Beyond Boutique Speakers

The thread "boutique" speakers was apparently for makers who are famous enough to get regular reviews in Stereophile.

I thought it would be good to focus on makers who have not even gotten that far or you want to have a personal relationship with your speaker maker.

Selah Audio

Lee Taylor, who made my cabinets and knows his stuff:

And of course Fritz

Of the three, I’m only familiar with Taylor’s cabinetry which is excellent, and Fritz’ finished products.

I can recommend both based on the reasons above. I really like the choices Selah makes, but I’ve never heard or seen them in person.  The floor is now open to recommend others.  I would like to ask that we stay with small makers who do not make it to the review pages on major magazines.
I thought it would be good to focus on makers who have not even gotten that far
The ones that dont go far even after many years are simply not good enough. Why should we bother to focus on them if you want the best possible sound quality? 

If I'm going to spend $$ for the components I choose it just seems like the best way is from a small company that takes pride and care of each item that leaves the shop before sending it out. Talking to the owner and being able to get something customized for a particular circumstance is a perk too.
This is the path of the connoisseur.

You need to be sure of what good sounds like and be able to pick it out instead of your wallet doing so.

Well, Tonian Labs still qualifies as they've only been reviewed by and PFO online (Fransisco Duran) and that's about it.

As for the dismissive comment from kenjit, he reminds me of who that quote of Mark Twain was meant for:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
All the best,
We definitely need to note Great Plains.  While they make components they also make finished products.  Anyone enamored of the Altec Lansing horns of yore should look them up.
Definitely too big for me! :)
Take a look at Viking Acoustic -- A boutique master speaker and cabinet builder in Sante Fe, NM.  I believe most of his sales are sold overseas.
How does this sound:

If the maker has had 1 dedicated review in Stereophile, including measurements, etc. then it’s excluded from this thread.

If it’s been mentioned at a show or reviewed with others, etc. then it can be here.  For instance, Kal Rubinson's Music in the Round does not count.

Does that seem fair?
GR Research has a great product and a great staff..

The ones that dont go far even after many years are simply not good enough. Why should we bother to focus on them if you want the best possible sound quality?

There are quite a few that didn't care if they went far or not.. They just wanted to make speakers..
Horn guys will spend a lifetime on a pair.  Always find them in the shop, 89 years old, still 
making that "next perfect horn", and then trying to match it...  to get a pair.  LOL

I guess I'll throw a vote in for John over at Van L Speakerworks in Chicago.  He's been slaving away for years making some great sounding speakers.  I've enjoyed sitting and listening many times over the last 20 years or so.  Although not since he moved his shop to Norridge, IL.  Nice guy too.  His Quartets stand out in my memory.  No major reviews that I know of. 
Hey Gang:

Please see if you can find links when you post! I'm sure everyone who is interested would be happy to click on one to learn more.


By all accounts Boenicke makes great speakers and has been reviewed by every major publication in the EU but since they have never had real distribution in the US no reviews. I don't think they qualify due to the sheer number of EU reviews plus an established EU dealer network.  Giant EU companies like Canton are the same way in the US.  They have a couple of US dealers and then Accessories4Less which is one of their outlets for discontinued products. 
I don't think they qualify due to the sheer number of EU reviews plus an established EU dealer network.
The criteria is if they’ve had a full review in Stereophile, which Boenicke has not.  That they may be well known in the EU is irrelevant to this thread. 

Well, Stereophile was a suggestion, in large part because their own criteria is that you have to have 3 dealers to be reviewed in their magazine, and it was based on the idea of Audiogon being a mostly US read site.

I’ll leave it to everyone else to help out here, and avoid bringing up the JBLs of another country here. No reason why you can't start a different thread for them.

I think so long as we bring exposure to these ultra low volume makers it’s a win.


Stereophile had at least one article on Janszen loudspeakers
( but not a full review. They have no dealers. All orders are directly through David Janszen.

Many choices go into (or *can* go into) an order. In my case, we got down to discussing cat-resistant front grilles, as well as the possibility of making an active set that supports use of an outboard DAC.  

But here's a (disqualifying?) full-on review in Part-Time Audiophile: 

The Janszen family has been making loudspeakers for decades but have built only about 40 pairs in the model I ordered. I consider them a boutique company; am still not sure what "beyond boutique" means.  Presumably, it needs to be a real company with an ordering process and standard models with published specs. All that will tend to invite reviews, eventually (if the company stays in business and its products are worth reviewing).
Personally I think way too much attention has been focused on cabinet, style, looks.
My main concern, especially at my age today, is cabinet weight.
AS I’ve mentioned here, my limit on consideration of a speaker choice is 80 lbs max. I can lift 80,,or at least half drag/carry.
I plan to add a 2nd speaker next year, after i recover my paypal debt from investment in a failed tube flipping business.
will be the Seas Bifrost,,, I plan to build my own cabinets out of oak , like stair treads from Home Depot.
I think we need to reconsider speakers and pay more attention to the quality parts in the xovers.
With my new Thor /Mundorf xovers,, I can tell you caps make a huge impact on speakers performance.
I am about to swap out 2 more caps, from EVO going to Supreme EVO, 8.2’s, list at $220 each, so its a big investment, but i’m guessing the nuance payoff will be worth it.

Back to OP, I agree with Erik, folks should look/consider beyond the commercial venue  when purchasinga  speaker.
The 3 cabinet makers Erik posted all offer beautiful designs at a  lot less cost vs commercial labs price bloated  price offerings, not to mention they can be <customized>> to your requests. .

Defining "boutique" is like defining "craft" in many other industries. Given the nature of the products, they all have to be produced using "hand-crafted" methods. Most companies aren’t public so unless you get a D&B on them, sales are unclear.

I like the idea of "having a personal relationship with your speaker maker" as a defining characteristic.

Incidentally, by any measure I am pretty sure my company fits (not sure if that is good or bad) so please add Verdant Audio to your list.
Tyler Acoustics has many great reviews by owners but very little mention, and by that I mean no mention,  by the big hitter reviewers. He uses Seas drivers and his cabinets look great. I guess I’m going to have to drive to Kentucky and give them a listen!
I don't believe Louis Chochos of Omega Speaker Systems has ever had a dedicated review in Stereophile.  And, as far as I know, he pretty much continues to build every pair himself to order, although he may well have some part-time help now.  Seems to me the very definition of a boutique/craft operation.
The definition of "boutique" implies a small, exclusive business that specializes on their specific product or style of products and that offers customized service.  Any small business specializing in making speakers should meet the definition of "boutique" but few of those would get many (if any) reviews in publications such as Stereophile.  However, I suspect there is latitude with respect to the definition of "small."

Other related terms we sometimes hear are "bespoke" which means the product is custom-made for the buyer, artisanal which implies a distinctive product made by an "artisan," typically in small quantities, and usually by hand crafting and/or by using traditional methods, and "craftsman" which is a person who is skilled in a particular craft.  In our hi-fi world, it is not uncommon for boutique businesses to be run by an artisan who makes bespoke products for their clients/buyers. 

PTA doesn’t count! I originally said Stereophile, but maybe I should have said "has to have a paper magazine."

This way we exclude anything fully reviewed in What and HiFi+ as well to keep those naughty EU /Brits out.

But look gang, this is meant to be a fun survey of really small makers. Like, smaller than Joseph Audio. So small they are practically direct only.  I don't want to play police here.  If you put in a link to a Joseph Audio size brand, sure put it in and lets move on.

It's also not meant to be a discussion about any one brand, more of a listing.  If you want to be a fanboy (and who doesn't?) Of a big brand from The Netherlands, nothing stops you from putting out your own thread.
Then Decware is a prime candidate. Never reviewed in major publications, yet with a solid customer base across the country.
Link for Tyler Acoustics. I’d be interested in hearing from someone on here who has at least heard any of his speakers. He is factory direct only.
I have listened to many of Ty's speakers at shows and have owned the Taylo 7u and the Linbrook Supertowers. The Taylos were my least favorite of them. I really liked the Supertower. At shows I have heard multiple speakers in the Decade line, Woodmere 2, Highland H3 and H4, and the Insights. For the brief time I heard them, the Highland line was my personal favorite and the Insight are very fun to listen to. It has been probably four years since I have heard any of them, so info is not the most update. I would be interested to hear the Decade line now that they use the Seas drivers. They should be very good. I chatted with Ty each time I saw him at a show and he was always a pleasure. 
Dang it, I wanted to say Tyler Acoustics...had a pair of D3mxs with Morel Cat 3 Tweeters.

How about ZU or Omega?

Ever hear of Bogdan?  I actually had a pair!

How about Vaughn?  
"For instance, Kal Rubinson's Music in the Round does not count."

Is that the guy who mentions that he has a house in Connecticut and an apartment in Manhattan a few times per Stereophile issue?
Volti Audio speakers are all made by one guy and he puts his cell phone number on his website. Yet he has a Stereophile review.  That's not boutique?

I may have to start a thread of "Beyond Beyond Boutique Speakers", where we list manufacturers that have never been reviewed or even mentioned in a forum, only whispered about in private messages.
Hi @whoopycat

I think you are being far to critical of this thread and its spirit. I really don’t want to play thread nazi, and we are not threatened by new threads.  I wanted to pay homage to the smallest of shops, that's all.

One of the big reasons I thought Stereophile was a good divider was that they used to have a minimum requirement of having at least 5 US dealers before they would do a formal review. That seems to be gone. I’m not sure how much Covid has played a part or a new crop of reviewers.

In any case, no I don’t have a problem with Volti being mentioned nor do I have a problem with you starting any thread you feel like.

By the way, you mentioned Volti, but you didn’t put their website in:

So please consider the positive intentions of the OP before you start threatening umbrage.

Appreciated your clarification of "boutique," Erik. 

I'd add Simon Mears Audio to that (smaller) list..
So I guess this means Zu is in?? :-)

Again, lets keep it fun.

Mentioning good people who make good speakers no one has probably ever heard of is the goal.  The more the merrier.
"warms my heart to finally see the Troll Kenjit simply being ignored "
I thought that was worth repeating murphythecat

I started that other boutique thread and was very impressed with the number of small shops producing quality speakers. It must take an enormous amount of passion and dedication to do that. We benefit from the choices and quality so I love the idea of supporting them. 

Another CT outfit that I stumbled on a few years ago:
Love my Tyler acoustic linbrook signature 2 piece speakers. Ty also made me a custom dual 15” sub.  Great guy to work with. 
Love my Tyler acoustic linbrook signature 2 piece speakers

Well I also love my Seas Thor MTM.
Let me ask you, how much does each section weigh??
My guess is 50 lbs each.. which is movable, but a  pain in the arse.
I think Tyler should have only offered large spakers upon request  only, and  directed more his attention to speakers under 70 lbs each all with Seas Excel drivers. 
His Towers are just not practical for shipping nor wife friendly. 
Which brings me to this Q
Are bigger speakers better than smaller (under 70 lbs) speakers?
Let me rephrase the Q.
What advantages do larger/heavier speakers have vs smaller /under 70 lb speakers? 
Bigger is better?
I think we need a  critical  criteria of size/weight in speakers. 
IMHO  the bigger, the heavier, the less practical, less efficient, less wife friendly and MORE ugly, stand out likea  sore thumb in any room. I guess you can say I am anti-large size speaker configuration. 
IMHO I think audio is headed to  a  minimalist approach. 
Originally bought the linnbrooks moniters and liked them so much I bought the bass modules. He now only makes the linbrook in a singular enclosure. As a 2 piece system they are movable but still very robust and heavy. Beautiful cabinets with African wenge wood, gorgeous. Ty is about the easiest guy to do business with and will accommodate just about any request. He also made me custom speaker stands to elevate my speakers to my desired sitting position height, very much improved the sound.  The custom sub he made me with 2 15” Audio elegance woofer drivers is a behemoth but will rumble the house powered by my Bryston 14b amp. I wish I lived closer to Owensboro Ky to audition his full line up at the time but this turned out to be one of the best audio purchases I have made.
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