Speakers to build a $6500 system around

I am frustrated with all the speaker choices available in the $2k range. There's just too many! I listen to all music types but I lean towards jazz, vocals and reggae. I have a bedroom system consisting of an Rega Apollo cd player, Music Angel EL34 integrated pushing an old pair of Energy 4.1e's which I enjoy very much. However, this set-up in my larger tiled family room just doesn't cut it. Can someone recommend a source,full range speaker and integrated combo that can deliver "you are there" kind of sound for around $6500? My room is not ideal. It measures 16' x 20'. One side opens out to a dining area. I have to place these speakers against the long wall. I would really appreciate any opinions on speakers in the $2000 dollar range that I can really build something special upon. Thanks!
Speakers are rather personal and subjective, so you might want to visit a few hifi shops and hear many different speakers in your budget - actually if you want to buy them used, you can hear upto two times your budget, and get more quality.

If you consider using the playstation 1 as the source (which can be picked up for a song on Ebay), you will have more left over for the speakers. I would spend the most on speakers if I were you.

If you can place it on the short wall, they would sound better.

Here is a audiogon thread about Playstation 1, and how good it is.

There are a lot of options - especially if you are willing to buy "pre-owned" speakers that are a little cosmetically challenged. For sale on Audiogon right now are a pair of Allison Ones (1000USD) and a pair of Audio Note ANE speakers (1500USD). Both are designed for near wall placement and are not fussy about location.
There was just a thread on Audioasylum's High Efficiency (speakers) forum about Altec Model 19s where recent pricing was discussed (and recent offers have been in the $1200-1500 range with no bids). A reasonably well-known audio dealer and speaker specialist once called them one of the best turnkey speakers ever made. They are big, but highly efficient. They like a big room, but can survive in a room like yours. I have mine in similar placement in a slightly smaller room and they are wonderful. They put out a BIIIIG sound with little wattage, sound wonferful with tubes (and should work very well with tubes).

For anyone who can deal with big old boxes (they look OK, especially in walnut, so they have WAF of a certain kind but they are big, which means they could lose WAF points in another way, they are great. I put mine in a summer house music room (you can see it in my "Whiskey Room" system. Every time someone new comes to the house and listens to music, their first reaction is "Whoa, those are big", and their next reaction is "Who that's great-sounding music." The size is completely forgotten and fun is had by all.
Vandersteen 2CE sig IIw are available at that price new, or much less used for the older 2CE sig. One of the real bargins in high-end. Another option is Von Schweikert VR4jrs used. The Audio Aero Prima CDP is quite good at about $1k used. Vandersteen house sound is more laid back but very, very good, non-fatiguing sound. VS 4JR more up-front; maybe more rock or big band oriented.

Or how about Merlin VSMs (older model, used); ARS Sonum tube integrated (used) and the Audio Aero Prima. That should come in right about that $6k budget and the speakers can be upgraded over time.
Tiled room? Perhaps speakers with narrow dispersion might be best. Sounds like a tough room, perhaps digital room correction might help.
Thanks all!
Thanks Gsm18439, I will take a look at those! T-Bone, WAF is of utmost importance in this decision. I have a pair of Polk Audio LSi-15s in that room that my wife wants out of here. They're piano gloss black with cherry sides. They're kind of clashing with our dark wood furniture. They sound very good but knowing she wants them replaced, I haven't wanted to invest in good amplification for them should my new speakers have different requirements. I just use a NAD 720BEE to drive them. My plan is to step the whole rig up; speakers to fall in love with, turntable front end (Nottingham Analog Interspace, maybe), tube or solid state integrated with a remote. Seems simple right?
Based solely on print info and a breif listening encounter ten years ago, the Vandersteen 2CE sig IIw were my top consideration but, with all the comments regarding placement and room sensitivity, I was concerned that they may disappoint. "Veiled sound", as some have put it, is NOT what I'm seeking. Von Schweikert VR4jrs, I am terribly intrigued to hear. It is a privilege to receive all of your helpful suggestions. Keep 'em coming!
Regarding Energy Veritas 1.8, I will definitely keep my eyes open for these. However, you think these can play on par with VR4jr's?
I think Vandersteen 2Ces would be ideal for a system in that price range, though you proabably will need a 100 watt SS integrated. I think the Vandersteen line offers a lot of full range sound and quality for the money.
Let's save you some money and solve your problem.

You have a good CD player and a perfectly fine amp. You need speakers that can uncork the potential of both and drive sufficient dynamics and volume into a larger room on the power you have.

I see that Zu Audio returned to direct sales today. Their excellent Essence speaker is now just $3500/pr. They are flat to 30 Hz and 97 db efficient. The Zu main driver has been reworked for satisfying dispersion and more open top-end sound, further extended by a fast, transparent ribbon supertweeter.

There. Try that one change and if you still want more oomph, you have $3,000 plus the value of your power amp left to further upgrade, or you could just buy a lot more music.

Since they'll be against the wall, I'd definitely check out NHT 3.3. They're designed to go against the wall for bass reinforcement. I've heard them and they sound phenomenal.

Around $1000 used if you can find them - a tremendous value.


Some people call Vandersteen "laid back", to my ears that's a bit of an overstatement. Veiled is not even in the picture (to my ears). I did not notice the fact that your room is tiled. In that case, I think the Vandys might be perfect. However, some have said that they are low on the WAF scale. The 3s are pretty darn big, but the 2s do not, to me, dominate a room, but you should definitely run them by "she who must be obeyed";~)
The Vandy's are indeed warm but, they are minimum baffle wide dispersion design that need appropriate space for amongst other things driver intergration. IMHO, they are very fussy about setup. To top it off the Vandy 2's bass is tad loose. I still think they are true high end great value. The overall sound they produce might appear be appropriate, but I think not in this siutation.
I've just passed thru to the other side of your situation (well, almost finished now.) I replaced my 20 year old system with a $6k budget in mind. I wanted to stay as high-fi as possible, so good used was the way I went. I have a moderately sized room 14 x 12 opening into an second 14 x 14 space and the speakers have to go near a side and back wall with 1' clear in rear and 3' clear on sides. After endless research ( I live way in the boonies) in ended up with a very nice set of Von Schweikert VR 4 jrs (front ports) and am driving them with a Bryston integrated B100. I am very pleased with the lower and upper ends, sound stage, and detail. The last $2k needs to go for a replacement cd player, but technology is moving so fast. Any suggestions out there for a used $2k player to complete this $6k system complete for Ejineffect?
In the shop, I definitely preferred the bass of the 3As to the 2CEs. The 3A bass is maybe a little loose, but this is compared to the twice as expensive Quatros. I wouldn't have considered the 3As if they smeared the bassline in Jazz (I felt this was a problem with the Sonus Faber Grand Pianos), and they don't. I'd look for some used 3As available for pickup nearby.
Oh, by the way, that sounds like a very nice room. I don't know why short wall setup is the conventional wisdom. Some very smart people (e.g. John Dunlavy) preferred long wall set up in their listening tests.
In my room, speakers against the long wall sound better than against short wall. I have no idea why, it just does.
I too prefer the long wall placement with room treatment behind the listening position.
Regarding Energy Veritas 1.8, I will definitely keep my eyes open for these. However, you think these can play on par with VR4jr's?

You appear to like Energy and tHE 1.8's are a reaL GEM.
There is a pair of dunlavy scIII in black for sale;I had a pair of these driven by cary slam 100 monoblocks and obtained excellant results;my other recommendation although not a floorstander would be some of the merlin's listed in the monitor class and there is a $3000.00 pair of full range speakers also.
Zu Essence, I've never heard them but with 60 day return policy, I am interested!
Shadorne, you are right! I do really like my Energy's. The 4.1e's were made in Canada in the late 80's. They sound great but look like they were made in the late 80's. They are monitors on stands and have grey plastic fronts that look kind of cheap. Thus, they have been relegated to the bedroom. I haven't seen any Veritas 1.8's for sale anywhere. I do not know if this is true but, I've heard all Energy speakers are now manufactured in China. It's not a deal-breaker but, I do not consider that a plus.
I tried to find the Dunlavy scIII listing with no luck.
It would help to know in what ways your current system doesn't cut it. A tiled room is always cause for concern. Is this a power, dispersion, and room treatment issue? My first priority would be to address the room and then address the system to fit the room. Otherwise you're just flailing and throwing money at it.
Ejineffect-do a search for dunlavy and you should be able to see them in the results list;I also sent you a email in case you wanted to check them out.
Since you like Energys (and I can't blame you; I like Canadian speakers in general and API speakers in particular), why not look into the Energy RC-70 floorstanding speakers? The claimed sensitivity is high -- 92 dB anechoic, and 95 dB, both speakers in-room. If that latter figure is honest, your 35 wpc tube amp should be able to produce clean peaks of 110 dB with these. They're $2200/pair list price.

As for whether this particular model is made in China or Canada, I can say that I have several pairs of Canadian-made Mirages (also an API company) and a new pair of OMD-15s made in China. The Chinese-made ones are *at least* as well built as the Canadian ones. My OMD-15s are superb in every way--sensitivity, dispersion, linearity, frequency extension, imaging, dynamic range at both ends of the scale, etc.
I agree with Johnnyb53 re: room treatment(!) but, not about Canadian speakers :-).
09-01-09: Ejineffect
Develyn50, what speakers are you listening to?

I am using Harbeth 7es 3's.
Gsm18439 you might agree with 213cobra, but I believe in buying amps for speakers, not speakers for amps.