Help me replace ancient speakers - or not

Looking forward to your collective wisdom...

Short version:
Should I replace my 40 year old Allison One speakers with something made within, oh, the last couple of decades??  And can I get something reasonably full-range, that can fit into my small NYC living room, for, say, $2500 or less?  Used is fine. 

Long version:
I've had these Allison Ones for about 10 years, and they replaced Allison Sixes that I purchased new in 1982 or so.  So I've had very similar speaker "sound" for a verrrry long time. 

I've been interested in hi-fi since the 80s but rarely purchase anything new - clearly!  I'm a musician and equipment/hobby money has usually gone to instruments and music instead.  I try to get improvements on a small budget. 

Rest of the system is a NAD C352 integrated (Craigslist find!) with Tara Labs jumpers, a Marantz CD6005 cd player, and an Auralic Aries MIni streamer, the last two running through an Audio GD r2r DAC.  This is all cheapish stuff, but it sounds good in our small apartment, or it does most of the time.  

I'm listening to a Geri Allen trio date with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, and her piano sounds full and tonally correct, and the bass and drums are balanced and impactful.  There isn't a huge amount of imaging  - Allisons don't really do that - but it all seems pretty correct.  BUT - maybe I'm just used to it?  

Other factors: we like to listen to everything from jazz to opera to poorly-recorded music from all over the world, at realistic volumes.  Scale is important, imaging not so much in my book.  My ears have taken a beating from years of loud gigs so I favor a warm-ish sound, but am open to trying something totally different.  I'm always drawn to the Audio Note rooms at shows, and a pair of AN-E's would be my dream.  Thinking of Klipsch Heresy's too, for some reason.  Gosh, I guess these are pretty ancient designs too.  

Any thoughts welcome and sorry for the novel. 
Monitor Audio should be your neutral-reference to start with. 

Funny, I think the AN-E's are based on Snell's, also speakers of a similar period. 

Are you interested in DIY? 


Yes, there are Audio Note kits.  Worth checking out.

Otherwise, Totem Forest might fit the bill.
I'm currently evaluating a pair of Spatial Audio M3 Holograms, and while its early for me to write a full review, I will say that I can't stop listening to them. My critcal listening is usually jazz (Jim Hall, Metheny, Gary Burton, Dave Holland, Charlie Hayden, Miles, Coltrane). 

I got got turned onto the Spatial's through this forum and after reading many reviews, felt it would be worth a shot given the 45-60 day in home trial. I wasn't even looking to replace my "forever speakers" (restored KEF 107s), but this pair has me considering it.

They're just a little over your $2500 budget. If you have the space, consider giving them a listen. 

Thanks so far, appreciate it.

Yes, the Klipsch thought is left-field.  I sometimes feel that the sound of my system isn't as engaging at lower volumes, which got me thinking of higher-efficiency and less "polite" speakers.  

I've looked at the AN Kit speakers, would love to go that route but they're still a bit spendy.  Love the idea of DIY not practical in my current space.  

Forgot to add - the ability to sound good close to the rear wall is a must. 


Funny, I've liked the idea of the Spatials as well... even though an open baffle is 180 degrees from my sealed boxes.  How's the bass quality? 

Any thoughts that the NAD is a limiting factor in my system? 
I just caught the "small apartment " in your original post. The M4s might work better in your space...and cheaper to boot.
@erik_squires: Audio Note E"s are copies of the Snell E's. Along with the J's and K's. So much for originality! I have Snell AIII's, E's and J's. Excellent speakers whose value belies their low secondhand prices!
Get a pair of nicely restored Snell AIII's (for less than your budget limit). They go right up against the wall and so take up little space. Accurate, dead-flat frequency response down to below 30hz. SQ competitive with today's multi-kilo speakers!
Sounds like the perfect situation for Sjofn (the clue) speakers that are made to be positioned right near the rear wall.  I heard these at a show and frankly couldn't believe what I was hearing from these small bookshelf speakers.  Here's some real-world feedback from folks here and a professional review...

Audio Note E"s are copies of the Snell E's. Along with the J's and K's. So much for originality!

I don't really have a problem with making copies when the originals cannot be found, so long as credit is given and licenses are paid. 

I have Snell AIII's, E's and J's. Excellent speakers whose value belies their low secondhand prices! 

Absolutely, but those drivers are getting old. The AIIIs with their mass loaded, downward firing woofers are getting pretty old. 
I had Allison ones many moons ago. I never did like them. For your musical taste the Spendor A3 should fit the bill. They also fit your budget!

Used I would recommend Linn Kan, Paradigm Atom, Kirksaeter Silverline 60 for apartment sized.

Great suggestions all, thanks!   

I heard the Sjofn (the clue) at the NY Audio Show a few years back and was quite impressed... hmm.  I'm using Supra cables, which are another high-value item distributed by Sjofn.  Might have to revisit these, though I worry about them giving scale to Die Walkure, or Miles Davis' Agharta at full volume... 

Will try and seek out some of the others as well.

We have a few speakers which might really do the trick, we have a few pairs of supeb demo speakers, including a pair of Gershman Sonograms which were $3,800 new selling $2k, warm full bodied great bass, warm tonality, we also have a pair of Gradient Evidence very compact floorstanders amazing sound and will work great in a tiny NYC apartment.

We are easy to reach via Path or Bus from NYC.  Brand new Dali Opticon's are amazing elegant and compact floorstanders.

These are all excellent choices that will do what you want without breaking the bank and they all come with the service and support of a dealer. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Let the dream come true - Audio Note it is. And much better electronics and cables and power cords.Probably player too. Not necessarily all at once. But if you like your speakers.. 
If you ask enough people you will get suggestions for just about every speaker ever made in your price range... No one knows what YOU like except for you. You need to go out and listen to different speakers to get this figured out.. Maybe there is an audio store near you and you can take home some stuff to demo.. Also, I didnt see if you had mentioned what size room you have. Proper setup makes a huge difference. 
I hope this post doesn’t grate too hard on the real Audiofile crowd here.
I use mix of professional Audio and  mid-fi Audio equipment to achieve my current version (>$ >) audio bliss. I have a Yamaha mixer for my pro, and a Rogue 99 preamp, to play LPs.
Line-out and from the preamp to my powered Focal Solo Be6 speakers.  Your MAC integrated has 2 line out.  
I had a great pair of boutique speakers (now passed along to my daughter)  in the early 80s. They have duel-coil winding Focal Drivers, and still sounds great.  I discovered the brand name the hard way at a party where someone else was Acting DJ!   Zalatron! UGH!  I put Focal speakers in a car 20 years ago. They were like $55 a piece. They were great back then.  The  near field studio Focal Be6 are great now at $2200 a pair, new!  They have a great deal of mid-range detail. Clarity at the high-end.  Front port for base/close to the wall installation.  BEATIFULLY finished & XLR only input.   Adjustable shelf /. I go from my RCA out preamp to  RCA IN on my M-audio Sub, then to The Focals with XLR.  It’s balanced-with that though.  This serves both Nearfield mixing needs and wonderful audio from pre-recorded sources.
 I use vinyl myself!  My BentUnderground studio is 11 feet deep w  7 foot ceiling..  I know you said you don’t care about it too much, but in addition to all of that you get an incredible Soundstage.

Bent Underground
Might want to try some ELAC offerings--ought to be ideal in small living room. Older Debut B6's go for around $200 a pr.--newer 6.2's about $300 a pr. They are all very well reviewed and ought to work well w/NAD.
@sforrey -- remember you can also do a dual stack of (the clue) with their spacer between them, which I'd think would add greatly to scale and impact and you'd still be in budget with new -- not used -- speakers.  I think you may be able to get a trial period but not sure on this.  Just sayin'. 
@sforrey , since my current speakers have a total of (4) 10" woofers in a band pass loaded configuration, I was concerend about the ability for an open baffle speaker to match the lower frequency output of my KEFs. Honestly, I always felt OB speakers were weird  fringe concept reserved for those who hang tapestries all over their house. (No offense to tapestry owners 😀).

The M3s somehow have managed to go lower than my KEFs with much more authority ( in my room, YMMV).
Their overall sound is much more "here" than "there". It's dynamic and for lack of a better term, more real. I doubt I could bring myself to sell the KEFs because their sound is so relaxing (as I imagine your Allison's are). Since your situation seemed similar to mine (vintage speaker to something more modern), I wanted to share. Best of luck with whatever you decide.

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Thanks again all.

@yakbob - very interesting indeed.  The Allisons also have a total of four large woofers (and four mids and tweets), and they do have a very relaxing, "east coast" sound.  Hearing that your KEFs share some of these aspects, and yet the Spatials work even better for you, is encouraging.

I actually really love the way the Allisons perform in my space - for example, I NEVER experience issues with bloated or boomy bass, which from my reading here seems to be a common problem - but the idea of something more dynamic & live (and totally different) is appealing. 

Thanks also for your thoughts Elizabeth, your opinion counts for a lot.  It is strangely rare that speaker designers consider room interactions at this late date.  If I may ask, what integrated would you recommend (used or new) that would work well, for say $2500 or less?  
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Small space, close to the wall, warm sound, broad frequency response, small foot print = ProAc D2. Check Hi-Fi Shark for ads, there’s several up for grabs for under 2 grand.

As for thoughts that the NAD is a limiting factor in your system? - - - the 352 is a lovely little bit of Hi-Fi, but lets face it .... it is an entry level bit of gear. Comparatively speaking, the NAD is bright sounding to what’s out there & being a musician you must find that with prolonged listening the music becomes grainy, even intrusive.

If your an old school guy/musician, you’ll most likely warm up to the sound of tubes (pardon the pun). The Rouge Cronus Magnum is a must to audition. A must. They’re out there used, they are not cheap, nor are they expensive (It has a phono stage). It’s an integrated amp, so it’ll save ya space, plus you’ll be able to tube roll with it to tailor your sound.

All I can say is that with the ProAc/Rouge combination you can’t go wrong. You’ll get a life time of listening contentment and for not a whole lot of money.
PS: I don’t work for or sell either of the above.
The Allisons are designed to work with your room boundaries in ways very few if any modern speakers are.

Dipole speakers like the Spatials with their cardoid radiation pattern are also very room friendly.

I'd approach upgrading cautiously, if at all.  Get a measurement mic and download Room EQ Wizzard and collect some data.
+1 Elizabeth! "I say keep the speakers" .    Add that new Kinki int amp (200 wpc) and you'll have a system that will show the full potential of the Allison Ones!
Hi Sforrey,
+2 Elizabeth!!
Based on what I have read you should keep the speakers.
As roberjerman pointed out the Kinki Integrated Amp definitely deserves checking out.
some other considerations...

Also worth consideration - sounds fantastic, I had a similar set up

There are also some good deals on Agon with vintage integrated amps for BAT and Audio Research. I would stay away from the newer AR gear.
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