Full Range speakers for a living space

First (and long) post- sorry.

I know there is a similar thread going at the moment about NICE looking speakers, but I don't want to hijack that thread with my question.

I don't have a listening room, and nor do I want one, I love listening to music, with my wife (and friends - when the world returns to 'normal') in our living room [17.5' x 11.5' at the narrowest - but it the room opens out a few more feet. Ceilings are 13').

Sources are Aurender and Michell Gyrodec (with Dynavector Karat). Audia Flight phono, VTL 5.5 II pre and Gamut D200i power. All cables are Synergistic R Atmosphere L2
Current speakers are JM Reynaud Abscisse.

When I lived in the UK I had amps by Audiolab, Naim and Exposure, and I had various models of ProAc speakers.

My current system is better in most ways in comparison to those previous systems, the treble is sweater, the midrange is more open and detailed and the bass,midrange and treble are well integrated. However I don't feel the soundstage is enveloping as I would like. Nor can I pinpoint exactly where the musicians are. The lower range does not extend as far as I would like. And I just feel that a certain dynamism (I guess some would call it PRAT) feels lacking.

I am pretty certain I can improve on the first 3 of these with a change in speakers. I think my tube preamp may be affecting the PRAT, but I really do love the midrange I get, so I am aiming to stick with my VTL for now.

My music taste is principally rock: 60s classic psychedelia, 70's classic rock, 80's rock and synth-wave (think Depeche Mode) and almost the entire Metal spectrum from the originals (Black Sabbath) through the mainstream classics (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead) all the way to modern Thrash, Doom and Black Metal. I also listen to classic EDM (Underworld, Chemical Brothers), Roots, Rocker and Dub Reggae and old school hip hop. Music that never gets played is female vocal, Jazz, classical, MOR Pop (except Neil Diamond after too much wine), AOR and especially Prog-Rock (Yes, ELP)

Given the dropped guitar and bass tunings in a lot of metal and how deep synth-bass can go I am thinking I need speakers that can go down to 24,25,26 Hz. Anything lower might overload my room.

Now comes the really hard part: I have specifics about the looks and placement of the speakers, because the room is still my living room so I really do not want a pair of Wilson Sophias sat in the middle of it :
1) I really do not want the FRONT of the speaker to me more than 3' from the front wall
2) I really do not want BLACK speakers
3) I would really prefer to have speakers that are stylish (which I know is subjective), but basically I am trying to avoid a simple tall rectangle
4) Budget is $15,000 new or used, in fact I have a preference for used since even the greatest speakers depreciate significantly the moment the original owner opens their crates - and I accept that this makes auditioning with my kit impossible - which is partly why I am reaching out for help.

So I have been thinking that sealed, TL, isobaric or bottom-ported speakers might help me get bass extension with room friendly placement. Thoughts so far are:
- Sonus Faber Armati (might be too deep physically)
- T+A Criterion
- Neat acoustics Ultimatum XL6 or XL10 (although these are tall rectangles)
- Egglestonworks Nine
- Lawrence Audio Double Bass (available in wood finish so I am told)
- Piega Coax 711 (interesting in silver aluminum)
- Paradigm persona 7F
- YG acoustics Kipod signature (passive and in silver - very hard to find one)

Obviously a Magico S3 M-Coat would be a fantastic option, but they are not within budget

If anyone has experiences with these speakers with a similar set-up to me or with similar music I would love to hear feedback and I am especially looking for ideas and feedback on speakers that might suit me. Thank you in advance for your assistance.


Ag insider logo xs@2xianellis
My system is in the living room and my wife loves the look of the quatros very room friendly you have a lot of placement options  and the bass can be dialed to the room Vandersteen has some great finishes to choose from
Why do you think full range speakers are necessary? You'll get better bass response with several subs in a DBA. These can be almost any size or shape, including ones that will fit under or behind furniture. With several subs placement can be almost anywhere. A superb DBA with better bass response than any of the speakers on your list will be only around $3k. This leaves $12k for a pair of what can now be stand or even bookshelf size speakers. Since we are now at this point talking about looks not sound my work here is done.
@millercarbon Many Thanks for the response. I had considered subs, and matching them with something from Vivid's oval line or Wilson Duette, but then i considered all the power and LFO cables I would need snaking about the place and discounted that option.

You can power four subs from one amp, and wire only needs to be ordinary 14ga. Run the wire from one to the next, series or parallel depending on the impedance you're after. Its what I did. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 
+1 OHM speakers work great in large area, but they don't meet the not a rectangle requirement. 
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Ohm Walsh and there are several cabinet shapes possible. None are rectangular. You have to contact Ohm Speakers and inquire what options are available at any particular time.   
You should consider Tannoy speakers, They look, and sound, beautiful, but with dynamic music, will scare the hell out of you with what they can deliver when the music demands it.

Look into Canterbury, they should easily fall into your price range used. Best of luck with your search,

Have you tried rolling tubes in the preamplifier?

That would be my first step.

Also, your power amplifier has some kind of a setup for bi-wiring (specific pair of outputs go to the LF's and  the the other pair to mids/highs).


Enveloping soundstage vs. speakers close to wall behind them=pretty much mutually exclusive.

Contact GIK for a sonic audit of your room and suitable room treatment.

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It sounds like you're looking for an endgame speaker, especially to follow your current JM Reynaud Abscisse speakers.

I can't think of many speakers that would fit your bill apart from the ones used by Floyd Toole no less, the Revel Salon 2s.

Almost everything out there needs a sub to get anything much useful below 40Hz, and maybe even these, maybe not.

I'd imagine, despite the high demand for them, you should be able to pick up a well looked after pair for under $15k.

I would if I could.


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@dekay I have my speakers bi-wired currently.

@dweller @tvad legacy and daedalus look interesting - i am investigating.

Also thanks to all for the Vandersteen info and to those recommending subs I am researching - just reading about the 4 sub swarm product.
I went from Reynaud offrandes to Neat Ultimatum MF7’s to Wilson Benesch Vectors.  So, I’d toss the Vectors into the mix.  I’ve used Exposure amps with both the Neats and WB’s.  I switched to the WB’s mainly due to house move with a smaller room which the Neats overloaded, both visually and sonically.  The Vectors are out of your price range, but there’s a used pair here for sale.  Both are great speakers, and if I had a bigger room and wallet, I’d happily move up in either line.
dweller is right, you are describing Legacy speakers. I listen to the same stuff you do (and maybe even further off the beaten path into Norwegian metal every now and again) and the Legacy Aeris have been great. For your budget you can get a used pair with the Wavelet and even program in some adjustments for when you have a crappy recording. 

You don't have to go up to the Aeris, there are a few models with powered subs that will let you enjoy some powerful bass.

I have heard the Lawrence (very nice, but more relaxed sounding to me) and the Piega (fast but thin sounding - could have been the room though), so try your best to listen to what you can as everyone has a little different hearing. 
The Janszen Valentina A8 speakers fit your criteria almost perfectly. The electrostatic mid and high range are extremely clear. The imaging is precise and the bass goes well into the 20’s.


I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to provide so many great options. I have a lot of research to conduct.
There have been a lot of recommendations for Legacy products and their Focus SE model looks a potential.
Also many nods towards Daedalus. They get great reviews, are clearly extremely well made, but just don't do it for me aesthetically.
I have also had some private messages recommending the PMC Fact 8 and 12 and the Larsen 9, which I am looking into.

@dentdog @gordon The Tidal and Wilson Benesch speakers are all beautiful, but are unfortunately too far a financial stretch for the models that extend deep enough.

@academic The JansZen Valentina look really nice. I would need the passive version because there are no power outlets on the wall behind the speakers. I had always discounted electrostatic panels because .... cats and their claws, but I will look again.

Some of the things you mention that you are missing could be directly attributed to the room. If you have an open floor plan with high ceilings, imaging can become diffuse and most all of the aspects of proper music reproduction suffer. Before you go down a rabbit hole, you should mention if this room opens into the rest of the house or not. And what if any room treatments you have done. Since this is a living area, I'm guessing the answer to that is none.


@ianellis  The WB's were much less expensive when I bought the Vectors, before there was a US distributor, just a couple dealers.

I'd be interested in you experiences if you hear/get the Neats.
i have some free range speakers
they sound great
but sometimes they crap behind the couch
WAF is low
very low
Metal and no low frequency control?

The only truly full range speakers use adjustable self powered subwoofers. Unfortunately, the speaker location is usually the worst place for the low end of the full range.

Most any room can handle crazy low frequency IF you have control.

You know Syzygy makes really small self powered wireless remote control sensibly priced subwoofers and I’m sure there are a few more choices by now. I imagine they’re mostly black though. 

You seem so close, why not the VTL 150 and a tiny sub?
@m-db Those Syzygy subs being wireless are extremely interesting. I think I could accommodate 3 of them without too much of an issue. The do only come in black, but I have a friend who runs an exceptional car wrap shop so I can always get them wrapped to a dark walnut wood grain finish.

(PS the VTL-150 is sidelined as it need re-tubing and I haved moved onto SS power.)

@ozzy62 Just for background this house is an 1882 brownstone. Someone in the 1970s/80s started modernizing it, but fortunately they did not get too far, and I have managed to spend the necessary time and money restoring it back: Repairing all the mouldings, and putting back fireplaces and doors. It still has original lath-and-plaster walls, which is why it is difficult to add new power outlets and impossible to run cables through walls. Being 'original' is also why there are zero room treatments, and to be honest with the look of the products I have seen for treatment, I cannot see any being added.
When facing the speakers midway on the right wall are the doors to the room. These are pocket doors and always open - leaving an opening 11' tall and 9' wide, onto the hallway, specifically the bottom of the main stairs.

To wrap up and hopefully this next statement is not anathema to this group:

If locating the main speakers far from the wall, adding subs and room treatments gives me sound that I consider 100% perfection. Then I will accept 80% if I can get that without doing any of those things and just change my main speakers.
If I ever decide on a dedicated listening room then I will shoot for 100%.
@ianellis I love the PMC Fact series.  The BB5 XBD is one of my favorite sounding speakers of all time.  But you don't get a lot of bang for your buck.  You have to spend considerably more $$ beyond the Fact series to get reference performance out of the PMC line. They're great, they're just not "giant killers" which is what most of us are searching for.  Unless we already own the giant in question :)

I have always believed that you're going to buy top tier reference speakers, they should outclass speakers costing far more.  I've represented several speaker manufacturers over the years but Legacy always seems to be the brand that causes peoples jaws to hit the floor or get that "goosebump" factor.  I decided to rep them after leaving RMAF absolutely floored by their performance and usually regard them as best in show year after year.  

But the real secret to getting any of the speakers in the Legacy lineup to have the magical sound signature you hear at the big audio shows is to pair them with the Legacy Wavelet.  Yes it's a $5k preamp/dac that does room correction.  But once you hear Legacy/Bohmer's implementation of frequency and time domain room correction in the wavelet, you'll never go back to listening without it. I prefer it over Dirac or Room Perfect.  Adding a Wavelet to a system is the auditory equivalent of upgrading your speakers and preamp. It's that drastic.  Just for kicks, try toggling the wavelet correction on and off during a listening session and you won't believe you were ever able to tolerate the sound before correction.

PM me if you're interested in any of the Legacy products, I'm extremely competitive with pricing for Agon forum members.  Best of luck on your search!

"I have always believed that you're going to buy top tier reference speakers, they should outclass speakers costing far more.  I've represented several speaker manufacturers over the years but Legacy always seems to be the brand that causes peoples jaws to hit the floor or get that "goosebump" factor.  I decided to rep them after leaving RMAF absolutely floored by their performance and usually regard them as best in show year after year.  

But the real secret to getting any of the speakers in the Legacy lineup to have the magical sound signature you hear at the big audio shows is to pair them with the Legacy Wavelet.  Yes it's a $5k preamp/dac that does room correction.  But once you hear Legacy/Bohmer's implementation of frequency and time domain room correction in the wavelet, you'll never go back to listening without it. I prefer it over Dirac or Room Perfect.  Adding a Wavelet to a system is the auditory equivalent of upgrading your speakers and preamp. It's that drastic. "

*** Huge thumbs-up on this comment....Legacy truly builds amazing speakers at a fair price...Wavelet puts it over the top for certain!!!

Went to Munich High End and Hifideluxe 2019, spent 4 days around every other high end speaker in the world,...missed my Legacy speakers every day, nothing I thought was more musical!
Gershman Acoustics Grand Avant Garde fits your criteria. Sealed design for easy placement. World class imaging and bass response. Fatigue free. Hand built in Canada in any color you prefer.

It's a speaker that leads to long term happiness.



Gershman Acoustics dealer
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Twoleftears wrote:

" Enveloping soundstage vs. speakers close to wall behind them=pretty much mutually exclusive."

"Pretty much" yes, but perhaps not quite entirely, "mutually exclusive". So I agree with you.

Acoustician David Griesinger was speaking about good seats in good concert halls when he wrote the following about "envelopment", and imo it’s useful, relevant information:

"Envelopment is perceived when the ear and brain can detect TWO separate streams: A foreground stream of direct sound, and a background stream of reverberation. Both streams must be present if sound is perceived as enveloping."

Implicit is a time delay in between the arrival of the direct sound and the strong onset of reverberation. Obviously this time delay will be different in a home audio setting than in a concert hall, but ime the general principle is still applicable.

When designing a listening space, acousticians will typically work to manage reflections such that early reflections are minimized, but without eliminating the reverberant energy which arrives somewhat later. In other words, acousticians are into this time delay separating the direct from reverberant energy, showing that it applies to small rooms as well as concert halls.

When the criteria for envelopment are met in a home listening environment - "a foreground stream of direct sound, and a background stream of reverberation" - we can enjoy both clarity AND envelopment (assuming there are no other significant problems). When there is insufficient time delay between the direct sound and the strong onset of reflections, clarity is degraded and envelopment doesn’t happen. This is why dipole owners like to pull their speakers well out into the room - the path length for the backwave imposes sufficient time delay before its arrival at the listening area.

Now there are of course major differences between the acoustic signature of a space where music is created (like a concert hall) and one where music is re-created (a home listening room). In our home listening rooms, in effect there is a competition between the spaciousness of the acoustic signature on the recording (whether it be real or engineered), and the inherent "small room signature" of the room we’re playing back that recording in. The ear will select whichever combination of cues seem the most plausible, and all too often the "small room signature" is dominant, especially when the speakers are quite close to the wall behind them. The ear can usually sense the presence of that wall.

But it is the earliest reflections which most strongly convey undesirable "small room signature". If we can minimize those early reflections while preserving the later ones through a combination of radiation pattern control and aiming those radiation patterns intelligently, we can tip the scales in favor of the acoustic signature of the recording venue. Then ear is able to pick out the decaying reverberation of the recording venue from the in-room reflections, without the playback room’s signature dominating.

In other words imo it is possible to have enveloping soundstage AND speakers close to the wall behind them at the same time, though doing so falls into the category of "things easier said than done". I think I know how to do it, but thus far not without rectangles.

If you are looking for an immersive soundstage, Scansonic/Raidho would be my first choice.  The issue is the depth of bass you are looking for is a challenge.  Is there a reason why adding a subwoofer is not an option?  You and I have very similar taste.  I use Run to the Hills as a demo song.  

Check out the Scansonic MB6 Bs.  I listened to these side by side with Magico S1 MK2s and they blew them out of the water.  They are available in white but will have the black metal baffle and will go to 27hz.  This meets your needs in one box and 3' from rear wall is not an issue in the slightest. 

Alternatively, you could go with a smallish floorstander (I assume that is your preferred aesthetic) and add a subwoofer to fill in below a certain frequency range.  Subs don't have to be huge.  REL and JL make very musical subs that are smallish and won't be obtrusive in your room.  

Personally, I prefer standmounts with a sub as I find in a relatively untreated room it is rare to find the optimal placement for bass and midrange reproduction is the same.  And my wife literally laughed out loud when I showed her the treatments that would work.  I basically started my speaker company and produce standmount speaker because of her.  She wanted a minimalist design that sounded like a $30K that we could afford.  
@zephyr24069 You've obviously come to the same conclusion as so many of us who are invested in this hobby.  Legacy speakers are giant killers, especially from the Calibire all the way up the line.  Once you hear that sound with the wavelet room correction, you can't go back.  

I invite people over to audition my system all the time and they are floored. Legacy Speakers, Wavelet room correction, McGary Audio tube amps, and MicroZOTL preamps.  It's a system that gives me goosebumps and makes me laugh out loud at the blatant perfection all the time.
@alexbpm,...most definitely! I've been a Legacy customer and fan for 15 years.  Been to Axpona, been to Munich HIGH END and Hifideluxe,....nothing I liked better or that was ever more realistic or more musical to me than Legacy! It's fun to hit the shows and also hear other audio friend's systems but returning home to my system is always the best part!