upgrade from Audio Physic Spark

I recently upgraded my amp to McIntosh MA2275 tube integrated amp and want to upgrade my Audio Physic Spark speakers as well. Due to space constraints, I need a low profile floor standing speaker or a bookcase speaker. I'm currently considering Wilson Audio Duette and Sonus Faber Guarneri. Will I see a drastic improvement in sound with these upgrades? Any other speakers I should consider around 10K range? Thanks.
10K is a *lot* of money, I don't care who's spending it. What's your room like? These days, at that price-point you could buy almost anything and it would sound amazing. These days most 2k speakers sound amazing. I mean no disrespect in asking, but I'm just emerging from the same cart - before - the - horse frustrations (albeit at a smaller budget), and in my case a set of room treatments and slightly more attentive placement are doing amazing things. And you know what they say about recent converts.

So, not knowing whether you've already got some uh-MAY-zing listening room, all custom bass traps and corner tunes and whatnot, or just a rig parked in the middle of a family den, my visceral reaction to the question, based on my own experience, is to audition some comparatively easy-to-drive speakers at a fraction of your intended budget, and spend the rest on dedicated power, cabling, and room treatments.

Again, I mean no disrespect when I make this suggestion. For all I know, you could "lose more money than that, runnin' for the bus," as Mickey from *Snatch* would say, and your room could already double as a speaker-testing lab. But after the experience I've just had, I can't imagine a speaker out there that's worth the extra seven grand over a Spendor s8e or a Devore Gibbon 8 or a Joseph Audio RM25si-mkII, with that kind of quality amplification and a really optimal room setup.

...You could also spend some of the leftover money on a new front end, if you're not already SOTA, there.

ALL of that being said, the price-is-no-object speakers that most impressed me in various shops were made by DeVore and Audio Physic, with the DeVore's doing a better job of soundstage and the AP's sounding just a tad more musical.

But I still think you should spend three grand on the speakers and the rest on the room and the associated gear -- a reaction worth exactly what you paid for it, no doubt.
The three speakers you mention are very different but they share in common being nice WAF friendly furniture...is that what you are looking for...something aesthetic?
Dog or man thanks for you comments. To give you more color, my listening room doubles as a library and the room dimension is about 12'x11'. Currently I'm running:

- McIntosh Tube Integrated MA2275
- Rega Apollo for red book with Nordost Blue Heaven interconnect
- Marantz SA-8001 for SACD with PS Audio Xstream Resolution interconnect
- Audio Physic Spark speakers
- Nordost Super Flatline MKII speaker wires
- PS Audio prelude AC power cable
- Transparent power conditioner (Power Bank 2)

Given that I have a bookcase behind the speakers, the speakers stand about 3' from the walls and the bookcase helps with reducing reflections. I just upgraded my amp from solid state integrated MA 6300 to the tube and saw a huge improvement in how music sounds much more natural and easy to listen to for hours. I wasn't sure if I'm short changing the amps by using substandard speakers compared to the amp. But I agree with you. I've auditioned many speakers ~10K (Wilson Audio Sophia, Duette, Sonus Faber, B&W, etc.) range but I haven't seen as clear improvements as my previous updates (I just got into this audiophile game early last year). However, Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy was amazing but it's out of question at this point.
Your room is small for a price-is-no-object speaker, in my opinion. Anything rear- or side-firing is also going to be problematic, which leaves out the top-end AP's.

Your front-end components are second-to-none, your cabling is totally uncompromising, your amp is among the dozen or so most highly coveted integrateds ever made, and your speakers are designed, more or less explicitly, for rooms of the size and general timbre of your library. The only problem with the Sparks is that the aft-facing ports are probably not functioning to full capability because of what's behind them.

I know it's no fun (believe me I know), when you post in a forum and say, "what speakers" and people come back with reactions that aren't speakers -- but honestly I think room treatments and more tweaking of placement will make an enormous difference. (What are the walls made of? Any windows? Any window treatments? Carpeting? Can you take a digital photo of the room?)

I also wonder if there's anything specific about the Sparks that is inspiring you to think about a change: if you find them a bit muddled in the area of microphonic detail, I might recommend a pair of Linns or Joseph Audios. If you find the treble too laid back, you might prefer Vienna Acoustics or Tyler Acoustics. If soundstage is thin, you might like DeVores or Meadowlarks. If the bass sounds muddy, you might like the Proacs or the Neats. And if the sound just isn't quite musically involving enough, as an integrated whole, maybe you'd really like the Spendors.

But in all of these possibilities -- *except* for the laid-back treble -- I'd say it's not the speakers so much as the room. The Spark is an awfully well-respected speaker for the situation you're faced with, and (except for the highs, which are too polite for me) I think they belong high on anyone's short-list for an 11' x 12' library.


I've posted the system here in the Getting Started Forum:

I just tried removing the speaker grilles and it made a substantial difference especially with the the highs making it more detailed. I listen to mainly classical and especially piano pieces. My biggest gripe was that although the system reproduces voice and wind instruments well, it didn't do so well with strings and piano. Taking the grilles off definitely helped in that area. Shadorne, aeshetics is a high priority since the room serves dual purpose. The ceilings are 9' high and is concrete as well as the floor. There is a window but has honeycomb blinds lowered when I listen. Thanks!
Okay. I *definitely* wouldn't spend ten-k on speakers and then put them in those two positions in that room. :-)

I know this is way, way, wayyyy off the topic of what you originally asked, but those two positions, in that room, aren't going to work particularly well for much of anything. But despair not, especially if taking the grilles off helped. (By the way, did you break one? Everyone always does when handling A-P grilles -- the guy who designed them should be shot.)

I think you should reposition the layout of the listening chair and the speakers if at all practicable, so that the speakers aren't in front of furniture. The reason isn't the furniture itself, it's the inability to put any kind of acoustic treatment behind the speakers. If, say, the Sparks were in front of "bare" corners, you could greatly improve your sound with a couple of hundred dollars with of acoustic treatments, either d-i-y or mail-order from someplace like GIK Acoustics.

Failing that, suggestion number two is to do some room treatments anyway. I'll bet that if you slap your hands (hard) in the dead-center of that room, you can hear a ringing sound that goes on for several seconds afterward. Clean, liquidy highs -- especially stringed instrument highs -- ain't gonna happen if they have to swim upstream through that nonsense. For a fraction of your original budget for speakers, you could kit-out that entire room in GIK stuff, maybe even hire the whole thing out if you didn't want to mess with it.

Third, if after all of that the Sparks *still* sound too laid-back at the top (and I think they do, anyway, so it wouldn't surprise me), *then* the best speaker choices for you are going to be nearfield monitors, with or without a sub (probably without, at least to begin with).

Personally I'm partial to the Joseph Audio RM7, the Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference, or the DeVore Gibbon 3, but that's because I've got limited power. You, on the other hand, could try Vienna Acoustics, Totem One, or even the Linn Katans, which get beaten up a lot in these forums but are in my view a terrific little speaker when matched with good power and good sources. The Reference 3A MM deCapo is highly regarded in some circles, others think the tweeter is fatiguing. Your advantage is that neither price nor associated equipment are holding you back.

Hope all of this helps more than it hurts. But the main thing: don't go parkin' a pair of Wilson Duetta's in front of a desk. You won't be happy with the return on your investment, imho.

Dog or man thanks for your advice. I will try a few acoustical treatments and just enjoy music for now.