Speaker of the Century Award Goes To ....

The 2.5 way speaker.

You guys probably thought I was going to fanboy over a brand, and I'm not. I'm going to fanboy over a speaker design. IMHO the 2.5 way speaker is THE ideal high end speaker for the majority of enthusiasts.

First, what is a 2.5 way? It is a speaker with 3 drivers, but the mid range lacks a high pass filter, so  it shares output with the woofer.  It has a number of advantages over smaller and larger speakers:
  • Similar footprint to stand mounted 2-way speakers
  • Ideal bass output for apartments and modest homes
  • Easier to integrate than big speakers
  • No subwoofer
  • High sensitivity compared to a 2-way using similar drivers
  • Reasonably priced

A number of brands have taken this approach including:
  • Focal
  • Joseph
  • Monitor Audio
  • DIY kits like the Klang Ton Ophelia, and Zaph Audio

So for the average enthusiast who is not a San Francisco billionaire I argue here (for the sake of an argument) that the 2.5 way speaker should be considered one of the great technical innovations in terms of users and results.
SPEAKER OF THE CENTURY?  That's like saying who made the best automobile in the last 100 years!  But I would say that some of the most
SIGNIFICANT achievements in sound reproduction belong in two categories. 1.definitely Magaplanars.-astonishingly real authentic music.
I could EASILY overlook their shortcomings, but that's me. 
2. A 20-20 speaker that has some minor limitations. That IMO is the Eggleston Andra, with an unbeatable tweeter without diamonds, a near perfect integration from top to bottom- which goes down below 20Hz.
Unlike the B&W 801 Matrix (the audio end of the road),you DO NOT need 
the most refined front-end componenets to get them to sound good.
It would help to get something good, like a good CDP, etc.
So IMHO you either get the Maggies (3.7's are incredible), or you get a 
box with an amazing crossover, and superb drivers in an MDF heavily braced cabinet as good as you really need to stop resonances.
You save money and you can play them as loud as you want. Placement and set-up you can do yourself. Play a piano sonata on them and tell me they don't sound like you went out and bought a Steinway. There are better speakers for $100,000 and more, but they tend to be overwhelming- they.move too much air. LIKE A FANCY restaurant that, Instead of serving you a steak dinner, they bring you the whole cow. 
The only thing I would say is the best in anything human is Bach .
In speakers the sweethearts were AR-3 's .
One could argue the best selling speaker of all time is the speaker of the century . But as far as performance , time alignment , quality of build , design firsts and out right copied from is the jbl L7 .  My vote. 
The one thing that most will agree on is that any speaker is compromised.  You need to find a manufacture that you like as we all hear differently regardless of room interactions etc...  

All type of speakers have their problems regardless of what folks may want us to think.  That's where marketing comes in.  When you go to a store and listen to totally different systems and listen to your own ears (most have heard live music) and not to what you are being told/sold, you will make better choices.  I'm so hard on speakers IRT being hot or dull.  I know that I enjoy the Vandersteen line for what I can afford.  I've heard speakers in the ranges I can buy as well as a ton from 15-250k or so and have an idea of what is out there.  

Most speakers are so much better than what we got only 15 years ago,  We are blessed to have the choices we do.  
2.5 - Way speakers tend to sound better than 3-Ways IME. The only affordable 3-ways I can imagine living with are Vandersteens.
I find the opposite to be true.
So it would appear that execution has a lot more to do with it, as is so with many things in the audio world. A lot also depends on what is 'affordable'.