Bookshelf/Monitor decision

Hi all,
These forums on PS Audio are very nice!
I’m looking to upgrade from my JBL Studio 230 bookshelfs on 24" stands ( nice speakers for the cost). I know these speakers are holding back quite a bit of potential of my audio system.

Recently I was seriously looking into planars; then I decided to have another look into bookshelf or monitors. Not yet writing off planars.

I don’t want to spend over $3000 for a pair right now.

Here’s a few I’ve considering:

Ascend Sierra 2
Totem Sky
Fritz Carrera Be ( a touch over budget) but possible
Harbeth P3ESR
Vandersteen VLR CT ( a touch over budget ) but possible
Buchardt S400


What do y’all think?
I’ve been reading some of the other topics in regards to speakers; I love the vast differences in preferences of speakers.

A little about my audio equipment:
Simaudio Moon 260DT transport
Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC
Tortuga LDR300 preamp
Class D Audio SDS470C stereo amp.

PS Audio P12 regen.

The JBL’s I currently have are nice for what they are; budget friendly, well built entry level speakers.

Thanks for any input, opinions, etc…
Have a great weekend!

I would try the Buchardt S-400 as what do you have to lose. 30 day free trial and free shipping both ways. I have a pair on pre-order that should be delivered in the next couple of weeks just to see what they offer. The rest of the speakers on your list are all very good but the Harbeth’s and the Vandersteen’s are both low frequency challenged compared to the others.

Thanks for the input.
Strong “lows” aren’t a big concern; being that I currently live in a condo.

I’d strongly recommend the Harbeth P3ESR. I’ve had a pair for 6 years, acting as monitors for my computer-based audio ripping, editing etc. I have them mounted on wall brackets to get them away from surrounding stuff. They sound transparent and natural with surprisingly extended bass.

I’ve had Ascend Sierra 1’s and a couple pair of Harbeth P3ESR’s. The Ascends had a remarkable amount of bass. The Harbeth’s don’t have as much bass presence but are a great speaker. If you want bass and a wonderful midrange at a lower cost I’d suggest Salk WOW1’s:
Though I haven’t owned them I’ve auditioned them and they are pretty amazing for their size.

P3esr 40th Anniversary Edition.


Thank you for all the input!
I’ve read so many good reviews of Harbeth
How’s the imaging and soundstage with the Harbeths?
I’ve read the Fritz Carrera be and the Vandys have really nice imaging and 3D like soundstage.
( I’m not very fluent with audiophile terms).
I’ve always been interested in the Harbeths, especially the older ones, nice equipment.

I have hear very good stuff about how very good these Buchardt are.

Ps. If i was you i be looking for a floorstander instead if you like very much jazz and classical music *

Thanks for the input,
I’ve read quite a few good reviews of the S400 too!
I considered floorstanders; but I don’t need strong “lows”, living in a condo, it would drive my neighbors crazy, LOL!

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I’ve heard the Vandersteen’s. They are a top contender. If you ever needed more bass you can just add their sub. It’s one of the best.

I have Zu Audio Omen Bookshelves. Love them with my PSA stellar gear. One of the main reasons I choose them was because they are a sealed cabinet design. In my setup, my speakers must be fairly close the wall. These speakers image remarkably regardless of my inferior setup conditions. Very happy with them.

I understand but there is also very good floorstanders for litle rooms; but they are hard to find and very few out there.

I have a pair of Watkins Stereo Generation Fours, right at the max of your price range. Great sounding speakers. The Watkins have been making speakers for over 40 years and hold serveral patents on speaker design.

Thanks for all the input.
I will definitely check out Watkins.

I just visited the Watkins stereo site.
Very interesting speakers; they look really nice too!
I’m going to look into them further, and read up on some more of the reviews

Add the ATC SCM11v2 and/or 7v3 to your list. I’ve had the Sierra 2 for 3 years and looking to add something a bit livelier/less dark than the Sierra and with better bass control for my small space. Sealed cabinet of the ATC is working great so far.

Their place of business is close to me and over the years I’ve become good friends with Bill Watkins. I’ve taken equipment over and hooked it up to his Gen fours to evaluate and he has offered for me to take stuff home to listen and try to see how it sounds in my set up. They’re just a friendly and straight shooter type of business.

Imaging and soundstage are excellent with the Harbeths however both are likely to be compromised if they are mounted hard against a wall and/or in the middle of books etc - I guess this is true of all bookshelf speakers. For the best imaging and soundstage I recommend mounting them on stands away from the wall.

Thanks for all the input!
It does help to narrow options down.
Ultimately, I need to hear the synergy with my equipment and room; but it helps ALOT to hear from all of you, actual owners or people who have heard certain brands and models.
The “commercial” reviews are good; as long as they are candid with what they hear.
Thank you for all the input!