Advice on Speaker upgrade vs System Component Upgrade

Hi Audiogonners,

I'm getting a bit of an upgrade itch, and looking for some advice about which direction to go. My current system is in my profile - small room 11x11x8 but sounds pretty good. Dynaudio Heritage Specials with DIY Aleph 60s i just built (fun!) - nice warm mid range / bass which i've enjoyed (mostly speakers),  also have a Parasound JC5+ which is nice too. I'm tempted by some of the following speakers but not sure on room size being a challenge for full sized towers. 

I listen to a lot of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bowie - classic vinyl, but mostly on the roon rather than my turntable as my vinyl collection is really small. I love the sound of both digital and vinyl - but my digital is pretty warm with the R2R and the 

Looking at stepping up to speakers in the 10-20k range new but buying second hand;

Wilson Audio Sabrina's - $10K ish on Audiogon

Sonos Faber Olympica Nova ii - $7K used at local dealer

Or would i get a better result upgrading something like the DAC or Streamer. I'm just a bit unsure. And yes I know that the two speakers are very different sound character with the Wilsons being super revealing and probably very hard to set up in my small room. I have Kef R11s in the living room with the JC5, which are much more neutral than the Dynaudios, but they also sound great. 

Anyway - just looking for some perspectives - I'd like to move up a level with detail / clarity while still keeping that musical mid range..

Thanks in advance




@rego - I'm going to be auditioning Oscar Duo and Parker Duo later this week. Stand-mounts are best for me. 

First, @gmdodd - second the congrats on SF Guarneri Evo.

Really no better listening than in situ ...

@larsman, the Parker would have my expectations up (high) with higher sensitivity,

variable x-over and tuned with a passive radiator. 

But given the dazzling review of Oscar at pta-phillips noted as " fast " , should be a battle!


@rego - Yes, that Oscar Duo is 'fast'; it won an audition I had at my dealers a few weeks ago against a Dynaudio Heritage Special and a YG Acoustics Tor (and my current Fritz Carrerra BE's, which I brought along). There was just something in that Marten sound that sold me on those before the first demo song was over. Since then, I'm a bit more flush which is why I'm looking at the Parker Duos now, as well. 

So I thought i would give a short update to all the kind advisors in the thread after I went ahead and bought the SF Guarneri Evolutions which arrived late last week

First impressions - what a beautiful pair of speakers in person - more like cabinetry or something you'd find on a yacht with the wood planks, polished veneer and nickel plates. Certainly a very different look than my retro Heritage Specials, and one that i am extremely happy with. Funnily enough I asked my wife about them thinking that the WAF would be very high - she told me that none of them look right for the living room - she wants hidden/wall mounted, but that i could have whatever i wanted (she's a keeper). At the end of the day i'll get so much more use in my office / listening room than the living room anyway.

I'm still getting the positioning right, and a/b testing between the Parasound JC5 and the Aleph 60 monos. I did try my wilsenton r8 with stock kt88s but didn't feel it moved me at all, so i did order some psvane el34s and 6sn7s to see if rolling might put me on a better track.

The JC 5 is very nice, is clean, slightly warm, slightly tighter/faster bass and dynamics vs the alephs, and a more forward presentation with quite a bit less soundstage than the Alephs

As for the Alephs, this is definitely my preference - i think its a really nice pairing, the soundstage is set back and deeper and wider, there is plenty of bass and good dynamics (but not quite at the jc5 level). And it has a sweet top end and mid range bloom with that second order harmonic distortion that really compliments the Evo's character. The detail is there but not in your face like the Heritage specials are with their Esotar 3 tweeter (both silk dome, dynaudio i believe)

So i'm very happy - however there is one issue, the left voice/mid woofer has some slight distortion at certain low frequencies - a soft flapping sound or vibration/hub which is telling me the driver is damaged slightly - maybe the spider or voice coil. I really only noticed it after about 30 minutes and confirmed with my test tracks cd.

I've been able to work with my local SF dealer to source a replacement driver (the last one apparently) and will be able get it fixed relatively little money. I was also able to purchase a driver myself through ebay on friday, which arrived today and seems to be the correct part and undamaged, and was going to fix it myself (remember id built the Alephs DIY), but then the dealer got back to me. But at least i have that as a back up. Shame that this happened, especially as the seller (The Music Room) had certified the speaker as fully working, so i'll give them the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to old used speakers and about a week of shipping via freight. The speakers are still under their 14 day return and 45 day warranty, and i will reach out to TMR and see if they will cover the repair, but if not, i'd rather do this locally than ship this all back to ohio by freight.

But despite this issue I think this speaks to how truly good they sound - that i was not going to part with them even after just a few days.

So did i achieve my goal? Yes i think i did. Are the Evo's night and day better than the HS? No, and i won't be selling them either - they are just a pure, clean, great sounding (and now i know a very neutral sounding speaker). In my untreated room, i think the HS treble might be a bit too hot, but i'll be very happy to keep them and switch them in for a change once in a while. They may even replace the Kefs in the living room. And the bass is fantastic - certainly  better than the HS which is no slouch (and has a little tighter bass than the Evos), but I'll be using a sub (and maybe another) to fill in that very bottom end. But the bass is very very good on their own. And with the Alephs, i get a much more holographic soundstage than the JC5 (at least in my  room) - i think the soundstage width is about the same, though id give the HS the edge, and the depth goes to the Evos. 

So overall, i'm super happy - there is just a wonderful musical quality that comes out of them along with such a pure mid range for instruments and vocals that really is a slice of heaven. And yes, it really answered the question i had about the next level/step up. I now know that it is there, but it will cost me a pretty penny to get it - and very likely i won't bother until i have a bigger room and can explore floorstanders - and maybe try the Wilsons after all. 

Anyway, I'm very happy with my purchase, and thanks again for all the good advice. I'll keep you posted with updates on repair and sound after break in, and the effect of room treatment, oh yeah and the new tubes when they arrive, and maybe that new tube amp i'm looking at lol.

Happy Listening!