Your thoughts on best audiophile speakers in $10,000 neighborhood?

I know the best way to select a speaker is to auditioon them at a dealer or in my own home. However, living in a rather rural area in northern Michigan, there's only one reputable dealer (Sonus Faber) in town so I may end up relying on reviews and your feedback. 

I used to own Vandersteen Model 2Cs in the late 1980s, but finally want to step up my game. I currently have a legacy Nakamichi receiver / amp with 1000wpc, but will probably upgrade that once I select a new pair of speakers. Currently I'm playing mostly LPs on a Technics SL1210G. I now listen mostly with a Mark Levinson 5909 headphone connected to a small Class A pre-amp, so I treasure detail and transparency and don't lean toward "warm" speakers.

Room is good size since it encompasses living room and opens to dining room and kitchen behind it. Cathedral ceiling is about 12 feet high. 

I'm considering the following speakers: Vandersteen Treo CT, Wharfedale Elysian 4 (perhaps too big for my room), Monitor Audio Gold 300 and the Sonus Faber Sonetto VIII. These all fit within my budget. What are your thought about any of these...or do you have others to recommend?

Thanks for whatever guidance you can give me.



Be sure to pay special attention to the specs of the speakers, if they are too hard to drive you'll need a new amplifier too.

If I were in your shoes I'd look at a sensitive speakers, over 90 db efficient. Sonus Faber usually fits there, but others have recommended Pure Audio Project or Volti....which would be worth a look as well.

The Vandersteen you are looking at seem like a more difficult load....the Wharfedale and Sonus Faber would be easier to drive.

@aphilc --

Based on your OP and assumed preferences I’d go for a pair of Sound Labs Majestic 545 or 745’s. Yes, they’re above your budget, but as they say: whatever you do, do it for real.

I am very biased.

Have been a loyal Quad 57 owner for far longer than any other speaker.

They don’t do big dynamics and are a bit frequency limited but what they do is truly natural and lovely. And their transparency is addicting.

However, after almost 70 years, Quad has made a speaker that not only retains the beautiful features of the original 57, they have made a speaker that addresses all the deficiencies. And the icing on the cake is that their 2812 and 2912 modern models have lowered their price by 50%! I got my new 2812X about a week ago.

It retails for $10K. Their dynamics are scary. Their detail is stunning. And they are lovely to look at and beautifully built. 
I am one of the first to receive the new X. I was afraid that I would miss the addictive sound of the 57s. But I am putting my 57s for sale. The 2812X is everything I have always wanted in a speaker.

They have yet to be reviewed. But after showing at the CAF, more than one reviewer placed the system with the 2812X as one of the best 5. That system was about $40K. And the other 4 were all above $2-3 hundred thousand!

I am powering mine with a great Dartzeel CTH 8550 MK2 integrated. It is pricy. But I formerly had Atma-Sphere’s new Class D amps. Those would also be a great match for the Quads. And are a steal at $5400.

BTW-I was never into Rock.

No longer. Not only do I now love it. I get it. 

i have a pair of Tannoy Ardens, in a similar large space, they are nimble and detailed, works for me...

I am in Ann Arbor so you are welcome to stop by to audition if you get here from up north.

Good Luck.

Next to Borresen.....I love the musicality and sheer slam of the new Qualio open baffle speaker .....Check you tube for demo's.....It sounds incredible.I may pick up a pair because I like to swap out speakers and amps....That way I get a completely different experience. That makes this hobby so exciting.

I have the Dali Rubicon 8's.  Can listen to them all day.  Not fatiguing, tight bass, and the wide-dispersion of the speakers produce a great sound stage and center image.  Can also find them used for well under 10k

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With that budget, I would go with used Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 3 or used Focal Sopra 2.

Everyone has different tastes, ears, and brains (zombies have a taste for brains).  For me, there is something hair raising about good Totem's.  And they don't wear me out. Not all the Totems have "it".  For your budget, I would suggest listening to a pair of Forest Signature and/or Wind,  Find Dealers - Totem Acoustic Loudspeakers

I like the monitor audio gold 300 G5 out of all the speakers you've mentioned they're very three-dimensional airy spacious with a very enveloping sound stage makes you feel like you're right in the middle of the performance. I have the monitor audio platinum 200 G2 and I absolutely love them, they're still better than the gold G5 series.

I like the sound of the big PSB's. Careful selection of cabling will be required, but that is true with all set-ups.

@fredapplegate Here is a link to Vandersteen's $90k speaker. I have heard a variation of this a few years ago when Richard demoed it at a store in Los Angeles.

Model Seven XTRM | Vandersteen Audio

Looking at the description of the drivers it seems this particular Vandy speaker does not follow Yamaha's pattern. I went with the most expensive Vandy speaker. I have no time to check the others.

@grislybutter I agree on the Dynaudio. I got a pair of the contour 60i on a very light demo for 9k. They were pulled out for a customer for an hour and went back in the crates. I couldn’t pass it up. Very happy…

+1 for going to axpona. That would be a no-brainer. Yeah, what you hear there won't be truly representative of how anything would be in your home, but at least you could narrow down the plethora of ideas. 

I would be interested in knowing more about your “Nakamichi receiver / amp with 1000wpc”.  My two cents: you could buy a used pair of rockports for around $10k and get some great sound.

Have you considered the Paradigm Persona 3Fs? Only speakers at that price point with a beryllium tweeter and midrange. 


I've read the review in Absolute Sound. And from the specifications tab in the link you sent, i see that the front firing tweeter, midrange and mid bass drivers are made of the same material. Vandersteen insists that this is very important. The down firing subwoofer is aluminum and the rear firing tweeter is ceramic coated. So, the same idea as the ns5000s, which I've heard. The Yamahas are remarkable speakers, especially for the money. Okay, they're not cheap but they're a lot less than the Vandersteens.

I have Model 5s. The price of entry was a lot lower then! Thanks for the reply and happy listening.

The Vandersteen is not exactly the same idea as the NS5000, that is why I mentioned it in my first post. No cone speaker has all 3+ drivers with the same material. I hear something special when the bass driver is made with the same material as the tweeter. There is an incredible coherence to the sound.

The price if the NS5000 reflects the economies of scale of Yamaha.














I'd look at Paradigm for a little under budget and Legacy for slightly over budget.  For even more under budget, SVS and Emotiva have some exciting, new things out.  Some here seem to have blasted the $10k mark.  lol






I have two good suggestions for you, the monitor audio gold 300g3 or the audio vector QR7 SE or you can look at the audio vector R series as well from audio vector.

Pre owned Legacy Focus 20/20.. 2500-3k$.. 175lbs a piece, formidable speaker, revealing, holographic, disappear nicely in my room as giant monolith haha ,, anyway great value .. factory is in Illinois , great people. Should have pre owned in stock, fun road trip .. 

Whatever ya choose happy hunting, tons of fun!


As an FYI, as mentioned above the Paradigm Persona has beryllium on the tweeter and mid. I like that speaker a lot, but it needs warm gear. A very holographic sound and one I was seriously considering buying.

The speaker I mentioned above, the Yamaha NS5000, is the successor to the Yamaha NS1000 made in the 1970’s. It was the FIRST speaker with beryllium for the tweeter and midrange. About 40 years before Paradigm invented it.

The NS5000 has a material called Zylon that is supposedly lighter and faster than BE (or maybe the same). One difference is that Zylon is not poisonous like beryllium. Another thing is that Zylon can be made into a 12-inch woofer.

I am only mentioning all this because I would have easily discounted Yamaha as a top end speaker before I did more research and heard it. The tech in this NS5000 is very impressive. They have money and people for R+D.

No one can tell you how a specific speaker will sound in your room, to your ears, or with your equipment. However, I can give you some specifics about a speaker's   design to see if it is something worth auditioning. Consider the following:

> A speaker (line) that came from the mind of a legendary speaker designer

> A speaker backed by a major audiophile focused company

> A speaker with an easy to drive 92db sensitivity

> A speaker with on board powered subwoofers that extend bass to the low teens

> A speaker with a high WAF that fits in with most contemporary decors without overwhelming the room

> A speaker that can be found for less than the $10k on the used market and not much above $10k brand new

> A speaker that has received universal appraise by reviewers.

GoldenEar Triton 1R



++ on the other Vandersteen suggestions especially if you like the sound signature of your 2Cs. I'm also always in favor of listening to other brands if you have a chance to do so as there are a ton of great speakers out there for the money. 

The Treo CT's are a great option. I have had the original Treo's for a number of years now and am regularly amazed at just how great they sound with my system as are all of my friends (who also have some great sounding systems including Vandy Quatro Wood) that have been to my house for music sessions. While I do look at upgrading electronics from time to time I have no desire at all to move away from the Treo's. 

Enjoy your search for a new set of speakers. 

burtlake +1. I too had a great experience with Audio Dimensions and Harry. I had a SP-06B and had it for at least 15 years. Way ahead of its time in sound quality. It sold so fast it was surprising. I enjoy my SF Olympica Nova 3s and for no larger than a medium sized room, these are incredible. Good luck in your search. 

What is the model number of that 1000 watt Nakamichi? I doubt that Nakamichi ever made such a product!!

10k on speakers is Need to go broke to achieve good sound. But hey, it's ur $$$

Revel Salon 2 speakers are just incredible and I'm sure they can be purchased on the used market for around 10K.

A used pair of Verity Audio Parsifal or Otello should fit your budget providing detailed and musically engaging sound that is non-fatiguing.

Assuming you haven't pulled the trigger, and for what it's worth, Totem Forest Signature Floorstanders come in under your budget at around $7500. Beautiful sounding speakers that throw a very large dynamic 3D soundstage in a relatively small form factor for floorstanders. Highly recommended!

Buy used. You could get a pair of beautiful speakers for that much money. Read reviews(not only Stereophile!) and what people have to say on this and other chat sites. You have to spend this kind of money to get great quality in audio(pace that other poster) but just because you spend this kind of money doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get great quality. I spent 10K on a pair of demo Dali Epicon 8s. Half price. Very warm and musical. Like that other poster with the Dali Rubicons. Winnow down your choices(will they fit comfortably and pleasingly in your space?) see what pops up used on the market and then buy from a reputable dealer with great feedback. They might not be perfect but what it is they ALL have different personalities with positives and negatives which comes inevitably with the territory. Nobody’s perfect.

+1 for Totem Forest Signature

(Currently about $7200 new)

Had mine for 2 years and in Love!

Great image, huge soundstage.

Quick,Tight, Deep bass.

Beautiful Finish.

Solid Build

Biwire/Biamp capability

Like roxy1927 said, buy used so u can demo at home. For larger rooms the Usher Be 20 DMD is fantastic, legacy Meridian DSP 8000’s, for average size rooms D&D comes in first. Dali Epicon 8, retail $25k used $11k. Haven’t heard the NS5000 but trust yyz and kef reference 3 for around $6k

Having experiencing Axpona yesterday I can tell you what really, really struck me as remarkable: Alta Audio Alyssa ($5K)—a stand mount speaker, which is what I’m looking for.  These are in my list! The Alec is a tower type in the $8K range.  These are speakers one needs to hear to understand. 

Alta Audio Alyssa ($5K)—a stand mount speaker, ... These are speakers one needs to hear to understand. 

I heard them there and they did nothing for me. Yes YMMV

For your tastes, KEF is a great choice in this price range. Perlisten and Legacy Audio also. Tekton is a bit unpopular these days.

I had the Monitor Audio GS bookshelf speakers and they sounded pretty good. When I heard a pair of floor standing Totems at my local hifi store, I was highly impressed. In fact, the Totems sounded better than a pair of Focal floor standing speakers that were in the same room. If you’re totally focused on getting dynamic speakers, I agree with those who have recommended Totem. Personally, I own a pair of Quad 2905 ESL’s and they match up great with my 250 watt amplifier but those concentric mylar paneled Quads are frustrating. If I were in the market for a new pair of speakers, I would seriously consider Tannoy’s and then possibly Totems.

I only have my Polk Lsim707 which were ,when new like $4,000 .I'm retired and 72 now ...Can't afford $10,000 speakers.

I bought the Qualio iq speakers and they are amazing .  Better that the last 5 pairs of speakers I’ve owned which were all over 10000 a pair. 7500 shipped from Poland. 

I could see the Borresen being glaring the treble with a very reflective room. 

One needs to match the speakers to the room. Also adding room treatments.

After hearing the Borensen , Raidho , Scansonic speakers at Axpona . Iam very impress what I heard.

Pure Audio Project, such as; the Trio 15 ($8000.00). The openness and huge soundstage is hard to beat with open baffle.

+1. Mine are with the horn in the center and they sound amazing! Clear, detailed, beauty, no grating sound, AND can be driven wonderfully by lower power amps (mine are driven by a 2A3 SET amp pushing as much as only 4.3 watts).