In my memory of hearing Avantgarde Duos and Trios at my local dealer they were extremely articulate in the detail and natural timbre of the recording. I was always really impressed with their particular vocal reproductions. I swear first time I heard them I was spooked that Frank Sinatra's ghost was in the room. My point? I think those are going to be a tough act to follow. How about the next model up? Or are you looking to save space? If you just want something different altogether but like those dynamics I would look at electrostats or maybe a multi dynamic driver. That is just my opinion it has been years since I heard the Avantgardes but I remember the way I loved the sound.
Soundlab electrostatic speakers.
Mentioning the amp your using wouldn't hurt. If it's a low powered one, your options will be more limited.
I had Lowther Medallion II's with set amps and a sunfire sub. I never thought this system could be betteredbut my Magnepan 3.6r's are much better. Ithink going from horns to a great planar speaker like Martin Logans, Soundlabs or Maggies will do it for you
Consider DIY thats what I did after owning Duo 2.2 built my own horns I admit it was easy for me since its what I do. There are many DIY forums and cabinet plans etc. Find a local cabinet maker if you can not build yourself. Could look about for others projects. For me full horn loading is far better than using ported or sealed bass cabinets but its not cheap or small.
If you liked the sound of the Unos. It's going to be hard to find something that is better. Maybe a Klipschorn if you have the right room. The dynamics of a horn is hard to duplicate in a non-horn system.
JBL K2 or Everest, blows away the K-horn.
If I were you I would look for something like Blumenhofer or classic Tannoy speakers from the Prestige series.
Tannoy Prestige: you get the life and dynamics of horns with seamless integration between the high and low frequencies. Actually I find it hard now to listen to multiple drivers speakers after been accustomed to dual-concentric.
You should listen to the models with alnico magnets and pepperhorn: Kensington, Yorkminster, Canterbury or Westminster.
Soundlab ESL speakers are what you may be looking for. They are a point source speaker with perfect top to bottom integration.
This will most likely require an amp change also however.
Watch for a pair of Duo's or Duo Omega's.
The Duo's main horn goes deeper than the Uno's.
I almost gave up on the Duo Omegas that I purchased.
My room has a terrible hole in the 142Hz - 160Hz region.
Right were the horns and subs integrate.
I just could not get the bass right.
I tried reversing polarity on the Sub225's but it did not help.
Tried endless positions.
Then I bought a used Behringer DSP1124P parametric EQ for $80.00.
Ran a second pair of outs from my pre to the EQ then to the XLR inputs on the Sub225's.
I have a Behringer DEQ2496 that I use solely for RTA use.
A total of 3 left and 4 right parametric filters took me from listening hell to listening heaven!
If horns are off of your short list, I second the Sound Labs.
But keep in mind, that it may be the bass response of your room, not the speaker.
If you could go up a bit in budget the Audiokinesis Dream Makers would be worth looking into. If you prefer something more conventional then the Jazz Modules might work for you.
Large active ATC's or PMC's used will do the trick of integrating bass and sounding dynamic and articulate like horns.
As an owner of Tannoy and Soundlab, htey are very different beasts. Both have the seemless single driver point source sort of sound that I adore. They both also have weaknesses.
Tannoy- PRaT and dynamics! Smaller imaging and less resolution (unless perchance you can go way up the chain).
Soundlab:Resoultion and imaging are first class, but I am always fighting for more macro dynamics and swing.
I am very curious about the Audiokinesis line as Duke was a Soundlab distributer.
The best speakers I ever owned for piano, in particular, were my Apogee Full Range Planars. They have the added benefit of providing a true 25Hz to 25kHz response. But they are big (over 6' tall) and require a small power generating station as a source - well, about 200W x 4 of good old-fashioned SS power at a minimum. A used pair of Duettas or Scintillas would be within your budget, are a little smaller and area little (very little) easier on the power requirements as well. Note - these speakers have about the lowest WAF rating of any speaker ever made, exceeding even the Avantegarde in this respect.
The used pair of Magnepan 20.1s will get you in the same ballpark as the Apogees, less the bass response of course. But I don't know if you can do it for $8K. Maybe a pair of 3.7s and a sub?
That's a really tough one as it's difficult to match the speed and dynamic prowess of horns. I struggled with it after having to go to a smaller listening space and knew I'd be limited to more traditional dynamic speakers because of the space limitation (you may not be faced with that). From one horn lovers perspective here are a few of my likes: Ultimately I was very happy with with Coincident speakers (I had SuperEclipse III's for a few years, but his current models are certainly worth hearing as well and have similar qualities). I'm now using AudioMachina and could not be happier, but they'd be beyond the budget you stated. I'd also second the AudioKinesis recommendation - his stuff is brilliant... definitely fast and dynamic, with seamless integration of the lows with his SWARM sub system. Of the planar stuff I've heard I've really liked Roger Sanders speakers on two different occasions hearing them. Daedalus speakers are also brilliant, especially the larger DA-RMa and Ulysses.
There is only one solution to your problem...Trios
Soundlab A1's and up can be quite dynamic with a little effort.
First and most important is they need lots and lots of good power to really come to life.I have 600 watts of SS power per side that delivers 2400 watts into 2 ohms.This alone has my M1's really singing.
Second is I modified the backplates with far better parts and bypassed the brillance control. Huge improvement in dynamics. These M1's now have it all .
Soundlab's don't seem to get much attention these days and I am not sure why. To my ears they play natural sounding music that is effortless and almost magical. They can play at concert level volumes and offer unrestrained bass down to 20 htz without a hint of coloration or overhang etc...At least in my room:-)
Top to bottom cohesiveness is stunning and makes for a wall of sound that is often breath-taking.
If at all interested I highly suggest an amp capable of putting out what I mentioned above.
I tried OTL amps on my M1's and while they worked and sounded quite nice, these speakers need gobs of power from an amp that can handle impedence swings from 2 to 40 ohms to sound dynamic and best.
Have fun on your search!
Try Eggelston Rosa. Great midrange detail and full range bass in a small package.
for a little something different, take a look at some speakers from Danley Sound Labs that are now being used in the home. Very efficient and dynamic as well.
You explained it yourself why Soundlabs don't get much attention. They need 600 SS or ,I assume, about the same tube watts to sound their best. That's what? $30k or so? Or more? Few want and can afford this set up.
You are somewhat right. Used Soundlabs can be had for $7000 - $12,000. My amp cost me $1500!
With regard to SS amps that work well with Soundlabs at a reasonable cost I suggest the following used amps.
Sunfire Signature 600x2
Cary MB500 monos
Some say the Innersound ESL amp.
I am sure there are many others I have not heard.
I have been fortunate to own and listen to some great horn systems (6moons road tour exit 1). Also I have owned many other type of single driver speakers as well. A couple of weeks ago I demo'ed a pair of Shelby + Kroll Nano Monitors with their bass unit. I immediatly called Tim Kroll and ordered a set of the Nano Monitors with 2 Bass units for my largish room. 30 day MBG! You will never own a horn system again! They are replacing my Medalliom 2's with Lowther DX4's and Decware WO32 Sub system.
Good luck, but as you have found, no audiophile speaker will give you what you are looking for. I'd bet that Uno would have stayed if it had a big, bass horn to play with. ;-)
I would forget planars. You will never get that freedom you had from a horn like the AG. I like soundlabs. I love and owned many of the planar breed. I have yet to hear a planar that can do what a Trio or even Duo can do. No matter how much power/current you use you always have a flatness dynamically. Everything else is similar but that weight and freedom is just not there with electrostatic or ribbons.
I suspect you will feel robbed if you go the planar route after AG horns.
I totally agree with chadeffect. once you get used to the effortless dynamics of a good horn system it will be very difficult to enjoy ANY planar speaker. you have already sold your unos, otherwise I'd have made some suggestions how to overcome the bass integration problem.
Duke of Audiokinesis introduced a new speaker at RMAF called the Strato-Prism. This speaker was easy to drive (16 ohms) and has good efficiency and plays deep bass rather well! (in addition to being very musical, cohesive and revealing) Its not as efficient as the Uno, but 30 watts is plenty of power on it. Plus the price is great- $4800 for the pair if I recall right.
Goodness my Soundlabs sound anything but flat. I have owned some very dynamic box speakers and one horn speaker and my Soundlabs have more live music impact.
I guess my room and gear makes the difference and perhaps many have never really heard Soundlabs in a properly set up room and system.
I have heard the King Sound and Magie ESL's and understand what you folks mean by flat, but my SL's certainly don't remotely sound that way.
Duke is a great guy and I came very close to buying one of his speakers. I bet they are great based on all the positive remarks. I did talk to him at lenght on the strenghts of his speakers vs Soundlab M1's and decided on the Soundlabs.
Many great choices indeed and it can be fun to listen to several and decide. I suggest listening to some M1's as part of your decision.
I heard that those who don't want or don't like tubes, and have some money, use big older Rowlands with Soundlabs with great result. Rowland 8T and 9T. I would certainly try this combination if I could.
Once you get used to the low coloration of planers it will be difficult to enjoy ANY horn speaker.
IMHO, anyone who says that the Sound Labs can sound 'flat' have:
1) Never heard them
2) Never heard them set up correctly
3) Simply don't have ears which I would trust for opinions.
The one's I owned, except when compared to the best MBL's set up with mega watts, sounded remarkable...and I rue the day I sold them...ahhhh, divorce.
I would second the calls for good, full range electrostatics. I've heard the Soundlabs and the largest new Quads and tought they sounded as "alive" as my horns.
BTW,the newest Avantgardes do a much better job of intregrating bass.
My thanks to those of you who have mentioned my speakers, sometimes even in the same breath as SoundLabs. For the record, my bipolar models indeed deliberately seek to emulate some of the radiation pattern characteristics of the pre-PX series SoundLabs (the PX series has a narrower pattern than I can reasonably replicate). As I told Roger West, creator of SoundLabs, my aspiration is to build the second-best speakers... well, within their general price ballpark.
(disclaimer: SoundLab dealer & speaker manufacturer)
As you have owned an AG you will probably be able to dismiss comments about coloration.
The Uno is challenged in the area where the sub meets the mid horn, but the further you go up the AG range the more that is fixed. The subs cut off is much lower.
I have no idea what size room the person who reckons his soundlabs are as dynamic has? Maybe if used as headphones! When compared to an AG horn in the 105- 110 db/watt sensitivity, a planar just cannot do that kind of impact and poise.
Some people have no idea what kind of freedom and dynamic range we are discussing here. It is not until you have lived with a high sensitivity speaker like the AGs, as you have, that you realize how flat and compressed the planars and nearly all other speaker systems are. This not to say speakers like the soundlabs are not dynamic, just not as dynamic.
Go listen, they will sound distant and not as clear as your AG. At worst they will sound congested with limp bass next to an AG. The bass will be deep bass, but without the feeling of weight or 3 dimensional depth. Plus your choice of amp with an AG is a whole other joy as I have found. All those huge amps to drive insensitive speakers impact greatly on the sound too.
1 question, 34 opinions (including mine, of course). I love this hobby!
So true! One must listen before buying to make up their own mind.
Hopefully the comments we make help narrow the list to a workable few to sample.
I am unfamiliar with horn speakers. Why can't they play bass without the attached sub? Need to be too big to do it?
Used zu def2. You get the best of both worlds.
the subs on the smaller avantgardes are a compromise to avoid having to
use a huge bass horn to produce low frequencies. If you have the space & cash they have the Bass horn. But this would probably be to big for many users.
Soundlab if you have the proper amplification.
What amps are you going to use?
What amplification for Sound Labs?
I used the somewhat dry, but very, very quiet and seemingly distortionless Halcro. Then, the DK (later LSA) Integrated amp, which has 150 Watts and doubles into lower impedences.
One of the reasons I bought the DK company back in 2005, was based on its comparative performance with the Halcro...frankly, I was stunned.
The sound in my room (large by my humble standards) 23x26x18 feet, open into a second story loft, and behind me, a vaulted kitchen (two casement doors 6' each)--so lot's of cubic feet, and they filled it up, for MY taste, in terms of volume and musicality.
Just a comment--likeing or even loving one product is not an attack on another. I like some horn speakers, but they, to my ears, have a coloration that I do not prefer.
Dynamic, yes, muscical, somewhat, integrated with bass, somewhat. Generalizations all--yet if Duke is involved (Audiokinesis) they're going to be really, really good.
I respect his opinion and work.
Good listening (don't forget to buy Renee Olstead)
Planars and electrostatics are "coherent" in the mid range, which creates magic. They are also great with stage holography, if set up correctly. However, there comes a point with the volume control that they loose this magic by congesting, as most dynamic speakers do (ime). I think it is important to understand what the listener wants and what the habits are. I do not listen at a low level(hence my Agon name) through my main system. My normal levels exceed 100 db. I am not sure how many of you listen at this same level. So, for me, a good quality horn is the way I went. Being a ss guy, I much prefer an amp with 2 output transistors per channel than say 8, 12 or even 20. My speakers allow this. My system is a good compromise(yes I said it). It has the ability to take my recorded music and simulate a performance, based on what "I" want the performance to be. It does have detail, proper harmonic structure and tone, coherence, spatial holography and all of those other "audiophile" things. However, I have said it before. Without being excellent in "PRAT" and dynamic swings, it would not approach that "live" perspective I value so much. It is critical to listen for yourself to determine what it is that you want a system to do for you. Also, tweaking everything is also critical. I think many people on Audiogon, and elsewhere, do not know what they want.The last statement. I am at a point that I do not think of changing a thing in my system, which says it all. I wish everyone happy listening......MrD
Just to dispel a couple of common myths, Sound Labs are capable of impressive dynamics, and horns are able to be as uncolored as the best ESLs and magnetic planars in existence.
Much is owed to setup- the gear and care upstream.
Atmasphere, thank you......And yes, set up, gear and care upstream is vital.........
And we are talking big. Big speakers, big spaces for them and big money.
After reading this including what Atmasphere said, I have the impression that ideally horn speakers can be the best known design approach. And considering that you can drive them with 5 watts or so at building crushing level...
My wish is to hear one of these amazing horn speakers Ralph keep speaking about, any chance in hearing one in Atlanta Ralph? Duke?
Once you have enjoyed the uncompressed sound of horns it's difficult to go to anything else , and definitely not panels speakers .
Weseixas, you don't deserve a listen to any horns. ;-)
Well think of it as punishment Dan ...:)