Downgrading... Is it possible??? Suggestions

I am currently running what I consider to be a really nice setup. I like the sound a lot and don't really have an itch to change a thing. That said, my system pretty much has overtaken our living room and while it looks pretty cool to an audiophile, it is rather unsightly to most others. I have 2 racks and am using a total of 9 rack spaces.

My wife is very cool about this, but really we have rather small house and I feel like a jerk hogging up the whole living room like this. I originally had a dedicated built room for my gear but I found I liked having my music where I am all the time and not having to go out all by myself and play music in closed quarters.

Check out my system and give me suggestions. I don't want to change my sources but am open to speakers (maybe going to a standmount?) and the preamp and amps to an integrated. I don't spend most of my listening in the sweet spot and value a good lively dynamic sound. I listen to all music types.
I take it you have the VR's w/JC1's? I had VR4GenIII's w/ Ayre V-1xe & Atma-sphere pre & sold everything 2.5 yrs. ago. I now run BAT amp w/Pass Aleph P, along w/some homemade spkrs & inexpensive sub. Doesn't have the same bass as big VR's but very nice & musical.

My suggestion is Sonus Faber Electa Amator II run w/BAT gear. My good friend has this set-up in a mostly analog system & although you don't get the hard hitting bass, it's quite nice. I will eventually replace the spkrs I have w/the same or very similar units.
I would check into paradigm. I had paradigm mini monitors for a while, awesome balance, clarity, and off axis response was stellar. Check out the used studio line, they are well regarded speakers.

Other option is to go for something big but stylish. I think my logans look pretty good actually though they dominate the room.
You have such awesome gear it will be very tough to downgrade, IMHO. If you don't spend time in the sweetspot then something with wide dispersion or omnidirectional is in order - hard to say without any pics of your setup.
07-12-08: Shadorne
You have such awesome gear it will be very tough to downgrade, IMHO. If you don't spend time in the sweetspot then something with wide dispersion or omnidirectional is in order - hard to say without any pics of your setup.
I agree. I have a dedicated "big rig" home theater system and a rather modest 2-channel living room system, but it's the living room system I have going most of the time.

It's a big listening area because of the cathedral ceiling and the open architecture that extends into the foyer, up the hall and over to the dining area.

I have omnis and love what they do for this type of arrangement. For the last 3 years I've been using little football-sized Mirage Omnisats with a subwoofer. They do an excellent job of filling the space because of their omnidirectionality. Still, I wanted something that would scale up a bit more for big band, opera, and large orchestra, so Monday I'm to receive a pair of Mirage OMD-15 floorstanding columns to replace the sat/sub arrangement. The OMD-15s are very unobtrusive at 40" high, 8" wide and 12" deep and are available in piano black or rosewood. They are biampable/biwirable, have 91 dB efficiency, and can handle 250 watts. This translates into quite a dynamic range.

If the OMD-15s are too downscale for you, Mirage's flagship model, the OMD-28, would probably do. These got a rave review in Abso!ute Sound, and have become the reference speakers for one of their reviewers. They're a little bigger than the OMD-15s, but are still relatively modest at 46.5" tall and an 11x13 footprint. They can handle 300 watts and go down to 25 Hz w/o a sub. They would absolutely fill the living space with very tonally balanced sound. By this I mean that Mirages with the Omniguide have a very natural, balanced sound, but are by no means compressed or indistinct. The dynamics and transparency improve with more power and better wires feeding them, but regardless they energize the listening space like live voices and instruments would. There is no suckout non-uniform dispersion or venitian blind effect with these speakers.

You can also eliminate a rack space or two by going to one of the new breed of high end, high-powered integrated amps from Bryston, Musical Fidelity, Classe, PS Audio, Krell, VTL, etc.
No It is not possible to downgrade. I tried to get a cheaper phono and they sounded like mid fi. I can't take that sound very long. It is altogether possible to upgrade and spend less however!
if you are referring to size down grade, yes it is very possible. you can get very fine European products that are very fine sounding and don't take up much space.

if you are referring to sound down grade, only you can answer that question. for me, it's possible even though I won't be happy about it.

if you are referring to financial saving, it's very possible. I have achieved very musical sound with a good tube integrated.
Zu Presence does it for me. Compact with low visual impact, they take up little floor space and because of hi-efficiency and internal powered subs, allow for the use of smaller amplification. Very wide dispersion so you get good soundstage across wide area. And they are very dynamic sounding due to pro audio influence brought to bear by their designers. You can have them painted any color or pattern to suit your decor or to blend with background.
I am in the process of down-sizing or down grading or both not sure which yet as I have not received my amp yet (in the mail). Wife hated the big Thiels in our family room and all the electronics in the cabinette.

I just sold all my cj electronics (premier 16lsII and premier 350 amp) and Thiel 3.6's. Just purchased JM Labs Electra 1007 Be monitors and Cary SLI-80 F1 direct coupled tube integrated. Still have my modded SCD-1 as I still needed a front end. So we shall see if this works out. If it doesn't it may all be up for sale. Good luck on your endeavor.

start with the speakers. you can actually get small footprint dynamic floorstanders that will excell on all types of music....only a downgrade of space and cost, not sound.
In my living room I use SF Cremons with Pathos integrated and cd player (Classic/Digit small chasis). Add an Oracle TT and small chasis phono stage (Lehman Black Box or equivalent) and you'll have a small, striking looking system. It may not match your current system's performance, but it can sound very good.
In a move to integrated, I would take a look at the new Pass Labs integrated - a start to "downgrading" while maintaing the level of perfomance you are accustomed to. As for speakers, I agree with Jaybo - a change here would give you a lot of bang-for-the-buck in creating a less intrusive presence in your room, while keeping a high quality, "full-range" sound. My favourite "small" speakers with "full-range" sounds are Merlin VSM-MXes.
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I am doing the same thing. My system is being migrated from the living room to either the loft or a small den. My problem is that I would like to keep all of my components which means the only area of change are the speakers. Going to some stand mounted speakers will give the visual perception of a smaller speaker but in terms overall foot print and usable space, I dont think I will be gaining anything. The toughest part of my downsizing is actually being able to let go of my gear. Arrghhh this is going to be tough!
I hesitate to chime in since you have tried alot of gear i can only dream about and i've only heard a system w/ATC active speakers once. They are not inexpensive, but they might help knock down the space hog factor. I think there is a pair of scm100s posted for a good bit less than retail right now.

PS Hope you guys catch a break on the fires!
Unfortunately for you the two biggest space saving moves can have a noticeable impact on your sound quality. The VSA speakers work best when positioned out into the room. Nearly all stand mounted monitors also need to be positioned in this manner, so they really won't save you much space even if they can be a little less visually imposing. You need to look for a speaker that works well when positioned close to a wall. The speaker doesn't have to be small, particularly if its finished as fine furniture. There are several threads on that topic; you should search them out. Your mono amps are very large and your preamp has a separate power supply. That's a total of four boxes. An integrated amp would generate big space savings. You'll have trouble finding one with as good a phono section as your Whest unit.

At this point I'm thinking Rowland, Gryphon, BAT, Leben or McIntosh (tubes) coupled with Gradient, Tannoy, Guru or Klipsch speakers. Alternatively you could get a preamp w/ phono and run it directly into a powered monitor (ATC, Genelec, etc.) Place the speakers on a stand with rollers and move them in and out of position as needed.

Easy moves would be to dump the cassette. Is it really necessary? Same for the Masterlink. Record directly to the computer and burn CDs for it. Combine the A/D and D/A converters into one unit. Apogee Digital makes an excellent product along those lines.

In short, the answer is YES, it is very possible, but you will face some obstacles. You should be able to create a great sounding smaller system, but it probably won't sound just like what you have. It doesn't have to be worst.
Well I definetly did not down grade but actually upgraded the Focals/Cary SLI-80F1 is much more transparent and dynamic than the big Thiel/cj combination with smoother high end extension. I am very pleased with the result. Smaller monitor speakers and one box (all tube :)) in the cabinette. Wife is happy I am happy.......Horray.
If you want to go stand-mounted, maybe something like Merlin TSM-MXes, with a great integrated? There are quite a few good integrateds available. You could even try the Ayre if you like the Ayre you have.
Duane, we are Ok with the fires up here thanks, now if the smoke would go away. I was thinking ATC might be a good idea. I've never heard them but it seems like guys go crazy for them. Do you know someone who owns them?

Well I tried a little experiment and brought in some Pro Ac monitors to try out agains my VR4SRs. What a letdown. They aren't even in the same realm. They sound so weak and frail and just plain grainy compared to the SRs. They even make the amps work harder, those little boxes than do the big ol SRs. It's funny when you have big speakers and get used to them you can start to think they don't have all that much bass, but when you take it away for a while and then put it back it really makes you appreciate how much a full range sound adds to a realistic presentation.

I have an Outlaw 2150 reciever that I could hook up to my SRs, but that is probably a waste of time! I don't think it's going to be so easy to give up what I am used to. Only thing I can think to do is just buy a used integrated like the Sim Audio i7 and just see how it sounds.

Thanks for the ideas all.