Price: $3990 per pair
Sid said: the Ascendo C6 proved that pleasing appearance, placement flexibility, and great sound need not be mutually exclusive. If you’re looking for a loudspeaker for your family or living room, and need great sound without worrying too much about front-wall proximity, the Ascendo C6 should be at the top of your must-audition list.
The gist: Slimline German speaker with some unique design traits.
Kevin said: The Powernode and Duo are simply a dedicated combo of receiver and speakers -- but this “receiver” is a dedicated streaming tuner, and the speakers are three diminutive wonders from Paul Barton. They are elegant reinventions of tried-and-true audio products.
The gist: Barton-designed 2.1-channel speaker system is compact and attractive.
Price: $1200 per pair
Philip said: The no-frills Mini A gets on with the business of producing superb sound at a price within the reach of many. Add to this Bryston’s 20-year warranty, and the Mini A seems not only a good investment, but a sensible one.
The gist: Gets all the basic speaker stuff right at an affordable price.
Price: $1500 per pair
Vince said: The cohesiveness of voices and piano through the Aeromax 6 is unmatched in my experience in the price range of $1500-$3000/pair. If you’re looking in that range, and value imaging and soundstaging above all else, look no further: the Aeromax 6 is your answer. It’s pure gold.
The gist: The Balanced Mode Radiator really delivers vocals just right.
Price: $1490 per pair
Wes said: Would I be happy with the Eclipse TD508MK3s as the main speakers of my nearfield system? Absolutely yes. Try a pair. I think you’ll be happy too.
The gist: These tiny desktop speakers are imaging champs.
Price: $1999.98 per pair
Roger said: At $1999.98/pair, the GoldenEar Triton Five is a fantastic performer -- a true high-end speaker at a true entry-level price. It receives my highest recommendation.
The gist: All of these GoldenEar speakers seem like winners.
Price: $4999.98 per pair
Doug said: The Triton One’s performance across the board is exceptional. I’m sure you can’t find another speaker that offers all it does -- in short, full-range, reference-grade sound -- for a price that any serious audiophile with a decent job can afford: $4999.98/pair. The hi-fi world needs more products like this. That’s why GoldenEar’s Triton One gets my highest recommendation.
The gist: Bass: get 20Hz for the price of 40Hz.
Jeff said: The R100s could handle anything I threw at them. With any given track, I was always anxious to hear exactly how they would handle it, how much composure they could muster. But when fed acoustic rock or small-combo jazz recordings, and fueled by an efficient amplifier with some electrical fortitude, the KEF R100s perform with the confidence and poise of a grand master.
The gist: Great all-’rounder with exceptional coherence.
Price: $1199 per pair
Jeff said: What I look for in a speaker is one that not only makes the full range of music I listen to sound as good as it can, but that also looks good in my home, occupies as little space as the laws of physics allow, and represents supreme value for the money. All of that is offered by the MartinLogan Motion 35XT, in addition to a natural-sounding integration of tight, truthful bass and graceful highs. I believe I’ve found what I’ve been looking for.
The gist: High value, exotic touches, and great sound.
Price: $1099 per pair
Hans said: To my ears, Monitor Audio’s Bronze 6 is near faultless. Its build quality and appearance punch above the asking price, while its exciting, dynamic sound makes every listening experience memorable.
The gist: Forget the small bookshelf speakers you were considering and get Bronze 6es instead.
Price: $4495 per pair
Colin said: For smaller floorstanders, the Gold 200s produced both great quantity and quality of bass, and their midrange clarity and ultrawide, holographic soundstaging would make them a good choice for music and home theater. At $4495/pair, it’s not the least expensive speaker in its category, but I don’t think anyone shelling out that sum for these speakers would feel buyer’s remorse.
The gist: Small floorstander that sports some impressive technology in an elegant package.
Price: $4998 per pair
Hans said: The Reference Prestige 95F is a beauty of a loudspeaker, especially in its optional Midnight Cherry finish, the quality of which easily exceeded even my high standards. With a sophisticated, cultured sound and bass extension to die for, the flagship of Paradigm’s new Prestige line is as arresting to listen to as it is to look at. Paradigm appears to have come up with another winner!
The gist: This new direction for Paradigm is striking.
Price: $1300 per pair
Philip said: It possesses enormous strengths, not least of which is a full, clean sound anchored by powerful, solid bass. The X2T’s midrange-forward sound might not be to everyone’s taste, but I think most listeners will appreciate the increased sense of presence it brings to the music. At $1300/pair, the X2T is well within the reach of those looking to invest in good speakers for the long term.
The gist: Reasonably priced floorstander with typical Paul Barton strengths.
Price: $2000 per pair
Philip said: For me, the M106 ticked all the right boxes: Its ultraclear sound uncovered plenty of detail while boasting a gorgeous, open midrange that was neutral and natural. Perhaps best of all, it maintained these qualities at any volume at which I played them. Add to this its high quality of fit and finish, and Revel’s Performa3 M106 is a compelling package.
The gist: Hard to fault this minimonitor from Revel, especially considering the price.
Price: $899 per pair
Jeff said: This speaker is well named. It’s the consummate Chameleon, drawing the best from a wide variety of designs and techniques of sound reproduction. Through exquisite engineering, beautiful industrial design, world-class fit and finish, and superior inner detail and resolution in its ability to make music, this speaker is a marvel.
The gist: Under $1000 and made in Italy?!
Price: $1999 per pair
Philip said: If Sonus Faber’s goal was to attract a new crowd of consumers to high-end audio, they may well succeed with the Chameleon T, whose exquisite fit and finish were bettered only by its sound.
The gist: The least-expensive Sonus Faber floorstander offers a lot.
Price: $4000 per pair
Sid said: If you’re looking for speakers that will give you nearly full-range sound while exciting the fewest room modes, that will throw a wall of sound while “disappearing” into the soundstage, and that will be easy not only to drive but also on the wallet, then I present to you Spatial Audio’s Hologram M1 Turbo.
The gist: Unconventional design delivers in tough rooms.
Prices: Prime Satellite, $134.99 each; SB-1000 Subwoofer, $499.99
Kevin said: The SVS combo of Prime Satellites and SB-1000 subwoofer should be terrific for any environment challenged by too little space and/or too much furniture, and that rewards nearfield listening. The Satellites’ sound was clearly articulate, squeaky clean, and utterly faithful to the music, and SVS has artfully managed their integration with the SB-1000 subwoofer to create a listening experience that is coherent, cohesive, and musically engaging.
The gist: Internet-direct combo that packs big sound in a small package.
Price: $999.98 per pair
Vince said: The SVS Prime Tower competes favorably with models from such established names as Monitor Audio, Paradigm, and PSB. And with SVS’s unique Bill of Rights, it’s a no-brainer to recommend that you give the Prime Towers a home audition, especially if you’re in the market for a speaker with a small footprint and excellent low-frequency output.
The gist: Amazing value in a small floorstander.
Price: $1295 per pair
Howard said: If any audiophile product other than headphones will appeal to a younger audience, it will be one like System Audio’s SA Saxo 5. Its reasonable price and small size make it perfect for a dorm room or small starter apartment, and its expansive soundfield can’t be matched by any soundbar or pair of headphones that I know of.
The gist: Hear these along with the Dynaudio Xeo 2s and KEF X300As.