Accurate speakers for a verity of genres?

Hello guys – I’m looking for L/R speakers to fill a 15x15 room – the budget is <4K (new/used). I’m not much of a PC user and was recommended by a good friend of mine to post here for advice.

I don’t have subs yet, so wanted something that could extend into the mid 30’s if needed. I will get subs next year so it’s not a big deal. My background is in music (have a degree from NYU) and come from a family or producers. Being that the speakers will be in my living room, I want something nice looking, and also capable of home theater usage and powered by a receiver.

I’m pretty young (under 26) and my musical tastes are leaning towards the more compressed side. Pop and some rock if I’m feeling casual, house or funk if I’m reminiscing and “real” hip-hop if I’m looking for stories or lyrical material. All mood dependent. I’m ‘classically trained’ and very critical in many genres’ being exposed to them my entire life though. Unfortunately, I do not listen classical music in my home although I do respect it. My instruments of choice are typically percussion based rather than string based and I really like both hard hitting bass and rolling basslines - but clean bass. Never boomy despite the musical choices.

Some examples of the types of music I listen to

Common – The People
The Roots – Boom
Nicolay and Kay – As the world turns
Geoffrey Oryema – Piri Wango Iya
Afefe Iku – Mirror Dance
Sigur Rios- Festival
Nosaj Thing – Aquarium
LP – Iridescent
James Blunt - I’ll take everything
Sublime – Santeria
Metallica – Unforgiven ½
Alicia Myers – I want to thank you
Jackson 5 – Hum Along and Dance
Level 42 – Starchild

Strange eh? I enjoy an accurate sound, that isn’t harsh in the upper band. Perhaps I have sensitive ears nowadays. I know to appreciate flat req response, and smooth off-axis response, great crossovers, etc. Now the question is – Where do I begin looking? Thanks for your time!!!!
You should consider PSB Synchrony Ones. They do everytheing you require. And are a bardgain to boot.
My experience is the only way to find the right speakers for you is to listen to a lot of them. Reviews are great, as are opinions, but that person might appreciate a speaker that you can't stand. For instance, I read a glowing review of the Totem Dreamcatchers, and went to buy some. Upon listening to the speaker range, I fell in love with the Rainmakers instead, and bought a pair.

Take your time, and really enjoy the process of auditioning speakers. This means local shops. I brought a CD with my favorite songs, and would spend hours listening to different speakers. Of course, this can lead to multiple systems. :-)

I have Mirage OMD-28s for home theatre, Quad 12L Actives for 2-channel, and Totem Rainmakers for my bedroom. If I were going to live with one pair, running off my Pioneer Elite would be Mirage. But to each his own.

Enjoy man,
forget the stuff you see here - it's not for you. Check out the Cerwin Vega 215s. Big bass, efficient, works well with receivers. You asked.
Well young man...consider yourself very blessed to have the means to buy 3-4k speakers in this crap economy...since bass is important to you and highly subjective...I would suggest auditioning planar, stats, open baffle, and conventional box designs...all have merits...Fwiw...a friend has paradigm studio floorstanders...his taste mirrors yours...and is happy
Thank you. Much appreciated. Like I said, accuracy is still important to me because I can understand the technical limitations. I've been told about Salk's offering (HT-2), Philharmonics', and Audio Soundfield 1, Selah Audio Circondare, KEF R series and many others. I'll work on the sub's later on and get something nice. My focus now is mids (vocal) and smooth treble. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you all!
Also ascend acoustics
Sonus faber
Thank you, What model Sonus would you recommend?

Manoterror: Understood. I just want to be set on the right path, and hopefully Ill find my way.

Phasecorrect: Thank you!

Chayro: The Cerwyn looks bass heavy and simply too large for a small living room (or anyones home!).
Verity makes very accurate speakers that are also excellent quality and highly musical. I own two Verity models in different systems. The Verity Finn used is typically available in your stated price range.
I haven't encountered a Sonus model that didn't impress me...I'm sure a couple options in your range...
Bthought-- i am located in NYC and i too listen to a lot of hip hop, glitch bass production like Nosaj, Common, etc.. (plus every other genre) and have settled on PSB Platinums after going through a few other speaker families. Tbonedeluxe suggested PSB Synchrony as well. I think the concept here is a neutral sounding box speaker that is not genre biased. I really think you are correct in seeking an accurate neutral sound. You know you've got your system right when certain tracks come through with (for example) warmth you didn't know was there. It's awesome!
One more idea:

$600 will buy a pair of Magnepan MMGs

$1150 will buy a pair of SVS sealed subwoofers

$400 will buy a Velodyne SMS-1 subwoofer management system (it corrects the subwoofer response for room induced effects, fine tune the top end roll-off of the subs, low cut the mains). It takes work, but this thing will allow a seamless "hand-off" from the MMGs to the SVS subs.

All items are sold on-line (the Velodyne from, the rest from the respective manufacturers) with money-back policies. It's a low risk way to go - if it doesn't move you, you can send it all back.

At $2150 this will get you a reasonably neutral, very nice sounding, manageably sized, full bandwidth system.

It should be well suited for your tastes and need for deep bass, but if you're still in the city and have neighbors that share a floor or walls, you'd better go easy on the volume knob or you won't be be very popular.

So your recommending going light on the speakers but focus on the subs.
being in NYC I really can't have subs unless I keep things low. What would you recommend other than Maggie? I have pets who may destroy it.
Thank you, perhaps I dont need huge floor standers for my needs? I really need to reconsider.

Maybe great ID subs, great floorstanding monitors, and a capable speaker would meet my needs.

I need a way to limit the subwoofer though (through a switch?)

Perhaps one day ill move and take full advantage of it.
My recommendation was based on your taste in music, which appears to put unusual emphasis on the bottom octaves - relative to...say, a folk music enthusiast. In this case, a sub sat system will IMHO offer the best bang for the buck. Your note that you expect to add subwoofers down the road indicates that you're thinking this way, too.

I figured that I'd offer an in-budget option that got to the endgame without waiting.

The SVS looks to be a great value in subwoofers and the Maggie is IMHO a flat-out great value speaker that lacks only bottom end impact. Add subs and you're in great shape, provided that you can get seamless integration, which brings us to...

The Velodyne SMS-1. It's a great device that will get you there on seamless integration. However, the automatic set-up mode sucks. Set it up it manually and do it carefully and you will great results with the Maggie. One nice feature - there are programmable presets for subwoofer EQ. You can program the Velo to allow for both full range, full-on sub output and a reduced output "night" setting. IIRC, there are 6 presets that you can "tailor" at set-up and you can choose between them with buttons (like a car radio).

I mentioned the MMG because it's a terrific performer and a real steal at it's asking price. As to alternatives, there are many, depending on your tastes. You might consider the little Carver CRM ribbon monitors which can sometimes be found for $1K/pr. Even more limited in low end extension than the MMG, they are very good speakers without any real bottom end to speak of. You could also look at the Gallo A'diva or the smaller Ohm 100 (or maybe the MWT) omnidirectional speakers. I've owned all three of these speakers and can recommend any of them. For my taste the Ohms are the pick of the litter and the MMGs are the value leader. The A'diva is a surprisingly good performer (with a sub), given its tiny size and modest price tag.

Really good speakers with enough bass to do justice to the music you like tend IME to be kind of expensive. However, there are a lot of great speakers out there once you eliminate the need for extended bass response. If you're eventually gonna add subs, I say take advantage of the economics and add the subs from the outset. (BTW, for +/- another $500, you can get a pair of Rythmik subwoofers instead of the SVS. I'm told by many I trust that the SVS subs are terrific performers, but I own the Rythmiks and can recommend them from experience.)

Good Luck

This is a great response, and in line with what I was looking for. I am worried though in regards to Maggie's getting damaged so will have to look at other products. It looks that the Velodyne SMS-1 will allow me to "reduce" some of the low end so that I wouldnt get kicked out of my apartment, and also allow for seamless integration.

My question to you is, considering a larger floor space (say 15x15), what other monitors should I consider? If you dont have brands then what characteristics should I be looking for?
Those Rhythmic Subs look great. I just spotted them on Ascend Acoustics website. Im not sure how Ascends monitor would fare though.
Some good responses...maggies are great speakers...but can be a challenge to intergrate subs...especially for first time owners...hell even dealers have experience is with the mg12s...and with bass dominant material...a more balanced full range conventional speaker might be better suited...Monitor Audio floorstanders have been getting excellent reviews...a few years back class b rating in stereophile for a 1k loudspeaker...good value...good luck
Re: integrating Maggies/subs

Per Phasecorrect, this is a notoriously tricky task. I agree that trying to set this up by ear may end up a really frustrating exercise.

However, the SMS-1 provides a video readout from a mic that you set at the listening spot. There are a lot of controls (level, phase, x-over frequency, etc) to adjust, so it's time consuming. Lots of trial and error. However, once you get a flat line thru the x-over frequency that you have selected, you're in great shape. You may (or may not) wish to tweak further by ear, but you will be in very good shape, either way. This will take some time and effort, but that visual aid was IME really, really helpful.

As I indicated above, there's no magic to the MMG, just a smokin' good value. I have also used Ohms and Carvers (and several others too expensive to be relevant here) in the same set-up with the Rythmiks and the SMS-1. In every case, the manual set-up with video readout (eventually!) got me to GREAT results.

Good Luck,

I like the idea of the sub tuning aspect. I don't have much space upfront.. Will look at other bookshelves now.
A few points to clarify:

I mentioned the Carver CRM a few times in my posts. They're actually Sunfire (Bob Carver's second company) CRMs. I didn't see any available here, but these:

look like they might be the big brother to mine.

If you find any monitor appealing and affordable, it will probably end up working well with the Velo SMS and either the SVS or Rythmik subs. As mentioned above, the SVS, Rythmik, and Velo products are all sold on-line with return rights, so the buyer can check it out and see if they can get the desired result.


PS You'll also have to choose a high-cut slope to determine how sharply the top of the woofer output rolls off. That's one more parameter on the Velo. You also choose a center point and "width" of 6 bands of parametric EQ. It will take work to get that "flat line", but it can be done and IME it's worth the effort.

BTW, a "flat line" actually means "gently wavy" line.
Wow this thread is all over the place. I would second Verity Audio. There is a pair of monitors listed that might would be nice. I agree with the finn as well.

At 4k you need a sub and you need to play your music at appropriate volumes. You have a good bit of material below the mid 30's. Probably 20%.

A pair of speakers that play all this cost much more. Think beyond a Wilson Sophia 3 or Magico V2. You need to get creative.
An overlooked speaker company is Focus Audio. I own the FS 8 model. I was quite surprised at the impact and quality of bass provided from such a modest sized speaker 38x7.5x10. The 2 way floorstanding FS 7se with a 7 inch woofer might be the best fit for your room(15x15)and needs. I have no reason to doubt the claimed bass(35hz)output of the FS7se.
"PS You'll also have to choose a high-cut slope to determine how sharply the top of the woofer output rolls off."

This part I understand, however, is it possible to determine the low point roll off on the sub? To kind of "limit" them until I have a proper living space to max them out?

My second question: Monitors seem to span a wide variety of sizes. For my room size, what traits should I be looking for? ie: Woofer size, driver arrangement, freq response.

The Carver CRM's for sale look good but I cant fund much information on them. That's a huge ribbon tweeter!
No doubt that Polk Lsi 15's will handle all your demands. I too listen to all music and the Polks do everything you demand to a high degree in my opinion.
15 X 15 X 8(?) That is going to be one challenging room.
I think the PSB's are a good recommendation for your music. Judging from your musical taste, I think you are looking for a very crisp, tight, punchy sound, which the PSBs are good at. I have to say, though, that although you won't see too many people recommending them on this forum, one of the best speakers I ever heard for that type of sound was a pair of JBL studio monitors in a recording studio I visited a number of years ago. They didn't sing like some of the "audiophile" speakers, but they were really crisp and clean and very forward, without being too brash. Of course, all of our experiences are informed by the circumstances, and I might be romanticizing the JBLs, but I remember them as a very pleasing experience. On the other hand, they weren't anything I'd want to put in my living room.

What about B&W's or Revels? There's a pair of Aerial 8's on A'gon right now for $1,350, which seems like a great deal.
It's not a perfect rectangle, I think I over estimated. Perhaps 16x13?
It got good reviews this Munich HiEnd!
New release, takes the concept and design of the KEF blades, point source speakers. Integrate with subs for the low end!
Comparing SVS or Rhythmic 12 subs, which offer the best upper band performance? I will roll off the bottom (<25hz end so not really concerned there. More concerned with clarity in the mid to upper bass-area
The Rythmiks offer a damping control which allows (a little) control over how "tight" the bass response is. When set for highest damping, the response in the sub's upper regions is (pardon the pun) tight as a drum. One test number that is sometimes used to measure this is called "group delay" and the Rythmiks can be set to perform very, very well on a group delay test.

However, going for max damping/minimum group delay is not really the point. The idea is that you can match the damping characteristics of the Rythmik subs to the main speaker's behavior at the crossover point. If your main speaker is a little less damped at the point you've chosen to x-over to the Rythmiks, you can dial the subs back a bit.

It has worked very well for me and IME is useful in getting a seamless and clean "hand-off" to the subs.

Yes, there is a trade-off. The Rythmiks can't quite produce the clean output of the (larger, ported) SVS subwoofers below 35hz. If you're using a pair of subs - strictly for music - in anything smaller than a palace, I doubt that you'll ever miss the capability. However, if they're going to do double duty for home cinema, then you do have a real choice to make.

I can't really comment on the SVS, other than to note that they test very well and are held in high regard by many of the subwoofer geeks on this board.

HT is definitely a factor although I would be limiting freq below 35hz for now.
Any thoughts on ascends new tower?
I never thought I would be in agreement with Unsound, but I agree that a square room will be problematic to achieve flat and linear response. Good luck. Mrdecibel
I missed the 16 x 13 post of the room, which is a better room to deal with than a 15x15room. My apologies. I am a believer as to building a system, the source, and all other equipment upstream, will result in more accurate and realistic music reproduction. Keep in mind that whatever speaker you select, room and speaker matching, and room tweaking and tailoring, will be most beneficial to achieving an accurate portrayal of a live performance, assuming this is what you are looking for. I believe all Audiogon members are after the same thing. We all have our own likes and attitude as to what that is, so you want to listen to as much as you could. Welcome to the journey! Always, Mrdecibel
Im hearing PSB's today. Thank you for all of your help.
I'm not so sure there would be that much of a difference between a 15 X 15 x 8 room and a 16 X 13 X 8 room.
Enough of a difference. Square rooms have been problematic, in my experience. Of course, too much speaker can overload a non problematic room as well. MrD
Of course this is dependent on the (unconfirmed) assumption that the OP has a standard 8' ceiling:

16 X 13 is a bit better than 15 X 15,


16 X 8 is a bit worse than 15 X 8.

All in all, a rather small improvement.

I suggest that the OP use speakers with tight but limited bass response (sealed box?), perhaps with a diagonal room placement, but most importantly if buying new, available with a home trial and full cash refund. 30 Hz might be too much for such a small room. I would nix the idea of sub woofers, but multiple woofers might help. Room treatment and/or digital room correction should be considered.
Here is an unusual design that fits in your budget and might work well in problematic room such as yours, the Gradient Revolution:
Try Verity Speakers they sound great with most any music.
Thank you again!
I own the Verity P/E and I'd think twice before putting a pair in that room. Per Hevac, it's a great sounding speaker for just about any genre, but....

It does feature a notable hump in the bass that might be trouble in that room. It's hard to say with certainty, but I'd definitely try for an in-room before going with the P/E. I'm not familiar with the rest of the Verity line, so it's also possible that other Verity models may be a safer call.
I would recommend you audition the Ohm Walsh 2000 ($2800/pr). They are available with a 120-day home demo. They have the bass extension you want without any boominess, and a nothing for your pet to dig into below the top 8" of the cabinet. I've owned them for 2.5 yrs, and find them to be very accurate and detailed, but never etched or overly bright. I enjoy a fairly wide range of music as well, although not as obscure as some of your choices, and IMO, they sound wonderful with everything, even compressed music from Pandora sounds pretty good. I tried them out once with an 80 watt/channel receiver, and they sounded great. Looks are a matter of taste. These are 9" square towers. I like the way they look, and they are available in many different finishes, but you'll have to decide if they look and sound right for you, of course.