Speaker advice for listening to Blues music

Hi, new to the forum, and hoping I can get some help finding the right speakers... I'm a Blues guitar player and have a dedicated music room for my guitars/amps. I usually spend time playing my guitars and recently decided to setup a decent system for listening to my Blues music. I first started with a Marantz integrated (PM8005) and some Kef R300, source is a Marantz ND8006 and I mostly play FLAC files from a NAS, but also started streaming from Spotify and now trying Tidal. This setup was great at first, very revealing, but found the R300 were not the right speakers for the kind of music I listen to, but they were great for some Jazz and did well with good recordings, which most of my Blues recordings weren't, specially live albums. I also found them to be a little boomy in that small room (12' X 12'), so I moved them to the living room instead and added a matching center, they're perfect there.

Next came the LS50, read so much about them I had to get a pair to try. Wow! I still can't believe what these small speakers can do, the details I hear, soundstage, imaging, it's all there. But, just like the R300, since they're so revealing they're horrible with my favorite Blues recordings. It's great to listen to excellent recordings and enjoy the music these speakers are making but I want to enjoy MY music, the Blues greats I've been listening to for over 30 years. If it sounds great in the car then I should be able to find the right gear to duplicate at home, right? On some good Blues recordings it sounds excellent, but most of my favorites aren't good recordings.

Since I only play my guitars through old Fender amps I figured I should replace the Marantz integrated with a tube amp, so next came the PrimaLuna integrated. I wanted to get a "warmer" sound and hope it'll fix the issues I was having with most crappy recordings... I want to hear BB's beautiful guitar tone and crank it up, without hurting my ears. Both Kefs were too fatiguing to listen to. And on most live recordings guitars sound way too thin and bright, not what I'm used to hearing. A good example is Albert King's Wednesday Night in San Francisco, that Flying V can be painful to listen to after a couple of minutes! Not so in the car or even just using headphones and my laptop. I understand that it's because the system is more revealing, but is it possible to have both, revealing and musical so that one can enjoy the music they love? The PrimaLuna did help and it's staying, I like what I'm hearing so far, and I get to play with tubes, something I enjoy doing already :)

Right now I'm breaking in some Wharfedale Denton 80th, I wanted to try something with a soft dome tweeter, something less fatiguing than the LS50. I'm at 70+ hours so far and they're sounding much better, not as fatiguing, but something is missing... I prefer the LS50's soundstage and details, but they're both not that great for electric guitar. The Dentons are more forgiving but I don't find them musical and they don't disappear like the LS50s do.

So what are my choices? Do I stick with bookshelf, try some floor standing? What about single driver speakers (Omega, Zu...)? Are those the answer to what I'm looking for? I need something more forgiving, musical, efficient so I can crank it up when I feel like playing along some times... I want the guitar to sound full and not thin and bright. It's a small room and not a lot of space due to my guitar gear. My budget is also limited, would like to keep it under $2k, I already have a hobby and don't want this to get out of control :)

Forgot to mention, I also have a Rel sub, so not too worried about the low end. Sorry for the long post and thanks for any help!

Showing 10 responses by mrdecibel

I will jump in for a moment. I am a Klipsch Heritage fanatic, going back to my youth ( mid 60s ). I agree that the Heresy will do well for you. But I am wanting to make a point. I own 3 sets of Heritage, currently ( 2 pr Heresy, 1 pr Lascala). Admittedly, I have tweaked them all ( horn damping, better crossover components, etc ). I am finding that all music sounds wonderful through all 3 pair. In fact, It is my belief that a great speaker ( and this is personal by all of us as to a house sound ), should be able to play any and all music very well. Yes, not all speakers do. My reference track for any system,  component, or room set up, has always been, since it's release,  Stevie Ray Vaughan, and his studio version of Tin Pan Alley. Enjoy ! MrD.
Cedar, where in CF are you located ? I might not be far from you.
Orange City, Florida, south a bit from Daytona Beach, off of I-4. Speaking of Alvin Lee. His " The Bluest Blues " is awesome. My systems are very revealing, and if I am listening to a bad recording ( poorly mic’d, over compressed, ridiculous use of eq, etc, ) I hear it. However, I have trained my ears to still listen to them, if I am liking the musicianship. I will turn these recordings down a tad, in volume. Fortunately, I do not have many recordings that are unlistenable. When I went passive 2 years ago ( permanently, since I have dabbled with passive for more years than I can remember ), I can say, I am hearing what was intended, by the musicians, producers, recording, and mixing engineers, etc., and would not have it any other way. BTW, if anyone here is familiar with Keb' Mo', he is a bit bluesy, and his recordings are stellar.  Enjoy ! MrD.
I also believe, that with you being on stage, playing through "equipment ", has a bit of a livelier, punchier, more dynamic sound, than many hifi systems, and, hifi speakers. The JBLs mentioned by nonoise, or some Klipsch models, can be used as a karaoke type speaker, meaning, they will handle instruments through a mixer / amplifier with greater finesse, with little to no breakup / compression. P.S. The ears /  brain gets used to certain musical attributes after years of exposure.
Cedar, you are welcome to take a drive to me, and listen to a pair of Heresy 2s, and my other, main system, with my Lascalas. You can pm me for the details. Enjoy ! MrD.
Maggies are not electrostatic designs. They are a planar; a panel speaker. Cedar, why not have 2 systems set up ( 2 amps, 2 pr speakers ) ? A second for your poorer recordings. You will go nuts trying to make poorer recordings sound good on a higher end, neutral system, as mentioned previously a few times. To each his / her own, who think the Klipsch K77 tweeter cannot sound smooth, articulate, and just plain excellent. And, as far as a " system " not sounding excellent on all genres of music ?.....well.....The best systems can knock it out of the park with everything played. A few folks also seem to think the Heresy IIIs have some weaknesses. They are correct. They can be bettered further. As far as a small room ( any room ), you need to get rid of any early reflections, or else you are wasting your time with all of it. Sorry Cedar, I might be done here. Too much ridiculousness ( for me ). Enjoy ! MrD.
Cedar, thank you. Yes, the Heresy needs a sub or 2, and so does the Lascala. But the larger mid horn, and the bass horn ( also known as the dog house to us Klipshers ) on the Lascala, is a different animal altogether. But do what you are doing, and try and listen to whatever you can. Enjoy ! MrD.
br3098. You meant to say : There is no reason why these speakers will " not " sound great with your Primaluna. A newbie might not take what you said the proper way. All good, and I am sorry for re - appearing here.
I would like to point out, that when the Advent was introduced, it was a game changer that allowed so many young folks, in college, or in life, to realize excellent hifi on a budget. Yes, they were a steal back then. I still appreciate them, but, they are not as good as many $1000. speakers of today, which is likely the inflationary cost today. So again Helomech, enjoy ! MrD.
Helomech, imo, you seem to rely on test reports and magazine reviews, rather than trying to figure out what you like, and want, in a system. If you are happy with the Advents, great for you. What have you modified / upgraded concerning the Heresy 3s ? I am assuming you dampened the mid horns, the tweeters, the woofer frames, and upgraded, even further, the crossover components. My AR 3a's will annihilate ( your wording ) your Advents, but they are still closed in and lifeless compared to some of my more modern loudspeakers, particularly a pair of modified Heresy 2s I own ( the ARs go deeper in bass, but are slower and softer ). I have the ARs because they belonged to my dad, and I will never get rid of them. I have driven them with some monstrous amplifiers, and they " are " good, and somewhat enjoyable. But, they sound like an old design, as do your Advents. But maybe, just maybe, your ears are tired of better speakers that showcase imperfections in the recordings, or your ears can no longer handle certain sounds, loudnesses, dynamics, whatever, which I believe is your point in posting here. Never hard feelings, as it is all about the music. Enjoy MrD.