In Search Of: Full Range Speakers

So, where to go from here?

I have a pair of lovely Merlin VSM-MXR speakers that want for nothing. My room, on the other hand, wants for quite a bit. So, I’m on the hunt for a full range speaker.

The problem with full range speakers is that the cost-performance ratio is entirely non-linear. In English, to get that last octave requires stupid-money. Honestly, I don’t know why that is. Yes, there are manufacturers that put out offerings in the sub $10k space (Legacy Audio comes to mind), I’m not sure I want them to be my “last speaker”, if that makes any sense.

I’m looking for a new Reference. Something I can use to do reviews. Something that produces a seamless, coherent musical experience. Something with deep reach, alluring midrange, and grainless treble. Linear. Neutral. Powerful. Enthralling. Something that doesn’t require tri-amping, or have so many drivers or so much physical size that I have to sit 15′ back in order to get the full effect. My room is only 14′ wide, 8′ tall, and while I can put the woofers 5′ from the back wall if I need to, I can only sit 9-10′ back from them. Lastly, I have the amp already, and no, it’s not a low-power tube amp and no, I’m not interested in trading it in (it’s a long story).

So, no horns, though the Avant Garde Nano’s came to mind. No, probably not a Whisper from Legacy — too big. No panels — while I love Quad, Magnepan (and probably King), they don’t have the deep bass I’m looking for (oh, I should mention that the back wall is 40′ back, so yes, I can get some serious bass).

Last restriction? I’m not rich! If I convert all my current speakers and drain my financial swamp, I’m limited to about $20k.

So, here’s the list:

  1. Vandersteen 5a
  2. Revel Ultima Salon 2
  3. KEF Reference 207/2
  4. Joseph Audio Pearl 2

Of the four, I’ve heard (and loved) the Pearl 2’s, but they’re a bit beyond my reach. I’ve not heard the other 3. So, what am I missing?

About Scot Hull 1063 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.


    • Yeah, I want one of those amps. 😉

      About your setup: I’d love to come take a listen, if you’re up for it! Drop me a note offline ….

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