Your thoughts on my quest for new speakers

I know this has been asked many times on this forum, but I would really like some input on my quest for new speakers.  I am currently running a Hegel 160 with Linn Majik 140 floor standing speakers and a Rythmik sub to fill out the bottom end.  I use the Hegel's built-in Airplay to stream Tidal (Hi-Fi only) to the Hegel.  I tried the Bluesound Node recently and found it actually decreased the sound quality, so I removed it from the system.  It seems the consensus is that Tidal Hi-Fi Plus is not worth the extra $10/month.  I listen to all types of music - with a focus on well produced recordings.

My listening room is a 30' x 13' rectangle with 9' ceilings and pretty good acoustics (I think).  The speakers are on a 13' wall.

Overall I am happy with my system and get a lot of pleasure out of listening to it.  But like many of us, I get the itch every now and then and wonder if I could improve the sound in some way. I think the Hegel is a solid contributor to good sound, so I plan to keep that and replace the speakers (although the Hegel 390 certainly is tempting).

Regarding price, I am willing to pay for good sound, but I subscribe to the theory of diminishing marginal improvement, i.e. $20k speakers are not twice as good as $10k speakers.  My sense is they are maybe 10% better (if that).  But let's not make this discussion about that.  My sense is $10k should get me speakers that are a solid upgrade from the Linns, but that is just a guess.

I am fortunate to leave near John Rutan's shop (Audio Connection) in NJ and spent a few hours with him last week.  He (as many of you know) is high on Vandersteens.  We listened to the Quattros for a while and they are great, but probably more than I want to spend and they would require I replace the Hegel as well.  We also listened to the Magnepan 3.7s and I was very intrigued with them - they really envelope you in the sound.  I am going back to listen to the Vandersteen Treos next week.

I listened to the 8 series B&Ws yesterday and really liked the 805s and 804s (I like the 801-803 as well, but too expensive).   They are also aesthetically pleasing, but that is not as important as the sound (of course).  I also listened to the Majico A3s, but I didn't find the $ worth it for the sound.

I also will listen to QLN, Boenicke, Focal and Harbeth at Park Avenue Audio next week.  The Boenickes really intrigue me.  The Buchardt S400 MKIIs also interest me, but wonder whether they are enough for my large room (even with the sub)?  I like that I can listen to them in my home for a period to be sure I like them.  They would be a nice low cost option.

So I would love to hear your thoughts on a good choice for me.  As I said, I think $10k is enough, but if there are some $15k speakers that would be a quantum leap forward, I would consider them.  I am open to used as well.

Thanks for taking the time to offer your thoughts.





I'd give the dynaudio heritage specials a day in court! Along with some Harbeths!

To the OP, "Did you ever get to listen to the Treos?" I might have missed it. I have an order in for Tekton Design Double Impact SE but the wait is 2 months. I did hear the Treos once and they have a great sound over the 2CE Sig IIs that I own now. If I had that budget (10K) I would look hard at the Magnepan 3.7i. That is if you have very powerful amp(s). If I was looking at speakers with lower watt amps, check out Volti Audio.

I had, in a long line,  Magnepan 3.7s then I heard and bought Robert Bastani open baffles followed by what I think are my last ever speakers,  Pure Audio Project quintet 15s.  These are exceptional by any set of criteria if your room is big enough and yours is.  Try and hear them.  They are just amazing. 

Make sure you take music with you.  If you rely on streaming, you depend on the streamer to make a speaker decision.  Also, keep in mind that when you play an LP, you have a lot of setup parameters that affect the sound.  CD players vary in sound as well, so you are buying the setup abilities of the dealer as well as the speakers.  For example, if you like the speaker but find it a bit forward sounding, say so openly with the dealer.  If their reaction is to show you a different speaker immediately, that may be a sign they don't know the setup.  For example, a simple minute change to toe-in could change the tonal balance to your ears.  Manufacturers are guilty of putting on any dealer that will order the speakers without understanding their abilities.   If a dealer has a brand for many years, there is a reason  I don't want to complicate your process more, but I do want to make a point that there are parts to this process beyond a quick listen in a showroom.  It is not uncommon for a dealer to play a few selections before yours.  That is to show you the recordings that sound really good on that setup.  Let them do that and notate the recording they use so you can stream them at home and relate them to your listening priorities.  Insist on hearing your selection, or you won't know the speaker that is right for you. 

If you get into a set of the Linkwitz LX521, you'll have your "forever" loudspeaker.  The LX521 isn't just a loudspeaker.  It's a whole system that is multi-amplified with active crossover.  Therefore it needs a lot of amp channels.  It's a whole system.  But if you get into it, you'll NEVER leave.  Ever.

If you go the DIY route, you can do it all for as little as $5000.  A lot depends on what you choose for amplification.  You can get the whole package fully built, with amplification, active crossover, for about $16,000.  Shipping extra.  They can even make them custom for you.

I'd go the DIY route, but that's me.  Building them yourself has you much more involved in the whole experience.  You almost never see them on the used market because...  they're a "forever" loudspeaker.