I think the Köchel K200 would be worth a look. I have never heard them, but have heard they compare favorably with the K300 which I own and love.
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For me: the Harmonic Precision, Caravelles. I AB'd them against the Jmlab Micro Be, and the Diva as well. (the Diva AB was after I already purchased the Caravelles, but I justed wanted to hear them. The Caravelles, believe it or not, held up remarkably well to the Altos. Now, that's a $20k speaker. go figure) You can read my review. Enjoyed them more than the Jmlabs. 6moons.com is doing a review on the Caravelles next month, or maybe February. Srajan heard them at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and was blown out. You can read comments about the Caravelles on their website. I've been raving (I realize now, adnauseam) about the Caravelles for almost a year, now. I've heard oodles, and these speakers will go tete a tete with many of the big boys. I love them. Try to get yourself a pair before they do the review. You'll be waiting a long time otherwise. I know (from my experience with the Caravelles) how this review is going to read. peace, warren
Hey thanks for your advice i am starting to realize that audio mags leave out alot of good info, I kind of wish they would hire a larger staff and in turn reveiw close to everything that's out there. But I think this wouldn't work because there isn't enough of an audience(no pun intended) for this hobby. Back to the question-- Let me add that speaker kits are an option as well, but I am leary of a speaker kit being as good as a commercial speaker since I do not own instruments used to align and match speakers .thanks and let's keep this going!
GR Research is the best buy I have ever seen in terms of a speaker manufacturer using ultra state of the art crossover parts (that aren't even seen in some $20k+ speakers), yet charging a fraction for the relative performance his speakers deliver.
Note: The owner of GR Research is soley responsible for the design of the latest Epiphany speakers. Absolute sound has stated that the Epiphanys re-define imaging and "air"in high end speakers and have recently given them their Editors choice awards for those accomplishments.
A third vote for Tyler Acoustics. I just purchased and broke in a pair of Linbrook Signature Systems (1 piece) that he is selling as "used" (he has a Maple pair up for sale now) which will cost about 4K w/shipping. These are full range (flat to 20hz in my 19.5x13.5.9 room) very revealing (enuf so that you can very easily hear any up stream changes in components) with tight bass, smooth detailed mid's and highs. Seemless presentation and very inviting. The allow for a very full soundstage at low levels and allow great depth of image (if properly set up). No fatigue factor. Easier to set up that my other speakers. At this point I'm having a hard time finding fault with them. Highly recommended.
I think they really started to come together after about 100 hours. The 1st to the 50th hours were an exercise in "boy, I may have made a mistake", and I would reposition them. I'm sure you've been there. I've got about 300 hours on them now and they are just excellent in all respects. I have two different sets of electronics set up for them, one for serious listening and one for casual listening. The first is an ARC SP10II driving Sonic Frontiers SFM 160's (check "systems"by my moniker). In addition I take a signal out from "tape out" on the SP10 and plug it into a new PrimaLuna Integrated, which has a mere 35w per side. I purchased this for casual listening, i.e. short periods of time and background. What amazes me is how musical the PrimaLuna is and how well it can drive these speakers to moderate levels, especially considering the price of the unit. The bass potential of these speakers is not shortchanged by this amp in any way but I'm still playing with tube selection to which its quite responsive - as all of the tubes make a real difference the possibiities seem endless. Lots of fun!
I have Reimer Speaker System's Teton GS speakers paired with my Lamm gear. You get extremely coherent speakers which can go down to 16hz. These speakers are also very effecient (95db) which allows them to be used with lower powered tube amps. Reimer doesn't advertise therfore does not get much press. IMHO his speakers perform better than others costing much more.
I think that DIY can yield excellent results, if you know what you are doing.
I DIY'd my speakers(Lowther drivers, modded Voigt Pipes), and I am very pleased with the results. They have proven to sound like much more expensive speakers.
DIY can be a very good bang for the buck. But you have to be careful in selecting your design and components, and know what you are doing.
Tom, you are being the master of the understatment, here! :-)
Now, given a design scheme, I could build a cabinet that would rival ANY available. But the electronics and driver matching. That's where the gum sticks to my shoe. Maybe we should combine forces! I'd love to see what would result from a $3-4K DIY pair using superior design knowledge.
Seriously, though, I think Pedrillo's query is an excellent one and I would imagine that many more a re searching at his stated price point. Like me!
David, in my many attempts at designing and building audiophile speakers, I have achieved modest results, but always at least listenable.
After attempts at 2-way, 3-way, 4-way, 5-way, horn loaded multi-driver, and now single-driver, my feeling is that simple can be best in an overall sense.
Sure, the single driver will not be as "flat" over the entire range, may/will lack some deeper bass response, and have some other faults in areas of the audio range that would not seem to comport well with the expected +/- 1.5db(20-20kHz), or incredibly low distortion levels measured in an anechoic chamber,etc.
However, it does have "simplicity"(less complexity), and has alot of speed, efficiency, point-source radiation, transparency and openness, and is very natural sounding. Most other speakers that I compare to mine have a "congested" and "stifled" sound, in comparison.
During my older days of multi-driver speakers, it was always a conundrum trying to get everything to match together perfectly, because they simply are not going to match together perfectly. So, you build in filter networks, Zener networks, try to decide on the slope/vs seam vs phase problems, padding, etc, etc, in an attempt to get the "expected" results of flat response and wide range. The end result is that you basically get something that measures well, but has a low efficiency and is "all clogged up" sounding. Just like alot of speakers on the market sound today.
So, I went to the route which had a much "simpler" design, and accepted the basic "warts" of the drivers I selected, and maximized the cabinet design I chose. The result was much more open, transparent, fast, and had a very pleasing natural sound that exceeded all my previous DIY attempts, and exceeded many commercial designs too, for "listenability". It has been my experience that this was preferable to a "perfect" response curve that sacrificed things that are not measured(but are heard), in the attempt to achieve a "perfect" response curve. I am not after a "perfect" response curve. I'm after a good natural open musical sound. Actually, it is this apparent "disconnect" from typical audiophile practice, that led me to the best sound I've ever had.
There is a "merry go round" of speakers that are all iterations of the same basic thing(good measuring, low efficiency, multi-driver, full-frequency range, passive crossover), in all the showrooms today. This is the "norm". If you want to get off the "merry go round", then you have to look "out of the norm". That's what I did. Many people think I'm nuts. How could a 2 watt amp and a pair of single driver speakers possibly meet all the strict audiophile criteria? The answer is "they don't". They meet musical criteria instead.
It depends what you're after. If you're after a bunch of spec sheets that tell you your speakers are perfect, then fine and dandy. If you come to the realization that all of your speaker's spec sheets over the last 20 years told you that they all were "perfect", and you are still looking for better speakers, then you need to start looking where "perfect" isn't the criteria, but music is. This is the epiphany point. When music finally triumphs over the need/desire for specs.
Now specs are fine for what they are, but they aren't going to tell you how things sound. They don't have a spec for "natural tone" or "open, transparent sound", or "that musically right sound". They just don't have those specs. That's what reviewers speak about, after they've heard another 3-way "perfect" speaker, and try to make it sound like something buyable to the readers. Also, specs are helpful in matching the speaker to the amp, so that you don't get into trouble with impedances or efficiency, and that is a good thing. But that's all they are really good for.
I'm not saying that everybody should go out and get a SET amp and single driver speakers. But, I am saying that applying complexity to designs to try to meet "specs", chokes off the music in many/most cases. And this is the way most commercial speakers today are designed and made.
Speaking personally, I have eschewed "perfect" specs for a deeper window into the music, at the expense of a totally flat response curve, and even a loss of some of the lowest frequencies in the spectrum. And, believe it or not, I am happier as a result, because my system sounds more like "real music" because of it.
And so, to sum up, you have to know where you want to go, before you can get there. If you pick the right destination, then your path will be productive. If you don't, then you will be going in circles, just like many of us have for years.
My next system will be SET based and single driver if possible. If not, then Audio Note speakers look intriguing.
I know exactly what you mean by speakers sounding choked off and congested.
For more bucks, electrostats and other planars could fit the bill, but then they become the centerpiece of your room.
Tom (Twl) notes:
...(They) don't have a spec for "natural tone" or "open, transparent sound", or "that musically right sound"Hmmm. Maybe. BUT don't tell tale indications abound? Take yr spkrs for example:
The Lowthers' spec ~21000 Gauss magnetic field coupled to, what?, 7-8gms altogether of moving mass???
Good indication to expect "open transparent" sound i.e. we can expect each driver to deal with cases where instantaneous cone motion is needed AND where lots of energy is needed (as in the upper register -- transparency).
Of course, the single driver by definition has no cross-over within its operating range. So, no filter related phase anomalies, and no filter related energy guzzling; good indication to expect "musically right sound"...
What about dynamics??? I bet you haven't found many spkrs to match yrs in that field, either.
I'm just proposing that certain things can at least be assumed by looking at certain specs:)! Cheers
I own Tyler Taylo Reference III's with outboard crossovers.
They replaced Thiel 3.6's. I will never look back. I was fortunate enough to try a friend's set in my home using my equipment. It was an easy decision to upgrade. I had a pleasant experience dealing and meeting with Ty. Ty assures customer satisfaction.
Single drivers systems, lord have mercy on us all, that we have had to revert to the 1920's for our amplification and our speaker design. I'm beginning to think "musical" is becoming an excuse for "restricted". If it doesn't measure right or is crippled or severely limited, it becomes "musical".
Lowthers can't play Megadeth and Beethoven Symphonies so simple speakers can play simple music. Anyone disagree?
Active speakers the real modern answer to the problem eliminate all the problems, no energy storing crossover, phase corrected, excellent power handling,newer ones have room correction and I have to tell you that The Blue Sky System One package is downright impressive from 20-20 at nearly +/- 2 dB and they have an excellent impulse response. No amplifier or preamp needed.
$1895 that's the reason I'm a dealer....oh yeah they sound really good too :)
So spend the extra cash on a super CD player,
CS, yes I disagree. Beethoven symphonies, as well a Wagner, etc, are played daily on my LOWTHERS(with no subwoofers), from a RECORD PLAYER.
I wouldn't play Megadeth, so I don't know about that. How about Blue Oyster Cult? They play that quite well.
And BTW, single-driver speakers are "active speakers", being directly driven by the amps, with no intervening passive crossovers. They just don't have the amps inside the speaker cabinets.
There was a lot right about what was used in the early days of the pre-WW2 era. This is why some of the highest end products are still using some of this technology(and expanding upon it).
But that's mostly for us record playing, tube amp owning old farts who don't watch TV while we're listening to music.
what about source technology louspeakers or the $595 morels they are blowing out? i have not heard either, but these are possibilities. anyone heard either?
i have heard the as-f1 speakers from athena, and they did not bowl me over. but the cd player and the amp were not very good so maybe this is not fair. i have heard perfectly good speakers sound awful because of a bad room, bad source, and a mediocre amp.
the av-3 kit from GR Research will make a very smooth classy sound if you have woodworking skills. about $350
a real bargain? a fedex box with sonic impact soundpads glued on. about $40
:) I was just pulling your chains a little, but I think we all can agree that Lowthers are an aquired taste.
Having heard probably 30+ Lowther DIY systems at various DIY meets and a few at show I can honestly say that consistency amongst different lowther designs is at best erratic.
But I will stick by my premise that Lowthers are limited when compared to other designs on larger scale music, they are fast to rise and slow to stop and music like Megadeth, distortion harmonics and dynamic bass and orchestras sound congestested an congealed versus multi element designs.
Now let follow up and say that since the lowther sound in my experience starts at pitiful and climbs to very good, you may be the curve breaker and have an excellent system that supercedes the systems I have experienced. Like I said for a single driver the lack of consistency in sound amongst different designs is dumbfounding to me.
Lowthers may be an acquired taste for some, and an immediate love/hate for others. I've seen it go various ways.
I totally agree with your assessment of Lowther systems at shows, and even though I'm a Lowther owner, I've never heard a really good sounding Lowther speaker at any show. Many things interfere with good sound at shows, as was evidenced at the recent T.H.E Show and CES.
Regarding their "restrictions", yes they have them.
The main restriction is the lowest bass octave.
I agree with the "fast to rise" comment, but the "slow to stop" comment is factually erroneous, because the internal magnetic damping/control of the Lowther driver is the among the fastest of all cone type speakers. This is true both on rise and stop. The moving mass vs magnetic strength ratio is awesome, and provides superb control in all movement aspects(including braking). This is simply an electro-mechanical characteristic of the drivers.
I do agree that in a single-driver, the likelihood of having more IM distortion in complex large-scale music is higher, but I have to say that this must be weighed against the other undesirable factors that exist in multi-driver designs(active or passive), so listening preferences may ultimately define what is preferred in this area. In multi-drivers, the fundamentals are often reproduced by one driver, and the harmonics reproduced by other driver(s) which will not have exactly the same tonal qualities, movement characteristics, or radiation source locations. They may have less IM, but other distortions become greater.
All speaker systems are a "mixed bag" of plusses and minuses, and it is your preference and listening tastes which dictate.
I agree that in multi-driver systems, active speakers are a big step in the right direction for best control, least crossover-induced problems, and generally better sound quality.