Speaker advice?

Hello all-

I'm trying to put together a nice sounding system for a small listening room (about 10' by 10'). Space is constrained in every way, so I need to select small speakers and small components. I have a few options in mind. I am wondering if readers have any thoughts as to whether one is better than another, or if any of these a good idea. System A) is a Creek Evolution 50a amplifier, a Creek Evolution 50d cd player, and DynAudio Excite X12 speakers. System B) is a Creek Evolution 50a amplifier, a Creek Evolution 50d cd player, and KEF LS50 speakers. System C would be either speaker above paired with a Rega Brio R amp and a Rega Apollo R cd.

Any thoughts about which direction I should go? Thanks, Margot
While I have no particular familiarity with any of those components, I suspect that both of the amplifiers you mentioned, like many in their price class, will not perform at their best when driving speakers having impedances that are low, or that are difficult in terms of phase angle. A good indication of that is the fact that the power ratings of both amplifiers into 4 ohms are much less than twice their ratings into 8 ohms.

As indicated in John Atkinson's measurements in Stereophile of the LS50:
The LS50's impedance (fig.1, solid trace) drops to 4 ohms at 200Hz and to 5.4 ohms at the top of the audioband. The electrical phase angle is generally mild, but the combination of 5.3 ohms and –41° at 135Hz, a frequency where music often has high energy, will make the speaker work at its best with a good, 4 ohm–rated amplifier.
I note also that the manufacturer specifies a minimum impedance for the LS50 of only 3.2 ohms.

In contrast, here are JA's corresponding comments for the Dynaudio speaker:
While Dynaudio specifies the X12 as having a nominal 4 ohm impedance, its plot of impedance magnitude and phase (fig.1) reveals that it doesn't drop below 6 ohms, and then only in the lower midrange, when it reaches a minimum value of 4.8 ohms—which, like the combination of 6.6 ohms and 30° capacitive phase angle at 125Hz, will not tax any well-designed amplifier.
So I suspect that the Dynaudio speaker would be a more optimal match for the Creek or Rega amplifiers (and most other amplifiers in their price class) than the KEF would be.

Hope that helps. Regards,
-- Al
I've always been a fan of KEF, last weekend I had a chance to listen to the much touted LS50 for several hours,IMHO it was way too forward for the Classical Music that is my main fare. Was in a friend's all ARC system which normally is pretty nuetral.
I would prefer the Dyna's myself, but could see where the KEF's might be a rockers dream.
Any particular reason that you are looking so closely at Creek? I've only heard one Creek rig. It sounded good enough, but when I researched them their specs didn't seem to indicate that the amps would have much guts.

I know that specs don't mean everything, but even taking the specs on the Creek amp at face value doesn't instill much confidence for me.

I tend to like an amp with some guts so that I, at the least, feel comfortable knowing that'll they drive any speaker that will fit into the room I'll be using.

For the price of the Creek, I just think that you could do better, especially on the used market.

As for the speakers that you've mentioned, I haven't owned either, but have heard both. The Dynaudios were nice to me. Really, nothing stood out, which I believe is a good thing.

With the KEFs, I just didn't get why so many are so excited about them.

10X10 isn't much space and it's going to be pretty easy to put too much speaker into that room. Just about any listening you're going to be doing is going to be near field. Maybe you should be considering something along the lines of the Peachtree D4 or D5 or perhaps the Silverline Minuets. All are very small speakers that have really big sound. In a room the size of yours, you may not even want or need a sub, depending on your taste in music.
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For a room that size I would consider The Grant Fidelity LS3/5A. I just happened to see they have them on sale right now for only $381.00 (40% off). For amps I would add the Exposure 2010s2 series, Naim nait 5i, Bryston B60R (used) and perhaps a nice little tube integrated to the list. good luck
I am a believer of finding a speaker you like and then looking for an amp that will properly drive it.

Since you have only listed two speakers, I am assuming you have auditioned both. What are your opinions? Did you prefer one over the other but looking for the forum to validate your thoughts?

If so, I never heard a Dyn I didn't like. But I prefer the sound of a soft dome tweeter with most music, and Dynaudio makes some of the best in the business.

That being said, without knowing your feelings based on your auditions, I say System A. Also, Almargs comments about which speaker will match up better with your choice of amp, is great advice. This goes back to my opening statement. Good luck.
Before you decide on Creek electronics, audition the Marantz PM8004 integrated amp. It's the lowest price amp in their Reference Series at $999. It is uncommonly neutral and resolving with a -125 dB noise floor in the amp section. It also has clarity, definition, and bass control without any edginess.

I heard them driving a pair of $10K Sonus Faber Cremona Ms with great results in all areas. They will be up to your task.
As for as the electronics go, I listened to a little NAD integrated. 326BEE, I think it was. It sounded really nice. It just didn't have enough power for me, but I have a much bigger room than you do.
Hello all,

Thanks so much for the good advice.  I am getting a real education!  I should have explained originally that I have a shelf issue that gives me about 12 inches of depth (not including cords and cables) for amp and cd.  So this knocks out a lot besides Creek evolution 50a and Rega.

I have now eliminated the Kefs for reasons given by Al above and the Dynaudios (sigh) because of the room size.  The room is actually 9 by 11.  I will be able to place each speaker about 2 feet from the back wall and 2 feet from the side wall.  Would the Epos Élan 10 work okay in such a small room?  If so, I love the idea of an Epos - Creek pairing.  If not, I am also pretty intrigued by the Q Acoustics Concept 20, the Peachtree, and the Silverlines. The Grant Fidelity looks amazing but I am pretty confused about the clone/knock off issue?

And then there is the possibility of going all Rega: brio, apollo, rs1.

Any further insights, please advise!  I really appreciate the help.

Get yourself a pair of Spendor 3/5's,you can place them anywhere without problems.If you want to spend a little more go with the Harbeth p3's,both are outstanding with the Harbeths a little brighter and the Spendors a little laid back. You will not go wrong with these!
My room is a cramped 9x11 and I just picked up a pair of KEF LS50's running on an old Yamaha R9 receiver. They sound fantastic on cheap 24 inch stands(about 2 feet out from side wall, 3 feet out about 5-6 feet apart), can't wait till I get good stands. Having heard the Rega Brio at The Show Newport, and the amp will embarrass many efforts offered at the 2k range. I think that would be a VERY seductive and alluring match. I can't stop going through our music collection. Very cool speaker I could live with for a VERY long time.
I'd be cautious with regard to the Elan 10, Margot, for the same reason I cited with respect to the LS50. I couldn't find an impedance curve for the Elan 10, but its nominal impedance rating is 4 ohms, and impedance curves I found for some other Epos speakers show them to be a bit more difficult to drive than would be preferable with the amplifiers you are considering.

Spendor and Harbeth are certainly good names, and the Silverline Minuet has received a lot of good press. All of them should be good matches for the amplifier in terms of impedance. If your listening includes material having particularly wide dynamic range, though (i.e., large DIFFERENCES in volume between the loudest notes and the softest notes, such as classical symphonic music), I would be concerned about the ability of the Spendor S3/5se and the Harbeth P3ESR to be able to cleanly handle high volume dynamic peaks, due to their low sensitivity. I'm not saying that they won't be adequate in that respect, especially given the small room size, but that would be the main question mark associated with those speakers, IMO.

Surprisingly, given its small size, the Minuet appears to be somewhat better in that respect, and the currently produced Supreme Plus version, apparently being a bit larger than the earlier version addressed in the review, might be better still.

None of these speakers will provide much in the way of deep bass extension, of course, but you could add a subwoofer at a later time if you find it to be necessary.

I'm not familiar with the other models that have been mentioned. Re the Yamaha R9 receiver (and most other receivers), it won't fit in the space you described. Also, it is specified for a minimum recommended load of 6 ohms.

Good luck in your search. Regards,
-- Al
Both the Siverline and the RS1 are good enough to make music for many years if one stays rational and avoids upgradeitis.
RS1 is a bit more dynamic and dead nuetral on acoustic music,Minuet a tad more of a "rocker" pehaps.
I've owned both, still have RS1's in my bedroom, at least for the jazz and classical I listen to your idea of an all Rega System seems dead brillant to me.
I'll agree with Schubert on the Minuets. My last pair of speakers were system audio SA505s. They did acoustical and jazz very well, but didn't do rock very well at all. I got the Minuets and they do produce a very satisfying sound with jazz and such, but they also do rock very well.

What I like the most about the Minuets is that they are very forgiving with regard to placement.
Thanks again, everyone. Al, I have taken the Epos out of the running. Still thinking really seriously about the Spendors, Harbeths, Minuets, RS1. Someone also suggested the Dulcet Ref3a, which maybe does a bit more bass. My listening, by the way, is pretty eclectic, except that I don't listen to classical. I play a lot of jazz, pop, rock, country, blues, acoustic, etc. Margot
Oh, and I am also still thinking about the Paradigm Reference Studio 20s, v. 5, though I am unclear how well the Creek Evolution 50a could drive them, or if they are fussy about placement and for this reason might be problematic in a small room. Thoughts?
If you're considering the Studio 20s, I'd strongly suggest that you check out the Studio 10s as well. Yes, the 20s are larger and they go a bit lower, but the 10s sounded much better. The mid range was just more pleasing to my ears.

In a room the size of yours, I don't think it's going to make much of a difference, but the 20s do play a tad bit louder.

Just want to mention that my last pair of speakers was the Studio 10 and I moved those in favor of Minuet Supreme Plus. The Minuets had more body and were much more transparent.

I'm not saying that the Paradigm stuff doesn't sound good, because it does. I'm a big fan of Paradigm stuff, but the Minuets just sounded better in my setup. The Paradigms are also going to be a bit more fussy about setup.
This is really helpful, Tony. Thanks.
One other question to Tony and other advocates of the Minuets: would you advocate going this direction even without a subwoofer? Because I probably won't do get one for this room...
The best way that I can describe the bass from the Minuet is that it does what it can do very well, but it doesn't go low.

Although Silverline specs the Minuet Supreme Plus as having a frequency range of 55hz-28khz, what it will do in your room depends a lot on the room.

Funny thing...out of curiosity I downloaded an audio file that is supposed to allow you to test the frequency range of your audio system. It simply starts out with a 10hz tone and gradually progresses up through the frequency range in 10hz increments. At each 10hz increment, there is a voice over telling you what frequency it was that was just playing. The idea is to take note when you hear/feel your speakers reproducing a tone and that is the lower end of your frequency range.

When I ran the file, I noted a rumble that I felt and a tone that I could hear at 30hz, so according to that test the little Minuets will reach down to 30hz, although the test doesn't indicate how many decibels you're giving up at that frequency. I've gotta guess that since Silverline specs the speaker down to 55hz, it rolls off pretty quickly at just before that. My guess is around 60hz. Just for reference, when I run my little REL T3 sub, I have its crossover set at 50hz. It blends nicely.

In real life use, when no one is home and I pull the Minuets off of the shelves in the entertainment center where they usually reside and put them on some real stands and place them about two feet from a rear wall and about that same distance from the side walls, I can listen to most music without the use of a sub and get a very satisfying sound out of it. The minuets ability to do what they can do so well sort of masks the fact that they don't go low.

I'm relatively new to the Minuets. I've been talking them up lately because they are the first speakers I've tried that worked for me and they've done everything I've wanted them to. The fact that they are so inexpensive just makes them all that much better to me.

Due to my space limitations, I've been looking for speakers that would do well on shelves in an entertainment center. I've tried System Audio SA505s, Paradigm Studio 10s, B&W 685s, the small Spendors (or maybe it was the Harbeths) and a couple of others and none of them allowed me to over come the limitations that I had to overcome and give me a good sound.

I'm not trying to say that the Minuets are the best speakers out there, because I have a suspicion that anyone of those other speakers that I tried could best the Minuets, if I could have accommodated them by way of placement and room treatments. Really, I think that they should be able to do that considering that they all cost more than the Minuets. In some cases two to three times as much.

What I am saying is that the Minuets play bigger than you would think and that they are very forgiving. You can make them sound better with ideal placement, but I've been hard pressed to make them sound bad, no matter where I put them.

Just as a reference, I'm running the Minuets in a 2800 cubic foot room which has open walls that open into other rooms. Yes, I'm pushing the Minuets, probably way beyond that for which they are intended; but they do get my foot tapping nonetheless.

The Supreme Pluses go for $700 a pair brand new. I've seen the original Minuets go for between $300 and $400. The Supremes and Pluses go for between $400 and $500, generally.

If you can snag a pair used, and then don't like them, you can likely get your money back out of them.

If you're gonna buy new and around $700 is your budget, I think you'd be hard pressed to do better.

Do a search on the net. Many reviews are out there.
@Mcanaday According to my Radio Shack SPL meter and a Stereophile test CD, I'm about -2db down at 63hz with the Silverline Minuets which incidentally measure flatter (at the listening chair) overall than both the Harbeth P3ESR and Kef LS50 in the same room which both have slight boosts in the upper bass range.

Depending on your music and bass requirements, it'd be hard to say whether or not you would want a subwoofer. In a room your size, and with most of the music I listen to, I'd be fine with the Minuets sans subwoofer.

As I've said in other posts, the Minuet is a small speaker and while it certainly can sound bigger than its size, both the (higher priced) Harbeth and Kef as well as an Omega Super 3XRS single driver speaker I use all sound larger and than the Minuet and compose themselves better in my room (just a little larger than yours) when the music gets complicated.
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Hi Tony, Bob, and Seikosha-

First, thanks for the additional information about the Minuets. This does sound like quite a remarkable speaker. If it doesn't end up being the big winner, I will definitely find a way to use that in a desktop system down the line. As for the Dynaudios, I read somewhere that they needed a lot of space, and I was afraid for that reason they were too much speaker for my small room. I hated to eliminate them, as they are a speaker I have long fantasized about. I was also concerned I couldn't drive them well with the power I have.

I will definitely look at the Marantz, although one of my issues is footprint size for the components, and I think the Marantz may be too big.

Last night I started to read too about the Paradigm Signature Reference 1, which seems to run on less power than the Studio 10s (based on various reviews I read), and has good bass and is overall a very nice speaker. Since I am planning to pull it out in the room a bit, maybe this is another one to consider.

Anyway, I'm taking a pile of reviews and all your comments, and meeting my audiophile dad this weekend to try to come to a final decision! Thanks for all your help. You guys at Augiogon have been great!

Can't go wrong with either Dynaudio or the KEFs. You do need the right amp for both , 80 watts or more I would say and power output doubles from 8 to 4 ohms for best results. Smaller Wyred4Sound, BEl Canto or perhaps even D-Sonic Class D amps would be worth a look. I use CLass D amps with other smaller Dynaudio monitors in a similar small room to very good effect! I really like the KEF design with concentric drivers, especially for a smaller room where one may be listening fairly nearfield and drivers need to integrate well for good imaging, coherency, etc. I've been very tempted to try a pair of the ls50s, and very well may someday.
I heard KEF ls50 with rega before. Excellent!!
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Thanks all. After talking this over more with my dad, I am going to give the Dynaudios a try. If they don't work well, I will sell them and try the Minuets or the Spendors. I am actually delighted to know about these other speakers, as I have some other applications in mind as well. I am grateful for your advice, audiophiles! Hope it's a rockin' fourth!
Though this may be too late, I highly recommend the Epos Elan 10. It's an excellent speaker for the money, and compares favorably with Sonus Faber Electa Amator II (I own both). I also have a smaller room and these were the perfect audiophile speaker solution.

I've fallen for Epos since my purchase of the M5 a number of years ago. Before casting judgement, please read Robert Reina's glowing reviews of Epos speakers. I think it's a mistake to disqualify these speakers and this company based on misinformation or lack of auditioning. These truly are outstanding speakers.
Thanks, Richard, you're actually not too late. And someone else was also just telling me to reconsider the Elan 10. I had eliminated it because of Al's warning (see post 6/17) about the impedence curve. Given that, can I ask what size amplifier you are running yours on? (Again, I think I am constrained for space reasons to a smaller amp and will most likely go with the Creek 50a). Margot
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Wow, I’m 5 years late in responding! Please accept my apologies, mcanaday. I assumed my comment was the last, and unfortunately no email notifications are sent from this site when new comments are made.

Well, if you do stop by here again, I wonder what speakers you went with for your similarly compact listening space. It may not have been Epos Elan 10, but that’s fine.

In answer to your question, Al was right. The Epos require careful consideration in that an amplifier or receiver that can drive 4 ohm speakers is necessary. But there are quite a few out there that do this pretty well. In my case, I chose the Onkyo TX-8050 receiver. Perhaps not the most high end of electronics. But it does a pretty good job for the price.

In any event, I hope you’re enjoying whatever components you ultimately chose for your system after all these years!