Recommendation on speakers for listening to live music

Hello, I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation on speakers for listening to live music. I have a big collection of live Grateful Dead, phish, jazz, etc.. This is music on cd or vinyl that was recorded live. Are there quality speakers that cater to both live and studio recordings. Would be using McIntosh power amps mc252, mc275 etc.. Thank you very much for any advice.


If you want to recreate live music, you will need low end. There's nothing like a great live recording with full range speakers. Think larger, floor standing speakers. The MC275's should do well with reasonably easy to drive speakers. Joseph Audio Pearl, DeVore GibbonX (or 0/96's), etc. just to name a few


Wilson Watt Puppy 8 with Gryphon Diablo300 definitely takes me right to the venue.

I am a Dead fan myself and used to have Klipsch Heresy’s, the horns work well for live music. You would need to add a subwoofer or two to round out the low end. 

As non-acoustic music is usually heard though the sound system the live music venue uses---which rarely doesn’t employ horns as it’s midrange and tweeter drivers, the advice to listen through horns at home is not without merit. But be for-warned: if you haven’t heard horns in a home setting, you may be in for a shock. They can be very "forward" sounding, and sometimes "brash".

I tried listened through my band’s Altec Voice-Of-The-Theater PA loudspeakers, and found them way too colored for my taste. But then lifelike vocal and instrumental timbre is exceedingly important to me. Art Dudley didn’t seem to mind a little editorializing in his loudspeakers, and loved his Altec’s. To each his own!

I have 2 systems

both low power tubes


one has Ref 3A de Capos

the other Klipsch Quartets (horns)


I like both but the de Capos are much more refined and the Quartets always feel like live music

Horn based speakers.

For no fuss/new check out the new Klipsch line (here's a good sound demo of 3 models and I often see B-Stock for sale).



That's all not for live music. These recommendations above are for RECORDED music. For live music speakers and equipment probably will be way too loud for indoors.

I am a huge jamband fan. My preference for speakers are JBL and Altec. I am currently using Altec A7 as my mains for two channel and JBL 8330 for my surround speakers. Just awesome! The 150" projection screen helps with webcasts.

wordsmithing aside, i think we know what the op is asking for

leaving aside those designed to produce the sound of a live classical performance, the speakers out there that have that 'live performance' type of feel, sound, with attack and dynamics (if not as much a sense of control and refinement) are

upper jbl



better zu's

atc's (properly driven - no mean feat)



as others have mentioned, subs may well be needed to complete the package for that kind of sound


Bose 901’s!! All of their marketing was that the reflected stereo everywhere was base on their live music delivery research?😂

Magnepan Speakers are unreal for live music. Live music is what I primarily listen to on my 1.7i’s because the soundstage is so vivid and all the nuances of the vocal inflections and crowd interaction are really brought out and bring to make it an immersive experience. 3.7i's are in your price range and are phenomenal.

A big grateful thanks to all that replied! An apology for not listing my budget (which is around 6-8k) I had a feeling JBL would be a recommendation as Jerry Garcia used jbl speakers in his cabinet, and the infamous ‘wall of sound’ was filled with jbl speakers. Not sure what speakers Phish plays through or the many other jambands I listen to use. The subs sound very important as both Phil Lesh  (the dead) and Mike Gordon (phish) really capture the very low end frequencies. Feel free to keep chiming in, and a happy day to all you audio heads!

I am a grateful dead fan and I agree that you want the system to have a very clean tight base to reproduce Phil‘s baselines. I just recently replaced my JL audio subs with a swarm sub system. I really like it. Very clean and tight and integrates well with my speakers if you have the room for it, I would consider that. You can Google it.

Cerwin Vega pro line or the xls 215s, peavey and jbl pro lines are all good for live recordings and get some pa subwoofers too I use a Cerwin Vega el-36dp and an cvx-21s 

Definitely horn speakers.  Check out Charney Audio website.  Great sound and nice design.  Live music with my Viking Acoustic Grande Voix dual horn speakers is mesmerizing.  Unfortunately, they are way above your budget.  

I like the Wilson Alexandria. Nice dynamics.  Natural balance.  Good soundstage, decent imaging for a mid-size speaker.  

Bloody hell man. You answered your own question. JBL. There is no better for what you seek. It's likely others on this forum have not experienced the beauty of the source material you mentioned. A lesson in history might benefit some but some, but likely most here would lend a deaf ear.... For me modern JBL studio monitors with properly phased subs are the hands down ticket. Yes, pun intended. Live sound at home. Amps. Source. Entirely different conversation. Peace ✌️

My Klipsch RF-7 III’s (assisted with a HSU sub)

powered by a vintage1978 Yamaha receiver

does an awesome job on well recorded live 

music. This low budget rig serves me well.

Mostly all the live recordings sucks so it doesn't matter what kind of speaker you buy.

Personally I leave live music to the musicians and venue.

At home, one system should be able to handle all types of recorded music, be it recorded live at an acoustically challenged venue or in a controlled recording studio. Be it hard rock, pipe organ or chamber music.

Any system that can't reproduce all types of recordings is less than ideal.

Don’t laugh. If you want to play your live music heavenly real and not extremely loud, I’d say Quad ESL 2912. In my opinion the worlds’ best and to some extend affordable, speaker to experience music at home. If you want to enjoy music live in full size (suppose you have no neighbors and your listening-room is big enough) I’d go for the Magnepan 1.7i (minimum) or better the 3.7i. The ’i’ as an important upgrade to ’full quasi ribbon’. Meaning that the wires of the former models are replaced by metal ribbons. Far better sound, practically indestructible and no more ’wire loosing’. These Magnepans though, do require real beefy amps to fulfill there power needs. But there are more roads that lead to Rome, so I wish you lots of wisdom and succes in this difficult quest. ;-)

You are not listening to live music, you are listening to recordings.

Just use your regular speakers.

Exactly as clearthinker says. It's a fallacy to conclude that because the recording is of a live event, that you need speakers that employ similar technology to those used at the event itself. PA systems are driven by the need to go as loud as possible with as few watts as possible. (The watts bit is less significant nowadays with class D designs, admittedly.)

Also, as clearthinker says, what's been listened to is a recording. If it's rock music, it's most likely a feed from the mixing desk, with possibly a bit of hall sound mixed in.

Jazz recordings are more likely to have been room sound with possibly a few spot mikes.

In either case, what you want is to reproduce the sound of the recording, so all the usual sonic criteria apply.

I am a grateful dead fan and I agree that you want the system to have a very clean tight base to reproduce Phil‘s baselines. I just recently replaced my JL audio subs with a swarm sub system. I really like it. Very clean and tight and integrates well with my speakers if you have the room for it, I would consider that. You can Google it.


Sorry, someone had to say it........🙄

My Dead/Phish listening rig is Klipsch Forte IV’s and an SVS4000 sub. You really need that sub or subs to feel those Phil Bombs properly. Surprisingly, I enjoy the old JGB recordings best. 

I have the 1.7i and in the passed i had 3.3 with the cello duet and encore pre. Live rock pop is rubish and grateful dead and all kind of this classic rock for get it with the maggies. 


I get what your trying to put together and agree you answered your own question, JBL (biggest and baddest you can afford).  Google JBL 4350 monitors.  No subs required.

To the posters who think that the Grateful Dead "just" used PA for the sound haven't been to a concert.  There is a very good YT vid on "The Wall of Sound".

Funny I don't see any PA. This is a super high end system.

Lastly, The GD employed the best recording technics they possible could and in fact moved the ball the down court.  Most of the GD live recordings are directly off the sound board.

BTW  Phil Lesh ,bassist, had his own set of amps and speakers for each string on his bass.




Horns seem the way to go here, the Volti Razz is a nice choice in your budget think Klipsch but a bit more refined.


I listen to Phish and the Dead live recordings extensively. I use sealed box speakers- ATC, and it sounds GREAT. Just have enough oomph behind the speakers- say 200 watts per channel to power my SCM35’s (and SCM40 v.2, which I buy tomorrow). Don’t need to have ported speakers!

This discussion is mostly pointless. As others have pointed out you are listening to recorded music in a home environment. The system that fits your room size and layout, satisfies your playback volume needs, and reproduces everything well will be best for all music. It all starts with the room and your demands. The few useful nuggets include:  The Swarm to add bass with almost any speaker, but don’t expect live sound to be convincing without lots of cone area. How much?  Refer to first principles…how much room to fill , how loud?

IMO, use horns only if your answers are Large and Loud. There’s more to it, but many ways to get there. 


You have some nice gear. I noticed you did not mention a budget, Bookshelf or floor standers, or even color and finish. You are addressing a group who has either owned a lot of speakers or have listened to most. I do not own them but have heard several on SS and tubes. The Tekton Moab’s are going to be the best live performance for the money or beyond the money in sound. My favorite Tektons are the Encore. Perfect mix of live and studio nuance and not as big as the Moab. If you need a better price but still a great speaker is the Double impact. 
Now if you have big budget I think you should take the recommendations from above except the Maggie’s. I have listened to the 20s on 4 bel canto mono blocks with a pass crossover. The live sound was their but it still needed a couple of subs and a subwoofer crossover to send everything below 80hz to the subs so as not to stress the Maggie’s. I will tell you for 1/4 price you will get there with the Tektons with out adding subs. I will tell you the Hegel v10 phono stage is really great for duplicating these sounds for $1650. I have been demoing the Parasound JC3+ and it does almost everything the Hegel does and more except the Hegel’s headroom is about a foot higher. I mean ceiling height! I am hoping after the full 200 breakin this does that. So at almost twice the price it would be my recommendation for doubling up after the Hegel. I also own a Sutherland Little LOCO. It works off of current instead of voltage. The advantage is full dynamics regardless of volume level. It excelled in low to mid level listening. It will reproduce exactly what is on the record. 
Soory to get off on a tangent. Tektons are what you want. Very efficient too. If you cannot deal with the looks then get you wallet out. Because Joseph are awesome, but they don’t come cheap. I looked up the Salk speakers and they have a ton of good things going for it. Infact they might be Joseph’s in wolfs clothing. I mean cheaper for you. 
there are some tweaks you can do like getting setup with a Puritan 156, GroundMaster City, and a RouteMaster. When you attack noise and ground and remove the horrible stuff from your system every performance can sound live. 
Notdost make these pucks that are powered that sit below or on top of your gear. You can look it up. I guarantee you do these tweaks at some point you will say that is enough. Meaning it’s too live. If I put a $100 pair of speakers on my system I can not only make them visually disappear but you will swear they are worth thousands. 
I know that in Georgia and in the Chicagoland area are dealers for Puritan and Holm Audio is a Nordost dealer too. On 11/17/22 they are having some sort of event with their lines. Even Charles Kirmus will be demoing his record cleaning restoration machine. I hope this helps. I do know what you are asking for and this is how to get it. 

Hi Jazzydrummer,

As it supposed to be, everyone is in love of the carefully build own sound equipment.

In my case, I’m in love of mine, a pair of Atma-Sphere MA1 driving Soundlab

U-545. Real sound. Electrostatic sound is fantastic.

For instance Woody Herman Woody’s and his Big Band Concord Records CJ-330 “Woody’s Gold Star is like sharing the scenario.

Hope could be helpful.(Excuse my poor english)

For amplified live music ATC is hard to beat.  They're better at high volume.  

They also manage bass better than most brands.  This is one of those things that you need to experience and live with long enough to stop being emotional about it.  ATCs start rolling off bass at a relatively high frequency.  This very significantly reduces room problems, especially when you crank 'em up a bit.  They provide fantastic dynamics, very high quality bass.  The bigger ones with big bass drivers have great punch.  And you can fill in the very low end with subs if you want.  Mains with -3db points below 40hz are a bad idea in most rooms for amplified, bassy music..  

Generally bigger speakers

Generally more efficient speakers

Generally horn loaded speakers