Help with narrowing down speaker choice


I've been struggling with final choice for a speaker. First, I have a small to medium sized room (16 X 13 X 9). I want an intimate speaker and I own tube amplification. I listen to and like Jazz, Folk, and Rock in that order.

The speakers not need to be true full-range but they need to be close. I currently own the Thiel CS 3.6 speakers and they're very close to full range. I really like my Thiels, but I'm looking for the next level. I wish to better the Thiels in resolution and natural sound, or that real instrument sound. I especially would like to see an improvement in pinpoint imaging. The Thiels are good at this but not great. BTW - My tube amplification excels at bass, and the Thiels dish it out. I have no room for subwoofers, nor do I want sacfrifice a lot of bass being already spoiled.

Speaker placement enters into the equation, as the speakers must be away from the side walls, so no corners. I can move the speakers up to three feet from the rear wall.

The main speaker on my current list is the Horning Aristoteles, but I've only heard the Eufrodites. The Aristoteles are also in my price point of under $10,000. I will also be using a triode amp, so an efficiency of above 90 dB is needed, especially if I later wind up with a low watt amp. So, figure from 7 to 28 watts/ch triode.

Here are three speakers that are my current contenders, but I don't know if I'll get to hear them all. As you can probably tell, they all share a similar footprint:

Horning Aristoteles
Coinicident Super Victory II
Reference 3A Grand Veena
kennythekey
Hi, You need to add "Sonist" Concerto 3's to your list they excel in "natural sound" and the imaging is superb! And with a SPL rating of 95db @ 1 watt 1 meter would allow the use of low powered amps. I own the concerto 2's witch are a stand mounted version of the Concerto 3's and run them with 5 watts a channel in a room larger than yours and they fill it quite nicely! When I save up the dough I'm trading mine in for the 3's, that's how much I like them!
Good luck!!, Tish
Oh yea, of the speakers that you mentioned I've only heard the "Grand Veena's" and liked them very much, but I never heard them in my system so can't make a good comparison.
i don't know where you live but if there is an audio show within driving distance like the one in L.A. or the CES show in Vegas it would be a good idea to go and listen to as many speakers as you can. I'm lucky to be living in Vegas and go to the CES every year and get to hear all kinds of speakers all at once. I know that show conditions aren't the best but you can weed out the ones that sound promising.
Good Luck with your search and remember to have FUN!, Tish
Thanks Tish. I'm going to the show in Montreal but they have not published the Dealer or Brand list yet.
One of the things that I would like to avoid are speaker recommendations that are above 35 Hz. There are some incredible sounding mini and small monitors out there, I know, but I want those benefits plus deep, detailed, controlled, and natural bass in one package.
Hello Kenny,
I think you`re moving in the right direction for seeking a more natural sound in your system. Coincident is a great company with speakers that are made to order for SET amps. The Horning is certainly a very good option, I`d also strongly consider Tonian Lab(I`d love to hear their classic 12.1 with the 12 inch PHY-HP driver). It seems more music lovers are becoming aware of low power amps with high efficiency/easy load speakers. IMHO these amps with simple circuits, fewer parts(but high built quality) sound closer to real instruments/vocals.
Best of luck.
Thanks Charles1dad

I'll look into the Tonians.

Regarding amps, simpler is better when it's smarter. Simple is hard to do right.
Kenny,
Agreed, but when properly done simpler results in wonderfully pure and organic sound. Thats why with SET amps in paticular you can`t cut corners. You must utilize very good transformers and very high quality parts or it`s all a wasted effort, as the short cuts will be exposed. It`s hard to fool attentive ears.
Kenny, I just moved from Thiel 3.6 after 12 years as my primary speaker to Eggleston Works Andra II. A significant improvement in every area, with huge tuneful bass and a midrange to lust over, which Thiels, as good as they are can't quite deliver.

You mention placement - these have a very reasonable footprint for their size, they weigh 215 lbs. According to EW they are designed to be placed closer to the rear wall. I have mine about 40" out, my Thiels on the other hand were out closer to 60" to really open up.

Just another option to consider - you have some awesome speakers on your list and solid suggestions as well. Good luck in your decision.
Kenny - I just read your post again, your room size could be an issue for the Andra's. They like distance between them, just a thought.
Kenny, I just moved from Thiel 3.6 after 12 years as my primary speaker to Eggleston Works Andra II. A significant improvement in every area, with huge tuneful bass and a midrange to lust over, which Thiels, as good as they are can't quite deliver.

You mention placement - these have a very reasonable footprint for their size, they weigh 215 lbs. According to EW they are designed to be placed closer to the rear wall. I have mine about 40" out, my Thiels on the other hand were out closer to 60" to really open up.

Just another option to consider - you have some awesome speakers on your list and solid suggestions as well. Good luck in your decision.
Thanks Pops, it always comes down to the space.

With limited resources, or not, I cannot expect to do it all in my room. There is that inevitable limitation, but I want to try to do my best.

I've also visited and revisited the more singular path of more organic choices such as the Auditorium 23's Stellavox and Shindo amps. However, that approach suggests a different type of limitation, as natural as it may be in what it does exceedingly well. I think Audio Notes, or a speaker like the Audiokinises’ Dream Maker would suit me better if it weren't for the placement issues that I’ve got. A custom job from KCS is really enticing, but I must evaluate the leap-of-faith element.

I've also considered open baffle types with real focus on the Bastanis speakers. These are also designed primarily for SET amplification. However, to make them go low you add their self-powered subwoofers. I don't want add-on woofers, unless my existing amp can be set up to drive the entire package.

For these reasons, I’ve listed the three different speakers in the beginning of this thread. They seem to fit my room, my amp, the music I listen to, and my budget. From what I’ve heard or read, these speakers also outperform my Thiels in all or most areas. The other thing I like is that they’re accessible, meaning, I can actually touch them and listen to them. Of course, that in itself requires effort and patience.

I am open to other suggestions, but I wanted to explain my situation and mindset. I would also like to hear from those of you who like the speakers that I’m considering and why. Or, why you don’t like them.
I think all 3 are good, having heard them all at different times. Personally, I didn't like the Coincident, which suprised me, after all the reports on them.
I have been looking for fuller range higher sensitivity speakers too and went to RMAF in 09 to search them out. I know you don't want other recommendations, but I am giving you 2 anyway. Firstly Silverline, the Boleros which are costly at about $13000, well it's costly to me. I enjoyed them very much.
The second and the one I bought and recommend, is Daedalus. I bought the Da-R Mas monitors, which are rated down to 38HZ, but have a deep fast natural sounding base. They are less than half the cost of the Boleros and exceptionally good value for the money. I bought those and they are my last speakers and yes I know everyone says it's their last, but I mean it
I just looked at your system. Thiels really do like more power than 40 watts. Personally I found the sound characteristics on Thiels and Coincidents to be fairly similar. The difference is that Coincidents will sing with 5 watts. Both are very accurate, uncolored with tons of detail.
Thanks guys.

David - I checked out the Daedalus at RMAF 2010 because they were a contender and are still a possibility. I need to hear them again under different circumstances. They sounded different on Saturday than they did on Sunday. I liked them on Sunday, but they were lacking in bass, IMO. This was an ailment shared by most of those smaller hallway rooms, IMO. Anyway, they're in the back of my mind like some others.

Elevick - I have a unique custom amp that plays my Thiels to my fairly loud and normal listening level, with the volume control set at Noon. I have plenty of headroom to crank it up further. This amp transformed my Thiels to new levels from what I had before. I can only imagine, what this amp would sound like on better speakers with better synergy.
The Tonians are one I would want to consider in your case.

Larger performance tweaked Klispch La Scala, Horn, or Cornwalls are another.

A lot of people like Zu. Also one I would consider.

The best speakers I have hard that fit your bill were a pair of custom GOTO horns, but cost of these is probably out of your range and these are not easy to come by.

Shindo Latour is another I would want to audition if I could afford them.

maggies or Quad ESLs are also options perhaps assuming your tube amp has some power to drive these less efficient but generally tube friendly designs.
Thanks, Mapman.

That's the second Tonian recommendation, so on the list they go.
Well, as quick as they went on, I need to take the Tonians off my list. The dealer quoted me $12,500 which is way over my $10K ceiling.
In your price range, and with your musical taste, you should try to audition Merlin VSM MXs. A good fit for your room too.
Thanks Pubul 57, but the price must of changed, as these are now at least $11,500.