All too many obvious candidates but you might consider, if you have not, putting half the money into room treatment. Otherwise, you are wasting money.
This is a tough one, what speakers have you heard that you didn't like? What speakers have you heard that you thought were ok? What are you currently using(speakers and rest of system)? What size room? There are too many possibilities to form any sort of accurate response that would be more then personal preference, from the person posting.
You can purchase the Audio Aero here on Audiogon.
Everything else in the list below you can purchase new and have change.
Agape 2a3 Tube amp
Audio Aero Capitol Mk II W/P4 Chip CD Player (Audiogon)
Decware HDT 206 EM Speaker
Genesis Technologies G-900b Subwoofer (Audiogon)
DIVI, Custom Made 2 Meter Single Ended Interconnect
Argent Pursang Speaker cable
Supra Supra P/C , Top of the line. Power cord
Hmmm... micro-details and subtle nuances, vocal and operatic and symphonic works, tonality .... at the risk of sounding ridiculously predictable, by any chance have you considered Sound Lab full-range electrostats?? They don't "do it all", but in some of the areas that you mention they are among the very best in the world. Yup I peddle 'em; grains of salt all around.
My vote used goes to the Mcintosh XRT-28s. I just heard these guys for the first time in an extended listening session at a high-end dealer in Tuscon, AZ last week. Electronics were all Mcintosh (solid state).
All I can say is I was just speechless at the spacious life-like sound I heard top to bottom. Allison Kraus was playing, and in the same location, the owner swapped in some $12,000/pr. Dalis (MS5's I think), and immeditely I knew to my ears they weren't in anywhere close to the same league as the XRT-28s.
Bass on the Macs was *very* deep and clean too. Their only weakness had nothing to do with sound quality... It was their wood finish looked relatively low quality to my eyes for their $18,200/pr. retail price(especially when compared to the fabulous one on the Dalis). Not a big deal to me, but I thought I should mention it.
Used these should be just under your $10K limit.
That kind of money will get you a pair of Avantgarde Duos with enough left for their model 5 integrated and some cables. I also agree with Tireguy that all of this is highly dependent on your room and if you intend on sticking with your present amplification.
While I agree that room treatments are important, I can't agree that you need to spend 1/2 of your budget on it. A Michael Green roomtune pack will do wonders for most rooms. Eighth Nerve had a similar product but is getting ready to release a deluxe version that is much better.
Dave, I heard the McIntosh CRT-28s too. While they were mightily impressive with many kinds of music, I did not think they were as good with classical music which is Pedrillo's main repertoire. For having as many drivers as they do, the sound stage shouldn't shift as much as it did when I stood up, especially when you consider how tall these guys are. There's also a tinge of coloration in the mids IMHO.
Crozbo, I did extensive listening to the Duevel Bella Luna and was so impressed with them that I almost bought a pair until I started spinning choral music. This is their Achilles' heel. Ted & Markus (Duevel) were in the room and I pointed this out to them. The articulation of the choir was not clear on the Bella Luna while it was clear on other speakers. We switched gear back and forth and determined it was the speakers' contribution.
With Pedrillo's preference for music (opera and symphonic), this may cause a concern. Who knows? May be they have improved this area in the latest production of the Bella Lunas?
For symphonic music you need speakers capable of great dynamic swings and acoustic power (a Wagnerian SOrch is very large-- conside the task of reproducing 8-16 cellos, let alone the rest of the orch!). This usually also means large radiating area, i.e. large speakers.
All the speakers mentioned are very good, but for symphonic /operatic music the Soundlabs or the Genesis mentioned would be obvious short-list items.
The problem with Soundlabs is that they lack low end energy and need expensive amplification, especially if purchased used (i.e. the more sensitive models only started shipping recently). The good thing about them is that they sound excellent, and you can even play the blues on them (politely). Plus, if you find bass is lacking (you may not) you can save pennies for their subwoof or use a pair of dipole dynamic subwoofs.
The problem with Genesis (200 series or 300 series) is that they are expensive and if purchased used, they may need maintenance. The good thing is that they sound excellent (laid back, mark you), they are easy to maintain by yourself and they certainly don't lack energy at any part of the normal spectrum, and they are actively bi-amped.
Modern speakers of the Accuton ceramic drivers persuasion (Avalon, Kharma, Martens, many notable others) can also fit your bill -- but the big ones (that you need) are horrendously expensive.
Another possibility is the big Thiel, whatever its number (7,?). But IMO, the short-listed ones above are well within your budget and your needs and, better. Cheers
It may very well be true that the XRT-28s do not excel at classical just as you heard... I can't comment, because I did not listen to any on them (we stuck to female vocals, jazz instrumentals and rock).
As for the soundstage and midrange coloration issues you encountered, I confess I experienced none of them... Guess I just got lucky, or the music I listened to was maybe a better match with the speakers...?
I will have to bring some classical CDs (my music of choice BTW, go figure) with me in January when I seek them out again at CES, and see if my opinion changes any... For now though, I stand by my initial impressions as I was completely blown away with all that I *did* hear on them.
I want to thank everyone for helping. Since I started this thread i discovered two more speakers that I am mad for, but first let me answer some questions posed from other members. My room is 12 x 16 x 9(high), I plan on doing all and then some room treatment without over kill. What speakers did I not like ? ok here goes please take no offense I just want to say these are not for me, as for those who disagree if you have found something you like that's all that matters. Here are speakers that I did not like: sonus faber (no air or maybe system was bad), martin logan (not convincing) i don't want to mention others as they were not in the same price range. the two new seakers I discovered are kharmas 3.1 and jm labs divas and I love them both and still have an eye on the piega c8 ltd.The dynaudio c4 are now a distance behind the top 3 -kharma jm labs and piega. thanks and please tell me more.
Kharma & Genesis are differently voiced, although with using the controls on the Genesis one can approach the Kharma/ Martens /Avalon sound.
I like the JM Lab, but find them very expensive...
Unfortunately, you'll really have to listen carefully and, IMO, a reasonable recording (not top notch) of Mahler 2 and Mahler 8 and some small ensembles (preferably with low tuning on the violins), will tell you all.
When listening, remember to gauge exactly where you are seated in the virtual auditorium/ concert hall (i.e. pls, don't place yourself inside the orchestra)! Cheers