smaller speakers for critical listening?


I'm curious whether folks out here think that standmount speakers can reward "critical listening." 

I know that may be a ridiculous question; of course one can sit down with Radio Shack speakers and engage in serious listening, and of course the experience is subjective for all of us. I'm actually asking for subjective responses here. If your goal is a system for critical listening, do you think smaller speakers can do the trick or do you need the bigger soundstage and depth that can come with floor-standing, planar, or electrostatic speakers? 

I'm not asking which is *better* in a given speaker line, the small ones or the big ones, and I'm not thinking about $50k Wilson-Benesch Endeavours or the like. Before the pandemic I auditioned some highly enjoyable standmount speakers in the $5k-$10k range. However, listening for an hour in a store, I couldn't tell whether they crossed the threshold from "terrific sound for a small speaker" to pull-up-a-chair-and-tune-out-the-world bliss.

As you can probably tell, I'm struggling with my room; it's very hard to place big speakers in it. Otherwise I'd buy Maggies or Vandersteens or JA Perspectives, etc, and be happy. And, to repeat, I know that the threshold for critical-listening speakers is subjective. I'm asking for opinions and experiences!
northman
Thanks so much, all. I'm interested in everything you guys are saying. I know that my original question was elusive and hard to answer. I'm not so much wondering about excellent small speakers; I've heard some great ones. And I certainly agree about small floor-standing speakers; for example, the Joseph Audio Perspectives really have about the same footprint as the Pulsars.

What I'm really wondering is whether--in people's personal experiences--a smaller speaker can cross the threshold and offer an engaging critical listening experience. And the answer based on the responses is an emphatic YES!

My current stand speakers (PSB Imagine B) are temporary replacements for my defunct Maggies; they're easy on the ears but don't reward deep listening sessions, at least to my ear. I don't want to merely get "better" speakers; I want to get speakers that I can sit and listen to. The warmth of cellos and pianos making the hairs on my arms stand up. You know what I mean. And what I'm trying to figure out is whether a small speaker can do that. (Yes, again, I know this is all subjective.)

My budget changes by the day but isn't the driving factor here. The room is tricky. Lots of glass and angles, and no way to move the speakers too far off the glass wall. I'll have to deal with that with treatments, etc. Duke wrote: "Without knowing specifics about the room and the constraints it’s hard to say what northman’s options are..." I completely get what you're saying. When it comes to finding the right speakers, I will certainly focus on the relationship between the speakers and the room. For now, I'm more interested in this: "Imo there are much better options that throwing in the towel on critical listening." THAT is what I'm curious about--whether, to get at critical listening, people feel I'm limited to planar or floorstanding speakers. Again, I hear that the answer is NO--and that's reassuring.

@gdnrbnb, two speakers at the top of my list to audition (once it's safe) are the Treo and Quatro. I'm going to assume that they're "better" speakers (how else to put that?), but would you say that you can do long listening sessions with the VLRs? Do they cross the threshold for you?

I don't want to belabor this but I'm interested in the Dutch and Dutch 8c. I remember looking them up a few months ago and they seemed too ... esoteric, too obscure. I didn't really "get" them. Putting the room aside, do they produce a beautiful sound that compares to the other speakers in this thread (Salk, Harbeth, Vandersteen, KEF, etc)?

Thanks everyone. I really can't do much more than research at the moment, so it's pleasurable to talk this out. 


ATC’s!!!

Or Ocean Ways 

What the Pros use!!!

Forget the rest of the BS!!!
They have no friggin clue!
+1 Russ

 I still don’t understand why anyone would choose stand mounted mini’s, when a small tower takes up the same amount of floor space and has better, deeper, more realistic bass response.  The cost of good stands usually evens out the value proposition.  I’m happy with my PMC F1b signatures.  Same space requirement as stand mounts, narrow baffle, fit my relatively small apartment, but real bass down to 28 hz. Why give that up? Music doesn’t sound right to me with truncated bass response.  
   
  
+1 jl35 and +1 Russ 

I struggled with this some time ago...as I had some tekton lore reference that I loved, but simply over-energized my space.

I was considering some monitors on stands, but found a great deal on some Totem Arros. Not nearly on the same order as the PMC’s Lloyd mentioned, But still..wow. Refinement, imaging, detail, TONE, low mid body, textured bass, beautiful mids and plenty of air...even when only 15 inches from the back wall. Listening bliss to me, and I’m pretty neurotic on a good day. Small floorstanders. Just make sure they’re on good plinths and outriggers, or they topple!