I'm about to move my system into a much larger room - ~4,000 cu feet - but for domestic tranquility (I love my wife far more than my music) will need to keep the speakers on the small side. What options are out there in a large stand mount or slender floor standing speaker that work well in large room? I don't listen very loud, and will have a separate powered subwoofer, but mains that visually dominate the room are not an option for me.
If you know of small-ish speakers that sound large, I'd appreciate some suggestions!
Budget? Amplifier? w/o those it's far to be specific. OTOH, you will find that many speaker makers have dealt w similar concerns AND the laws of physics by making floorstanders narrower and deeper than they used to. Think Wilson, Von Schweikert, Raidho, Vandersteen Treo, 5, 7, Sonus Faber, Horning, etc. If you are using a sub, you can go smaller than a traditional full range, anyways.
@ swamp... thanks so much for the suggestions. to your questions, amps will be purchased based on the speaker i end up with. since i'm starting from scratch with this one, i'm starting with the speakers and working back to the amp. budget is up to $7k new or used.
Don't know if 4' is too tall for you, but Zu might still have available the Definition 3 right in your price range. Very efficient, will fill a large room no problem, and only takes up one square foot of floor space. Has built in subs so no need for a 3rd box. And, come with a 60 day return policy if you don't like them.
OK. Good idea to start w speakers but if you audition them, make sure you have a similar amp, at least in terms of tube vs. ss. I am an inveterate tube-ophile, so I will suggest small footprint speakers that will mate well w tube amps. And if you go w speakers that are 92 dB/w/m sensitivity, you will be able to go w moderate powered amps, even in that very large room. Right now I am using Hornings and they are very very good w 20-50 wpc tube amps. They don't come up that often used but worth looking for IMO. Wilson's also seem to mate well w tubes; used Sophias would be in that price range. Vandersteen 5s- but not sure how well they work w tubes, never heard them that way, but you would not need a sub and they are very "tunable" to the room. Not sure if Duke @ Audiokinesis has small footprint floorstanders but he is a great source of information and he will steer you in the right direction, even if it's away from his products. Raidho monitors might be in your budget. Von Schweikert VS4 Srs or even the Model 5 would be in budget. I love Merlins and they are v. small. W the right sub they might work in your room- if you call Bobby @ Merlin he will give you an honest opinion. I have not heard the floor standing Ref 3As, but their monitors are excellent and w a sub should be OK in that room. Markpaos recommendation of the Zus also makes sense, but I have never heard them.
The reason many small speakers have limited dynamic range is because they try to squeeze bass extension out of the small cabinet by padding down the sensitivity of the midrange and above. The Cremona Auditor M, however, doesn't try to go there; the fact that you're willing to use a sub (or two) works in your favor. By not trying to get that last half octave of extension, the Cremona Auditor M has a sensitivity of 88 dB and can handle up to 250 watts. These translate into room-filling dynamic range. And they'll sound large when supplemented with a good sub.
They're enough under your budget that you could afford a good sub (or two) to go with them. Think about a JL Fathom F110.
If you don't listen loud and use a subwoofer, you should be able to fill the room with just about any quality stand-mount. I'd say choosing the type of sound you want would be more important than how loud they can get.
I'll throw a suggestion out though, the Vapor Audio Cirrus Black. They have a massive soundstage and play BIG. They also have way more output capacity than I can handle in my large-ish room.
I will second the recommendation for the KEF LS50, and assuming that you can mate them to the right amp they sound wonderful.
Another couple of speaker lines you might consider looking and listening to are the JM Reynaud and Triangle stand mount models, both from France. I am especially fond of the JMR line. Their Offrande models are magnificent speakers for a larger room, but they probably won't pass the WAF test. The smaller Bliss is a great smallish 4 Ohm speaker, especially if used with the JMR "Magic Stands".
OHM Walsh 3000 or 5000 are designed for a room that size. They have smallish footprint like monitors but are floorstanding so no stands needed. WAF is very good if the style in general is not an issue. They will fill the room with sound. I'd recommend a good 250w/ch or more CLass D amp for best results, also very small, efficient and good WAF. Wyred4Sound, DSonic, Bel Canto are just a few of the amp vendors worth consideration. I use Bel Canto ref1000m monoblocks with my similar OHMs and performance is absolute top notch.
Linn Akurate 212. When paired with a good sub dialed in just right, the 212's deliver big time. And, in any event, which ever monitors you choose, if you go with a monitor/sub combination, consider using a crossover, to take the bass burden off the monitors and let them do what they do best; and let the sub do likewise. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a monitor/sub combo done right can be sublime.
One of the things to consider in a large room is, unless you listen nearfield, most of the sound that reaches your ears will be reverberant sound. So the speaker's off-axis performance will play a larger role in the perceived tonal balance than you're probably used to.
Unfortunately, most small speakers are designed to be listened to up close, like in a small room, so the designer probably paid more attention to the on-axis sound than to what's happening off-axis. But if the radiation pattern is fairly uniform (doesn't have major off-axis flares and valleys), that's bodes well for good sound in a large room.
Another potential issue is maintaining good dynamic contrast. Speakers have to play louder to do a decent job of filling a large room, and as they play louder their voice coils heat up, and that in turn causes thermal compression which reduces their dynamic contrast. For a high fidelity application, I like to have speakers that can hit the anticipated peaks at about 1/10th their rated long-term power handling. That gets harder to do with small speakers, which typically have more modest power handling to begin with, and then trade off efficiency for bass extension.
Your secret weapon here is your decision early on to use subwoofers. This frees you up to seek out satellite speakers that may only go down to 80 Hz or so, but they will generally be higher efficiency than same-size speakers that go down deeper. Of course you don't "need" as much headroom as I described above, but imo good dynamic contrast contributes a lot to the experience. So don't seek out satellites that have a lot of bass extension you don't need, because you'll be paying a penalty in efficiency - and thus most likely in dynamic contrast - for that surplus low end.
I'd also suggest the Tekton m-Lores (34" x 9" x 10"). I purchased a pair for use as surround speakers, but have been toying around with them as my main speakers in a 35' x 15' x 8' loft (4200 sq feet) and have been pleasantly surprised how easily they fill the room. Very musical, big sound, surprising bass, and they sound very good on all types of music. They are not the last word on extracting all the details of the music, so be aware of that if you are a detail freak. The are easy to drive and not fussy about placement.
Another vote for Joseph Audio Pulsars. Nice looking speakers that I'd think have a high WAF and play big for their size, especially since you'll be running a sub with them. Also, to Audiokinesis' point, I believe they have very good dispersion characteristics.
By the way, the fact that you love your wife much more than your music tells me you're either a newlywed or sorely in need of better music. Either way, best of luck.
I would recommend the neat ultimatum xls. If you want smaller i would not hesitate to recommend the evolution acoustic mmmicroone speake. Huge sound from the size. A bw pv1d actually complements them well.
new house and new baby kept me away from this thread for the last couple of weeks... WOW! i was stunned to see the number of responses so far - too many for me to thank you all individually, so collectively, THANKS!!
you all have given me a lot to look into, some were on my radar already, but many i had never considered previously.
@Soix... been maried quite a while. she's a keeper for sure, so perhaps i need to find some better music!