High Sensitivity Speakers


Within the last year I purchased a Pass Labs XA 60.8 ... which I am pleased with.  It’s a great match with the rest of my system which includes Avant-garde Uno Gen 1 speakers (sorry about the hyphen but the spell check insists).  I like the speakers a lot but they are now 17 years on so I assume speaker technology has moved in quite a bit in thus time.  So as I considered new speaker alternatives I discovered that the Pass Labs 60.8 (69 w class A, 120w class A/B) are “underpowered” for a number of speaker brands.  I am not keen to trade my amp up but it’s an option.  So looking to upgrade speakers I an looking at Avant-garde Duo Gen 3.  Any input on other speaker brands that might be sensitive enough to match with the amps I currently have?  I live overseas so by brand choice is a bit limited to “well known” brands.  My system: SME 20/2 tt, Tom Evans The Groove phono preamp, Brooklyn + DAC, PS Audio 15 Power Plant, Joule Electra line preamp, 4 Rel 812 subs, room size 30’x21’x10’ ceiling), assorted decent power cables and interconnects.
chilli42
Chilli, my von Schweikerts are almost 15 years old and they still sound good to me and are very enjoyable. It sounds like you are in the mood to try something different? Are there any brick and mortar stores you can visit for some ideas?? Good luck and let us know what you do.
moving air is moving air, with good parts, in properly designed enclosures. seems like yours are.

some old designs are still fabulous.

removable covers? inspect the cones/rings, spring action while off and while playing music.

most any driver can be re-coned, get another 15 years. My 15" woofers, made in 1958, cloth (not foam) surrounds, the paper weakened (and who knows how tired the cloth surround was (didn't appear so).

Pro re-coned them, many years later I bought the kit and re-coned them myself. Videos help, it ain't rocket science, hardest part is cleaning the old mounting ring off.

I re-coned my Velodyne 12" sub (foam surrounds), sounds like new.
Efficient speakers.

I would say, not brand, just look for sensitivity, say 89 or higher, don't even listen/get hooked by less efficient speakers. Horns are the most efficient, but not for every space or every person. Also look at resistance, ohms, avoid low numbers, you will find a corralary between efficiency and low ohms, especially smaller enclosures, like the much loved small KEFs.

The primary reason I recommend efficient speakers is so you can try a relatively low powered TUBE amp.

Avoiding high power needs, SS or Tubes, keeps the initial cost down, lots of great vintage stuff, lots of competitive new stuff, reduced heat from tube amps, ....

I have been quite satisfied with all tube amps over the years, range of 25-45 wpc. Perhaps I could use less, but, the momentary peaks, I stay in this range.

My friend's system, 8 wpc, not too efficient speakers (custom made) sound great, but he is not moving big woofers, moving a pair of 6" with a tweeter. Less bass than me, but, there is a thread here about how much you can get out of 6-1/2" drivers.
The fact that they are 17 years old, should not matter, imo. However, after that long, I would agree, that you have an itch to try something else. I have heard the uno’s, gen 1, on several occasions, and the only weakness I can detect, was a disparity ( coherence ) between the bass section, and the horns ( I am very critical to this ). Maybe the woofers in them do need to be overhauled ? What is it, about the musical playback you are now experiencing, that is no longer satisfying you ? Did you feel this way, before the acquisition of the Pass amp ? I would think the Duo, generation 3, would be an upgrade, if, you want to stay with the presentation you currently have.
Many good choices for high efficiency loudspeakers.

I once had a system with Pass Labs XA-60.5 mono blocks driving Silverline Audio Bolero loudspeakers. Superb!
http://www.silverlineaudio.com/main/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55:bolero&a...

Also look into Daedalus Audio loudspeakers. 
https://www.daedalusaudio.com

Either of these would sound exceptional with your Pass Labs XA-60.8.

I currently own a pair of Heco Direkt Dreiklang, 98db sensitivity with 15 inches woofer. When I auditioned the speakers, they paired it with Manley Stingray II with no problem at very high volume.

https//www.heco-audio.de/en/detail/index/sArticle/2990265



@chilli42 --

I’d agree with poster @mrdecibel - 17 years of age shouldn’t be a problem, but there are interesting other options to be had if you’re so inclined.

My recommendation, also to address the possible coherency issues pointed out above, would be to go all-horn from an arena in sound reproduction not commonly thought of as "hifi doable," namely Danley Sound Labs Synergy horns paired with Danley’s tapped horn subs. On top of the coherency offered by an all-horn approach you’ll have phase-coherent main speakers to boot - a "killer" combination, if you ask me. Think of models like SH50, SM96 or SM60F Synergy horn main speakers paired with two TH50 tapped horn subs. Any of these 3 main speaker models in conjunction with named subs would be a set-up to admire and capable of any music genre and SPL in a domestic environment one would care for - full range at that, and with headroom to spare.
High Sen speakers would never ever work for me
 I am old school, low Sen, 87db SEAS or SB Acoustics, 
Big, Bold, Dynamics.
matched with a  big bold dynamic A or A/B power tube amp.
My 2 cents
After 15 yrs, speaker technology is still almost the same, although there may have been some advances in implementation brought about by research. Not a year ago, I got a pair of KEF Model 105 which we know is a design from the late 70’s. After rewire and crossover recap, it still blows many much newer speakers of comparable price and quality.

But yes, if you are looking for new sound, go audition your prospects. I know that PS Audio is about to release their new speakers. I can't find the specs, but who knows you'd end up being one of the first buyers. And you could share your experience with us. (I don’t work for them.) Enjoy!
Magnepan LRS.  Factory shipping, do not like, you can send back for full refund.  With four RELs you do not need a speaker with big bass.  The worst case scenario, you have to pay shipping for the return.  It would seem very few of the LRS are sent back.  Just a thought for a non box speaker.
@dwmaggie
LRS vs .7’s- w pass amps. You’re opinion pls. 
Any specific sub recco?
 Thx 🙏 
Four REL'S ? - - -  MUST BE A BASS FREAK ! Don't know what your taste in music is but the Magnepan LRS, .7 , or 1.7i  are incredible. Another huge step toward live reproduction. With even 2 properly matched and balanced REL's, it would be worth moving on to a somewhat higher power amp. Actually " MAGGIES" like amps that can yield around 45 amp output current, or better to really open up.  A pair of LRS speakers are only $650. The money you save plus trade in should cover the purchase of higher wattage (high current) amp. Plenty of fine amps out there, possibly previously owned. A higher power PASS LABS would be wonderful but a little pricey.
Devore make high efficiency speakers which look great and sound great
Hi.  Thanks much for the useful insight and guidance.  I admit to a certain eagerness to try something new FOMO I guess.  As a start I will look to “modernize” my current speakers ... can’t hurt to try that. My concerns mainly came up when I went from tube amps to the Pass Labs.  It probably does not make any sense but the coherence between the Avantgarde horns and the subwoofers became more noticeable.  Also the bass got flabby/slow/less present.  I tried to solve these problems with the REL’s.  It helped but did not solve the issue either.  The other unsolvable issue is that I am in Asia on an overseas assignment.  There are only bricks and mortar stores and these only carry the biggest/most popular brands ... so Wilson, Maggie’s, Focal, Sony’s Fabre, B&W etc and some weirdly exotic and expensive Japanese brands.
You are lucky to have a room large enough to accommodate large horn speakers, so why not go all the way with a classic like a Klipschhorn? 
Do they have JBL?

Seems to be popular and easy to drive. I have only heard a smaller pair and long time ago the great JBL K2.

https://youtu.be/N24qY7KYRnA
A fun alternative that I haven't heard and that may have to be online ordered. Maybe you can find similar models from other brands?

https://youtu.be/eAgq87JWCcw
Hello,
one thing, please do not get rid of your old speakers unless you are absolutely sure. Buyers remorse is one thing, but sellers remorse can be way worse since it is harder to replace the old. A lot of people keep there old stuff to go back to later on. Some speakers are better than others playing specific types of music. Remember a lot of speakers require a break in before they sing. 200 hours gets you most of the way. If you point your speakers at each other, but plug one out of phase - black to red and red to black-with a blanket over them you can hardly hear them to break them in while at work or at night. 
I heard that Maggie’s get thirsty for power. Make sure your amp is adequate. If it is you might really like them. You will need a sub or two. If your speakers are able to be bi-amped, maybe use your old speakers for the low end and the Maggie’s for the high mid and tweets. 
I agree with the Classic Klipsch speaker suggestions.
A pair of Belles would be audio nirvana...
I know, I have a pair as L, R front speakers, with Cornwall II rear speakers.
Klipsch! So good it Hz!
Keep the amp for now & 
try open baffle, spatial or pure audio 
or listen to the recently reviewed
raven audio speakers 
Then back into the right electronics for your choice.  That said Im not sure why you think you need extra efficiency w All that Pass power
I haven’t heard the combo but vandersteen Treo CT or Quattro CT 
Should be very compatible, granted not all watts equal, sort of speak, but 75 watt AudIo Research amps are highly compatible and those are not efficient speakers 
Whatever you do, resist selling the Pass Labs XA 60.8 amplifiers.
   What speaker does Pass recommend? I have Zu and Klipsch Hersey’s . But at your price point and room size , Devore and the Klipsch Cornwall’s or Belles would be nice . Have you considered fresh crossovers for your existing speakers ? I’m interested in how this plays out , so please keep us posted . Regards , Mike. 
I would hesitate to part with those speakers myself.  If you do it should be because you’ve actually heard something different you like better.  Don’t assume newer speakers are automatically better. It all depends. 
I would not be in such a hurry to do away with them. Recap those old crossovers as I assume they have capacitors on there. Those degrade over time and I have had many 20+ year old speakers which have shown real improvement after recapping. Make sure all drivers are still well sealed to the cabinet. Might not hurt to do an ohm test and frequency sweep test on your drivers. If it is a sealed cabinet tap around the outside and see if your joints are working loose. Glue bonds do break and can cause ugly things to happen when volume is turned up.

I happen to prefer efficient speakers that are never less than 96db and the less the cone has to move to get your preferred sound level the less distortion you will have. Many older speakers are also made of plywood and not MDF and are far more durable. I have bought older speakers from people who did not bother to fix what they had and after getting them back right they were really nice.
  If you insist on getting something different I would suggest Klipsch. It is easy to get 101db+ very efficient speakers  that will last a long time and always have repair parts and good resale value. I don't know what your space is or your money to spend or how hung up on appearance you might be but you could go listen to a set of Jubilees and find out what less than 10g will really buy new. Old Chorus speakers are great picks but you will need to at least recap the crossovers but these will run under $1200 IF you can find some. I really really don't like MDF but I have heard the new Cornwall 4's and they are very nice.
" My recommendation, also to address the possible coherency issues pointed out above, would be to go all-horn from an arena in sound reproduction not commonly thought of as "hifi doable," namely Danley Sound Labs Synergy horns paired with Danley’s tapped horn subs. On top of the coherency offered by an all-horn approach you’ll have phase-coherent main speakers to boot - a "killer" combination, if you ask me. Think of models like SH50, SM96 or SM60F Synergy horn main speakers paired with two TH50 tapped horn subs. Any of these 3 main speaker models in conjunction with named subs would be a set-up to admire and capable of any music genre and SPL in a domestic environment one would care for - full range at that, and with headroom to spare. "
  You touch on something rarely mentioned I fully agree with. Pro gear just has much more headroom and effortless superb output. All I would consider for my own use is now Klipsch pro gear starting with at least a KI-904 or better or older versions at least as good as the KPT-456 or better. Some of my speaker buddies have Danleys and love them. It really boils down to what is most important. Sound or looks and here sound wins. Danleys are darned hard to find and so is Klipsch pro gear but the Klipsch does show up from time to time. I listen to a takeoff of the MWM bin from the MCM-1900 ( stock MWM is 40" deep mine is 60" deep same basic configuration though just bigger)  made so it goes down to an honest 27hz and with a Klipsch 402 horn and driver on top out to well past 18khz. This is a true two way all horn system and you just cant beat horns for best sound. It is why I recommended the Jubilee because it too is an all horn system and the gateway to superb sound.
After 15 yrs, speaker technology is still almost the same, although there may have been some advances in implementation brought about by research.
Well usually research is how advances are made :)

I'm a fan of the Classic Audio Loudspeakers and have a set of T-3s. They are 16 ohms, 98dB and go flat to 20Hz.  The midrange driver is field coil powered for less dynamic compression and employs a beryllium diaphragm with a Kapton suspension. Its first breakup is at 35KHz; as a result the speaker is detailed, fast and smooth.

 Also the bass got flabby/slow/less present.
@chilli42  One thing to be careful about in the bass department: 'tight' bass is a coloration brought on by the amplifier having excess damping of the woofer(s). Many audiophiles like it, but out in the real world its a very difficult thing to encounter! Another issue is standing wave; the most elegant solution I've seen is the use of a Distributed Bass Array which may have been what you were trying with the Rels. Did you place the Rels asymmetrically in your listening room?




@mahlman --

You touch on something rarely mentioned I fully agree with. Pro gear just has much more headroom and effortless superb output. All I would consider for my own use is now Klipsch pro gear starting with at least a KI-904 or better or older versions at least as good as the KPT-456 or better. Some of my speaker buddies have Danleys and love them. It really boils down to what is most important. Sound or looks and here sound wins. Danleys are darned hard to find and so is Klipsch pro gear but the Klipsch does show up from time to time. I listen to a takeoff of the MWM bin from the MCM-1900 ( stock MWM is 40" deep mine is 60" deep same basic configuration though just bigger) made so it goes down to an honest 27hz and with a Klipsch 402 horn and driver on top out to well past 18khz. This is a true two way all horn system and you just cant beat horns for best sound. It is why I recommended the Jubilee because it too is an all horn system and the gateway to superb sound.

Thanks for chiming in. Pro gear usually has that rugged and industrial look, and with amps and other electronics I actually tend to prefer that look; it’s just more "honest" with a functionally clean, understated and at times even elegant appearance (take the Crown Studio Reference or Macro Tech amps, as an example). With speakers I like it when they’re made of and actually looks like wood (i.e.: not lacquered to glossy death), but that comes expensive. I would though gladly and without any hesitation whatsoever go with the "ugly" pro speaker if it means better sound (and much cheaper at that), because as you say it’s what truly matters vs. mere appearance.

Klipsch pro gear has great offerings - the Jubilee’s among others have had my attention for a while. Going all-horn is a necessary step few are willing to take, but it makes a potential difference the majority will likely never face.

Pro gear is usually where the real innovations are made, like Danley’s Synergy horns. It’s arguably approaching the holy grail in sound reproduction as a single, phase coherent point source per channel - carefully summed by a closely placed, multitude of drivers - that covers down to where the subs take over. It’s brilliant, really.

@atmasphere --

Also the bass got flabby/slow/less present.
@chilli42 One thing to be careful about in the bass department: ’tight’ bass is a coloration brought on by the amplifier having excess damping of the woofer(s). Many audiophiles like it, but out in the real world its a very difficult thing to encounter! [...]

What’s really addressed by the OP here is a lack of coherency; the authentic fullness of bass reproduction that is to be implied by the quoted passage of you above (and that I agree with as something that doesn’t come across as "tight" per se), doesn’t distinguish itself incoherently from the rest of the frequency spectrum above, but rather it "flows" in organically. If that’s what the OP had actually heard - i.e.: named authentic fullness - he’d have known the difference and wouldn’t fault it.

Indeed, a specific term calls attention to itself from poster @chilli42’s description, namely "presence," or a lack thereof. One of the core characteristics of horn-loaded bass is exactly that: presence, and one that is wholly enveloping in a way the direct radiating bass, distributed array or not, won’t achieve in a similar fashion. What’s more, "flabby" and "slow" bass as an antithesis to "tight" is hardly a compelling trait as something associated with natural bass.

This is not about the age of speakers, and that’s not saying the OP should keep his current horn-hybrid speakers. On the contrary, I clearly feel he should replace them and patiently seek out an all-horn approach that will maintain high efficiency, but add in coherency. This has been done for decades by those sufficiently dedicated. What could be a further interesting addition though, and where the latest technological advancement comes in handy, is effectively emulating a point source and achieve coherency in the time domain as well.
@phusis Just to be clear, nowhere did I state that
What’s more, "flabby" and "slow" bass as an antithesis to "tight" is hardly a compelling trait as something associated with natural bass.
I simply pointed out that overdamped speakers often results in a phenomena known as 'tight bass'. I've heard it in stereos many times but have yet to encounter it in the real world.
One of the core characteristics of horn-loaded bass is exactly that: presence, and one that is wholly enveloping in a way the direct radiating bass, distributed array or not, won’t achieve in a similar fashion.
Horn loaded bass is a rare thing to hear- on account of needing a bass horn that is very long- 20 feet or more. Even audiophiles with a relatively wide open budget may find such size a bit daunting! But the issue that isn't solved by any bass system that originates in front of the listener is standing waves. Standing waves can't be solved by room correction either; if there is a standing wave causing a lack of bass at a certain frequency at the listening chair, you can put as much power as you like into it without significant change. But if you employ a distributed bass array the standing wave is corrected and you will have 'wholly enveloping' bass.

@atmasphere --

Just to be clear, nowhere did I state that
What’s more, "flabby" and "slow" bass as an antithesis to "tight" is hardly a compelling trait as something associated with natural bass.

Correct. I read your remark in reply to @chilli42's comment "Also the bass got flabby/slow/less present" as a presumption mostly that his idea of natural bass might be have been inclined towards unnaturally tight bass, and thereby indicating, without elaborating on your own idea of natural bass, that what he lamented was a closer match to authentic bass. 

I simply pointed out that overdamped speakers often results in a phenomena known as 'tight bass'. I've heard it in stereos many times but have yet to encounter it in the real world.

I fully agree on this, and it's a rare sentiment that counters or exposes an element of "analysis" in assessing sound that veers away from authenticity - not only in the realm of bass. In general and in the whole frequency band it seems "fullness" in the reproduction of sound (which I believe to be an important aspect in realism as well) in domestic, audiophile environments is avoided in preference of a leaner, more HF or detail oriented presentation.  

Horn loaded bass is a rare thing to hear- on account of needing a bass horn that is very long- 20 feet or more. Even audiophiles with a relatively wide open budget may find such size a bit daunting!

It is rare, yes, and explains why few can ever comment on the sound of horn bass, but while 20 cubic feet (folded) horn subs aren't small, which gives you 20-25 Hz, they're manageable still - at least to those who haven't abandoned the mere thought of their implementation for whatever reason (mostly practical, it seems). What might surprise some is that building, or having build horn subs (apart from a few pre-build options from the likes of Danley Sound Labs and JTR) mayn't be that expensive, certainly not compared to Funk Audio or JL Audio with a comparable radiation area. Indeed, mostly what it comes down to is deciding to house horn subs and have them build (or building them oneself), and not that their price empties pockets. 

But the issue that isn't solved by any bass system that originates in front of the listener is standing waves. Standing waves can't be solved by room correction either; if there is a standing wave causing a lack of bass at a certain frequency at the listening chair, you can put as much power as you like into it without significant change. But if you employ a distributed bass array the standing wave is corrected and you will have 'wholly enveloping' bass.

I won't deny the importance of this, and had space and budget permitted I'd have gladly gone with 3 or 4 horn subs. But to reiterate, 2 subs - symmetrically placed to the mains - can make wonders still with care invested in their integration, and I'll maintain that a symmetrical placement in close proximity to the mains is of utmost importance (depending to an extend on the chosen cross-over region). Believe me, I've tried a myriad of combinations placing my subs most everywhere else, but the symmetrical option has always prevailed; things simply fall into place sonically. Having an array of direct radiating subs around you can certainly envelope one with bass in a literal sense, but even a pair of horn subs 'envelope' in a way quite differently. The proof in the eating of the pudding, as they say. 
I've tried a myriad of combinations placing my subs most everywhere else, but the symmetrical option has always prevailed; things simply fall into place sonically. Having an array of direct radiating subs around you can certainly envelope one with bass in a literal sense, but even a pair of horn subs 'envelope' in a way quite differently. The proof in the eating of the pudding, as they say.
My speakers are flat to 20 Hz and for many years I have preferred speakers that allowed one amp to run the entire range. This was in part due to the fact that our amps are full power to 2Hz- much lower than most tube amps, and as a result play bass better because there is no phase shift in the audio band to mess with impact.


But when I've encountered standing waves (as I often have doing audio shows) its made no difference that my speakers go that low or are easy to drive. So my existing speakers are part of my distributed bass array, since the woofers cross over at 500Hz. That sorts out the bass nicely. But as you point out, integration is key; to that end the side/rear subs have to cross over below 80Hz so as to not attract attention to themselves.



Since you are in Asia, Tannoy is very popular over there so you should be able to find a dealer.  Their DC drivers are well known for excellent coherency and most are over 90db/watt.  If you can afford them, the prestige series are Tannoy's best speakers; excellent sounding and beautifully made.
I use a couple of powered subs and a pair of Klipsch Heresy IIIs to get some powerful musical dynamics into the room...from a 12wpc tube amp. 
Chilli, re your question, take a few minutes and read the link below. No idea how old it is or where  I found it, but I’ve kept it because its one of the best summaries I’ve seen about the technical considerations in selecting truly efficient speakers. There aren’t many models to choose from so it can be a challenge, but it is well worth the effort. Good luck. 
https://www.dhtrob.com/overige/tubefriendly_lsp_en.php
Have you consider just moving up the Avantgarde line. The time domain and crossover issues inherent from the design of the speakers that plagued earlier Avantgarde systems has been largely corrected with the use of digital crossovers used in all the newest XD series from Avantgarde. I’ve heard the duo XD and duo mezzo xd on several occasions and I can certainly attest they sound more “natural” then the uno nano ever did. I never heard the original duo or trio systems, but have heard that unless a lot of effort was spent into setup, with use of software costing thousands of dollars, it is difficult to get optimum performance.

apparently when you get a xd series Avantgarde setup in room, you run some propriety Avantgarde software which runs DSP to the woofers for proper bass integration to your room. Pretty fancy stuff. I hope to get Avantgarde someday :)