Forgot to mention my budget. It's around 7.000 euro's for a pair of speakers. Lets say it's 10.000 US dollars max.
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@ Stevecham: I don't know how new they are. I will ask next time I'll be in the shop. We decided to try a tube pre amp ten, to soften them up a little, maybe that will help. But to me they sounded harsh on some recordings I had with me, not all, but enough to know that I couldn't bare most of my cd's on them.
Thanks for the suggestions, but many of the mentioned speakers are (don't wanna nitpick here)not the most pleasing for the eye (WAF). I like the looks of:
Sonus Faber Cremona
Dali Helicon 800
Wilson Benesch Discovery (but too expensive)
Focal Electra 1027/1037 be
Audio Physic Scorpio (bass too boomy)
Audio Physic Virgo V (too much midrange)
Usher Dancer series (but too big, except monitor BE-718)
Any other suggestions? Or experience with these speakers?
Thanks for these new suggestions. Although I like both the PBN and the Silverline models, I don't think I will be able to find them here in Belgium, Europe. I tried to find who distributes them, but there simply is no distributor... Which is a bummer, 'cause I'd really would have liked to hear them both. Same goes for Merlin, btw.
It;s funny. Lots of people in the audio business over here tell me that US speakers are the best, but lots of US brands are simply not available here.
The (French) Focal Utopia might be an option, but I'll try the 1027/1037 Electra first.
And I will definately listen to the Sonus Faber Cremona, one of the best looking speakers out there imo, but I doubt whether it will be good enough with rock.
Vienna Acoustics sound like something worth checking out given your preferences. There are several models in your price range and they do all that you ask and then some. I find them detaled and precise with no hint of the harshness or etched sound you're trying to get away from I recently upgraded to VA Mahlers from Thiel 3.5s (which I did NOT think sounded at all bright or harsh) and have been stunned by the increased detail, clarity, and general musicality of the VAs. Everything I've heard from their line was impressive, musical, and non-fatiguing.
My EgglestonWorks Fontaines have, for me, the perfect blend of bite and warmth, allowing for extended listening to all sorts of recordings. Nearly every other speaker I've auditioned is too harsh for me. The Fontaines require a subwoofer, but the Andra, and so on up the line, while retaining the perfect blend of bite and warmth, would not.
These are all great suggestions, but as I said before, most of them are not available in Belgium. Vienna Accoustics might be something to try, although I suspect the Mahler will be too big for my room. The Strauss might be better, but is no longer available and it is said that the Beethoven Concert Grand is no good for people who like bite and punch... But I'll give it a try anyway.
What do you people think of Sonus Faber Cremona in this respect?
I've got the Beethoven Baby Grands and they have realistic midrange and treble energy; however, if you like more than that, then I agree that Sonus Faber is the place to look. For me they have too much "edge" but one person's edge is another's bite and punch. Listen to both if you can. They're both very fine brands.
They both need a good SS amp with a high damping factor.
You could always buy a copy of the well respected UK magazine 'hi-fi choice', see what they have reviewed and recommend then check out the BADA dealers in the UK at the back of the magazine, then jump on cheap flight to London and demo them. You would also get them for 17.5% less than a UK purchaser so maybe cheaper, although you would have to have them shipped back to Belgium. Chips and Mayo lovely!. The land of many bicycles!
Well, I went back to the dealer yesterday and listened some more. To make a long story short: I will try the Thiels CS2.4 at home, with an McIntosh 6900 amp. I'll give it a go for a week and will see soon enough whether it works for me. If not, then I'll try Sonus Faber Cremona, Vienna Acoustics Beethoven, WLM Diva and Dali Helicon 800 MkII. The winner has to be among them... ;-)
Dude!!!! For that kind of money you are getting into some serious electrostatic territory. Have you tried electrostatics/planars? Here are some examples in your price range (prices in dollars):
Sound Labs Millenium 3 - maybe 7 - 12k? Note that they may not make this anymore. They've eliminated several of their 'lower' models.
Sound Labs Millenium 2 - maybe 10 - 12k? I'm sure they make this one.
Note that I'm pretty sure both of those have treble attenuation, so you can chage the highs to your delight!
There are many that say that Sound Labs are the finest speakers in the world at any price.
Magnepan 20.1 - 11/12k?
Again, this is a speaker that many will claim gets as good as is available these days. If you look through lists of 'best speakers ever' this is basically always on the list.
Quads - I have a slight preference for Magnepan 20.1 over Quads, but these are the most famous of the planars and of great historical importance.
There are also the Roger Sanders systems, this one is 12k
He has a very small sweet spot, but these are amazing inside it.
If this is all overload, just try the Magnepan 20.1s - those will be the easiest to hear in any major city. With Pass Amps (that is what I have with a maggie one level lower than 20.1) you will be in heaven. The Magnepan 20.1s also have tweeter attenuation, not quite as fluid as the Sound Labs (for Maggies you add a resistor to the system) but you seem comfortable with a system that is light on the highs all around - with the Sound Labs you could change it whenever/as often as you wanted to.
And note that the Sound Labs attenuation is NOT a graphic eq - it has to do with the way the speaker is fundamentally built, so it does not degrade sound. You can read about it at their site or on planar fansites, there is much info on SoundLabs on the net.
If you can't hear them, just assume the Sound Labs are a bit better than Maggie 20.1s - although some might argue differently.
Before buying box speakers you *must* at least listen to the Maggie 20.1s. And if you've heard 1.6s that will give an idea, but is not the same. 20.1s add true ribbon tweeter and a push-pull design - very different.
Oh and for box speakers one of my current favourite lines is Von Schweikerts, not mentioned so far. The one in your price range is VR-4SR Mk II, 12k I think. A short blurb from their page to show what level of speaker we are talking about here:
"Studios using VR-series include Sheffield Labs, Musical Fidelity Sound Labs, A&M Records (Herb Alpert), and Walt Disney Studios (Alan Menken, winner of 7 academy awards). Many recording engineers brought these speakers home, including Robert Harley, now editor of TAS, and Herb Alpert, creating an audiophile demand."
These really, really do something special - and in my opinion come closer to the planar sound than most box speakers (part of why I like them).
But I still slightly prefer the Magnepan 20.1s or Sound Labs.
One thing I didn't ask - both 20.1s and Sound Labs require large living rooms. If you don't have a certain size living room, then the VS would be a great bet. Oh - and while I might get flamed for this (bring it on!), if living room size is a factor, see if going to the Magnepan 3.6 makes a difference, while no 20.1 I think it will hold its own or beat many of the suggestions you have in this thread at half or less of their cost.
@Lightminer: I'm not fond of the looks of electrostats and I don't have the space for them either, so that's a no-go. And who gave you the idea I have more than 10K to spend on speakers alone? Just because I'm auditioning the MC6900, doesn't mean I'm willing to spend the money on that amp (new that is). Just testing the Thiels, that's all.
I have a pair of Zu Definition 2s and like them a lot. (I listen to rock, jazz, and every imaginable type of classical music.) Def 2s do what you want, and they are sold in Europe. But they are 11,000 USD. The smaller Zu Presence is 8,000 USD, but I have not heard them. Assuming that the sound of the Zu Presence is similar, they would be worth a listen. A European speaker that I liked was Audio Note AN/E; one of the "entry level" versions would fit your budget.
I agree with Lightminer about listening to the Magnepan speakers. Although I have not heard the 20.1's nor can afford them, I can vouch for the fact that having owned the 1.6's (paid new for $1700) and currently owning the 3.3's (bought used "refurbished from Magnepan" for $1500) that the Magnepans are a real treat to listen to. If I ever get another speaker it will only be to go to the next level in the Magnepan design i.e. the 20.1's.
Well, the Thiels are definitely off the list. Too harsh, too bright, too agressive in the higher frequencies.
Next I will try the Sonus Faber Cremona (old and new model) with solid state and with tube gear. What will be the biggest changes with the Thiels? My biggest fear: the Cremona doesnt like rock...
Well, I heard both the old and new Cremona's today on various amps and cd-players and I still haven't found what I'm looking for. The new Cremona is quite good, I love it's warmth and smoothness. It's totally without aggressive highs, no harshness whatsoever. But it's not as dynamic as the Thiels and it's bass response is way worse. It has no punch, no bite and the bass is a bit less detailed too. If only it were possible to compare the low end, dynamics and detail of the Thiels with the smoothness and warmth of the Cremona's, then true magic would be upon us. But I've never heard such a speaker. Does it excist???
03-18-08: Hulskof said:
"Well, I heard both the old and new Cremona's today on various amps and cd-players and I still haven't found what I'm looking for. The new Cremona is quite good, I love it's warmth and smoothness. It's totally without aggressive highs, no harshness whatsoever. But it's not as dynamic as the Thiels and it's bass response is way worse. It has no punch, no bite and the bass is a bit less detailed too. If only it were possible to compare the low end, dynamics and detail of the Thiels with the smoothness and warmth of the Cremona's, then true magic would be upon us. But I've never heard such a speaker. Does it excist???"
I think you're looking for either the Vienna Acoustic Strauss or Mahler, depending on room size.