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.



I have to reproduce part of a post I just made on another thread:


‘Speakers come with sound characteristics that are vastly different. Vastly! So, I recommend not considering anything other than sound quality as a first cut. If at all possible go to a city and listen to some of the major categories of speakers to see what kind of sound they have, and what you are drawn to. That kind of money really is best spent after exhaustive listening.

I would listen to Sonus Faber (musical and natural not un-totem like), B&W (huge punch with a bit of sizzle), Magico (really fast accurate and clean), Wilson (highly detailed… holographic), Magniplanar (ribbon, really fast and detailed). Each will be supported better by certain kinds of components. So, you are starting in the right place.”

In general, with high quality speakers typically there is no better only different. 

Take a trip to the city. Take your wife out to dinner and prearrange some listening sessions. Worth a weekend trip to at least do a survey to see what flavor you like. While I have heard all of these… I am firmly in the Sonus Faber camp… but those are my tastes.

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The Yamaha NS5000 can be bought for that price (I did). Dealer is in Wisconsin, and I am in California.

Search Results for “NS5000” | Hi-Fi Heaven (

This speaker can hold its own (and more) against the very best. This because no one can do the same thing with cone drivers that Yamaha has done. The coherence is incredible with all 3 drivers made from the same material. No one does that with cones.

Ignore the Bookshelf designation. These need a mid to big room.


Legacy focus offers things that very few other loudspeakers offer


Very efficient

High power handling

Very deep bass

Plays very loud

Amplifier friendly tube or solid state

Hand made In the USA

Multiple cabinet options

State of the art heil AMT drivers

Great resolution without brightness

Daveand Troy

Audiointellect Nj

Legacy dealer

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I treasure detail and transparency and don't lean toward "warm" speakers.

Given that I’d recommend looking at the ATC SCM40 v2.  The passive version is $6k but there’s also an active version that includes individual amplification for each driver and active crossover for $11k, and all you’d need is a preamp.  Best of luck.

Check out Wavetouch audio speaker. WT is only natural sound speaker in the world. All other speakers sound un-natural like a left speaker in below video. The right speaker is modded with WT natural sound technology.

Many women (& many non-audiophile men) hate audio sound because all speakers sound un-natural like the left speaker which hurts and causes problems to many ears. Your wife will love the natural sound of WT speaker.

WT speaker is 92db sensitive and sounds fine in my studio (24'w x 40'L x 11'H). WT speakers sound live as if you are in live band cafe.

Live recording of WT speaker. Ask your spouse if she likes the sound of below video.

Compare to the original music.

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?

The Elysian 4 is a kickass speaker (it should be priced way more for how it sounds, imo). Other considerations could be the Borresen X2, Borresen X3 for your budget. Personally, i would forget the other ’meh’ speakers on your list and also budget for a subwoofer to go with the speakers you get.

Subwoofer Candidates - Elysian

- Rythmik F12G

- ELAC Varro RS500-SB


Subwoofer Candidates - Borresen

- KEF KC62




There are so many speakers out there. A couple questions in my mind include:

(a) Do you want speakers you can move around from time to time without hiring someone? This is an important question to me, because I like to try out positioning things and also have moved my speakers a couple of times.

(b) A speaker with decent efficiency (including an impedance curve without sharp slopes and big dips) will make amp matching a bit easier. The Vandersteen Treo's graph looks really good to my eye.

(c) Tweeter type is critical. I have been very fond of the RAAL tweeters in my Ascend Towers. This speaker is way below $10k and punches above it’s weight. That speaker plus some Townshend platforms would come in around $7k max. They are clean and accurate without being "analytical". They make music.

(d) I am super happy with my Rythmik F12 subs. Easy to dial in and much less than REL.

Volti Razz or stretch to a Volti Lucera - highly efficient, clear, clean, quick effortless sound.  

@grislybutter - that's a great website! I've got a pair of Marten Parker Duos with the Marten stands; I bought them new in August and after a good bit of breaking in, they sound superb and just right for me. I live in an apartment so I don't need earthshaking bass, and the bass in these is quite sufficient, and the fat but detailed midrange is what really sold me on them over the Oscar Duos, which I preferred to others I auditioned like the Dynaudio Heritage Spacial and the YG Tor....

@ghdprentice covered top brands and described their house sound. Now, a good size audio show would allow you to hear the top of the line of various brands and this would give you a sense of what you like. Then make note of the electronics. Many manufacturers of electronics also have a “house sound”.  You can then find a local dealer to hear speakers from that brand and others that they might A/B.

@ghdprentice Always gives good advice.  To take it a step further up the chain, I would first let us know the type of music you like.  In my opinion, certain speakers work better with certain music types.  Based on the type of music you listen to (or maybe you are an all types kinda guy), then get advice on what speakers are voiced to bring out the best with that type of music.  This dovetails with the type of sound you like - do you like a lot of micro-details, do you like a warm sound?  Bass heavy or not so much.  Then, the speaker list can be narrowed.  Keep us updated.  

thank you @larsman. I continue to update it. 

The Martens are a dream of mine to hear... 

Some day :)

I have seen recently used Focal Sopra 2 in your price range. I owned them for years and I was quite impressed with them.


Out of your list in the OP, I lean towered the Vandersteen Treo CT and the Sonus Faber Sonetto VIII.

But I’ve heard that series of Monitor Audio is supposed to be quite good.

For something a bit different, you might want to check into Pure Audio Project, such as; the Trio 15 ($8000.00). The openness and huge soundstage is hard to beat with open baffle.

Great thing is, you can choose the mid/tweeted technology: horn, coax, full range.



Or the Quintet 10 ($10,000).


As there are approximately a billion speakers in that $10K  or close range you’re going to get a ton of different recommendations. Why? Because we all like what we like and we hear stuff differently from one another. On top of that we all have different rooms and systems. So before you invest $10K on speakers maybe hop in the car and visit a city, Chicago perhaps, and visit dealers and listen to stuff. Or if you have time this weekend go to Axpona!



With out any hesitation the Borresen X loudspeaker

or Perlisten R7 

both are much better then anything in their price class IHave heard both at audio shoot outs at audio clubs they each do things a bit differently the Borresen uses a great ribbon for ultra speed and transparancy,

the Perlisten has a waveguide with both midrange and tweeter sharing both.

if ultimate spl levels and bass slam is your goal then the Perlisten 

for huge soundstaging and ultimate resolution then the X3 , they are both big speakers around 50 inches high .8 have heard many these 2 stand out in the $10 k 

price range.

Well I might suggest that you start you new system with your amplifier preamp or DAC with remoter. As they say garbage in crappy sound out. Have some fun think about a nice 300B and then the choice of speakers becomes a lot easier.


But what do I know...

Given your search for a neutral and transparent sound, and your budget, I would consider Proac K series speakers. Very open with exceptional midrange refinement and transparency for the price. The new ribbon tweeters also add some beautiful extension on top. Dynamic, refined and well-organized sound with excellent palpability. 
If it’s not a typo, I read 1000 watts :) That kind of power would also call for Magnapans for sure, if you are not a bass fanatic. You would in this case limit your system versatility a little bit. Proacs for example would rock the house while Maggies would probably feel happier with jazz and acoustic folk etc…

Let us know what you end up with please. I am curious. Thanks 

You should definitely check out Revel F228be or even Revel F208's . I auditioned Monitor Audio against Revels on the same system of electronics in the same room and the Revels were much better. I bought the Revel F228be's and love their Soundstage, imaging, openness and faithful reproduction with beautiful midrange. These are right at 10k price with great heritage and reviews. 

@siox +1. I owned the ATC 40 active for years and it is brilliant.  Checks all the boxes.  Not saying superior to your other considerations, just that they should be looked at seriously.  Best of luck.  Cheers

OK here it is.  Look at the Revival Speakers. I just heard the $5000 pair and they are simply killer.  Makes us scratch out heads for that price.  Powered by a line magnetics 22wpc integrated amp.  Simply stunning.  ATALANTE 5 call Mike O'Keefe at HiFi Direct in Hackensack, NJ  tell him I sent you.  Mike has been a dealer for 40 years.  He can get anything but these simply just blew our minds.

Happy Listening.


I’ll vouch for the Legacy Focus SE’s.

I certainly love these things and it’s taken a lifetime of trial to find them. If your game to come down to Ohio to have couple hours listen, you more than welcome

@ghdprentice - I endorse GHD Prentice’s POV. There is no better substitute than

hearing them yourself. One Saturday afternoon in a city in your part of the country would make a nice weekend trip and allow you to hear some options first hand. 

This is so ultimately subjective that you’ve got to trust your own ears first. 


I think it might be better to look at the extra value available in used speakers.  In that context, I might suggest a couple of sleepers....

Used Sonus Faber Olympica 3 Nova

Used Wilson Audio Sophia

I'm NOT a big fan of the Audax tweeter in the Wilson, but that's just my preference.  Electronics might tame the Wilson tweeter a bit.

Both speakers are quite good and in my opinion will outperform any new speakers in that price range. 


You got a lot of good suggestions here — Revel F228be, Monitor Audio Gold, ProAc K series — all are great loudspeakers.

I just came back from a weekend of listening to my buddies new Sonus Faber Sonetto VIII. They’re very nice speakers; you can’t go wrong with them.

Two suggestions from above that you shouldn’t ignore; 1) Go to the Axpona show in Chicago this weekend to audition speakers, and 2) Don’t buy until you’ve had a chance to listen to the Borresen X speakers recommended by Audioman58. They’re a different type of sound than the Sonus Faber but, to my ears, they’re exquisite and a great deal.

I just purchased a similar speaker, the Scansonic MB6 B, designed by Michael Borresen. They’re similar to the Borresen X and also a very good value. I’m 100% satisfied with them. I believe the Scansonic MB5 B is right in your price range and they too are outstanding. 

Good luck with your search and let us know what you decide.


Used Magnepan 20.7i's can be had for less than $10K and if you have the proper room and amplification I suspect they will outperform the vast majority of speakers at many multiples of that price.

Heard the Borresen X-3's at Florida Hi Fi Expo........Many beautiful looking and beautiful sounding speakers there. .......But ONE speaker stood out for it's detail and soundstage and realism . The musicality of the Borresen X-3 along with their LOOKS was a game changer for me. Bought a pair in White with Black trim.....Absolutely Magnificent!  As mentioned above.....The ribbon technology they use in their $500,000 speakers trickles down to the $11,000 X-3's....Call Mike at Hi- Fi Loft in NYC or Next Level Hi Fi in the Chicago area before making your decision.

Sonus Faber Sonetto VIIIs are only $7000- you could go up to a Olympica Nova II for 10K. Sonus are "polite" warm speakers and not known for speed or detail. You could go to a Maggie 3.7i for 9K which seems to more closely match your listening preferences if I understand your post correctly (treasure detail transparency not warm) 

Your room is going to be a challenge- anti-rooms off the main room make for cave like echoes. You will need BIG speakers to fill that room.

Your amp is going to be the choke point. Old Nachs are cool but don't have the ability to reproduce the detail you indicate you are seeking.  You will need a tube amp to reveal the details in your vinyl that your speaker is capable of presenting. If you don't need to rock the docks and shake the lakes I'd look for a good used ARC Ref 160S. I have seen them for cheap lately as ARC is about to release the Ref 320M and well heeled ARC fans are trading up. 

Disclaimer:  My first good speakers were Maggie MG-1s which I bought new at Absolute Sound in Birmingham MI in 1977 with paper route money. Harry was an ARC dealer and my first exposure was to the Maggie/ARC matched stuff and I was blown away. 47 years later I still thrill at the ARC/Maggie pairing. I don' t own Maggies right now- I use Bryston Model Ts because like you I have a cavernous room to fill with sound and my set up is not for critical listening.

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@mbmi  While my Volti are my choice, they do everything I want in a loudspeaker and more, I too was impressed with the Borresen's i listened to. Both the x3 and x1 monitors were clean, powerful and musical. They threw a wide and deep soundstage. I was also impressed that at the levels they were being driven, there was absolutely no breakup or distortion. Of course the amplifiers feeding them were top notch.  

@aphilc  If you're willing to buy used, then your question becomes what are the best speakers in the $20,000 range.  At 3 - 5 years of light use, speakers are selling at +/- 50% of the original price.  Buy used and make your dollars go further. IMHO

I recommend the Spendor D9.2.  Currently running the D7.2 and loving their sound.  The Spendor D series don't look super impressive at face value but they are the closest thing to a jack of all trades design I have heard and owned.  

Deep special bass impact and tone because of a well tuned long bottom firing flared port. 

An engaging, smooth and detailed midrange that is a trademark of the best British designs. 

Sweet detailed treble that is uncanny at times without being too much.  

Fast, efficient near horn like dynamics. Quick transients with great energy, perfect for following rapid fire rhythm and drum sections.  

It is suggested to avoid framing speakers solely based on a price tag. In publications like Stereophile, the price range for a loudspeaker can vary significantly even within the same class. Your price range may fall into the "restricted LF class A," "class B," to a "restricted LF class B," which you can use as a starting point for your search. Depending on your personal taste in sound traits, style and type of drivers, layout your basic requirements on speaker specifications such as efficiency, size of drivers/speakers, frequency responses, etc. Matching with your current gear is an imperative criterion as well. Most importantly, you need to audition them in person, ideally with in-home trials for at least a good number of hours, allowing the speakers to break in. I went through this hassle twice when selecting my main and secondary sets of speakers, and it is not an easy process that you can simply expect an answer from by throwing the question to Audiogoners.

@yesiam_a_pirate Dont you mean Audio Dimensions? I grew up in Birmingham and spent many hours there… bought a used ARC SP-3a1 from Harry - wish I still had it.  Was. Very sad when he retired last year due to health issues 

I am also very much in the PureAudioProject camp. They deliver a very natural, open and pure sound.  Because they are open baffle, bass waves from the back of the speaker and the front wave interact and cancel bass, so they are a touch lean in the upper bass to deep bass (the cancellation grows progressively more severe as in goes down in frequency).  I am not a bass freak so it does not matter that much to me given how good they sound.  There are many options for the midrange/high frequency drivers--wooden horn, conventional drivers, coaxial drivers, Voxativ field coil wide range driver (the most expensive option).  

The Volti suggestion is also good--they make decent, affordable horn-based systems.  The integration of the bass driver with the horn is a bit off, but, that is, to me, a minor flaw given the positive attributes of the system.  You get the lively, vibrant sound of horns with only a hint of horn nasal colorations.  Something like a Klipsch Cornwall is another good horn choice, but, they can sound a bit ragged and peaky unless someone who knows what he is doing swaps out internal parts.  

If you can/must place speakers near the corner of the room, you should audition Audio Note speakers.  They are very musical, lively, yet relaxed (not edgy sounding) and one can listen to them for hours on end.  Among other conventional speakers, I like ProAc speakers--they too sound relaxed, but not sluggish, and are good in long listening sessions.


Good luck in your search.

As suggested earlier, prearrange demos with the dealer(s) and get to a city. I'd put together a list of speakers you'd like to demo first, perhaps drawing upon some of the suggestions here.

I'm in the same boat as far as having limited lines I can audition in shops close to my home. That said, after hearing Wilson, Sonus Faber, Fyne, Atohm, B&W, Focal, Triangle, and a few others, I plan to soon upgrade to PMC.  When I heard them at my local dealer, they delivered everything I had been looking for: imaging and instrument separation like I'd never heard before in a floor-standing speaker, deep and textured bass, sweet and natural sounding midrange (especially vocals), and clean, incisive highs,  The PMC Twenty5.24i and Twenty5.26i are worth putting on your list.  Others I haven't heard but would like to are Borresen and Gershman (their Studio xDb speakers are sort of in your price range at $12k list).

italian Zilgali QA series speakers outperform everithing i have heared so far - almost Wilson sound at 1/3 price.

Another vote for the ATC SCM40a speakers.  They are tri-amped and this allows the mfg to voice the speaker and amp together, and with an active crossover further control is possible.

I have SCM7's with Benchmark amplification in a small room, (plus subs), and that tweeter really is amazing.

another vote for maggies (if you can deal with the looks and demands on the rest of the system)