Now, that is some comprehensive thought. You took six months and traveled to four states to finalize your decision. That is a credible opinion. Bravo!
The link to that several speaker shootout is here... http://www.hometheatershack.com/foru...s/69421?page=1
It features the following speakers, judged by a competent panel.
Focal Chorus 716v, Vandersteen 2Ce, Martinlogan Motion 12, Tekton Lore, Magnepan MG12, HTD Level Three, Chane (Arx) A5, and Klipsch RF-62 II...
And the Chane (Arx) A5 won. ML Motion 12 in 2nd I believe. With Mag, Klipsch and Tekton being "Tier 2" picks after the top two.
The A5 speaker writeup is the #7
post and this is a portion:
"Wayne's Observations: Impressions: The Arx A5s sounded very good right away. And my relief that we had been able to repair the tweeter only grew as I realized how much I was enjoying them. We came this close to not hearing these speakers. And now, here they are. The evaluation experience became much more enjoyable as a result of the near miss. The magnetic planar tweeter in the A5s is a technology choice I will be keeping my eye on. As with the air-motion-transformer tweeter, the high end is smooth, clean, open and very transparent, which describes the overall sound quality for the A5s. It is a well-integrated sound that gives the impression of simplicity and ease of delivery, yet you know there is a lot going on behind the scenes to make that happen. Elegance. It was after completing the auditioning of the A5s thoroughly when I realized that what stood out about them was an overall sense of refinement. I could picture the design process carried out to the point where the measurements and listening characteristics seemed just about perfect, but one bothersome little detail would elicit a "Nope, that is not good enough," and another level of refinement would follow. Attention to detail above and beyond the call, and applied repeatedly, all ultimately carried out with a sense of elegance and resulting in the A5 towers. It had to be something like that, it certainly did not happen by accident. Soundstage and Imaging: The A5s elicited a soundstage that filled the listening area, well beyond the speaker spacing, to the cinema screen before us, and right up to the listener's left shoulder when the female voice on Three Wishes was almost talking into our ears. Nickel Creek's Ode To A Butterfly was easy for the Arx A5s to disassemble to its component instruments and place each convincingly separate and independent in the sound field. The sense of separation, or air between each sound source was fascinating. The perception of depth in the sound field was just as real, and I was mentally mapping the exact locations of the standup bass, the guitar, the fiddle, and the mandolin. The fiddle on that track sounds like it was recorded in a vocal booth for isolation - you can hear the different ambient quality of the smaller closed-in studio space. The A5s precisely defined the location of the fiddle and the ambient recording space around Sarah Watkins as she played. The sonic illusion was of a space within walls, yet cohesively presented in the openness of the studio with the other instruments, a extra level of sonic detail on the part of the A5s. If a soundstage could have the power to materialize objects, guitars, drums, and singers, the A5s almost felt like they could pull it off. Imaging was rock stable, never wandering or smearing, never indecisive in the least. Perhaps slightly soft, the tightest images were the size of golf balls or baseballs at their largest, a feat with a soundstage so large. Frequency Response: Frequency response was very smooth, very refined. Upon analyzing the mid- to low-frequency measured profile, it became clear that it had been tailored with care. The emphasis arc that increases gradually below 1 KHz, reaching its peak in the mid bass range, feels smoothly done and gives the A5s a bass strength that is solid without ever sounding boomy or loose. That scoop between 200 and 400 Hz never stood out, apparently just small enough to stay below the radar. It might also serve to keep the mid- and low- buildup from becoming overbearing. As a whole, the response of the A5s sounded well-integrated. Nothing stood out as being too much or too little, all frequencies sounded just right. Physical and Visual: The A5s are an attractive tower-full of drivers with the three woofers plus midrange and tweeter. The finish is simple, with a roll-up-your-sleeves look that says, "We put the money where it counts, into the sound." It works for me. Overall Listening Experience: I had to be pried away from the Arx A5s, still feeling relieved about how close we came to not even hearing them. The impression of a materializing power in the imaging and soundstage was hard to get out of my head. A sheer joy. What These Speakers Are Best For: The Arx A5s are capable of handling any kind of music with ease. They know no limitations that I could imagine.
Leonard's Observations: I have to admit ignorance of these going in. Other than giving their bookshelf version a look briefly, I had not been aware of them. That changed immediately. This speaker, like the ML, caught my attention from the middle row of seats. I was reclined icing my neck and nearly dozing off, and the sound of Cindy Wilson's voice brought me out of my seat to see what was drawing me to listen. Such an obvious improvement in smoothness and detail was a bit of a surprise. It recalled my listening to some of my favorite speakers from Thiel, which are much more expensive. Top to bottom, all of my notes were complimentary. The only critique that I can make is that they don?t go as deep as a sub, but the detail in the bass and mid bass made them my favorite. Truly a great value and this speaker could easily come home with me. All of the comments about the ML hold true here, and then some. There was a connection to the music that I felt more strongly than with the other products. They say sound and smell are two of the cues in memory that are strongest. Well, I think the subtle detail in instruments that I favor, acoustic strings, and in vocals touched some memory strings that left me sensing a live performance in front of me. I wished I had a live recording of Dr. John or Prof. Longhair as I knew the sounds here would trigger my sense that the keys were being touched in front of me. Sonnie described his experience with some really high end systems at the trade shows in rather similar terms to what I recall listening to some very fine systems in the past. There is a sense that one gets that is something like the suspension of disbelief that one must allow to enjoy a movie. With audio it is harder, as there is only one sense being stimulated and relatively few systems are set up and capable of producing such detail. What surprises me about these is that they do so at such a low price and are so easy to set up to produce such an experience. This speaker begs to be listened to, not just heard, but to really listen. We have reviewed about two dozen speakers ranging up to $3500 per pair using the same model for evaluation that we did in the first session where the Arx 5 was so well received. While there are certainly things that many of the more expensive speakers do better, by a very small margin, I continue to be intrigued and pleased, and continue to discover something new in music that I have been listening to for many years. The emotional connection to the music is certainly one of the things that the A5 delivers on. As I said in the review, very few speakers call me to listen more, or call me when listening from a distance. It is hard to describe how pleased I am with this product.
Quenten's Observations: Setting up these speakers for optimal placement was reasonably quick. Placement options were very forgiving and we were able to pick a sweet spot with little effort. Finally getting my spot in "the chair," I hit play and was immediately struck by the musicality of these speakers. The first track starts out kind of benign with a simple rhythm, but nonetheless I was able to feel a richness and fullness to the notes that had been lacking thus far. Within seconds I actually said "Wow", turned around and stated "These are the best I have heard." Wayne promptly called me "too easy"... so I went back to listening. These speakers were just plain show stoppers. The soundstage on a couple of songs fully encompassed the room from wall to wall, again prompting a comment from me. I had struggled with the less than clear vocals on La Habanero until now. On that song there is a strong accent with lots of loud background music. I was able to discern the words more clearly with these speakers. I pointed this out to Sonnie so he could pay attention to it during his session. These speakers were truly amazing. I finished my set again with the Supertramp album. No harshness and the bass hit notes that I was use to hearing with my sub. I know the frequency sweeps don't show this, so I can only attribute this to the cleanliness of the sound. I could indeed listen without a sub. I then put in the Eagles Hell Freezes Over just for fun. Again, full soundstage with pinpoint imaging, and a crystal clear guitar solo. Wow, I did not want to stop listening! I again reiterated my pleasure with these speakers, tempering it with needing to hear their off axis presentation. I heard Sonnie comment in the back that "they sounded pretty good back here." Leonard was next up, which gave me just that opportunity. Their off axis response was very good indeed. Sitting in the back and off to the right, the music was still full and smooth. Not quite the soundstage, but still easy to listen to without any harshness. Very nice for when you will have a room full of people. Leonard followed next and while sitting next to Sonnie, I stated that this was making me look forward to the $2,000-$2,500 shootout. Sonnie commented that they were going to have to "bring it" to outdo these speakers. And I agree, Jon has a winner here.
Sonnie's Observations: It is true! They almost did not make it into the round-up. Jon Lane was somewhat hesitant about sending them to me, despite The Audio Insider being a sponsor at HTS and having their own forum here. Can you imagine us not being able to get a sponsor of ours to send us a pair of speakers, especially considering they only cost $749 for the pair? Yes, I could purchase them on a trial period, but that was not the point. I am not saying Jon was not justified in his thinking, he had genuine concerns and I respect him for being inquisitive about this event. Nonetheless, there is no doubt it would have been a huge disappointment for all of us. His reservations alone (even though I understood them) placed a doubt in my mind that I could not shake loose... a doubt that had me thinking they would not compete. What an inane thought that ended up being. Much like the ML's, the A5's were super easy to setup... very forgiving of their placement. As I began to listen, I was immediately asking myself if we even changed speakers. I literally thought for a second that we had gotten confused and placed the ML's right back in the room again... seriously, I opened my eyes and took a good hard look at the A5's just to make sure we had indeed been handling the A5's and not the 12's during setup. How strange is it that two speakers can sound so much alike. Wow... the soundstaging, imaging, clarity, openness, and all those magical terms started exploding through my mind. These speakers truly sounded great, unbelievably great for their retail pricing point of only $749. I was stunned by how finely detailed and airy they sounded to not be an electrostatic speaker. There is no need to repeat what I previously stated about the songs in the ML Motion 12 section, because it would basically be the same wording, and I am not sure I can describe them any differently. If you will read my thoughts about each song in my MartinLogan Motion 12 observations, you will have my exact thoughts for the A5. I will state that there was a slightly notable difference with the guitar on Spyro Gyra's Breakfast At Igors that I was able to pinpoint causing me to believe the A5's might have a slight edge over the Motion 12's. The guitar seemed to be a little more detailed and defined; however, I would have to hear it again on the Motion 12's to verify what I thought I might be hearing, which I would do in the final session. I kept listening for more apparent differences without going back to the Motion 12's... and I finally came to a tentative conclusion where I felt the A5's might be the most disappearing speakers I had heard thus far. It is ironic that I had written that down in my notes and a few minutes later I heard Leonard telling Wayne that he thought these speakers just disappeared with almost everything (were you peeking at my notes Leonard?). Again, I wanted to make sure and would need to confirm my thoughts in the final listening session. The bass on the A5's and the 12?s were very very close? and it made me curious if it was merely coincidental that they both have rear-firing ports. While the bass on the 12's may have been slightly fuller, the A5's seemed to have slightly better control. At this point, the A5's seemed to have the edge, but I could not be sure until I went back and listened to the Motion 12's again, which would not be until later. We were no doubt going to have to get really nit picky to make a final choice between these two speakers. I do not think there was any doubt the A5's were in the final running... the only question left was if the remaining two speakers in the round-up would join the A5's and the Motion 12's. I am still amazed at the fact that these speakers are selling for $749 a pair... they could easily be $749 each! It is almost too good to be true."