High efficiency monitors for SET amp in small room - budget 2.5k
Soliciting recommendations for high efficiency monitors that would work well paired with a relatively low-powered (22wpc) SET amp (Line Magnetic LM-218ia) in a small listening room. Budget is modest, around $2,500 and potentially stretching to $3,000 - thinking I'll be looking at pre-owned. Listen mostly to chamber music and jazz, not really worried about reproducing large scale orchestral music or rock.
Omega has some nice point source monitors I tried a set of their SAM monitors and was quite impressed. write up here if you search.
Tekton, with a million models to choose from I’m sure they have something for you.
Coincident (may be too much money).
Decware I believe have a few as well.
Klipsch speakers. heritage line is getting a lot of press the last few years. Don’t discount the older ones if updated. You have to like horns though. But they do somethings no other (non horn) speaker can.
Living Voice speakers used would be fantastic, IMO as an owner, but they are a small floor standing - large stand mount (they come with 8" stands). Look at my system if you want to see a set.
AudioNote AN series used if you can find them. too much money new IMO.
Spatial audio open baffle speaker.
Pure Audio project open baffle speakers.
I’m sure a bunch more people with SET experience will chime in soon.
with 22wpc your in better shape then a lot of us with much less and that should open the doors to more speakers then many of us with 2-8wpc.
Thanks for the helpful suggestions, Glen, a lot to chew on there.
I've had my eye on a pair of the Audio Note UK AN-K/SPe for sale at $2,300, which look beautiful, are somewhat sensitive at 90dB, and nicely priced. But my current setup is 86dB, and I'd like to get closer to the mid 90s to see how that pairs with my amp.
There is a Klipsch Palladium P-17b here on the 'Gon that would fit the bill.. I'm very curious as to what horns do, don't have a lot of direct experience with them, but I'm super sensitive to brightness in my system so I'm also very cautious about going there. That said, I've also lost a bit of high frequency hearing, so horns might just give me something I'm missing.
I've also done some investigation into Spatial Audio - very very interested in these but a bit nervous about how finicky dipole speakers might be with proximity to front wall. Given my tiny room, the speakers will need to be very close to walls. I probably should have mentioned that initially.
I'm going to check out some of your other suggestions now. Thanks for the input!
Take a look at my review on Six Moons.com on the Tekton Design Perfect SET speaker. I just spent about four hours last night listening to a pair driven by a Triode Design SET 2A3 amplifier, about 3.5 watts, and the music was beautiful coming out of them.
I used a Tang Band 8" full range in a custom built cabinet being powered from a Schiit Aegir (20wpc) and really enjoy it. I, too, have a small listening room (11.5 x 14) so I'm in the same boat as you. I looked long and hard at the Omega speakers, via email they recommended the Super Alnico Monitor. I like a softer sound so for me it eliminated a lot of high efficiency speakers (like Zu). Another I was (still am) interested is the Decware HDT but I'm not a big fan of Fostex drivers.
AudioNote speakers are much more tube friendly then you think they state 94db but your correct with slightly lower spec at around 92db. I drove my ANE's with 8wpc and they were very nice. also AudioNote is a tube amp manufacturer and your amp is more then powerful enough for them.
if you can grab a set they may be the best choice as they do bass very well for the size and are designs to be placed into a corner so opens up your room more if its already small.
At $2500 that's a steel that wont last long if your inclined buy them if you don't like them you will get your money back out of them.
Much better speakers then almost anything else close to the price and they are already depreciated fully.
yogiboy - you’re essentially correct, when I take measurements while listening I average between 70-80db, with transient peaks around 90db at most. In fact, My current speakers are Harbeth SHL5+, which sound quite beautiful. But they are, in fact, too much speaker for the room and I should really use smaller monitors. You’re right, though, this doesn’t have much to do with efficiency.
I’ve had so many fellow Harbeth owners give me hell for not feeding the SHL5+ more power, I guess I wanted to see what higher efficiency speakers would get out of this amp. Sometimes I do feel like the speakers are a bit congested at lower levels. I don’t know if higher efficiency speakers would wring more detail out of the amp at low volumes?
Love my Omega Super 3i Monitors and DeepHemp 8 Subwoofer. I have them paired with a 2 wpc Decware amp and the sound quality is stunning. And this is with their entry-level speaker. I can only imagine the sound quality as you move up the line. BTW, the vast majority of my listening time is devoted to Jazz.
David_ten, thanks for your comment. What you’re suggesting is exactly what I’m curious about with respect to a higher efficiency speaker. What I’m looking for is something that lets me inside the music even at lower volumes. The Harbeths are very sweet speakers, and I love their tonal balance, but I do find myself driving the volume up beyond what I would like to in order to retrieve inner details in the music.
Riaa, my room is smaller than yours (2nd bedroom in a NYC apartment.) it’s probably 11 x 9 and I am listening in the nearfield.
Don't get me wrong, the SHL5+ sounds gorgeous, even in these less than ideal conditions. I do not blame the speaker, which is very well designed. But what does happen is because the speakers are necessarily placed relatively close to corners, and the room is square-ish, there are some room modes that can cause problems with the bass in some recordings. And I can’t say I obtain much in the way of soundstage depth in this room.
Again, most of my issues here have to do with the room and not the Harbeths. They would likely perform better in your bigger room. They need more air than I can give them to perform their best.
I have a 12 x 13 room and just went through the same thing. I tested and listened for over a year. I tried Zu, Tekton, Klipsch, Usher, Kef.... Finally a used pair of Emerald Physics CS 3's ( Clayton Shaw design )did the trick. I have a pair of his new generation M's from his new company, ( Spatial Audio Labs ) on order. For clean bass you got to get rid of the box in a room like that. You should be able to find a nice pair used as many Spatial heads are moving to his new designs. Tekton does make what looks like a nice open baffle.
jazzman, thanks for your observations. I have been very keen on trying the Spatials or another open baffle design in my tiny room, but I have been a bit wary since I've read completely contradictory accounts of how OB speakers perform in tight spaces. Some say it's OK, others say they need much more room to breathe. I guess I'll just have to try and let my ears be the judge.
The Tekton OB Sigma 2 is nicely priced, but that looks like a whole lot of speaker for my limited space...
I had the Emerald Physics from two to three feet from the wall. Much less critical then the Maggies. I found the more distance between the speakers ( putting them closer to the side wall ) the better. I had them 6 inches from the side. The speakers totally disappear and sound great. You probably also can find some great deals on the Emerald Physics . I ordered the Spatial M 5's because of the size of my room and the simplicity of the design. Do not let anyone tell you OB's don't make bass, they make the sound of bass better then anything I ever heard.