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5K speakers to match Denon 5803 - My journey, & opinions wanted. (1 Viewer)

Todd Schnell

Second Unit
May 21, 2001
I am trying to look at this from every angle possible.
Counting on the great people here to give their opinions.
I don't claim to be an audiophile, but an audio enthusiast.
I love music, play guitar, & have been in several bands.
I want musical nirvana. :)
I have about 5k to spend.
Prefer smaller towers.
I have done multiple searches here on speakers , & have done lots of reading.
I am kicking around numerous questions.
Do I put that 5k into my mains, keeping my center & surrounds?
Or perhaps into my mains & center? More likely.
Add external amp to drive mains or front 3 is also something I will consider.
Start over with my electronics if I really have too?
I mentioned to one audiophile dealer that I ran a Denon 5803, & he said "what is that"? lol yea ok, some audiophiles
can really be prudes.
My current system:
Denon 5803 receiver (no I did not pay near list price)
Sony C555ES cd player/transport
Definitive Technology
Mains - BP 2004TL
Center - CLR 2002
Surrounds - BP 2X
Mits 55" HD TV
This set up actually sounds pretty sweet!
My room is about 14x35, set up on the short wall which opens on the left side of the front wall into a dining/kitchen room area.
I'm 50/50 HT music, but looking to improve 2 channel music mainly.
The recent upgrade from my older model Sony 200 cd Jukebox to the Sony C555ES made a huge impact already, & looking to take my speakers to the next level too.
Most of the music I listen to is heavy.
Prog-rock/metal, & jazz/fusion are my favorite genres.
Some classical as well.
I brought my own cds with me.
Among other title, my main listening disc was Porcupine Tree/In Absentia.
This is kind of Pink Floyd like (a lot less on this one compared to their older stuff) with a modern heavy edge.
Excellent sounding production on this cd.
I really wanted to hear the B&W N804, & N803s, as these are generally highly regarded, & in my budget,
but the now only B&W dealer in the entire New Orleans area only stocks the following listed in my audition.
I auditioned so far in strictly 2 channel music.
with the Pioneer Elite 49 tx receiver, & I believe a Pioneer Elite DVD player.
Bloated bass, & grating treble.
Not impressed, preferred my current sound & it wasn't even close.
Made me wonder if things were set up right here? or a bad match?
B&W Nautilus 805
with complete Musical Fidelity set up
Much better, though they need a sub.
Still not making me want to upgrade from what I have.
price 2k
B&W Nautilus 802
with Krell Shocase gear, & Marantz 1251 SACD I believe.
This was a step up no doubt, but the way I understand it is B&W & Krell just don't work well together.
The highs were on the bright side for me, nice deep base though.
Soundstage was very good, but not huge.
Not the sound I was looking for.
Out of my budget.
price 8k I believe.
Martin Logan Odyssey
with B&K reference 50, 2 & 3 channel B&K ref amps, & Marantz SACD 8260
Very sweet, lush, full sound.
I heard these before & still find them very nice.
Out of my budget.
price 6.5k
Martin Logan Ascents
with B&K 507 receiver, Pioneer DV45A
These were impressive, & the B&K drove them very nicely.
Martin Logan are very classy looking speakers imo, & the wife liked them as well.
I do worry about setting these up though.
May not work well in my room with the front wall opening up on one side?
Possible in budget by going with these & center while keeping current surrounds.
price 4k
Still neither me or my wife thought any of these systems really blew our current set-up away.
I didn't have much time at this point, but quickly drove to a different very high end dealer who used to handle B&W in hope to hear the N803s & N804s.
Well he is no longer a B&W dealer, but instead now a JM Lab dealer.
I walked in the show room & the JM Lab Electra 926s were playing.
The cd playing was "Jesse Cook/Vertigo" which is very similar to Al Di Meola, guitar driven latin flavored jazz fusion, mostly instrumental.
My jaw hit the floor!
This was the only set up I heard this day that truly put my jaw on the floor!
The music was awesome too, so that helped.
Very clean, articulate, & punchy.
This is the sound I am looking for.
The sales rep I dealt with claimed to be an audiophile, & told me he sold his B&W N804s & moved to these.
Price 4k
Ok possible in budget.
However the electronics were way in the back corner, & I could not get all the details, but I found out this much.
Amp Class 926 = 5k
pre ? = 5k
cd ? = 15k
cables ? = 5k
Jeez how would these sound with normal gear?
Any opinions here?
Possible to run with Denon 5803?
Also JM Lab is running a special right now on their Cobalt line, at least at this dealer.
Cobalt 816 mains
Cobalt SR 800 surrounds
Cobalt CC 800 center
Cobalt SW 800 sub
Regular price $4200
Sale price $3200
I didn't have time to demo these, but I will return to do so, as well as check out as many more speakers as possible.
The dealer insist these are not that much of a drop off from the Electra 926s (which I find hard to believe), & that they would be a better match for my receiver, & room size.
He in fact stated these are the ones that sold them on the JM Lab line.
Anyone have a experienced opinion on these?
I looking to get as many different points of view on all this as possible.
I want speakers that are going to truly be a step up from what I have, that I intend to live with for a very long time.
I would love to hear Triangle, Sonus Faber, etc lines.
I am going to check every local hi-fi store & demo every line of speakers I can.
I would still love to hear the B&W N804s.
Anyone in the New Orleans area have these that would be willing to give me an audition?
Thanks for all opinions here.

Khoa Tran

Supporting Actor
Oct 23, 2002
All i can say...when i heard the jm lab Utopia Grande Setup i nearly died and gone to heaven.....

Scott Oliver

Aug 30, 2000
Well my thoughts are that you are on the right path, keep listening to as much as possible. BTW it sounds like B&W's are not the speakers for you so I wouldn't worry so much about trying to find the N803 & N804.

I'll let you ears decide on the speakers, but I would also be sure to get a chance to demo the speakers at home at least the front mains. You have got to make sure they work in your environment especially if this is a house you own and will be staying in for some time.

To me with the Martin-Logans in particular I would be somewhat concerned with how they performed at your house with a 55" TV in between them.

As to the allocation of your money, I think your best bet is to improve the mains first, but I would also probably keep the center of the same brand if you can. Personally don't worry too much about having the surrounds the same brand. Of course you may get a better price on the def-techs if you sold them as one big speaker package.

Another thing to think about is if you are looking to imprve 2-channel is the addition of some stereo gear with an HT-bypass to run the Denon through on movies. Cost wise an there lots of integrateds to look at or you could look at slowly adding a 2-ch amp then a 2-ch pre. Something to keep in mind for the future.


Stunt Coordinator
May 27, 2002
If you are going to listen to DVD-A or SACD then you would want to keep all speaker in the same family if not the same brand. Audition the Revel line, I can't afford that kind of loot but I heard the Gem's and they knocked me out.

Donald Shrum

Stunt Coordinator
Dec 24, 2001
Martin Logans sound perfect with my 60" between them. Look into Martin logans and Mirage OM-5's .

Todd Schnell

Second Unit
May 21, 2001
Thanks for the opinions thus far everyone.
I would also love to hear from Denon 5803 owners.
What set up are you running?
The JM Lab Electra 926s would suffice.
Just want to know what they sound like on a normal set up.
Do they need serious $$$ gear to sound good?
The Electras would already break my budget (with matching JM Lab center) unless I could get a discount.
Utopias ...I'm not going there $$$. :)
I do have the Polks on my list.
The only potential problem is the side firing woofer.
I am thinking of getting away from the side firing woofer.
In my set up the right speaker is about 2' from the side wall.
Actually I like the narrow width this design provides though.
My DT set up with the same design works out ok.
Not ruling these out, but I would like to get away from powered towers as well.
Good advise, I am considering this.
Further research needed.
There many brands of speakers on my list that I would not be able to hear first.
From VMPS to Rocket, & many others.
I just have a problem buying without hearing first.
Plus if I don't like, I would be out $$$$ in shipping cost.
Thanks for the recommendation though.
I have a 1000+ CDs, & just a few SACDs with not many more on my want list at the moment.
Most of the music I listen to is not mainstream music, thus not available on SACD or DVDA.
I really want to put the bulk of my budget into my mains.
Your point is quite valid though.
I do have Revel on my list, but have not yet found a dealer in my area.
I was just about to post my reply when I caught your post.
See my above reply to Scott.
I have other potential room problems in my mind.
Thanks for your thoughts here.
I do like the MLs.
Mirage makes very nice speakers.
I have auditioned them in the pass at the dealer with the B&W etc. I just visited.
This dealer no longer carries them.
Not sure if anyone in my area carries them now.
Though I love the huge sound stage, I believe I want to get away from bi-polars in general on my front end.
Looking for cleaner details in my sound.
Still if I find some Mirage to check out I will give them another fresh listen.
I have a lot more auditioning to do, but would love to hear more opinions from the HTF.
Trying to cover every possible angle here.

Frank Zimkas

Supporting Actor
Mar 10, 2002
I can understand not wanting to buy powered towers. Especially if you are going to be running a seperate sub anyway. If it matters to you, the Lsi15 is NOT a powered tower. The side firing bass is a Passive Driver.

Hope this helps.

Don't forget to post again and let us know which speaker you decide on, and why!

Todd Schnell

Second Unit
May 21, 2001
Thanks I did not realize this.
The LSi25 is powered though, right?
I would like to own a pair of speakers that do well with 2 channel music without the need of a sub.
I like good clean fast punchy bass.
Adding the sub for HT is the plan.
I will keep you guys posted. ;)

Frank Zimkas

Supporting Actor
Mar 10, 2002
Yeah the 25's are powered.

I have been thoroughly impressed with the 2 channel performance! I get fantastic sound from my 15's when listening to Multi-channel music also (DVD-A& Multi-channel SACD).

Brian Burgoyne

Second Unit
Jan 9, 2001
I think you already know in your heart that you want the JM Labs, but you just want a little nudge from others to push you over the line!

Mark Nguyen

Stunt Coordinator
Sep 26, 2002

Since you already like the Deftech why not upgrade within the family? Goto BP2000TL. And if you want to upgrade your whole surround, goto to CLR2000 or even the CLR3000 and for the surround at least the BPX.

Good luck,


Todd Schnell

Second Unit
May 21, 2001
Just an update & a bump. ;)
I have not had a chance to do any further auditioning.
Still looking for all the feed back I can get.
I have not completely ruled this out, but as I mentioned I am leaning away from the bi-polar design.
2000tl would be a nice step up from where I am though.


Stunt Coordinator
Nov 24, 2002
Well at least it looks like you are going to spend your 5K by making and educated decision. I myself, am loyal to one brand right now, Canton. I looked at B&W and I just could not get over how the Canton's play so much better to my ears. Speakers are very personal, everyone has an opinion to what sounds best, but the ultimate purchase decision should be to your ears. When you spend this much money, one thing is apparent, you are getting damn good speakers so get whatever you want. If you can, listen to some Canton's, I did, and am loyal as hell now.

John A. Casler

Second Unit
Apr 29, 1999
Well what a quest you have here. The dilemma it seems, is two fold:

1) How to get the best speaker without the luxury of hearing all of them


2) Will they sound as good on your equipment and in your room, as they did in the showrooms that you have heard.

I read that your adverse to buying sight unseen (hearing/unheard) but even the speakers you are listening to will "sound" different with your electronics and room, only advantage is you can return them locally.

As a HT consultant, I many times place speakers for my clients that they have never heard or seen. This is always a big risk, since then the "return" rests on my shoulders.

To reduce that risk, I many times use the VMPS speakers, you mentioned earlier.


Because they can be "tuned" to sound their best, with your room and electronics. (I have yet to have to return a set).

I think your attraction to the JMLabs shows that you are drawn to a more "serious" audio arena. They are excellent speakers, and I highly reccomend them and the speakers in that category.

Problem is, they are not "tunable" to your system in any way. The only "set up" options you have are in the placement of the speaker itself.

My predeliction (remember I am a dealer of several speaker brands) to solve the predicament would be to suggest the same thing I suggest to my clients and that is the VMPS or any adjustable speaker like them.

In your case, the Ribbon Monitor Models (RM1, RM2, and RM40)

Then you would have an "arguably" world class speaker, that has the following tuning and set up option/adjustments,

1) Placement
2) Bass dampening adjustment
3) Midrange adjustment
4) HF adjustment

I would be hard pressed to suggest any other speaker to someone in your place.

So if you are still in a quandry, you have two choices:

JMLabs and hope they sound good with the Denon


Something like the VMPS that gives you the flexibiilty to "tune" your system for the best result.

Just my opinion.

Let us know what you end up with.

All the best,


Jeff Massey

Jan 30, 2002

I currently have the vandersteen 2ce sig. They area solid speaker with a lot of low end. I have a varied taste in music and also use them in my HT setup (VCC-1 as center). Just another option.


Second Unit
Mar 26, 2001
Regarding B&W/Krell...this actually is a match made in heaven, and the combo is very well known synergistically. Particularly 802s and a 600cx (or new 700). Hence, you heard them at there best if setup anywhere remotely close.

That said, check out Dynaudio speakers before you spend that kind of scratch. I think they are a better value than the Electras...in fact, the 1.3SE is a better monitor than Mini Utopias and Wilson Cub IIs.

I would also check out proac considering your musical tastes.

Good luck!

Todd Schnell

Second Unit
May 21, 2001

Really? I have heard from other B&W owners that Krell is not the way to go with these.
Well if B&W/Krell is indeed the right combo, the set-up I listened to was not the sound I was looking for.
Dead solid, if a little narrow soundstage though.
Thanks for another opinion.
Regarding Dynaudio, I really wanted to check out their line.
Again no dealer with-in 5 hours drive from me.

Thanks again everyone for the info, & suggestions.

I found a dealer with the B&W 804s in stock a couple of hours drive away from me.
I plan to check them out Monday.
Along with the N803s these are the B&Ws I wanted to check out all along.
I have to hear these to satisfy myself.

I will let you all know my opinion on the N804s next week.


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