Speakers which always sound good


This is brought up because I'm home shopping, but I'm not actually looking for speakers right now, so please don't take this as a request for advice so much as opinions.

As I shop for homes I've realized how few are really equipped for the audiophile.  Too many fireplaces and windows and damn kitchens and bathrooms placed completely inappropriately for us! :-)

And as you may know, I'm a big fan of appropriate room treatments.

So, wanted to step away from this world for a bit and ask, what are speaker brands that you feel always work?  Or at least, work really well without having to think about the room acoustics or placements?  Reminder that this is 99% of the buying public.  We who have laser line levelers, a closet full of measurement microphones and a chair which bolts our head into a fixed location may not believe it is true, but this is the majority of the buying public. 

What do we, the audiophile community recommend to them to actually be helpful in getting them as many positive music listening experiences as possible?

Best,

Erik
erik_squires
I would have to go with Polk Speakers. 
Sonus Faber: beautiful to look at as well as listen to.
headphones always seems to work
Vandersteen 2CE, even though I no longer have them.
If we are talking the SF Stradivari, I'm with you.  Those wide baffle speakers seem to ignore room acoustics a great deal.
MAGICO A3s or any other MAGICO.PICKUP A PAIR ASAP!!!!
Vandersteen 2CE Signature or 1CE, Harbeth, Reynaud.  Amplifier and placement friendly. 
Two many to name  you have to be more specific in what you are looking for and what experiences you have had to date.  
I agree with @mrdecibel 

headphones are always agnostic to the room...
headphones are always agnostic to the room...
Yeah.  The sound is always in your head.
I have a pair of ADS1230's floor standings purchased in 1981 I believe, that have never failed to sound great in 3 different homes in a variety of locations in each. There's always fiddling and distancing to tweak, but they always come through. 
One very overlooked company  in the US that sells 65% of their speakers to studios for their musicality and accuracy are Amphion .I have their S3 monitors all seas drivers and excellent tuned 
rear radiator That is balanced tuned to the front driver, excellent bass for a monitor ,their bigger models even better bass li use the excellent SVS 3000 sb subs with them below 50 hz Xover ,but these monitors do low 40s and no port to color the mid band. I upgraded the Xover as I do with all my speakers . The tweeter wave guide matches the 6.5 inch mid,bass driver . It’s time alignment makes it very easy to blend into almost any room with little work.
Sonus Faber has a couple of new lines at different price points and sizes. All beautifully crated.  I’ve owned three of them and think of them as part finely crafted furniture.  
Kenjit Supreme Is
or
JBL D30085 Hartsfied IIIs
Von Schweikert, Have had them for years and loved them. 
I love my Vimberg Tonda D can’t wait to spend long listening sessions with them forget about the rest of the world for a while
The goal here is not for one audiophile to isolate and listen, but to listen to music with others. Headphones are right out for this particular discussion.
erik_squires
is this a trick question? I ask, because the more I read the more I understand that appropriate room treatment, for the specific room geometry and materials, has a major overall bearing on the sound quality.

Erik, if you have the funds to purchase a house, and you're in the market for one, then my opinion is that you could probably build one, if you're patient enough?? Done correctly, you could even get more for your investment.
Consider building.
Honestly, I have never had a difficult time getting speakers to sound good. But the easiest I have ever had it is with my Salk Songtowers. Easy Peazy speaker to place. In fact, they are the first speaker I can put right up against the wall and not get overly booming bass. They just sound better quite a bit better away from the front and side walls.

I know there is a lot of talk about speaker placement.  But the best results, for me, were obtained from 'source placement'.  Place the source on the side wall.  Nothing between the speakers.  Thick rug...with speakers on rug...nothing else = great imaging! Not a reality for most people but you gotta at least try it once. 
The most problematic issue with speaker choice in the rooms of my own, my friends, and at shows, seems to be bass boom. This may be more a feature of Europe: we have smaller dwellings and hence smaller rooms on the whole than the USA. Even small 2-way stand mounters can boom away in some rooms.
There are 3 speakers which never seem to cause this problem.

1. The LS3/5A. This classic monitor always sounds great. It may need a subwoofer in some rooms but it sounds good wherever you put it in any room.

2. The B&W 804D - a floor standing speaker which sounds good in every room I’ve heard it in. It can stand against a wall or in free space, it doesn’t care. The smaller stand-mounted 805D seems less flexible, oddly. And the 803D and down can overwhelm small spaces. I own a pair of 804s in my second system and would never get rid as they’re so versatile.

3. Boenicke W8. These stunningly beautiful small floor-standers like a bit of space behind them to sound best but they always sound good in every single room I’ve heard them in. Small rooms, large ones, odd-shaped, even troublesome cuboid spaces...the lot. And it has a wide sound field so they work in busy rooms for all present.
The so called "open floor plans" are the bane of an audiophile's existence.  Got to love the clanking dishes and pots banging on the stove. Erik, I believe you live in CA, the open floor plan capital of the world. Try to find a house with an upstairs "bonus room".     
..had to go there....tap on that Alien egg marked 'audiophile' and go "Hello?"...  *L*  This little critter goes for your ears...

What spouse and self do for self-employ allows us to 'self-tour' subdivision homes just for grins and groans.  I employ the 'Audiophiles' Eye for the Sounds Style' and generally walk away, if not run.

In the majority, one would be better off using the master bedroom.
Will NOT 'fly' with the spouse....unless you'd prefer to sleep alone on a more or less permanent state.

A custom home would be an answer....but a pricey one.  That, and if the acoustics don't work....you bought it, and have to 'make it work'....yet again...*grumble*

OK.  No suggested speakers; a suggested tactic, my 'imho' personal approach....*s*  Omnis'.

Linkwitz said "Ignore the room."  Or just cope with it....we do that alot.

Closest analog in speakers to what I'm 'about' is 4 of his Plutos'; small footprint, easily moved, sub friendly, not watt hungry.  Not particularly pretty nor ignorable, but are (or can be) the same driver(s) of equal response and qualities.  Your basic 'surround' with/without sub.....

Create a 'field' that you're within, rather than facing.
DACable...to some extent.  You can treat the room, but that seems to be The Answer in most cases, anyway..

You can 'be' sitting 'with' the band...on demand.
Add discrete delay to the 'rears', with a tweak of the eq...viola', your hall awaits, FRC.

My biggest diversion to the above is DIYing my own omnis to my tastes and perversions, trying to make them visually less 'strange'...

And the Plutos' have the same basic detail of the current Ohms that bugs me....a dome tweet....Not 'omni' at all.  Ergo, perverse. *LOL*

But...I remain an anomaly in y'alls midst...and happily, I might add.

OK...throw your rocks...."Shields Up." ;)

Wierdly yours,J
Sonus faber sonetto line. Great off axis response even better than the buchardt s400. Very flexible in positioning as they front fire. Great value for money
Though the company is no longer in business, it is still my favorite speaker. VMPS. I really like the planar designs, for the simple reason they don’t ware out.. They will be good fo the next 30 years. Just as they have been for the last 20+ years.

One of the the biggest bang for the buck speakers EVER made..
The only folks that make fun of them are the ones that envy the simplicity and cost to deliver a SUPPER product at a VERY reasonable price..

Kinda like Tektons, but with measurements, double the thickness of the speaker enclosure, a much larger finish choice, bass driver upgrades, several cap and coil XO upgrades, internal and external crossovers, internal wire upgrades, copper, copper clad, silver or a combo. In home setup, by him or staff. (putty pinchers, different story)
Best in show at CES maybe 4 or more times.

Well maybe not like "JUST" Tekton, come to think of it..

VMPS, great stuff.

Infinity RS speakers of the 70-80 were great too,

Oh, another one that I really like, Mine, the ones that I build. No they are not for sale. No I’m not trying to sell speakers. I like my speakers... I like columns, but they weigh so much, I started stacking and testing. 2-500 lbs is a good place to start...and an electric overhead hoist has been a real life saver, since my heath care hiccup.

The BEST is what YOU build, buy, modify, hybridize,or whatever floats your boat... In my opinion.

Regards
Tannoys! Pick up a pair, asap! 🙄
Bose 901....?!
I dunno..... Good luck with quest, I'm following!
@rixthetrick I thought so too until I found out I had to pay over $75,000 in PERMITS.

Houses are a bit more expensive than you might think to build today, and we do it all ourselves except the beginning basics--plumbing, slab, walls, trusses (no basements down here). We take care of the rest--runs about $65.00/sq ft for us to put up the shell. After that, what do you want inside and for roof material (tile or metal down here).

The permits scared me off. I could put the permit money into fixing an existing house and come out better, but whatever you want, I guess.

(Not to be a stickler in these days of tweets and texts, but "THAT" sound better, please.)
Cheers!
@tomavodka  You ARE kidding, right?  I would guess a 2" speaker in a 1955 Japanese transistor radio would sound more like music.

Good joke, though...
In listening with others situations I’ve heard Klipsch La Scalas that had a wonderful speak easy background music sound. 
Open baffles can take much of the room out of it other than needing a front wall to develop a wave. 
Tomavodka, bulls eye! Bose 901's, Musak in its highest form. After the Bose there are a host of excellent computer speakers. Headphones? They make my ears sweat. Actually, good ones make a great reference.
I seems most people are stuck on good old dynamic speakers. What about horns, planars or ESLs?
In order of increasing expense; Klipsch Cornwalls, Magnepan 3.7i, Sound Labs 545, Sound Labs 845
I didn't buy these or try them, but I kept reading that Ohm speakers are very friendly with different rooms, and have ways to adjust them on the back of some (all?) models. 

https://ohmspeaker.com/news/making-the-sound-fit-the-room/
What you are describing is Vandersteen’s. All you have to do is break down the numbers. Length of time the design has held up, number of speakers sold and number still being sold. A speaker Company that will fit any budget. They will work with room treatments and still sound good without. Even have a bookshelf or spouse friendly option.
I auditioned the Harbeth Super HL 5+ 40th Anniversary Model speakers with 7 different high end integrated amps. I thought they sounded outstanding with every amp I tried. Just for the record the 7 amps that were auditioned included the Pass Labs int 60, Luxman 509x, Simaudio 700i, Naim Supernait 3, VAC 170i, Gryphon D300, and Hegel H390. IMHO, the Harbeths are extremely versatile and seem to have a very high "symbiosis quotient". I know there are very few speakers that sound great with every speaker. In fact, I’m not sure there is such a speaker. But, to my ears, the Harbeths sounded superb with all 7 of the integrated amps I auditioned.

Of all the amps, my ears preferred the Pass Labs int 60...that day and hour, that is. I ended up with the Harbeth Super HL 5+ 40th Anniversary Model speakers for my system. However, wanting something where I’d never have to worry about transient peaks, yet keep the "Pass Labs sonic personality" that I love so much, I purchased the Pass Labs int 250 to go with the Harbeths. And I probably would have been just as satisfied with the Pass Labs int 60. But I couldn’t be happier. For a little extra magic "pixie dust" I’m running the Pass Labs int 250 and Harbeth speakers through a dual power supply MSB Discrete DAC. Sonic heaven.

Anyway, I obviously love the Harbeths. But there are so many speakers I haven’t auditioned. Some may sound different. Some may even sound better. I may never know for sure since it would require a lot of national and international travel to audition them all. But since I put all my money into my system I won’t be doing any extensive traveling for a good long time. So I’ll just have to be contented with what I have. No problem there whatsoever. Sorry this was so long. My 2 cents.
LARSEN! Either the 6, the 8, or best, the 9 (the 8 sounds as good, I’m told, but the 9 is prettier). They put up a wall of sound that is unique, can go against the wall (preferred), and are very much like live music. In a living room, they fill the room because the sweet spot is almost everywhere. They require less room treatment because of the orientation of the mid/tweeter firing up and towards each other (reflections are less a problem).

I want a pair for the LR to go with my Vandersteens for the listening room.

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/larsen-model-9-loudspeaker/
$75,000 in PERMITS
That's highway robbery!
@richopp - yeah I totally see your logic, that's a lot of dough to give away.
You could build a soundproof shed (if you have enough land) and fit it out as a dedicated listening... oh wait.. the permit for that would be insane too, right?

@asvjerry - The master bedroom is what my wife and I agreed upon (15' x 24'). Funny thing about it is that she says she doesn't want to be typically American and have a TV in the bedroom, she's Belarusian, I'm Australian living in Texas. We were in a great AV & HIFI shop and she gave me the nod on a projector, just not a TV (well... she was nuts enough to fall in love with me).

She loves our townhouse, the neighbors don't complain (core filled cinder block walls all the way up to the roof) and a two car garage of the neighbor backs onto our master. I'd love to build something that could be a multi room for great audio/video, and Latin dancing.
The so called "open floor plans" are the bane of an audiophile's existence. Got to love the clanking dishes and pots banging on the stove. Erik, I believe you live in CA, the open floor plan capital of the world. Try to find a house with an upstairs "bonus room".


I do now and i love them, but I'm moving to South Carolina this year for cost saving reasons.  I have to say the alternative to open floor plans is basically a packed shoe box.  Really hard to let go of this.
Sonus Faber. Sound great and look great. High wife acceptance factor.
Infinity RS speakers of the 70-80 were great too,



How do they sound great in any room?  You needed a huge room to put them in!   ;-)
I was originally going to recommend something like Vandersteens (especially the ones with the powered woofers which can be adjusted to suit room problems) or small monitors like KEF LS50s that can be moved around easily.  But the more I think about it, I think most non-audiophiles that I know don't want speakers sitting out in the room, either on stands or floorstanders.  Something like the Naim Mu-So or the Devialet Phantoms might be the sort of thing they're looking for, not taking up much space, either with amplification or speakers, and giving them music in the house with a minimum of bother.  Just a random thought.
@erik_squires
S.C., a basement!



erik_squires
 OP
9,636 posts
10-03-2020 10:11am
Infinity RS speakers of the 70-80 were great too,



How do they sound great in any room? You needed a huge room to put them in!   ;-)

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Infinitesimals, RS6b, RS4B, RS3A or B, RS2A or better RS2B, none of these required a huge room. The IRS series, with exception of the V and RS1As and B in the RS series. ALL work quite well in smaller rooms.

The IRS V, and RS1A & Bs, a whole different story... Really no room is good enough. Work better in an amps style setting..., NO back walls perfect!!!!

I've set up all of them with exception to the IRS V.. IRS had a great servo bass system, and planars.... Fast, accurate, and sturdy..Only problem was the dipole thing..... hit and miss between heaven and HELL in the SQ department.. Took some figuring out for sure..

Regards
@rixthetrick....at least a townhouse Mstrbdrm doesn't have the real estate some do, rivaling the entire apartments I've lived in...

Some of the smaller 'infill housing' that's sprung up in this area have lower floors the size of your master.  A set of modest bookshelves could overdrive the space with a modest amp.....

"Dinners' Ready!"

"WHAT?!" *Hit 'mute', and even the silence is deafening....*

...adding 10' ceilings turn the 'living space' into a slightly distorted cube....the only option is to turn it into a padded cell...

"Straightjackets optional @ additional cost...."

@rcprince , I believe you're correct in your assumption; although the siren call of the dedicated audio room is tempting, most would like the music where one 'lives' as opposed to withdrawing into...

Spouse shares that desire, but wants something a bit more 'plug 'n play'. 
A 'shared space system' that doesn't require an instruction manual to play an LP, a CD, listen to NPR or Spotify, and yet can be used for the flat screen for a DVD or a sat movie.

I've got the concept in mind for How to accomplish this....we're slowly getting the space to do so a reality....

*sigh*  Another story, long....I don't seem to have many short ones of late...
I have Maggie's and also Definitive Technology Mythos ST's  Love the Maggie's but they do need their space and a high watt/current amplifier.  With the Mythos I've had them in three different homes and they always sound good. They are not ported, have built in sub woofers and all in a aluminum enclosure. Matched with the proper amplifier they sound surprisingly good! If you can find a used pair they can be had for a reasonable price.

Three things:
1. room
2. books and records behind and in front of speakers
3. planar swarm

The two best rooms I have heard both used several pairs of Quad ESL's. The first uses 3 pairs of stacked Quad 57's - it snapped into focus when the last bookshelf was populated.

The other is my own, which snapped into focus when I moved a pair of 2805's and a pair of 2905's into a quasi-circular arrangement facing the listening position. The long wall, which is faced with books and records, is immediately behind the speakers which face a wall of mainly records and equipment. The listening position is only 2.5 meters from the speakers, but frequency response is pretty much flat down to low 40's.