Help with speaker selection

Hi all,

I’ve considering upgrading from my beloved Aerial 10T’s which will remain in a second system. What I’m looking to improve from the 10T’s is the detail, while maintaining the extreme listenability the Aerials bring (zero harshness). Also I want to improve in the lower mid bass/bass detail. The 10T’s will play low but the detail could be better.

So far I’ve been impressed with the Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V’s. They really impressed me with all of the attributes I’m looking to improve over my Aerials. They had a wonderfully cohesive presentation with detail and no harshness. The bass was outstanding and articulate.

I’ve only begun shopping so I’m looking for other recommendations to consider. I heard the Aerial 7T’s and was not nearly as impressed as I was with the SF’s.

Others on the list that I haven't heard yet include:

Revel Salon2/Studio2

Aerial 20T V2 (impossible to find!)


Amps will be JC1’s, with a solid state front end (Levinson).

Thanks in advance!!

Ag insider logo xs@2xhk_fan

So you are keeping the electronics you have? Or are they going with the other speakers?


After decades with other speaker types I accidentally ran into Sonus Faber speakers about fifteen years ago. They have a natural and organic sound that no other speakers seem to have. Unlike many high end speakers that tend to highlight details and slam and often “sound high end”… like Wilson and B&W (in very different ways)… Sonus sound like real instruments and voices… especially when combined with components compatible with the sound you are going for. So, I owned Cremona, Olympica, and now Amati. I highly recommend them. 

I recommend you acquire your speakers, break them in and listen to them for a long time before making new electronics choices… the sound you get is not entirely, but highly influenced by your electronics… so best to chose them very carefully after you have your speakers.

I find using a Bard comparison as a good place to start. It is typically pretty accurate.. but occasionally can a bit off… it can gets one adjective wrong. But great place to get a feel for the differences:


Comparing High-End Audio Speakers: Revel Salon2/Studio2 vs Aerial 20T V2 vs Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V

Choosing between high-end audio speakers can be a daunting task, especially with so many options offering nuanced sonic signatures. Here's a comparison of the Revel Salon2/Studio2, Aerial 20T V2, and Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V to help you decide:

Revel Salon2/Studio2:

  • Sound Signature: Known for its accuracy, transparency, and powerful dynamics. Delivers a neutral, uncolored presentation with exceptional detail retrieval across the frequency spectrum. Bass is deep, tight, and impactful. Imaging is precise, creating a realistic soundstage with pinpoint placement of instruments and vocals.
  • Strengths: Ideal for audiophiles seeking analytical listening and pinpoint accuracy. Excels with classical, jazz, and complex orchestral music.
  • Weaknesses: Can sound clinical or sterile to some listeners, lacking the warmth or musicality of other options. May not be the best choice for those who prefer a more forgiving or relaxed sound.

Aerial 20T V2:

  • Sound Signature: Offers a smooth, refined, and natural presentation. Balanced across the frequency range with warm, inviting mids and a smooth, extended treble. Bass is articulate and well-controlled, but not as deep or impactful as the Revels. Imaging is spacious and immersive, creating a wide and deep soundstage.
  • Strengths: Ideal for those seeking a natural and musical listening experience. Works well with a variety of genres, including vocals, acoustic music, and jazz.
  • Weaknesses: Bass might not be enough for bass-heavy music lovers or those who prefer a more powerful sound. May not have the same level of detail retrieval as the Revels.

Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V:

  • Sound Signature: Known for its warm, rich, and romantic sound. Features lush mids, smooth treble, and a slightly rolled-off bass that emphasizes musicality over absolute accuracy. Imaging is focused and intimate, creating a cozy and enveloping soundstage.
  • Strengths: Ideal for those who prefer a warm and inviting listening experience. Works well with vocals, classical music, and opera.
  • Weaknesses: Bass can be loose or boomy in some rooms. May not have the same level of detail retrieval or dynamics as the other options. Imaging might be too intimate for some listeners.


  • Revel Salon2/Studio2: Best for analytical listening and pinpoint accuracy.
  • Aerial 20T V2: Best for a natural and musical listening experience.
  • Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V: Best for a warm and inviting listening experience.

Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your individual listening preferences and the type of music you enjoy. Consider visiting an audiophile store to audition these speakers for yourself and see which one sings to your ears.

Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Room acoustics: The size and shape of your listening room can significantly impact the sound of your speakers. Make sure to choose speakers that will work well in your specific space.
  • Associated equipment: The sound of your speakers will also be influenced by the amplifier and other components in your audio system. Make sure everything is properly matched to avoid unwanted coloration or distortion.
  • Budget: These are all high-end speakers with a price tag to match. Make sure you set a realistic budget before you start shopping.

I hope this information helps you narrow down your choices and find the perfect speakers for your home audio system.

Wow, thank you for the outstanding reply!  It seems my three options cover the range from pinpoint/analytic to warm and romantic.  That's helpful since I've never heard the Revels and it's been a long time since I heard the Aerials.

The space is quite large 20L x 22W x 15H, the speakers are on the 22W wall.  I am a bit concerned about filling the room with sound since I heard the SF's in a small demo room with full treatments.  My living room will not have that as while my wife is extremely understanding and enjoys the hobby too - isn't THAT understanding.  :)


Yes I plan to keep my electronics.  Lumin Streamer, Ayre QB-9 Twenty DAC, Esoteric DV-50 disc player, Levinson 326s pre, JC1 amps, AudioQuest cables (Diamond USB and Meteor balanced and speaker), I forgot to mention I also have a JL Fathom F112 V2 sub.

HK I think you picked a great speaker and the JC 1s will drive them beautifully. I would not try to hook up one JL sub to them that will ruin your bass definition if you try to do it the usual way. If you want to put subs under the Novas you will need two. If you like JL I would do two 113s. To do it in a way that would improve the overall sound of the system you will have to get into a digital preamp with bass management such as the Trinnov Amethyst or the upcoming DEQX Pre 4. There are a few others but they are below the level of your system.

Franco Serblin was Sonus Faber's chief designer. He broke away and started his own company. His Ketema is the best dynamic speaker I have ever heard. He has since passed on. The man knew what he was doing.

Hello @ghdprentice ​​​​and @hk_fan !  I own the Revel Salon 2's and have heard the SF Amatis at Overture in Delaware.  I have to disagree with Bard.  I have the Salon 2s in a large family room that connects through the eat in area and then large kitchen, So a large space with vaulted ceiling and fireplace.  The speakers are on the short fireplace wall projecting into the long open space.  I power them with Audionet Max amps and MM Makua wi onboard  Tambaqui.  The Grimm MU1 streamer comes and goes downstairs.   Anyway, the tall Salon 2s project beautifully in the big space with high ceiling over them.  They are not analytical at all, just easy going and musical.  They are far less resolving than my YG Haileys.  I heard the Amatis the same day I bought the Salon 2s.  To me, by comparison, the SF Amatis were a bit darker, less lively and less resolving.  I had the Studio 2s before and traded up to the Salons.  Same sound signature but huge difference in presence, bass and amount of air they move.  Good for a smaller room.

I liked the Salon 2s so much I considered getting another pair for my downstairs system.  So I lugged them down there and hooked them up.  They were way to tall and imposing for my smaller, seated on a closer couch listening space.  Back upstairs they went and I knew I needed a shorter speaker for downstairs.

The Salon 2s excel in a large open room with plenty of power.

Sounds like a fun journey - I encourage you to listen to as many speakers as you can and if possible bring your 'front end' when you are getting close.

I have Sonus faber Olympica Nova Vs and absolutely love them - drive by Moon 860A V2.  If I was to add a speaker to put on your list - I consider listening to Devore Super 9s.

Good luck in your journey and enjoy the music.

How about the Paradigm Persona 9H? I heard them at Capital Audio Fest. Are you buying new or used? I see a pair of these out there for $19.000.00 End game speakers!

I would agree with this review description if I didn't know better.

Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V:

  • Sound Signature: Known for its warm, rich, and romantic sound. Features lush mids, smooth treble, and a slightly rolled-off bass that emphasizes musicality over absolute accuracy. Imaging is focused and intimate, creating a cozy and enveloping soundstage.
  • Strengths: Ideal for those who prefer a warm and inviting listening experience. Works well with vocals, classical music, and opera.
  • Weaknesses: Bass can be loose or boomy in some rooms. May not have the same level of detail retrieval or dynamics as the other options. Imaging might be too intimate for some listeners.

When paired with different equipment the bass and warmth improves dramatically as well as other aspects.  We use 40WPC pure Class A mono blocks and 6SN7 tube preamp with fantastic results.  Better than what we could imagine.

This goes to show that equipment can take your current speakers to an entire different level.

Happy Listening.


In my view, good feedback on the differences has already been accurately offered. I went through a very similar evaluation and almost identical speakers, 2 years ago. Price mattered, size mattered, sound mattered. I ended with a used set of Revel Studio 2’s, and a new pair Rythmik F12SE subwoofers. Love the combination! I enjoy the sound I experience. I like the detail. Most of my music listening is jazz, classical, and acoustic. Odyssey Kismet amp, Hegel preamp, 14x16 room with 10’ ceilings. All in less than $10k

I won't make mine as lengthy as the others and I have never heard any of the others mentioned here. Based on over the top reviews everywhere and pure intuition, I have had my Legacy Focus XD speakers in my system for 3 years and really love them. Have no idea how they stand up to others mentioned but I would guess.... pretty darned well and if I had the next step up at 22k, The Legacy Aeris, it might just be "lights out". Anyway, should be on your consideration list in my opinion.

Sounds like you really like the Sonus Faber sound, and that’s great.  I’d add Joseph Audio and Usher as two others to explore, but I’d give these a good, hard look fer sure.  They’d be end-game speakers for me.

Best of luck.

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I’ve travelled a similar path from “precision and accuracy” with Focal Kanta 3’s and Rockport Atria ii’s with D’Agostino solid state back to Tannoy Kensingtons with Pathos Heritage MKIi hybrid and a more “musical” to me presentation which is where my preferences lie now. I’d suggest giving the Revel and Sonus Farber good line listens to see which sound character appeals to you and then explore different brands with the type of presentation you are seeking.

Serious plus 1 for Joseph Audio.  With Doshi tubes they were the best room at last Chicago IMHO.  TOL is $30k though.  My room is also 22”x15”. With one REL S/81 and the Pathos it is a fully enveloping experience. Not familiar with your electronics, but that synergy is key of course.

I really need to find some Salon 2's to listen to.  I have read so many good things about them that it's hard to scratch them off the list without actual time with a pair.

I will likely be buying used - but not necessarily depending on dealer, etc.

I appreciate everyone's input more than you can imagine.  Thank you all so much!!

For extreme listen-ability (no harshness), but with more detail, I would suggest Rosso and Audiovector.

Like Sonus Faber, Rosso has a silk done tweeter, but it also incorporates a supertweeter, which I believe adds to the resolution, especially instrument decay. SF can sometimes feel slow to me, and Rosso isn’t as sluggish. Certaldo and Volterra are Rosso models around the price of the SF Nova line. Like you, I also like the bass thump from SF, and I believe Rosso keeps much of the bass weight but improves upon the bass definition.

I believe Audiovectors are resolution monsters with their folded ribbon tweeter. I’m not sure if they would fit your requirement of extreme listen-ability, as I think of them like a dry wine. They might appear bright, or neural, to you, which you may find to be off-putting, or just fine. They won’t be warm like SF.

When I went looking for my Livingroom speaker, I realized that coherence in the sound (with driver-based speakers) was amongst the top attributes I should seek.  The speakers I was demoing usually had drivers made out of different materials and sometimes that did not sound like one voice. I felt some discontinuity in the bottom range.

My worst audition (because of the room) was the speaker I ended up getting because the 3 drivers sounded like 1 voice. I did near-field listening, almost like headphones to demo the speaker. That speaker was the Yamaha NS5000. The drivers are made out of a material lighter and supposedly faster than the BE material used in the Revel Salon, Paradigm 9H, etc... The coherence part is likely because the tiny tweeter and the 12-inch woofer (plus midrange) are made from this new material, Zylon. 

Yamaha spent a lot of time and likely money researching the tech used in this speaker. They built their own drivers, used some exotic wood from Japan, and I think made a tremendous speaker. So much so that I threw out my shipping boxes. I will see a box before my NS5000 sees another box.

The NS5000 is the successor to the NS1000 from the 1970's. That speaker was the first to have both a BE tweeter and midrange in the same model. Today Paradigm touts that as a big breakthrough in their top end Persona line. Yamaha seems to have some serious audio research chops going back a while.

The dealer that I went to audition the Yamaha had it stuck in the worst possible room. They had the Sonus Faber in the best room. I could tell that the Yamaha did not have the prestige of the Sonus. I had no interest in listening to the Sonus because I found them dark. However, my understanding is that the latest models are not like that. I should have listened.

I'd ad Vandersteen Quatros CTs. They're in the 17k range I believe. Vandys are well known for their musicality and listenability but when they add carbon tweeters to a speaker the detail is amazing. They also have room tunable subwoofers built into each speaker to allow you to mitigate room modes some which really helps with bass definition. Take a listen somewhere 

Your JC1 is a musical amp. You do not need musical speakers like sonus Faber it will be too warm unless you bipass Olympics and go to the more hi fi and accurate Serafino.
in your budget I would look at about an 18-20k pair of Vivi Audio Kaya 45. They will open up better and have good synergy. They are also easier to drive and you won’t need JC1 just a JC5+ stereo amp.

If you stick with the JC1 Vandersteen Quattro will be also amazing with that amp. They are phase and time aligned and need a lot of power.

For resale another good speaker is the new 45k Wilson Audio Sasha-V but that might me over your budget. The smaller Wilson’s don’t have the bass.

I re read your OP. @hk_fan I also researched your implied speakers, and I agree with @mikekollar You should research the Legacy Audio Speaker line. Your JC1’s will drive them just fine, Suggest you consider the Focus XD with Wavelett II or if you want to go all out maybe the Aeris. The Wavelett II is the icing on the cake IMHO. This brand flies under the radar to most audiophiles but has many raving fans for those who try them. The attributes you are looking for in your post are up their alley. Revealing, dynamic, bass definition and slam. hey will fill your large space easily. They are made in the USA so the cost of importing from Italy for example is not included in their price, they are a bargain.

I’m going to throw my 2 cents in here bc I almost bought Aerial 10Ts many years ago. I ended up with Genesis 500s which my brother still has and loves. So I’m guessing we may have similar tastes in sound. I too use Ayre DAC-streamer and amp, with BAT tube preamp. In winter I use my BAT monoblock amps which are way too hot to run in summer here. Anyway, after many auditions of speakers I ended up with Audio Physic Avantera+ which I heard in the one remaining bricks and mortar shop around here about 7-8 yrs ago. These speakers sound absolutely gorgeous, perfectly blended bass, no need for a sub (for me anyway), amazing detail and wide deep soundstage. I am chiming in bc I just saw a pair of the newer version Avantera III in gorgeous ebony for sale on USAudiomart for $9950. These are $30k speakers. Mine were $25k and I bought a demo pair from the dealer for $13k and thought it was a great deal. i had to mention Audio Physic bc they dont have fanboys (or girls) but are an amazingly good line of speakers for those of us who like this kind of sound. 

@vernv said

Gershman Grand Avant Garde. Very musical and well within your price range.

+1 .  I heard these at CAF and they were outstanding.  So were the WestminsterLab amps.

I have a set of the GAG's and can vouch for their musical presentation. Very easy to listen to for long periods of time.

If any of you are around NC and willing to let me audition some of your speakers mentioned please let me know.  My local dealer doesn't carry most of the speakers you all have mentioned.  I'm happy to bring a bottle of wine to compensate you!  :)

You may want to check out the Joseph Audio Perspective 2 Graphene. I haven't heard them but I run a pair of Joseph Pulsars and RM22si mk.2, and love them. I have no connection at all to Joseph Audio but their speakers consistently blow me away at audio shows so I doubled down and haven't regretted my decision. You'll find a store demo on sale for $17k here:


Go to the Florida HiFi Expo in 6 weeks in Tampa...You' be able to audition hundreds of Hi end speakers...That's where I heard my Borresen X-3's @ 11K.

I would look at the monitor audio platinum 300 lll very three-dimensional  and spacious much more so than a lot of other speakers costing two to three times the price. and very natural sounding that MPD Tweeter It's probably the best on the market.

Someone else mentioned the Usher Speakers, can suggest them also as they are definitley overacheivers and well built. Some of their models are real nice, sound extremely well and are not hard to drive. They tend to have a nice balance to their sound from top to mids to bottom.

had the salon 1 and 2. Agree the s2 are clinical side of musical compared to usher be20dmd, Meridian DSP8000se, VA beethoven and persona 7f. I never heard the Aerial 10t so don’t know what you’re used to. A full, rich midrange while sounding more musical can overpower the top end making detailed speakers sound less so. I think the Usher BE 20 DMD were the best of the used speakers that retailed $20-25k new retail.

The persona’s needed 5’ free space around them to sound their best otherwise a nasty upper mid glare would show up. The DSP8kse are freakin awesome also, but you’re kinda locked into the brand all the way then.

VA’s Beethovens just don’t play loud and have a recessed midrange which I love but, still.

My salon 2’s had surgical detail and image placement, but it was bizarre because there was no soundstage, just images placed in space. More like a tool than an instrument. Just my experience.

Focal Kanta 3. Again my room, my gear they had a 10 db peak at 100hz were flat at 80 hz and no measurable bass below 60hz. Loved the midrange and treble but they sounded a bit lightweight to me.

VA Strauss, not for detail junkies, but fun rock speakers that DO go loud.

I bought and resold all of these and got to compare several side by side. hey were all popular models that resold for what I paid and the value of a home demo and being to spend several months really helped.

My current pair the Kef Blades I also almost resold because they were kinda flat and boring at low volumes, but I liked them enough at normal volume to try different amps on them and when I used a pair of MC611’s on them they became keepers.

HK_FAN. It looks like you already have stout amplification and I wonder how different my home demos would have been if I’d already had my Mc611 amps already? So my point after this long winded rant is. IME unless your budget includes replacing your JC1’s I recommend home demoing the speakers you think you might like.


There are so many really good speakers out there- but let me give a shameless plug for the ones I chose.  

I like my music at least as loud as conversation level. If I really like the tune- often very loud. My room is huge so I need a lot of speaker and wattage. That being said:

I auditioned Perlistens, B&W Signatures, Vienna Beethoven's and Bryston Model Ts.  I would up buying the Bryston model Ts- mostly because of their amazing bass. I don't need a sub with these but I would have had to have one with the other 3 sets. Again, just my opinion. I like French Vanilla you and you may like Dutch Chocolate. 

When pushed harder than a woman's soft compliment the Brystons came alive. Startlingly so. When it was time to crank it they were dazzling. 

Anyhow- my cost was under 13K delivered so I think I got value for my money. 

Speaking of value I'm the kind of guy who enjoys a bottle of $100 wine that tastes amazing much more than the "highly rated" $250 bottle that raised my expectations higher than it was able to deliver. Basically overpaying takes the fun out of a purchase for me. Moreso audio equipment.

There are so many really good speakers out there- but let me give a shameless plug for the ones I chose.  

here is a list:

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In that price range you have wonderful options to choose from.  Before pulling the trigger, I'd audition both the Raidho's and Borresen.  I have Raidho XT-2's which I love.  But given their small driver size, they aren't as dynamic as the larger models, but they still slam pretty hard.  Maybe the Borresen X-3, just 11K.

Thanks for all the great responses!  Rockport is another speaker I've always been impressed with - anyone know of any for sale?

If you can extend your budget by about $8k, you can probably get a pair of Wilson Sasha DAW’s that are popping up on Audiogon….

What are the dimensions of your room and how far away do you sit from the speakers (tweeter to ear distance)? Since you have the 10T's, I assume this is not a tiny room, but more specifics would be helpful.

I discovered years ago that synergy is a lot easier to find when you start with the right speakers for the room.

Daedalus Audio Apollos.  In an average room size, you will never regret them. 

Wolf Von Langa Son.  Superb for jazz, blues, acoustics, vocals, etc.

See if you live near a Legacy Audio showroom.  They are outstanding, look great, and their direct sales make their whole line and incredible value.  

Try Von Schweikert E-3 or Endeavor(s).  Disappearing speakers, wide dispersion, all the other good aspects of speaker production.  

I suggest used speakers from the most musical sounding speakers including old Legacy speakers (Classic/Signature IIIs/Focus) from the 1990s and like my best friend who has Von Schweikert VR-35 exports.

Right now a pair of usher be20dmd's dirt cheap and if my room was a bit bigger I'd never sold my pair.