After the thrill is gone

I think we all understand there is no “perfect” speaker. Strengths, weaknesses, compromises all driven by the designer’s objectives and decisions. 

Whenever we make a new (to us) speaker purchase there is a honeymoon period with the perfect-to-us speaker. But as time wears on, we either become accustomed to the faults and don’t really hear or hear past them, or become amplified and perhaps more annoying or create minor buyers remorse or wanderlust.

I am guessing the latter would be more prevalent when transitioning to a very different design topology, eg cones vs horns vs planars etc.

While I’ve experimented with horns, single drivers, subwoofer augmentation …  I’ve always returned to full range dynamic multi-driver designs. About to do so with planars but on a scale I’ve not done before, and heading toward end game system in retirement.
So I just wonder what your experiences have been once the initial thrill is gone? (Especially if you moved from boxes to planars)


Over decades moved from sealed bookshelves to ported to numerous dynamic floorstanders, some with subs, to small planars to a couple of partial open baffles to large full electrostatic planars. Don't ever wanna go back. When I recently moved, I pondered long and hard with what I'd do if I landed somewhere where I'd have to switch to a smaller speaker. Was leaning towards full open baffle as the best compromise for my preferences and system, but I'm really relieved to be keeping the Soundlabs. Cheers,


I've tried cones several times and they just don't sound like music. Always go back to Maggies.

I don’t think there is an ultimate solution, because it’s so much depends on the room you have available. I have tried quads and Maggies  in my listening room, and although I like them quite a bit in other spaces, dynamics seem to do better for me in this room.

agree on the room being the hard part with dynamic cones and boxes.

cones and boxes can have all their advantages as far as authentic full range, complete top to bottom seamlessness and cohesion, and without non musical characteristics. horns and planers have attributes and flaws too.....but are less room sensitive with their dispersion patterns.

i’m all in with my room, so my dynamic cones and boxe speakers are able to come close to matching horns at dynamics, and planers at being coherent and transparent, but also retain the advantages of dynamic cones. but it’s a huge commitment for my room.

where do you want to compromise? what are your priorities?

are you looking for the quick hit thrill of change for changes sake? do you just want a different set of challenges?

if you want it all, then it’s dynamic cones and all in on the room.

and i can tell you that the thrill is not in any way the least.

So I just wonder what your experiences have been once the initial thrill is gone? (Especially if you moved from boxes to planars)

for me, i am very very happy with my maggies

when the thrill of a change is gone, i swap, as i keep multiple speakers around - i will change in my big spendors or harbeths for a different window onto the music

68 and retired....End game system is here for me.

Big tube power ...... Maggie 3.7s cover the vocals.

Lower $ system (under 10K) still produces Big Thrills.

I started with acoustic suspension box speakers, went to various open baffle for at least fifteen years, to ported acoustic suspension, finally to horns.


Once I heard open baffle, box speakers always had boxy, or closed in sound for me, the move back to box for short period of time was never fully satisfying, heard my present horns, can't imagine going back to either previous designs.

I don’t ever remember being disappointed after a time with speakers. They typically sound good when I get them, then sound better as I work to optimize them. Maybe that is a personal thing.

I was initially enamored with planar speakers and over 30 years had three different pairs. But I went through a period of intense learning, listening to acoustic instruments and symphonies every other week and concluded the ethereal sound I was chasing made some stuff sound better but compromised the sound of most stuff (this is the classic chasing details and slam). So, I reviewed all the auditioning I had done and realized one sound stood out… really stood out as natural and coherent top to bottom.

They were Sonus Faber speakers. So, I bought a used pair as a test. Within a couple weeks I ordered a brand new pair of Olympica 3 (dynamic floorstanders)… from the first shipment from Italy. That changed everything. I started upgrading the electronics in preparation for retirement.

I have been fortunate and was able to upgrade again in retirement to Sonus Faber Amati Traditional and all Audio Research Reference electronics and ditched the subwoofers. This system is far better than any of my previous systems by a long ways and makes all music sound better and all recordings. It is musical above all… yet all the details are there, they are just not pushed to the forefront. The soundstage is wide and deep… but mostly it is really hard to tear myself away from it… after two or three hours… I don’t want to go.


When I was working 45 minutes or an hour was a lot of time to spare to listen. At first when I retired, I would listen for 45 minutes and get bored and go do something else. My system was really good…. detailed, great slam… but a bit dry (only obvious in retrospect). I didn’t realize it but I was listening mostly to the system, not the music. This was with Olympica speakers (not the problem), but Sim Moon 650D with 820 power supply ($18K together), and a Pass 350 amp… all good stuff. But these two were both too detailed with a lack of midrange bloom and musicality. When I swapped out the amp, and DAC with Audio Research equipment the character completely shifted and became musical and immersive.

Each system has a tipping point. Also, everyone has different tastes. But for me, what put me on the right path was going back to dynamic speakers and the tubes all around.

I didn’t realize I was going to write a book. But I don’t think I had fully thought this through. But the first step was the speakers which made the sound I wanted  possible, then it was adding much better tube components that captured the musical essence where I had dry - detailed components.

I haven't changed my speakers for many years, and they are very good not hardly super duper level gear like the stuff out there these days.  Just Epos M22 floor standers with a Naim Nait XS2.  But the music is wonderful, totally enjoyable.  The thrill comes from the great music, not from the stereo, it is just the vehicle.  Yes I have heard more elaborate systems but mine is completely satusfying for me.

Agree with @mikelavigne — it’s all about getting your preferences and a design’s trade offs to play nice together, and every speaker design has trade offs.  So, from that perspective you damn well better choose the design that works best for your particular tastes or you’ll likely be back on the merry go round again.  That’s all I got, and best of luck. 

I think that so many people dont give the speaker best setup to get most out of speaker.That happened to me,was ready to move on to next speaker...wasnt until i got off my arse and did what i should have done in first place.Great imaging/timber and soundstage never gets old.

I haven’t had too many speakers where the honeymoon was over , it was more due to wanting to try something “better “ and most of the time the speaker was better but not always     Some I kept and others were sold to finance their replacement 


Good points all. And not unexpected that folks have ended up in different places. But I wasn’t expecting a clear answer emanating from a burning bush. It is a very subjective hobby/passion. 

I think both @mikelavigne ​​​​ and @soix sorta nail my dilemma … I listen to such a wide range of content that no one type of speaker is intrinsically equally adept, and  a little skeptical that I can achieve what Mike has in this room. Just like the designers, I may have to make a decision on acceptable compromises that apparently I’ve been reluctant to make. Appears that hanging around for 65 years still hasn’t dissuaded me from hunting unicorns.

Maybe like @jjss49 I need to keep multiples around 😁 (well, I already do that with some vintage setups). Fortunately, I married a saint, and she actually suggested I buy a couple different ones I THINK I could live with, play with them for a while, and sell off the loser (if there is a clear cut winner). And honestly, she probably won’t care if I keep them both. Just would rather put the effort/expense into optimizing the main rig.


Spoiled by rooms I had in past houses with no real constraints. And curse of being a (recovering) engineer over-analyzing everything. I used to be happy listening to anything over a little AM transistor radio, and hot $hit with a 5” Aiwa reel to reel deck. First world problems, I know … 




Ooo, the retirement end game selection. 

Aside from your audio tastes just remember you gotta look at whatever it is you end up with for some time.  


Best way to avoid buyer's remorse is to move up in a big way don't make a side-step or small improvement, make a huge jump. 

About 8 years ago moved to Maggie's 3.7i no regrets only sheer pleasure rediscovering what I had been missing in all my recordings, no desire to change.

Appears that hanging around for 65 years still hasn’t dissuaded me from hunting unicorns.

Other than possibly age I don’t think that makes you any different from 95% of the people here.

Spoiled by rooms I had in past houses with no real constraints. And curse of being a (recovering) engineer over-analyzing everything.

As an engineer, maybe a more empirical approach will help with the overthinking part. Rather than focusing on which speakers sound best with which music, which sounds maddening to me, maybe focus on one or maybe two top speaker properties you really couldn’t live without and let that be your guide. For instance, I was seriously considering Maggies myself years ago for all the amazing things they do right, but what they couldn’t do as well was bring a heft, weight, oomph, etc. to the sound that dynamic cone speakers do quite well. By comparison the Maggies sounded a little more diffuse with less dynamic thrust into the room, and that’s when I realized I couldn’t live without having that more direct, dynamic impact and never regretted my decision. That’s just my experience however you might be able to translate it to your tastes/situation to maybe help quell your analytical brain a little and hopefully make this just a wee bit easier. FWIW…




I've had my current speakers for almost 4 years now and I still love them as much as when they were new. Large two way monitors are perfect for my small listening space.



Ooo, the retirement end game selection. 

Bought my end game speakers over four years ago, with no desire to change them. Very very satisfied with them.

probably you are in close price range...if you had a PBN montana ref or Aries Cerat Symphonia + the right room...the search would be over...yes it's expensive but what can you do.

 Got my end game speakers 5 years ago when I retired.  Built up both systems over the following year  in 2018 and I am done, done, done.

 I have Audio research tube amp/preamp/McIntosh CD player350 connected to Focal scala V2 as my primary speakere;very other week I switch speaker cable to connect to C27A and GAT2 preamp-cardas speaker cable.


One reason we don't get full satisfaction from our expensive audio setup is it produces unreal (thick veiled) sounds. Human ears adopt to these bad sound. Still we get bad listener fatigues. We have no other choice because all reproduction sounds same unreal and veiled.

Audiophile Junkie (Ytube ID) recorded many rooms at the show in same day with a same microphone. In my room (#407) the human voice and audio sound are at same tone and timber. Wavetouch sound is very close to real sound (no veil).

In other rooms, the human voice and audio sound are so much different. In below video human voices (from 5:00) sound real and feel nice. When the music starts from 7:50, it sounds so much different from the human voice. It sounds veiled and makes me feel very uncomfortable. All other rooms sound veiled like this regardless of price.


I'm happy with my Klipsch Cornwall IV's........ driven by a little flea-watt amp SET amp made by Dennis Had, built around the marvelous 45 tube.  1.75 watts per channel- LOVE IT!! 

I have 2 systems - my 1988 Kappa 9's + 2 Metaxas solitaires +LP12

and my Laptop Streaming system +ELAC Navis .

1988 wins by a mile - Kappa 9's properly powered are the dogs bollocks

A bit like looking over the fence when you've been with wifey a while.  But the relationship with wifey should deepen over time as you get to know each other even better.

Can this work with speakers or an audio system?

Serjio says "if you had PBN Montana ref speakers + the right room, your search would be over."

I guess I am done because that's exactly what I got! See house of stereo system. Love the dynamics of the PBN. I need all the dynamics I can get for the type of music I like best: prog, alt prog, metal prog and starting to even get into electronic. And fully retired at 68! No ethereal speakers for me, even recently went from Lyra Kleos to Sumiko Starling to that effect. I need slam! Rock on, age does not apply, in my case anyway.

Agree with all the responses regarding Maggies. Recently tried floor-standing (floor sitting?) Klipsch Heresies. Not my cup of tea. Kept my 1.7s and sold the Klipschs. I’m quite happy with that decision. 

About 4 years ago I was able to buy Magnepan 3.7i's. I've added a couple of REL subs.  I've heard many brands over the years and unless you're spending 10x the money or more, nothing (IMHO) has come close. Love a good pair of Wilsons, or Magicos, but I feel I'm 98% of the way there with these, and can retire without the guilt of spending 6 figures.  Every time I sit and listen, I am truly amazed.

This question really speaks to me. 

After reading all the glowing reviews of Magnepan, I took the plunge. I dumped my boxes and blindly ordered a pair. I live very rural and there simply wasn't an opportunity to audition them. They arrived, I did all the "things" recommended to bring out the sonic bliss I read about. I fired them up know the smiley face emoji with the straight mouth line? That was me. I felt almost sad and perhaps a bit duped. They were.... Ok.  This was a big deal for me and I was so disappointed. I kept reading, kept dicking around with them, following more advice I would read. The result? Pffft.  I blew all this hard earned money and I had gotten these big, thin sounding, far over rated speakers that mostly just sounded annoying. Buyers remorse? Oh yes Sir. 

I quit reading all the "expert" advise given. I decided I don't like them anyway so let's try a different approach. They are just going to sit there and gather dust anyway. One day, a couple months after buying the Magnepans (and still kicking myself for my stupid purchase) I received an email from Klipsch. There was a sale on subs. Of course I had read all the "expert" opinions that subs were impossible to integrate with Magnepan- unless you wanted to waste more money with their bass panels. No way would I spend another penny on a panel that to my ears, could not do squat with real bass. Incidentally, I am not a thundering bass guy. Anyway, I looked at my meager checking account balance and thought "gone this far, what have I to loose?".  I ordered a 12" sub and waited. Yes snobs... I know... a Klipsch. Keep in mind the idea of a REL or anything like that was out of my financial scope and considering how I was feeling, it was remarkable I even bought a THAT!

The sub arrived and without any anticipation or excitement, I hooked it up. I went in and changed my crossover, draining all the bass out of the Maggie's. Sent everything below 100 to the sub. 

I fired the system up, expecting to be kicked in the teeth again.

OMG..... These wimpy, tin-sounding overpriced weaklings lit up! I mean they came to life! For the first time I smiled. They were lovely. 

As for not being able to easily integrate a sub with Maggie's? What a crock. I keep the sub pulled way back.. I am barely aware of it- no thumping or banging. What it (the sub) allowed was for the Magnepans to shine where they are able. The sub added the warmth and richness that was absolutely missing.  

So, here's what I think in regards to switching from a box to a Maggie. You will lose the ability to play back ALL types of music- say goodbye to Madonna but hello to Shubert!  The speed and crystal sharpness of electronica will dazzle you. Out of the box you MIGHT be  disappointed but with some fussing, you will get it right if you like that sort of thing. To much fussing and you have diminished returns. You MIGHT find that at higher volumes they are not pleasant. At lower volumes, they can be sublime.  Irrespective of what "experts"  say, a sub is your friend.   Probably it can be summed up like this- Magnepans are like a mail-order bride. You won't have a honeymoon period but instead, you will grow to love them.  It was not what I personally expected when spending that much money but, in the end, it's ok.  

As an aside, I am 59 and though I never thought of this as my "retirement" system maybe it is lol. I suspect I will be buying again in the future and run two systems. I won't get rid of my Maggies- I truly appreciate them for what they are. 

@inscrutable I'm rather where you are however my pop (RIP) made the choice for me. I inherited his system which was SOTA 25 years ago...  I'll spare you all the full front end inventory. The electronics and speakers however are Jadis pre and Defy7 amp and the speakers are B&W Matrix 800s. Yes, the big "ugly" ones:

I haven't heard them in over 20 years. My concern is moving to them from my Acoustat 1+1s and sub. I LOVE the soundstage the panels give me even if they're not the last word in detail. I'm worried the B&Ws won't deliver... As it is, the big beasts are still in storage until I can reconfigure the livingroom and because they are so large, and the amount of effort to set them up is considerable, it might be a one way trip to disappointment town when I do.

Good luck on your adventure! And as always...

Happy listening.



Congradulations for finding a solution. It would be really disheartening to make a major expenditure and be so disappointed. 

Glad you found something that works for you.

All the posts connecting rooms and speakers hit on a key to end game satisfaction. Room design and room treatment are a bigger deal than many are willing to admit. If budget isn't a consideration, designing a room is a big challenge with large potential rewards.

If not, a thoughtful approach and some experimentation with room treatment will go quite a long way. Many praise DSP vs room treatment, which might be effective for some, but I prefer not adding more boxes, cables and potential signal degradation to the path. Panels, etc. might be more of a PITA and less attractive to listen with your eyes closed ;-) or take your time finding or making something that appeals to you. 

For every speaker type, I've heard plenty of systems of modest cost outperform others at multiples higher cost, mostly due to serious room treatment and optimized speaker/seating placement. Cheers,



Unfortunately, you can't take your speakers away on a second honeymoon.




Or can you...?

I’ve had DQ10’s and still have some Acoustat Model X, panel speakers.  Last year I bought my first pair of “Box” speakers in years. I like them a lot, but there’s something about open baffle and panel speakers I’m really missing. 
Haven’t heard the current Maggie’s in a while…



Add a pair of super tweeters and I bet you get what you are missing back and keep all the good stuff.

@baylinor Love the house of stereo! Great system and nice standalone house for it. And nice putting green out front. 😉


👍 Right back at you. Love the detailed description of your system. And with those pics it's easy to see what the technical aspect of the equipment does for you. Intense!

Now please don’t laugh at what I am going to share.. I started with Fisher DS-825 right out of school, moved onto JBL LC 310-1(The cone literally disintegrated one day and fell like tattered cloth and powder).. Moved onto B&W DM603-S2, then onto B&W Nautilus 805(Still have them), and then onto Joseph Audio RM 22Si(I enjoyed these with the infinite slope design before they started to get a little ear fatigue), Salk Veracity STs and now with some Magicos’ and Dynaudios... I have dabbled in adding Subs but can’t stand them with good high end gear now. I think I have finally found bliss with Magico.. Have no desire to switch to another brand or explore any further. They pair beautifully with Luxman.. I am happy as a clam..

Forgot to throw a pair of Tannoy reveals in there.. That I still have and like.. 

Don’t ask me why I remember all these model numbers.. It’s a thing for me..


For instance, I was seriously considering Maggies myself years ago for all the amazing things they do right, but what they couldn’t do as well was bring a heft, weight, oomph, etc. to the sound that dynamic cone speakers do quite well. By comparison the Maggies sounded a little more diffuse with less dynamic thrust into the room, and that’s when I realized I couldn’t live without having that more direct, dynamic impact and never regretted my decision.

Yes, wondering if I might have the same reaction, given I’ve ‘returned’ to those over the years from other styles.



Unfortunately, you can't take your speakers away on a second honeymoon.



Or can you...?

Well, I may attempt that. Over the years I’ve owned, or had/heard in home or a friends a handful of conventional driver models I really liked. There’s one available right now for a good price, and I may get them, and then also buy some Maggies, and see which stays, or if I become polygamous.

Well, made decision (for now) to hold off on 2nd honeymoon or other dynamic driver speakers, and wait to get and live with Maggies for a while. I’m keeping my SDA-SRS2 (also for now) to remind me of the low bass and dynamics I may be missing, and see in what direction that may take me. At that point, acquire or keep as the case may be, and start on optimizing room treatments for the survivors.

Thanks to all for the input.


maybe you should share more details about your system, how you have your maggies set up (and which models are they) - i looked at your profile/system, it is not up to date it seems

can take some effort to the get the very best out of maggies, but once they are dialed in, few will think the magic is lacking... even on extended term listening

@jjss49 ya know, tried to update the other day and didn’t see how without creating a new one. Will have to look again. [edit: just updated]

Two equipment updates … set up my VPI Classic 1 w/SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC Star through Lehmann Black Cube SE (that’s probably next on list, leaning to SoundSmith MCP-2 MkII) and Marantz SA-KI Ruby. The Plinius was completely refreshed and power supply boosted a bit by Ralph Abramo (Vince Galbo successor).


Have not yet done anything to the room. Been preoccupied with health issues and getting my work/woodshop set up.

@mapman  Ohm Walsh speaker owners seldom have this problem. 😉

I've had my Walsh 4's since 1986.  They've been re-foamed twice, internal batting has been re-tuned by yours truly, and lastly, since they are bottom vented, I've experimented with placement on carpet vs. 16X16 acrylic plinth.  

The acrylic plinth wins out for 80% of my listening because it's more dynamic and involving, the big exception being male a cappella choirs. 

QLN on of the best speakers along with Sf. love them. Been a happy listner for years.