Hi, I am looking for a pair of speakers (either floorstanding or bookshelf) for around $700 Canadian, which is I guess around $550 USD. I want to pair them with a Cambridge 640A amp and Cambridge 640C cd player. I primarily listen to classical and jazz and the most important things for me are
1. natural soundstage (not too forward and not overly bright) 2. good detail 3. deep soundstage 4. quality bass extension (but not boomy, just something that makes symphonies sound full)
Any help and/or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Chech out PSB image towers. Retail may be a little higher than you want, but you can find them cheaper on line at dmc-electronics.com. Last I checked the Image 4t and maybe even the 5t were in your price range. They are discontinued, having been replaced by the Image t45 and t55.
The 4t and t45 sound very similar, as do the 5t and t55, so you could get a very good idea about their sound if you auditioned the newer ones.
I bought the t55's on a closeout from a different retailer, and at $550 a pair, it really is a no brainer. I would have had no problems paying that for the other models either.
From your part of the world, have a long look at Totem Acoustics. Fine, well made speakers of good fidelity, if a touch bright sometimes. Other makes I see recommended around here from your part of the world would include Paradigm, Axiom and Ascend.
Not sure about prices, but the ones from this side of the world would have to be B&W DM600 series, Acoustic Energy Aegis EVO3, EPOS ELS3, Wharfedale Diamond 9.1.
In your price range, I would also definitely consider the Energy Connoisseur C-5. They have everything you're looking for and are exceptional for jazz. I do like them for the limited classical I listen to as well. The imaging is spectacular, with a very neutral overall sound. Bass extension is quite good with the 6.5" drivers, but still fast and tight.
I paid $600 US for mine ($750 retail), but they're a Canadian company, so perhaps pricing is better north of the border. Even if pricing is the same the extra $50 might be worth it. I compared with B&W, Polk, Paradigm, KEF, BA, and several other brands up to ~$900 US, and found these the best for my taste in music and sound (and even better than the more expensive Energy C-7s!).
Thanks for all the advice! I'm going to check out the Energy (they are $750 CDN Retail here, and I'm sure I'd get a deal) and the Totem. The mites are $695. The Dreamcatcher is $1100 CDN, but the arros are floor standers and are only $250 more, which makes them probably cheaper than the dreamcatcher including a good stand. Maybe I'll compromise more on the CD player and amp, with a cheaper NAD 320BEE amp and NAD 521BEE cd, as long as the amp can drive the towers. Do people think that's a good idea? I'd upgrade all components one by one later, but I just need a totally new system for now within my price range of around $2k.
The Dreamcatcher for $1100 should be a full 5.1 system. The Mites are a very nice bookshelf design, larger than the Dreamcatcher monitors, and a significant upgrade in SQ as well (not that the Dreamcatchers are bad; the Mites are that much better). You'll have to listen to hear for yourself. I personally like the Totem floorstanders better than the bookshelves (although that can be said for most speaker brands I've evaluated), and to me the Arros are worth the extra money. Just remember that the Arros are a 4-ohm speaker; the NAD should be able to handle that, but make sure. The Energy's should sound good regardless of the NAD amp powering them, but the more power you through at them, the happier they'll be.
The NAD and Totem Arro combination should sound great. The C320BEE shouldn't have any problems driving the Arros. If you are upgrading down the road, I've heard the 320BEE makes a great pre-amp. I haven't used it as such, but everyone I've heard comment on it had nothing but good things to say. One professional review I read said the pre-amp section alone was worth the price and then some.