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.



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.

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 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.

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. 

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. 

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!

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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 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.

@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. 

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.

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).

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

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.

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 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 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.

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

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

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. 

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

+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

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.

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!

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

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

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

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

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. 

++ 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. 

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



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.

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!


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.














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






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'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.