Good Used Speakers ($8K-10K) For A Little Listening Room


I know that this is a tough one, because speakers are so subjective.  My dedicated 2 channel listening room is only 10ft x 10ft.  I listen to mostly jazz and rock.  I currently use a Plinius SA100 Mk III (recapped and upgraded) driving Joseph Audio RM25XL's.  I'm thinking of upgrading and was wondering what speakers would be a good upgrade for a small listening room.  I like the Joseph Audio sound, but want more.  I was thinking of Pulsars or maybe Perspectives.  First, is my room too small for floor standing speakers? Second, what other speakers in the $8-10K range used would be a good fit in a small room?
moto_man
1 yes. The more low freqencies you pump into such a tiny room, the more you will suffer from room modes, and all the more so if the room is square.
2 irrespective of price, the best speakers that I know for such a small room would be the Harbeth P3ESR. They are perfectly neutral, with a mid range to die for. All they lack is low frequency extension, but in your case that is an advantage. Since it is a sealed system, they can be placed relatively close to the rear wall.
With that budget there are numerous choices. Which one is right for you is very subjective.
The Harbeths are VG speakers as are many others. 
My top choices would be 
1)for a warm sound Sonus Faber Guarneri
2)for an accurate studio type sound PMC 20/25 powered
Is there a local dealer near you that could do an in home audition of their line of speakers? That is where the rubber meets the road (your room your gear).
Good luck with your search
You should check out the Spendor floor standers. They take up about the same space as a monitor on stands. I’ve owned a few and they were outstanding. Take a look!
http://spendoraudio.com/
First spend 1/4 of your budget on room treatments.
The room is small for a regular floor stander. But speakers like Totem Arro can work. But your best bet is to find a used pair of TAD bookshelf speaker that cost $20k when new. Or a used TAD ME1 pair that cost $12k when new. Both of these are amazing speakers.
I do second the room treatments.
My room is similar at 10x10x8 and is square mostly. I had B&W N804 floorstanders in there (a holdover from my days living in a condo), and it was a real challenge to get a cohesive sound without boomy bass. Yesterday, I traded-in the B&Ws for a pair of Joseph Audio Pulsars. While I have only a few hours on the Pulsars, I can tell you that they sound terrific and work very well in my small room. From my experience, small rooms benefit greatly from a two-way monitor. I recommend the Pulsars without hesitation.
I'd definitely look into active pro monitors that are intended for nearfield use.  Not only do they sound their best up close but they have active woofers that create inherently tighter bass.  Focal SM9, ATC SCM25 and a bunch of others in the range.

https://vintageking.com/recording/studio-monitors/active-studio-monitors-and-speakers?dir=asc&or...
You'll look long and hard to find a better set of stand mount speakers than the JWM Alyson AML.  I've heard them a few times, and they are incredible.  Just google the reviews from Secrets of High Fidelity and HIFIZINE.

http://www.jwmacoustics.com/new-products/alyson-aml-ph
jwm acoustics Alyson. $8200 
Pick up a pair of Von Schweikert VR4 JR s used. I have heard them sound terrific in a room your size
I've read some Good tings about the Kii Three, and they seem to fit small rooms too. The bass is almost dipolar and they are very small. Some even use them as recording monitors which means they should also work well on short distances. They are active so you could sell you amp to afford them.
Another vote for active pro monitor in a small space. I use ATCs at work and the immediacy is exceptional. 
The Schroeder frequency if this room will be about 280 Hz. Below that you will suffer pretty bad room modes, and more so if your speaker goes lower.
Get Fritz speakers, new, for half that. Anything with a ScanSpeak mid-woofer is going to be a pheonomenal 2-way. He makes several. 

Best,

Erik 
Did the character in the Peanuts comic strip get his name from the Schroeder frequency? He played the piano and was cuckoo for Cocoa Pops about classical music. 😳
Moto man, I was giving this some thouught. You have a difficult situation.

Too much bass and you get boom, not enough and the sound is thin.

You have an excellent amp,  so how about this idea:

A set of Legacy Audio Calibres with active bass and a Wavelet processor.

The speakers would cost $6,200.00 with the built in bass amp and the Wavelet is $5,000.00 for a combined price of $11,200.00 brand new.

Now you get a superb small monitor with active bass,  and you get a new preamp, dac, and room correcton processor as part of the package.

With this combination the processor can remove boomy bass and you can adjust the sound to deliver the sonic flavor you wish. 

So unless you move into something like this you will always be at the mercy of the room, with room correction you can acoustically take the room's limitions out of the equation and the Calibres offer outstanding sonics with deep enough bass to be satisfying without having to use some kind of woofer/sat combo. 

Just a thought.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


Moto Man

I have the same Joseph speakers you have in the exact same size room you have. I had the same thoughts/concerns you have. I purchased a pair of Sopra 2's, thinking these will be better in the 10X10 room. Over much time, I have concluded the Joseph's are much better speakers for the room, even though the Sopra 2 is an overall better speaker.

The Josephs sound better due to the 10X10 room size. The Sopra's are a much better speaker in my larger room main system. But they do not perform as well as the Joseph's in the 10X10 room.

In my opinion save the money, the Joseph's are perfect for the 10x10 room and relatively speaking are an A in the smaller room while the Sopra's are an A in the larger room, but neither would perform as well if I switched them. The room size really made a difference with these speakers.

Hope this helps.

Like others have said, get your setup dialed-in to play the room best, then do room treatment on all first reflection points, then bass traps in the corners if needed. Spend your money where it gives the most benefit.

Tomcarr, by the time you are finished with room treatment and bass traps you are going to blow a lot of funds.

The biggest issue with a small room is not first order reflections but bass boom. as the room being a perfect square will cause serious loading in the bass the OP may have furniture in the room which removes reflections naturally or perhpas not. 

If the room has slap echo that will have to addressed, belive it or not large throw pillows pilled up can work wonders with this for very low cost.

Not saying that acoustic treaments are not warranted but bass traps take up a lot of space and are expensive, hence our idea of using active room correction to remove the peaks in the bass without having to resort to taking up space with passive bass traps.

Active room correction is the answer. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
I am a great fan of active room correction. However, the problem is that it does not really work well in small rooms: the correction frequencies are just too high, and as a result the perfect listening position becomes very small. Room eq is great in a large room, but in a small one there is only one realistic option: avoid low frequencies. There is no way you can avoid physics.
If you ever decide room eq is your thing, have a look athe DPSpeaker Antimode X4. It is probably the most sophisticated room eq pre amp on the market today.
Audiotroy, my dedicated room is small and square (14x14) with some alcoves that do allow for less bass boom. My main problem was not bass, but 1st order reflections. I did not blow a lot of funds to treat with panels. Less than $1000 spent to cover all 1st reflection points and no bass traps needed. Best money I've ever spent in audio.
Room correction helps but it will not solve the problem.  It won't stop the room from having resonant frequencies.  If you eq the peaks flat it will sound weird because you have to make huge cuts.  Bass traps will actually reduce the peaks/valleys of the room.  Room correction can't do that.
Totem Elements or Fire might work Call David Lewis Audio
AudioTroy you just lost your final bit of credibility.  Room correction WILL not fix what bass trapping can fix.

Two completely different things.

Hysterical.
Um, sorry @Contuzzi - EQ is OK, but not as good as bass traps AND EQ. 

At the very least, EQ can cut out the severe peaks (20 dB is not exaggerating), allowing you to raise the overall level of the subwoofer to better match the main speakers. It's not ideal, since the overall problem of energy lingering too long remains, and it's impossible to fix nulls this way alone. 

Still, EQ alone offers major benefits, without necessarily achieving reference quality. 

Best,

E
@erik_squires Are you sure you’re disagreeing with the right person?
I love equalization, but in a small room it is not that effective. The reason is that room modes in small rooms occur at higher frequencies. Since such sound waves are shorter, the listening spot where equalization is effective also becomes smaller. Good deep bass in a small room is quite simply impossible.
The wavelength of 20Hz is 17 meters. So by your logic almost no listening room can produce 20 Hz. I propose that most rooms, even small rooms, can support 20 Hz simply because acoustic waves can bend around the boundaries of the room. It’s the same reason why the acoustic Schumann Frequency of 7 Hz - the wavelength of which is obviously much longer than 17 meters - can be produced in any size room. An more extreme example is the electromagnetic Schumann frequency that has a wavelength equal to the circumference of the Earth, 25,000 miles. Yet the Schumann frequency generator produces the electromagnetic 7.8 Hz frequency in any size room. Hel-loo!
Your comment is irrelevant. I did not say you cannot pump deep bass into a room. What I said was that it will not sound right, and for two connected reasons. The first is that the smaller the room, the higher the Schroeder frequency (about 280 Hz in this room) and hence the frequencies of the room modes (not to mention their upper harmonics). The second is that the higher the frequency that you try to equalize, the narrower the listening spot. If you want good deep bass you need a large room with a low Schroeder frequency. And avoid square rooms.
wiilemj, you stated,

”Good deep bass in a small room is quite simply impossible.”

That’s simply untrue for the reasons I gave.
This is what I wrote (and for everybody to see): "Good deep bass in a small room is quite simply impossible." That is simply true for the reasons I gave.
Ah, now you changed your post: you added the 'good' that you did not include before. That is dishonest and misleading. But now you reinstated the word 'good' your comment is no longer relevant because it does not address the quality of the bass. And that precisely was my point.
Give me a break. What are you talking about? I edited my post to quote exactly what you said. And what you said is patently untrue.
Have to agree with Geof.

We are not saying not to use acoustical passive tuning 3 out of our 4 soundrooms do use some kinds of treatment however, our last 2 rooms at the New York audio show sounded fantastic and used 0 bass traps.

The active room correcton employed today by Anthem was designed to deliver flat bass reponse regardless of the room

We had thunderous deep tight bass in a ordinary hotel room 16 by 14 and the Persona 9H are rated flat to 17hz.

We looked at room plots before and after rooom correction and it was not subtle.

In the Legacy room Aeris produced clean tight bass in the same size room.

The Boehmer room correction is extremely advanced 0 bass traps in that room as well.

The Calibre with Wavlet provides a complete solution and would make an excellent starting point you can allways add bass traps and the amount of bass is tuneable.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
I think it was John Atkinson who said "Ahhh...big room, small problems".
No you changed your post to cover that you had misquoted me. And what I said is true: the smaller the room the higher the Schroeder frequency and the frequencies of the room modes. Try equalizing those, and the listening spot gets smaller the higher the frequency.
Depends on the small room.

My room is 13' X 13', though more like 13' X 15' at it's greatest depth as there is a deeper bay window area behind the listening sofa.  The room was renovated with the input of an acoustician.  There is a 5 1/2' wide room opening to the hallway.

With my big Thiel 3.7s I have the best bass - in terms of being utterly in control to the very bottom, holographic, super tight - that I've ever heard.
13x15 is already quite a bit larger, of course, although still not very large. Did you measure the response?
The obvious question is how the RM25XLs sound in your room now?  Hard to believe they work well in there without at least some room treatments and/or some sort of EQ.  They are rated at down 2dB at 32Hz while the Pulsar and Perspective measure 42dB and 35dB also down 2dB, respectively.  So at least on paper if the 25s work in your room there's a chance the others might too. 

That said, I can't really imagine stuffing the Perspectives in a 10x10 room, and given the wider spacing of the drivers versus the 25s I'd be a little concerned about their ability to fully integrate at such a small distance (assuming you'll have to pull them out from the wall a foot or two).  I'd go with the Pulsars and augment with a sub (or better, 2 good smaller subs) with some sort of bass management (DSpeaker, etc.) so you can better integrate the bass with your room -- if you even feel the need to add a sub at all.

I'm also a big JA fan, and the only other speaker I've heard in person that does a lot of the same things and affects me in the same way is ProAc and maybe Verity, although I remember them being just a tad softer up top (at a show so the usual caveats apply here), which could be good or bad depending.  The Vandy Treo would also be on my list though I haven't heard it yet.  Personally I'd just stick with JA, but in case you want to explore others just thought I'd mention these other fine speakers.  Hope this helps, and best of luck in your search. 

willemj,

Response not measured. No need so long as my ears are pleased.  Certainly my ears aren't going to be as precise as measurement tools,  but I’m very familiar (like many here) with the sound of poor bass response (boat, room nodes, lack of control, bulges/blurring etc) vs tight, tonal bass response. I’ve had a long list of floor standing speakers, some like the old VR 4 Gen 2 which were rated to 20hz, and they have all worked really well in my room. (I’ve had speaker designers visit and say so).

I’ve also owned many stand mounted speakers. The bigger speakers have always been more satisfying.

If I’d listened to the "big speakers don’t work in small rooms" mantra I’d have deprived myself of a lot of great sound.
willemj
No you changed your post to cover that you had misquoted me.

You’re wrong. I only changed my post to reflect your actual statement. It’s because I didn’t want to misquote you. Are you intentionally being obtuse with all this cover up talk? Besides anybody can edit his post for any reason. I certainly don’t have to consult you. Furthermore you’re wrong about small rooms anyway, so who cares?
@audiotroy have you tried the Kii Three? It has some built-in DSP, probably not as good as a separate system but if you like to use/sell that kind of solution it might interest you.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/kii-audio-three-loudspeaker
Headphonedreams,

So far we haven't been super impressed by the KII,s they sounded like a good monitor, they didn't sound really big, soundstage was good, but not blown away.

We can easily get them, Sound Org is their distributor, and we get Rega from them.

Unless we hear them sound better so far heard them at two Audio Shows and each time not blown away I doubt we will venture down that path.

I would take an Active set of ACT SCM 40 or the Calibre with the Wavlet.

Actually we were not interested in flooring the Calibres, at $5,500 plus stands you are in spitting territory of the full range Legacy Signture at $7k.

We just heard this combo at the last New York Audio show and the Cailbres were amazing. Perfect high performance monitor. Just add an Amp for the midrange woofer and tweeter and off you go.

Legacy was showing Active Calibres, active was in the bass, the rest of the speaker was passive.  They sounded freaking huge. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
I would go with a stand mount 2 way if it were me.  I have a big system in a big room and also have had many systems in my smaller bedroom.  I am always amazed at how much bass a small speaker can pump out in the bedroom compared to my giant speakers in a huge room. I've had floor standers in the bedroom and they've always been a little boomy sounding.  With a space that small I wouldn't bother with a bigger speaker they aren't made for that kind of space.  Lots of exciting choices for 10K!
I would love to have your problem.8k to 10k to spend .

would a speaker designed for corner placement work better in his small room? something like the AudioNote AN series or others?

 I may be in a similar situation next year.

How about the latest version of Totem signature one’s? I owned a pair years ago in a 12x12x8 ft room and they sounded great with Mac and classe separates. I added a rel subwoofer but the new model 1’s have a bigger woofer than the older versions.
for that room size I'd definitely go for bookshelves, rather big and high performing ones, with relatively small drivers that are fast so they dont pollute, and that can be adapted, tuned to your room and/or liking using back switch and bass plugs. No need to go second hand at that price, just get the XTZ Divine Delta brand new and prepare to learn that real high end performance is available at more reasonable prices. I own several speakers, some costing $35,000, and I also own several XTZ speakers.... My other choice would be Tannoy Legacy Cheviot for an extemely energetic, lively, musical sound. All these will pair perfectly with your Plinius.
The Raidho xt series plays great in small rooms with abvriety of gear. Definitely worth some consideration - they are high resolution but still forgiving