Your advice needed, speakers to buy $8K to $13K


Hello All - I am shopping/buying speakers and want your advice and recommendations on what speakers to audition that might meet my needs/wants. I am looking for floor standing speakers in the price range of $8,000 to $13,000 with the following info for you to consider:

·       I currently have an older CJ 120 wat system but am now changing my entire system starting with speakers. I am looking at AR LS28 or Primaluna EVO 400 tube preamps and a class D power amp. Right now, the Bel Canto 600 with 300+ wats.  My plan is to add tube magic in the signal path at the preamplifier.

·       I stream mostly via Bluesound Nod 2i but for serious listening I have a Linn LP12.

·       I need speakers that are not to room, location or set-up fussy as I have moved a few times and will move again.

·       My listening tastes are diverse although I don’t listen to rap, heavy metal, pop or much opera. The rest is fair game.

·       I love to crank-it-up, but I listen mostly and moderate to low volume levels – the speakers MUST sound good at low volumes

·       Tied to bullet above - I am partial to highly efficient speakers with 90 db efficiency or more. I have a have the impression that higher efficiency speakers still sound good at lower volume. I have been told, by salespeople, that this is not correct, so I open to efficiency below 90 db.

·       I need and want something pleasing to the eye and not obtrusive. Said another way, and to give you an idea of my aesthetic taste, absolutely no Tektons.

·       The sound that engages me emotionally and I am looking for in speakers:

o   Lots and lots of air and space

o   Beautiful imaging

o   Big soundstage

o   Extended highs (I like the sound of ribbon tweeters as it seems to extend way up and sparkle…airy)

o   I like base but only as a support and foundation for the rest of the musical range, but it is not a big focus for me as it is for some.

·        The sound I do not like:

o   Sound that seems reserved, held back, constrained (i.e., opposite of special and airy)

o   Sound coming clearly from a box or from specific location….as in from a box

o   Lack of extended highs

o   Blooming base

·       Considered to date:

o   Alta Audio Alec, $10K – Spacial and airy to a fantastic level. Imaging is just moderate.

o   Spacial Audio X5, $7K – To date, they have check most of my boxes except they are really large and obtrusive. Basically, I am looking for this sound but in a more attractive package.

o   Ohm – Very open and airy but imaging and top end sparkle missing for my taste

YOUR CHALLENGE – What other speakers should I consider and looking at?   Thank you in advance for your thoughts!

 

Dave


butterman
I am only good at recommending stuff that sounds exceptionally good for the money. But you ruled that out. So I fail your challenge. Sorry.
Revel F228Be. I own them and they sound great. Sounds very open and dynamic. Resolution is excellent too. 
Get the MAGICO A3s at a great price here.
Have you considered Salk speakers beautiful to look at and listen too.
I have a friend who purchase Vandersteen Treo CTs for their ability to play at low levels and exceptionally good 
There is a pair of Revel Salon 2 here on Agon(might still be available). In your price range one of the best. 
If you are considering Ohms the largest model the 5000s are within your budget.  Those have level adjustments including for treble that can be used to add more “air”than otherwise.    Those are unique.   But lots of good choices for that budget and that amp will drive most anything well.  

"...Lots and lots of air and space. Beautiful imaging. Big soundstage. Extended highs (I like the sound of ribbon tweeters as it seems to extend way up and sparkle…airy). I like base but only as a support and foundation for the rest of the musical range, but it is not a big focus for me as it is for some..."


You just described a Magnepan 3.7 but they are big and demand a lot from the user.


Joseph Audio Perspective 2 pretty much checks all your boxes.  Best of luck. 
I wonder if Tekton will consider focusing a little on appearance of the speakers. Every now and then, people talk about them in a negative way based on their looks. I do not remember that anyone said "I really love the way they look". I am sure such customers exist, but seem to be in the minority. Good sound (whatever that is for a certain person) and good looks (again, whatever that is for a certain person) are not mutually exclusive.
If you had a bigger amp  I would suggest Aerial Acoustic 7T. I have not heard them but own the 7B and greatly enjoy them - fine speakers. 7T will likely be my next speaker.

Something a little more efficient with an attractive cabinet, look at the Monitor Audio G300.G5. 
Try the monitor audio gold 300 generation 5 or the monitor audio Platinum 200 generation 2
Wanted it to be different as I have heard some good things about Tektons but they are uncommonly ugly.....Would never put them in my home, let alone my wife's.
+1 urbie.  I just went over similar agony.   I 'just' bought a new pair of Monitor Audio PL200 II, still waiting for them.   It is just under the top range of your budget, i was willing to spend a bit more but i decided on those anyways.  They are checking several your boxes.   I did not really look at the low volume listening, I mostly dont do that.

Agreed with russ69 too, but panels are something else.  In the world of my dreams, i would have got magies or ML ESK15a.   My system is in a living room and it would be hard to place, so panels not for me.

I considered the Joseph Audio Perspective 2 as suggested here, could not listen at them unfortunately.   Audio Physics codex another good option.   Another finalist was Kef Ref 3, but unless you strike a deal they're a little over budget.  I was in like with Focal Kanta no 3 for a while, they are just a tad above your budget but i hear those can be talked down a bit.  
ATC SCM40, although they are overpriced in the States (40% markup on UK retail). But they should check all your boxes.
Possibilities:
 Spendor D7
 Totem Forest Signature
 JansZen Valentina P8

Physically, these are relatively unobtrusive, good-looking speakers. 
All have received good reviews. 

But, what do the HiFi shops in your area sell?  Have you checked out what you might be able to try out in your home without risking a big deposit or re-stocking fee?



Post removed 
In that price range:

Sanders Model 10e
JUMP ON THE MAGICO A3s HERE ASAP!!!
Bache Audio. I've been living with the Tribeca's now for just over a year and couldn't be happier. 90db, and that modified 8" wide band driver produces a beautiful sounding midrange. Very open and holographic.  I had Quad 57s and sold them because I felt the Tribeca's were much better overall. Plus, they are great from anything from female vocals to acoustic rock, Pink Floyd,  Black Sabbath, Mahler, or Blue Note jazz. 
These are below your budget. I was looking at speakers up to $15K.
Made in the Springfield Illinois, USA, Legacy Audio speakers will blow your mind and check all you boxes. Do yourself a favor and go to their website for a good read. Heck, give them a call with your questions. The staff is very friendly, extremely  knowledgeable and you never know, you may even get the owner, Bill, on the phone. Legacy Audio is a world class audio company, made right here in the good old USA. Their products are second to none, you will not be disappointed. 
Kevin

Amazing, but no longer made. I love my 3.4s, but due to my large room I have 2 @ 12" SVS powered subs, but dual 15" x 4 in the 2.8s will be much better I have a pair of 2.8s coming soon

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649672017-emerald-phyisics-ep-28-full-range-speakers-stunning/


hth
This is tough because each speaker behaves differently in different spaces.  It is tough to say you can get one universal speaker that works everywhere.  But, what I can offer is two suggestions if your room is generally larger (> than 15' x 20') or Smaller.  

If your room is larger and you like ribbons, you have to look at Scansonic.  For what you want, I would consider the MB5 Bs and MB6 Bs.  The 5s are probably best as they are not as imposing.  The 6s are...large but impressive.  Huge, immersive soundstage.  Wonderful imaging and they will give you the top end sparkle you are looking for without drifting to brightness.

If your room is smaller, you should look at MBLs hybrids.  The Radialstrahler 126s are a standmount, in your price range.  Nothing images like them.  You would probably want a subwoofer with them.  Something like a Perlisten D12S would be an incredible match.  For what you are describing, MBL is the ultimate product.   

The final product you should think about is the Audiovector R3.  This is a super flexible speaker in terms of placement, designed to give you an insane soundstage, wonderful imaging.  The only thing I would say is that you should re-think your amp choice.  Despite having an AMT, it is very natural sounding.  Bel Canto will be nice with it, something a hair brighter might be better.  

Full disclosure, I am a Scansonic and Perlisten dealer.  I am evaluating MBL and am likely to become an MBL dealer and continue to flirt with Audiovector. 
Lots of good suggestions here.  From my experience I'd audition Vandersteen, Maggies, and Joesph Audio.  But for my taste I'd choose Janszen.
The ohm would need a different type of amplifier to open up the treble range for you they are current hungry and hard to drive properly but they would be the best choice of your three listed with the right amplifier. Another very good choice would be a large british monitor from harbeth or spendor. The only thing is that a class D amplifier will have issues in the treble with all of these speakers.
+1 khowlett.  I am a new owner of Legacy Signature SEs and am smitten with the sound.  Airy and extended in treble, powerful, but not bloaty bass, smooth midrange, just easy on the ears, being quite detailed, yet non fatiguing.  They're not even broken in yet.  This is coming from Tannoy X8TF floor standers.  The Legacy have so much more meat on the bones, and the Legacys sound richer at lower volumes as well.  I was worried that the 4 ohm impedance might be a problem, but my Rogue Stereo 100 with almost 100 watts in ultralinear drives them with authority and finesse.  Also, the friendly and knowledgable customer service of Legacy has been welcome.   I love these speakers!
Goldenear Triton Reference... you will not ever look back (and you do not need a sub, since it is in built).
If you go with AR I would look for a LS27 or Ref 5e. The LS 27 is really the first Ref. preamp
The LS27 or The Ref 5 or 5e will really rock a pair of Maggies 3.7i. I`ve own Maggies since 1978 I`m still holding on to my 3.6`s I`ve used the AR LS22 all Tube line stage Preamp also the ref.5
Thank you all.  There is a lot to think about and I had a friend mention a used  pair of Raidho's.  Everyone seems to love them and equally so mock their price new.  Anyone own Raidho's and if so, what are your thoughts?  Thanks

Fyne Audio F702 (8" drivers) or F703 (10" drivers). By way of technology and engineering team, they’re the new Tannoy. By all witness accounts I’ve seen so far (I really need to hear them), they’re also modern successors of the "good Tannoy" sound (imo Tannoy had some models that missed the mark, e.g. I never liked the Definition series).

I simply love the coherence and musicality of the dual-concentric design. It’s unlikely I would consider anything else ever again. They’re high efficiency: 92dB / Watt on the F702, 94dB on the F703! The Fyne F70X cabinets, in your choice of finish, look SWEET and are contemporary/modern/cool, unlike the traditional English Tannoy Prestige & Legacy cabinets. Tannoys are good for all genres, and by all accounts the same holds for Fyne. Tannoys were always good loud. What I’m hearing is that the new Fynes may be better than Tannoys at low volumes, too.

Of course you can also look at Tannoys too - they’re still good! Prestige Turnberry GR and Legacy Ardens fit in your budget.
Raidho's are wildly overpriced, so even their tickle-down used price is high w.r.t. what they offer.  Cost-effective options elsewhere.
Hey gakety, I too am an owner of Legacy Signature SEs. You nailed it, amazing, natural, accurate, easy to listen to, and extremely well built. I went to the factory to audition and back again to buy them. Went back a 3rd time to buy their 5 channel amp. Got a tour of the facility and met with the staff and Bill. Brice and Victoria were very kind, personal, knowledgeable, patient, and welcoming. And then there is the owner/chief designer, Bill. An absolutely brilliant, personal, funny, engaging, and down to earth midwest guy. The kind of guy you'd sit next to in a bar and the conversation would go on for hours without knowing he is an award winning pioneer of sound. I've been to the factory 3 times and 3rd time Bill took my wife and me into the sound chamber to listen to a new product to get our input. Blew our minds and had a blast. One other thing, Legacy Audio is a family owned USA company and each product is built by real people who take pride in their work.
Good luck and give them a listen, you won't be disappointed. 
KH
Scansonic is Raidho’s low end.  I have owned Raidho’s personally.  They are great speakers and that sound is why I suggested Scansonic.  
I think “wildly” overpriced is a bit extreme but they are not inexpensive.  I think their monitors are their best speakers.  
Dynaudio Focus XD 20. No fuss no muss, excellent sound.
I've had the Spatial Audio X5's for almost a year now and really like them.  Can't help you with size, although they are less than 4 feet tall.  If it's about being obtrusive in the room, I have Herbies Audio Labs slider / isolation feet and I slide them in and out of place for listening sessions.  And if you like ribbon tweeters, you will love that top of the line AMT that Clayton uses on the X series.  Plus you are at the low end of your budget.  One suggestion....I've had the Prima Luna pre and had Don Sachs all in preamp made for me about a year ago and there is really no comparison.  Don's pre with those high end 6sn7 tubes gives depth and soundstage, along with tonal quality that is stunning.  Best of luck on your search.
Jump on something ASAP!!!
I recommended two (2) speakers;

1. Spatial Audio X5.  I own these speakers and they SMOKE!  They do need to be at least 3 ft. off the front wall to create a musical magic show and the more distance from the front wall will help to eliminate bass cancellation that dipole speakers are prone to have.  They take a long time to break in, so you should not judge them critically until after about 200+ hours of break in.  They are very thin in depth, but they are 14” wide as you mentioned they were big, but they work for me in my space, so hopefully you will reconsider them.  I haven’t heard anything in their price range that sounded that good.  Pure Audio Project (PAP) supposedly has a nice open baffle design, but I chose Spatial Audio because the PAP’s were even bigger in width and their business model of having customers build their own speaker wasn’t something I wanted to deal with.  PAP’s owner, Ze’ve, was great to talk to and I almost bought a pair.  With the X5’s, all instruments sound real and they deliver a very open soundstage.  It is very different from box speakers which don’t sound as open after you compare them to Spatial Audio’s open baffle design.  I would say you have to spend a lot of money on a box speaker to truly outperform the X5’s.  My front end gear is a Mac mini, Intona USB isolator, Intona USB cables, HoloAudio Spring DAC2 KTE version, PrimaLuna EVO 400 preamp and amp combo, Cardas Audio XLR interconnects and speaker cables.  I can’t say if PrimaLuna sounds better than the AR LS28, but the build quality of PrimaLuna gear is hard to beat at it’s price point.  Call Spatial Audio’s owner, Clayton Shaw.  He is very personable and will answer all of your questions.

2.  Wilson Audio Sabrina (Used) - If I decided to go back to a traditional box speaker design, I would buy a used pair of Wilson Audio Sabrina speakers.  They smoke, period!  My cousin owns a pair of Sabrina’s and his front in gear is a CJ LS17 preamp and CJ Premier 11 mono blocks and his system sounds great.  His room treatments took it to another level as well.

Lastly, after all these years of building my hifi system, I finally learned that room treatments make a big difference.  We don’t realize how much we are listening to our room vs. our hifi gear.   We keep replacing components thinking something is wrong with our gear when it’s our room we are listening to due to a lack of room treatments.  Treat the room before critically judging your hifi gear.  The room treatments are cheap compared to what we pay for our hifi gear.  I like GIK Acoustics’ room treatment offerings.

Have fun with your search!
Considering your requirements (especially tonal/timbre accuracy, dynamics, air, etc) and for your budget, you may find it hard to beat the following two speakers:

Technics SB-R1 (16k USD MSRP, you could possibly whittle it down to 13k)
Yamaha NS5000 (15k USD MSRP, you could possibly whittle it down to 13k)
Have you considered Larsen Model 8's? At the high end of your price range but specifically designed as agnostic to room placement. I run them with a Bel Canto EX Black Integrated, BLUOS Vault, and a modified Shinola (API) turntable. I occasionally think about switching to Harbeth but after a long wear in period (over 1 year now) overall sound is great. They can be placed against the wall (Larsen recommends), but I've tried some different placements. Good luck!
FYNE AUDIO F-703s
Best wishes in your search.

Jim Smith

NSMT Model 100, Spatial X3/5, QLN P3, Legacy, Emerald Physics. @glupson, Yes Eric is looking at aesthetics for future models, there could be a new design using the 15 tweeter array that is a big departure from a Moab box.
love my Legacy Signature SE. olive burl ash. ribbon tweeters. tight base from a sealed box. NOT just for home theater.
If you live in the Portland area, Echo Audio has what appears to be a nice pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE for less than 1/2 of new retail - https://echohifi.com/details/15731/Legacy-Audio_Focus-SE

I owned the Focus 20/20, a previous model and had a hard time parting with them, but they were just too big for my listening space. From everything I’ve read the SE is a big step up from the 20/20. I was tempted to drive down and get them, but I know at some point I’d end up getting rid of them due to the size.
I 2nd Fyne speakers. All the ones I've heard has sounded great and their concentric drivers seems to work in many rooms. 

MBLs are also great.
I have a pair of Magico A3s that IMHO satisfy all your requirements.