Bookshelf speakers that renders 3D soundstage

Recently I am on a quest to find a pair of bookshelf speakers under $2k that will render 3D soundstage.  The soundstage does not need to be much wider than the speakers that are approximately 7-8 ft apart but, within the soundstage, I am particularly looking for the decent depth, focus image and pinpoint instrument/vocal separation.  The other sound trait I am particularly looking for is the nimble, agile bass that could go down to around 45 Hz -3dB.  The pairing amplification is going to be Parasound A23.  If you have experienced / auditioned that, please let me know.


Since getting into this hobby in 1975, my experience has been that soundstage, imaging, and bass are more dependent on the room and the setup than the gear itself.

Nail those two things and you will get what you're seeking.


@tomcarr @onhwy61

I understand the speaker set up, placement and room treatment are important. I have been experimenting those in the past and was able to achieve / preserve resonably good SS with my current speakers when the recordings have those elements. However, recently I acquire a pair of Wharfedale Evo 4.2 and I found they could render much more SS depth and instrument separation than my current bookshelfs. I was able to hear the nuance I was not getting before.

The only two areas leaving room for my desire for the Evo are (1) more dynamics and (2) the lower end (54 Hz -3dB). I need to apply EQ and boost +4-5 dB in the 40-80 Hz for my satisfaction. I maintain 3 ft to both side and front walls to avoid early reflection. As such I do not wish to place the speakers any closer (which I have done) to acquire more room gain for the lower end. I like the Evo 3D SS presentation but wish it a more allrounder in term of frequency response in the low end. After the experience with Evo, I was convinced speaker itself could be capable of rendering 3D presentation beyond the room control factors.  That is why I am asking the question.  

Fair enough, now that you have  the room and setup right, then I also agree that different gear will yield different results. I hope you find the sound you're seeking.

It's wonderful when you get it!


Have you tried real speaker stands?

Your last posted a pic with your speakers placed upon oversized side tables.

I use inexpensive Polk RT15i's ($13.50 thrift shop find - maybe $200 retail) in a mini system and when well positioned on decent stands they throw a huge/3D soundstage.

Same with Roger's LS3/5A, Braun L200/L300, Castle Isis, and Reynaud Twins MkII (again with decent stands/placement).

My rule of thumb (aside from ideal/best placement achieved through trial and error) is that the top plate of the stand be no larger than the bottom of the speaker.

Looking @ my list I have not owned very many stand mount speakers considering that I started using them in 1978.

I started out with thin concrete pillars (cement blocks were too large) for the Rogers (replaced later with Rogers AB1's), adjustable cymbal stands for the Brauns, Target HR stands for the Reynaud's and cheap (the name plates fell off - Anaconda?) stands for the Castle/Polk's.

All of the above speakers sounded 2D when placed on bookshelves or table/cabinet tops.




I wouldn't discount the KEF LS50 Meta.  Paired with 1 or 2 subs will create what you are looking for.  Alone they won't go low enough; at least not for my tastes.

DeKay, yes, I remember you had made such a comment.  If you look at my posting one more time, Evo sitting on the current wide end table has already throws good SS.  I just desire more bass and dynamics.  Nevertheless, It is no harm to try and I am more likely to try this time.  Maybe the smaller top plate will help achieve even more / better SS.  On the flip side, I just do not feel easy to have my possession sit on small footage and fell incidentally.  But I will apply blue tac to better secure it.  Thank you for the reminder again.

Yes, I use BT (little pea sized balls squished down) and it really holds.

I remembered the name of the "cheap" stands (Atacama) and it looks like they are not so inexpensive.

Thought they were because a local shop sold me a pair of demos for $80, or so.

There was a good thread on speakers stands maybe 6 months ago. 

I listened to a little pair of Sonus Faber's ($1200 I think) last month.

Liked the sound, but they would require a sub in our living room.

Didn't like the leather wrap or the contrasting metal trim around the drivers, so still looking.



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I haven't heard any true bookshelf speakers that could do a 3D soundstage.

As for any that go down to 45 Hz (-3dB), well, that's another huge ask for under $2k.

Your best bet might be to check the overachieving Q Acoustics 3030i (46Hz (-3dB).


To really get that disappearing speaker 3D effect you should take a look at something like the Q Acoustics Concept 300s.

Bear in mind that they only go down to 55Hz and they're over $2k, but with their advanced cabinets they should be a clear improvement over the 3030is.


In fact the only speakers I can think of that might truly fit the bill would be the Wharfedale Elysian 2s (35Hz) but they cost $7k and you would need a pretty large bookshelf.


Vandersteen VLR's are one of the sleepers out there.

They might look small and simple, but they can really rock with the right equipment. Add a Sub 3 and you are competing with floorstanders, and at a lower cost. Put them near corners, and you probably won't even need a sub.


Bass is room dependent. The evos are already a pretty large standmount with good extension. There are not many standmounts known for going low. I would consider adding a sub if that is a requirement since you have the rest of what you are seeking in the evos already. One other speaker to consider is the Philharmonic BMR Monitor. Great sound and it has extension in spades.

That is easy ,my next speaker the MBL 126 with matching stands.

i will use my Svs 4000-sb subs and it’s a world class Loudspeaker system.

In your price range I would try the Monitor Audio Silver 100’s.  They are extremely well reviewed and go low for a bookshelf.  I have the left, right and center versions in my living room AVR setup and they sound pretty good, though the room setup is nowhere near ideal.  The source is a Sony STR-ZA810ES AVR, suffice to say not an expensive audiophile unit.

JBL L52 or JBL 4309, the wave guide that JBL uses is amazing at creating a 3D soundstage.

Thank you guys for the recommendations.  Among these, I am thrilled by the performance and looks of Philharmonic BMR Monitor (v2) curved rosewood cabinet.  The only online auditioning source I could locate sounds promising.  Will look into it.  Thanks, @prighello.

Buchardt Audio S400 MkII, 2000 Euros ($1,950 at current exchange rates) and free shipping. Also a 45 day demo period. Sold direct to cut out the middle man, with a full 10 year transferable warranty.

Very wide and tall soundstage beyond the speakers, depth is very good as well. Beautifully sounding speakers played at low, medium, and loud levels. Also can (and should) be placed near the rear wall, so placement is convenient.

Improve with the quality of equipment used. I have about $13 K of cables and electronics, and the speakers are never the limiting factor

My Canton Ref 9k goes deep and has a great soundstage. Costs a little more but worth it.

Otherwise you could try Fyne F500SP with a sub.

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I will strongly recommend a fully upgraded GR RESEARCH XLS ENCORE. Less than 2k fully built is hard to beat for imaging, soundstage, depth and tonality. I have retailed so many high end brands and built diy kits including CSS. A fully upgraded XLS is hard to beat even for more than 2k. XLS provides well balanced sound leaning to neutral to warm, soundstage comes natural to these speakers.

I heard the Goldenear BRX at Axpona earlier this year. It sounded absolutely amazing and filled a largish room with sound. I think they were running on Parasound power too.

The room and speaker position is critical and Soundstage can be vastly improved through 1) digital room correction (e.g., Dirac) and 2) going with active speakers (e.g., Linn)

I third what "tapp" said....with emphasis on stands.

Dampened stands and KEF bookshelf speakers paired with dual subs will certainly create that 3D presentation you are looking for.

I use steel 4-post stands, with all posts filled with damping material. The speakers "disappear" when set up properly.

I've had several monitors "disappear" in various rooms and setups.  A/D/S L500s did it in the mid-70's, Morel M202s in the 80's, Boston Acoustics VRM50s in the 90's.  All had 6" to 8" woofers and 1" domes, some soft and damped, some hard and metallic.  All were on sturdy metal stands away from room boundaries in well proportioned spaces.  For $2K/pair, the BMR Monitors are what I'd look at, but the GR Encore XLS maxxed out would also interest me.  For much less, if you're a DIY guy, the Morel Ardon kit from Parts Express ($800.00/pair + veneer = well under $1K) is a textbook monitor.

Here's another direction

I built these and love them

Took some time, but they are everything I want in a bookshelf system, detailed, fills the room with music, and on and on.

Again, thank you everyone taking your time to provide me valuable inputs. Really appreicated. The BMR Monitors seem to be one of the faves but the coveat of glare around 2 kHz and the compression / wide radiation traits mentioned by Erin bothers me a bit. In addition, I am also looking at both highly raved S400 Mk ii and S300 Mk ii from Buchardt as mentioned by @vthokie83. The company also announces a more affordable new addition, P300, that is essentially a stripped down version of S400 Mk ii with less quality x’over and half warranty period (5 yrs). Since no reviews are available, I am hesitated to act in good faith. Plan to order both BMR and Buchardt for home auditioning and pick one.

@lanx0003 sounds like a plan. I have heard both speakers. IMHO the BMR crushes the S400 which is a competnet but kind of boring speaker. Our club just did a standmount speaker event with 17 speakers under $3k. Among them were the BMR, S400, Falcon Q7, GR Xls-Encore, and many more. Around 130 people attended.

The BMR was by far the overwhelming fav of the event. The KEF R3 and ATC SCM-11 were also up there by most folks assessments. You’ve really got to hear for yourself but it wouldn’t hurt to audition some of these speakers if you have time.

Wish I were there.  I kind of felt the same way for S400 too but was not sure to give it a try.  I think I could probably rule it out now.  Was interested in ATC but there is no dealer here in the south Florida.  I guess one at a time now.  Dennis said he will give 14 days for trial.  Just need to pay for the shipping back if not working out.

The best speakers for imaging and sound stage are the ones with the best driver integration and coherence- in other words both drivers blend together seamlessly in their crossover region and truly sound like a point source.  

Anything made by KEF would work well if you like their tonal balance.

The option I prefer would be the Falcon Acoustics of MoFi LS3/5a monitors.  


@avanti1960, if the Falcon Q7 is anything like the Falcon LS3/5a; they should be very close. Then, I agree that speaker would be one to audition as well. Thing is, it does not have the bass requirement OP is looking for. Wanting 45 hz -3db is tricky. 

With an Audio gd tube pre amp and Peachtree GAN 400 amp with Denafrips Ares II DaC....My Klipsch RP- 600M speakers disappear and I'm 4 rows back at the live concert. There's a reason that thousands of pair have been sold with rave reviews and $500 pair. Crazy!

Spica TC 50. Recapped with polypropylene BiWired with Kimber BiFocalXL. I ran mine with AR, Parasound, PrimaLuna.

Comments from friends:

"Awesome!! Joe Pass is sitting RIGHT THERE!"

"Man, your system is so PRECISE" - playing Warren Zevon

"Who need concerts?" listening to Bohemian Rhapsody and Chesky 67 1812

Focal's original Mini and Micro Utopia are still stunning, even though they are not the current model.  Here is the Mini, not quite bookshelf, but still a stand mount.  The Micro has one less mid-bass driver, which is the bookshelf configuration I believe you are interested in.

Focal JM LAB - Micro Utopia BE Speakers with beryllium tweeters  and Matching original Stands pair E

JM Labs Mini Utopia with JM Stands

The Falcon IMF-100 can be had for under 2 grand. It is sold factory direct in kit or factory built. It is a Transmission-Line and goes down to 40hz. It is an outstanding speaker!

Focal's original Mini and Micro Utopia are still stunning

IMHO, this is correct @lucky_doggg7 . I heard the Micro Utopia BE in a friend's well thought-out system and it was stunning in it's presentation of a fully fleshed-out soundstage. In his room, it was one of the best soundstage presentations, both side to side, and front to back, that I've ever heard.

Thank you, @lucky_doggg7 @reubent, for bringing Focal (JMLab) Mini / Micro Utopia to my attention.  I do not mind going up scale to standmount speaker like Mini Utopia at all as long as they fit the bill.  The transmission line design of Falcon IMF-100 as suggested by @donvito seems also promising too.  Interestingly, I was looking at another similar design speaker PMC Twenty5 22i the other day,.  The new one is over my budget but a used one might come up.  I also came across Bryston Mini T standmount speakers yesterday.  Anyone had experience with it?

Ditto - Fritz Loudspeakers could suit. Well built, good bass extension, reasonably priced, very spacious.


I also like the BBC heritage loudspeakers, especially those from Graham Audio. Derek Hughes is a very accomplished designer/engineer.

I have had really good luck with Totem Dreamcatcher speakers.  They are favorably reviewed and a mini marvel.  Slightly larger but still punching well above their price point are the original Andrew Jones Pioneers. Both of these can be found used in great condition at modest prices. 

If you can find a pair of LSA 1s they will make you very happy. Properly set up they will deliver just what you are looking for - at a bargain price. Look for reviews on-line. The original LSA 1s sold for $1100/pair but occasionally come up for sale here on Audigon for less than half of that. Totem Dreamcatchers are also a good choice.