The best is a question only you can answer after hearing several different speakers. I have owned a number of stand mount speakers that were fine, accurate , sounded just like the recording .... but that's the problem... they sounded like a recording
And then I did something unconventional and out of character for me.... I bought a pair of Klipsch Heresy III
These speakers are awesome.... the scale and weight of live music is possible in my living room.... I have never had more fun listening to music than with these speakers. I am driving them with a pair of 40 watt EL 34 mono amps and am blown away at how great they sound.
I am driving my Heresys with a pair of 40 watt mono amps and it is more than enough power to play louder that you could endure for any length of time..... I don't really play it loud, but the dynamics and effortlessness to drive allow pretty much any amp .
The Klipsch are also full, dynamic, and fun to listen to.
Have owned a pair of Maestros 100db (Omega RS7 driver) for over a year and I’m still amazed at what I hear. Clean open 3D presentation with deep articulate bass to boot. Beautiful to look at and wonderful to listen too. Charney also builds Lowther 103db and Voxativ 103db based Companion and Concerto that are a clear step up form the Maestro. Each of the tractrix theory designed horns play well above anything out there in respected price ranges...go listen at Charney in NJ well worth the trip!
I have Zu Definition 4s and like them a lot. I drive them with a 300b SET. I have also heard and liked the Audio Note AN-E. There is an online commentary about high efficiency speakers: http://www.high-endaudio.com/RECENT.html#Nov
I've found that a pair of recently acquired Klipsch Heresy IIIs are much better than I expected (not sure what I expected in my house, but I did force myself to listen to a pair at a dealer before before buying these damn things) and since many haven't heard them since 1957 and might think, as I did, that they're an anachronistic old fashioned pile of beatnik era "hornist" crap, you may find they're pretty friggin' great. Or maybe you're DEAD INSIDE.
I've found that a pair of recently acquired Klipsch Heresy IIIs are much better than I expected (not sure what I expected in my house, but I did force myself to listen to a pair at a dealer before before buying these damn things) and since many haven't heard them since 1957 and might think, as I did, that they're an anachronistic old fashioned pile of beatnik era "hornist" crap, you may find they're pretty friggin' great. Or maybe you're DEAD INSIDE
"Better" "Best" , all very subjective terms. I can say that for me, the Heresys, checked all the boxes . High sens. , dynamic, sealed box, compact, can be close to wall, low freq output does not over lap room mode..... easy to integrate with sub. All of the above factor into how great these really sound in my room...
Most fun I've ever had with a new component... rediscovering lots of cds and records
While not quite "high" efficiency, I like the Audio Note line for their sound quality, adaptability to a wide assortment of rooms, and wide range of price options. They can be made to sound pretty good in almost any system, but will still reward use in ultra high end systems. While they can play quite loud (for my taste), they are not the best choice for those who like to play at punishingly high volume levels. Audio Note is for those who like a warm, rich sound.
For some seeking a brighter sound and harder edged dynamics, the Classic Audio field coil speakers are worth hearing. But, they are much bigger in size than the Audio Note speakers.
At a recent audio show, I heard a $14,000 Charney system using a single Voxativ driver per speaker (back-loaded horn arrangement) that sounded very good and came in a reasonably compact and nice looking cabinet. The sound was very even (not peaky like most single driver speakers),surprisingly full in the midbass range and reasonably full in the lower bass range. The only thing I would want for more is extension on top.
For lower priced high efficiency speakers, I thought the $3,000 Tekton system I heard at a show was quite good. A Rethm speaker in that price range was also surprisingly good (single driver covering most of the frequency range with a built in powered subwoofer).
The very best high efficiency system I've heard was a custom-built system using field coil drivers from G.I.P. Laboratories. But, the drivers alone have a price approaching six figures.
+1 for ZU Audio. I have the ZU Audio Soul MKII's and they are 99db efficient. You can drive them very easily. They are very fast and the midrange is terrific. You do need to take time with speaker placement (as you would with many speakers.) Also, points for WAF if this concerns you at all.
I had a chance to visit ZU Audio in Ogden Utah in April 2016. The team couldn't have been any nicer. They gave me a tour of the facility and paint/cable assembly rooms and they made a clarity cap/Juniper bypass for me on sight (which was easy to install when I returned home.)
As mentioned previously in this thread, if you want analytical, ZU will not be for you. I would keep with ZU if I decide to upgrade (to the Omen Def MK4) but I do not see that happening anytime soon.
I've been a huge fan of Deadalus Audio speakers for over a decade. During that time Lou has steadily pushed his designs forward in terms of performance without losing an iota of what makes his designs some of the most musically compelling loudspeakers you can get at an price. They are all very high efficiency (96db+) with a very flat impedance curve so will work well with a wide range of amplification. I recently heard his new Apollo series design (Apollo 11) and was stunned by their performance. For high efficiency speakers Daedalus get my strongest recommendation!!
Ralph is there an established price list for the "Classic Audio Loud speakers" ?It depends on which model and which options. So they can be anywhere from $8000 and up. I've not seen an established price list- just give John a call.
@dodgealum , while the Deadalus is a very nice speaker (and easy to drive), its not really what I would call 'high efficiency' although they are at the high end of what seems to be 'moderate efficiency'. He specs 96db+ on his site, but that is a sensitivity rating, not efficiency. The sensitivity rating requires that you take the impedance of the speaker into account because the rating is based on voltage rather than power.
So for example, if the speaker is 96db and 6 ohms, its actual efficiency is around 94.5db. 97 or 98 db might be the bottom end of what is considered high efficiency, with many examples being over 100db.
What is the best high-efficiancy loudspeakers? If you have it, are you happy ?
Don’t know what’s the best out there, or to whom, but some of the better of the crop true high efficiency speakers (>95dB or, as suggested by poster atmasphere, even >100dB’s) could be something like Living Voice’s all-horn Vox Olympian + Elysian (horn subs)/Vox Palladium + Basso (horn sub), or Oswalds Mill Audio Imperia all-horn system (incl. horn subs) - all of which sits at 105dB efficiency, indeed what I’d call very high efficiency. These speaker systems cost a fortune, certainly the Living Voice iterations, and are what I’d refer to as statement products.
However, there’s a whole range of perhaps lesser known and generally much more affordable "sub-genre" of horn speakers, if you will, that also includes vintage models from Klangfilm like the Bionor, Euronor or the massive Eurodyn (hardly for domestic milieus), Western Electric models such as the 12a and 16a, Shearer horns, RCA, etc. and variety of DIY options - speakers that in some respects can (more than) hold their own against much more expensive, contemporary (and more readily known) brands and models. To achieve the fuller sonic potential I’d go all-in and opt for all-horn options (rather than hybrids), size and other practical concerns be damned; if you’re going after high efficiency don’t be coy or apologetic, and be prepared to re-think speaker-amp configurations completely.
My own speakers are Simon Mears Audio all-horn Uccello’s. They sport an efficiency of a measured 105dB, and are based on the Klipsch Belle model (apart from a slightly tweaked bass horn flare everything else is different, and better, and the speakers are hand-build by a true artisan from scratch). And to answer your question, yes, I’m happy with them - very much indeed. I suspect in the future to wring even more potential out of them with a 300b-based SET (~7 watts), build by an associate of Mr. Mears who’s very knowledgeable with the sound of the Uccello’s, and possibly - if practical circumstances permit - the addition of a pair of horn subwoofers (build by Mr. Mears) in the future as well. As is they are very capable in my setup, and gather I’m off the merry-go-round in this department for years to come.
This speakers is huge. WAF-is almost zero
I’m not aware if you’re referring to any particular of the mentioned speakers, but yeah most of them are not necessarily what you’d call spouse-friendly :) I’d wager though there may be exceptions with speakers like the ones I’m referencing, being that horn speakers usually look very different, sometimes even sculptural compared to many of the more typical, direct radiating speakers, and so even being rather humongous at times they can find an unexpected approval among women simply for not looking like the usual square box, but instead like a piece of furniture or just.. well, intriguing. And that for being more or less unapologetically functional..
Actually this is an interesting and rather telling development from the outset of your question, where you inquired on high efficiency speakers and the best of their kin - sans proviso, certainly implicitly by not articulating any - and eventually the obstacle to overcome is: size. Perhaps a provocative takeaway from this would be for it to work as an analogy for the speaker industry at large; the outset initially was to achieve High Fidelity (the hidden issue to later materialize appears to be whether the reference to strive for is external, or one chiefly created around itself), but eventually the need for convenience and cost prevailed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
@bache Please be aware I’m not in any way at odds with your inquiry. I’m just using it to poke around ;)
Here’s a start..
Volti Audio Vittora https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz_Vkhgx4cs
JBL Everest Project
Mark Levinson Daniel Hertz
I don't have any, but would be happy with any of the above... :-D
PureAudio Project OB speakers look interesting as well. Not horns, but pretty high efficiency. :)
Living Voice also makes less expensive speakers then the Vox Op their line of regular speakers are very good and an easy load for SET mine the Avatar 2's are 94db @6ohms nominal. I came from ANE's good but the living voice are better imo. also noted living voice tests/voices all their speakers on Kondo gear so definatly good with tubes. I push mine with 300b love from Finale Audio / Triod Labs.
Best? There is no such thing. There are too many variables for any absolutes. I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the Quad ESL 57. There was a recommended 25 wpc maximum on those if I remember correctly. Sure some will like horns, personal preference and all that.
After having many different types and styles I settled on VPMS Tower II many years ago and have never looked back. I picked up a second pair and can drive both pair with a 20 wpc tube amp with glorious results.
Best? There is no best. It's all in what you like.
I had B&W 804s. I thought those were efficient. Then I got the Tekton DI upgrades. Made the 804s sound bad and inefficient in comparison. I now have the Tekton Ulfs. More efficient and even better sounding than the DIs. I think I've slain the speaker dragon. I'm not even looking anymore. Not a very Audiogonish statement, I know.