Best Bookshelf/Monitors Speakers? Suggestions

I am new to hifi, and looking for a pair for pair of bookshelf/monitor speakers, preferrably under 2k, to pair with a Mcintosh ma6450 100wpc. I was originally looking at the B&W CM1, but they are very inefficient(84db), so i was thinking about the CM5, or even the 805S ( both 88db). I feel like I am paying a lot for the name with B&W though, and may be missing out on more lesser known speakers.

I am not necessarily looking for the most accurate speaker, but rather a speaker that is dynamic and creates and wide and deep soundstage. bass extension is also important to me.

I have read about the proac tablette 8 sigs, reference 3a decapo, but im not sure if the de capos are a good choice with my ss amp, and if the tablette 8 sigs will have enough bass.

Obviously I would prefer to audition them, but if i can get a highly recommended pair of used speakers such as the decapo that would normally cost much more new, for the same price as a new pair cm5 (1500) i feel like id be better off. what do you think? Thanks for your help.

Extra infor that may be important:
I live in a high-rise so would like to avoid using a sub.
My Room is approx. 16x17.
Couch (main listening position) is about 8-10 feet from where the speakers will be.
Speakers will be about 7 feet apart.
Probably about 1 foot from the wall behind them.
The Reference 3a would do well,minimal crossover and good dynamics.Possibly the Gallo.Can you build a cabinet??
Maybe look into a pair of used Proacs. I had a pair of the 2.8 that I bought used from a dealer for about 2k. These were unbelieveably good sounding speakers. They had amazing bass response and were very effecient. I drove them with a VAC Rennaissance 70/70 signature tube amp. Imaging, soundstage, midrange and their new tweeters make this speaker a giant killer.
There are several Usher Be-718s (aka Tiny Dancer) available in your price range. They should satisfy you in terms of soundstaging and bass capabilities, and although they'd probably open up a bit more with more power I'd be surprised if you were unhappy given your stated preferences.

Also there are a few pairs of Silverline SR17s available as well, and they will also throw a wide and deep soundstage and probably be fine in the bass department as well.

Both of these manufacturers are well respected, and if it turned out they don't work for you you could sell them with no/minimal loss. B&W certainly makes good speakers, but given your stated preferences I'd go for one of these first. Proac is also a good choice.

One note, if you're really looking for a deep soundstage you'll need to pull your speakers out at least a couple feet more. With monitors it would be relatively easy to pull them out for listening and push them back when you're done, and that'll really let a good speaker open up quite a bit more. Once you try it you'll never go back.

Best of luck.
I'm selling a pair of ProAc Tablette Reference Sig's....if you live in the NYC area you could give them a try....
ProAC One SC. Great speakers! I had the One S years ago and went through speaker after speaker until I just purchased the One SC. They are keepers.
I agree, the Reference 3A De Capo i is an excellent speaker with tubes or solid state. I'm just wondering if a monitor will be enough for your room.

If your could possibly find a Meadowlark Osprey (floorstander), I think you'd be very pleasently surprised with it!
Sold Mac and B&W till 2001 so heard combo a lot and it's a good one.Depends on what price you want to go.Other speakers with true Brit sound to listen to would be Harbeth and Spendor.I like Silverlines but they are better with low power SS and tubes though 17.5 is a hell of a monitor like DeCapo.Like idea of Usher Tiny Dancer.But if B&W is where you want to stick thought CM7 with better oak than braced MDF of CM5 would be good if you don't want to shell out for 805S (I like them with Sound Anchors even if B&W stands look better).But if you can compare the excel;lent Revel M20/22 to 805.I think it edges it out at competitive $2K price point.Praoac and Dynaudio are good bets too.But don't knock idea of sub.Most people play them to loud.It may be that at low volume you want imaging from two way monitors but a good music sub like REL,MJ Acoustics etc. might be good.One speaker that would allow for very deep bass,have the imaging,and whose like like Usher is an over achiever it Totem Mani Two.Gallo's since mentioned are some folks dream ticket floorstander as it's not to big and delivers.Others don't like it but I think it's a good 5.1 choice.Me I'd choose Usher,Totem,Revel just from value standpoint.
thank you everyone for all the suggections. i am so surprised at how quickly i received so many responses and how helpful everyone is.

i am currently looking at the usher be718's and their US distributer is in Dallas about 5 minutes away from where i live so i can easily audition them. only problem may be is their reccomended power is 80-200 and my ma6450 is 100wpc... and in all honesty, i despise the look of their cherry side panels.

the reference 3a decapos seem like another possibility.

there are some proac tablette signature 50s on sale for 900 here on audiogon. would those be a good choice?
ok, so i was also looking at the gallo's. can i drive those with 100wpc? their sensitivity rating is 88db, but it just seems to me (with my very limited knowledge) that a speaker that size would need more power.
You should also look into Revel monitors. Although I wasn't taken with their looks, the discontinued M-20s were exceptional monitors. I haven't heard the M-22, which replaced the M-20, but they sure do look better.
Why are small floorstand speakers not a consideration?
the main reason i was not considering floorstanders is their versatility as far as placement options, now and in the future. also because i live in a highrise where space is an issue, as is noise transmission to the floor below.

the wall that i will be placing the speakers along is only 107 inches wide. i have an entertainment unit that is 72 inches wide in the center of this wall, which leaves only about 17 inches on each side. as someone mentioned earlier, i will obviously have to pull the speakers out when i listen to them but on one side of the wall i have a door way, and on the other, a wall of glass which leads to the balcony.

i must say though, that after reading about the gallo 3.1's i am very interested in them. i like what i have read about them, and i like the way they look. i may go listen to them tomorrow if i get a chance.

You gotten many good responds in regards to speakers, so I won't add any more to the list. But what I would recommend since on one side of your speakers you have a glass wall is that you get some lined curtains. The glass will play "hell" with your sonics unless you have some way to tame them. Heavy lined curtains can work very well. As far as your entertainment center, try to pull your speakers as far forward of the entertainment center as you can as it will improve your soundstaging. Actually you might what to audition some speakers that are a bit forward in nature to get a decent depth in your soundstage, since the entertainment center will probably inhibit any soundstaging behind the speakers. BTW, I live in a condo, and have an entertainment center between my speakers, so I do know of some issues that you face.

Thanks for the advice. Its funny you mention the curtains because I do have curtains and thought they would be a problem not a help.

Since we have a similar situation with our set ups, What speakers do you have in your system ?

Finally, anyone know if my mac ma6450 will be enough to drive the gallo 3.1?
mac ma6450 output is 100w in 4-ohm. it has no autoformers so in 8-ohm will be less than 100W (~50w).
- Highly recommend the Usher 718 Tiny Dancer first before buying.Unfortunately, they didn't work out for me.

- You gotta give the Totem a listen at

- I've got your front ends and your room size but gonna ask the type of music you are listening to.

- About adding a sub into 2-ch, not alot of people want it in their 2-ch system. Me neither, it was not on my system as well. But recently, just for trying it out, I have it lightly turned on very soft and low adding some bass to my speakers; I'm loving it. There's no law of physics say that you can't do it. I was in the same boat and I didn't like the theory but I chose to give it a try and I like it since. My front speakers produce very limited bass so....
If you can hear every notes of the bass guitar coming out between your 2 front speakers, you have your sub well tuned. Waiting for your feedback. Keep us update. Good luck.
The reason I asked about the floorstand speakers is I have been using a small room for my primary listening space for a long time. Many monitors have come and gone, some good ones too, and I always seem to go back to floorstand speakers.
Totem Hawks or Forests are exceptional speakers for their small size. I currently own Thiel CS-1.6s and Meadowlark Audio Kestrels, both of which take up less floor space than my stands. The Kestrel's in particular seem to be made for small rooms. Just my 2 cents.

My system is pretty modest (click on "system" after my name and you can see what I got) but currently I'm running a pair of Madisound speakers. Not bad sounding speakers, although at some point I would like to upgrade to something better (and not just different).

As for my suggestions on the curtains, I find that sound reflecting off a hard surface (such as glass) creates more a problem that sound being diffused/absorbed by a softer surface. In may condo, I have a sliding class door that leads out onto a balcony directly accross from my speakers. I've found that having a lined curtain across that door, I can better control the sound in the room, simply by how much I open or close the curtain.
As to your question concerning the Gallo 3/3,1,they can be driven using 25-40W.However,buy them used as I understand they need to be driven hard to break-in the woofers.
Listen to a pair of Linn Katans. They sound great even before you upgrade them to active. I could not beleive how good a small set of speakers can sound, and I've only liked big big speakers until I heard them. You can also bi wire & bi amp them if you wish.
Someone mentioned Totems, which I forgot to mention before and think is an excellent suggestion if you can find a dealer to audition.

If/when you go hear the Ushers and are concerned about synergy with your amp, why not take your amp along and have the dealer demo them together? Or even better arrange for the dealer to loan them to you for a weekend (always the best option, and relatively easy to do with monitors)? Any decent dealer should do that, and then you'd see whether your amp will produce the sound your looking for in your own room/system. I wouldn't dismiss the Ushers just because your amp puts out 100W -- you may find they work just fine together, and the Ushers are good enough to justify an amp upgrade in the future. I believe the Be-718s are available in different finishes if you didn't like the cherry. Don't mean to harp on the Ushers, but given your stated preferences I think it would be a shame if you didn't at least give them a listen.

If you have a big screen TV in the middle of your soundstage you should drape a blanket or comforter over it when you're listening -- same rationale as curtains over the windows.

Best of luck, and have fun.
I'd recommend you determine what 'sound' you like. For example,
1) if you like accurate with deepish bass, consider the Dynaudio:

2) If you like a little 'faster, wide open' sound, go with the Dicapos,

3) possibly smoother, strong bass, try the Ushers or the Fritzspeakers ScanSpeak 7 version. (May be tought to demo though)

4) I would also recommend a pair of Merlin TSMs which you can get around here for <1,500.

The Merlins would probably be my choice because of a couple of things including easier placement (but I prefer a paper based driver in the midrange, until you move up to well executed exotic materials, but we're startin' to talk about much more $.

Final recommendation would be these:, ... but the guy is in Ireland so I'm not so sure about that transaction.

Good stuff out there in the sub $1,500 market - decide if you definitely *DON'T* like a particular sound or material (ie the guy above commenting on the Usher, others may say Dynaudios aren't the best at lower level (hi-rise constrained) levels, others don't like metal mid-woofers, etc.

Good luck.
I'd be looking a used pair of Wilson Cub's near that range, used. You'll not find more refined, efficient, dynamic, and detailed, with superb soundstage and imaging for your needs, I presume! Anyway, anything else and you're looking at lesser in lots of performance area's. They have dual woofers, world class tweeter, built second to none, gorgeous finish work, and quality throughout. They also mate with Mac very well. It's a thought.
Basically, if I needed a pair of high end monitors, with lots of dynamics, snap, and super refinement and also acousticly (is that a word?) friendly woofer-tweeter-woofer design - and you found em near $2k used - I'd take em, yes!
Using the dual woofers helps greatly with many benefits acoustically. They do however sound best sitting down in front of them, rather than standing, depending.
Otherwise, some Dynaudio similar, Used Revel Gems for a bit more, JM Labs Mini Utopias for even a bit more.
I do like the dual woofers for your needs. Otherwise, larger woofer, simpler crossover, higher sensitivity, etc.
I'm sure I'll think of more after this post, likely.
These are as rare as hen's teeth these days on the 'Gon, but find a good used pair of Hales Revelation One's and place them on a pair of Sanus 22" Ultimate Foundations and you are there. They will serve your music very well, and with your Mac driving them, no sub required, I can assure you. -jz
01-08-09: Farjamed
there are some proac tablette signature 50s on sale for 900 here on audiogon. would those be a good choice?

I am trying some Proac Tablette 50 Signatures at the moment. In comparison to PMC and B&W Nautilus 805 bookshelves that I've owned, the Proacs are very detailed and have a very lively sound but have limited bass response. The midrange is quite forward and imaging is fantastic. For the price the Tablette 50 Sigs punch above their weight and can compete with bookshelves which are more costly. I prefer the sound of the Proacs over the B&Ws. You definitely need a subwoofer for these small speakers in your 16'x17' room and it will make a huge difference.