Writer: Glen Wagenknecht
Financial interests: click here

Changing of the guard. Astute readers may have noticed that my reference Apogee Duetta Signature speakers have gone amiss from the equipment roster over the past few reviews. If you wondered why, rest assured that they were neither damaged nor superseded. In fact, they were in perfect health and performing like high-performance troupers. The reason for their departure was less dramatic. It simply was time for a change.

At my age, the opportunity to pursue new directions is rapidly diminishing. I was faced with the decision to either stick with the Apogees as my ultimate end game—hardly a bleak prospect—or play fresh fields. Starting with the Magnepan 2167F in 1979 through the room-engulfing Tympani then downsizing to the Duetta Signature, dipole panels have almost exclusively held sway here. They (oops) relegated the sole bay window in the listening/living room to backlighting effect. Spousal acceptance was generous up to this point but my now semi-retired wife has been restless of late, demanding updates in home and d├ęcor. It was time to explore.

First off, I knew that improving on the Apogee's strong suits was going to be near impossible without serious cash. The current version at about $42'000 would make equivalency a sideways tradeoff at best. The obvious choice was to switch to the Magnepan 3 series. Those offered some improvements in specific areas but not others. The upcoming 30.7 was on the horizon and there was even a brief if failed temptation with the King electrostatic loudspeaker. These were worthy choices all but ultimately came down to yet another panel speaker as variations on the theme. Why change if it's more of the same? That forced a rethink and reset of requirements for a new baseline on what would maintain high quality but in a different form factor.

First priority was to modernize my outlook on what constituted 'statement' hardware. In the past that automatically meant big rigs, with massive beasts that required fork lifts and bank accounts in the Caymans. Those are still out there in numbers. They can dish out major performance to match their tags. At trade shows and dealer showrooms, I listened to old guard and fresh names like Wilson, Venture, Tidal and Monitor Audio to name a few. They reigned with authority and ability that could satisfy myself or any (semi) sane audiophile ... with the prohibitive requirements of palatial room dimensions and larger-than-(average)-life wallet.