Monitor with sub or Full Range Speakers

I have a budget of $3,000.00 for a pair of used speakers. I am buying used so that I can maximized my choices. My listening is mostly jazz, old R&B, and contemporary Christin music.

I have seen speakers in this range for monitors like JM Lab Micro Utopia for $2,000 and then I would add sub-woofer. Or Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Sig System 2pc for $3,200.00 shipped. Is there a big difference in sound between monitors and a good sub or a full range. I have only owned full range speakers and thought I might try something different.

Looking for comments from those who have owned both and why they preferred one or the other.

My room is about 18 x 14 with 9ft ceilings.

CD player is Cary 306/200
LSA Signature Integrated Amp
Verastarr Cables and interconnects
BPT ac conditioner

It mostly depends on your room. My room is fairly large but smaller speakers and subs work in it while my larger ones don't. But for maximum bang for the buck it would be hard to beat something like a KEF 107-2 or older B&W 801s if they will work in your room. Spendor S-100s are also good. But there are too many to list. The monitors and sub will work in rooms the bigger ones won't but the bigger ones will be easier to work with if your room will support them. Either way you can get good sound.
I had a set of Spendor sp 1/2e's and a James loudspeaker emb-1000. having a sub to fill in the bottom adds so much depth and even width to the soundstage. There is a lot of information in those lower frequencies that are responsible for the real and in the room sound. I think if you are accustomed to fullrange speakers, you would have to have a sub or it would sound like something is missing. I just replaced my set-up with Vandersteen 3a's which go to around 20hz. Even though I had close to that with the monitors and sub, the bass is much more seamless, coherent, and detailed in the Vandersteens. When I say coherent, I mean when you hear a bass string plucked, all the high frequencies of the finger hitting the string, the pluck, fretboard noise, are in the same place in the soundstage as the bass note itself, as if you were in front of the actual bass being played. Sometimes with a sub you are very aware of where the sub is, you hear the bass note coming from the sub and all the other surrounding information is coming from another place on the soundstage.I think your success or failure will depend on your choice of monitors and sub, the rest of your system amplification, how they all mafit together, and how much time and effort you want to put into integrating your sub. Most people would recommend that if you have the funds and space, get two subs.

good luck.
Most full range speakers, especially in the under 5k price range, are not truly full range. I would suggest, for many reasons, that monitor and sub (preferably dual subs) is the way to go. It takes at lot, from both the speakers and amps, to do high quality full range without compromising either the bass or the midrange, or both. Monitors will ease the load on the amp, and a powered sub will ease the load on the monitors.
I would also recommend the Vandy 3A Sigs as an excellent choice for a full range speaker in your room and with your gear. The LSA appears to have plenty of power to drive the Vandy's and they are indeed a full range speaker with a -3 dB point of 26 Hz. Used 3A Sigs can be had for significantly less than your budget.

I spent a few years with Spendor SP 1/2E's (also a wonderful speaker but decidedly not full range) and never succeeded in integrating a subwoofer with them. I finally tossed in the towel and bought the Vandy's. Quite satisfied.

Monitors or floor standers... whew! this continues as an ongoing debate... for me too.

it is easy enough to see the same floor space is used either way floors or monitors on stands... the added need is for the sub (s), if mons are used.

Stan's suggestions are very likely mighty good ones, as he has a lot of exp here. LSA also makes speakers. Talking to the designer some time back he cleared up a few things for me on this very subject, and you might want to take a look at them as a tact towards keeping/gaining synergy in your outfit.

your room is going to dictate your bass issues nearly as mmuch as will the speakers you put in it. both have to work together. Personally, in that size room, (mine is close to yours but just a bit larger), and I do feel the need for a sub... most of the time.

Active subs also reduce the needs for greater power and bigger bass drivers in floorstanders. Given all I've seen on subs here and elsewhere, having two looks like the way to go.

$3K ought to get you some nice near full range FS. Remember, mons will also need stands... and very likely one sub.

Good lick

For me, the great advantage of subs is that you can EQ room problems in the bass (where they're worst) without disturbing the main signal path any more than you decide to. Choose mains that roll off high enough, and you can run 'em full range. Or you can use the line level low-cut of your choice.

At $3K, a pair of SVS or Rythmik (my choice) 12" subs will cost app $1300 and a Velodyne SMS-1 controller/PEq will add $450. Add the <$1500 (used) monitor of choice and my guess is that you will get more neutral, wider bandwith in-room response than any full range alternative at similar cost. Just MHO.

Good Luck.

Although I use monitors and a sub (see system), I have to say that there is something about a full range speaker. I will also say that for the price (and a small room) monitors and a sub bring something else to the table. Again I will agree with the others above, much depends on room, and how the sub integrates with your monitors. What is interesting is if I did own a set of full range speakers, that when down around 25-30hz, I would still fill the need to get a sub. Rel says that any speaker that cannot produce bass below 20hz can benefit greatly from there subs.
Agree completely with Macd's comment, shared from REL, about REL subs used with speakers that do not go below 20hz. I use a REL B-2 with my Verity Fidelio Encores. Although I greatly enjoy the FE's even with the REL turned off, the combination of the FE's with the REL is just so much better.
IMHO, it's not whether to use a sub or full-range mains, but how you integrate the sub with the mains. I personally prefer towers with a powered sub. But not just any sub. I had a Def Tech PF15 for many years, and the bass was always boomy, undefined and lagged behind the rythm of the music. I patiently waited for two Vandersteen V2q subs to come up for sale locally on Audiogon, and I couldn't be more pleased. Two might be a budget buster for you, but used, they usually fetch between $750 and $850, and you must purchase in-line hi-pass filters from a Vandersteen dealer after you use the temporary x-over to dial it in (another $120).

Although my Vandy 1Cs will not be my last speaker, the V2q subs are staying forever, that's how pleased I am. Read about this sub on the Vandy web site - they have a unique design that really allows a seamless blend with your mains. They are also designed to work in a corner, and do so quite well, eliminating the need for a lot of experimentation. Bass is tight, detailed, deep and tuneful. Best of all, the V2q does not call attention to itself; the bass seems to energize the room, but only when there is deep bass in the source material. It's not a thumping boom box, but for music, I could not imagine a better subwoofer value.

Add a pair of Vandersteen 2Ce Sig IIs ($2000 new) to this sub and you might really like the results. The V2q should blend well with any mains that have decent output down to 40Hz and 86 to 100 dB efficiency ratings.
Oops - sorry - the Vandersteen subwoofer model is 2Wq.
"I have a budget of $3,000.00 for a pair of used speakers... My listening is mostly jazz, old R&B, and contemporary Christin music."

"Looking for comments from those who have owned both and why they preferred one or the other.

My room is about 18 x 14 with 9ft ceilings."

Hi Revrob,

I have also had both types of setups. I think it will cost you well over $3000 to buy Monitors, Stands, and 1 or 2 Subs. That aside, it is very difficult to mate Monitors and Subs, however with more money, patience, and skill, the sound could be very rewarding.

However, with your budget, room size, current equipment, and the types of music that you listen to, I think you will do better with floor standing speakers. Now, with that being said, you could always add a Sub to the floor standers, down the line.


I did find monitors, subwoofer, and stands for about $3,000 shipped from Selah Audio. Rick from Selah has some really good product and as soon as I sell some of my equipment I may pull the trigger on these. I usually don't buy new but I am intrigued by the Selah line of speakers.

Thanks for all the comments, I guess this is an ongoing debate on this topic.
Both ways work.

The debate always comes via those who just haven't dove into the other pool yet.
Hi Revrob,

I think it's great that you found the sound that you've been looking for, within your budget. I've never heard of this company, but I did check out their website and I am familiar with some of the drivers that they use which I believe are very good and their cabinetry work looks top notch too.

Certainly the key to unlock this discussion, is less about price shopping, and more about coherency of the drivers, location of one sub in the room, as well as crossover integration and volume matching of the sub to the monitors so that the sub does not stand out. As I mentioned earlier, if you can achieve this, than you will be rewarded with a wonderful sound.

Now, with that in mind why don't you also take a look at what is available in the used floor-standers market for around $3000 I suspect you may be looking at an original retail price of around 5-6 thousand new. If you are still interested in a sub, which may not be necessary based on the types of music that you listen to, you could always add a sub to the floor-standers later, and in my experience it is a little easier to match a sub to a floor-stander speaker that has deeper bass, than it is to match it to a monitor which has less bass, because you will be able to select a lower crossover point with the larger speaker.

Happy Listening,

At the risk of dating myself, I last swam in the sub/sat pool in the 1970's -Kef Corellis w/ an M&K sub- and climbed out due to dangerous surf conditions. I just never got it to sound right.

I spent the next 25 years in the full range pool, using very high quality examples from Merlin, Verity, Maggie, and SF, among others. I only waded back into the sub/sat waters last year - and even then I had no intention of taking this approach for my main 2 channel system.

I have now discovered how effective the current digital PEq units are. They not only "fix" the room, but allow a much better shot at seamless integration between subs and sats. In the last few years, the game has fundamentally changed for sub/sat users. True, there are digitally controlled full range units out there, but none (that I know of) at the OPs stated budget.

Just wanted to clarify that the debate also continues from some who dipped much more than a toe in both pools.

I guess I should add that all that is just MHO.


I'm looking at the NHT XD system with two subs. What
do you think??


IMHO, the XD is a terrific system. However, the DEQX processor included
with that set-up doesn't do digital room correction ("DRC") like a
full blown DEQX or the SMS-1 or any of the Audyssey powered alternatives.
It effects crossovers in the digital domain and corrects for some system
misbehaviors, but not for room specific anomalies. If your room happens to
be very good to outstanding, the difference may not be all that great. If it's a
more typical environment, you'll hear the difference.

If you search these forums for "NHT XD" , you'll find discussion of
a vendor selling the subs and sats at very steep discounts. You could add a
full blown DEQX unit (and 4 channels of amplification) and get
the benefits of DRC, albeit for a fair bit more than the current asking price for
a new XD. This "hybridized" XD based system would then provide full range
room correction and execute all x-overs digitally. By contrast, the SMS-1
that I use only treats the bass region, where most of the serious room
problems are found.

Some people will protest that the XD subjects the entire signal to A/D/A
processing, which is true. I've done A/B comparison to test whether this is
audible in my system. I tried my system with my SMS effecting both high
pass for the mains and low pass for the subs - which converts the entire
signal from analog to digital and back again, just like the XD. Then I tried
using an NHT analog high pass filter for the mains with the SMS on-line for
the subs, but completely out of the main signal path. I believe that I heard a
difference, so I stuck with the NHT for high pass. To be clear: any audible
difference was TO MY EAR very slight and one that's certainly pretty benign.
Nonetheless, I got queasy with it. That's why I don't use the high pass in the
SMS-1. I will note that anyone less audio-diseased than me might well
dismiss this objection as "silly". I wouldn't necessarily argue with
that. Some people object to full range A/D/A, others don't - so it's your call.


Thanks for the detailed reply! My room is pretty
forgiving @ 20x20x12 leading into a partially walled
dining/kitchen area.

Have only read about the XD system, and waiting to hear
back from one dealer on shipping, and been in touch
direct with NHT about a set.
Also thinking about (also never heard) a pair of
the Mirage OMD 28's Being sold at over half off
their retail of $7200.

It's a tough decision! But, I cannot help to think that the
NHT as a specifically integrated system cannot be less
than awesome!?


Thanks for the suggestion about full range speakers which I have always owned and for $3,000 I know I could probally find a really good full-range speaker. I was thinking about trying something different as my full range Legacys have been in my system for 10 years.

I recently upgraded my cd player (Cary 306/200) and integrated amp (LSA Signature) and wanted to try a different type of speaker approach. Those two purchase were absolutely great.

Now the speakers, this is a very hard decision because I have lived with a certain sound all of these years and I am taking a chance that I will actually like these.

Pulling the trigger on this or any purchase is difficult because I don't want to do this again for the next 5 years.

How do you just buy and sell and then sell again, it can make you go a little crazy.
Bob & Revrob,

I don't know the Mirage OMD 28, but A'gon'r Johnnyb53 recommends it highly. You might want to e-mail him since that pricing is certainly aggressive. With the discount it fits both your budgets, as well.

I've heard the XD in 3 different rooms (2 NHT dealers and a furniture?! store) and it sounded good all 3 times. The XD is a very fine system and, given the current pricing, a good value (and I suspect that Mirage is probably, as well). Both systems, however, will be limited by the room.


PS If NHT stays out of business, you might want to make sure that you're comfortable buying a a complex, idiosyncratic system like the XD. Not suggesting you shouldn't be comfortable, just food for thought.

I read one of the review for the Mirage and the review stated that when he inserted the DK Integrated amp in place of the Simaudio I-7 the bass sounded boomy and he would not recommend the speakers with this amp.

Seeing that I own the next version of the amp, LSA Signature, it may not be a good fit. Also I am only looking for 2 channel stereo, this set-up will not be a part of home theater.

Thanks for the info. If I was looking at HT I would gives these some consideration.
06-27-09: Revrob
I read one of the review for the Mirage and the review stated that when he inserted the DK Integrated amp in place of the Simaudio I-7 the bass sounded boomy and he would not recommend the speakers with this amp.
The ported Mirage floorstanders, and particularly the OMD-28, need an amp with a low output impedance, lots of current, and preferably a high damping factor. My personal experience and one A-goner's recommendation indicate that these speakers like switching amps. I use an Onkyo A-9555 integrated (a switching amp) to drive my OMD-15s. The Onkyo's damping factor is a rather low 25, but it's still an excellent match, probably because the Onkyo is fast, has lots of instantaneous current on tap, a wide bandwidth, and doesn't crap out on impedance dips. I can see where certain tube amps might not be a good match.
I decided to go with a pair of used Salk HT3 for a little more money. They are exactly what I was looking for, a full range speakers that I can live with for the next 5 years. I am very please with my purchase.

I was getting a little overwhelmed with the choices for speakers at the $3k price point. Once I got a chance to hear the Salks I pulled the trigger.

Thanks for all who responded to my question? I guess the debate about full range or monitors with subs will be for me answered another day.

HI REvrob,

We pulled the trigger several years ago on full-range speakers (Vienna Beethovens--very musical speakers) with an added REL SW for the ultra-low-end addition. Just curious for an update--have you added a subwoofer to your setup?

I too listen to the same type of music. Do you have LPs? If so, what Christian LPs/CDs are very well-produced? I have only a couple done well--2nd chapter of Acts, Phil Driscoll, Chuck Mangione...looking for better quality spiritual music...Jazz and Classical tend to blow away the Christian market in LPs and Cds. Makes me sad...