Speakers like 'stats but for smaller rooms?

I currently own and enjoy a Martin Logan Odyssey / Cinema / Scenario / Descent speaker system. Sonically I'm very pleased with it, but it was purchased with the intent to build a custom room for AV. Due to financial circumstances, it's become clear that this isn't going to happen for at least a couple of years. In fact, I'm even considering downsizing houses, since the last of the kids is about to achieve escape velocity within the next year.

The speakers, most especially the Odysseys, are just too big and demanding of placement for the "temporary" room in which they've been living for the past year, so I'm considering what might have similar type of sound without taking up so much space. I also liked the Magnepan 3.6s - better in fact - but they aren't any better about space, and arguably even worse.

The room is 15 x 14, and is primarily for 2ch music. However, 5ch theatre is required, primarily for other family members. They are not nearly as demanding, so it is acceptable to have "decent" 5-ch surround as long as the 2-ch is not compromised. I have a sub now, but it's not that necessary in this room as I am already loaded up with Bass Busters just to keep the mains down to near flat.

Let's call the budget about $7-8K, which can be allocated as desired amongst the various speakers. As a long-standing 'goner I'm quite open to purchasing used, and in general I think I'd prefer that route. I have a pretty good pair of Triad Silver surrounds in storage, too, so the budget might go a bit further if they are an appropriate match.

My musical taste is a bit convoluted: classical ranging from Bach on period instruments to Beethoven and Saint-Seans, folk music - mostly accoustic, 60s rock-and-roll, classical opera, and some country, not necessarily in that order on any given day.

Current electronics are a Counterpoint SA-11 preamp with Classe CA-200 and Counterpoint SA-220 power amps. I would think that either of the power amps are capable of driving almost any speaker, especially in my small room, but I'm open to changing them if the speakers demand it.

Obviously I'm going to go listen to stuff like what's recommended. Even though I live in the boonies, I have regular access to major metropolitan cities and I can always hear stuff there.

PS I know what'll happen. I'll downsize the speakers, then we'll change houses, and as soon as the speakers are downsized, the new house will magically have enough space for the old system. But if I don't, Murphy's Law indicates that we'll be here forever!
Blw, I recently found myself in a similar circumstance to yours. I moved my system from a very large room to a much smaller room that is only about 11 x 14, but has a vaulted ceiling and a large 2 x 8.5 closet that gives it some extra volume. I had been a planar man for years and had used Magnepans, Acoustats, Carver AL-IIIs, and the InnerSound Eros in my previous basement listening room.

When I moved across the country to AZ, I sold the Eros and bought a pair of Audio Physic Virgo IIs, which have a slim profile and take up a lot less physical space. They are only about 6 inches wide by about 40" tall and have two 6.5" side-mounted woofers in push-pull configuration. I had heard the original Virgos previously and liked them, but still didn't know how well these would stack up to electrostats.

As it happens, I'm getting VERY good sound from the Virgo IIs in my new room. With some positioning and room treatment the bass is articulate and fairly deep (even without the sub) and the midrange and high frequencies are natural, dynamic, and fast. These are one of the few dynamic speakers that sound as quick as planars to me. Plus, I believe the Virgos would be happy in larger rooms as well, and I originally heard them in a large room.

The speakers are fairly efficient (at least 90dB/W) and you'd have plenty of power since they are 4-ohm speakers. I'm driving them with fairly powerful hybrid amps but don't think they need a lot of power to open up and sing. I haven't compared them directly to the new Virgo III and I know there was a voicing change -- people have said the IIIs are brighter and not as warm. So that's an area you'd need to explore if considering the latest version. But the IIs can be bought for good prices on the used market and may be just what you're looking for. They worked for me, and I'm very fussy. :)

Good Luck!
Greetings Blw,

I hope you don't mind a dealer crawling out of the woodwork here...

You see, I own and sell electrostats, and I'm also quite partial to Maggies. In my experience, not many "box" speakers successfully follow in the footsteps of a good planar.

Among the few that can follow on the heels of planars is the Gradient Revolution. They are very relaxing - you can listen to 'em all day long. And there are smaller, similarly-voiced Gradients to round out a multi-channel system. I have a customer with Gradients who previously owned Quad 988's, 989's, and Martin Logan Odysseys. He's had the Revolutions for about a year and a half now - which for him is a record.

A pair of Revolutions and a trio of Preludes (for center and rear) would be in your price ballpark and would sound quite good. I haven't heard the Revolutions with your amps - they tend to like big, lively amplifiers like the Parasound JC-1's.

I can arrange an in-home demo of the Revolutions for you if you'd like, and of course I'd be more than happy to take a shot at any questions you might have.

More info at www.gradient.fi.

Best of luck to you whichever way you go,

For curiosity's sake, here's a speaker that's been an announced R&D project for a long time:

I used to own their LFT-VIII speakers, which had many fine qualities along with some significant drawbacks.

Also, I think the smaller Magnepans, up to and including the 1.6, as well as Quads would qualify.

Finally, the VMPS standmounts with planar mids and FST tweeters.

I believe all of these are well under your budget, however, if that matters. Maybe you could get a sub that has bass management features to replace all those tube traps. Something like the Thiel, Audio Physic or Infinity Overture.
I've been looking for a speaker upgrade for somje time, and really liked the Magnepan 1.6QRs until I got them home. The bass didn't work in my room, and they xcast quite a shadow over the front of my room. I found the Talon Audio Hawks to sound very much like the Maggies, in a very compact package, leaving enouigh room for subwoofers.
Check out the new line of speakers from newform research. John Meyer has designed a line for smaller rooms and can be used in home theatre....www.newformresearch.com/ Good luck...
Have you considered speakers with ribbon drivers? Smaller than stats but similar principle.
Thanks for the points so far.

A couple of clarifications:

- The room is bass-heavy even with the sub UNPLUGGED. It's +8 dB at 31 Hz even with my Odysseys set to deliver -3dB in the bass region. A different sub isn't going to fix that.

- Both amps deliver 200 wpc into 8 ohms, 400 wpc into 4 ohms. They may or may not do any particular thing well (timbre, image, etc) but one thing they do NOT do is run out of gas, even with my speakers. They both sound pretty good now, actually.

- On the newforms, what do they recommend for HT?

- I'm definitely checking into the VMPS's. I've heard good things about the RM40s, and at least from reading their web site they look like the sort of thing I'm after. I also like the way their line appears to be skewed toward 2-ch.

- The Audio Physic is also on my listening list. They too seem to have an attitude toward HT that matches mine. (Ie do it reasonably well but don't overdo it.)

- I'll look into the Talons. They didn't occur to me to be something that might be even remotely like electrostatics.

- I've never heard of the Gradients before! Something new to consider.

- Aren't the Magnepan 1.6's just as picky as the 3.6's about location? Sure, they're smaller, but not THAT much, and even a smaller panel in the middle of the room is a panel in the middle of the room! Or am I just missing the point about them?

- Don't the Quads need a lot of space???

- What about Triangles? I've never heard them in person, but I've been told more than once that they are really fast, detailed and transparent.
Actually, a different sub could help fix the low end problems. Several which include bass management have been mentioned.