Speakers for triode tube amps

I have a Luxman CL 38u SE tube preamp and matching MQ 88 SE Triode tube amp rated at 25 wpc. I m using ProAc Anniversary Tablets at the moment and I’m wondering how I can upgrade to a speaker that can be driven with 25 Triode watts. Any recommendations on a high quality 8 ohm speaker that is easy to drive?  I know Wilson Tune Tots are out of the question (impedance/ sensitivity issues- they were my first choice.  Not interested in horn loaded speakers.  I Love the Harbeth P3 but I already own a pair of 40.1s in my main system. Any suggestions??
128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xsamuelg
Why 8 ohms. Nevermind. I know. Same old story. The speakers you seek are called Tekton. Eric has some specifically tailored to such amps. Take your pick.
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It would be useful to know a bit more about your specific requirements-- budget, size of room, how loud you listen, whether the current 25 watts into Tablette speakers sound good (if not, what are the sonic problems), speaker placement issues (do you have limitations on where the speakers can be placed, etc).

I tend to think that most people over estimate the amount of power they need for most of their listening.  Although tube gear manufacturers tend to give their amps a quite high output rating (relative to the amount of distortion at that rated output), it is still the case that most amps rated at 25 watts can work with relatively easy to drive speakers.  I've heard such amps with most of the Harbeth lineup and I would consider only the 40.1 to be out of consideration.

Any of the Audio Note speakers will work a 25 watt amplifier.  My favorite local dealership carries ProAc, Harbeth and Audio Note.  What is interesting is that he says that,, by far, most of his new customers come in looking for Harbeth speakers, and more than just a few end up with the Audio Note speakers; those who initially bought Harbeths often end up buying Audio Note.  
Devore and Silverline are two brands making great quality speakers that are designed with and for tube amps. If I was in your shoes, I'd be looking for Devore O93 or O96. Cheers,
+1 On the DeVore O/’s Take a look at Art Dudley’s review. And yes, you totally want an 8 ohm or higher speaker to pair magically with an amp with this topology.  Your instincts are dead on.

 that can be driven with 25 Triode watts.

I havea   pair of DavidLouis 8 inchers arriving next week, 
8 oghms, wide band
look veryyyyy promising. stay tuned for a  YT demo, in 3 weeks or less. 
thats my best pick for you./
Stay away from a  2 way. You are wasting your time and money.

Why 8 ohms. Nevermind. I know. Same old story. The speakers you seek are called Tekton

OK Tekton 
DavidLouis at the shootout. 
I bet DavidLouis beats your Tek's.

"Stay away from a 2 way. You are wasting your time and money."
What subway wall did you read that from?

What some self-proclaimed "experts" obviously don’t understand is that when an amplifier starts asking for double the power by dropping from 8 to 4 ohms, it will start to distort if not designed for that level of output. There is no magical speaker, Tekton or otherwise, that can avoid this simple math if it’s a 4 ohm speaker by design...period. So a speaker that is playing a 1000hz note at 8ohms and using 15watts of power (say from a 25 watt MQ-88uSE amp) - suddenly hits a bass passage at 50hz and is 4ohms at that frequency now asks for 30 watts (double the 15), it will start to distort because it is operating beyond its design.

Don’t let anyone lead you astray....amp/speaker pairing is crucial. A high and flat impedance speaker is what you’re generally looking for with this Luxman amp.

btw - the Luxman MQ-88 u (SE or C) is the best executed KT-88 triode design I've ever heard.  It pairs wonderfully with DeVore and it really challenges what many of us tube snobs (myself included ;-)) think a KT-88 can sound like.  Many of the best attributes of push-pull and SET combined.  
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Take a look here and you will find a number of very musical speakers that are easy to drive with higher output impedances (tube amps) and a bit less power, designed by Duke LeJeurne of Audiokinesis:


The main concern with a speaker with a low nominal impedance, such as 4 ohm, and tube amps has to do with frequency response changes due to the relatively high impedance of the amp interacting with the impedance of the speaker.  While 4 ohms might be the nominal impedance, the actual resistance at each frequency is probably quite different, which means certain frequencies will be emphasized more than other depending on the speaker's actual resistance at that particular frequency.  If a 4 ohm rated speaker had a perfectly flat impedance curve (resistance at all frequencies the same) the impedance match of the speaker and the amp would not matter.  But, all speakers have a pretty wide ranging up and down curve regardless of their single number "nominal" rating.  Hence, all 4 ohm speakers are not the same when it comes to how they will react to the impedance of the amp as far as frequency response change.

Ideally, the amplifier's output impedance will be so low compared to the speaker impedance that there will be not much in the way of frequency response effects.  A tube amp with a 4 ohm tap will have enough enough of a turn ratio in the output transformer so as to lower the output impedance to make it work reasonably well with a 4 ohm speaker.  But, there is no free lunch, so this means a sacrifice of some power that can be delivered to the speaker.  If the amp only has an 8 ohm tap, it may not have a low enough output impedance to avoid major effects on the frequency response when working with a 4 ohm speaker.  Whether or not this effect is severe enough to disqualify the amplifier depends on the particular impedance curve of the speaker, the actual output impedance of the amp and the particular taste of the listener.  I've heard a number of supposed mis-matched speaker and amps that sounded quite nice.
Simple question, why not horn loaded speakers which seem to be a perfect match for low power tube amps?
As speakers they do tend be bigger size wise but small, low mass, fast, and efficient drivers easily match the attributes of a SET amp. The SET amp was developed to drive horn loaded speakers it wasn’t until much later that speaker design moved to a much smaller box adding much heavier drivers requiring much more power.

There are some high efficiency single driver open baffles but they usually require a sub. 

Unless you play loud a 25 watt tube amp will get the job done with just about any loudspeaker. 
I have SS Luxman components and have the Harbeth 30.2, if you don’t want another speaker with similar sound as Harbeth, like the P3s, try Totem bookshelf’s. I still have the older Rainmakers and they are “faster/punchier” in their sound then the Harbeths. The newer versions are even better. Great sounding, but very different then the Harbeth sound. 
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I have paired MQ-88uSE with Lowther PM2A backhorns and currently the Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE to very satisfying and musical results.  I'd say it holds its own presenting the music when compared to SE45/2A3/300B and SE801A/50 amps I normally use, though it's way more powerful.
A Quicksilver Integrated tube amplifier, rated 20 watts, does fine driving Focal Aria 906's, rated at 89.5 dB sensitivity. I listen at moderate volume, and the volume control stays around 10:30 o'clock.
Tekton for sure. Looks and esthetics do not make better music. Great products and great value. I have the Moabs and they can be driven marvelously with a good 10 watt class A tube amp.
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There are many good suggestions on this thread, including Tekton, AudioKinesis, Harbeth, among others. I don't listen to music with my eyes - I use my ears. I never quite understand why folks criticize speakers based on looks, or because the marketing is not "high end." If possible, although it may be difficult, for the OP to try listening to some of these possibilities in their home setting and make a selection based on that experience. As is often the case, these social media threads end with squabbling and polarization, which is not very helpful for the individual who originally asked a question.
I do wonder how Tekton has become such a polarizing brand.  Is it the looks, is it the over-the-top ravings of fanboys?  While the sound of the speaker may not be to everyone’s taste, I have heard several models and there is nothing “extreme” about the sound—it is well balanced, smooth, dynamic and engaging—and I cannot see how it’s sound could evoke such disliking.  The prices charged are also quite reasonable for the level of performance.

I do suspect that some of the critics of this speaker have not heard them.
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Zu Audio has some interesting products that I've been dying to try ... match a few of the posters here: very sensitive.

Having supply chain issues but check them out!


Most of the vintage Tannoys.Or the current reissues.They tend to have benign impedance curves above 6 ohms.
Salieri on Mozart…”Too many notes!”  Audio snob on Tekton…”Too many tweeters!”.  I think that’s part of it.  Using multiple low mass tweeters with the combined radiating area of a conventional MR is the basic inspiration of the brand, and marrying that to the D’Appolito concept makes for some funny looking speakers. I’ve never heard a pair either, but I can’t dismiss them just because they don’t match my idea of “good” speaker design.
Some very useful comments and then the haters who have never heard a product and take joy in bashing it after visiting a website.  Don't these members care that their credibility is called into question when they behave like this.  Don't they care this forum is a much better place when you help someone out as opposed to posting useless and unsubstantiated opinions?

If you don't like how Tekton looks--great--don't buy it.  Tekton puts the money where it counts.  Add up the cost of the drivers vs. the final cost of the product.  NO major speaker manufacturer I know of offers this kind of value.  So if you are put off by that, than by all means, spend your audio money on furniture you can look at. 

@larryi   one of the good points made here.  While the Moab can be driven by low powered SE amps, the lower impedance makes it a crap shoot as far as tonal balance.  That is the nature of tube amps--especially with high output impedances.  Thanks for making a helpful post for the OP.

DavidLouis full range driver--do you really think this could begin to compete with the Moab on full range orchestral works and similar music??  Let me be clear--I love what a full range driver can do for some music.  Guitar and vocals, for example, can be just outstanding and have an immediacy that multi-way speakers can't quit capture.  But what about that rising high end response that so many of these drivers share.  Better choose your music carefully.  Tektons perform beautifully exactly where that driver will fall apart.  
I love my Zu Def 4s. They have integrated the subs so well and offer the ability to tune the speaker to the room. 
Members have suggested the usual suspects, Devore, Zu, Tekton, Audio Note and Tannoy.
Cube, Voxative, Spatial Audio, Pure Audio Project, might possibly be a consideration.
I also was a Horn speaker denier, but an acquaintance (also a dealer) who has been around the block a few times, suggested that I try a pair of Klipsch Forte lV's. I had called him to specifically to order a pair of Audio Note AN's with the Hemp drivers, and wound up with Forte Vl's. Out of the box, I didn't care for them, but given some break-in time and the proper setup and equipment, they sound wonderful. I now want to upgrade to Cornwall or LaScala. If you haven't listened to the series lV, in the Heritage line, I think you might be missing something.

Tecktons ar no joke, youtube the reviews. They look strange if thats a a problem.
"If you don't like how Tekton looks--great--don't buy it. Tekton puts the money where it counts. Add up the cost of the drivers vs. the final cost of the product. NO major speaker manufacturer I know of offers this kind of value. So if you are put off by that, than by all means, spend your audio money on furniture you can look at."       correlli ...Your part of the problem and if i was the owner of Tekton id ask,no beg audiogon to ban you ,shillcarbon and the rest of the crew to post such nonsense on an audio site..your killing sales,lol
As the above post demonstrates, the haters offer nothing constructive to the OP.  

There's been plenty of constructive suggestions for the OP.  Many have suggested several high sensitivity speakers possessing a high and flat impedance.  These are excellent choices for a MQ-88 triode amp...and I speak from experience, I own one (unlike others).  However the very first response was from a "hater" (your word not mine) who ostracized the OP for even inquiring into a "high quality 8 ohm speaker that is easy to drive".  Please in all honesty tell me how constructive it is to the OP to dress him down and shove Tekton down his throat?  Seriously...?????   Perhaps we need to redefine "hater".
Well, it seems to me that a true 8ohm speaker is one that doesn't drop below 5ohms, making it 25wpc tube amp suitable providing the sensitivity of said speaker is commensurate with room size and listening distance from speakers.

The unknown herein is the size of the room. 
Three Easy - so very astute. I suspect they are huddling the sycophants to craft a response….

as for constructive input, I love what Devore does in this space

as for constructive input, I love what Devore does in this space

As do I! I pair my Luxman MQ-88uC with O/96’s and the sound is ridiculously good and it handles a wider range of music more deftly than my other amps. While my LM805ia provides a massive 3D soundstage with incredible weight and texture, the MQ-88uC delivers transients that are reproduced with a sense of speed, finesse, and plenty of detail - all while sacrificing very little in the dynamic range and SET magic of the LM. At the end of the day it’s great having both amp choices, but if forced to choose just one I suspect it may be the Luxman with this pairing.
@ three_easy_payments   Perhaps you ought to direct your comment to MC, not me.  As you stated, many good speakers exist that would match up well with the OP's need.  Never in this thread did I urge the OP to go with Tekton. To the contrary.  Read my post.  

It seems that there is this notion that all Tekton owners are zealots trying to convert the audio world. Hardly.  Please don't lump us all together.  While I am very happy with my choice and am willing to share my experience with them, I am hardly put off if the speaker does not suit someone else's needs. 

But I do have a problem when members, who see a certain brand they have never even auditioned, reflexly offer disparaging and unhelpful posts.
@corelli  I don't disagree with what you wrote above so perhaps our overall views are more similar than different.
Corelli..stop trying to back walk your statments and pass it off on shillercarbon,on this very post you tried to perpetuate another Tekton big lie stating untrue facts about the drivers used ..Ive seen 2 models opened up and know what they use..so just stop it.
I’ve had good success with Devore - first the Nines and more recently, the O/96s. They do well with 20wpc, and have a similar sonic character. Also consider an older pair of Merlin TSM, either the MM or MMe, great monitors though may prefer a sub to go along.

I did hear Tekton and it didn’t do anything for me, but to each their own.
@missioncoonery   Don't call my integrity into question.  Do the math on the drivers, crossover, cabinet.  Then get back to me in a private post so as to not derail yet another thread with unhelpful banter. 
From what I’ve gathered, the impedance curve of the driver and the ability of the amp to manage the peaks and valleys will very much dictate how well the combo will sound.

Damping factor will play a role when it comes to how well the amp will control the driver, hence the need for a comparatively flat impedance curve.
High sensitivity is great, but it doesn’t tell the full story as to how well the speaker will react to the amp.
Tube amps have traditionally had low damping factors. Lots of modern speakers depend on high power amps with high damping factors to manage the impedance swings present in the speakers. The wrong speaker specs could provide an output that has low output in some areas and high output in others.

Cant wait for an opportunity to hear Fritz speakers in person. The crossovers he uses makes for an easy load for the amp to see, no capacitors and series design. The tweeter and woofer become part of one system, turning the two drivers into basically a single unit.

And then of course there is the all important room… As frequencies are shifted about from that, and pending how the impedance curve interacts with the amp, combined, components which have the capacity for wonderful reproduction on their own could end up providing a lack luster presentation.
You could also consider some kit speaker-Audio Note,Seas A26 and some of the Troels Gravesen designs suit lowish powered valve amps.

I hope some of the suggestions above have been helpful.  It is a bit hard to give focused advice, given that we don't know some basics, like a price range for instance, but, you are probably looking for a wide range of options.  For example, I like the suggestions of the Devore speakers, but, I have no idea if they are in your range as a choice. 

I know you mentioned that you have the Harbeth 40.1s, so you are not looking at Harbeths, but, I think that their other models sound substantially different from that speaker and the other models are MUCH easier to drive than the 40.1s (these are particularly demanding speakers that can sound dead or flabby with the wrong amplifier).  Perhaps the 30.2s  would be a candidate.

I again mention the Audio Note speakers.  It is interesting that you have ProAc and Harbeth speakers, because one of my favorite dealers has ProAc, Harbeth and Audio Note as his primary speaker lines.  He also has Nola, although for some reason, they are not that popular (the cheaper models sound good for the money to me).  This dealer, DejA Vu Audio (Northern Virginia) only sells tube amplification, so their speaker preferences are matched to this type of amplifier.  Most often, when someone comes in looking at all options (i.e., they did not come in looking at just one specific model), they end up with an Audio Note speaker.  

If you can stretch a bit in price, Charney Audio makes terrific speakers that are in the 99 db/watt and higher level of efficiency and they are fantastic as long as one is not interested in extremely deep bass.