Advice from apartment dwellers

Looking for speaker /amp / acoustic treatment recommendations and insights for listening at lower volumes in an NYC apartment. I listen mostly to jazz, classical, and world music, with an occasional foray into rock. Sources are a Scillia-modded AR turntable and an Oppo 105. Not really interested in headfi.

Any insights appreciated ~ thanks!
3501e539 5645 4144 837a 55e638ac59ecmdemaio
Try Balanced Audio Technology VK300-SE matched to Thiel 2.7.
You'll want to upgrade to NOS 6H30 "Super Tubes" (made 20-30 years ago for Soviet Air Force) to realize unit's full potential.
Single crystal wire completes the picture (Wireworld, Harmonic Technology, etc.).
You can find budget room treatment at Guitar Center.
Give up the speakers, it is a lost cause. Move to a good set of headphones Unless you have a pre WWII apartment, you will never get the ability to listen at sound levels that make the hobby enjoyable. I do live in an apartment, but I listen during the day when all my neighbors are out working for the 'man'. Works out fine.
Excellent suggestion Dweller-

I will concur w/ the Thiel loudspeakers, either CS 1.7 or CS 2.4 will be plenty for an apartment system.

BAT, Rogue Audio or Creek integrated amps are on par w/ these speakers.

Cables/cords- AudioQuest, Wireworld, Straight Wire.
Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
best "bedroom" systems I had were:

Pathos Twin Towers mated with Vienna Acoustics Mozarts

Cary 300sei mated with ProAc 1sc

Source in both systems was a Naim CD3. Either set-up would be excellent in an apartment setting where you do not want to "shake the walls".

I also like Michael Green Design PZCs for room treatments ... they are some of the most visually acceptable I have seen
How is your apt. situated? By that I mean are you on the ground floor, 2nd floor, etc. Are you sandwiched between neighbors or do you have an end unit? What is the construction/composition of the walls, floor, and ceiling? Are they concrete or some other less dense material?

You may find that down-firing subs will cause more "boom" being transmitted to those below. One thing to consider is to see if your neighbors would allow you to listen to your system from within their abode. Then make system/setup changes and see how it sounds.

This may help you to mitigate any unwanted sounds from disturbing them and would surely show them that you are trying to be a good neighbor...

I have the same issues as you. I would go for a pair of Harbeth SHL5s and perhaps an integrated with tone controls like Marantz or Cambridge, assuming that's high-end enough for you. You might also want to mount the speakers closer to the floor like on the Mapleshade stands, which will naturally reinforce the low end.
THE best low-volume speakers I have ever heard are the Totem
Dreamcatchers which go for about $400 on here.
Read the Stereophile review on them, it tells it like it is.
Thanks all, for your considered responses and information...looks like I have some reading up to do. Many thanks!
"Unless you have a pre WWII apartment, you will never get the ability to listen at sound levels that make the hobby enjoyable."

I think you have it backwards. The walls in pre war buildings are paper thin. At least all the ones that I've been in. I can't tell you how many times I ran to answer the phone, only to find out that it was one of my neighbours phones ringing, and not mine.
I agree with you Zd. My experience is the 50s-60s brick buildings isolate sound much better than pre-war flats. Fortunately that's the kind of building I'll be moving into, so we'll see how it goes. I'm on the top floor in a corner, so it's one wall and the floor. The floor, obviously, is the bigger concern.
Construction quality is going to dictate your direction more than anything else.

I once lived in 2 different units of the same apartment complex. Built 2001, very flimsy. The bottom level unit (facing the woods) had carpet over concrete slab and was FAR more enjoyable in terms of sound quality and ability to play moderate/loud. The walls were still flimsy but at least the floor anchored the sound. Big downside here was hearing everything from the unit upstairs, and the higher risk of break-in -- which did occur and caused me to move upstairs.

Then I had a top (4th) floor unit -- it was awful. I don't think there was any way to make those rooms sound good with large speakers, nor to limit sound transmission to below. Lost the nice view of the woods too; overlooked a parking lot. Moving out of there was liberating.

Best system I had in this complex was Tannoy Eyris DC3 compact floor-standers in the unit with concrete slab. Worst was Legacy Signature III (big floor-standers) or Tyler Acoustics Linbrook monitors (way-too-big monitors) in the top-floor unit. However, the Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference monitors (reasonable size monitors) did manage to sound excellent in that unit, at the expense of low bass. Magneplanars might have been interesting to try, but I never did.
Definitely your building’s construction will dictate. I’m in a co-op built in 1960 and the sound isolation is terrible (as is every other NYC post war building I’ve been in). They were throwing these buildings up as fast as possible and after a couple of renovations of my current place - that lack of quality was seen first hand.

Anyway, I’ve tried all kinds of systems and I ended up with a simple system based around a pair of Harbeths. They’re designed to be the best low-level listening speakers for all day listening. Depending on your room size, a pair of Harbeths with an integrated with some juice - something like an NAD 375 and you’ll have a versatile, great sounding system with your current sources...
All helpful, guys....thanks again.
I've found that by going the SET/high efficiency route that I get all the musical satisfaction I need at much lower listening levels than I'd use with conventional setups. Used to be I always felt like I had to turn it up just a little more to get satisfaction. Now that's no longer the case.
Thanks Seikosha. I LOVE your listening inviting!
Mdemaio, in your situation you want an amp and speakers with play well at low levels & have excellent inner detail. Based on your musical preferences (which are similar to mine), for an amp recommendation i'd look at a 2nd hand Modwright KWA-150. The KWA-150 sounds great played at low levels thanks to its resolution and wonderful inner detail. It also sounds warm & tube-like, yet clean which I think would suit jazz, classical & world well. It also has good control for rock music. The last guy selling one on the 'Gon was asking $2800 obo. A 2nd hand Modwright LS-100 pre would be a good option for preamp. A good example recently went up on the 'Gon for $1800, so for around $4500 you'd have a great value pair of amps able to play wonderfully at low level. That also gives you an upgrade path as you could later upgrade the tubes in the LS-100 to matched NOS tubes & send your Oppo to Modwright to get the tube mods done.

For a speaker recommendation, if you are mainly listening at low volumes, I would recommend a pair of Josesph Audio Pulsars placed on stands. A nice pair recently sold on the 'Gon for $4495. For a floorstander, for similar money 2nd hand i'd recommend Living Voice OBX-R2's which are lovely sounding speakers & well suited to your requirements. The only Harbeth speakers I could recommend would be the 40.1's, however the last pair sold here north of $7500.

For acoustic treatments, i'd look for a good value proven product. I've heard good feedback about the Vicoustic products. But possibly the most universal and easy to place room treatments are the new Stillpoints Aperture panels. Not cheap at $600/panel, but you only need 4-6 to start with then you can add more later depending on how your room measures. Hope that helps! ps: this post took way too long.
We just crank it. Screw the neighbors.
For the type of NYC apartments we are talking about here, some speakers that I know work well are ProAc, DeVore, Martin Logan ESL's, Small JM Labs and Small Audio Physics. I'm sure that there are others, as well, but those are the ones I have experience with.
I assume since one pays a premium price for NYC real estate that there are space restraints...that being said...a bookself or small floorstander can yield good results...the real issue is volume and that depends on your taste and your neighbors...if you can live without piper organ bass...I don't see any real issues...also invest in some headphones...for late night sessions...
Unless you're in an old unrenovated Brownstone, the bulk of the large NYC apartment buildings actually have good sound attenuation between apartments. That is good. As far as having limited floorspace (so no loudspeakers 7 feet into the room,etc)...i had great experience with SF and Celestion monitors plus single sub. SF Extrema would not cost much money these days (second hand) and would mate well with a great REL or Velodyne DD+ series...totally full range, powerful, but relatively apartment friendly compared to a lot of full-range mega speakers.
"11-22-14: Whitecap
We just crank it. Screw the neighbors."

In NYC he'll be taken into custody for trying to commit suicide.
Thanks again all for the thoughtful responses. Whitecap, I'd rather invest in audio equipment than a firearm, so regrettably I will have to forego your suggestion. Melbguy, thanks for the tip on the Pulsars...and Lloydelee, I will look into the Extremas as well. Starting to get a better idea of how to focus now - thanks again all for your input.
how big is your room?

when i lived in NYC, had no problem with small/medium floorstanders or monitors. even in my 400sf alcove studio!

i put my floorstanders on Herbies decoupling/absorption discs and it attenuates bass below, bigtime.
Mdemaio: Full disclosure, I think my NYC upstairs and downstairs neighbors are investors, never seem to be "home." Otherwise some well armed irate people would have stormed my place long ago. More to the point, Melbguy1's mention of Joseph Audio Pulsars reminded me (duh) that I myself have a pair of those here in my office system. Unlike my absentee apartment neighbors, the guy in the next office works daily, and he does not share my taste in music. The wall between us is new, meaning good looking but crap construction. I listen during business hours, and I can second that the Pulsars do a very nice job at low volume. Its a good recommendation. OTOH, nights and weekends. . . . screw'em, I let the Pulsars rip.
I assume you can find a B&W dealer in NYC...and for your style of music...the exposed tweeter series...705/805, etc would be a nice addition...u can always add a sub if needed...note...adding sub doesnt mean eviction...most people turn up volume standmounts to increase doesn't have to do that with a sub..
nice foundation at low volume...also dynaudio, proac,Sonus Faber,etc
@Mdemaio, you're welcome. The Sound Anchors stands are great value for their performance and looks. Good stands with spiked feet are essential to get the best out of monitors. Let us know which way you decide go with your system.
Keith - the room itself is rather large by NYC standards (overall it's about 26 X 12), but it's a grand room that will be divided into sections. The listening area itself, which will be partitioned off, will be about 14X12 or so...though the divider will be open to the room. Whitecap, thanks for the apartment building isn't one likely to attract investors, so I'll have actual people living around me. Makes for more interesting pot lucks, provided I don't alienate them sonically. I'll play this one conservatively, as the woman next door makes a mean eggplant parmesan. Interesting Phasecorrect - thanks for the tip...indeed on the "bargain" speakers that caught my eye was an old B&W CDM1-SE, which appear to be a good value used and don't take up much space. Melbguy, I will keep you posted. Decisions soon. Thanks again!
I would jump on those cdm 1se...they used a tweeter derived from.801 matrix...orig non se voted European loudspeaker of the year...Stereophilerave review...curious...under $500?
Hi Phase - no, north of that...ergo the hesitation. They are routinely fetching $850+ these days by my research, which puts them in another territory (considering they're a 13-year-old+ speaker).
I realize that dipole panel speakers are somewhat hard to place in many rooms, particularly smaller rooms. But, in terms of not bothering neighbors, dipoles are dramatically better than conventional dynamic speakers. The out-of-phase cancellation to the sides of the speaker means that there is substationally less sound radiating to the sides, with a higher concentration of sound directed toward the sweet spot of the listening area. When I went from Martin Logan electrostatic/dynamic speaker to a horn-based system, I was surprised by how much louder the stray sound outside of the listening room is with the horn-based system (and horns are supposedly pretty good at focussing the sound at the listening area).
Interesting Larryi...I was very impressed with Clayton Shaw's new Hologram M1s at this year's RMAF, which features a dipole bass driver. They have a little brother (the M2) that would be more appropriate for my space. Does dipole really make that much of a difference in this regard? Any other dipoles you can recommend?
"11-25-14: Phasecorrect
I would jump on those cdm 1se...they used a tweeter derived from.801 matrix...orig non se voted European loudspeaker of the year...Stereophilerave review...curious...under $500?"

I highly recommend that you demo the B&W's before you buy them. I have a ton of experience with that tweeter. If you have ever wanted to see what it's like to have an ice pick jammed in your ears, its as close as you'll get
Zd, I don't know what Mdemaio's budget is for speakers as that hasn't been clarified, but the Joseph Audio Pulsars would blow the Cdm-1se's out of the water. I've never really liked the B&W tweeters which are too strident for my liking. The only B&W speaker which did not display, or atleast did not noticeably display that tendency was the Nautilus. But that was a $50k speaker.
Yes, dipoles, particularly panel type dipoles can make a significant difference in sound levels outside of the sweet spot. In addition to the cancellation effect mentioned above, panel dipoles, with their large radiating surface have a number of other advantages. First, they are less like point radiators and more like a line radiator, so sound level does not fall off as rapidly with distance from the speaker. Second, line radiators have poor dispersion in the up and down direction which, again, concentrates the sound at the listening area and reduces energy elsewhere.

While I have noticed this effect with the two panel dipoles I have owned, the Martin Logan Quest and Acoustat 1+1, I have not specifically looked at this quality with other dipoles. Based purely on sound quality, I like the Magnepan 1.7 for an apartment setup--it is small for a panel, has reduced bass output (bass is the main problem with sound transmission into the structure of a building). Various Quad electrostatic speakers are also very good, not only for their dipole dispersion but because they sound very good at lower listening levels. If you can find an old Quad 57 in good working order, that is a terrific apartment speaker.

Outside of the dipole realm, there are certain speakers that are very enjoyable at surprisingly low volume levels. The best in this regard, are horn systems, but, good examples of these can be very expensive and bulky. But, there are other speakers worth looking into for lower volume listening, such as the smaller Audionote, Proac, DeVore, Spendor and Harbeth speakers.
Well, speakers are highly subjective....and the tweeter on the B&w is open, airy, and "never sizzles" according to Stereophile and .my experience...hence the $850 holding price of a 13 yr old speaker...that being said, plenty of good options at that price point
Here's different approach for advice. Why don't you go down to Stereo Exchange ..... 627 Broadway, just off of Houston Street in the Village...
(212) 505-1111 .... Show them photos of your apartment's planned listening space and describe your musical tastes and audio preferences. The guys down there really know their stuff, and they can give you some great ideas. They may even be able to loan you some gear so you can audition different things in your apartment. I have no affiliation with Stereo Exchange, but whenever I'm in town I spend some great time in the store listening to fine music on wonderful sounding gear. Have fun !

Something tells me you didn't read my post very carefully. I think you missed this:

"I highly recommend that you demo the B&W's before you buy them. I have a ton of experience with that tweeter. If you have ever wanted to see what it's like to have an ice pick jammed in your ears, its as close as you'll get."
Lol Zd, yep I did fly through your post! Mea Culpa. Their is a controversial Emimen sing which describes the experience of listening to a B&W speaker, but I can't post it here.