Wanting to get back into the hobby and want to start with the speakers.


Hi everyone. Last year I went to a couple of local Hi-Fi shops and demoed two vastly different types of speakers. The first shop I went to I demoed the JBL L 100 Classic, the second place I demoed two different pairs of Magnepan speakers the MMG and the .7. To my ears both Magnepan’s wiped the floor with the JBL’s. Funny thing is the JBL was being driven by about ten grand worth of McIntosh gear and the Magnepan’s were driven by inexpensive Marantz gear. Now since hearing the Magnepan’s every darn box speaker sounds well......boxy. It’s like they all have this hollowed out muffled midrange. If not for a few reservations I’d probably own a pair of either of the Magnepan’s. From what I’ve read on forums and reviews the consensus seems they require space/careful placement. Though, somewhat of a controversial topic is how much power they require to get up and running. Some say you can never have too much power with them, others say they get by just fine with fifty watts per channel. I guess I won’t know unless I try them.

To switch gears I went a demoed another species of loudspeakers today, two different pairs from the Klipsch Heritage line. The Heresy IV and the Forte III. Both sounded pretty darn good, they sounded similar in the mid’s and high’s, but of course the Forte’s cover about another octave in the low end. Regardless they both still sound like boxes with a bunch of drivers jammed in it( which they are).

Now like any self respecting obsessive audiophile I’m always reading reviews and scouring the internet for other popular speakers to seek out and listen to. A few others I am interested in are Tekton speakers, Harbeths( specifically the p3esr), Vandersteen( either the 1ci or 2ci.), and to throw another curve ball in there a pretty obscure brand called Human speakers. The have a stand mount speaker called the model 81( a sealed two way acoustic suspension, maybe sounds less boxy, dunno). The only ones I would be able to demo in person are the Vandersteen’s, but I’d have to drive about 3-6 hours just demo them.
Anyway, sorry for rambling on, and for overuse of commas. Any suggestions, advise, and or personal experience with any of the above speakers mentioned would be appreciated, thanks.

qxb1998
Welcome! 
Have fun!

Before you leap, look at OB  (open baffle), another world of potential.  
Open Baffle Speakers are a must listen or Quad Electrostatic speakers 57's or 63's. 
If you like the sound of magnepan all you need to do is buy a box speaker and remove the box. Then you will have a boxless speaker. It wont sound very good though. 
The new KEF LS50 Metas are supposed to have a very open sounding midrange and top end.  If you wanted to keep it simple, maybe a new pair of LS50W Metas and a pair of subs.  
I personally have Fritz Carrera BE’s and think they are fantastic.  Definitely worth considering as well.
I liked maggies ended up with ESL.
If you're starting out make sure to audition actives in your room.
45 days for ~$60. Cheap rent.
Now you gotta get on a waiting list. They can't build them fast enough.
A lot easier than finding an amp for the maggies.
if you feel box speakers sound boxy, then avoid the box speaker... you will always feel they sound boxy

maggies are great... don’t be afraid to work through the placement issues... the process to get one’s system to sound really good is part of the joy -- regarding power, you need solid 100 wpc good solid state with current capability -- there are many choices out there - can get into that if you like

doug schroeder’s comment on open baffle speakers is important too... there is definitely something there, it is significant...

good luck, have fun, enjoy the process
I see that you have the Harbeth P3ESR on your list. Over the years I have owned many speakers and I always go back to the P3. Take a look at this video. This guy has the same take on the P3 as I do!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqFIaiPT_kY
I suggest you push hard, make it stressful. Attempt to gain 25 years of experience in six months. Be sure not to make any mistakes! And, remember to have fun!  ;) 


Welcome back! First off, what you like the sound of is extremely subjective, so it’s imperative to buy what YOU like. Secondly, placement is critical for any good speaker, so don’t worry about it being a concern for the Maggies. Thirdly, the quality of the amp is more important (IMHO) than the rated specs. A good 50 watt hi-fi amp should be capable of driving just about any speaker to reasonable volume, but no harm in going with a similar quality higher powered amp....you’re more likely to cause damage with an underpowered amp.

While you may not have completely ruled out traditional box speakers like the JBL or Klipsch, it sounds to me like you have a preference for the planar speakers or non-traditional enclosures that address the internal contribution of the box, so why not focus your energy on those types.  It's worth noting that the JBL and Klipsch are both capable of ear splitting volumes, in case you like to play very loud, but since you seem to like the Maggies, that may not be a concern.  Some of the names you mentioned are excellent....Harbeth, Vandersteen, Tekton....Totem, Sonus Faber, Focal, Wharfedale, are a few others. Enjoy the journey, and best of luck!
From these models, I think your space is not large, correct?

I have never owned flat panels.

From your comments, at this point you are amazed by the Magnepans, and now pre-disposed to the clarity of their midrange primarily, and find that missing from box speakers.

If that remains, it is flat panel for you, so, what other flat panels to consider? Is used flat panel a good idea? I have no idea, others can comment.

I will say, based on their inefficiency, limited bass, and within it's limits, the spec of +/- 3db, which is a swing of 6db, I would not buy them. I certainly would go for more reserve power for any inefficient speaker.

I suggest you make sure you have a return option and listen in your space. Love their sound in your space, keep them, refine the location slowly after that decision.

I have not seen a graph, perhaps others know where to find one, but it is possible +3 is in the mids, and -3 in both highs and lows, thus emphasizing the midrange. Come to find you miss the lows in your space, return them.

btw, 3 to 6 hrs is not easy, but in the long view of things, no biggie considering how long you will own them. You will always wonder .... I always pre-arrange things, re-confirm in the am, things can change suddenly, the most knowledgeable person might have a family emergency.

What's your listening space like?  Large, small, medium... lots of space to get the speakers away from the walls/corners or not, what kind of music do you like and how do you like to listen - loud or moderate volumes?  What are you going to be driving the speakers with?  Budget for the speakers?  What do you already have or plan to add in terms of gear?  What's your total system budget?

More information would help you get suggestions more tailored to your tastes and needs and budget.  Otherwise people will just tell you what they like. 

For example, I love my Harbeth P3ESR in my second small computer system.  They are in a small room and the speakers are near the wall and corners and nearfield and they're being driven by a 125 watt per channel integrated.  I have KEF Reference 1 in my main system, but I have a lot more room for those and am driving them with more power (180 watt tubed monoblocks) and a bunch of subwoofers.  The KEFs might not work as good in my computer system and the P3ESRs wouldn't be as good in my main system.  Not to mention the KEFs are almost an order of magnitude more costly than the Harbeths.
I remember looking for replacement tweeters for my epicure speakers and coming across the human speaker website, that was years ago. The great thing about AG and USAM is having access to used products that would be out of reach otherwise. Take your time there's as much fun in the hunt.
Hi again everyone, I wanted to give you all more information about my room dimensions, current audio gear, and a little back ground of past experience in the hobby.
When I started out in the hobby I was strictly turntable based. I swapped turntable/cartridge combos till my head spinned. I completely neglected the most important part of a system which is the speakers, as I was spending most of my funds on turntable/cartridge upgrades that made little to no improvement to the overall sound. I kick myself because I wasted a lot of money by doing this. Having listened to modestly priced digital sources CD players/streamers I’ve grown indifferent to the whole analogue vs digital thing. I’m just as happy with $300-$500 CD player as I am with a $2,500+ turntable.

On to room dimensions. There are two rooms I would be able to place speakers in. The dimensions (W x H x D) for the first room are 12x8x18(Feet). The second is 10.5x6.5x20. Neither of these rooms are closed off both are adjacent to other rooms/areas of the house. I just measured room boundaries for the sake of simplicity.

One amp I’ve kept in my audiophile journey is an old Adcom GFA-555 with matching Adcom GTP-400. Sure, it’s not the last word in anything, but it will drive any speaker mentioned competently. 

Now I did mention a couple of curve balls in my original post like the Harbeth’s, Tekton’s, and the Human model 81’s. What intrigues me about the Harbeth’s and Human’s are their sealed designs, which may sound less boxy compared to vented/ported designs, plus they are both rather compact. The Tekton’s I’m interested in are all ported designs. But, what entices me are their low cost and unique/questionable design. They seem to use off the shelf pro drivers, have minimal internal damping, and simple crossovers. Reviewers and owners alike seem to love them so there must be something about the overall package.
Anyway, I think with my room dimensions disclosed you fine people may be able to help narrow down this list somewhat. Thanks.
We have some huidence gor yo quad z 3 or4 non boxy día soeakers with an smazing rincón tweeter very panoramic easy to drive easy to place and afgordable and stunning looking

We had Maggiesyears ago horrible flawed yes open but the speakers produced a huge and unfocused sound stage with limited dynamics

Todays best dynamic speakers can rival the transparency and holographiic image size of a planer

We have anew 3k monitor which souns like an electrostátic

It is calles jern a tiny compact monitor wit perhsps the most inert cabinet ever m ade cast iron and graphite

http://jernspeakers.com/

https://www.tonepublications.com/review/jern-14eh-speakers/#:~:text=Ultimately%2C%20the%20real%20lim....

Dave lalin
Owner audio intellect  nj
Us importer jern loudspeakers
I completely neglected the most important part of a system which is the speakers
You did fine. Your source and amplification must be impeccable in order to get the most from the speakers. A bad source will make the speakers sound bad. 
In those size rooms the sealed Harbeth P3ESR would be a perfect fit. There are other LS3/5a type designs from Spendor, Stirling, Falcon, etc. , but I doubt you would go wrong with the Harbeth. I’ve been enjoying mine for years!
https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=harbeth+p3esr+review&docid=608045662863296517&mid=5D7EB69CCEBBAAE793AF5D7EB69CCEBBAAE793AF&view=detail&FORM=VIRE
Go with the maggies.  Either of your rooms is fine for the Magnepan.  I have the 1.7's and love them.

It appears that Dave,  posting under audiotroy only likes speakers that he sells.  
It is called jern a tiny compact monitor with perhaps the most inert cabinet ever made cast iron and graphite
Iron is not inert it rings like a bell. If you want inert you will need a concrete wall at least 12 feet thick. Anything less is a compromise. 
Cast iron seems pretty inert on the OMA plinths.
The Adcom amps are solid- Nelson Pass helped design them.
I had them for decades. They still worked when I sold them 30 years later.
As far as speakers go, I think you need to set aside some time and visit as many dealers as possible. That way, you can assess what you like and dislike, and in doing so, narrow your focus.
B
LoL, 12 feet of concrete... what an idiot...
@b_limo 

LoL, 12 feet of concrete... what an idiot...

+1,000,000

If you enjoy the Maggie sound by all means stick with them, you can always add a sub like many of us do to get the bottom end. I have a 12 x 15 room and started with 1.7 which sounded magnificent powered by Parasound and gave since be moved up to the 3.7i which is jus wow.
Good luck and happy listening whatever you decide on.
Audiotroy,
What happened? How come you can't post in English anymore? Slow down!
The guy had a stroke. Ease up. 
Simple. Go here: https://www.tektondesign.com
Order the most you can afford. Because later when you’re beside yourself silly with pleasure your only regret will be not buying even more. Not that it will be much of a regret. Not when you hear them. Seriously. Forget all the wanna-bees and also-rans. Tekton. One and done.
Op,
Whatever speaker moves you the most....by type or specific brand is the answer you are looking for. Do not worry about the details you will face driving them etc, those can be overcome. Please your ears. I had a similar experience when I first listened to my 1.7s. I just listened to Ed Sheeran and Bocelli’s version of "Perfect Symphony" and found myself forgetting to breathe.
When I upgrade to the 20.7s after this next home I build my speaker quest will end. Like some others, box speakers just do not move me the same way.
@big_greg

The guy had a stroke. Ease up.


you serious? ugh...
qxb1998  - Always remember rule #1, Never, ever listen to kenjit
I see you are doing a very extensive series of research to determine the best product for your ears, which leads me to suggest having a look into the Next Level Acoustics brand as the Engineeer John Solecitto of JSE Infinite Slope fame. 
I am not sure where you are located but may be able to help with a demo.
Hey qxb1998, if your really serious about speakers, look no further than the von schweikert vr-44's right here on audiogon, they are the active model so 50 amps will push them just fine. you'll spend some money but it'll be the last speaker you'll ever buy!! 
I bought Magnepan in 1973 - one of the first Tympani 1A's, the first speaker to make Stereophile Class A.

Since then, SMG's, Quad ESL 57, Martin Logan, Quad 2805, Quad 2905. In my experience, these speakers can be hard to place for optimal performance - BUT - a poor planar setup sounds better than anything else.

Thing is, Magnepan and Quad will sound good with cheap amps, but better with better amps. I liked Bryston SST, and I'm told that SST cubed are even better. But now I DIY, and the speakers keep up with every improvement.

I say, go with it! Good luck!
Definitely give the KEF Ls 50 metas a look.  

Also something completely different:  

https://ohmspeaker.com

If you can find a pair.  Factory has been pretty backed up of late. 
Buy some Tannoys, like right now!
Not sure large Maggie's would work in your room from what I've read about them. Long time since I heard them, except the LRS. It should work but I wasn't that impressed by it at a show. If you like the sound then go for it.

You should listen to some Larsen models, might suit you. At least read the review, it is interesting. Or try Kii Three which adjust to the room a bit and includes amp and dac. Or Dutch&Dutch 8.

https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/larsen-model-9-loudspeaker/

For normal box speakers I would recommend Orangutan O/93. If you can go up in budget the smaller MBLs are very special.
Here are a couple of suggestions to consider that have not been mentioned: I had the Maggies 1.7s driven by a Rowland Model 2 and I liked them very much, but they dominated my living room visually. I ended up replacing them with a pair of Totem Forest Signatures. The Forest Signatures sound very much like the Maggies - open and present, with remarkable imaging. They are not the least bit boxy. Dealer only product.
https://totemacoustic.com/product/forest-signature/

The other is a brand you don't hear much about these days. Gallo Acoustics, and specifically the Strada 2 Reference. This is a boxless design that uses a curved planar tweeter. I had a pair of them with their sub, and they are an absolute steal. Use them with the little table top stands, on a wooden platform a few inches off the floor. Just wonderful! But my room, at 25 x 25 x 8 feet is just too big for them. Buy direct, you can try the Strada's in home for 30 days.
https://galloacoustics.com/usa/strada-2/

I like Gallo's approach of boxless, and crossover less design. I also had a pair of their now discontinued Reference 3.2's, and I am still using their subwoofer with my Forest Signatures, even though they don't really need them. 

Good luck!
As a reformed Magnepan 3.5R owner, they lacked bass. I added 2 SVS powered subs, but even with an active XO could not get a seamless blend.

I now have Emerald Physics 3.4s (open baffle 12" concentric woofer with 1" polyester tweeter), which do everything the 3.5Rs did well, PLUS excellent bass, but since my room is quite large, I will be replacing them with EP 2.8s which have 2 @ 15" carbon fiber woofers in a D’Appolito configuration with the same 12" concentric woofer in the middle


MSRP was $~3500, but can be found (if you’re patient) for < $1000


hth
A year ago I was looking to do the same as you. I ended up buying for my own taste - Classic Rock, Blues & R&B. The combination for my 60 year old ears (with 53% HF Loss corrected with hearing aids) was McIntosh 8900 Integrated with a pair of JBL L100's.  My listening area is small, I listen to Vinyl and stream HiDef which sounds great...to me. YMMV so get what YOU like and don't get segway'd into some wildly expensive gear.
Like many of us, I have extensive listening experiences with several, in my opinion, heavy hitters in the 5-10k range, with the likes of:
B&W 700 + 800 series
Bryston Middle T
Paradigm Tributes
Dynaudio
KEF r700
SVS Ultras
Klipsch Heritage line
Several Martin Logans
Maggies
and others...
I’ve also logged quite a few hours with Tekton’s Double Impacts, Pendragons, and Moabs. With the understanding that not 1 speaker is for everyone, for me (dollar for dollar) the Tektons check more boxes than the others. Music has become lively, dynamic, rich, and just plain FUN again. I’ve heard them in different rooms with different components from McIntosh to Parasound and plenty in between, and the Tekton sound signature never fails to impress. So much so, that I revamped 2 of my systems that include the Pendragons and Moabs. I truly believe that the "Moabs" are my endgame speakers for music reproduction. Now it’s just time to add to my favorites list on Qobuz.
I urge you to strongly consider adding the Moab to your short list.
Enjoy the process on your quest for sonic bliss.
The reason you like Magneplaner speakers is that, unlike any other form factor, they do not sound  like "speakers."

They reproduce what you send them, period.

SO, your ROOM first--most important variable in any sound system or music concert.  Then, audition all the speakers and electronics you want. 

If you have a good dealer, he or she will work with you and, after one or two auditions in YOUR ROOM, will probably be able to sell you exactly what you want after listening to your comments on what you have on loan.

Enjoy the music, and don't let the drama get in your way.

Cheers!
I attended the RMAF a couple of years ago and listened to a pair of SALK Song3 Encore tower speakers priced at $6,000/pair.  I thought they sounded better than a pair of $60,000 speakers down the hall.  Problem is they are sold direct and you will need to listen to them at one of the audio shows.  However, not sure when that will happen due to COVID.

There are a lot of knowledgeable people in this group.  You might ask which ones are dealers before making your mind up.  In the meantime, trust your own ears because you are going to be the one listening to them.  When I first heard a pair of Martin Login Motion 60's I thought those were the ones I would buy.  Fortunately, I went back and listened to them for two hours and discovered they would have caused ear fatigue.  It is important to listen to a pair of speakers and then go back and listen to them a second time for 2 to 3 hours.  You might also have your hearing tested so you will know what frequencies you have lost and then find a pair of speakers to compensate.  You will also need to listen to various sources to see what impact they also have on sound.
If you like panels, I'd recommend listening to Martin Logan's in your room.

One word of warning -  they require space around them. You'll need to be able to place them at least 3' from the back wall.

Whatever speaker you choose, consider room treatments. That can play a huge difference in how your speakers sound.

Happy hunting!
Why limit yoursself to a pair. I think you'll find many of us have multiple speakers in our homes.
If you love the Magnapan then live with them and enjoy. As you become more familar with their sound you can try another type of speaker to see what the differences are.
You might also like single driver speakers. 
Then again, why not just have a few different sets? Enjoy
"If you want inert you will need a concrete wall at least 12 feet thick."

True. My room in Altamira never resonates. Not exactly concrete, but it works. For full ambiance, it does help to put nice paintings on the walls.
On to room dimensions. There are two rooms I would be able to place speakers in. The dimensions (W x H x D) for the first room are 12x8x18(Feet). The second is 10.5x6.5x20. Neither of these rooms are closed off both are adjacent to other rooms/areas of the house. I just measured room boundaries for the sake of simplicity.
Couple of comments. I'm assuming the second room isn't really only 6.5 feet in height. If so, I would avoid that room. Additionally, you should avoid rooms that have dimensions that are multiples of each other. If you stated things correctly, the depth of the second room is roughly twice the length. Not ideal for acoustics. The first room has ideal dimensions acoustically and should allow for sufficient placement of planners that need to be well off the rear wall.

J.Chip
Not true at all about the 6.5' ceiling, Mr. Chip.

According to the Salford simulations (U of Salford, School of Acoustics), that 6.5 ft room would be fine, if it were a closed room. In fact, just put record shelves on a long wall and you get ratios of 1: 1.45 : 3.08, which are listed in the ’second best’ section.
I just ordered (but haven't yet received) a pair of Alta Audio Alec speakers. I won't provide a recommendation either way until I actually have them in my system, but I thought I would share them with you as this comment was in a very recent review from Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity:

"They are the only cone-in-box speakers that I’ve heard that can truly sound like virtually massless electrostatic panels."

A similar description has been used by others as well.

Good luck, and most of all have fun!
Terry9,

A room with a ceiling height of 6.5 feet is hardly a room. Many full size floor standing speakers wouldn't even fit. I have friends that wouldn't even fit. Not sure what purpose a room with that low a ceiling has but certainly the other room would be a better choice.

J.Chip
@qxb1998,
Speaker preference is subjective.  Best is to listen/demo for yourself.  But the caveat is that speakers reflect the audio chain driving them, so can sound heavenly in one system, not so much in others.  Also room modes can play significant issues in the sound.

You didn’t mention your preference for bookshelf, floor, or indifferent.  Also, you didn’t mention your preference for bass - how deep.  

You didn’t mention what type of music you listen to, which may have a bearing on your bandwidth requirements.  Requirements for listening to Jazz quartet is quite different than hard rock or orchestra for instance.  

Magnepan is a great sounding speaker midrange through treble.  But because it uses a vibrating flat panel, it’s not able to push enough bass air like cone drivers.  Adding a subwoofer can help, but because the flat panel is much faster technology than cone, the timing is mismatched.  Whether this timing mismatch is relevant is subjective.  “Magnepan for Condos” is a new concept/product Magnepan is probably (not confirmed) working on to fix this timing mismatch issue.

You didn’t mention a budget, so it’s hard to pin down options.  Because you mentioned Tekton, I’m guessing ~$5k.  

You also didn’t mention your preference of buying used vs new.  Your $ would go farther if you’re willing to buy used, ~30-50% savings.

For new wide bandwidth floorstanding speakers with a great price/performance, Tektons or Goldenear Tritons are very safe choices and are hard to beat.

Not if your priority is audio, Mr. Chip.