What the best 89-90 db speaker I can buy for 3k?

I need a new 3kish speaker that will be used for Classical only
in a 17x 13 space driven by a fully modded Bottlehead III pre and an AVA Synergy 450 ,225 watt per side amp.

No Maggies please, something with at least a 89db efficiency,also do not care for Vandies.
Hi Schubert,

I work with Vapor Audio just so you know. Have a look at the Vapor Breeze, Stiff Breeze, Sundog, and Aurora.

All are under your price mark, and all offer fantastic value for the money. The Aurora features a large waveguide loaded ceramic dome and 8" woofer for a big, full sound that rivals many floor standers, and the other models all feature the RAAL ribbon tweeter, among the best, if not the best high frequency transducer on earth.

There is a pair of the Breeze monitor out on tour, so if you could share your location, perhaps you will be near where it is for an audition of your own.

The new Philharmonic 1 or 2 would be my choice. A friend bought some Philharmonic 2’s and they were at times totally natural in my system. This is the only time that I thought the orchestra was actually on stage in front of me. I hear the $2.7k tower version is close to the sound of the 2’s. A premium version of the tower is shown near the bottom of the page:


Thanks Rsimms, your suggestion jogged my memory, I do recall a review praising these highly.
However, looking at the website, I see these have efficiencies down in the Maggie range,after 3 decades of Maggies I want a speaker that "breathes" which to me seems about 90 db efficient from what I have heard.
Out of curiosity why do you worry about efficiency over most of the other stuff folks worry about?
In Classical music, which is 90% of what I listen to, dynamics are many times greater than in other music, the lack of same makes things somewhat "dead" no matter if the tone, imaging, scale etc is spot on.
Fritz Carbon 7s. I don't sell them but they are a steal at the price.
Montana EPS

And I did make them many many years ago :-)

Best of luck

This weekend, at the Capital Audiofest, I happen to hear the Odyssey Lorelei speaker ($2,700) in a reasonably priced setup (something like $5,400 for amp, preamp, speaker and cables). This was a terrific sounding setup for the money. The sound was full bodied, which is particularly suited for classical music, and had reasonable weight and scale.
"07-29-13: Schubert
In Classical music, which is 90% of what I listen to, dynamics are many times greater than in other music, the lack of same makes things somewhat "dead" no matter if the tone, imaging, scale etc is spot on."

I agree, but every piece in your system contributes to this. It makes much more sense to look at what the whole system will be than just the speakers. If you mess up with one of the other components, you can loose the dynamics that you are looking for even if the speakers are capable.
Rest of system is quite dynamic.
Vienna Mozart and Beethoven series
AudioKinesis, most of their speakers are 93db effciency. But only the Rhythm Prism is in your price range. I have no experience with this brand, but the guy that sold me his pr of Thiel CS2.4 a while ago told me that he was upgrading to a pr of AudioKinesis due to their high effciency and the CS2.4s lack the dynamic contrast he was looking for, so it looks like you are looking for the same thing. Worth a look, but don't blame me if they don't sound to you.
I'd suggest looking into a used or yet unsold pair of Gemme Audio Tantos in either V1 or V2. Both should come in at or below your $3k budget.

Sensitivity rating is 91.5dB/W/m, and they are very easy to drive. I think they sound fantastic and should fill your 17 x 13' room with ease.

Here's a review that details their sound with different amp types. http://dagogo.com/gemme-audio-tanto-floorstanding-speaker-review
If you like the B&W house sound, new CM9s or used 805Ds are right at your $3K price point.

I picked up a clean used pair of 805Ds and they work great with classical and jazz. Not the ultimate in bass, but the bass is still surprisingly good.
Thank you one and all, many ideas I never would have thought of.
GoldenEar Triton 2 or 3. Triton 2 is $3K, but for 13x17 room the Triton 3 at $2K/pair should be plenty.

Both have the advantage of a gain-adjustable built-in powered sub in each column, making it much easier to match the speaker to the size of the room.

These are true full-range speakers with lots of dynamics, making them excellent for classical. The tweeter is clear and sweet with no ringing or overshoot, so they're great on strings, triangle, and other percussion with very high overtones. Both speakers reach into the 20's and can play loud, so they're also good choices for large scale 20th century orchestral works such as Holst, Vaughan Williams, Stravinsky, and the other Russians.
Thanks for the mention, Richardyc! Basically my game plan is to start out with good prosound drivers and then thoroughly beat them into submission. The prosound part = good dynamics & good efficiency. The beating into submission part = smoother sound than you'd normally expect from prosound drivers. I'm not the only one doing this of course, nor is this the only viable option by any means, but imo it's a contender if dynamics are high on the list of priorities.

shubert how about Zu speakers. As I recall they have a couple options in your price range that are near 100db/w
Another speaker worth considering is the horn-based Tyler Acoustic speaker. It is reasonably efficient and has pretty good dynamics. The sound holds up well even at lower volume levels (very important for classical music in particular because of the wide dynamic range of the music).
I had to downsize from big speakers. I also listen to classical only. Consider the Kef Q900(91db)for $1798 a pair. VERY nice.
Two other possibilities:
1. Merlin VSMs although older models are supposedly not as suited to SS as the newest iteration;
2. Somewhat older Hornings if you look hard enough and shop carefully.
Caveat- Have not heard either w SS electronics.
Thanks Opus88, Q900 is on my short list, always liked KEF.
Keep reading Q900's are great but that R 900's are world beaters-LOL.
FWIW, of all the speakers I ever heard, which in 40 yrs audiopiling is a few, the ones that I liked the best were Hales Transcendence , but of course they are all old now
and as I am too, I could never manhandle those 150 lb pups anyway(sob) .
Schubert: When I had to downsize from my Dunlavy SC-4s I really had very little idea as to where I should go. Like you, I'm up there agewise(just had my 70th)and it has been many years since I've had to face the prospect of looking for a new speaker. There is so much out there, it's mind boggling. And that applies to personal opinions too. I semi-dreaded the idea of having to travel hundreds of miles to audition speakers in showrooms with components that were foreign to me. In my reading forays, I came across a review of the Kef Q900s by Kalman Robinson in Stereophile. Mr.Robinson has been one of a handful of reviewers whose audio opinions I have respected over the years. Another has been Robert Deutsch, whose review of the Dunlavy SC-4s when they came out greatly influenced me to purchase them. Until very recently I had happily owned them for nearly 18 years. But, to cut to the quick, after reading Kalman's very positive impressions of the Kefs as well as the similar views of others on this speaker, I decided to go for a pair. Thus far, I am quite pleased with what I hear, and I consider them a steal at their retail price. Until you just mentioned them, I had not heard anything about the R900s. I just read Markus Sauer's review of them in the June, 2012 issue of SixMoons Audio. Interestingly, I found his impressions to be uncannily similar to mine of the Q900s in nearly every respect. There's a pretty big difference in price between the R900s and the Q900s, something to reflect on for anyone seriously considering the two. Incidentally, I too have fond memories of association with Kef. I used to own the 105.2, and recall how enamoured I was when I first auditioned them at Peter McGrath's Sound Components in Coral Gables, Florida donkey's years ago. In any event best of luck, Schubert, whatever you decide. With our aging ears, we old farts need it!
reference 3a de capo 92db efficiency.
Schubert there is a pair of R900s for sale right now asking 3500.00 you may be able to negotiate. I currently own them they are a great speaker and considerably better than the Q900 if you could get them you WONT be sorry. Best
Ref 3as also v good for sure.
I have a pair of the Audiokinesis Prisma. 94db efficient,I'm driving them with the JAS Array 2.1, 45w class A triode, impedance 8 ohms never lower than 6. They play loud and have dynamics you would expect from good horns, Duke is a master crossover designer and has tamed the horn nastys. I'm getting bass response into the low thirty's in my room. 1db of compression @ 110db very happy camper
Schubert there is now a demo pair R900s from dealer with the full warranty that has repair to bottom for $2900.00. There you go You're winner right here on Audiogon
I agree with Larryi about the Lorelei, I had given them an extended listen at capfest and I was astounded. Klaus was playing classical (lone ranger theme) and the sound was full dynamic and what I thought was a thundering low end in a very good way. Dave
Thanks Italian. a personal friend of mine whose opinion I respect told me the same thing as you and Larryi, problem is I never heard them. One of my back-up amps is an Odyssey Stratos .

FYI , the "lone ranger' theme is "The William Tell Overture" by yhe great ITALIAN composer. Gioachino Rossini.
Hi Schubert. First off thanks for the ID of the the Rossini work. My system is an Odyssey candela pre and a stratos amp so I was very interested in hearing Klaus's set up st capfest. And in particular the Lorelei speaker. His setup was driven by a set of kartago monoblocks. Every now and again the lorelei kislmets or the earlier lorelei models come up on Agon. You can goggle the 6moon highly favorable review of the lorelei. As I recall they described the lorelei as I remember hearing them. Not a laid back nor bright speaker but robust room filling. The construction is heavy mdf but with a very nice finish. I did realize one other thing that the synergy with using his ICs with his equipment. After capfest I swapped my silver stuff out with them. Wow should have done long ago. Hope this helps. Dave
This is a great thread