Audiogon member suggestions for a speaker that sounds good at low volume!!!


I am looking for speaker suggestions (new or used) in the $1000-$4000 range that sound good at low volume (45-50db).  I listen to mostly jazz and classical music late at night while everyone else is sleeping so the volume is low.  My current speakers are Vandy 2CE sigs and they sound good at higher volume levels but I listen most critically, at low volume and hope to do better.  My amp is a Classe CT-2300 with a Classe CP-800 preamp. I have a larger room 20ft X 20ft but seldom listen to music loud. Monitor of floor standing is fine.  

I understand the limitation of human hearing (Fletcher-Munson Curve) and also an appreciation of the synergy of speaker design, speaker placement and room effects.  Anyone out there have a speaker they like at low volume?

Thank you in advance.


0faf33e0 81db 4b8b 93c4 563be307f7762tuby
Post removed 
Start by narrowing down your speaker choices to those with high efficiency (94db+) and you'll be okay. 

Two that I have experience with are Tonian Labs TL-D1s and JBL 4319 monitors. Both really come alive at higher volumes (all speakers do) but they play very well at low volumes.

All the best,
Nonoise
A library is 44db. For a room that large, you might want to consider near-field listening with the speakers a few feet out from a corner. Also, the cleaner the power, the clearer the music at low level. Get the noise floor to disappear.

Once I visited a set-up where the audiophile had his Martin Logan electrostatics about 4 feet apart - facing each other - with his head in the middle. They were like giant headphones. The soundscape was phenomenal. The bass was minimal - but everything else sounded great. It was very impressive. From 10 ft away, you didn’t even know the stereo was playing.
Any good speakers should sound good at low volume , excellent at modest volume and at least very good at higher volume. But you lose bass at low volume, not all of it but enough, perhaps it's not a concern. Also, I would suggest speakers with woofers located away from the floor, at the top half of the speakers. I prefer this design, anyway.
Treo or the new carbon tweeter VLR
i listen at low levels at nite in our condo to Treo CT
working your room and system noise floor
essential

I would recommend looking at Harberh and Tannoy speakers. 

On the recommendation for high efficiency speakers, in my experience with Tekton and some expensive horn models, they did not sound good at low volumes - it became all tinny treble. I understand in theory they should work better but that hasn’t been my experience. 

+1 for Tannoy.  Also Triangle speakers.
I suggest you  take a look bache002 ,  if you go to Brooklyn to listen and like it 
you can get 2 weeks trial time
In a 20'x20' room, assuming a normal (7'-10' triangle) seating/speaker arrangement, you won't hear much music at 45-50dB, just like elevator background music. I may be the first person to say this, but I wouldn't waste time//money on quality speakers  and get some good headphones instead. If you insist on speakers, I'd suggest stand mounts with a pair of subwoofers.
Quad 57's sound fine at low volume!
I use a pair of Wharfedale 80th Anniversary Dentons for low level classical listening in my bedroom at night and these sound as if there is full bandwidth at sub 50 dB SPLs. Save yourself some bux and try a pair. They are a great value for low level listening. I power them with an NAD 326BEE integrated and it is just right.
Get headphones as no speaker sounds that good so low.Good luck though.
My omega speakers sound very full at 50db
Hi 2tubey,

I agree with Inna that good speakers should sound good at low volume. 

If you like the Vandys otherwise; then maybe you need to look at the amp/preamp?

Thanks for listening,

Dsper
Whatever speakers you might purchase, keep this in mind, regarding how things sound at low volume levels(vs high): https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/fletcher-munson-curve/  AND: https://www.teachmeaudio.com/recording/sound-reproduction/fletcher-munson-curves/
I would consider adding something like a Schiit Loki, so I can adjust the amount of bass/treble.
Listening a very low levels will impact the lower frequencies most as the woofers aren't being pushed to the same degree as when listening at normal levels.
Of course, you could always add subwoofers and add bass to taste.
B

As some have already suggested mains & sub 2.1 setups are great for low level listening. Nice thing is, you get to choose your response. A lot of listeners have and are moving to 2.1 speaker setups.

Michael

http://www.michaelgreenaudio.net/tunable-speakers

Let me know if you want to get rid of those 2ce’s ;)
I'd recommend on Harbeth
Those quoting spl would help by stating how you are arriving at that...
RS analog SPL
and calibrated b&K into Audio Tools RTA on the iPad 

the ipad built in mic, and my iPhone are off by a scant 10db

of course, yourmilagemay vary

Tannoy, Tannoy and Tannoy - not only they sound incredible but they keep their value as well.
If you buy anything else you will loose money in the long term - like most the audiophiles on this forum. There is a good reason why Vintage Tannoy speakers keep increasing in value, although there are plenty of those speakers made ( more than studio JBL, Altec Jensen.....).  So, you can't loose if you buy vintage Tannoy speakers - if you don’t like them you can always resell them on the open market and even make an extra cash for yourself. However, keep in mind that most the audiophiles who had sold their Tannoy speakers, have eventually regretted it later. Good luck.
QUAD Z2 with Benchmark Amp and DAC3
jmolsberg 

omega speakers sound wonderful at lower levels, I  recommend the High Out Put versions though for more complex music though and the regular ones for jazz and the like.  wonderful speakers for the money, huge sound scape (I use sound scape as they image better then any speaker I've heard your in the  performance). 

Generally speaking I think higher efficiency speakers play better at low volumes vs inneficient speakers. Though I wouldn't underestimate the influence of a power amplifier. For example, I was very impressed by the Modwright KWA-150SE which has excellent inner detail, resolution and control at low volumes. Plus that amp sounds tube-like and musical, and is very well built. Just the addition of an amp like the Modwright might very well give you the sound you're looking for.
Agree with ebm. Get headphones. No speaker sounds good at that volume. 
Tekton would be a good way to go..
www.tektondesign.com
I like my ESL’s. Quad 2905’s. But there is a cautionary thread currently active. Still, with your taste in volume, you might be just fine, as I am.

Don't let people tell you that you should listen to music loud. So what if you have better hearing? They're your ears!
I too prefer lower listening levels. 65 Db is perfect for me
I use near field Tannoy FSMs in a 14 x 18 room pulled 30"
off the back wall and using a 1-1.2 arrangement ratio.
Sounds pretty good to me even at the lower volumes.
The points mentioned about hi efficiency and quality power
merit attention.
I have low powered 15w valve playing into LS3/5a falcon 15ohm - great for near field but as others have said (and you are sitting fairly static) headphones could make better choice

esp headphones that are less tiring - I use AKG712 keep my toes tapping and might be more immersive
Amps are important here. For example in my system newer Bryston amps are more "efficient" at lower volume levels than older ones. There is a technical reason for this which I cannot remember, but it does impact on easy listening at lower volumes. 
I also prefer low volume listening. I have Tannoy Legacy Eaton and uses a tube amp with them. I absolutely love them. 

Post removed 
Another vote for high efficiency speakers. I have a 2.1 configuration using Omega speakers/sub paired with a Decware amp. Low level listening is a joy with this combination.
At the higher end of your budget would be DNA2's by DecWare, they run $3800 and would be competitive with speakers in the $8-10,000 range. I own a set and at both lower and higher listening levels they are outstanding, very efficient I'm thinking around 96-96db, also check out their guarantee and trial, Good luck in your search.

ScottNC
JBL 4367 sound very good at low volume.
Any LS3/5A type of speaker should sound good at low level listening. SPENDOR, Harbeth, Stirling, Falcon, etc., etc.!
You could go with an integrated with a nice loudness control, like some of the current Yamaha offerings, if you want to keep your speakers, otherwise I find that some of the Dynaudios fit this profile.
Quad, Tannoy and Ref 3a Decapo, all have great low level resolution. I’m sure there are others examples outside my experience but something to keep in mind in considering your options, the fewer obstructions in the signal path the more articulate and clear the presentation particularly at lower levels.
I heard Zus playing at Music Direct at low volume and I was blown away. Never heard speakers so alive, detailed and dynamic at such a low volume.
I want to thank all who replied,  I will search the threads and see what makes sense to me. 

Initial thoughts - No headphones, yes to high sensitivity, maybe a sub?

I have been a stereo listener and enthusiast for many, many years and feel that there are a great many audiophiles out there who do listen al lower volumes. (I no longer wish to hear "Stairway to Heaven" at 100 db.) I hope that speaker companies might start to look at designing speakers for low volume listening. 

It is 9:30 pm and I currently an listening to the European Jazz Trio (Sonata) at 52db -  wonderful.

Diapason Micra and Ateris are beautiful sounding but also very revealing speakers for low volume. Totem Sky is another. I use them regularly driven by a Paradigm PW AMP and sometimes added with small sub. You may also like the active pro-speaker Neumann KH80 (a bargain). Just a thought - are you really sure about your listening level - 45-50 db is very low.
52 dB in the listening chair with a high efficiency speaker = no range on the volume control....

just math
My sound meter is a cell phone app.  I do not think a "two point calibration " is an option, so it is a very questionable number. :)
Post removed 
@tomic601

Your mostly right. However from my experience an Amp with a volume knob that has many steps will allow a high efficency speaker to work at low levels. The Lyngdorf 2170 is a great choice for instance where as the Primaluna Premium Dialogue was terrible at low volumes, mostly because of the high gain and lack of volume knob steps.
2tuby. My guess have looked at a few but not statistically valid sample of cell and ipad spl apps using the built in mic is that they tend to be about 10 dB low
fwiw, my guess you are listening in the low 60’s
i think the Lyngdorf might be an exception, will have to study how the volume control is implemented- many attenuate at low levels buy reducing bit depth and therefore resolution, exactly what we want to avoid here.
... but “ mostly right “ is a new level of achievement for me, I plan to quote you in my annual letter to Santa, I always CC my spouse....
ha


2tuby next time you are up late nite listening, measure background ambient, your s to n very important also, then let’s start identifying things to reduce/attenuate, eliminate. My problem w Condo system is crashing surf - 45 dB ish... good for Beach Boys, Beethoven not so much...

also, Fletcher Munson might have ya back the 2 closer to wall to get more coupling, Room reinforcement... this will be a pragmatic physical experiment, can also argue why this is not a good idea...try it

best to you

jim
A speaker with elevated highs and bass wouldn't sound so great at normal levels...no free lunch! The "Fletcher-Munson" issue is unavoidable as it’s a reality of human hearing. I have  Klipsch Heresy IIIs that work better than some at low levels, but still...the Schiit Loki is an easy and low impact solution...I use one from time to time, but if I’m seriously listening to something I want every detail getting to my earballs so I generally, even late at night, get to a level that’s not particularly loud but I can hear everything without the Loki in the loop.
Anyone with experience of the Tannoy mini Autographs? Very tempted to try them as desk-top speakers for mostly low-level listening.
I have owned a lot of dipole speakers, and many monkey coffins. Personally I like a combination of art with my music. I am extremely happy with my Emerald Physics KCIIs (94dB)

Also you get a BOM which is an equalizer fr bass. EP sells them.