From what I have read about the Polks...they have an extremely lively presentation...so you are on the right track...if you are looking for more kick...try adding a small musical sub...of the above mentioned brands...I like the Monitor audio studio 2...these really need a sub...but they are very holographic with vocals...but again...i dont know if this would be worth the effort...I would try to work with what you have....just my .02...good luck...
Since you are using a Simaudio integrated you might want to check out some Dynaudio's. I just recently aquired a Simaudio W-3 and it matches very well with my Special 25's. In comparison to my McCormack DNA-125 it is a bit warmer, yet more detailed and more dynamic at the same time. If you are using a small room your integrated should have plenty of juice.
I have had LSi7's, and while they are a good speaker for the money, anything in the Dynaudio Contour series is in another league. You also might want to look at Totem's, too.
Time916 I actually use the i-5080 which is pretty much the same amp with less voltage...what were you driving the LSi7's with? Do the Dynaudios give as sweet presentation to music as the LSi's? I'm looking for improved dynamics over the LSi's but without losing the musical aspects I currently have. I will seriously look at the Dynaudio's now that you've mentioned them. As for the totems. I've heard Totem Mani 2's using dedicated two channel Sim amps and HATED THEM. Way way to bright. In fact that same owner listened to the LSi's (after he had sold the Mani's) and was impressed with how much more musical they were.
I actually aquired the LSi7's for a seperate home theater system but I did put them into my 2-channel system for a week or so just for kicks. My system at the time was a Denon DVD-3800 feeding a modded ART DIO DAC, Innersound preamp, and McCormack DNA-125. I found the LSi's to have a slightly warmer presentation (although, IMO, not as accurate) than the Dyn's but not as coherent and not nearly as engaging. The Dyn's would just suck me right in after a few minutes while with the Polks I would end up getting bored after a while. The Polks did have impressive bass for their size.
Now bear in mind that this was not really a fair fight when you consider the price differential between these speakers and the fact that the LSi's were not broken in.
The reason I originally bought the Dynaudio's was because I could listen to them all day. A lot of speakers were impressive for the first 15 minutes of the audition, and then would become fatiguing. The Dynaudio's were the opposite. Nothing about the sound stood out initially, but all of a sudden I would look at my watch and realize that I had been in the sound room for 2 hours. Try and find a dealer who will let you do an in-home audition, or one who will at least let you listen in the store for more than 20 minutes at a time.
You listened to the Paradigm Signature S2 and didn't come away
impressed? Wow. I've heard this speaker in many different
systems and can't imagine much better sound in a monitor at
any price. $2k new. Right in your range.
I have Polk RTi28s in my bedroom system. Not up to the level
of the LSi9 but the Polk house-sound is certainly evident in
both models. If you like the Polk sound (I do) I'm surprised
you don't like the Paradigms.
May also want to give the Tyler Linbrook monitors a look as
well although I'm going on second-hand recs there.
Hey Tim, I've been reading the dynaudio's are pretty picky on room placement, I can only manage having them roughly 18-24" away from the wall. Do they have a monitor that can breathe in this close a space?
I quite disagree, I hated Polk Audio speakers...muddy was the word I often used when listening to them, the LSi's weren't muddy at all but open and musical. I have not heard the Paradigm sig's as of yet but people have told me they are a step up from their previous reference line. The Paradigms have always left me a little cold because of the sizzle in the top end and overly forward presentation. To my ears the Polk Audio LSi9's were warm and musical, the Paradigm Studio 40's were a smooth but a little more forward sounding with a tweeter that could get stuck sizzling.
Lush, have you thought about any speakers from the Totem line? The Model One's may be ideal for you. Or the Hawk's or even Forrest's if a floorstander isn't out of the question? I've heard several Totem speakers paired with their own integrated (a joint venture with SimAudio) and they sounded great! Give them a listen if you get a chance!
The Paradigm Signature line (I've only heard the S2 monitors)
is a completely different animal than their other lines. I was
never a Paradigm fan myself. Always felt the bass was never
quite right, a little thick and overdone, in their Ref/Studio
lines. That's why I went with the Polks in the bedroom system.
Not the case at all with the Sig2. And the tweeter is highly
refined and resolving. No glare or etch. Totally non-fatiguing
without sounding rolled-off or too polite.
I was very surprised too.
The Dynaudio Special 25 is another wonderful monitor. If it
was the same price as the Sig2 I'd call it a toss up since
they are both world-class performers. But at twice the cost
of the Sig2 I think they lose out in price/performance.
If the Sig2 were made by a smaller company like Dyn they'd
probably retail for $5k.
I've only heard the Mani2's but not in my own system. I didn't like them at all, hard to explain, just totally uninvolving, dry, thin, stale...hard to explain. It was being powered at the time by an older Simaudio celeste amp and Anthem pre. Maybe the Forrests or Hawks will sound better.
I originally had the Special 25's in a smallish room (14x9') and I never found the bass to be out of control or boomy. I don't think that Dynaudio's are more likely to be affected by being placed near a room boundary than any other speaker (in terms of the bass response). It could be that those who found them to be out of control when placed near the walls might have been sitting in a room mode. As always, listening to a speaker in your own room is the only true way to tell.
I've not heard the Paradigm S2's that some of the other members are suggesting, but they certainly seem intriguing. I'll be the first to admit that Dynaudio's are expensive (with an approximate 10% increase coming 3/1!), but they are one of the few speaker companies who has virtually total control over the design, components, and manufacturing of their products and I do believe that plays a big part in delivering a superior product, albeit at a higher price than many of their competitors.
I would recommend the Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Monitors. It has a similar design as the Polk with the dual 7" mid-bass drivers and a very detailed Seas Millennium tweeter that is one of the best in the business. These will, however, show flaws in your upstream, but you have nice components that should match well.
These can also play very loud with a great deal of punch. I would still add a subwoofer to add depth, though.
As for Dynaudio, I love them! However, for your style of music I think they would lack some life. Dyn's are phenominal with jazz, acoustic, etc...
It sounds to me like this is way more a factor of the amp and not the speakers. If you don't like the presentation of the Polks, then get new speakers. If it is more punch you want, to me this is definitely a factor of the amp and not the speakers. You may want to try a Pass X150 or other X series amp. Based on your music preferences, your phenomenal digital source, a Pass X150 or 150.5 would send you through the roof! I would bet on it.
I dont think I have pre-outs on my simaudio fatcatudio...thanks for the kind words on my source, I got really lucky, John actually sold me his reference transport, only thing he never did with it was replace the caps with the Blackgates.
I was wondering if I should maybe look too the LSi15's if I like the smooth presentation of the 9's and then look for better amplification later.
I would recommend that if you like the presentation of the Lsi9s, stay with them. Remember, stepping up to floorstanders will inherently give up things like pinpoint imaging that only monitors can accomplish. It will give you better bass, but the speakers are very similar, same drivers, and I am not sure I would recommend that. Here is what I would do:
Sell the Integrated (assuming it is a Moon-I5) this will garner you $1400. Couple this with your $3000 budget and you have $4400 to spend on a great Amp/preamp combo. My suggestion is to get an X150.5 at approx $2200 (or X150 at $1800), then mate with a preamp of choice....tubes if you need warmth, or s.s. like an X2.5 at around $1900. This will bring you in at $4100, less your $1400 from the integrated will place you at $2700 outlay. Just a thought......If you would like more info, please contact me directly.
Quite simply, your possibilities are endless to really move into hi-end separates while keeping your speakers you seem happy with, and taking your system to a totally new level. Mating a hiend separates like the Pass gear to your speakers should shock the heck out of you. Much more so than just an upgrade in similar speakers could accomplish. (all my opinions) Last suggestion, is that I think your DAC can be had/moddded by John to have variable output for direct hookup to an amp!!!