5-10k budget... so many choices

So its that time of year where I get to combine my tax return and annual bonus.  I am looking at stepping into the world of hi-fi and the more I research the more questions I have.  I am mainly looking at creating a 3.2 soundstage for 50/50 home theater and music listening.  I originally started out with a budget of 5k but after listening to step ups I am open to increasing my budget to ~10k.  I have listened to the B&W 702's, 804's, 803's the GoldenEar Reference, the Focal Kanta 2's, and Martin Logan 60t's.  After listening I was quickly able to eliminate the ribbon style of the Martin Logan, as for the GoldenEar's and the lower B&W's I was impressed with the accuracy and composure of both speakers and could have otherwise been quite content but it all changed once I heard the Focal's and 803's. I truly felt them, they gave me that indescribable goosebump feeling and I dont know if I can go back.  So far if I had to pick one, I would hands down go with the Focals, but since I am starting from the ground up I want a speaker that can grow with my setup.  Initially I will be using a Marantz 7012 AVR but will eventually add either 2 channel or dual mono block amplification.  At any rate I was curious what other speakers in this range give that feeling of experience and presence, the goosebumps.  Ideally I would like to be able to incorporate a center channel and dual subs but at this point I put more priority on the quality and clarity of the towers as they are the stars of the show.  Anyway I appreciate and thank you for any feedback and ideas.

My very short list at that price range, new, would surely include the Vandersteen Treo CT. But maybe I shouldn't weigh in as my very strong preference is to get the very best two-channel performance my budget will allow. I'd far rather have a a pair of $10K speakers than five $2K speakers!
Thanks for the response Beetle, I've seen the Vandersteens pop up on a number of these types of threads but I haven't been able to find a dealer locally to demo them.  As for the philosophy I am completely with you, I would rather start with the towers I can afford, building around and up to them as time and budget allow.
Lowspark, you need to look at the possible choices and try to figure out what you like about each speaker and what your ear likes.

The Martin Logan and the Golden Ear both use Heil tweeters, you may like the voicing of the Golden Ear which tends to favor more midrange and bass and less treble than the Martin Logans.

The Focals are exciting and visceral speakers and are a bit forward in the treble, you may like the new Paradigm Persona 3F which uses a Beryilium midrange and tweeter so the clarity is really impressive so is the imaging which is spooky, they have greater detail in the midrange then the Focals but are voicing with less sense of punch then the Focals. 

Be careful in how you demo, make sure if possible that the demo is being carried out in the same room on the same gear, or you may skew your results. 

Another amazing speaker at a fantastic price is Legacy Audio the Signature, a large tower with the bass of the Golden Ear with a smooth midrange and a very detailed yet sweet top end. at $7k they are a bargain for the sound quality and price.

The Kef Ref 3 are amazing for theater but are a bit more expensive, at $14k.

Any of these uber speakers will eventurally necessitate and even better receiver and set of amps and cables so be advised that you are not going to be getting 110% out of your new speakers when they are in this class. 

You are in for an exciting journey. Good luck in your search.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
@audiotroy ....Are you referring to the Focal Kanta #2 or Focals in general? 

Focal speakers are not bright or forward.  Anyone who says that is clinging onto old focal sound.  Aria and Kanta are the LEAST bright or forward speakers they have ever made, and are considerably more laid back than a lot of popular speakers mentioned on audiogon.

I feel bad for Focal — likely the most misrepresented brand online due to people who just repeat things they heard years and years ago with little to no actual experience.

If someone says Sopras are bright — they heard a bad setup.  Kanta even more so — in fact, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to make the Kantas sound bright.  Let’s make sure we are contributing accurate information to the mess of misinformation in high end audio forums.
Contuzzi, Focals are not laid back in the treble, never said they are bright either I said they tend to sound forward, that means they have a very clean treble and are quite detailed.

Beryilium tweeters tend to go towards the detailed side same on the Personas, they do show you everything in the chain.

Just like soft dome tweeters tend to sound warmer then metals.

I completely agree with your idea of prioritizing the front L/R speakers.  And if you are expanding your search into the ~$10K range, I wouldn't buy anything without auditioning a set of Legacy Audio Focus SE, which offers AMT tweeters, dual mid woofers, and two twelve inch woofers.  Focus SE is a true full range speaker, with bass extension to 18Hz.  With the Focus SE, you are certainly getting into your goosebumps inducing level of speaker.  And the Focus SE are equally good for both music and home theater.

It's obviously just personal preference, but I'd rather do a 2.0 setup with Focus SE than a 3.2 system with "smallish" front L/R speakers, especially with a 50/50 usage mix between music/movies.  Similarly, I'd rather do a 3.0 system with Focus SE for L/R and a Legacy Audio Marquis or Silver Screen center channel speaker than a 3.2 system with lesser speakers across the front.  Sure, subs are great if room rattling bass is a top priority, but that has lost some appeal for me, as I now value other aspects of audio more highly. 
As a Legacy dealer we couldn't agree more.  The Focus SE are flat out amazing, we heard a current set with the self amplified bass option being used with the Wavelet Dac/Preamp/Room Correction processor with a set of Raven tube amps athe the last New York audio show.

When driven correctly the Focus sound like a way more expensive set of speakers. In terms of image size, deep bass, richness in the midrange, absolutely wonderful.

Not quite as detailed or quite as holographic as the Personas or the Sopras, but in terms of sheer room filling totally engaging sound very hard to beat. 

If you are on the East Coast we have numerous Legacy models on display.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
My Golden Ear Triton References give me goosebumps everytime I listen to them.
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This is interesting since I am looking into the same price range of products.  Originally I was going to start with the amp and work my way back to the speakers but was told that is not the "best" way to do it.  It seems that I have listened to same speakers that you have mentioned with the exception of the Focal's but have heard the paradigm personas.
My goal is to listen to the Focals and  Revel since I have never listened to either.  So far the personas are the only speakers that struck me as special after listening to each.  Having said that i do feel they do not have the bottom end I am looking for but is this a trade off at the given price point?  I look forward to reading about your impression of each speaker you demo!

Sorry guys I've been at a work conference all day, thanks for all the comments and feedback.  Once I have some time tonight I will write up my thoughts on the various speakers I've heard to give an understanding of how I perceive their sound.  I'm a firm believer that like food we all have our own pallets and thus our own preferences, some like milk chocolate, other prefer dark, it doesn't make one more right than the other.

I know there is at least one person here, who shall remain unnamed, that will disagree with this statement, but same speakers sound different when paired with different amplifiers. If it were me with that sort of budget, I would look at my search as a "system " and try to approach my options in that manner. Just my 2 cents.
lowspark and others,

You've got me interested in this Kanta no. 2, but Focal doesn't seem to have a lot of dealers in the US.  The early reports are highly positive, but I didn't find a lot of full reviews with measurements.

At $5K, the Revel F208 is highly regarded as excellent sounding and apparently measures about as well as a speaker can.  At $7K, it's hard to beat the Legacy Audio Signature SE.  At $10K, well....  the number of outstanding options is just dizzying.
@kalili Good advice to OP. Probably need to start with speakers as their power needs will inform other system decisions. It’s a nice budget, but to maximize that money it would be good to consider speakers of reasonable efficiency. Once this is accomplished, you can focus on a high quality integrated amp and good sources and wires. Willingness to go used will help a good deal. As ws mentioned previously, I would recommend focusing on quality main speakers. Maybe next year’s tax refund and bonus could be used for the theater gear.
Ok, at the expense of being ridiculed... Tekton DI or DI SE. Get a demo from someone in your neck of your woods. 
@mofojo beat me to it. He posted while I was finishing this up:

A few years back I heard some Legacy’s at the California Audio Show. They were my favorite among many other high-end speakers on hand. As a result of that experience, the Legacy Audio Focus SE got on my wish list … money being the only thing standing between me and them.

That said, if you can get past the looks, you might consider the Tekton Design Double Impacts (DI). There has been lots of buzz about them here on A-gon, and there are quite a few testimonials on the Tekton website. In fact, one happy owner traded in his Legacy Focus to pick up a pair. There have also been very favorable comparisons to Golden Ears as well as the DI’s holding their own against the likes of Dadelus. The DI’s go down to 20 (not quite as low as Legacy), but should work equally as well in a 3.0 configuration - like @mtrot suggested.

Now before anybody jumps on me with name calling such as “fan boy”, all I’m suggesting is the OP take a bit more time and do the research. The other great thing about the DI’s: they are efficient enough to be driven by low powered tube gear. That means one has much more flexibility in power selection.  You can truly grow into something of your liking. For example with all the options available with something like the Jolida 3502 el34/6550 tube integrated [which includes HT bypass], there would be enough budget left over for a nice front-end – digital or analog. I’ve been involved in this hobby for a while and knowing what I know now … with a $10K budget that is exactly what I would do. Just my 2 cents.

As someone who just recently had a 2 week in home demo of the Tekton DI with upgrades, I’ll say this . There is absolutely no comparison (when compared to) our newest member of the family ... Legacy Focus SE’s. Not even close. ..... They cost more....and they sound like more.
Khost, what you smoking, every Focal ever made can sound a bit forward, any Beryilium tweeter is going crystal clear out to 40k, this tends to pull the ear towards the top, hence the slightly fatter tuning in the midrange which makes the Sopras sound punchy and lively, these are the charms of the speakers.

Do you not think we have heard Sopras, we have and we have said they are excellent speakers personally we think the Sopra series are the best overall set of speakers Focal has ever made, they are very revealing part of their problem is the wide bafles which create a big but less focused sounstage compared to others. Great speakers.

If we didn’t have the equilly fantastic Paradigm Personas we would get the Focals. The two lines are too similar, we feel that the Persona is a bit better with the pure Beryilium midrange being a better driver with less coloration than a sandwich W cone made out of a different material then the tweeter, vs then the incredible coherence you get when the tweeter and midrange are made out of the same material.

As per Heil drivers being bright, most Heil tweeters sound like electrostatics, which means detail and air but not as much of that in your face clarity of a ribbon. What is a Heil tweeter? They are usually made out of a folder mylar diaphram ever heard a bright electrostat? Most electrostats tend to roll of at 16-18k.

One of our clients had a pair of Martin Logan Montis he added a set of Enigma super tweeters which use a new type of film and stator design and these actually go way up there, if the Montis were delivering shimmery highs the supertweeters would not have made an audible difference. My point is mylar films tend to produce smooth slighly soft top ends.

You gonna now tell me ribbons don’t have a tendency to be very bright.

We took a trade in pair of Monitor Audio Platinum one with the Ribbons they sound like Radihos, very impressive detail a tad hard to live with.

Newest Monitors now have a Heil guess what they sound much more laid back.

Khost, we got over 30 years of retail and show going experience, we have sold and setup more different brand of hifi then you can imagine.

Repeat: Sopras are great, Heil tweeters tend to sound smooth, ribbons tend to sound bright.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Vandersteen ( count me a fan and owner ) might have a few pairs of the original Quattro at $10k, warehouse finds...
in wood they are now $15
with either you get the built in sub amps and 11 band bass eq
chase your tail with voicing.... or stick to science and 37 years of design principles...
i have a pair of Treo CT on order 
you at least owe yourself a listen

Great info again guys... so a little background and my findings so far.  First off I am in a condo and will probably be here another 3-5 years.  I have a great room layout with the dining, kitchen, and living room all open to eachother.  As such I have about 800 sqft and 10 ft ceilings to fill.  I have been playing with the positioning of furniture and the layout of the room and I think ultimately I will end up putting the tv and speakers on the far wall, facing the rest of the condo, its about 11ft wide with windows behind and to the right.  My seating will be about 6ft away.  I am not only looking for a dynamic soundstage at my couch but I also want to be able to enjoy music while doing chores and what not around the rest of the house.  Given the space limitations the larger towers such as the Sopras and B&W 803's seem a bit overwhelming, that being said I dont want to short change myself given that I will be in a bigger space at some point in the "nearish" future.

As far as what I have heard so far here are my impressions...

Klipsch RP280F:
I currently have some old best buy special Klipsch Icons and I have enjoyed them but want more.  I had always liked the idea of the RF7's but couldnt find any to demo so I figured I could at least get a sense for them by listening to the RP line since the new RF7 iii's share similar components.  After listening to them I was quite let down, they were bass heavy and seemed to muddy the sound stage, it was like the bass washed away any detail in the mids, even the highs seemed to take a back seat, something I didnt think was possible with Klipsch.  Needless to say I quickly moved on.

Martin Logan 60XT:
I had heard some of the ML electrostats many years ago and remember them as being very warm and laid back.  Unfortunately the 60xt just seemed flat in every sense, I was beyond underwhelmed and their performance got worse even being slight off axis from the sweet spot.  I quickly eliminated them as even a remote option.

Golden Ear Reference:
Everything about these speakers is big... they are huge!!!!  The sound was accurate, clean, and presented a really large soundstage with excellent off axis listening.  I really cant complain about them but they just didnt wow me... I felt like they did alot of things well but nothing really great, if I was looking for a dedicated home theater speaker I think these would be fantastic.  For music they just lacked that dynamic experience that I am looking for.

B&W 702s:
I listened to both the 702 and 703's, while they were similar the 702 definitely sounded better, by isolating the tweeter outside of the main enclosure the soundstage was greatly increased and I felt the treble was able to achieve a greater level of seperation from the mids and lows.  The 702's also did a great job of projecting, when seated in the sweet spot the soundstage presented itself directly in front of me, the left and right channels blended perfectly and they just disappeared into music.  Closing my eyes while listening to Aaron Copland it sounded like I was seated center stage at the symphony.  They were clear, accurate, detailed and overall quite pleasant, I did find myself wanting a little bit more out of the bass and more presence in the lower mids but that was quickly resolved by incorporating a SVS SB2000.  At 4k a pair these definitely are the value play, but just after listening to these I heard the Kanta 2's and my world changed... but more on that later.

B&W 804 d3:
These picked up where the 702s left off and brought the extension I felt was missing, I am not sure if this is courtesy of the kevlar cones but the difference was palpable.  The diamond tweeter also separates itself from the 702 adding even more clarity, precision, and airiness... almost to the point of feeling delicate, but not fragile if that makes sense.  It was incredibly detailed to the point that I started to pick up some artifacting and pixelation but I was quickly able to attribute that to the various switches and connections in the demo room.  These speakers are very articulate, while listening to Queen's Fat Bottom Girls I was able to isolate their voices during their harmonizing of the chorus, something that was missing in the other speakers. These speakers also benefited from the addition of the PB2000, I think my personal preference is to run a sub outside of the speaker, I feel like it gives better separation, not to mention the added benefits during home theater listening.  Needless to say these currently sit as my second favorite so far but at their 9k price tag its hard to justify spending an extra 5k over the 702's when they are also priced so closely to the Kanta's.

B&W 803 d3:
These speakers really are fantastic, if I had to nit pick them (beyond their price tag) they seemed a little laid back in their presentation. Beyond that they were simply clinical.

Focal Kanta 2:
These were the speakers that shattered my ideas of what I wanted and made me completely change my thought process (and budget).  They came across very forward, not in a bright or harsh sense, but in an enveloping, surrounding, and inescapable way.  They pulled me in with intoxicating clarity, depth, and presence.  They were punchy but in a very tight and precise sense.  The lows, mids, and highs energetically intertwined together in a expertly choreographed dance and regardless of the content and volume they never stepped on each others toes.  Despite their bullishness I never wanted to back down, I only found myself wanting to push them farther, harder.  Listening to Aaron Copland's Doppio Movimento they were sublime, as the crescendos built the instruments separated and I found myself enjoying the layering of sound like a warm croissant.  Probably the most memorable moment was listening to Yo-Yo Ma and feeling his cello reverberate in my chest.  I also listened to Built To Spill cover Neil Young's Cortez the Killer as well as Gary Clark Jr Bright Lights and Anders Osborne Mind of a Junkie.. all I can say is damn.  I closed my eyes and their guitars were like sirens calling, I quickly found myself lost in bliss.  I know I am gushing a bit but this is the sense of feeling and experience I was referring to in my initial post, I cant really explain it but they moved me. 

I know it sounds like I am sold on the Focals, and if I had to buy them tomorrow I would be, but given the investment I want to make sure I get it right. 

Post removed 
Why not have a 2 channel system for both HT and music? You lose out on the special effects, but you gain in sound quality, because your budget only has to cover two speakers, and because getting bulky ones is not so inconvenient/ugly in your interior. That at least is what I did, with two large Quad electrostats and a subwoofer (plus Antimode 8033 room eq). Not only is sound quality for music truly excellent, but with HT the impact is pretty stunning. My personal favouties in dynamic speakers would be the Harbeth line, but that is just a personal preference. You will have to hear them for yourself.
Audiotroy: I want to respect you but you make it hard with posts like your last one.  First off, it’s Raidho, which you have misspelled numerous times on numerous posts.  Second...  I am completely taken back by your continued mention of Raidho speakers being “bright” or too detailed.  They have perhaps the most magical tweeter on the planet.  I haven’t ONCE heard them sound bright or fatiguing in any way.

If you’re going to be as outspoken as you are on this forum, make sure you know what you’re talking about when you try to go into detail on brands you have obviously little to no hands on experience with.
Wow!  After reading this thread it is clear why there are so many diversely designed loudspeakers.  In addition, the terminology used to describe what we hear could use some refinement.  Perhaps many posting on this thread prefer very similar designs, but because of unartful use of descriptors, are not accurately conveying what they hear or prefer in sound quality.
Warning to the OP, make sure you also note what (other) gears are used during the speaker demos. Those Focals may require some significant additional investment, e.g., amplifier, preamp, source, etc., to sound the way they did during the demo. It reminds me of when I had an awe inspiring experience hearing a pair of Revel Salons and looked down and took notice of the Mark Levinson monoblocks sitting right next to each one and other Levinson gear upstream. The dealers have plenty of time to experiment and in many cases know how to make the "system" sound exceptional in their showroom. Just make sure your comparisons are apple to apple. Good luck.
Come on Contuzzi, you like the Paradigm Personas so I have to respect you and your opinions somewhat.

You don't understand my classification, lets just simplify almost any uber high tech metal based driver is going to sound detailed, clean, transparent, wether or not a particular listener is going to find all that clarity to be too much is a matter of personal taste and system setup. 

Pure Ceramic drivers also tend to sound in this camp ie the Acuton's used in Kharmas original speakers. 

The only uber high tech tweeters that have mega clarity, speed, and articulation while also sounding smooth, Acuton Pure Diamond drivers.

(we have a set of Polymers which use these drivers)

If you look at all the speakers that tend to fit into this camp, almost every one of these tweeters goes up to 40-50k or above.


Soft domes, Heils, Electrostatics,  very rarely have I ever heard a Heil driver with the same level of uber clarity then the above camp, generally more detailed then a soft dome fabric driver, and more air. 

Electrostatics all tend to be shelved in frequency response above 16k,
and most soft dome tweeters even if they extend to the 20k and above range all tend to be smooth and musical with less "apparent" detail then the above camp.

Have you ever heard a "bright pair of Harbeths or Sonus Fabers or Quads Electrostatics? 

I rest my case.

Lets make an analogy to a coffee drinker, 

You got pure black coffee, all the detail can be a bit aserbic for many people.

You got the little bit of milk or half and half guys, a bit more toned down and slightly altered,  from the above but you can still  taste the coffee.

You got the little bit of milk and a bit of sugar, guys, another step  towards changing the taste and cutting off the aserbic nature of the unadultarated pure black coffee. 

and finally,

Coffee with a lot of cream and a lot of sugar, now you have changed the coffee into something else. 

You see my point, which Coffee drinker are you? 

Persepective is a very unusal thing it is a shame we all don't have one.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

@audiotroy   I assume you commit an act of omission in not mentioning the musical preeminence of the Vandersteen "Carbon Tweeter" as in Treo "CT" and Quatro "CT" as you don't carry them.  

I think your basic assertion that "hard material" tweeters made from a variety of metals are often a bit much in their presentation of treble and how they integrate with the other drivers in a particular speaker design is on point.

Soft domes, as you assert, do generally have a more forgiving nature.

In my personal experience, my circa 1980s Vandersteen 2C with their soft silk dome tweeters, had that more musically satisfying treble presentation than the metal domes in all iterations of the Model 3.  The 3A Signature in current production have come a very long way toward providing treble detail with smoothness of response.

My current Treo CTs have a literal seamlessness between drivers. Once you have them set up properly, you just listen to music and really don't think about the relative contributions of individual drivers.  Amazing accomplishment for Richard Vandersteen!
Willem, I really want to stick with 3 channel setup.  I totally get the rationale behind the 2 channel configuration and that may be how I start but I love movies and I dont know if I could do without the center.

As for the equipment / demo discussion I totally agree and I have been taking that into consideration.  Another thing that I am trying to be cognizant of is how forgiving/unforgiving a speaker is.  Out of convenience most of my music comes from Spotify, on wifi I listen to as high of quality as I can but its still compressed.  Whatever speaker I end up with needs to be able to still sound good even with less than perfect material, sadly this is not an area that favors the Focals, the beryllium tweeter is quite revealing.  I wonder how much a good DAC would help there.

I found a Vandersteen dealer about an hour away so I am going to try and get down there this weekend to have a listen.  The closest Paradigm Persona dealer is down in Portland ~3 hours away so that will be another trek.  Its really kind of sad how few hifi shops remain out here.

The Kanta's were only introduced very recently, so it takes a bit of time for them to trickle down into reviews and showroom floors.  Looking at the adverts, I began to suspect that they were an expensive "lifestyle" model built for higher WAF.  Glad to be apparently proven wrong.

@lowspark When you say "forward", where would you say the front edge of the soundstage is located?  On a plane closer to the listener than the plane of the speakers, coincident with the speakers, or behind the plane of the speakers?  How far back does the soundstage extend?

...I really want to stick with 3 channel setup. I totally get the rationale behind the 2 channel configuration and that may be how I start but I love movies and I dont know if I could do without the center.

You mentioned you heard the Golden Ear Triton Reference but preferred the Focal's and 803's. Keep in mind Golden Ear also makes (very good) center channel speakers. 
twoleftears, their may be a certain influence of "lifestyle" in their overall design but technically they really have a lot going for them.  They bring down a number of influences from the Sopra and have even gone to a flax fiber cone that gave a good tight natural feeling punch.  As someone who is habitually single WAF has played zero roll in my thought process.  Regarding the soundstage I would say they presented themselves closer to my listening position, they didnt have the depth as the B&W 804's but I felt like they had more height and projected themselves further into me if that makes sense.

gdhal, if I was going strictly for home theater the golden ears would probably be my primary choice.  The center I heard was fantastic.  That being said I also thoroughly enjoyed the B&W diamond center as well.  Word on the street says that Focal will be putting out a Kanta center at somepoint and I know the Sopra line has one as well. 
You've heard a decent array of speakers, and the fact that the Focals spoke to you as strongly as they did -- well -- that doesn't always happen so you may very well have your answer.  If you have a ProAc or Joseph Audio dealer somewhat nearby you might give them a listen just for reference, but it really sounds like you can't go wrong with the Focals.  Trust your ears.  Speakers do what they do, and you'll find upstream electronics that will make them sing.  Best of luck in whatever you decide. 

Thank you soix, I will definitely look into those 2 and if I get a chance to demo them I will update the thread with my findings.  It is kind of funny how that works, some things just speak to us, there isnt a rhyme or a reason but they leave us with that impression we just cant really shake.

Willem, if I go with something like the Focals I will be starting off with a 2 channel and you may be right, once they are in my home and in use I may not feel the need for the center.  I will leave that one as a TBD.
A little more info on my demo of the FOCAL Kanta, the setup was driven by Naim NAP 250 dr amp and processed by the Naim Streamer using Tidal... I believe this was also the setup used on my demo of the B&W 702s.  The 804 d3's were driven directly off the Marantz 7012 AVR.

I never felt the need for a centre speaker.

You might (or really should) depending on the the of music you listen to. I’ve already undeniably pointed out (elsewhere on the forum in another thread) that the ability to reproduce lower than 30 Hz is a *requirement* in the case of Grateful Dead (90’s in particular) music. Also the case if you listen to classical where there are pipe organs involved.

The aforementioned said, I never felt the need for a "stand alone" center speaker, hence once reason I chose Golden Ear Triton Reference.

if you are if you are close to Portland you should come hear what a Vandersteen tweeter and all the other bits can do
where are you exactly ? pm me if you want to hear 7’s with a world class tweeter - which you can get in the treo
Advanced in Tacoma has fine room, gear and both Quattro CT as well as Treo CT
btw I am putting a pair of Treo CT in our Condo great room also about 800 square foot but w 9’ ceilings....
Tomic, I am in the greater Seattle area.  After a few calls and confirmations this afternoon I will be making the trek to Tacoma for the Vandersteens on Saturday as well as KitsapAV in Silverdale for the Legacy Focus SE's.  I'm also trying to secure a demo of the Revel's as well.  Should be a busy weekend!
@kalali +1 ...and there is at least one person who agrees with you : )
I would look at my search as a "system " and try to approach my options in that manner.
@ddouin please take note of kalali’s post. We never, I repeat never hear a speaker on it’s own. There is nothing wrong with your approach of choosing an amp first and then a speaker.

OP is receiving some great suggestions. I’ll add that most of what is currently under consideration is mainstream and heavily advertised and dealer represented. I recommend being open to the many boutique / smaller scale operations making terrific speakers, before finalizing a choice.
David, thanks for the response.  Do you have any boutique recommendations?  The challenge is I would like to be able to demo them before making the investment.
Based on the 2 main preferences you listed, the Kanta and B&W, at 10K I would be looking for pre-owned Sopra 2's.  Good luck.  👍
@lowspark  You've got a full Saturday of demoing on tap...I would focus on that for now.

@kalali also pointed out the importance of your gear vs the gear that is being used to demo at dealers. If you can take some of your gear and cabling, etc with you...it may be helpful...and definitely compare with the dealer's recommended setup.

I found it interesting that you and I have very similar assessments of the Goldenear Triton Reference speakers. I'll take a look at the listings tomorrow (it's getting late for my time zone) and see if anything pops.

Enjoy your day in Tacoma and Silverdale.


how many dealers/retailers are in the Seattle area?

At this level of price/performance, get out there and listen, listen, listen.

Enjoy the road trips.

Happy Listening!


I was wondered the same thing... And then after I had the nerve to post an honest opinion on a couple different sites, I start getting all these private messages and e-mails from folk that have had the same experiences,,,but not quite the "nerve" to post, and be slammed ..Several have asked the same question as you... HOW can they have those stellar reviews?

And BTW , I have always smelled a rat on some of these reviews. Magazines and Videos  have an agenda, whether it’s a car magazine, audio, or whatever.

I’m a bit surprised that no one mentioned good standmounters along with dual subs. My office system consists of a Yamaha RX-A3060, B&W 805S and dual JL Audio E-112 subs.  Source is OPPO 105 and Tidal streaming. The 805’s and JL’s blend seamlessly and easily fills a 16’x35’x14’ room with a full detailed sound with a soundstage that is second to none. This entire system can be had for less than $10k and is guaranteed to put bumps on any goose. Perhaps my Trump tax cuts will allow for an 805d3 upgrade this year :).  Food for thought.