High value, high efficiency speakers for SET amps


Hi, Gang,
I know that some of what I want to discuss here has been dealt with in other threads, some of them quite old, but I wanted to see if any of you fine, knowledgable folks are willing to help update and consolidate some of this info in a more current thread.
I am currently running my new Audio Note Kit 1 300B SET amp with a pair of Reference 3A De Capo speakers. I think it's a fine pairing and I am really enjoying what the 300B SET experience brings to the table in terms of musicality and emotional connection.
Still the De Capo, while supposedly an easy load due to its crossover-less design (only 1 cap on the tweeter with the mid-woofer directly coupled to the amp), is "only" rated at 92 db efficient, and based on the most recent Canadian NRC specs, that rating may be optimistic.
So, I am toying with the idea of trying a pair of more efficient, deliberately SET-friendly speakers in my rig, something that might also play lower and with greater dynamic swing than the De Capo's. Note that the De Capo's have served me well and I am very fond of them, but I can't help but wonder if my lovely Kit 1 would shine even better coupled to a VERY easy to drive speaker.
Devore and Audio Note are obvious options - the O/96 looks really tasty. Unfortunately, both of those choices are out of my budget, which I'm thinking maxes out (for real) at around $1500. I am willing to consider used equipment.
Tekton Lore 2.0: This is the speaker that Eric Alexander of Tekton has recommended when we've spoken on the phone, based upon my medium-small listening room and amp. I've read the epic "Lore vs. Zu" thread elsewhere in this forum, and clearly Tekton has its enthusiastic fans here. What I wonder is whether the Lore 2.0 has the refinement of the De Capo in terms of resolution, sweet high end and imaging. Audiogon'er Mikirob has pointed me to the many rave reviews of Tekton's speakers and I'm definitely interested.
I've corresponded with the Sonist folks (who are super nice) but their really high-efficiency, nearly-full-range floor stander is out of my budget.
Then there's the "vintage" route, going after some used JBL's or other high-efficiency "classics" from the 80's (or '70's). I am not inclined to go in this direction, but mention it because it's been suggested to me.
And then there's Omega. I spoke to Louis some time ago and he recommended his 7XRS hemp cone model. But I know all the raps on single driver designs and I'm cautious, although I would like to hear from any of you who own or have owned Omega's.
I'm in no rush to make a switch but I am very interested in your thoughts. Thanks, folks!
rebbi
I'm a big Omega fan. Haven't heard the Tekton's yet, but I know that out of those who have heard both some prefer the Omegas and some prefer the Tektons, but really, they are quite different designs. I own different single driver speakers from Fostex and Markaudio and to date, it's the Omegas that I prefer.

I'd be wary of all sensitivity ratings. Just like the DeCapos were tested lower than the official values, Stereophile measured the Enzos at 6db lower than official specs. Bottom line, you really need to hear them in your system to see how they perform.

With single driver designs, you might lose some of the ultimate high end extension that you now get with the DeCapos. The tradeoff might be increased transparency and midrange purity. Every type of speaker involves tradeoffs, you just have to decide which ones you want to put up with.
I have only heard one of there speakers the Druid I think but the Zu Soul and Soul Superfly look intriguing.
I have tannoys and love them. Have heard zu and enjoyed those as well.
"Every type of speaker involves tradeoffs,"

That is true, especially with limited budget.

For a SET amp in articular, if it were me, the thing worth trading off is low end extension, which is where the hardest work is required by far, exponentially so as the frequency decreases. Limiting/filtering low end extension as needed opens up many many possibilities. A smaller room will typically work in one's favor in that regard in that less work is required in smaller rooms.

You can get the low end extension off just a few watts as well but you need larger drivers/speakers in general and of course high quality larger speakers will cost more.

Tannoy is a line I would want to hear that might have some unique things to offer for the SET amp world.
Reb,

I would not discount Triangle as a line to consider, if you can find them around these days. I'd mainly just look for models that are 91db + efficient and do not do much below 50 hz or so. For anything with more low end extension than that, I would make sure the efficiency ratings are truly higher and reflect efficiency at lower frequencies. Beware of smaller speakers that boast higher efficeinecies. They will either be accurate and have less low end extension or have more low end extension but the efficiency specs not cover teh low frequencies, as is the suspected case with the DeCapos.
Focal is another. Focal and Triangle are both French and all I have heard share some common sonic attributes.

The right Focals or Triangles on a good SET amp would make a lot of lovely music. The French seem to have a knack for that kind of thing. Its a different sound than British or most any US I have heard for sure. Clean, crisp, detailed, nuanced, almost to a fault, which is where a nice tube amp might add just the right form of magic.
An old story already but Zu did not do it for me with pop/rock music dynamics in teh one audition I heard at a show. That was Zu Essence off a SET amp. The ZU guy admitted more power was needed. Sounded nice with classical, jazz, acoustic music though.
Search usaudiomart for "single driver" speakers. There are usually things like Lowthers on there. audioasylum has some too.
I listen all day long with single drivers and only 10 watts and never miss some of the highs I'm giving up.
Rebbi, I feel I must also speak to Tannoys and SET 300B. The pairing of my factory-upgraded Assemblage Audio and my semi-DIY Tannoy HPD's has to be heard to be believed.

The problem, though, is that Tannoy, through its popularity, has become more and more expensive. If I hadn't made the move to them when I did, I would in no way be able to afford to do it these days.

As it was, it cost me the better part of $5000 to complete my highly customized HPD's, but then, I was on a mission to make these speakers the best they could possibly be. I was still working back then, so funding wasn't such an issue as it would be now.

Still, though, Steve, it's something to think about for the future. I would try to get out and hear Tannoy/SET pairings, and see if they may be something to aim for at a later date.

As things stand now, I wouldn't change a thing. Doing something similar to what I've done, not as elaborately, may still be the least expensive means to have and enjoy the Tannoy/SET experience.

Best regards,
Dan
Steve, I may have to retract some of my previous post. I just checked on Ebay, and there are some affordable options still available.

A few DMT II's are available, also some nice 12" Royal drivers (made for the Canadian market), using HPD drivers. Sorry if I led you astray, I haven't checked on availability/pricing in a long time.

First though, do try and have a listen. You may find they are exactly what you are looking for.

Regards,
Dan
The Tannoys are an enigma to me, some of their models appear to work beautifully with low-power S ET amplifiers. Other owners Of these speakers however say that the speakers require more power to bring them to life. It makes me wonder if it really depends on which particular Tannoy model one is referring to. Dan seems to achieve more satisfaction than Pani does with this pairing. Too be fair, they use different Tannoy speakers. Dan's model may be an easier load than Pani's. The Tannoy may be outside of Rebbi's stated price range. The Omega speaker idea seems very intriguing for modest size rooms as does Tekton Lores.
Having done some investigation into Tannoy at various times over the years, I think it is safe to say that it is a fairly diverse line with products that may appeal to a wide variety of users and various models will work differently with most any amp including SET. So specific model will definitely matter a lot.
WaveTouch Grand Tetons are a no-brainer if you can find a pair in your price range. You could contact Alex at Wavetouch as he may have some older or B-stock GT's. From my experience with them I would say they will pretty much best the DeCapos in every sonic parameter. They are 94 dB/watt efficient and I drive mine to decent levels with a pair of 300B mono amps in an 11' x 14' room. Bass is strong down to about 40Hz. Alex gives a pretty long in-home trial, as well.
Forgot to mention that the Wavetouch Grand Tetons replaced a pair of the Tekton Lore-S speakers in my Small-Room Reference system.
I'm at the same place your are. I currently have some Cain Abbys, but I'm considering Omega's Outlaw 7 high output stand mount. I did Lowthers in a modern cabinet, and they were very good, but I prefer a smaller driver to help with high frequency beaming.

Others that were good include Horn Shoppe horns (great, but I don't have corners to utilize in my current room), Cardersound Tybone/Saburo Fostex 126 based speaker (awesome, but needed the matching sub and was too big for my room), Altec 14 (needs more than 2-3 watts, but sounds amazing with the cheap Chinese class-D amps.

I'm intrigued by the system from Blumenstein, but I'd like to stay away from extra power cords and four boxes…

By the way, I still have some Triangle Zerius, and it may be one of the most under rated affordable speakers. It just might sound great with a 300B. I use it with a TVC and upgraded Red Wine ClariT at about 5 watts. The used price is between $300-450, and it would be tough to beat. I'll always keep these even as I play around with single-driver full-range speakers.

Keep us posted on your decision - I'm very interested...
Hi Rebbi, The speaker brand that I recommend is Sonist.
I had a pair of De Capo's that I was driving with a 5 watt amp (bridged Decware zens) and never felt that I had enough power for those speakers. Sold them and bought a pair of Sonist "Concerto 2's". The sound from them was a big step in the right direction! I think the De Capo's need about 25 or 30 watts to really shine, but the Sonist lit up with my 5 watts! I eventually found a used pair of the "Sonist Concerto 4's" and I'm done searching for a speaker to use with a few watts.
Tish
You should try to get to the Lone Star Audio Fest May 2nd in Dallas. That's where I heard Sonist and if they weren't out of my price range at the time I'd probably have a pair.

But at LSAF there are manufacturers of more than a few speakers, many full range single driver or similar designs.
Pi speakers is almost always there, Bob Brines, Manzanita, and others. I've seen many different types of speakers there, many SET compatible.
I suggest checking to see who will be there this year, I don't know.

And since you're a big DIY Guru now having built the Kit1 amp, don't discount building your own! ;)
Everybody, I deeply appreciate all of your insights! Sebrof, I'd love to get to LSAF but have to work that weekend so I'll be missing it this year. I actually spoke to the fellow from Pi. I've also corresponded a bit with Audiokinesis (Duke) who's located outside of Dallas now and seems like an absolutely stand-up guy.
It's clear to me that if I'm going to make a change, it's got to be on a home trial or a used item where I won't take a huge hit if it's not right. I sense that system synergy is especially crucial with a SET amp so I'd need to be careful.
Hi Reb,
All sorts of tempting choices. If I was in the financial position and had a larger room,, I would get the Coincident Total Eclipses that Charles owns. They are super! I don't know why no other company is making a speaker of that type that is so efficient.
I'm glad to read some positive feedback on the Sonist speakers. They always looked interesting to me, and they are attractive as well.
I personally heard the Tannoy Kensingtons sounding great with a low power Art Audio amp a few years back, and if you are interested in a speaker that has a high quality concentric driver for a reasonable price, check out Reaction Audio. I haven't heard them, but there is good buzz aout them, and they are SET friendly..
Louis at Omega just came out with his latest creation Outlaw 7.1 High Output. Visit his website.
I just purchased these and only a few hours on them at the moment but what I'm hearing right out of the box is noteworthy to say the least.
Besides being an absolute pleasure to do business with and one of the best guys in the audio biz.
Fantastic build quality to boot.
Having owned the Pendragon, I would say thte Lore is a fine choice.

Shakey
The new Omegas are supposed to be excellent. I had a pair of Omega Sticks years ago and they were very good speakers, but Omega has improved the drivers and cabinets and their performance has been taken to a much higher level. My friend has an open baffle pair of Omegas which he loves and he is now buying their top of the line single driver Alnico monitors. I used to own Wavetouch Grand Teton SE monitors and they are very good with 300Bs, but more expensive than Omegas.
Look for a pair of used Fab Audio 1 speakers. Heard them driven by a pair of Audio Note Quest Silver 300B...awesome!
of course, KLipsch is the big go-to company for most when it comes to good value high efficiency speakers. Lots of new and used product out there to dabble with. I would put newer models on the table as well as the more traditional Heritage line.

So many choices....
Dan,
Thanks for the Tannoy information. I believe that Brian Smith of Audio Note Kits really likes Tannoy and I think he told me at one point that a number of his customers run the ANK SET offerings with Tannoy's, too. I've never spent any quality time with a Tannoy speaker but will try to do so.

Mapman,
I believe that Roxy54 runs his Kit 1 C-Core (the ultra-upgraded model) with Klipsch speakers. What confuses me about Klipsch is that they currently have (seemingly) literally dozens of different models in their lineup, including many that you can buy on Amazon.com. So I can't figure out how to sort through their offerings.

Roxy,
I've never heard of Reaction Audio but just googled their web site and will take a look. Yeah, the Total Eclipse looks amazing! Just over my budget and probably too large for my room.

Leahy,
Very cool information, thank you for mentioning a lot of things I hadn't thought of.

Charles,
Agreed, the Tannoy lineup seems to be all over the map in terms of SET friendliness.

Guppy and Plato,
Wavetouch is interesting. Alex, the owner, actually messaged me some time ago, I guess in response to the whole "Building the ANK Kit 1" thread, and wanted me to try one of his speakers which he said would work much better with my SET than the De Capo's. I know that there are people who love his speakers but they are so odd looking... I just don't know.

Shakey, thanks for the feedback. You still have your Grand Veenas?

Morningstaraudio: I didn't realize that Louis had come out with something new. I'll take a look.
"So I can't figure out how to sort through their offerings.
"

The same way one sorts through the wide range of offerings available on the market as a whole. I look for specs and measurements that meet my needs and a lot of positive reviews. There is more end user information available for products like these sold on Amazon and other sources not known as "high end" per se than for more esoteric products that get more focus here.

Open markets are our friends. You just have to focus on sorting therough the noise and focusing on the facts ie specs and a variety of personal experiences from pure music lovers, if not also audiophiles per-se.
I am a fan of Zu speakers. In part because of the interactions that I have had with everyone from the company, because they offer in-home trial periods, and because they stand behind their products. They also sometimes have refurbished speakers available. At the very least, you should call them. Another option would be an Audio Note kit.
My take on Wavetouch is that they are small for the price but seemingly well made and with a different take on directionality and fighting room acoustics. Bass not too extended and moderate efficiency as I recall so a reasonable match for a SET I would say. I have corresponded with at least one Agoner who bought a pair and had nothing but good things to say about them.
Reb,

I understand where you are coming from in terms of sorting through the options.

The thing is there are so many good products out there but usually only a few that work best best in each unique case.

Specs, measurements and lots of end user reviews from others with similar needs are ones best friend usually to help sort through it all.
Low Risk Klipsch

What would be lost with trying these?

This is one I have on my short list of hieff speakers I would pursue if/when the time comes. its hard to argue against these based on anything but personal taste. I've heard these in Best Buy running off modest a/v receivers and had only positive impressions. A big surprise for me given you would not hear about a common product like this much in these parts.

8" woofer and high efficiency sounds like a good combo for a SET. having heard many speakers both old and new over the years, I've long thought 8" woofers to perhaps be the optimal size for best affordable bass in many cases.
REb, I would take advantage of going back and spending some time with Sebrof's or any other SET based system you might have access to that can serve as a reference. Hearing and recognizing a reference standard is really the only way to know what is possible or what one might be missing. In teh end, on a budget, with a SET, I think it will mostly boil down to how much low end extension is needed. That's often the case but even more so when watts are few and precious.
The Classic Audio Loudspeakers have efficiencies that are what you want for a 300b SET (which only makes about 7 watts). The best suited in their line is the Hartsfield reproduction.

Sorry to pop some bubbles here:

The problem you are up against is that with almost any SET, if you really want to hear what the amp really does (the magic) you really **don't** want to push it past about 20% of its full output. If you do, the higher ordered harmonics come into play and there is an interesting interaction that occurs with the human physiology when that happens!

(The interaction is that the higher ordered harmonics will be showing up on transients, and the ear/brain system will interpret that as loudness. As you increase the volume, the loudness cues are thus initially only occurring on transients. Thus the amp will *seem* to be much more dynamic than it has any business being for its output power! This is a common comment about SETs- and one that indicates that the amp is not set up properly. The speaker used needs to be more efficient to avoid this problem. BTW, now that you have read this I may have ruined it for you: knowing that the dynamic quality is really caused by distortion makes it easier to hear the distortion itself.)

(A further note: about 90% of the time when audiophiles are talking about 'dynamics' they are really talking about distortion. The word is so heavily charged that if I really do mean dynamics I often use other words such as 'impact'.)

So with only 2 watts or so to really play with your speaker must be over 102 db or so- otherwise you simply are not hearing what the amp can really do. SETs have the property of distortion that becomes unmeasurable as power is decreased; this is the source of their 'inner detail magic'.

The bottom line is if you have a 300b SET, unless your room is very small you will need a horn system of some sort; single driver speakers like the Zu or Lowther simply lack the efficiency in an average room.
Well, I do have single driver Zigmahornets but also run Coincident Conquest & Mini Triumphs. The Eclipse is out of your budget.
Atmasphere,

I think you are assuming that the speaker is full or near full range with your numbers.

Smaller speakers with less low end extension MUST require less power to achieve a certain level, all else the same.

The lower the frequencies attempted, the more power is needed, all else held constant. I think that is basic physics.

So I think my argument is sound that one way to coax more out of a few good watts is to defer on or even filter out the lowest frequencies if needed one way or another at some point. That allows your watts to go further.

The sacrifice is the lowest octave or so to some extent but the fact is that may not matter much for most recordings, especially in a smaller room.

But you are correct that the only way to get flat response full range sound out of a few watts is very high efficiency speakers. I have only heard it achieved well with very expensive and very large horns, along the lines of Avantgarde or similar custom horns.
These are the speakers I was referring too.
http://omegaloudspeakers.com/omegaoutlaw7-1.5.html
Rebbi,
I will email you regarding my personal experience with 300b SET, OTL and speakers with sensitivities of 92-95 db. Believe me you have a fine amp with many good options. Trust me.
Charles,
04-22-15: Mapman
Atmasphere,
I think you are assuming that the speaker is full or near full range with your numbers. Smaller speakers with less low end extension MUST require less power to achieve a certain level, all else the same. The lower the frequencies attempted, the more power is needed, all else held constant. I think that is basic physics. So I think my argument is sound that one way to coax more out of a few good watts is to defer on or even filter out the lowest frequencies if needed one way or another at some point. That allows your watts to go further.
I would put it that deep bass extension, efficiency, and compactness of cabinet size trade off against one another in the design of a speaker. Sacrificing deep bass extension and/or making the cabinet larger (not smaller) will work in the direction of enabling the speaker to have greater efficiency.

So I agree that in choosing a speaker having significantly greater efficiency than the De Capo, that also meets Rebbi's stated price point and size preferences, much or all of the bottom two octaves or so will probably have to be sacrificed.

However, the efficiency of a given speaker is what it is. (Although that is not to say that it is what the specs say it is :-)) And provided that the efficiency number is defined in a way that is representative of the speaker's performance across the range of frequencies it is capable of reproducing with reasonably flat frequency response, a speaker having an efficiency of 102 db/1W/1m, to use Ralph's example, will produce within that frequency range an SPL of 102 db (+/- frequency response variation) at a distance of 1 meter when provided with 1 watt (neglecting room effects), regardless of what the speaker's deep bass extension is.

Regarding filtering out the deep bass at a point upstream of the amplifier, yes, that of course would make a given number of watts go further, but of course implementing that filter without compromising the SET magic is another matter, especially at a modest price point.

On the other hand, though, how far the 2 watt figure Ralph mentioned will go in conjunction with a given speaker efficiency will of course vary considerably depending on the volume preferences, listening distance, and room size of the listener, and perhaps even more so on the dynamic range of the music that is being listened to. And it seems clear in this case that Rebbi is generally quite happy with the performance of his SET amplifier with the 86.7 db/2.83 volt/1 meter De Capos. My guess, therefore, is that a speaker which honestly gets into the mid-90's/1 watt/1 meter, while also not compromising anything about the De Capo's sonics which he finds appealing, would make for an excellent upgrade. I have no specific suggestions to offer, though, in the stated price range.

A probably unnecessary reminder, also, that efficiency and intrinsic sonic quality are not all that have to be considered. Ideally impedance should be high, and should not dip down to low values at any frequency, and should not have severely capacitive phase angles (especially in the lower part of the spectrum where lots of energy is typically required, and especially at frequencies coinciding with impedance minima). And the less variation of impedance as a function of frequency the better. Speakers not meeting those criteria would not only entail increased risk of unsatisfactory results, but would tend to give results that are not even consistent among different SETs, due to differences in impedance interactions.

Just my $0.02. Best regards,
-- Al
If it were me, I would enjoy the De Capo speakers and save my $$ and in a few years take a look at Audio Note AN-e's. I did this. I waited until I could afford the E's. Before I got them I listened to them and am still in musical love four years later! Production model or the kit 3. The synergy with the Kit One amp would be excellent. Also looking at Coincident speakers would be a great option as well.
it might also turn out that there may be no need to look at other speakers since it may turn out that the Kit one/De Capo combo may be a long term satisfactory combo
Atmasphere:
Thanks a lot for the technical insights.

Charles:
Looking forward to hearing from you.

Almarg:
You always have so much to add to the conversation, thank you. Just to clarify, I do have some size flexibility here. I'm happy to move to a floor-stander and away from a stand-mount, which is why I'd look at Tekton Lore or one of the Omega floor-standers, which are rather boxy but not huge. My only real size limitation is that distance from the wall behind the speakers has its limits; I've only got about 1.5 to 2 feet to play with there.
As for lower end extension, my old Merlin TSM-mmi's were only rated down to 55 Hz, and I found them so lacking in punch and dynamics that I sold them after a couple of years. The De Capo's, rated down to 42 Hz, taught me that I needed a speaker to have at least a decent taste of low-end punch or I'll get bored and the music loses its foundation. Some of the candidates, like the Lore 2.0, are rated to extend quite lower than the De Capo - down to 30 Hz in the case of the Lore 2.0, which should be very satisfying in my room.

Jetrexpro,
Cooling it for awhile and saving up for AN speakers is also an option, certainly. I've only heard AN speakers at the California Audio Show but was extremely impressed with the demo at that time. Of course, Audio Note was fronting that system with multi-kilobuck AN electronics!
Look into Clayton Shaw's new line Spatial Audio. I have a
pair as well as my DIY Audio Nirvana offerings. Don't listen
to the " if you gonna go SET you need a super duper
ultra hi high efficient speaker crowd" With a 300B (6-9
watts) you'll be fine with 95 db up. Unless you like to
listen to above 96 dbs and if that's the case you don't need
a SET amp anyway!I would go with some sort of point source
system though.BTW, Charlesdad and Almarg are offering good
advise.
"I would put it that deep bass extension, efficiency, and compactness of cabinet size trade off against one another in the design of a speaker. Sacrificing deep bass extension and/or making the cabinet larger (not smaller) will work in the direction of enabling the speaker to have greater efficiency."

That's a good way to put it.
I recall the Tekton owner guy indicating a preference for SS amps with his speakers. Don't recall why. Always check those impedance curves, especially at the low end to help determine just how much more of a challenge more bass extension might be.

One good strategy to help manage risk might be to only go with products that have been thoroughly and reliably measured by an independant source, like Stereophile.

My Dynaudio monitors go down into teh 40s as well and do bass and dynamics quite well in a smaller room. My smaller Triangles do not and bass and dynamics is where they first fall short, though with my current placement near the floor for re-inforcement with slight upward tilt on isolating stands, the bass levels are just right now in a slightly larger and livelier room.

You just never know until you try things sometimes.
Rebbi, thanks for the nice words and for the clarification about size and positioning. Regarding:
04-22-15: Rebbi
As for lower end extension, my old Merlin TSM-mmi's were only rated down to 55 Hz, and I found them so lacking in punch and dynamics that I sold them after a couple of years. The De Capo's, rated down to 42 Hz, taught me that I needed a speaker to have at least a decent taste of low-end punch or I'll get bored and the music loses its foundation. Some of the candidates, like the Lore 2.0, are rated to extend quite lower than the De Capo - down to 30 Hz in the case of the Lore 2.0, which should be very satisfying in my room.
I have no specific knowledge of the Lore, but a general word of caution about speaker bass extension specs: My perception has been, generally speaking, that those numbers stand a considerably greater chance of being both misleading and meaningless than sensitivity or efficiency numbers. For several reasons, including differences in the +/- db tolerances different manufacturers may use; differences in the distortion percentage the number may be based on; differences in the volume level the number may be based on (for a given distortion % and a given +/- tolerance bass extension can be expected to narrow at high volume levels); differences in the extent to which the specified bass extension takes room effects into account; and in cases where speaker impedance is significantly lower at low frequencies than at higher frequencies the possibility that the number may be based on the ability of solid state amplifiers to increase power delivery into lower impedances. And as you've no doubt seen it is common for bass extension to be specified without any of those things being indicated.

Good comments by Mapman just above, btw, some of which relate to these same points.

I note regarding the De Capo, btw, that although it is spec'd down to 42 Hz as you indicated, the measurements I linked to in my previous post show 3 db of rolloff at a bit above 60 Hz, and 6 db of rolloff at a bit above 50 Hz. And that is at a modest input level of 2.83 volts, roughly corresponding to 1 watt. In EE circles, btw, bandwidths are most commonly specified on the basis of 3 db of rolloff.

Best regards,
-- Al
Al,
Your point about the wide ranging standards regarding speaker bass specifications are
well founded. I will say though that the Tekton bass performance seems to be verified by numerous reviewers and many owners of these speakers. So perhaps their stated specs are "reasonably" reliable/accurate.
Charles,
For what it's worth, I hadn't seen this before, but this is Tim Smith's review of the Mini-Lore on the Canadian site Wall Of Sound. He's the same fellow who loved the Coincident Dynamo 34 SE amp.
No doubt a lot of critical listeners seem to like Tekton. Same can be said about many products. We all hear differnetly, so there is no assurance what sounds good to one will sound good to another. Its always a gamble to a certain extent but hopefully more of a highly educated guess that has a good chance of working out with due diligence.
its a good problem to have to choose through many good options. The bad news is they are all different. The good news is that there are many ways to tweak sound produced by a speaker and that they are all good options.

If the specs, measurements, and reviews all line up positively for the case at hand, then that is about all one can hope for in lieu of an actual audition.
My best advice is to always make sure the technical indicators (specs measurements and any other factual technical inforamtion taht might be had via reviews, articles, etc.) line up first. Those are the best FACTS one has to work with towards the goal of OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE.

Optimal Performance is always a good thing but alone not assurance of what will be perceived as good sound. For example an all tube system and an all SS system might both be top notch performers together on paper and as measured, but each will still have their own personal preference for whatever reason. PErsonal preferences are subjective judgements that has no assurance of translating to another whereas techical facts to the extent discernable to help assure optimal performance does.
Check out common sense audio. they offer their own line of full range drivers (audio nirvana) with many options along with lowther drivers. I listen to a pair of 12in full range drivers(audio nirvana) with a 3.5 wpc amp and they are gorgeous. They have a guy who builds cabinets as well. just a thought if you want to go that route. most designs are 96db rated.