It pains me to write this but alas I have finally accepted the fact that I am never going to have my own large listening room (not with real estate prices the way they are here in SoCal). The best I can hope for is my current corner of the living room or my yet to be built loft or a small den. For those of you who have read some of my posts, you know I love my Usher BE-10 speakers. They are some of the most accurate and transparent speakers I have heard. The problem is that I think they are just too big for the space I have alloted them. In the past year, I have complained a lot about my soundstaging issues (too low, too narrow). I know I can use room treatments but this is not possible in my living room and even with them, I still feel that my speakers are too darn big. I tried different toe in angles, pulling them out as far as I could, moving them away from side walls, etc. There is simply not enough room for them to breathe. Will monitors work better in smaller spaces, especially with regard to imaging and soundstaging? I think perhaps monitors with a sub could be the right way for me to go given my domestic situation.
Anyway, I do not know much about monitors and would appreciate a starting point. I prefer my speakers to be as accurate and transparent as possible. I prefer a dynamic sound that is true to the upstream components. Price does not really matter but I guess for monitors I would hope to spend less than $10K. One option is the new Usher "tiny dancer" monitor. Another is the Focal BE series. Are there others I should look that fit my preferences?
Tidal Amea! Does everything you mention, supreme musicality on top of that. Don't know whether the Amea Diacera (diamond tweeters) is already on the market, judging by the website not yet. Surely the latter will be beyond 10K, but if they hold what they promise... http://www.tidal-audio.de/english/startenglish.htm
Notwithstanding the great suggestions above - perhpas you should add ATC active 20's or 50's to your audition list - you will be surprised - lots of big loud transparent clean sound in a small (but heavy/boxy) package. Neither will win any beauty contest but the imaging and dynamics may be enough to win you over. (I figure there must be ATC dealers in California that would let you audtition, as they seem to be in so many of the film and music industry studios there).
It takes a wise man...I applaud you. Many options to consider, another would be the NHT XD system with dual subs. Very high WAF, accurate, great imaging and flexable to place. I think they might even match your curtains perfectly.
Sorry to hear it, I know that you like your speakers very much. I would suggest that you audition the Focal Micro Utopia Be (http://www.focal.tm.fr/catalogue-docs/FR/3/files/355.pdf); from what I heard of the Alto, I think you'll be quite impressed to say the least. Also highly regarded, but insanely priced, are the Magico Mini II speakers.
A smaller floorstander might also work; see if you can audition the B&W Diamond Signature and/or the Dynaudio Sapphire.
If you're not in the market immediately, I understand that the B&W 805D will make it's debut later this year and may be worth checking out although given my experience with B&W and beryllium, I have a feeling that you have moved on from that sound.
I can recommend the Mark-Daniel Maximus Monitors, particularly if you can bi-amp them, for a superb, vibrant, live-like audio experience. And they are relatively small. They really do make recordings as close to live as I have heard, especially when used near-field. No subs necessary, I guarantee.
Being a big fan of Usher BE-10/20 myself and an owner of BE-718 in my temporary place, I doubt you will ever find any monitor speakers that can fill the shoes of BE-10. You know the strength of BE-10, I don't need to repeat it here. I haven't heard any speakers regardless of price that can compete in transient attack and detail retrieval. BE-718 is a fine monitor, better than most of the speakers listed above, but it does not have as much jump factor and weight as the big BE.
I myself is also waiting for Usher to come up with a model with BE tweeter/midrange but smaller woofer to fit into my decor better. But if you need to buy something now, I will recommend an older pair of Dynaudio Confidence 5 which is a floor stander but can be placed close to back wall (and designed to do so). It also consititues some of the fine quality of BE-10, just not to that degree.
I heard the Magico Mini, don't think they are worth the price. I used to own SF Extrema for years, Dyn C5 is better overall. What you need is sealed speakers, monitor or floor standers, so they can be placed closer to rear wall. I don't like most of the front ported speakers out there, they just don't sound right to my ears for whatever reason. Rear ported speakers are way too sensitive to the wall distance behind them so you are better off staying away from them for now.
I downsized from floor standing Vandersteens to Harbeth Monitor 30's and am quite happy. The positive buzz about Harbeths is true--they are unusually musical. They image well, but some other speakers are more holographic. Yet their midrange is really something--you might read about them, see if they seem interesting, and try to hear some. Personally, I'd take them over the Focals and the Revels, though I don't doubt some would disagree.
I'm somewhat biased as a Dynaudio dealer myself. However, if you can get an audition of the Dynaudio Confidence C1 monitors, you would be hard pressed to better their performance regardless of price. An excellent review of them can be found in the November issue of Stereophile magazine. You have an excellent dealer near to you..www.theaudioarchitect.com. Matt is a dear friend and an excellent person to work with.
Imaging can become more precise with monitors and placement is much easier when a dedicated listening room cannot be achieved. Setting up a sub can be somewhat tricky at times, but's it's possible. Depending on the monitor chosen, a sub may not even be needed. The Dynaudio Confidence C1 is quite good on it's own. I do own these myself, so that should say something. I could own any speaker I want and I chose the C1's. For fun I have these with stereo subs running with the Parasound Halo JC2/JC1 combo. They are a lot of fun indeed.
You did not mention your components.?. As with any highend speaker careful consideration should be given to it's amplification.
I love your space. However, one issue that is often overlooked by space-challenged audiophiles is speaker placement and the real estate involved. You should consider speakers that are designed to be placed against the wall rather than speakers that must be free standing.
Thanks for the responses everyone. It seems I have a lot of choices to sort through. I forgot to mention one other requirement for me is low volume performance. I rarely listen above 75db so a speaker's ability to sound its best at low volume is critical for me.
Here are some thoughts:
1. I have heard the Focal Utopias and these speakers remind me of the Ushers, probably because they both use beryllium. 2. My friend has the Harbeths and they do indeed sound so musical but I am afraid I thought they sounded a bit colored and not as dynamic as I would prefer. 3. I cannot imagine spending the kind of money it will take to get the Magico Minis (especially for a monitor). 4. I will be powering them with Ayre MX-R amps.
FWIW small speakers on stands are just as demanding as large full range systems when it comes to high quality soundstaging. As a pratical matter all you do by going small is give up LF information and reducing visual impact. The foot print won't change all that much. Whether you can fill in that lost LF information depends a lot on the LF capabilities of the mains and your choice of subs and their locations. For high quality integration its not a walk in the park!
If it is visual impact that is bothering you, personally, I'd just get some smaller high qualty floorstanders and adjust to the loss of a half octave or so of LF info. You;d likely have more coherrent sound than by trying to match small stand mounted speakers and a sub(s).
imaging and soundstaging having a full range speaker that overloads your room say 14 db at 78 hz lef channel Right channel is up 12 db at 58 HZ there is nothing you can do withg any speaker to get it right How bout a speaker like the Vandersteen Wood Quatro that is Biamped with individual Room compensation that can address the exact area where you have an issue without giving up your dynamics imaging,soundstaging etc Cheers John
I had the Tiny Dancer in for a weekend audition. It will play like a much bigger speaker than it is, and the bass will surprise you. However, it sounded rather mechanical and the midrange wasn't nearly as palpable as that of the GMA Callistos. I'd say it's a good speaker, but not the giant killer it's being portrayed as. Ultimately it wasn't my cup 'o tea.
I have the Silverline Audio SR17.5 monitors and I love them. They could be just what your looking for.
They are rear ported but I have them just 18 inches out from the wall with great sounstaging and imaging.
They have sweet extended highs, glorious mids, and powerful, tight, deep bass. They are on Soundanchor stands so they do take up just as much room as a floorstander but I have them close enough to the wall that they are not intrusive.
Alan Yun at Silverline is great to talk to and will give you all of the info you might want plus some. You can see the speakers in my system.
I'm a little confused. Looking at your system pictures, it doesn't seem like the speakers are *that* crowded or close to the back walls. It seems like a fairly typical non dedicated room where the speakers have 2-3 feet around them. Have you heard the BE-10 with your same electronics in a larger space that sounded significantly better?
This situation is of extreme interest to me since I am also in a small space here in NYC.
I am currently using monitors on stands that are only a few feet from the back wall (though I have room off to the sides) and their accompanying woofers which are against the wall. I don't have hugely deep soundstage, but it is quite satisfying. But this is perhaps because they are mid sized monitors that do have some room to breath. I am now thinking of going to floorstanders about the same size as your Ushers, and wondering if I will suddently find the same situation - better speaker but no room to breath.
The floorstanders I'm thinking of don't go particularly deep, so perhaps they won't overload my room in the bass - is that an issue with the Ushers?
Emailists, Why not just start a new thread and provide info regarding your room dimensions and speaker/listening position set up as well as the speakers identification. I suspect your get more, and better, responses than just piggy backing on Tboooe's thread.
Mitch, my current room is 15x22 but I dont expect to be staying in this room in the future. I will either move my system up to yet to made loft or into a small 12x12 den.
Shadorne, thank you for the info. I was not aware of this. 75db is the steady state volume. I have measured max peaks of up to 90db. But even so, it looks like I could get away with a monitor most of the time then if I want, in the future I can get a sub or two.
I too have a small room 13x17 with a pair of VR5SE speakers I really don't play music that loud, however I had the same thoughts about not getting the most out of these speakers due to room size. I will audition a pair of the german built Ascendo C8's to do a comparison betweent the two speakers, beginning next week. I heard these beautifully built speakers at RMAF and they sounded very good, my VR5SE's are a truly magnificent pair of speakers however I just don't know if I am doing them justice by using them in such a small room. However I will have a better idea after about a couple of weeks
Mitch, your findings would be of great interest to me. If you dont mind, please post your thoughts after your audition. I will be on the audition path as well. The hard part is that I hate auditioning speakers! There are just so many to choose from. I want to stick with speakers that use beryllium or diamond tweeters. Right now I am going to try and listen to the follow monitors:
Some great studio grade reference monitors are ATCs 11s and 19s. Very precise sound. Can also recommend the B & W 805 and Paradigm studio 20s. Don't own them, but have heard them, are Epos 12s and Zu Cable Tones.
Henryhk, thank you for the recommendation. Though I think the SF are really nice speakers, they do not fit my personal tastes and system strategy. I prefer to get the most transparent, dynamic, accurate speakers possible. Even though the SF do sound incredible, to my ears I do not believe these traits are its strong point. Thanks again!!
Bongofury, I used to own the BW 805s, 804s, and the 802d. These are great sounding speakers with an incredible midrange. After living with these three speakers, I realized that I do not favor the British speaker sound. I will check out ATC and Paradigm.
Sure thing Tboooe. I agree re your assessment on SF, beautiful but the qualities you seek are not their strongest pts. I too am grappling with same issue as you are (smaller room so thinking 2 way) though we have different set ups. Some others that I am considering are Eben (they have a monitor but also their smaller floor standers are narrrow and small enough such as the X3 which may more along your preferences), Merlin (never tried them myself but everyone raves), Acoustic Zen Adagio Jrs (nice price, plus raves etc), Magico (superlative really but good golly in price), Volent (a HK based mfr which uses similiar drivers as Magico) and Marten Design (they have the miles monitor: very accurate and may fit your liking),
henryhk, I too am looking at the Magico and Marten Miles. I am not sure if I can handle the price of the Magico's though. Well the Marten's are not that much better....I am intrigued by Asian based speaker manufacturers. I think they offer a better price/performance ratio. I will look into Volent.