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  1. #1
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    Speaker choice in $1500 range

    I'm looking to purchase a pair of speakers to replace my B&W 703's.My system is Rotel components. The 703's were much too bright in my system.I've received a lot of advice regarding the acoustics of my room.My listening room is less than perfect and I know my next speakers need to be as warm and neutral as possible. The B&W's have been a disaster. I'm looking at Paradigm Studio40's($1200 plus stands),Dynaudio Focus220's($1500),and Quad 22L's($1600).These were the three best fits I could find from my local dealer.I'm hoping for input from anyone who owns these speakers or has advice on good speakers in this price range.I liked different things about all 3 speakers but I'm open to suggestions.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Dang, B&W's were too bright for you? I found them to be the dullest speakers out there...way too warm for me. I went with Paradigm Active 40's by the way..they are much brighter than B&W.

    Elaborate on your room....what kind of floors/walls do you have?

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    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Hi BillyB,

    You can sometimes find some Silverline Sonatina speakers used in this range. I haven't heard them with SS...but with PP tubes and 300b and 45 SET amps they sound quite nice...laid back is as much off the mark describing their sound as bright would also be off the mark. Try to get an audition if there's a dealer in your area.

    Unfortunatly the retail price is up there a bit...but sometimes dealers may carry used or demo. I'm also not sure if they're still for sale...but here's a link to some used Silverline Sonata speakers, the big brother to the Sonatina. *I've no affiliation*

    Best thing I would suggest is taking your time...don't get in a hurry to replace your B&W's. Also...get your wife a nice Christmas gift

    You may also want to give your current system a try in another room. Yes, I know this will be a bit of a pain...but it will give you an idea what the system sounds like in another room (removing your high ceilings...which will be a bit of a problem). But...you'll get an idea what it'll sound like...and that's a good thing.

    Again...take your time...in fact...take twice the time you need


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    Please bear to mind that those Dynaudio Focus 220's are $1500 - each. If your dealer, for whatever unholy reason, is unaware of this and you can manage $1500 for a pair - then its a done deal. The Focus series is the 'real deal', and is Dynaudio's first loss-leader product. The drivers and crossover technology was borrowed directly from the Confidence line, with the cab looking more like the old Contour (better finish *in my opinion*, cheaper cabs).

    At $1500, the possibilities are damned near endless. Before people start spouting off names of their personal favorites, please give us more information. What specific Rotel components do you own? The wire? The room size and your tastes. What do you hope to achieve, and what music do you listen to most?

  5. #5
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    I was mistaken.Dynaudio lists price per speaker, go figure.My Rotel components are:Amp RB-980BX 120watts per channel(12 years old)CDP RCD-965BX(12 years old)Pre-amp RC-1090(2 years old).My existing B&W 703's are bi-wired.My room is 20' long x 12' deep with hardwood floors and vaulted ceiling.The 2 year old 703's sound abmysal in my system.I know good sound is possible with these conditions. My last speakers were Proac 2-way stand speakers and they were excellent in this system. I foolishly "upgraded" to the B&W's.They're down right awful at anything more than a moderate volume.Listening fatigue is an understatement.I know I need to upgrade my CDP, but I can't help but feel the speakers are poorly suited for my room. At $3000 the Focals are out of my price range due to the loss I'm going to take on the 703's. I listen to Rock and Pop and I want to get back to the warm sound of my original Proacs.I suppose I should be leary of metal dome tweeters which would rule out the Paradigms.I've always liked the sound of a silk dome tweeter. Let me know what you think.

  6. #6
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  7. #7
    RGA
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    Ok you found the 700 series a disaster and you've picked $1500.00 as your price -- IMO don't do that. What happens is you end up focussing on just speakers around the price range - I like the Proacs I heard as well and so why not look at them first. I would try and audition the Audio Note AX Two at $600.00US per pair -- They're better than than 705. When one comes to that realization then the shackles of buying with a price point in mind are eliminated forever in the psyche. A good design at $600.00 will sound good and a bad design at $50,000 will sound bad no matter how fancy the drivers or the construction or white papers and hype the company puts out.

    Also maybe try Jean-Marie Reynaud. This reviewer and now turned small dealer may have stuff to listen to. You've discovered part one of the puzzle -- that big named advertised to the hilt probably meant it needed the hype and advertising to sell -- quality does not. Bob Neil often posts on Audio Asylum http://www.amherstaudio.com/

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    BillyB,

    Thank you for giving us more information.

    Some people are very sensitive towards metal dome tweeters. Metal is a difficult material to tame and while many have discovered means to mute the beaming effects, it is often not without sacrifice. There are however, a few metal dome's that are excellent sounding that not even those ribbon / planar / electrostat guys can deny.

    Your components are solid, and you recognize your source is in need for an upgrade. Given the information you have submitted, I would 'investigate' something more along the lines of the now defunt Meadowlark Audio speakers. The Kestrel 2 is being sold at great prices on audiogon. The sound is nothing like the Beemers. You get excellent instrument seperation, dynamics, a very smooth and coherent sound. Yeah, you get all the other audiophile stuff. Rotel is dark equipment and the Kestrel 2's would match famously.

    Another speaker I have owned is the aforementioned Ax-Two, from Audio Note. This speaker is a value in a sense that it puts out a very linear, very listenable sound. It doesn't do the 'audiophile' stuff, ala, the classic brittish sound. Instead, this is an ordinary box speaker with a foam vifa mid-woof that is meant to play all types of genre's without discrimination. *GREAT* speakers for old rock and roll.

    I could go on with other lists of suggestions; Totem Acoustic *arro*, Vandersteen 2CE Signature, Polk Audio LSi-9, - would all fit your taste and would match well off of your electronics and in your room.

    The bottom of the line is, you already have a speaker out there that you love. I encourage you to go back to where you started and take things from there. It's best to get the bone you *know* you love and compare it to other curiousities, instead of just chasing your tail.

  9. #9
    If you can't run-walk. Bernd's Avatar
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    Hi Billy,

    As you know by now the B&W are bright and very lean in the bass. I have had for a while the Castle Stirling 3. A great little floorstander and can be had used at www.audiolincs.co.uk
    I know it's in the U.K. but I am sure they would ship. I am confident that the Castle would fit your requierements. Hope this helps.

    Keep rocking

    Bernd
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  10. #10
    RGA
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    I should not have said the AX Two because it won't have the bass of the 703 floorstander. Still if you listen to jazz or piano I have found little that does the tuned body of instrument testure and overtones and decay as well. It's about the only Audio Note that doesn't mind SS amps.

    I have heard good stuff about Spendor but they are not available in my location.

    In fact this dealer carries Proac and some of the others I have mentioned -- chances are all of these will run in your taste. Proac I heard briefly and was impressed by its musicality and non irritating nature -- unfortunately it wa s a used pair and there is no dealer so I cannot go back and listen -- but what I did hear was roundly a good experience which is rare.

    This dealer unfortunately is in Virginia. http://www.dejavuaudio.com/speakers2004.html

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    Thanks for the thread.It was a perfect forum for my situation.I saw the Paradigm studio20v3 getting high praise.I am looking at the next size up Studio40v3 but had heard the less expensive 20 sounded better.I'm concerned about the metal dome tweeter being too bright, but most people are very impressed with this speaker especially at its price point.I've actually reconsidered selling the 703's without at least trying them with a new CD player.My 12 year old Rotel CDP is overdue for an upgrade.I don't want to have to wonder if the B&W's just needed a better source.If it doesn't do it' I'll still have a better CDP going forward.I'll give my Rotel CDP to a friend. Rotel equipment seems to almost never brake down. My last thought is that I have learned not to take a great sounding system for granted.I had a sweet sounding system with My Proacs and have great regret over messing with it.My inexperience led me to believe that spending big money would guarantee good results!!!

  12. #12
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Why not just go back?

    Quote Originally Posted by BillyB
    My last thought is that I have learned not to take a great sounding system for granted.I had a sweet sounding system with My Proacs and have great regret over messing with it.My inexperience led me to believe that spending big money would guarantee good results!!!
    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....oni&1138393545
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  13. #13
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    BillyB,

    While I encourage you to explore all routes - I would caution a blind purchase towards Paradigm without a demo first. I retain deep respect for this company, but if you find B&W's to sport an aggressive high end - then you are jumping from the frying pan and right back into it (only it will be 'hotter').

    Life's lessons come in many strange forms, dont they? The one universal those lessons share is that most come from mistakes and experience. In the case of achieving sonic bliss, it is more about intelligent planning, component synergy, and a hint of luck. A sub 1k system that fits the above description can easily trounce a 10k set up that has mis-matched components in the wrong room. I wish I could give you a sure fire solution, but then again - how would one learn from 'experience'?

    RGA,

    Actually, the Ax-Two is a very good recommendation for someone in his position. The soft dome tweeter may be pleasant. The two is also quite capable with solid state, excells at rock and is not too shabby at pop music either. It's bass isn't awe inspiring - but few bookshelf speakers in this price range can replicate the full spectrum without major sacrifices.

    I also forgot to mention the Totem Acoustic "MITE". The retail on this speaker is about $200 more - but works very well with Rotel equipment. I wont go into details, only to say that after owning both and doing side by side comparisons... the Mite had the edge in every way shape or form except for when it came down to music from the likes of; Led Zepp, Beatles, Doors, Iron Madden, Eagles, - well, you get the idea... old rock. Those Ax-Two's got that genre down, pact.

    edit: I forgot to put the disclaimer stating that this is, as usual, ones personal opinion and experience that will obviously not reflect everyone elses. Its information to chew on and should be taken with a grain of salt. There are many solutions out there - and there is never one answer.

  14. #14
    Tyler Acoustics Fan drseid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyB
    I'm looking to purchase a pair of speakers to replace my B&W 703's.My system is Rotel components. The 703's were much too bright in my system.I've received a lot of advice regarding the acoustics of my room.My listening room is less than perfect and I know my next speakers need to be as warm and neutral as possible. The B&W's have been a disaster. I'm looking at Paradigm Studio40's($1200 plus stands),Dynaudio Focus220's($1500),and Quad 22L's($1600).These were the three best fits I could find from my local dealer.I'm hoping for input from anyone who owns these speakers or has advice on good speakers in this price range.I liked different things about all 3 speakers but I'm open to suggestions.
    Based on your experiences with the B&Ws and your electronics, I think the Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitors are probably up your alley at $1600/pr. built to order new at http://www.tyleracoustics.com ($1K used on audiogon). Not bright at all, with slightly recessed upper-mids, but very nice detail from the Scanspeak Revelator tweeter and quite musical overall. Bass is fast and tight, but not particularly low (mid 40s is my guess). Soundstaging is wide and tall... the best I have heard to date in fact (even better than my current Tylers used in front).

    I would say the Tylers are finicky on electronics, and I have tried Rotel with them... Good results on the Taylos I recommend above, not so good on my Linbrook System now used as my fronts (further up in Tyler's line). These are sold internet direct new, so auditions would have to be in someone's home ( there is a link to volunteers on the Tyler site).

    Also an interesting choice would be the Consonance Eric-3s small/slim floorstander... New they are $1800, but there is a slightly used pair on Ebay now at $1250 that would also be a good match for the Rotel. I heard this very pair at THE Show/CES earlier this year in Vegas (he is selling the Vegas demo pair I heard) and I was quite impressed by the whole Consonance line. Very nice overall balanced sound. If I remember correctly, there was a recent review of these at 6moons.com for additional information.

    Disclaimer: Just for reference, I am not the ebay seller, and do not know the person at all.

    ---Dave
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  15. #15
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shiden Kai
    BillyB,

    While I encourage you to explore all routes - I would caution a blind purchase towards Paradigm without a demo first. I retain deep respect for this company, but if you find B&W's to sport an aggressive high end - then you are jumping from the frying pan and right back into it (only it will be 'hotter').

    Life's lessons come in many strange forms, dont they? The one universal those lessons share is that most come from mistakes and experience. In the case of achieving sonic bliss, it is more about intelligent planning, component synergy, and a hint of luck. A sub 1k system that fits the above description can easily trounce a 10k set up that has mis-matched components in the wrong room. I wish I could give you a sure fire solution, but then again - how would one learn from 'experience'?

    RGA,

    Actually, the Ax-Two is a very good recommendation for someone in his position. The soft dome tweeter may be pleasant. The two is also quite capable with solid state, excells at rock and is not too shabby at pop music either. It's bass isn't awe inspiring - but few bookshelf speakers in this price range can replicate the full spectrum without major sacrifices.

    I also forgot to mention the Totem Acoustic "MITE". The retail on this speaker is about $200 more - but works very well with Rotel equipment. I wont go into details, only to say that after owning both and doing side by side comparisons... the Mite had the edge in every way shape or form except for when it came down to music from the likes of; Led Zepp, Beatles, Doors, Iron Madden, Eagles, - well, you get the idea... old rock. Those Ax-Two's got that genre down, pact.

    edit: I forgot to put the disclaimer stating that this is, as usual, ones personal opinion and experience that will obviously not reflect everyone elses. Its information to chew on and should be taken with a grain of salt. There are many solutions out there - and there is never one answer.
    This is interesting because I mainly heard the AX Two on the Rotel RA-02 -- great little integrated amp and maybe the best I've heard in this price range. The treble was a little hotter with the AX Two and the OTO was a better match but given the price difference that should be expected and demanded. The good thing though was that the AX Two improved dramatically which is not always common with less expensive speakers.

    You are correct that full scale classical is not something the AX Two can be expected to do -- or very High db rock -- but give it simpler tasks and acousitc material and you're set. Dianna Krall for example - it will do well for dance as well and is just as advertised -- a good all rounder which won;t irritate you and is long term listenable and enjooyable -- there are others in the rpice range which will do pyrotechnicy things better though like "slam" or kick you in the face treble better.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the link.I don't hear the Proac name come up much in these forums, which surprises me.I don't claim to be an expert but I think Proac may be one of the finest speaker manufacturers out there.They are only sold by the truly high end audio shops, and they get incredible reviews from some of the most critical enthusiasts in the industry.They're anything but mainstream and the 2-way monitors I owned blew away my current B&W 703's in virtually every category. I will own another pair at some point.

  17. #17
    RGA
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    Interestingly, the link to Jeja-Vu is run by a fellow named Vu and he carries no Solid state amplifiers. He carries what he thinks is GOOD. One of the reasons I would like to hear some oth other speakers and gear he carries is because he has enough sense to stay with his passion. Jack Gribble on audioasylum sold his B&W N804 for Spendors and then found this dealer and loves the AN speakers as well -- so I would very much like to hear Spendors -- given my brief liking for Proac -- then chances are this VU fellow is on the right track. Notice that all three are tube amp friendly and generally speaking i like easier to drive speakers because over the years they tend to be the only ones that sound any good to me. (some few exceptions)

  18. #18
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyB
    Thanks for the link.I don't hear the Proac name come up much in these forums, which surprises me.I don't claim to be an expert but I think Proac may be one of the finest speaker manufacturers out there.They are only sold by the truly high end audio shops, and they get incredible reviews from some of the most critical enthusiasts in the industry.They're anything but mainstream and the 2-way monitors I owned blew away my current B&W 703's in virtually every category. I will own another pair at some point.


    I can't think of any speaker I think that would match you better than ProAc

    http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/srch_fs.pl <-----just type in "proac"



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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyB
    I'm looking to purchase a pair of speakers to replace my B&W 703's.My system is Rotel components. The 703's were much too bright in my system.I've received a lot of advice regarding the acoustics of my room.My listening room is less than perfect and I know my next speakers need to be as warm and neutral as possible. The B&W's have been a disaster. I'm looking at Paradigm Studio40's($1200 plus stands),Dynaudio Focus220's($1500),and Quad 22L's($1600).These were the three best fits I could find from my local dealer.I'm hoping for input from anyone who owns these speakers or has advice on good speakers in this price range.I liked different things about all 3 speakers but I'm open to suggestions.
    YOU ARE RIGHT, B&W's ARE ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. HOWEVER, THEY ARE GREAT SPEAKERS. TRY DIFFERENT CABLES, ESPECIALLY SPEAKER CABLES. NOW THAT TONE CONTROLS ARE OUT, WE HAVE TO USE CABLES INSTEAD. CABLES MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE. AUDIOQUEST ARE ON THE WARM SIDE. SO ARE CARDAS. KEEP TRYING DIFFERENT ONES UNTIL YOU FIND ONES THAT SOUND BEST.

    GOOD SPEAKERS IN $1500 RANGE: MAGNEPAN MG12/QR-$1099; SPENDOR S3/5 AND S3/5SE-$1099+$1399; REVEL CONCERTA F12-$1199; DYNAUDIO AUDIENCE 52SE-$1500; VANDERSTEEN 2CE SIGNATURE-$1549; DEFINITIVE TECHNOLOGY BP7004-$1598; TRIANGLE ESPRIT ALTEA ES-$1599; QUADS 22L; TOTEM RAINMAKER-$950; MARTIN LOGAN MONTAGE-$1495; INFINITY PRIMUS 360-$658.

    LOOK AT "STEREOPHILE" AND "THE ABSOLUTE SOUND" MAGAZINES OR GO TO THEIR WEBSITES. THAT'S WHERE I GOT THE ABOVE.

  20. #20
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    if you don't have a problem with buying used, and you have some patience, try and source out some Platinum Audio solos. Usually you can get them for around a grand. These are absolutely amazing monitors, I just got my pair two days ago and i can't seem to stop listening to music. They are not WARM but they are in no way shrill or bright. I'd say the midband is SLIGHTLY laid back, but only very slightly so and the bass is to die for.
    they are quite hard to drive since they're 84db, but you shouldn't have problems with your current set up. Check out the reviews they got on this site. I was offered them second hand and what definately tripped me was the rave reviews it got here.
    cheers!
    Last edited by Kaboom; 12-07-2005 at 02:58 PM. Reason: and i thought i was really good at spelling...
    I remember the days when I thought 128kbps sounded great and had never spent more than 10 bucks on cables...

  21. #21
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    BillyB, if you thought the B&Ws were bright, the Paradigms will run you out of your room! In that price range you cannot go wrong with Vandersteen 2ce sigs, Quad 22L and Polk LSi15. I found the 2ce sigs to be the most involving of the 3. The LSi15 may be the most suitable for rock/pop.

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