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.



very subjective questions:  $10K speaker may not sound as good as $2K speaker to some. Based on synergy of the equipment used as well as where its made and what material being used.  Wharfedale Elysian 4 would be 2x the price if not made in China.

@webking185 everybody knows that a 400 dollar speakers sounds better than a 4000 dollar speaker. (It also sounds better than a 2000 dollar speaker) 10K speakers just have the manufacturer's CEO driving more expensive cars, that's why they cost 10K. 

I can recommend the Vandersteen Treo CT's as I have a pair are they are a great example of what Rich believes in for speaker design. I also have a pair of his Model 2C's, a set of Duntech's (also time aligned) along with many others. The Treo CT's by far a the most enjoyable to listen to and do well in a large room.

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@dweller my attempt at sarcasm almost always fails here, there are always people who take my childish comments seriously. No I do not think a 1000 dollar speaker is better than a 1000 dollar times x speaker.

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I want to thank you and all who responded to my query about best speakers in the $10,000 neighborhood. After carefully reviewing what I play (many vintage stereo LPs both classical and jazz, some broadway, etc.), living room size and size of speakers, I have decided to pursue the Vandersteen Treo CTs. Wish me luck!

It appears everyone recommends what they chose for themselves. Allow me to offer an alternative idea.


  Write a list of speakers you've been interested in before you ever thought you could afford them and start following their resale prices, HIFI shark is a great tool for this. As speakers come up at prices you think(thru your own research) you can buy and resell without $$$ loss buy them. What I learned, and what you'll learn is how speakers in your room compare to what you expect. It takes patience and an ability to drive some distance if you really want to insure not taking a $$$ loss until you find the speaker that does what it's supposed to do in your room, but it's worth the effort and going through the process will remove all doubt once you get it right and it won't matter what anyone else prefers. 

Sonus Faber are pretty laid back and warm speakers. Which measurements confirm. May be a good thing with bright SS amp, may be a bad thing with a warm tube gear. 

Congrats on your choice of the Treo CTs.

I was going to say, if you have heard or owned a speaker with a certain ’sound character’ that you like or know that you will miss if you don’t have it, that goes a long way in a future decision. The old saying ’we like what we know and we know what we like..’ A reason to choose outside of that ’preference’ is if you want an entirely different presentation or sea change in technology/upgrade.

Another way to eliminate speakers from contention is to understand what you don’t like (and especially the midrange reproduction). Ie - I have always liked a [midrange] speaker with a paper based driver. I know technology has improved greatly, but over the years, I could almost tell you I wouldn’t buy a speaker with a metal or polypropylene cone midrange driver, regardless of how well it imaged or how accurate it measured..

Staying within a brand you have owned and liked is a safe choice. Enjoy.

Given my values of musical and natural sounding music Sonus Faber and tube equipment like Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, and VAC is perfect. The combination captures the warmth and depth from a sax or female vocals, but rises to high impact electronic music not sounding sluggish or muted in any way. 

Congrats on your speakers!!! I never ’got’ the Vandy sound, I find the mids to be a little strange, however every show I’ve been to the Vandersteen room is among the most popular and I seem to be among the minority regarding their speakers.