Small room electrostat/ planar speaker?

In about 30 days will be moving to a new home where its going to be hard to make my 1.7 maggies work in a spouse friendly way ( the only large room is the main living room). I've always gravitated to planars and electrostatics, box speakers that don't sound colored or slow usually cost more than my entire system. Where I'd like to end up is a system that's extremely resolving at low to moderate volume levels, my main dissatisfaction with my current Mg 1.7 speakers and Prima Luna amp is that it really doesn't come to life until the volume is moderate listening levels or higher.

I'm wondering if anyone has seen something that approaches the coherency and speed of the 1.7s that would work in an 11x12 listening room? I'd like to keep the cost limited to $4k if possible.
According to the recent reviews in The Absolute Sound and dagogo, The Audience ClairAudient 1+1 V2+ should do the trick. That is, unless you need low bass. If you need more bottom end than the Audiences can provide, they are said to mate well with subs.

I do not own these speakers, but I'm very curious about them and would love to audition them.
If you wish to stay with a planar sound character you may wish to check out two companies I have reviewed; Eminent Technology and King's Audio (Kingsound), both of which have hybrid planar speakers.
I took a look online at the ClairAudients 1+1, they are sold through TweekGeek and their site advises the speaker needs to be placed at least 5 ft away from the wall, same as the MG 1.7's, which is a no go in an 11x12 room. Pity since 1 reviewer compared them favorably to Quad ESL 57's
The Quad ESL57 is comfortable in smaller rooms. Its a very nice speaker; the Prima Luna will have no troubles with it but you might have to be careful about the volume. There are protection circuits available for the speaker now.
best to try the 1.7's first

2nd add room tmts

Magneplanar recommends you avoid mixing their products with cone subs, for the same reasons you may wish to avoid any hybrids

KEF LS50s are often used in small rooms
11 x 12 is not a very big room, if it were me, I'd ace the Maggies and get a 3 piece system with 2 good satellites and good subwoofer.  I recently saw a pair of ProAc Super Tablettes that had been totally restored for about 1K, I'd jump on those and then get a nice sub and save the rest of the money.  Lots of WAF too as they are nice and small and would work great in that small room
I'll have to do some research on the ESL 57's. Believe I heard a modified pair shown off by DIYAudio member at the Capital Audiofest  2 years ago,
was one of  the few systems at the show that got me to sit down and stay. Wondering if they would match well/can be better protected with something like the Magnepan DWDM bass panel and an electronic crossover w/amp?
Definitely try your own speakers.  IMO, in a domestic environment, it is virtually impossible to predict how a speaker will sound without listening.  Who knows - you may luck out and it will sound better in your new room than the old.  
The LS3/5a type of speaker is perfect for a small room like yours. There are many to choose. Harbeth (my favorite), Spendor, Stirling, etc.
Do you know about the Magnapan MC1? A smaller, wall mounted planar.
Eminent Technology makes a little monitor-sized version of their magnetic-planar/dynamic woofer hybrid, the LFT-16a. Like all things from the mind of Bruce Thigpen, under-owned and appreciated.
Wendell told me the wall mounts do not have as good an SQ vs. cost curve as the floor standing speakers.  He also told me that the 3.7's have a SMALLER acoustical footprint than the 1.7's - when I asked if that was due to the different technologies used in the speakers, he said "yes".  I did not press him on it as trade secrets are important.  That will alter the visual experience of being in the room of course.

Room treatments can also work wonders if they don't destroy the visuals in the room.

If you can find a knowledgeable dealer a visit with a diagram of the room and photos will help - a call to Wendell is a good idea too.
Nothing with meaningful bass is going to sound great in an 11x12 room - too small and nearly square, double trouble. I’d try to find something with limited bass output and a mellow top end. That will sound balanced without subwoofers, which you should skip in that space. Something like the Ref 3a de Capo might be a good call.

If you really want a planar.....You could try the MMG. Altho it’s not a perfect fit, at least it won’t dump a ton of very long wavelengths into your space and it sounds good as a stand alone speaker
Chayro has a good point. Try your speakers. A buddy of mine has a set of Maggie IIB's he had rebuillt by Magnepan about 10 years ago.

When I look at how he has the speakers set up, I can't believe they sound as good as they do in his tiny living room. They're only about 2.5 feet away from the wall, but they do a great job in that little room.
Definitely stay with planners, I say.

I've owned Mag Tympani 1a's, II's, and SMG's. But I've come to prefer Quads. I've owned ESL 57's, 2805's, and 2905's.  The 2905's are the best, with an octave more, top and bottom, but they are no more musical than the ESL57's. If you're on a budget, ESL57's can't be beat, but make sure that they are in good shape.

AudioNote speakers are designed to be placed in the corners they may be ideal for your situation. there is a few models to look at and they come up used from time to time. I've owned electrostats and AudioNote and the AN's are very satisfying.
I have a friend who has a pair of Quad  ’63s in about an 8x10 room. He also has about 2000 albums, 400-500 cds, electronics and a small couch.

It sounds pretty good. Yes it’s not the best arrangement, but I’ve spent several hours listening all the while having a great time.

I’m going the other way. I’ve got a pair of Quad 2805s and just found a pair of 2012s that just may find their way into my listening room.
I'll modify this a bit:

Nothing with meaningful bass is going to sound great in an 11x12 room [without a LOT of treatments incl. bass traps] - too small and nearly square, double trouble.

But you may be able to arrange things with the speakers and listening position to avoid room modes where you sit.  You'll need a bit of background in acoustics and some effort.
I'm hopeful about bass as the room has 10' ceilings. Maggies have always required careful positioning for the lowest bass octave because they are dipoles.  If they don't work out in the space, I've collected so far from everyone's feedback as possible alternatives

Quad ESL-63 (57 seems risky with no circuit protection)
Harbeth CS7-E3

An interesting possibility is the  Spatial Audio Hologram M3 Turbo S, but the good reviews are recent with few comparison speaker benchmarks. Since it has no  driver box, the design sounds promising.

Have you considered the Maggie .7s, possibly with their bass panel?
Post removed 
I have a room with similar dimensions.  First, treat the room with as much acoustic products that you can.  Second, try Spatial Audio M4 speakers.  Third, enjoy.
If you are looking at Harbeth ,I’ve owned the CS7 and the P3ESR. The two way sealed P3 would be a better choice in the small room you are putting them in. IMO, you should keep away from any ported speaker in a 11x12 size room. Here you go!
Is your room, open-ended? In other words, does it open into a foyer, etc? My room in 11x11 with 10' ceiling but I have no wall behind my listening position. So, if you're in an open-ended room, you may not have concerns with a ported speaker as you may have in a totally enclosed room. Just something for you to consider.
Davide, I don't find the 63's as musical as the 57's or the 29xx. Too much top end, and a little digital, to me.

As for protection for the 57's, what about a fast fuse on one side of the speaker terminals? Why not ask Prima Luna about it - they seem to be quite keen on protecting their output transformers, so they should have a very good grasp of what you need.

You can buy fuses from Digikey for a few bucks, and elementary soldering skills will do the rest. A service man could do that for you for not much. Easiest would be to terminate one side of each speaker cable with a fuse.
Certainly from "rear ported" since they seem to work better away from rear walls. Sealed box would be another good option. I'd still think a single driver full-range is a great choice, particularly for near field listening position.
For speakers that are resolving at low to moderate volume levels that are very fast, dynamic, and unboxed sounding and would work in your room, I would look to some of the Omega offerings.  More specifically the Junior 8XRS, Super 3XRS or maybe Super 8XRS.  Just give them a call, Louis is really approachable and helpful with his suggestions.
I'll also recommend a single driver near field set up.  In my room which is almost identical to the OP's, this approach has been a godsend.  I had Kef LS50's and Harbeth P3ESR's in the room before I switched to Omega Single Drivers and low powered tubes.  The Kefs or Harbeths don't come close to the sound that I get now.
no open end for the room, closing the door essential for wife sanity ;<)
You will NOT need a subwoofer with Maggie .7s, based on my experience in a 14x17 room. I have MMGWs in another, larger rooms but use a Martin Logan Dynamo 300 subwoofer with them, which they need. During recent auditioning I was very impressed with the smaller Wharfedale models, which are forgiving in placement based on my listening. And they're nice looking.

I’ll also go with Quad ESL 57s. As long as you pay attention you won’t arc a panel - the sound starts getting "hard" sounding - as any speaker does when you overdrive it - long before damage happens.
Having had 63’s in a small room , then in a larger room, and having a friend who used to own soundlabs in too small a room for them, I would not go with planars in That space. I feel planars really need space to breath.

maybe look into the new Elacs coming out with coincident drivers. 
If you want a pure single diaphragm electrostat, consider Sound Labs with Sallies (or the equivalent) behind them.  Many drive them with low wattage Atmasphere amps and are very happy. PrimaLunas are well-made valve amps. You can always get a larger amp if you need a higher SPL. If it's a small room the new U-4iAs (classic but contemporary look) or M545s (wood covered frames) are a final purchase. If you want the most transparent speakers those are the ones you should consider.  Set up properly they disappear and all you hear is music. They are true full range single driver speakers. As a dealer, I have clients who have had SL in the field for over 10 years without any problems. Unlike the speakers you have now you don't have to turn them up to enjoy them. I bought my first double set of ESL 57s in England used in '77, stacked 57s with JANIS woofers, had 63s, Maggies for a month and returned them, ML are fundamentally flawed, so I've been down the path others are speaking about now. SL never sound loud, the sound just gets larger and more enveloping. Since they are truly custom made the choice of grille cloth, frame wood, metal finish is a finitely large number sure to please your "boss." If you have any other questions send me a PM.
Apogee Stage

Janzen Valentina hybrid ESL.
check them out.

The 5 foot from the wall recommendation you see for dipoles and bipoles (like the little Audience speakers) is because reflections arriving within 10 milliseconds of the first-arrival sound tend to be detrimental, and sound travels slightly over one foot per millisecond, so the round trip off the wall behind the speakers adds up to about 10 milliseconds.

Now that 10 millisecond recommendation is not an abrupt wall; rather, it’s within a fuzzy transition zone. Ime that backwave reflection can arguably still be more beneficial than detrimental down to about 6 milliseconds (three feet out from the wall), if you diffuse it and pay attention to your other early reflection paths. To be more specific, you may be able to get away with dipoles if you a) position them about three feet into the room and b) diffuse the backwave (imo absorb it only as a last resort) and c) treat the wall behind the listening position, whether diffusion or absorption would be best I cannot say from here. And toe the speakers in strongly, to minimize the early sidewall reflections, and/or diffuse the early sidewall reflections.

And finally, if this is your mancave, you might try setting the system up either centered along a room diagonal or at least rotated a bit relative to the room walls. This sometimes works better in a small room than a more conventional configuration.

There are other techniques for dealing with the short reflection paths of a small room, but they are more complicated to implement, and since you already have the Maggies imo you might as well give ’em a shot. Even if you plan to change speakers anyway in order to get more liveliness at low level, if you try this with your Maggies and get good results, then you will know that dipoles can work well in your room. If you can’t get your Maggies to sound good in there, then chances are other dipoles aren’t going to fare any better, and you can modify your search accordingly.



Don't forget the Apogee Stage or better still the Calipers.  They are tremendously open; very decorative (for her indoors); and sound is extremely involving.  I have a small room in a holiday house and use the Calipers there - I look forward to them perhaps more than the bigger, more expensive cone based system I have in a purpose built music room at home.  Plenty of these around and there is a well oiled system for maintenance if needed.

I too have a Primaluna amp (Dialogue Premium) and have Martin Logan Electromotion ESLs, no subwoofer, and like the sound. I also have Spendor S2/3s that I use often and they are fast, neutral but detailed, closed box, and sound great. My room is not small, but these two may be worth checking out. Good luck!
Mcloedsd, who would you recommend for maintenance/repair of the Apogees?
Ivan that is quite exciting about the new series of small Soundlabs. As is typical, there is absolutely no information on their website. I love soundlabs and have always wanted them but didn’t because of the size.

Can you comment a bit on this new Euphoria series? have you heard them and if so compare to the larger models. (A friend used to own U1’s)

Can an you give us size and retail price info and comment how the new bass design is accomplished ?

soundlab doesn’t get enough exposure, but having heard most of the ’stat speakers brands at some point in time, none come close to soundlab.

I wanted to like the latest ML CLX and Neolith, but I found them to have significant issues. I do like quads within their limitations.

I do use the tiny Enigmacoustics 'stat supertweeters to augment my TAD’s so I feel I have a small taste of that stat quality on the highs.  

Actually to my ears the Tad’s remind me of the Crosby - quad ESL 63’s I used to own many years ago, but with dynamic capability.    Later I found out Andrew Jones owns and loves ESL 57’s and was close with Peter Walker, so the Similarites are not "coincidental".... LOL
Hi emailists,

I'll give you some basic specs. You can then go to the Sound Lab site under dealers and look at the link to my site under Best Sound Only in CT. I will be posting ALL the information that I have on my site. Its under construction so if you have any questions let me know.

I have U-1PX Consummates in my reference room. They are sold, but were a constant upgrade of panels and backplates over the years since most full-range SLs are upgradeable. I will be the first dealer in the US to have a pair of U-4iAs on display. The first production pair went to Japan, I believe. I have a wonderful respect for Dr.West (we are both Ph.Ds but in different disciplines - I took a semester at Stanford where he has his from) so our dialog convinced me to try them since he was very excited by his latest design breakthrough. They both include PX, Consummate backplates and new Bass-Focus technology. Think of them as a single panel esl line source with D'Apolitto bass facets at top and bottom for better room coupling and bass gain - adjustable. I get an honest 20Hz in my room from from the U-1PX Consummates. The U-4iA pair that went to Asia tested at 30 Hz.

56" H x 25" W x 5.5" D panels: backplate depth 25" (M545 is 24")

Price: M545: $13, 436
          U-4iA: $21, 634

I'm very excited by this form factor and will open SL up to a larger audience. They should sell for 3x the price. I think they will hold their value better than the larger panels, thank g.d.

A pair of Gallo A’diva speakers with tube stands and a TR-3 sub is the ticket . And if your wife will let any speakers in living room these are them. Women love them.
As fast as 1.7 and more coherent , around 2 k . You can try any position in any room in a matter of minutes .
BTW another option is the Bob Carver Amazing Line Source system that comprises 2 multi-ribbon/side 4" driver array based tower and a Sub
Rosa subwoofer- amplifier-xover - amp. (I have one in my a smaller room probably the size you are going to. It is wonderful with lower powered valve/tube amps - 93 db efficient! ) I drove it with a 50 watt SS amp so you should have no problems. The towers are intended for tube amps. It is:
4 5/5" wide, 93" tall, 6 7/8" high (tower) w/SR 18 Hz -45Khz - I got 20Hz in my small room but that is the lowest tone I have. 
The system retails for $18500 complete. Subtract $3000 if you have the Audiokinesis Swarm and don't need the SR :)

I heard these at the NYAS in November. It got a very positive review on the S-Phile web site but was immediately taken down by J-A because of the bad blood with BC. I though it was the best sound at the show.  All the money coffins sounded distorted. Check the SBSound for a review of older models. 

Factory upgrades and service
I suggest you give Newform Research a try. Ribbon tweeter/mid. Cone woofer. Fast, detailed, play nice at low volume. I’ve owned the R645V1 for years. They are the closest to an e-stat, yet monopole, and easy to use. I was in a 11’x14’ room. Add some treatments for bass, or room correction, and bingo! Seriously worth a listen. Call them for more detailed advice.
I recommend these..

For that size room a monitor is what is required and if the OP loves the sound of  Magneplaner, his best bet is a similar sounding box speaker.

The Jantzens are fantatastic we were a dealer when David Jantzen was trying to figure out the direct vs dealer model. We are no longer a dealer so no conflict of interest.

His Monitors would work great in that size room. The floorstanders have way too much bass.

Guys a 11 * 12 room is tiny and you really can't produce good bass nor would a diapole work well in that size room without a lot of work. 

Audio Doctor
I would have too disagree with that,the Valentina has a 3 position switch to select -3 ,0, +3 db on the 2 woofers.I used mine in a 11x12 bedroom 2nd system for a month with very good results.If I would have the monitor version I probably would have added a small sub.

Offcourse both versions are'nt dipoles so room position is a lot easier. 

Just my experiance and opinion.

My late night listening room has much the same dimensions.  My primary room is outfitted with Magnepan 3.7s driven by a ML 336 so  I went through much the same exercise.  I ultimately landed on a pair of Spendor SA1s with a REL 9T/i sub.  The balance of the gear in that room is a Schit Ragnorak integrated amp, Aires Mini and W4S DAC 2 V.2 DSD SE (just upgraded to the V.2).  This really sounds great in a small room.  If you cannot locate a pair of the SA1s I would look for other L3/5a variants plus a sub.  Just my thoughts.
Years ago, I A-B'd the Magnepans and Quad ESLs with the Acoustat Monitor 3's. The Mags were unquestionably the best sound, excluding low bass and the fact that they have no dispersion at all, so I was forced to sit in exactly one place without moving to enjoy my music. The Quads were the best compromise, but again the bass was lacking. The whole point of a planar is defeated once you add a subwoofer, hence a crossover, which is why every time I go back to A-B my Acoustats against Martin Logans or equivalent, the ML's just don't reproduce correctly. Any planar with a crossover is doomed to fail, from what my ears tell me.

My ex hated the look of the Acoustats, even though they can be easily modified (modernized) with different end-caps and grill cloth, but their positive characteristics are unmatched by any other planar I've listened to between $2K-$20K):
- Their dispersion is about equal to a box speaker (yes, sometimes I have to leave my man-cave for the kitchen or bathroom or office while music is playing)
- Clean bass down to 16Hz (amazing bass transients I haven't heard from any other planar) - single point source from a legit 16Hz- 38mHz - beautiful!
- Can be placed in any size room and at any volume, they sound great, the most forgiving planars I've ever listened to (and yes, I'm extremely biased in favor of planars over boxes)
- Sound almost as good as the Quads across all music types
- Indestructible - through many moves over the years, cannot be killed.
- Sure, they suck up enormous power, but my Brystons do just fine (amp/pre-amp undr $10K or less if used), sound as good with these speakers as the big Conrad Johnsons
- Can pick up a used pair for between $1.2K-2K. I can't imagine why anyone would ever sell their pair, however, except for the perceived ugliness (yeah, they look like the 70s, but that can be fixed with a makeover).
I have the perfect speaker for you :)

Eminent Technology LFT 16
Many reviews to check out.

I have the Primaluna Dialogue Prem Int and use the bigger brother LFT 8’s and it sounds unbelievable.
I listen at lower to med levels also.

Great minds think alike, aniwolfe. Take a look back at my 4-19 post. I also have the larger LFT-8b, a ridiculously under-owned design that completely clobbers the Maggie MG1.7. Some prefer the LFT-8 to even the 3.7, which sells for more than twice as much. But for anyone with a room too small for the 8b (or the 1.7), the 16a is the speaker to get. Not many Eminent Technology dealers though, which is a shame.

The most brilliant sub-woofer ever designed is Bruce Thigpen’s Rotary, which I would dearly love to own. The man may be a genius; if not, at least one of the greatest creative minds in the entire history of Hi-Fi. And barely talked about! J. Peter Moncrieff’s IAR review of the Rotary Woofer is, as usual, a chore to read through, but worth the effort. Pure brilliance, I tells ya!