monitor or floorstander?

i'll be shopping for new speakers sometime this year, and plan a trip to a local hifi shop in the next few weeks.
previously i have investigated floorstanders only, was leaning toward audio physic virgos (out of budget, but they were sweet, i'd stretch if need be). the same dealer carries spendor, alon, proac, verity, among others but i did not have time to audition competitive speakers.
lately my thoughts have turned to monitor speakers. i suspect my interest in monitors comes from thinking that a monitor, dollar for dollar, will be designed better than a floorstanding sibling.
i would like to keep my budget under $3.5k, but closer to $2.5 or $3k would be preferred and want to wring every goddamn cent for what its worth. buying used is not a problem either.
i'm not dead set on monitors, and still have interest in floorstanders, but i need to hear from monitor people.

my dealer is coming out of a massive remodeling project and usually only stocks top of the line gear in store. i'm hoping he has a pair of spendor 1/2 and proac monitors for audition.
can anyone suggest competitive monitors?

my listening: uncle topelo, son volt, dylan, neil young, zappa, black crowes, alice in chains, soundgraden, miles, monk, coltrane, bill evans, l.hopkins, jack dupree, zeppelin, stones, beatles, asylum street spankers, supersuckers, fu manchu, nebula, gov't mule, g. dead, marley, etc to name a few from recent rotation. so definitley rock (acoustic & heavy), jazz, alt-country listening sessions.

does my taste in music preclude me from being a monitor man?

associated equipment:
rogue audio magnum 99 preamp
rogue audio 88 amp
metronome cd 1
msb link dac iii
music hall 5
pro-ject phono box (temporary fix for phono, to be replaced)
alpha core goertz mi2
alpha core tourmaline ics
ps audio p600
paradigm monitor 7's (artifact from previous system)

my listening room at the moment is a little corner of the basement i call my own, (10' by 12')ish, where i have to set my speakers along short wall, bad huh? unfortunatley NO CHOICE right now.

thanks in advance

You are fortunate to have a dealer with a selection of floorstanders and monitors for your audition. It really doesn't matter if the speaker is a floorstander or a monitor if it is accurate, well-designed, and placed correctly in your room. Manufacturer margins may allow for sometimes better materials and design in a comparably priced monitor, but it's really a function of execution in each design.

I tend to listen to similiar music and have a monitor speaker. I don't think your music will preclude you from this route. I haven't missed the bass below 40HZ a great deal, but a good subwoofer often makes a nice addition to monitors which does add a possible future variable.

The Spendor 1/2 monitor measures about as accurate as you will find from 60HZ to 10KHZ. It seems to always be one of the favorites of those extremely familiar with live music. You should take the opportunity to give it a good audition with your natural acoustic and vocal recordings.

I use Harbeth monitor speakers in a room very close to your dimensions. Like the Spendor, they come from England and the BBC research projects. The Harbeth designs really push the accuracy envelope and combine some excellent design aspects. They are very placement and equipment friendly. There are a few other speakers with this type of accuracy that you can also research.

Work the speaker angle hard because it with your room are primarily what you're going to hear and have to live with.

Best regards,

Mike C.
Hi Fuji. How close to the wall do your speakers have to be? The reason I ask is that I love ProAc monitors, but they use rear ports which might not work well too close to a back wall. I use ProAc Tablette 50 Signatures with Blue Circle separates, and I love the combo. I think the ProAc 1SC would sound great with your Rogue gear, but careful placement will be needed for them to do their disappearing act in your room and to sound their sweetest. As partial as I am to ProAcs, you might also look into Totem Model Ones and the Merlin TSM. Good luck and enjoy!
That's a tough one. Full range offers so much more than monitors.. But then again there are some monitors that are just as good as any floor stander. Rear-porting should be avoided, the only thing I can recommend is to try out a few different combos to get an idea of what YOU like.

I recently auditioned Canton speakers in an effort to gauge the quality of my paradigm Reference 100s (Paradigm won by far) however there was a monitor by Canton that blew me away. I'm not suggesting Canton itself, but a quality monitor (which you can buy for 3K) will take you far. Coupled with a sub, you have an excellent speaker set up. Check out Talon monitors. I havent heard them, but ALL the reviews are positive. New they are out of your range...but you may be in buisness if you buy used. by the way, the Canton Monitors were being powered by Rogue.
sorry I can't help with the speaker choice, but I have the same size room and I'm using spica angelus (bass shy floorstanders, not ported) and a Rel strata sub. It works to great effect, but only if I have the speakers at least 2.5 feet from the rear wall and 2 feet from the side wall and listen in the nearfield (about 6 feet from the plane of the speakers).

Funnily enough this is exactly how Audio Physic recommends. I got info. for my placement from these links :

My experience was that floorstanders can work well in a small room so long as they have very tight, controlled bass. I would imagine that rear porting might present problems as well.

But I think you;ll get astounding results even in the small room with the correct speakers.
Hi Fuji, I gotta disagree with Buckingham on this one. A small two way will work much better in a room you size. IMO, a good two way always seem to have a more coherent, integrated sound. I don't think you will have nearly the problems with a monitor than a full range floorstander. Although the Virgo's do sound very tempting.
IMO, Gunbei has given you the best advise so far.
Good hunting, hope you find that perfect fit.
monitors tend to give you more detailed fast and tight mids than floorstanders. if you add a woofer you'll have a full range.
I would go with the best sound (to YOUR ears) that you can find for the $ you have available. Keep in mind that this is probably not going to be a short-term purchase, I kept my last set of speakers for almost 20 years (!!), and I plan on doing the same with my new (to me) speakers. You will, most likely, change listening rooms in that time period, don't sell yourself short now.

As for new vs. used, unless you can get a smokin' deal on a new or demo pair, go with a lovingly used pair - I found a set off the 'Gon last year that were absolutely perfect and I saved big bucks doing it. There is SO much good, used equipment out there, it seems silly to me to pony up for new. Let somebody else take the depreciation, a quality two year old speaker still has 90% of its life to go...
I vote for the Merlin TSM-M's (or buy used SE's & have them upgraded). They are fairly efficient & sound great with tubes. Awesome speakers! Good luck .
Greetings Fujindemon,

You raise some interesting points in your post.

First let me say that your dealer has some very nice speakers in his lineup.

I used to design and build speakers as a hobby (almost went commercial once), and I've been a dealer for a couple of years now. To design a speaker to compete at a price point is quite a challenge. To design a speaker to compete at a price point with a size limitation is an even bigger challenge. It's nice to be able to work with the larger internal volume a floor stander gives you.

I wouldn't say that a monitor is necessarily better designed, dollar for dollar. The limited size puts an added constraint on the bass system, but on the other hand may make it easier to achieve very good imaging.

Personally, I would say the execution is vastly more important than the specific configuration.

If you are looking for speakers that will work well in your 10 by 11 foot room, then your problem really isn't monitors vs floorstanders. Your problem is to find speakers that will work well in a small room.

You need a speaker whose bass response won't be bloated by the nearby walls, whose tonal balance isn't the slightest bit harsh (which would be particularly annoying in a small room), and whose drivers integrate well at close range. Since there will be lots of nearby reflective surfaces in the room, you want a speaker whose reverberant field response won't color the tonal balance of the first-arrival sound, so that you get natural timbre. And, ideally, you'd like a speaker that's somewhat directional and therefore puts out a bit less energy into those early reflections - too high a ratio of reflected to direct sound in a small room can be detrimental to clarity.

I carry a line of speakers that are specifically voiced and uniquely configured to address these issues, namely the Gradients. But rather than try to sell you on auditioning what I have to offer, let me try to give you some ideas to help you make the best possible choice among the speakers your local dealer has to offer.

Of course bring some music you are familiar with. You want to listen to the same piece of music on each speaker.

Let's assume you've narrowed it down to two or three speakers whose sound you like, and now you want to get an idea of how each would work in your room.

Start out with the speakers close to the wall. This will approximate the situation in your room where the walls are inherently close by. Have them spread apart about as far as they'd be in your room.

First, listen from close up - maybe five or six feet away - at moderate volume levels. This will let you home in on the first-arrival sound of the speakers. Are they still enjoyable from this close up? How's the imaging? Move your head around a bit to see if the imaging and tonal balance change as you do so. Are you aware of the different drivers, or is the presentation coherent? Can you easily pick out and follow a single voice or instrument?

Now turn the volume way, way down, until you can barely hear it. How does it sound? This will unmask midrange peaks and resonances, which might otherwise be hidden by the bass. Passing this test is a predictor of long-term listening enjoyment.

Now turn the volume up louder than normal, and walk into the next room, leaving the door open. What you're doing now is isolating and auditioning the reverberant field. Do you get the same tonal balance from outside the room as you did inside? If so, that bodes extremely well for long-term listening enjoyment.

Finally, return to the close-range listening position you started with, leaving the volume up higher than normal. Any harshness? Is the bass still distinct? How about the clarity of voices - do they get congested? If so, that congestion will be amplified by a small room.

These tests are no substitute for an in-home audition, but they may help you decide which speakers to take home for that audition.

Best of luck to you in your quest!



I have to applaud the advice of Audiokinesis. This is knowledge and experience that is worth paying for and a great example of what a good retailer can offer. If only one had been around when I was starting...

I would certainly be in contact with the gentleman. If you follow the advice on the speaker, you will have something that will provide long-term enjoyment. Lastly, it is my understanding that the Gradients are very accurate in the right ways.

Best regards and applause for Duke,

Mike C.
been busy for a couple of days...
i would like to thank everyone for their input, especially audiokinesis, i feel more prepared for speaker shopping now.

please continue to post if you have any new thoughts, advice, suggestions, etc

to be clear, and not sound snooty, i meant to say a local dealer typically only stocks a company's flagship model in store. according to him it is much better for business to 'downsell' after an audition if the customer's budget dictates than to 'upsell'.

anyway, i thought that i should add to my original post and say that my current room is strictly temporary. eventually, sooner than later i hope, i will have a dedicated listening room. when i purchase my first home, i will first select the best room for listening, then arrange for living spaces. i do have my priorities straight, i think. so the listening room will open up a bit i imagine from 10' by 12' (ish)

another thing: are talon speakers everything people describe them to be? i have yet to find a genuine complaint regarding their various models. specifically, do the peregrine monitors (80 some pounds each, hard to think of them as monitors at that point, but they are) really dig down below 40hz or is this just an optimistic manufacturer specification. i ask because i've seen these come up used once or twice and can't find a dealer to audition here in philadelphia.

so monitors or floorstanders, i'd like to continue to hear what people have to say.
btw, i would like to purchase a speaker for a lengthy stay in my system, i.e. i almost certainly want something to build another sytem around over the next few years. my current thoughts on amplification run toward vac, lamm, joule, atma-sphere and airtight (though almost certainly cherished used gear)

thanks again and in advance
Somehow I dislike Talone floorstanders and like the monitors Peregine and Khite for their realistic nature. They realy drop down bellow 40Hz but not on the slam level.
If the budget allowes, you can only benefit with these.