High End Speakers for Music $1000-$2000 [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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02-07-2011, 11:26 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm new to high-end audio and looking to make my first good speaker purchase. Hoping for some of your thoughts. I'm looking for floorstanders, new, in the $1000-$2000 range. Mainly for listening to music. I will have it connected to my home theatre setup, but 2 channel music is way more important to me. I primarily listen to classical, jazz and standards with an occasional pop/rock cd. The speakers will initially be paired with an Onkyo HT-R640 receiver (although I plan to upgrade this in the future when financially able).

As for what I've heard:
B&W: 683, 684, CM9
psb: Image T6, Synchrony 1
Monitor Audio: Silver RX6

I liked the RX6, the 683 (the CM9 was nice too, but too much for me and not sure that I thought it was worth twice the cost of the 683), and the psb Synchrony (really nice speaker but way out of my price range). So right now it seems to be down to the 683 or the RX6.
So really two questions:
1. Of the speakers I've heard which do you think is the best for music?
2. Any other speakers I should consider? I've read good things about Dali, Focal, KEF, Paradigm, Revel, and Totem.

Obviously I need to listen and decide for myself, but I don't have a trained ear and I'm not exactly sure what to listen for. Just thought some of you might have some input. Thanks in advance!

02-07-2011, 12:16 PM
This person had a B&W complaint.

You could also look at the Magnepan 1.7 for, oh, $1800. Visit Magnepan.com for info.

02-07-2011, 12:51 PM
I am very happy with the Totem Sttafs which retail for about $1,900 in Canada. I use them as my front speakers and they have exceeded my expectations, upgrading from the Energy CF 30.

02-07-2011, 12:55 PM
This person had a B&W complaint.

You could also look at the Magnepan 1.7 for, oh, $1800. Visit Magnepan.com for info.

Thanks for the suggestion. I think one of the B&W dealers in my area also carries Magnepans.

JoeE SP9
02-07-2011, 02:09 PM
+1 :thumbsup: On the Magnepan 1.7's. You might be able to find some 1.6's for a good price because the 1.7's have been released. However, the 1.7's are better.

Listen for what you like and want to hear. There are many manufacturers and speakers. Pleasing your ears is what matters.

The speaker that stands out the most in a group is probably not the best. Sound that stands out will be fatiguing and irritating in the long run.

02-07-2011, 03:25 PM
I would suggest listening to various speaker types with the music you will play and give each of those "types" about 10 hours - even if they are way out of your price range. Get familiar with what they bring to the table.

Horns, 2 ways, 3 ways, 4 ways, transmission lines, Sub/Satellite speaker systems, Planars, electrostatics, and the variety of speakers that are "just a little or a lot" different than the norm, Speakers like Gallo, Vandersteen, Audio Note, omni-directionals, and then all sorts of driver types and hybrids. Generally there will be something of all these designs in your price range. They may not be as good as the one you listen to at $10,000 but they usually share a commonality.

The speaker makers you listed typically are under a similar sonic umbrella. The Magnepan 1.7 is a good choice to audition because it doesn't sound remotely like the speakers you listed while the three boxed makers you list sound more like each other while the 1.7 stands apart. But that doesn't necessarily mean you will like it better - but at least you will get a sound that will turn your head and notice it.

Since you plan to upgrade the amp (good idea) then when you do your auditions make sure that if you LOVE something you take note of the amplifier and source. The reason I say this is that in the case of Magnepan I got the same kind of sensation that Panel lover and panel owner Doug Schroeder of dagogo got when he auditioned the Magnepan 3.7 - scroll down to read http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?bShowUnpublished=&hArticle=850&PageOfArticle=1 Clinical dry and roundly unmusical is what I heard at CES 2010. But the same speakers with a tube amp sounded considerably better - and the Tube amp was about 1/10 the price of the stuff they used at the audio show to boot. So definitely factor in the front end and treat the stereo as a whole unit not a bunch of pieces just tossed together.

Jack in Wilmington
02-07-2011, 05:58 PM
You should check out the Usher V-604 or V-602. You would have enough left over so that you can get the new amp that much sooner. They sell these speakers in Palatine at Edge Home Entertainment.

02-07-2011, 06:18 PM
Wait for some a-hole to get into a nasty divorce and sell his stuff. There are great deals everywhere from vintage to state-of-the-art. Ebay, Craigslist, garage sales, and rich area good/wills.

I'm looking for TAD, Dali, Cheap car stereo, B&W is a good choice, but nuts to paying those flashy price tags!

02-07-2011, 08:31 PM
It is true that the Magnepan speaker is revealing- that how well it sounds will ultimately depend on how good a (tube) amp you pair it with. But face it: You will become addicted, and there will be NO turning back. We will have ensnared you. But it is a very nice ensnarement. So plan ahead- avoid trading up in the future- jump in now with gusto!

Mr Peabody
02-07-2011, 09:03 PM
I second the Totem recommendation. In your price you can also get into Dynaudio's DM series. I heard an impressive Dali bookshelf at $675.00 but the floorstander wasn't that impressive, it had very little break in at the time though. I also liked the Martin Logan Motion series. The Monitor Audio I've heard I liked as well.

You may not have a "trained ear" but you should trust the sound that excites you, gets your toe to tapping. You could be like me and hear a Maggie and wonder what all the fuss is about. Or, some of the other brands, could, grow fatiguing. You should buy from a retailer that will allow a 30 day return if not happy, this will allow you time to try it in your own home and spend time with it.

harley .guy07
02-08-2011, 07:06 AM
I second the Dyaudio preference and will say as a owner that they will give you a lot of smooth quality sound with a lot more bass than their size will look like they can do. And they are perfect for people that like to listen for long periods of time because you don't get the listeners fatigue that some of the other speakers listed could give you. But I will say this with both the Magnepan and and Dynaudio suggestion as I have heard both you will probably need more power than your receiver to get the most out of either of these speakers as they are quite power hungry but you had already mentioned a amp upgrade at some point.

02-08-2011, 07:18 AM
You can't beat the Maggie 1.7 for the price and mid range clarity if you like their sound. (Edit - granted they wont play certain music as well as box speakers - but if they play the music you like well - they can't be beat) But there is a lot more to consider here - and you should addition as much as you can till you find what you like. It will save you a considerable amount of money.

Somethings to consider. If you listen to classical - what type - simple chamber or complex pieces from Wagner and Tchaikovsky? Do you need deep bass - if not - focus on a speaker that excels at mid range clarity and micro dynamics.

Also - are you sure you want a floorstander? You are more likely to get a better speaker for the money - if you go w/ a box speaker - if you get a stand mount monitor instead. PMC TB2i - a bit out of you price range - maybe you can find used - fantastic mid range - micro and macro dynamics - they are very transparent and pair well with a variety of amplifier and cables.

What size if your listening room? Where do you plan to put the speakers in it? What are the acoustics like in the room already. What you hear at a dealer, even if you love it, may not work at all in your room. For me, I loved the Maggie 3.7 I heard at CES 2011 - but there is no way I can get them in my room - much less make them sound correctly.

Anyways - a lot more to consider besides just the speaker.

Mr Peabody
02-08-2011, 08:52 PM
Harley, the DM series are Dyn's new entry level and they have been designed to work better with receivers. Of course, with all speakers, the better the amp, the better the result.

Jim Clark
02-10-2011, 02:04 PM
This person had a B&W complaint.

You could also look at the Magnepan 1.7 for, oh, $1800. Visit Magnepan.com for info.

That's funny, I've been complaining about the harshness of the tweeters for years. Thought I was alone and I've yet to find a set of B&W's that I can listen to.

To the OP, listen to as many speakers as you are able. Bookshelves, floor standers,electrostats, hybrids...when you find "the one", you will know it. with any luck at all you'll be able to afford them too : ) I've gone through the process twice over the past 20 years and still enjoy both sets thoroughly.

Don't stress, trust your own judgment and have fun


02-11-2011, 06:28 PM

B&W have a lot of people that don't like the treble presentation and people have written about it for many many years. Trying to explain what the problem is. They kind of tell you in the marketing of their design. The tube tapered tweeter for instance discusses the internal resonance and that with better nautilus tweeters the problem is "reduced." But wait if you read this closer you will note that it improves as you go up the line - which means it is quite a problem on the lower models otherwise why you would have to buy the big massive and very expensive models at $20,000?

Others have written about the crossover problem that the woofer can't generate the frequencies at the top of its passband and the speaker then has a beaming quality to it. This draws the ear to the gap and the sound is somewhat hard. Add to that the drivers don't share a common sonic signature (many speakers though have this problem in spades) but it seems to be somewhat cumulative in that it's three issues instead of one and B&W is often tiresome for certain people who hear all these problems. I always hear the drivers in B&W speakers and strangely I have preferred the cheaper non tweeter on top designs better - also preferred the non tweeter on top speakers from Wharfedale for that matter - the worst ones were the ones that copied B&W - Modus line I believe they were called.

I was fortunate to be able to hear the Matrix 801 versus the new Nautilus in direct comparison in Korea - the matrix 801 is a better speaker for listening to music - the Nautilus likely makes them more money - it looks better and has lots of techno babble to impress. http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=speakers&n=136639&highlight=B

Generally though I am not a fan of any speaker using metal dome tweeters of any sort and typically for me they get good at stupid price points. I like affordable speakers with certain metal tweeters mind you but it's usually "the" weakness of the sound. The disconnect between the sonic signature of the tweeter handing off to a completely different sounding woofer which is after all converging at the same frequency is an issue. How big depends on individual hearing. Not a big fan of speakers using Kevlar or Polypropylene drivers in general.

02-12-2011, 08:28 AM

A local Best Buy/Magnolia store near you might have some Martin Logan speakers you can listen to. I think BB/Magnolia has dropped the price on some of the ML speakers so you might be able to find a deal.

I know AA has dropped the price on The Source speaker from ML.

Good luck with you research and final selections.


02-14-2011, 09:23 AM
Heard a speaker over the weekend that I really liked - the Dali Ikon 6 mkII. Anyone else heard these? So far, I think these are the front-runner, although I would like to hear the Monitor Audio RX6 again. Also want to hear the Salk SongTowers. Any thoughts on how they might compare?

Monkey Mouse
02-15-2011, 01:06 PM
I think the totem arros, the quad floorstanders, Vandersteen 1c and a few others are worth a listen.

If you want a good standmount in that range, I just heard the Dynaudio Focus 110 and 140 which are awesome and are in your range.

02-16-2011, 08:49 PM
I agree with the OP that 2 channel stereo is much more important to me than HT Surround sound, but I also enjoy HT. My musical preferences run the gamut from classical to classic rock, blues, jazz, bluegrass, and some country. I am not much into rap or hip hop.

I have found that speakers sound different connected to different gear and are heavily influenced by placement and environmental obstacles.

It is best to try them in your own environment connected to your own gear.

Having said that - I recently picked up a nice pair of pre-owned one-owner Klipsch RF7s from the original owner. Purchase included some very high-end cables, speaker wires, all original boxes packaging manuals etc. He had them listed on Craigs List for a third of current retail. I auditioned them on his gear at is place, and - disappointed with the sound quality and quantity, I said no the first time.

I went home, researched the gear he had, then looked at reviews of the speakers here on AR and on some other review sites - these speakers simply reviewed all too well to not sound better than what they did in the audition; I auditioned them again, offered him less money than he was asking, and brought them home for less than he was asking.

In my home on my gear the Klipsch RF7s came to life and sound much better and louder than they did when I auditioned them on his gear at his place - the difference was night and day.

As mentioned above, speaker placement and orientation influences heavily upon the perceived output quality. The RF7s are especially dependent upon proper placement, but with a little tweaking and patience, the pay off is dramatic and wonderful!

The Klipsch sound is often celebrated and much maligned nearly equally. The horns can be a little bright especially if your equipment or source it bright. Personally I like the Klipsch sound, and my equipment seems to be more on the neutral to warm side of the scale. and everyone that has heard my system has come away with overwhelmingly positive comments.

One possible negative to point out... these (and most) Klipsch speakers are VERY revealing. If your source is poorly mixed or poorly recorded, the lack of quality will come through in all its glory. Quality source and gear is important.

Another important thought to consider - the RF7s are highly sensitive 102 db AND are rated at 250 watts continuous / 1000 max. I am pushing them with my Pioneer VSX-1015TX (rated at 120 WPC into 8 ohms) and they sound excellent and loud. The more volume I give them, the better they sound. And the sound is so clean and clear that even at very high volume it is still possible to carry on a conversation in the room. It is simply amazing how good these speakers really sound. The RF7 speakers output an extreme volume of music seemingly effortlessly; they sound great at low volume and get better as the volume increases. People can listen to these speakers for long periods of time without fatigue – I attribute this to the clarity of the sound and effortless reproduction due to the high sensitivity.

Before acquiring the RF7s, I have been listening to a pair of RF25s for the last 5 years; they too sound great, but cost much less than the flagship RF7s. Klipsch makes many sizes of speakers in the reference (RF) series.

Another pair of Klipsch speakers I have had for 5 years is the Heresy-II. These speakers are the smallest from their Heritage line, which also includes the Cornwall, La Scala, Belle, and Klipshorn. The Heresy II's are more old-school big bang in your face speakers; they sound awesome and at 97 db sensitivity they are easy to drive with not much power. But when you add power, they are happy to light up and come alive. These speakers can be picked up used on eBay and CL for far less than a grand, and are worth every nickel.

Enjoy the hunt, treat it like an adventure - take your time, grab your favorite tunes and audition everything you can, ask lots of questions, don't be afraid to negotiate... and ask your local hi-end audio shop if they are selling off any demo or floor models... bargains can be had, especially as manufacturers release new models.

Best regards from an AR newbie and lifelong audio enthusiast...

harley .guy07
02-17-2011, 05:38 AM
Harley, the DM series are Dyn's new entry level and they have been designed to work better with receivers. Of course, with all speakers, the better the amp, the better the result.

I have seen that line and they have got great reviews but I did not realize that they were that efficient. I figured they would stay with the excite as the efficient tube amp type speaker. But I would bet the price difference between the DM and excite is quite a bit too. Your usually not going to see a receiver guy with a $3500 dollar set of speakers unless your talking about all 5 or 7 in a theater setup or unless he has outboard power from his receiver.

03-09-2011, 12:35 PM
Hi all - just want to say thanks for the input. We ended going with the Monitor Audio RX6 speakers. Really sound good in my room - currently using an Onkyo HT-R640 to drive them, but hope to upgrade the receiver / amp at some point!