Recommended Speaker for Triode Amp

I've been living with inefficient Thiel 3.6 speakers for many years now, but now I'm getting a new integrated Triode amplifier rated at 20 watts per channel. I'm not familiar with horn and open baffle speakers, or other inefficient designs and could use some help.

I listen mostly to jazz, female voice, acoustical types, and rock, as opposed to Big Band and orchestral music. I have a fairly small listening room. I do like my bass, so if it's there I want to produce it well.

I've seen some speaker kits and I am handy but don't have a lot of woodworking tools. For example, I would not want to cut those large round speaker holes.

I also don't understand how to match a speakers efficiency to the power output of an amp, or maybe that doesn't matter as long as you can drive the speakers to loud levels.

I do have two goals. The first is to spend between $3K to $6K tops, and the second is to smoke my Theil 3.6 speakers.

Help and recommendations are appreciated.
See: "How loud will it go" (
Give Tannoy Monitor Gold or Prestige line a try. I am getting the smoothest, sweetest, most liquid sound out of 10 watts from my old HPD's. They are 35 year old drivers I had custom cabs made for, and then made custom crossovers for them. They sound outstanding with the original crossovers too.

Good luck!
Magnificent high-efficiency custom and semi-custom designs, affordable heirloom-qualitiy works of art that make beautiful music:

No commercial affiliation.

Audionote makes one in your price range I heard at length a couple weeks ago. ($5500.00)They were very nice with 10 watt 300B amps. great bass. Also depending on room size and how loud, I've driven my Harbeth SHL5s with 22 watts of 845 and the sound was very nice.
I have a question! Are the horns mentioned above compatible with a fairly small room (15 x 13 x 10h)?

I checked out the KCS speakers, but I have no room for a sub and not sure if the bookshelf models would give me the low end I need.
Take a look at Sonist speakers. They are designed to be used with low power amps.
I think you will find it worthwhile to read through this lengthy thread, which discusses a great many high efficiency speakers.

-- Al
Hi Kenny,

The fullrange driver used in the wide stand-mount you see there probably has the best bass extension of any 8" fullrange made, and John uses a big enough cabinet to take advantage of that. He probably has several options that would meet your bass/amplifier/room size requirements extremely well.

Good Stuff.

I checked out the thread Almarg, and it is quite lengthy but informative, so thanks. The Audio Notes look appealing and I may be able to pull off the room corner setup. What's easiest, is that I can see the dealer's audio store on the hillside with my spotting scope because I'm in Boulder. At least, I can listen to the ANs.

Audiokinesis, are you refering to the F8-X1 or W8-X2-08 speakers? John only seems to have info on these two models, the third is the sub-bass system.
I do thank others for suggesting KCS but I do not think our 2 standard offerings would work for you. Having owned and heard many Theil loudspeakers I do think you might want more extension in low frequency. So if interested in KCS would need a custom designed loudspeaker which we do. But I would also consider Audiokinesis excellent loudspeakers with superb design,some Tannoys, Altec model 19 with added fostex t500amk2 tweeters. If custom from KCS I would suggest 3 way horn speaker with 15in bass reflex bass. I do feel any of these suggestions would better the 3.6 and have synergy with your room system musical tastes,plus are in your price range. If you go Tanny consider the studio line if moneys tight.
The Audionotes are also available as kits. You can either build the cabinets yourself or purchase the pre-made cabinets.
These seem to be well regarded by lower power tube amp fans.
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Thanks for getting involved John and providing such helpful insight. I will keep your suggestions in mind.

The field is starting to thanks everyone!
Maybe Merlin's might work for you;talk with Bobby at Merlin to see if your new intregrated would be a match for his speakers.
Thanks Rleff, does anyone else have experience with the Merlins? I'm asking because of it's 89dB sensitivity.
Sorry, but I've never been a fan of Klipsch. Another thing I can't explain logically. It may be worth giving them another try because when I heard them last might have been under unfair conditions (wrong type of amplification).
Kenny- definitely read the recent thread on high efficiency speakers----has all you need to know.

You might also talk to the Triode importer and see what he prefers. I was looking at the 845SE integrated amp for quite some time...nice looking/built gear.

I would look into Duke's (Audiokinesis) Jazz Modules unless you really want headbanging volumes. I own his Planetarium Betas, and love them. You could also get in touch with Audiogon member Clio09, who owns the Jazz Modules themselves.
Thanks Guys.

A family emergency just came up and I'll be out of town. Please continue if you like without me. I'll then have good info when I get back to review.
Kenny - you might try some of the smaller speakers in the Klipsch Heritage line - Cornwalls in the corners of that size room would work great.
Looks like I'll be leaving tomorrow to take care of family stuff, so I thought I'd add this. I've checked out the designs of KCS, Audiokinesis, Audio Note, Altec 19, and Tannoy speakers, plus others I’m a little hazy about. These are all beautiful and well executed speakers. I do have a question or two.

Even though I can tuck speakers into my room’s corners this would be on the long wall (15’). The speakers would face me across the short wall (13’). My concern is the limited space behind my listening position which is only two feet. This works for the Thiels but they’re away from the corners and rear walls, so about eight feet from me. I had read a review of two Audio Note speakers by Art Dudley (Stereophile) who thought these speakers benefited by having considerable space behind the listener…”I heard the smoothest response when sitting far from any and all room boundaries.” I can’t do that. In fact, if I want to form the proverbial triangle, I would need to pull back my chair closer to the back wall.

Does anyone have experience or opinion about setting up an Audio Note in my space? Many of the pictures I’ve seen from other manufacturers also tend to place their speakers near corners or they are considerably toed-in. When considering these other brands, are there ones that would work well in my room? For example, set up like my Thiels?
I've used the Merlin VSM SE with Cary 300B monos (<15wpc) and the combo was great. I can't really speak from personal experience to the current version of the VSM, but I suspect it'd still be a fine match for your SET.

There are lots of good choices, and even more opinions. I would suggest either the Audio Note K or the Zu Tone. The Ks are going to be light in the bass region, but Js or Es would almost certainly bee to much speaker for your room size. The Zu Tone is a little punchier.

Just curious, what type of rock music do you listen to? Have you heard some of your favorite music on a 20W SET amp and small speakers? I listened to Stairway to Heaven on a 300B amp and single driver speakers the other night - it was... let's call it an interesting experience.
Infinity Prelude MTS with RABOS will knock your socks off. Recommend you avoid single driver speakers.
I'm finally back (from NYC), and thanks for the additional information.

I checked out the Zu line and they look like a good match for my room's setup. Perhaps the Essence would be a winner, so does anyone have experience with that speaker?

The Partial Eclipse also looks like a compatible design for my room. Good stuff. I will do some research on these designs.

Br3098 - I listen to classic rock but I have mellowed a bit with age. For example, lately I've been playing David Crosby's, If I Could Only Remember My Name and some Dire Straits, the Dead's Reckoning, and The Pentangle's first. These are all vinyl. I really don't need to shake the earth and my Thiels won't, but they do go deep enough to keep that grin on my face. For the most part I mostly listen to jazz and world music, but when I'm feeling dark I'll put on a politically incorrect and twisted Velvet Underground album and then I'm back in The City again.

BTW - The Thiels throw a wide enough soundstage but it's not very deep. This is another characteristic that I crave.
A number of good suggestions there. I have uised a 20 watt SET integrated for years and have found speakers of 89db sensitivity and up will do fine with my amp, as long as the impedence is benign. That is flat and 6ohms and above.

some other speakers I have used which seemed to go well

Living Voice Avatars
Acoustic Zen Adagios
Daedalus Da-Ra Mas
The last are way the best, but a bit out of your price range, if you can't find them second hand, which you wo'nt
Thanks David, this is a good basis to go by. I will check out your recommendations.

One thing to note is that I'm not using a SET amp, nor is there a 300B involved. I'm having built a one-of-a-kind triode integrated using original Dynaco A470 transformers by Sam's Audio Labs. Besides the transformers, the circuitry is new and Sam uses a push-pull topology with EL34s and his own compensating circuits. Sam usually does restorations and transformations but this is more like a prototype.
I'd strongly advise a listen to Devore Fidelity. I am in love with my new pair of Devore Nines.

I went from Thiel 2.3s, having loved them for many years with all sorts of large amplifiers. I was hesitant, somewhat unsure that I would get the extension I had been used to with a speaker that has ports and two small woofers. I was spectacularly wrong.

I'm driving them with a very small Rogue Atlas -- a magnum version with Cardas wiring and operating in triode. It was supposed to be an amp just to get me started on these speakers before I ventured out into small powered exotica. I'm slackjawed at the transparency, range, soundstage, the whole bit.

Crosby's "If I Could Only Remember My Name" and the GD's "Reckoning" are two of my test discs. Both are amazing on the new Devores.
Thanks John, I will check them out!

I have shortened my list for room size (small) and setup which now includes:

1. Daedalus DA-RMa - I've heard that they're better with a higher powered tube amp. Anyone?

2. Legacy Focus

3. Sound Quest H-12 - Very little info on these.

4. Audiokinesis Jazz Modules - Best value???

5. Robert Bastani's Prometheus MKII - Has anyone heard or own these?

6. I will check out the Devore 9.

7. I will contact KCS down the road to see what they can do.

8. I wish I could get the Horning Aristoteles.
I'll second Sonist. Great speakers and works very well with lower powered amps. Concerto 3 is in your price range.

DISCLAIMER--- I am a dealer for Sonist.
Daedalus DA-RMa - I've heard that they're better with a higher powered tube amp. Anyone?
Kenny, if you haven't seen it already you'll want to read through this thread:

Note Lou's comment:
For general taste I would recommend 40 watts per channel or more, but this can vary widely from amp to amp. If possible I'd recommend waiting until you get the speakers to make an amp choice so that you can see how they pair up in your room.
Keep in mind that your 20W amp is only 3db less powerful than a 40W amp, which is not a great deal of difference in terms of subjectively perceived loudness. And given your preference for music that does not have a lot of dynamic range (relative to orchestral music), and your small room size, that may be well within reason.

Best regards,
-- Al
I have the DA-RMa's & now power them with a 10wpc SET amp. My room is 14' x 20' with high cathedral ceilings. They will easily reach 100db at about 1 o'clock on my volume control with no stress or strain.

I absolutely love these spkrs; I've owned Thiel 2.2's, 3.6's, JM Lab Micro Utopia's & Sonus Faber Electa Amator II's-- the DA-RMa's, driven by the SET amp, are by far my favorites! Lots of great spkrs out there, try and listen to as many as you can.

Good luck & happy listening.
Good information, thanks guys.

Rrsclyde - The DA-RMa's are boxey speakers. How's the depth of soundstage with them?
Keith, that's a good quaestion and it's going to be an experiment. I guess you can call it Kennythekeys Amp (Integrated)...I'm not kidding.

It's a one-of-a-kind design by Sam Kim of Sam's Audio Labs, and he's building it now based on the feedback I gave him. All I can say, is to check out his website. He normally does restorations and tranformations but he's starting with a raw and empty Eico chassis, adding original (A470) Dynaco ST-70 transformers, and then taking it from there. He's designing the circuitry as we speak (Full Triode). In other words, he's inventing it...How's that for a leap of faith??? Anyway, I have a money back guarantee that I will love the sound...So, no worries.

Sam believes that the amp will handle my Thiel 3.6s (86dB)!!! If it does and I love it, I will then have more time to save up more money for my new speakers.

I've not heard the T-5, but the T-1.3 and the T-3.3 with all field coil drivers are really something special. The midrange of the T-1.3 is to die for. Rarely does the sound from a speaker make me tear up. Unfortunately the CAR speakers are really expensive. Even the T-5 runs about 12K. I was told by John Wolff that the T-5 was originally designed for the European market or rather a smaller listening room. If you can attend this year's RMAF, make it a point to check out John and Ralph's (of Atma-Sphere) room.
I'll 3rd the Sonist Concerto 3s. I heard them at a show recently powered by a 5-watter and they sounded very nice. Better than some much more expensive speakers at that show. If I were in the market for speakers those are the ones I would buy.
Randy (or dealer if there is one in your area) will set you up with a 30-day demo.
Thanks Dpe. I guess I misread the cost on the CAR website. I thought it was $6,460. Bummer.

I'll check out the Sonist.
For anyone who may be looking for efficient speakers now, I would suggest the following.
Check out Vaughn Loudspeakers.
I have had a pair for almost 5 years. They have reeceived a lot of best of show votes at RMAF CAS, etc. over the years and for good reason. I have the Zinfandel model without powered subwoofer and these speakers have been in my system longer than any other component. The new speakers offered by Vaughn are really quite nice too, some with plasma tweeters and all boasting 94 -98 db efficiency. The owner, Jim Jordan is a true audio perfectionist and stands behind his products. 
Emerald Physics 4.7 or 4.8. It produces 90 dB SPL in my room on 1.5 Watts.

Amplifier is Dennis Had's Inspire Fire Bottle SE, about 10 Watts per channel.

Gentlemen and Ladies:  This is a shockingly good system!