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tz250
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Speaker Recommendation Sought

Hello All,

I'm looking to upgrade my loudspeakers and my budget is $10k US. Would like to achieve this without having to upgrade my amplification. Looking for your thoughts and recommendations, any input is greatly appreciated in advance.

My current amplifier is an Audio Research VSi55 integrated tube amp and my current loudspeakers are a pair of Wilson Benesch Arc monitor speakers on stands.

My listening room is 20' wide by 30' deep with the speakers located on the 20' wide wall. The front of the speakers are 2'9" from the back wall. The left speaker is 6' away from its side wall and the right speaker is 7' from the right wall. My listening chair sweet spot is 11' away on axis.

My musical interest in order of preference is jazz, classical, orchestra, world music and classic rock/folk.

I'm open to all suggestions including panel speakers, horn or open baffle speakers.

Since we're in a pandemic, I'm hoping to secure listening time at various dealers and will bring my amp along for the tests. They all seem to be very accommodating and have offered to open early or close late to ensure I am the only customer in the store. Very much above and beyond.

The only speaker that I've read about so far that has perked my interest is the Focal Kanta No. 2. My only reservation here is that I'm not a fan of overly bright tweeters and I've read mixed reviews of this online.

Hoping I put this in the correct forum section, I am a long time Stereophile reader but a rookie at posting.

Many thanks again in advance.

Robert

Commish
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Too many choices

I'll be the first to tell you that there are too many choices out there for you to solicit recommendations, and you should only purchase what you personally like. Speakers are the most subjective choice in a system. Most people are chasing the holy grail in reproduced sound, but everyone is willing to make different sonic tradeoffs because it is impossible to attain perfection--you can only achieve what you love and makes music come alive for you.
Your VSi55 will drive many speakers that are reasonably efficient. Focal, B&W, Dynaudio, Sonus Faber, Spendor, Dali, Vandersteen, Harbeth, ProAc, Magnepan, PSB... the list goes on and on, and they are all different. You can get a feel by reading reviews, but they are written by individuals who are generally seasoned audiophiles who can write well. If you get together with friends to listen you will probably agree about a lot of things musically, but it does not mean that you all have the same tastes or make the same choices. You don't buy what they like, you choose what you like. The same is true for reviewers.
I was involved in retail audio for many years, and we carried different products for a reason.
One bit of advice is to try different impedance taps when you try different speakers; many times a 4-ohm speaker will sound better when using the 8-ohm tap: you won't know until you try it. Good luck, enjoy the chase. BTW, your Wilson Benesch Arc speakers are extremely good. Perhaps you should add a good subwoofer (or two), which will allow greater bass depth, dynamics and output.

tz250
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Thanks Commish for the

Thanks Commish for the excellent advice. I will visit the local dealers and listen to speakers in my price range.

My Wilson Benesch Arc speakers are rated at 6 ohms. I currently have them connected to the 4 ohm port on my amp, I'll try the 8 ohm ports and listen for a while to the difference.

About 6 years ago, I had added a Velodyne 19 inch servo controlled subwoofer to my mix and it greatly improved the bottom end. The biggest issue I have with the Arc's is that I have to move the speakers out another 2 feet and my listening chair in so that I'm much closer to the speakers in order to get that perfect sound (to me). I was hoping that a larger speaker would allow me to keep my listening chair where in normally resides (~11' feet back). The fairly large 20'x30' room is probably a contributor to this challenge.

You are right...the Arc's are sweet but seem to require too much shuffling of my room every time I listen to music.

BluesDog
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Michael Kelly's 7T

Have you listened to the Revel Performa3 F208? Might work for you and save some coin. You should also be able to hear the BE228 but the Beryllium tweeter may be more distinct then you like. I have heard the F208 and it sounded great. Although I have not heard Michael Kelly's 7T, I HAVE heard the 6T and it sounded very good. Made me want to hear the 7T. Kalman Rubinson wrote a very good review about the 7T. I think the 7T may end up being just the ticket for you.

BluesDog
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Aerial Acoustics 7T

That would be the Aerial Acoustics 7T

Old Audiophile
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Monkey Wrench

Let me throw a monkey wrench into this discussion to get the little grey cells churning even more.

Commish provides the best advice here. There is certainly no substitute for critical listening sessions under controlled conditions when it comes to evaluating audio toys, especially speakers. You have a relatively large listening room, which is nice, and it sounds like you have your speakers wisely placed. It also sounds as though you've already considered the possibility of replacing your amp. I'm guessing to achieve more dynamic sound? Splitting that budget of 10K provides many options in this regard, especially if that 10K gets spent in the same shop. That gives you significant bargaining power! With that kind of green, sticker prices do not apply! Your existing equipment and music preferences suggest, to me, that you tend to prefer a sound signature that's at least a little on the warm side. Keep in mind this can be achieved with good SS integrated amps these days. McIntosh, Simaudio Moon, Musical Fidelity are but a few that immediately come to mind. My listening room (living room) is basically the same size as yours, with 9' solid wood ceiling, exposed solid wood 6"X6" beams and 7" solid wood exterior walls. My musical tastes are, also, very similar to yours. A pair of Revel Performa3 F206 and 130 watts of McIntosh SS power rocks my world in that room. However, with your budget and your room placement options, a pair of the F208 would probably be a better option, with or without a sub. For that matter, a pair of the F206 with a sub would probably accomplish the same end. There are, of course, as Commish points out, many, many options with your budget. Only your ears will ultimately sort that out. It would seem you've peaked our interest. So, please report back after you've made your decision(s). Interested audiophiles would love to know. Good Luck! Stay Safe! Stay Healthy! And may music always be with you!

BluesDog
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Legacy Audio

The January 21, 2021 - 10:49pm (new)
The Legacy Signature and Focus SE certainly seem worth listening to. Have not heard them but would love to. All reviews point to robust capabilities. Steve Feinstein of Audioholics wrote a good article about the Signatures. He chose them as the last speakers he will ever buy.

tz250
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Commish Psychic?

I believe Commish to be psychic...

Cannot recall the last time I mucked with the back of my amp. Last night, per Commish's recommendation, I went to move my speaker cables from the 4 ohm tap to the 8 ohm tap. Was surprised to find them already in the 8 ohm tap. Moved them to the 4 ohm tap and the difference was immediate. Less bright top end and less forward overall. Much better sounding, I could not stop listening to music last night.

Prior to this latest discovery, had always plugged my speakers in the 4 ohm tap. I'm the only person who touches it so I can't blame anyone else.

Thanks for the recommendation Commish.

tz250
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Thanks For The Speakers Recommendations
BluesDog wrote:

The January 21, 2021 - 10:49pm (new)
The Legacy Signature and Focus SE certainly seem worth listening to. Have not heard them but would love to. All reviews point to robust capabilities. Steve Feinstein of Audioholics wrote a good article about the Signatures. He chose them as the last speakers he will ever buy.

Have added the Reval, Acoustics Aerial and Legacy Focus SE to my wish list to demo.

Soundstage and imaging (when recorded for such) are extremely high on my priority list, my Wilson Benesch Arc speakers do this superbly.

If given the chance to demo these speakers, I'm curious to see how they compare in these regards.

Had watched a few YouTube videos on the Focus SE, they look like the could throw conventional wisdom to the air! Wouldn't mind rocking out with them for a while.

tz250
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Like Your Thinking
Old Audiophile wrote:

Let me throw a monkey wrench into this discussion to get the little grey cells churning even more.

Commish provides the best advice here. There is certainly no substitute for critical listening sessions under controlled conditions when it comes to evaluating audio toys, especially speakers. You have a relatively large listening room, which is nice, and it sounds like you have your speakers wisely placed. It also sounds as though you've already considered the possibility of replacing your amp. I'm guessing to achieve more dynamic sound? Splitting that budget of 10K provides many options in this regard, especially if that 10K gets spent in the same shop. That gives you significant bargaining power! With that kind of green, sticker prices do not apply! Your existing equipment and music preferences suggest, to me, that you tend to prefer a sound signature that's at least a little on the warm side. Keep in mind this can be achieved with good SS integrated amps these days. McIntosh, Simaudio Moon, Musical Fidelity are but a few that immediately come to mind. My listening room (living room) is basically the same size as yours, with 9' solid wood ceiling, exposed solid wood 6"X6" beams and 7" solid wood exterior walls. My musical tastes are, also, very similar to yours. A pair of Revel Performa3 F206 and 130 watts of McIntosh SS power rocks my world in that room. However, with your budget and your room placement options, a pair of the F208 would probably be a better option, with or without a sub. For that matter, a pair of the F206 with a sub would probably accomplish the same end. There are, of course, as Commish points out, many, many options with your budget. Only your ears will ultimately sort that out. It would seem you've peaked our interest. So, please report back after you've made your decision(s). Interested audiophiles would love to know. Good Luck! Stay Safe! Stay Healthy! And may music always be with you!

I must admit, I hadn't thought of dividing the funds between a new SS amp and speakers but I like the idea.

With COVID being so rampant here, I will have to postpone my demo tests if I still want to see my granddaughter regularly (so the wife says).

I will in fact keep this thread posted on anything new I listen to, good or bad.

Thank you and stay safe as well!

Old Audiophile
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Take Heart, TZ!

According to what I read & watch on the news, it looks like us geezers will probably be getting our vaccinations sometime next month. As such, by March, we should be better protected against this damn plague. So, looks like you'll be back in the saddle again soon, with regard to scheduling critical listening sessions. In that spirit, I offer this for what it's worth, although my guess is you are probably already aware of this.

If you do ultimately decide to split your budget between a new SS integrated and speakers, be aware that some SS integrated amps with power supplies that don't double from 8 to 4 ohms will likely not do as well with less than 8 ohm nominal load speakers. Here's an example of what I mean: I did some serious seat time with a pair of Aerial Acoustics 6T that I absolutely adored! I was certain my ears had finally found that elusive "WOW" moment they had been searching for, within my budget reach, of course. I was ready to hand over my plastic and say load 'em in the car but, then, since this shop had a MAC MA5200 taken in trade, I asked the sales person to hook that up to hear what would happen. I'd initially been listening to the 6T with a McIntosh MC275. Can't remember the preamp but guessing it was the MAC C22. With that combo, those 6T were nothing short of sublime, pure audio nirvana, especially with the kind of music you like! With the MAC MA5200, however, the 6T still sounded amazing but it was immediately clear these 4 ohm gems liked more current. Even so, these babies were so nice that they remained my top choice for quite a while until I heard the Revel F206. I'd be quite curious to hear the 6T with a Simaudio Moon Neo 340 IX or a Musical Fidelity M6si. For that matter, I'd be curious to hear how the Aerial Acoustics 7T would sound with your amp, which is where BluesDog is coming from, I think.

tz250
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Taking Heart
Old Audiophile wrote:

According to what I read & watch on the news, it looks like us geezers will probably be getting our vaccinations sometime next month. As such, by March, we should be better protected against this damn plague. So, looks like you'll be back in the saddle again soon, with regard to scheduling critical listening sessions. In that spirit, I offer this for what it's worth, although my guess is you are probably already aware of this.

If you do ultimately decide to split your budget between a new SS integrated and speakers, be aware that some SS integrated amps with power supplies that don't double from 8 to 4 ohms will likely not do as well with less than 8 ohm nominal load speakers. Here's an example of what I mean: I did some serious seat time with a pair of Aerial Acoustics 6T that I absolutely adored! I was certain my ears had finally found that elusive "WOW" moment they had been searching for, within my budget reach, of course. I was ready to hand over my plastic and say load 'em in the car but, then, since this shop had a MAC MA5200 taken in trade, I asked the sales person to hook that up to hear what would happen. I'd initially been listening to the 6T with a McIntosh MC275. Can't remember the preamp but guessing it was the MAC C22. With that combo, those 6T were nothing short of sublime, pure audio nirvana, especially with the kind of music you like! With the MAC MA5200, however, the 6T still sounded amazing but it was immediately clear these 4 ohm gems liked more current. Even so, these babies were so nice that they remained my top choice for quite a while until I heard the Revel F206. I'd be quite curious to hear the 6T with a Simaudio Moon Neo 340 IX or a Musical Fidelity M6si. For that matter, I'd be curious to hear how the Aerial Acoustics 7T would sound with your amp, which is where BluesDog is coming from, I think.

The damn plague is right.

Our state is telling us that they hope to complete our age group before spring...hopefully sooner.

Thanks for the heads-up on the amp concern with the 6T. My first choice is to try and find a pair of speakers that work well with my Audio Research amp. I know that it only takes part of the credit but my system produces scary good soundstaging and the imaging is nearly holographic.

The nice thing is that I have time to do more research before I can safely go out and demo my new list of potential speakers and see what surprises each dealer may have.

BluesDog
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Establishing A Baseline

You might want to start with the Revel Performa3 F208 as your baseliene. If you audition that speaker you might also want to audition the Performa BE228 for comparison. This will give you an informed position regarding a Beryllium tweeter. It's one thing to read all the articles that we all read. It is a whole other thing when you can say "I have heard." It's the equivalent of saying "I have seen the elephant."

tz250
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Re: Establishing A Baseline
BluesDog wrote:

You might want to start with the Revel Performa3 F208 as your baseliene. If you audition that speaker you might also want to audition the Performa BE228 for comparison. This will give you an informed position regarding a Beryllium tweeter. It's one thing to read all the articles that we all read. It is a whole other thing when you can say "I have heard." It's the equivalent of saying "I have seen the elephant."

Per Google Map, there's a Revel dealer that is only 18.7 miles from where I live. I can easily start there and begin my demo with the F208 and then the F228Be.

I have a notebook for recording listening impressions of specific tracks from my current system and will record notes for all demos I attend. My notebook has all the usual audiophile categories and I include a subjective write-up at the end. I did this before I purchased my current set-up because there's no way I can rely on my memory alone.

I'm extremely curious to hear the Beryllium tweeter and hear how it sounds to me.

This is an extremely fun undertaking, makes you feel like a kid again.

klosterman
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No love for Tannoy?

Please don't buy anything without auditioning Tannoy. So easy on the ears, and so so good with jazz. Oh my laws yes.

tz250
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Re: No Love For Tannoy?
klosterman wrote:

Please don't buy anything without auditioning Tannoy. So easy on the ears, and so so good with jazz. Oh my laws yes.

I've read about Tannoy's but have never goten a chance to demo. Beautiful cabinetry, very classic look. Do you own a pair and if yes, which model?

BluesDog
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More "Usual Suspects"

There is also the Focal Kanta No 2 and the B & W 803 D2 and 802 D3. I'm not sure how much venturing forth you want to do in the time of Covid, but these are other choices. Start with the Revels and take time to assess.

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