To upgrade, or not upgrade, that is the question
In a bit of a conundrum, and would like some feedback from those who have maybe gone down this road before me.
Moving into a new place, and am planning on going with a stereo setup in our main living room. For receivers, I have a choice of plenty of great power including vintage Marantz (2252B), NAD (7125), and Rotel (RX-600), or going with a more modern Onkyo (RX8050) that I bought after using it during my speaker demo. Also have the Wi-Fi adapter so I can use some of its network features.
I originally demoed big bookshelves for the space, including the Focal Chorus 705 and 706, DefTech SM55, and Boston A25 and A26. All had relative pluses and minuses (expect for the DefTechs which were unlistenable), and I was ready to crack open the wallet for the 706s, until we dragged a set of Wharfedale Diamond 10.6 into the room as a floorstanding comparison. The Wharfedales came home - not really a surprise, as I use a set of Sapphire SP-89s as the mains in my current system.
Regardless, I find the Diamonds are an improvement on the Sapphires, in terms of better upper end clarity, with a pleasant non-fatiguing sharpness too them. In comparison, the SP-89s are a bit mid-forward, and are better suited to HT than the Diamond 10.6s. Certainly the SP-89 had more bass, but the bass was substantial AND tighter in the Diamonds.
Soundstaging is good with the Diamonds, though you could hear the difference between them and the Focals - the Focals had more "air" with a wider soundstage, while the Diamonds were more laid back, with a narrower soundstage. That being said, I saw how the Focals had the potential to be fatiguing, while the Wharfies did not.
And just to throw one more piece in here, I do have a set of Mission M72 bookshelves I do like - despite being inexpensive, they have a similar sound to the Wharfedales - crisp up to without being harsh or fatiguing.
So now the conundrum:
I am in the midst of selling off some surplus items I own which should return roughly $2,000 to my pocket. My question is, in a used or demo market, could I get speakers in the $2,000 range that would justify the spend over the Diamond 10.6s? Can I widen and deepen my soundstage, not introduce fatigue, yet still produce accurate and adequate bass?
For example, there are some used Monitor Audio Gold Reference 20s traded in at a local dealer for $900. I can pick up a set of the newer GX50s used for $1,000, or used GX100s for $1,500. There may also be opportunities to pick up B&Ws, Dynaudios, Focals, PSBs, or Paradigms (Reference Studio 40 V3 - $800) locally, though I do live in a bit of an audio wasteland. In short, I am hoping to pick up speakers with an original MSRP in the $3,000-$4,000 range for $2,000 or less.
So has anyone else gone from good mid-level gear (Diamond 10.6 had an original MSRP in Canada of ~$1,400) to that "next step" and found it to be worth the money? Or has anyone else dumped an additional $1,000-$1,500 into speakers, and found the improvements merely marginal and not worth the cost of upgrade?
I welcome others sharing their experiences.
Music: Musical Fidelity A3.2, Soliloquy 6.2, CEC/White (original AT-10 cartridge) Turntable, H/K CD
HT: Marantz SR5009, Wharfedale Diamond 10.6, Mirage Surrounds, AR MC1 Center, PS3, JVC Jukebox