Small Floor Standers

I'm looking to create a short list of speakers for music only. The room is 15x28 with 9' ceilings and hard surfaces, except a few padded chairs and light fabric window covers. The main listening area is 15x18 and the rest of the room is my kitchen which opens up to it.

Musically, I listen to rock, jazz, and a variety classical but no hip hop or electronic to speak of. The ideal speaker will provide smooth tonal response, good dynamics and importantly freedom from stridency which the live room will only accentuate. High SPL's and subterranean bass are not required but I don't want something that gets lost in the space. The speakers must be compact - 35" or so tall and not more than 8-12" wide and deep. I prefer floor standing designs because of the room volume and as protection against a 6 year old. My budget is around $1k used, maybe a bit higher for the right choice.

A few of my early thoughts are the smaller Spendors and Quad L series as well as Totems and Dynaudio.

The source will be a Squeezebox playing lossless digital and the amp is TBA, but will be matched to the speakers which I think should be picked first.

Any and all comments are welcome. Thanks in advance.
Given the source, how about spending a little less? Mission M31i is an excellent speaker that you can find very affordbaly (well under $300 a pair, sometimes less than $200 if you really shop around) and they are an excellent rock and jazz speaker. I owned a pair, wish I kept them.
I would highly recommend the JM Lab Chorus line. Beautiful speakers with fantastic imaging and high-end detail that belies their modest cost.
ohm micro walsh....small statureass, with big soundstage and real bass.

I went through a similar discovery exercise about two months ago.

Here are some of the contenders I seriously looked at:

AV123’s Ref1’s, RS250’s and their hot little x-ls w/mods

Von Schweikert VR1’s


AVS sbs 01

Acoustic Energy AE-1 (used)

Reference 3A (used)

NHT 2’s or 3’s

Axiom M3V2

Aperion Intimus 532

Ascend CBM 170SE

The choice you make is dependent on not only your equipment but also what sound signature you prefer. My personal preference is clear and natural sounding vocals and horn instruments, tight lower midrange and bass, wide and deep sound stage, 3-D affect, and detailed upper frequencies; yet have a warm, liquid, high resolution and engaging overall sound. I play commercial Jazz cds, which are all over the map when it comes to sound quality. After listening to many of the above, I choose the x-ls speakers and moded them.

All these speakers are going to sound even better is you add a subwoofer with a fast steep cut-off X-O and cross it over very low. Trust me on this one point because it made a world of a difference. My sub happens to be a Vandersteen 2W with a non-Vandy plate amp set at around 50HZ.

Have a fun journey,
That is a pretty big room to fill with sound for 1K. None of the Totems that you will find at that price will do it. I tried a pair of Forests in a 26X16 room for a weekend and they definitely weren't enough. Neither are the smaller Spendors going to do it. You will have to go to at least the S8e, and that won't happen at your budget. I think you are either going to have to live with the limited dynamics and absolute volume you will get with the size constraints you have stated. Or else go with a larger more expensive speaker.

First off let me say to Ekobesky, the Sqeezebox does not merit $200 speakers, I have a Bolder digitally modded SB3 running to a Benchmark DAC-1 and I am very pleased. I find it very much the equal of many of the high end cd players I have howned previous such as the Sim Audio nova, Electrocompaniet EMC1-up and Ayre CX-7e providing you store the material without lossy compression.

I have owned the Quad L's and they are very nice speakers, pretty polite and would likely work well in an undamped room. They do not however have much bass slam or true high frequency extension.

I would highly recommend checking out the Dali Ikon series, I own the Helicon 800's and the Ikon's do many of the same things well and have an energy and transparency that is addicting. Pair the Dali's with a decent tube preamp and a good SS amp and you can have an excellent system that won't crack the budget.
Meadowlark Audio Kestrel Hot Rods meet your needs exactly and can be had for less than your budget. I was looking for a speaker with same size requirements and smooth sonic signature when I lucked upon these. They have adequate bass and work exceptionally well at low volumes. I never tried them in a room as large as you describe but few speakers meeting your size requirements will do better.
Mine are currently in the closet and come out occasionally. These Kestrels will be with me for a long time
Just purchased a pair of Totem Arros and could not be happier, for now at least...
Often read where someone wants to acommodate a "bright" piece of gear with "gentle" ICs or other equipment somewhere in the chain. That can be a mistake because that piece is more likely exposing a weakness than being the fault. The same goes for the room. It will perform it's best when you feed it the best.

There are some old Kappa 7s up for auction. No relation.
The only Totems you'll find under $1000 are Sttafs and Arro. Neither is really a rock speaker and they're probably not adequate for your room. If you add a subwoofer (you may be able to get a decent one if you squeeze a little more budget, and buy them used) to complement the Sttafs they may do nicely, especially if you don't need hi volume (they play loud, just not real loud. They do really nicely with Jazz and Vocal music. Given the child, you will want to mass-load the bases, and maybe even consider adding a larger plinth or outriggers as they can be a little tipsy.

Another option that isn't a floor stander but is a great rock and jazz speaker IMO is the GMA Europa. If you get good heavy stands they can be pretty stable. Again with them you may need a subwoofer to fill that room.

The good part is you can add the subwoofer after trying any of these and determined you need it.

Finally - if you can squeeze more $ (ie closer to $1500), the VonSchweikert VR2's may be an ideal choice.
Any of the Soliloquy floor standers would definitely fit the bill. They are no longer in business, but are a great bargain on the used market these days. Better to find a pair local to you as they are very HEAVY, and really require better packing than the factory provided for them in order to safely use a ground shipper. Great value for the money! I'd suggest a pair of 5.3's - two on A'gon for $600 but one marked sold. That is an outright steal for the quality of both sound and construction you will get.

meadowlark kestral 2's are great, but i just saw an ad for their big brother shearwater hotrods on a-gon this A.M. for @$1,200! snap up those guys and you will have bought a heckuva speaker for a great price! they will deliver extra bass the room calls for.
Thanks for all the replies. I'll check into the Dali and JM Labs lines. Someone here in Chicago must have them. I like the Kestrels a lot but worry that they and the Totem's might be too small for the space. It's really a system for lower level background listening but the room could swallow up a small system.
i listen to the kestral 2's in a big space and they don't seem 'lost' altho i'm not sure what that term means exactly. i think the 'soundstage' is quite large actually. to me it is about 'soundstage' rather than speaker size. some large cabineted speakers can have a very limted soundstage and vice versa. don't mean to lecture, i just wanted to share my experience. happy hunting!
Thanks for your opinion. When I mean 'getting lost' it isn't all about soundstage size although that is part of it. Mostly, it is the speaker's ability to energize the room and not sound like it is is whispering.

It's been a long standing practice of mine to match speakers to the room they are in. For my den (12x12) I would probably go no larger than Kestrels size. A speaker like a Spendor S8 would likely overpower the room. And, the drivers might not integrate well at too close a distance. In a large room I want something that will be able to provide a solid foundation. It needn't go down to 20hz but it has to have enough drive that it doesn't sound lightweight, or lost in a room that is close to 4000 ft3.

I hope this makes sense.

The original post specifies 35 inches as max height. You are asking for quite a lot from a speaker of this size.
Vienna Acoustics.
You might want to listen to the B&W CM4. It's a small floor standing speaker with a big sound for it's size. I had a pair and enjoyed them very much.

I realize that with a 35" or so maximum height my requirements won't be easily met. That's why I asked for ideas from the crowd here whose combined experience is much greater than my own. In the past I've seen some transmission line speakers do well with smaller cabinets so I'm a little surprised PMC hasn't been mentioned. I've seen used ones go in the $1k range.

The saving grace is that these need not blow out windows or recreate concert level SPL's. It will be mostly used for background music.
Give the Verity Audio Tamino X2 a listen.

So today I heard the JM Labs 816 and the Polk LSi15. Although the Polk are larger than my stated criteria I will get another audition at (gasp) Tweeter and if they pass the WAF it's likely I am leaning towards them. They do have nice cabinetry and a good form factor. And, there is something very right about their voicing.

The JM had a more etched quality and accentuated the room acoustics in the recording. The Polk just sounded natural and did not have the sibilant emphasis I heard on the JM Labs. More auditioning is needed but I've found an early front runner in the sweepstakes.
How about the Hornshoppe Horns?

Did you EVEN read the original poster's query? I don't think he will find a Verity Audio product for $1K.

yes, I read the post. I did miss the $1K until re-reading. The Verity Tamino X2's can be had used from $1500.

It's funny you mentioned the LSi-15s as I would've suggested them except for the size. The Polks are currently installed in my system and I'm extremely happy with the sound they create. They won't be overwhelmed by the size of your room. Very nice looking also.
I'd make a pitch for my beloved Neat Motive 2s, but they are over your budget, and I haven't a clue how they sound with that stuff you have, so I won't.
I am not sure I'm sold on their looks but they have a pretty cool modern appearance that could grow on me. From the midrange up they sounded smooth as butter. Down below it's hard to judge in a Tweeter; the room and placement have so much to do with these things.

What amp do you run yours with?
I'm using a Classe CAP-151 with a Toshiba SD-9200. The Polks replaced Kestrel hot rods which moved into a closet for now.
imo polks are more rock 'friendly' than more 'high end' spkrs for same $. more pronounced bass and 'crisp' sound. BUT, you mentioned you did not need LOW bass and brightness. unless you address room acoustics they may be a bit bright in YOUR space. at risk of sounding snobbish, polks may not be as capable of delivering the goods as you move away from rock n roll. most rock was poorly recorded and less 'accurate' speakers can overcome this. well recorded material will be better served with more articulate spkrs. just my opinion, you are final judge:)
Veroman, the question must be asked, have you spent any time listening to the Polk's LSi series speakers. Prior to the LSi-15s I was using Vandersteen 2CE Signatures and Meadowlark Audio Shearwater hot rods, both highly regarded speakers, and the Polks are in the same class. Very articulate, smooth and balanced.
I agree wtih Veroman, pick up a pair Meadowlark two ways, either of the Kestrel models or a Shearwater. Personally, I prefer the Kestrel I HR and I have owned all three. They fit what you are after perfectectly, you can listen to them all day long, and they will fill that room.
I had the HR Shearwater for about a week. I couldn't unload those fast enough. Probably one of the worst audio purchases I ever made.

Ah, come on Oz, they're not that bad. No real mystery what to expect from them with such a common driver. Add the fact that it is a well designed TL with a simple first order corssover and can be had at 1K, it makes it one of the posters few good options. I personally prefer the Kestrel 1, but find all three are a steal used.
I too have owned the Shearwater HRs and Kestrel HRs and agree the Kestrels are the better sounding speaker; sold the Shearwaters, kept the Kestrels. I'm sticking with the Polks as a recommendation. Hard to beat for the price,
a little bit beyond your size requirements (but not much) would be a pair of psb silvers. There are a couple different pairs for sale right now, but they're common enough that you should be able to find someone in the chicagoland area selling a pair. A real nice all around speaker.
Veroman, have you heard the LSi15's? They're the COMPLETE opposite of what you've described. They're very warm and detailed. I'd actually recommend them for Jazz before Rock. If anything they're main weakness is lower bass.
I showed the LSi15's photo to the wife and she was not thrilled. Sine the den has my HT and it is everything I wanted the decor of the LR has been ceded to her.

I'll still get her in front of the the LSi's but she wants something the size of the Kestrels/ B&W CM4 (35" max, the height of a side cabinet)or else minis on stands. The latter would require a sub (Sunfire Jr)and will blow the budget but you only live once.

So, will a Kestrel HR or the like fill the 15 x 28 x 9 room as well as a good mini (Proac Tablette, Silverline 15, Totem 1 Signature) plus a sub?
How about the Quad 22L? Beautiful looking and sounding speaker.
the kestral 2's will fill the room.... but adding a sub in any situation with smaller towers can help. On impulse i recently bought a closeout M+K 12" 250 watt sub and cross it over at lowest point. sound is not fuller but there is a lot more deep bass feel.(duh) btw, did not mean to offend polk'ies out there, lsi are fine spkrs. and the warm sound described is exactly what i was attemping to define as more forgiving on poor recordings. for the $ tho i still think the kestrals are more true sounding and natural. they do need a break in period so be warned!
Good point that the sub won't add fullness, just more low bass. I've only heard Kestrels once but was very impressed by the smoothness and listenability without loss of detail. And the web buzz is still very strong even though they're no longer sold.

In this room I need the Kestrel's kind of tonality with the many hard surfaces and little sound absorption available. As I recall they are also an easy drive as well so a Nait could work with them which would not be the case with some mini's like the Dynaudio's. The next questions are version 1 or 2 and HR or no HR?
I tried out the Totem model 1s a while back. I did not use them with a sub which they needed. As stated before, I've owned both the Kestrel HRs and Shearwater HRs; both wonderful speakers and I give a nod to the Kestrels for their warmth. One issue to consider is their looks with the grills on. The grills look horrible IMO so ou should make sure the wife doesn't mind speaker with drivers exposed.
Never owned the Kestrel IIs but they are far more attractive.
timrhu is right about covers, but the nice woodwork flows directly to drivers with no plastic or cheater plates to mar the look. K'2's did not offer hr version, went with top quality parts and cut out the hasssle in building 2 types. go to web and i think pictures will show why most folks find the K 2 design more eye appealing. your call tho. i think the WAF will not even be a problem, they look like modern art and the wood is very well finished. a real point of attraction to most of my houseguests. recommend iso pads under basic spkr spikes.
Thanks for the detail on the 2. It sounds like a better way to go. It is a nice looking speaker but the pics I've seen so far of the 2 show it with light to medium finishes only. I need either a rosewood type stain (preferred) or else ebony. Light cherry or similar won't work in the room. Also, I've found that the 1 is 36" tall but haven't yet found a spec for the 2.

The more I think about it, the more sense this makes. A mini needs stands and a sub which would drive the cost way up whereas these could stand on their own and be run with a Nait 5i or Jolida 302/502. Simple and painless.
39" w/o spikes. you may be surprised with the effect of mixing light and dark woodtones in a room. it creates a sense of drama and highlights the wood grain more on all the wood furniture as opposed to all the same tone just muting into a solid blur. imo, the elegant form of this design is artisticly appealing enuf to warant the objet d'art approach. the light ash will work well with darker tones as an example. but hey, this is an audio site, what do i know about your decor ideas ;). i use jolida 60 wpc but honestly would not go much lower. thought you should know
Well Wdrazek, if you are considering Nait 5i, the Neat Motives have fabulous synergy with that amp, although somewhat over budget. The Motive 3 monitor not too much over your 1k mark, the Motive 2 a little moreso. They're probably too new for many used ones to come up just yet.

If budget has to rule, IMHO the Reference 3a Dulcet outperforms the Kestrel and the Totems in the context you're describing, but of course it is a standmounter.
Thanks for all of the suggestions. From the looks of it, stand mounts may become necessary after all and in any case they will need to be placed close to a wall. I don't know of a place in Chicago that carries Neat or Reference 3A but I have tracked down Totem, Proac, Dynaudio and Quad so far.

Funny how some brands have their distribution scattered. You would think the 3rd largest US market would have everything.
Wdrazek; It is funny. I would have thought there was little the world had to offer for a price that couldn't be found in the Windy City.
Right you are. It's a little like New York that way but when I looked for a Neat retailer Nebraska and West Virginia are my nearest options. Go figure.
the pmc GB1 is very good provided you use 100 watter per side.
I'd grab the original Kestrel HR in Mahogany that a dealer has NIB and has been advertising for some time here. I have them playing right now as I write in a room almost identical to yours with a kitchen facing in. they are being driven by an RM9. they never cease to amaze me for the money. they fill the room with accurate tone and are just so listenable but still with plenty of deatil. A sub would only muck them up. You won't go wrong. If I had any room for them I would snap them up myself.