KeithR's "Dream Speaker" Search

KeithR

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May 7, 2010
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Marina del Rey, CA
#1
Thought I would start a thread about my latest auditions, what my goals are, etc.

Background:

I have owned Wilsons, Dynaudios, Zu, and now Devores. I have owned Gibbon Xs for 3 years now and really enjoy their sound - open, dynamic, with good tone. They are very amplifier-flexible which I enjoy and have driven them with Quads, DarTZeel, and now Audio Research. Generally speaking, speaker/amp matching is critical to me and after owning Zu and trying over 15 amps on them, I am a stickler on properly driving speakers.

The Devore weakness in my room has always been in the bass - and yes, I was used to sealed bass with Zu courtesy of a class D actively driven module with a downward-firing 12" woofer. My room is 14'x15-18' as I have an angled rear wall. I have the Gibbon Xs around 2.5-3' from the front wall as setup by the dealer and after 6 months of positioning I felt they were perfectly setup for my trapezoid-shaped room. Devore uses a pair of long-throw 9" woofers, so bass gets down well into the mid-20s. I feel the Audio Research was a great pairing as it uses a small amount of negative feedback which controls the woofers much better than my former DarTZeel. But it still can be a little prodigious for my tastes - which is also mentioned as a positive in the reviews - I should also say that I want to try them in a larger room as my guess is this will be much ameliorated (and another audiophile with Gibbon Xs apparently has no such issue in his room).

I'm looking at to see what 2-3x the cost of my Devores (<50k) can provide - and am curious if the various high end cabinets are advantageous to my Devore's solid bamboo.

Room:

As mentioned before, I have a trapezoid room currently but am moving in 2019 - my goal is to find at least a 20' x 15' room. So the ideal speaker will need to fit in a normal sized room. This will likely be an LA rental, but we may purchase an 1800 square foot rancher house in the next downturn and my guess is the room will be similar in size.

Speaker criteria:

I don't like bright sound or anything with "hifi fireworks" that unnaturally presents detail as a red herring. Metal tweeters and ceramic drivers have usually bothered me in prior speaker hunts. I require excellent dynamics and hence have always had an interest in horns - but concerned their negatives may outweigh this area. I don't crave "ultimate transparency" or detail. Basically I'm looking for a big soundstage with excellent dynamics and good tone. I also need adequate bass as I listen to electronica/trip hop/downtempo for a third of my listening. The other two thirds of my listening includes rock/americana and classical - I don't really listen to jazz at all. Tone, immediacy, and presence are somewhat related and one thing Devore does really well. One last thing, as a former Zu owner - coherency is more apparent to me than others. It bothers me when I can hear different instruments out of different drivers or can point to the bass, etc.

Audition list:

Rockport Avior 2
Gamut RS7i
Wilson Audio Sasha DAW
YG Acoustics Hailey 2
Cessaro Wagner

I've narrowed my interest to the list above - I did consider Avantgardes, Voxativ, and some others but ultimately am satisfied with this audition list. Panels don't work for my listening preferences.

to be continued later with my Rockport audition thoughts...
 
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spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#2
I'm intrigued as to why you're considering the Cessaro Wagner, but not the AG Duo XD.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#3
Why not the Zu Dominance, or has this been covered in other threads
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#4
Ked, please don't recommend Zu, you'll break the internet.

Dominance was a very limited run for Zu, and anyhow Keith is off to sunnier climes. I really think he ought to reconsider the Duos XD.
 
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asiufy

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Jul 8, 2011
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San Diego, CA
almaaudio.com
#5
Actually, Duo XDs are more suitable to your musical taste than Keith's, Marc. You're the one that should be seriously considering one... :)
 

DaveyF

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Aug 1, 2010
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La Jolla, Calif USA
#6
Keith, I can't really see the ARC Ref 75 working well with the YG's. Alex would probably know better on that one, but with the DAW...much better.

Another option, Vivid's. The G3's, or G2's depending on budget.
 
Jan 29, 2012
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#8
The Audio Research amps will work great with the Avantgardes as their own amps are all 100+ watts. I found anything less than 60 watts couldn't excite my Unos (slightly less efficient); the big Pass amps sounded best.
 

KeithR

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May 7, 2010
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#10
Merry Christmas, gents.

I'm intrigued as to why you're considering the Cessaro Wagner, but not the AG Duo XD.
The Uno is more the right size and much more aesthetically pleasing to me than the Duo, but is a pretty significant compromise from talking with a dealer and distributor. I also prefer Cessaro's design choices/build quality, which may or may not matter but I will find out.
I passed on mint, used Duo XDs last week.

Another option, Vivid's. The G3's, or G2's depending on budget.
I think Giyas look like Dr. Seuss characters, sorry.

What are the top 3 stereos you’ve ever heard, and wish you had?
This is a good question -

1. Avantgarde Trios w/ Basshorns on BAT circa 2004 at the Stereophile show in SF - the crowd gave a standing ovation and by far the most spectacular system I've ever heard

2. YG Sonja XVs at the factory - just enormous, awesome dynamic sound (on double set of monoblocks iirc)
3. EA Acoustics MM3 speakers/Dartzeel at the show a few years ago when Whole Lotta Love was played on tape

Looking over my show reports since 2013, I've preferred most of what I'm auditioning - Rockport repeatedly has been a good room, YG on the right amps sounds good to me, and Avantgarde/Cessaro both have made my favorite rooms before.
 
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Jan 8, 2012
50
13
8
Virginia Beach
#11
I’ve had Gibbon X , Wilson Sasha v1, Acoustic Zen Cresendo, Joesph Audio Prespective, Focal Sopra 2, B&W 802 ,Magico V3 , Joesph Audio Pulsar , Evoltion Acoustic MicroOne , Tannoy GRF90 in my 16x15 room and the Uno XD’s represent the best of all of them. Superb deep bass tailorable to a challenged space while presenting glorious mids and highs. Sweet yet detailed. I prefer the Uno in looks to the Duo but wonder what another 100db in midrange extension would sound like. I’ve never listened to a recording and noticed a gap from 250 down.
 
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bazelio

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Sep 27, 2016
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#12
I’ve had Gibbon X , Wilson Sasha v1, Acoustic Zen Cresendo, Joesph Audio Prespective, Focal Sopra 2, B&W 802 ,Magico V3 , Joesph Audio Pulsar , Evoltion Acoustic MicroOne , Tannoy GRF90 in my 16x15 room and the Uno XD’s represent the best of all of them. Superb deep bass tailorable to a challenged space while presenting glorious mids and highs. Sweet yet detailed. I prefer the Uno in looks to the Duo but wonder what another 100db in midrange extension would sound like. I’ve never listened to a recording and noticed a gap from 250 down.
Curious about the AZ Crescendo MKII. Both the MKI and MKII are transmission line, no? I'd expect amazing dynamics. What are your thoughts on it?
 

bazelio

Active Member
Sep 27, 2016
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California
#13
@KeithR as mentioned via text, friends of mine loved these Sigma Acoustic Orchestras at RMAF. I believe @Mike Lavigne mentioned hearing them as well. I think there's a dealer in the LA area. Cabinets are a combo of wood and MDF so perhaps they can be given the benefit of the doubt. ;-). Sealed, not ported, I believe as well.
 
Jan 8, 2012
50
13
8
Virginia Beach
#15
Curious about the AZ Crescendo MKII. Both the MKI and MKII are transmission line, no? I'd expect amazing dynamics. What are your thoughts on it?
I enjoyed my time with them very much. Very dynamic and truly full range. My room being essentially square suffers from poor acoustics and find active adjustable bass the best solution. ARC REF 250 and darTZeel 108 were great fits for the Cresendo's.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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Principality of Liechtenstein
#16
Keith, is your ≤ 50k "limit" only for new speakers or also for used ones?
 
Jan 29, 2012
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#17
Keith, while I agree with you the Vivid's have a certain "design aesthetic", isn't sound quality the primary goal here?
The Vivid speakers look like nothing else on the planet, you either love or hate the look. As Keith's speakers will be in his living room, looks will be quite important. Also, Vivid speakers are difficult and might not have the 'jump factor' he's looking for.

I myself think they look really cool.
 

DaveyF

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Aug 1, 2010
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La Jolla, Calif USA
#18
The Vivid speakers look like nothing else on the planet, you either love or hate the look. As Keith's speakers will be in his living room, looks will be quite important. Also, Vivid speakers are difficult and might not have the 'jump factor' he's looking for.

I myself think they look really cool.

If you want 'jump factor' that usually requires pure dynamics...therefore the horn based system is what he should be looking at. This is what my money says he will end up with, Not my cup of tea at all, because the 'jump factor' is really just a very small part of the musical whole for me. Too may other more important variables IMHO in the total reproduction of music that horns simply don't deliver.YMMV.
 
Jan 29, 2012
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#19
Highly efficient box speakers (90db + 8 ohm load) can also have the 'jump factor,' that's what I like the most about his current Devores. I personally think he needs to listen to the Orangutan speakers with his current amp and not Shindo.
 

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