Near field speaker recommendations?

Hi everyone,

Well, after rearranging the furniture in our living room and putting up some acoustic treatments, the sound coming from my system is very clear and the bass is not overloading the room. I can actually hear the sonic contributions of various components and cables. So, my speaker search continues with a much clearer idea of what I'm looking for. My set up has the speakers about 6-7 feet apart and I'm seated 6-7 feet back. I've already determined that rear ported speakers do not work well, so I'm looking for sealed or front-ported bookshelf/monitor speakers. I listen at fairly moderate levels, 70-75 db, so I need a speaker that sounds good at low volumes.

I'm using a Simaudio i-1 integrated (50wpc 8 ohms/100wpc 4 ohms) and a digital front end. Currently, it's an Oppo 105, but I will be switching to a Marantz SACD player (or something else) soon to get a touch more warmth. Not a big Oppo fan.

As a stopgap, I'm using my old office speakers, Focal 706Vs, and I'm quite surprised by how open and airy they sound for an entry-level model. There's perhaps a bit too much sibilance, but that's likely the Oppo as much as the Focals. So, here are the criteria for my new speakers - please feel free to shoot me any suggestions:

1. Price - $2,000 or less
2. Front ported or sealed
3. Sounds good at low volumes
4. Doesn't need to go below mid 50s for bass
5. Will work with 50wpc integrated
6. Good soundstage and transparency are paramount
7. Ideally not bi-wireable

I am considering the Focal Aria 906 or 905, the Harbeth P3esr (stretching the budget), and the Spendor s3/5r2.

Are there any others that you think are a must audition that meet the above criteria?

Thanks so much for your thoughts, and Happy Holidays!

Here's something to test drive -- Goliath killer standmounts that are tailor made to be placed against the back wall and are single wired


stereotimes dec 2005 review: R1 - a new budget reference

Some extracts from that review:

At the heart of the R series is Rega’s new RR125 mid/bass driver, a 125 mm paper cone unit of superb transient speed, timing accuracy, clarity and resolution. The R1 uses the RR125 in a small, genuine wood veneered box of mini-monitor (12.5” Hx10”Dx6” W) dimensions. The woofer is reflex-loaded at the back of the R1’s cabinet and is mounted at the top of the cabinet, above the Rega tweeter. Speaker load is benign; Rega quotes a sensitivity of 90 dB. Any good, musically competent solid-state amplifier of 30 watts per channel (for starters Rega’s own Brio comes to mind) should be able to drive the R1’s in the smaller-room applications for which it was designed.

The Rega R1 becomes my new budget reference speaker. In addition of its ability to get the fundamentals of music right, it adds clarity and resolution, and an ability to lay out a vivid and coherent 3-dimensional stereo image. In small room applications, what more could you want?

I have them as my side surrounds in my HT and also had them in my prior "B" system.

Highly recommended.

Source: consider the SIMAUDIO cdp or an equivalent quality build 2 channel cdp to get the most out of your quality amp and speakers for 2 channel. It will easily best any OPPO or any multichannel spinner at its price point strata.
Two thoughts Scott, having recently done some research in this regard:

JM Reynaud Bliss - beautiful front ported monitor...amazingly musical. Check out Amherst Audio for a write-up.

and a sleeper floorstander:
The Larsen 4. Fantastic sound staging, beautifully made, small footprint, sealed quasi-omni enclosure, sounds great at low volume. One gentleman on this forum is running it to great effect with a Naim Qute, which I believe is 30 WPC, so your power requirement is not an issue.

Both models right at $2K.

Good luck!
Your list of criteria perfectly describes Harbeth P3’s. They are great monitors - I use a pair with an old, 100 wpc SimAudio Moon i-3.

Your amp and SACD are great components. Change out the speakers before spending money on a new SACD - the Harbeths will set you straight...
(((1. Price - $2,000 or less
2. Front ported or sealed
3. Sounds good at low volumes
4. Doesn't need to go below mid 50s for bass
5. Will work with 50wpc integrated
6. Good soundstage and transparency are paramount
7. Ideally not bi-wireable)))
Vandersteen's new VLRs are sealed sound great at all volumes Phase and time correct, superb soundstage,transparency is amazing non biwire.
Meets all of the above and Made in USA
Park these sealed units against the wall and point em strait out and after they embarrass all of the above you can foregetabouta JohnnyR Vandersteen Dealer
You might be able to find a used pair of Lipinski 505 monitors in your price range. These are really good, passive nearfield monitors designed for use over the mixing board. I suspect that they would work well in your application.
Maybe the used Merlin's might fit for you;be worth talking with Bobby at Merlin to get his view if you are interested in them.
There is a pair of Harbeth P3ESR's listed here for under $1500. I have that speaker and I think it's the best monitor I have owned. You should jump on it!
Wow, so many speaker recommendations! However, no one has yet mentioned the KEF LS50s. I'm astonished!!!


PS: And they're well under the $2k budget...
OP here - Thanks so much for all of the recommendations! A couple of thoughts:

1. I may have a chance to visit an audio store in SF that carries Harbeth while traveling for the holidays, so I'm going to wait on them until I have a chance to hear them. However, the P3esr is certainly a front runner along with the Spendor.

2. The JM Reynaud sounds very interesting - excellent reviews, and the type of sound I'm looking for. I'm going to call Amherst Audio to talk with them.

3. I actually had the KEF LS50 for a while. However, I found they needed more power to come to life and didn't sound particularly engaging at lower volumes. They are also rear ported, which seems to cause problems with my current set up.

Thanks again, and feel free to keep the recommendations coming!

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