picking speakers (and electronics) for a relatively large room - new

Hi guys I am purchasing my first high end 2 channel audio system for a reasonably large room in my house and would like some input. My speaker budget is approximately $13k and overall about $20k.   I will be streaming exclusively. I've done some listening and am trying to decide between Goldenear (Triton One and Reference), Sonus Faber (Olympica III and Serafino) and Focal (Kanta 3 and Sopra 2 - haven't heard yet but about to listen). I listen to a lot of electronic music, somewhat loud, in addition to having been raised on jazz, standards and vocals which I will return to often in smaller quantities. I mostly listen around my living area rather than in a dedicated listening position, but I appreciate my music.

I think my first issue is the size of my space which is 15x25 with a 12 foot ceiling on half and a great room cathedral ceiling on the other half. Also the room opens to another room with a lower 8 foot ceiling and has two french doors that in nice weather open to the outside - so, a rather imperfect and large space.   I am trying to figure out what will fill the room appropriately in terms of speaker and then power.  

 My questions are:

  1. are those Sonus speakers physically too small for my space and do I need physically larger speakers than those (note: I realize they require more power but take that out of the equation for this specific question assuming I can spend more to supply them with what they need)?
  2. the Focal Sopra 2 is physically smaller but from the higher product line and more money than the larger Focal Kanta 3 - should I go with the higher end but slightly smaller speaker (46"H and 7" largest drivers vs 50" H and 8" largest drivers for comparison) or is it physically too small?
  3. how much power do I need and how does a guy in my position determine this? (I already know the sonus require more power but what I am asking is once I pick a given speaker how do I determine how much absolute power do I need? do I take gear home and keep trying (seems impractical)? how do I decide between 100, 200, 300, 500 or more(?) wPC?   is it like hard drive space where more is just better up to a certain limit so spend as much as I can? (seems irresponsible - I would like a more satisfying answer)
  4. I have been thinking I would invest more dollars in solid state amplification because of the dynamic music I like and a tube preamp so that my midranges and vocals benefit from this treatment.   at my knowledge level how do I tell if a speaker and amp 'get along?' which I read about but don't know that I could really screen unless it is super obvious.   I don't trust my ears enough to really now or know how to evaluate. should I just buy some very reputable separates (I have been thinking used to save money) and string em up?


Would love any opinions about these questions specifically or generally. Cheers!


Showing 7 responses by gryphonite

@tomic601 I was really moved by what i heard from the Sonus Faber Olympica II over the Goldenears in terms of fast bass with punch and defintion - and this was without any type of sub with the Sonus.  the Goldenear was less crisp on the low end with my music.  i was surprised because i assumed with the Sonus I was paying more for the cabinetry than the speaker.

what else do you recommend with the type of music I like to hear?
Great comments all.  I'm glad to hear some affirmation for the Sonus Faber because they really spoke to me over the Goldenears.   I am looking forward to trying the Focals, Dynaudios and perhaps the ATCs and Vandersteen  

I'm going to listen to the Maggies as well (probably 1.7 or 3.7) but I am a bit daunted about placement in my room (I can only get them about 3ft from the wall before things get awkward and the corners are not identical due to a door opening).   Also i'm concerned that I will need to augment them with a lot of power and also well matched subs for the bass required with my preferred style of music).

I really liked the Olympica IIIs paired with the MC252 but at 100wPC I am concerned it's not quite enough power for the electronic music I intend listen to in that space.  That is something I am looking to resolve either with subs or more power.  @tomic601 or anyone, what is your thought about this?

@erik_squires which of the SF are wide baffle and what does that aspect buy me?
@audiotroy thank you for the detailed recommendation!   I'll have to look into the Wavelet device.  I've not yet heard about it.

I am going to do some listening and it sounds like Legacy should be on my list.  Whether I need bass augmentation or subs is an open question for me.  If i had to act without any more auditioning (and I don't) my initial move would be to go with the Sonus Fabers with suitable power and then test if subs were needed or not.

I may reach out after I've done some auditioning and refined my taste.  I feel building around a speaker presentation is my first order.  thanks!


Thanks for the comments.

I didn’t post how loud I like to listen and the answer is - I’ll listen to my electronic pretty loud at times alone and at 18’ (where most visitors would ask me to turn it down) and I’ll also listen moderately and somewhat critically at 9’ (when I pull out the jazz and standards I was raised on). I think one of the lessons I have taken is that I should not skimp on the power/system (thank you @ititzhak1969). I’m going to buy a cheap sound meter and calibrate this response. I might post back here when I do.

I clearly still have some listening to do - I need to hear the Focals, Dynaudio and it seems Legacy. And B&W for good measure. I don’t know anything about Magico, will look.

I have not listened to Magnepans as the advice I’ve gotten is that they (i) will require a lot of bass augmentation for my needs, (ii) will be particularly finiky in a room like mine to get right and (iii) siginificantly power hungrier. I decided to forgo listening to them right now since as a novice those are another three problems for me to solve and potentially get wrong over the more basic ones I have now so it is best to keep it simple - does that make sense?

I truly appreciate the sharing of info here. What an outstanding community! :->

thanks for the definitive response @audiotroy   appreciated.

I thought this group would appreciate an update on some recent listening and impressions.

I auditioned some Focals and the Wilson Sabrinas yesterday. The Focal (Sopra II) and Sabrinas made a very positive impression on me. I listened to the Focals with a Bryston 300W amp and preamp. The only negative observation about these was that in comparison to the Sabrinas I felt the bass had authority but was slightly over-full on the Sopras (I wasn't expecting this as the bass not being fleshed out enough on some Kanto No2s I heard with a much smaller 100W Luxman amp, possibly too small).    

By comparison the Sabrinas blew me away - balanced, articulate and with more 'air' on the lower end despite the authority in the low mid and low.   The Sabrinas were driven by a Linn Selekt DSM with an integrated amp rated at 100W and their Katalyst DAC.   With the difference in powerI was even further surprised with the comparison.   These are currently my first choice.

I'm wondering how to describe what I liked about the Sabrinas to the Focal representative so he can have a chance to make a stronger comparison perhaps with different electronics. When I say 'air' in the room I will note the room with the Sabrinas was a larger family sized room like the one I have at home while the Focals were in a more intimate dedicated listening room; I'm not sure if that makes a difference and I'd enjoy the Focals just as much in a slightly larger room.   I'm leaning toward the Sabrinas because I have heard a combo that works for me right now but since I still have a couple of listening appointments ahead I'm still somewhat interested in how to integrate what I heard and possibly work with the Focals. Interested in impressions and positive combinations with both speakers from anyone.