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Old Audiophile
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Time To Upgrade Speakers

Looking for general guidance on home 2 channel speaker upgrade. Some basics: listening room is 23' X 14' rectangle open style living room with 2 separate means of egress kind of on either end of one of the long side wall, one to the kitchen, the other to dining room. The opposite long side wall is an exterior wall - just windows there. Listening area is one end of that rectangle. The squared-off listening area is 9' X 14' with the component rack located near the long wall with egresses and the listening position (the couch) directly opposite on the other long side wall. Construction is post & beam log cabin with 9 foot high wood ceiling and exposed 6" X 6" beams. Floor is wall-to-wall rug. Walls are 7" thick solid wood logs. Listening position is 9' from the speaker grills. Listening height on the couch (your ears) is 35 to 40 inches from the floor. I'm running a McIntosh MA5200 integrated, conservatively rated at 100 watts RMS but most reviewers say it's probably pushing 130 watts, easy. Mostly listen to Marantz CD 6005 and Mofi Ultradeck+M. Present speakers are Paradigm Monitor 9, the original first version. Love 'em but I know the MAC (and me) can benefit from more sophisticated playmates. Musical tastes: everything but rap but mostly 40s big band, 50s rock, 60s rock & folk, C&W, 70s, 80s, 90s, classical, jazz and some contemporary stuff. Speakers I've heard and liked: Focal (not confident about those flax drivers); Vandersteen (unfortunately, wouldn't work due to room placement issues - too wide; gotta deal with a corner placement); Paradigm; Vienna Acoustic; Klipsch (too big - placement issue again). Haven't heard Monitor Audio 300 and 500, yet, but plan to soon. All my research, thus far, points to Monitor Audio. Martin Logan Motion 60xti is interesting (loved those Heil AMT in the old ESS Monitors) but not sure the MAC will do them justice. So, sock it to me music lovers! What do you think I should go out and listen to? Thanks and HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you!

Old Audiophile
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Kal, Art, John, Herb, Bierfeldt, Commyswan, where art thou?

Was hoping you guys, any of you guys, would chime in on this one.

Kal Rubinson
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I certainly recommend the MAs

I certainly recommend the MAs and suggest the Revel Performas but your list of things you like ranges so widely, it is hard to predict what you really would like.

Old Audiophile
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GOD BLESS YOU AND THANK YOU, KAL!

Thanks for the feedback! Truly appreciated! Actually, it was after reading your review of the MA Silver 300 in Stereophile that I put the MA on my radar screen. Haven't heard any of their contemporary stuff, yet, but do remember hearing some of their older speakers; has to be, at least, a good 20 years ago now. No clear auditory memories other than I remember liking them. One of the things my ears will have to wrestle with is whether the extra bucks will be worth stepping up to the 500 for the sake of those few extra low-end HZ. Might be superfluous in my listening room. Hopefully, the shops I'll be arranging critical listening sessions with will have broken-in pairs because I really don't know how to factor in that general -6db roll-off spec MA offers for the entire frequency range. Have you heard the 500? Curious what your take might be on this. The Revel were on my radar but the models in my budget range are not bi-wire capable and I have some nice AudioQuest cables I want to keep in the works. Don't think this will help much but, if forced to narrow down what I listen to most times, I guess I'd have to say: 60s, 70s, and 80s rock & folk; acoustic guitar artists, in general; classical and modern jazz and stuff I hesitate to pigeonhole (e.g. Acoustic Alchemy; Hiroshima; Tom Waits; Jesse Winchester; Ry Cooder; Bert Jansch; John Renbourn; etc.). Again, thanks so much for the input!

Kal Rubinson
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Quote:
Quote:

"Have you heard the 500? Curious what your take might be on this.'

Nope but I would expect that the difference from the 300 would be mainly in low frequency output, as you are aware.

Quote:

"The Revel were on my radar but the models in my budget range are not bi-wire capable and I have some nice AudioQuest cables I want to keep in the works."

Really!! That's kind of bass-ackwards. When I recently changed to speakers that would not accommodate my long-term and very nice AQ bi-wires, I changed my cables.

Old Audiophile
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THANKS AGAIN, KAL!

Thanks again, Kal! You're the best! May music be with you always!

bierfeldt
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Sorry for not seeing this

I am now manufacturing speakers and distributing a brand of tube amps and am no longer allowed to contribute in this forum. Good luck in your search!

Old Audiophile
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Good to hear from you!

Good to hear from you, Bierfeldt! Yes, I was/am aware of your new enterprise and have checked out your site. Very interesting stuff! The very best of luck to you, old chap!

steve59
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I’m a sucker for Vienna

I’m a sucker for Vienna acoustic

Old Audiophile
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I DO UNDERSTAND!

Yes! I do understand about Vienna Acoustics. Heard a pair in a shop in the high rollers room about 10 years ago. Wasn't in a position to part with that kind of green back then but they were nothing short of fanfreakintastic! Unfortunately, there are no shops near me, nowadays, that have Vienna Acoustics products. Unfortunate! Manufacturers would do themselves (and potential consumers) well if they made it easier for small shops to feature their products. No way I'm going to shell out that kind of cash without hearing the speakers I'm interested in, first, and I am definitely not going to order speakers at this price point on-line, audition them in my home and put up with the potential hassle of boxing them back up again and sending them back if they don't measure up. That's just nuts! I miss the days when there were shops with a good enough inventory, near enough, so one could go and do some serious shopping. Bring back the good ol' days! May the music always be with you, Dave59!

Old Audiophile
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Still in the Hunt!

Thought I'd throw this out there for what it's worth. A friend and I spent over 3 hours in a shop doing serious critical listening to Monitor Audio 300, Monitor Audio 500 and Focal 926 Arias in as close to an A/B listening comparison as possible without having the proverbial button in your hand, if you know what I mean. All very nice speakers. All of them would have been a small improvement over my Paradigm Monitor 9 (original first version). Of the 3, the MA 500 were my and my friend's favorite. However, even they failed to produce that WOW moment that would make me gleefully and enthusiastically want to part with almost $3,000.00. Can anyone recommend floor-standers I should go out and listen to that you think might produce that WOW moment?

Kal Rubinson
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Can anyone recommend floor

Can anyone recommend floor-standers I should go out and listen to that you think might produce that WOW moment?

Sure but, mostly, not in a good way. :-)

There are some really nice speakers at $3K and under, OTOH.

Old Audiophile
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Less Cryptic, Please.

Kal, thanks for chiming in again. I appreciate your guidance on this more than you know! Could you be a bit less cryptic? Am I at that proverbial audiophile point of diminishing returns? Do I need to squirrel away more moolah to achieve that WOW moment or just suck it up, spend the 2.5K, or so, and accept an incremental improvement? Inquiring audiophiles want to know. So does my significant other, She Who Must Be Obeyed.

BTW: for anyone who's interested, I listened to the new Classe Delta Stereo amp and pre-amp last Thursday. In short, that was a real treat, indeed. Definitely a contender if I win the lottery.

Kal Rubinson
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I am really commenting on the

I am really commenting on the need for "Wow!" All to often that comes with something that is worth nothing more than a one night stand. There are many speakers that will stick out on demo and, if purchased, lead to regret. I prefer not only to listen (and hope) for "Wow!" but, at a demo, to listen for what the speaker is doing wrong because wrong will always be wrong.

Perhaps, it was also an overreaction to you comment on the MA speakers. I own MA Silver 8s and also reviewed the Silver 300s. With them, the "Wows!" are only occasional but they are rarely wrong and rarely ever disappoint. Just saying.

Old Audiophile
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Thanks, again, Kal!

Yes. I completely understand. I listened to all 3 for 3+ hours with the same cuts or snippets of cuts of the same music on all 3, music I am very familiar with. (God Bless that salesman!) All were truly wonderful. I thought differences in performance characteristics were very slight but audible in critical listening mode; differences that could easily be ignored in listening for enjoyment mode. I was truly amazed by how much bass the 300 and the Focal could deliver in such a small box with relatively small woofers, especially the 300, which I thought were comparatively more accurate in the lower registers compared to the Focal. Similarly, I thought both MA were faster, tighter and smoother than the Focal throughout the frequency range. I also thought the Focal were a tiny bit more forward than both MA but that could be an efficiency factor. I felt the 500 were just as fast & tight as the 300 and handled the crossover frequencies best. The only area I felt the Focal bested the MA in was brushed cymbals but only by a hair and that could be attributed to a number of factors. Tuba also gave all 3 fits.

Of course, throughout my demo time I was trying to extrapolate how each might perform in my room and asking myself if any of them would represent a significant step up from my Paradigm Monitor 9 originals. I had listened to my Paradigm immediately before the demo (30 minutes away) and, again, when I returned home. Honestly, I think any of the 3 would represent an improvement from my old faithfuls but the 500, in my opinion, would provide the most distinct upgrade by a hair over the 300. The question for me is whether what I feel might be a relatively small increase in performance is worth approximately $2.5K. Thus far, every audiophile I've compared notes with on this has told me that, for my room and room placement issues, this is as good as it gets in this price range and if I want that "Holy Cow" or "Wow" factor above and beyond my Paradigm I'm going to have to consider extending my budget range.

I have one more jaunt scheduled to demo a few other contenders. I'm still hoping to hear something in my budget range that will put that proverbial crap-eating grin on my face and make me say "Oh, yeah; this is much better than my Paradigm". If not, I'll be faced with the same question and wrestling with the law of diminishing returns.

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We Are ALL John Snows!

Our wives listen to EVERYTHING even when we bore them into a coma! Last week we were dreading my brother visiting us whose stentorian snores put my own on the trailer (no small feat!) My wife Judy suggested that we leave the tv on a music station to dent the noise. She thought about it and announced. I KNOW what will happen. You will comment from a dead sleep all night "That's Art Blakey. That's Cannonball Adderly." Haven't stopped laughing (and been scared) since.

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Why Did Kal and Tom Choose Monitor Audio?

Why did Kalman Rubinson AND Tom Norton pick Monitor Audio over anything else to own, particularly Revel Performa3 F208? Was price solely a factor? Also it would be very helpful if Stereophile speaker reviewers could take some time to analyze speaker behavior within 1-3 feet of the front wall (where most of us mortals find room for them.) I know Tom in particular reviews speakers WAY into a room which has to have an effect on bass output. Would a front ported design be a better idea (then rear ports) closer to front walls or if there are space constraints such as Old Audiophile describes?

Kal Rubinson
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OK. The MA Silver 8 is less

OK. The MA Silver 8 is less expensive ($2K vs. $5K) and shorter (42" vs. 46.6") than the F208. For my CT system, both are important factors. The F208 is too expensive for my CT budget and it is too tall, enough to block the OLED display on that wall.

Also, the wall to speaker-front distance for the Silver 8 in CT is less than 3 feet.

Port position is probably not an issue if there is a foot of space behind the speaker.

Oh, and the reason I (we) chose MA Silvers is that they sound great but, frankly, for the above reasons, the F208 was never considered as an alternative.

BluesDog
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Thanks Kalman

Thanks, Kalman. This has been very helpful. If a person had the budget and height/room would the Revel F208 be a good choice? Could the 208 or 206 work in the space constraints Old Audiophile describes, especially with asjustment switches Revel uses?

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Did Kal Like The John Snow Story Above?

Last comment for Kal: Did you like the John Snow story above?

Kal Rubinson
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I am a big fan of the F208 so

I am a big fan of the F208 so, yes, I think it would be a great choice* but the F206 is great, too. Note that the F206 lacks the bass/treble controls of the F208 and the Ultimas and these are quite useful. I'd be more certain if Old Audiophile gave us a sketch of his room.

*I describe a face-off between the F208 and 3 other more-expensive speakers at the top of my story about visiting Harman's listening/testing facility. Preference for the F208 was a unanimous decision. https://www.stereophile.com/content/blind-listening-harman-international

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Harman Test Article

I DO remember reading that and being impressed with how well the 208 held up in such esteemed company.

Kal Rubinson
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Did I ever divulge the

Did I ever divulge the identity of the other speakers?

BluesDog
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3 Speakers

You referred to the 228BE and the Salon so the 3rd had to be the 208. Respectfully you should you read the We are All John Snows Story above.

Kal Rubinson
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1. You are confusing the

1. You are confusing the blind auditions at Harman with the opening non-blind speaker comparisons at my friend's apartment. The Harman tests included the Salon, the 228Be and an (as yet) unnamed 3rd speaker, not the 208. The latter included the 208 and 3 unnamed speakers, none of which were Revels.

2. Why should I read it? I did but I see no relevance.

BluesDog
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Other Mystery Speakers

Never saw what the 3 unnamed speakers were but unanimous opinion of you and your fellow stalwarts in an epic NY apartment was impressive.

Kal Rubinson
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That was the message I wanted

That was the message I wanted to deliver.

BluesDog
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John Snows Clarification

Thanks For Reading this. I just thought it was a funny audiophile experience. I can picture some guys telling their significant others about this and getting the same answer: "It's true, you're all alike."

Kal Rubinson
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Ah. I am more likely to

Ah. I am more likely to share the experience with my other audio friends from whom I can expect understanding than with my wife from whom I expect tolerance. OTOH, her tolerance is appreciated.

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Aerial Acoustic 6T and Triangle Silver Australe

I have accompanied Old Audiophile to audition speakers and, Demos at about $3,500 apiece I am wondering what your thoughts are about these speakers? I hope to someday wear down (I mean persuade) the wife that a speaker upgrade is desired by myself.
My basement (industrial carpet with 2 big area rugs) listening room opens into a 14 x 10 area straight ahead with a slider opposite and then a section on the left that is 10 x 91/2. My equipment is on the right along a 14 ft wall. Ceiling is 7 1/2 feet dropped ceiling tiles. 4 bookcases across the room from equipment location 19 feet away. Listening position is 10 feet from Mains. Room has been decent acoustically to my full 9.1 channel home theater onslaughts.

Kal Rubinson
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I've not heard either of

I've not heard either of those speakers.

commsysman
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Speakers

Vandersteen Treo is what I have.

They are hard to beat at any price IMO.

Old Audiophile
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COOL!

Commsysman! So good to hear from you again! I miss the input and guidance you and Bierfeldt provided when I was shopping for a new amp and TT. I'd like to press you into action, once again!

I've not heard the Treo. Unfortunately, beyond my budget range unless I find demos or trade-ins. I have, however, spent some time with the Model 2Ce Signature II and Model 1Ci. Of these, I much preferred the former but it is too wide for my room placement issues. The latter would work but I found its sound way too lean, surprisingly so. It was very accurate but sorely lacking in some muscle to put on the bone, if you know what I mean. The 2Ce, IMO, was much more musical.

What would you recommend for a McIntosh MA5200 with the source equipment and listening room dimensions I described at the outset of this thread? I've previously indicated a few examples of what I've heard and liked, thus far, with the notable exception of aggressively discounted Triangle Esprit Australe EZ demos. I think I would have purchased them on the spot had they not done something very odd and very immediately noticeable. Their tonal balance was wonderful. Bass reach was tight and impressive. Overall response was reasonably tight, fast and accurate throughout. Imaging and sound-staging was spectacular and very musical except for what they did with voices, more so with female than male. That completely turned me off. It was as if the sound engineer significantly turned down the input on singers' microphones. Bizarre! I've never heard speakers do that before, even cheap ones. A little (didn't have time for a lot) quick room rep-positioning didn't have any appreciable effect. I intend to contact the salesman again to see if there might have been some problem with a cross-over, driver(s) or something that could conceivably explain such a phenomenon.

Another unmentioned notable exception was a pair of (again, aggressively discounted trade-ins) Aerial Acoustics 6T, which I thought were phenomenal. Very accurate but not overly so. Very smooth, balanced and very musical. Very nice speakers, indeed! Wish they were in my budget range! That being said, I do think they do better with tubes than SS.

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Thank You Kalman

Thank you for your time and patience, Kalman. I will try to follow Old Audiophile's quest but I thought I might try a post of my own under Loudspeakers.

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