Upgrade from Proac Response 1SC?


I never thought I'd be asking this, but what bookshelf speaker might be a step up from these? I've had and loved them for a little over 10 years now, but with a recent major upgrade in my electronics (will be listed at end of post) I think they're just a bit too small for what's now driving them. I've heard a pair of Sonus Faber Olympicas (way out of my price range) and some Revel M-106's (not sure they're a step upwards from the Proacs). Would like something I can live with for a long time to come, but hoping not to exceed about $3000. Impossible mission? Maybe...
Advice and suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
Hegel H-200, Cambridge Audio 751BD, Bryston BDA-1 DAC, REL S2 sub. Clarus Aqua speaker cables & interconnects (mostly).
cooper52
FRITZ CARRERA (3500)
If you like the Proac sound you should look at the Response D Two (used). The local daler here in Phoenix, AZ has a demo pair of D-30r for sale, but I am not sure of the price.
The Fritz Carrera is also a speaker I have been very interested in. I've talked to Fritz oh the phone a couple times and these sound like a model I would like to hear. I have read reviews of some of his other models but have yet to see anything written about the Carrera? Zoot45, do you own these speakers? Or have you heard them? If so, would you care to elaborate?
DeVore makes a very nice small speaker. If you like the ProAc's, you should like them as well.
I like my Clearwave Duet 6 monitors.
They pack a lot of sound for their size.

All the best,
Nonoise
Check out speaker art. I've owned the response 1.5's, 2.5's as well as the 1sc. I have a pair of custom super clefs with Lee taylor cabinets and scan speak tweeters. They are the most dynamic and coherent two way speakers I've ever heard. I will never part with mine.
I had the 1SC. I then moved to the D15.
I now have Merlin VSM which I love.
You can get a used pair of the TSM (bookshelf version)at a reasonable price. While I have not heard the TSM, I understand they have a strong family resemblance.
You might also look into ATC or Joseph Audio. Not sure if they make anything within your budget.
Thanks, everybody, for the responses. Some very useful recommendations here. Some of these speakers would be a bit difficult to audition (for example, the only Merlin dealer anywhere near me is some hundreds of miles away in Southern California). I want to stress that one of the things I particularly like about my ProAcs, apart from their very accurate stereo imaging, is their inherent musicality. It's just that with my system and my room, the Response 1SCs are a bit shrill. Anybody had experience with ProAc Response D2? Larger drivers, but not sure how the sound differs. Looks like these may still be a current model.
The D2 is a current model. I think the newer Pro-ac speakers image better and sound less veiled. I used to have Response 2 speakers and the newest generation is better, I think some of the improvement is due to materials technology in the new models. I have not heard all of the speakers recommended in this thread, but I have heard the Joseph Pulsars, which I thought were too bright and analytic.
Update: Since my original post, I've auditioned a few speakers, including several models from Fritz Speakers (he was kind enough to bring them over to hear in my own living room and though I found much to like in the Carreras, I still thought the Proacs appealed to me more), a pair of Harbeth C7ES3s and Devore Fidelity Gibbon 3XLs. I haven't jumped at any of these. Interestingly (and contrary to much popular opinion) I just couldn't fall in love with the Harbeths though I did appreciate the things they do so well, namely that beautiful midrange presentation. The trouble was that they rounded off too many of the sharp edges for my taste. The details are all there, but wrapped in soft velvet. The Devores are obviously excellent speakers, but I think the mistake we made was hearing the Harbeths first, before the Devores. The latter's smaller drivers and smaller soundstage were an unfair contrast to the Harbeths. Without hearing the Devores in my own living room I couldn't bring myself to make the commitment, and there wasn't an option for in-home demo. After the audition, I did some more listening to the ProAcs, and am again reminded what it is that I like so much about them. Still haven't heard the Merlins yet.
Part of the problem is that its a difficult speaker to upgrade from. They're so unique its hard to look at those speakers from an upgrade/downgrade perspective. I can't think of another company that makes a rough equivalent to the 1SC. Maybe Living Voice vs full size ProAc's, but I don't think they make small speakers. Maybe you can list some specific qualities that you need to improve upon over your 1SC's, and start there.

Also, maybe you should consider keeping the ProAc's and upgrading something else in the system. The 1SC's being driven by my VAC 30/30 sounds exceptional. Moving to an amp like that, and possibly a matching preamp can do a lot for the system. Dynamic contrast, image size and scale, depth, are all things that can get better without even changing the speakers.
I have a pair of near mint Proac Response 2.5 sitting in a closet in burr oak that I might consider selling.
Since buying a refurbished pair of Quad esl57 I just don't use the Proac's anymore. A good home for them would be nice, since they were so good to me.

Any interest just let me know.
Cooper52,

As an owner of many Proac speakers, past and present, I have a few thoughts to share with you.

I have owned Proac Tablettes, Studio 1, Response 2, Studio 140, Response 2.5 and currently the Proac response D-40r. So that is a lot of Proac speakers, and needless to say I also like Proac speakers.

I responded earlier and indicated that the Response D-30r would be a significant upgrade with a great sound similar to your current speakers. I mentioned that a local dealer had a pair of demos, but those are now sold.

I also think the Response 2.5 mentioned by Yashu would be an upgrade, particularly in the bass region. the response 2.5 has great low bass extension, but is not very efficient and does require some power. I used a pair of Quicksilver V-4 monoblocks (120 wpc) which was a great match.

I bought a pair of Harbeth Compact 7Es-2 and tried them, but they did not do it for me either. I have also heard the Devore Fidelity Gibbon 3XL, and I thought the bass extension was lacking.

I have not heard the Merlins so I can't comment.

If you can find a pair of of demo or used Proac Response D-30r I think you would like them a lot, and you might also consider the Response 2.5.

Best of luck in finding the right speaker for you.

Jim Perry
I'll give you $500 for them plus whatever the shipping is.
Further update, seven months later: I got the chance to hear two more speakers, one for an extended (week-long) in-home trial. The first of these, which I heard in the store, was a pair of Totem Element Fires, ordinarily out of price-range but because they were used, the dealer was letting them go at a (for these) real bargain price. I was very impressed with their 3-dimensional imaging and their rock-solid poise. They maintained very fine resolution across a wide range of musical genres and at pretty high volumes, far louder than I would play them here at home. What I DIDN'T like about them was their rather recessed sound and seeming lack of warmth in the midrange, not to mention that they're not exactly pretty to look at. Thus I opted not to try them at home. The other speakers were Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors (not the "M"s) which on first impression did a number of things really well. They presented a very finely resolved stereo image though more two-dimensional than the Totems. Their overall sound, warmer but a little more forward, seemed to suit my taste better, so these I brought home to live with for a week, and this is is where I began to hear the Cremona Auditor's shortcomings. The first thing I noticed (apart from how different their personality is from my Proac Response 1 SCs) was that they didn't present an effortless sound at all. They seemed to need a lot of pushing to get them to speak (even though they are nominally as efficient as my ProAcs) and my wife, who NEVER has an opinion about these things, immediately declared them "dull and muffled." "I like the other ones better," she said (meaning the ProAcs). Also, the Cremona Auditors could get a little congested with certain kinds of sounds, like choirs with strings or dense orchestral passages. Lastly, they could occasionally exhibit a slight "papery" quality with certain kinds of music. However, I should also include here the things I did like about them, namely their honesty with voices, their warm and musical midrange, good bass extension and their stylish appearance. A little more sparkle would have been welcome though. So, the search continues...
I'll still give you $500 plus shipping for them.
I am a big Proac fan. My Response 2, I bought years ago and later updated with 2s drivers, is also still sitting in my closet. One suggestion I'd make is to consider a pair of high quality subwoofers to fill in the bottom octaves of the 1SC. Once dialed in, I think you will be you will be pleased in what you have gained.
I don't like Sonus Faber - thick, slow uninvolving sound.
Vienna is so much better. However, I didn't hear top offerings of either.
Sonus Faber Extrema was thought to be great when driven by 400 wt/ch by some really good solid state amps.
I have a REL S-2 sub which adds a lot to the presentation of the Response 1 SCs. It may be that I'm just getting restless after 11 years with these speakers and looking to rekindle the magic somehow. Any opinions about Selah Audio's Verita or Tempesta models? I've seen some very favorable reviews of these.
"It may be that I'm just getting restless after 11 years with these speakers and looking to rekindle the magic somehow."

You're speakers sound great with tubes. I tried them with my ARC VT-100 and my VAC 30/30, and someone elses BAT VK-60. Excellent results with all 3. I mention the amp because ProAc is such a unique speaker that's hard to replace.
I also had a pair of the ProAc 1SC and mated them with a cary 300sei it was a match made in heaven. If you listen to a lot of vocals, I don't believe you can surpass that reach out and touch you feeling they give you, perhaps as others have mentioned you could go with a different amp. Best of luck
Thanks for the responses and input. I am entertaining the idea of different amplification, but I'm not a big fan of the tube sound. I've heard some very high-end tube systems (Aesthetix, for one) and though I see why people like them, the sound isn't to my taste. There are quite a few amps I can audition locally, so let's see if this might be the solution. As with speakers, there's a dizzying variety to choose from and they all have their own personalities and quirks. If I'm not careful, I can see this turning into a lifetime quest.
Solid state is fine. There's no shortage of good choices. I've used Rowland with ProAc. Some people find that ProAc speakers overall, can be a bit too forward sounding. Rowland can balance that out nicely. Ayre would be my 1st choice. The AX-7 integrated is ideal for your speakers. Pass always a good match. Even the older Aleph series works very well.
So here's what happened: a local seller offered a pair of Proac Response D-2s at an irresistible price so it was an experiment I couldn't pass up. I've spent a couple of weeks with these, getting a sense of what they do and how they differ from the Response 1SCs (which I haven't sold yet and probably won't offer for a little while yet). Yes, the D-2s have Proac DNA, no mistake. However, their balance is quite different from the 1SCs. Gone is the occasional glare the SCs exhibited, but this added control comes at the expense of some of the SC's warmth. I'm not entirely sure I like the Vifa tweeters as much, as I'm not sure they integrate as seamlessly with the woofers as they should. I'll give them a good amount of time to get them and my ears acclimated. All things considered, I do like the D-2s--they do a lot of things really well. Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship? I'll keep you posted...
I think you would like the 2.5's. Its kind of like the 1sc, only bigger.
@cooper52 I am resurrecting this old thread since I am considering a D2 purchase and am waiting with bated breath to hear what came of the auspicious start of a beautiful friendship. :)
I've owned Response 1.5, 2.5 and 1sc's. As much as I like Proacs I feel Speaker Art is a better speaker in every way. 
Badri, just to follow up, the Response D2s and I are still friends. It actually took some time for the old Proac magic to emerge, as I think the previous owner(s) of these speakers didn't play them enough, and they take about 100 hours to find their voice. I thought at first they were a little too bright, but with a few minor tweaks (they like Proac's standard jumpers a lot better than the Kimber Kable ones I tried) they've calmed down quite a bit and I'm really enjoying them. Wonderful detail, excellent imaging. I'd say they're still a bit on the bright side but amplification plays a role in this and I've been giving a little thought to changing from my present Hegel H200 to something like a Modwright KWI200 which has the reputation for sounding fuller.
I made the move from Proac 1SC's to B&W Nautilus 805 Signatures. I've been very happy with the upgrade. Of course, 805 Signature's are many years old now and not easy to find, but it is a really great speaker that looks great and is easy to fit into most rooms.
My journey went from the 1SCs to D15s. After that I went to Merlin VSM with BAM and upgrades. The Merlins showed the weaknesses of my prior Jolida amp and I moved to a Cary SLI80 F1. This gives a very satisfying result.
crwindy, I’m curious about your impressions of the Merlin VSMs and how they compare to the Proacs. I’ve read a lot of good things about Merlin speakers and even considered trying a pair of TSMs but never quite got to it. It appears there won’t be any more made though, following the death of Merlin’s owner last year, so I’d have keep an eye on the used market. They do come up on Audiogon sometimes.
It seems like the Proacs do some things that really appeal to you that are tough to find in other speakers.  I agree with Zd that it might be very worthwhile trying some different integrateds that may better blend the top end with the rest of the sonic picture.  On the solid state side I'd try Ayre or Plinius, and for tubes maybe ARC or VAC.  Also, not sure what you're using for interconnects and speaker cables, but that may be another avenue to explore.  Best of luck. 



Cooper52, I happen to have a very nice pair of Merlin TSM mmm on Audiogon right now. They are wonderful speakers and priced right if you are interested. Only reason I am parting with them is my wife decided I'm back in the big room since it is walled off from the kitchen. She can stay in there where she belongs ;-). Even though they still sound great in this room it is a little large at 26x24x14. In my old room of 25x16x8 they did everything I could ask from 50hz or so up. 
Diapason Adamantes III (used) or Diapason Reference (new) from Italy, sound so beautiful!! 
@cooper52 I heard both the D2 and the D20r this weekend. Side by side, the D2 sounded *just* a little strained and the D20R had much more of a "live-sounding" feel. Think this is what some folks refer to as "presence". It felt like a living breathing thing in the room rather than a speaker playing music exceptionally well.

I am not sure if this is because the D2s had not broken in yet.

I am leaning towards the D20R right now - with my only concern being a floppping/huffing bass when driven loud by a relatively low powered 35w/ch PrimaLuna classic amp. I fully intend to buy the 20R - what they did with the midrange was just magic. I don't think I have relaxed more visibly into the sound of a speaker than I did with these. They are liquid and just envelop you in a blanket of sound.

My challenge will be to get a good SS amp to grip the bass - but that will be another journey, I guess :)
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Thanks for the response (no pun intended), badri. I hope to hear the D20Rs one day, assuming I can find a ProAc dealer within a day's drive of here. I'm still using my Hegel H200 integrated which definitely keeps a tight grip on the bass, but that's aided in no small measure by my REL S-2 sub. Not sure if you want to go the sub and/or SS route.
@cooper52 I heard both the D2 and the D20r this weekend. Side by side, the D2 sounded *just* a little strained and the D20R had much more of a "live-sounding" feel. Think this is what some folks refer to as "presence". It felt like a living breathing thing in the room rather than a speaker playing music exceptionally well.

I am not sure if this is because the D2s had not broken in yet.

I am leaning towards the D20R right now - with my only concern being a floppping/huffing bass when driven loud by a relatively low powered 35w/ch PrimaLuna classic amp. I fully intend to buy the 20R - what they did with the midrange was just magic. I don't think I have relaxed more visibly into the sound of a speaker than I did with these. They are liquid and just envelop you in a blanket of sound.

My challenge will be to get a good SS amp to grip the bass - but that will be another journey, I guess :)


Good to note on the differences between the D2 and D20R. I guess for scale and dynamics, a larger floorstander will always be a better choice than small standmounters.
Good news: a dealer in my area has recently started carrying Proac, which gives me an incentive to audition the D20Rs in the near future. I'm looking forward to hearing them. It seems a lot of dealers dropped the Proac line in recent years because their former American distributor was problematic. I've had some dealings with their new American reps, The Sound Organisation in Texas, and their customer service is exemplary.