Monitor suggestions?

An unexpected, modest budget improvement means I can (possible) address what I perceive as both poorly controlled bass and an overall lack of clarity.  Yes, I realize I raised this before but I think I have a better handle of the problems at this point. 

I suspect the first issue is due to insufficient damping factor on the part of the the Wells Majestic integrated coupled with an inherently difficult-to-control lower range in the Silverline SR17.5 monitors.  

The second issue is most likely due to the dark and somewhat cloudy tonality of the Aqua La Voce 2 DAC. 

I'm looking into upgrading the Wells but here and now, I'd like suggestions on changing speakers. 

Budget: $3500 (used is fine)

Cabinet: Sealed box or downward firing port. 

Lower extension (ideally) down to 35HZ

Neutral to somewhat cool (but not approaching analytical) tonality 

Placement constraints: Backs of speakers cannot be more than three feet from back wall
and will sit atop 32" stands,(which means no 3-way or otherwise extra-tall cabs).


60% acoustic (Jazz, Folkish, Celtic, Singer-songwriter, New Grass)
40% electric (Jam Band, Americana, Blues, Country).

So far, Elac Vela looks like a possibility.  What else ? 

I plan to assemble an entirely new system within 5 years. I'm just looking to make listening less frustrating for the present. 

Sealed monitors down to 35hz....not many of those due to laws of physics. More realistic is 40/50hz + allow for room gain of 3-6db.

Monitors with downward facing ports on a stand? Not a good idea. They also, um, don’t exist.

For everything else you want, wholeheartedly recommend ATC SCM7/11/12/19/20s. Don’t know your amp, but these ATCs match your speaker requirements.

For an easier load/drive and the classic British monitor thing, I’d look at Graham Audio (which I prefer to Harbeth).

I wouldn’t rule out floorstanders. They’ll take up the same space as a monitor on a stand!

Agree that ATC SCM19 would be great if I could use subs. Otherwise, no. 

I said "ideally" re: 35HZ.-- I should have said "as deep as possible" or similar. 

FYI, Elac Vela has port that fires back AND down. 

I will look into Graham. 

I looked up the Vela. That’s a weirdass port solution. It’s using the bottom plane of the speaker effectively as a mini stand-cum-slotted vent....nobody else does this. And I’d be more skeptical than forgiving of if it doesn’t sound bad. Basically, this is going to sound even smaller and compressed than it already appears. Weird solution. I’d look at something else of higher quality.

OK, sounds like you aren’t willing to compromise on, get a bigass 2-way (1" tweeter + 8" woofer, like the Devore Orangutans as a reference; btw, Devore announced they’re going to be releasing 2 smaller, cheaper versions of the same design at some point.

I’m being frank but you need to reset your expectations on the bass capability of a small 2 way on stands. No matter the brand, you’re talking about a 5 to 6.5" (let alone smaller) driver in a 20L ish cabinet (or smaller). There’s only so many ways that goes without giving up something like sensitivity, midrange quality, cost, you’re going to get about 50hz without room gain and that is that.
I cannot use floor-standers due to furniture in living room.

Zu Druids might work but I do not have the $ 

Looking over specs, it looks to me like Grahams would require subs, for sure. 

@ motokokusanagi:

"I looked up the Vela. That’s a weirdass port solution. It’s using the bottom plane of the speaker effectively as a mini stand-cum-slotted vent....nobody else does this. And I’d be more skeptical than forgiving of if it doesn’t sound bad. Basically, this is going to sound even smaller and compressed than it already appears. Weird solution. I’d look at something else of higher quality".

No-- it's not a common design. 

The Spendor Classic 4/5 is a sealed box that goes down to 55HZ. If you are looking for a sealed monitor that goes down to 35HZ you will be spinning your wheels finding a speaker like that!
Check out Fyne Speakers. They may get you close to what you want. I’ve never heard them,but they seem to be well regarded.  

I looked into Fyne before but couldn't find US dealers. 


Most Harbeths seem more like floor-stander size on a half-height stand than typical monitors. I have severe placement restrictions due to furniture. And the room is not small, so I couldn't get away with their most petite models. 

However, since we're on the topic of British monitors, a Proac Response D2 might be a possibility. I've contacted the distributor and asked for a list of US dealers. They're a bit more than my budget, but I could stretch. 

Looks like front-ports may well be my best bet. 

Yes you will definitely need to choose between sealed and bass shy or ported. I’d be suspicious of specs that say sealed monitor to 35hz (many ported do not either for example). Simple physics 
Check out the Vienna Acoustics Haydn Grand.  They are neutral and musical.  Front ported.  
If you can have the back of the speaker 3’ from wall behind it, lots of rear ported speakers will work.  
The most obvious option would be the Joseph Audio Pulsars as they go deep and don’t require mikes from wall behind.    
Bottom ported stand mounts exist but almost always have an integrated stand like Wilson Benesch.  
Otherwise…not sure.  
I don't think you'll ever combine all your desiderata into one speaker.

Take a look at:
Alta Audio Alyssa, over budget but down to 32 hz
Fritz Carrera Be, another bass champ for the size of cabinet
Post removed 
"a Proac Response D2 might be a possibility" - not a bad choice; Proacs are very popular, and all models have the same sound signature (musical, detailed; slightly snappy in the treble).

Used ones may offer a lot better value. Stewart Tyler (RIP) basically used the same crossover topology in all his 2-way designs for over 20 years. Newer ones will cost a lot more yet the sound will be in the same ballpark as an equivalent model of 10 years ago. Consider finding the biggest one that will fit your room/stands.

Their Studio SM100 is the same format as the D2, just with different drivers.
The best bargain in the ProAc line is the DT8.  It is bottom-vented.  But it's also a (fairly small) floor-stander.
cannot use floor-standers due to furniture in living room.

You do realize that a small floorstander will take up no more real estate than a monitor on a stand? And give you more of what you require too.



"You do realize that a small floorstander will take up no more real estate than a monitor on a stand? And give you more of what you require too."

Hint: expand your thinking from two to three dimensions.   


The title of this thread clearly indicates I need a monitor but I appreciate your willingness to be of assistance. 

@ motokokusanagi:

They're extremely hard to find used, unless one is looking for the pro audio versions. I'm awaiting a request to the US distributor to provide a list of US dealers. 

Dynaudio Contour  20i   will have to find a cheap used pair though   or special 40

Elac Velas are very good ,I have them in my 2 nd system
the triangle Theta is a very good monitor and very good value 
$4200 retail can be bought for much less.
address what I perceive as both poorly controlled bass and an overall lack of clarity
I don’t think in any way, shape, or form your excellent speakers are the source of your problems.  I’d suggest starting by replacing your electronics with others that are better suited to get the sound you’re looking for.  It also sounds to me that your speaker stands are too tall, which may be another culprit in reducing clarity as the tweeters are probably well off axis and above ear level — just a guess though.   Regardless, IMO the speakers are not likely the problem here.  Best of luck. 

I don’t know where you are located but if willing to travel to Sarasota Florida you have an option to hear both Fyne speakers and Aqua audio dac as they carry both.  Surprised you found la voce dark, as my dream was the la scala with the tube output.  I eventually purchased a less expensive r to r dac and the class can be described as musical or organic.  The Fyne audio speakers are similar in presentation, musical but not hi fi.  Driving the Fynes with a low wattage class
a solid state with plenty of headroom.  Sun coast has plenty of electronics to demo the speakers.  Luxman, naim pass, Boulder , classe, and also barbers speakers 
The Wells amp specs damping factor at 200. Assuming that's in the bass(sometimes it's spec'd at higher frequencies) that's way more than enough to control the bass of any speaker. I assume you don't have long lengths of thin speaker cable then there are 2 more possibilities. One is you've positioned your speakers poorly in your room. The other is poor design of bass control of your speakers. But it's unlikely your amp.
From what you describe, ATC would really fit the bill. They have real studio monitor pedigree, and once you actually hear their bottom end, I don’t think you will miss the extension. Just my take.
Maybe a used Joseph Audio Pulsar can get you to satisfying bass along with great sound as per many positive reviews.

You could be right. Please read my PM. 


From Northern CA?  No. 


In fact, I asked Jeff about damping factor and he said amp was not to blame.

I do have 20' speaker cables, although they are doubled. 

I could address this by moving components to another room and locating them on a rack. Components are currently on a massive built-in bookshelf unit on Symposium platforms and footers. 

The speakers are positioned in the only place they will fit in the room, flanking a large tile and slate hearth containing a propane fireplace insert. 

The hearth is not flush with back wall-- it sticks out 23" into the room. 

 The backs of speaker cabinets are 32" from back wall. The speakers protrude 12 " beyond face of hearth and distance from side of cabinets to hearth is 17".  I have no-where else to put these. 

Speakers arranged in equilateral triangle with listening chair (100" on all three sides). 


I can now undertake a more generous upgrade, which significantly changes the picture.

I could address long speaker wire runs (see above response to dynamiclinearity)

I could upgrade DAC. 

I found a shop in Seattle that carries various British speakers including ATC (but not Proac, alas) and offers a return policy-- really great news! 

I'm communicating with Duke at Audiokinesis re: his Swarm sub array. as suggested by millercarbon. 


"I don't think you'll ever combine all your desiderata into one speaker."

I plan to use a sub array. 

OK those placement descriptions do suggest acoustic issues affecting bass. Look at GIK acoustic product solutions e.g. bass traps. Think about rugs, and reflections, e.g. diffusers.

ATC 7/11/19 are all sealed. These make them much less susceptible to positioning problems than vented speakers.

Your DAC is meant to be superb; I’d be looking at room treatments first before swapping it.

Thanks for sticking around this long.

I can go with the ATC's, no problem. 

What is your opinion re: the 20 foot speaker cable runs?

When Aqua updated the La Voce to S3, clarity  was significantly enhanced. The
6moons S3 review describes the changes in detail. I can only assume they felt the S2 was lacking in this regard.

Your ongoing input is appreciated. 


Read this:

Ideally, one wants to use short speaker cable lengths, but 20ft is not going to murder your system, and certainly not in comparison to acoustic distortions from reflections and room modes. Treat the room. Get the right speakers for your placement restrictions, sonic preferences, and room size.

All speaker cable degrades through loss of high level signal, and more so when running into a passive crossover where it can interact with the filter responses. In pro audio, they prefer to use active speakers so no passive crossovers, and no speaker cable rather than long, balanced interconnects, which are better for long runs being low level signals.

Thanks for the info on speaker length.

As for room treatment, that's going to be tricky, given the system is in our living room.

But if there are alternatives to plastering walls and ceilings with panels, that could work. 

I will look into the GIK material you've linked to.  


Look into Omega speakers SupernAlnico High output. This are very musical speakers.
Sure thing. You can contact GIK by email or phone or their help form.
They’re really helpful. They have many products that are meant to fit in living rooms unobtrusively, like print panels. One doesn’t have to turn the room into a full on studio, but first get a handle on what the issues might be and the range of solutions for them.


Apparently Hawthorne Stereo in Seattle doesn't bother to keep their website updated. When I called them, they told me ATC's are "severely back-ordered".

Also, opinions re: whether Wells can drive ATC's are extremely inconsistent.

For these reasons, I'm inclined to go with Proac Response 2d instead. 

A good choice. They're on similar levels. Didn't know you were in Seattle. I got my amp from Hawthorne, a long time ago.

As a last choice, remember ATC also has their Pro line. For the passives, these are exactly the same drivers and cabinet volume, but sometimes cheaper than the home models and they don't look quite as good, but they sound the same. The Pro version of the 11 is called the 12, and the Pro version of the 19 is called the 20. There will be more availability through online pro audio stores like Vintage King (whom I got my 20s off years ago).


I've found a dealer who sell both Proac and ATC and am waiting to hear about availability.  

BTW, he said it's a "myth" that ATC's are power hungry. I'll just have to use my ears to determine whether they'll work with my integrated. 

Thanks to you and all who've contributed to this thread. I appreciate your input. I feel I have a clear sense of where I'm headed with the system, now. 

The Tannoy Legacy eaton is considered a monitor speaker, despite its rather large and unconventional size. Although it may be several thousand above your stated budget, If you can stretch it, it is well worth it.
@ stuartk , here's one from left field...
Soundfield Audio Monitor 1 V2.

Controlled directivity
Active 8" subwoofer with bass down into the 20s, and user controllable amp.
Sealed cabinet
Well within your budget

I have not heard this monitor, but the version 1 of this speaker received excellent reviews from real users across other audio forums.

Here's one review on the version 1: