Posted posted in a fit of enthusiasm as I see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnelÖ Don't get me wrong. I love the hunt as much as the next guy, but I'm getting anxious to be relaxing at home enjoying the music.:D
I'm the sort of guy who searches far and wide (and long & hard) before making a significant purchase. Then I enjoy the product for many years. After we moved back to upstate NY from Philly a few years back, we bought a smaller house (cape style.) My rather large RTR-280 DR (vintage 1974) speakers (6 tweeters and four 10" woofers per speaker) never found a comfortable place in our new home. Meanwhile, our daughter and her husband had purchased a large four bedroom home and needed to furnish it. They aren't much into audio, but were wishing they had something better in their family room. Long story short: I put the RTRs on 'long term loan' to the kids & began searching for new speakers to fit our space and return me to sonic nirvana.
I rediscovered Magnapan. Spent a pleasant afternoon last summer auditioning the MG 1.6 at Oasis Audio. I brought with me a CD I made containing a wide variety of the music I listen to: classical (from large orchestral works to solo piano and solo guitar); folk; country; jazz; pop; oldies. Can't say enough nice things about the owners--Kevin & Al. No pressure, no hurry, they love music & want to help you find the sound you're looking for. And the MG 1.6s offer what I'm looking for: open, airy, boxless sound; detailed, but not etched; huge sound stage & great imaging. And a bargain to boot! Spent the next several months trying to figure out how they could fit our space. No luck. Not going to work. Crap! Start searching again.
Listened to Martin Login elesctrostats. Everything good you may have heard about ML is true. They have all the qualities I like in the Maggies, but w/ a better bottom end. Unfortunately, the ones I liked were $10K, and probably would have required another $10K in electronics. No way that's happening. :(
Listened to Paradigm Studio Reference 100 v.4. Sounded like my Rti6s: a bit bright, detailed, decent sound stage and imaging (but with a great bottom end that the 6s of course don't have.) Just not the magic I want.
Checked out Polk Lsi 15. I was somewhat reluctant about this, as I had auditioned Lsi 9 a couple years back (when I bought the Rti 6) and found the 9s to be totally unacceptable due to bloated mid-range. After hearing the Lsi 15, I suspect that the 9s I heard must have been defective. The 15s were quite nice: smooth highs, well balanced tonally, good detail and imaging; good sound stage. They were a little shy on the low end--both in terms of extension and lack of 'slam'. That might be due to running off a Yamaha AVR. The Pioneer unit that normally would have been driving the 15s was out of service (and I'm not sure how great the Pioneer would have been anyway.) Bottom line: the Lsi 15 was OK, but didn't have the magic I want.
Back to Oasis Audio where, besides the Maggies, they also carry Totem. Spent another pleasant afternoon with Kevin & AL listening to Totem Hawks. Now the room where the Hawks are is probably close to 1500 square feet. WAY big I thought for those little speakers (1" dome tweeter and 5.5" woofer.) Those Hawks really sang! Filled the room w/ no trouble. Very much like the boxless sound I want. I could walk around and the highs didn't show the positional sensitivity I expect of a driver in a box. The Hawks don't draw attention to themselves--they just put the music out there for you, so you're involved w/ the music, not thinking about the speakers. Wonderful sound stage, good imaging, very detailed (but not hyper detailed.) And the bottom end! It had extension and slam. From a 5.5" driver! And one more thing: they sound great playing softly too. Very important, as I don't (and can't) always crank the volume up. Yes indeed, the Hawks have the magic! :D
I still have some others to listen to, just to be certain; since these will be the last set of high-end speakers I ever buy. The RTRs served me for more than 30 years, and I don't expect to be alive in another 30 years. I plan to check out PMC FB-1 and Ariel Acoustics Model 6. Wish I could hear the Zu Druid and Ohlm's Micro Walsh Tall to round things out, but they are only sold direct--no dealer show rooms.