Some of the Best speakers for Prog Rock/Metal


Hi guys,

I'm in the hunt for speakers, preferably floorstanders, that would be best suited for progressive rock/metal. Common bands I listen to, to name a few, are: Opeth, Tool, Agalloch, Kamelot, Dark Tranquillity, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Nightwish, etc. If any of you know some of these bands, you know that they're not just balls out metal, but they have a lot more intricacies to them as well.

I honestly don't even know where to begin in the search for speakers that would be best for this. I do know that I plan on getting a tube CDP and tube amps to go with whatever speakers. So, list out some speakers/brands that would be great for this. At this point, don't worry about budget, just nothing above the $8-10K range.
heywaj10
I'd look at the Audiokinesis Jazz Modules matched with a tube amp.

Do a Google search.
OHM Walsh speakers matched to room size with some tubes in the source and/or line stage and a good high current SS amp.

This combo will blow you away!
I do know that I plan on getting...tube amps to go with whatever speakers.

Heywaj10

If he stays consistent with his goal, he can cross the OHM Walsh off his list.
Yes, that is true, you don't want a tube power amp with the OHMs especially for that kind of music.

Tubes in the line stage or source can work extremely well though I have found. Prog is one of my core genres I listen to alot. I listen to prog/metal less, but the combo works well there as well. "Deadwing" by Porcupine Tree is killer on my system.

You'll want speaks that are designed to work well specifically with tube power amps.

I'd stay clear of planars and electrostats for that genre as well. Go for a more dynamic design that can move some air but also handle the intricate delicate parts as well as a planar or electrostat.

I don't know the speaks Tvad recommended, but I know he is a prog head with good audio sensibilities so they will probably work well. They look like they are built to move a lot of air, so I suspect they may well work very nicely!
Not prog per se, but check out Terje Rypdal's "Waves" on ECM. Kewl...
I checked out "Waves" on You Tube.

Reminds me a bit of Steve Hackett live at times on several of his excellent DVD releases.

THat's good!
For excellent sounding progressive rock internet radio with varied and deep playlists, put aside $800 or so for a SOundbridge or Squeezebox with external DAC on your system and tune in auralmoon.com, deliciousagony.com, or stellarattraction.com.

You can check them out on any computer as well...just will not sound as good!
Already have a Squeezebox with excellent DAC. I'll check them out.
Here's a short list of speakers to consider with your tube amp:
Audiokinesis
Classic Audio Reproductions
Coincident
Reference 3A
Devore

I believe the top two will be better on progressive rock because they have large bass drivers combined with horns, and they will move more air than the other speakers with smaller drivers.

This is not to say that the other speakers won't also sound great. It'll be a matter of personal preference.

FWIW, the Audiokinesis speakers are sold with a home trial period, so you can try them in your system and decide whether to keep them or return them.
Another I've never heard but would interest me in general with a tube amp for any kind of music including prog/metal would be the Shindo Latour.

http://www.toneimports.com/shindo/latour.html
You probably want something that does not sound harsh or forward. Look for a design with a midrange scoop ( a dip in the midrange response from 1K to 4K or in practice a speaker with 6" or larger midrange and with a tweeter crosssed over high say at 4KHZ).
Thanks for all your responses guys, I'm definitely going to look into all those models. One thing I'll throw out there is that I don't necessarily have to use tube amps. If a tubed CDP and/or tube pre-amp smoothed out some of the highs enough for a SS amp to work with it, then perfectly fine. I just keep hearing more and more about tubes and how they can be fantastic for my genre of music.

Also, I'm currently 23 with a very limited income...for now. I'm trying to get ideas for when I go out and actually do listening demos as I save up for my big rig in the future. Thanks again guys, keep the recommendations coming!
23. Limited income. And, you're looking for speakers in the $8k-$10k range?

I must have a different definition of limited.

:)

FWIW, I think you should make the tube or solid state decision and then search for speakers. If you leave all the options open, then this will be a 50+ page thread with over a hundred different suggestions, and you will be more confused than when you began the thread.
I may have written unclearly before, but I am looking for speakers UNDER the $8-10K range. Also, I'm CURRENTLY 23 and with a limited income. My tastes far exceed my wallet at this point in my life. I'm looking to save for a system of higher value in the future (hopefully within the 5 year range or so).

FTW, I'm going to say I'll go with SS Amps. I'll use a tubed CDP/pre-amp to go along with them. My will to save for such a system is extremely high.

I don't know how you guys feel about Paradigm, but would their Signature line be good for me to look into? Thanks again.
A high current SS amp will leave more speaker options open for you.

I'd start with dynamic speakers that can move a lot of air yet still reveal delicate or intricate detail that will fit and blend into your room well and go from there.

I'd recommend staying away from tubes in the power amp at least initially mainly because a good high current amp, say Wyred4Sound Class D, for example, would drive almost anything and cost less and most likely be more worry free in regards to maintenance, biasing, tube replacement etc.

I'd start with a simple single tubed DAC and feed that from the front end of choice. That could be using any decent CD player with digital output, which you may already have even. using the digital output bypasses the internal DAC. The mhdt Paradisea or havana are good ones. There are others as well.

Or, it could be a Windows Vista or Apple computer or notebook running a music server program, like Windows Media Player (see my system for an example) that feeds the DAC.

Then, toss in your good quality pre-amp of choice, tube or SS depending on your lust and/or tolerance for tubes.

For tubes on a budget, the Juicy Music Peach is an inexpensive highly regarded tube pre-amp that I would consider the VTL 1.5 is another.

For SS, Classe or Musical Fidelity would be tghe first choices I would consider.

Musical Fidelity makes some very fine SS amps that would work well also (that is what I use in my system).

Another cost effective option could be a tube/SS hybrid integrated rather than separate power and pre-amp. Unison Unico is a good example of this.

OR the budget basemet option for good sound might be a Peachtree Decco or more powerful Nova hybrid integrated+ DAC, which can be had refurbished these days for as little as $500. One of these would drive most speakers that will be in your price range pretty well I would think in a typical sized listening room.

BTW any of these combos (dynamic speakers with detail + a strategically placed tube or two) should sound pretty good with most any genre of music, including prog/metal.

if you do go with a lower powered amp, then make sure the speakers are more efficient, say 89-90 db or greater.
Solid state or tubes, my suggestion is to seek speakers with high sensitivity (95+dB, or so), 8 ohm nominal impedance with dips no lower than 6 ohms. These speakers will work exceptionally well with either a solid state or tube amp, and you won't be limited down the road if you choose to change amplification.

I still suggest the Audiokinesis speakers. They are dynamic, fast, and you can try them at home for the cost of shipping.
Heywaj10,

How big is your room? Any special constraints or considerations in where you would locate the speakers and where you will be listening from?

Also, what equipment are you starting with and what is a realistic total budget to invest at this time?

Which Paradigms specifically do you have in mind?

Off the cuff, I don't see a problem with building around Paradigm signature in general if that is the sound you like.

Whatever you get, wither pick them up used without overpaying or from a vendor with the in-home trial and satisfaction guarantee. Then you can resell or change as needed without taking a financial hit.
Klipsch Cornwalls 101db@1w great with Tube or SS. Entertain yourself or your neighbors. Worth a demo!.
I listen to bands such as Soulfly, Hedfirst, Kaliban,Vesania,
Eterna and Chaosbreed to name a few through my KCS Oris 150' horns c/w with 18" bass cones, they really rock the room, and go deep enough. They go very cheap when advertised on here.
I would also agree to check out the Audiokinesis models. I heard the (stormbringer)?, pump out really nice sounds of that pop band 'Rammstein' and quite loud too at the 2007 Denver show, they too rocked.
Classic Audio Reproductions were excellent also at the show in the large room on the ground floor.

KCS
Audiokinesis,
Classic Audio Reproductions.
Mapman,

I currently only have a very basic PC audio system, consisting of a pair of Pioneer HPM-60s and a Sony Integrated Amplifier (TA-AX500). The room parameters at this point are irrelevant because I have not yet moved into my own place. Again, I'm simply looking for ideas and am in no way shape or form ready to buy any equipment for a while (years).

In the future, I'm looking to setup a budget of about $8K for the entire system. And, honestly, even at this point that's probably unrealistic, probably around the $5K range. I know speakers are the most important part of the package, but at the same time I know a system is only as good as its weakest link.

For now, I'm just trying to get a feel for what brands/models you guys know of that would be good for my genre, as well as still perform well for other genres that I listen to, including: some softer rock, classical, movie sountracks, some jazz.
A good speaker and system should reproduce all music equally well.

If a speaker is particularly good only on a specific music genre, then it's not an overall good speaker to own, IMO.

Most of the suggestions made thus far in this thread are speakers that perform equally well on all genres.

The important factor with rock and progressive rock is that you want a speaker that moves a lot of air, IMO. Speakers with larger woofers do this better than speakers with small woofers.
Tvad,

That all makes perfect sense, thank you for your insight. I'm guessing the best thing to do is just define a budget, so to as many audio stores as possible, and listen listen listen.

One thing I've always wondered though, is how do you take your experience from what you've heard at one place and compare it to another? What I mean is, every store has different brands/equipment/components running to various speakers? Doesn't this change the effect of the speakers and performance in comparison to other locations? There are just so many variables to take into consideration!
Thanks Hey.

I think your getting a lot of good info to work with here so far and will be very well informed when the time comes around.

I've found you are usually better off in terms of value you get for the $$$ with audio the longer you can wait. The latest designs currently will likely start to become available second hand down the road at considerable reduced cost. And more people will start to turn over older more popular designs which drives the cost down on those as well as people tend to move towards the latest and greatest.

Good luck!
how do you take your experience from what you've heard at one place and compare it to another? What I mean is, every store has different brands/equipment/components running to various speakers? Doesn't this change the effect of the speakers and performance in comparison to other locations? There are just so many variables to take into consideration!
Heywaj10

It's difficult. I suggest focusing on finding a speaker you like and trying to ignore the electronics driving them. If the speaker fits the profile I mentioned earlier, then it will work well with any electronics you use.

You'll make your limited budget work harder if you consider buying used, or if you consider buying factory direct using the home audition method.
..and the best way to find the right speaker is to look for feedback and opinions on the internet.

If you find 5-6 seemingly knowledgeable people agree on a particular characteristic of a particular speaker that appeals to you, then there is a very good chance it is a true fact. Then look deeper to see what kinds of systems those people run the speaks on for more info on how to get the most out of them.

Once you find the patterns of useful info based on what people say, then check for professional reviews on-line or in magazines to see what the professional reviewers say as an additional check, but I'd take pro reviews with a grain of salt as well. Its more important that there is a consensus among many than whether any one individual cares for a product or not.
I was on a similar search as you when I found my B&W's lacking in this genre. Tool is my favorite band. I ended up with the Gallo Reference 3.1. A lot less $ than your limit and they play everything I throw at them very well, with an incredible soundstage and disappearing act. Detailed yet organic. You can even power their second voice coil if needed. I have not needed to do so.
Steel
Likecoiledsteel,

Ironically, I found both B&W P6 and large Magnepan mg1.3c lacking.

Part of this was due to source and amplifier sound quality issues at the time as well.

Today, I've fixed the source and amp issues and run 2 different pair of OHM full range floor standers and a pair of Dynaudio monitors mostly.

Both OHMs and Dynaudios do well now but the little but overachieving Dyn monitors really could use a sub to keep pace with the OHMs on prog and metal.

I wouldn't mind trying either the B&Ws nor Maggies again now with better electronics, but I don't think the low end extension and dynamics on the older Maggies would cut it. The B&Ws had some good kick to them. They might....
How come NO RUSH, Fates Warning? Or Helloween,
Gamma Ray, Guardian, Blind Guardian,
King Diamond, Merciful Fate,
Stratovarious, Saxon, Riot, etc?
Come on now, get with the program!
Even I have all of these.
Mapman,
I have never heard Ohm or Dynaudio speakers, but many people seem to like them. I had the B&W CDM7NT's. They were very good at jazz anf lighter stuff, but had trouble at the bottom. They were also a bit forward. I tried to go up the chain of B&W on my last speaker quest, trying the 804S, they were better then my CDM7's, but there was still something missing. The Gallo's blew the B&W's out of the water in pretty much every area, at a much lower price. The Gallo's also use Dynaudio drivers.
Steel

Likecoiledsteel,
Ironically, I found both B&W P6 and large Magnepan mg1.3c lacking. Part of this was due to source and amplifier sound quality issues at the time as well.

Today, I've fixed the source and amp issues and run 2 different pair of OHM full range floor standers and a pair of Dynaudio monitors mostly. Both OHMs and Dynaudios do well now but the little but overachieving Dyn monitors really could use a sub to keep pace with the OHMs on prog and metal. I wouldn't mind trying either the B&Ws nor Maggies again now with better electronics, but I don't think the low end extension and dynamics on the older Maggies would cut it. The B&Ws had some good kick to them. They might....
LikeCoiled,

GAllos, OHMs, and B&W are three very different designs that do imaging and soundstage in fundamentally different ways.

What they have in common is B&Ws, Dynaudios and OHMs all generally present difficult loads for amps to drive properly, meaning the impedance varies at various frequencies, which affects the natural balance of sound top to bottom in a negative way. Gallos are similar I suspect but I am not as certain

The solution for balanced sound with more "meat on the bones" in the low end with these kinds of speaks is to use a high power SS power amp (watts) that also delivers a lot of current (amps).

These are more efficient and ideally double the rated output power rating into 4 and 2 ohms and deliver a more naturally balanced sound.

Combine dynamic speakers that move a lot of air with a more efficient amp like this and that is the formula for getting the most sound out of this kind of speaker.

It'll make a big difference for prog or any other music form with which power and dynamics are key to max enjoyment.

Or, as Tvad suggests, a more efficient design, 90+ db sensitivity or greater, will require a less powerful amp .

Along with greater sensitivity though, you might find that different amps and electronics still result in big differences in how the speaks actually sound as well, though less power is required.

Emerald Physics is another radically different speaker design I would like to hear. It uses specialized digital processing electronics to tune the source system to the speaks which is a very interesting and radical approach. I've heard some good things about these!
I am using B&W 802D these are fantastic with Metal , if you need punch get the 802D
I had less expensive B&W P6s. Even these had very good "punch" with a high power amp at loud volumes but were lacking at lower volumes. This was due ti the difficult load/high current issue mainly I believe. The amp delivered 360w/channel but not a lot of current. At low volumes, the bottom end suffered. At high volume, they rocked.

Even with metal, you do not want to always have to crank things to sound good. Match amp and speaks well and thnigs should sound good at lower levels also, although metal will still always sound best CRANKED!!!
Next time you go to a concert, take a good look around and see what speakers and equipment are being used. NOTHING, nothing, nothing, NOTHING! Did I say nothing? Nothing reproduces this genre of music better than 100+ dB horns and tubes. IMO.
Any psb stratus speaker will rock
Dan_ed,
you may have a point.
ATC 20s. Your favorite album was probably mixed on these, as they are the preferred studio speaker for a host of bands and major league producers. The come in active or passive mode. The active speakers produce louder and more defined bass and drums.