Apartment Dweller's Paradise - The Ideal 2 ch. system?

We've had really great threads on Audiogon so far, so I'd like to keep the ball rolling.

One subject rarely covered enough in the music world are systems that are specifically for apartment dweller's. These systems are more modest in size and cost. Dolby Atmos? Forget-about-it!

How would you put together a system, under $10k, soup to nuts?

Personally I like Arcam integrateds and Monitor Audio bookshelves.

Should be the same as for a small listening room, yes? Might want to skip the double subs if you are on the 2nd floor though :)
Or skip subs altogether. :)
I would start with Magnepans because their bass is less likely to disturb other apartments...an interesting thread on the technical reasons for this last year...
What about their total footprint though for the maggies? I mean, don't they need a lot of floor space in front and behind?

I'm waiting on someone to bring up small, horn loaded speakers like say the Hsu satellites:


or some of the Klipsch models.
Maggies are very easy to move, and then there are the Mini Maggies - I had a pair and they were quite good
Magnepan used to advertise, out em against the wall for casual listening, move them out for critical listening...
put them against the wall for casual...
A nice SET and high efficiency speakers are perfect for apartment listening.  All the details are there at lower volume settings, no need to keep turning it up.

Please name a few high-efficiency speakers which would fit in a modest living room for us!

Anything from Omega, some of the smaller Tektons, Blumensteins, Decware or anything else with similar efficiency ratings.
Hi @seikosha

Thanks!! I ask because I think very few of us who know about high efficiency speakers also know about small one's. :) So talking about specific brands really helps illustrate this strange new world for us.


I have coincident speakers which are quite efficient.  However for my office i built merrill zigmahornets.   Amazing midrange, great imaging but no bass.
I think someone in an apartment should seriously consider a high quality headphone and headphone amplifier combination. 
@zavato I think EVERY audiophile should own a pair. :)
Regarding high efficiency speakers... Audio Note AN-J or AN-K are small stand mounts that can be placed against a wall. Zu makes small floor standers such as the Soul. I have a bedroom system built around a pair of Celestion SL700s; if you are patient, they can be found used for 1000usd and although not high efficiency are outstanding. BBC monitor equivalents are another option. Many possibilities 

Oh, I like the Audio Notes!

Also like the Seas A26 kit a great deal.


Vandersteen Model 2, Ayre V5 or Theta Dreadnaut, Wadia 302 or something similar, 2 seperate runs of AQ Type 6 or 8, AQ Panther or Jaguar balanced IC's.

That system will hold its own with just about anything.
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Unfortunately, the ideal apartment system may be modest in size, but not in cost.  I think the best small system I ever heard consisted of the Magico M1s (20k+), Viva Solista (20k+) fronted by a used Linn CD12. Amazingly good.
+1 for headphones 
Man, you guys have a lot of rent money. :)

The Magico M1S really is at the very top of physical size I would be able to keep in my apartment.


Please keep things in balance, part of the goal of this is affordability. If you can buy a $100k stereo system, I doubt you are living in a small apartment.
KEF LS50 Wireless and an AURALiC Aries Mini or Bluesound Node 2.
You can get state of the art sound by getting a top flight headphone and dedicated amp to drive them...even upgraded cable from one to the other for 1/2 the price.....and you'll have jawdropping audio with no complaints from the neighbors no matter how loud you play it.

Reference 3A MM de Capo Be or Reflector

Tube integrated

Enjoy :D

The various Audio Note speakers are quite good at delivering satisfying sound at relatively low volume levels, which is a big plus in an apartment.  I would also suggest looking at ProAc speakers for the same reason.  The old BBC monitors, such as the LS3/5a and the other similar models are good candidates too.  Modern versions are still being made by the likes of Graham Speakers and Stirling Audio.  Many of the DeVore models also sound pretty good at lower volume levels.

If you have the room to allow for the speakers being out in the room, dipole speakers are particularly good at concentrating the sound in the listening area and thereby reduce the volume leaking elsewhere.  I found a dramatic difference in sound leaking to other rooms when I went from Martin Logan hybrid electrostatics to conventional dynamic speakers.

Actually I meant the Magico Q1, not the M1.  There is no such thing as an M1.  There is an S1, but it's not a Q1 in price or sound. 
OMG Erik, I wish I had $10K to put together a system!  My systems, and I've been at this for about 30 years are always super musical and always way less then $10K.  I'm a giantkiller type of guy, and love to put budget components together that slay the ultra expensive gear or at least can go toe to toe with much more expensive gear.

For me, I could happily live with the following and feel like I'm not missing out on anything:

1.  Jeff Korneff 45 or 45 int - $2K-2500
2.  Naim cd 3.5, Proceed PCD-2 or Rega Planet cd player - $3-500
3.  3 head cassette deck (HK, Aiwa F990 or Nak) - $3-500
4.  Rega 25 TT - $7-800
5.  Omega single driver speakers - $1K
6.  Analog tuner like a Tandberg or Sansui TU717, etc - $2-400

Alternatively, a 2A3, 300B or a Berning EA230 with Music Reference pre, Magus or Counterpoint 5.1 or 3.1 preamp or perhaps cj MV50 and PV5 or push pull 6bq5 tube int up to $1K  with ProAc super tablettes, Response 1's, Epos ES14's or Rogers, etc - lots of choices here, but for $1000-1500, I could do some serious amplification in a tube int or SS amp and tube preamp

A Thorens, classic Yamaha or Kenwood TT would do as well.....

I could easily live on a $5K system and use the other 5K on nicer furniture too.....I left out IC's and speaker wire in these scenarios.

I second the KEF LS50W's. Spent 5+ years using different combinations of speakers and amps and when the LS50's landed in my apartment my search was over. Gonna sell a lot of my stuff now.
Parasound makes some nice equipment 

Actually, this is a very good point! I mean, Parasound DOES make very nice things, but their Z series gear in particular is IDEAL for the starter 2-way system. :)

I highly recommend it. Their little ZDac V2 is the better of some $2k gear.
I'm using a 2 watt Decware SE84UFO amp with high efficiency (96bd) speakers and an Omega deep8 sub in a 1,000sq ft apartment and love it. Volume on the amp never goes past noon. Plenty of volume, density, imaging, and overall great listening. I think the key to is not get an amp that over powers the room.

Decware amps and Omega speakers are a great place to start. 

Audio Note 300B kit ($1,995) Audible Illusions modulus 3a ($1500) Sonos Cullen mod ($800) Arcam irCam ($800) NAS RAID 5, KEF LS50 ($1,500) Hsu uls 15 mk2 ($700)
$6,900 with cables and sounds fabulous even at low volume. 
The downside is 8 w/ch. It won't make hard rock rock hard. 
Oops, typo. $7,900
Ohm Walsh 1000, halo integrated or best tube amp you can afford 
Hey @erik_squires , i actually live in a modest size NYC apartment. I've always opted for nice monitors and then integrated it into my living area but not with my tv (don't want to run the amps that often)

Great to hear, what did you end up buying??

So many options for components but one of my favorite speakers, when considering space constraints, are from the Horn Shoppe in North Carolina. Full range folded horn speakers (rear vented), utilizing fostex fe126en drivers. Very efficient and compact for a small tower speaker. Made to be placed in corners (good for small spaces). It's hard to believe the sound they produce from one small 4" driver. Careful though the maker (Ed Shilling) is right out of the "basket of deplorable's". It's okay, he'll be the first one to tell you that.
Re: Horn Shoppe speakers

Forgot to mention why I feel they sound so good :/ Imaging is excellent and speakers seem to disappear in room. These are great speakers for small spaces due to their size but can also fill up a much larger space with non fatiguing sound. You might also want to check reviews on his "Truth" preamp. Very unique design and very highly regarded.

Funny you should ask.  This is how I did it in the past year....all pre-owned gear for around $10,000.00.

Lavardin IT

Linn Ikemi

JM Reynaud Bliss Silvers

Vintage Linn LP12 in NM condition: upgraded the bearing to Cirkus, the sub-chassis to Majik, the power supply to Lingo2.

The Reynauds' sound sublime at low volumes...perfect for apartment living.  It took nearly 40 years but I finally got it right.  And now I'm free to spend my disposable income elsewhere.  Life is Good.

Haven't seen anyone mention Triangle speakers which are sensitive and tube-friendly.  I have the Triangle Colors run by a Red Wine Audio (no longer in production) integrated, 15 wpc, and a red wine audio DAC.  The speakers come with port plugs for bass tuning.   

Im a big fan of all-in-one systems too.  Bel canto, Naim, and Wyred 4 Sound all make integrated+DAC + something else.  Clever little boxes.  Matching speakers like some Proac monitors would be cool.  

@asahitoro : I think you nailed.  Great recommendations.  
Mark and Daniels  Topaz, Rubies or Sapphires (insanely refined, coherent, huge sound image masters from minimonitors) No sub needed. Mind boggling on IsoAcoustic Aperta stands.
bel canto DAC2.7 or 3.7 and CD3t 
bel cantor eOne series Ref500S  or Job 225
Cullen Cables power cords, ICs and SCs (very high value)
Gaming PC with great sound card and 4TB drive... connected to the DAC
The above takes very little space, is versatile , remote controllable and can fit on a side table top.  Totally does with realism chamber to EDM .  Add used TT if that's for you and you have space.

Triangles are best for buck around , sound like real music .

But, as far as I can see they no longer have distributor  in USA .
Love the super efficient, 99db, sound of Lowther Field Coil Drivers. . . Probably would put them in an open baffle such as this one from Nelson Pass http://www.firstwatt.com/pdf/art_slob.pdf
I'd combine it with a First Watt Amp. I'm sure it would be magical even at low volumes. 

- Steve
Right now I have Clearwave Duet 6 monitors powered by Marantz Reference integrated with matching SACD player and it sounds great. Looking forward to hearing the new Elac Adante monitors next month. Used to have anything from Legacy Classic speakers (too big) to Hornshoppe Horns to Decware Radials and MMGs.

Most anything can work if you're willing to give up some functionality and turn your living room into a dedicated listening room. Despite the small nature of apartment spaces, listening in the near field has its advantages.

All the best,

If you ever looked at Japanese audio magazines, you will see a lot of systems in tiny apartments that seem to defy logic--they are HUGE horn systems.  The reason for horns is that they actually sound fantastic at whisper quiet volume levels.  Aside from the footprint of the speakers themselves, these types of systems are quite apartment friendly.  They also tend to be very efficient, which allows for the use of the best sounding amps: low-powered pushpull or single-ended triode amps.

Another recommendation I have, in addition to those I mentioned earlier, for an apartment speaker is the Gradient Revolution.  This speaker can be configured (the bass section can be made to fire in different directions) for a fairly wide array of setup options, including against the back wall.  I have heard it sounding really good in a small room and at fairly low volume.  One downside is that it is not very efficient.

As per a number of my responses in other threads, I'm a Condo Dweller and have pondered variations of this thread for a number of years...

In building my own systems, I first identified speakers that were (1) condo/apt friendly and (2) had a "house sound" I could live with. I figured that speaker choice would then provide guidance for components. Other key points I needed to remember included that (1) my ceiling neighbor was the current HOA President and (2) my wall neighbor was the previous HOA President. And so, even though I lusted after Wilson Sashas, I knew it wasn't going to happen...

My current speakers Harbeth C7es3s paired with a Naim SuperNait2 in the great room (transparent Ultra RCA IC; NACA5 Speaker wire), and Harbeth P3esrs paired with a Linn Exotik/LK85 combo (AQ Niagara IC with AQ Bedrock Speaker wire) in my media room. Almost went with Focal 1008 BE, but preferred the C7s. In addition, I run a Naim unitiserve through both systems via a router/access point. I like the Naim/Linn "FlatEarth" sound, so all is good.

Lower cost alternatives to the Harbeths that I would consider would include Linn Majik 109s or Majik 140s; and Vandersteen IICes. Prior to the Naim SuperNait2, I had an Ayre AX-7e with Majik 109s.

Hope that helps...
courant, I l hear you, live in a condo as well .
My solution was to find a unit with a outside wall onto a 8 feet wide stairwell, and a 20 foot bedroom on the other side of my living room.
Floor is 3 feet of concrete as it is roof of underground parking. Haven’t heard anything from ceiling in 3 years so whatever it is OK.
No sweat to listen at normal volume at 3 AM . Took me over a year to find it .
.Oh, also put thick cork mat over inside of door .
Move out of the apartment and buy a house gives a lot more room,
might even be able too have 2 systems like me.