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Giant Killers - Performance that belies price at any level

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  • Giant Killers - Performance that belies price at any level

    While reading the very interesting topic "Are you influenced by Price" this evening, I thought it might be fun to do a sweep to see what everyone thinks are giant killer components of today or yesterday (if still relevant and competitive ) where performance belies price. Not a budget view necessarily, but just damn good regardless...Competes in a bigger sandbox...10K speaker that competes with a 100K speaker, etc..However you want to categorize it, but contrast the item with the higher price / level components it can compete with...Could be a $350 Denon103R that holds its own against the 2,000 Ortofon? or the Mod Wright OPPO 105 that competes with "you name it". But, giant killer at whatever price point nevertheless.....

    Lets do Cartridges, Tonearms, Turntables, Preamps, Amps, phonostages, SUTs, Cables and Speakers....Whatever you feel passionate about...
    Primary 2 channel stuff: Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3, Pass Labs X600.5 amps, Aerial SW 12 subs, True Sound Works Ultimate Apogee Divas, Dunlavy SC4s, VPI HRX Reference w Avenger mag drive and Reference footers, Gimbal Fatboy, Yamaha GT2000 for Mono, Miyajima Kansui, Miyajima ZERO, Fidelity Research MC-201 & 202, VPI ADS, Vendetta Research SCP-1, Audio Note UK- 3.1X II balanced DAC, Meridian Sooloos, Western Electric Speaker wire, mostly diy balanced interconnects, Furutech Power Cords

  • #2
    OK I'll play.

    Here's a few names that pop into my head.

    The original Quicksilver 8417 amps.

    Merrill Audio Taranis amps

    Denon 103R

    VPI HW16.5 RCM

    ELAC F6 speakers

    Maggie 1.7 speakers

    Joseph Audio Profile speakers

    Rogers LS3/5A speakers

    Martin-Logan Summit-X speakers

    Vandersteen Treo speakers

    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor,

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.


    • Rob
      Rob commented
      Editing a comment
      for some reason i never took you for a LS3/5a fan. Try buying a vintage pair now, the 'right' ones start at $2500/pr, not the value they once were.

    • MylesBAstor
      MylesBAstor commented
      Editing a comment
      Guess I'm always full of surprises. I hear their weaknesses but also hear their strengths too. At least at what they used to cost. They imaged like crazy and though are by today's standards veiled sounding, were very easy to listen to.

    • Rob
      Rob commented
      Editing a comment
      I think it was a comment about classic british speakers and not able to hear past some deficiencies and I totally get where you're coming from. If you ever get a chance to hear a 15 ohm/pr of LS3/5a with a good tube amp, it's the only speaker you'll need for female vocals

  • #3
    the ELAC AF61 floor stander demoed at the recent LA show was crazy good.


    • #4
      Heard a lot of buzz about Tekton Double Impact speakers!

      Anyone heard these at the LA show?


      • Letsmakeadeal
        Letsmakeadeal commented
        Editing a comment
        I recently sold a component to a gent that has a pair of the Tekton Double impacts $3K / pair..I had not heard of them before. ..He compared them to many other high end speakers at 2-5 X the cost of his Double Impacts and felt the Tektons were better in every meaningful way.. True Giant killers potentially.

    • #5
      VPI's latest Scout turntable with JMW-9 arm really knocked me out. Serious high-end sound quality at a beer budget. Add the Heed Quasar phono preamp and a Denon 103R, and you can hold your head up high in local audiophile society and have enough money leftover to buy a decent Beamer.
      Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
      Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
      Analog 1: VPI Signature 21 Belt-Drive Turntable w/ 10” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Silver Cube Phono Preamp
      Analog 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable w/ 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
      Analog 3: Studer A810 R2R tape w/ Bridge Console. Using built-in tape preamp
      Digital: Lumin Network Player with Lumin NAS
      Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
      A/C Power: Extensive System Upgrades, Sub-panel w/hard-wired power cables, and IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
      Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM


      • #6
        Originally posted by Purevinyl View Post
        Heard a lot of buzz about Tekton Double Impact speakers!

        Anyone heard these at the LA show?
        Been listening to them all day in my room at the LA Audio Show. Pretty amazing. Hoping some members from here stop by to listen. Room 533.
        Steve Lefkowicz
        Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
        Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
        Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
        Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
        Speakers: Tekton Perfect SET 15, Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
        Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
        Speaker cables: WyWyres Diamond, Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
        Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
        Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
        Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM


        • Letsmakeadeal
          Letsmakeadeal commented
          Editing a comment
          Steve - Please tell us more about the double impacts...

        • Steve Lefkowicz
          Steve Lefkowicz commented
          Editing a comment
          When i have time after the show. The Maggie .7 and the Tekton Lore fit our 12.5 X 19.5 foot room better, but if you are in the sweet spot the DI seem to be overall an exceptionally good speaker.

      • #7
        Evolution Acoustics MicroOne speakers, Merrill Cara preamp. Yeah, I'm biased.
        Analog: Holbo Turntable, VdH Crimson Strad XGW; Forsell Air Reference, Transfiguration Proteus; Rega RP-8, VAS Nova Mono
        Digital: Mac mini 6,2 with YFS PS-12M LPS; Exogal Comet Plus, Exogal Ion PowerDAC
        Electronics: Aurorasound Vida, Channel D Lino C; Merrill Cara, Gryphon M-100 Mkii (pair)
        Cables: Morrow, Gryphon interconnects; YFS USB cable; Morrow, XLO, Channel D phono cables; Morrow, Gryphon, Goertz speaker cables


        • #8
          Can I add some classic late 70's Direct Drive turntables such as the Denon DP80, Sony PS-X9 / TTS8000, PSB 80 etc? These in my view are the real giant killers.


          • #9
            Just a few for consideration...

            - Magnepans - from $600 to $16K offer fantastic musical experience for the dollar
            - Revel Salon 2s - still sounding great and very competitive after 10 years!
            - Elac - very impressive for the money
            - Vandersteen Treos
            - KEF LS-50
            - Harbeth 30.1
            - Focal Sopra 1
            - Nola KO

            - VPI tables
            - Rega tables
            - Manley phono (fantastic for $2k)
            - Zesto Andros 1.2 (so musical for less than $5K)
            - Ortofon

            - Audio Alchemy (sounds great with Elac speaker as demonstrated by Mr Jones recently at Axpona)
            - Pass Audio integrated amps
            - ModWright
            - ARC Ref 75SE and Ref 6


            • Letsmakeadeal
              Letsmakeadeal commented
              Editing a comment
              The new Elac speaker line seems to be the epitome of Giant Killer...How they hell do they do it? Big Company behind them but Wow what values they represent...Proves high end sound can be attained for entry level prices...Nice list Ritmo. Hard to argue about any of the items in your list...

          • #10
            Eminent Technology LFT-VIII speakers, Rogue Audio Sphinx integrated. Although there are only a few posts so far, interesting there's no mention of cables (yet?).
            Magnepan 1.7i, VMPS Large Sub, Belden 5000 Speaker Cable, Synthesis 510 AC Integrated Amplifier, Celtic Dragon & Grover EX+ Interconnects, Crown SX 722 R/R, Nakamichi RX 202 Cassette Deck, PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamplifier, Clearaudio Solution Turntable, Clearaudio Satisfy Tone Arm, Clearaudio Concerto V2 Cartridge, Clearaudio Smart Syncro, Belkin AP41300 Power Conditioner/Surge Protector, Transparent Power Cables


            • Letsmakeadeal
              Letsmakeadeal commented
              Editing a comment
              Glad someone called out Eminent Technology...OMG I have a pair of rebuilt VIs and they are Giant Killers by any definition...The VIIIs are one of the great values in Audio today IMHO...Giant Killer for sure...

          • #11
            Quicksilver V4 monos
            Rogue Audio, Cronus Magnum II Integrated
            Manley Chinook Phono Stage
            Van Alstine Fet Valve 600 amp
            Vas Nova Cartridge
            Fritz Carbon 7 Se Speakers
            Magnepan 1.7i
            GE Triton 2+
            Lumin D1
            VPI Classic line
            Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,


            • #12
              OK - Here are a few Blast from the Past Giant Killers - Still Killing it.....

              Vandersteen 2C
              Thiel 3.6
              Dunlavy SC-3,4
              Magneplanar - All
              Genesis 500
              Dynaco A25
              Original Martin Logan CLS
              Apogee Duetta, Diva
              ADS L910

              Audio Research SP10, SP 9, SP 11
              Audio Research Original Reference Line
              Mark Levinson 20.5, 20.6
              Conrad Johnson Premier 1,3,5
              Sansui G9000, G22000, G33000
              Counterpoint SA9/11, 5.1
              Marantz (all tube) anything
              Robertson 4010

              VPI - Seems like they are all good or great at their price points..Many Giant Killers in there
              Technics SP-10 MKII & III
              Platine Verdier
              SME 3012 & 3012R
              Oracle Delphi iterations
              Garrard idlers
              Sure V15 - iterations
              Kiseki Purple Heart

              Just a few that come to mind...Still very much in play if you can find them
              Primary 2 channel stuff: Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3, Pass Labs X600.5 amps, Aerial SW 12 subs, True Sound Works Ultimate Apogee Divas, Dunlavy SC4s, VPI HRX Reference w Avenger mag drive and Reference footers, Gimbal Fatboy, Yamaha GT2000 for Mono, Miyajima Kansui, Miyajima ZERO, Fidelity Research MC-201 & 202, VPI ADS, Vendetta Research SCP-1, Audio Note UK- 3.1X II balanced DAC, Meridian Sooloos, Western Electric Speaker wire, mostly diy balanced interconnects, Furutech Power Cords


              • jonathanhorwich
                jonathanhorwich commented
                Editing a comment
                To me a killer speaker which even today will stand up (slightly veiled by today's standard) is the Dunlavy SCIVa. Utterly coherent top to bottom, superb deep bass. I used them for years as a monitor. But now lack the ultra speed and transparency of the best current crop.

            • #13
              Yamaha C2a preamp. Killer preamp that also has a good MC phono stage. Used to be able to pick them up for around $300 and I think the price is getting closer to $1k now. If you could buy one in good shape for $1k I would still consider it a bargain for what it brings to the table.
              Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.


              • JCOConnell
                JCOConnell commented
                Editing a comment
                yeah, those came out in the early 80's. They were selling used for under $500 until just a few years ago.

              • Rust
                Rust commented
                Editing a comment
                Funny you should mention the Yamaha, lent mine to my brother in law. Pretty good for the money.

            • #14
              I haven't heard enough gear to say if a component or accessory is a giant killer, but I have heard the Vandersteen 2C's many many times at a buddy's home. He had them paired with some Meitner/Museatex amp/preamp and an Oracle Delphi Mk 2 or 3 (don't remember). This was back in the mid-eighties, and to this day there are few systems I've heard that come even close.

              After I left the publishing industry we lost touch, and heard later he fell on some really bad times. He was a good guy, and wherever he is I hope he's okay now.

              With regard to my own system I'd like to think I made some good and well thought out purchases, and although I believe it punches above its weight it not a giant killer by any stretch.
              Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables


              • Letsmakeadeal
                Letsmakeadeal commented
                Editing a comment
                Those were the days...That is still a very nice system even today...

            • #15
              Heco Direkt for small rooms, Acoustats for average rooms, Maggie 1.7i, instead of Martin Logans and Quads pick Audio Exklusiv from Germany
              When budget gets to restored Apogee duetta, Scintilla, and then FR level you kill almost everything for not much.
              Digital Various Lampi models, above GG it doesn't get better
              Amps With horns, there are a lot of SET amps that sound good at lower prices, ending with an used Tenor 75 OTL. With SS, its tough, things keep getting better the more you pay, and many can sound bad. I think if you get to Luxman m900u level and Berning Quadratures, you can rest until you have mega bucks for Vitus or Boulder.
              Analog PTP Lenco, Audio Technica Art 9, Hana SL, Ear 912, Zesto, ASR phono

              Also one thing is to get off the products which have high distribution and marketing margins and at many shows. Those will usually have a higher price than required


              • Rob
                Rob commented
                Editing a comment
                I have a pair of Acoustat 2+2s i want outta my yesterday. I'll make you a deal, actually they're my friends he doesn't have the space either.

              • bonzo75
                bonzo75 commented
                Editing a comment
                Someone should pick yours up, there are a lot of Acoustat lovers out there. The ones I was recommending were the Spectras - I should have specified that - Spectra 2200, which I heard. I am off stats now though, I owned ML Summits, and for a while just wanted to upgrade on stats and went around listening to many stats and ribbon planars. What I was recommending up was just different speakers for different sizes and budgets, starting with the Heco for least budget and space. For me all speakers end at a good Apogee, except a couple of horns . And I will get one of them with my next flat.