Best of the small speakers

I'm looking for a small, preferably floorstanding speaker that will integrate well with my current system and room. My main source is a California Audio Labs CL-20 DVD/CD player, through a Rotel RC-995 preamp, into a McCormack DNA 0.5 Deluxe (which will be upgraded to Revision B by Steve McCormack himself in the very near future). My current speakers are Magnepan 1.6QRs. While I absolutely love many of the Maggies traits, they don't seem to integrate well into my fairly small listening space. As far out from the wall as I can move them, about 30 inches, I still get what sounds to me to be a fairly ragged frequency response. For reference, I have pretty electic listening tastes, from baroque to bebop to bluegrass, but the majority of my music is fairly complex, with many simultaneous melodic or rhythmic lines, on both acoustic and electric instuments. Accurate, timbrally-true bass is more far more important to me than rattling the windows. Any suggestions for speakers roughly in the Maggie's price range ($1500-$2500) which you feel would fit well into my system would be appreciated. Just trying to narrow down my shopping list. One speaker which has drawn my attention is the Thiel CS 1.5s, but I know there must be others I am missing! Thanks in advance for the help!!!
Meadowlark Kestrals if the room is smaller than 12 x 15. Paragon Acoustics Radiants, or Meadowlark Shearwaters if it's bigger than that. BUT, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, you need to have proper room treatments, or you'll never have smooth in-room response, no matter the speaker. I have Maggie MMG's, among others, and you just aren't hearing anything without ASC Frescoes behind the Maggie (with additional rounds in the corners really smoothing out the bass response, and speed). I realize that the 1.6's tweeters are perhaps already a little too padded down for this (without any resistors), so with them it might be a lost cause. Anyway the reason to move away from Maggies is if you like to get as much dynamic contrast as possible, when listening QUIETLY (they don't come alive as well when quiet). Or, if you need to be fairly close to them (since they don't launch sound coherently until further away from the panel). Good luck.
I believe i know why you don't like maggies...they sound too "analitical" Looking at your system, you need "laid back" speakers. I never listened Meadowlark...but i heard all best (i am considering them for myself)although with low powered tube, or low powered solid state(which i have) I would suggest Vandersteen 3A. It is THE speaker, you are asking for. and with Mc Cormack, you can provide enough of "juice" to drive them.
...if too big 2ce would do just fine. I am considering here, your musical taste...not size of the speakers Good Luck!
My first choice would be the Silverline SR17, though it may be a little out of the price range. Also very good are the Joseph Audio RM signatures. Clean, open, downright musical. Other choices would be the Soliloqy 5.3s, or some of the Proac Studio 150s or 250s, or some Montana SPs if you could find them.
A speaker that is modestly priced($750.) and was part of a 2nd 5khifi system that I have sold is the Energy eXL 26's.I even tried them in my 15K hifi system and they sounded very good.I actually upgraded my top system speakers after that.The better the gear the better that they perform.Worth a listen,if you can.As posted above,the Vandersteen 3a's have a great sound and following.You definitely should consider the Signatures as they bring everything up a subtle but obvious notch.To keep in your budget ,buy the 3a's and later they can be upgraded.The site describes the pricing and improvements.Read the review at soundstage,that compares the regular with the Sig.Another speaker that is modestly priced($2195 pr.) and was so highly acclaimed by Stereophile that it made a solid a rating is the Hales Revelation 3's.You can read a review on them at audio revolution.I also am planning on upgrading my DNA 1 Dlx. in the near future.happy hunting.
Dunlavy SM-1 monitors are the most impressive monitor we have ever heard. PLEASE compare them to B&W N805 (Stereophile runner up spkr of the year!).
if ya like the maggies, take carl's advice & go for something sound-absorbent behind them, before buying new speakers. this will help them a lot, especially in a small room. regarding new speakers, other than the vandersteens, which i don't care for, i'd agree w/the others. there's a *ton* of speakers in this price range that are excellent. my personal choice would be to get small monitors on stands, instead of floor-standing speakers. you mite give up a few hz at the bottom, but this should not be much of an issue in a smaller room, & the *rest* of the sound will generally be better - better depth/soundstage/clarity, etc. for example, i really like the hot-rod kestrals, but i like the proac tablette signatures better. i'd *really* like to hear the proac sc1's! other monitor speakers i like are the aerials, the meret ankhs & re's (discontinued, sometimes available used), totems, & diapasons.
Check out the Alon by Accarian line of speakers.
Some others worth mentioning are the Arro and Sttaf from Totem Acoustic for floorstanders, but I would concur with some of the other statements about stand mounted monitors. The Merlin TSM SE is a great speaker for imaging and goes down a reasonable bit, as does the Totem Model 1 Signature and even the non-signature version, but the Sig. is a better speaker. Depending on your tastes the B&W N805 and the Sonus Faber Signum are good choices also. As with anything else in your system, try before you buy.
I truly understand your interest in speakers for smaller rooms. Many high end speakers I've heard do better in larger rooms (in the far field response). I've personally had speakers with larger woofers easily overwhelm smaller rooms with resonant underdamped lows. It's also a basic principle of physics that larger speaker elements (magnetic and electrostatic panels) are more directional and require a greater distance for their natural diffractive spread. An an absence of nearfield wall and ceiling reflections is needed to integrate most speakers properly for correct response and imaging. To many of the excellent sugestions above I'd like to add two of my favorites for smaller rooms: Proac and Spendor. Both can be purchased with silk dome tweeters whose smooth non-resonant highs sound natural and are not fatiguing to the ears at close proximity. Both have surprising lows for their sizes and smooth natural responses in the midrange. Check out ST's audition of the Proac Tablette 2000 Signature in the most recent issue of Stereophile (he compares them to Quad electrostatics). Enjoy! Holos
Give the Soliloquy 5.3 a listen. I have the Maggies also.
I'd give the KEF Reference-II a shot. Since your listening room is small, their "coincident" tweeter/midrange is a big plus (sound comes out "pre-mixed" meaning you don't have to sit back 15 feet for the drivers to blend. Also, these speakers have the greatest bass for their size. Overall my fave' full range speaker for $2700.
You should listen to the Impact Technology Charisma and Labomba sub/satellite system before buying. Great balance, soundstage, imaging and bass response.
Hi Bs..., As much as I like both the Vandersteen 2Ce & 3A sigs.-- and I own both, I must respectfully disagree a bit with Eldragon and Lihifi above. I suggest that either is just too big for a 12 X 15 room, IMHO. I used the 2Ces with a McCormack DNA-1DX in a 12 X 14 room for 3 years, and while I enjoyed the system, it could not be played at more than low to low/moderate levels without overloading the room with bass. (I also like a broad range of popular music). Looking back on it, the music would have been much better served by a small floorstander such as the Thiel 1.5 that you're considering or maybe even better, a good quality small/medium sized stand mounted speaker with in room bass down to about 40-45 HZ-- at most as some others have suggested. I should have looked at B&W, Proac, etc. I agree with Carl in that room treatment is also essential-- I didn't use much in those days, but should have. Also, your McCormack DNA.5 is a great amp-- I have one in a second system that I plan on having upgraded too. I think you're on the right track. Happy hunting.
I agree with Carl on the Meadowlark speakers, I `ve had both the Kestrels and the Shearwaters, these are great speakers fo the money, the little Kestrel can sound real good about 30 to 36 inchs from the back wall, you`ll need to be at least 7 or so feet away from them to get the drivers to intergrate well, the imageing on these little speakers are wonderful, you can find these on audiogon sometimes for 650 or lower. Carl is right about the Maggies as well, they do need to be turn up a little to sound there best,I have a pair of these in my H.T. room, they sound really good here, turned up that is, I just sold my maggies center and rear surrounds, and will move the Meadowlark Shearwaters in the H.T. room along with the new Vireos and the Petrel center. The maggie 1.6 will go in the 2 channel room , they seem to sound much better in there. also the commets you have been getting on room treatment is great advice, I`ve seen many a system sound like SHIT because they didn`t use any room treatment, spending good money on great gear and NEVER touching the room , real bad move , real bad.!!!!!! Greg