KeithR's "Dream Speaker" Search

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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From even my one brief in-person encounter with Sean it is clear to me that he is not a “what does the warranty say” kind of guy. He is without doubt a “what can I do to make you completely happy” kind of guy.
So, what more can he do to make Marc happy
 

KeithR

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May 7, 2010
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Marina del Rey, CA
I've had 48 hours to collect my thoughts, as honestly what happened on Saturday was unexpected. This journey has been to find a "final step" reference loudspeaker that I can own for years to come that I find *substantially* better than what I have, most likely due to cabinet tech that higher priced speakers include. I've had a number of speakers of all types (with horns, a completely separate genre still to come). Metal drivers, natural wood drivers, higher order crossovers, lower order crossovers, lively cabinets, dead cabinets, soft dome tweeters, Be versions. The companies involved- Wilson, Gamut, YG Acoustics, and Rockport - couldn't be more different but all strive for reference sound.

First, there is no speaker that is the best in all areas of sound, period. I have been critical on every speaker I've auditioned thus far. So what you are left with is simply finding which one hits the most criteria for you and go in that direction. We can argue about designs and crossovers, et al. but what it really comes down to is which speaker while you are listening to it makes you sink in your chair for hours without thinking about any of that design crap and puts a smile on your race. There are two speakers that made me relax - the Gamut RS and the YG Sonja 2.2 - but the Gamut, while relaxing, left me with a flustered look moreso than a smile.

In my Wilson vs YG review previously, I wrote that the YG painted a pure, coherent canvas in front of me that was alive and present. This time around, I wanted to find if that magic extended to the smaller Hailey 2 and focus on macro dynamics - which in my Rockport demo bothered me. We started by first swapping the ARC Ref 10 preamp for the internal MSB Ref dac version and both Ron and I preferred the ARC - hence, we used that and the Dagostino phono preamp for several hours of pure analog fun. Fwiw, I found the added space around instruments, larger soundstage, and a hint of tube tonality welcome vs the "sharper" more resolute MSB. Then again, I'm a tube guy.

The DNA of the Hailey is clear - it has that clarity and purity of all the YG speakers. It also had that lower level microdynamic energy that I prefer (which I believe is due to not dampening the entire cabinet ironically like Gamut or Devore), although not quite to the extent of the Sonja. Coherency seemed excellent - and Alex's position of the Hailey seemed spot on as they disappeared. I really enjoyed this audition - it was truly excellent. My only quibble was that the bass seemed a bit light in Alma's massive room. I didn't get quite the impact on Blake Mill's Heigh Ho that I have at home or that I experienced on the Rockports. I also noticed the Hailey was more efficient than its predecessor - we only got over 100 watts on a single track (Ron's DR19 Bill Henderson at 90dbs+) and 9/10 tracks weren't moving the needle much at all. I would say on the KeithR relaxation scale, I was at a 7. I think a Luxman m900u could be the perfect amp on Hailey, with ability to monoblock them later in a bigger room.

We then had lunch while the Sonja 2.2s were setup (thank you, Alex and Fabio). After 3 minutes of putting the Sonja’s in I just chuckled to myself. Alex had previously told me the Sonja just gave you “more” of everything vs the other YG speakers. I think Alex is understating the effect – as what happened is the scale of the canvas increased to lifelike proportions, and the painting was so much more relaxed and convincing than on the Hailey. Flow, decay, and tonality all were better, and I believe that’s why KeithR’s relaxation factor went to 10. In many ways, I felt I was in front of panel speakers with dynamic drive. Bass also was more solidified in the larger room. Please note, I don’t focus on transparency and resolution very much (nor do I at a concert hall) but Alex assured me the effects I was hearing was due to the cabinet within a cabinet design of the Sonja and the vanishing distortion that accompanies it (a single Sonja weighs the same as a pair of Haileys). This is different from other manufacturers that just scale size up with higher priced speakers (and on a Wilson, I'd actually prefer Sashas to Alexxs which may surprise folks). With YG, the top of the line gets you a more visceral, natural landscape not just height and bass. This was unexpected. As far as power, we hit 100+ watts often, so the Sonja requires a bigger amplifier commitment. I think what’s fascinating is after hearing the Sonja, Ron started understanding what coherency in my view. Simply put, this is the best dynamic driver speaker I’ve heard.

So where does that leave me in my search? Well, unfortunately a $76k speaker is well above budget and not likely to (ever) happen. I’m also concerned the sonic delta between Hailey and Sonja to these ears is too great. I would say the difference is much greater than the cost increase as well for a “value” argument and the Sonja can add an additional bass module for big rooms which is a great upgrade path. My preliminary opinion is to just wait it out for a trade-in, demo, etc. that is bound to happen in a year or two. I think delayed gratification on a “dream speaker” isn’t such a bad thing.

One final thought, the whole coherency/canvas thing revealed in the Sonja demo is going to be interesting to compare with in my upcoming Cessaro horn demo (mid-April). That said, I continue to learn through this journey and doing my best to keep an open mind. Is that cones or horns? We shall see.
 
Last edited:

thomask

Active Member
Dec 9, 2018
159
130
43
59
Washington State, US
I've had 48 hours to collect my thoughts, as honestly what happened on Saturday was unexpected. This journey has been to find a "final step" reference loudspeaker that I can own for years to come that I find *substantially* better than what I have, most likely due to cabinet tech that higher priced speakers include. I've had a number of speakers of all types (with horns, a completely separate genre still to come). Metal drivers, natural wood drivers, higher order crossovers, lower order crossovers, lively cabinets, dead cabinets, soft dome tweeters, Be versions. The companies involved- Wilson, Gamut, YG Acoustics, and Rockport - couldn't be more different but all strive for reference sound.

First, there is no speaker that is the best in all areas of sound, period. I have been critical on every speaker I've auditioned thus far. So what you are left with is simply finding which one hits the most criteria for you and go in that direction. We can argue about designs and crossovers, et al. but what it really comes down to is which speaker while you are listening to it makes you sink in your chair for hours without thinking about any of that design crap and puts a smile on your race. There are two speakers that made me relax - the Gamut RS and the YG Sonja 2.2 - but the Gamut, while relaxing, left me with a flustered look moreso than a smile.

In my Wilson vs YG review previously, I wrote that the YG painted a pure, coherent canvas in front of me that was alive and present. This time around, I wanted to find if that magic extended to the smaller Hailey 2 and focus on macro dynamics - which in my Rockport demo bothered me. We started by first swapping the ARC Ref 10 preamp for the internal MSB Ref dac version and both Ron and I preferred the ARC - hence, we used that and the Dagostino phono preamp for several hours of pure analog fun. Fwiw, I found the added space around instruments, larger soundstage, and a hint of tube tonality welcome vs the "sharper" more resolute MSB. Then again, I'm a tube guy.

The DNA of the Hailey is clear - it has that clarity and purity of all the YG speakers. It also had that lower level microdynamic energy that I prefer (which I believe is due to not dampening the entire cabinet ironically like Gamut or Devore), although not quite to the extent of the Sonja. Coherency seemed excellent - and Alex's position of the Hailey seemed spot on as they disappeared. I really enjoyed this audition - it was truly excellent. My only quibble was that the bass seemed a bit light in Alma's massive room. I didn't get quite the impact on Blake Mill's Heigh Ho that I have at home or that I experienced on the Rockports. I also noticed the Hailey was more efficient than its predecessor - we only got over 100 watts on a single track (Ron's DR19 Bill Henderson at 90dbs+) and 9/10 tracks weren't moving the needle much at all. I would say on the KeithR relaxation scale, I was at a 7. I think a Luxman m900u could be the perfect amp on Hailey, with ability to monoblock them later in a bigger room.

We then had lunch while the Sonja 2.2s were setup (thank you, Alex and Fabio). After 3 minutes of putting the Sonja’s in I just chuckled to myself. Alex had previously told me the Sonja just gave you “more” of everything vs the other YG speakers. I think Alex is understating the effect – as what happened is the scale of the canvas increased to lifelike proportions, and the painting was so much more relaxed and convincing than on the Hailey. Flow, decay, and tonality all were better, and I believe that’s why KeithR’s relaxation factor went to 10. In many ways, I felt I was in front of panel speakers with dynamic drive. Bass also was more solidified in the larger room. Please note, I don’t focus on transparency and resolution very much (nor do I at a concert hall) but Alex assured me the effects I was hearing was due to the cabinet within a cabinet design of the Sonja and the vanishing distortion that accompanies it (a single Sonja weighs the same as a pair of Haileys). This is different from other manufacturers that just scale size up with higher priced speakers. With YG, the top of the line gets you a more visceral, natural landscape not just height and bass. This was unexpected. As far as power, we hit 100+ watts often, so the Sonja requires a bigger amplifier commitment. I think what’s fascinating is after hearing the Sonja, Ron started understanding what coherency in my view. Simply put, this is the best dynamic driver speaker I’ve heard.

So where does that leave me in my search? Well, unfortunately a $76k speaker is well above budget and not likely to (ever) happen. I’m also concerned the sonic delta between Hailey and Sonja to these ears is too great. I would say the difference is much greater than the cost increase as well for a “value” argument and the Sonja can add an additional bass module for big rooms which is a great upgrade path. My preliminary opinion is to just wait it out for a trade-in, demo, etc. that is bound to happen in a year or two. I think delayed gratification on a “dream speaker” isn’t such a bad thing.

One final thought, the whole coherency/canvas thing revealed in the Sonja demo is going to be interesting to compare with in my upcoming Cessaro horn demo (mid-April). That said, I continue to learn through this journey and am doing my best to keep an open mind. Is that cones or horns? We shall see.
Hello

I strongly recommend you to audition Arion Apollo speaker

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/l...fle-line-source-loudspeaker-system-full-range


It is not going to break your bank account and can be driven by small power SET amplifier.

It give coherent and dynamic sound.
 
Last edited:

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
10,254
722
113
London
I've had 48 hours to collect my thoughts, as honestly what happened on Saturday was unexpected. This journey has been to find a "final step" reference loudspeaker that I can own for years to come that I find *substantially* better than what I have, most likely due to cabinet tech that higher priced speakers include. I've had a number of speakers of all types (with horns, a completely separate genre still to come). Metal drivers, natural wood drivers, higher order crossovers, lower order crossovers, lively cabinets, dead cabinets, soft dome tweeters, Be versions. The companies involved- Wilson, Gamut, YG Acoustics, and Rockport - couldn't be more different but all strive for reference sound.

First, there is no speaker that is the best in all areas of sound, period. I have been critical on every speaker I've auditioned thus far. So what you are left with is simply finding which one hits the most criteria for you and go in that direction. We can argue about designs and crossovers, et al. but what it really comes down to is which speaker while you are listening to it makes you sink in your chair for hours without thinking about any of that design crap and puts a smile on your race. There are two speakers that made me relax - the Gamut RS and the YG Sonja 2.2 - but the Gamut, while relaxing, left me with a flustered look moreso than a smile.

In my Wilson vs YG review previously, I wrote that the YG painted a pure, coherent canvas in front of me that was alive and present. This time around, I wanted to find if that magic extended to the smaller Hailey 2 and focus on macro dynamics - which in my Rockport demo bothered me. We started by first swapping the ARC Ref 10 preamp for the internal MSB Ref dac version and both Ron and I preferred the ARC - hence, we used that and the Dagostino phono preamp for several hours of pure analog fun. Fwiw, I found the added space around instruments, larger soundstage, and a hint of tube tonality welcome vs the "sharper" more resolute MSB. Then again, I'm a tube guy.

The DNA of the Hailey is clear - it has that clarity and purity of all the YG speakers. It also had that lower level microdynamic energy that I prefer (which I believe is due to not dampening the entire cabinet ironically like Gamut or Devore), although not quite to the extent of the Sonja. Coherency seemed excellent - and Alex's position of the Hailey seemed spot on as they disappeared. I really enjoyed this audition - it was truly excellent. My only quibble was that the bass seemed a bit light in Alma's massive room. I didn't get quite the impact on Blake Mill's Heigh Ho that I have at home or that I experienced on the Rockports. I also noticed the Hailey was more efficient than its predecessor - we only got over 100 watts on a single track (Ron's DR19 Bill Henderson at 90dbs+) and 9/10 tracks weren't moving the needle much at all. I would say on the KeithR relaxation scale, I was at a 7. I think a Luxman m900u could be the perfect amp on Hailey, with ability to monoblock them later in a bigger room.

We then had lunch while the Sonja 2.2s were setup (thank you, Alex and Fabio). After 3 minutes of putting the Sonja’s in I just chuckled to myself. Alex had previously told me the Sonja just gave you “more” of everything vs the other YG speakers. I think Alex is understating the effect – as what happened is the scale of the canvas increased to lifelike proportions, and the painting was so much more relaxed and convincing than on the Hailey. Flow, decay, and tonality all were better, and I believe that’s why KeithR’s relaxation factor went to 10. In many ways, I felt I was in front of panel speakers with dynamic drive. Bass also was more solidified in the larger room. Please note, I don’t focus on transparency and resolution very much (nor do I at a concert hall) but Alex assured me the effects I was hearing was due to the cabinet within a cabinet design of the Sonja and the vanishing distortion that accompanies it (a single Sonja weighs the same as a pair of Haileys). This is different from other manufacturers that just scale size up with higher priced speakers (and on a Wilson, I'd actually prefer Sashas to Alexxs which may surprise folks). With YG, the top of the line gets you a more visceral, natural landscape not just height and bass. This was unexpected. As far as power, we hit 100+ watts often, so the Sonja requires a bigger amplifier commitment. I think what’s fascinating is after hearing the Sonja, Ron started understanding what coherency in my view. Simply put, this is the best dynamic driver speaker I’ve heard.

So where does that leave me in my search? Well, unfortunately a $76k speaker is well above budget and not likely to (ever) happen. I’m also concerned the sonic delta between Hailey and Sonja to these ears is too great. I would say the difference is much greater than the cost increase as well for a “value” argument and the Sonja can add an additional bass module for big rooms which is a great upgrade path. My preliminary opinion is to just wait it out for a trade-in, demo, etc. that is bound to happen in a year or two. I think delayed gratification on a “dream speaker” isn’t such a bad thing.

One final thought, the whole coherency/canvas thing revealed in the Sonja demo is going to be interesting to compare with in my upcoming Cessaro horn demo (mid-April). That said, I continue to learn through this journey and doing my best to keep an open mind. Is that cones or horns? We shall see.
I am not surprised you like Sasha to Alexx (I haven't heard Alexx, but I find Wilson's best speakers as the watt puppy and the sasha 2 - they are way more coherent, Alexia 1 being the least good of the line up).

As I mentioned before, YG and Zellaton are my favorite dynamic driver speakers, and YG is similar to a stats with more oomph. But before going that route make sure you don't want to come back down the price range to full range horns. I don't think the Cessaro Wagner and Liszt match up at all. At the price of the Sonja there is obviously the Pnoe with the Mayers, and below the price of the Hailey is the hORNs Universum that I prefer more, though I will not recommend it for non-classical and non-jazz. Then I prefer Vintage Tannoys, you can have a 7.4 HT set up for less than the price of the Hailey. And boy, that day we heard one for 8 hours straight at loud volumes, blues and rock, I played the entire Physical Graffiti album
 

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
3,364
279
83
Marina del Rey, CA
I don't think the Cessaro Wagner and Liszt match up at all. At the price of the Sonja there is obviously the Pnoe with the Mayers, and below the price of the Hailey is the hORNs Universum that I prefer more, though I will not recommend it for non-classical and non-jazz.
If I decide horns are for me, I likely will go hear the AGs as well. Those are really the only two actionable horn brands in the US.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
10,254
722
113
London
If I decide horns are for me, I likely will go hear the AGs as well. Those are really the only two actionable horn brands in the US.
Trios
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
2,860
238
63
Switzerland
I am not surprised you like Sasha to Alexx (I haven't heard Alexx, but I find Wilson's best speakers as the watt puppy and the sasha 2 - they are way more coherent, Alexia 1 being the least good of the line up).

As I mentioned before, YG and Zellaton are my favorite dynamic driver speakers, and YG is similar to a stats with more oomph. But before going that route make sure you don't want to come back down the price range to full range horns. I don't think the Cessaro Wagner and Liszt match up at all. At the price of the Sonja there is obviously the Pnoe with the Mayers, and below the price of the Hailey is the hORNs Universum that I prefer more, though I will not recommend it for non-classical and non-jazz. Then I prefer Vintage Tannoys, you can have a 7.4 HT set up for less than the price of the Hailey. And boy, that day we heard one for 8 hours straight at loud volumes, blues and rock, I played the entire Physical Graffiti album
Hey ked, there is a pair of demo Universum III for sale in Germany for 19k euro. Time to grab'em :D.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
10,254
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113
London
Duo Mezzo could be very intersting.
Actually, I think the new horns symphony hybrid at 14k might be the best hybrid I heard. Not as good as the full range of course but was quite Moore coherent and couldn't sense the disparity in drivers as compared to other hybrids. Including Acapella
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
10,254
722
113
London
Hey ked, there is a pair of demo Universum III for sale in Germany for 19k euro. Time to grab'em :D.
At 15k euro, if the pound goes my way, and the next apartment permits downward firing woofers, I will
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
2,860
238
63
Switzerland
Actually, I think the new horns symphony hybrid at 14k might be the best hybrid I heard. Not as good as the full range of course but was quite Moore coherent and couldn't sense the disparity in drivers as compared to other hybrids. Including Acapella
I heard this speaker and didn't think it sounded good. A two-way with drivers relatively close together will almost always sound more coherent but the tonal balance was not very good...the horn had some screechy sounds that were off putting. When I compare to the smooth and realistic sound I get from he tweeter in my Odeon horns (also a 1 inch Titanium compression driver in a spherical horn...although not as big a horn) I have to wonder what brand of driver they are using because relatively speaking it sound quite distorted. I am wondering if they are taking a 1 inch compression driver too low in the crossover...that could result in the stressed sound I heard. Better to use a 1.4 inch driver if crossing below 1Khz.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
10,254
722
113
London
I heard this speaker and didn't think it sounded good. A two-way with drivers relatively close together will almost always sound more coherent but the tonal balance was not very good...the horn had some screechy sounds that were off putting. When I compare to the smooth and realistic sound I get from he tweeter in my Odeon horns (also a 1 inch Titanium compression driver in a spherical horn...although not as big a horn) I have to wonder what brand of driver they are using because relatively speaking it sound quite distorted. I am wondering if they are taking a 1 inch compression driver too low in the crossover...that could result in the stressed sound I heard. Better to use a 1.4 inch driver if crossing below 1Khz.
You must have heard it at a show. They are using titanium.
 

christoph

Active Member
Dec 12, 2015
766
227
43
Principality of Liechtenstein
Actually, I think the new horns symphony hybrid at 14k might be the best hybrid I heard. Not as good as the full range of course but was quite Moore coherent and couldn't sense the disparity in drivers as compared to other hybrids. Including Acapella
Where did you listen to the Symphony horns?
With what amplification?
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
2,860
238
63
Switzerland
You must have heard it at a show. They are using titanium.
I know they are using Ti but there are good Ti drivers and bad Ti drivers...also how low you take it matters a lot. The Beyma Ti drivers I have are regarded as one of the best ever made. Jadis used it in their Eurythmie I and II as well. But it has been discontinued since early 2000s. The replacement CP380m is also highly regarded but uses a plastic diaphragm (most do nowadays) and to my ears sounds more "tizzy". People claim the plastic is smoother but to me it simply sounds less realistic. With the hoRNs speaker though it could just be they are taking that particular driver too low...it sounded very stressed to me and mine never sound that way (but mine have the lowest distortion I have ever seen in a 1 inch compression driver where measurements are available...better than a lot of big 2 inch drivers even).
 

christoph

Active Member
Dec 12, 2015
766
227
43
Principality of Liechtenstein
Hey ked, there is a pair of demo Universum III for sale in Germany for 19k euro. Time to grab'em :D.
Are those Shakti's/Jürgens?
 

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