Speaker Choice for Almarro 318B

Guys, I'm a budding audiophile looking to jump up to tube amps after a few years with an Arcam/B&W integrated combo. I've become smitten with the Almarro 318B integrated tube amp and now I'm in the market for some affordable speakers that will suit the amp better than my B&W DM 602 S3 speakers. The room is approx 14'X 16', hardwood floors with a small area rug, celings are approx 10' high. Speakers will need to be placed close to the wall. I listen to an eclectic mix of music that veers from noise rock to experimental electro acoustic to HEAVY avant metal ala Sunn O))) to more traditional things like PJ Harvey and Radiohead. I'm in need of a good speaker recommendation. I've been looking into Green Mountain Audio Europas, Zu Tones, Gallo Ref 3.1s, and the Omega Super XRS speakers. Can anyone point me in the right direction here? If I had the cash I would get the GMA Callistos based on reputation, or the Zu Druids, but I don't think I even have the space for these speakers. I am leaning toward a used pair of Europas for $650 shipped. Should I take the plunge? Please help! I want a speaker that will be a noticeable step up from my current setup...Will the GMA Europas mix well with the Almarro 318B? Thanks!
the almarro is a nice(if limited) amp, but all the speakers you are naming(including your b&w's which are really good)benefit greatly from more power or grunt. you may want to look into omegas or other super efficent models, or look into a push/pull design and keep the b&w's. finding the speakers you want to live with, and then working backwards is the best way to go.
Jaybo, the A318B will have no problem with the Zu Tones. The Tones are rated at 96dB/12ohms, an easy load for for tube amps.

I owned the A31A & A318B for several months and drove a range of speakers with them including 90dB/4ohm Jean Marie Reynaud Twins mkII's. The A318B was fantastic with the Twins within reasonable limitations.
Thanks for the responses guys, so I see it looks like a no go on the GMA Europas...damn, I thought $650 sounded like a good price and match for the amp...I need greater sensitivity with the 318B? I'm new to tube amps, so I'm not entirely sure what the rules of thumb are on speaker matching. I should go no lower than about 91dB?
Your room is moderate sized and if you want anything close to realistic levels, I would try and stay with 90 dB or higher. Just as important as overall efficiency is the impedence curve. Are there any frequencies at which the impedence drops significantly? You can always use Zero autoformers if that's the case, but a 6 ohm or greater nominal impedence and a smooth impedence curve will indicate an easy to drive speaker. Looking at the Europa spec, its 5.25 ohms, very smooth curve, sensitivity 88 dB. You might try it with the autoformers, or it could be OK if you don't push it hard. I would say you are right on the edge, but there are other good higher eff speakers out there that MIGHT be a better match. I only heard that amp once at a show, but it sounded great with some very good, high eff horns.
just a thought, but the new klipsch heresy may be fine...especially if you like to rock.
Thanks Jaybo, I will look into this speaker as I certainly am looking to rock! Although its rare these days that I get to really crank, so loudness isn't a big concern for me.
the heresys are pretty dynamic even at low to mid volume. they will also show off the amp's midrange which is very lifelike. you can put the speakers in corners as well. good luck.
Jaybo, do you think the Heresey's are a a speaker that will be a significant upgrade frommy B&W's? This whole switch came as a result of just getting bored with the sound of my Arcam Diva A75 integrated and the B&Ws...I figured a switch ti tubes and better speakers would do the trick. I haven't even bought the amp yet actually, but I do have my heart set on it. I'd imagine the Heresey's might work well with my Arcam while I save for the Almarro. Maybe I will seek out a dealer to listen to them.
I was also looking onto the Axiom M80ti speakers, perhaps they might be a good match, though maybe too big for my room.
have a relatively low budget and interested in highly efficient speakers.
i auditioned several models of his including single driver speakers (ala omega) using various drivers (fostex, hemp cone, etc.). these speakers can handle rock/pop stuff and be great fit for almarro or other low-powered tube amps.

he's based in southern and northern california and local auditions can be arranged.
check out fritzspeakers.com
he's a great guy.
the heresys are quite different from the B&W's. they are one of best buys in audio, if you dig the 'feel' of 'live' unadorned music. they are very close in character to the larger klipschorns with the exception of the bass. compared to more traditional multi driver speakers, they sound(by nature) more forward. they also do not 'image' as well as the B&Ws, or other smaller speakers.....what they will do (for a very reasonable amount of money) is put you in the front row of a live event.......suprisingly they are not fatiguing either. the fact that they have such a following after decades(some enthusiasts have owned forever)is a testiment to their sound.
Match well with Almarro speakers
I did consider the Almarro speakers which look very nice, but I haven't been able to find as much information on them, so they were at the back of my list...Would like to hear any opinions on the M2A, M33, M3A if anyone has experience with them...again, thanks to everyone who has posted to help me out...this is proving to be a tough decision...wish I could hear them ALL!
Ditto on the matching the 318B with either Almarro or Zus.

Having only heard the M1A speaker with the 318B, I was quite suprised at how nice it sounded . . . especially bass-wise. Nice, tight, clean, and very dynamic; though not quite as dynamic as the Zu Tone (via the 318B). This comparo was made easy as the local dealer reqresents both Zu and Almarro in Hong Kong. I can imagine that the bigger Almarros sound similar, albeit exhibiting larger scale and frequency range.

I've heard the entire Zu range with the 318B and they all sound wonderful. Focusing on the Tones, this, in my opinion, would be a fine match. Together they exhibit quickness, clarity, and tone (no pun intended) that is hard to beat.

My 318B has been on order for a few months now and should be arrive in about 2-3 weeks. It will be paired with my Aurum Cantus V3Ms and I'll be sure to post my thoughts asap.

I auditioned the Almarro speakers at their So Cal distributor. Very nice with Jazz and classical, which the owner played for me. I also played Innervisions by Stevie Wonder from my vinyl collection and was amazed at depth and musicality.

Zu Tones are a solid recommendation--they have good dynamics. I would also recommend Paradigm.
Thanks for the responses guys, I appreciate the info. Garryh, I'd love to hear your impressions when you finally land that 318B...I've only just ordered my own as well.
I've owned a 318B since August 07....look for a speaker match that's 8 ohm nominal and 92db or better and you'll have plenty of power to play loud...this amp does high frequencies like none I've ever heard and the overall tonal purity is very good...it's not a micro detail machine but a musical sounding amp...the power tubes take about 100 hours to settle in and then hold their bias without drifting much...the manual bias is very easy...just get a multimeter, it's not difficult to do. I like the amp and it's looks, only wish would be for a little more detail.

FYI: You may wish to also audition LFD integrated amps from the UK. There will be a huge write-up on these in both Stereophile and Tone Magazines in the coming days and this company will have a buzz in 2008, as they are now entering the US market. I know many studio engineers at the BBC who claim that they are the best in class for recreating a rock sound. They are built around the same quality component build theory as Almarro (simple engineering and sterling components) and can deliver real rock performance with speakers like the Zu Tones. Gene Rubin Audio has just added this brand in So Cal and I would suggest you research this alongside Almarro.

The best rock speakers I know are ATC 19s out of the UK. See the recent writeup on www.sonicflare.com. They are a true industry standard for studio monitors and they play all genres well. Their little brothers are the ATC7s and 11s. Very precise--will play the source exactly how it is recorded--warts and all. I have been in the music business (live touring) for 30 years and I use the professional 150s for my work. Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones and 1000 recording studios use these--the best endorsement I can give you. I have worked with everyone from the The Clash, Sting, No Doubt, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc...they are critical to my business around designing lighting routines.

With that said, when I am off, I like a more relaxed sound around my home and both Almarro and LFD are the finest amps I have heard from home consumer electronic providers. I really like the 205 amp by Almarro--I bought this for my daughter and she loves electronica and hip hop. She has a pair of studio monitors by Paradigm and a iMod player from Red Wine Audio. Killer sound for about $1,500. I would also look at the Fatman iTube amp out of the UK.

PS: I like Zu but they only sell direct and they require 250 to 500 hours break-in. The dynamics can be very aggressive and they are not good for long listening sessions.

I think you will love ATC with your music choices matched to the LFD. Radiohead sounds incredible on these and you won't believe the bass from artists like Hot Chip or LCD.

I hear lots of gear at the Electronics shows and am usually a skeptic around audiophile products. In my three decades, they rarely hold their value and very few reach cult status.
You would be wise to buy around brands that are not the latest fashion. From a amp and speaker perspective, Harbeth from the UK, Bryston from Canada, NAD from China, Paradigm from Canada all deliver finely built components with price-for-performance. These companies have weathered many a downturn in the market and provide long-term performance (Bryston gives 20 year warranties). I think the best CD source is Sony Playstation 1 and I love the new Rega and Pro-ject turntables.

You can build a really incredible system for a few grand these days and don't get caught up in the tweak factor that dominates this hobby. The smartest thing you have done has found this site. It is a wonderful forum to research your options. But be wary of people like 6moons--they also take advertising from manufacturers. A lot of your choices seem to come from their Blue Moon Awards. Check out Tone Magazine and Stereomojo--well respected sites.
Interesting Larryken,

The bias on my 318B was always rock steady after the first ~30 hours. And I think I only had to adjust it twice in that time.

You used the exact term that I kept returning to as I tried to describe the amp to others - "tonal purity". That is the best possible description.

BTW, I just saw pictures of Almarro's new monoblocks from the recent trade show. I think they are Class A PP and use the same output tubes as the A318B. Yowsa!!!
B-O-F, love your moniker!

Best laugh this weekend.

Good information you've provided.

One area that I slightly disagree - your admonition re: 6Moons. In my case, no doubt that some items reviewed on 6Moons affected my decision to subsequently purchase these same items (Minimax and Raysonic CDPs, Zu Tones, and Micropure Kotaros) simply by exposure to their availability. These products must be competitive and won't survive on hype alone . . . especially so here in Hong Kong, wherein lay virtually the entire gamut of HiFi to sample. Some of my purchases/orders actually predated the reviews on 6Moons (Yamamoto H/P amp, Almarro A318B, & REL subs). Perhaps it's a case of gravitating towards the same sound / design - who knows?

It seems quite clear that they've a fairly good track record for picking quality products which also represent extremely good VFM. In fact, both the Project and Sony sources you've recommended where given very favourable reviews on 6Moons as well.

Accordingly, if one's tastes are congruent with those of a partcular group or site; then, in my book, this would help diminish the likelihood of costly mistakes over time.

Just my $0.02.

MBLeming, the Reference 3a De Capo is a match made in heaven for you. I listen to a lot of the music you were talking about...the De Capo's are very fast with very good bass, they image very well and have a fantastic midrange. I think the Almarro 318b is a perfect marriage as a lot of the people over at the owners circle for Reference 3a at audiocircle.com will attest to!
Sean34, actually I've looked closely at those and they are on my list...just need to narrow it down :) I have time though as the amp won't be here for 3-4 months!
If your budget must stay below $1000.00 then it's going to be hard to fill that order. You could get a pair of Decware MG 94s and maybe add a sub or look into what AV 123 has to offer. 18 watts will drive 90db speakers plenty loud as long as their impedance curve is pretty benign. Later on, if you decide that SET is the way for you. You could sell the B&Ws and whatever speaker you purchase now and look into much better speakers for that amp.
Actually, my budget will be able to handle more than $100, but I'd like to stay under $3000...The Almarro has no dedicated output for a sub, so I'm guessing I can't supplement the lack of bass on some of these speakers? I'm new to this sorry!
It is not necessary to use a sub as I am getting down into the low 30's in my room(14x17 with 9.5 ceilings) and that is tight fast quality bass! You should be able to pick up a pair of the De Capo's for around 1000$ I actually had to put some bass traps in the corners I was getting so much. Sean
I have the 318B and just ordered a pair of the Hornshoppe Horns (www.hornshoppe.com). The price is $850 delivered from Ed Shilling who makes them.

They have gotten good reviews on 6moons and other sites. Srajan at 6moons also thought the Horns and the 318B would be a good match when I emailed him.

I auditioned them a few weeks and was smitten. I think that for the money, you would be hard pressed to beat them. I did alot of research first.

Depending on your room and listening habits, you may or may not want a sub. I heard them with and without. As I already had a sub, it was not an issue.

You can easily use subs with the A318B, I did. All you need is a subwoofer equalizer or sub amp that allows speaker-level inputs.

I use a Paradigm X-20 Subwoofer Control Unit. It allows both line-level and speaker-level inputs. So, I just run two sets of speaker cables - one to my main speakers, the other to the X-20 and out to the subwoofer.

If I remember correctly, the speaker level inputs of most x-overs simply have a -6dB or -10dB voltage divider in the line - really just resistors.

Oh, I forgot to mention, that if you have any woodworking skills or know a cabinet maker, you really should look into the $650 [url=http://www.hammerdynamics.com/]Hammer Dynamics Super-12[/url]'s kit. All you really need is 2 pieces of 4'x8' plywood.

But, don't let it's price and simply construction fool you, these speakers are awesome. With some [url=http://melhuish.org/audio/super12.html]simple modifications[/url] listed here, you can take them up to an amazingly high level of performance for very little total money.

I have them and they are really fantastic, even in comparison to my expensive Cain & Cain IM-Bens.
I use the Paradigm Studio 60 to match my A318B, it's very good.
I think that you'd be surprised if you heard the Sequerra MET 7.7 mk 6. Tellig reviewed in Sterophile not long ago. It's a design that's been around for many many years...and for that reason, I think its fallen off the radar of many of the present audiophiles...not as sexy as some of the newer desings. But I just keep listening to all sorts of monitors (you know that audiophile need to make a change every once in awhile for no reason whatsoever)...and I just can't find anything that tops my MK 4's .... So I've given up the idea of owning anything but Sequerra monitors...now I'm going to buy the MK6 (a little bigger and a little deeper). And for $850 I think they are cheaper than most of the competition.

BTW...I want an Almarro 318B...which is why I'm in this thread. T
Thanks for the suggestion Issabre, I'm still awaiting my Almarro and I'm open to all ideas and enjoy having my eyes opened to all speaker possibilities.
Have a listen to Oris 150's If you can, they are sometimes on Audiogon and are cheap when they are, being a horn speaker they are a perfect match for tube amps. They will give you all the quality you will need quietly or if you want to crank It up. 'Creep' sounds awesome, Its a track (of many) that I love to listen to at ear splitting level, when I'm in a mood for some loudness (and to get my own back on the neighbor with his ruddy old school rock that he pumps out).lol.
Seriously for the money they take some beating.
The Sequerra Met 7s would be a great match. I had a pair of the 7.7 Mk 4 or 5s. The only piece(s) I ever regret selling. And yes, with high level inputs you could add a sub if you wanted to.
Yeah, I use my Sequerra Mk4s with an ACI force XL sub. It took some fine tuning to get it right (I underestimated the difficulty of mating the sub with monitors) using an SPL meter, but I think it sounds pretty nice now. Getting placement and phase right is critical.
Oh and one more thing... The Sequerra's (I think) are rated at 89db sensitive. That really shouldn't matter though.. I used mine with a Sofia Electric Music Baby which only puts out 10 watts and it drives them just fine. The Almarro has more watts and by all accounts lacks no power reserve... I think you'll have to be careful judging by sensitivity alone.
As a noob that's kind of what I've fallen into, judging by sensitivity above all else, really. There are so many variables, speaker types, etc, that it's all a little overwhelming, but interesting (and fun as well)! It's been explained to me a little bit, but I'm still not sure how to correctly connect a subwoofer with an integrated like the 318B...I figured a sub would be a no go as the amp has no dedicated sub out, but again I'm basically clueless about this stuff. Do you compromise the sound of an low wattage integrated by rigging a sub to it?
Mb- Your room is moderate sized w/high ceilings. Not ideal for a lower powered tube amp, but with plenty of current from those 6cc3b tubes, you may be OK at 89-90 dB/w/1m. If you can find a used pair of the Sequerras you will never have a problem selling them. Mine went to a guy in Europe who was happy to pay the cost of air-freighting them from U.S. In fact, if you go with the Sequerras and don't like them, I'll buy them! For a sub hook-up w/o sub or additional main output, you will need to run from speaker output on integrated to speaker or high level input on sub, and then from the speaker/high level out on the sub to the speakers. You would use the high pass filter on the sub to filter out the mid-bass. YOu will want a sub with adjustable crossover and phase angle to make matching it up to the mains easier.
Swampwalker, thanks for info, I will keep that in mind. My ceilings are pretty high, but its a duplex apartment and I rarely crank the speakers to concert level volume...most listening is low to mid range with an occasional crank on the weekends :)
At low to moderate volume, that amp is winner and should be fine with 89 dB speakers IF they have a relatively high and flat impedence curve. If you ever want more ooomph, you can go high eff. The Sequerras will not "knock you out" at first listen, but they have no flaws beyond their limited bass extension. The image well and have are detailed w/o being analytical. No idea how they would deal with your kind of music, I'm more a blues/singer-songwriter/folk/bluegrass kind of guy.
Yeah, I am mostly Jazz/folk/blues/orchestral.... some rock though.

I checked the prices on the Sequerra MK6...there seems to be a retailer for the Sequerra stuff who lists the price at $1500 per pair.

Then I go to Dick's own website and it lists factory direct prices as being $850 per pair. That's a big difference! Wonder what the deal is????

If you go used, I would get a Sequerra MK4 ...the MK5 (also on Dick's website seems to have a different driver...but then he looks to have gone back to the old driver for the MK6.

Mostly what you see used is the MK 1 or MK2...kind of old and ugly with the Grills on the front. the MK4/5/6 have no grills on the design.
WLM austrian company using this amp with their range of speakers as a best choice along Red Wine audio amp 30.2.I just heard both amps on hifi show in Prague today and spent most time in their room.No headaches like in other rooms,no fatique.
Yes, I've looked at the WLM line and LOVE what I see, but they're out of my price range by quite a bit. I've also twice emailed their US distributor about price and possible used/demo products to no reply...
I once waited a bit more than 4 months to get a Lector CD player ... a very frustrating experience. Good luck!
Sunn o)))) ?!?!?! Maximum Volume yields Maximum results!!!!!
:) you know what i am talking about!
Yes, Proghead, you know what I'm talking about! Listening to 00 Void as I type this!
So, I just picked up a set of Almarro M33A speakers ... powered by my 318B ... simply wonderful, great extension, no need for a sub, and powerfully immediate and engaging ... just as any good crossover-less speaker should be ... I no longer miss my SuperCains/Abbey
Congrats Arkprof, that's a nice combo.
I no longer miss my SuperCains/Abbey
Unless they are used in a fairly small room, I've always felt the Abbys need the Bailey subwoofer to sound fleshed out.

Hi, just saw your post about your new Almarro M33a speakers....been looking at those myself, for my own 318B. Just wondering what your impressions are so far. Also, where did you purchase them from? I've seen them at audiomax-ltd.com, but that's the only US store I've seen them listed. I would like a pair and I'm wondering where I can find them and how much they'll set me back.
Also, where did you purchase them from? I've seen them at audiomax-ltd.com, but that's the only US store I've seen them listed. I would like a pair and I'm wondering where I can find them and how much they'll set me back.

I got my A318B from Brian Bowdle of Venus HiFi. Nothing but the highest praise for him, really focuses on customer service. He's got a lot of experience with the entire Almarro line of products.
Hi,I use a pair of 88db Devore Gibbons 8'S with the 318b with no problems.This amp seems to have a lot more power than it's 18 watt rating,imho.I would not rule some 88db spk's out.KPB