Space Efficient Speakers

Now that I have upgraded my 2 channel stereo components I'm looking for new speakers with expanded sound stage and better imaging. My budget is $2000 to $2500. I could fudge that a bit for compelling reasons. My system is primarily a Mac Mini, Ayre QB9 Dac, Ayre k-5exmp pre, Ayre V-5xe driving some old Dynaudio Contour 1.1's and a Vandersteen sub.

I do not have much latitude in speaker positioning. One is in a corner and the other is next to the living room entry. The speakers are 6 feet apart and roughly 13inches from the wall and 11 feet from the listener. The front wall (speaker location) is 9 feet wide, 14' tall. The left wall is 15 feet wide. The back wall 12 feet wide, nine feet tall, and completely covered by curtains. There are two right walls forming a triangle (i.e. a five sided room). The right wall next to the front wall is totally open to a large dining room (with a high ceiling). The floor is carpeted. Generally I am pleased with the room acoustics. My music tastes range pretty wide but runs mostly to rock, pop, and electronica. I have no classical.

Speakers that require a lot of space are not going to cut it. Rear ported cabinet designs are probably not the best for this room either. So far I have identified Salk SongTowers as worthy of consideration for having good value, placement tolerance, and physical size. I wonder though if they might be a bit too polite and clinical for my tastes. I'm no expert and there is a bewildering array of products so I hope others with more experience have some good suggestions.

What do you mean by "space efficient"? Are you looking for small speakers or speakers with a small footprint? What's wrong with you Dynaudios? I mean, what is it about the Dynaudios that you don't like?

I think that your belief regarding rear ported speakers is erroneous, in a general sense. I've seen and heard rear ported speakers do well a foot to two feet from the rear wall.
I'm looking to get as much sound as possible out of speakers and cabinets that do not intrude into the LR entry. What I have now works very well in that regard but being used continuously for the last 20 or so years they are sounding a bit less lively than what I remember. My daughter worked them hard for a bit as well. It's time for replacement. As for the Dynaudios, they were fine at higher sound levels but not very engaging at lower levels. I am hoping for something better.
If you liked the way your old speakers sounded, but just want a bit of an update, maybe you should be looking for something similar to what you had. I know that the current line up of Dynaudios are very nice speakers. I'd also probably stick to stand mounters.

As you said, you cannot provide them with a lot of breathing space and I do believe that speakers in larger cabinets are going to need more breathing space.

Please, also understand that due to my own space constraints, my tastes lean heavily toward stand mount and bookshelf speakers. With that having been said, do not discount the speakers from Dynaudio, Paradigm and Silverline. These are all good sounding speakers, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Personally, I stayed with the Silverline Minuets. They are tiny, but with a solid amp (and sometimes help from a sub) they fill my 18X20 something plus room very well.

I had a party for the 4th of July and more than one of my guests asked whether the little Minuets were the only things playing.

What I like the most about the Minuets is that they are very forgiving with regard to placement. Although they do sound the best when properly setup, I have yet to be able to make them sound bad, no matter where I put them.

I do use a sub, some of the time. Bass is pretty rolled off at something around 50hz or so. I think that the best way that I can sum up the performance of the Minuets is that I can and often do listen to music for hours on end and only stop when I have to. Not because I'm tired of listening. They are not in the least fatiguing.

I have them sitting in shelves that are about 18" deep and 3' wide and they sound very good. Bass is still tight without it sounding boxy and I'm actually getting an image that extends beyond the speakers and also has depth.

Of course, my choices in speakers reflect my budget. You have more of a budget than I did when choosing speakers.

I will say that one speaker that I've been wanting to try again has been the KEF LS50. My first experience with them wasn't great, but that may not have been the fault of the speakers.
The Silverline speakers appear to be a quality product. I wish there were a way to listen to them in the Seattle area. Their website does not have a dealer list.

Previous to my original post I visited the two most prominent hi-fi shops in the area to gauge where the market is. And yesterday I listened to some used speakers at a shop in Seattle (more about that below). Here are some impressions:

Linn akurate (Linn Stack) - nice but didn't send me, over my budget
B&W 802 Diamond/McIntosh Stack - really excellent, over my budget
Meridian M6 - Outstanding but expensive and would have to replace entire system

Vandersteen 2ce - Fine but didn't send me
Vandersteen Quattro - Excellent, really expensive and large

At the used/new shop yesterday I heard the following:
An Epos $2000 floor stand model (Naim Stack) - nice richness, played well at low volume, but too much glare on horns and some vocals.

Twenty year old Monitor floor stand model (Naim Stack) - nice, very controlled, but not much bass. Might work well with my sub. Might be worthy but they would have to be really exceptional to replace my 20 year old speakers with 20 year old speakers. They weren't.

Harbeth short squat stand mount speakersl (Naim Stack) - Very laid back. Pleasant but too dull for me.

So what do I know? Well, this is not an easy process. The expensive speakers I heard sound much nicer than lower priced fare. There is no substitute for hearing the speakers. Hearing a speaker play unfamiliar music poorly one never knows if it is the recording or the equipment. I really need to cut a demo cd from my uncompressed audio files to take with me to speaker auditions so that I have music I am totally familiar with.

The search goes on.
Metakrome, what really sucks about speaker shopping is that the equipment very rarely sounds the same in your home as it does in the room that you auditioned them in.

If you've found something that interests you, ask your dealer if he/she allows auditions. My local shop will allow you to audition speakers, if you leave a security deposit, which is essentially the price of the speakers.

Your finding that more expensive speakers sound better than less expensive speakers is generally true, but keep your eye on the ball.

My personal experience is that it's more about finding speakers that sound the best in your room and fit into your budget. I'm in a rather odd situation with my system and for me, I have tried a few speakers that were more expensive than the ones that I have that didn't sound as good in my home.

The key for ME was that I needed speakers that weren't too picky about placement. For me, the Silverlines were it.

Still, if you liked the way your Dynaudios sounded, maybe a more up to date pair is in order. Heck, from what I understand, Silverline uses Dynaudio drivers in their higher end speakers. The ones in the Minuets are proprietary.