The Best Speakers for a Small Room

I am looking for a pair of speakers for my relatively small (approximately 12x14 ft) listening/living room. I have a McCormack DNA 0.5 Deluxe power amplifer and a Meridian 506.24 CD player. I listen to a lot of different types of music, but mostly to progressive rock (Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant), jam bands (Moe., Dave Matthews Band, Phish, String Cheese Incident) bluegrass, and jazz (both fusion and a lot of traditional acoustic). . . in general, very busy music. Does anyone have suggestions for speakers that would match well with my listening room size, electronics, and musical tastes? And yes, before you say it Carl, I realize that room treatment is absolutely critical and will act accordingly. I would prefer to keep the price around $1500 (new or used), but could go up to $2000 if there was something really special out there. Thanks to any and all that respond!
Check out Merlin.They make one of the best small speakers avaliable.
I'm using the Maggie MMG's in my smaller room, which is also about the same dimensions as yours. They take about 8 billion hours to fully break in...well, about 200 to 600 anyway, so it really takes longer than the 60 day trial period. They are only 500 dollars a pair (factory direct), and I feel anyone who doesn't buy them is totally missing out, if they have a smaller room. They're great with every type of music. I like rock, classical, and jazz in that order. I just drove them with about 400 watts per channel (into 4 ohms) last night, and felt like I was at Lilith Fair with Sarah McLachlin's "Mirrorball". Yes, if you need the bottom octave, you must augment with a subwoofer...and if I wasn't auditioning power cords for my amp, I'd be using my Sunfire now. In a small room with treatments, they're as satisfying as any system I've heard, be it dynamic or electrostatic. Maggies are just waking up when you're really pumping them with power, whereas esl's start to get congested at very loud playback (in my experience). Really good cone speakers are perhaps better overall, BUT ONLY IN MID TO LARGE SIZE ROOMS. These little Maggies are perfect for a smaller room.
Consider the Totem 1. Alternatively consider the Sony SM7a. The Sony gets no respect, but it's a borderline great speaker and a tremendous value.
I have a 10x12 room and use a pair of JBL 4311 Studio Monitors from the 70s. They are very efficient and would compliment the type of music that you like. These speakers were found in many studios and radio stations in the 70s/80s and a 3 way that is designed to work best tucked into a corner, unlike many speakers that need lots of space around them to perform properly. Since speaker placement is critical for good performance I recommend that you audition before you buy. Used JBL4311's or there "consumer" model which is identical the L100 are available on the net for around $500 a pair. Look on audiogon or ebay. Good luck and happy listening. Dan
If you are lppking for a great speaker to fill a small room look into MONITOR AUDIO silver series. for a bookshelf speaker the 3i, and for a floor standing a 5i. they are awesome and I don't know of another speaker that can compete for the money. I am not one of thoes people who think their speakers are the best just because I own them. I am a dealer(in UTAH and can't ship so I am not saying this for business) and have dealt with a lot of speakers. for review go to also when it comes to acoustical treatments I could set you up. I am a ECHO BUSTER dealer and can outfit your small room with bass blockers, diffusers and absorbers for a small price (compared to others). call me for any questions thanks jeff keyes 435 753 9000
I share your musical tastes and if you can find a pair of used KEF Reference 103.2's with stands, you'll have great sound at a bargain price. Very smooth, detailed, and they image extremely well.
Green Mountain Continumum!!! Closest thing to Sonic Perfection in a CAST MARBLE ENCLOSURE(BOOKSELF)!!! Most floorstanding speakers CANNOT reproduce this! Do some research on these its worth your time!!
12 x 14 ...Very similar to my smallish room . I'll start with an idea that's mabey over the top ....There's a pair of Dunlavy SC-111's on Audioweb for about $1525 . They are a huge speaker, but sealed , so they'd work back at the rear wall . These would be best on the 14 ft wall l, spread out about 9 feet . Of course they're better in a larger room, but they would work in a 12x14 ...and they have many advantages : 91 db, great sound and will do equally well at all types of music . NHT 2.9's . Only thing these might want is an additional amp for the bass woofers ( but the DNA would be fine for now ) . This is a room friendly design ( likes being near the back wall ) and it can really rock when called upon, yet still can do a solo guitar, piano , voice etc. . A nice combination of nuance and grunt . A very good way to Go : B&W Matrix 805's mated to a nice sub . Should be able to get the 805's w/stands for $1K ,...and the M&K MX70B is a brilliant little sub that can be found used for less than $500 ( or bust the $1500 by a little and get a Sunfire Mark II if you want more impact...the M&K's strength is nuance ...) . The 805's are ported to the front meaning they can go back to the wall if needed . The N805 could also be considered ( $1450 used + stands..and I think you should find a decent stand for $200 ) . Others from the B&W line that might work : Matrix 804's . Hard to find, but very good speakers for this room : Gallo Solo speakers . The imaging and soundstage from these speakers is completely amazing . The biggest drawback is the love or hate space-age look . On the used market are usally around $1500 , though mabey it's gone up since they are no longer produced . Sonus Faber Concerto's + M&K MX70B sub ( or a REL Strata II or Sunfire II ...the REL would also work well with the other choices ) . My own bias for the best sound in this room would be Martin Logan Aerius i's ...but these speakers don't have the dynamic impact to satify many people, so they're not an unqualified recommendation . They are the best at low level detail, the most transparent, world class at many things . The biggest drawback is that even cheap bookshelf speakers can *kick* more if it's a party speaker you're after . Dynaudio Contour 1.3 Mark II . A very good all round speaker . Note that the Mark II was further upgraded, you can tell the very latest model from the funky plastic binding posts ( same as on the Nautilus series B&W's ) ..the origional Mark II's have metal posts ( not that there's anything wrong with the origional ...just saying so you know what you're buying . ) . Thiel 1.5 ,...brilliant with many kinds of music, but not complete all-rounders ( not the best with average rock/ pop ...but world class in many other ways ) . A review was added to the Stereophile archives this week . I agree with Sam Tellig's take on the speakers . I've read other reviews that claim these speakers are a fine choice for rock music, but I just can't agree with that ( though I love the speakers ) . For me they are a speaker I'd like to have to use for the music the excell at ,but I'm not sure I'd want them as my only speakers . Speakers I haven't heard that might be worth investigating : Meadowlark , Platinum Audio, Dynaudio 70 , Spendor, etc. . I think the safest bet and the most likely to please, stay in budget recommendation would be the Martix 805's + sub . A very good all round solution ,...for many people the 805's were the favorite in the Matrix line ... Regards, Martin .
The Biro L/1 available factory direct from Audio by Van Alstine at is $1,500 a pair. Waiting time is usually around six weeks.
Dynaudio 1.3's are very nice dynamic monitors.
Audio Physics Steps. Specifically designed for small rooms. It has holographic imaging that is jaw dropping. Also, consider a pair of used SPICA TC-50s. If your going to go the true bookshelf route try the Linn Tukans.
I seen a number of Pro Ac Response 2s' on Audiogon for about $1300 - that would be a great speaker for a smallish room. The clarity and detail those speakers would provide would be a great match for the "busy" music you listed as well as the clear jazz recordings. I have had the Studio 1s for years, listening to a similar mix of tunes, and they're great for hearing all of the work those artists put into the mix. Well worth checking out...
I have a small room with similar dimensions (in which I listen to just about everything but C&W). I have Vienna Acoustics Haydn monitors and a Rel subwoofer. The Haydns have gossamer detail, and the Rel puts out tight, thunderous bass. Best of all, the balance is almost infinitely adjustable. I couldn't be happier
Small room: Spendor 3/5s, slightly larger room: Spendor 1/2s. The best midrange of any box speaker and a smooth, never tiring presentation.
Go to your nearest pro-sound or music equipment/recording equipment dealer and check out the Mackie HR-824 powered studio monitors. These speakers are becoming standards in the recording field for their extreme accuracy. A pair will cost about $1000- to $1200 depending on new or used. They are not large, about 12x10x10 but have a frequency response of 39-20k + or - 1.5db.! And these specs have been tested. If you get a chance go to their website and read some of the reviews. I haven't had a chance to listen to all of the speakers that have been recommended. I know the Dunlavy 111 frequency response is as good as the Mackie's but they're 6ft.tall. Add a sub such as the Carver and take no prisoners! Happy Hunting!
I can only recommend a pair of Avance Epsilon 910s...I'm biased since I own these, but I auditioned many bookshelf speakers before making my purchase. Quality parts...Scan Speak drivers. They list at $999, but can be gotten for a little less than that with a discount. See them at Other speakers that were very nice were the Dynaudio Audience 40's ($699)and the B&W CDM1SE's ($1100). Have fun listening.
Most of the above mentioned speakers are very good. You should try Paradigm's Mini-Monitor. VERY accurate and even more AFFORDABLE. For a bookshelf speaker, you will never greatly surpass their performance and they can be had for new under $400.
Since the Paradigm falls well below you price limit and they are in need of low bass help, you could check out an additional 250watt HSU TN1225 subwoofer and KILL the other set-ups mentioned and still be about $300 below you spending limit. The HSU has a very small "footprint" so it will not take up hardly any excess room.
I have the Virgo's in a 12x16room. They do sound excellent, but to get the best, I have them set up 8 feet apart, and 5 feet into the room. They lose some of their imaging ability if they are nearer the back wall. Also they are a little heavy (60-70lbs ?)to move around on a regular basis. I have also had the Audio Physic Tempo III's in this room and found they too needed mid-room placement.
Hi, Martin, great hearing from you! This guy has owned tons of stuff!
Here'e a second for the Spendor's. In addition to the 3/5, try the 3/1p. Don't be put off by their plain appearance and relatively modest price. Invest the difference in better electronics. And while I am reluctant to agree with Carl about anything, the Maggies are a great choice too. The Spendor's are more natural and transparent, but they highlight deficiencies in associated gear. The Maggies sound, well, fantastic, and given your preference in program material, would probably be more fun to listen to as your critical skills develop. Whatever you choose, make every effort to audition in your home, and try to make comparisons rather than listen to one at a time. Start with the traditional acoustical music you like. Then try solo piano and solo voice. Finally, work up to full scale stuff. Remember too, that with many of the speakers that have been recommended in this thread, you are going to hear pronounced differences in your source electronics. This can get confusing, as you need to decide if the differences you are hearing are due to the speakers or the electronics. But as you make more comparisons, you will gradually acquire the ability to make accurate distinctions, and thus good choices. The hardest thing is to take your time, but this is a must, or you will be looking for something else in 6 months. A good rule of thumb: when making your final choice, pick the speakers you would take if you were the only one who was going to listen to them.
Crm, we disagree, so your reluctance is justified. You're perhaps the only human in Sol's system that thinks Maggies are more forgiving (or less revealing) than Spendors. Good luck with your system's evolution anyhow.
Well, Carl, we agreed that the maggies would be an excellent choice for our friend, whereas most of the other contributors never mentioned them at all. I will leave it to you to determine what universe that puts us in.
The Diapason's Diamonte II's are an excellent choice. Disappear in the room. Very musical, refined. Excellent base for a monitor. No real need for sub unless big organ listener. This is not an analytical speaker. One you will be happy with, unless you are looking for that last ounce of transparency. Also fairly easy to run due to high sensitivity.
All of the mentioned products are fine recommendations. Unfortunately it will be impossible to compare them all in "your" room. A good hifi dealer will let you sample/audition speakers in "your" room with your source & power stuff. All people see different things in paintings. The same holds true for listening. One person above who recommends a particular speaker might have a huge hearing loss (and may not know it), and to listen to his choice of speakers might cause you to lose your fillings. Others may have no idea what music truly sounds like, having never been to a concert (you would be suprised). Be your own judge! What do I use? "psb" Stratus Golds, and Bronzes. Great sound, Great looking, Fine Value. Both Stereophile recommended if that's important to you. Good Luck, hififile