Bookshelf Speakers with “Big” sound?

I’m trying to identify a bookshelf (monitor) speaker that will give a big, full sound. Budget up to $2,000

These will be located in a larger living room. For aesthetic reasons I’m pursing bookshelf speakers. Currently these would be mated with Rega electronics, and someday I may move back to tube-based equipment.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Lenehan Audio ML1's. With shipping from Australia, you may edge just over the 2 grand mark, but it will be well worth it. Absolutely exceptional monitors that will do exactly what you need them to do in the room you're in. to listen!
I had a similar problem lately. I had a full range floorstander (Alon1) that I needed to shrink. I ended up with a pair of Totem Mani2, with good stands they can be found under $2k. I have always enjoyed the sound of Totem speakers and I always thought I would end up with a pair eventually. The Mani 2's are not where I thought I would start. They do present a few problems no.1 being - They must be properly powered and good cables are a must. That said they do play big, real big, with a very refined, expensive sound. These can run with the big dogs. They wouldn't be my choice if low level listening was important to me. I don't know if that is a result of my system or not, but they seem to lose some of the appealing dynamics at lower spl's.
It might be a speaker you want to consider.
Best of luck and hope you find what you are looking for.

I wouldn't put monitors in a large living living room, but if you must, then the Usher Be-718 on stands will probably be up to the task.

How about a pair of B&W 805s? I had some for a time and actually found that their sound was too big for my needs and desires. (First lived in an apartment, then a condo.) They, too, were not near their best at low listening levels, but once you get 'em going a bit, they sound fabulous -- and big!
Good luck.
-- Howard
Most Monitors with good quality stands take up as much room as many floor standers, will these "bookshelf" speaker be actually put on a shelf?
Coincident Triumph Extremes occasionally come up used. A little over budget new but they will be just waiting for the time you move back into tubes!
Are these going on bookshelves? That can be a huge issue. Also, have you considered something less expensive with a great sub?
You can get big sound from the right monitor (and the Totem recommendation is spot-on), but you're not going to get there with modestly powered Rega electronics. A Brio or Mira won't be enough power to get the little Mani's to energize a big living room. Rega won't get you there unless you're bi-amping with a pair of Exon power amps.
Thanks everyone for the great recommendations and considerations. A few of you asked about placement; yes, they will be on stands to “clear” furniture obstruction (and therefore the pursuit of monitors). Floor-standers would be partially “blocked” by furniture.

Thanks again, now the fun of investigating the options presented!
I would also take a look at the Dynaudio Focus and Contour series great with all kinds of music and excellent reputation and reviews to boot.
06-11-09: Rbschauman
A few of you asked about placement; yes, they will be on stands to “clear” furniture obstruction (and therefore the pursuit of monitors). Floor-standers would be partially “blocked” by furniture.
But there are also 2-way floorstanders where the drivers are at the top, and would be above any furniture, just as if they were minimonitors on stands. The difference is that the woofers in these configurations benefit from the larger cabinet to improve sensitivity and bass extension. They take up no more space than monitors on stands, while filling large living areas more easily.

Examples include the Totem Arro, Sttaf, Hawk, and Forest, the Acoustic Zen Adagio, Silverline Prelude, Wharfedale Diamond 9.4, Zu Presence, Essence, and Druid, Thiel 1.6, KEF XQ30 and IQ50, Tannoy Revolution DC4 T, B&W 684, and many others. The Merlin VSM is also of that configuration but is quite a bit pricier. But there are used ones. The Acoustic Zen Adagio lists at about $4500 but can often be found at around your budget.
Dynaudio Special 25's. They need some power though.
Check out Fritz Speakers -- specifically the Carbon 7s. Top of the line drivers at cost well within your budget.

There are some "informal" reviews at audiocircle. You can search as well here on audiogon. Great guy, who will go out of his way to build what you want.
the two that come to mind are the von schweikert vr1 (easily available used for around $500) and the acoustic energy line (ae1, 2 etc.). both of these have tremendous slam for their size and none of the boxiness or narrow soundstage you might expect from monitors.
I'll second the Totem Mani-2 suggestion.
Uncanny large sound with incredible bass.
The first time I heard them I thought a sub was hidden somewhere...
Second the FritzSpeakers. Call him up and tell him what your wants and needs are and see what he proposes.
Hi Randy, I saw your post about speakers. I have been building custom loudspeakers since 1973 and have some nice designs that would probably work well for you. Check out my ads on Agon & here is an email I just sent to someone else with a little more info on my Carbon 7 model.

Thanks, Fritz Heiler

Hi- Thank you for your interest in my loudspeaker systems. Just a couple of quick questions- How big is your room & would you describe it as damped or lively? What amp (model & power rating) would you use with the speakers? How far away do you sit from the speakers? What kind of music do you mainly listen to?

I offer the The Seas model because that Magnesium cone is very light & fast & works better with ribbon tweeters. Most people that have heard them side by side, prefer my Carbon 7 model. The bass response is much lower & the carbon fiber/paper cone is much more natural sounding.

Your amp is just fine, another one of my Carbon 7 customers has the same amp. As you may or not know, Sumiko (the former Primare distubitor), paired their amps with Sonus Faber & Veneena Acoustics speakers witch also use the ScanSpeak drivers. I am a big fan of both those speaker companies & was inspired to use the Scan drivers.

The resonant frequency (FS) on this Scanspeak carbon fiber mid/bass driver is 28 Hz. This same driver is used in the $14,000 per pair Wilson WATT's, the $8-12,000 a pair Merlin VSM's, Veenea Acoustics $12,000 a pair Mahlers & the older ProAC's 2.5 & 3.8 models until they started using cheaper drivers than the ScanSpeak models. There are also many other big buck speaker companies that use these great drivers.

The Carbon 7's really do have fantastic bass response & for most music do not need a subwoofer. If you listen to large scale orchestras, organ, Techno or Rap you may want one. Most of my music only customers that own these do not use a sub.

Here's the qoute about the Carbon 7's from a guy at the Audio Karma Fest that has owned lots of gear- "The sound was big, bold, and dynamic. These were some of the only monitor speakers I have heard that really do not need a subwoofer. I am a big bass fan and the Carbon 7 monitor speakers did the job very well. This system sounded really clean without sounding sterile. When I was leaving the room on Sunday, a reviewer from one of the online magazines was asking a lot of questions and taking notes for the show report which sounded like it was going to be very positive."

Here is a link to a customer who got the show demo pair-

"I have heard MANY cones and these rival the best 2 ways I have ever heard. The mid range is the same used in the Wilsons. The (Scan) Tweeter is silky smooth. These things can sing and play. Bass is 39 hz and tight as hell. I always wanted a great 2 way monitor to sit in time to time. These are rosewood with a hand rubbed oil finish.

These can fill the room from side to side. They are amazingly deep in the stage. The bass as I said is tight and detailed..."

I'm from the old school of typing (hunt & peck method) & can give you more info over the phone much easier. No high pressure sales pitch or anything like that, I just enjoy talking to people about music & all things audio. Besides that, it usually takes a few days to ship my in-stock models (and a couple of weeks for the custom designs) giving you plenty of time to cancel any orders due to buyers remorse. Please e-mail or leave your number on my voice mail @ 310 379 8190 with a good time to call you back.

Thanks, Fritz Heiler 310 379 8190

BTW- Where are you located at?
Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1s have good clean bass down to 40hz. The slam is pretty impressive from a monitor.
I second the Von Schweikert VR-1's. Great sound for a great price!

Joe in Mobile
The new Spendor SA-1's are terrific bookshelf speakers. Sound much bigger than their size.

Definitely Dynaudio for a big, dynamic sound from a standmount. These are at home in a larger room.

Look into a Contour (1.3SE or S1.4), or even better, the special 25.
Ohm makes fantastic and very under appreciated speakers that have a HUGE soundstage, among many other attributes, and have a SMALLER footprint than most stand mount speakers.
Oops! I just remembered the tiny speaker that reputedly has room-filling sound and extended bass (down to the 30's if placed against the wall)--the GURU QM10 (also here).

And the price is right at your budget.

Soundstage review.

Review excerpts and links.
Sonus faber and they look alot better than my gma europas! Brit speakers due the big sound thing very well quad spendor proac b&w 805~705
If you can find a used pair of the original Red Rose ribbon monitor (ribbon tweeter extends above the cabinet), it gets my vote for this competition. Not the most purely neutral speaker ever manufactured, but BIIIG sound from a little box.

Guru Speakers
Revel m20s didnt buy em kinda wish i had
I second the Lenehan ML1 suggestion. I use these in a large room. They are extremely lively and transparent without ever being bright or harsh. I find them effortless and composed in their presentation. Workmanship on these from crossover to cabinet is first rate. You really get a lot for your money.
PMC LB1's are really nice. I have a pair that I've owned for about 6 months and were very reasonable to buy. They sound much larger than their stature suggests and can play quite loudly if you need to fill a larger room such as my own (25X14+). Quite a remarkable monitor.