Wondering what everyone thinks of the SL3

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Paul Pohopien

Active member
Jan 8, 2005
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Glendora, California
And just as important, how much would you pay for a black pair, about 9 years old?

I currently have the biwire version of the aerius (not aerius i though) and am considering trying a pair of SL3's out.

The SL3's are still used by some renowned Hi-Fi reviewers as a reference. The only thing that may bother you is that the sound is a bit soft and lacking in punch, otherwise it is or near STATE OF THE ART.
I just sold my 8 year old SL-3's (whith Maple rails) for $1,400 which I think is fair.

I replaced them with Ascent i's. Difference - Ascents are smoother and more integrated, but if I hadn't lived with the SL-3's for awhile the difference is not astounding.

Bass punch is where there is a very significant difference in favor of the Ascent i.

If you can get SL-3's in very good condition for under 1,500 you're doing fine.
I started with Sequel IIs, then graduated to Ascent is. I missed the SL 3s, which were the replacement for the Sequels. What you get depends on the quality of the source and the amplification. SL 3s can be very revealing with the right electronics. They don't do well with cheaper, older solid state. They do very well with tubes. Dynamic range is not astounding and you could probably do better if you listen to lots of heavy metal - otherwise, recommended.
I have owned both the Aerius i and SL3 models. I prefer the sound of the SL3 as long as you have decent electronics. Like the other post said, they will reveal the weaknesses and harshness of sub-standard equipment.

I have not experienced a lack of punch, not sure how much the room has to do with it, but I'm very satisfied with low end response at the moment.
When making the decision to purchase my Aerius I also had the choice of the Sequel (Original, used) for the same price. The Sequels were certainly more revealing and seamless, but they are big, require a lot of breathing space and sounded slightly softer with less dynamics. The size was the main reason I went for the Aerius, so as long as you have room to accomodate the SL3s and decent electronics you should be happy.
Then, of course, you get into the issue of panel age. When I replaced the panels on my Sequel IIs, the upper mid-range and the treble range came back to life. If the Sequels you auditioned had older panels, all bets are off I suppose.
When I bought my SL3 back in 1996, I spent 1 year comparing it against the Aerius (not i), Apogee Slant 8 and Thiel 2.x. Comparing to the Aerius, the SL3 has a bigger, fuller picture of the band; the Aerius never gave me that feeling. Though, the SL3's picture might be a bit too big depending on room size. Perhaps sitting in the front vs in the back of a jazz club would fit the description. Dynamics feels better with more contrast.

After all these years, I truly love the SL3's precise imaging, air transparency and soundstage. Bass, however, leave me wanting much more especially when I listened to that B&W 801d in that store *by mistake*. For the price range, SL3 was THE BEST overall and that's why I bought it.

I would expect to get 1500 for my almost perfect condition SL3 when I buy that 801d... The only imperfection is that the panel slided down half an inch which I have yet to fix.

I would definitely upgrade to a perfect condition SL3 if I were you. Trading in your Aerius you are probably looking at $500.