With $20,000 in your hand, what speaker would you

I've recently gone into retirement. I am a 52-year-old diehard audiophile. I've had just about every statement level speaker the American market has offered over the last 10 to 15 years. The speaker I have found the most satisfying overall is my presently owned modified pair of Maggie 3.6R. I've also had their 20s and started with the Mg 3A. for my second favorite speaker I would have to pick the Avalon radian HC, and not the Eidolon( I had problems with the ceramic midrange distorting with dynamic vocals and the base was not perfect). I had dozens and dozens of conventional and electrostatic speakers so many I could bore you with the list. So let's just say I've been around the block a few times.

Let's assume that I made no mistakes meeting the speakers with the proper equipment, power conditioning and acoustical environment treatment. I have been mostly a tube person but I switched over to the new passlabs equipment because I found that I am
the equivalent sound or better than my reference tube amplifiers, without the heartbreaking experience of blowing up and $2000 tube replacements.(As I said I am retired now, I can't afford the maintenance fees anymore.

What I'm asking of my fellow audiophiles that have been listening with reference great audio systems is that they e-mail me back and give me their opinion on what conventional loudspeaker they would own if they had say $20,000 or so to spend(20,000 retail). Semi-full range down to say 35 Hz or so.

I'm going to keep the Maggies but, they don't feel the need when it comes to wanting a more compact/dynamic speaker that I could also drive with my Belcanto SET. Although, they don't need to be ultra efficient.

I would really appreciate anybody's input, I would find all of your input invaluable in making my decision.

by the way what do you all think of the Grand Veena 3A speaker. Is it better than anything for under $20-$30,000?

Thank you very much for all of your help,


thanks again,

PS I am still keeping the Maggies.
Thiel 3.7 or Revel Salon 2.
Avalon Indra. (I also own the Maggies 3.6's and they are awesome). But if I replaced them it would be the best Avalon I could afford.
Hi Andrew,

The few that come to mind right away are the Focus Audio Master 2.5, Magico V3, Tidal Piano, or Zu Definition Mk II. Any of these would keep me more than happy with for a long, long time.

Good luck with your search.

I think that you need to hear the Harbeth 40.1.
I would buy 2 fostex t500amk2 tweeters,2- goto compression mids and 2-goto comp mid bass plus goto horns and dual fostex 31.5in for bass. And DIY this together and I would have a loudspeaker with performance that no $20000 retail speaker could equal. Nothing else would be close....
A used pair of Hansen Prince's
if i were retired, and had 20g's to blow, my audio hobby would be well down my list of things to do.
All depends on the rest of the system and how big the room is. I like verity speakers.
Magico V3's, Avalon Indra's, or Soundlab A-1's
I had problems with the ceramic midrange distorting with dynamic vocals

That is common enough with consumer designs. Do you like to listen loud in a large space? Do you want something approaching panel sound in the midrange but more compact and with more low end (a better all rounder)? If so, then try to audition an ATC 150 or 100 - and since you are ok with good SS amplification then the active version coupled with a tube pre or source might be what you are looking for. Since you have owned everything American perhaps you will enjoy the British sound. In any case, the pro drivers will not compress as easily as you have experienced previously - so transieents/percussion will be very realistic. The only draw back (if you are used to American sound) is that the bass response, although extended, is light (detailed and tangible) rather than heavy or impressive.
Speaker choice in this or any price range would depend upon your room size, room acoustics and personal preferences. That said, as a maggie owner and owner of electrostatics and Nelson Pass equipment myself, you also seem to prefer planar designs. You might consider (if you have the space) apogee speakers rebuilt with better ribbons and crossovers. Innersound eros 2-3/kaya speakers are wonderful if you don't mind a small sweet spot. If you can find a good pair of Hill plasmatronics and upgrade the subwoofer and use and external crossover and don't mind your room temperature rising and speakers that look like 1920 ice boxes you will have something special. All of these choices cost way less than $20,000 so you can use the remaining cash on other equipment or save it for the difficult economic times ahead.
(Depending on amplification of course)

Aerial 20T V-2 or Intuitive Designs Delta Gammas
a matching center and surrounds. They list for $9K/pr, and I haven't heard anything better under $20K.
Maybe the Usher BE-20,Kharma 3.2.2 with extra woofer or possibly a Wilson offering WPs.
First off, congrats on your up coming retirement.-- I hope it wasn't health related.
In general,life is short; "eat your desert first".period...
After just reading the follow up on the Salon 2's--I say there is a speaker that might tempt me and I see the on line price of $16.2 is under your budget allocation.
Hey,it's time you tried some cones????
Coincident pure reference!!!!!!!!
Why, any speaker that I could audition in Southen Italy, of course.
I am also a maggie owner, 3.6, my friend has the 20.1. I like the Aerial 20T as I cannot be without the ribbon on the top end. Even at CES, I failed to hear any speaker at any price with that type of top end. That is just what I find musical and realistic. Many great speakers, the ribbons just do it for me.
Should combine the virtues of dipole and being more dynamic than the typical panel speaker. It would be my second choice (auditioned at an owner in MY) to my 2805s, the compromises of the Quads are better suited to apartment living (can't play loud anyway). I do by the way drive my Quads with a Pass amp (Aleph 30) which I surprisingly preferred to a tube amp.

Problems are (1) that they cost a lot less than $20k and (2) you no longer need you beloved amps.
Avalon Indra
Analysis Audio Epsilon
Magico V3
I am just about to retire at 61 and I can't put down $20000 on speakers, or anything else, where did I go wrong? Oh yes, I forgot, I still have 2 kids in college. I go back to work the day after, part time, but it was worth it, I think!
One of the Apogees.There is a company called Octave that is bldg. Apogee type speakers and they can probably eat up your money. When I enquired about a replacement for my Stages I was quoted a price of 11 or 12k.

I can tell you the Avalon Eidolon Diamonds are the best speaker I have ever heard and you know I have heard just about all of them. I heard your Maggies and they sound very good in your room but if you ever heard the Diamonds your jaw would hit the floor. No box speaker sound like Avalon's and most maggie owners don't like box speakers.

The Andra's sound good but they need a sub or two. They don't compare to the Diamonds but the diamonds cost $14,000 more.

Some of my favorites are from Verity, Rockport, and Magico. I'd haul in the suitcase full of lute and leave with one of these.
totem sharmans or winds and with the savings buy a MSB
DAC I have both and I have listen to 100k systems and this combo can't be beat
I have a couple of years on you though I still have a few years before I punch out.

Bought my first pair of Magnapan speakers in 1982, back then I vowed that I would never go back to speakers built in a box...Well never say never...

The following year I came home with a pair of Quad63s which I still own today and listen to on occasion.

My budget last year for a new speaker system was 20 grand tops and as you know there are some beauty's new and used at that price point.

Over the entire summer going from one audio store to the next, the speakers I settled on I wasn't even aware of them at the time.

Do give the Reference Grand Veena's a listen.
I am very happy with Wilson Audio Sophia II's. The Wilson line has gone through some major changes over the years. I use to think they were very bright and loud. The Sophia II is different. It is voiced beautifully. You really get the open feeling from electrostatics and maggies but also get the dynamic impact from conventional speaker design. Not to mention one of the finest quality speaker cabinets in the business. I know there is a lot of controversy about Wilson Audio but I encourage you to give them an audition. I believe these run $16 to $18K depending on finish. I see them on audiogon for around $10K.
If you like ribbons and dynamic bass, maybe the Gilmore Audio Model 2 speakers. Open baffle design made from a slab of Corian.

Ooops - I put the speaker in the title, and it didn't show - I meant the Silverline Audio Bolero @ 9K/pr leaves enough for matching center and surrounds. I have yet to hear anything I liked better for under $20K. It's a colored - euphonically - speaker, so it's not for everyone. But it sounded so beautiful when I heard it, it almost brought me to tears.
Congrads on being able to settle down at an age you can enjoy life. There is nothing wrong to my knowledge to pursuing your passion though I do like the thought of Italy.

The grand veena is a wonderful speaker I do not own. I have heard it on several occasions. I heard it in vegas with several friends and we were all amazed by the sound quality per cost. It is wonderful at conveying emotion and yet detailed. Its sound is comprable or better than many speakers costing substantially more. I would definitely consider an audition before spending more, particularly if you are wanting to use it with tubes. Unfortunately people like change and so it is hard to know if this will last you a lifetime but it is certainly within budget.

Best of luck.
I would buy the best pair of Piegas 20K would afford me.

I'd definitely at least consider Rockport. After 35 years in audio - and probably two dozen or more speakers I'd owned - I bought the Antares and have had no urge or itch to replace them during the last 8 years.

Good luck!
Verity Audio Parsifal Ovations or SF Elipsa. And do give the 3A's a listen. Notwithstanding the completely different widow of the 3As, they do not beat out either of my recommendations but they are remarkably good.

Enjoy your life! John
Sonus Faber Elipsa.

I have the Stradivari(s)
Grand Veena is a must listen. It is a speaker that wont be embrassed by any comparison. As a former owner of Audio Note AN/E and Coincident Total Eclipse, Kharma 3.2, Revel Salon etc. I must say that it is the best I have owned so far. Wont be surprised if you find them too good to resist.

Used Avantgarde Duo Omega, or used Avantgarde Trio.
A quick scan didn't show any Sound Labs mentioned. For that kind of money, if you have the room (partly a wifely funcion), I would at least make the time to hear the equivalent of the A-3 Sound Labs.
They are remarkably clean, fast and have completely acceptable bass (for my taste), even in a very, very large room.
Paired with Halcro Stereo amp, which offered 150 WPC. Sweet...very sweet.
have you considered apogees or analysis audio full range ribbon speakers ?
Magnepan 20.1 and still have a nice bunch of $ left
I noticed that the speakers was lost because I put them in the title: Linkwitz Orion.
This is an easy question - add two grand to the budget and get a pair of B&W 800Ds. For the money, the best all-around speaker in its price class. Many speakers will do SOME things better than the 800D, but no speaker I've listened to in this price range, and I've heard a lot of speakers, offers better overall performance to my ears.

If you want to save six grand and put it back in the retirement fund, get a pair of B&W 802Ds, which provide about 95% of the performance of the 800Ds, and is the best overall speaker in the $15K and under category. Better than the Wilson Sophia II, better than the Magico V3 (which costs almost double), better than the Revel Ultima Studio, better than all those "trendy" speakers that paid-advertising supported reviewers love these days.

But the most important thing is to listen for yourself. Ask 30 different people and you'll get 30 different answers. It's good to use these as reference, but the only person using your ears is YOU, and in the end, those are the only ears that matter. Good luck and have fun in finding your dream speaker.
GV 3A might save you some money without missing a whole lot.

I'd like to suggest a little different approach. Since you are going into retirement, why not make an enjoyable journey out of it? I'm not sure a punch list of everybody's favorite will be of much help.

FWIW, here is free advice and we know what free advice is worth. Well, these days paid advice may not be much better.

Think about which "types" of speakers you have enjoyed and go hear a couple of models in each "type" and commit to not pulling the trigger until you are done with your survey. And add a couple of new "types" in case you surprise yourself. For example, listen to a) a couple of single driver speakers or high efficiency speakers, b) a couple of two way monitor box speakers, c) a couple of multi-driver box speakers, d) a couple of planar speakers and e) a couple of dipole speakers. Maybe add a horn speaker. IMHO, most models within a "type" will share similar characteristics. But, of course, there will be standouts within each "type" and you may like a model from more than one "type". But, it will be very unusual for, say a multi-driver box speaker, to sound like a single driver or planar speaker.

And since you have been doing this for some time, you probably already have a good idea about what "type" of speaker you like. Once you narrow that down, listen to more speakers within that "type" and suggestions within that "type" will yield more useful information (I think).

Last, given diminishing returns, there is no warranty that a $20,000 speaker will appeal to you more than a speaker half that price. Use your maggies during this enjoyable, yet imperfect, journey.

IMHO. YMMV. etc. Jeff
I really agree with Jj2468 Jeff's plan. This approach makes a lot of sense to me, and would make the whole experience one of learning and "ear-opening" revelations.
You may fall in love with a $ 5000.00 pair of speakers, and have 15 grand left over for a beautiful vacation. Good Luck, Happy Listenig, and Happy Hunting !!
I'd give the Avalons another listen to see if they are worth it to me or not.

If not, I'd buy a pair of $5000 OHMs and do something else fun with the rest of the money.
I would audition a pair of Wilson Audio Watt Puppy 8's. I just ordered my pair today and I found out that they have dropped the price to about $22,400. I am paying $23,400 ( I am ordering a special color). I have been told that they are coming out with a new speaker this summer.

The Watt Puppies are a classic but you might go for a 7 used. The 8's may give you some of the compression problems you mentioned that you had with the Avalon Eidolons.

If you look at measurements the 7th plot down from the top you can see significant compression at 95 db SPL.

As I mentioned, this is common to consumer designs (designed for homes) and not at all a unique problem to the 8's or your Avalon Eidolons... this is why I suggested earlier on this thread that you look at speakers with pro drivers if you plan listen loudly to music with large dynamic range.
Whatever Shindos I might buy for $20000 is another I might consider.

Can $20000 buy a pair of Shindos with the field coil drivers?

I don't know if they'd fit in my house but I would sure love to audition a pair of Jadis Eurythmies as well. Their design and appearance truly make a unique statement.

The Audiokinesis speaks just caught my attention also thanks to Tvad. I'd kind of like to hear them also. They would seemingly leave some change as well starting with $20000.
I would audition a pair of Wilson Audio Watt Puppy 8's. I just ordered my pair today and I found out that they have dropped the price to about $22,400. I am paying $23,400 ( I am ordering a special color). I have been told that they are coming out with a new speaker this summer.

Interesting. Where'd you hear this bjbcab?
The Avalons can't compare with Sound Labs or MBL. What speakers have those on this site heard, actually heard, to make the statements they have made?
Those of us who have encountered the "Best of the Best", realize that there are but a handful of those Best and few, without agendas are mentioned with regularity.
I've heard the Avalons at their best, and they're very good--I've heard the Wilsons at their BEST, and they're very good, I've heard virtually all the favored speakers which are mentioned here--but very few enter the sanctified realm of MBL or (not as dynamic) Sound Labs. Why, other than agenda do people push others?
Now, to be fair the M5's that Valin is currently riding may be that good, I haven't heard, but understand from 'little inside voices that they are', that hey are very good. More later.