio Physik Tempo or Spark better than either. ( Haven't heard the Spendor and I know my education is lacking here. ) I bought Shearwaters.
Another make I like a lot is Verity Audio. You might find the little Tamino used in your price range. For orchestral scale its bigger brothers can do better of course, but it is even more refined than my Meadowlarks.
I agree with Herman; if you are thinking about Vandersteens, definitely audition before buying. In addition to the qualities that Herman outlined in his post, I find the 3a sigs, even augmented by two Vandy subs, become confused on big orchestral pieces in passages where the fur is really flying.
In addition to speakers allready suggested, I'd have a listen to Vienna Acoustics and Sonus Faber.
Thanks fo all the replies so far. Many of these names are familiar to me, but Castle and Verity were not on my radar screen. I am surprised nobody has nominated Silverline, Tyler, GMA, Zu, etc., the names that get enthusastic support in this forum.
I have the gut feeling that there are many other "unknown" (at least to me) geniuses building truly great speakers and I hope to unearth at least a few other names.
By Googling around I came across Orion and Salk. The Orion (~7k) is beyond my present budget but some revieweres have called it absolutely the best speaker in the world! However, I can consider Salk's speakers.
For different reasons both my wife and I like a floorstander, so I'd look into Verity for sure.
The following is in the spirit of general discussion if people want to pick up the thread:
Other than having adequate WAF, I'd like most of my $'s going towards sound rather than cabinet looks and finish. While some products are certainly well-designed I get the impression they are "overpriced", or to be more precise, much of the money goes for the name and looks. I felt that way about B&O, Sonus, etc. Actually I have had that impression of Italian designs in all walks of life not just audio. This is different from the impression gathered by many British brands. I wonder what your experiences and opinions are?
DIY or ready made kits from a manufacture direct are for sure the best bang for the buck.You get more performance for less money. Most are more concerned with resale value and the bling bling factor..which is understood. My thought is...If you found a speaker that exceled at what you were looking for ..why would resale value matter?
A speaker can bling bling all day long and still sound like crap!
I've heard the Zu Druids on large scale classical and personally, as a classical lover, I'd pass on them. (The Definitions are another story.)
I dunno about the WAF thing. Depends on the W.
Frankly, for classical I'd prefer...
Any of a variety of used Alon (or - as they are now - Nola) speakers...Nola Viper Sigs/Alon Lotus Elite etc. (Disclaimer, I own ALon Vs which are fab, but your 60w amp won't drive this model .)
Shahinian Oblelisks or Hawks (again they will sound better with a slightly higher powered amp.)
Viennna Acoustics Beethovens
Audio Physic Virgo IIs (I honestly don't know if they would
Silverline Sonatas (although I haven't heard these in a long time).
And I would still consider auditioning Vandersteens if possible. (My rec would be used Vandy 3 Signatures).
For an exquisitely fine speaker contact Stuart Jones of Chapman Audio at 206-463-3008. He'll build you a custom pair of speakers that will be a treasure for years to come. And his T-7's are right at your price point at $3k. You will find almost nil on the Chapmans online, but they have a loyal following on the West coast. In fact, just today I put in my order for a custom pair of T-77's, their flagship model. Stuart is hand selecting and matching all the components, not just drivers. He is also utilizing specific wiring for each driver to optimize performance to my tastes. He also breaks in the speakers for you. Just a couple examples of the "over the top" service he gives to his customers.
I'd imagine you have your spaeker by now as this thread is old.
anyway my two cents would be Tyler's or the Thor kit from Seas, which I have, which uses the same drives as Tyler's.
In some of his models Tyler uses the cheaper tweeter, Scan-speak. Look for the model with the Millinium/Seas.
All I listen to is classical and they really produce a fine image/no fatigue.
i run the Thors on a 30 watt tube, works fine.
Bartokfan: Thanks for your post. Actually I am very happy with my Spendors, nothing wrong with them, so I am no hurry. Also, I have had these for 20+ years, and may keep the next ones equally long. So I am being very deliberate and slow about learning what's out there. I guess I am also curious about the speaker scene and enjoy learning what experienced audiophiles think.
Tyler is very much on my radar screen. You may wish to follow and contribute to the following thread:
(Compare: Salk Sound, Silverline, Tyler, Zu)
Not being handy with tools, I have never really considered kits, but it is an intriguing idea. How difficult was your to put togehter?