Non-fatiguing speakers in $10K range?

Some years ago I downsized to headphones only. Now I have access to a dedicated room again, so getting my absorption panels and ASC Tube traps back from storage... :-) The amp is going to be Accuphase E-800. I like class A, and I owned fair share of Pass gear but Pass integrated (and lower preamps) no longer have tape loop. I also like my gear to look the way I enjoy and Pass went too industrial for me.

Anyway, long story short. Speakers. I prefer relaxed, non-fatiguing sound. My headphones are Meze Elites and I love them. I also own Focal Utopia, but rarely listen to them, too forward for me.

Now, music-wise I do not listen to jazz or classical or vocals, sorry. Classic rock, hard rock, 80s new wave, punk, pop (classic and modern) and African blues like Tinariwen. People tend to insta-suggest forward sounding speakers - you like metal, right???. But I don't like piercing sound and I rarely go to concerts exactly because of this. I listen to AC/DC but NOT at 'realistic' revels. I like rhythm, melody, but I don't care about 120 Db.

The budget is about $10K, give or take, most probably second hand, but I can buy new, if I really like it. Unfortunately, there are not that many high end shops around Seattle with gear I like. Some went selling vintage and some went up selling only $100K+ systems. So most probably will be getting something blind.

It seems I should be looking for ribbon tweeters, I spent hours at youtube - it is definitely not listening in person, but some recordings are pretty decent and many show differences between speaker models.

I also compare frequency response measurements - I can easily tell that I won't like the speaker by looking at the chart. Ex, bump around 2-6K is a no-no since this is what "bright" is. Dip is actually good since this is what makes sound less "in your face/ear".

So far I more-or-less narrowed my search down to Legacy (Signature or Focus), Dali 8, ProAc (D48 or K) and - maybe - Magico A3? Legacy is huge, I am not sure I really need 20Hz extension. Magico has beryllium tweeters which may be bright....

I purchased Tannoy D700 many years ago, still own them, they are part of my TV set up. They sound good, but not as good as I would like it. My desktop speakers are ribbons too - AirPulse, I like them quite a bit.

Anything else I am missing?

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Aerial Acoustics and Sonus Faber both make highly listenable speakers in my experience

@mikhailark, ime a "relaxed, non-fatiguing sound" is predicted by a gently downward-sloping first-arrival sound, and an off-axis sound that has a very similar spectral balance. I’m not a big fan of deliberately introducing dippage into the 2-6 kHz region you mentioned, as that can remove some of the upper harmonic richness that draws you into the music. 

Also, horns came up in the thread, and imo prosound horns (like you’d hear at a concert) are not representative of what good home audio horns can do. Most prosound horns deliberately introduce diffraction (via a sharp discontinuity in the horn itself) to improve the uniformity of their coverage pattern, but the downside is the introduction of a harshness that becomes increasingly audible and objectionable as the SPL goes up. Good home audio horns and waveguides do not have this issue, and have the advantage of reducing the spectral discrepancy between the first-arrival sound and the reflection field, which in turn is ime a contributor to long-term fatigue-free listening.

If you do find speakers in your price range that have the characteristics you want, don’t overdo it with the absorptive room treatments. If too much high frequency energy is removed from the reflection field, listening fatigue can actually be increased. This may be somewhat counter-intuitive so let me know if you’d like an explanation.

Can you give us a guesstimate of your room dimensions?

How critical is the appearance of the speakers?

Do you have a ballpark idea of the weight limitations, given that you’ll presumably have to move these by yourself?

Best of luck in your quest!


@audiokinesis - thanks much! The room is roughly 30x15x8. I don't have many room treatments, just what's left from my former HT setup - 6 12"x4' ASC tube traps and 4 6"x4' traps and maybe 5-6 1" 2'x2' absorption panels. Rug on the floor, thin carpeting.

Yes, I know about soft sound, but I guess I mostly meant "no bumps" around 5K :-) Speaker appearance does not matter much. 

I auditioned Klipsch couple of times, La Scala, corner horns, but never really found them to be rock speakers. Wonderful with voice and piano though.

I ruled out Legacy primarily on size and weight. Shipments gets to $500-600 plus I don't know how to get them down my long and steep driveway (trucks don't go there) and then downstairs with limited space to turn around.