Low power- transparency, dimension, dynamics and bass, or...


I've built several mature and immature systems over the years. That’s part of the fun for me. I’m exploring the possibility of getting the three dimensional sound of a monitor, with the tectonic plate shifting bass of a high quality sub. Can anyone speak to an integration point of say 50-80hz where it made more sense to focus on a high quality smaller speaker (in a medium sized room) vs a "full range" (35hz) speaker? In my experience the full range speaker can have more slam but not necessarily the imaging or quality of drivers. The monitor can struggle with dynamics. This also has me considering smaller horns or dual concentric drivers, but would they be difficult to integrate with a traditional sub or two? I’ve always been a fan of class a and tubes presentation but open to ideas.
I recently had a pair of O/93’s with great dynamics and bass to 30hz but disliked the dimensionality and upper mids of that speaker. I value dimension, image, dynamic ease, transparency, warm side of neutral. Trying to keep this speaker adventure under $6-8k used. I’ve talked to a few people that have said forget low power, increase speaker budget and go for Treo’s or a set of bigger Tannoys. Speakers would be 9 feet apart could be 2’ out 2’ from corners/open floor plan to larger space.

Some ideas- would like to hear bigger Harbeths with subs
Try the Soul Supreme with subs?
Arden, or Autograph mini with dual subs never heard Tannoy
Treo- owned older Model 5, 12 years ago for a limited time- tech seems to have really improved.
Horns but feel like the integration of technologies will be a challenge.
Single driver same issue as horns right?

Ag insider logo xs@2xbjesien
 I value dimension, image, dynamic ease, transparency, warm side of neutral. Trying to keep this speaker adventure under $6-8k used. 

These speakers, the whole set- five subs and the Moabs- will run under $8k new. Everything you want, in spades. One and done.
https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
I listened to a reasonably priced, excellent performing system at Audioconnection.
The Vandy VLR's with a Sub 3 powered by a Belles Aria Integrated.-Something that would be within your budget even new.
When Johnny installed the AQ William Tell speaker cables, those little babies came to life-and this is without the sub.

I think you should post your question on the Vandersteen Forum -on the Vandy website, too.
Bob
Monitor and sub not my idea of an upper end experience.  Way too many unnecessary issues/problems introduced for imo no great reason ( unless no other options). I have had a few and would not consider typically for a reference sound. 

With the changes happening in amplification,  low power is now a fundamental mistake regardless of how efficient the speakers. Lower power, especially tubes, is a poor choice. 

Thanks for the replies. I will take a look at those options. I once asked a guy on a fb forum to compare the O/93 to the Perfect Set and several people thought it was unfair to compare them because of the price discrepancies. There no shortage of people that get insulted on audio forums! MC can you compare these two speakers?
d Schroeder  I am sitting listening to a verity Leonore speaker with Leben tube amplification. If I just had a bit more dynamics and bass depth I’d be all set for my needs. Zero fatigue great detail, soundstage dimension is great. I particularly enjoy the 7581 tubes with this combination. They provide more dimension between strings and around horns than the el34’s. I gave my KT66’s away to a friend but think they would be even better with the above plus dynamics. The speaker goes to 35 hz with a meter in my room, which is impressive, but the Leben is great and the speaker is efficient with a benign impedance curve.Is there a speaker that you would recommend? Are you saying that a floor stander with a sub is better than a monitor? I’ve always thought of using a sub only to supplement the main. I think it would make sense to engage the sub as little as possible. Do you agree? I wonder if new technology with subs is improving to close any gaps like you mentioned above.
Thanks, appreciate your thoughts.
I would not concern myself so much with bass. If you were to get a sweet 300B amplifier system with a ( example the ProAc Tablett ) speaker that likes lower power. That would be a great place to start. I think the quest fo bass is in reality a quest for a midrange that makes the music accessible, enjoyable and completely satisfying. 
SRA I had a Response D2 five years or so ago with an old rel sub. I enjoyed it but I soon went to a tower speaker because it lacked some slam. I like your 300b thoughts but like to feel bass. Appreciate your remarks they are making me walk through some previous decisions. I think I’m scratching the monitor idea unless someone can recommend a monitor that excels with the above plus dynamics.


Joseph Audio Pulsars image/soundstage like demons and are very dynamic for a monitor.  Best of luck. 
Hi, I am your spirit animal.
You need to stop buying speakers.  Start building them yourself.  That is the only path forward for you.

Good luck.
Only monitors I can think of that come close to full range and not fall apart, at least below 30hz to 20khz or above are active. 

https://www.adam-audio.com/en/s-series/s3v/
Soix, thanks for the Pulsar suggestion. In another setup I had a pair of Verity Parsifals and would run just the monitor on occasion. Those have some similarities.
Low power tube amplification is not a poor choice.

With properly matched speakers, tube amps are outstanding.
There are many ways to achieve great sound.

Some speakers to consider:
Spatial Audio M3 or X5



Bjesien, lower power and the choice of speaker model got you pretty sound, but not extreme sound on the performance spectrum.  It's perfectly understandable why you wish for more dynamics and frequency extension. 34Hz is not exciting low end performance,  and you can do much better. 6.5 drivers are incapable of much of what is expected of premium bass.

I have speaker and amp recommendations,  but are review products,  so send message if interested. I am not discussing them publicly prior to review.  
Tvad, I agree with your statement. Every combination has its synergy just as every part of our beautiful world has its season- although many are harsh :)

douglas_schroeder,  I agree with your reasoning completely, which kind of brings me back to the starting point. Just shy of 5 digits you see an awful lot of 35hz 40hz, 44hz specs.
My experience tells me that a floor stander will cover the 100-40hz region with better body and dynamic impact than a monitor. I've typically only used a sub to fill in maybe 50hz and below based on roll off. I also realize SS would give me more control of the lower octaves and am open to exploring SS again, but I tend to listen less- perhaps I am after that beauty over accuracy- but so be it, I am the only one in my listening space to enjoy the illusion. Or is that delusion?   
You say you want transparency then go on to discuss amps and speakers that are anything but transparent. 
djones51 perhaps I am not using the word for its intended purpose.  Transparent in my mind is lifelike, in the room presence, clear. Opposite might be veiled, rich. I welcome some of your descriptors on what I see as a sliding scale.   
You claim you’re objective in a monitor is
I value dimension, image, dynamic ease, transparency, warm side of neutral. Trying to keep this speaker adventure under $6-8k
The Adam s3v covers all of these. The " warmer" side of neutral I’m not sure what it really means but the Adam does have various adjustments where could tune to your liking. No speaker is transparent but what is considered neutral would be a flat FR. For instance in your OP you mention the O/93 that you felt was lacking which isn’t surprising since the FR of it is well terrible. Now you might not be interested in active monitors and that’s fine but to completely ignore something that meets your requirements without so much as a thanks but your notion stinks leads me to think you’re not really sure what you want, on your sliding scale.
Amps are different low watt tube amps are anything but transparent if you value transparency look at a Benchmark AHB2. 
Why aren’t low watt tube amps transparent?
Transparent in my mind is lifelike, in the room presence, clear.

Atma-Sphere M-60, Pass Labs XA-30.8 or XA-60.8, Coda Continuum No.8.

All of these create the qualities you describe in your quote.

Match them with a large Tekton model...or for an outside-of-the-box idea, perhaps a vintage pair of Altec Model 19 or Altec Voice of the Theater.
bj

funny i was asking you about devores a few days ago... 

i am really happy with my latest speaker acquisition, the spatial m3 sapphires... astoundingly good in an absolute sense and also for the cost

i drive them with both high grade solid state and tube amplifiers and the sound is both transparent and tactile, and bass response is tremendous... scale of sound is also very impressive but with imaging specificity too

for your reference, other speakers i have in house are harbeth c7/shl5, proac resp d15/3.5/d30r, spendor sp1/2, vandy 3a sigs, as well as quad esl63, all with supporting rel subs as needed

feel free to pm me if you want to discuss more
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Unless you have a very large room the best spot for bass drivers and higher frequencies will not be the same spot. If you want floor standers and great bass be prepared to put a lot of money and work into acoustics. 
You can get good soundstage depth and width and imaging with the O/93's if you have 1) a good front end, 2) good electronics, preferably tubed, 3) Auditorium 23 speaker cable (there is no substitute) and 4) move the Orangutans out into the room and use Jim Smith's grid system until you look things into place. Monitors are without a doubt easier to place for soundstaging and imaging. Good monitors will always do better on imaging, but not soundstaging. With my DeVores I get startled by sounds unexpectedly coming at me from space. It can be done. There is no free lunch. Want a seamless broad array of musicians or vocalists in front of you with life size dimension? Very few monitors will give you that. Try the Mapleshade release "Arc Choir" with monitors and then with the O/93's. 
Without a doubt, there is a slight "dark hole" combined with what I will call a furry quality in the upper midrange of the O/93's. It can be minimized with proper placement but yes, it is there and if it is deal breaker, move on. 
I completely disagree. It's a matter of acoustics and integration. If your monitor can hit 50hz 3db down, you can accomplish anything wrt imaging and soundstage. I would even say 60 but like headroom. I am probably going to roll them off with the subs anyway.
bjesien


What music has  " slam " ? curious..
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I don’t always often check on these pages but I’ve made notes of the above suggestions. One I want to direct to DJ regarding the Adam Audio. Thanks for recommending the monitor with that kind of range. I currently have a bias to passive speakers because I usually have a few amps that I like to try on speakers. It’s a part of the audiophile journey that I enjoy, most of the time.
SRA slam in my mind is explosive transients with fast leading edges and decay that also captures the texture and tone on the instrument or device in the process. The orangutans do this beautifully with such low power. Most music has it as a foundation to the recording. So many speakers miss the mark. AKA kick-ass bass.
@bjesien --

...  perhaps I am after that beauty over accuracy- but so be it, I am the only one in my listening space to enjoy the illusion. Or is that delusion?
 
https://jeffsplace.positive-feedback.com/my-audio-system-sucks-what-should-i-do/?fbclid=IwAR09BqcSy8...
SRA slam in my mind is explosive transients with fast leading edges and decay that also captures the texture and tone on the instrument or device in the process.
sometimes it is not problem of speakers,but rather preamp unable reproduce  such sound.Audio research ref preamps captures texture and tone of the instruments
@bjesien , No reason a monitor placed on a proper stand with multiple subwoofers can not be very dynamic as long as the room is not too large. In larger rooms line source speakers are going to rule the dynamic roost. I am going to side with douglas_schroeder on this issue. If you want real dyamics, not just bass but things like snare drum snaps and somebody clapping right next to you than power is everything. I am also talking about dynamics at an average 95 dB sound pressure level. Good high power amps have a majestic effortless quality missing in any low power amp. 300B amps on very efficient speakers will go loud (a very colored loud) but they won't go loud with chutzpah even with subwoofers. If you want the absolute best imaging on any system then subwoofer are a necessity. Used with a full two way crossover removing the bass from the main speaker lowers it's distortion levels at volume rather dramatically. Cleaner sound always produces a better image. You will hear people with subwoofers always say that they knew they would get more bass but they never expected the midrange to get so much better. This is why. Next. A good image depends on your ability to localize sounds. This ability is based on volume and phasing (time) between your ears. No two identical speakers will ever have exactly the same frequency response then you put them in different parts of the room and their frequency response becomes even more divergent. As the frequency response differs the balance between the speakers changes shifting the image one way or the other at specific frequencies resulting in a smeared image. The only way to deal with this effectively is room control (really speaker control) Each speaker is measured by calibrated microphone and it's response corrected so that both speakers now have exactly the same frequency response. Then you can create target curves to create the sound you like. People will tell you you can do this with room treatment and that is total hogwash. First of all, you have no idea what is going on until you measure the speakers (a life changing experience). People will tell you they can do this by ear. Also total hogwash. Nobodies hearing is as accurate as a computer and claiming theirs is puts them in the, " I never want to listen to that person category because their ego is bigger than their..." 
So, A pair of Harbeths on stands with 4 12" subwoofers and a DEQX Premate (Not that expensive at all!) will easily put you in the ultimate system catagory. Any 100 watt/ch class A amp will do driving the Harbeths. SVS 12" subs will do fine. You will be using the crossover in the DEQX. The subs are also measured and corrected. They should always be placed against a wall or in corners. https://www.deqx.com/products/premate/
I appreciate the above content. it’s a good mix of practical and contemplative thoughts on what it is we are looking to achieve.

Does anyone have any experience with Gershman? It would be a complete scratch of the "low power" desire but we have to remain open to system change as part of the fun. This is one name that came up on the side as being very "musical". Never heard them? Anyone?
bjesien

Sounds like slam means speed. Speed and fast transients are very important.  A deal breaker for me as well. 
Sounds_real_audio yes I agree about speed, but I have heard speakers that have speed in some areas but not others. I think I could call it dynamic impact as well. Where the flow of the whole of the music is fast- impactful- large swings when called for. The O/93's had this covered.  

Have heard great sounding combinations of low powered SET’s and high sensitivity speakers (make that horns; all-horns or horn hybrids), not in the least lacking transparency, dynamics, "ignition," tonality and what have you - on the contrary. To me they’re usually much more alive sounding vs. low efficiency, direct radiating speakers coupled to SS amps in the many hundreds of watts, a combo of which that can sound downright dull and bottleneck-ey by comparison. This, it seems, mostly comes down to the speakers being the weaker link here; very high sensitivity horn speakers can do with 1 watt what a low sensitivity speaker would need more than 100 watts to achieve, and then a 5-10 watt SET is suddenly transformed into a beast with large form-follows-function horn speakers (often fitted with pro drivers) in the receiving end to whom thermal compression is practically irrelevant.

Conversely: at the other end of the wattage scale it’s interesting to see how watts in abundance are sometimes scoffed at, maybe because the amps delivery that much power are either insanely expensive (and absurdly heavy), derived from the pro sector, or that much power is simply regarded as ludicrous excess. In my own case the power amp actively driving the 100dB sensitivity dual 15" woofers per channel of my EV main speakers, the Lab.Gruppen FP6400, can shell out 2.3kW into the 4 ohm load they present, while a 30 watt pure Class A power amp is actively driving the 110dB sensitivity MF/HF horn section above. A 500 watt power amp drives a pair of subs (97dB sensitivity), actively as well, so about 2.8kW in total per channel. Too much? What does that even mean? It’s utterly effortless at any SPL one desires, sounds great, and you don’t think of wattage per se; just uninhibited, full, low distortion and clean sound.

Needless to say, context is very important.