Speakers for a small room, looking for feedback

I would like to get opinions on the following speakers. I have only been able to hear the ATC's at this point & would welcome comparisons.

The speakers will be located in a 12X13 room, angled from the corner (6-9" away from walls). While the focus is on 2-channel, they will also be used for HT. I would like to have detailed & clear highs & a warmer mid-range. Bass just needs to be adequate, but defined (sub only for HT). The presentation should not be forward, but not too recessed. The intent is for a very musical, non-fatiguing speaker that isn't boring.

Top choices at this point:
* ATC 20's - great sound stage; very nice tweeter, but vocals a bit forward; adequate bass, very nice
* ATC 35's - they don't soundstage as nice as the 20's, but the mid-range is excellent; tweeter not as crisp as the 20's; very musical (& homely)

Comparisons: (very few reviews out there)
*JM labs 907 Be or Electra 926
*Paradigm Signature S4
*Tyler Reference
*Spendor s5e (local dealer only does custom or referalls, need to find cooperative dealer)

Do any of the above speakers provide what I am looking for? I would appreciate any comments or comparisons of the above speakers. thank you.
There's a few tricks to taming the SCM20's, which take a little bit to get used too. I've requested that ATC offer the SCM35 with the same Excel tweeter that's in the SCM20's, no response yet.

Maybe the Tyler Reference can creep into competition, but having had the JMLabs and ATC's side by side for three years. ATC pretty much win out in every category.

Dynaudio would be a good alternative to look at but they can get a little boomy in a small room like that.

Too bad your Spendor dealer is a dork.
I tried the Dynaudio Contours 1.4 two separate times. Neither time was ideal. The first, they were connected with Adcom gear in a large room and the vocals seem very forward. The second time in a smaller room with Ayre gear it was a nicer presentation. It just didn't move me as the ATC's did(as well as concerns about being close to a back wall).

In terms of the ATC 20's, how do you suggest taming them? is there a way to make the vocals not as forward?

Any feedback on the other speakers mentioned? I have selected them based on reviews and internet comments. Once again. thank you.

I have not heard the speakers on your list, but I have a room that size with similar placement constraints. My experience with a number of speakers is that you need to steer clear of rear ported speakers.

I hope this helps.
Might want to consider some others like Vandersteen 1's or 2's and Tetra 305's

Don't go with a rear ported speaker.
Something like soliloquy sat-5's or vienna acoustics would work great even against the wall.
The North Acoustic Spirit bookshelves really are made for that kind of placement. You shouldn't be put off by the fact that they got a good review in the current TAS. It's deserved.

The Totem Arros will also do well in that situation. Or, if you're adventurous, the Ohm MicroWalshs. Of these three, I think the Arros probably have the least low end extension in most rooms.
Hey Macct,

Which trick depends on your system, what is going to be your preamplifier?

My friend Chris is a cable expirement-er type and would be a good resource for an opinion too. Without knowing what your system is, its hard to move forward with the recs. What might even be more helpful is what system were you experiencing the forward midrange issue?

Well, I finally heard the Spendors & came away disappointed. Based on reviews & user comments, I thought this would be a good speaker for me. I liked the tonal balanced, but just too soft & polite for my taste. I wanted more air, dynamics & detail.

I also heard some Proacs. Very similat to my B&W N804 with a sweeter top-end. Very crisp & detail, but a bit lean in its presentation. Nice, but I prefer the ATCs.

I then heard the Linn Ninka's, and came away pretty impressed. Its going to make the choosing difficult. Very musical speakers with midrange warmth with a detailed upper-end. It doesn't seem to have the same level of inner detail and dynamics as the ATCs, but provides a very musical experience. I find it odd, the reviews on this speaker have been very mixed, while the Spendor has been so well received? Any comments on the Linn Ninka's?

I anticipate listening to the other speakers on my list (JM Labs, Paradigm, PMC) over the next week or so. Hopefully, I will narrow it down to 2 relatively soon.

thanks again...

PS - system is Krell HTS 7.1, Cary Cinema 5, Cary 306/200, XlO cables
Hey Macct.

You're pretty much ruined if you have heard the SCm20's as you have heard there are not too many speaker in its class.

I Know the Krell HTS will be fine with the 20's you might want to play with some cables to get it perfect but otherwise I wouldn't worry about the sound being too aggressive. The 20's don't image artificially so don't expect them to give you a break with a diffuse distant deep soundstage created by response shaping, I always tell people you better like your music if you buy an ATC speaker because its not a presentation you can easily ignore. Very involving and demanding.
The ATCs have really captivated me. I still want to try the 35's in my room, albeit I think the 20's are a better fit. I heard them early in the speaker search & I really want to know this is going to be a speaker that I will want to keep for 10 years. It also makes you questions how resolving you want your system.

I think I want that level of detail & transparency, but I am hoping it doesn't lead to detail overload, detracting from the musical presentaion. The speakers don't seem fatiguing, however. I knew they were a good fit when I was disapponited after I re-connected my B&Ws. The ATCs main negatives are price & their homliness (speakers from the 70's).

I must say I was impressed with the Linn Ninkas though. More engaging than the Spendor. Very musical with a nice tweeter. It doesn't have the detail & air of the ATC, but came away as very musical & enjoyable. The Linns are also quite a bargain and good-looking. They might be too polite for the long-term though.

If it comes down to the ATCs or Linns, its actually going to a difficult choice b/c I'm not exactly sure what type of presentation I want for the long-term.

I appreciate all of the responses. They have definetly led me to try various speakers as well as focus on what type of sound I am looking for.
You may have seen by now the HiFi+ review of the 907Be. Not sure if you have auditioned the 907 Be, or are pretty settled on the ATC's by now.

I had the 907Be home for a weekend and liked it very much. I think it fair to describe it as a natural extension of the good things in the Electra 906, or as a fair piece of the Micro Utopia; in other words, within the same family voice. Certainly the highs have tremendous detail and air, and overall the speaker has a very clear, natural sound.

Personally, I found the 927Be richer in the mids and bass, without getting out of hand in my smallish room. On the other hand, another correspondent whose done his homework (Bashline)preferred the 907 Be to the 927 Be, but clearly he had different room acoustics, i.e. concrete floor & walls. The Electra 926 would be worth checking out, IMHO, as more of a full range option at reasonable cost,if you don't think it looks too big for your room.
I'm using the ATC SCM10s for the past 5 years and love them. I have yet to find a bookshelf this size that can match ATC's performance.
I have compared Spendor S3/5s to Green Mountain audio europas and found the spendors sounded veiled, lacked transparency, and did not convey a sense of space like the europas. The S3/5 sounded nice, but the europas sounded real.

The europas are very uncoloured sounding, and they do the soundstage thing like no other speaker I've heard (including much better than Spica Angelus and Martin Logans).

They're factory direct only now, but Green Mountain has a new Callisto speaker out soon, that should be available through dealers.

I have never heard any of the other speakers on your list, but the europas strike me as a bit of a bargain.
I heard the two JM Labs today against two Linn models. Both nice, but different. I could probably live with either, but prefered the JM Labs. The JM Labs seemed more open with more inner detail. The midrange and lower bass was great. The tweeter was fine, extended but bright. A little raspy/gritty with certain disc.

I prefered the 926 over the 906. The 926 has the midrange warmth the little speaker cannot convey. Imaging, however, was better with the 906. I think the 926's, however, may be too much in a 12X13 room (6-9 inches from the wall). Will they work in such a small room? Is this an invitation to muddy bass?

At this point, I think it is between the ATC 20's and the JM Labs 926. I also like the ATC 35's, but the tweeter is not as clean (but more bass) & its only available in a natural cherry. I still want to try out the PMC speakers, but at this point I am pretty tired of demoing speakers.
I do not know the rest of your system, but if you are starting from scratch, look at the new high tech active ATC 20's. Built in amplification is the key here and the dynamics will startle you vs the passive plain jane but fabulous 20's. the active 20's are (one of) the best two way speakers I have heard. (and owned) When you get down to it, what with the amps built in, they are sort of a bargin,if anything in high quality hi fi is.
I have receive a lot a good advice over the weeks and it is very much appreciated. D_edwards - your advice has been great & I can relate to the comparisons. Our conversation got me thinking & has brougt up some additional questions. Feedback is defintely appreciated.

I have decided on the ATC 20-2 (high-tech passive), but now wonder if going the active route may be beter in the long run. I would also add a center channel (either passive or active) & leave my existing rear speakers for the foreseeable future.

Going active will cost more in the near term, but I would eventually be able to downize my amp (Cary Cinema 5 amp) & sell off my existing speaker cable (fronts & center).

I have not heard the active speakers, however, and wonder about the tonal qualities of the amp. The 20sl is my room with the Cary amp were very neutral, dynamic and clear without any listener fatigue. Will the ATC amps be more similar to the Cary SS or more neutral like a Krell? Does it have any tendency to be bright? Does the dynamic attributes of going active offset the ability to match the amp to your other components?

What type of balanced cables would be a good match? Given I would need 3 - 3m cables they can get expensive & just make going active too expensive.

I would also want to keep my rear speakers on the low -end of the scale with a lower-end 2 channel amp. The speakers are only used for HT & I feel the expense of going active would be overkill. Is this approach reasonanble?

I realize I have asked a lot of questions. I have searched the internet & the people familar with active tend to prefer it. I just don't have that experience & the intent is to have these speakers at least 10 years. If I am not happy, I think it would pretty hard to sell active speakers that don't have a big name behind them.

Once again, thank you for your thoughts.

The passive speakers are usually a less exacting sound, the nature of passive crossovers is to smear the sound a little which makes them more forgiving. There is nothing wrong with the active amplifiers in the ATC's they remind me of McCormack or Pass amplifiers not dry but not wet and no weird stuff going on. They are very good. I am not familiar with the Cary SS amps. A guess would be that they are softer sounding than the on board amplifiers.

The advantage is the direct drive of each driver and the high current capabilities of the amps make the SCM20's some of the most brutally revealing speakers and dynamic compact speakers you can own at any price. But not because they are bright. These speakers will reveal the recording in such a away that even the weird noises you once thought were flaws become background instruments and other discernable glitches etc. Matching components is over rated unless you're dealing with marginal gear. Which many people are.

You won't need expensive cables to make the speakers sound good with your surround processor. I can think of some cables under $100 for all three that will do the job more than adequately. So no worries there. Cables are your last worry. No cable will make or break this system.

So should you go active? If your near future likely holds a larger room and the thought of more detail and dynamic range seem enticing then go active.

Remember if you get a good surround processor your days of listening to two channel are over and god will not punish you for occasionally using a tone control. This concept is foriegn here, but two channel is a compromise especially for digital playback. Use all the resources that are available to you in your system. The most idiotic thing on the planet is a surround processor optimized for 2 channel. Because its like bringing five players to the basketball game and only playing two at a time. But that's another issue.

Lastly SCM7's make very good matching rear channels $800 and the Concept 5 Center channel will require you to remove animals and small children from your room while playing.
I will probabaly be using this room for quite a while. I like the idea of going active, albeit it might be overkill for the room. I would also need to use a smaller center, C4a. Since I already know I like the overall sound of the speaker (passive), the only potential risk is the speaker may be too revealing. At this point, I want to ask my dealer if its possible to hear the actives before deciding.

thank you.
I second the suggestion concerning the Tetras. Especially the "Live" line. The advertisements say "sounds like being there."