GoldenEar vs Dynaudio vs Nola vs ProAc vs Everything else.


I have had a near impossible time finding speakers that I am in love with. Where I live and my work schedule prevents me from being able to audition a lot of different speakers.

I am a bit on information overload from reading reviews, and having a hard time how to narrow down speakers.

My listening room, is our main living room which is 16 x 23 with vaulted ceilings going from 9 to 12 in the center of the room. Listen to vinyl and streaming, and a mix of indie rock, classic rock, jazz, and a pinch of everything else. Do a lot of casual listening while in the room and not necessarily one specific listening location.

The speaker placement is going to be tight too, not a lot of space off the side and back walls thanks to a closest coming slightly in to the area the speakers can go.

I am leaning towards tube amplification, like a PrimaLuna Premium HP, but not locked in on anything until I get the speakers sorted out.

I am not attached to any of the above brands, but all brands that I have enjoyed a lot of what I have read about them.

My price range is around 10k, and happy to by used/demo/pre-owned or new. I am also happy to spend less if not going to see a significant gain in a speaker towards the high end of my price range.
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Harbeth SHL5+ with two subwoofers (and Antimode 8033 equalization)? The Harbeths like a fair bit of power, so I would recommend solid state amplification of 2x250 watt or more.
Dynaudio’s are not tube friendly....for the most part. I would look at something else if using tube amps. Speakers in the higher (92) sensitivity rating that work well with lower powered tube amps.


Matt M
If you like tubes and not worry about WAF factor look at tekton website, Omega speakers are mostly for tubes,they make good speakers, I got my supercone rs8, a month ago my viva 300B love it, I just ordered tekton impact monitor they will be here latest next Thursday, another tube loving speakers...I like the looks it’s unique...
With that kind of budget, definitely go ProAc--you won't regret it.
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+1 for Vandersteen, and getting subs if going below the Quatro's,
ProAc's are nice, too, but they have a 'European' sound, so it would behoove you to listen to them first. (-though I think they are very good).

This post will probably give you much more info to add to your 'overload' unfortunately.
It really is in your best interest to make as much time to visit dealers, or find other audiophiles in your area to get audition time.
I promise you will find the speaker that 'Speaks' to you.
Bob
Based on your room size and musical tastes you should look at a set of Legacy Focus Se and a set of ATC SCM 40.

The Legacy is 95db efficient, tube friendly, plays rock really well, has thunderous bass and looks great, they also play loud as hell, and Legacy also has matching center channels if you ever want to do theater, and are reasonably priced, they are also very smooth in the top end, and can come in stunning finishs. They are also reasonably priced for a hand made American loudspeaker.

One of the best rock speakers is the ATC SCM 40 augmented with one or two subs for that size room,

ATC is the loudspeaker that most rock recordings were actually mastered on, and in terms of midrange accuracy and midbass punch unbelievably realistic they also have a smooth yet detailed top end and throw a fanastic sound stage, howerver,

they are 85db efficient and requires big solid state if you want them to come alive musically. All the deep bass is good but would require a sub to fill that size room correctly, and they have a smaller sound stage and set of prescense compared to the Legacy.

I find Harbeths to be a bit on the laid back side, as well as the Vandersteens and do not generally like to be played loud, they are a wonderully musical speakers, but not a great speaker if you have a large room and are pro rock.

The Nola is a good speaker but I don’t find them to get really exceptionally until you move into their diapole/ribbon models which are outstanding but pricey.

The new Proacs with ribbon tweeters might also sound good, but you will never get the sheer volume if you like to play loud nor will Proac give you crazy bass volume like a speaker such as the Legacy. The Audio Note speakers are designed for far corner placement and they do not make a center channel nor do they play loud, the Audio Note speakers are a great jazz speaker.

You should consider larger more efficient speakers with more bass to fill up that sized room.

We demo with rock routinely and at loud levels with both the Legacy and the ATC. When you hear rock at realistic volumes on an ATC you will see why studios use them, incredible dynamic range, punch and the most natural midrange over most loudspeakers, in terms of midrange accuracy the ATC is an even better speaker than the Legacy.

In terms of sheer musicality, fun and value it is hard to beat the Legacy’s.

As per bass you actually have a good sized room based on total cubic feel so a speaker which has more bass is desirable. The only issue you may have is a bit of bass boom which is a by product of being too close to rear wall, however, you may be able to tune that out.

For example if you looked at the new Anthem STR integrated which is excellent sounding lots of power and punch good built in dac, for $4,500.00 that has room correction the Anthem room correction is very effective and can tune out the bass bloat nicely.

Even better sounding is the new Micromega M100 a $4500 integrated which also have a room correction module, cost s a bit more than the Anthem with the Micromega room correction system however it is very tube like but with excellent punch so it has a warmer sound then the Anthem which is pretty neutral.

So if you are looking at electronics and speakers the Legacy Signature which is $7k and has a bit less bass and is a bit smaller plus the Micromega $4500 and you would be done, all you would need would be a set of speakers cables at the Micromega is a dac/amp/phono stage, and streamer we have this combo on display and it is fantastic.

So part of the equation is going to be how big a speaker can you get away with, do you play loud, and do you value clarity and detail over tonality and ease of listening.

Also what would be helpful is do you have any equipment currently and what have you liked in the past?

Hope that helps.

Audio Doctor NJ

Golden Ear Triton Reference. Especially as you mention tight spacing. They have a sub-woofer bass control which works rather precisely, allowing you to dial +/- 7.5 db from center.
Given your space restrictions I'd take a look at the Von Schweikert Vortex VR35.  Made to work close to room boundaries, they get stellar reviews and sold factory direct so may even have in-home trial period but not sure about that.  Best of luck. 

@soix,
I am trying to understand, why would you term 16X23 as "space restrictions". That, IMHO, is a nice big room.
@milpai   "The speaker placement is going to be tight too, not a lot of space off the side and back walls thanks to a closest coming slightly in to the area the speakers can go."   

That's what soix and the OP are referring to. 


@hifiman5 ,
Thanks for pointing that out. I somehow overlooked that like and focused on the space dimensions.
There's a pair of Dali Epicon 8's on ebay for just under 10k that would be amazing for you IMO. 
I have Proac D30r in a 13x18 room with 8 ft ceilings, they sound excellent, their strength is mid range. Based on your room size I would think you would have to go up to Proac D40r which have an additional woofer. 
Another vote for vandersteen.  I have been able to audition a wide variety of speakers over my life, although it's difficult to get a true sense in many listening rooms in stores.  Vandersteens are so musical, natural, image like crazy and I think they are good value for the money.  They are on the laid back side of things, so if you like brighter speakers, they are not that.  I find them great with a wide variety of music, classical, jazz, rock, pop and electronic.  I run with a tube pre and solid state amp (blue circle).  2's or 3's would work in your room.
Good luck with your search!
ProAc's or Vandy's, it is your choice.
If you are in the NE, then contact Audioconnection. He has both brands that you can audition without pressure.
Bob
@gdnrbob   A big +1!
I have to agree with audiotroy, the Legacy Focus SE’s will give you the "biggest bang for the buck". There maybe better speakers than the Focus SE, but you’ll be paying 4 times the cost and not getting that much of an improvement. Three years back I was looking to upgrade speakers, and I had to travel hundreds of miles just to really listen to the good stuff. I live in SW Virginia, and people’s idea of a "high end" stereo speaker is what you find at the local Best Buy. I actually drove as far as NY before I settled on my speakers. After listening to everything I could, me and the "boss" decided on the Focus SE’s. Wasn’t a hard choice either, the Focus just seem to make the music come alive. I heard things I had never heard before. There are two things a speaker has to do...one for me, and the other for my darling sweetie. So first, they have to look good (love the Rosewood finish), 0and they have to sound even BETTER. The Legacy do both in spades...Since then I have picked up two pairs of the Studio HD’s and looking to get a pair of the Calibre.
Thanks hifiman! Nice to know I am appreciated.
@cb5300,
who did you buy the Legacy Focus from?
My biased opinion is:

1. Go tube and take a long look at Decware. I switched to Decware and haven’t looked back. I started with the MiniTorii and upgraded to the Torii Jr. Only reason for the upgrade was to have a bit extra headroom. $2500. However depending on your speakers, you could grab:

  • MiniTorii $1800 (4 Watts per Channel)
  • Zen Triode Integrated SE34I.5 (6 Watts per Channel)
  • Zen Triode $1300 (2 Watts per Channel)
  • Torii Jr $2500 (20 Watts per Channel)

2. Speakers: I again have switched to Decware hybrid radials here, they just blew my mind when I heard them the first time. (Decware HR-1). However there are a lot of great options here. I agree with the Vandersteen route, and you can grab Vandy 1’s for CHEAP [read: less than $500]. I have heard amazing things about Devore Gibbon 88’s, not listened in person, but they may fit the bill as well. Omega speakers are a great match for Decware as well, Louis has a new model that is sold through the Decware site.

  • Decware HR-1 $5000
  • Omega Super3 XRS $2300
  • Devore Gibbon 88 $?
  • Vandersteen 1Ci $1350
  • Spatial Audio Hologram M4 TurboS / M4 Triode Master ($1995 / $2995)

3. Then you can use the money saved and get the Decware ZP3, the most transparent and amazing sounding phono stage I have heard to date. $1300

My current spending distribution is 40% on speakers, 15% amp, 30% source, 15% room. YMMV