Non-fatiguing speakers in $10K range?

Some years ago I downsized to headphones only. Now I have access to a dedicated room again, so getting my absorption panels and ASC Tube traps back from storage... :-) The amp is going to be Accuphase E-800. I like class A, and I owned fair share of Pass gear but Pass integrated (and lower preamps) no longer have tape loop. I also like my gear to look the way I enjoy and Pass went too industrial for me.

Anyway, long story short. Speakers. I prefer relaxed, non-fatiguing sound. My headphones are Meze Elites and I love them. I also own Focal Utopia, but rarely listen to them, too forward for me.

Now, music-wise I do not listen to jazz or classical or vocals, sorry. Classic rock, hard rock, 80s new wave, punk, pop (classic and modern) and African blues like Tinariwen. People tend to insta-suggest forward sounding speakers - you like metal, right???. But I don't like piercing sound and I rarely go to concerts exactly because of this. I listen to AC/DC but NOT at 'realistic' revels. I like rhythm, melody, but I don't care about 120 Db.

The budget is about $10K, give or take, most probably second hand, but I can buy new, if I really like it. Unfortunately, there are not that many high end shops around Seattle with gear I like. Some went selling vintage and some went up selling only $100K+ systems. So most probably will be getting something blind.

It seems I should be looking for ribbon tweeters, I spent hours at youtube - it is definitely not listening in person, but some recordings are pretty decent and many show differences between speaker models.

I also compare frequency response measurements - I can easily tell that I won't like the speaker by looking at the chart. Ex, bump around 2-6K is a no-no since this is what "bright" is. Dip is actually good since this is what makes sound less "in your face/ear".

So far I more-or-less narrowed my search down to Legacy (Signature or Focus), Dali 8, ProAc (D48 or K) and - maybe - Magico A3? Legacy is huge, I am not sure I really need 20Hz extension. Magico has beryllium tweeters which may be bright....

I purchased Tannoy D700 many years ago, still own them, they are part of my TV set up. They sound good, but not as good as I would like it. My desktop speakers are ribbons too - AirPulse, I like them quite a bit.

Anything else I am missing?


Vandersteen would be my recommendation. 

I think your reliance on frequency charts is not something that will relate to how you will enjoy your speakers. 

The best way is to audition in brick and mortar dealer. Unfortunately, they are now limited to major cities- which I don't know if your are able to visit.

Speakers are quite personal, so understanding what sounds 'good' to you is something only you can decide.

My 2 cents- Ribbon tweeters seem clear and sound good, but just try listening to them for a few hours and you'll be wanting to rip out your ears. 

I think Audiogon member tomic601 is based near you.Try PM'ing him for dealers near you.



@gdnrbob I am in Seattle and to some definition it is a major city. And yet there is very little so listen to. Some list many brands on their web sites but do not actually have anything in stock. Some distributors (such US one for ProAc) shows there is a dealer in Seattle, but when I go to the dealer web site, there is no ProAc and they claim they do not carry any.

Hawthorne Stereo now mostly sells vintage and lower end gear. Definitive Audio is now $$$$. And DA Seattle is actually closed, only one in suburbs close to Microsoft ($$$) is actually open. There is another HiFi store but it is more like a warehouse full of boxes and don’t have any real listening room.

I went and listened to B&W (hard no), Linn (nope), ATC (no), KEF (no), Wilson (maybe...), Sonus Faber (a bit too relaxed already, voiced to classical, I think)

I can listen to AirPulse or Meze Elites for days. It is Focal I want to throw out :-).

As for measurements I simply thought at some point many years ago - why is that some speakers sound good to me and some not. I can read charts, I have masters in applied math (signal processing). So I did quite a bit of research that yielded quite high correlation between certain charts and my preferences. YMMV, of course.

Past 2 weeks I’ve been rocking Paradigm Founder 120H. Bought them used for well under half price. Perfect condition. I vote them best rock speakers I’ve ever had. Warm but detailed mids, non piercing highs, Killer articulate bass. Everything sounds good on these but they have knocked Tekton Double Impacts off the throne for me as far as rock music goes. Way different sound signature from older Paradigms IMO. Stereophile measurements show a bump around 10k. I don’t hear that at all. Maybe that was on axis and I’m pointing beside my shoulders. 

Your yes’s and no’s of speakers seem consistent with your observations of speaker brands. Off the cuff… sorry that Pass is out… I would think Wilson / Pass would be a good combo for you. There are some other combos but not sure the Accuphase is the right choice. You seem to know what you want… you might need to choose the speaker then preamp / amp to get what you want.

I think you’ve identified some good candidates with the possible exception of the A3s that may trigger your treble sensitivity especially with the music you listen to.  Given what you’re looking for I immediately thought Legacy or used Acoustic Zen Crescendos if you can accommodate their size.  There’s a nice pair of AZs available now…

ProAc is one of my fave speakers as well, and QLN Prestige 3 is also worth a look.  Best of luck. 

Revel F 208 sound very smooth and non-fatiguing.if you look at the Stereophile measurements they do not suffer that bump in the frequency response that you mention.If anything they have a slight recess there.

Also Revival Audio Atilante.

Unfortunately most modern speakers seem to be voiced to sound impressive for short term [showroom] listening but will become annoying over time.

Hi @mikhailark , On my speaker buying adventure a few years ago I heard both the D48 and the K6 from Proac.  Very nice.  Bottom ports I believe so bass was impressive and highs silky smooth.  I had Vandersteen Sig3a's years ago and they did not do it.  I passed on Magico, Kef Reference, Sonus Faber Amati Tradition, and Focals in favor of Revel Salon 2's (used).  They are getting to be a bit of an older model, but they do nothing wrong and everything right.  The Studio 2's are great for a smaller room, but the Salon 2's fill a big room beautifully.  They do like power.  And I like sealed speakers vs ports, fundamentally.  You see them now for under 10k for the Salon 2's, a steal.  Good Luck!

Ooh those Acoustic Zen's are pretty!  Never heard them.  I suppose with speakers it is what you find within a reasonable distance.  Although I did manage to finagle a 'weekend trip to Nashville ( from Baltimore) to pick up my Salon 2's!

Good beryllium tweeters are not bright. Some manufacturers just happen to voice their beryllium-tweetered speakers with higher treble (some Focals for example). But listen to Magico’s beryllium and you’ll discover they are not at all bright or fatiguing. 

Based on the measurements of most Legacy designs, I would steer clear of them. Plus their custom drivers are not as impressive as they’d like us to believe.

I recommend putting Revel Salon 2s on your short list. They are older than some of those others but remain competitive. 

You would also do well to consider Perlistens. 


Kharma speakers if you can find them within this price range ?

You have a great amp.

If you can wait until September for the audio show (Pacific Audio Fest), that would be the best opportunity to listen a variety of spakers in your price range.  I am found of the Gershman offerings and the open baffle designs by Spatial Audio and Pure Audio Project.  It's best to listen in person to get a flavor of the sound signature even though it's not in your own room.  I live just north of Seattle (Brier) and we are in a kind of audio waste land.

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2nd Vandersteen......make sure you set them up correctly for great enjoyment.

I have a pair of Avalon Eidelon Diamonds in Port Townsend if you are interested in checking out. 

@helomech - It seems like there is love/hate with Legacy, some people really, really love them. I am not particularly keep on Legacy simply b/c of the size and weight. I am not into moving them and there is no one to help me if I decide to reposition them or even get them moved from main floor down to my audio place...



in the Seattle area you might look to Olson’s HiFi in Lynnwood.   Ben and his team have great ears, offer meaningful advice, and have a lot of stock.   They are also very accommodating.


i am not associated with them, other than being a repeat satisfied customer.

Without any hesitation and a Best Buy the Borresen X3 they will play down into low to mid 30 hz in Bass and well over 50khz in that wave guide Ribbon tweeter

exceptional detail and Big soundstage and 90db efficient a no brainer 

I have heard a lot of the Borresen line show around for under $11k delivered.

@OP. Wilson Maxx IIs are now down around €10K. Unlike many older Wilson speakers, they are not forward sounding and will give you the scale that you need for rock music - but sound good on everything when properly set up.

ProAc are also a good choice, though personally I prefer the soft dome versions of their loudspeakers. You should try to listen to both those and the ribbon tweeter versions to decide for yourself.

Franco Serblin Ketema. Not only the best sounding dynamic speaker I have heard but also the most beautiful. You will love the way these look, Italian design. Serblin was Sonus Faber's chief designer. The Ketemas are also a crazy bargain. They are $40K, but they trounce speakers costing way more, like $300K way more. These are it unless you really want to mess up your life with ESLs. 

In the $10K - 12K price range, two speakers stand out:   Borreson X3 and Daedalus Muse Studio.  The latter might take some time as it would probably be built to order. They are built in your area, and you could definitely go see Lou Hinkley and audition for them.  You won't be disappointed. Someone mentioned listening fatigue, something you would not be able to blame these speakers for. There is a sweet tone that is rare in speakers costing twice the price.

@mikhailark Please put more focus on the Accuphase E 800 regarding speaker synergy then just the speaker as a stand alone. With no interest in Jazz/Classical or Vocals a very refined loudspeaker is not necessary. Fyne Audio/Zu/Klipsch/JBL all should be efficient enough that it won’t place any strain on the Accuphase.

Newer generation ATC Entry level series are a big YES. Non-fatiguing. The key is to get the ATC’s with the ATC-made tweeter, not the ones made with the ferry-fluid based ScanSpeak tweeters. Ie, ATC SCM 40v2, not ATC SCM35, or earlier ATC SCM20’s.

@helomech care to share links for 'most of Legacy's designs'  measurements that you speak of?

Olsens has the Team Fink Kim currently now that’s a ribbon 🎀 speaker for you. 

@mikhailark I have a similar taste in speaker and sensitivity to what gets described as bright.  Before I realized what I really liked I locked into Focal’s based on R&D / Build Quality.  Took me a minute to realize they were voiced in a way I couldn’t electronic my way out of with Amps / Pre’s.  

I haven’t heard the Revel models recommended but they show up regularly in forums with really high praise for being non-fatiguing but doing everything really well.  Sonus Faber are another but you’ve already identified they are a little too laid back for your liking.  

If you have a local well regarded speaker maker, that can be an awesome route, I live on the East Coast and had a highly regarded speaker maker make me a set.  Having the ability to visit the shop, talk to the designer, have him walk through his recommendations based on the sound signature I liked, was great.  The speakers came out beautifully, 

The speakers I have today would check all your boxes but maybe one, how they measure.  I have Alta Audio Alec’s.  They are unique in their design, the designer tuned them more like an instrument vs’s worrying about measurements.  You’ll find a lot of really positive reviews overall but you’ll also find some who really don’t care for them with that usually stemming from how they measure.  Micheal Levy is the owner, designer and is easily accessible.  I love them and they’d pair really well with your current electronics.  Those who like them, like them because they check a lot of the boxes sound signature wise that you are looking for.

I am very surprised to find myself writing this, but I recently bought a pair of Volti Razz speakers, and I can't get over how much I like them. What is surprising me is the upper midrange and tweeter. I kind of braced myself for enjoying the dynamics (which I really wanted in my room), but paying the price in, I dunno - aggression? 

But it hasn't been that way at all. I use a Class A, all tube 60 wpc amp (Zesto Bia), and I think the combo sounds wonderful. I am very sensitive to a forward or bright sound, but a friend swore I'd be surprised. They can be had for $7500 in a lovely wood finish, or save $2000 and paint them yourself (which is what I did). Horns do rock, which I know you want. But these do not hurt you while doing so...

Another close out of state option is Oregon.  I have dealt with Jeff at Metafi audio in Lake Oswego.  He is a straight ahead guy with some interesting and quality options.  He also gets a good selection of used gear that is often in 9/10 or 10/10 condition and he is able to offer good pricing deals. 

Now didn’t you open up Pandoras Box ! Lol

speakers always become fabulous threads with amazing talking point. That’s why we all love this great hobby

That being said; I’ll give my comments. I also did some searching about 2 years ago. I loved the Farbers, just felt they lacked in bottom end at the price point they were at. Legacy I felt lacked detail in some way though they did sound great. I was close to pulling trigger on Cantons and then found PBN Audio offered the best speaker for the money and frequency ranges and crossover point that checked all the boxes. Peter hand builds every speaker himself and offers any and all finishes you could desire. I settled on the M1!5. They have (2) 12s and a beautiful horn. The crossover itself is artwork. Peter makes a smaller version with (2) 8s and a different tweeter. Just my thoughts here but something from left fouled never hurts


So many speaker recommendations but you really need to go out and listen if you can. You have not mentioned anything about the room. How big is it? Will you be able to have the speakers ideally placed out in the room or must they be close to a wall. 

A few years ago I was also  shopping for new speakers with a budget of $10K. I went out and listened  to everything I could locally, with a preset notion of what I was likely to like and buy . My musical tastes tend towards rock, blues, and fusion jazz so not so far from yours.

I ended up getting the rather inexpensive new KLH5s To my surprise and my ears, I found them the most pleasing. I too have a sensitivity to brightness but the brightness content can vary from recording to recording so I use a Shitt Loki mini equalizer in the effects loop of my CJ preamp.

I set it such that when I have a recording that needs the brightness tamed, I just use the remote to kick it in and voila .....brightness gone.

Someone posted Harbeth as a recommendation. I can only opine that I had a pair of the Compact 7 ES3 at one time. A lovely speaker that was not bright but it did not have the bass extension or dynamics to "Rock",, They would be lovely with classical or jazz however. A friend has a pair of Wilson MAxx. They can sound very good but they are huge and very costly to ship and sell if you don't like them so prepare to be married to them.

The Pacific Audio Fest is coming on September 6th. If you can wait that long it would be an excellent opportunity to get a better idea of your options.

Try the monitor audio gold 200 G3 that AMT Tweeter is very non-fatiguing and very three-dimensional and opened has a very enveloping sound stage makes you feel like you're right in the middle of the performance.They're in your price range, and for a little bit more money the platinum 200 G3 is even better.

also another speaker to look at is the Boressen X series, excellent speakers punch way above their price point.

GoldenEar Triton Reference based on my experience with the speaker. Great value for money and Class A rated on Stereophile. No listening fatigue for me.

+1 @jfrmusic

Surprised that you’re the only one to suggest Harbeths. Every speaker in the line is voiced beautifully. I have little tolerance for high-end anomalies and the Harbeth "ruler-flat" response curve does the trick for me. No matter what electronics I've thrown at them over the years, they’re always smooth as fine cognac.

And despite middling sensitivity, they’re an easy load to drive & relatively tolerant to room placement, and their post-BBC thin-wall design makes them fairly compact & lightweight. Lots of selling points.

@alvinnir2 mentioned that he liked his Harbeth CS7ES3s, but bemoaned their lack of bass (bottoming out in the 40-45Hz range). I think he’s right on the money there, esp. given the OP’s emphasis on rock/metal. But keep in mind that the CS7 is one of Harbeth’s bookshelf models, currently selling in the $4-5K range. My own pair, mated with a good sub & amp, shake the floor & produce painful sound levels in my 14x17 room. The many Harbeth reviews in Stereophile & TAS suggest that most Harbeth models have similar voicing, differing mainly in dynamics & low-end. The larger models, especially those in the OP’s price range, might do the job for the OP in an average-sized room, even without a sub.

Vandersteen Treo. Beautiful build quality and design, very natural without harshness. Haven't heard em, but wonder how PS Audio FR 10's would hold up to your needs. They're on a significant sale right now.

I have the Harbeth C7ES-XD. For Classical, Jazz and Pop they are wonderful. 
I found in my room they have plenty of deep tight bass. I actually sold my two REL T/5X subs. I’ve listen to the 30s and the 5+ and liked the C7s the best. They have the most open airy sound of the bunch but all Harbeths are extremely fatigue free and scale up the better the down stream equipment. Wonderful midrange and smooth highs. Vocals are life like. I love British speakers and have owned Quad, Kef,  B&W and ATC. Harbeth to me are best and most fatigue free. 

Now, music-wise I do not listen to jazz or classical or vocals, sorry. Classic rock, hard rock, 80s new wave, punk, pop (classic and modern) and African blues like Tinariwen. People tend to insta-suggest forward sounding speakers - you like metal, right???. But I don’t like piercing sound and I rarely go to concerts exactly because of this. I listen to AC/DC but NOT at ’realistic’ revels. I like rhythm, melody, but I don’t care about 120 Db.

Considering your tastes in music, you shouldn’t be taking any speaker advice from guys who listen to female vocals/Diana Krall @ 60 db... Metal/Hard Rock are harder genres to obtain a high fidelity listening experience with choice of gear. As a long time fan of hard rock & metal myself, it took me a while to get that sorted out. Guys who know nothing about such genres are the ones who come up with Klipsch, etc. The latter is a lousy speaker for metal, in reality.

If you want your hard rock and metal to be "high fidelity" (and also do justice to your 80s new wave and pop)... a couple of speakers that are above your budget comes to mind.... But, not to fret, you probably won’t be able to beat the GR Research "Bully" for your money. If you are not a DIY guy (it is cheaper if you can DIY the kit), it appears that you can obtain a finished Bully from GR research for 5k to 6k now with the finish of your choice, i.e. 4k under your budget. Good luck with your search...



Tannoy Gold Reference series, the best you can buy for 10k and Accuphase is a renoun classic pairing.

Give Paradigm Founders series a look. I recently went on an exhaustive speaker search. I listened to B&W 702s side by side to a pair of Founders 100Fs. I had in my my that I was going to buy the B&W s but the Paradigms were much better in my opinion. Alot less bright. Better low end. I wasn't looking at Founders at the time, they just happened to be at the dealer I went to to check out the B&Ws. I then thought I better do some more looking. I checked out sonus faber, dali, kef, etc in the 7k price range at different dealers. I brought home a pair of golden ear triton 1s that were on clearance. They were nice but a bit bright to me.  I too listen mainly to classic rock and metal.  I delve into rap, jazz and about anything else on occasion so I like bass to be solid, smooth mids and not too bright highs. I ended up with the Paradigm 100f s, which I quickly traded in when the Paradigm 120Hs were marked down 15 or 20 % around new years. I got them for about 7.5k.  They now retail around 10. They  are amazing.  Check out there specs.  Solid build. Made in Canada.  They have 3-8" active woofers each. 1000w internal amps. And have ARC room correction. Which did wonders for my less than perfect room. They fill a large room nicely. Sound good wherever you sit.  My chair is obviously the sweet spot but I find that off axis listening is good too. Paradigm also has the Pesrona series which look better and  cost more. I have not heard them though.  Anyway....worth a look. Good luck!

Another "yes" nod to the Vandersteen Treo CTs, but they are passive speakers so if thunderous floor-shaking bass if your aim, you might want to add a subwoofer...or spend more on the Quatro Wood CTs but that requires double your $10k budget. As an owner of the Treo CTs, they are are very "musically" true and go well in a medium / large room where the speakers can have some "air" around them. Good luck to you.

Any Harbeth speaker. Most fatigue free speaker I’ve ever owned. 

Agreed, but having owned 30.2XDs and as a current owner of 40.3XDs I would not recommend Harbeth for the OP's rock-centric music preferences.

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"Classic rock, hard rock, 80s new wave, punk, pop (classic and modern)". I like these genres too. The frustrating thing is often these recordings sound better on car stereos and headphones than they do on high end systems. For example, about 15 years ago I heard Atmosphere by Joy Division in my mom's car. It sounded great, lively with great frequency extension. Not on my stereo systems, nope, sounds lifeless and dull. If you turn up the volume to liven it up and hear some of the inner details that I heard in the car, it just hurts my ears.

So to find a system or speakers that work well with that music/recordings. It is a challenge for sure. Speakers aside, maybe try a tube DAC or a source that is going to send a warm signal through the system. I have the Klipsch Cornwall IVs, they say it is a great rock speaker. I don’t know, I have had my challenges with it. Getting a Tube DAC (Black Ice Audio) and damping the mid horn and tweeter sure has helped. For example, playing The Stone Roses now, sounds pretty darn good, before it sounded dull, lifeless and harsh, almost unlistenable. It doesn’t sound like Roxy Music’s Avalon or Dark Side of the Moon, but it was a lot more enjoyable than before. I would only recommend the Cornwall IV if you are willing do the work. Two other speakers that are easy on the ears and good with the music the OP likes are the Wharfedale Lintons and the Polk Audio R700s. Neither are nowhere near the 10 grand mark. I haven’t heard them but I have heard great things about the Rosso Fiorentina Certaldo 2, from their description they sound like what you may be looking for.