Price: $8500 per pair
Doug said: It’s also a seriously good speaker with exceptional build quality, terrific looks, and a wonderfully distinctive sound: deep, rich bass that will have you believing you’re listening to a much larger speaker; a well-balanced midrange that’s wholly natural and seamless, despite the very different technologies of its two drivers; and clear, prominent, lively highs that can sound spectacular with well-recorded music, but can veer toward brightness with "hot" recordings. In my opinion, where the VL-2 SE stands tallest is in the areas of transparency and detail.
The gist: Unique, expensive two-way that delivers distinctive sound.
Price: $5000 per pair
Philip said: I’m sold on Phil Jones’s belief in the virtues of using multiple small mid/woofers to produce not merely enough but voluminous low-end output. This, married to a clean, open midrange and an extended top end, makes the Phil Jones Pure Sound Silver Reference 7 a well-designed, superb-sounding loudspeaker that will no doubt win the attention of audiophiles looking for a reference speaker in the area of $5000/pair.
The gist: Phil Jones gives his take on great sound.
Price: $6800 per pair
Aron said: Focus Audio’s Prestige FP88 SE performed commendably with just about every recording and component I could find. Its finish is superb, its chamfered edges add a level of masculinity and character to its appearance that nicely offset its rectangular footprint, and I’ve always appreciated that Focus finishes its speakers’ plinths to match their cabinets. Inside, all components and the crossover design are new for this SE edition, and their resulting performance checks all the right audiophile boxes.
The gist: Focus is looking better and better these days. A real player in high-end loudspeakers.
Price: $5995 per pair
Jeff said: Having the latest version of Silverline Audio’s Sonatina in the house has been like visiting with a long-lost friend. They’ve obviously matured, but you still recognize the traits that made you so comfortable with them all those years ago. I’ll be very sorry to see them go, and hope it won’t be as many years before they visit again. Highly recommended.
The gist: The evolution of Silverline's classic model.
Price: $6495 per pair
Jason said: Despite the fact that $6495/pair sounds to me like a fair chunk of change, I’d have to put the MartinLogan Ethos at the "reasonable" end of the price spectrum. Considering that the Ethos is one of the most musically satisfying speakers I’ve heard in my room, I also have to say that, at $6495, it’s a flat-out bargain.
The gist: Cohesive sound from a hybrid speaker.
Price: $8495 per pair
Roger said: MartinLogan's Spire is a visually stunning loudspeaker with a big, open sound to match. It did not, however, sound exaggerated or over the top in any way, and had few sonic compromises. If you think a hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker isn't for you, give the Spire a listen. In fact, anyone considering spending around $8495 for a pair of speakers should hear just how great the Spire actually is.
The gist: Re-perfecting the hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker, yet again.
Price: $10,000 per pair
Jeff said: When you plunk down your ten grand for a pair of 803 Diamonds, you get something more than really good sound. You get to own a B&W -- a speaker with a lineage as impressive as any brand’s. This is a wholly finished product that will not disappoint in any part of the ownership experience, and I can’t say that of everything in the high end. If you’re looking at speakers for over $10,000 and they aren’t better than the 803 Diamond, then they just aren’t competitive high-end speakers.
The gist: Diamonds are an audiophile's best friend.