Best Stereo Speakers for $1000-$1500

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by David_Wong, Sep 2, 2003.

  1. David_Wong

    David_Wong Auditioning

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    I am looking for a pair of speakers in the range of $1,000-$1,500. I will only be using these for stereo music only, as I am now building a dedicated system for music. What is the best pair of speakers you can get for this much dough?

    I don't live near a major city so I'm limited by what I can audition. I have to be selective to avoid doing a lot of driving [​IMG] That is why I'm asking all the experts here for recommendations [​IMG]

    I have listened so far to the Mirage OMNI 260, and Martin Logans Scenarios ($2,000 speakers reduced to $1,200 for clearance).

    I found the imaging of the Mirage not as focused as I am used to, probably as a result of its omnipolar tweeter technology.

    There was a slight set up problem with the Martin Logans so I didn't get a good chance to listen to them properly. However, they didn't immediately grab my attention but I probably need to give them more listening time.

    Other speakers I'm considering right now are Joseph Audio RM7s (a little outside of my budget, but hey, no harm in listening to them, right?), and perhaps Paradigm.

    I listened mostly to vocals accompanied by orchestra (Sarah Brightman, Charlotte Church), jazz vocals (Diana Krall, Jane Monheit - so ability to reproduce jazz piano accurately and a dynamic bass are important attributes). Needless to say, natural sounding voice is of paramount importance.

    I also listen to some classical piano and classical orchestra.

    I would appreciate any recommendations you guys have and what amplification you think would make a good pairing. Thanks for any feedback you can give.

    Cheers.
     
  2. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    you might want to check out the Criterions or Diluceos at GR research. The site is www.gr-research.com

    There are several pairs floating around the country for 1 week demos. Contact Danny (great guy) to arrange an audition if you want.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Tim Ranger

    Tim Ranger Stunt Coordinator

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    I would certainly audition a pair of ACI Sapphires. I have the older Sapphires and love them dearly, but everyone says the new ones are even better[​IMG] There has been quite a bit written on them over at the AVS Forum. Seems like ACI is becoming the new cult speaker there, don't know if that is good or bad.
     
  4. ChrisLazarko

    ChrisLazarko Supporting Actor

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    I like Klipsch the best for this price range. There RF-5's can easily be had for about $1100 or so and there current flagship model, RF-7 can usually be had for just a little bit more.

    I have heard the RF-7's with alot of Diana Krall (my fathers favorite) and it sounded amazing. It brought her voice out very well and still still got the lower notes very nicely.

    The vocals on Klipsch speakers are usually a little bit brighter but they are a little bit of a brighter speaker. If you can definantly demo them, they are just awesome... Not to mention there nice looks as well as very excellent build quality.
     
  5. GarySI

    GarySI Stunt Coordinator

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    The RM7's are an incredible little speaker. I had the luck to hear them recently here in NY. Joseph Audio is a legend among the high end crowd, and it is deserving. I also heard his Pearl system($20,000) and it floored me, right up there with the Wilson Watt/Puppy.
    You may also want to listen to the Rogers monitors,the Revel M-20's, and Thiel. If I were looking and could afford them I would go for the Joseph's. Small speaker, scary reproduction. Add a quality sub and you rival the big boy full ranges. They are perfect for your listening tastes.
     
  6. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I only heard the Onix Reference 1 monitors a few times in Dallas, but I was quite impressed with them. They are priced right at $1,500.

    They are quite different speakers than the Klipisch’s mentioned.
     
  7. David_Wong

    David_Wong Auditioning

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    Thanks for all your responses.

    Big Caveat: this posting contains very non-scientific, highly subjective and early impression of some speakers. They are not meant to be "reviews" as such. If you want to read professional reviews, there's plenty out there on the web. Also, there's nothing like listening to them yourself.

    After work today I did manage to visit a couple of stores and did some listening. Had to drive over 40 miles each way but it was worth it.

    The first setup I listened to was Triangle Celius 202, Sugden integrated A21a amp, and a Musical Fidelity CD player.

    First impression: even though the Sugden was rated at only 25watts, this amp could play LOUD! Hmm... why is there no remote control for this amp? Okay, fine ...that's probably my low/mid-fi background showing.

    The Triangle sound very clear and detailed in the mid-range and upper bass, but the treble sounded unusually harsh. Violins and soprano female vocals were almost unbearable. I later learnt that these speakers needed an extended break-in period but I never found out if the demo unit had been properly broken in.

    Next, we swapped in a pair of Devore Fidelity gibbon 8s with the same setup, but my friend and I both agreed that they were not as clear and detailed as the Triangle, but the treble was much tamer, without the same harshness. Lesson learned: you can't have your cake and eat it too. The Devores were actually $1500 more than the Triangles, which themselves were slightly above budget at $1750.

    Ok, off we went to a second store, and listened rather hastily (because it was close to closing time) to pairs of Boston Acoustic VR3s, and Martin Logan Aeons. The VR3s couldn't compare with the Celius for clarity. Somehow, the Celius had become our reference point for mid-band clarity. The Aeons were much less sensitive speakers, and for me, lacked the oomph and the more engaging feeling I get with regular dynamic cone speakers.

    Then the salesman suggested listening to some Sonus Faber Grand Piano, his favorite speaker in the entire store, At about $3.5k, we were going further and further away from budget.

    The setup here was a Denon 5803 receiver (we were in an AV shop, after all), and a Sony 999ES CD player

    The Grand Pianos sounded very good. It matched the Triangle Celius in clarity and had a very fast and dynamic bass response that was probably better. But bear in mind that these are at twice the price. Okay, a budget reality check was in order, so let's try the Sonus Faber Concerto bookshelf speakers on Sonus Faber stands, at around $1800 for the pair, plus stands. By this time, it was 20 minutes past closing, and the sales rep was gracious enough not to kick us out of the store. The hastily formed impression was that the Concerto were good too, at least half as good as the Grand Piano, for about half the price.

    I think the Celius and Concerto both deserve another, and preferably extended listening session. The ideal would be to take them home and listen to them for a week or so. At home, you could listen to them with the same components, which I couldn't do at the store. That would be a good request to make during our next visit.
     
  8. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    You should also give Opera Loudspeakers a try if they have a dealer in your area. They have a very seductive midrange and highs. A Unison Research Unico integrated would go well with them or other integrated amps like Creek,Arcam,Cairn or maybe a used Conrad Johnson CAV-50 which I have myself if you like tubes.
     
  9. Kevin Farley

    Kevin Farley Second Unit

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    Defintely check out the Vandersteen 2ce Signatures. They're one of the only Time/Phase accurate loudspeakers anywhere near that price range (1500) and are very, very good. Their unique construction allows for an artificially low price.
     
  10. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    I would check out Magnepan especially the 1.6's. They are the perfect speaker for the type of music you listen to. IF the bass isn't quite as deep as you would prefer, I would consider a fairly decent music subwoofer like the Adire Rava. Having recently heard a set of Magnepans on Monday, I can w/o a doubt say that is one of the finest speakers at reproducing Vocals and Piano especially Jazz music.

    This was paired with a cheap Sony CD player, NAD preamp with a Carver TFM25. This wasn't the ideal amp and source setup but they did quite well. I've heard them with a Bryston before as well.

    Depending on your budget I'd consider a Bryston amp to go with your Maggies if you go that route.

    According to their site, these are the dealers:
    State: City: Store:
    NY LAKE GROVE AUDIO DEN LTD
    NY LATHAM CLARK MUSIC
    NY SYRACUSE CLARK MUSIC
    NY NEW YORK LYRIC HI FI www.lyricusa.com
    NY WHITE PLAINS LYRIC HI FI
    NY ROCHESTER THE SOUND CONCEPT

    Hopefully one of those are in your area for a dealer audition.
     
  11. Steve_D

    Steve_D Second Unit

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    You should include the speakers from ACI in your search,
    www.audioc.com. The Sapphires are an incredible bargain in high-end 2 way Monitors.
     
  12. Bobby T

    Bobby T Supporting Actor

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    At a recent speaker audition I preferred the Paradigm Studio 100 over the klipsch RF7 listening to Diana Krall and I am a Klipsch owner. But that 's my personal taste.
     
  13. Vincent_S

    Vincent_S Second Unit

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    I heard a pair of Vienna towers one time that were about $1300. They sounded awesome!
     
  14. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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  15. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Real Name:
    Lee
     
  16. dajaga

    dajaga Stunt Coordinator

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    hey dude you should pick up a pair of bose speakers VERY NICE[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  17. ChrisLazarko

    ChrisLazarko Supporting Actor

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    Dajaga I hope your kidding, Bose is a pile of junk.
     
  18. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Well, here's a third vote for ACI Sapphires. They're the best speakers I've ever heard for the money. I'd also second the suggestion to look at GR Research. Although I've never heard them personally, I've heard nothing but good about them. Sonus Faber also enjoys a great reputation as well.

    As regards the ACI being recommended, I'm going to link you here to read what other users say about these speakers. Note two things. One, the new ACI's are considered to be superior to the ones you'll be reading about and, two, there are comparisons by previous owners of Concertos in the reviews.

    Here's a link to what the new ACI Sapphires look like. Hope you at least take a look. Link
     
  19. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    Dana,

    Long time, no write, but I have been busy. So how are the ACIs breaking in? Sounds like you are really happy with them.

    Congrats
     
  20. Tim Ranger

    Tim Ranger Stunt Coordinator

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    Dana

    I'm one of those who wrote a review on AR. I used to own Concertos. IMHO, my Sapphire III LE beat them handily in a number of areas while retaining that same great musical sense that Sonus Fabers usually have. Everybody says the new Sapphire is quite a bit better. Me, I've heard the Talismans and that is my dream speaker. Just need to finish collecting the funds[​IMG]
     

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