Seek non-ported speakers - $700 to $1500 To stop the port-itis in my room!


I have a smallish room 12x12 that has an unusual ceiling.  I've used several highly regarded speakers in the space and the real ported ones are the biggest problem.  I tried KEF ls50's and wanted to love them but the lower-end was too puffy sounding.  Front ported speakers do have less of a "port-itis" issue.  I found a used pair of polk lsi9's and they sound very good in my room but not great.  I'm looking for ideas for non-ported or ported speakers that are less problematic.  Range $700-$1500.  Thanks for your input audio brothers!  Drumbe the retired drummer.
Ag insider logo xs@2xdrumbe
Drumbe, I also have a small room and found the LS50's kinda wooly and bloated in the bass as well. I now have ProAc Tablette 10's which are sealed and sound great in a small room. Nice tight bass and great imaging. You will need a sub (get a small sealed one) if you want to add deep bass though. You might be able to find a pair used in your price range.
Your problem drumbe is not your speakers, its your room. In a room 12x12 the first mode is at 47Hz (speed of sound 1130 ft/s divided by two times 12 = 47), second mode is 94Hz and so on. 47 and especially 94 are right in the area of the bass hump designed into most speakers regardless of design. Even worse since your room is 12x12 then you have the same modes both directions- double the trouble. (Please don't tell me the ceiling is around 12 feet too..... !)

The good news is there is a solution: bass traps. The bad news is figuring out exactly what to do calls for a little math and creative thinking. To be effective the trap dimensions and placement are determined by the frequency and room. Bass traps go in corners where walls meet, or walls meet ceiling, or both, and need to be bigger (thicker) to get lower in frequency. Beyond that you just need to figure it out for yourself. Not that hard but it does take a bit of like I said math and creativity. Oh, and a browser!

Or you can keep throwing money and speakers at a problem that has nothing to do with either. Bass traps are mostly fiberblass or foam which is dirt cheap compared to speakers. DIY! Otherwise if you stick with trying different speakers all you're really doing is trying to find one that's lean or even has a suck-out at those problematic frequencies. Which, again, has nothing to do with speaker design. Its the room.


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Room treatment should do wonders.
 
But for sealed speakers:
PowerSoundAudio MT-110
NHT C3
+1 millercarbon. GIK is what you need. Do not use acoustic foam.
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I like socks, but only organic cotton.

Actually, no, I think the real issue is the listener has bad room acoustics. Call GIK Acoustics and get help, it will make the room much more speaker friendly.
Klipsch Heresy IIIs are the first non ported speakers I've owned since my Boston Acoustics A60IIs (I still use those for my TV rig). So the Heresy's and my 2 subs provide portlessness all around...and sound great.
Before I forget, as fate would have it, perhaps it’s a case of monkey 🐵 see monkey do but most speakers have way too much stuffing. It kills the sound. The best thing to do is remove most of the stuffing or all of it, for that matter. The sound will be much more more open and have better bass. The best material to use inside speakers is pure hollow fiber wool, but only the size of a grapefruit.
Thanks audio bros!  I've already used some of the room treatments mentioned.  But bass traps will now be added in strategic areas.  Being a low-end snob makes life difficult in small rooms, especially for a former musician that played drums for over 50 years.  I used to work hard to get my bass drum to tighten up to anchor the groove for the band with my bass players.  Solid drums & bass notes = a tight band.  No wobbly notes to confuse the mates!
drume
OP :

Check out the Soffit traps at GIK. They are extremely effective, and I like to set them standing, 2x in each corner. They are marvelous.
Harbeth P3s or the Spendor A1 are both sealed and sound fantastic.
smrex13 +1! 

There is a pair of Spendor SA-1s listed here for $1500. You should make an offer on them!
Big ++1 for @millercarbon and others.  The room is a HUGE problem, especially if your room is not on a basement or concrete slab.  I had a 15x15 room on the second floor, and it was an absolute bass NIGHTMARE!!!  Fortunately it was a temporary residence and I've since moved my system into a dedicated basement.  Complete night and day difference!!!  When I was in that wretched square room, I moved my speakers (medium sized 2-way floorstanders) 6 feet into the room and still couldn't alleviate the dreaded bass hump you're probably experiencing.  If I'm you, I absolutely heed the advice of others and get some bass traps from GIK, or if aesthetics don't allow for this I'd seriously consider getting some bass management from the likes of DSpeaker, etc., or an amp with room correction like a Lyngdorf or maybe the new Elac integrated.  In any event, you have my deepest empathy, and whatever you choose among these options, by all means do SOMETHING other than just changing speakers.  You'll just end up driving yourself nuts and probably waste a lot of $$$.  Best of luck in taming this beast. 
I went to visit GIK Acoustics - their product line can offers many ways to solve room acoustic issues - like rear port-itis!  Thanks for the suggestions lads!

Drumbe, in my experience "smooth" bass is "fast" bass.  In-room bass peaks actually decay into inaudibility slower than the rest of the bass region, and this sounds "slow" and blurs subsequent bass notes. 

Speaker + room = a "minimum phase" system at low frequencies, which means that the time-domain response and the frequency response tracks one another.  So the good news is:  Fix one and you have fixed the other.

For instance, bass traps reduce the decay times and therefore improve the time domain response, which simultaneously improves the low-end frequency response. 

I have found that asymmetry can also be your friend in the bass region.  If you can position your two speakers such that each is a different distance from all of the walls, that will probably help.

So imagine looking down on your standard triangular setup (speaker-listener-speaker) in your square room, but now rotate that triangle perhaps 30 degrees.  This way your speakers will each be a different distance from each of the walls, and your listening position as well.  The more dissimilar the speakers' bass-region room-interaction peak-and-dip patterns at your listening position, the smoother their sum will be. 

Not saying this is the only thing you should try, but the price is right.

(I make a four-piece subwoofer system and recommend asymmetrical placement, based on the same reasoning.)

Duke

Rega RX1 or if you can find it used the RS1 (this is what I own).   Smallish standpoint.  Quick and linear bass, no midbass hump.   Very even response from lows to highs, they just get out the way.  I bought mine used and I’m going to the grave with them.

I also dislike “puffy” bass.  Mates well with a small sealed sub for frequencies below about 65hz.  Works well near wall or in space, I’ve lived with both setups happily.  

Don’t be concerned about the rear port, a near wall placement is within the design envelope as they say.
sbuckley has a great point re REGA STANDMOUNTS/BOOKSHELVES. (The model line goes from the R1 to the RS1, and the most current bring the RX1)

I have both the the R1 and the RX1 models . The RX1 is clearly a better performer with a superior build (it’s larger and heftier ) ....but at a lot more money. In any case, they all share a common feature -  they are designed to be placed up close against a wall even though they are rear-ported. In fact they have OEM REGA wall brackets as options.

here’s a review that summarizes it well:

The Rega R1 Loudspeaker - A New Budget Reference


“... Immediate impressions are a clear and transparent portrayal with very high detail retrieval, fast and controlled transient response, and superb musical timing, both in articulating rhythms and tempi, and in placing instruments within the temporal flow and context of the performance. The RR125 is an outstanding mid/bass driver, sonically and musically right in line with the midrange performance of Rega’s amplifiers and phono cartridges. Get the midrange right and everything else will fall into place. Get it wrong, and all the king’s horses…

...The Rega R1 becomes my new budget reference speaker. In addition of its ability to get the fundamentals of music right, it adds clarity and resolution, and an ability to lay out a vivid and coherent 3-dimensional stereo image. In small room applications, what more could you want?...”


http://v2.stereotimes.com/post/the-rega-r1-loudspeaker


I'd agree that some room treatment is likely the most important thing you can do to reduce the audio gremlins that are bothering you.
As to speaker recommendations, I can highly recommend the new DALI Oberon line of speakers, having heard them at Rocky Mountain Audiofest in October.  They were demonstrating the Oberon 7, which is an incredible sounding speaker at $1,400/pair.  I and the group of guys were bowled over by the quantity and quality of the bass they produced, as well as the mid and highs.  Vocals are fantastic.
We could not figure how they get that bass out of small tower and at that price point.  If the 7 is too much for the room, DALI also sell a smaller Oberon 5 tower speaker at $1,000/pair. 

There are lots of reviews on the web; here is one in particular.
https://hifireference.com/dali-oberon-7-review/