Size matters Smaller that is


Today I was at my local dealer listening to the most recent Sonus Faber Amati's. Wow what a beutiful speaker with quality exuding from everywhere. They were set up in the main listening room with Mcintosh 1.2"s and Mcintosh C1000T driving them, the source was also the reference Mcintosh player. The dealer put some Norah Jones on and off we went. I have to say that as good as the Amati's are to my ear they SLIGHTLY suffer from sounding a little closed in and boxy. By contrast my Sonus Faber Guarneri sound free, warm, and wonderfully open. This could be in part to my use of Mcintosh tube gear, but in general I find that larger speakers have to work very hard (Read expensive) to get out of there own way. I know no one speaker has it all, but in general I find that driven by first class electronics a smaller speaker is music to my ears. Where larger speakers also sound fantastic, but in general not as open and alive. Could also just be a Guarneri "Thing". My two cents anyway.

It's not how big but how you use it, right?
Sorry, don't agree with either of you. Small speakers can be incredible in certain aspects, don't get me wrong. Case in point being the newer Kudos C-10's, lovely in just so so many ways, and I could live with them if I had to, yet, they still have that small speaker imprint. I'd have to settle on one of its bigger siblings for the long haul. Same with any other smaller speaker I've heard. I play too great a variety of music for a small speaker.
But, if small works for you, and apparently many many others, that's great!
Good observation Nocaster. That is why I paired my Dali Helicon 300s with
exceptional components (McIntosh tube gear... but it could be numerous
companies with great tube components) to help provide the great listening

Yeah I don't have the deep bass. Do I miss authority in the bottom end with kick
drum? Sure- on some songs. The sound is dynamic, detailed and warm with
great depth from a smallish speaker. Synergy is also key to making it right.

Chashas1 eventually I will get a larger full range speaker like Avalon Indra or
Magico V3. But for right now I'm staying with the small speaker with great tube
Nocaster, I think that with the Guarneri's one gets a little spoilt since they do so many things right. However, in a large room I happen to think you need a large speaker, or at least one that can fill the room easily without strain. The Guarneri's are fantastic in a small-medium size room, in a large to very large room, I think more ability to move air is a requirement.
It's a simple law of physics that x number of large drivers can move more air than x number of small drivers.

All of the above are very good points and observations. My listening space is somewhere between small and medium, as Davef pointed out in a much larger room a larger speaker might be the way to go. Given that scenario though I would go with room treatments and position myself closer to the speakers. Of course if it's a huge room all bets are off. All the best!

I think the room aspect of the equation is the most important one. I have a very big living room and also a small/medium bedroom. I've been listening to some different monitors as well as small floorstanders in both systems. It is amazing how much bass the small monitors have in the bedroom, they sound full and easily driven with 100 watts. In my living room however, almost no matter how big the speakers get I always feel like I need more. More power and more bass. The sound is overall better, but in the smaller room it is just so much easier for the speakers to do their thing. It has really got me thinking lately that if you do have a small to medium room, you are lucky in a way that you can easily drive your speakers with most amps and you will probably get plenty of bass and drive out of a smaller speaker.
Obviously there are a great many variables that can be involved in this kind of comparison, but in addition to room size which has been mentioned, I would single out listening distance as well. Large multi-way speakers require greater listening distance for their drivers to blend properly, which may not be possible in a small to medium sized room. And even if it is physically possible to sit far enough away, doing so in a small room may result in side-wall reflection problems.

-- Al
Aside from generalizations... maybe the Guarneri is just the better speaker?

I haven't heard the best SF speakers, but the ones that I have heard have sounded closed in and boxy (cremona, GP, Concerto). Warmth at the expense of clarity
Well put. I did find the Amatis very warm but not the most clear. My Guarneri sound very clear & warm
small speakers are nice, and a lot of fun, but i've found you have to be able to move some air to get it done right.
I know what you mean about "Move some air to get it done right". In my case to get it done right I prefer a nice glass of Amarone to accompany the music (ha ha). I think in the end there is probably no absolute solution to obtaining the best hi fi, only the best solution for your particular budget and taste.
Nocaster, I think you have great taste. The Sonus Faber loudspeakers have always managed to defy (up to a point) the conventional wisdom about pistonic area vs. inner detail and dynamic range. Their first salvo, the Extrema in the early '90s, was a small baffle, deep cabinet, stand mounted 2-way with passive radiator that confounded the reviewers at Stereophile, as it had all the performance of a big floor-standing speaker in a small package. It just missed being full-range Class A by a few Hertz, as its bass managed to extend into the mid-20s and yet had a dynamic range to do justice to full orchestra and big band. Definitely my kind of speaker.

Yet, with two small drivers on a small baffle, you get advantages of the coherence of a virtual point source that no line of woofers can duplicate. Here are the Stereophile measurements of the Guarneri Memento and here are the measurements of the Focal Electra 1037 Be. The Focal has all the advantages you expect of the larger 3-way speaker with three woofers--4 db more sensitive and bass extension down to about 30 Hz (vs. about 40 Hz for the Guarneri). The frequency response curves show both speakers to be admirably linear.

But two other graphs indicate where the Guarneri would be particularly endearing.

The spectral decay plots show the Guarneri to have a fairly inert cabinet, whereas the Focal has a large panel resonance at 344 Hz. This resonance would partly undo the Focal's sensitivity advantage, as this panel resonance (measured on all 4 cabinet sides) would obscure detail in that range when the music gets loud. This is often typical of floor standing speakers, as resonance control is a bigger challenge on big cabinet panels than on small.

Now look at the step response graphs of the two speakers, which is a pretty good indicator of phase coherence. The Guarneri M puts out a very smooth slope, indicative of all the sound reaching you at the same time. You very seldom see a step response like this, and only from speakers specifically designed to address it. The Focal step response OTOH is a jumble of peaks, showing that the tones of the various drivers arrive at the listening position at distinctly different arrival times.

So you have to pick your poison--dynamic range and a little more bass extension (advantage Focal) or intimacy and clarity and phase coherency (advantage Guarneri). I for one can easily understand why Nocaster would gladly sacrifice a few bottom end Hz and a little dynamic range for the absolutely seductive and addictive sensation of phase coherent loudspeakers and the additional clarity of a more inert cabinet. There is nothing else like it and it's hard to go back once you've experienced it.
Johnnyb53 I could not have said it better myself. Thank you for all the great info and explaining in no uncertain terms what the charm of the Guarneri is. Now that my Guarneri are being driven by my new amps and preamp (Mcintosh MC2301's & Mcintosh C1000T) they have turned into instruments as opposed to speakers. It's hard to explain but....I have listened to alot of great systems over the years, the latest being the reference system at my local Mcintosh dealer. They had the Sonus Faber Amati Anniversario set up with two Mcintosh 2K monoblocs through a Mcintosh C1000T preamp. The system sounded great, but it sounded a little boxy and clarity was not like my Guarneri, dynamics however were great. My Guarneri have always been more like an organic listening experience as opposed to just a GREAT stereo. As I was listening to my system yesterday I became so emotionally involved with the music I forgot about the equipment! I just think they got it right with the Guarneri, simple as that for me. Also, on the other hand the MC2301's and the C1000T are from another world. But that's another story..............