High eff speakers? Sonata III, Super III, OR ???

Greetings to all of you happy high eff speaker owners!

It’s important to be convinced. Finally, I am.

I’m looking to get into a pair of high eff speakers to run a as yet to be determined, 15 50 wpc, or so, SET amp (s).

In fact the amp may only be 8 or 10 wpc, I’m simply not sure which one. Maybe not 300b’s, as I am prone to busier and larger scale music at times. Sorry if that line shows my ignorance about low power amps.

My room is right at 14, by 20.75, by 8.6 gently sloped. They will sit on the short wall end.

I dig all sorts of music. My defaults are big band jazz & blues, vocalists. Contemporary jazz, acoustical and R&B… every now and then some gangsta bluegrass.

I’m looking to spend around $3K, give or take used or new, but probably used is the first thought.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated as I have absolutely no clue here apart from the Silverline and Coincident I already mentioned… and Ive not heard either of them! So I'm wide open to any thoughts and especially experiences in this regard.

PS if your real world experience shows your choice (s) need a sub, please say so.
FWIW, if you're committed to getting a set amp and efficient speakers (other than horns) do some research on the interface of the amp's output impedence and the speakers imput impedence curves. Amps output impedence with tube amps is a largly undiscussed issue but is very important especially if you have a speaker with large impedence swings off nominal and they don't compliment the out put impedence changes from the amp. Its not simple, especially if you want to avoid chasing equipment that will not match.

Some quick, down and dirty discussions can be found in posts by Duke (Audiokensis).
I owned Silverline Sonata II's driven by Pathos Twin Towers Reference. Very nice combo, but could have benefitted from a musical sub (I can recommend the REL Storm III). The Sonata III's have different drivers and are slightly less efficient than the II's. I've heard very good things about Coincident speakers as well, but have never heard them.
I have Coincident Super Eclipse II with 8 watt Welborne Labs Laurel IIx 300Bs. I added the Feet Extenders and the big spikes 18 months ago - nice improvement. My room is roughly the same size as yours, but I have mine on the long wall.

The Supers don't come up that often on the AudiogoN market place, and when they do, they seem to hold their value better than other $5500 speakers. So you may have trouble getting a pair at $3k.

I listen to lots of acoustic music, light jazz, female vocals, but a smattering of classic rock. I've been playing the ELO "A New World Record" remaster recently.

I use a BAT VK-50SE preamp, and the volume is rarely above 50 (max is 140), but I have an apartment so I don't crank it up. The sound is quite refined and suits my tastes.

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Newbee I'll look into that bit. I didn't think impedance matching was that important between amp & speakers though. thanks for the heads up.

I appreciate the notes on the SE III. I'm in no hurry at all, and might wind up with something other than the two I mentioned. I believe $3k is fair enough a figure, and perhaps some less depending on ownership, age, etc. some do say otherwise though and that's fine too. It's a good thing for equipment to keep it's value... so long as the value is descriminatory, and not simply due to the make and model. Background does play a part IMO.

Again, I'm not dead set on the notion of either a Sonata or Super, I just threw them out there as I had some familiarity with them thus far.

Any other suggestions on them or on different makes & models are certainly needed and appreciated.

If it's a help, I'm inclined to go with Art, Cary, Canary, or VAC by way of amp. Perhaps others, but I'm comfortable with them as my short list.
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If vintage doesn't scare you, you ought to consider Altec Lansing Models 14,17,18,19. These can be bought for $2000 or less. I own Model 17s with the 604 duplex and have been enjoying them for over 18 months with no thoughts of selling them. Mine are from the mid 70's, but they do lots of things very well. Most range from 96-103db/watt/meter.
Newbee, thanks for the vote of confidence... even if you did "out" me about those dirty posts of mine.


Okay, both the Silverline Sonatina III and Coincident Super Eclipse III are probably excellent. I say "probably" only because I can't recall for sure whether I've heard either model, but I do like both brands.

Coincident tends to have smoother impedance curves than Silverline. I have't seen impedance curves on either of these particular models, so that's a generalization. But the Silverlines usually have impedance curves that "zig" where the frequency response curves "zag" - so that if there is any rise in response at the impedance peaks due to amplifier/speaker impedance interaction with a low damping factor SET or OTL amp, the frequency response curve will be nudged in the direction of being more, rather than less, flat.

Silverline speakers tend to be on the warm and forgiving side. Coincidents tend to be more neutral, more likely to "out" a bad recording like Newbee with my dirty posts.

Now my personal prejudices lead me to place a higher priority on radiation pattern uniformity than most people do, and eyeballing these two the Sonatina III looks to me like it would have the edge in that area.

Somewhere I stumbled across a rule-of-thumb regarding high efficiency speakers and low power amps - to the effect that you want enough power to get a good 102 dB out of the speakers on peaks. So with 92-93 dB speakers, that's 8-10 watts. You must have done your homework, Blindjim.

The Altecs mentioned by Wwwrecords are also very good speakers. I'm more familiar with the Model 14 and Model 19 than the others, and in my opinion they're very competitive even today.

I have a 92 dB, 8 ohm floorstander that might interest you. Shoot me an e-mail if you'd like details.

Best of luck to you, Blindjim.


ps - Tvad, what did you end up with?
Tvad - I think I saw that one already, maybe not. I did see one wherein Duke was telling you stuff about matching the amps impedance or something... I've read so many things these past few weeks my eyes are rectangles... and my ears are worn out... and both PCs are in critical care units.

Duke. "sonatina" or Sonata?

I got the impression from what i've read the Di applito config gives a great dispersion, laterally, and vertically. If done right. but it's a tricky thing to do right. I'm assuming Mr. Bloom figured it out.

Like I said above, neither Alans' nor Israels' units are ones I'm strickly looking at.. just there's some press on each. More on Alans. Bill Cowan who did the review on the coincidents and I e'd some on that topic and given my tastes he said to ensure I stuck with the fabric dome tweets. Suits me. Though I know even fabrics can be tuff just like metal ones. sometimes.

RE: impedance matching of amps
What's what there? I mean how can anyone really know what numbers to look for on amps output impedance when you ain't sure if 'EVERYONE' measures those numbers the same? Some amp makers don't even post those numbers.

...and if they are posted, how do you choose one vs. another given speaker makers aren't all measuring the same either...??? Should I send everything to John Atkinson first?
Jim, I meant "Sonata" - sorry. I put one too many syllalables in the word.

In general, the greater the size discrepancy between the drives, the greater the radiation pattern discrepancy at the crossover frequency. The midbass drivers in an MTM array have a much wider horizontal than vertical radiation pattern, and in my opinion this is undesirable if you use a dome tweeter.

Let me try to explain why I think the radiation pattern matters. I'm evidently in the minority on this; most designers don't go out of their way to deal with it, so don't take my word a gospel.

Okay, the ears derive timbre not only from the first-arrival sound, but also from the reverberant sound within the room. At listening distances of more than about five feet, most of the energy that reaches your ears is reverberant sound. Now your ear/brain system suppresses directional cues from this reverberant sound, but you're still picking up loudness and timbre and ambience cues from it.

One characteristic components of live music is, a natural-sounding reverberant field. Live voices and instruments even sound natural from the next room, where there is no line-of-sight to the instruments and therefore no direct sound; only reverberant sound. In contrast, very few loudspeaker systems sound convincing from the next room. One reason is, their "power response" (summed omnidirectional response) is very uneven. I believe this is one of the major causes of the perceived difference between live and reproduced music.

Let's look at why the power response of most speakers is uneven. No doubt you're familiar with "beaming". As an example, let's take a 6.5" two-way speaker, crossed over to a 1" dome tweeter at 2.5 kHz. The woofer's radiation pattern is wide wide at low frequencies, but then it starts to narrow as the wavelengths shrink to where they're comparable in size to the diaphragm's dimensions. So the pattern has narrowed to maybe 90 degrees in the crossover region. Then the tweeter takes over, and the radiation pattern blooms out wide wide again. Eventually the tweeter also starts to beam, but usually not until the very top octave.

The problem region is the lower end of the tweeter's range, roughly 2.5 to 5 kHz. In this region the speaker may well be putting out 8-12 dB more energy into the reverberant field than at most other frequencies. And this just happens to be the region where the ear's sensitivity is the greatest. So what happens is, the extra reverberant field energy in this region makes female vocalists sound a bit harsh, and the eventual result is often listening fatigue (I could explain why if you want).

Now the MTM format's vertical radiation pattern on the M's side of the crossover will be comparable to that of an oval driver the width of one of the midranges but the height of the whole MTM stack. So in the vertical plane, the radiation pattern will be much narrower than in the horizontal plane. The result will be a significantly greater net radiation pattern discrepancy in the crossover region than if we just had a single midrange driver.

Of course there are advantages to MTM's. Much better pattern uniformity in the vertical plane with odd-order crossovers; higher power handling; and reduced floor-bounce reflection energy due to the narrowed vertical pattern (though the vertical pattern will usually be wide once again in the 4 kHz region, where the ear's sensitivity peaks, because that will be produced by the tweeter).

So it's a trade-off. Surprise, surprise.

I'll try to comment on impedance matching later.


Hmmmm. thanks duke.

With the addition of the Thor MK II preamp, the degree of naturalness in my system has been elevated to no small affair. It's scary good... and as my office/equipment room is immediately adjacent to the listening area, the sound I'm getting from the office is as good or better in terms of realism. really. Not as dynamic to be sure, but mighty authentic sounding.

I've said it before on other issues, I'll say it again. Design topology or configurations is not my forte. neither am I influenced by them. if someone could put together a couple pieces of PVC pipe and a tennis ball, and make it sound super, I'd buy it/them... probably. they'd need painting though.

See, that's what I'm shooting for now. More presence past that which I am getting from soloists and vocalists. I'm mighty close to the I'm there deal... now I want them to be here, sort of deal. hence the notion of the SET approach.

Not hearing any so far, just the Thor PA 30s, but doing a bunch of research on them, I'm positive the richer harmonic textures and filled out imagery are it's mainstays. Suits me. I'm in.

My primary reservation is my tastes in musical genres. I'm prone to more than one or two genre specific arenas. Currently I enjoy immensely large jazz ensembles, same for blues, and R&B, along with the more pallid simplistic virtues of lite jazz, vocals, and acoustical music. So I like a lot of things. ...and yes, even gangsta bluegrass.

BTW... how did you compute the projected SPL vs. Sensitivity of the speakers & power output of the amp? that's a handy item to know. I didn't mean to sound previously like I knew what I was doing. I don't usually, that's why I ask all these dumb questions all the time. I do have the capacity to learn however... and I am.
Duke, Sorry about that 'dirty' word, I didn't mean to imply that the posts were accompanied by nude pictures. Quick and simple always works best for me, especially simple. Since your explainations were intelligible to me I thought they would be easy for anyone to understand. :-)
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I won what I consider the poor mans Avantegarde the $6500German Odeon Tosca which is horn load (17 or so maple bowle with dome cap) and has a 7" moving coil (tradiotnal) bass driver.Though they make speakers that are full horn for up to $30K this is the "value" speaker in the line and runs great at 94db with my 40 watt EL34 EAR integrated.haven't used them with SET.(I also own older series double 6 small collumn and model 17 monitor which go great review on line).Picked them all up for 1/3 the list used beacuse they have little american pres (Axxiss did lousy job repping them)and only about 12 dealers so got two pairs here for cheap and he Tosca's from west cost rep about half dozen years ago.Have to say Getthe lead out is wrong about Klipsch.I think they sound good in big room (K-Horns) and better with 78's jazz than other forms of music but overall they have in spades what has been bane of horn speakers and that is coloration.If you can pay for Avategardes Uno up that's a an un-collored speaker (relatively) but Klipsch you have to like it's heavy coloration.The Odeons didn't have it.but I have thought myself about the Sonatta (maybe II not III unsure) myslef and maybe try a nice 845 15-22 watt amp like Bel canto or for lewss a Yammamoto.Their seem to be some speakers that can use SET and handle 200-300 contioniuous like the very efficient Zu Druids (think their like 103 or 104 db effcient).75% of those who get them love them 25% hate them.The editor of 6moons replaced his $17K Avantegarde Duo with the $10K Zu's which have huge multiple bass drivers and I think a Rhane bass processor.I had read that the Infinity Preludes with thier 850 self cllored bas drivers were same maybe not SET but certainly 40-60 watt tube speakers that coiuld also take current.But if you can find the Odeon's give them a listen.I have begun to think that the bane of good sound are complex crossovers (new $8K Fujitsu in Stereophile sounded like nice if limited frequency extension speakers.I have heard an liked the no corssover 3A DiCappo (who use simple capcitors for x-overs in larger speakers) and have heard the 47 Labs Konus single driver.I bring this up because I am interested in Silverlines but have not liked 3 or 4 way designs much.But they are effcient and may have heft and ability to play more comlex or dynamic muisc then my Odeons which do and OK job but really only excell with smaller ensemble acoustic music.For Brahms Requyiem,Led Zepplin I-III,or Thievery Coporation/Moby they lack something say and Audio Physic or B&W Nautilus would deliver.Not having heard the Sonatta it might deliver them as well as Miles or Johnny Hartman with equal aplomb.Know this rambles a bit but it's like cars,wine,or women (partners let's be PC) you might have a favortie but their are others to admire.Wish I had cash and room for 5 systems for different moods.I have the moods but not the room or cash for full indulgence.Perhaps the Sonatta will get me too.Or maybe thos Zu's.Gallo Ref's are smae price as Zu's cheaper than 803N's (or better D's) or AP Virgo III's.Single driver ,x-verless for office and those K-Horns if I had a reconditoned barn....Did I mention liking planars and electrostatics?Should just get pair of Qaud 12L's or 22L's like I tell my non phile freinds to buy and get another hobby.
Thanks Chezz

I like the Bolero's looks and size. Specs to, but the LaFolia strikes me as probably the better speaker in the Silverline array... for my tastes.

I've also developed an interest in the "Reimer" speakers... but don't know anything much about them except their eff is on up there in the mid 90's and the load is easy at 7 or 8.
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tvad... the 4 ohm bit and old press bothers me. Oh, and the six grand part sort of puts me off too.
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I have the Reimer Tetons and am using Lamm ML2 amps with 18 watts. The combination sounds very good. The impedence curve is very flat so it doesn't give my amps any problems.
Tvad I noticed you mentioned in another posting that you had heard the Zu units several times, and did not care for them.... what put you off?

I'm fast coming to the opinion either I need just do some limited range spks + sub (s)... OR go with 92+db eff and mid power PP tubes, say 70+ wpc or so. maybe 100.... and get off the worrys of mismatching amps and spkrs.

See any good matches to Proac, or Focus?
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I got that impression from just reading... the Definitition however is beyond me. Given also what I just read in your past thread from a Super Eclipse III owner I'm glad my proposal for trade was denied by one, and my thoughts to the other got quashed.

I'm going to try to get some greater value from the used mkt. and have a ceiling of %4K tops. preffereably lower. If that ain't gonna do it, I'll give up. Do an all tube integrated, some monitors and a sub.

Any Silverline owners in the 33624 or so, area?
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Muscle, huh? Just when you think you're out of the muscle game, they pull ya back in.

For right now, muscle I got. the deal here is to strip away all those unsightly watts clouding up everything and robbing the purity of the first few... or one. The "many or the one?" where's Spock when you need him?

The immediate problem is I'm soon to be without my mainest main speakers. My "fall backs" at 87db, and 4 ohms, need a real shot to play well. hence, until new speakerage is on retainer my amp is bolted and chained to the floor.

Unless I decide to make that really scary 'double move' and do both amp and speakers now. Settling for likely two ways... and a Cary v12, which I see as a step well, ??? not forward.

My trepidation after having read that article "Too set aginst S.E.T.S" is mismatching. it is a far easier path to go bulk rate. Significant power sure opens the door to speakers. then, it's more waht flavor would you like? ...and not, "Well this should work."

Being of questionable stability and yet open to new avenues in audio, I have temporaryily forsaken the high power low eff tandems of amps & speakers, to delve into their relative opposites. Additionally, with the help of some utterly remarkable members advice and assistance, I'll be starting with a new pair of Sonata IIIs so as to pursue that trail.

I bet this is going to be one of those, "six one way, half a dozen", the other sort of things. hide and watch.