What are the best speakers you have ever owned and why?

I just recently recieved my long awaited Shahinian Diapason 2’s from Vasken And they are absolutely spectacular! This got me thinking about my long journey to get here. Bless my wife for putting up with the many many many speakers that have passed through. The lifelong saga began with Magneoan MG 1’s back in college which were replaced by Dahlquist DQ 10’s. Then we traveled down a long road of speakers and systems. Magnepan Tympanis, Misson 770, Randall Rsch DQ10’s, Quad ESL single and stacked, Acoustat II, rogers LS3/5A’s, Linn Isobarik’s (2 pairs) B&W 801 Matrix, Hales Signature, Martin Logan Monolith2, Apogee Scintilla (1 ohm) Apogee Full Range, Theil SC 5A, Egglestonworks Andra, B&W Nautilius 801,Quad 63 and some I’m sure I forgot! Each speaker had its virtues and flaws but oh what a fun and a times frustrating trek! I think I have finally found my speaker to take me to retirement they do everything that I value wonderfully . They are detailed without sounding so, very dynamic, they have great low end reach, power and detail, are open sounding like a planner, their tonality and timbre seem spot on and they sound wonderful on any kind of music. Tell me about your journey!
KLH 6, Large Advent, JBL L-100, back to Large Advent, Mission 770, Alon Petite, Vandertsteen 2C, Ascend Sierra 1 (still have), Spendor s3/5 (still have), Spatial M1 Turbo (still have), Spatial X2 (currently on the big system.

The X2s are wonderful - detailed, deep, tight bass, wide soundstage, musical and non-fatiguing.  The M1s are on my basement system, the Ascends in the bedroom, the Spendors on the computer with an SVS subwoofer.

I'm done buying speakers.  Maybe.
Congrats on your find. We both know the key to being happy with ones current system is by staying out of the shops, I would add shows but the sound at shows is usually pretty average.
I scooped a pair of Usher BE-20 DMD's on new years day that are doing everything right and tho' it's only 3 weeks I usually start to notice flaws by now. These might be my keepers.
Tannoy 12" MG's in not very well made plywood boxes, were my first foray into better quality loudspeakers back in 1971, then came some B&W DM 620's, Dynaudio 5.4's, and now, back to Tannoy, with HPD 315 (12" Dual Concentric drivers in custom 150 liter bass-reflex, 192 lb. MDF enclosures). Custom built DIY crossovers using Alpha Core 12 gauge inductors, Mundorf silver-in-oil capacitors, and Dueland resistors. They are augmented with two subwoofers, one being a 15"Tannoy passive (Sub 15i) powered by a Crown bridged-to-mono 2002 XTi, the other a converted Velodyne  with Eminence 12" sub driver and plate amp.

The subs, along with the HPD's, are exactly what I need in my large 16' X 34' w/cathedral ceilings room. Better (more expensive) subs would be nice, but not necessary or possible with my budget, largely DIY system.

These speakers easily do all that is needed to make me happy for the remainder of my life   
My current speakers are SAP J2001 speakers with the midrange compression/horn driver replaced with Western Electric 713b driver and ks 12025 horn.  This a particularly nice sounding system at lower volume level.  The system is around 99 db/w efficient, which is a good thing because none of the amps I run deliver more than 8 watts per channel.

I have heard, and really like, the Diapasons so I can understand why they are your current favorite.  
I always wanted to get the Shahinian's. Very nice sound. I still remember hearing them at the Audio show opposite Penn Station back in the '80's.
Same with Maggie's and Dahlquist. I was like Homer Simpson drooling over donuts.
Well, to be honest, I ran out of money when I started my business. Only recently, have I been able to indulge in my home stereo.
Now, Vandy's for me.
Back in 1965 I bought pir of JB Lansing speakers They were the best for 15 years. If I never would have sold everything to go travelling... I might still own them.
Back in 1982/3 I bought a pair of Infinity RSIIa, which were the best speakers I owned and had those until around the mid 2000’s.                                           
In 2010 I both a pair of Magnepan 3.6 which were the best speakers I ownd into in 2018 I bought 20,7 Magnepan. which are the best speakers I ever owned...                      
Though I I had only bought RS I’s instead of II’s back in 1983 I might still own them. or maybe the JB Lansings...            
If I had some big money I would own a pair of MBL 101e
I have owned KEF LS50, Arteluthe Cadenza, Harbeth M30.2, and now my JBL 4367. I find myself being drawn back to either coaxil or dualcentric designs, or horns.
By far the best speakers I’ve owned out of the bunch are the 4367.
I should also add that I’ve been in this hobby for less than 2 years. Quite literally before August 2017 I knew nothing about speakers, amplifiers, etc.
The list is long but I worked at high end dealer both in HS and University, so changing gear was easy and relatively inexpensive..... sold my high end gear to exit college mostly debt free but kept a Sony CD, Tandberg cassette, NAD 3020A and KEF Kit 101’s ....

got back into higher fi in 2001 and since have run mostly Vandersteen as my Reference 3a-sig, then 5a and now in retirement the 7 mk2
we also have the lovely Treo CT at our winter place

We were a Shahinian dealer, I always thought the Obelisk was hyper musical
enjoy them in good health
retirement at least for us gives us much time to catch live music and listen at leisure late into the night !!!
I thought the Vandersteen 5s I owned were really good (actually they are really good).  I visited a audio person this past weekend to hear the Vandersteen 7s using my DAC.  I was really taken back by how good the 7s sounded.  Anyone want to sell me theirs cheap?  I have heard many other speakers in this price range and I would imagine that they all have an excellent sound in the right system.  I was taken back by the ease of flow of the music, the clarity, and the micro to macro dynamic swings which just flowed out of the speakers.  Very black background (part of that is from the DAC) though.  I did leave with a with a very big smile.

Happy Listening.

 @bigkidz You would have to buy  the amps also.... ha!
like water, crystal clear water....

what DAC do you have ?

Not exactly in order...

Infinity Qb

JBL L-110

3D Acoustics w single sub

Thiel 02

Magneoan SMG

KEF104 a/b

ESL, then stacked, then with Decca

KEF Kit / The Speaker Company 101

DCM Time Frame

Sonus Faber Concertino

Vandersteen 3a Signature

ADS L-730

Klipsch Cornwall

Dynaco A-25

Bryston Mini-A

Apogee Stage with custom Soundanchor

Vandersteen 5a

Quad ESL-63

Vandersteen 7mk2

Vandersteen TREO-CT

Vandersteen 1ci

Not bad for 40 years.... a few Bozak in there also

And considerable time at work with Shahinian, Thiel, Fried, KEF, Quad, acoustat, ADS, Vandersteen, Apogee, Soundlab, Beveridge, Infinity and the Watt Pups...

I now have the pair of speakers I will never get rid of as long as they keep working.  My high end journey past cheaper college systems with speakers that weren't too hot began with Allison Ones about 1978.  Had those until changing briefly to Paradigm 7's, then Albert Von Scheikert's Vortex Screens which I had from 1991 until 2006, then Emerald Physics CS-2's very briefly, VMPS 626 R's, then added VMPS 215/VSS upgraded sub to it, became a VMPS demonstrator for the last several years of Brian Cheney's life, VMPS RM40, VMPS RM30, VMPS RM40 BCSE, Green Mountain Audio Continuum 3/HX, Selah Tempesta, back to VMPS RM40 BCSE, and finally to my dream speaker this past summer, the Vapor Audio Joule Blacks.  All the speakers were bought used after the first 2 as I actually heard of Audiogon and other sites during 2005.

I'm finally starting to figure out how to get the most out of these awesome speakers--Nordost Pulsar footers came with them.  Took me several months of playing with the 2 part footers to finally get to having both parts under the top cabinets, but only the top part of the footer under the bottom cabinets.  My system is in the basement with a somewhat custom built room.  It has cement floors with ceramic tile on top and a large area rug between the speakers and my couch.  This allowed the bass to be very deep, potent, textural while one pair of footers at each location under the tops brought out great clarity and transparency along with hopping dynamics and a precision soundstage that was deep and easy to hear individual players throughout the range.  These speakers have very live sound now and just done ever break up or get stressed out in any way.  The speaker has a sweeter sounding Raal ribbon tweeter than the standard Joule.  I'm currently experimenting with the speaker cables & matching jumpers to see how much difference really great ones sound from the merely good.  I'm expecting it will be significant and probably be a done deal.

I have taken quite a while to assemble the system after much reading, and a couple swings and almost, always returning to the VMPS sound that really got me first--for much of the journey lusting after the Vapor speakers, particularly the Joule when the 2-piece version came out.  I finally got a chance at one that had some defects in the outer skin (veneer), but were otherwise VERY NICE and sounded near perfect to me.

@tomic601 I build my own components so I can use any parts I want and have tried most of them. My DAC is a directed heated triode design with a 30lb separate power supply. My website is not complete but you can get some info on vujadeaudio.com There are some links there to the CAF and you can hear a little of what the DC sounds like. The current amp I use on my Vandersteen 5s is a 100wpc bi-polar transistor hybrid power amp using (4) 6DJ8 tubes, filter choke, Nichicon power supply capacitors, V-Caps, Shinko and Caddock resistors. I also built the M5-HP filters for my Vandersteen that sound better than the Vandersteen filters in a quick comparison test.  The person who let me into their home to hear the Vandersteen 7s has asked me to make him the DAC.

Happy Listening.
First pair were Dalquist DQ-10, which were the staple for 10+ years. Then to Heresy II which were out the door in less than 2 years. At that point I met Richard  Shahinian and heard the Obelisk. Owned several starting with older models and ending up with relative youngsters. Now I have Hawks with the Obelisk on second system with Arcs on my system at work. Still hoping to move up to Diapasons, someday, makes me want to stop by their shop (they are 1/4 mi away from work) and bring a pizza and do some listening.... 
Still the Ohm F5 series 3 with 12" driver and 4 3 way level adjustments to tune to room.     The music sounds real, not like recordings.  
Rectilinear III (Highboy)
Infinity 2000 Hybrid Electrostatics
Chartwell BBC LS3/5A
Chartwell BBC LS3/5A with custom built KEF B200 Transmission Line woofers (bi-amped)
B&W Matrix 801 S3
Infinity RS1b (quad-amped with minidsp crossover)
I think the B&W 801s are the best speaker I’ve ever owned because of their uncanny tonal accuracy.
EgglestonWorks Viginti’s. Mikey likes them, too.

Why? Sound quality that does everything I hoped for in a sub $50,000 speaker.  I am pretty sure this is my last stop for speakers.

Great sound, great build (right here in the U.S.A.), great company and great warranty.
O’what passion we all have with our speakers! I started in my teens with Layfayette speakers receiver turntable! Join the Army and got Bose series 901’s which I loved until B&W 803’ series 2 came into my system with Rotel Amps, and a new wife! Lol! Recently went to Wilson Watt Puppy 8’ which is my new love- and a new wife! LOL!! Full bass is amazing and very good sounding! I just may keep these awhile- along with the new wife as they get very expensive as well!!
Quad ESL’s.... new. Replaced my ESS Translinear II/ESS AMT-4 set-up.  Went to a highly modified Audio Reseqrch D-51 at the same time. I was in Heaven!!

ESS Trans-Static I

Fulton Model J


Infinity RS-1b

Magneplanar Tympani T-IVa

Eminent Technology LFT-8b

Stax SR Lambda Professional Earspeakers

I recently had a pair of Infinity Kappa 8.1’s. The soundstage was enormous, So, (depending on the recording quality) you could not only place an instrument left to right but, forward to backward. I have very nice speakers now.  But, 3ft high will never beat 4 1/2 ft high speakers.

my dream speakers are the Infinity IRS V’s.  I’ve heard them twice.  I know they’re “vintage” but, (in my small experience) I’ve never heard anything that beats them.
A very large DIY mono that I built in 1958, using JBL drivers. (two 15" for the bass.)  Sand-filled  corner enclosure. (Thiele-Small hadn't come along as yet, so everything was based on calculated guesswork.)
Drove the neighbors crazy.
Couldn't move it, so had to break kit down and sell the drivers. 
What an interesting post, thanks OP.

The journey for me:

Late 60s started with a home made gigantic box, looked great, probably sounded awful. Then Wharfedale Dovedale, AR MST, AR 3a Improved, Wharfedale E90 (A serious mistake, looked awesome, sounded dreadful!). Up to the 80s now and life gets good; Yamaha NS1000M, sounded beautiful with looks to match. Longest lastings speakers ever, sold them 5 years ago for effectively more than I paid for them. Up to the 2000s now; Quad ESL 63, B&W N801, still have these, about to be replaced with B&W N802D speakers.

Then in 2017 I decided to get back into vinyl and purchased a pair of completely refurbished Gale GS401A speakers (www.vintagegale.com) for a second system. Extremely happy with this system. Here are the full details on this system:


Having fun with HiFi all over again.

Dream speakers for me; Magico Q7 or fully refurbished Apogee’s, the big ones, or The Apogee as it is called.

I, too, am relatively new to HiFi, have owned KLH, infinity, MarkAudio-SOTA but recently got a pair of Rethm Maargas.  WOW!  I guess maybe the horn sound is what I have always been after.  And with the powered bass it sounds great.
I guess my favorite will probably be the Rethm Saadhana I am saving up for :)
I need to add this. The VMPS speakers since the advent of the ribbon mids, have captured my heart and ears. Their clarity, transparency, good bass, and very good dynamics make for a moving session. The Vapor build quality of the cabinets is so advanced and such a massive undertaking, you’ve got to appreciate the amount of work Ryan Scott puts into these babies. My particular pair doesn’t have as complete a finish on it as most do, but I’m so blessed to have them to listen to. I don’t think I could have ever owned a Joule Black at the list price of them at this point. The VMPS RM40 BCSE is maybe one of the greatest sound per dollar spent speakers anywhere. The Vapor Joule Black that I now own needs to have NO qualifiers as to its sound. In a normal sized room, they are all anyone could want in a speaker and more.  Thanks Ryan, and thanks Brian.

Since 1980:
Chartwell monitors (nice!)
B&W DM12
Thiel CS1.6
Vandersteen 2Ce Sig II (amazing value!)
Thiel CS2.4SE

With coaching from Tom Thiel, I just built completely new XOs for the 2.4s. I’m quite certain this is my last pair of speakers. Other than low bass, these seriously have most of what I hear from stuff like TAD Ref One, Vandersteen 7, and Vivid Giya (all of which are well out of my budget).

I've been lucky to own a number of modest but very good speakers.   My favorite  speaker that I formally owned was the PSB Platinum M2...    such a great speaker for the money.  I will buy another pair some day,  one of the few speakers I regret selling.  I miss them and thought they were better than the Revel M106 that replaced them.
Linaeum Model 10, easily the most uncannily real imaging of anything I ever heard. As one who was not usually complimentary of my choices said of the soundstage these things presented, "You were swimming in it."

Made by a small company in Portland, OR, I once brought mine to the designers home for a tweeter upgrade, after which they looked less elegant but sounded even better. The dipole tweeter, sat on top of an otherwise ordinary brick standing on end shaped enclosure, consisted of an ordinary driver that instead of driving a cone had two ribbons of plastic that came together at the coil and curved out and around. The ribbons, instead of being rigid like other drivers was just stiff enough to hold its shape but very flexible, the idea being instead of acting like a piston it flexes with the signal and propagates the wave form along the ribbon. Another identical driver facing backwards and wired out of phase made it dipole. However odd that sounds the music it made was enthralling. The only component my wife ever told me to buy!

Why don't I still have them? Two reasons. One, the old saying sins of commission are worse than sins of omission? Its true. They had a mid-bass hump that I recognized the first time I heard them but was able to put aside for years hearing nothing better until I was offered a killer deal on the Talon Khorus. But I was unable to sell the Linaeums. So why don't I have them? The wife. Or should I say first wife. She took em.

That's how good they were.
KLH Nine electrostats! In use since February 1992. Used with Futterman H3AA OTL mono amps.
My speakers, described above, are essentially vintage/custom speakers that are not commercially available.  An important feature, to me, is that they are extremely efficient so that they work with low-powered amps (the only kind of amps I really like).  High efficiency options in commercially available speakers are somewhat limited.  The Audio Note and Devore speakers, while not extremely efficient, do work quite well with low-powered amps and they sound pretty good.  My favorite commercial speakers come from Charney Audio, but they can only be auditioned in New Jersey (or at audio shows).; the model I heard, and really liked, was reasonably compact, light in weight and very reasonably priced ($17,000) for a high-end product. 

If you go the custom-made route, check out Deja Vu Audio in Tysons Corner Virginia.  They make really good speakers from around $20k to ?? (I heard a million plus system, but, that included custom-built speakers and amp and linestage and phono amp, plus Audio Note DAC and transport and a turntable setup).  Deja Vu custom speakers can also be heard at affiliated Deja Vu stores in Miami and Los Angeles.  Goto makes components for assembling custom systems that sound very good, but, the components are extremely expensive (looking at six figures for just the drivers).
As a former dealer, we had pretty much every good speaker to listen to and compare to each other.  After a couple of years of doing this with various electronics attached, we realized that all box speakers and electrostatic versions had some positive qualities when driven with quality electronics. 

It was not until we hooked up Magnepan products that we finally realized that NO box or HORN or ELECTROSTATIC or RIBBON or any combination of these reproduced sound as accurately as Magnepan products.  Some better than others, of course, and positioning is a key item--and VERY frustrating at times--but at the end of the day, no matter what we put next to them, Magnepans were more accurate.  

Now, you may not LIKE accurate, so they are not for everyone.  For example, if you prefer kick-a__ bass, you need Cerwin-Vega (in those days) or Hartley 24" woofers, etc.  If you LOVE those shrill highs, you will love most electrostatic and/or ribbon models, etc.

This is what we discovered--no bias going in, but sure had some coming out.  Not many people are fortunate enough to have access to 20 or 30 brands of speakers and quality electronics to drive them (we were what was called back then a "HIGH-END" shop) and had only the better items on the shelf.  This is merely the result of our exploration. 

By the way, the boxes that we felt were the "best" back then were Fulton 80's and especially 100's.  Our college-day faves, Advents, were VERY, VERY INACCURATE, and the tweeters blew out at volume. We all learned a lot back then and I maintain that high quality tube electronics and Magnepan speakers can be dialed in to provide the most accurate music reproduction you can find.  Once again, you may not like it, but play your personal favorite instrument live next to a system like this and all will be revealed.

Advent New Large Utility, JBL towers (mid 80's), Vandersteen 1C, to my current and final Ohm Walsh 2000.  Short of winning the lottery, they stay.  They do almost everything right (my review is posted here in review section).  Not the best speaker, but the best I can afford, power, and fit in my room.  I would go for German Physiks if I had the money.  But I am happy every time I fire up my rig with Ohms.
In more or less chronological order:- Smaller Advents- Acoustic Research AR 12
- ADS L710 (still have them in BR system)- Infinity RSII- Magnepan MG12 w/ REL sub
- Infinity RSII back again- Infinity IRS Gamma (these were probably the best...only sold them because of reliability concerns)- Gallo Ref 3.1- ML Ethos- ML Montis (I really like these...They can do some things better than the  Gammas)
As you can see, I am very much a panel / dipole person.  Also I have run a few vintage speakers in my BR vintage system, Klipsch Quartet, JBL L100, various other ADS, Infinity RS4.  The ADS L710 have taken on and defeated all challengers.
Rich, I had both Quads and Magnepans in my music room.  The Quad 2905's stayed.

They are not shrill.
It was not until we hooked up Magnepan products that we finally realized that NO box or HORN or ELECTROSTATIC or RIBBON or any combination of these reproduced sound as accurately as Magnepan products. 

How did you actually determine this?
I ask because audiophiles, many of whom have wide experience listening to different speakers, often disagree on which speakers are more "accurate" based on their own subjective impressions.And it also depends on "accurate to what?"  An "Absolute Sound" type of accuracy to the sound of live unamplified music? Or accurate in a technical sense (which would involve measuring distortion).

Adam Audio Tensor Beta, fully active iteration.

Apogee Duetta or Ohm F close second/third
+1 Fun thread!
Since 1974-
Boston Acoustic
Monitor Audio
Favorite speaker? Current Vandersteen 2Cs
Best sound I've ever heard? Mark Levinson/Linn LP12/Magnepan
Fun thread indeed!!!

Tannoy 215 DMT II. Just like those used in Night Bird Studio ’A’ …


There is no buyer's remorse when you buy a pair of these or, if you're rich, a pair of the Prestige-line Tannoy speakers. This brand retains its value better than most. The dual-concentric driver is just a superior design for point-source coherence.  

Mine were Acoustat Spectra 33 electrostatic speaker.  It was the Room.  18' wide and 25' deep which allowed good placement.  5' off the front wall,  blank front wall with gear on the floor.  3' off the side walls.  My listen chair was 4' off the rear wall.  Also the house's construction material helped too.  9' plaster walls (no soggy drywall)and carpeted concrete floor.  We move 21 years ago to a new state and a brand new house.  The stats never sounded as good. I still have them but they have been used as Bass Traps for years.

I've really enjoyed all the speakers I've owned.   And it would seem a bit arbitrary to believe one of them was "the best."  But if I absolutely had to give that prize to a single speaker, it would be the Thiel 3.7s I owned.They had an essentially neutral character that did not rob the tone of beauty but allowed an organic sense to come through.  They through a massive sound stage with the best I've owned, but with greater imaging density and precision.  And they were more "invisible" coherent and controlled from top to bottom than any speaker I've owned.

I am surprised Wilson Audio didn’t make the list.  I can certainly understand what Focal was not listed.

i am surprised the SALK Song3 Encore’s didn’t make the list.  I listened to them at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in October and felt they sounded better than others priced above $60,000.
My list from 1973,
Altec 886A
JBL L-36
Altec Model 9
Altec 846-B Voice-of-the-Theatre
Yamaha NS-1000
Dahlquist DQ-10
Polk RTA-11
Legacy Model 1
Legacy Sig. 2
Legacy Illusion
B&W 802-D
Vandersteen Treo CT. with 2Wq sub.

What a fun ride!!!