Big Stupid Warm Speakers

I'm getting ready for a speaker change. I've owned B&W 804 matrix speakers for about 12 years now. While I've enjoyed the refinement of them there's always been something missing.

Yes that's right, and that something might be BIG STUPID WOOFERS. Some of my favorite speakers ever were a pair of Infinity's I paid $300 for in 1979. They had 15 inch woofers, tweeters that were harsh and not the greatest, but these things roared like an angry lion even when no music was playing. When it was playing, about anything from Oingo Boingo to Mozart was a visceral experience.

Now with upper end speakers, you don't know there's bass until there's supposed to be, the tweeters are refined and realistic sounding, there's some wonderful imaging etc. But it's somehow too polite - I want to get back some of the warmth from the big woofer days. And no, using a sub isn't the same thing.

I remember being in a high end store about 10 years ago when a Polk Rep was there showing this huge new Polk speaker that was just incredible sounding. Big warm, realistic, detailed -awesome. I asked the store owner when he'd be getting them. He rolled his eyes and said, "Our customers are too discriminating for this type of speaker. The bottom end was way out of control."

So maybe I want out of control instead of polite. Can anyone put me in the direction of some BIG STUPID WARM SPEAKERS that still have some refined and high end attributes? The rest of my system is all Cary HT that retails for around $10K.

Cary Cinema 6 Preamp Processor
Cary Cinema 5 Multichannel amp (200 WPC)
Cary Cinema DVD 6 (incredible with CD's)

Even though the system is HT, the electronics do very well with music. And even the they're Cary components, they're solid state - but easy on the ears. I listen to Classical, Jazz, Electronic, Bluegrass, etc.
Oh yeah, and looking to spend under $3K/pair.

Has anyone else gone through this? Any speaker recommendations? Thanks.
Von Schweikert VR4s used. They will shake the nails out of the walls. You can pick them up for the mid teens, and it's a hassle to send them out to VSR to have them modified to VR5s, cost is $2500, but it's well worth it.

They do rock to jazz to classical - very well rounded.

I'd recommend Vandersteen, similar to Von Schweikert but even less "hifi". Even bigger, warmer sound, less precise - more musical.
There is verry little "high end" under 3K that will do what you are asking. NHT has the ST4's that put out lotsa bass. They are bi-ampable so you could simply add a big solid state amp for the woofers. Your Cary gear would calm some of the speaker's brightness. The speakers retail for 1,000, a good solid state amp will set you back less than 1K, and the NHT outboard crossover that is useful in regulating the bass is under 1K.
It would still sound better with a subwoofer like the Martin Logan Depth though.
how about big vintage JBLs? plenty of choices. most of them rather efficient too, which is a nice plus.

The Athena AS-F2 might be what you want. I have a set and your discription is how I would describe them compared to the Green Mountain Europas.
Vandersteen 3A sigs used, not stupid but nice and big with plenty of everything.
I agree with the Vandersteen recommendation and would also consider the new Gallo Nucleus Reference 3 as a full range speaker that is very engaging.
I don't recall the model, but B&W made a speaker a number of years ago that had woofers about the size of a VW Beatle. They are anything buy bass-shy.

Squidboyw has a pair in his system. Check them out, you might be able to lay your hands on a pair of them, since you seem to like the B&W but want more thump.
I was thinking about Vandersteens. Last time I heard them (about 15 years ago) they had the kind of warm full sound I was looking for. The problem was that things went terribly wrong and confused in the mids with focus, emphasis, etc, but if they've solved that, it might be worth looking at again.

Von Shweikerts are are name that keeps coming up - I'd like to hear them. BTW I'm willing to consider used speakers, and I'm only looking for mains, not an entire HT setup for now.

Thanks for all your suggestions, I'll research these brands on the net before trying to hear some.
Maybe the new Cerwin Vega CLSC-215? Dual 15” 3-way tower. They look like they'd be unrefined and out of control, but I've never actually heard them.
A few years ago I sold a off 10-15 year old pair of Cerwin Vega's (AT-10's I believe). I often miss their warm sound and musicality... Particularily with rock music. With 10" woofers they had very good bass. I went with NHT 1.5 (stand-mounted) speakers... I had to add a sub because I just could not live with the dramatic decrease in bass. I am not recommending CV speakers for ya, I don't think they are in the class you are interested in... I'm just relating to the story. I use a Cary 308 for my CD source, their solid state stuff has a great sound!
The Von Schweikert VR2's would also be worth considering. BIG soundstage, and plenty of refinement to do the jazz thing, but will also deliver up Grand Funk in FINE style !
My buddy and I have been talking about just this type of thing for some time....neutrality/accuracy/ tight bass blah blah. A speaker like the VR2 can go a long way to putting the pure pleasure factor back into a system.

Good luck,
How about some Duntech (Princess?), about 12 feet high and 3 feet wide. Don't try and handle them yourself, they can do a lot of damage! Take-out the units and you have ready-made coffins! Should be quite cheap now too.
Green Mountain C-3s!
L@@K at these

Might be the one's "uppermidfi" is talking talking about.

Including Sound Anchors, doesn't look like a bad deal.
Man, the one speaker that comes to mind that fits
your discription is the older Polk SDA SRS.( the biggest ones)
BIG STUPID & WARM, and I liked them a lot!!!! :o)Not a
very accurate speaker but a load of fun if you have a
pretty big amp.
Since you liked the earlier model I think you would do well to check out the current Polk Audio Lsi series. I think they would suit your desire for added warmth without sacrificing sound quality. I have heard the bookshelf models (Lsi 7 & 9) and they are excellent. There is a good review of the floorstanding Lsi 25's in the Product Review section which applies to your situation very well in regards to an HT system. I think the reviewer has some interesting comments on which model to choose for fronts. Good luck.
Mirage M1 Si fits your description perfectly
Have we forgot about Bose 901s. Any series will do. Just crank the equalizer bass control up. I haven't heard them in years but from what I recall they could really fill the room with BIG STUPID WARM sound. Very cheap for used.
Sorry I just reread your question and noticed the "refined and high end" requirement. Forget the 901s. Good luck.
Mcintosh pre Clarion Xr19,Xrt20,and Xrt22's....The Anna Nicole of Big Fun Speakers.
If you want bass, go for VMPS. There is no speaker that has better bass for the money...and very, very efficient too.
I use Acoustic Research 302's in both my main and 2 channel HT systems. They are 3 way; 10 inch woofer reissues of the AR5's and were updated by Ken Kantor of NHT fame. They were made in 1995 and there are enough pairs out there, as Accessories4less liquidated boatloads of the whole AR series about 4 years ago. Going price is usually in the $300 or so range. Check out Classic AR Speakers for more information. Nothing quite like the sound of acoustic suspension speakers and their approach to bass and sound, in general.

Of current speakers, supposedly the JM Lab Chorus 707's offer a close to 8 inch woofer, but I have not heard these.

Regards, Rich
Big, smart accurate speakers you build yourself. Put JBL 2226 15" woofers in a 4.5 cu ft box and the cone/ribbon/compression tweeter of choice. Second order Butterworth on the tweeter and a 1.5 mH coil on the woofer. Or buy a kit. Or assembled:
I would suggest looking arround Martin Logan line especially those fully electro-static.
Before they play they need to get WORM.
JBL L-200 or L-300 from the mid-70's. 15" woofer with 4" voice coil and 2o lb. or so ALNICO magnets. Or Altec Lansing model 19(?) I think, home version of the Voice of the Theatre. Or Klipsh horns. Now these speakers are IMHO much better than the Cerwin Vegas or other 15" jobs. All these other choices listed here are "hi-fi" jobs. For some reason there is no other sound like a really big powerful, forceful (as opposed to tubby flubby) 15" woofer.
Montana's, Dunlavy, Duntech, VMPS (bottom choice) Legacy Audio, Focus/Whisper, there's a bunch, or old Altec Voice of the Theatre or Klipsch K-horns with a Sub.

I know what you're after but---- with the exception of those listed above and I'm certain there are others, it's tough to get what you're after. Brute force drivers tend to give up a little in finess.

In terms of physical size, warmth/"musicality", and good size/quality/bass per dollar spent used, you might try a pair of Merlin Excalibers. As I remember they are about 6'-6'6" tall, look a bit like very large and tall Vandersteen 3s, have a very "large" full-range sound. I enjoyed them, almost fell for them, and periodically wonder what it would be like to have them.
Actually I heard some Martin Logans today. Maybe they weren't warmed up or something, but the bass sounded very tubby and ill defined.

I've also heard the Legacy and Dunlavy might be good candidates elsewhere. Now that I have good electronics, I'm not really looking for high efficiency, especially if it hides or colors the electronics.

The Vandersteens I heard and were unimpressed with were the 2 series. I'll keep a lookout for the 3's or 5's going used. Thanks again for all the suggestions.
Don't forget about Totem Wind used at arround $3600...
More money than you planned on,but the Vienna acoustic Mahlers would fit the bill.
Your description matches the sound of a favorite speaker of mine.

If you don't mind buying used, a pair of Alon IVs would give you big, warm sound with lotsa bass and still be open, unboxy and refined on top. The have a huge soundstage, are very coherent top to bottom, and very dynamic. They're heavy, and they need to be tri-wired, but they are much loved by their owners. They usually go for around $1100-1400 here on A-gon. They can overwhelm a small room but are highly effective in medium to large rooms. They'reone of the best kept secrets in audio.

I have the Alon Vs (which has better controlled woofers and more balanced sound - the IVs are on the warmish side) and have used Cary equipment with them. (Currently using Herron electronics) and I think your Cary gear would be a great match.

Alon by Accarion is now Nola Speakers - they don't really have anything comparable in the present line-up. But go to their website and look up the reviews for the Alon IVs. They sound just like what you're looking for. (Not that it matters, but the IVs were Class B in Stereophile years ago. Don't hold that against them.)
Great thread
I feel the same way. I would suggest a pair of the old Boston Acoustics A400's. Two eight inch woofers, one 6.6 inch midrange, one 1 inch ferro filled dowm tweeter. The A400's weigh about 70 pounds each. The have plenty of bottom end and great mids and highs, with a nearly ideal frequency response. If you find a nice pair they'll be well worth it.

The speakers that squidboyw has are the B&W 808's that uppermidfi and Davehrab are referring to. They will give you all that you are looking for and more. Power hungry but worth it. You need Acrobat Reader for the file on them. B&W 808
I've seen and heard some imposing Tannoys that might fit your requirements. Perhaps some good used ones out there?
I saw Duntech Princesses mentioned above--actually, they're pretty neutral, having owned a pair for 11 years, though they are lacking in transparency. However, the one in the Duntech line that might fill your bill is the Black Knight, with bigger woofers than the Princess and a fairly boomy sound if they weren't set up right. Gigantic, too, but cheap in the used market if you can find them.
I guess one problem I've just been reminded of is the WAF. The wife has a problems with huge speakers. Are there any medium sized speakers with that big warm sound? I looked at the Vandersteen 3a today, and that would be about the maximum size I could shuffle in past the wife.

By the way, the 3A's didn't sound particularly big and warm. In the setup, they actually sounded a bit bright and bass shy. I'm still hoping to audition them in my house to get a better idea.
The new polk lsi series might be your answer, the floorstander models seem to be more refined versions of the older ls70's/90's from about 10-15years back.
I know JBL speakers are not up to Hi-Fi tesk in these days but you might just want to check out their Northrige series-E100. It uses dual 10" driver. Best Buy carry them.
Last year JBL had Studio series which had 12" driver You might find them in internet stores who might carry them left over stocks. I have heared them both. E100 sounded better between the two. I ended up getting Dynaudio 52s with Sub. Well good luck finding your pairs.
New Fried 2 way. $$$ and take a little breakin but sound great.
While they're not "high-end," you might try Definitive Technology. If you want tons of "big-woofer" bass, they certainly deliver. Great for HT duty too.
I would definitely recommend the big JBL floorstanders. If you want big, warm sound, nothing beats a good JBL floorstander. Plus they are as cheap as big speakers go for nowadays (by audiophile standards). Check them out at your local Best buy.
I have a pair of Legacy Focus 20/20's. They have great base and I do not run a sub. I like my base realistic. I know there are many who say, "what no sub for LFE!". You really must here these, I am a 2ch person that wants hi end sound from my home theater. I think they fit the bill. they go for about $7K a pair.

Good luck, hunting for audio gear is lots of fun. Listen to many before making a call.

I know what you mean about the B&W's. I hate it when I go into a showroom to demo a piece of equipment and they have it hooked up to B&W speakers. They will put you to sleep, something that you should buy a 70 year old person.

If you want to be woken up, get yourself some Klipschorns. They are so dynamic, and revealing that they will scare you.
It's best to have good upstream equipment with these speakers, because they won't hide anything. Your Cary stuff should do.
Both of these can sound very good. The VMPS Supertower/R SE',FF3 and FF1's sound excellent but need some care in set up. Bass is world class to 20hz, that's a very honest 20hz btw on the FF1 and Supertower, mid twenties on the FF3. There's two 15's, one active and one passive for the lower bass. The mid/upper bass is handled by a 10 woven carbon fiber. Well worth researching. They can still be bought although the newer ribbon line gets all the bandwidth after winning the CES with a pair. Legacy speakers have that good bass also but I think the mids aren't quite as coherent as the VMPS I mentioned above due to the planar mids.
above post will put to shame many of the others people have listed in the bass department. What they call bass is "audiophile" bass to the 20's at best. There's little power in comparison. You should listen to the various speakers and see for yourself anyway. Good luck in your search.
A big but not stupied recommendation would be Tannoy DC's. If you have the bucks snd space go for the 15" There have been some nice ones on Audiogon recently.
Just listened to a pair of Gallo Nucleus 3's over lunch. They were very nice unrestrained with good imaging.

You might want to investigate the Harbeth or Spendor line of speakers, which tend to be very warm and musical, and can have reasonably large woofers. For a bit tighter bass but keeping some warmth, Von Schweikerts come to mind. I concur with the Vandersteen votes above as well. I also agree that "high-end" speakers are becoming way too analytical in the top octaves, especially for CD-only listeners.
I was kind of in the same boat. Had a pair of Infinity Ren. 90s and got tired of the lean, lightweight sound. I upgraded to JM Lab 946 Electras and now have more of the slam and dynamics I was craving. Much easier to drive than the Infinitys were, 93 db vs 87 db. Detailed, dynamic, accurate and bass you can feel. They work great with every type of music including rock.
How about Dunlavy SC-IV? I myself try to get one too. But, it's quite old, replaced by SC-IVa, and the manufacturer had closed down.