Your ''best kept secret'' speaker choice ?

Some manufacturers have the financial means to plaster magazines with ads. For other, they are still at the word-of-mouth stage, and many will not get past this line.

I was wondering what less-than-well-known, or obscure speaker out there stand out as particularly gifted both in sonics and value ? Could be in any price category....
My horse is dead so it will feel no pain from being beaten yet once again.
Magnepan. If you truly don't like panel speakers,Madisound.
Green Mountain Audio Europa. Although there is a small, cult-like following behind the Europa's, they are certainly not as well known as they should be. For under a grand new, the Europa's are at least on par with the likes of Merlin TSM's and Revel M30's. And that's not a knock on the Merlins or Revels, I think they are both excellent speakers for the price too. The Europa's, however, are an absolute steal.
DeVore Fidelity - a small company based I think in New York. They have a small monitor called the Gibbon 3 and a floorstander, the Gibbon 8. I don't own these but heard the monitors recently and they are fantastic. Tiny speakers that throw a huge soundstage, very musical, not fatiguing in the least.
I second the Magnepan. I've owned lots of speakers
(expensive and cheap) and I keep coming back to
Magnepans. First owned Tympani 1-C's in the late 70's,
then MG-IIIa's in the late 80's and now 1.6QR's. I
expect my next pair will be 3.6's.

There are lots of good speakers around, but the Magnepan
magic is something special.
Reimer speakers. Individually hand-built. Good efficiency. Great sound! I own the McCullough, and I'm impressed.
I have propounded on this topic many times here already, but like any good pragmatist here goes...

The company is a name know to EVERYONE, but not as a speaker manufacturer. Sony made a series of speakers which were American designed and made with a cost-no-object design budget. They came up with 3 models, one of which was radically improved in subsequent versions. They models developed were the SS M3, SS M7 (which I own) and the SS M9 (which I bought to replace the SS M7).

The first model is a small two-way book shelf speaker. The next model is a stand-mounted three-way with beautiful mid range, but no serious bass. The next model is a floor standing three-way four driver ported design. When I went from the SS M7 to the SS M9 I expected better bass, I was surprised to hear that ever aspect of the speakers sound was improved.

The SS M9 has evolved from a $5000 speaker to an amazing $20,000 speaker in the last few years.

They are all very good speakers for obviously different needs and budgets, but are worth investigating by anyone who wants more speaker than than are paying for from their manufacturer of choice!

Can someone help me off my soapbox, this long-winded diatribe has left me dizzy!
I am an owner of a Maggies SMGc. They worth few hundreds now but they still beat lots of brand name speakers that you always see on the ad or magazine. Another speakers that I would like to bring up here is Duntech. There seem Duntech don't bother to put an ad on any magazine or even a dealer (especially, North America), I don't know why and how they could sale their products. I did not know them until a friend owned a pair and introduced them to me. They are gifted on sonic and value, my friend has them for almost 12 yrs, and they are still singing loud and good. They do cost but with 12 yrs happy listening, I think they are worth every penny.
Usher from Taiwan should get a vote. They are no longer a "secret" since they actively advertise in US magazines, but they are still bargains and offer the best bang for the bucks money can buy.
Obviously there is no "best kept secret" about Magnepans! However, there may be some who don't realize how reasonably priced they are, relative to their topnotch performance level.
For brave people (If they fix) I think Apogees are the best speaker on the market up and down the whole line.

For not so brave I'll agree with the Maggies up and down the line.

For another Ribbon speaker (hi-brid), Vmps line of Ribbon speakers float my boat.

I'll cast a vote for Von Schweikert Audio. May not be the best kept secret but truley as close to you are there that I have heard.
I agree 100% with the Sony SS M series recommendation.
Kinima G1 from Zetag corp. The sound is great, bass is tight and the highs are sweet and non fatiging. The looks, olive wood that has been diamond polished with an all Cardas wires and posts. I still have not seen or heard an ad about these speakers.
I hardly think Magnapan fits in the less well known or obscure category. More likely it's in the top five best known brands, at least among audio enthusiasts. Is there anybody out there who hasn't heard of them?
Count me in for Magnepan. Every time I tried a box speaker, I always sold it after a few months and went back to a Maggie.
I have a Lenehan standmount, it comprises a Vifa ring radiator tweeter and a peerless driver. I auditioned it against many other standmounts including the N805 and some dyns, and IMHO they sounded great and offered excellent value for money. I haven't missed one day without listening to them since.
The SA2K out-performed the best from Sonus faber, Dynaudio, ProAc, Totem, Vienna Acoustic, Audio Physic & Thiel in my system. At $3500 list, they compete with speakers in the $5K~$10K range.
We should brave the front of making our own speakers eventually - this way, world class sound can be had for under a grand.
I've owned a LOT of different speakers and through auditioning at stores, friends, and CES I've heard most speakers on the market (I doubt anyone has heard 'em all, there an incredible selection of speakers out there). I always end up gravitating towards planar speakers, to my ears they just sound more natural than any box speaker. Eminent Technology LFT VIII's are the best kept secret I know of; a hybrid design with a 8" woofer and ribbon mid/tweeter, these speakers continue to impress me. Unlike other hybrid designs it's damned near impossible to figure out when the midrange & woofer crossover; the sound is liquid without sounding bright and the bottom end is quite surprising. They are outstanding transducers and at the price pretty much impossible to beat. $1800 list, another $200 for the Sound Anchor stands. One caveat, you need a big ass amp to drive these, 200wpc solid state is about right.
Norh horn speakers. I have both 6.5 (wood) and 6.9sm (synthetic marble). Both sets are smooth and clean with tight bass and non-bright highs. 6.5s are about $500.00 usd with shipping; 6.9sms about $700.00 usd with shipping.

You either love the look-or don't.
My vote goes to EFE(Ed Frias Enterprises)speakers, especially his modified BIC speakers. The BICs are very inexpensive that some my call cheap trash but Ed puts a new crossover in them and makes them sound glorious. He sells them anywhere from $150 to $350 dollars, bookshelf to floorstander last I heard. EFE is an extremely small oufit and has no website but email Ed at and he'll send you a brochure.

I think the best "deal" out there is the Magnepan MMG. GMA Europa's are very nice and well priced also.
Here's another one I'll bring up for the heck because it's so cheap even though I haven't heard it. The only dealer, Scarlet Audio, went on and on about how great it was. It's call the Szabo 424-C mini-monitor.
Zetag made great speakers, unfortunely, they were out of buseniss.
If you can wait for them to be built as they are built to order by Rick Reimer himself, they are outstanding and efficient. Call Rick if you're unsure, he's a great guy.
the heil driver oskar Kitharas. Bar none my favorite speaker i have ever heard in the under 10k range. heil driver runs from 700hz to 23khz, and a 10" bass driver handles from 700 down to 26ish. very coherent, very realxing very ugly :) well, i like the looks, but no one else seems to!

I agree with 'Infinite', Magnepan, started by Audio Research almost 30 years ago, hardly qualifies as secret.
A recently reborn company, (after a tragic flood almost took them out forever is making a big comeback) which was never an advertiser of any amount previously, and never had a very large dealer base, is Von Schweikert. I'll bet that very few of the (my fellow) audio nuts out there, have even heard them. Recently they've gotten some well deserved good press. Worth looking into for sure. Musical is the word to describe them. And, after all, colorations aside, that's what were all looking for: i.e. do they sound like music? Nothing does, but they are closing that gap. By the way, Sound Labs, is in about the same category. Not for everyone given their size and price, but excellent, excellent speakers, owned by the epitome of class, Roger West. He is a good man too, and takes wonderful care of his customers.
Good Listening,
Well, how ab out the company that has smoked every loudspeaker company out there the last 2 years at CES. Who could that be???...VMPS??? Yes!!!!!......No one ever seems to refer to this company for high end loudspeakers. Yet they have won best loudspeaker two years in a row at CES. Last year with a loudspeaker (RM-40) that retails for 4800.00. You really can't argue with these results.
"VMPS......No one ever seems to refer to this company for high end loudspeakers" - that would be an oxymoron.

The ''best kept secret''-
Here is a third vote for Reimer speakers. I have the floor standing Wind River GS model. I compared them to the Maggie, Merlins w/ BAM, Osborne, Montana, Linn and Coincidents. I love them and have no regrets! And Rick is a great guy to deal with and learn from about speaker design.
ATC is not well known but if it wasn't for B&W I think I would have bought them.
Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 2 way for $328 is very good.
I think everyone should have a pair of some single driver speakers, even if they only cost $60. It's pretty cool what they do with vocals:
Creative Sound ELF1.0
I'll second Ascend Acoustics CBM-170
GR Research, a DIY company out of Texas is suppose to offer an incredible speaker called the Alpha LS. Apparently they only use top-of-the-line drivers and cross-overs in their speakers. You can either build the Alpha yourself, or have GR do it for you. Another Audiogon poster thinks the Alpha LS outperforms Pipedreams. I can't comment on their sound quality because I haven't heard them, perhaps others on this board can elaborate on GR Research.
Odyssey Audio Lorelei loudspeaker, a replica of Symphonic Line`s +$7000 Legato for $2500. There should be a review on this "sleeper" coming up at 6Moons, should be interesting? Regards, Robin
When talking of full-range, world class speakers, DIY must be the only secret for the mediocre wallet; there are many choices. Here are but a few, and I strongly urge a visit: The incontestable magician of open baffle speakers and crossovers (i.e. L/R x-over, Audio Artistry speakers) -- i.e. dynamic speakers with the speed of stators and bass to match.. (An A'goner, steved, has built these) following up on a previous post; With a Raven II tweet & ATC units thereafter.

Last, but FAR from least, do check out the (in)famous Ariel:

While none of these designs are cheap, some of them are very extravagant indeed. Aimed at those who cannot afford the commercial equivalents (running easily over 20k).

AR215 PS speakers for $50 at

I got 3 pairs of these to set up my home theatre system. Paired with a $100 subwoofer they make an excellent budget home theatre. But here's the best part...

If I put 2 of them on stands in my main system I feel these little puppies can beat the crap out of anything less than $1000/pair. Yes, anything (except maybe some DIY designs).

I have to agree on the Apogee's. "Grreeeaaat", as Tony the Tiger would say. Fast clean bass, sweet treble, image better than most mini monitors
ESS speakers are my pick. I've heard many more expensive brands, and I wouldn't trade mine for any of them. They can be bought direct from factory for less than $1500 per pair. A bargain to say the least. I haven't heard the Kitharas, listed above, but I imagine that they are very good as well, as they also use the Heil tweeter.
I would say Royd Audio from England. I know of only 3 dealers of the speakers between Canada and the US. Royd is a small manufacturer of speakers and are not very well known in the US but they do have a cult following in Japan. I have a pair of Doublets - small towers with an MFM configuration. The sound is incredible from these speakers.

How about Audio Note and Neat? Both from UK.
Have to agree 100% on the Green Mountain Europa's. Have had mine for a few months and they just keep sounding better and better. These babies are the real deal. Sounding more like real music than most anything I have heard. If you haven't heard them, do yourself a favor and audition them. Once you do, you'll be on-board the Europa bandwagon, i'm sure.
Spendor SC3 center channel (88dB MTM versions of the S3) turned sideways used as a stereo pair! Why the hell doesn't Spendor wise up and market these thjis way?!
They may be wide but you can still find used pairs between $200-500, and you will be hard-pressed to find better sounding new speakers today for under $3000.
Most obscure, but very impressive, speakers that I have heard are Induction Dynamics. However, as good as they are, at their price point, I still feel that they can be bested by more well known names (such as Thiel, of whom I am a big fan).

A name that is not so obscure, but which I hadn't heard until recently is ProAc. I just heard a pair of their Tablette Reference 8's, and just could not believe that speakers that small could sound so good, or that I could find such warmth and detail in the same package. Even though I wasn't really in the market for a pair of small speakers, I ended up ordering a pair of the Tablette Reference 8 Signatures on the spot. And again, as a Thiel fan, that is saying a lot! Of course, Thiel doesn't offer anything as small as the little ProAcs (they are much smaller than even the SCS3's).

Quad L-Series --- too much press in Britain not any in North America. These briallantly finished beautiful very revealing speakers with a gorgeous midrange - just seem ignored. Competitive far beyond their price point - WAF is very very high :) And I love my 21Ls in Piano Black to pieces :)

Anyone considering B&W or Paradigm in the same pricepoint as the Quad's should get their head checked.
I also would like to recommend the Reimer speakers. I have the Teton GS full range speakers and they sound incredibly good and are a tremendous value.
The little Maggie MMG should be outlawed. Banned. Verboten. Interdict. Kapu. No $550 a pair speaker has any business sounding that damn good.

And those Quad 57's still floating around - geeze, let's get 'em off the market already. Their time is over - we don't need their stinkin' lovely midrange to remind us how little progress in that area has been made in the last upteen years.

Finally, somebody ought to shoot John Wolff of Classic Audio Reproductions. He uses genuinely world-class drivers in superb boxes, and sells 'em direct for about twice what the drivers alone cost. I don't see how he's making any money. Okay, maybe he's making ten to fifteen percent. But how in the world is anybody supposed to compete with that? Fortunately for the rest of us who sell audio gear, almost nobody has heard of John Wolff or Classic Audio Reproductions. And even fewer people know that Ralph Karsten of Atma-Sphere uses CAR speakers as his references, in his own home.

I sure hope nobody reads this far down in this thread, because the last thing a dealer like me needs is more people buying MMG's, Quad 57's, and Classic Audio Reproductions speakers. Sheesh.
Here's the link for World Class Audio:
Big Horn Speakers
I own a pair of Source Technologies - as of today, they've had no press, nor have they spent any money on marketing and advertising --- these speakers are truly magnificent.
This is the company that makes the Harmonic Recovery System.
From what I hear, a couple of reviews will be in the summer of 04.
Believe it or not...Vandersteen VSM Signatures sound REALLY great. My next living room system will use them for the front L/R along with non-Signatures for the surrounds. (Center will probably be a VCC-5.)
The cat is out of the bag! GMA Europas! THey are easily on par with B&W 805s...