To Hans Wetzel,
I enjoyed your review of CES and Vegas. I agree with your take on the place. I'm heading down for four days during spring break, and I'm sure that will be about all I can take. Still nice to get down to some higher temps for a few days.
Just a question: I have a pretty small office and have a secondary system in there. Nice front end (I think, anyway) with a VPI Scoutmaster outfitted with a Signature arm and a Shelter cartridge, an Arcam amp, a Burson DAC and little Silverline Minuet speakers. The Minuets replaced an old set of ProAc Tablettes. I'm sure they are easier to drive and more dynamic and have more bass, but I just feel they don't have magic. My issue is in this small office: they are only about 6’ away. I feel that a small speaker that spoke from the 10th or 15th row would be ideal.
I love the look of Sonus Faber's speakers. Do you think they might give me what I want in a small room? Or is there any other speaker you have auditioned that struck you as a great solution for a small space? Help me narrow down my search.
Sounds like you have a terrific little system, though I can understand what you mean about the speakers. I have several suggestions, though I have not had the chance to formally review any of them.
GoldenEar Technology's $798/pr. Aon 2s would offer a more full-range sound than something like the Silverline, due in large part to the 6" driver on offer, compared to the 3.5" driver in what you currently own. Moreover, it uses the same tweeter as the one used in the Triton Three that I reviewed last December. I found the tweeter to offer broad, even dispersion that allowed for an enormous soundstage, but with a smoothly refined and relaxed quality about it. The "10th row" effect could most easily be found in something like the Aon 2s. While they are larger in every dimension to the Silverlines, they're still relatively compact.
For a more classical styling, I think you're on to something with Sonus Faber. I saw their Venere 1.5 bookshelf speakers out at CES, and heard the 2.0 models playing. They managed to retain the signature Sonus Faber sound -- warm, involving, relaxed -- while also remaining pretty resolving. Add to that the fact that 1.5s can be had for $1198/pr., while also looking fantastic, and I think they're an easy recommendation. I'm hoping to get a pair in for review in the coming months, but until then, I can't really comment any further on these.
My last recommendation would be PSB's Imagine Mini bookshelf speakers, which retail for $760/pr. Roger Kanno reviewed them last year for SoundStage! Hi-Fi, our sister site, and was bowled over by their performance given their diminutive stature -- approximately the same as your Silverlines. I was skeptical until I received a pair of PSB's Alpha PS1 powered loudspeakers a few weeks ago (review forthcoming). Sometimes I can tell how good something sounds within a few hours of background listening, but sometimes it takes much longer to pin down what I'm hearing. With the PSBs, however, which are conceptually very similar to the Imagine Mini (short of the built-in amplifiers), it took seconds. What I hear with these Alpha PS1s roughly mirrors what Roger heard with the Imagine Minis -- they have this "rightness" to the midrange that I haven't heard in this price range before. Given that the Imagine Minis measure crazy-flat and offer 4" woofers, compared to the 3.5" units on your Minuets (and have about the same cabinet size), they would probably be the neatest overall fit of the speakers mentioned here. However, they don't offer quite the relaxed sound that you're looking for. They're not forward, per se, but the GoldenEars and Sonus Fabers are almost certainly going to sound more laid back than the PSBs. Hope this helps. Let us know what direction you wind up going. . . . Hans Wetzel