Specifically, I have owned the Beethovens...
compared to my current setup, they were average...
I went to a pair of Mirage M5si...
the Beethovens did excel in vocals, mids and had a nice midbass. The soundstage was not as wide as the Mirages..the bass was not as pronounced as the Mirages.. although I do like bass... The highs were a little tiring after some time... but overall a musical speaker.
Build quality is first rate.. true furniture grade finish..
Excellent binding posts... not biwirable.
The beethovens are very position sensitive. You definately need some listening time to get in the right spot.
They will run on moderate power as long as it is clean and high current.. I was running them with an aragon 8002 with nice results...
Definately not for an adcom or receiver...
A nice value at any price under 1700....
Custom Audio LLC
One reason the VA speakers do not have a higher profile in the US is because they are European. Enough very high quality high end hifi products are made in North America that it is a bit difficult for any overseas company to dominate our market no matter how good they are.
Getting back on the subject, I have the VA Mahlers, and I really like them. The Mahlers may not be the 'ultimate' speaker for two channel; however, they are well rounded enough doing nearly everything very well. This was important to me since I integrated my 2 channel setup into my HT setup.
I have not heard the Beethovens, but I would venture to guess that they can compete well with any speaker in their price range. You may find speaker you like a little better at that price point, but I would doubt that you would find one that would totally blow away the Beethoven.
I would suggest trying to find a dealer you can demo the speakers at.
I do own a pair of Beethovens. I agree with Joe that they do require some effort to set up properly, I think because of the rear port. You will need to place them well out into the room. The ones I've listened to at Tweeter rarely do them justice, they just don't have many guys that can properly set up audio equipment. The ones that I thought came closest to in performance were the Silverline Sonitina II's. The Sonitina's were slightly more accurate, while the Beethovens were slightly warmer. I've never cared for the Thiel's or Mirage's I've heard. The Thiel's tend to be too bright for my tastes. I agree with Joe that the Mirage's soundstage better, but I preferred the tonality and imaging on the Beethovens. I have a friend who has a pair of Mirage M1-si, they are nice speakers, but require a very large room. They do spread a very large soundstage (their strength), but I can't pinpoint individual instruments within the sounstage like I can with the Beethovens. It is all a matter of tastes, musical and sonic. The Beethovens don't 'rock out' as well as other speakers I've heard, but they do vocals and acoustical pieces amongst the best I've heard in their price range. FWIW, I'm using Threshold amplification. I haven't heard the Revel's. I also have a friend that owns a pair of Dynaudio Audience 82's, they are pretty nice. I'd like to give them a listen in my system someday.
I agree with Tok20000
You will not find another speaker in it's price range that will totaly blow it away. Tweeter uses B+K amp. with monster cable. They sound like their is a blanket on top of them. I run my Beethovens with An EAD amp and Audioquest solid copper cable. I have never had a problem with fatigue.
I've heard three of their models (including the Beethovens) auditioned with only solid state stuff - Classe and Linn. each time I thought the all the VAs were musical and delightful. Love to hear them with good tubes. They are, of course, beautiful to look at and seem extremely well made for the price. I got the impression they are a music lover's speaker as opposed to an audiphile product like Thiel and Revel (both of which I've heard at stores). I was unable to get through an entire song on any CD played with the Thiels, sat through 2-3 tunes per disc with the VAs. This always tells me about as much as I want to know.
I have recently been auditioning speakers for a new system. I heard the Beetovens in 3 audio stores. In two I compared versus the B&W 804. Clearly, the 804s had more detail, but perhaps too much. They sounded somewhat nasal comapred to the VA. The VA was more musical and warmer--mayber too warm (a bit dark). At least that is how they appeared when I heard them in a third store where Icompare them to the Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home. The SF Grand Piamo Homes sounded inbetween the 804 and VA. Brighter than the VA, more detailed, but not as bright or detailed as the 804. Personally, I liked the GPH the best. They were also more "forward" or lively than the VA.
I have the little "Haydens" (in beautiful rosewood) fed by an Arcam 85 integrated amp (SS / 85 watts).
First, the fit and finish is AWESOME!
Obviously they are not the "best of the best", BUT when you check out the highly regarded components they use and the over all sound quality you can't help but be impressed.
Before I bought the Haydens I auditioned nearly every small monitor except for Totem,Merlin and Harbeth. There was NOTHING (new retail) within $500.00 that could touch these little gems.
Two words of caution-they are position sensitive due to the rear port and if your "thing" is hard rock-not your best choice.
I own the Haydns (beechwood) and am using them with the Arcam A75 int. amp and Arcan CD72 cdp. I've been so happy with this combination, very musical, detailed, warm, the most non-fatiguing speakers I've ever listened to. It's just pure joy to hear such accurate, involving speakers. I have them on speaker stands and am constantly amazed at how the music travels around the room, very wide soundstage and excellent full imaging even at low volumes. I used to listen to music mostly on my Sennheiser 600 headphones when I had B & W bookshelf speakers in the front room, but after getting the Viennas I rarely use the headphones, because the reproduction at low volume is so fulfilling and musical. The B & Ws are now in the bedroom hooked up to the television, and will soon be for sale.
I have owned the Beethovens and absolutely loved them. I used Ayre amp and preamp. I agree w/those that said they are on the warm side and sound beautiful w/jazz and acoustic. I heard them w/tubes but the amp I heard them with did not have enough power, in my opinion. The bass was undefined and too soft. I think they need at least 100 watts to sound their best. The Ayre V3 was a great match. I auditioned them against the Mahlers, and while the Mahlers were better, the price difference made the Beethovens a better pick for me. I felt the focused bass and incredibly musical midrange and highs compared very favorably to the $10,000 Mahlers. And as everyone notes, the cabinetry and wood grain of the whole Vienna line is just amazing. Beethovens can be found used here for $2400 or less, a great bargain.
Hi all. I'd like to go slightly off topic. I also own a pair of Beethovens but have been considering ESLs. I can get a great deal on a pair of Martin Logan Aeon's. I'm wondering if the ML's would be a set down and if anybody has ever compared the two.
Thanks for all the input, Mike.
VA speakers, as has been noted here, are especially position sensitive. Sumiko runs a week long seminar in speaker placement for their dealers, and it really pays off.
I have auditioned the Mahlers at the VA dealer in Denver, Soundings, and the owner has been to the Sumiko seminar and the speakers are positioned perfectly in the room.
The Beethovens are similarly positioned.
A Mahler-Jeff Rowland system does make nice music. Beethovens are for smaller rooms, but nice music as well.
Like many speakers with very few dealers, hard to get a proper audition. It really helps with making a decision.
I've heard Beethovens, Mahlers and Haydens in various systems. They may not throw a ton of detail in your face, but they certainly are quite musical. I'd try to setup a serious audition.