Sophia 1,2, and 3 sound great and Ayre is a good amp, just don't buy them in Tampa.
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I'm a little confused regarding what Aerial speaker model you are refering to in your post. I'm just about done reviewing Aerial's new model the 7T speaker for the website hometheaterreview.com. In my opinion it far surpasses the performance of both the Wilson Sophia and Sasha in significant ways and retails for $10000.00 which is still alot less expensive then either of the Wilsons. If you want more details E-mail me your phone number and it would be a pleasure to share the details regarding this superlative speaker's performance.
I have heard the Sophia 3's and the new Aerial 7T's, though not in the same store, nor did I hear them on the same day. I loved the sophia's, but was not favorably impressed with the Aerials. The Aerials so underperformed my expectations, that I asked the dealer to move them to a different room and drive them with a reference BAT/Esoteric system. We are talking a 100K + front end here. The Aerials still underperformed my expectations, and significantly underperformed the Magnepan 3.7'Rs, which I heard in the same system in the same room on the same day.
It is possible, that the Aerials were not broken in yet, but the dealer made no apologies for the Aerials. I walked into the store that day expecting to place an order for the Aerials, but I did not feel like these speakers were for me. I bought the maggies, but I certainly could have loved the Sophias. Something might have been wrong with the demos I heard. My point is not to discount Teajay's opinion, which I certainly respect, but just to point out that people hear things differently. Go listen, listen carefully with carefully selected music, and buy what your ears tell you is to your liking. Neither the sophias nor the Aerials are especially difficult to drive to my knowledge.
Thanks for sharing what you heard in a demo of the 7T's. It not only proves that personal taste and system synergy is so important, but always take another person's opinion in consideration and then go listen for yourself.
In the context of my system the Aerial 7T was the first box enclosure speaker that out preformed my bi-amped, Mystand mounted MG-20's to my surprize. The rest of my system is reference level and other very highly regarded box enclosure speakers had not come close to this level of performance in my room. So go figure, I wonder what got in the way of thier performance when you heard them?
Thanks for the thoughtful responses; excellent, measured advice from obviously seasoned audiophiles.
To be more specific my initial inquiry was regarding the Sophia 1 or 2, and the Aerial 7b or 9. When I originally wrote I wasn't even aware of the 7t!
Very interesting learning though, and thanks again.
Teajay, If your 7T's outperformed a set of MG20's, there was something dreadfully wrong with the ones I heard. I can't imagine what the deal was. My living room is my listening room, so appearance is important and the 7T's are stunning looking speakers. I listened to them first using a decent front end in a less than ideal room. After a few minutes I asked the owner to move them into his reference room. In both settings I pretty much heard the same thing. There was an inaccurate timber across the board on orchestral music in both systems that put me off right away. In the reference system, the low end was bloated, which could have been a placement issue. Also, the speakers did not distinguish themselves in terms of spacial information as compared to the maggies. I also sensed that the owner was somewhat less than enthusiastic about the 7T's. I had a couple pair of Michael Kellys ADS speakers prior to my run with Magnepan, so I expected great things from the Aerials. I'd love to hear from others who have had a chance to hear them.
Jusr wanted to share with you and the others on this thread:
1) Just took the 7T's out of my system, my auditioning process was complete for my formal review, and put the MG-20's back in place. Both of these are great speakers that offer similiar sonic virtues which is amazing to me because of the different approachs, planar vs box enclosure design, yet they both sing with a musical voice which is outstanding. The biggest diference between them is in the illusion of were you are setting in a concert hall or jazz club. For example, if you like about 10th row in a symphonic hall you would like the 7t's, if you rather be mid hall, about 20th row you would prefer the 20's. It's personal taste not what's right or wrong.
2) Went over to hear my friend's system, who after he heard the 7T's in my system sold his Magico Q-3s and replaced them with 7T's, who has much smaller room then mine. Yet, the 7T's were superlative in this acoustic space and still performed like they did in my rig.
Just food for thought. My hunch is something was going on, not with the 7t's unless they were malfunctioning, but with the setup or rooms. I struggled in my full length review on the 7T's to come up with flaws regarding their performance, so something was radical wrong I believe the day you heard them.
Thanks, TJ. In the end I will never know what was wrong with my audition of the 7T's. I wish I could have heard what they are apparently capable of, but in the end, I an so happy with my maggies there is no harm done. I'm still not sure that it is not just how I hear things. I auditioned a lot of very good speakers, ranging from 6K to 17K. The sophia and maggies are the only two speakers I thought I could live with. I am very sensitive to accuracy of timber, and if something is just slightly off there it is a deal breaker for me.
The dealer where I auditioned the 7T's is about a 2 hour drive away. Its probably the best run brick and mortar store I've ever dealt with. Next time I make the drive, I think I'll give the 7T's a second quick listen,