Another Saturday another round of auditions. The first shop was Quintessance Audio. The owner Mick and his shop were top notch. Very knowledgeable and I've never seen anyone take 20 minutes to setup the speakers with a laser level. This was not only to set the toe-in equal but to also make sure the drivers all fired at the same angle.
Related electronics were well above anything I'll probably ever own.
Audio Research Reference 3 Tube Pre-Amp
Audio Research VT200
We initially listened to some tracks on his mac-mini connected to a Wavelength Cosecant USB DAC
Then my demo CD via a Meridian G08
First up, Revel F32 $4,000 MSRP
Very nice sounding speaker. Solid from top to bottom. This is a true 3-way speaker with a 1" tweer, a 5.25" midrange, and 2 6.5" woofers. Very concise and clear separation and impressive bass for a smallish tower. I didn't any have preconceived opinions going into this audition but I left very impressed. The only negative is cosmetic. Even the wood veneered versions still have the rear 1/3 of the speaker in black.
Second speaker, Sonus Faber Grand Piano $4795
I've already heard these but wanted to hear them again on very nice electronics. I still enjoyed the speaker but after hearing the Revels, the Grand Piano dropped down a rung.
Lastly, was a dream speaker. Revel Ulitima Salon 2 $21,998.
In a word wow. This was in a different room with a Jeff Rowland Concerto pre-amp, 112 stereo amp, and Audio Research 3mk2 CD player. The soundstage on these speakers was amazing. The whole room was enveloped in sound. If my budget was about what my last car cost I would have left the store with this setup. Always fun to listen to really high end gear. These weren't 4 times better then the F32s, but there definitely was a very noticeable sonic difference.
Stop 2 was Audio Consultants, I went here to hear B&W as it had been awhile since I last heard them. I heard 4 different B&W speakers. I'll keep my impressions brief as speaker auditioning is exhausting and many people are familiar with these
B&W 704 $2,400
Sounded like very overpriced speakers. Tiny soundstage, shrill sounding, not a fan
B&W 804s $4,500
Ok much better, still not up to the Revels or Sonus Fabers, but that perhaps could of been a function of lesser quality electronics and a untreated listening room with 40 different speakers all lined up.
B&W 803s $6,000
Ok, finally starting to live up to the B&W name. I could very happily live with these speakers, except they are a lot more expensive then comparable offerings from Revel, Sonus, and Dali.
B&W 803d $9,000
Wow, the diamond tweeter really shines. These are VERY nice speakers and if they were $4500 instead of $9000 I would be very happy for a long time with these.
So after hearing nearly 10 speakers now I have my list narrowed down to 4.
Dali Helicon 400
Sonus Faber Grand Piano
Based upon sound, price and cosmetics the Helicon would be the speaker I'd buy if I were to buy a new model today.
Lastly, my wife has been wife me for every audition besides the Dali and she has been a trooper. Today she was even using words like soundstage and veiled