Sell me your BAT VK300x when you decide to replace it-
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Your amp should be fine. What are you looking for or missing (bass?). I have found this speaker to be a little picky (in the bass) about placement. How far are they from the rear/side walls?
I have heard these several different times, two different rooms. Once was with 90 watts a channel Arcam mono blocks. It was plenty of power, the room was 15X22X9 and I sat about 10 feet back. They were close the rear wall in this room (about two feet). They had plenty of bass but it was a little muddier than the other room.
In the other room (about 14X20X8 I sat 8 feet back) I heard them on Arcam mono blocks and some way out of my price range Krell amp. The 1037s were pulled way out into the room (5+feet). Because of this they had NO bass. The Krell was more refined than the Arcam but I did not feel that it came from more power.
James63, They were sitting about a foot from the rear wall. There isn't any sidewall. I moved them further apart and out a bit more. Well, maxed as much as my cables will allow. Actually, it sounds better. Maybe I should get longer cables. I still have three or four feet more that I can utilize. They were about six feet apart and now they're about nine. I also towed them in a bit more. Raquel, your point sounds like the problem. Maybe I should move everything downstairs to the den which is 15'x15' with 8' ceilings.
You definitely do not want to move them into a square room (15' x 15'), which would be the worst possible acoustic environment - square rooms accentuate room modes, usually guaranteeing large peaks and dips in a system's frequency response.
I assume that you are reluctant to part with such nice speakers, but the space you have calls for something bigger, assuming you listen to challenging music (orchestral, loud rock). Yes, adding subwoofers would help, but your main speakers are, at the end of the day, best for mid-sized rooms (one midrange driver per speaker).
The sound is somewhat different than the Focal house sound (but reasonably neutral), and their look will not appeal to a lot of people, but a used pair of Dynaudio C-4's would be an affordable option -- they are very good speakers that will fill large rooms and should work with your amp (I am not otherwise going to get into recommending speakers, as there are so many variables and available options).
Raquel, The square room has a staircase and a hallway that lead into it. Actually, the hallway is attached to the room it's self. That would make the room another 4' wider. There aren't any interior doors in the room. Looking at it in that prespective it's not square. The other major loss by moving them is my wall of windows and my view of the lake and mountains. Different speakers? Hmm ....... that's painful ........
IMO, JM Lab's require more power than their specs and suggested amplifier power range would indicate, if you want them to come to life. My Mini Utopias have an efficiency rating a little over 91db. I was powering them with 70W conrad johnson amps but never felt like I was getting their best. So, when a 200W cj became available, I called Focal to see if they thought this might yield the results I was looking for. They told me that 70W was more than enough and that the impact of more power would be negligible - maybe a "little more oomph". Well, I made the change and got a lot more oomph and then some. They sound like much bigger speakers; they play louder with more detail, better sound-stage, and unravel complex lines without effort. It's like the difference between driving a sub-compact and a big Cadillac on the expressway.
What is the current problem(bass, sound stage, impact, etc)?
Have you ever tried any other amps?
While I like Focals pretty well; as a whole I think they lack scale (even some of there larger models). I listen to a lot of hard rock. I loved them for small jazz and softer stuff but throw some Metallica in and they come up a little short IMO. You could say I have a love / hate relationship with Focal speakers.
I guess my point is that if you are trying to open them up with more power it might be a moot point. They do some very nice things though. They have "real" detail (not hyper detail) and great mids. But large scale music is not their best type. I am not saying they sound bad just that there are speakers with larger scale at the same price point. As always it is a give/take relationship. With scale other assets that the focal do so well maybe lost.
I would not rush out and buy new speaker but 5 grand for "possible" returns is a lot. I would want a sure thing. If it were me, I would keep my amp sell the speaker (for $7,000) and buy a used pair of a different brand. If you really love focal you could sell you 1037be and buy a used pair of Altos (there is a pair on Audiogon for $10,000 right now). To me the Altos would be a bigger up grade than a "better" amp.
I don't think I'll ever really understand why a Watt isn't just a Watt, or at least, why one Watt sounds more powerful than another.
Going back some years, a dealer I was friendly with sold both JM Lab and BAT. I walked in one day and caught him demonstrating, to a prospective customer, how much more effortlessly the Mezzo Utopias played powered by a pair of BAT VK-60s in mono block(120W), than they sounded with the VK-300x. As I recall, there was no contest.
Phaelon, I thought more power would bring them to life. At low volumes they sound good. Crank them up and the sound just looses it's zeal.
James63, I guess the biggest problem is that the sound diminishes with volume. The soundstage has gotten better since I have moved them further apart. I use to run Maggie 3.6's with subs and a Spectron Musician amp. I had no problem filling my large listening area. I jumped back into the "addiction" hobby and went with the VK300x with a phono card and remote option. I wanted to try not buying seperate components. So here I am after the fact thinking I made a big mistake. I'm a rocker and I do some jazz once in a while. So what do I do to get the most from what I have?
I do thank all of you for your input. I am not any closer to resolving the problem. Do I go after more power? Buy a better speaker? Move the system to a smaller area? Gee, this isn't very easy!
"Phaelon, I thought more power would bring them to life. At low volumes they sound good. Crank them up and the sound just looses it's zeal."
Zenieth, that echos what I experienced with my speakers. I almost never listened to rock because of it. My new amps rock. If you like your speakers, don't lightly abandon them, give them what they crave - POWER!
Zenieth, I have a passion for older small scale jazz, classical piano, etc. So, I personally can't imagine my system without tubes. That said, if I were almost exclusively a rocker, I would probably go with a big solid state rig, and if you like the sound of BAT, there is a VK-600se on Agon right now for $6500. That outta shake thing up a bit.
I am going to tag out of this question. I do not have a lot of experience with doing direct A/B comparisons with amps. You should try and get some in home demos from your dealers. Most dealers are pretty easy going about amp demos. Then you can see if you can get the Focals up to were you want them. The problem is everyone on here will recommend a different amp.... You have to use your own ears.
As a final though. I was VERY close to buy the 1037be but as I listen mostly to rock they just did not have the scale or punch I wanted. I ended up passing and deciding on Thiel 3.7s which I plan to buy as soon as the basement project is finished (just another month now).
Hope it all works out for you. Please post your finding once you decide.
In retrospect, and as Raquel pointed out, that is one "BIG" room you have there. Also, my "rock n roll" standards are probably less critical than yours. While I still suspect that you'll ultimately want a big amp(s) to rock your room, different speakers might be needed. I've heard some good things about the PBN line of speakers from other rockers.
"I'm a rocker and I do some jazz once in a while. So what do I do to get the most from what I have? ... Do I go after more power? Buy a better speaker? Move the system to a smaller area? Gee, this isn't very easy!"
I have to assume that you want to use your large room as your listening room, and if you like to listen to rock, which requires scale, it's your best option, so let's take that as a given.
Your Focals are very good speakers, but, regardless of the room, they are not suited to really large scale music like orchestral or rock (in fairness, very few speakers are). I will assume that you have a speaker budget of approximately $10k. To do rock 'n roll with Focals, you need the Nova Utopia BE or Grand Utopia BE, both of which are very expensive even when purchased used. WattPuppy 6 to 8's are also "rock" speakers, but they, too, are too expensive (and I hate their tweeter). Two speakers available used for $10k that have finesse, a lot of headroom and that will work with your amp are the C-4's mentioned above and Escalante Fremonts, which I run. The Fremonts, especially, will work with a 150 watt/channel amp, as they are highly efficient (a true 93 db.) and will knock the walls down with 100+ watts/channel. If you are in the NYC metropolitan area, you are welcome to come by and hear for yourself (I drive mine with either a 70 watt/channel VAC Renaissance 70/70 or a 125 watt/channel darTZeel, both of which yield superb dynamics).