Totally overwhelmed (speakers under $5k)

I am newer to the audiophile community and don't have much in the way of higher end gear to be honest.  I have been upgrading things as I go with my home theater (now Anthem receiver, Martin Logan speakers, and SVS sub) and am now wanting to upgrade my music system that is in my home office.  It is currently equipment that was originally in my home theater that has been replaced.  So I have a BasX preamp, 7 channel solid state BasX amp running 2 channel, T2+ speakers, and cabling all from Emotive.  The wires are basic copper speaker wire with banana plugs on the ends.  And I have an RSL Speedwoofer 10"  subwoofer. My source is Amazon Music HD on a Macbook Pro fed to the preamp by an optical cable. All in all it sounds pretty good but I want to take it up a notch.  

The other day I spoke with James at Raven Audio about cables and he said suggested that I would actually get a lot more bang by upgrading my equipment than worrying about my cables (which is fair).  Of course he is a fan of his own brand's amps and speakers but he also said very good things about Dynaudio and Focal (which I do have some experience with for car audio and headphones).  In doing research on the Raven Audio speakers, I have seen people lauding the Tekton Moab, Aperion Verus III, as well as others.  When I do searches for "best speakers under $5000" I get lots of mainstream review sites that talk about brands like Definitive Technologies, Polk, KEF, Klipsch, SVS, and more.  But they generally don't talk about Ravel, Tekton, or any of those. I assume it is because they are too small. 

Honestly though, at this point I am overwhelmed. Too many brands with too many speakers and where I live there are not a lot of shops to go listen to these higher end speakers. I have seen lots of debates on here along with folks that really have their definite opinions.  Here are my requirements and hopefully I can gain some knowledge, insight, and direction from folks on this site that have much greater experience than myself. 

1) I want speakers that are clear and clean with lots of detail.  But I also want to be able to just listen to the music, being immersed without having my ears ringing from the sharpness after a bit.

2) I want to be able to plug them into my current preamp and solid state amp and be able to enjoy them as is.  Later on, if/when I decide to change the amp to a tube amp, I want them to be able to work well with those characteristics too. 

3) I want the new price to be limited to $5k and under.  I am open to used in the right circumstances but hoping to get a smoking deal on some used $15k speakers (like some Legacy's) is just wishful thinking at this point.  With new, you know what you are getting and will have a warranty.  

4) I listen to all sorts of music so it needs to be able to switch between rock, heavy metal, classical, jazz, hip hop, bag pipes, and everything in between.  

5) Subwoofer is optional.  I have the Speedwoofer currently which is know is not perfect for music (ported).  I am fine upgrading to a sealed SVS at some point or getting towers that don't even need a sub. I actually have an older pair of Infinity SM 125's that I got close to 30 years ago that don't really need one.  

6) Aesthetics are a plus but not a requirement.  I am a function over form guy.  Some of these B&W's, Focals, and others look beautiful compared to the Moabs which are more utilitarian but I am not stress about it. 

7) Size can be whatever.  Again, the Moabs appear to be massive and that is fine but so is something that is much smaller.  The room is roughly 14' by 24' with 9' ceilings.  While it isn't an auditorium, it isn't just a small room either.  

Ok, I think that covers it except to say straight up, I don't tend to care for negativity.  If you have heard something and you don't care for it for X, Y, and Z reasons, great, please say so.  But please don't put something down because you don't like their marketing or you believe that it has to be a $100k system to be worthwhile.  Thank you in advance for your responses. 


…Of course he is a fan of his own brand's amps…

Like a Highlander episode, there can be only one.

that’s a nice size office, a bit bigger than my main room.

I agree, cables/interconnects, very fine differences last. no cable on earth will make enough difference for any ’wrong for your space’ speakers.

so, as it’s office, a primary decision is how much bass are you going for? If lots of low bass is not needed, that can be a big advantage.

Functionally, I would want 3 way, no ports, big woofer, no subs. heavy, wheels, adjustable placement, adjustable toe-in for single or multiple listeners.

Next, buy an inexpensive sound meter and test record, to ascertain what you actually get at listening position(s).

Then speakers: return option, new or used.

Try something, great done, or learn something, return, next try.

I have the ability to adjust the output of my mid horns to woofer and tweet horns to mid horns (L-Pads, get thee a sound meter!!!). I cannot imagie not having adjustment ability of primary speakers in the listening space.

have these or something like them on-hand before the speakers arrive:

cd with individual specific 1/3 octave frequency bands

sound pressure meter. Just accurate enough to show ’relative’ differences (IOW, no need to be refined accuracy)


I feel like an IDIOT, I had that CD since it was new, these tricky L-Pads since 1973, and just bought the meter this past year. I’ve been balancing by ear over the years, what a difference in ease of use and confidence the simple ’tools of truth’ make.

anybody with a home theater knows how much the sound benefits from the adjustments made in the AVR as it ’hears’ the sound in the ’actual’ space. with it’s microphone and level adjustments

Find a speaker amp cable combination that has a midrange you really like. From there you can experiment some. If you get mids right (and I believe it’s a personal preference to some extent) you will be on the path to audio purification.

To help mitigate the feelings of being overwhelmed, I think the first priority would be to find out which kind of speaker you enjoy the most - horn, concentric, ribbon, dipole, single full range driver. I wish someone would have communicated this when I had first started out. 

Im the used market ’ll pay half price up to 10 years old and 25% for 15 year old speakers so regarding getting $15 k speakers for $5k you’re looking for speakers at least a generation old and tbh since you have subs you don’t need huge speakers.

$5k is enough to get great sound in the used market. If you like punchy bass listen to dynaudio’s, Kef and Revel have a reputation for neutral balanced sound, but depending on the model you might need to upgrade your source. Focal is detailed sound and easy on the eyes but the detailed sound will make old recordings sound rough. Paradigm speakers and Dali's new line offer excellent bang for the buck. Designer cables, like your dealer said will make the smallest difference(excluding the coax shipped with your television.

I just saw a super good looking set of VMPS RM40s and a matching VSS (very sturdy sub) for around 4K total. External XOs, TRT teflon caps, silver wiring and AC G3 tweeters. You won’t find anything like it. Period.. One of the top 5 speakers EVER made no mater the cost. They do everything and can be adjusted to any room with putty pinchin’.. PERFECT integration in any room mechanically. The mains and the sub are both set up that way.. They use a simple Dayton 1000 watt plate. Parts available..

Image 1 - VMPS RM40 Speakers with Matching Subwoofer & Outboard Crossover

You just think you’ve heard good speakers, these are the real deal..

BTW that is close to 700lb setting there. 260 x 2 and the sub is a 140lbs = 660lbs


PS I’m thinking of buying them.. I need a warehouse.

You mentioned you were open to used speakers under the right circumstance. I would think on that some more. 5k used can get you a world class speaker. I don’t know about others but in 25 years I have never had a speaker go bad so the warranty issue is not a big deal to me. Got my Focal 836w for $700 and they were a $4500 speaker so a 15k speaker for 5k is definitely in the realm of possibility. Just need to be patient. 


Thanks for the picture. Now I have to clean the drool off of my keyboard...

That veneer is gorgeous.

The Raven CeLest are a wonderful speaker. My son has them and they sound fantastic with hiss M33. 

There are so many options out there that it can be overwhelming.  As suggested, I would try and find out what kind of speaker sound you prefer.  They can go from highly resolving to something more laid back.  Sometimes it's difficult to find one that will do justice to all types of music, so it's a compromise.  Your electronics will play a large part in the sound.  Even small speakers can be difficult to drive whereas horn speakers can be more efficient. 

Are there any audio clubs in your area?  A really good source of information and advise.  You may need to travel a bit to visit as many dealers as you can.

toro3 and steve59 have it right IMO.  oldhvymec, you're killing me with that photo. If my wife was out of town I'd think about those as well; what a steal.

Finding the type of 'sound' and type of speaker is very important, planar, box, etc. Expose yourself to as many as possible, whether serious or not, just to hear the differences between basic design theories. and then, within that style, box for example, there are sonic signatures very different from brand to brand.

If you are willing, you'll get a far, far, better speaker buying used. Most good/great speakers are treated with kid gloves by their audio-loving owners. oldhvymec sure has posted one heck of a bargain...




I'll just throw this out there although I have not heard them myself; FOCAL ARIA 926. Lots of dealers and places to audition.  


talk more about what you value most in how music is reproduced

do you like to hear the slam/speed/impact in rock type music most? you like feel the music pulse as much as hearing it?

you really love the realistic sound of human voice? of natural instruments like piano, sax etc?

you like a wide big real life sized sound with piece parts placed correctly in relation to each other?

do you want your listening experiences to excite and thrill, like a live performance, or soothe and relax... glass of port in hand end of day, and so on  😁 ?

i know we all want it all, but if forced to choose, which attributes are valued most or some moreso over others?

also can we assume you will be able to place speakers well away from room boundaries in your office? or will there be limitations to this?

I’m a Focal owner and have always loved their sound though it can be polarizing for many with their very detailed tweeters. I’ve never found them to be bright (I think of Paradigm for bright based on my very limited experience with them) and when I purchased my 836v speakers I was able to listen to Focal speakers ranging from the 806v all the way up to the Grande Utopia. My favorite was the Diablo Utopia with a JL Audio Gotham subwoofer but it was in the realm of being a dream for me. I started with an Integra receiver upgraded to a Yaqin MC-30L tube amplifier, and now have a Pathos Classic One MkIII and I have loved my speakers always.

I honestly wouldn’t buy a speaker before at least listening to a similar model from the same brand and then always listening to one that’s lower in the line than the one being purchased.

If you love your speakers you have a solid foundation to build your system around. They make the biggest difference in the final sound in my opinion, so it’s important to enjoy them.

@ddonicht , I think @jjss49 has some good questions for you to think about.

You have a nice healthy budget so you should have some great fun researching and shopping. It’s a great time to be an audiophile or just into hifi because there are so many choices--which is also possibly a source of you being overwhelmed.

I like Music Direct, Audio Advisor, Upscale Audio, and Crutchfield’s no hassle return policies. Each of them stock a good bit of selection too. There are plenty of other dealers that are just as good too.

If you can temporarily swing it, it can be very fun and eye opening to research and get it down to 2 speakers to try out at the same time, knowing you’ll return one. Ideally, you could have a salon full of stuff and then decide, yet that’s pretty impractical. I’m not saying to limit yourself to just 2, but if you are having trouble the best thing to do is listen over a month to something.

Enjoy the journey. Keep us posted!

50 Greatest Bargains in High-End Audio


Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2 loudspeaker, $2500
Monitor Audio Silver 300 loudspeaker, $1999

  • >> Vandersteen Audio Model 2Ce Signature III loudspeaker, $3279

REL Acoustics T/7i subwoofer, $999
NAD M10 BluOS streaming amplifier, $2749
Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC, $2449
MoFi Electronics UltraDeck+ turntable with UltraTracker cartridge, $1999
Hana SL phono cartridge, $750

My suggestion is to get a pair of monitors from Fritz.  You'll have a very difficult time spending money on new speakers after that.

Then at least start to treat your room. 

Consider offerings from Spatial Audio Labs and Clayton Shaw. They do need a little room to breath, but are excellent value and have a generous trial period. Detail for days without being fatiguing. Older models come up once in a while. I have the older M3s and will never get rid of them. 

+1 on the Fritz. I have been contemplating about calling him up and seeing if he will send me some speakers to try out. Never heard anything less than exemplary reviews of them. 

ATC 100s or 150s with Pass Labs or Accuphase electronics - nothing better!


If you have the space the Magnepan 3.7i used with a sub is an amazing speaker you can listen to for hours and does everything right.

You can also check Philharmonic Audio, Dennis Murphy makes some great sounding  speakers for about $3500 all quality  parts and you won't need a sub.

To get the best for a good price it’s best to buy cheap speakers and use the cabinet just to replace the drivers and crossover and whatever else you need, you can also build your own cabinet if you want in any size and weight you would like. Unless you want to overspend you can’t get good quality drivers and parts in a pre made speaker for a decent price maybe 10k a speaker or maybe a little lower definitely higher. Custom is the way to go on a budget especially for speakers, amplifiers are a different story though.

Treat your room.

Bad acoustics=bad sound (no matter how expensive the gear was).


If you like the Martin Logan Motion series, I don't think you would be happy with Dynaudio (I had the special 40 and returned them) or Focal.  If you got Motion 40 or 60xti (or their bookshelves) and put lots of power on them they sound great.  You may want to check out Wharfedale EVO 4.4's - but they have more of that European sound.  I have seen Wilson Watt Puppies used for $5K from time to time.  My dealer had a pair of Elac bookshelves and they sounded great - they had that folded ribbon tweeter that was not too bright - but I don't remember the model.

I'd buy a decent/good Streamer for +/-1000 and the rest of your budget on speakers ($4000 speakers will differently be an upgrade). You "will" notice the difference. Your system is pretty decent as is. Using a MacBook to stream with is holding what you got back more than upgrading your speakers only.

Just my .02

Post removed 

Stevehardy1, +1 or the lrs with the svs or also the 1.7i.

The amp for me is the weak one in the system i prefer a stereo amp.

Get the biggest Harbeths you can afford- I tell everybody that. And a streamer and a 2 channel Amp.

I'm afraid you won't get the most out of a new set of speakers because of what you will be feeding them.  A stand alone DAC would sound much better than using one built into a surround sound receiver.  This could really clean up your sound enough you might want to continue listening to your speakers for a while longer.  Individual components will sound much better than an all in one DAC, preamp, receiver, amp that's designed for processing surround sound rather than pure audio fidelity.  Like others have said about buying speakers used, you'll save a ton of cash buying used or demo gear.  I have a system compromised of mostly used or demo equipment myself because I could never ever afford the stereo that I prefer.  Enjoy the journey!

"I just saw a super good looking set of VMPS RM40s and a matching VSS (very sturdy sub) for around 4K total. External XOs, TRT teflon caps, silver wiring and AC G3 tweeters. You won’t find anything like it. Period.. One of the top 5 speakers EVER made no mater the cost. "

Really? Perhaps you might like to tell us the other 4 on your list?

I was in a mission to hear many top rated speakers over the past 12 months

and here is what I liked best in your price range with detail.

-Fritz Carrera 7BE $3,500

-Paradigm Founders H?120 $5,000

-GR Research Open Baffle at $4,500.

-1.7 Maggies $2,000?

Too many variables to make a real suggestion. 

Your best use of the $5k might well be to buy all Emotiva gear.

Designed to work together. Great value.


I have the Monitor Audio Silver 300's and am really impressed with them. Good luck with your search!


And please remember to let us know what you end up with.



Really? Perhaps you might like to tell us the other 4 on your list?


1. GRs NX series

2. 57s

3. My Elixirs (under silks right now)

4. Your speakers.

5. Sound Lab

6. My SAT speakers (stack and test)

7. Pass Lab. Rushmore

8. Strathearn LS

9. VMPS RM40s

10. VMPS RM30s

11. VMPS 626R. They just sold a pair with upgrades for 500.00 I almost passed out.

ANY of these types of speakers work perfect for me.. That is not an order of good better best either. ANY will work..

I wouldn’t even hook up the Rushmore, I’d just look.


Harbeth Super HL5 Plus -- you can find a gently used pair between $3.5 - 4.5K.

Fritz Carrera BE is a great choice too, but I think they might struggle a little given the size of your room. However, Fritz offers 30 day home trial, and these speakers can go toe to toe with Harbeth on SQ alone, but like I said they might struggle in a relatively big room like yours.

The Fritz Carrera's will work fine in that room as your obviously not going to sit 24 feet away. He also makes the same basic speaker with the Scan Speak Illuminator tweeter instead of the Be tweeter.  

Thanks for the responses thus far.  

In no way do I have my mind made up.  In fact that is my issue...there are too many very fine speakers and I have no clue what is what since I haven't heard most of them. 

To respond to some others, the room is fairly open as technically it is my living room..  10' or so in front of my desk is the front door and the stairs up.  On the left it opens to the family room and kitchen.  So it is a definite space to fill.  My Emotiva  T2+'s sit behind me on each side, angled in toward me.  The tweeters are about my ear level when seated.  They are roughly a foot from the wall. With new speakers, I can put them pretty much anywhere in the room I want.  

As for the tone, yeah, I kind of want it all or at least as much as I can.  Good clarity but not painful to listen to. If I put on house music and turn it up, I want to feel the base hits. Which is why getting a sealed sub may be in the future as well.  If I am listening to the 1812 Overture, I want to feel the cannons but still let the beauty of instruments shine.  A live track of All Along the Watchtower should make me feel like I am at the concert.  But if I am listen Sarah Brightman's version of Scarborough Fair, I want her subline vocals to come through clearly and not get overpowered by the rest of the music.  So basically a mix of old and new recordings.  And pretty much every genre you can think of. 

I had been thinking of new because used is 1) dependent upon what is available at that point and time and 2) is a gamble that what comes through your door is what you thought it was. Effectively it broadens the list so big that my feelings of being overwhelmed by this just gets worse.  

Those are absolutely gorgeous speakers. I will check them and the others mentioned out.  Unfortunately, I don't know of any clubs in the area, which could just be my ignorance.  There are not a lot of high end shops either.  

If have looked at the streamer but I do have the concern about ease of use vs the macbook which I am working on.  I have also been looking at DAC's other than the one build into my preamp.  

To be clear, I do plan on upgrading pretty much everything, I just don't want to have to do it all at once.  So components should work well with, or at least be forgiving of the components that have not been upgraded. 


I would keep it simple if I were you. Revel F206 speakers and NAD C368 amp with Bluesound streamer built in.  Perfect. The sound is good and speakers look great.  You can add an external power amp later but you would be at 5K right out of the box. 

Don't worry about getting "the best sound for under $5000".  There are so many choices because being a speaker builder is a passion project.  The best value sound-wise might well be from some young, bright-eyed designer start-up ... that closes shop when the founder moves on.

Most speaker builders tend to have a "house sound".  I'd start by trying to hear a couple of good brands with a more neutral sound - KEF or Dynaudio, for example.  Then try some more exotic sounds, like Magnepan or Focal.  This should at least give you an idea whether you want to keep going down the rabbit hole or stay closer to the status quo.

3.7is are almost $7K now new, and take 10 weeks to get, FYI.  1.7is are $2800.  I agree Revel F206 with a REL T/7x is hard to beat for under $5K. 

I would look at Amir's web site "Audio Science Review" where he performs detailed measurements and listening tests.  He has a trained ear and his write ups are excellent.  Also, he has top of the line test equipment for speakers and electronics. One set of speakers that stands out are rather ugly IMHO but that measure and sound fantastic (according to him and others that comment) are speakers from Genelec.  They are for professional recording engineers but will play at very loud levels with very low distortion.  You can see and read about these speakers on his web site or the Generic web site at  Look at his reviews on DACs and Amps too. 

Focal kanta 3 would be a good fit for the size of your room. Good luck ! 


My room is similar to yours in size....I have 10 pair of speakers and have learned ONE important fact. The smaller that the actual speaker is...the smaller it sounds. Bookshelf s just don't make it in a good sized rooms like ours.....Most of my listening is some form of Rock and Singer/ that I know the words to .....Music that I can feel in the floor and in the air.......Music that brings out emotion.....Fun Music that makes me feel good....exciting music. I find that one of Andrew Robinsons 10 best speakers of All Time does exactly that. I would also get the Schiit audio LOKI mini or Lokius to fine tune each album to the exact sound that make You smile and enjoy the MUSIC...not the Electronics.  The Speaker you ask.....the Tekton Pendragon with the optional upgraded caps and wiring....8 ohm...with the 7 speaker tweeter array....You Are There at the venue. Gigantic soundstage and you can listen all day and night without Any fatigue.....They also have a 30 day try out. Good luck in your journey. Like I've stated before...if there was a Best in every catagory ...this would be a very boring hobby.....

I would look at Amir’s web site "Audio Science Review" where he performs detailed measurements and listening tests. He has a trained ear and his write ups are excellent. Also, he has top of the line test equipment for speakers and electronics. One set of speakers that stands out are rather ugly IMHO but that measure and sound fantastic (according to him and others that comment) are speakers from Genelec. They are for professional recording engineers but will play at very loud levels with very low distortion. You can see and read about these speakers on his web site or the Generic web site at Look at his reviews on DACs and Amps too.