Speakers good for close to wall placement


There are quite a few speakers I would like to purchase, but I need to be realistic. I will need to find some speakers that perform well when placed close to the rear wall. After that choice I can move on to selecting the proper integrated amp to drive them. Any suggestions on which speakers work well near the rear wall?
cincyhound
If you are open to using DSP then most speakers would work.
DSP. Thereby compounding your problems. Sigh. 

What you want first and foremost are speakers of at least 92dB sensitivity. Because then all this nonsense of "selecting the proper integrated amp to drive them" disappears. That one decision alone frees you and opens up the entire universe of integrated amps, everything from 2 watts on up. 

Next decision, to swarm or not to swarm. If you can have several subs then this frees you even further to consider smaller speakers with limited bass response. This will go hand in hand with your situation because the main problem with on the wall is bass bloat. Speakers light in the bass will be fine because a) wall reinforcement and b) subs to handle all the low bass you could ever desire.   

This just leaves imaging. The second biggest problem with being so near the wall. Which you can somewhat reduce by selecting a speaker with the right dispersion pattern. 

Or you can just say the heck with it, 2 out of three ain't bad, and get whatever 92dB or greater speakers you like, buy the Raven Blackhawk which will drive them beautifully and use the built-in subwoofer crossover combined with setting sub levels for superb bass. 
Wilson Duette 2s were designed to go back against a wall, they were quite pricy though and seem to have been discontinued, maybe Tune Tots are their replacement. Crossing the Atlantic there are the Audionote UK speakers based on the old Peter Snell designs, the K, J and Es. Larsen have a range designed to go against a wall,. Anything from Naim before the Ovators needs a solid wall behind it but they’re all getting on a bit and rare in the US (I assume that’s where you are as you don’t say otherwise). Classic Linn speakers (Kans, Saras and Isobariks).
Lather. Lather, rinse, repeat. Nothing like working up a good lather.
Thanks for the suggestions. I’d like to go with tubes for my amp, so higher efficiency would be best. What are your thoughts on Klipsch Cornwalls?
The Charney Audio Maestro is designed to be placed against/close to the front wall. Narrow in profile with all the goodness of a much larger horn. The Maestro starts at $2800 and price varies depending on driver and finish choice. Contact Charney to discuss your needs.

http://charneyaudio.com/the-maestro.html
You do not mention your budget or the size of your room or any other parameters. The AudioNote AN-J/K/E are designed for just this purpose -- although they do the best in corners. I have Zu Def 4s within a couple of inches of the rear wall. All of these are tube friendly. Classic Linn is great, but not that tube friendly. If possible, you should audition at home -- or at least have a return option. 
I would add some Devore models (can't remember which ones, sorry), specifically designed to play close to their back wall.
Cincy,
Just happened to be looking at these. Steve Guttenberg, the aged hippie, really likes these:

Ohm Walsh

They are meant to be close to walls as they are intended to utilize this reflection. They also have the smallest footprint I know.

cincyhound OP
1 posts12-01-2020 4:38amThanks for the suggestions. I’d like to go with tubes for my amp, so higher efficiency would be best. What are your thoughts on Klipsch Cornwalls?

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Excellent choice, and you can pick the Valve amp to suit. I’ve heard a lot of the older Klipsch speakers matched with Mcintosh MC225-240 and 275s, I heard them with the HK Citations and Marantz, 7 and 9s. ALL were wonderful.

The Macs had a little more bass and wonderful mids(240), than the EL34 stuff. 275 they are BLASTING, I mean BLASTING... 100+ db... with a hot rodded 240...

HK and  Marantz had the mids and highs with good MID bass. You got a winner for Corner horns, La Sala, Klipschorn, Cornwalls or Heresy. YUP they will BLAST with 30 watts and above.. That Ravin with SUB out is a really nice NEW with a GREAT support staff... and a heck of a piece of engineering,
A little pricey BUT... well worth it.. Good looking to.

Regards
Larsen gets no love on this site.  They are specifically designed to be jammed up next to the wall behind them.  But not in the corners.  Audio Note for close wall and corner placement.  Search those two brand names on this forum and you'll find more threads discussing same or similar topic to this one.
Vintage Kef References (Theyve got a special external crossover)were designed to be set  against a wall.Linn Isobariks do need a little space but need to have ceiling reflections taken into consideration as they have upward firing mid and tweeter.
Another vote for the Cornwall, preferably the IV version.

Oz



" I’d like to go with tubes for my amp, so higher efficiency would be best. What are your thoughts on Klipsch Cornwalls?"

I would expect the Cornwalls to work very well close to the wall. Their radiation pattern is very well controlled so that interaction with the walls in the midrange and highs would be minimized, and my guess is that their low end would benefit from the boundary reinforcement.

You might also look at Pi Speakers. Designer Wayne Parham does superb design work, and in fact he was one of my teachers. Please don’t be put off by PiSpeakers being an "under the radar" brand, I’ve heard them year after year at the Lone Star Audio Fest and they are consistently either the very best sound at the show or one of the top few, and probably always the very best sound-per-dollar a the show. In my opinion. They are designed with wall proximity in mind, and the 3Pi and 4 Pi use a very low-coloration horn that is custom made to Wayne’s specifications.

I also make horn speakers, some of which are designed to still give you good soundstage depth even with close-to-the-wall placement. But Pi Speakers offers a wider range of models. Imo they are superb.

Duke
any of the Vandersteen from Quatro on up can be tuned to be close to the wall my Quatros are 8 inches off the wall

Enjoy the Music 
Tom
THE LARSEN (6 or 8) gets excellent reviews, and while I haven’t auditioned them I will. The mid and tweeter fire towards each other, and negate much of the first sidewall reflection problems. The woofer fires down (iirc) and makes placement near or against the wall ideal. I’ve spoken to people who have them and love them. The soundstaging they make is more a "wall of sound" with good specificity of location of the musicians, but not as specific and focused as typical front-firing speakers. The upside is that the sweet spot is very broad, and the reproduction is said to be much more like live music.

Reviews:
https://positive-feedback.com/Issue69/larsen8.htm
https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/larsen-model-8-loudspeaker/

"Not to maintain artificial suspense, the Larsen 8s are, like their ancestors, speakers that produce an unusually natural sound, a sound that bears a surprising resemblance to concert music. But, again like their ancestors, they are quite different from ordinary speakers—by intention. So to appreciate them, one needs to think for a moment about certain fundamental matters of speakers in rooms.

What Gives With Speakers
It is, of course, familiar stuff in audio that speakers can have various basic radiation patterns: omni, dipoles, or that intrinsically strange if most common hybrid, the “forward-radiating” box speaker designed to be out in the room, which is typically omni in the bass, shifts to radiating primarily forward (half-space radiation) somewhere around 300 to 700Hz, depending on the width of the front baffle, and then narrows its pattern yet more in the high frequencies. On the face of it, this most common kind of speaker seems, like the chimera, to be led from ill-matching parts, as far as radiation pattern goes.

Designers have, of course, become adept at making these transitions of pattern occur smoothly, and thus sound less troublesome to the ear. But the forward-radiating box out in the room remains an odd creature on the face of it.

Larsen Model 8

And then there is the question of “free space mounting,” the “out in the room” part. Since bass works better if the speaker is up against a room boundary (or two or three), how did it get to be a habit to put the speaker out in the room—and to have its woofer off the floor, usually? The answer is historically complex. But roughly speaking, you can blame it on the British. Free space mounting makes it easiest to avoid boundary-induced coloration of the midrange, and the midrange was most of what the British audio establishment of the 1960s and 1970s was interested in. Midrange and precision stereo imaging is also easiest with free space mounting, which delays reflections for a long time." ...

"So the natural thing to do was to eliminate the back-wall reflection by placing the speaker against the wall so that the sound off the wall formed in effect a unit with the forward sound. Room sound then arrives a long time after, especially if one puts the speakers on the long wall so that they are far from the sidewalls..." ,,

"If one forgets about audio categories, turns one’s mind away from a checklist of what speakers are supposed to do, and turns one’s mind away from what most speakers do do, and thinks instead of what music sounds like in reality, these speakers are hugely intriguing. Once one gets used to the fact that they are different from free-space floorstanders; indeed, one can become positively addicted to their sound. In a certain sense, the Model 8s are something of a road not taken in audio. But one cannot help wondering if this is not perhaps because audio took a wrong turn somewhere to some extent if the goal is to sound like real music, especially in terms of reproducing the lower midrange on down.

Large-scaled music, where the match between room sound and direct sound is a vital matter, especially illustrates the virtues of the Model 8s. Orchestras sound surprisingly like orchestras, with a transparency that goes not just down into the midrange but all the way down. If you wanted to write down the bass and cello parts of a symphonic composition from listening, these speakers would make it easy.

At the same time, the human voice is also very convincing. A good recording of a person speaking sounds startlingly like a real person, something that often escapes speakers that change directivity in the midrange on account of the baffle step. And instruments with serious lower-midrange content sound unusually convincing, as noted.

The Larsen Model 8 is to my mind a speaker that everyone seriously interested in audio ought to listen to and at as much length as possible, since one needs to adjust to its quite different approach to reproducing sound in rooms. There are things it does, and important things at that, that to my mind lie at the heart of actually sounding like live music. The approach is entirely different from the near-field, directional speakers that can also claim a really accurate reproduction of what is on the recordings, albeit in a different way. But the approach of the Larsen Model 8s has validity of its own. How speakers should work in rooms is not a very standardized matter. But the way of the Larsens is one of the ways that works. The Larsens, most impressively, really sound the way music actually does sound. The Model 8s are not just another try at making a speaker like all the rest except better, as so many high-end speakers are. Rather, the Larsen Model 8s are something special in their own right." ###



I have read that Audiovector QR series do well, but I had bought Martin Logans before I found out about this so no first hand knowledge. I've had no issues with my ML Motion 35 XTI speakers on a desk fairly close to a back wall.
Audio Note speakers are designed for tubes and designed to be placed in room corners or walls. And they sound fantastic.
Amphion Loudspeakers especially the Argon series on up and time aligned to blend in to ever modt problem rooms and from the
Argon 3S on up use a true equally pressured rear Bass passive radiator which gives excellent tuneful bass and the waveguide for the tweeter is = size to the mid-Bass driver which uses a simple Xover ,and speaker can be very close to the front wall.

Patrickdowns I will echo your thoughts on Larson speakers I checked out an audio store in Waikiki last winter and he had a trial pair of Larsons  They look cheaply made in some respects He was most impressed as I was with the sound They are fantastic sounding great detail I like the fact that they can stay against the wall What was most impressive is he was using wall wire for speaker cables and average power cables and connects His amp was an inexpensive german tube amp and a inexpensive chinese dac Maybe $7k combined With better gear and cables Who knows how good Larsons would sound However as is it sounded great no need to improve anything else
I in my experience speakers with a really solid cabinet can placed almost anywhere. (not all) I have Ryan R-610s on stands  slammed to the wall and they sound great.
+1 for Audionote. I have AN J-spe against the wall in a small room paired with Audionote Meishu Silver Line (8 watts) and sound incredible...
Surprised that nobody has mentioned Dutch & Dutch 8C. Stereophile Class A rated, designed to be close to the back wall, and eliminate the need for an amplifier. 
An example of a speaker that does well close to a rear wall would be wharfedale 225's 11.2's, the newer evo 4.2's...etc...all share one thing in common...a down firing bass port. The speaker cabinet rests on a plinth supported by rubber feet. The ported bass is allowed to escape in all directions. I've used and still have the above 225's and they were 1 foot away from rear wall and sounded awesome. Albeit, these are all considered mid-fi or budget speakers, but they all work well near the wall. 
Larsen! They are made for placement against a wall. They are quite amazing,
Wow, thanks everyone! Lots of new avenues to explore here and exposure to a couple of brands I have never heard of. I’m really leaning toward Raven or Linear Tube for my amp, so efficiency will be a prime consideration. 
In Europe we generally have smaller rooms than in the US so many of our European speakers are designed for close-to-wall placement. One of the best higher end for being up against the wall are the B&W 804D floorstanders.  They are medium sensitivity at 89dB. 
The only speaker truly designed  to go against the wall is the Larsen Speaker 
MartinLogan Masterpiece speakers sound best about three feet from the wall.
Link to Larsen Speakers (I didn't know of them)

https://almaaudio.com/collections/larsen

as drvinyl said, specifically designed to be against the wall
// Full Disclosure - I work for manufacturer //

The Ostinato Monitor has essentially two full sets of cross-overs allowing for both near to wall and far from wall placements.  Provides some future-proofing if/when you have need to place somewhere else. 

https://ostinatospeakers.com/monitor/
Cheers
Klipschorns...they HAVE to go on the wall.
Anything without a rear port really... $ for $ I haven't heard anything better than Sonus Faber Sonetto's yet - I have the VIIIs - the port is on the bottom of the tower.
If you are looking at LTA check out Daedalus Muse highly efficient and front port works well with close to wall placement.  I purchased this summer.  Lou is very helpful during the process and they are gorgeous speakers.

Muse Speaker | Mus Speaker Daedalus Audio
Troels Gravesen designed a speaker for near-wall placement called the Bookshelf-3WC.

Its sensitivity is rated at 90 dB/2.8V/1 meter.

Check it out. 
iirc the well regarded audio physic speakers (virgo etc) were meant to be placed back against front wall, yes?

am sure someone will correct me if i am wrong

they were long speakers that would still extend a good bit into the room though
Aerial 5T was designed specifically to be placed between 2 inches and 2 feet of a wall. Well reviewed bookshelf.
Thanks again to everyone for their suggestions. Looks like I have a lot more options than I originally thought. I was surprised that no one mentioned Volti Audio. They were high on my list to consider, especially the new Raaz model. Very efficient and a good match for tubes. Any thoughts on these?
Anyone remember the NHT 3.3's?  They were so deep that you could jam the back of them right up against the wall and yet the drivers would still be a good distance out from the wall.
Among current makers, look at Larsen (all models) and Klipsch (certain models). Vintage speakers that were designed to go against the wall include Sonab-Carlsson, Allison, and certain models by Snell, and Linn (the Kan, I believe).  I have not heard the new Volti.

I've had a number of speakers in our large living/kitchen area over four decades. My wife doesn't want speakers too far out in the room. I've finally found the perfect speaker for that room and those restrictions, the Larsen 8.2. No need for subs either. The low bass on these relatively small speakers is amazing. I tried several amps, both solid state and tube. So far I'm getting the best synergy with Manley Snapper monos.
This reminds me of something.  Among my nearly half century of owning B&W's, I had tall electrostatic panels speakers for 25 years.  Instead of placing them near a wall, I removed a section of the wall and used the speakers in two different rooms.  The sound was certainly clean and crisp from the upper bass to the mid-range, where 'stats really shine.  I had originally done this for the early, wood framed Magnepans, but those speakers were not really good at anything, except for sounding like Bose 901's with an even worse head cold than they had. 
The whole speakers close to the wall issue is GREATLY misunderstood and fraught with a ton of misinformation. 
  You need to consider what is going on to understand the situation as a whole. 
1) When you place a speaker close to any room boundary you reinforce bass response AND excite room nodes. This is a major reason why people like small speakers in tight spaces close to walls. This is easily fixed with bass traps  but many will never spend the money and never get true full potential from their setup.

2) Walls create reflections and even the back of a speaker cabinet radiates sound, sound that is not necessarily pleasing. Don't believe me, get behind a speaker box and put your ear near the cabinet. It's not pretty and early reflections of this sort are not pretty. Solution is to put absorbers directly behind speakers or better yet a QRD diffusor.  

The speaker and room should be considered as a unit and integration is paramount. I have 3 VERY large speaker systems that traditional misinformation says they only sound good several feet away from the walls however I can place the fronts 3 feet from the rear wall with no issues being that I have my rear wall done in Skyline QRD's and proper bass traps tuned for a low RT60. 

The popularity of small speakers with tiny woofers is undoubtedly due to the reluctance to properly treat a room's nodes for full range capable speakers and smaller speakers have less surface to radiate objectionable rear waves. 

The only speakers that really need to be spaced a but from rear walls are electrostats which have membrane issues when too close to a boundary wall. 

I remember being shocked by the Snell speakers that were designed to go flat against a rear wall and taking the rear early reflection completely out of the equation however the spaced approach with a diffusor gives a soundstage of epic scale and more enjoyable experience.

So treat you room first and then worry less about speaker selection.
If you are into DIY, you might want to consider Curt Campbell's Halcyons. These are 22 inches deep but intended to be right up against the front wall 2-3 inches.  They are bigger than they look, and sound it.  Build thread here:  https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/multi-way/349255-curt-campbells-halcyon-build-thread.html
I will echo the recommendation to seriously consider the Larsen loudspeakers.  They are the only loudspeaker I've ever heard that are engineered to be put up, flat against a wall.  Doing so makes them much more furniture and decoration friendly, if that's an issue for  you.   If it is a serious requirement, then the Larsen really is a great choice.    I’ve heard them and agree that they image well, though to me, they sounded rather 2 dimensional than 3 dimensional. The Larsen 8 is about $7000 and you’re not likely to find them on the used market. You don’t say what amplification you’re planning on using, but that will probably add another $2000 or more to your system cost.

You mention using an integrated amp, which suggests that space is a problem for you. Otherwise separate preamp and power amp gives you many more choices.

***IF*** you can work with a loudspeaker than can sit about 6 to 12 inches from the back wall, then the recommendation for the Dutch & Dutch 8c is one you would do well to take seriously seeing as how you’re looking to purchase both your loudspeakers and your amplification. The D&D 8c retails at $12k, but can be found on the used market at about $9k, which puts it even with the Larsen and whatever integrated amp you might choose.

I’ve also heard the Dutch & Dutch 8c and they are nothing short of astonishing. One of the very, VERY best loudspeakers you’ll ever hear. Absolutely extraordinary. They are a fully engineered system with built-in amplification, DSP and controlled directivity. You don’t run them butt up against the wall, but typically about a 6 to 12 inches away. Once you get them in place, you tweak the DSP to account for the wall spacing and it works with the wall, not in spite of it. Exceptional deep end. And the imaging!!!! O-M-G!!! I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a loudspeaker even come close to what the D&D 8c can do. Truly incredible.

You don’t say what you’re planning to use for a source. If you’re one of the people who mostly listens to streaming sources like Tidal, or even just plays digital material from a music server or computer, then all you have to do is run a network cable to the D&D 8c and you’re done. No preamp. No intergrated amp. Just your laptop and a network cable. Talk about a minimalist setup!

If you can find your way to auditioning the D&D 8c, you’ll be truly amazed.
I’ve used Vandersteen Treo CT’s within 12”of the wall and they sound great, probably because the port is on the bottom of the speakers.  The point about using absorption or diffusion behind the speakers is a good one.