Aurelia XO CericaPrice: $7100 per pair

Website: www.aurelia.fi

Doug said: Antti Louhivaara’s focus on the acoustical solution has resulted in the XO Cerica looking different from anything else out there, and in it outperforming, in certain areas, almost everything else. When you’re sitting in the sweet spot, two of those areas are its soundstaging and imaging, which put the speaker in a league of its own, regardless of price.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Doug contends it’s the soundstaging champ.

Birch Acoustics RavenPrice: $7500 per pair

Website: www.birchacoustics.com

Vade said: They sounded very dynamic and direct, with excellent soundstage reproduction. Further, their transient response and harmonic accuracy illustrated the advantages of having no crossover. There were a couple of minor anomalies, but nothing major.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Crossoverless speaker that sounded pretty good to Vade.

Bryston Model TPrice: $6495 per pair

Website: www.bryston.com

Aron said: The Model T is a balls-to-the-wall, highly capable floorstander that offers tremendous levels of control, dynamic ability, and class-leading bass performance. While it doesn’t provide the last iota of detail resolution, the Model T’s sound is thrilling in virtually every other way, and deserves to be considered if you’re looking for a robust reference loudspeaker that will shy away from nothing.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Big, bold sound from Bryston’s first loudspeaker.

Focal 1008 Be 2Price: $5499 per pair

Website: www.focal.com

Philip said: No speaker I’ve reviewed in the past year has impressed me more than Focal’s Electra 1008 Be 2. It performs well in so many areas, but it is its precision, fullness, and clarity that launch it into that special class of speakers that nearly touch the high point of the price/performance curve.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: French-made stand-mounted loudspeaker that fulfills high aspirations.

Grand Cru Audio EssentielPrice: $8200 per pair

Website: www.grand-cru-audio.com

Doug said: Of the ribbon speakers I’ve heard in my room over the years, the Grand Cru Essentiel is one of the highest priced. It’s also the best sounding . . . and proof that the propensity of the French to do things differently can pay off when the result is something like this -- a speaker that’s not just unique, but a cut or two above the rest.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Unique French-made, ribbon-based minimonitor that has some special qualities.

Monitor Audio PL200Price: $8999 per pair

Website: www.monitoraudio.com

Jason said: The PL200 is an intensely satisfying and very musical speaker. And while we’re all about sound first here, I don’t think I’d be out of line in saying that the PL200’s appearance factored into my experience. There was something innately elegant about the way the speaker’s materials and proportions have been combined to form something part functional device, part object of art.

Select Component

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Looks as good as it sounds.

PBN B741Price: $8499 per pair

Website: www.pbnaudio.com

Tim said: PBN Audio’s Scan-Speak B741 is a seriously good loudspeaker. When I’d at last fully understood what it could do in the service of the music, it became my benchmark at this price point.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: All about really good drivers in this solid DIY design.

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