The best speakers I have ever owned were also the most expensive. Wilson Audio Watt&Puppy5.1. Many audiophiles already begin to smile, when reading this name. The USA based company is one of the most respected loudspeaker builder in the world. But it comes with a sky high pricetag too. The new price of my Wilsons were about 20.000 Euro's. Of course, as you already may expected, I didn't buy them new. I payed around 5500. Was it worth it? Yes totally. It just blowes your mind. The seller, told me his next speakers will be the same again. He was in debt at the moment, so he needed the money. So, how does it sound? Well, it delivers a fabulous 3D imagine, you have never experienced before. It is extremely open, clear, crisp and super fast. The bass is tight and has the speed of lightning. It lets you hear precisely what is wrong with your amplifier or cd player or whatever you have connected. It is very easy to drive with 93 db. Excellent for a tube amp.
The second best is a difficult question. I have had many great loudspeakers. But, the German Isophon Vertigo are the most impressive I have had. In size and in sound. So, yes but far behind the Wilson Audio. The concept itself is already something special. It is a 7 way (!) loudspeaker. With 2x 30 cm bass drivers inside the cabinet. And with 80 kg a piece you have some heavy weights in your home as well. The bass was the most impressive. From the lowest octave it rolled into my living room like a tsunami wave. But not sloppy or thick. It was full bodied and tight. Although, with some songs, it was too much. But, this was not a blame for the Isophons, but was more a matter of a lack of sufficient space. The Jeff Rowland 112 I used, couldn't do the job. Some heavier equipment was needed. So, there came the Mark Levinson 332. Excellent poweramp for these Germans.
The B&W 804 arrives at the third place. When, I sold the Isophons, someone wanted to trade them in. Well, why not, so I can try these babies in the meantime, untill the Wilsons arrive. I must admit, they could have stayed longer in the livingroom than they did. The sound was just great. Superb bass extension and the music just flowed into the room. Great open highs as well. Really , what a suprise! B&W invests more money in development, than any other speaker manufacturer. And you can hear this. When you can get a hold on these types, for a good price do not hestitate!
The MC M3 comes on the fourth place. I have had two of these. Unfortunatly, the first pair were stolen. In this M3 the Dynaudio Esotec tweeter was mounted. They are made in Holland and they sound superb. Open, fast and with an extremely tight bass. The sound never bored you. It draws you into the music and you want more and more of it. Excellent build quality too. The second pair I have had used other tweeters, from Morel. And in my opinion better, then the Dynaudios. They are not very known, besides in the Netherlands, but if you can have the chance to listen to them, do it! I am sure you will be suprised about these quality speakers. They are used by many hifi journalist in Holland to do reviews for hifi products. Need I say more?
I could make a long list, but for now I am going to count to five. My current speakers are nominated for the fifth place. A self made product from Hans audio, based in The Netherlands. I didn't build it myself, because I am not a speaker builder. If you are like me, ask someone who can do it for you. Saves you a lot of problems. They outpeformed my Linn Ninkas with ease, so that should tell you enough. The bass line is full and rich, but never sloppy. And it goes deep, because of the transmission line cabinets. The tweeters are simply the best I have heard. Simply, because they are magnetostatic dipool drivers. My next speakers will have magnetic tweeters again, for sure! Once you listened to it, you are hooked.