Speakers for Rock - up to 1kusd


Hello everyone,
While I have been reading the forum for quite some time, this is my first post.

I have a modest audio set-up that I want to upgrade: Yamaha rxv 657, Infinity P253 and technics 1700 turntable. Just sold a Denon CD player that I need to replace too.

I want to start with the speakers. I listen exclusively rock music in a 4x7 square meter room.

Due to availability in my country, I wonder what would be the best speakers that 1 kusd could buy. My options are:

- BW 685 s2 (due to great reviews).
- Paradigm 20 
- Monitor Audio S6
- Dynaudio x14

Could consider/get Jamo 803 and Dali too.

I wish I could stretch to the Sonus Faber Venere 1.5.

What would be your recommendation, taking into account that most dealers do not have demos.

Thank you!



gustavos
dynaudio and monitor audio speakers are not for rock,for easy pop and dance they are OK
I have the 685s in a smaller living room system, hooked up to a Berkeley DAC and Innersound amp; preampless and it sounds pretty sweet. The punch WAY above their weight class.  GREAT pair of speakers for that amount of money.  I am probably going to pick up a send pair for my office at work, to use with a tubed intergraded, unless I go for almost doubleld the money and get a pair of Totem Rainmakers..  (I love Totem Rainmakers for small speakers- and rock-dynamics and bass galore.  
Welcome Gustavos.

This is probably not what your were hoping to hear for your first post, but I got to tell it to you anyway brother.

As long as you have a Yamaha AVR, that is very limited in what it can properly drive, you have to strike off every speaker on your list with the exception of the Paradigm 20 and Monitor Audio S6. These are the only two your Yamaha would be able to properly drive.

Speakers should be selected by how well they will match with your current amp and which ones sound best to you. Not us.

The impedance and sensitivity ratings of all the others would not be a good match for your Yamaha - it would struggle. Especially with your preference for rock music. So don’t feel bad about not affording the SF Venere - you couldn’t drive it. Concentrate on auditioning the Paradigms and MA’s and any other speakers that have an impedance of 8ohms or greater, and sensitivity ratings in the 90’s. Or consider upgrading your amp to one that is 4ohm rated at the same time as your select your speakers. Good luck.
Many thanks for your feedback. So the BW 685 could be a good buy, according to Extravaganza and Cerrot - thought the Dyaundio too, and was afraid that BW were not 'rock' speakers as I've heard many times.

Paraneer: thanks for your honest opinion. And yes, I am conscious that I need to get rid of the Yamaha, but wanted to match the amp according to the speakers I will finally choose, with the feedback from you.

I have seen very good reviews for the Studio 20, but don't know if I need a perfect 'clear' speaker if does not come with a good, or best of breed, bass dynamics.


Paradigm Monitor 11 if you can swing them- amazing for rock.  Next best from there would be the PSB X2T.  Really good speakers.  

Like paraneer says, it is best to match amp and speakers, however it is important to look at some specs carefully. The Paradigm 20 and B&W 685 have almost identical specs.

B&W 685 - 87db, 8 ohm dropping to a 3.5 ohm minimum
Paradigm 20 - 87db, 8 ohm dropping to a 3.45 ohm minimum

Paraneer's comment about a sensitivity rating of 90db for the Paradigm is a room sensitivity rating, not anechoic chamber which is 87db, the same as the B&W 685 anechoic rating. IMHO, the match of these to the amp is very similar.

The Dynaudio x14's spec is a low 85db, measuring even lower, so agree it should be avoided.


Thanks tls49.  Guess I missed that second rating.

OK, strike the Paradigms off the list too.  That should leave the MA's as the easiest to drive.  All the more reason to budget for a new amp in addition to the speakers.  The AVR is seriously limiting you.
All excellent suggestions.
add Thiel speakers to this list.
Add a pair of Golden Ear Tritons to your mix.  They work well with everything and the powered woofers are great for rock.  I have a pair of Triton 1 in my main system and Triton 2 in my secondary system.  I listen to 96% rock and they are excellent at reproducing rock music.
40 yr old JBL L100 rock out big time!!
Many thanks all for your feedback. It is really insightful.

Golden Ears speakers must be top for sure, but out of my budget. I take note of the Paradigm 11 too. Yes, had the chance to talk to Ramones' first album producer and told me they listened to a JBL L100 paired with McIntosch valve amp., but again, out of my budget (at least in my country - Argentina). Thiel and PSB are not available down here.

From your inputs I have now a clear understanding that I will need to update the amp sooner than expected.

Assuming that I get the proper amp. for the speakers I finally choose, what do you conclude after reading the following reviews from Stereophile (Studio 20, MA s6 and X12) and What HiFi (BW 685) - taking into account my only objetive of listening to rock music?

Reviews:

X12 vs Studio 20 vs MA s6:

The Dynaudio Excite X12 had a warmer midbass than either the Paradigm or the Epos, but also a detailed and ambient midrange. The Excite X12's highs, however, were silkier and more laid-back than the Studio 20's—but the Paradigm had superior dynamics at both ends of the audioband.

The Monitor Audio RS6 Silver had a detailed midrange and extended high frequencies, but its highs, especially sibilants, were more prominent than the Paradigm's. However, the RS6's mid- and lower bass were the best of the group in terms of clarity, extension, and dynamic slam.

-BW 685 s2: The soundstage is wide and deep, enveloping you in a richly detailed, subtly dynamic and cohesive performance, whether you’re playing Aerosmith, Lorde or a Hans Zimmer soundtrack.

The deep and taut bass is particularly impressive. Play Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love and the bass notes are so rich and powerful that it almost feels like there’s a subwoofer in the room.

While the 685 S2s don’t make too much of a fuss with hard or bright recordings, give them a pristinely recorded album and they truly shine.
Switch to Radiohead, and the stop and start of notes are definite, rhythm changes are handled with confidence, and each instrument is conveyed with a great deal of finesse and insight.

They can also go extremely loud with little obvious distortion – we rarely have this much fun listening to music so loudly in our listening rooms.




You don't mention where you live. But, have you looked at Zu speakers?
They are very efficient and they have models in your price range.
Also, they have a trial period, which is a nice option to try them out.
Thanks gdnrbob. I live in Argentina. Read awesome reviews about the Zu's, but unfortunately there are no dealers in Argentina.
ZU is sold factory direct.  Give them a call, I am sure they can get a pair to you.
Thank you. Will check it out!
Yes, I deal mostly with Gerrit. He is very communicative and will help you as best he can. Should they not be able to ship to you, I would love to travel to Argentina. The speakers would be my luggage! 
You'll be welcome!
Why not build your own and get awesome sounding speakers for around half (or less) of what you would spend on finished speakers.  You could order a complete kit including pre-cut boxes if you don't want to build them from scratch.

Not only will you save money, you will have the satisfaction of looking at them with pride that you did them yourself.

There are many DIY speaker building sites and many people that would be willing to help you along.  You might even find a speaker building group where you live.

Good luck!
Have owned almost everything including Wilsons and Egglestonworks Andra. B&W is a good choice but a pair of Klipsch Fortes sound good to my ear and rock out. You can pair them with a 25 watt tube amp or a 250 watt solid state monster. Everything that comes out sounds good. And loud. Paul Klipsch's favorite I have heard.
You might want to check out Cerwin Vega speakers.
Cerwin vegas put me thru hard rock and puberty many yrs back .. Klipsch are " easy "to drive .. I would get a set of say ..used  proacs and save for better power then a sub .. If you  are planning this as a long term upgrade thing build your system from this point on around your speakers.. imo only 
     Despite my abhorrence for tone controls, I have found that the smaller B&W's sound tremendous with some bass boost.
     Recently I sold one of my many sets of DM 14's to a buddy who has a Marantz 125 wpc, 1970's receiver. The bass control made a such huge difference in the sound that we brought his receiver to my house to hear my B&W 803's. That we were thrilled with the sound is an understatement.
     Does the Marantz sound as good a my separates? Of course not, but I would not hesitate to use the B&W 685 with about the same power, even from a receiver with a smallish power supply.  
     Next, we hooked up a set of DM 1400's (virtually identical) along with the Dm 14's, a combo I enjoyed for decades as my party system, and the Marantz power supply did as I had predicted, by losing the bass at high volumes. 
Klipsch is the first word that comes to mind for rock music.  I owned the Quartet for many years, powered by different AV receivers.  They sound like what is now considered their vintage line, sounding like the speakers my friends had years ago (Cornwall, La Scala, Kornerhorn).  Quartet, Forte, and Chorus have a rear-facing passive radiator will have more room interaction issues, which can be a problem in the wrong room.  I can't speak to how suitable the newer models are for rock music.  Klipsch could be a good option with their high efficiency if matched correctly to your room size; and you could stay with lower-power (lower-current) amplification, including an AV receiver.  Depends on where you want to take your system and what you're trying to achieve.  What are your goals (expectations) with an upgrade?  Do you also plan on using your system for home theater, which could affect your amplifier choices?  I have a higher-end system now and really enjoy it, but it honestly doesn't rock out to the extent that my previous Klipsch system did.  Although I currently have British speakers and listen to some rock music, I think that Canadian and US companies have a different sonic goal, and that you may be happier with their voicing.  Do you have access to Polk Audio, Klipsch, and PSB?  (and Paradigm as you mentioned).  I would be curious what other PSB owners think of them for rock, as I've heard good things about them being good in this area; sounding fuller than others.
Many thanks to all for sharing your thoughts. I've taken due notes. 

I have auditioned several books in the past few days: Monitor Audio Silver 6 (used floor standing, but the price was good), Sonus Faber Venere 1.5, klipsch, Dali, Focal 807 and the Paradigm Studio 20. Many of them coupled with a Yamaha as-2000 and CA 851. I was completely blown away by the Paradigm, clearly surpassing the rest in detail, soundstage, bass....it seems it has a superior tweeter too. Finish is top noch too. In general, I've found klipsch y Polk fatigating, with less detail and worse treble. The closet to the Studio were the Venere 1.5, imho (maybe they should be 1st choice for jazz). I still want to give the BE 685 s2 a try, due to the awards granted by What HiFi.

Unfortunately, in Argentina we do not have PSB, ATC, PMC and others top-notch names available. I did have the chance a month ago to chat with Miles Showell, engineering at Abbey Road and responsible for the latest reissues of some classic albums cut at 45 rpm...and he told me he had PMC speakers at home. So guess that a PMC 21 or 22 should be a serious option, requiring a higher budget too.
 
In the end, I am 95% certain to go with the Studios. Let's see if the BW make me change my mind.

As for the amp, I'd like to go with the Sansui au-717, which also have a very good phono stage and in general goes well with rock music. I'd not like a more laid-back amp. 

I will keep you updated with my final choice.

Many many thanks again to you all dor taking your time in giving your insights!





The PMC look nice, but as you say, at a greater price.
Did you ever contact Zu?
The Sansui is a bit long in the tooth, unless there are good audio repair stores in Argentina, I would consider something a bit more recent.
B&W make some really nice speakers, too. But I never associated them with Rock.
Yes, I have contacted an importer to bring the Zu, but shipping is really high.

Yes, in Argentina there are quite a lot highly regarded repair shop, as the vintage community is extensive. What other amplifier would you recommend? Arcam FMJ 19, for instance?

Thank you!
The idea that there are certain speakers that are good for rock is throughout this thread.

This is one of the biggest myths in the audio world! There is no design criteria that can be applied in such a way that a speaker can somehow be better at rock than other musical genres. The fact is if the speaker is good at one genre, it will be good at another.

To give you an idea of how pervasive this myth is, a few month back someone asked what speaker was better at mid-80s downtempo pop. How in the heck would a speaker know anything about 80s vs 70s or 90s?? Downtempo? Speakers don't care about the beat!

The requirements for rock are the same as they are for classical or folk or jazz: good dynamic range, ability to play bass, detail, lack of coloration.
True in theory Ralph, but in practice for a speaker to, say, be appropriate for Rock music I would say it has to be able to play LOT louder than it does to be able to play solo harpsichord music. I have Quad 57's for Baroque, but they are unsuitable for AC/DC at realistic SPL. Of course a speaker SHOULD be able to play all musics, just as it SHOULD be 100% transparent and uncolored. But none of them are, so one must choose his colorations. Different speakers have different strengths and weaknesses that make them better and worse at playing some musics than others.
I agree bdp24. 
Gustavos, did you contact Zu directly? I am sure they must deal with international shipping on a regular basis. 
As far as an amp goes, much would be predacated on your choice of speaker. For example, the Zu's are highly efficient and are known to be sufficiently powered by a 30 wpc tube amp. 
Hello,
Yes, I have contacted Zu but shipping goes up the roof unfortunately....
Gennerally as stated above when you think primarily rock . You think volume punch bass and clean  ... Not pinpoint accuracy.. To achieve all that and the pinpoint ya gotta spend some bucks .. It to me has little to do with driver size my az adagio rip , but there $4500 and im running big clean power .. Its a balance to me in this range .If 1k is the budget im  sticking as i said . Used proacs klipsh .. Back in the 80s my buddy had cerwin  vegas but his altecs would peal your face off with his crown gear .. Again room size is a biggy ..imo .. A sweet set of used proacs and a used sunfire after awhile will sound good on all music high efficiency and will get down and rock out with 75-100 a side .. Just my two cents .. I would plan on a decent sub for your setup and it would be a sunfire imo
There is a set if n 805 b&w and a set of sonus faber 1.5 for sale here now with a sub they wont break windows but are solid  spkr imo you have to be careful with some of the older proacs check for drying out of foam on drivers there are many used spkrs in that range .. Build your system around those spkrs 

2nd the B&W 805
BUT, if you want yet another option/suggestion - consider  any in the JBL 4311/4312 monitor lines.  Frequently seen 4sale here in the States, I just picked up a pair of 4312B for a good price and love 'em for classic rock.
I have Quad 57's for Baroque, but they are unsuitable for AC/DC at realistic SPL. Of course a speaker SHOULD be able to play all musics, just as it SHOULD be 100% transparent and uncolored.
Quad 57s do great on rock within their volume limitations. A lot depends on your room size and how lively the room is.

I find pinpoint imaging does not hurt rock at all. Check out King Crimson's 'Islands' LP; lots of things going on in that recording; the better your stereo the better it sounds! Black Sabboth's 'Paranoid' (white German Vertigo pressing) can bring many systems to their knees in a matter of seconds- and the recording is spectacular- the better your system the better it sounds! The best sounding Pink Floyd LP is actually a bootleg- entitled the Screaming Abadabs 'Rhapsody in Pink' which is a BBC recording of Pink Floyd performed in the BBC studio before a simple Decca stereo tree. Pinpoint imaging really helps as the recording has depth and dynamics just like the best classical recordings, and the better your stereo the better it sounds!

I think there must be an assumption that somehow rock is always poorly recorded and should be dreck played as loud as possible. This is really selling rock short, but that's the only explanation for why people must also think that there is a particular speaker or type of speaker that can do rock better. There isn't- that is a myth. The better your speaker, the better the rock will sound and there are many excellent rock recordings!

 
Exactly Ralph. I have tannoys and they do  very well with all kinds of music .   If I were the OP I would look for a vintage pair of tannoys and have boxes built right away or down the road 
ebm gave dbest suggestion so far.
Gustavos, have you considered Q Acoustics...?
Gustavos, Reading back, I see you really like the Paradigm.
Since your aren’t able to audition/buy the other speakers on you list, why keep banging your head? Just buy the Paradigm.
There will always be other speakers/amps/preamps/cables to buy. By getting the Paradigm, or any other speaker that you like, you will be able to get familiar with their sound and see if it is what you want.

I am sure that some of those speakers you want to listen to will become available to you in the future. Why wait? Enjoy what you can now, you can always change to another speaker later.
Mumblecore…you gotta be able to get the essence of that genre, along with Shoe Gaze. A speaker that reproduces silence that can fill a large room…one that works well even when the hifi rig is turned off.
I am a little late to this thread. I have owned the Studio 20s and currently have a pair of the BW 685s in a second system. I preferred the Studio 20s, believing them to be more dynamic. Wish I had kept them. Either speaker can be driven by a solid 50wpc. Not sure 50wpc will due the Dynaudiox14s, though I believe the x14s were designed to be easier to drive than the x12s (greater impedance). I heard a pair of x12s at a dealership and thought them to be excellent. 

Since you are going to upgrade your amp, which I believe to be wise, I would select the speakers first and then purchase an amp that compliments. When auditioning, pay attention to the amp used.
Many thanks to all! Yesterday I went to buy the Paradigm, but they have ran out of stock!. So I will start looking to each and every book suggested here again, and try to bring them over from the US. I will most probably buy used ones...very interesting insights from all of you!
Sorry to hear of your luck on the Paradigms. The studio 20s do come up on AG from time to time. 
Like I said, just be patient, gustavos, those Paradigm just might be back in stock in the near future.(Did you ask the dealer when they would be getting more?)
 As far as buying used, I think all the suggestions given on this thread will be good ones that will not disappoint you.
B&W's can definitely "rock". but I don't know about models under 1K, Vintage Polk Audio will rock your socks off too but I don't know about the newer stuff from Polk.
Old JBL, Paradigm, klipsch if the horns don't bother you.  
If any of those old time shops have any soundcraftsmen brand amplifiers on their shelves they are worth looking into, older nakamichi stasis amplifiers might be avail in your part of the world. 

My rockstar list:

JBL L100
JBL 43xx
JBL 42xx
JBL L800
Klipsch Cornwall
Klipsch Heresey

All below kilobuck
Go Altec and build if you can't find any, Great Plains Audio in Oklahoma city is the Altec people, get your horns from ebay .
Build a pair of model 19's like these and you will think you are in Heaven.
These are my own design and will shake the house with clear distortion free music.
http://posting.org/gallery/zslbczg4/

I'm always surprised that people but B&W and Monitor Audio on the same list. MA sounds lively and fun with a natural extended highs and the B&W's sound very laid back, but also veiled from the midrange to the top.

Point is, you really should listen to both of them, I doubt you'll end up feeling it's close for you.  One or the other will really "sing" to you.