Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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bonzo
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Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by bonzo » 2019-02-06 22:05

So while I was researching the Sonus Fabre Guarneri Homage which I would love the opportunity just to listen to however nobody has these, I found a pair of Sonus Fabre Fenice speakers for sale. The seller is asking $78,000, original retail $200,000. While reading the spec sheet for the speakers, it seems more like a space shuttle than it does a pair of speakers. So my question is has anybody had a chance to listen to these ultra high-end speakers or amps or even turntable, what is it the continuum table is over six figures I think. I just know I will never have the opportunity to listen to and just very curious as to any feedback anyone has. As always thanks everybody
lp12, Keel, K Radikal, Urika, EkosSe/1 Kandid KK1/D, Tundra Mono 2 Tarandus, 242s mk2, Rel B1.

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by beck » 2019-02-06 22:27

https://youtu.be/qY9YYkqW8ng

https://youtu.be/ZEGj6iim57w

See the videos and make up your own mind! :-)
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bonzo
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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by bonzo » 2019-02-07 02:34

Thanks so much for providing those links. Rather frustrating listening to MF and his fake NY/NJ accent.
I’d Love to know if any members have actually auditioned 6 figure items.. I recall YG accoustics claimed to be the “best in the world” why would any company make such a claim anyhow.. or perhaps some of the high $ preamps.. thanks everyone
lp12, Keel, K Radikal, Urika, EkosSe/1 Kandid KK1/D, Tundra Mono 2 Tarandus, 242s mk2, Rel B1.

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by sunbeamgls » 2019-02-07 09:26

At hifi shows, Munich in particular, the mega bucks systems are often out performed by more moderately priced systems. I have enjoyed some mega bucks systems but it is very rare. Price is not a reliable indicator of capability.
And that is the problem that means questions about proportion of spend across a system pretty much impossible to answer.
VFM is, of course, a very personal measurement.
AEDSM; AEBox/1; 3x Tundra Stereo 2.5; PMC 20.26. Blogger. Exakt Design. SO measuring.

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-02-07 23:11

I have to reply to this pretty much anecdotally as I haven't ever had $100,000+ speakers in my house nor in the store. I have heard a fair number at shows but those obviously are not controlled circumstances (room, partnering equipment, setup, choice of music, etc.). I do feel that you can glean a bit from that, though, and my findings fall in line with sunbeamgls: many systems that are musically unimpressive and only the rare one that catches my interest at all.

A couple of stories might illustrate this. In 2013 I went to the CES, even though I am not usually a fan of industry shows (as opposed to those more oriented to actual music lovers). But we were about to move our store and we had just gotten out of both Vienna Acoustics and Sonus faber and were looking for new possibilities. This particular show it seemed like everybody and his brother were introducing $120,000 to $185,000 speakers with over a half-dozen new introductions and many more existing models from companies like Wilson, YG, Nola, Magico, Sonus faber, Raidho, Marten, MBL, Avantgarde, Wisdom, etc. (I'm not sure all these brands had six figure speakers that year, but many did as did others I've forgotten.) What I found interesting is that not one of these systems blew me away. The system that impressed me most at the show was the Vandersteen Model 7. It sold then for the still considerable price of $52,000 but that left it a fraction of the price of the others. Other speakers I found worthwhile were much less expensive like some Dynaudio and DeVore models and the Totem Fire and Metal units. (I tried to get the Totem Element series here for audition but after a wait of several months the Arro was what they managed to bring by.) So I don't have a high opinion of the ultra expensive speakers. (By the way we ended up going with Vandersteen and Dynaudio.)

I also have had direct experience with some Wisdom and Wilson speakers we took in on trade and didn't care for either one. (I don't want to pick names here but one of them, combined with the electronics, SACD player and cables that made up the entire system we took in on trade made one of the worst, most aggressive, nastiest sounds I have ever heard from a system. A number of $30,000 to $50,000 speakers have also passed through that were OK but nothing that got my interest.

As most know I have also displayed at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in 2014, 2016 and 2017. While I have been mostly busy in my own room I did take an hour or two each time to visit other rooms. Each time most of the really expensive systems were pretty abysmal. I heard two systems in 2017 that were each in the neighborhood of $500,000 to $1,000,000 that literally chased me out of the room they were so bad. I was actually somewhat surprised that a Wilson Benesch/Ypsilon system appeared to be able to make music with digital files. Then they put the vinyl of Kind of Blue on a turntable I didn't recognize and I have rarely heard that much surface noise on a record. Sounded like they had run it over in the parking lot a few times!

It is interesting to note that in 2016, Rafe Arnott, a seasoned reviewer then with Part-Time Audiophile gave our room best sound of show. We were using the $1766 a pair JBL 3677s! The next year, when I also brought the $1453 JBL 4645C subwoofer he found the sound even better. I am currently using a 60 year old pair of Quad ESLs with all original parts except for a power supply rebuild with new diodes. They are performing splendidly while my other pair are being rebuilt to be as good as I can make them - panels all rebuilt by Sheldon Stokes, crossovers rebuilt and wiring reorganized by yours truly and frames tightened up and repainted, OFIL stands with new uprights. Total cost of the Quads when done will be under $2500 (not including my labor or the stands) - not bad for a world class speaker. These will be used at the April Axpona show in Chicago to show off the SINGularity and Slipsik 7.

These same caveats also apply to other components. There are easily over a dozen turntables that run $100,000 or more, before you add the arm and cartridge. Are they better than a fully loaded LP12? I doubt it, but again haven't had them actually in my possession. But the source is the most important part of the system so if these turntables are better than an LP12 then pretty much any system they are connected into should be a better sounding system. In the shows where I have heard them the systems did not impress. And the few $20,000 to $30,000 turntables that have been in my hands did not perform as well as a less expensive LP12 either.

So, no, price has nothing to do with quality and the speaker you mention has never done anything for me. Here is a little review from someone else that I thought stated it pretty well:

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/sonus-f ... te.521542/
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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by bonzo » 2019-02-10 23:44

Thank you Thomas for your reply. I assure everyone that by NO means was I trying to imply that I thought price had something to do with performance.. not in a million years. While many of these pieces in the 6 figure club are brutal to look at, id be lying if I said I didn’t want the opportunity to demo them, what can I say, I’m a very curious person.
Thanks all!
lp12, Keel, K Radikal, Urika, EkosSe/1 Kandid KK1/D, Tundra Mono 2 Tarandus, 242s mk2, Rel B1.

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by Briain » 2019-02-11 14:32

So it looks like your 242's will be feeling a little safer, at least for now. Unfortunately, the dreadfully irritating part is that it now means you'll have to find something else to spend that $78,000 on; how terribly tedious. I would suggest fine red wine, as not only does it taste very nice, but I know - from great personal experience - that it can, if consumed in large enough quantities, also make my own Linn loudspeakers sound almost quite semi-musical. :-)

I would love to hear a set of refurbished Quad ELS being driven by a top source (by today's standards). I do very fondly remember listening to a pair that we had sitting upstairs in the Russ Andrews HiFI showroom area (the Edinburgh Linn/Naim/Rega shop in which I used to occasionally work, many years ago) with the source being - of course - a top notch LP12 (this being in the Ekos and Troika days); we played the entire Led Zeppelin 111 album and it sounded awesome!

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by bonzo » 2019-02-11 21:50

Brian,
Zeppelin III .. Very nice! Love that album and it’s my wife’s favorite Zeppelin album. As for the $78K that’s burning a hole in my pocket.. yeah well I wish.. I guess one of the reasons for my curiosity with these ultra high price pieces of gear, as I want to hear what the super wealthy think they hear or are hearing that convinces them to spend that kind of coin. I think they’re crazy for sure.
lp12, Keel, K Radikal, Urika, EkosSe/1 Kandid KK1/D, Tundra Mono 2 Tarandus, 242s mk2, Rel B1.

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by lejonklou » 2019-02-11 23:04

What about the 7 figure speakers?

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by matthias » 2019-02-12 06:30

bonzo,
maybe you find an answer here:

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/forums/

In this forum they discuss the most expensive gear.

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-02-12 20:05

Briain wrote:
2019-02-11 14:32
I would love to hear a set of refurbished Quad ELS being driven by a top source (by today's standards). I do very fondly remember listening to a pair that we had sitting upstairs in the Russ Andrews HiFI showroom area (the Edinburgh Linn/Naim/Rega shop in which I used to occasionally work, many years ago) with the source being - of course - a top notch LP12 (this being in the Ekos and Troika days); we played the entire Led Zeppelin 111 album and it sounded awesome!

Briain
All you have to do is visit Chicago in the middle of April. My refurbishing project is progressing well with the rebuilt panels on their way back to me and the crossovers only awaiting some wiring that is coming with the panels. The frames and canisters for the crossovers and power supplies are all repainted, after tightening, glueing and patching the frames. I also have a lot of new hardware to replace the rusty old bolts and screws - all stainless steel and brass.

On the other hand, I did want to point out that the Quads I am listening to now while waiting for the rebuild, are original stock except for the power supply diodes. Original panels, crossovers and frames and they are 60 years old! The serial numbers are high 1xxx and low 2xxx indicating they were both built in the last half of 1958 and the first months of 1959.

By the way, I think most of the ultra-expensive audio gear is bought more for the looks than for the sound. At least the sound of much of it would tend to indicate that (although I'm not sure the looks would-at least for those with any actual taste).
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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by Defender » 2019-02-12 23:09

my experience is people tend to go with the easy „solutions“ to complex problems:

bigger is better
more expensive must sound better
higher resolution is better
less noise is better
more power is better
shorter cables are better
more bits are better

and I am falling into the same traps too once in a while.

maybe a more fruitfull discussion is the opposite: which loudspeakers have exceptional value for the money you spent?
... out of Thomas‘ statements here I get the impression Vandersteen or Dynaudio or JBL have some models with exceptional value for money

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by Peter@57m » 2019-02-12 23:38

lejonklou wrote:
2019-02-11 23:04
What about the 7 figure speakers?
But that only gets you one channel at 2009 prices. (And it is/was made locally)

https://www.cnet.com/news/the-1000000-speaker/

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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-02-13 21:23

Funny timing on this thread. The Absolute Sound just came out with their editor's choice awards issue and all its recommendations. I'm sure you will be thrilled to know that evan at those exalted levels compromise is apparently expected and OK. Your mention of Sonus faber fits in with their recommendation of the Lilium, admittedly not 6 figures as it only runs $70,000. It is interesting to note that they find it "extremely well suited to classical music and jazz" but note that "it does not plumb the deepest bass octaves". I guess you can't have everything in a $70,000 speaker, but it is still highly recommended. I'm sure the people at Sf are thrilled with that assessment.

On the other hand the owner here is appalled that anybody is still talking about a classical and jazz speaker in the 21st century. Whereas I didn't know classical was music and jazz isn't and am also wondering if the speaker can at least plumb the deepest treble octaves?
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2019-02-14 18:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-02-13 21:27

Peter@57m wrote:
2019-02-12 23:38
lejonklou wrote:
2019-02-11 23:04
What about the 7 figure speakers?
But that only gets you one channel at 2009 prices. (And it is/was made locally)

https://www.cnet.com/news/the-1000000-speaker/
Seems like was, since the website is no longer active. I can't imagine why they couldn't sell those!
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Re: Are 6 figure speakers ever Close to being worth it?

Post by lindsayt » 2019-02-14 17:14

I went to a bake off that featured £80,000 speakers, making them six figures in dollars.

They were nice sounding speakers. But not as tuneful sounding as a pair of c£3000 DIY'd speakers that were at the same bake-off. The maker of the bake-off winning speakers said that if he were to make them commercially, they'd probably have to retail at £15,000.

My next pair of speakers will be DIY'd and will take inspiration from that bake-off.

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