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Try the Radial speakers by Steve Deckert:
If you like satellites, I just bought a pair of Swans M-1 for $499 a pair and am totally amazed at the sound. Get a high current integrated or power amp like a Van Alstine and you'll be a happy camper w/in your budget:
Hi Pete. Knowing the dimensions, but not the exact environment of your room, I would suggest experimenting with placing the speakers at BOTH the long and short walls and see which you like best. Do you have a local shop that will let you audition different speakers with your gear?
The reason I ask is because it's hard to say if you should go with a floorstander or monitors. I have a 12 x 14 room and am using small monitors with a sub with good results. I feel you might have a little more flexibility finding the right "imaging" position for a pair of monitors rather than having to deal with that issue ALONG with finding the best placement for bass reproduction in a full range speaker. Yes, if you go with mini monitors you'll need to find the right place for the sub too, but at least you can handle these two issues separately.
Also, your wife might prefer having the small monitors as opposed to larger floorstanders in your room. Another thing to consider before looking at specific brands is the flavor or character of musical reproduction you favor. That is, do you like your classical and jazz more toward the sweet, warm and romantic or more towards bold, detailed and dynamic. And if you're not a bass freak, maybe you won't have a need for a sub at all.
Good luck, have fun doing the research and shopping, and I'm sure some good advice will follow from the experienced members here.
If this is a dedicated listening room place the speakers along the long wall, approximately 7 feet apart and bring them out into the room halfway (yes, your speakers will seem like they are on top of you). However, your soundstage should re-appear. From this point, move the speakers (small movements eg. a couple inches at a time; play with toe in) around to get a solid center image and proper bass response etc.
If you can't move the speakers this far out, you will compress the soundstage somewhat as you move them closer to the front wall (the wall behind the speakers). Dave
The Gradient Revolutions have several unique characteristics that make them especially suited for difficult rooms.
First, the bass is a true dipole, rather than a monopole. This puts much less bass energy into the room's bass resonant modes. The result is, the bass isn't colored by placing the speakers close to a wall (though corners do not work well - they roll off the bass too much).
Second, the mid/tweet module uses a pressure-relief cabinet that gives a cardioid radiation pattern. This once again minimizes the speaker's interaction with room boundaries.
Now, the really cool thing is, the cardiod and dipole patterns mathematically put the same amount of energy out into the reverberant field. So, the reverberant field sounds just like the first-arrival sound! This is almost unique among speakers - most speakers have a much more bottom-heavy response in the reverberant field because the bass and lower midrange is omnidirectional, with the pattern narrowing as beaming sets in. The Revolution's unique radiation characteristics (along with its inherent freedom from boxy colorations) make it extremely relaxing to listen to long-term.
The reason the radiation pattern matters is that the ears derive timbre not only from the first arrival sound, but also from the reverberant sound. When there is a significant discrepancy between the two, the eventual result is listening fatigue. Haven't you heard speakers that were initially quite impressive, but after twenty minutes you had a headache and were ready to leave the room? Often the radiation pattern is to blame. The pattern on the Revolutions is so uniform that you can walk into the next room and the tonal balance doesn't change (except of a softening of the extreme top end). Now, an omni can also do this, but an omni won't image like the Revolutions, especially not in a small or difficult room.
The mid/tweet module of the Revolutions uses a very high quality custom SEAS concentric mid/tweet. This gives the speaker point-source radiation characteristics from 200 Hz up, and so the imaging is superb. There are no lobing or driver integration issues. The focused radiation pattern will give you very good imaging whether you place them along the long or short wall.
Check them out at http://www.gradient.fi/En/Products/Revo/Revo1.htm
My main speaker line is Sound Lab full range electrostats. They have spoiled me for just about all conventional speakers. The Gradient Revolutions are a distinct exception, and I've sold them to customers who've owned electrostatics. They really have a relaxing boxless sound that you can listen to for hours and hours. Many other speakers have more impressive specs, but your ears forget all about specs when you put the music on. However, a few years ago when Stereophile reviewed an earlier incarnation of the Revolution, they reported that it gave the flattest in-room response they'd ever measured - this is an effect of the well though-out radiation patterns.
The Revolutions are priced a bit higher than the ballpark you mention, but if you might be interested let me know and I'll work with you, and possibly arrange an in-home audition.
I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.
My own speakers are placed on a line drawn at an angle across one corner of the room. That is, the right one is about five feet out from the corner, along the long wall and about two feet away from it ; the left speaker is about eight feet out from the same corner along the short wall and about three feet away from that wall.
Yes, this means my listening couch is at an angle and the speakers are toed towards it.
Long wall placement is out of the question for me. This corner setup is a placement recommended by UHF magazine ( uhfmag.com ) in one of their books ; they say it is often found to excite annoying room resonances less than others. I found it necessary to keep the speakers well out of the corners, and many minor adjustments finally got things exactly right.
My speakers are Meadowlark Shearwater Hot Rods. The amp is a SimAudio Celeste W-4070Se, the source is a Linn LP12 Lingo. My room is 12 feet by 22 feet by 10 feet high.
For a small room a monitor that has a front port or is sealed is easier to place, as speakers with rear ports are difficult to place next to the wall. For monitor speakers look at the Taylor Reference monitor, which I own and sounds quite nice with the Rogue 88 amp. Dynamic with plenty of bass. Both frequently come up used on Audiogon, the Taylo for about $1200 and the amp about $900. The Osiris speaker stands are for sale now at $240. Preamp--Rogue 66 magnum for sale at $900. Add some Homegrown Silver Lace interconnects and Analysis Plus cables.
unlike many others here I would suggest that you first spend plenty of time experimenting with position of the speakers and only buy new speakers if this really doesn't help. My listening room is only 10x12 and I use a Cardas speaker placement (approximately) and a near field listening position. See http://www.cardas.com/insights/roomsetup.html
I use floorstanders (spica angelus) which are lean in the bass, and a REL strata sub ... and it works great even in my tiny room.
I'd strongly suggest you use the cardas method (or close to it, as it requires the speakers to be well away from the walls). Also Audio Physic have an excellent web page on speaker placement ..
This blows away some of the old myths (that you must be further from the speakers than the distance of the speakers, that toe-in restricts the soundstage).
If you read both web pages and experiment I'm sure you can be very happy with the sound in your new room without spending a penny. It's worth a try at any rate.
FYI my speakers are 2.5 feet from the rear wall, 2 feet from the side wall, substantially toed in, and spaced about 5 feet apart. I sit about 5 feet from the speaker cones (equilateral triangle). The sub is next to my right foot. It looks wierd, but I have never heard my system sound anywhere near as good, even in much bigger rooms.
Thanks to all.... I have been reading all this great stuff, and I have taken away a few things.
1. Experiment more. I need to take some serious time to move stuff around beyond minimal changes. It may save me some serious money.
2. There are some great specific suggestions, some of which revolve around using the long wall.... not an option without some major construction. Also, thanks to Tobias for his suggestion. I wouldnt have thought that one up without some one else coming up with it first.
3. There are some resources out the to help with this. Thanks, I will work with them.
3. There are some speakers (eg Gradient revolutions) that seem to have some design characteristics that speak to exactly the kind of issues that I seem to be facing. I will check them out after I have exhausted the above options.
All in all, thanks. I feel a little less hopeless about getting the sound I need.
I would suggest that you look in to room treatment. I am enjoying a pair of three-way, sealed, floorstanding speakers in a 12x16 room. While the overall amount of bass was not an issue, acoustical treatment went a long way in cleaning up the lower range as well other regions.
What might be a more important issue is listening fatigue, mainly due to a bright tweeter. I have done no research, but I suspect the cause to bleed down in to the midrange as well. I think you should be aware of this possible, and most bothersome problem, especially given your current amplification and budget. There is a lot of bright gear running around. I have about a total of $3k in amplification and speakers and had a problem fatigue. I bet you will be wiser in your component selection than I (although I have little regret), however. Besides the gear, an untreated room can make a large contribution this problem, and in my case, room treatment has solved it. Treatment will also have a positive effect on imaging & clarity throughout the entire frequency range.
Maybe I am making sound like an elixir, but I think acoustic paneling and bass traps is worth considering. It has certainly made my listening much more enjoyable.
Someone who knows a lot more about this than I is John Risch. In the FAQ section at audioasylum, he has some information and some DIY panels and traps that are very effective and that can be made to look nice. Well, as nice as a panel can look. Good luck.
Hi Peteinvictal1, What a thoughtful, and kind offer from Audiokinesis. I have never dealt with this man. I know two people who love the way this man treats his customers. After hearing his thoughts on this speaker along with an in home audition, how can you go wrong. Maybe I should think about this myself. I will no longer deal with dealers, manufactuers, who's only interest is in sales. It is very hard to find a good dealer these days. I would encourage you to take up Audiokinesis offer. I just ordered a pair of speakers that I am going to back out of because I did not like the way this manufactuer would respond, when he did respond. I feel sad for the dealer for my soon to be cancelation. Maybe I expect too much, but when I'm dropping a load of cash, I expect at least some courtesy. I wish you the best in your search for that special speaker.
If you end up looking at buying something different, I'd suggest looking at a pair of Dunlavy's, probably the SM-1 monitor. I'd call Audio-Video Logic in Des Moines if you don't have a local dealer - they're very helpful and will be able to help you determine if this will work in your room.
Anyway, the suggested setup is along the long wall, widely separated and seriously toed in. I don't have that option in my room, so I haven't gone this route, but if you do have that option, it might work perfectly for you. You sit within a foot of the rear wall, so you can avoid the "speakers on top of you" effect. -Kirk
Pick up those $499 Swans M1s, sell the KEFs and you will have not spent your $3000. The M1s are clean and fast with a great ribbon tweeter that has a wide horizontal and narrow vertical dispersion that may work well in your room. You can keep them while you try other monitors. That is what I am doing and I dont think I will ever sell mine. Try upscale speakers, buy a sub, or upgrade your electronics. You will always have nice sound with the M1s.
I have floorstanders in room similar in size to your room. My room is only 16x12x8 feet. My floorstanders are Eosone RSF-600 dipoles (not exactly audiophile grade, but they work for now). I have them along the 16foot wall, about 23 inches out firing into the short length (12ft). I sit about 2 feet from the rear wall, and about 8 feet (perpenticular) from the plane of the speakers. I forget how far part the speakers are, but I think it is 6-7 feet part. With the dipoles, the soundstage is best without toe-in.
I get a much better soundstage with the speakers along the long wall firing into the short length, than I do with them along the short wall firing down into the longer length. also side wall reflections are less of an issue now. Even if I had a bigger room, I'd probably still use the long wall to place the speakers on. I say try it.
I would recommend not buying a thing right now.
I have no idea what your equipment is like, but my room is 12.5 by 18 and have no problems that I am aware of with the speakers on one of the short walls. I have aerial 10T speakers which would be considered large for most rooms.
Move your spkrs out from the back wall so that the front center of the woofer is about 5 1/2 ft from the back wall. Move the speakers away from the side wall about 2 1/2 ft from the center of the woofer.
This roughly should get you going for a more appropriate soundstage. From this point move the speakers an inch or 2 in different directions to maximize your mininums.