Dream speakers and amp for an 11x14 room?

Hi All,

I'm a first-time poster and hate to present an idiosyncratic problem, but I'm getting the impression that the devil is in the details when it comes to high-end audio, so here goes:

I've got an 11x14 living room that serves as a home theater, and currently have a great video projector that I'd like to mate with a top-notch two-channel set up (I've been persuaded to give up on the 5.1 surround idea). My dream is to have a system that's capable of everything - from running quick, delicate, joyful circles around Beethoven's middle quartets to disgorging "Led Zeppelin I" with a massive, terrifying soundstage.

I was initially hell-bent on floorstanding speakers - I've never shopped high-end audio until now, and remember the big floorstanders my father had back in the 80s, with 12-inch woofers powered by a big, late-70s solid-state Scott amp. The Gallo 3.1 were one idea, as well as the FJ (Blumenohofer) Oms. Both of those models attracted me partly because of their wide soundstage and sweet spot (the latter unfortunately lacking in a few other models that have attracted my interest, including the Devore 8s and 9s).

But while I've been impressed during a few recent auditions by the floorstanders, and hate the tiny little images thrown by most bookshelves, the more I read the more it seems that such bigger speakers may be a bad idea for the room in question - I don't have room to be placing speakers three feet away from the wall - two is even a stretch.

A couple of other key constraints: The speakers basically have to fit under the 6 1/2-foot-wide movie screen, whose bottom edge hangs 38 inches from the floor. That's because the screen pulls down alongside the left side of this "front" wall, while immediately to the right of the screen a bedroom door is cut into the wall.

It should be noted that this front wall is of a cheap, hollow construction - courtesy of an enterprising landlord who moved to convert my apartment into a two-bedroom - and I worry that will be a factor when it comes to bass. There's also another bedroom door - immediately to the right of and at a right angle to the first, so as to form a kind of 90-degree void to the right of where the right speaker would be placed.

Opposite this front wall, 14 feet away, is a double-door that opens into a kitchen that's about 10x11. Through all of this, the ceiling height is about 7 1/2 feet and the floors are hardwoods with a few oriental rugs available if necessary.

Now, as a stopgap, I've installed a cheap 5.1 surround system, with a right bookshelf and a center speaker under the movie screen, and a left bookshelf speaker sitting - yes, that's right - in the back corner of a bookshelf that's built into the left wall. This latter speaker seems to have trouble generating a lot of sound, given the few precious inches of space behind it. I've also got a powered subwoofer on the floor under the movie screen.

So given all that data, I guess the first key question is - are there bookshelf speakers, a center and a woofer that could take the places of the cheap ones and sing, despite the lack of space behind them? I really wouldn't want to place them, or any corresponding subwoofer, more than 6 inches to a foot away from the wall (or a few inches from the back corner of the bookshelf, in the case of the left side).

And the second question would be - provided I'm willing to move the easy chair that's in the left corner under the movie screen - is there a pair of floorstanders, preferably less than 36 inches high, much less 38, that could deliver what I'm looking for in terms of sound, given the fact that they'd basically need to be as close as 4 feet together, with one about two feet from the left side wall and the other with a couple of doorways off to its right and back right?

For those of you who have gotten this far and still have a clue as to what I'm getting at, I am both grateful and impressed. Please let me know what information I can provide to clarify the situation. I'm looking to pay up to $3000 or so for a used pair of speakers, probably the same for a used amp. Interested in everything from solid-state to SETs - but seems like I should concentrate on this speaker question first.

look at this guy this is the best bag for you money
the only thing I would change is analysis plus cables
and Plinius cd player and down the road add a MSB DAC
best sound I EVER had in my small room (11 x 12.5) was with Vienna Acoustics Mozarts and a Pathos Twin Towers integrated (now called the TT). whether that set-up would work in YOUR room is the question. it does fit your pricing criteria. bear in mind, floor standing speakers with too much low frequency response will overload the room or will disappoint you in their ability to reach the low end of their frequency rating due to the small size of your room. there is just not enough space for true low frequency waves in a room of this size (hope I explained that correctly). probably the most impressive quality of the Mozarts/Pathos combo was its ability to sound whole and right at even lower volumes. you did not have to shake the walls to get the emotional impact of the music.
check out something of a dark horse--rega rs. they're small florstanders which are unusually suceptible to near-wall placement and quite inexpensive. because they looked lightweight and fairly generic, i was prepared to discount 'em, but they actually sounded great--very transparent, tight bass. i've heard them a/b'd against some fairly lofty and pricy competition (dynaudio, quad) and actually preferred the regas.
That's not a big room, so you have countless good choices in your price range.

You want the drivers to be closely located together in a room that size, approximating a point source, for a coherent imaging and soundstage. A smaller footprint is also probably desirable. Monitors or some floorstanders like certain Totems have that configuration. I'd suggest checking out the OHM Walsh line (with the CLS/Walsh drivers) as well before deciding.

Once you have the right speakers that fit the room, then you can determine a proper amp to drive them.
Hi All,

Just a quick note to say thanks for these great responses! I'm going to study each and every suggestion tonight after work - at first glance they all sound really interesting.

Meanwhile, I figured I'd try to condense and refine my questions for the sake of those who couldn't quite make the slog through that first monster post - my major concerns are that I'd need to basically back any floorstanders up to the front wall - a foot away from it at the most - and that the speakers realistically would only be about four to five feet apart. The left speaker would be about two feet from the side wall, with the end of a couch about three feet in front of it along that side wall, whereas the right speaker would have a pair of doorways immediately to its right and back right, forming a kind of 90-degree void opening into two other rooms that I'm concerned would be a weird factor, with open and shut doors changing the acoustics.

The larger question all of this raises for me is - as much as I hate the idea, should I consider a really nice pair of bookshelves, possibly paired with a subwoofer? It would be more convenient furniture-wise, although that's a secondary consideration. If I went with bookshelves, I'd probably need some that could be placed into corners with very little room behind them - a couple of inches maybe - and which don't require stands, which I hate. I haven't come across any high-quality options that would fit that bill at about $3000 used, and I suspect you're going to tell me that no such set up could compete with some of these floorstanders soundwise, even in my small, odd room?
Front-ported bookshelves/monitors + sub might be the way to go given your placement requirements. The Triangle Titus speakers in my system pics could cut it nicely with a good Rel sub or something similar added. Read up on those on the internet and see what you think.

Some floor standing heritage line Klipsch models, like La Scala perhaps, might work nice also.

OHM Walshes probably won't cut it that close to walls, but Blue Circle Pennies might though I think they are out of your price range.
the fj oms are great but the ohm micro walsh tall will do as well for much less money.
You are definitely going to want to go with a bookshelf and sub approach. Floorstanders will have major problems in the small room, and the sub gives you the ability to move it around the room, and place it where the bass sounds best.

I've tried to put too big a speaker in a room more than once, and it never works out. Instead, work with the limitations that you have instead of not accepting these. In your case, then means a sub + bookshelf approach.

The mark and daniels monitors look pretty interesting
Goatwuss - after getting all fired up reading through the thread on the Ohm Micro Talls, the idea that only bookshelves will work with my room is an idea I hate to face!

On monitor/bookshelves, I guess my main concern is - will I require stands to get a sound that's comparable to something like what floorstanders like the Ohm Micro Talls would deliver? Because for me stands are out. Apart from the worry that floorstanders wouldn't work in my room, the only point of having bookshelves would be their easy placement on an actual bookshelf.

Right now I've got a cheap 5.1 surround system with the two fronts placed conveniently, but haphazardly, with one in the back corner of a bookshelf nearly a foot higher than the level of the other, which is on a table next to the center. Would I be assuming correctly that this is totally unacceptable if I'm serious about sound?

Also, I do watch a lot of movies. While it sounds like Gallo 3.1s or Ohm Micro Talls would be great for that, I wonder whether I'd be disappointed by the punch, power, etc. that's going to be delivered by a pair of monitors versus the two fronts plus a center that I've got now? If I go the monitor route, would it make sense to just go 5.1 surround? At that point, it seems like I'm spending as much as I would have on a great stereo setup.

I don't want to sound like I'm set against bookshelves - quite the contrary and I'd be thrilled if somebody told me all these worries are unfounded. But at the end of the day, I guess I wonder how much of a quantum leap I can expect - how much of a mind-blowing experience - I can expect from a better pair of bookshelves from the setup I've got now if I stick with the odd placement strategy I'm using now.
When a sub is handling the bass below ~80hz the ports do very little, allowing you to put the speakers closer to the wall behind them.

For that size room you might want to audition Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1s.
Some relevant discussions in archives. One is below. John

i agree that an overly large, dynamic floorstander might not work in your room, but it doesn't necessarily follow that you're best served by monitors/sub, as opposed to a smaller floorstander. since you're optimally going to want to use stands with monitors, you're probably not saving any real estate, plus you always have the challenge of proper integration with a sub.
i've touted the regas above; another to consider is paradigm signature, which are outstanding and, in my experience, seemed impervious to near-wall placement.
the micro walsh will play fine in an 11x14 room. no worries, no fuss, no hassles.
" The micro walsh will play fine in an 11x14 room. no worries,"

Most likely.

A foot or so out from rear wall will help with imaging depth as with most any speaker design.

Micro Walshes do have a very small footprint to help facilitate this if possible.

And yes, in lieu of putting monitors on shelves, a floorstander like MWT will eliminate need for floor stands.
Floorstanders will still work in your room. It's just a matter of finding one that is designed to be more room-tolerant. You would definitely need some room treatments in a room of your size. I know of a guy who had Marten Coltrane in a 9'x13' fully treated room.
Hi Coverto,

Yes, stands are an absolute necessity for bookshelf speakers. You will need to set them up so that they are least 1 foot (preferably 2 or more) from all room boundaries if you would like to recreate the aspects of hi end sound, such as imaging, staging, etc. Also, the coupling of the speaker to a high quality stand that will properly drain the speakers vibrations is critical.

With a quality pair of standmounted speakers, setup properly with a good sub, you will get excellent punch, power, dynamics, etc. Bookshelf speakers run the gamut from punchy and dynamic, all the way to slow, veiled, and sloppy, just like floorstanders do. You can definitely get mind blowing from this type of a setup, and there are many audiophiles who actually prefer bookshelves + sub to floorstanders even in a large room. Smaller speakers image better than larger ones in general.

Why are you opposed to stands?
Another vote for the Ohm Micro Walsh Tall. I bought them myself in May, and can attest that they work well about a foot from the rear wall.

Give Ohm a call, and let them know your needs. It's worth at least the call, and their in-home audition policy is hard to beat.
Thanks All, some more great food for thought here.

I'm definitely intrigued by the Ohm MWTs at this point. But there's another factor that I guess I've tried to ignore up to now, but which is potentially significant: there's a chair in the left corner of that front wall that might have to go if I went with floorstanders. It's a pretty unobtrusive chair - one of those that's basically some thinnish cushions stuck to a curved frame so there's no bulk to it - but I wonder if it'd be possible to enjoy sitting in that chair with an omnidirectional Ohm WMT blaring two feet away from your head!

In that regard, would it be easier to have something like a Totem Forest firing straight ahead, past the person who's sitting in that chair? Again, I'm considering removing that chair altogether but hate to do so. At the same time, I don't want to end up with a pair of speakers that have the tiny sweet spot that Totems get slapped for - I need it to sound good all around the room - or at least most of it.

So that does have me seriously contemplating the monitor option - with stands - for the first time... I mean, it seems like having one of those mounted next to my head, firing past me while I sit in that chair, might be a more workable idea than the Ohms or Gallo 3.1s, and possibly even something like Totems or Devore Gibbon 8s?

Goatwuss, to answer your question, I've always hated the idea of stands because they're expensive and take up just as much floorspace as a floorstander - seems like a poor value, I've always thought. On the other hand, maybe they'd be a more flexible option in my room with a greater chance of success than a floorstander?
The largely but not fully omni MWTs a couple of feet in front of you will work very well, better than most any other design I can think of, for casual listening from that chair. You will mostly likely hear a coherently imaging soundstage beyond the speakers along the far wall. The tweeter on MWTs is directional and will be firing forward, so that and the damping inside the cage applied to the rear of the Walsh driver(to facilitate closer placement to rear wall) will work in your favor in that chair as well in regards to not getting blasted at close range.

I seldom listen behind my OHMS (no chairs there) but I do listen sometimes near field about 2 feet or so in front and to the left of my left OHM F5.
I guess I should add that another reason I've never seriously contemplated monitors on stands is that the setup never struck me as ideal soundwise - for example the idea of two monitors sharing a single subwoofer sounds like a muddled compromise by definition. Maybe it's simply because I haven't really scrutinized reviews on monitors, but I just haven't noticed people gushing fanatically about a pair of monitors the way they do about Ohm MWTs, Gallo 3.1s, etc.

My point is, I put "Dream Speakers" in the subject line for a reason - I really do want the sound of this system to awe and inspire. If that can be done with monitors, that's great. Otherwise, if you guys think floorstanders do indeed sound difficult given my chair-in-the-corner problem, I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't wait on buying a system altogehter until I move into a different apartment next spring...
Thanks Mapman - looks like you responded while I was typing that last post... I think you may have inspired me to give John at Ohm a call and see what he says... but still very curious to hear from any monitor fanatics, of course...
There are lots of directional monitors capable of eliciting awe...if you sit right in the sweet spot. Same true of directional floorstanders.

Good omnis can awe listening from most any location and hence can awe a room full of people all at the same time.

They do present the music differently though and it may take some getting used to at first, but once you tune in, there may be no turning back.
And BTW - I have looked into all of the monitor suggestions thus far - the Triangle Titus, the Sierra 1s, the Mark and Daniels - and some of the reviews sound great. But the reviews and testimony in general does seem a little thin versus some of the floorstanders out there that seem to have these vibrant cult followings...
Hey Mapman - looks like we were typing at the same time again - you actually bring up the other key concern I have about the Ohm MWTs... I've read concerns about the phasing, as well as the image size being oddly gargantuan... when you say they may take some getting used to, what are you referring to?
Omni directional speakers are just that, sound is radiated in multiple directions. Only a small % of the sound emitted from the part of the driver facing you reaches your ears directly. The rest reaches your ears indirectly as reflections off the walls, ceiling, etc. The result is a wide soundstage behind the speakers that generally extends from wall to wall, often even when the speakers are relatively close together. Some people do not like sound bouncing around off of walls and prefer a smaller more concentrated soundstage. Personally I do not get this because at any live (acoustic) performance, sound radiates omnidirectionally and bounces off walls, etc. but many do not feel this way. Also, wide dispersion is generally considered a good attribute of even more directional speaker designs. Go figure....
Hi Coverto,

A well setup sub + bookshelf system can awe and inspire for sure. In a small room, it will actually do this even more than a bigger floorstander that is too big for the room, because you won't run into the problems (notably boomy bass peaks, and missing bass troughs) that you will get from putting too big a speaker in a room.

I understand your concern about 2 speakers + 1 sub, but bass below 80hz is actually non directional, so as long as you set the crossover low enough, you can place the sub anywhere, and it will sound like the bass is coming from the speakers!

I want to be clear that I am not saying there is no way any floorstander can work in your room... but the average floorstander (especially if it has rear ports) will be a problem. I've never heard an Ohm speaker, but others on this thread seem to think it may work in a small room.

Regarding the stands, you are right that it basically takes up the footprint of a floorstander, but the point is that they enable you to use an appropriately sized speaker for the room, giving you overall better sound than the floorstander. You can get a good pair of stands for around $200, so when combined with the price of the speakers (assuming $2k or so speakers) would only be an additional 10%.

I think your best bet is getting to a couple of local hifi shops and hearing what a good pair of bookshelf speakers can do. It will only take 1 good demo to prove to you how capable they can be ( :

FYI - I own Gallo 3.1s. Great speaker, and they COULD work in your room, but again the problem is you don't have flexibility with placement for your bass, and will result in a rollercoaster bass response most likely. Being able to move the sub around lets you address this, and get an overall smoother and better sound in a small room.

The flip side of omnis (directional designs) is that it is perhaps more like what one might hear if listening at very close distance to the player at a live performance where you receive most of the sound directly from the instrument being played close by rather than as a combo of direct and reflected sound which is what one would hear if listening from more of a distance like typically at most concerts.

This effect can be accomplished as well by listening to good omnis more nearfield (close to the speaker) so that a greater % of sound reaches your ear directly, but it is more an inherent aspect of more traditional and directional speaker designs.
Thanks Goatwuss - I have actually auditioned a number of monitors, and was distinctly underwhelmed. But admittetdly, none of these were auditioned in conjunction with a subwoofer - kind of amazing in retrospect that the dealers didn't suggest that, because the main impression I had was that when I got home I thought the cheap pair of Infinity fronts paired with a cheap Sony subwoofer sounded much better overall than what I'd heard, which included Dynaudio 140s, B&Ws, Linns, etc...

Mapman - what you're saying makes me think it'd be great to audition a pair of these before buying, but is that possible?
"Mapman - what you're saying makes me think it'd be great to audition a pair of these before buying, but is that possible?"

You pay up front, audition in your home for several months (the only reliable way) and then can return for money back if not satisfied.
On the subject of the omni-directional sound - I did get a chance last week to audition some Gallo 3.1s, and it seemed to me that the sound of guitars and drums and such was very "up close" but nevertheless there was stereo imaging - guitar on one side, drums on the other, that kind of thing. So it wasn't necessarily a case of a singer's mouth being 10 feet wide, as one poster in another forum described it, but those drums and guitars and vocalists did seem pleasantly, satisfyingly big from where I was sitting. Without trying to lead the witness too much, is that the kind of thing I could expect from the Ohms?

Moreover - is there a witness out there who has heared both the Ohm MWTs and the Gallo 3.1s who could give a more detailed comparison?
I auditioned Gallo 3.1 refs and liked them but preferred both OHMs and Quad ESL. The OHMs are a fraction of the cost of QUAD ESLs I preferred.

The Gallos and OHMs have some similarities but the OHMs are smoother and more balanced top to bottom. Gallo REf 3.1 are more of a wide dispersion design (sound dispersed widely) but not omni directional (sound dispersed evenly in all directions. OHMs are pseudo omni in that the super tweeter is directional and the OHM omni Walsh driver's level is physically attenuated by damping material inside the cage in the wall facing directions to enable placement closer to walls (both back and side).

Micro Walshes will also cost about $1000 less than a pair of Gallo Refs new I believe.

The Gallos would probably work better than MWTs in rooms larger than yours. Larger and more costly OHMs would be needed there.
So, given that the Gallo 3.1s are more wide than omni directional like the OHM, is the image thrown by the OHM indeed larger than the Gallo 3.1 - the proverbial 10-foot-wide singer's mouth? When I auditioned the Gallos, I was sitting about eight feet back and the speakers were probably 8 feet apart. In retrospect, it was a slightly odd experience of being far away yet extremely close - in other words a large, localized image - a big guitar, maybe 10 feet long, being plucked in the vicinity of the right speaker, and a big snare drum, maybe two or three feet across, being brushed in the vicinity of the left speaker. Does that coincide with your recollection of the Gallos, and how would it compare with the imaging of the Ohms?
"a large, localized image - a big guitar, maybe 10 feet long, being plucked in the vicinity of the right speaker, and a big snare drum, maybe two or three feet across, being brushed in the vicinity of the left speaker. Does that coincide with your recollection of the Gallos, and how would it compare with the imaging of the Ohms?"

With good gear the OHM soundstage will generally extend from wall to wall and from speaker to ceiling vertically and may also have depth extending beyond the rear wall, depending on room, setup and listening position. Comparing a large soundstage to a small one is like comparing a detailed big screen TV to a detailed small screen TV. Some might prefer the smaller screen because the same picture appears sharper. Some will like the large screen because the image is still sharp but they can also make out more details because things are bigger and there is more space separating features of interest.

The perceived size and location of things will vary from recording to recording depending on how the piece was miked and produced. The OHMs will essentially just reproduce in your room what the producers capture in their recording and production process, which is really the best any system can do.

Accordingly, if you heard a "10 foot guitar", that may be due to very close miking during the recording process, kinda like the audio equivalent of a close zoom of the player doing his thing on a music video.
Hmmm. In light of the big-screen TV analogy, I guess that's why these Ohms are reputed to require high-quality amplification... anybody have any thoughts on an ideal amplifier for these things? Are there amplifiers that are particularly well-suited to omnidirectionals? Would it be overkill or ideal to pair them with a McIntosh MA6600 for example?
Gee whiz, this thread went to Omni-land in a hurry. You could be very happy with some very good medium to large monitors and a good sub, like a REL as suggested above.

My suggestions include:

Triangle Titus
PSB Synchrony 2 B
Vienna Acoustic Haydn
Harbeth HL-P3ES2
Spener SA-1
Usher Be-718 (used)
Dynaudio 140 Focus
Totem Model 1 Signature.

Given your space constraints, you might consider wood platform on the floor with larger monitor speakers angled up at you (see here for examples: http://www.mapleshaderecords.com/audioproducts/stands_smallspeakers_hub.php). I have large bookshelf speakers set up in this configuration and find it works well with strong bass reinforcement near the floor.

Recommended subs:

Definitive Technology SuperCube 1
Aperion Audio Bravus 10D

If you add a sub, you should get a sound pressure meter so you can integrate effectively with your speakers.

Or, short floor-standers instead of monitors with the same subs:

PSB Imagine T
Epos M16i
Quad 22L2
AV123 X-Static (unique)
Totem Forest (used)
Avalon Acoustic NP 2.0 Evolution

The Ohm Omni's are certainly one solution, and if you like their unique delivery, then go for it. I have found all the speakers listed above to provide above average enjoyment, and there are plenty of professional reviews for most as well.

Speakers of this quality will make you pine for a good source and quality amplification. That is for another thread.
On second thought, the AV123 X-Static may not work for your application because of it's size and need for breathing room.
I have used Klipsch Heresy II in an 11 x 14 x 8 room with some success. You will have no problems at all with overall loudness and dynamics. If the lowest bass is not sufficient you could add a sub, but I did not find that necessary with music as long as you keep the speakers close to the floor, on risers or very low (12" maximum) stands.
The X-static won't work well in this sized room - it needs a good amount of breathing room.

It is a shame that your monitor auditions did not include a sub being hooked up! Maybe you could try again, this time with a sub, to see how it goes?

The Usher Be-718 that knownothing recommended is one to seek out an audition for.

The Dynaudios in particular need a SS amp with the ability to drive some current, preferably doubling the WPC when the impedance drops to 4 ohms. The only problem is they require a bit of current running through them to really open up, which your sized room won't really allow. I owned Contour S1.4s for a few years, and always struggled with this. In a big enough room, they are mind-blowing with a Rel sub.
I concur with Goatwuss regarding Dynudios, benefit of current, and room size.

I've used my Contour 1.3mkIIs in the same 12X12 room as my smaller OHMs and they do very well there, but I believe would do even better in a larger room with a sub.

One day I'll substitute them in for my Triangle Titus 202s in my other system where I run a sub and give them a chance to really shine.
Guys - sorry I've been out of pocket the past day - was scrambling to head off for vacation and now I'm on it! Knownothing - thanks for all those great monitor suggestions - you've given me hours of material to investigate and look forward to reporting back. I'll be out of pocket for the next 8 days, periodically checking in, but appreciate all the continued input from you guys.

It's funny what you say about the Dynaudios needing big ss amps, because a dealer hooked some of those up to a 30-watt integrated Leben tube amp and I thought they sounded pretty darn good, even though they obviously needed a sub.

DD1 - I had actually begun my journey a couple months back with the idea of the Heresys, but got a little concerned about the reported lack of bass - wondering if that would be a problem in a smaller room. At this point though, I'm thinking they're probably too bulky for the furniture situaiton I'm dealing with, so I either need to think skinny towers or monitors...

On the amp side, do you folks think it would be overkill to splurge on something like a McIntosh 6900 or a Jeff Rowland Concerto to drive a setup for a smaller room? What about a Krell 400xi or a Creek Destiny?
Agree that Dynaudios can sound wonderful with moderate wattage tube amps - but more good juice can't hurt either.

Before we go onto amps - don't forget a quality source, or you will be at risk of G.I.G.O.

The amps you list are fine. Lots of power is not a problem in a small space per say, and will provide lots of dynamic head room for transients even when barely idling. But you will be paying for capacity that you may not ever use in current application. You may be better off from a sound quality standpoint to pay for more expensive internal parts in a lower output amp.

Here are a couple of threads with (my) former amp recommendations for your consideration:



Knownothing - "You may be better off from a sound quality standpoint to pay for more expensive internal parts in a lower output amp." This is exactly what I'd been thinking and I took a look at the links you posted. You mention Ayre and Naim, but it's not my understanding that those brands have more expensive internal parts than McIntosh, or some of the other big integrateds?

It is a combination of good parts, and how you put them together. McIntosh is a safe bet - my dad had a Mac amp that lasted him 30 years of trouble free service. And many people love Krell's accuracy and authority.

But the proof is in the pudding, or the listening in this case. I just find Naim and Ayre (or SimAudio Moon, or Blue Circle, or Pathos, or Plinius, or Unison, or Musical Fidelity, or other well-made but less well known brands) sound more interesting and engaging to me. If you don't have a giant room to fill or are not focused only on the huge dynamic swings of home theater as your goal, I just think you can do better for music reproduction than a big Mac or Krell for the money.

I suggest you get out and listen to some of these amps in combination with the speakers listed and others to hear what floats your boat. We can point you in some directions, but you ultimately navigate these waters with your ears and your pocketbook.

One last thing (again) - don't forget the importance of a good source. See the latest column by Sam Tellig in Stereophile (Vol. 32, No. 10) where he "waxes" enthusiastic about the new NAD C 375BEE Integrated amp, and then points out the importance of a good CD player to make it really sing. Based on his evaluation, you may want to add this $1300 amp to your list for audition.
All - just an update that I've done some research in the past couple of weeks, and the Ohms are the front runner at this point (just can't get excited about monitors, for some reason). I talked to John Strobheen who actually recommended that I go with the 1000s instead of the Micro Talls, which he said would give me an extra octave or so of bass to play with.

John mentioned in particular that the two doors in my room that would open to the back and side of the left speaker could make the bass sound thin on that side if left ajar, which frankly makes me wonder whether I shouldn't still be considering some more traditional front firers?

Also, given that the 1000s are bringing me up to the $2000 level, it has me wondering whether there wouldn't be superior alternatives on the used market in that price neighborhood. Again, one key requirement is that they be no more than 38 inches tall (and 36 or even 34 would be much, much better...)

The thing is, I do really like the idea of the huge, open airy soundstage supposedly thrown by the Ohms, and not having to worry about a tiny sweet spot in the middle of the room where nobody will be sitting. I had a chance to audition some Gallo 3.1 semi-omnidirectionals recently and was struck how boxed-in and congested other speakers, including Dalis, Viennas, B&Ws and even Meridians sounded by comparison.

(Yes, I'm still sort of interested in the Gallo 3.1s, although I didn't like the fact that the whole picture changed dramatically when you stood up from your chair, and I've been warned to worry about how the side-firing woofers would fare in my smallish room.)

I've heard that Green Mountains might fit the bill - that they are relatively easy to place (another key need), although they would obviously take me closer to the $3000 level used.

One last key point in favor of the Ohms is that they, like Green Mountains, would apparently have good synergy with Blue Circle, which is the front runner for the integrated amp I'm eyeing and which uses the Walsh drivers for its own Penny speakers.

Thanks again for all the help, it is much appreciated!
Coverto, one thing you might want to be aware of is that the ear/brain system reacts differently to early-arriving reflections relative to late-arriving ones. Briefly, early-arriving reflections tend to cause coloration, while late-arriving reflections tend to add richness and liveliness to the sound (assuming they're spectrally similar to the first-arrival sound). A fuzzy dividing line between "early" and "late" reflections would be at about 10 milliseconds, roughly corresponding to a path length of 10 feet.

So what I suggest is that you take a look at the radiation pattern of the speakers you're considering, and take a look at where you plan to place them. Measure the distance from the speakers to the center of the listening area, and then look for reflection paths that will give you a path length difference of ten feet or less relative to the direct sound.

The floor bounce is virtually inevitable, as is the ceiling bounce in most cases. How about the sidewalls? Some speakers will give you a stronger sidewall reflection than others. How about the wall behind the speakers? Dipole and omni owners usually try to pull their speakers a good five feet or so out from the wall; or if that's not feasible they often diffuse or absorb the backwave energy.

Different types of speakers are appropriate for different room and setup situations. In my opinion, it's a good idea to minimize early-arrival reflections within reason while preserving the energy of late-arriving reflections by not overdamping the room.

Duke - thanks very much for the input. If I understand your post correctly, you're essentially raising a question about sound bouncing off walls that would be close to the Ohms. One mitigating factor, I'm told, is that the Ohms aren't pure omnis, with front-facing tweeters and a wide-dispersion midrange cone that omits firing toward the back wall. I spoke to John Strobheen at Ohm who told me he figured between a foot and 18 inches from the wall would work fine for placement. I can tell you that the room is 11x14, opening into a kitchen at the opposite wall via double doors, and that there are doorways opening to the back-right and right of the right-hand speaker.

Too bad, your speakers look intriguing but I need a model that's less than 36 inches high!
"One mitigating factor, I'm told, is that the Ohms aren't pure omnis, with front-facing tweeters and a wide-dispersion midrange cone that omits firing toward the back wall. I spoke to John Strobheen at Ohm who told me he figured between a foot and 18 inches from the wall would work fine for placement."

True they are not 100% omnidirectional and have super-tweeters that fire 45 degrees forward and inward. Also true that they need some but not excessive amounts of distance from walls.

The wide range Walsh driver does emit sound 360 degrees however the output is attenuated in the wall facing directions by sound absorbing material located inside the cage to allow placement closer to walls than pure omnis.
I have the Gallo's and love them but I have found that they need to be well away from the walls for optimal imaging. Regarding bass you could place them with the side firing woofer facing inwards helping to make the sidewalls less a factor.
The thread listed below gives some ideas for more conventional front-firing, front-ported speakers as alternative to some of those already listed here. I think these would be more amenable to placement nearer the rear wall and adjacent to open passage/doorways on the side.


You could always try the Ohms and return if not satisfied.
I noticed today there are a couple pair of Super Walsh 2s (Walsh 2 cabinets with 100 series 3 drivers, like those I use in my system in one 12X12 listening room) up for sale on Agon currently for < $800, which is a very good value.

BTW I have no affiliation or other knowledge regarding the sellers, I just happened to notice.