Recommendation for detailed/analytical bookshelf speaker?


Hi. As it is almost impossible to find the "perfect" speaker and having to choose, I always tend towards very detailing and analytical speakers. What I love the most is having the sensation that the artist is playing right in front of me, being able to hear the instruments as close to reality as possible. I hate the "veiled", dark, opaque or recessed some speakers provide and if to hear as close to reality, holographic, microscopic means to get some fatigue after a while or any other inconveniences I wouldn't care. I can always hear music in a more relaxed way at other times with some good bluetooth speakers I have, but for the time when I can to examine music, close my eyes and feel every note playing at me as if the instruments were there, I don't like having limitations.

I've tried a pair of KEF R7 speakers (those are floorstanding), a pair of Triangle Titus 202, a pair of Pioneer SP-BS22-LR and Polk Audio miniscule OWM3 with my gear: NAD M22 V2 amplifier, NAD M10 integrated and Cayin A-50 MKII and believe it or not, the sound that I've found closer to "being there" and reality were the OWM3 mini bookshelf speakers. The highs on the OWM3 are the clearest BUT the Triangle Titus also do a very good work. The KEF R7 speakers are way more expensive than the others but I find the sound is darker than the other ones.

I've read and read forums and watched YouTube videos but I think I'm at a lost in my "quest". The last hint I read was that the Martin Logan speakers, with their "Folden Motion" or "Folded" tweeter provides quite a good sense of clarity and detail at the expense, some times, to get a "cold" sound. If by cold they mean extra detail, extra analysis, then I'm in.

So, after that long explanation (my excuses), could you please suggest me bookshelf speakers (that room I'm using is not big: 12'12" x 19'3) that could get me the kind of sound I'm looking for? Thank you very much.

Best regards,
insoc
Thank you. Sure, I'll try and look for them. Maybe the 6 series and if everything is good, invest on a higher model. I read somewhere that the Martin Logan were even better than the B&W is such kind of sound but from some videos I've seen in YouTube (I know, I know) the B&W sounds quite clear and revealing to me.
I recommend checking out the Magico A1 bookshelf speakers.
Here’s a copy and paste from my post on another thread.
--------------------------------------------------
At T.H.E. Show in Long Beach in early June, I was walking around a large open space called The Market Place. It was where the less deep-pocketed vendors were hawking their wares.

Amazingly, realistic drum sounds were coming from the end of one row. I was in shock and disbelief when I discovered that these incredible sounds were coming from little bookshelf speakers. I just stood there - gawking in astonishment. Eventually, I saw that they were being driven by an old funky HT integrated. How could this phenomenal percussion be coming from this extremely modest rig? It didn’t make any sense. But, it was definitely happening. A subwoofer would be needed to fill out the bottom.

The bookshelves were Tonian Labs F6 speakers. MSRP $2500
The music was a CD: Drum & Bells.
http://www.tonianlabs.com/

The Stirling Broadcast LS3/6s are very detailed and holographic, nevermind the specs, they're meaningless. 

A cheaper option is the Revel Performa M106. Not as musical a speaker but less than half the price of the Stirlings. 

Between these are the Focal Electra 1008Be, currently on closeout at Music Direct. 
Also, look into Watkins, Fritz and Salk

Very Good speakers!
For detailed and analytical, one speaker you can look at are Monitor Audio.  They are very fast and analytical.  However, I would be careful in your search because you are are searching for "being able to hear the instruments as close to reality as possible".  I say to be careful because it is easy to go too far in the "detailed and analytical" area and once you cross that line, the sound becomes too bright or too harsh or too sterile and un-natural.  In some systems, the Monitor Audio could be good, but in other systems it is just too bright/harsh.

I don't know your budget, but B&W 805 D3 are excellent speakers.  They retail for $6k, but you can find them used for $4500 frequently.   Another set I would look at are the Revel PerformaBe M126Be bookshelves.  I heard the tower speakers at RMAF and I would say they are a very natural sounding speaker -- not bright/harsh and not laid back.  The M126Be are $4k retail for a pair, but it looks like there are a set on ebay for $2895.

Someone suggested Focal 1008Be.  They are very detailed and revealing, but I would also be careful because they can tend to be somewhat thin in the midbass/midrange depending on the electronics.

auxinput

Second- Monitor Audio and/or B&W 805 speakers.


Happy Listening!

I do the same.
You can never leave out PMC and ATC in search for perfect and detailed.
E.g. PMC fact series and ATC 11 or 19. 
Because these speakers don't give you any bass that is not there (recorded) you might want a sub to complete them.

Then you have the whole pro world of speakers. E.g. Geithain 906, Neumann 310. Just to mention something.
I really like the ATC 19 though you'll need a sturdy 100+ watt amp to get the best from them. Beautiful clarity/detail/refinement but also dynamic and authoritative.  Can play any type of music.
As @tobes and @gosta have pointed out, ATCs are worth a listen. I have the ATC 19v2’s and they are revealing to a fault. Upstream equipment is going to be important as there is no hiding from these speakers.

Power is important as well. These things will eat up low power amps. While they play nicely at moderate volumes, ATCs in general seem to like to be played at a higher level.

As stated earlier, they can play any type of music.  Steely Dan to Disturbed.  Mozart to Eva Cassidy.  Haven't experimented with any polka, if that's a priority...  

Stereophile A-rated iirc. They do put out bass to 40hz +/-, but I supplement with twin subs for full spectrum listening.
Agree @admranger though in case anyone gets the wrong impression, I never found the 19mk2s ruthless in any way - far from it. Revealing and neutral, yes.
I came from over 12yrs with various Harbeth models, also fine speakers, which I found more overtly rose tinted.
The 19s can be quite beautiful sounding when required - when I first heard them at the store with my AHB2 amp I was entranced and that amp hides nothing. The pairing was great IMO. 
The OP’s taste is similar to mine so I have lots of suggestions.

Agree that the B&W 705 and 805 are worth a listen. Meanwhile a friend of mine has the Dynaudio S40 and they are mighty impressive, but costly.

More toward the mass market, I’d consider the Wharfedale Diamond 220; the Polk RTiA3, the Klipsch RP-150M, and (if you have room) the HTD L3 with its superb ribbon tweeter. I also like the Martin Logan 15s and some DefTechs though I forget the model number.

If you don’t mind vintage, check out the Infinity and ADS speakers from the late 70s and early 80s. In many respects they’re as good as today’s offerings. In some ways better.

Avoid newly-introduced speakers unless you enjoy paying an unnecessary premium.

If your ship suddenly comes in, have a look at the Quad Z-2 or even the TAD Compact Reference One. What’s the harm in dreaming?

https://www.technicalaudiodevices.com/assets/img/1444175662140.jpg

The venerable BBC LS3/5A! Read Art Dudley's review of three versions in the latest Stereophile.
The most detailed, analytical bookshelf speaker I’ve heard are the Revel Performance M126Be speakers. I happened upon a pair locally a few months ago to serve as temporary speakers during a relocation. They do deserve excellent upstream components. If you have an opportunity to hear them you’ll be surprised a bookshelf speaker can detail so well.
THANK YOU very much to all for all the suggestions! I'm very grateful. 

 @tlinkie : Thank you for the suggestions! You almost read my mind because this last Friday I received my Wharfedale Diamond 225 and yesterday I placed an order for a pair of Martin Logan LX16. My approach in those speakers is to buy the "cheap" entry level options and if the sound suits me I would try and buy the highest model. The Diamond 225 sound is quite nice, more musical than analytical but not darkened. I really like it but would like something more detailed. I will keep the 225s for another room, that's how much I liked them

I'm really really tempted to try and buy the ATC speakers (the 11 or the 19). The only problem is that because I live in Costa Rica it's harder for me to return them if I don't like the sound and even living in the US, I don't know where can I audition them... But, as I told you, I'm really tempted because I've read wonderful reviews from everybody about them.

In amplification power I think I'm ok because the amp I would be using is my NAD M22 V2 that produces 300 wpc.

Thank you again to all! Best regards,

None better than the Proac Response D 2 or Studio SM100, or the ATC SCM20ASL or SCM50ASL.

And if you want a real value that performs as well as these - the WaveTouch Audio Grand Teton or Antero (giant killers)!
You will not get what you are looking for out of a bookshelf speaker. What you really want are Quads or smaller Magnepans like the new LRS. At 650/or they have to be the speaker value of the decade.
While the current Quad ESL 57’s are superb, as are the Maggies, they are difficult to place, and require more room to perform well.

The Grand Teton’s and Anteros, as well as the Response D2, have as good, or better sound quality (especially dynamics and bass), and are easier to place and conceal. I’ve got both and am just as pleased with the sound of these monitors as I am my Maggies (Magnestand Maggies - which are superior to stock Maggies). They have just as good a soundstage, dispersion and imaging as the Maggies. Though, the value of the small Maggies is unmatched by any speakers.
For your taste/preferences you should be looking at loudspeakers with AMT or ribbon tweeters as others have mentioned. Martin Logan, GoldenEar, Ascend, Adam Audio (powered) are all highly regarded. A number of years ago I was curious about AMT tweeters and purchased a pair of Mark and Daniel Ruby's. I used them for quite some time and was very happy with their performance. They are a detail champ. I only moved on because curiosity struck again. I still have them in storage and they get rotated into the system when the mood strikes. Good luck on your search.

@insoc


From a logic standpoint, your strategy makes sense...BUT...just remember that as you move "up the chain" the higher versions will likely be bigger and as a result, they may or may not couple well with your room...especially if the speaker is quite large and the room is quite small.

Good luck....please report back how the 225s and the LX16s sound.
Try Legacy Audio Studio Hd.  AMT tweeters, and nice size woofers for a bookshelf.  
B&w or Harbeth would do the work
This is fascinating.  Your POV of buying a low end speaker and seeing if you like it may or may not work.  I have found several manufacturers, when they switch to higher end tweeters, the sound profile changes completely.  Additionally, I think you and I may have similar taste.  

I am a fan of stand-mounts and listened to everything I could under $25K.  Other than the Kaiser Chiara ($22K) I was vaguely disappointed with every speaker I heard which is what led me to start my company. 

At the lower end (under $6K) I found sound stage lacking if the speaker was ultra detailed and I listened to several speakers mentioned above.  If detail and neutrality weren't a strength, the soundstage was usually much better.  Above $6K soundstage improved dramatically but I either hated the tweeter (I find Beryllium's metalic and bright sounding) or the speaker didn't work in my room.  I even bought a very expensive pair of stand mounts with a wonderful ribbon tweeter and the soundstage I heard in the showroom did not come together in my room.  

I developed a line of speakers that met my needs I offer a very realistic sounding speaker called the Blackthorn 1. I just had someone in demoing them and they exact quote was "if feels like I am in the studio."  My concern is that your NAD gear might be a bit warm for pairing for pairing with the Blackthorn though the Master Series is a bit more neutral than their other gear.  

If you are in NYC Metro, Boston or Philly I could arrange for a demo in your home.  If you are elsewhere, I am thinking about putting together an in-home demo program where you would "rent" the speaker from me via Fat LLama.  If you aren't familiar, it is a rental service that protects me in case of damage, etc...  The rental fee would be the cost of round trip shipping and I would take that off the final price if you opt to order them.  

If you are interested, check my speakers out at:

https://verdantaudio.com/collections/verdant-audio-speakers/products/blackthorn-1-standmount-speaker?variant=26459232567396

After AXPONA things sold out quickly and I am waiting on parts.  I think that I will be back in stock this week.  I do offer a second speaker called the Nightshade 1 but it offers a bit of a colored sound.  The Blackthorn is Precise and Refined, the Nightshade is Soulful.  
"Try Legacy Audio Studio Hd. AMT tweeters, and nice size woofers for a bookshelf."

I overlooked the Legacy Audio stand mounts... but... yes, they are superb also... especially the Calibre.

And... yes... the AMT / ribbon tweeters make all the difference. But... many that have those tweeters... don’t get the mids, bass and soundstage right (e.g. Martin Logan, Golden Ear, etc., etc.) - the others I mentioned do. And, in the case of the ATC’s and Proac... they’re used by many sound engineers, because of their accuracy and resolution.

Though... I should reiterate... the Wavelength Audio Grand Tetons or Anteros are the real "giant killers." 
LS3/5A....Pick your brand.  :-)
The best bookshelf with the best detail are the ATC SCM-11 V2 ($2200/pair) or SCM-19 V2 ($4000/pair). They demand clean audio or you'll hear very flaw on the record, in the TT and Tonearm , etc. 85 dB sensitivity. Excellent detail, image and sound stage. Timbre is clear and exacting. You'll need good electronics, but if you can drive them they are awesome!

Rollin
Hey Folks

So, Insoc - the description of YOUR flavors mirror mine to quite a degree in my small sound studio.  I happen to be running a modded NAD M2 into a pair of SEALED Salk Veracitys, also modded.  In speaking to Jim Salk, these are the only sealed pair he's ever built for a Customer.  The original buyer, a good friend who spins top vinyl, found them a bit too "hi-fi sounding," dry and sterile for his liking.  Careful for what you wish!  They had gobs of detail, tossed a large stage, were plenty dynamic, and magically did the "full disappearing" thing.  With them, my preferred placement is out away from the walls, still wide yet not quite nearfield.  As discussed in my other posts, the monitors sit atop IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R200 stands above a pair of Paradigm UltraCube 10v.2 subwoofers, sufficiently quick, deep and musical down to near 30Hz. 

Now, the word "modded."  I can see hackles going up!  Having 20 years of experience with Marigo Audio Lab tuning dots skillfully applied to my best gear, I had full confidence that lowering the resonances in the drivers, the spiders, the boxes (inside and out)...the SOUL of these speakers would be discovered, turning micros into musical nuance and excitement!  I also removed the cone driver clips and soldered the wiring. The connection to the RAAL ribbon tweeters were also upgraded.  My passion lies in taking a wonderful design, and improving upon it. 
  
Verily all manufactured products are made to a price point and can be improved upon.  In recent years, I've discovered that the addition of high quality deep bass and extended high frequencies...well beyond measured hearing...can indeed improve the perceived accuracy of all frequencies, the timbre and sense of reality. 

Finally, insoc, with your budget, I would look at British monitors, the JansZens, Joseph Audio Pulsars, Cube Nenuphar 10" and the bigger Tektons.  Happy tunes! 

More peace, Pinthrift  

    
Hello everyone. I'm here reporting my latest tests. First I must say I've learnt to things: i) How good this forum is! I posted in other forums as well but this is the one with the best responses, most opinions and helpful members and ii) How näive I was in regards to amps and speakers. I thought that with so many options I couldn't keep the same amp for years and I saw that au contraire, most audiophiles tend to change speakers oftenly and now it makes complete sense to me as it is quite impossible to have a better-for-all speakers.

With that being said, I auditioned the Wharfedale 225 and the Martin Logan LX16. The Martin Logan tweeter is the most treble-ish I've heard and as expected with almost no bass. It's a good speaker but nothing remarkable and the mid frequencies didn't sound as polished and refined as other speakers.

Now with the Wharfedale 225, I get why all the great reviews and recommendations from publications like The Absolute Sound and Stereophile. I've never heard before a speaker like this one. The sound creates a very nice atmosphere, it's a pleasure to hear it and basically all kind of songs (bad, medium or audiophile grade) sound good. I could hear them for hours. I guess that's how a MUSICAL speaker sound. The sound reproduction is not accurate or precise, the speaker has its own sound signature and it's a very pleasant one. As you might expect, the treble and/or high frequencies are a little off and notably, the voices sound like being between a veil but a very lush, luxurious veil. It's certainly not an analytical sound but it's musicality and warmth is addictive.

The bad thing is that, as wonderful as the Wharfedale 225 are, I couldn't live with them as my only speakers. 

THEN today I had the opportunity here in my country to demo the KEF LS50 speakers in my own listening room in my house. I've read a lot of great reviews about this speakers and was way curious to hear all the fuss about them.

They are high on the treble, 2 or 3 degrees to being shouting piercing speakers and certainly none a hint of warmth. The imaged like crazy, even if I moved a little from my chair, the singer's voice in the center stayed there and the soundstage was quite wide. Not only could I hear all the instruments, I could almost pinpoint within inches the separation of one instrument from the other.

I browse through different songs with the pressure, of course, of being with the vendors by my side in my room but even then, while browsing indistinctly from song to song, I heard Herbie Hancock's Rockit song, not a favorite song of mine but one I've heard for many many years and when the synth line came in, the sound I heard from the synth line was one I've never heard before in all those years. I then swapped other speakers like the Martin Logans and the synth line was there but with added "trebliness" and other artifacts and the original sound was lost and, even more revealing, I heard the same synth line with the Wharfedales and they actually "transformed" that synth line into another tonality (believe me or not): it was like being made with another synthesizer and it sounded "tamed down", sounding inoffensive but warmer, richer, with an added layer of "lushiness".  

My questions are: Could it be that the LS50 sound is just NEUTRAL, as real as it gets? Is these sound an analytical/detailed one?

Speakers like the much recommended ATC SCM11 could sound even more "neutral" or "analytical" without being more harshers and fatigue inducing? 

I think I could live with a sound like the LS50 but with an even more clinical or colder sound I don't know if I could. 

Does the B&W speakers provide that kind of neutrality/analytical sound of the LS50 and the warmth of the Wharfedales?

Before listening to the LS50 and after hearing the Wharfedales, I tough that maybe, as I really loved the Wharfedales sound but wanted more detail, if a high end option like Harbeth speakers could be a more refined, polished, detailed Wharfedales speakers but keeping the warmth and lush sound?

Maybe my solution is to have both the LS50 speakers and also the Wharfedales depending on my mood.

As you can see, the new option that I haven't contemplated before are the LS50 speakers and they could sell them to me immediately.

P.S. I also hear the Klipsch RP 600M speakers. They sound absolutely great with rock, 80s pop and such, but they lack a high end more detailed sound in my opinion and the soundstage it's quite narrow. Even then, I liked the RP 600M that much that in the future I'm planning to buy them as well and keep them in my BBQ/party area of my house

PLEASE excuse the long post and the wrong words I maybe have used as english is not my native language.

Best regards,


Hello everyone. I'm here reporting my latest tests. First I must say I've learnt to things: i) How good this forum is! I posted in other forums as well but this is the one with the best responses, most opinions and helpful members and ii) How näive I was in regards to amps and speakers. I thought that with so many options I couldn't keep the same amp for years and I saw that au contraire, most audiophiles tend to change speakers oftenly and now it makes complete sense to me as it is quite impossible to have a better-for-all speakers.

With that being said, I auditioned the Wharfedale 225 and the Martin Logan LX16. The Martin Logan tweeter is the most treble-ish I've heard and as expected with almost no bass. It's a good speaker but nothing remarkable and the mid frequencies didn't sound as polished and refined as other speakers.

Now with the Wharfedale 225, I get why all the great reviews and recommendations from publications like The Absolute Sound and Stereophile. I've never heard before a speaker like this one. The sound creates a very nice atmosphere, it's a pleasure to hear it and basically all kind of songs (bad, medium or audiophile grade) sound good. I could hear them for hours. I guess that's how a MUSICAL speaker sound. The sound reproduction is not accurate or precise, the speaker has its own sound signature and it's a very pleasant one. As you might expect, the treble and/or high frequencies are a little off and notably, the voices sound like being between a veil but a very lush, luxurious veil. It's certainly not an analytical sound but it's musicality and warmth is addictive.

The bad thing is that, as wonderful as the Wharfedale 225 are, I couldn't live with them as my only speakers.

THEN today I had the opportunity here in my country to demo the KEF LS50 speakers in my own listening room in my house. I've read a lot of great reviews about this speakers and was way curious to hear all the fuss about them.

They are high on the treble, 2 or 3 degrees to being shouting piercing speakers and certainly none a hint of warmth. The imaged like crazy, even if I moved a little from my chair, the singer's voice in the center stayed there and the soundstage was quite wide. Not only could I hear all the instruments, I could almost pinpoint within inches the separation of one instrument from the other.

I browse through different songs with the pressure, of course, of being with the vendors by my side in my room but even then, while browsing indistinctly from song to song, I heard Herbie Hancock's Rockit song, not a favorite song of mine but one I've heard for many many years and when the synth line came in, the sound I heard from the synth line was one I've never heard before in all those years. I then swapped other speakers like the Martin Logans and the synth line was there but with added "trebliness" and other artifacts and the original sound was lost and, even more revealing, I heard the same synth line with the Wharfedales and they actually "transformed" that synth line into another tonality (believe me or not): it was like being made with another synthesizer and it sounded "tamed down", sounding inoffensive but warmer, richer, with an added layer of "lushiness".  

My questions are: Could it be that the LS50 sound is just NEUTRAL, as real as it gets? Is these sound an analytical/detailed one?

Speakers like the much recommended ATC SCM11 could sound even more "neutral" or "analytical" without being more harshers and fatigue inducing?

I think I could live with a sound like the LS50 but with an even more clinical or colder sound I don't know if I could.

Does the B&W speakers provide that kind of neutrality/analytical sound of the LS50 and the warmth of the Wharfedales?

Before listening to the LS50 and after hearing the Wharfedales, I tough that maybe, as I really loved the Wharfedales sound but wanted more detail, if a high end option like Harbeth speakers could be a more refined, polished, detailed Wharfedales speakers but keeping the warmth and lush sound?

Maybe my solution is to have both the LS50 speakers and also the Wharfedales depending on my mood.

As you can see, the new option that I haven't contemplated before are the LS50 speakers and they could sell them to me immediately.

P.S. I also hear the Klipsch RP 600M speakers. They sound absolutely great with rock, 80s pop and such, but they lack a high end more detailed sound in my opinion and the soundstage it's quite narrow. Even then, I liked the RP 600M that much that in the future I'm planning to buy them as well and keep them in my BBQ/party area of my house

PLEASE excuse the long post and the wrong words I maybe have used as english is not my native language.
Don't worry about your English. There are many English-as-a-first-language  members who can't construct a single coherent sentence, so you're doing well!

The KEF LS50s are NOT bright speakers. I find myself repeating this far too often. The problem is most do not set them up properly. They need to be placed on 24" inch stands (as recommended by KEF), even though that places the tweeters below ear level for most listeners. They should also be placed with absolutely zero toe-in. The LS50s were voiced with that setup in mind. A neutral off-axis response was one of the design goals of the Uni-Q driver after all. Unfortunately, zero toe-in and low placement height goes against conventional wisdom and they suffer a bad rap as a result. Dealers are clueless as to how to demo them. If you get a second listen to them under the correct conditions, you'll find a very different tonal balance - one that is mostly neutral - actually a hair on the warm side compared to many contemporaries.

ATCs will provide even greater detail at the risk of being more fatiguing than the KEFs. This is because the KEFs are more forgiving of poor recordings while the ATCs were designed for surgical precision and absolute transparency. Speakers don't get much more transparent than ATCs. IME, Magnepans and any affordable electrostatics pale in comparison

I found that Jean Marie Reynaud speakers (the Bliss Silvers at least) strike a nice middle ground between the musical and hyper-analytical. They're a little more transparent and detailed than the KEFs, yet remain somewhat forgiving. The tonal balance is similar to a *properly positioned KEF. 

The Harbeths I've heard are a little brighter than properly positioned LS50s, a little less detailed, and if anything, have a cool overall tonal balance (I suspect they're often mistaken as "warm" due to a lack of ultra transparency).

If this were my search, I'd focus on ATC, ProAC, and PMC.


I enjoyed the KEF LS50's but wanted a larger/fuller sound. I upgraded to the KEF Reference 1's. Spectacular speaker. Detailed. Great imaging. Dynamic. Sounds amazing with my Hegel H590.
there shall be only one
klipsch cornwalls
build a bigger bookshelf
Heresy IIIs...keep the shelves for books (remember those?), although amazingly, Klipsch says you can take off the little Heresy slanted riser things for bookshelf mounting clearly for the slightly insane among us. Otherwise, the little Wilsons are adorable and you can pick various colors (and I've heard a pair of these...they're real good), or the new little Magicos are cool until somebody sticks their finger in that tweeter.