Time for new speakers

Hi all,

I’m currently using my trusty Merlin VSM-MM towers with my DSD DAC, BHK-Pre, and Pass X350.5.

There’s nothing wrong with the Merlins but I’ve had them for 15 years and I just feel like a change.

I’m tempted to go with bookshelves with a pair of REL subs instead of towers this time around as I plan to move house in 2-3 years and think they’ll be easier to move but I’m not 100% committed to bookshelves if there are better options.

The room is 17x14x10, a little above average treatment wise, listening position approx 10ft from speakers and speakers ~3ft from the front wall.

The setup does double duty with HT (I have Sonus Faber center and rears but not too worried about speaker matching)

I mainly listen to rock, alternative, some electronic, and a little jazz and classical.

The budget would be about $12K including subs and I don’t mind buying used. I’m using Audience Au24 speaker cables and will most likely keep them as I do like them.

As a reference, the Merlins were approx $6K back in 2005.

Any recommendations from those with similar music tastes and equipment?


I would recommend not going with ‘bookahelf’ speakers and subs. You would be missing out on critical midbass energy. Not to mention most bookshelf speakers have 1 driver producing bass and mid-range which is less than ideal.

Within your budget my recommendation would be Spendor D7s speakers and REL subs. JL Audio also has some great subs.

The D7’s are great. I would also listen to the ATC SCM40‘s. Those are what I am saving up for now.

Have you already considered, but dismissed for some reason, sampling some of SF’s latest wares?

Have fun with the search and good luck.

Thanks all for your replies - I’ll definitely take a look at the ATC and D7s.

I’ve not ruled out any options so far so all SF models would be in the mix. They are beautiful looking speakers and have a high WAF - just a little worried they may be too laid back for my music tastes - that’s pure conjecture on my part. :smile:

I did hear and like the Harbeth Super HL5+ but not heard them with a pair of RELs.

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Legacy Audio might be another company to look at. A PS Audio speaker line might also end up being worth waiting for.

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I haven’t used Harbeth SHL5+s with REL, but have in the past owned two generations of Compact 7’s paired with RELs. That combination was musical as all get-out. I found the RELs integrated darned near seamlessly with the C7s.

Btw if you really want what you want, don’t rule out a custom build. I have Salk Sound 7M monitors maxed out with very high end crossovers as my current mains. Driven by my BHK Pre and Pass X250.5. Salk owners everywhere love their speakers - Salks very rarely come up on the used market. If you do want to go the monitor/sub route Salk has you covered with numerous options. Dollar for dollar serious audio bang per buck. The downside: lead time. Patience is mandatory. The upside: sensational build quality and sonics.

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Spend $2k on Totems and buy a great bicycle. That should leave you enough money to buy an excellent power cable. LOL


Unless the great bicycle needs a power cable I’m all set as I have several of those already.

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Had Harbeth HL5s, Spendor SP1/2s and Spendor S9s. All were great speakers! The D7s or D9s are both said to be better Spendors. Pairing Harbeth 40s or Spendor D7/9s with good subs would provide you with fantastic sound.

ATCs and/or Proac speakers with, dome midrange drivers, are always a good choice. Dynaudio Contour 60i and Paradigm Persona 3Fs speakers are worth considering as well.

Stick with the Merlins! They are hard to beat…

Take a look at boenicke. They are small, beautiful, and I guess would spare you of a sub. Their performance is amazing.

I’d consider adding a Regenerator. I’m amazed at how the ‘Clean’ function changes the sound. I will be doing soime tests to establish whether it’s the DS that alters its sound dramatically, or the BHK250s or something else.

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I do have a P12 PowerPlant in my system for quite some time already, and agree, it makes a significant improvement.

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Those Boenickes do look amazing!

Yeah, they are great speakers, but I just want something different after 15 years. :smile:

And they sound great also. Especially the soundstage. It is huge. Give them a try. I think you won’t regret it.

I have very similar listening likes, similar size room, mostly treated (GIK) and full PS BHK kit. Had home audition of Spendor D9s and A7s. Kept the A7s and added two REL SHO/3 subs. Really works for me. Something about the D series just didn’t connect with me. I really wanted to like them and had budgeted for them. My home audition was prior to the Version 2 of the D series.

Thanks, this is very useful feedback.

Thanks for the Salk Speakers tip. Had a brief exchange with Jim today and he made many interesting points, especially about the shortcomings of a 2-way design even with subs.

3-way or bust for me it seems.

Zu Audio also seem very interesting.