Speakers for Rock

I'm looking to buy the system of my dreams. I listen to mainly rock music - everything from 50s, classic rock like Led Zepplin to new stuff like Blink 182. I listen to country, jazz, classical here & there.

My question is - what brands of speakers are best for rock music?

I've been looking at B&W CDM9's pretty seriously, as well as Thiel or maybe the 804s used. But I often hear comments regarding the B&Ws that they aren't the best for rock. I'm not sure where to start on this search - there are so many brands and most shops only sell a few so I'm looking for some pointers......

(As for components, I've been thinking of Rotel separates or a B&K 805.)

Thanks for the help!
Cerwin Vegas OR Klipsch!!
Dunlavy are very good for rock music and any other music for that matter. Can play loud with ease and stay together without breaking drivers.
I don't think that either B&W's or Thiel's are especially well suited to be called "rock & roll" speakers, especially the Thiel's.

Look for something that is at least 91 - 92 dB's at the minimum, uses multiple drivers for each frequency range and will handle a lot of power. For the money and with some simple mods to the speakers, a pair of stacked Klipsch Heresy's is hard to beat when it comes to rock. This gives you high efficiency ( appr 98 - 99 dB's ) and pretty reasonable power handling with very punchy bass and the ability to rock the house without having a million watts on hand. Speaking of "wattage", couple that with a NAD 2600A power amp and you've got a pretty rockin' yet inexpensive system.

Then again, if you thought B&W's and Thiel's were suitable for Zep and Blink 182, you obviously have very different ideas than i do. Skip my idea and trust your own ears : ) Sean
Try DynAudio or Paradigm. People have said the tonal balance of Dynaudio works well with rock and roll. I use N804 and like them because they work for everything. Nothing worse than getting a speaker (or any component) which only plays one type of music (IMHO).
Sean, this is a first, you couldnt be more off base about
the Thiels.
My music diet consists mostly of the newer (alternative)
rock music. i.e...Pearl Jam,Staind,Alice in chains......
I own the CS6 speakers driven by Krell FPB300c and I have
yet to hear a better "rock" speaker.
Most reviews also point out this fact. Quotes like "I never knew Jim Thiel was a head banger" from I belive John Atkinson come to mind.

Vader, i'm simply basing my comments on what i've heard and experienced. I also took into account the scenario ( price range and associated components ) that the poster suggests.

None of the Thiel's that i've heard have had any type of "slam" to them whatsoever and have always come across as being noticeably bright sounding. Don't ask me for models as i couldn't tell you. Source and amplification were all of good quality, so i know that this was not a problem.

As a case in point, their latest and greatest "inexpensive" speaker, which was completely redesigned from the ground up, still has these traits. Keep in mind that this speaker, the Thiel 1.6, retails for $2000 and can't even do 50 Hz with ANY type of authority. It starts sloping off like crazy at 100 Hz. It is 10 dB's down at 60 Hz. Since you quoted JA as a "fan" of Thiel's for R&R reproduction, i'll use him too. On page 95 of the September Stereophile, JA stated that the 1.6 lacked bass, needed mid-bass reinforcement, was "treble dominant" and "will not be very forgiving of ancillary components" and pulled twice the current of many other designs. To me, this sounds like a speaker that would be hard to match to other components in terms of tonal balance and power requirements.

The fact that you are getting "slam" out of your Thiel's is probably due in a large part to the amp that you are using to drive them. If you take into account that the person that posted this thread is looking at Rotel & B&K backbone components, i would not expect them to get the same bottom end out of any Thiel that you are experiencing with yours. Couple the lack of bass with an overtly bright treble response that Thiel's tend to produce and the typically horrible digital recordings that most rock & roll bands end up with and you've got the potential for high SPL ear-bleed's with a complete lack of bottom end drive.

I did take notice that the bands that you mentioned did happen to have pretty decent ( not brittle sounding ) recordings though, so if that is all that you listened to, i can see how you might not find this to be a potential problem. Personally, i've got WAY too many digital recordings that don't sound nearly that good or fall into the "good sonics" category to not think about this aspect of system assembly.

I think that i've made my point pretty clear as to why i stated what i did. Obviously, we've got different opinions on this one. As with all of my comments / suggestions, i recommend that the person trust their ears when looking to buy a product. After all, nobody here is going to have the same exact system, acoustics, personal preferences, etc.. As such, all we can do is share our thoughts and experiences, good or bad. From there, each comment is worth only the value that the reader places upon it. Sean
They're not "audiophile" speakers, and have low significant other acceptance factor, but I can't see doing much better than the larger Tannoy Professional studio monitors: System 15 DMT and 215 DMT (original or MK II).

The MK IIs are still in production, so you can get the relevant stats at: www.tannoy.com (98-101 dB, high power handling, fabulous dynamics, excellent detail and imaging). Work well with low powered valve amps as well as high-powered solid state (I use the latter).

Circa $2K+ used. Rather more for the 215s (though sometimes studios sell 'em cheap).

The adventurous and/or skilful can easily find a used pair of Tannoy 3836s, download the cabinet and crossover plans from the net and come up with a very reasonable facsimile of the System 15.

3836s go for circa $400/pr. Sometimes, though, you find a history of a hard working life as a PA driver means the HF unit needs replacing.

The stacked Klipsch is a good idea, too!

Happy listening.

I have owned B&W 801 III run with Krell/Trasparent for 8 years now and love the dynamics and speed they have. I have a larger room with accoustic treatment and use North Creek crossovers which was the weak point of the Matrix series. I play some of the heaviest speed metal and everything else and think they handle everything as equally as I could have imagined. I think the Matrix have a little more snap in them than the Nautilus, but I love the new B&W cabinet's. I am with Sean in that that I have not heard Thiel as a rock speaker, but that could simply be tubes vs. solid state electronics. I like B&W for all types of music and they work great for home theater.
Dagny, I'm on the same page musically. I would chime in too that although B&W and Thiel make some good speakers, they may not be your best choice. Really good rock comes out of such brands only at the high end (CS6 and Krell FPB!). I have heard 801's rock when hooked up to Levinson 33H monoblocks. I would need a second mortgage to pay for that setup. And if you go with Heresy's please get a tube amp because they have made my ears bleed the only times I heard them, which was years ago with Mac solid state. Their main virtue is the ease with which you can damage your hearing. Big deal: you can do that for free at the airport. If you want tuneful bass and no upper mid/low treble emphasis, which exaggerates rock recordings' most common problem, and you don't want to drop 20 grand, you must hear the venerable, warm, slightly wolly but phat, Vandersteen 2ci. Cheap, not hard to drive, nearly indestructible. Should work fine with a Rotel. The limit is that it will not play 120dB. It will play 105, however, and that is plenty loud.

Another good choice in rock speakers that have some pedigree is the Aerial 7 (or 8), which you might find used on this site. They are harder to drive and much more revealing, but with a good high current amp (McCormick DNA, perhaps) they can shake the house, and they will welcome upgrades in your front end better than the 2ci. My point is that you should avoid anything that shouts at you, and some of these "rock speakers" are PA-style screamers. I think you want something that has audiophile qualities but with lots of immediacy and punch. I had Vandies for a long time, hooked up to a Linn front end, and that modest rig had what takes to make a mountain man leave his home.
I'm guessing you are shopping in the 1500 or so range. I would have a listen to vandersteen 2's , b&w 601's, proac 2's, and ariel 7&8. The van 2's would be my choice. I think the 801's are one of the best used buys out there - if you can power them (300w ss amp), and have the room for them.
For what it's worth, I agree on the Thiel's -- they need some muscle behind them to rock well. For the 2.3's, I'd suggest 200w per channel minimum for rock and for the 6's, 400+ is better (a watt is not always a watt, but you need the current flow that is typically associated with these kinds of amps IMO). The Thiel's also need the right cabling -- i.e., MIT speaker cable -- to really sound right. They can definately rock, but it takes the right combo to help do it.

The B&W's are a little too laid back to rock well (for me). If you switched out the cross-overs, that could help but I didn't think that was in the budget.

As others suggest, you may want to look at the alternatives mentioned above.

As a unconventional alternative: If you really want the bass impact at a lower price, you could also consider combining a reasonably priced full range speaker with a subwoofer. The balance needs to be right and that can be tricky -- it's hard to get it so the bass is not overpowering and is seamlessly integrated. That allows you to get a full range speaker which may bottom out at 40-50 Hz and still get the bass slam from the subwoofer addition. Full range speakers that get way down the bass curve normally cost a lot more or sacrifice something else along the way. Good luck.
Klipsch Forte 2's or Klipsch Chorus 2's. Horn mids/tweets
and 12" woofer/15" passive radiator (Forte 2), 15" woofer/15"
passive radiator (Chorus 2). Mate these with a smooth-
sounding copper speaker cable like Anaylsis Plus oval 9 or
oval 12, and you've got a very rock-ready setup.

With these speakers, you're better off using an amp with a
wider presentation (b&k tends toward wider soundstage but
less impact), rather than a congested soundstage with lots
of impact (like an acurus), as the horns will really project
their sound into the room, and won't need any help in that
regard. The suggestion for tube amps here is a natural, but
I would check the impedance curve of the Forte and Chorus
to make sure they didn't dip too too low before comitting
to that path.

Good luck, and let there be rock!
PSB Stratus GOLDi's: You'll love them. Stereophile Class B recommended component. Approximately $1,800.00 US$/pr. Accurate, tonally neutral, impressive clarity and detail, stable stereo image, awesome bass extension and power handling! Look no further.

peter jasz
I agree with Allied, though others may differ. I have the McCormack DNA-225 with a Kora tubed pre driving Stratus Goldi's and enjoy them with BOTH rock and jazz. Certainly not the "end all" speakers in comparision to what some here on the Gon own but, in their price range, I've not heard better (and I auditioned quite a few before buying mine). When I eventually do decide to upgrade, I will not being selling the PSB's to raise the funds. They will be kept for a second system...
Paradigm Studio 100v2 should be very appripriate... My father is a rock head and he listens to music louder than I you can imagine... On top of that, it sound very good for this price point. It's a value hard to beat even when bought new...

Godd luck

JBL 250ti or L250, I saw a used pair for about $500. Of course, Klipsch Kornerhorns or Lascalas would be good too, but more money, although you would save a lot on amplification. I read that VMPS plays effortlessly loud like the above speakers, but cannot recommend them as I have never heard any of their new stuff.
If you are after rock solid deep base that integrates
with other octaves as well, there may be only one true
choice and that is Dunlavy. I particularly like the
SC-Vs or VIs,
Whknopp0713: I agree that Heresy's ( or any other Klipsch / most horn speakers ) in stock form can be quite aggressive sounding. That is why i said "with some simple mods". You might be amazed at what changing the internal wiring and thoroughly damping the horn bodies can do for the sound.

As to running them with SS amps, you should have noticed that i picked a brand that was known for sounding relatively warm and smooth yet still had enough power to crank with good dynamic headroom to keep clipping to a minimum. Clipping of SS amps sounds REALLY bad when it is mated with a horn. Sean
I once auditioned B&W DM603 and I thought they were fantastic rock speakers, but a little bit unrefined for classical. They would partner well with less expensive electronics such as NAD, Rotel, Creek, and would probably be a lot of fun. I bet the DM604s are pretty fun too.
Also look for Mission 753s if you can find them used.

You need to give your price range .. people here throw around krell, levinson etc. like we all have that sort of money.
I have B&W CDM 7nt's and let me tell you they CAN rock!! I listen to everything from Jazz to Heavy metal...and never have been disappointed. Powered with Amps from a Mcintosh 162 solid state to a AES DJH super amp! They can and will rock....now if you want to break the windows in your house you may want to add a sub to your system...but thats not my taste.
revel f30,I use them for any music,unbeliavable deep bass,excellent trebles and highs,huuuuge soundstage.Also want to recomend Naim amplification for it's dynamics.Mike
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I'm going to be checking out Paradigms today (hopefully) and some other brands this weekend......
I'm surprised noone mentioned that B&W CDM9s are a league higher than rotel separates. Rotel makes good stuff, but not in the same league as CDM9s.
I'd be careful to make sure that you audition the speakers with the amp that you'll be driving them with. Otherwise you might find you audition CDM9s with $2-3k of amplification driving them (they'll sound fabulous), get them home and hook them up to your rotel kit and be severely disappointed.

I'd suggest in the B&W line rotel will match up well with the DM603s or 604s, and you'll have to step up to Bryston, Arcam, Creek, Naim or better amplification before the CDM9s are a good match.

but the main message is make sure you demo the whole system before buying parts. $2500 speakers driven by a $800 receiver will likely sound much worse than $1500 speakers driven by a $1500 integrated amp.
Sean, I don't like to recommend B&W.
Don't want anyone's stereo to sound as good as mine ;-)
If you want just to rock try. The pro line of MTX. Two 15,two horn midrange,two super tweeters 105 db,
Rotel or B&K seperates?
I guess at that price range I would recommend either the Monitor Audio Silver or Gold series or maybe the NHT 2.5i or higher.
These speakers are great on fast phased R&R music, and will all play loud given you provide it with enough juice.