$2,000-3,000 Tower speaker comparison: Need help picking the contenders

Discussion in 'Loudspeakers' started by NewHTbuyer, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. NewHTbuyer Audioholic

    NewHTbuyer
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    It is my turn to ask advice from all the experts.

    I am getting close to upgrading the speakers in my basement. It will be a 2.0 channel room, no subwoofer planned at this time, and I am looking at getting full range floorstanding speakers in the price range of $2,000-3,000.

    The room is 17 feet wide by 16 feet deep with 7.5 foot ceiling. I will sit about 11 or 12 feet back from the front wall. I will be powering the speakers with a Harmon Kardon HK3490, 120wpc, stereo receiver. I also plan to do some room treatments (separate budget).

    I have read many threads here and I hope to do what many people recommend. I plan to bring in 3-5 different sets of speakers at the same time in my own home so that I can compare and end up with the set I like the best. I am also, as a relatively new enthusiast, trying to have fun during this process and learn what kind of sound I like out of my speakers. Therefore, I am looking to compare speakers that are different in design and components to see what I like better. I mostly listen to rock and classical music off of CDs. Sometimes jazz/blues. I will be watching TV also, but I am looking for primary music performance for this room, as I have a 5.1 setup upstairs. I want dynamic speakers that stay clear when loud, but are also accurate and have a good soundstage.

    I have done a lot of reading and I have a good idea of which speakers I want to order, but I would love any and all suggestions, both on which speakers to try and how best to audition them.

    I plan to mostly stick to ID, direct order, brands. They allow anywhere from 30 to 90 day free trial period. I will make the rounds to the local stores, and I actually have a good selection here in Denver, but most do not seem to be agreeable regarding home auditions.

    Contenders:

    1)Ascend Sierra tower with Raal tweeter ($2700), 30 day trial
    I have read so many great things about these speakers that they seem like a no brainer to be at the top of the list in this price range.

    Sierra Tower Bamboo Loudspeaker

    2)VonSchweikert VR-22 ($2,895), 90 day trial. I heard these at RMAF and was very impressed.

    VR-22 : Von Schweikert Audio

    3)SVS Ultra Towers ($2,000), 45 day trial. I also heard these at RMAF and liked them. They are not even released yet, so it will be cool to be one of the first to give them a test drive. Plus, they are offering 45 day trial with free shipping both ways.

    Ultra Series Speakers - SVS

    4) Anthony Gallo Classico CL-IV ($2,495), 60 day trial. I am attracted to the idea of a speaker with a large sweet spot and good low freq extension. They seem to get very good reviews.

    Anthony Gallo Acoustics :: Satellite Speakers | Audio Loudspeaker | Speakers

    I would say that I am 99% going to audition the Ascend and the Von Schweikert. The SVS and Gallo are less certain and could be replaced with other speakers.

    I have already considered and eliminated the Salk Songtower with ribbon upgrade and the Aperion Versus Grand. The reasons are because the Salk, which I heard and liked very much, is similar to the Ascend but does not play quite as deep and may distort more at loud volumes without a sub. I compared the Aperion to the SVS at RMAF and liked the SVS a bit better.

    Other possibilities:

    Tekton Pendragon or Lore-S. I have read many good reviews on these, but have not seen any measurements. I did not totally love the sound of the Zu speakers I heard, and these seem similar. Also, they don’t pay for shipping and have a 15% restocking fee. Still, trying out a design with high efficiency and single driver technology might be interesting.

    XTZ 99.36. Read a bit on these. A new company in the US. They seem to have good components. Only a 21 day trial.

    Emerald Physics CS2P. Totally different design. Open baffle, dipole below 1000Hz, external DSP flattens freq response and lowers -3dB limit into the 20s. Not sure I am ready for these quite yet, as they are definitely different than most regular speakers. Still, they did impress me at RMAF.

    As far as B&M models that I am going to audition, the ones that look attractive to me are the Goldenear Triton 2s or 3s, Paradigm Studio 100s or 60s, Kef Q900 or R500, PSB Imagine T, Monitor Audio RX8. Again, I will listen to those and, if I can get a dealer to agree to it, might bring one B&M model home. Of these, I am most interested in the Goldenear Triton 2s.

    So, do you like the 4 I have listed? Should I replace any? Which ones am I missing? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    When I do get them all in my room, probably in January or so, I will start a new thread to post lots of pics and my listening impressions.

    Thanks!

    p.s. I started a similar thread over at AVS
  2. ImcLoud Audioholic Ninja

    ImcLoud
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    Im going to have to say Tekton Lore S, they are the only speaker I like with out a sub. Another option would be finding a pair of Wharfedale Opus 2-3's, these stand alone very well, I have a friend at WD and He may have a set left, I want to say he was selling them for $2700 or so , they were originally $6000... But for the money the Lores are worth the wait...

    http://soundimport.com/opus2-3.html recommended 600watts and I was told they can handle 1000, and they make LOTS of clean bass..
    with one of these http://www.amazon.com/Crown-XLS2000...id=1351857362&sr=8-4&keywords=crown+amplifier Is INSANE!!!
    I heard that setup in a 20x15 room and it was crystal clear at 3/4 volume, we couldnt bare to turn it up anymore than that, it had to be almost 110db 10 feet from the speaker!!!

    I like how the ascends sound, but with the smaller towers, the bass I want may be present but not powerful enough to fill the room, but this all depends on you and your music and music listening level.. I like everything from classic rock, alt., jazz, r&B, rap, country, ect... So the system has to be very versatile, that why I like music systems with subs.. IMO you will get a better sound with a couple towers that have 6.5" drivers and then add a couple sealed musical subs. Like my 2.2 -I bought the evo2-40 towers and added a pair of subs for less than the cost of a speaker that would have enough bass for me to stand alone... Plus you get to separate them, and your amps power isn't getting sucked up by the bass notes, instead it is getting dedicated to your mids and highs, the subs amps are doing all the hard work...
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  3. Steve81 Audioholics 5-O

    Steve81
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    I'd toss Philharmonic Audio into the mix. If you like the Salk ST, I'd expect you'll enjoy these too. They dig deep (32Hz for even the Phil 1) so no special need for a subwoofer with most music. Aside from that, I'm partial to Ascend.
  4. JerryLove Audioholic Samurai

    JerryLove
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    I don't think Salk has a trial period though; and they are not easy to go audition (unless you live near Pontiac, or know someone); so they may not be right for his list (given his criteria).
  5. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

    AcuDefTechGuy
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    The Phil3 definitely kicks a$$ on bass. :D

    It is a superb speaker overall. The on-axis and horizontal off-axis up to 60 degrees look great. The speakers sound great. I believe in 2.0 mode, the Phil3's can output as much bass as the $24,000 B&W 800D2.

    Unfortunately, no in-home trial either, so does not fit criteria.

    I've owned the DefTech BP7001SC and BP7000SC. They have more bass than any speaker I've ever heard, except the RBH T2/P. the Triton 2 should be similar to DefTech, except not as much bass as the 7001/7000. But GoldenEar and DefTech get no respect around here. :D Neither do Paradigm, Tekton, and some other speakers. :D

    The SVS 45" tall towers look awesome (piano black sexy :D). Tested at NRC anechoic chamber, dual 8" woofers. If they sound as great as they look and as great as their super subs, it might be a winner, especially with the 45 day trial. I expect full measurements since they were measured at NRC. :D
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  6. Steve81 Audioholics 5-O

    Steve81
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    For B&M models, I'd also toss out the NHT Classic Four as being worth a shot. The built in powered subs ought to give it some useful low end, and the top end is effectively the Classic Three, which is pretty good stuff IMO.
  7. psbfan9 Audioholic Samurai

    psbfan9
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  8. Steve81 Audioholics 5-O

    Steve81
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  9. billy p Audioholic Ninja

    billy p
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    I generally use my sub when listening to music...but I wouldn't say the bass drivers used in the Sierras fall short in prodcuing deep bass. I know these drivers differ from the ones used in the Sierra 1's....being made from a slighly lighter material & less rigid... helps them produce a quicker/ or punchier feel which IMO gives the bass a more tacticle feel. Having owned the Sierra 1's what sold me on the Sierra Towers was the review from enjoythemusic in which the reviewer call them bona fide rockers he even listed 4 of my favorite bands that I listen too and enjoy the most....:cool:.

    Looking forward to reading through all your progressions both here and AVS....:D

    Re: Bill...:)
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  10. walter duque Audioholic Samurai

    walter duque
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    I recently had the opportunity to check out Alex's Phil3. On my way there I didn't expect much. To me most speakes are very boring and don't excite me at all, that includes a lot of major brands. When I listend to a speaker it has to give me that certain rush. To my surprise the craftmenship is top notch. I know a lot of people say they're ugly, to me they are a work of art made with love. The sound stage is awesome. When listening to 2 channel I could have sworn the Salk center was on. I asked Alex if the center was on and he said no, I had to put my ear up to the center just to make sure and it was off. Bass is plentiful and thight. For the price I think the Phil3 are the bargain of a lifetime. BTW I did get that rush. I also think they do need some good power to do them justice. Alex powered them with a 350x2 watt Cinepro.
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  11. saeyedoc Junior Audioholic

    saeyedoc
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    There is a trial period as long as it's a standard veneer.
  12. JerryLove Audioholic Samurai

    JerryLove
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    That seems interchangeable with "demo pair" in my mind. :)

    *Edit* Just realized that OP excluded Salk from list. Recommendation removed for conflict with OP */edit*
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  13. Nuance AH Audioholic General

    Nuance AH
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    He has heard the Salk's but has eliminated them from the list folks, and there is nothing wrong with that. I hope he doesn't get flack for it like he did over at AVS. I KNOW he listened to them, because I was at the same audio show when he was there. He wants to check out the Ascends instead because he's more interested in the larger drivers. The Sierra's have more bass slam and depth for sure, and compared to the rest of the speakers on his contender list, they are the best sounding overall IMO. YMMV and to each their own.

    For what it's worth, none of the towers on his list are true full range because they don't cover every octave.
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  14. GranteedEV Audioholic Ninja

    GranteedEV
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    The Philharmonic 2 speakers should fit in your budget, and they're pretty good in my opinion. They measure pretty flat on the design axis, and don't have much appreciable change in response off-axis, making them pretty friendly to wide rooms where the reflections contribute to spaciousness. More typical speakers will have a bit more midrange dip in the off-axis, normally leading to a "more forward" sound in many rooms.

    With the optionally stuffed open back mid you can adjust the soundstage and placement a bit to your liking, and the drivers are top notch - a RAAL ribbon tweeter, a very good BG Neo 8 planar midrange, and a well-designed SB Acoustics 8 inch midbass with a demodulation ring which with a 80hz crossover can tank a few hundred watts. My Marantz SR6003 receiver has no difficulty driving them, and with the Crown XLS2000 amp I really never find myself approaching the limits of the amplifier nor have I heard anything objectionable at very high volumes.

    If you liked the Songtowers, Dennis did the crossovers on these too so there should be some similarities in that regard too. But since it's a 3-way with about 75% more displacement and a focus on flux modulation, the sound should on paper be cleaner at high levels. I'd expect them to have more 40-50% more displacement than the dual 5" ascend midbasses too, but I don't know for sure.

    That doesn't mean the philharmonics need a sub though. I really liked what I heard running them full range and they extend down to around 30hz which is deeper than the ascend speakers. But I've got a pretty good subwoofer, so it doesn't make sense for me.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
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  15. Nuance AH Audioholic General

    Nuance AH
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    Having compare both side-by-side, I agree.

    The Philharmonic 2's driver combination is the best IMO, and we all know the quality of the crossover design is nothing to worry about. Dennis doesn't have a trial period, but I doubt you'd have issues re-selling them for basically what you paid if they didn't float your boat.

    It is worth noting that Dennis is working on another pair of speakers that will be more like a SongTower-style speaker, with a rectangular cabinet and likely smaller drivers. Based on his previous work I'd be willing to bet it'll be very competitive with the SongTower and Ascend Tower. The only con is it isn't in production phase yet, so it could be a little while. If you're willing to wait, though, I suspect it would be worth it.
  16. GranteedEV Audioholic Ninja

    GranteedEV
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    Maybe, but I think he`s not using the Neo8 on that. The Neo8 IMO is the star of the philharmonics.
  17. Steve81 Audioholics 5-O

    Steve81
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    It's not if it's the speaker I saw when I visited Dennis not too long ago with the series XO. If it's the speaker referenced here:
    http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/911672-post1830.html
    still looks like a no, and that one is a bit further off from prime time it would appear.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
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  18. JerryLove Audioholic Samurai

    JerryLove
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    The OP's concern with the SongTowers was LF. If Dennis is planning a 4" transmission line speaker like the ST; I don't see that it should go any lower and so would be off the table for the same reasons the ST is.
  19. NewHTbuyer Audioholic

    NewHTbuyer
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    First off, thanks for all the replies. I am at work, so I can't address all the recommendations until later when I get home, but I did want to address the Salk Songtower issue.

    Originally my budget was $2,000. I was thinking of the normal Salk Songtowers, the normal Ascend Towers, the Aperion Versus Grand, the new SVS, etc. Then I heard the SCSTs and the VR-22s at RMAF and I stretched the budget to $3,000. But, I know for my tastes, I would need a subwoofer to add to the SCSTs, and the minimum sub I would consider is the SVS SB-12 ($650). So, that would put me closer to $3,500. Also, my HK receiver has sub pre-outs but no bass management. That would mean the towers would be essentially set a "large" and the bass might be muddy. I could get an external high pass filter like the one Hsu makes, but that adds even more to the cost. So, I decided, unfortunately, that the SCSTs were not for me. That is why I listed the Ascends with the Raal. They should be close to the Salks in the mid/highs and have better oomph.

    I did consider the normal Salks with the SVS sub, since that cost is about the same as the SCSTs (amazing that a tweeter upgrade costs the same as a whole sub, but that is a topic for another day. :) ). But, I would still have the issue of no bass management. Plus, I really much preferred the sound of the ribbon on the SCSTs vs. the Hiquphon tweeter on the Bud Fried speakers that were right next door at RMAF (the same tweeter in the normal Songtower), so that also does not make much sense.

    Anyway, that was my thought process.

    On a sidenote, Jim Salk was super nice and I really respect his products and personalized business model. If I really get into this hobby and upgrade later in life with a bigger budget, the HT2-TLs or SS8s will definitely be on my list.
  20. Nuance AH Audioholic General

    Nuance AH
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    You're correct if that's what he intends to do with this design. Taken from Steve81's post (good find, Steve):



    The Sierra Towers are rated to 41Hz, anechoic, while the Super-Charged SongTower's are 34Hz. The former isn't going to go any deeper than what you heard at RMAF, but the larger woofers will move more air and provide a little more slam; at least they did compared to the SongTower RT's. Just wanted to clear that up. :) Regardless, I'd still use a subwoofer with both. Or two, or four, or... :D:p Seriously, though, I look forward to your comparo. You're doing it the right way, and that's all that matters!

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