High Efficiency Speakers

I'm building an affordable all-tube system, and I need to start with very efficient speakers so that I don't have to spend $$$ on a SET amp. I'm targeting a 2.5w SET w/ 2a3s tubes from Bottlehead. Consequently, I need 96db+ speakers. I primarily listen to accoustic guitar, classical, and vocals. What speakers would you guys suggest I listen to?
You don't offer a price range, so I'll assume that you have a decent budget. Generally speaking, the most efficient speakers available (in the 96db+ range) are horn speakers. The Avantgarde Uno and Duo have gotten very good critical comments, and they will play VERY loud with low amplification. Of course, there is always the Klipschorn. While not considered an audiophile speaker, it provides pretty decent sound and it will provide prodigous decibel levels with little wattage. The Coincident Speaker Technology line of speakers is also being heralded as a great match with low watt tube amps. While they are rated in the 92 db efficiency range, the tubaholics seem to like them a lot.
If you have not already, check out Hammerdynamics.com and their $575.00 speaker kit (you supply the cabinet materials). Since you are considering the Bottlehead kits I will assume that you do not want to spend a lot of money. I have not listened to the Hammer model, but do find it interesting and would like to try a pair in the future. Klipsch has new(er) under $700.00 models that should be available on Ebay for much less. I checked a couple of models out a while back, but they did not do it for me. You could get by with a recent version of the Coincident Triumph Signature speakers (which sound great, IMO) but at your power level I suspect that you would either sooner or later desire a more efficient speaker. You are being very realistic with your target of 96db. I just tried Reynaud Twins with a 7 watt/channell tube amp and they match very well, even though they are rated 90bd/4ohms, so there seems to be more than the numbers at work in these types of set ups. I chickened out and did not go with 2A3's because I did not really want to have large speakers in the living room, plus I am not up to building the Hammer kits at this time (good high efficiency speakers can/do run into money). Good luck and check out Audio Asylums SET and High Efficiency Speaker forums for additional info. David.
If you don't want to spend a huge amount of money the Klipsch KLF Series (10,20,30) sounds very good at 98,100 or 102 (dB). You could purchase Lowther drivers in a pre-built cabinet, or make your own. Same for the Hammer Dynamics 12 Loudspeaker kit, see: http:www.melhuish.org/audio/hammerdynamics.htm and http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0600/super12.htm There is a huge section written here on Audiogon about best speakers to use with 2A3 speakers or single ended amps. Sorry I don't remember the exact name. You could research it or perhaps someone else can assist!
OOPS! I meant to say 2A3 amp! A friend of mine (with good ears) likes the Hammer better than the Lowther.
Hi Dekay, sorry I did not mean to step on your toes. While I was writing my post about the Hammer speakers you posted yours. Sdcampbell, the name of the post I was trying to remember was "best speaker of 2A3 set amp". I hope this is helpful.
Lak: I'm glad that someone else has heard of them (the Hammer's) plus a personal reccomendation from a friend at that. I have listened to old Lowthers and found them to be too bright for most source material, IMO, but now understand that they have been tamed down a bit by changing the voice coils in various models. I would like to listen to the new breed of Lowthers but still suspect that I would not be willing to condition the room enough to bring out their best.
Take a listen to Reference 3a (http://www.reference3a.com/) if you can. I had their Master Controle years ago and it remains the finest speaker I've had in my system. Enjoy!
Hi! The site that Lak referred to is "Best speaker for 2A3 amplifiers" (Thread 968284191), which I had started. I have used both Coincident Super Eclipse and the more efficient new Silverline Sonata speakers with a Don Garber Fi Super X 2A3 stereo amplifier. The Coincidents (now sold) at 92 dB were a little difficult to control in the base. I have found the Silverlines (95 dB) to be excellent speakers: good frequency response through out the range, good soundstaging, and good transparency. However, in large-scale orchestral music, I find that there is not quite enough dynamic headroom, but this may be a limitation of the amplifier design or the output of the 2A3 tubes. My current feeling is that you will need an amp with slightly more power for 2A3's, perhaps something using 300B's, and that if you want to keep the 2A3 amp, then you need to go to efficiencies above 100 dB. This will pretty much restrict you to horn speakers. However, horn speakers do have a different sound and a much smaller sweet spot and you should audition carefully if you are interested. I understand that there are a number of ways to go: these include something of the Avantgarde (price of entry is more than $15K for the DUOs) or Oris (about $4K in kit form from Wellborne) variety, or something like the Lamhorns (about $6K and $9.5K) (www.rlacoustique.com), which have received some outstanding reviews recently.
Just talked to some folks building a new speaker that while production hasn't gotten much press yet--just a news blurb in Audiophile Voice (Vol 6, No 6). The speaker is known as the Ikonoklast and can be found at www.warrengregoire.com. Their literature states "the excellent downward dynamic range also imples that there is virtually no lower limit to usable amplifier power. How about 2 or 3 Watts?" Indeed there specs support this: 8ohm, 95db sens. Very usual design, but the one I'd investigate if I were building 2A3 system on the cheap. Good luck with your new system.
While the musical types that you listed don't really require extended bottom end, keep in mind that Lowther's will never really do deep bass without some help. Sean >
i'd check out hedlund horns - see:


these can be quite reasonable, if you are willing to build them yourself...