John I don't want to throw a monkey into your wrench, but it is virtually impossible to get low bass when listening at low volume. One does not have to be listening at 90dB to get bass, but music has to be above casual conversation volume.
I wonder if we're talking about the same thing? If not, please ignore my comments...
any quality loudspeaker can do what you want provided your pre or integrated or receiver has full function tone controls. this speaks to the absurdity that most hi end companies abandoned these, while a few refined them. they always were a plus to those who couldn't rock out at any hour.
Audio Physic Virgo IIs. Very detailed at low volume, bass is a bit rich, which will help a bit with loudness at low volumes. Also, consider speakers with rearward firing woofers, like Linn Espek or Verity Audio. By varying the distance from the wall, you can significntly vary the amount of bass, and therefore, the amount of loudness.
Or you can get a Behringer DEQ24/96 for $400 and dial up your own loudness equalization curves. This is a VERY transparent piece of equipment.
Or a receiver with a loudness button, but if you're willing to spend 5 figures, this is prob'ly not going to do it for you.
In case you don't understand what we're getting at, it's the fact that the human ear is non-linear, and at low volumes is not as ensitive to high and low frequencies as at normal or concert volumes. Therefore, if you want to enjoy music at low volume, the system should be a bit bass and treble heavy at high volumes.
You are also right in seeking out something with excellent detail retrieval
A cool bedroom system could be a Mcintosh Integrated and second hand Watt-Puppy6s
Shahinian Hawks or Diapasons would fit the bill. Mine pass the WAF factor for our earth tone living room. They wouldn't work in a glossy modern room. For the money, they are probably the best speaker for classical music available.
I am happy to see that the caps don't seam to bother you today.Sorry for the rest of you guys,he knows what I am talking about,once I posted in caps(no big deal,in my opinion)and he jumbed in from nowhere to flame me,that was rude.
I am in a similar situation and listen to the same types of music. My roon is a little larger, but I listen to music late at night after everyone goes to sleep. Every once and a while on the weekends I get a chance to listen a higher volume--which is fun! I went through a number of speakers and finially landed on a pair of Verity Audio Fidelio's. I find them to be so true to the music--these speakers will pull you in and make you feel like you are sitting about ten rows back. The soundstage is very deep and layered and the detail at low volume to my ears is exceptional. There are speakers that will make you think you are sitting in the first row, but to my ears they sound a little compressed. The rest of my system is a Cary V-12R with the oil cap upgrade and an Audio Aero Capitol mk2 CDP.Hope this helps, it is just one persons opinion, and there are sure to be many. Let your ears make the finial call!
Nrchy has a very valid point, which is that the ear is much less sensitive to bass than to midrange especially at low volume levels. A 20 or 30 Hz tone at 60 dB is inaudible. At 80 dB a 30 Hz tone is audible, but a 20 Hz tone is only barely audible. I'm not sure what you mean by "low volume", but it's quite possible that the extra money you spend to get down to 20 Hz will be pretty much wasted.
As far as speakers that excel in articulation at low volume levels, traditionally electrostats and high efficiency systems do very well in this area. Unfortunately, I don't know of any suitably small electrostatic or high efficiency speakers that offer the kind of bass extension you're asking for.
One of the things to watch out for is this: Often the drivers in a given multiway loudspeaker have differing power compression characteristics. The designer has probably adjusted their relative loudness levels to sound best at medium to high volume levels, but this may be at the expense of good tonal balance at very low volume levels. Have you ever noticed that some speakers sound great at medium-high volume levels, overly bright at very high levels, and dull and lifeless at very low volume levels? These are symptoms of the tweeter having less power compression than the woofer.
The most articulate low-level speaker I know of is the Sound Lab line of full-range electrostats (which I peddle - surprise, surprise). The M-3 is the smallest, but the A-3 is better looking. If either might interest you let me know, as I have access to some used but fully refurbished pairs at very attractive prices. www.soundlab-speakers.com
Best of luck in your quest!
Look into the Von Schweikerts dB99. They are a high efficiency speaker which tend to work well at low volumes, they look pretty cool and they have built in subs to dial the bass up to your tastes. I have never heard them, but have read good things about them. I would also suggest some high efficiency designs to do what you want. I have some older klipsch speakers. They are 100dB efficient and excel at low volume with nice impactful bass.
I remember reading a review a couple or years ag in The Absolute Sound about a speaker from Dali that the reviewer said had incredible low level sound quality. I'll try and find it today and tell you the model.
Check out high-endaudio.com for what a speaker should do at low volume.
Geo--Can you shout in CAPS at low volume? Wink and a nod, Trip
JHWalker the reason for my annoyance was that all caps is ALOT harder to read, but I just figured you didn't care about those from whom you wanted help.
I just got Zu Definitions. They're 101 db efficient at 6 ohms and fear no volume, or lack thereof.
Part of my demo to others is to play a known song, and about halfway through to turn the volume down. And down, and down, and down. They literally need to be *almost* off before the full range is lost. I haven't had the speakers long, but the 4 people I've demo'd them to have all been most impressed with this element of their performance.
I credit this to the lack of any crossover elements at all from 40 hz to 12 khz - no electronics to get fussy with signal transfer. And, no inefficient drivers of different properties trying to get along.
These also have 4 powered 10" sub drivers in back. There's no crossover setting, but gain is easily adjustable via rear-mounted volume control.
They are very detailed, but not in the typical way. Nuanced would be more appropriate.
Call Sean at Zu. If there's someone in your area who's got them, he'll probably put you in touch.
Audiokinesis's post is worth reading twice. One solution for your situation might be a pair of Omega Speakers stand mounts with a sub. You then have a single driver covering most of the range that has no crossover or different cones and domes to match up at a certain volume and you have a sub to cover the bass which you can turn the volume up to it independently to suit your taste. It might sound a little out of whack at higher volumes but that's not what you are looking for and if you do want to, just turn the sub back down. Good luck.
I would third Audiokinesis. The fact that the electrostats have one crossover point between the pannel and woofer make for a more seamless blend between the two. I'm not terribly familiar with the SoundLabs but with judicious use of tone controls you can usually make an electrostat sound very full at low volumes without being congested assuming the pannel is covering a large enough portion of the spectrum.
Do keep in mind that most electrostats are funny about room placement so you will need some freedom of movement away from front and side walls.
I'm going to fourth, fifth, sixth, or whatever Nrchy and Duke are pointing out.
Lower volumes, without some sort of equalization will not get you where you are trying to go. The answer lies not only in your speakers, but what comes ahead of them. I will say that no matter what loudspeakers you choose, the right amplification will go a long way towards giving you a sense of weight or not. From what I see and hear, most of what I hear these days does not.
To Trejla's point... an amp/system, that is known to me, that works very well **with the right speaker** at conveying music at low volume is the DNM gear.
My choice for this application would be the Merlins VSM- MX speakers. Small footprint, gorgeous sound at low, medium and high levels, excellent soundstaging, easy to drive and stunningly good looking. There are literally hundreds of speakers that "might" work - these WILL warm your soul with their musicality and presentation.
Try the Andra II or III, if you want smaller get
the II, you dont need to listen in high volume
to please you with this speakers.I play the
music like you.
Trleja, I totally agree with you,with the right amp
and speaker combination,you will accomplish, all
the attribute He is looking for.Ex Andra hook
it Krell 600, BAT 500 with BATPAK, or Mark Levinson
335,PLINIUS 250 but maybe your budget will not allow you.But
it can be done.Thanks
Nice post,Duke--as usual. I too hate caps.I never read everything that the thread starter had to say.Does not a pre with a linear volume control help in this area,as well??--Along with all the right pieces??
Relating to what Nrchy and other have said, I remember 20 + years ago when graphic equalizers were common components. Now you dont even see full bass and treble on some preamps. Wouldnt a good old graphic equalizer help with making low volume sound "more hi-fi"
Thank you, Glide3 and Jacytoy.
I am more than a little curious about the DNM equipment. They offer a lot of interesting ideas in terms of their approach. Can you please share with me a bit of your insight as to the sonics of these components, Glide3? I hope to one day be able to listen to this company's products.
I have found that tone/loudness controls to be appropriate in many an application, regardless of whether they are accepted by the "experts" or not. That they have become taboo boxes us into a dangerous corner. Given the number of audiophiles I encounter listening at low volume, I am most surprised why more companies do not implement good tone/loudness controls, more audiophiles do not use them, and why I see such a faint amount of discussion of the Fletcher - Munson Curve.
My old Jadis Orchestra Reference came with bass and treble controls, and the often came in handy. More often than not, at low volumes, though I tended to listen at about 90 dB+. The DA30 that replaced it does not have these, but instead offers up a most unique sound for today. It sounds incredibly rich and warm, and while they seem to be terms thrown around with abandon, I can assure everyone, the amp sounds like VERY little that is produced these days. What I mean is that there is a most definite weight and body to the bass and lower midrange that exerts exactly the kind of sound that I was alluding to earlier.
THIS has finally led me to be able to listen to music at low volumes in an enjoyable manner. And, it is what has shown me that for the most part, this sound comes not from the loudspeaker, but the amplification of one's system.
Sorry about the caps. As Nrchy, Avguy, and others have flamed me about. I think I had just placed an ad which I used all Caps for effect, and this carried over to my post. I get the point, and I promise to be good from now on.
I gave up on B&W Nautilus series for exactly this reason ... they DEMANDED big watts to let them breathe ... opening up music by factors ... when often I simply wanted to enjoy what they could do without big sound ... simply not possible. Got rid of them, bought subbed Taylo Refs ... of course, that was in 2000, I think, which is code for "a long time ago"
I have the DNM PA3S amp and the 3Dsix pre (I'm not sure there are any other sixes in the states at this time) along with all DNM cables and I use the Resolution Audio Opus 21 into the 3Dsix via DIN to DIN (this bypasses the VC of the Opus)
I also have a Nottingham Dais w/12'anna and 47/Miyabi cart.
This all terminates into a pair of John Tuckers 102db Exemplar Horns.
(I have used the DNM gear in many different systems and with many combinations of non dnm gear...while it clearly works best as a system it is excellent in many contexts...as long as normal rules of component compatibility are adhered to)
For sound...I would refer you to the Art Dudley reviews done in Stereophile as he does a much better job of describing the sound than I could. Keep in mind however that the preamp that he raves is two levels below the 3Dsix
Simply put they play music...and from a completely black background. This super low noise floor is perhaps one of their keys to great low level performance.
I suppose it is the sense of immediacy and the spot on tonality that most impress me.
With the right speakers they are about as good as it gets IMHO.
The 3Dsix may be the best pre-amp I've owned...I've owned many :-)
The unit has a world class headphone amp and an excellent MC phono stage that is not embarassed by either the Wavestream Kinetics or ASR Basis exclusive phonostages.
The downsides are the obvious power limitations (22w) although they play more like a tube 22w than SS.
They completely miss the mark with US sensibilites around audio...no remote, they are small, they are plastic, increadibly light in weight and of a...let's say retro looking design....did I mention they are plastic! I love all this about them. and they are absolutely a form follows function design. As a result of the above, along with the general lack of awareness of the product and it's excellence in the US, they have not proven to have good resale.
This is good or bad depending on which end of the transaction you find yourself.
This is actually what got me started with DNM a few years ago....I bought one of their old pre-amps for a song and was blown away by what it did -vs- the multiples times as expensive pre I was using at the time.
Obviously I'm an advocate and my experience with Denis and Martin Moorecroft has been stellar...along with Jeff Kalt of Resolution...who BTW is a great source of knowledge regarding the design behind the gear and the gear itself.
If you find yourself in the Bay Area stop in
Now if I can ever find a pair of Rhedeko 175's I may never come up for air.
Mitch, a GOOD graphic equalizer would probably serve an audiophile well.
The only trouble is that I've tried a few when they were more in vogue, and the results were always less than good. They simply took many good things away from the music (dynamics, slam, liquidity) and added just as many bad things (noise, distortion, harshness, brightness). I loaned a friend one about a month or so ago, with the proviso that if he liked/loved it, simply consider it a gift. I told him to expect poor results. We talked not even a day later, and he let me know it was utterly awful.
This sort of goes along with my opinions on preamps, I've yet to hear one that sounded better than no preamp. The best of them still do what I just described, only to a far lesser degree. Of course, anyone spinning vinyl or needing to correct other flaws certainly can make a case for using a preamp.
It would be interesting if a company offered a GOOD graphic equalizer. I'd be game for an audition. The Cello units from the past were supposedly on that level, perhaps someone can chime in with what their impressions were of them, as I have never heard one.
When Jadis introduced the Orchestra Reference, they were making a statement in the way of tone controls. It took some guts, but they aren't a company that with the herd mentality. They haven't put them into anything else in the product line, and have since introduced another JOR model sans tone controls. I will say that I found them worthwhile, and was not afraid to be considered part of the great unwashed by having them. I liked them a lot, and they often came in handy when the wife or friends wanted to hear some boom boom woof woof ala what the rest of the world considers good sound.
Graphic equalizers usually do more things whong than right. Because the signal has to pass through so many bands of equalization it vails and colors the music in a big way.
Properly designed tone controls concentrate on a small part of the spectrum that makes the most difference. Some manufacturers are also using a tilt spectrum control that acts like an equalization see-saw. It boosts the bass while attenuating the treble or vice versa. I think that the new NAD Masters series integrated amp is selectable between traditional tone controls, tilt, and tone defeat.
When speakers have to be placed in less than ideal locations in a room for livability/WAF reasons the tone controls can be really useful to make the bass a little less congested when it is dictated that the big @ssed speakers will go a little closer to the wall so that decorative knick knacks are not obstructed.
I've heard Quads that at low volumes were the best sounding speaker I've heard..(actually at about any volume) also very nice with classical music.
The good bass into the 20Hz range, small size and no sub woofer really limits your options. I second the above mention of the Verity and Egglestons, but would add the Gallo Reference 3. If you were willing to accept bass down to only 35Hz you would greatly increase the number of possible choices.
Of the three pairs of speakers currently in my living room, both the Thiels and the Green Mountain Europas do a good job at low volume (the Europas are best). The Harbeths--not good. FWIW, both the Thiels and the Europas sport first-order crossovers.
Wait...stop right here...isn't it a violation of some audiophile code of ethics somewhere to listen at "low" volumes?? How do you stay awake??
However, when I do listen at lower volumes and it's time for a nap, my custom Fostex with ribbon tweeter and my REL Stentor perform just fine (w/Korneff 45 amps).
I think you may have a problem with bass overload in a room of only 210 sq ft. with speakers that can go down to the 20Hz range. Also, they'll have to be pulled out from the walls a good bit to sound decent. In your case, I think monitors and a sub would work out better. With the sub, you can tailor the bass response to the room better than full-range speakers will let you. Otherwise, try speakers with a 40Hz lower limit.
Carolina Audio (carolinaaudio.com) JSM and if your lucky enough to have Ronny find a pair of Jordan 7" metal driver's for a transmission line sub.
There is more to bass then just volume. There is so much detail that is simply missing in most speakers.
I have had a few Fried transmission line subs, some with
Fried drivers, some with Peerless drivers.
While either one would play a little louder then the Jordan's, none of them can match the detail, the jump factor, the aliveness.
Not even my old MG III's or Apogee Caliper's could reproduce bass like those Jordan's.
Until you have heard what most audiophile's have been missing you and most here couldn't understand. Music from Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, etc really show off what most audiophiles really miss.
So yes. Good (proper) bass can be had without the need
for LOUD speakers.
No! Not that crap that passes for bass now a days.
You know the garbage that comes out of most car systems
and HTIAB. That's not bass. That's boom boom crap.
Once again I want to mention the Von schweikert dB99's.
They have a powered system for the 10" drivers that are designed to assist ones own amp and they are spec'd down to 20 Hz. They are 99dB efficient which helps with nice dynamics even at low volume, they have the size and looks that will work and cost new what he is willing to pay.
I can't say I've heard them but have read some great reviews on them and would like to.
Ah, now here in Krellm7's recommendation I have FINALLY found a suggested speaker I will agree with. Electrostatics!
That being said, most electrostatics do not meet the 20 Hz bass/no subwoofer requirement, and they certainly do not meet the WAF requirement. But, no matter how much we hope, pray, beg, borrow, or spend, there is no perfect speaker in the world. Regardless of price range. You do as well as you can, and I think the electrostatics may come closest to what you are searching for sonicwise.
The rest of what I say will cause a lot of people to come out of the woodwork after me with the most vehement opposition... What I hear when I listen to electrostatics is far, far different from how the "conventional wisdom" describes them. Not ultra fast, ultra open, ultra detailed, ultra neutral, or any of the ultra terms normally thrown out there. NONE of that. I hear rich, warm, relaxed, and easy to listen to. Especially at low volumes. Rich and warm above all else, but then, from what we were angling for in a lot of our posts is exactly that. What I call the "pipe and slippers" sound. So, I think that the electrostatic recommendation is particularly brilliant with the aforementioned caveats.
That is an apt description of the electrostatic sound. They will sound that way if you tell them to with your choice of preamp and amplifier. Like em, love em, or hate em the electrostats are telling of the equipment they are connected to.
If you are going to smoke your pipe (or anything else around them) do keep in mind that the panels will build up a residue that can't be removed. They will sound muted and congested (becasue they are physically congested with tar) because teh woofer is relatively unaffected while the panel is opperating at a far reduced efficency.
If you want truly full range at low volumes you should try the new Vandersteen Quatro. It's amazing! You'll have the ability to tune the bass to your preference in addition to getting the best imaging and natural sound possible for the price.
Good luck in your search!
I'll second the Vandersteen Quatro's! They just sound right to me! Real speakers that do it all. Gotta love Vandersteens!
I'll throw in my opinion too. I just changed from Merlin VSM-M to Tyler Acoustic Signature system one piece. The Tyler is a full range speaker and I much prefer it to the VSM-M. I will be selling the Merlin's.
Put Vandersteen Quatro & Opera Audio M-15 on your list.
Check out Gallo Reference 3
Graphic equalizers are bad, sure. But have any of you guys thought about the x-overs in your speakers? They're doing damage too. And worse too since they come after the power amp.
What's your point Cdc ?????
I think I know what Cdc is saying. A traditional gfraphic EQ is very similar, circuit wise, to a series of crossovers wired together, so a crossover in the speakers does similar damage to the music signal. I suppose he may also be making a pitch for single driver speakers.
Honest1, yes single drivers but also speakers like the Andra I which ran the midrange with no x-over. Also active speakers are a big step up in absolute sound quality (at least theoretically, whether you like the end result is another thing) since the x-over is before the power amp.