Recommendations on small ESL speakers for tiny room

I currently have Sound Lab M545 ESL speakers. They are incredible, but I have a tiny room: 10 x 10ft. Even though M545 is the smallest of Sound Lab, it is too dynamic and overwhelms my room-even with all the room treatments. I am looking for a smaller ESL that can deliver super clarity and intimacy even at low volume. Any thoughts?




If you have free reign in your room, have you tried setting up your system on a diagonal? So your back would be to one corner, you’d be facing the opposite corner, and the speakers would be along each of the two walls flanking the corner that you’re facing. They can be very close to these walls because the backwave reflection path is not right straight at you. This setup geometry can result in longer reflection path lengths than a conventional setup geometry, thereby mimicing some of the behavior of a larger room.


SoundLab dealer since 1999

Actually it's a great idea. 

Decware has an article on it @ their site.


Audiokinesis, what do you think about Quad 2812 which is 30% smaller than my speakers or the full size 2912.

I find that loud passages are too loud, so when I turn down the volume, quiet passages such as with vocals recede. May be the problem is not with the speakers but with pre/amp?

I read one review in which someone was driving Quad ESL 2812 with a 25W tube amp. This would be impossible to do with Sound Lab.

we have been doing this for 40 years most elecrostatics do not work well in such a space as they need space to breathe.


We are importing an amazing compact monitor that sounds like an electrostatic


the speaker is made out of cast iron and graphite

this is probably the most inert and non resonant cabinet on the planet


the tweeter is one ofthe worlds best soft domes from hipoquan

this tweeter is hand made in denmark from one of the best tweeter designers out there oskar wroending who spent his career at dynaudio

His own tweeters represent an evolution of dynaudios tweaters

these tweeters are fast articulate and smooth

the midwoofer is a compositepaper and carbon fiber cone which is fast with a tight midbass that blends well with the tweeter

the crossover is all mundorf components

long story short electrostatc speed and clarity an amazing soundstage the speakers completely disappear.

in a tiny sealed enclosure that exccells in small rooms


Dave andTroy

Audio intellect NJ

usimporter jern loudspeakers


chungih, this is a hybrid with small size but excellent clarity and seamless integration with the woofer.


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OP … I would go with the smaller sized ML’s however If you are up for a little vintage serviced Quad ESL 57’s or 63’s can be a delight in a smaller room 

Quad ESL, then 63, Stax, or Acoustat 1. Duke has a free idea, try it, but it creates a horn effect on the listening end…only one way to know IF you like that, try it !


Maggies or ML. Take your pick. The Maggie LRS with a sub or two sound particularly good for the money.

I can read. I understand the allure of ESL. I get it. However, this limited space challenges all that ESL needs to perform well. This space speaks active. Best of luck in your search.

I have owned Quads, ML, and Magnepan. Specifically, Quad 57’s, 2805’s, and 2905’s; ML Prodigy; Magnepan Tympani 1A, IIa, IIIa, SMG. Have just ordered Mag DWM and MMG-W for the HT.

Considering that you already own Sound Labs, I would not consider anything other than Quads. ML hybrids are OK for HT, but I found them disappointing for audio.

Quad 57's are a very musical speaker, but lack the bottom and top octaves of the new series, and also their clarity. That said, the best room I ever heard used 3 pairs of 57's, stacked.

The 2805 is much brighter than the 2905, which is quite mellow for an ESL, and the same size as your M545. Both can be significantly improved by a toroidal step up transformer and a better HV power supply, which I suspect brings it near the performance you already have.

Good luck - I’ve always wanted to try SL, but never got around to it. Maybe someday ...

Another thought - SL does custom work. Maybe they could do a 65% size, an M445?

Planer & ESL speakers need to be away from the front wall. Planers at LEAST 3ft & according to Martin login, at least 2ft for the Electromotion ESL-X. My Maggie 1.7is didn’t sound their best until I pulled them out to 4ft. A 10x10 room isn’t ideal for those types of speakers. That being said, you can always try some Electromotion ESL-X from Bestbuy to see how they work in your room. They offer a 15 day return policy.

Agreed, that's where they sound best. But a poorly placed planar still beats anything else. IMO.

I have listened to ML at audio shows but wasn't impressed. Everyone is raving about Maggies. Are they that good or "good for the price"?

I have listened to ML at audio shows but wasn't impressed. Everyone is raving about Maggies. Are they that good or "good for the price"?

I like the planar-magnetic sound very much. A little softer than ESL's, and perfect for digital. IMO.

My main system is analogue and Quad ESL.

Planar-magnetic was Magnepan's first technology, which they perfected. The DWM's and MMG-W do not use crossovers. That's two big plusses for me.

Now they use ribbon technology for some speakers, but I haven't lived with a modern ribbon design, so have no useful opinion.

I started with Acoustat 2 + 2, then speakers with Heils (AMT), then ribbon Apogee all together for thirty years. i have spent a lot of time with Quads. I changed over to traditional speakers about fifteen years ago.

Facing that your challenge I would consider speakers with Air Motion Transducers. They will get you the midrange and the super high frequency harmonics and loose a lot lof the really difficultes in positioning, excessive high frequency loading the room, and lack of punch. They could be stand mounted or full sized.

I moved my seat all the way back to the end of the room and find that the speakers disappear. The sound stage is much more natural. Also I moved the speakers to about 6 inches from the side walls. To minimize wall reflection, I put two diffuser/sound absorption panels (2x4 ft) in front of the speakers along the side walls. I thought this would be a disaster but I am getting a nice and wide stage as if I am in a larger room. The Achilles heel of ESLs always have been the lack of  bass punch. But with the Bass Focus of the new generation Sound lab speakers coupled to the small size, punch bass is not a problem. I am quite pleased with the result.

+1 Quad 57s were designed for small rooms. They can be enchanting even though missing highs and lows. However, the current best rebuild is Electrostatic Solutions 

(ESS). They are said to give much more highs and lows.

 Quad ESL 57’s, or Stax ESL. The Stax supposedly have incredible transparency, perhaps even a little better than the 57’s ( back in the day I owned several 57’s, running single pairs  as well as stacked pairs , however never owned the Stax). The Stax are very inefficient and won’t play very loud, but could be a great solution for a 10 x 10 room.


@chungjh It depends on what you are after. The later Quad I had (a 63 modified by Crosby Audio Works, itself a dated specimen) was a better all ’rounder, but still not close to the coherence and verisimilitude of a pair of 57s in good fettle. I have not heard the latest Quads. Their shortcomings should have nothing to do with the reliability of the panels, and of course, the original has bandwidth, dynamic and power constraints, as well as posing a difficult load to amplifiers. But, to me, they are the best Quad and the one I have retained since ’73 for use in a second system.