From pro to hi-fi and a little confused...

I didn't want to bother you guys with another "which speaker" thread, but I've been on the fence for three weeks and could really use some advice.

Right now, I have an HSU VTF-2 ready to backup whatever loudspeakers I find and because I already have pre outs on my soundcard and mixer, I'm really looking hard at active speakers. My budget runs up to $2,000 and I'm setup in a mid-sized room that won't allow for floorstanders. Also, I listen to everything from classical to rock and need something that will not bust my eardrums, but allow me to be on-stage with the band to feel the music as well as hear it.

The Dynaudio Focus 110a's seem to have the sound quality I need, but I just don't know if they can represent rock music well?
Have you auditioned them using rock music you like? That seems the best way to answer your question.

Speaker opinions are all over the map. The only one that counts for you is yours.
The Dynaudio Focus 110a should be fine for rock. That being said I have a pair of the C1 signatures (just upgraded from the original C1) and both do well for rock with me. Some Dyn owners will say the focus and contour line is better suited for rock and heavy metal.

Good choice but try to audition them (especially in you home if at all possible) and that way you will know.
I would love to audition the Dyn's and would have done it already, but there isn't a dealer anywhere near me. The reason I didn't know if they could handle rock is because of their smallish size/output. I know my VTF-2 will help, but above all, I just want a "powerful" sound.
Rock music comes out of 15 and 18 inch woofers and horn mids and tweeters. To reproduce it you need 15 or 18 inch woofers and horn mids and tweeters:-)

No 6 inch driver is up to the job.
No Dynaudio dealer near you? Where are you located? Maybe a member here could help. I am currently listening to a pair Contour 1.3SEs and feel they do rock just fine. Big, full sound from a smallish package.
I would love to audition the Dyn's and would have done it already, but there isn't a dealer anywhere near me. The reason I didn't know if they could handle rock is because of their smallish size/output. I know my VTF-2 will help, but above all, I just want a "powerful" sound.
I always find it interesting how people decide they might like a particular speaker without ever hearing it. I'm not quite sure what a "powerful" sound means to you.

One alternative would be to buy a pair of Focus 110s used. There are four sets listed on Audiogon at this moment. If you get a good price, you can audition them at your leisure and then resell them for about what you paid if they are not to your liking.

You could also call various dealers and ask if any will ship you a set new with return privileges if you don't like them.

Either way you'll be out shipping costs but that's better than paying for a new set of speakers that you can only sell for a used price.
One alternative would be to buy a pair of Focus 110s used. There are four sets listed on Audiogon at this moment. If you get a good price, you can audition them at your leisure and then resell them for about what you paid if they are not to your liking.

I wish I'd suggested that. Look for reputable sellers and you can't lose much.
I for one have gone that route numerous times and have learned some valuable lessons. Number one is to take professional reviews with a grain of salt. Sometimes I agree, and sometimes I wonder what they hear that I don't.
Thanks for the advice, it's much appreciated.

I'm favoring the "active" Focus 110's by-the-way, the passive 110's would send me off looking for a receiver, which I am trying to avoid since I am pc based and wish to run through my mixer with little hassle - I am also ignorant in the area of perfectly matching a receiver and am afraid I'll have to extend my budget in the end.

About being drawn to the Dyn's in the first place. I've heard other Dynaudio's and love their sound. Also, there isn't a very big selection in the "active" loudspeaker department since I'm trying to stay away from pro monitors.

Furthermore, I know now that auditioning is the common sense thing to do. I will most likely purchase the 110a's used and resell if they don't fit. I was really hoping someone had the 110a's and could tie up these loose ends for me.
I listen to everything from classical to rock and need something that will not bust my eardrums, but allow me to be on-stage with the band to feel the music as well as hear it.
With rock music, it's hard to say. When I was young, I listened to music a lot louder than I do nowadays. I like Dynaudio speakers, but wouldn't recommend these for rock, at high levels. I think the buyer needs to hear them themselves, to see if they could give what volume and impact they may want. In the '80s, I would have bought them for a second system, just for the sound quality. Same thing for the little Rogers LS3/5 speakers where great for my bedroom.
The problem with actives is that when the amp goes south, so do the speakers. Common sense (not always followed) would indicate that neither the speaker nor the amp should be too pricey, since they're getting married...

There is also the consideration of whether you want the heat of the amp and the speaker coils in the same cabinet, or the rocking and rolling of the speaker being passed on to the amp, and probably some other things I have not thought of. Upgrade paths get complicated as well, since you have to upgrade two separate components simultaneously.

I don't mean to rain on your parade but those are the reasons I stopped looking for active speakers.

Being acquainted with pro sound, have you looked at Klipsch and Tannoy? If you buy used, you can get lots of decibels for your coin.
The problem I have with active (owned them twice) speakers is they are a pain to turn on and off. I'm not one of those who leaves equipment on 24/7 and it was a pain to reach behind the speakers for the power switch.
This may not concern you if you intend to leave them on or maybe have them situated for easy access. Something to consider.
Genelec 8040a or ATC SCM 16a are also worth checking out. Both will be a lot more accurate than the 110a which is kind of warm sounding from the low port tuning.
I second the comment about looking at Klipsch & Tannoy. The only component you would need to add if you use a passive speaker, would be an amp. No pre-amp, or receiver would be needed, as a matter of fact, you would most likely be able to save a bit on cables, since speaker wire is usually less $$ pr.ft. than interconnects.

I'd suggest listening to a pair of Klipsch Heresys, and mating them to a nice amp. Heresys can be found well under a grand used, and don't require any more than a good 100wpc to blow your hair back. there are countless excellent amps out there (new, or used) that would fit the bill for whats left of your 2K budget.

I just looked them up, and Klisch Haeresy IIIs are only $800 NEW! That would leave you $1200 for an amp & cables... now I'm even more confident in my recommendation. LOL!
Wow, a lot of suggestions. I'm having to educate myself about passives and it seems I've got a lot of reading to do. Also, I wish I had room for floorstanders, but not at this moment. I'll be using my desk, so desktop sizes will only work.
Thanks for your suggestions guys.
Why is it any time rock or similar music is mentioned people say things like 'get 15 inch drivers and horns?' Just ridiculous IMO. The reason why these speakers are used in live events is due to the size of the venue, and nothing more. Put a Marshall stack in any sized room in a house and you'll quickly find out why they're used in arenas and not in homes.

What rock music needs is speed, cohesiveness, and accuracy in reproduction. So does every other type of music IMO.

Forget the JBLs, CVs, et al that a lot of people mention here when they see rock music mentioned. It's a bunch of garbage. The majority of posters mentioning stuff like that have no clue.

ATC is a very good suggestion. PMC is another active line that sounds great. There are many others, but my experience with them is pretty limited. Not sure the active Quads are really up to the task. A bit too polite sounding to my ears.
I have a similar setup to what you are proposing. My office system speakers are Dynaudio BM5A's, which use the same tweeter and amps as the Focus 110A, but have a larger woofer. I used to use them with an HSU VTF-1, but replaced that a while ago with a VTF-3 MK III when I upgraded my HT sub. Both are being fed by a Benchmark DAC-1 PRE.

I listen mostly to rock as well, and IMO that is the Dynaudio's strength. The expressive tweeter makes rock a lot of fun. They'll also play plenty loud. I have briefly turned them up to the point where the amps go into clipping (indicated by a red LED on the front of the speakers), but would never listen for extended periods at those levels - it's just way too loud.

They also have the switches on the back that allow you to tailor the sound somewhat to your room or liking.

I had some PMC DB1+'s previously, and the Dynaudio are much more satisfying for rock. They're much more detailed and can play much louder without breaking up. Perhaps the newer DB1i are better, but I didn't feel the PMC were very good for the money. The build quality felt really cheap and the knuckle rap test confirmed it. The Dynaudio's have better build quality and higher quality drivers. Also, PMC's cheaper speakers are not really active; they are just passive speakers with amps bolted onto the back. The Dynaudio's are true active speakers with all the benefits that active crossovers and optimized amps bring.
I'd save my money for a big pair of active ATC's.

A cheaper, and perhaps equally pleasing, path toward rock the way you want would be Tyler PD series. Big active woofer(s) and horn.

Look for a pair traded back to Ty.
Ty is a class act.
Can't really go wrong with Tylers.
Here ya go.

End thread.
I'm glad to see the BM5a's praised, thanks for the response.

Saving money for bigger/better speakers is out of the question. I can't fit them in my area and I'm on a 2 week fast as it is to be able to scrape the $2000 together. I wish I could decorate my cave with amp/speakers that go to 11, but for now, quality over quantity.

Much respect to the intelligent people with solid advice stopping by.
Now now, he's going to need a big desk to prop the Tyler PD-anythings.

Seems as good a time as any to recall the classic parameters for a speaker: good bass extension, small size, and high efficiency--choose two out of three.
If you need an active that doesn't take up a lot of space, then look into Quested 2108 active monitors.
As for actives I have always liked paradigm active 20's and there is a pair up sale check them out.
Kbarkamian... My suggestion about large woofers and horn mids and tweeters is not simply about SPL. Such drivers impart a quality to the sound which is necessary for realism. I learned this decades ago when I discovered that an el cheapo horn mid/tweeter reproduced dixiland jazz better than much more expensive drivers.
What differences are you hearing in your C1 signatures compared to the originals?
Dynamic compression. Dynadios are fine loudspeakers but all things have there place. And if transducers and cabinets are undersized you limit dynamic ability's of loudspeaker. You have to sit very close to smaller loudspeakers to reduce this if not music peaks will sound harsh constricted forced many blame recording source or cables. Others just use more power thus creating thermo compression on top of designs dynamic compression. When in reality they are just asking to much from a small cone,undersized cabinets and weak magnets. Adding a sub or more can help but only if you filter bass from mains which in itself has - sonic consequences. Always best to do things right from the start then to live with to many compromises. I would suggest buying a larger loudspeaker, active, passive, proaudio, audiophile whatever you like.
creating thermo compression on top of designs dynamic compression.
Johnk (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)

They may not give the impact of bigger speakers, and my choice is larger also, but some small speakers still do come alive. They just don't do it as big. If you have good headphones, or speakers on your computer, check these little passive Dyna's out. Don't forget it's a compressed Youtube video, going through your computer. It doesn't sound to choked up to me. It looks like a budget Chinese tube amp, putting out about a whopping 12-18 watts per channel.[]
I don't know if you are interested in pro in any way anymore, but a pro company, SLS did a powered monitor that can play in the audiophile arena. I believe it is a PSR-8.
I've heard them in a very busy show setting, never critical listening, but I recall them to be pretty good.
The Dyn's your looking at should be great.
Hi JohnK,
As a whole I agree with your statements about Large Hi sensitivity speakers, but your statements aren't entirely fair. I'll just take dyns... "You have to sit very close to smaller loudspeakers to reduce this if not music peaks will sound harsh" Yes, they are less sensitive and require some power, but dyn has a lower crossover point on most of its smaller speakers than most to make them completely listenable without it being a must for nearfield, I've listened to some great 6 1/2 inch from 12 feet away without issue, next "Thermal compression". These guys use 3" coils on their woofers and normally 1.25" coils on their tweeters and are quite capable of playing all frequencies with a fair amount of power without heating up and compressing frequencies. "Undersized Cabinets" & "Weak Magnets",
You know these drivers have Plenty of motor structure to do as designed and in proper cabinets to support their driver size and qts/vas capabilities....No, they won't compete with large high sensitve speakers in sheer dynamic range, but with the right amps are dynamic and smooth in their own right.
To the others, John makes some wonderful High Efficiency speakers, he knows his stuff, I just wanted a fair comparison.
I have a pair of Focus 110A's and I really like them a lot. My audio system completely changed for the better with them.
I also have a pair of BM5A's and have compared the two briefly in the same system. The 110A's have better imaging, a tighter grip on the music, and are more holographic sounding. The BM5A's produce lower bass but also seem a bit boomy. Cello sounds better through the BM5A's. I preferred the 110A's for every other type of music.
The bass may seem lean at first but I believe it is the accuracy of the true active design of the 110A's that eliminates the muddy or boomy bass of many passive speakers.
The great part is that you can adjust the bass output depending on the placement of the speakers.
They are very revealing, to the point that I now prefer listening to my vinyl rather than CD's.
They tend to make aggressive rock music sound slightly polite which takes a bit of getting used to. As someone mentioned earlier, rock music comes from 15" woofers.
There are times when I cannot walk away from the music playing through these speakers because it is so lifelike. Good female voices give me goosebumps.
You will need a very good source to really enjoy them.
Good luck.
84db 1 watt 4 ohms you can bet that 3in coils near melting point at peaks. I do think its a fine sounding loudspeaker but its not without flaws or weakness like all things. To me I hear smaller designs compress dynamics and when played loud I here the effects of thermo compression. Maybe I'm just jaded but to me small is a compromise I do not want to make in my main system.
The smaller designs definitely compress and also suffer from port chuffing ( non linear port effects at large excursions). John is correct that big really is better in this case, however, small near fields are practical and bring aesthetic advantages over big bad boys.

There are measurements for focus 110

There is significant thermal compression at the low impedance points when playing loud. As volume increases from 90 to 95 dbSPL you lose as much as 3db at 50 and 150 Hz!

Provided you listen at a distance of 3 feet or less and do not require concert listening levels that should not be a huge problem. If these are used for mixing then a second pair of larger monitors will be required for bass checks.
Honestly, if your looking to maximize your $2k budget, I don't think powered speakers are what you should be looking at. The most "bang for your buck" is going to be a reasonable mix of an amp & speakers... preferably used. If my suggestion of Klipsch Haresys was too big, maybe something like Linn Kans, or Spicas, either one would sit on a desk top, or stand in a small room, and mate well to your subs. With all the money you'd still have, an amp should be no problem. Maybe a small Bryston, or even a Spectral DMA50... if you can find one. Point is, I don't think a powered speaker is really the most musical choice, given your budget.
Hi JohnK & Shadorne,
I'm not arguing that there aren't benefits to sensitivity or size and John, I really don't think your opinion is necessarily jaded. You argue your preference. Shadorne, I still think you overstating negativity about the Focus 110 or maybe smaller speakers in general(you need to listen from 3 feet away?) There is no doubt that many 84 db speakers will sound compressed in dynamics compared to a 98db speaker and not to start a tube/solid state debate, tubes can be wonderful, but put reasonable solid state on those big bad boys and many times they don't sound so smooth(not always)... next small cabinets image wonderfully in small to medium rooms, I imaging Ipaul could tell you more. I'm really not an advocate of small or large speakers, tubes or solid state, I've tried it all and have always been able to achieve some very nice results, I have built 99 db 15" 3 ways that I loved and am currently using an 86db 4 ohm 7" mtm... I just feel like there could be a little more balance to the conversation. What do you tell a guy that has a 12X15 room, or is tight on funds and already own an Adcom or something. The op already owns a HSU sub, how about some friendy advice for his inquiry?
I agree with Timlub. This guy is asking for help. How about giving something positive. He states he can't use floor standing speakers. I don't think anyone here is saying large speakers aren't any good. I have big and small, as the room, and situation allows. So where is the help?