Also, Lou Hinkley of Daedalus is a pleasure to deal with, and he offers 30-day return privileges less two-way shipping and $200.
Thanks Al, I knew I left one off my short list.
After hearing the bass improvement in my room after moving from large speakers to somewhat smaller speakers with two subs, I will probably continue down that path. The trick is finding smaller speakers that provide the desired level of dynamics, scale, and rich tonality within their frequency range. The "smaller" stand-mounted speakers I currently use have two 9-inch woofers and weigh over 100 lbs each and they more than meet my dynamics, scale, and tone requirements. They also use sealed boxes, which I find to improve bass.
This is a bit of a conundrum since my current set up sounds very good and standing pat is probably a good option, but moving to more efficient speakers and lower powered amplification aligns with my "simplification" goals. I know which amplifier I would like to try but all of this gets expensive and tiring since I would then have to sell and relocate 350 pounds of speakers and stands. I am however interested to hear about which speakers are available that would be well driven by 50/100 wpc into 8/4 ohms.
Sure: Sonist. Know of them? I own their largest floorstanders, and have them listed currently on this site. Love ’em, but I always rotate gear. The model I have are 97db, and I use my 10 watt tube MiniMax on them, and my 400w Digital Amp Co. Cherry amp on them. And they sound killer. I think they sound most similar to Tannoy, which I owned a few years back (the big Churchills). Ever heard any big Tannoy? With dynamics to die for? Sounds like them.
Shopping for fresh gear is all part of the fun! ;)
@salectric , I have been interested in Spendor SP 100s, as well as Harbeth M40.2s but both of those have relatively low sensitivity for a 50-watt amp, although both are somewhat "easy" to drive from the standpoint of impedance. Just not sure 50 watts would make them jump.
Spendor Classic SP100R2 loudspeaker Specifications
Sensitivity: 89dB/W/m. Impedance: 8 ohms nominal, 5.5 ohms minimum.
Harbeth M40.1 loudspeaker Specifications
Sensitivity: 85dB/W/m. Impedance: 6 ohms nominal. Suggested amplification: >50W.
With ceramic midrange driver, it has an organic midrange sound with good details.
Also with active bass it is easy to drive with 50 W SET.
I drove this speaker with Line Magnetic 508 with good result.
I keep this one as second speaker to Lansche 4.1 (55K$ speaker with plasma tweeter).
Although it go down decent, it will help to match it with good subwoofer.
If you are interested, I can loan VAUGHN CABERNET to you for 2 weeks.
Tweeter: Split Ribbon
Mid Range: 6.5" Ceramic w/ 6.5" Passive
Woofers: Two 10" w/ Dual 10" Passives
Impedance: 8 ohms nominal, 12 ohms in
bass region, minimum 6 ohm
Sensitivity: 93 db
Response: 34 hz - 60,000 hz
Power: 8 - 120 watts
Weight: 86 lbs
Size: 9" x 14" x 42"
i owned the Spendor SP-100 for over 15 years and used it with a variety of amps ranging from Classe CA-300 (300 watts per channel) at one extreme to a single ended 46 tube amp (1 watt) at the other extreme, with lots of other tube amps in between. They all sounded good (although the 1w amp clearly had its limits). Based on my experience, with some occasional loud volumes, I would say the Spendors sound their best with a high-quality push-pull tube amp of 35-50 watts per channel. The sensitivity rating of 90db only tells part of the story, however. The SP-100 also has a rather flat impedance and is easy to drive.
My comments are limited to the SP-100, not the R or R2 models which are different speakers.
I considered the Harbeth 40.2 when I was in the market for a new speaker. Although I wasn’t able to compare them directly, I am pretty confident the Harbeth would have a similar tonal balance with slightly better detail. The Harbeth is not as easy a load as the SP-100 though and many people feel it needs a powerful solid state amp.
Mitch some great options listed here, I have AN-Js myself, but just wondering since you keep mentioning a 50 watt amp do you have a particular amp in mind? I took a look at your system, it's pretty awesome looking, as SS amps go I bet those Claytons are pretty sweet. You mention liking the setup so is the move downsizing or just curious to try something new?
I one owned a pair of speakers that sounded hauntingly beautiful with a low powered SS amp: the original JM Reynaud Ofrande speakers, made in France. Absolutely beautiful looking and sounding speakers.
I ran these with an Atoll 80w SS integrated amp and it was a perfect match. These just didn't work in my room (long wall, fireplace, couldn't pull them out enough into the room) but I can honestly say that these are the ones that got away.
There's a pair of Usher BE-10 DMD's on AG right now I think would fit the bill. they're big and heavy and have a look you're either going to love or hate, but they offer all the resolution we expect from a modern hi-end speaker and manage to throw a wide deep sound stage. musical and engaging, and sound really good right out of the box without hiring a crew to set up and tune your room for.
I like AN-E's that you mentioned and recommendations for the Spendor SP100. I don't know what price range you are looking at, so as a broad mention of speakers that will probably work well with 50 watts, the following brands are worth looking into:
1. Tekton (I heard their $3,000 model at a show and it sounded quite good.
2. Charney Audio--I've heard a $13,000 and a $17,000 model (same speaker with different full range driver) and both were VERY good, particularly the $17,000 model with the AER 3 driver).
3. Rethm Bhaava--this is a $3,000 speaker with a wide range driver and a built-in powered subwoofer that sounds great for the price.
4. ProAc--I like a number of models in their lineup. Although not that high in efficiency, their speakers sound quite good with modest power--must be easy to drive. I particularly like the big D48R floorstander and the D2 stand-mounted speaker.
5. DeVore Gibbon X--perhaps not as low-power friendly as the O 96 Orangutans, but I heard them with a 30-watt Luxman integrated and the combination sounded quite good.
Good luck in your search.
Kalili...I tried them on stands as that seemed like a good idea, but they sound better on the floor with their original their little tilt back stands. I now have them 3 feet from the front wall pointed straight out with no tow-in, about 6 feet apart (measured from the center of the speakers), and 9 feet from my fat head. Great "holographic" or "realistic" or "psychedelic" or something sound, as it's like the musicians are right there in my listening space attempting eye contact and mumbling things about me...hey...they're watching my every move...gotta get out...
Your questions raise some good points and even though the thought of simplifying my system is attractive, the simplest route is probably to stick with the speakers and amps that I already own. I do have a 50-watt amp in mind but for the power I need to drive my current speakers, it just isn't in the cards.
There are some very interesting speaker choices provided in this thread so I expect others will benefit from the responses here. I wish I had posted this 20 years ago when I started down this audio road. Using more efficient speakers would have opened up a much larger variety of amplification choices, virtually all of which would have been less expensive than the amps I need to drive my inefficient speakers.
I am curious about any downsides of some of the efficient speakers mentioned here, such as the Klipsch Heresys or AN-Es, like midrange colorations or other sonic aberrations. I have a friend who has been using the Heresys for years and likes them.
I have AN-Es right now but am looking for an alternative.
The ones I'd like to demo are:
Zu (not sure which model)
Cube Audio Nenuphar
Pure Audio Project Trio15
I'm a little hesitant about going for anything with down-firing bass woofers because I live in a condo. If this wasn't a concern I'd be interested in:
hORNS Universum III
Tune Audio Anima
I have the Eufrodite Ellipses with the newer woofers. In my room and set up the speakers are very cohesive and speak with one voice. They do like breathing room.
Show conditions aren’t the best place to hear them. At Jeff’s (Highwater Sound) place they sound much better.
Good Luck with your search!
The full range speaker at the top of my list is the Cube Audio Nenuphar. It has a 10" driver that is made in-house. I've also heard good things about the full range drivers from AER.
My exposure to full range speakers is, however, very limited.
I've demoed a number of horn speakers but have never truly enjoyed any that I have heard.
Thank you very much, Ralph and exlibris.
I don't really have any speakers that meet mitch2's requirements. My "fullrange" speakers go deeper than 40-50 Hz, and my "made to be used with subs" speakers cut off higher than that, in anticipation of the Swarm doing a better job than a pair of speakers can in the bass region.
For instance the main speakers I showed at RMAF last year are designed to cross over to subs up in the mid-to-upper 60's. I think they meet at least some of the other criteria though (benign impedance curve, lower-90's efficiency, drivers with characteristics that imply good dynamics). I won't make sound quality claims because who's gonna believe a manufacturer's opinion of his own products?
I would give the Cube Audio Nenuphar serious attention. I know an owner of them who’s opinion I have considerable regard for. He says this is a superb and very natural sounding speaker. Open sounding to the point that they seem to completely disappear in the listening room. Also an exceptionally easy impedance load. Perhaps one the very finest single driver speakers currently available.
AN-15 Alinco Classic speakers are the only speakers that have gotten me to the I am there point, but they are extremely revealing thus intolerant of poor upstream gear.
The owner of the Nenuphar I referred to uses a 2A3 SET amplifier and confirms it works exceedingly well with this speaker. If the chosen low powered amplifier is of sufficient quality the Nenuphar will exploit it attributes and provide a beautiful listening experience. I hope your upcoming audition goes well.
I’m familiar with Thomas Mayer amplifiers/preamplifiers and they occupy a very elevated performance tier and are universally acclaimed for their magnificent built and sound quality. I commend you for your taste. I’ve no doubt that your amp pairing with the Nenuphar will be simply splendid. If you have the time I’d love to know your listening impressions. I looked at your system page and you have a wonderful system. The Thomas Mayer amplifiers are gorgeous 😊.
"I’ve had Audio Notes for the past 7 years and haven’t found anything yet to replace them. Maybe I never will."
I always thought the big Audio Note’s had a delicious richness about them that really stood out from the crowd. One could easily get totally lost in the music listening to them. My impression was that they’d be totally non-fatiguing to listen to all day long. Don’t think I ever heard the small ones.
The only concern I might have is this: They are so well-balanced as-is that adding subwoofers might tend to tip the tonal-balance teeter-totter too much towards the low end. Not an insurmountable problem, just something to take into account when dialing in the subs. For instance, one might be able to restore balance just by pulling the Audio Notes forward a bit and away from their recommended boundary-reinforcement-intensive placements.