recommend entry-level high-efficiency loudspeakers


I'm interested in building a shortlist of entry-level high efficiency loudspeakers suitable for use w/ lower powered tube amps, including single-ended triode setups. It's been a while since I actively researched audio gear and have never looked into high-efficiency designs in any detail.

I will define entry-level as absolutely no more than $1000 USD new but preferably speakers that are in the ~$500 USD used range.

Thanks for your thoughts.
look for used pair of vintage EVs
Excellent sounding and it is the best choice your budget ( IMHO )
Used living voice auditorium (new price = 1500). they are amazing for the price
Coincident Triumph,Parts Express/Dayton Reference MTM or the original Gallo Nucleus series two ball affair.The first two have 92db efficiency,the gallos are crossoverless at 89db.
Most Paradigm's are fairly efficent. I had Studio 40 v.2's and they were 91dB @ 8ohm. Horns are extremely efficent.

Good Luck
There are many products from Klipsch that meet your HE and economic criteria: Heresy, Forte, Cornwell. Easily available and easy to resell.
I really like the Omegas, especially the Grande 6. If you can do some assembling, Madisound's BK-16 kit is pretty good, their recomended kit w/ super tweeter is about $600., I ordered just the cabinets(precut, just assemble and finish) and a pr of FE166Es for under $400. I also have Cain & Cain Abbeys $1500. new., same driver. Common Sense Audio has an assortment of single driver, high eff models using Fostex, Lowther, and their own new Audio Nirvana drivers, havn't heard them, but they look nicely built, available assembled or kit. All the above spkrs models use Fostex 6" drivers (166 or 167), some people prefer the 8"(206,207), i like the balance of the 6. One thing to remember about the Fostex drivers is the looooong break in time, after 100 hrs they are listenable, but really need 1000+ hrs to smooth out!, i think a lot of people are turned off by the Fostexs because they really havn't heard them at their full potential. The imaging and coherency of single driver systems is addicting and it's hard to go back once you hear them properly set up and run in, no they are not perfect. I use mine with a sub and they still have that slight midrange peakyness, but i'm convinced i can tune that out with minor tweeks/adjustments. IMO they do so much right, i can't think of anything else in your price range that compares with SETs or Tripath chip amps. Here's another idea, buy a Sonic Impact T amp for $30. and spend a lot more on the speakers to start out with, then try some of the great SET amps out there as your budget permits. Just one mans opinion. Good luck, have fun and enjoy. Alan
Have been using Klipsch La Scala's for the past 18 months, and they are amazing with SET amps. With 104dB efficiency, they'll play on minimal power. You can pick up a pair for around $1000. So you can easily find something within your price range. We have a $5K CDP and $6K amps we've been using with them. They are that good, in my opinion. So good, in fact, that we moved up to the Klipschorn.

Another excellent option is to contact bcrites (Bob is his first name) via eBay or the Klipsch forum. For under $1K, you can have his speaker called the CornScala, which includes the entire package: mids/highs of the La Scala, with bass down to 30Hz. He builds a custom crossover for it. A friend is running these with a system that runs over $15K. His maple veneer option is only $150-200 above the price of MDF. Lots of great options out there.
Best of luck,
Depending on your listening taste and room size. Another vote for the Fostex based speakers! Omegas are a great option also the Brines Acoustics FB-16 could be a contender. The FT-1600 MkII is also a option if you want something closer to fullrange. When this guy states frequency response he's not fudging on the specs.You may also find out what is considered entry-level prices.Do in some cases give you more than entry-level sound.

Practical pairings of high efficiency speakers and low power SET amps to me does not include speakers in the low 90dB range. You need around 100 dB to really work with low power SET amps. That said, the options are very wide indeed, and in my opinion, the only way to achieve a satisfying home experience at a practical price point.
Thanks for the suggestions so far. I would agree that, in this case, low 90dB would not be efficient enough for my purposes. High 90 or 100+dB is more what I am looking for. Seems to me there was a French loudspeaker company that made a number of bookshelf sized high-efficiency loudpspeakers in the sub $500 range a few years ago but I can not remember the name of the company.
I vote for Klipsch Epic CF3 or 4. 100dB efficient and under $1000.00. A great speaker and a lot of fun to listen to. They do however, weigh in at over a hundred pounds each. If you go to the older Klipsch speakers they will also hold their value.
The french company is probably Triangle. You might opt for a (very easy to implement) kit. Hammer Dynamicsis a very reasonably priced, excellent performer. Check out the "tweaks" at Melhuish's website.
Or JM Reynaud, perhaps?
Hammer Dynamics Super-12 kit - $650

98dB, 8 ohm, 12" fullrange driver with a super tweeter corssed in above 16kHz. This is a fantastic design by the late John Wyckoff that is still produced by his wife in rememberence of him.

I've owned one for almost 3 years now and have tried it with a variety of low power SET and PP amps. It is a stunning perfomer that achieves something very few affordable high-eff speakers can - bass slam/punch.

It is articulate, fast, tonally rich, and paints a cohesive musical landscape. There is a seamless integration from top to bottom of the frequency range. Has to be heard to understand. Cohesiveness is something that all good single-drivers do much more easily than multi-driver speakers.

Not to mention there are a variety of cheap tweaks that can be performed (or done from the beginning) that take it's performance to a very high level. The old Single Driver Website has a page dedicated to optimizing the Super-12's and there are plenty of owners around - search the Audio Asylum High Eff forum for posts.

Unfortunately, all the info at the old Single Drive site was lost(for now) when they changed forum software.

If you have any wordworking skills, it can built to commercial level quality for a low price. If not, you can still have a local cabinet maker build whatever you want and still make your budget.

I'm not saying that the Super-12's are the greatest speaker in existence, they clearly are not. But, they do so many things right at such a low price, that the next step up will cost you a pretty penny.

Over the years, I have heard several truly amazing high-eff systems. But, as good as they were, I just couldn't justify the huge expenditure since I was already getting great results with the Hammers.

It wasn't until a few months ago that I made the jump and it cost me dearly. Check my system here. BUT, I kept the Hammers for reference and nostalgia, they are good enough to sit alongside of(or in the same house with) $5-10k speakers when you consider the cost.

Is the new setup exponentially better relative to cost differential?

Honestly, I can't tell yet, I'm still in the setup and fine tuning phase. I haven't tried the Hammers with the dual subwoofers, new DAC, new turntable, new phono preamp, cartridges, etc. Maybe that alone would have been good enough for me.

I would second the Triangle Titus, very efficient and accurate. I replaced a pair of B&W 330i's with the titus to keep peace with the wife. I looked at many small speakers from VR 1's to Amphion Argons. The Argons sounded great to me but they were $2200 and I was able to pickup the Titus for $495 deliverd to my door. I have had them for a little over a year and for the money I have not found anything that I like better.
klipsch rb5 II is a bargain and a nice speaker...have to find used as it is discontinued; ebay best bet
Here's three more... $635.00 Fostex BK-16 Folded Horn Kit . Also you have the Full Rangers from Raw Acoustics.
Last but not least for $389.00 a pair
The Omega MiniMe .
Without knowing the variables of your room, I'd "third' the recommendation on the Triangles. These dynamic simple speakers are perfect for good tubes it appears
If you could find a used pair of Klipsch KLF20s you would be in good shape. Great High efficiency (100db) speaker. I used mine with a Jolida PP amp, would be even better with SET. Dynamics in spades.
If you could step up to a used pair of Living Voice Auditorium (about $1200-1500)--you'll never regret it. Its strength is the midrange. I've not heard better female vocals than these--maybe even better than Spendors.
I second Living Voice Auditoriums, if you can find a 2nd hand pair. Unfortunately there is a big step up to the AVatars. I changed to them 2 years ago and a'int changing any time soon

I can speak for the Klipsch Forte's. Got them on Ebay for 600 dollars. 98 db/1watt/1 meter. Great speakers. Profound bass resopnse and detailed mids and highs. They displaced my B&W's.

They pass my out of the room test...I'll be in another room and hear some amazing stuff from these units. Great dispersion of sound and tremendous dynmaics. I've had them up to 110 dbs in a 16 x 25 foot room using a 80 watt amp. With 8 watts you can expect sound levels of 100 to 102 db at 10 ft distance. These were made for tube amps and they show it.

Hey Klipsch Fans!! Do these high efficiency Klipsch speakers, mentioned above, work well with SS amplification?

thank you


I listened to them with both with my Forte's, a Soundcraftsman ss A400 power amp, 230 watts per channel, and a Cary SLI-80 tubes 50 watts triode mode. They sounded good both ways, but the tubes sounded better, sweeter and not as harsh in the highs. All the nuances of the vast majority of the music are there in the room with you, like I have never experienced before in the past 40 years.

The ss although had room rocken bass, real tight and deep and I mean deep. My dream would to be buy a electronic crossover, have two pairs of Fortes send the bass one using the ss and the mids/highs to the other using tubes. Mide you however the tubes do not lack bass and if you listen to jazz or classical or blues they will be more then fine. If your into rock then perhaps ss would be better. Other opinions would be welcomed.

FYI on the Klipsch Forte speakers: I was strongly advised by a former Klipsch sales person who is also technically inclined to get the Forte II speaker rather than the Forte. I don't remember the tech diffs but there were a few per John; he said it is worth seeking out the later model.

High quality solid state gear should work fine although you only need a few watts (less than 10 for sure) to make these speakers work well. Any noise at all will be ruthlessly revealed through such sensitive speakers.