It's been so long since I bought my last system I truly don't even know where to begin, and my eyes are crossing from too much time reading internet articles!
I'm wondering if anyone has advice on what front speakers they would buy with +/-$1,000 (and what center to add on top of that) before I start spending too much time wandering aimlessly around speaker stores with no direction. :D
This would be for a room 20x15, for a lot of jazz (and more pop and action movies then my wife wants to hear). I'm somewhat starting over from scratch so the speakers will have to live with my old Nak receiver and rear Kefs for a few months before Santa puts more stuff under the tree (job willing).
Smaller (height and footprint) speakers are preferred for this room, but from what I have read it sounds like in this price range floor standing is probably much more advisable to bookshelf or smaller. The only speakers I have spent time listening to so far are some bookshelf Linns and B&Ws to date.
I do not agree that a floorstander is best in your price range but if a smaller floor model is what you are looking for check out the Monitor Audio Silver 6. It is very compact yet incredibly dynamic. List is $999. The Silver center lists for $599 and is a real gem. I have a Silver system[not the 6's] and recommend it highly. I would love to have the 6 myself but a floorstander is not the best fit in my small room with wood floors.
You might also look at the Totem Rainmaker which is garnering good reviews at list $950 and goes down to 42Hz. You would need a decent amp as it is a harder speaker to drive at 4 Ohms. Totem has a Rainmaker center and surrounds as well. Just a thought.
BTW, I also have a Nakamichi receiver and had KEF speakers until my 2 year old knocked it over. A real nice combination!
BTW, my room is 20X18 with a 9X9 alcove just so you know. If you have any questions, let me know. I've heard lots and lots of speakers lately, so I'll be happy to give you any comparisons (since you can't hear them in a store - which isn't a bad thing).
Yes, I've heard the Arros, Rainmaker (surround set up) and Hawk. They were all nifty, better than average sounding speakers, but in my opinion, not worth the price. They just don't have natural, mid-range resolution. They rely more on the frequency extremes, leaving a sound that lacks cohesion. I really wanted to like the Totems.
I've heard the 705s and although I like B&W, they just sounded anemic - no bass to speak of, uninvolving sound - overpriced.
Haven't listened to Monitor Audio (ok, so I didn't listen to everything-but I came close).
Reviews are a drag - but, I will say the 6moons.com review on the Micro Talls is a good one, he just tells it like it is. It was a great experience to A/B these speakers with others in the same room with my very own equipment.
You might not like the Ohms as much as I do, but I will say this: They're easy to place - they integrate well into a room - physically and sonically, huge sweet spot and excellent tonal balance. The tweeter doesn't come into play until 8k, and when I was comparing other brands, it just sounded to me like too much of the mix was coming through the tweeter. I felt as if certain frequencies were being emphasized for detail's sake, at the expense of a natural sound. Instead of messing with frequencies, the basic Ohm design just doesn't require such tweaking. This was most evident with live recordings that I made in familiar rooms around town.
The only other brands that came close were Vandersteen, Meadowlark, Dynaudio, Reference 3a, Magnepan and slew of stuff that was way beyond my price-range. Of course the last little tidbit is pure owner satisfaction, knowing that you bought something directly from a small and very dedicated group of guys, who provide lifetime service for every model that they've ever made.
Dynaudio is popular amongst Jazz listeners. If you are going to use your system for HT/Music you could go for the Audience 42/52 bookshelf speakers w/sub. 42 Center is $450 ,42 $800, 52 $900. Or if you don't mind used you can get 122 floorstanders and 122 center for about the same price as 42/52 used. The 122 center is much better than the 42c.
Two more things that I didn't mention. One is that these speakers excell in handling acoustic instruments. I started with a short pair, and when I stopped by the factory to upgrade to the talls, I talked to the head designer. We both agreed on how great acoustic intstruments sound (I listen to a lot of jazz too). Second, bass performance is excellent. Something the hi-rez monitors can't do. And of course, this is all with a small footprint.
If you try a pair of GMAs, let us know how they sound - knowing their design, I bet they're very good.
I disagree with Cornelius on his assessment of the Totems - that is not my experience with them. The one caveat I would make is that they are difficult to drive, but you get a bigger better presentation out of them than many a larger speaker.
Oh yeah, that's definitely only my opinion, by all means check out the Totems. Everyone is different, and I'd hate to discourage someone from listening to something that may end up making them very happy.
BTW, sixmoons.com is reviewing a high end pair of GMAs, I hope they also review the Europas someday.
Did you see it, Maui??
Cornelius, nope. Heard they had a pair of C-3's in house though. I'm sure they will get a rave review, as these speakers have blown away others costing $35K. Some say these are the finest speakers on this planet. As far as the Europa's go, they list for $1K/pair and are available factory direct only. Reason for that is that at the price point, they were unable to keep up the production with the insane demand. Now, dealers are left out of the loop on Europa's. Make no mistake, they are probably the best value of any product (not just speakers) in all of audio. Hope some of you get the chance to hear a pair someday.
Thanks again all. I have decided on the Arros (don't roll your eyes Cornelius ;) haha), which I am going to pair with a Marantz 7500 given their needs. Spent a lot of time listening the past few days and reading everything I could online - I really do enjoy this site. I will keep my eyes open for the sixmoons reviews too. Just in case the dog knocks over the Arros-