Top 10 Tower Speakers: $3,000 or Less Page 2

SVS Ultra Tower, $2,000/pr (reviewed June 2013)
SVS has long been known for its excellent subwoofers, but the company’s Ultra speaker line brought it into the realm of serious full-range speaker design. The Tower represents an outstanding audiophile value. Dynamics are its strong suit—powerful deep bass output without the need for a sub, though from an admittedly big and bulky cabinet that stands nearly 4 feet tall and 16 inches deep. Still, the cubic volume is used to good effect, and the build quality is outstanding. The company’s recently introduced Prime series is also worth considering—we very favorably reviewed the Prime Satellite 5.1-channel budget system ($1,000). But that line’s compact tower ($500) won’t likely compete with the Ultra Tower’s big, bold sound.

MartinLogan Motion 40 Speaker System: $2,000/pr
(reviewed as part of a multichannel home-theater setup, June 2013)

MartinLogan reinvigorated the electrostatic speaker category with some remarkably transparent-sounding and beautiful tower speakers, and we’ve got one of those in our Ten-Best-Under $3K line-up as well (see MartinLogan ESL). But the Motion series offers conventional passive speakers at lower prices, with one key twist: a folded diaphragm magnetic planar tweeter that helps capture some of the transient speed, low-level dynamic contrast, and clean, transparent delivery of an electrostatic speaker. The Motion 40 mid-size tower measured out with a —3dB point at 48 Hz, so unless you go with one of the bigger Motion towers (we have the Motion 60-XT in for evaluation presently) you’ll need to mate it with a sub to get those titanic home theater effects. But 40s alone were more than respectable for much music fare, and reviewer Darryl Wilkinson commented that “they’re so frickin’ amazing at how close they do get to the light and airy sonic character of an electrostatic speaker that it’s hard to believe.”

GoldenEar Technology Triton Three: $2,198/pr
(reviewed as part of a multichannel home-theater setup, March 2012)

The success of GoldenEar’s Triton series, currently five models wide, is now almost legendary. All share a relatively similar column design and fairly close sonic signature from the mid-bass on up. Where they diverge is largely in dynamics and bass response, a function of cabinet size, low-end driver configuration, and critically, the use (or lack thereof) of a powered bass section. We mentioned earlier in our list the passive Tritons Seven and Five. Among the powered towers, the Three strikes a good compromise between bottom-reach and price, hitting an S&V-measured –3dB at 27 Hz, plenty enough for theater use without a sub for all but the hardcore bassheads, and it’s mated with an exceptionally neutral midrange and an airy top-end from the company’s folded-ribbon tweeter.

PSB Imagine T: $2,200/pr
(reviewed as part of a multichannel home-theater setup, March 2012)

Designer Paul Barton’s speakers—at virtually all price points—are characterized by a deliciously natural midrange and detailed (but not sizzly) high end. If neutral musicality is your bent, you pretty much can’t go wrong with PSB, and the Imagine T is no exception. These are relatively small towers (37-inches tall) that will fit easily into many decors; build quality is excellent and you have some gorgeous woodgrain options beyond the classic piano black. That said, you’ll want to mate it with a subwoofer to get useful bass output below 40 Hz or so.


aopu.mohsin's picture

For $2500, Sonus Faber Venere 2.5 and Tekton Design Pendragon speakers are also very good contenders. Too bad, the list goes only upto $3000 price range; or else for $500 more, Ravel Performa3 F206 could have been taken the top spot.

Nevertheless, the list indeed includes some of the finest speakers in the market for both 2.0 stereo and 5.1 home theater setup in mind. What I meant is, you can also find their respective center and surround channel speakers for the speaker lines that are listed here.

Thank you, Rob!

clamm's picture

It's no coincidence that the top speakers in this list are also the top advertisers. Hmmm.