Top 5 Entry-level audiophile speakers $1500-2000?

Newbie looking to get some decent stereo speakers less than 2k. Prefer recommendations for speakers that are available to audition locally in DC area. Initially would be stereo, w/ upgrade to 5.1 at later date. First priority is music, then movies.

Have in mind: paradigm studio 60, 100, b+w, dynaudio, Dali brands, etc. Prefer something not too harsh on the ears. Need to sound good at low to medium volumes. I have a smallish room and do not tolerate extremely loud playing. Anyone could please shed some light on the best quality speakers in this price range I should look at. I would appreciate it, as I am very confused with the ammount of choice. Would be paring it with SACD player in the future.

Check out Deja Vu Audio in Mclean, VA. They carry Spendor, Quad, Proac, and Audio Note speakers, all have models under $2K. They also have great tubed gear and other stuff, particularly analog. Vu is a really great guy with amazing ears, I'm just a very happy customer. Good luck and happy listening!
Even though I'm a BIG fan & loyal owner of Dynaudio speakers, low volume listening is not their strong suit. I'd recommend looking for some high efficiency speakers that can easily be driven by a moderately powered tube integrated amp.

Jond's advice is probably sound... Spendor, Proac & Audio Note are all very well respected speaker manufacturers... throw Harbeth into that list as well.

Note: You will be able to get much more bang for your buck if you can find what you want used on Audiogon... get a $3 or $4K speaker for less than $2K.
Do you have a preference for stand mounted or floor standing? Is that price for new or used?
At that price new, you would have to look at Vandersteen 2CE Sigs, I would think, for a floor stander. For a monitor, Sequerra Met 7s.
x2 on Deja Vu Audio in Mclean. Great guy to deal with. Give him a a call, take some music with you and enjoy. You don't just want speakers, you want a relationship with a good dealer.
Being that you are in the DC area, the Deja Vu recommendation sounds solid given their speaker lineup, don't know where you could audition the Harbeths which are also excellent. The Vandersteen 2Ces are probably the best long-term recommendation for a "full-range" floor stander in that price range (a used pair of Acoustic Zen Adagios would also be on my list at that price range), there is a Vandersteen dealer just north of DC on Conneticutt Ave whose name I can't remember. I agree the Dynaudio needs to be "opened up" to sound their best (there is a dealer in Bethesda). If I was looking for bookshelf speakers all the one's mentioned ProAc, Spendor, AudioNote, Harbeths, are excellent; but I would go with the smaller Merlins. I think you now have a list of excellent speakers to consider - they are all good in their own way and can't go wrong with any of them IMHO.

Please give us a bit more information. What is the size of the intended room? Will you be able to place the speakers out from the wall a considerable distance, or will they need to be close to the wall behind them? Would you prefer floor standing speakers or stand mounted monitors? Lastly, will it be a single source system (SACD/CD player) or will you have multiple source components, and what amp do you intend to use (or will you choose it after choosing speakers)?

So far you've received some great advice, but a little clarification will insure the advice is appropriate for your specific needs.


You did not mention the amplifier to be used, i guess that's good, you can find speakers you like and then choose an amp that works with it.
JM Lab Cobalt 806S are excellent, now discontinued, they are going for $600. new.
used Harbeth 7ES2s
More details please.
Regards, Alan
Echo using Deja Vu, probably the best dealer in the DC area. btw, Sound Image on Rt 50 in Arlington now carries Harbeth.
Thanks. I'll look into that store in mclean

Room is 18x12. I believe i could place speakers a few feet from the wall. I'm wondering why you havn't mentioned speakers like paradigm, b+w? I heard good reviews of the studio 60s. Would they suit me?

I'm torn between seperates and integrated amps at the moment. Also torn btw SACD multi-channel and stereo. I agree the multi-channel setup would be a great deal more.
slightly over your budget, but you should seriously consider Usher BE-718, one of the best monitor out there.

If you're looking for speakers like Paradigm, NHT or Energy you might go to Audio Buys. For B&W, I believe Myers-Emco carries them. Of course, I feel that Spendor, Quad, Proac, ect are better sounding speakers than similiar priced Paradigm or B&W. But you need to let your ears be the judge. Btw, for amplification are you going solid-state or tube? Makes a big difference in the speakers that you select. When you go to Deja Vu, you quickly find out that Vu like tubes. Just from reading your last post, it sounds like you're putting a complete system together. If that's a fact, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you work with Vu at Deja Vu, as I feel that he could help you put together a system that would not only meet your budget, but could also exceed your musical expectation. btw, I have no connection with Deja Vu Audio other than being a customer.

As for SACD, it's pretty much dead. If it was I would get a high quality CD player, and stay two-channel.
Totem should also be on your list. Soundworks in Kensington, Md. has them (or the did last time I was there). They also carry Vandersteen, Gallo, and probably several others.
Studio 60's from paradigm are nice speakers, for sure. But, on the used market, they are just over 1000 dollars, and your maximum was up to 2000 dollars. You can do better than the studio 60's for 2000 dollars.

I would say your room is big enough to support a floor stander, but I love monitors and would start there. B&W has the 805S that should be able to be purchased in your price range. It's a very good speaker, one of my favorites. Also, the Revel M20 or M22 are quite good, and may be worth a listen.
There are a pair of used Zu Druids for sale and pick-up in SE Virginia. I have the Zu Definition MK2s, but the Druids have also gotten great reviews. I agree with the comments about Deja Vu audio; great guys and great equipment. However, most of their products are from outside the US. I especially liked the Audio Note speakers. With the weak dollar, I chose to buy American.
used, the choices are are some 'new' jewels.....ohm micro walsh, totem one, acoustic energy AE1, klipsch heresy, paradigm studio 60's.....they are all so different though, it really depends on what's important to you.......for 2k used, you can pretty much find a pair that will give you sound well above models that cost 5k or more.
Vandersteen 2s are usually the first thought at this price point - for good reason - they're excellent speakers. My other "go to" in this $ range is the Eminent Tech hybrid planar. The cardoid dispersion pattern may be useful if you plan to place the speakers on the short wall of your room. They will need some power, though.

Good Luck,

If you can set up on the long wall 9+ feet apart Audio Physic Virgo II's are hard ot beat about $1,700 used. There has been a ton written about them, stereophile class A rated in late 1990's. Good luck
Hi Aqua, as a fellow DC audiophile, I thought I'd chime in on some of the local dealers. My favorite audio shops in the DC area are Deja Vu, which has already been mentioned; Sound Images on Rt. 50 in Falls Church; and Gifted Listener Audio in Centreville, VA (out Rt 66). You can bring music and listen to your heart's content at any of these stores; ask for Randy at Sound Images, he's the best informed of their sales staff in my opinion. At Deja Vu, you will listen to amps, speakers and CD players from mfrs you may never have heard of, but the music played in that shop is incredibly beautiful no matter how much you can afford to spend. Vu has some gorgeous yet very reasonably priced integrated amps and CD players from an Italian company (I think called Synthesis) that I found astonishing esp given the price. I was listening to small ProAcs with a small Synthesis integrated amp that cost $1300 new, plus a small Synthesis CD player that looked exquisite and sounded the same. Sound Images has Harbeths now and lots of JM Labs, PSB and other brands. Gifted Listener is a big Linn dealer but he also carries other brands like Thiel, Magnapan, Piega, Vienna Acoustics, Ayre and others. If you are creating a new system, it really pays to work with a dealer where you can put it all together and hear it all in one place.