To Doug Schneider,
I am hoping to get your opinion regarding a purchase of new speakers with a budget of $25,000/pair.
I am on the hunt again for speakers that have lots of bass and smoooooth, sweet highs. I have owned several top-brand speakers only to sell and search again. I have been an avid music lover for over 50 years and listen to mostly ’60s and ’70s pop, rock, and blues. I know most top-brand speakers sound relatively good with premium recorded music; however, most of the music selections I listen to are not the greatest recordings, vinyl being the best for the older recorded music, but like a lot of people due to convenience, I listen to a lot of digital downloads. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
For $25,000, you should be able to get a great pair of speakers. In fact, you might not even have to spend that much. What’s more, there are so many to choose from, I couldn’t possible list them all here, so I’ll just name some that are my favorites right now.
Right off the bat from what you’re describing, the brand that comes to mind is Sonus Faber. The Olympica IIIs, which I reviewed, had plenty of bass and super-sweet highs. Those might fit the bill and will cost you well under $25,000 for a pair. The next step up in their line, the Amati Futura, sells for over $30,000/pair, so that’s far above your budget. Definitely check out the IIIs, though -- you might be surprised. Plus, they look fantastic.
I consistently recommend Vivid Audio’s speakers because I think they are making some of the very best on the market right now. Their Giya-series speakers are priced higher than what you want to spend, but you can look to the Oval B1 and K1 models, which are within your budget. These speakers have been in Vivid Audio’s line for a long time, but designer Laurence Dickie isn’t the kind to change things for the sake of change. Instead, he gets the design right in the first place and then leaves it alone. I wouldn’t call their highs sweet like Sonus Faber’s, but they’re super-clean and smooth. The biggest difference between the B1 and K1 is that the K1 can produce deeper, louder bass. Listen to both if you can, mind you, because the B1 is no slouch bass-wise, and is still one of my top picks for a compact floorstander.
Revel is another brand that seems to get the design right and then leave it alone. Their Studio2 and Salon2 models have been on the market for several years, but they’ll still clean house on many newer models from lesser brands. Like the B1 and K1, the Studio2 and Salon2 are within your budget, so, again, try to hear both if you can.
I personally wouldn’t buy anything without first hearing KEF’s Reference 3 and 5 models, or their Blade Two. KEF has been pushing technology very far with their latest speakers, and the result has been great, great sound. By the way, if I were to look at their speakers, I’d lean toward the Blade Two -- I love the way it looks.
Finally, there is Focal’s new Sopra series. I haven’t heard the speakers yet, but I am supposed to be getting a pair here for review. I’m interested to see what they produced, because Focal, like the other brands I mentioned, has built up a solid reputation over the years for producing outstanding speakers. I remember listening to the Mini Utopias way back when and absolutely loving them. I think anyone in the market for new speakers should also seek out the Sopra designs, too. I hope that helps. . . . Doug Schneider