I think this is quite subjective as we all perceive 'smoothness' differently, but my personal experience with the B & W 801 F's (original) is that they sound better at higher volume; and I never, never noted harshness or grating after hours of listening. The same MAY be true for the other 801 series, I can only speak for the 801F's (which I still own) and the 801 Series III which are easier to find, but more expensive. It is worth your while to search them out. Since you didn't mention your budget, I throw this out and can only give my 20 yrs of listening history.
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At the link below you'll find a thread wherein I describe a speaker I'm no longer commercially involved with that will play incredibly loud with no nasties. The only other system I've heard that can duplicate this feat is about sixteen times the price (and requires commensurate amplification), and is no longer in production. The speaker I'm talking about is called the Summa, and it's designer also posted in this thread.
Vintage Klipsch with the metal horn mids and tweeters. Based on this review, the newer Klipsch Heritage may work as well. I'm not as familiar with their newer speakers.
What price point are you looking at?
Low point, Def Tech Mythos ST's can put out 110+ dB in my 16x25 room with vaulted ceilings ad be very listenable to at that volume (though not for long if you want to keep your hearing).
One speaker I am totally in love with that can really put out some volume are the Escalante Fremonts, I've been told by the Waldron brothers that you could actually plug the speaker into an electrical outlet and produce ~130 dB's without blowing them! While I would never recommend doing this, I have heard them several times at high and low volume and the never get edgy up top, and they can clearly do concert level!
I am wondering...Is there a speaker that will get quite loud (almost concert level volume) but still have soft smooth highs at higher volumes than most home audio speakers?
ATC play extremely loud (concert level) without any effort or strain. Highs are generally rolled off and they use robust silk dome tweeters that do not give you the usual ugly compressed/congested tweeter sound so common at higher levels - so no problem there on any of the models. Concert levels of 105 db SPL can be reached in a small room with the small SCM19's and a Bryston 4B with very low distortion (almost all other small monitor speakers distort badly before getting anywhere near these levels - SCM19's have the largest 6" woofer drive motor in the world)
However, depending on your music preferences - since ATC have a forward midrange (compared to most consumer speakers) then you may find them harsh in the midrange (not highs which are smooth)- this would be true of hyper-compressed mastered music such as Green Day, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Metallica etc. - it will still sound great at lower volumes you just won't feel like cranking it for very long. People who like electronica, dance club music, classic rock (ACDC/INXS/Tom Petty/Led Zep etc), classical orchestral, country, Jazz, acoustic vocal tend to like ATC's - and mostly music professionals and artists who are intimately familiar with the sound of live music and instruments.
Another factor to consider is that since distortion is so very low at elevated levels and music sounds better louder - then the music will NOT seem loud as with other speakers - you may have an increasing tendency to crank it - so be careful with your ears & make sure your neighbors are far far away (it is the onset of distortion in other speakers that tends to limit how loud people play - distortion makes it "perceptively" loud in the same way as audio compression applied by mastering engineers does on some pop music).
Depends on your price range..
Zu are very efficient needing very little amp power, concert level acoustics, very smooth, never fall apart, and can take abuse for hours on end due to using Pro based custom drivers... Also now using only Mundorf Silver oil caps on the highs so you will never get any grain at any volume, and they are all very compact at under a square foot floor space.
Interesting comments. At this point I am not looking at a price range. I was just wondering if there was something out there other than professional PA speakers that could really rock the joint. Actually, as far as that is concerned I remember hearing some Yorkville Elite PA speakers that sounded darn good.
A guy at the local higher-end store was saying that I should get a pair of bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer. That way the bookshelf speakers could play louder since they do not have to reproduce the lower frequencies. They have some Era bookshelf speakers coming in soon that they want me to audition.
I'd also add reliability as a requirement . . . because it's no fun cranking it if you're overly worried about blowing something up. So if it's a traditional passive speaker you're looking at, you'll need a powerful amp and/or one with very dignified clipping characteristics. For this, it's hard to beat a big McIntosh amp - they have a ton of headroom, and they're virtually impossible to drive into serious clipping.
Most of the professional main studio monitors will do just what you're asking - I have personal experience with ATC 100s, JBL 4430 & 4435, Urei 813s, Westlakes etc. in studio control rooms that were all really exciting, dynamic, and smooth at very high volumes. Even some of the nearfields like the Meyer HD-1 will crank up amazingly well. The flip side is that all of these speakers work best when they're very carefully set up, and room acoustics are under control - just like in a studio. That and some of them (esp. Ureis, Yamaha NS10s) have a upper-midrange boost that many engineers actually like . . . probably an homage to the old Altec 604 that was the standard for so many years.
You might also check out the upper models of B&O speakers - they're all active, multi-amplified designs like professional speakers, but they're designed for a typical domestic environment. The BeoLab 5s in particular play extremely loud and very clean - but you might need to take them home to really hear what they sound like. I actually have a pair of early-1990s B&O Pentas that I use with my video system - they're really fun to listen to at loud volumes, and I can personally attest to their durability. Pretty damn reasonable on the used market, too.
So your going with a bookshelf!!! u so crazy man...
LOL...yes I was surprised by this too although if he were to go with the small ATC SCM19's you can still get pretty loud. Another speaker that can go loud is Meyer HD 1...also small but deceivingly big sound. However, most bookshelve speakers ...you can absolutely forget it!!
No, I did not say I am going with bookshelf speakers. I will go in to listen to them though. I cannot imagine that speakers that small would get as much volume as I would prefer to have.
I have played in a rock band back in the mid 1970s. We used to come on stage with three Marshall stacks for the guitars and bass. That was in the days before master volume controls on the amplifiers. We played loud! We also had some of that running into our PA system. It just fascinates me to no end that those professional PA systems can move so much air that everything vibrates. Do not get me wrong; I do not listen to music like that all the time as my old ears cannot handle it. Once in a while I like to crank it up and rock out though. It reminds me of the good old days.
At this point I have not looked into most of the other speaker manufacturers you have mentioned but I will be doing so in the next few days. ATC sounds interesting.
Horns tend to be too bright for me in stereo speakers. I have heard some of the new Klipsch speakers and are not impressed by them at all.
Find a pair of Dick Sequerra's Metronome 7.7's: (http://www.sequerra.com/electronics/data/index.htm)(http://store.acousticsounds.com/browse_detail.cfm?Title_ID=36370) These small monitors sound good at low inputs yet will remain very linear/undistorted at high volume levels(wide dynamic range). Worth the search whether you shop new or used. Look(used)for the Mk4's or 5's and you can't go wrong.
It's been a long time but I remember that my good old JBL 4311b control monitors could play really loud and still sound good, not concert levels though. Really miss those speakers. There are probably vintage and current JBL (pro market not best buy stuff) speakers that would work for you. Tyler Acoustics has a line of efficient horn speakers.
Several speakers have tweeter attenuators, among them the Magnepan 3.6s. With some speakers you can bi-amp, and then you can put small resistors in-line with the tweeter section.
Also, for 'loud' listening sessions maybe just put a washcloth or sound absorbing foam in front of your tweeter! Of course that wouldn't work on these:
It is actually really easy to dampen high frequency noise.
You could even just use cables that tame brightness. Lots of cables can do that.