What do you consider the most musical speakers—$15000 & under


I thought mr_ m brought up a good point when when he said he would pick the most musical over the most accurate. His post was in "Searching for the Most Accurate Speaker under $15000"
zq1
Isn't accuracy needed to reproduce the music?
lots of good reading about accuracy vs musicality in old Stereophiles  by JG Holt
Musical to me the speakers keeps you listening longer and longer in your listening chair, You forget accuracy.So I pick musical speakers.from what I read it seems double impact tekton does that...but again any speakers can become musical if your system match your speakers...
@jl35 

JG Holt ended up with  ATC SCM 50ASL after many years. He liked and owned Soundlabs for many years too.

I don’t think there is such a thing as musical - either a device is high fidelity (accurate) or it isn’t. A lack or accuracy does not make a speaker more musical to my ears.

Musical is a euphemistic term. It is a nice way of saying a speaker sounds nice even if it doesn’t sound realistic at all. 
@shadorne  "Musical is a euphemistic term. It is a nice way of saying a speaker sounds nice even if it doesn’t sound realistic at all."

I believe the word you are defining or describing above would be "euphonic" rather than "musical".  For me, at least, "musical" assumes accuracy as a prerequisite....it means an evenness to frequency response an openness of soundscape and a smoothness of texture (ex. hearing that a cymbal is being struck by a wood or plastic tipped drumstick and in the best circumstances, the metal overtones from a drum kit)

"euphonic" is not what most audiophiles desire.  If I'm listening to hard rocking group, I want to hear all of the intended distortions that are part of that creative process, NOT a smoothed over version of that reality.

 
@hifiman5 

If “musical” means accurate then why not use the term “accurate” - to me musical is quite vague and includes pretty much anything except perhaps a lawnmower.
euphonic means "pleasing to the ear", doesn't mean "smoothed over" though that is what some prefer...different electronics, different rooms, different inner and outer ears, different preferences...

And since no gear has perfect accuracy...

All speakers are going to have the finger prints of their designer. So no speaker can be accurate because the designers ears are doing the translating & that's subjective. What is wrong with a speaker being musical?
 Are there any speakers $15000 and under that you would recommend.
I would prefer both. Yes they need to be musical so that I can enjoy the music and not feel like a reviewer dissecting the sound but they should also be accurate so that I will be satisfied long term.
@zq1

Dr Floyd Toole studied this conundrum and surprise surprise in blind testing listeners preferred “accurate” speakers, that is those with

1) flat full range even frequency response (no large peaks or troughs)
2) even and wide dispersion
3) low distortion
4) clean waterfall clear of unwanted coloration or added resonances
5) play loud while still honouring all of the above

It does seem strange but listeners actually preferred accuracy!

JA Stereophile tests are actually very useful if you know how to read the measurement plots. Almost every B&W speaker looks awful from an accuracy perspective - maybe this is what epitomizes “musical” as they are very popular.


How about combining words?

Musically accurate!

I can’t see how speakers can evade either adjective if it is to be considered as very good or beyond.

Speakers should sound like the musical information they need to create. Horns = horns. Trumpets should not sound like trombones. Drums = drums. Bongos ought not sound like Congas. Snares not akin to Tom Tom. Tom tom shouldn’t be heard as Tiffany. Reeds and strings? Should sound like reeds and strings. Tenor sax should not sound like alto sax.

And Cow bells should always be distinctive. Even when beaten repeatedly during ‘Don’t fear the Reeper’. If Christopher Walken is banging on one or not.

Connotatively musical and accuracy can be separated by gulfs or oceans. Its been said here already. Euphony on the one side for musical and the flip side of accuracy can imply clinical or analytical. Or worse still, sterile.

Musically accurate, if set side by each, seems to resolve any vague inferences and implications, and what I look for in loudspeakers.

What do you consider the most musical speakers—$15000 & under

Most any loudspeaker mated well to the room and matched properly with upstream components with synergy being the goal.

I’d rather have $100K upstream of $10K to $20K speakers , than the other way around.

IOW…. Although a speakers flaws can or may be obvious upon systematic auditions,
Keepin things ‘right sized’ sprks/room will help tremendously.

Ensuring the upstream gear is as exemplary as is possible will prevent the addition of more errors, and make for a much more involving presentation, even though these what ever speakers are not $15K MSRP.

As for a pick to the Ops question:

not having heard them, but on rep alone from nearly every review, the new Wilson Sabrinas seem to be pushing a lot of the hot buttons for a lot of audio first cats. Albeit, I should think too, one can cut a deal fairly easily at or under their MSRP.

Presuming nothing is already on site, If both amp and speakers are the target for less than $15K I’d have to fall into using an INT and nice speakers with the INT eating most of the budget like 60/40 or so. As much as $10K INT & $5K speakers, both as used but without these numbers being set to stone.

Separates could be swung too but I thought to present a simpler approach beginning with nothing at all on hand. Prices and RWV

Additionally…
The latest Andrew Jones stand mounted monitors and Gryphon Diablo 300 INT comes in new right at $15K.

Used…. Wilson Sophia III & PSA hybrid stereo amp ought to come in under the targeted figures. A preamp of sorts will be needed though.

New… Tekton ??? & VAC INT ought to be interesting..

Or as some might prefer new….
Maybe harbeth 30s and an Adcom pre and amp combo. Or NAD or NuForce receiver as some feel electronics are so equal these days,they do not matter as much as speakers do.

@zq1 I encourage you to listen to Joseph Audio Perspective speakers. Retail price is $13K. I own them. Great sound, great looks, nice size and I think they are a high value proposition. They match the definition of what you are seeking. But make sure you actually hear them: your ears are the ones that have to live with your purchasing decision.
Regards
Al
Hard core hobbyists know that the term "musical" is code for mushy, indistinct and bloated. The term "accurate" is code for brittle, dry and clinical. 

What you really want is a speaker that is neither musical, nor accurate. ;) 



Sound with no adjective to describe it!  Metaphysics.
To answer the OP Charney Audio does a great job with his tractrix designed rear loaded horns. They are both accurate and musical with very low distortion and wide range.  Don't take my word for it listen to them at The Capital Audiofest  next weekend.
http://charneyaudio.com/speakers.html
 
harbeth 7es3 very musical and still accurate imo!  
I haven't had the chance to listen to as many speakers as most of the posters here, but I'd personally be thrilled with either the ProAc D48R or Harbeth 40.2 and probably base my decision more on what the upstream equipment pairing & room placement options were over anything else.

Also Vandersteen.  

I'm pretty much in agreement with blindjim regarding the importance of amplifiers, etc. but would like to add that a more efficient speaker does allow a lot more flexibility in the budget required for great amplification.  (I have entry level ProAcs & a First Watt amp)
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Those would be - Linkwitz Orions or LX521s or Legacy Aeris (if bought in the used market - below $15,000).
I just purchased the Vandersteen Quatro CT's (painted) over all the others I auditioned under 30k.  I found them to be the most accurate tonally, had the most detail as they dont' smear and are time and phase accurate.  They are the most musical since they offer the most detail.  The attack and decay are as good as it gets.  I think they are the sweet spot in Vandersteen's line.  The bass EQ let's you put them into the corner of the room up against the wall so the wife loves them too.  With the bass EQ, you can set them up to also max out the soundstage without getting suck out in the middle.  

These are just my suggestions.  The biggest thing you can do it go audition.  All speakers get good reviews, including many best of shows by Vandy's, Magicos, Legacy etc..., but that may not be your best of show.  That's a large chuck of change to spend and maybe a trip to a large city to go listen to a large cross section over a weekend.  Just a thought.


@shadorne the difference between a saxophone and a lawnmower? 
Vibrato. 
There is hi-fi and there is my-fi. I tend to believe that people want a system that sounds good to them.
I've been lucky enough to be in the studio with some great musicians and witnessed recordings first hand.
Unless we are in the studio how do we know what is accurate?
And if the system is truly accurate wouldn't some of these recordings sound like they were playing through Yamaha NS10s?
Everything in the studio gets processed. Snare drums have noise gates to prevent bleed over or the snares buzzing.
I can usually tell if the drummer is using a brass or wood snare or of he is using Paiste or Zildjian cymbals.
The guitarist is another problem, he is running through a pedal board, so how does one know if what we are hearing is accurate?
Usually the musicians don't even know what is accurate they just know if the performance sound right and too many takes kills the vibe.
For me,if I can hear those differences then all is good.
I recently picked up a pair of humble Vandersteen 1ci and they're far more musical than any Harbeth I've heard.
many choices for the above budget. Several great ones already mentioned. Depending on the gear, room etc one can end up with diffrent set-up, inclduing solid state vs. tubes etc and thenmatching speakers will be diffrent. 
Vinatge Altec speakers like the 19, 604 based or Flamenco/Valencia can be great (the latter with legend, Shindo, Air Tight, Trafomatic, Almarro, etc etc gear) or Devore O/93 or O/96 can work really nicely. 
KEF 107 or ADS 1590, Merlin (now out of business), ProAc, Audio Physic Virgo could be awesome for practically nothing with modern or vintage solid state...and then many modern speakers some folks already mentioned. The Vandy Quattro and Treo (perhaps with Vandy subs) is a great choice to my eras for much less than the above budget. Pretty good customer service too. No affiliation with any of these speakers just some experience with 55 or so pairs and many audio friends with diffrent gear and room.
FWIW, my taste runs to the "musical" side of things. My next speakers will be the Devore Gibbon X, which goes for just over $15k. The new Super 9 is less expensive and still great. The Devore room with the new 9 was my favorite room at RMAF 2017 and I hit almost every room (geeked out for 2 days).

As others have mentioned, Harbeth and the Vandy Quatros are also great. Daedalus' new Apollo is also worth a listen for a very musical speaker.

While not generally placed in the "musical" camp, I have owned Aerial Model 9s for over ten years and really love them. Every time I consider new speakers, I can't pull the trigger. What I love about them is that all styles of music sound great and every upgrade in electronics or cabling or power filtering can be clearly heard. For your purposes, you may want to consider the newish 7t which is an upgrade from the 9.

At your price point, I doubt you can go wrong. Have fun.
@helomech I am a long time Vandersteen owner (2C, 3, 3A, 3A Sig.) now Treo CT with two 2wq subs. When I was picking up the Treo’s at John Rutan’s Audio Connection, he played Doug McLeod on Vandy 1C’s. I never would have imagined that RV’s most humble offering could sound like that! Fantastic stuff. If you feed them a clean signal you are in for a real treat.😀
It's strange to me as RV is all about making a great sounding product that hits above it's price.  He even does that his 
Treo CT on up.  It's pretty amazing as I audition them all the time and I audition others all the time.  I honestly haven't heard anything twice the price that I personally would buy.  They are extended and not bright like so many others.  I would listen to a bunch of the speakers talked about here and see what you love.  They all have a different taste if you would, so it's important to hear them.  I have the Quatro and honestly, I may even get a pair of the Sub 9's.  I just like the ability to tune the bass to the room.  
15k is the 'sweet spot' IMO

my two favorite........

Revel Studio II

Martin Logan 13a





















































@hifiman5 ,

I am slack jawed by the Vandy 1cis. I ordered them online, expecting to likely return them because I'm used to $4K Spendors. I'm just amazed at what these Vandys can do for the price, and can't imagine how the 7s must sound.

Now I have the dilemma of deciding whether to step up to 2ce Sig IIs.
helomech, the performance range of audio systems is FAR greater than many realize. Experience in the home is often the only thing that can change that perception. The change which caused your  jaw to fail is a small part of a broad spectrum of performance change possible in the realm of systems.  :) 

I owned the 1B and 2CE in the past, and there is a nice bump in performance in the 2. Don't worry that you wouldn't hear a significant difference. 

The 7's are quite nice, but imo not inherently superior to many other super-speakers. YMMV 

You may wish to hang on to the Spendor speakers for a while, and conduct comparisons as time goes on. That would be informative. 
I agree that the upgrade to the 2's is a good size one.  Personally, the 2's is where Richards starts his magic in design.  It's the base of the Vandersteen first order crossover and time and phase correctness.  Yes, less smearing makes a huge difference in detail, size of stage and accuracy in general.  Not only that, it physically has larger cones and will move much more air than the 1's.  IF you can afford that upgrade, you will most probably love it.  JMHO.  Are you able to audition anywhere?  Sounds like you may not be able to.  

To me the upper line Vandersteen's best others in their price ranges. That's why I got the Treo and now the Quatro.  They subtly give you more detail than most of the other speakers.  Richard has learned where to make compromises in his products.  The bottom line is that any speaker regardless of cost has to make these decisions.  There are many flavors of speakers and it seems that most folks stay fairly true to their 'flavor'.  That's why if you like a line, you most probably will stay within that line. 

I've noticed that many companies tip up the treble 1-3 db (or more for a few) which gives an impression of larger sound stage and more sparkle to the speaker, but in fact that's not really what's happening.  I PERSONALLY can't handle products like that as I get fatigued quickly.  Unless we are in the production process we dont' know what is laid down on the tracks, so that makes it subjective.  

If you like the Vandersteen sound, then you will love each upgrade in his line.  As poster above said YMMV
@helomech  Three ways to go IMHE

1.  Stay with the 1Ci and enjoy them.

2.  Keep the 1Ci and add a 2wq sub

3.  Trade int he 1Ci on a NEW production model 2 Sig.  I say new production because Richard is consistently upgrading his designs with driver improvements and crossover enhancements.

Regardless, I don't see how you can lose.  One thing you can take to the bank, the Vandersteen line provides tremendous value for the $ invested.  Except for the original model 3 which had a bright metal dome tweeter which RV quickly rectified in the 3A, Vandersteen has never released an unsatisfying design.  You're in the driver's seat!
^^ Thanks for the input guys. I might have to move my system into a 12×11 bedroom someday, where the 2Cs would be too much. The 1Cs are a bit on the small side for my current man cave, but so are the Spendors. If I didn't keep reading that 2Cs need at least a couple feet from the walls, it'd be an easy choice. Unfortunately, the 2WQ sub won't work with my integrated amp.
Tannoy Legacy Arden new... or
Tannoy Canterbury GR second hand... or
Tannoy GRF (lastest version) second hand
or good Maggies
sorry... I should also add Harbeth and Proac, but usally I prefer real efficient speakers, They make Music!
helomech, I did that very thing; moved from the 1B to the 2CE and it was in a compromised setting where there was an entertainment unit up close between the speakers and they sat about 1 foot from the wall. I put some sound absorption behind them. Great upgrade, never regretted it. Would do it again if in similar conditions. :) 
You can find a Geometry Series Wilson-Benesch loudspeaker to satisfy your needs, both regarding price & sound. 
http://wilson-benesch.com/geometry-series.html
Simply exquisite.
Happy Hunting
Vandersteen Quatro CT, Magnepan 20.7, Devore O/96, Tekton
helomech212 posts11-06-2017 1:20am^^ Thanks for the input guys. I might have to move my system into a 12×11 bedroom someday, where the 2Cs would be too much. The 1Cs are a bit on the small side for my current man cave, but so are the Spendors. If I didn't keep reading that 2Cs need at least a couple feet from the walls, it'd be an easy choice. Unfortunately, the 2WQ sub won't work with my integrated amp.

Helo, the 2's won't be a problem in that room.  It's all about the fact that they now are so detailed and pretty efficient.  They are one of the more dynamic speakers at lower volume levels.  They will move plenty of air, but that can be controlled as needed.  I personally can't listen to a non full range speaker now that I own one.  That's my view as you dont' want to lose parts of the music that's recorded.  Bass is still the foundation.  I personally don't use much absorption with my rooms, but diffraction.  I put large silk plants behind the speakers in the corner if I I have room and also in-between them, (one on each side of the TV, so I don't get the sound bouncing off the glass screen.  Same thing in the back of the room. I do use quilts on the side walls to absorb the first reflection. YMMV
@ctsooner ,

Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss. I'm quite content with the 1ci in most respects but curiosity will probably get the best of me. I really dislike booming bass, and that's my main concern with rear firing woofers.
Helo, yes ignorance is bliss.  But how much fun is that? lol.  I hate booming bass and that's why there are many speakers even in the highest of end that I don't like.  Rear firing woofers are not a problem with proper set up.  You'd have to look at the room and see where you would place them.  Even on the diagonal can work great if you are able to do that.  Honestly, Johnny Rutan who sells them in NJ is a master at set up and is on this forum. If you have concerns, I can ask him if he can come here and post.  Just let me know either way.  Yes, the 1's are a great speaker who are worthy of excellent electronics.  
Agree with ctsooner's last sentence above.  As a long time Vandy owner, I had never considered the virtues of the Model 1 until I heard them properly set up, fed by top notch electronics.  They sounded fantastic!
@helomech,

Owned 1Bs 20 years ago, currently have 2Cs. Your 12x11 BR size won't be a problem if you make it a dedicated listening room and TREAT ALL THE WALLS AND CEILING, and carpet or an area rug if you have hardwood floors. I dislike booming bass too, and will gladly listen to "not enough bass" over "too much bass".  My 2Cs are 9.5" from the front wall, and in my roughly 14x14 room (with alcoves and irregular walls), there are no issues with bass frequencies. Also, the centerline is offset several inches from the middle of the room. Having different distances from side walls helped tame some "one-note bass".

Tom
Post removed 
@tomcarr, 

Thanks for the input. I think I'll be keeping the 1Cs for now. They're better than some far more expensive speakers I've auditioned lately and seem to be breaking in well.

Wasn't my intent to hijack this thread, back to the main topic.

What do folks think about the musicality of Thiels? That's another brand I've wanted to hear for a long time. 

@zq1

What is the size of your room?

Gear?