Your thoughts on best audiophile speakers in $10,000 neighborhood?

I know the best way to select a speaker is to auditioon them at a dealer or in my own home. However, living in a rather rural area in northern Michigan, there's only one reputable dealer (Sonus Faber) in town so I may end up relying on reviews and your feedback. 

I used to own Vandersteen Model 2Cs in the late 1980s, but finally want to step up my game. I currently have a legacy Nakamichi receiver / amp with 1000wpc, but will probably upgrade that once I select a new pair of speakers. Currently I'm playing mostly LPs on a Technics SL1210G. I now listen mostly with a Mark Levinson 5909 headphone connected to a small Class A pre-amp, so I treasure detail and transparency and don't lean toward "warm" speakers.

Room is good size since it encompasses living room and opens to dining room and kitchen behind it. Cathedral ceiling is about 12 feet high. 

I'm considering the following speakers: Vandersteen Treo CT, Wharfedale Elysian 4 (perhaps too big for my room), Monitor Audio Gold 300 and the Sonus Faber Sonetto VIII. These all fit within my budget. What are your thought about any of these...or do you have others to recommend?

Thanks for whatever guidance you can give me.



I am also very much in the PureAudioProject camp. They deliver a very natural, open and pure sound.  Because they are open baffle, bass waves from the back of the speaker and the front wave interact and cancel bass, so they are a touch lean in the upper bass to deep bass (the cancellation grows progressively more severe as in goes down in frequency).  I am not a bass freak so it does not matter that much to me given how good they sound.  There are many options for the midrange/high frequency drivers--wooden horn, conventional drivers, coaxial drivers, Voxativ field coil wide range driver (the most expensive option).  

The Volti suggestion is also good--they make decent, affordable horn-based systems.  The integration of the bass driver with the horn is a bit off, but, that is, to me, a minor flaw given the positive attributes of the system.  You get the lively, vibrant sound of horns with only a hint of horn nasal colorations.  Something like a Klipsch Cornwall is another good horn choice, but, they can sound a bit ragged and peaky unless someone who knows what he is doing swaps out internal parts.  

If you can/must place speakers near the corner of the room, you should audition Audio Note speakers.  They are very musical, lively, yet relaxed (not edgy sounding) and one can listen to them for hours on end.  Among other conventional speakers, I like ProAc speakers--they too sound relaxed, but not sluggish, and are good in long listening sessions.


Good luck in your search.

As suggested earlier, prearrange demos with the dealer(s) and get to a city. I'd put together a list of speakers you'd like to demo first, perhaps drawing upon some of the suggestions here.

I'm in the same boat as far as having limited lines I can audition in shops close to my home. That said, after hearing Wilson, Sonus Faber, Fyne, Atohm, B&W, Focal, Triangle, and a few others, I plan to soon upgrade to PMC.  When I heard them at my local dealer, they delivered everything I had been looking for: imaging and instrument separation like I'd never heard before in a floor-standing speaker, deep and textured bass, sweet and natural sounding midrange (especially vocals), and clean, incisive highs,  The PMC Twenty5.24i and Twenty5.26i are worth putting on your list.  Others I haven't heard but would like to are Borresen and Gershman (their Studio xDb speakers are sort of in your price range at $12k list).

italian Zilgali QA series speakers outperform everithing i have heared so far - almost Wilson sound at 1/3 price.

Another vote for the ATC SCM40a speakers.  They are tri-amped and this allows the mfg to voice the speaker and amp together, and with an active crossover further control is possible.

I have SCM7's with Benchmark amplification in a small room, (plus subs), and that tweeter really is amazing.