If you can't go PL300 then I go Volent.
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I own the Volent, but haven't heard the MA Platinum (owned the Gold 10 once).
Your spec "very focused, 3 dimensional presentation" fit the VL-2 to a T, but they do 2 other things extraordinarily well. One is the depth and power of the bass. No other small speaker comes close, IMO. Deep, but tight and focused, without any obfuscation at all.
Second, the transparency and transmission of depth and ambient information is as good as I've ever heard, and embarasses most high end speakers, regardless of price or size. And the top end - very extended and detailed, but very smooth. I've found amp matching to be less of a problem than most speakers. That ribbon extends down to 1900 hz., so it handles the upper mids too. The overall sound is very see-into, but sweet and easy at the same time. I'm a dyed in the wool trader, but I can't imagine ever giving these up. To me, they redefine what a small speaker can do.
And BTW, I uses them in my office system, often played quietly late at night. Magical!
My perceptive wife agrees- she has put me on notice that if I'm planning to leave or die, I need to set these up for her first, ahead of any other speakers I've ever owned.
Thanks so much for the responses so far... VL-2 might fit the bill pretty well or so it seems...I just never had a monitor and frankly never even consider one. I'm suprised stands are not offered with the speakers. I'd hate to get the speakers and then spend several months trying to figure out what length of the speaker stands and what type would be the best. Too bad they were just a static display at RMAF this year.
24" stands are best for most sitting positions. The best sound is with the ear level at the tweeter level to 4" above, depending partially on distance, of course. The tweeter is about 12" above the bottom of the speaker. As always with stands, the more rigid the better.
There is one area that the VL-2 takes a back seat to multiway floorstanders, and that is the size of the image. In my room it is notably smaller than my 4' tall 9 driver main speakers. That said, the sound is a bit more precise within that image. I've noted a couple of A-gon sellers of these are moving to the Volent floorstanders. I suspect that is to achieve a "larger" picture with similar qualities.
One more are that is worth noting- about the only deviation from accuracy is a bit of a dip in output in the mid-treble range. It does add sweetness, and makes the speaker more forgiving than many "hi-rez" speakers, but it takes a bit of the body from cymbals, etc. It is by no means a problem for me, but is does form part of the character of the speaker.
Most people, including me, probably won't be bothered by it. When I turn them on, the sound is so captivating and immersive that nothing else gets in the way. For me, that's the grail.
I'm interested about the VL2. What concerns me is that they are back ported and my listening space is only 17 ft X 12 ft. How much breathing space do they need? Can I get away by placing them 18" away from the side and back walls? I ran into a german audiphile magazine and it seems (google translate) the reviewer mentioned it may not be the best speaker for rock/indie rock. Majority of my listening is indie rock/classic rock and post punk. Given how transparent they are, I'm not sure if they are the best choice for rock genre. Btw, I'm not a head banger, so max SPL is not a concern. Being an apartment dweller, good sound quality at low volume is a must and from the reviews it seems VL 2 has it in spades. It'd be of great help if any Volent owner can shade some light here regarding their performance in indie rock genre (read Radiohead, Interpol, The National, Death Cab for cutie, Joy Division, The Beatles etc).
I own them and normally use them in my 12x16 office, in a bookshelf! I have stuffed the ports, which reduces the bass. It is still slightly too strong, but I live with it quite happily, as the other qualities are so wonderful. Strangely, in my open 16x20 living room, away from walls, the bass is stronger yet. In the nearfield they offer about the best sound I've ever heard. Others that have heard them in my office haven't been bothered by too much bass either.
I think the German article was referring to their ultimate loudness capability, which is more than adequate for most listeners, but not headbangers or loud parties in large rooms. I listen to a lot of music, including hard rock, and I don't think they favor anything. They don't highlight problems, and are always "musical" at all volume levels, and are extremely focused.
Unfortunately, as always, only setting them up in your room will ultimately tell the tale.
Jmbatkh, Thanks for the insight. Whats your opinion about their upper bass/lower midrange? Are they on the leaner side of the spectrum or thinner/warmer side?
Branislav, Thanks for your response. I'd like to hear your opinion regarding their lower midrange/upper bass too. IMO a bit fuller sound at that freq band is always helpful for the kind of music I listen to. Anything comes to your mind regarding 'better alternatives'?
You know, in all honesty, I can't say if their upper bass is more full and warm or lean and dry. A lot of that will have to do with the electronics you use. One switch on my interconnects will make it go from ying to yang and vice versa.I do have to say their bass is very good, as is the rest of the spectrum. One thing to keep in mind is that they are quite revealing and in my opinion an upfront/lively/revealing speaker (though I wouldn't call them aggressive), which means a lot of effort has to be put in the rest of the equipment. I would recommend a laid back cd player and amplifier. Also one of their minor points is that their image is a bit smaller than life...yes they do have good depth, and width, but their height is a bit limited (at least in my case). But of course I'm coming from an omnidirectional speaker that threw a huge soundstage, but a lot of the details were left to your imagination and low level resolution were barely average. Eveything has pros and cons. Hope that helps somewhat.
The upper bass in my systems is definitely on the rich side, as opposed to lean and dry. For me, it adds to the overall sweetness and listenability. The remarkable thing is that the extra lower mid/upper bass body is not purchased by obfuscation, slowness or loss of detail in that range, which is the real surprise for me. It is one of their many remarkable qualities.