Tube Friendly Speakers - Down to 30Hz - $3000?

I'm looking for speaker recommendations that play down to 30Hz. Able to be fully driven without compromise by tube amplification with as little as 15wpc.

$3000 new or used.

16x19 room. Rock, jazz and classical.

Reasonably small footprint (Klipsch K-Horns and LaScalas are too large).

I have eliminated Zu Druid and Tones from contention. All other options are open.

Thanks in advance.
I'm having great success with my Tylers and tubes, even with their minimum impedence of 3.5 ohms. Couple of bucks more than $3000 used. I know you were looking to audition some - did you ever succeed? Caveat, they won't sound anything like your present VS's though.
I'm having great success with my Tylers and tubes, even with their minimum impedence of 3.5 ohms. Couple of bucks more than $3000 used. I know you were looking to audition some - did you ever succeed? Caveat, they won't sound anything like your present VS's though.
Newbee (System | Threads | Answers)
Thanks for the idea. I was never able to audition any Signature System II in LA.

The VS4 have a minimum impedance of 3, and therefore I'm primarily interested in speakers with a higher minimum impedance...something above 6 ohms, if possible.

However, nothing is ruled out at this point except the current offerings from Zu.
Something you might consider. I'm driving my Gallo Reference 3s to stentorial levels with a pair of 12-watt SET amps (845 output tubes). They'll only go down to 40 Hz, though, so you need the Gallo SA subwoofer amp to drive the second voice coils, which it does with great whomping success in my system. Used Ref 3s go for $2K or below, and the subwoofer amp sells for $900 new. Good luck, Dave
Silverline or Coincident offerings are worth a listen. Easy high impedance load & highly efficient made for tubes. I'm probably not telling you anything that isn't in the archives sorry. Myself & several friends are quite pleased with ours matched with lower power tubes although we have alittle more power right now. good luck & happy listening.
If I had that situation, Id be listening to the Tyler's or Legacy Focus 20/20.( I know, both are more than the $3K) What amps are you using?
You mentioned Klipsch. I have a pair of Klipsch Epics CF3's. They have a footprint of 41"x 17"x 17", are 100dB efficient, and use neodyium magnet 10" drivers with a big ole' horn in between. Their specs state flat to 35hz, though they easily go down into the twenties range in my room. When I played a bass tone test CD with them, you can feel the bass output, before you can hear it. They go Deep! I use both an Antique sound labs 5 watt SET amp and the 6 watt Sonic T super amp and also my 200 watt per side Rotel to great effect. They play effortlessy and will slam you when desired, and have impactful bass even at low volume. Their only drawback besides their size is that they are way under your price range. Enjoy the search
Hi Tvad,

Well you like to push the envelope, don't you! Given that I'm sure you've done quite a bit of investigation on your own, you've probably found that what you're looking for is a fairly tall order.

Chances are I don't have anything that would meet all of your requirements, but let me toss out some ideas of what sort of characteristics you might look for.

First, in order to get deep bass in a small-footprint box yet retain high enough efficiency to work with a 15 watt tube amp, you'll have to cheat.

Two ways to cheat here: Corner loading, and using a powered woofer section. Either one will enable you to get a lot of bass from a fairly small-footprint enclosure, and might meet your 30 Hz target.

If my feeble memory serves me, you heard a speaker of mine with a built-in powered woofer section at the VTV show in Pasadena last November. The upper range drivers on that speaker present a roughly 16 ohm load at 93 dB efficiency. I had to redesign the woofer section when my woofer supplier discontinued the model I was using, and I'm pretty much abandoning that project as the parts cost have gone up to too much for me to be confident that the speaker is competitive in its new higher price range.

If you opt for placing the speaker in or near the corner, a reflex enclosure would be my choice over a sealed one. At first glance that seems counter-intuitive, but if you tune the reflex enclosure lower by increasing the vent length, it will probably work well in the corner. If you can't change the tuning, then any speaker not designed for corner placement will sound way too boomy when placed in the corner.

Another consideration is midrange coloration from corner placement. Basically, the walls of the room will act like a big 90 degree horn, and redirect side lobe energy forward toward the listening position, altering the tonal balance. A speaker with a uniform radiation pattern largely confined to a 90 degree forward arc would have a much better chance of not being colored in the midrange by corner placement.

Could you live with a roughly 15" by 15" footprint? If so, I might have something under development that could be tuned to work well in a corner and thereby meet your requirements.

Best of luck to you in your quest!


"If you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough" - Gene LeBelle
I pretty much agree with Duke...except I think your room may be to wide for corner placement.

"fully driven without compromise by tube amplification with as little as 15wpc"...30hz? and fairly small foot print?...HeHeHe, I'm going to follow this thread.

Interesting, you may need a sub...check out horn loaded designs if you go with a small horn loaded floorstander.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I appreciate the input.

Small footprint is misleading. My present loudspeakers have a 22"x13" footprint. Round about that size or smaller is fine.

Powered subwoofers in each tower are probably OK. A two-box solution versus two+subwoofer is mandatory.

Corner placement is not favorable.

At the moment Silverline and Coincident are likely the best matches. I'll investigate the Klipsch line further...Klipsch RF-7 (32Hz, 102db, 8 ohms, 16'x12' footprint, $3400)?

At 4 ohm nominal, the Tyler acoustics impedance spec is lower than I'd prefer. If I'm going to switch to speakers friendly to low power, I don't want to be restricted as far as amplifier choices.

No amp is yet chosen, but it will likely be a low-powered tubed integrated...think Easter Electric M520, Almarro 318A, Wright Sound WIA1515, PrimaLuna Prologue 2...or similar.
Another thought is to take a look at Tyler's high efficiency line of speakers. They are shown on this site and look very interesting to me, especialy as they resemble my Klipsch Epics.
Acoustic Zen Adagios get close to 30hz, are small, highly sensitive, look good, and sound great. Katli Audio and Upscale both carry the speaker - and if either has a demo pair, they're probably close to your $ range.


PS - Upscale can demo the Adagio with the Prima Luna for you.
Hello Tvad

I am using Cabasse Catalane speakers, two 8 inch woofers in diapolito configuration in a transmision line, concentric midrange and tweeter unit...amazing sounding, a devil to break in, much worst break in than lowthers but for a shorter time...muuuch more detailed than lowthers also.
Yes they go down to 30 hz no problem efficiency is 94 db and yes 4 ohms: I use 12 watt push pull class A Leak monos and they bring down the house, I was using an 845 SET 22 watts and they ran perfectly (I like PP better I guess).

If the speaker manufacturer only uses the normal available drivers like SEAS, vifa, peerless etc, yes no small foot print will give you good efficiency, but if they make their own know.
Coincident Victory
Check out the Triangle line of speakers.
I'm driving a pair of Comete's with a Canary Audio 22wpc 300b push/pull amp with tremendous results.
The adagio have a nominal impedance of 6 ohm, and sensitivity of 89db...identical to my VR4 Gen III HSE. The VR$ have a minimum impedance of 3 ohms. Does anyone kjnow the Adagio's minimum impedance?

I'll check out the Cabassse.

Someone else reminded me of the Reimer Wind River. They fit the bill. I have heard their big brother, and it was excellent.
Tyler Linbrook Sig Sys (LSS) , but its out your budget range, lucky if you can find used for $4K.
You might find a used speaker that goes down to 30hz used/$3K. But i doubt it.
Tyler Linbrook Sig Sys (LSS) , but its out your budget range, lucky if you can find used for $4K.
You might find a used speaker that goes down to 30hz used/$3K. But i doubt it.
Bartokfan (Threads | Answers)
Thanks for your input, Paul. See my comments above regarding the Signature System II.

Also, the Reimer Wind River retails for $4500 (25hz). I think it's highly likely they can be found used for $3000 or less.

Thanks to everyone's suggestions, other possibilites are coming to the fore.
Add Green Mountain Calisto's to your short list. They are outstanding!

08-26-06: Jdombrow
Add Green Mountain Calisto's to your short list. They are outstanding!
They go to 47Hz, correct? Not low enough (I want 30Hz), but I know they're excellent speakers.

Thanks for the clarifications, including what size footprint is feasible.

An honest 30 Hz extension is still not easy to come by at three grand a pair, but if you can live with 35 Hz instead of 30 Hz extension you might consider looking for a pair of Altec Model 14's in good condition. Push 'em back flush against the wall and I bet they'd get pretty close to 30 Hz. Even up against today's speakers, the Model 14 is very competitive. If they were still in production I'd sell 'em.

I'm on a similar quest, though my SET is rated at 22watts. A list of what I am considering:
Tyler(though Rick is it, at Tyler's says, go for Pro Dynamic line if you are in the low output amp area)
Silverline Sonata/Sonatina
Acoustic Zen Adagio
Art Emotion(UK speakers)
Coincident(a bit big for me)
Then all the great Horn speakers, Horning, Cain and Cain etc, but again a bit too big and base not down to 30hz.
I heard the Art speakers recently, underwhelming for the price and am auditioning the Adagios on wednesday, I will report back
Also, look at Very good list of tube friendly speakers and good description of speaker amp matching, for terchnophobes like me
Keep in mind a low watt amp was never designed nor intended for deep bass. You buy a low watt tube for its liquid mids, jazz and stuff. But its an amp absoluetly useless for complex classical.
Duke, the footprint issue is really a matter of the appearance of the speakers...which is to say a footprint of 14"w x 22"d would be acceptable whereas a footprint of 22"w x 14"d would not. The 14" wide speakers look smaller, even though the footprint is the same. A 22" wide speaker would never be acceptable in our small 16' x 19' living room (speakers on the short dimension)...

David, the Welborne Labs speaker info page is excellent. Thank you for that link.
Would the Vandersteen 3A Signature need more power? Because I think you'd get your bass extension with them. Ugly, yes, but a great value because you are not paying for cabinet. There are also some ProAc models that will give you that extension, though again the low-power amp might not be ideal (I'm not sure). Coincident would have to be a contender, as many have said.
I'm going to second Tyler's new line. I think the PD15's could fit you well. What are the desired characteristics you're looking for? These speakers are very inexensive, highly efficient at about 98db and an 8 ohm load. In my 21 X 15 room they're about -4db at 25hz. The pro line isn't as resolving as the Linbrook line, but they rock and are very satisfying at this price point.
Hi Tvad,

Like Duke says that's a tall order to fill!

You might try looking into a used pair of Living Voice Avatar speaker. Bass extension in the upper 30s and fairly SET friendly but would prefer maybe 25 watts. For your room size you could get by with 15 watts.

Good Luck!*>)
You may want to try and listen to some Reimer speakers. I have the Tetons and are using the 18 watt Lamm ML2's to great effect. Bass is deep and tight. These are rated for amps 8 watts and up. You will probably have trouble finding a used pair of Tetons below $3,000. The Wind Rivers though may be just the ticket and will get you into the mid 20's no problem.
I am changing from Living Voice Avatars, an excellent choice and very tube friendly. However, base extension is good and tight, but down to about only 35, also, they are on the polite side of neutral. They are a better deal here in the UK too

Regarding the published specs for sensitivity and impedance. Take these with a grain of salt. At least one manufacturer on your list, Coincident, has, on more than one ocassion, printed sensitivitiy numbers that are MUCH higher than reviewers' test results. No doubt that the Coincident speakers are high sensitivity models, it's just that comparisons of printed specs can be misleading because there is evidently a lot of latitude in determining these #s.

Printed specs are a good place to start narrowing the field, but I'd try to talk to a dealer who handles both one of your possible amps and possible speakers to get some feedback on the combo. I'm specifically thinking Adagio/PrimaLuna at Upscale (because I was so impressed with the speaker when I heard it - at Katli), but it's probably just good general practice for this task. Best of luck in the hunt.

Reimer Tetons etc.., I almost went this route myself.. Seen the bigger models for around 2800 to 3800 tops used. However 15 watts will play them but controlling big woofers down to 30 hz is tuff anyway even at 95 db... You need current and a little headroom regardless of the efficiency rating, so I don't know that 15 watts would do it or not ,I would say 40 or 50 might be better for getting down super low, but then again you mentioned powered subs in the tower could be an option and then you would have something like a 100-300 watt plate amp taking care of that problem. Check link for an Idea, but they go cheap used normally.
Sensitivity @ 89db+ is fine. Flat impedance without dips below 4 ohms is more important than nominal impedance specs, IMO.

The Tyler PD line fits the bill specs-wise, but they are too large for our living room, and their styling will not fly with my wife or me.
Reagarding amps Tvad,

I heartily suggest you choose the Almarro A318B over the A318A. I've owned both and there is no competition between the two. The "A" has noticeably rooled off highs in comparison and lacks the resulting clarity and air of the "B". I also felt the bass was significantly better with the "B".

BTW, both amps do far better(at elast in my home) with 90-94dB speakers than 97dB.The higher efficiency speakers seem to not allow the amps enough output to get into their preferred working range before things got too loud. As a result, the sound was never really as fleshed out and rich as with 90dB/4ohm speakers. The lower-eff speakers turned out to be a glorious match with the amps, though.

The A318B is a fantastic amp if you are looking for accurate amplification. It was far moe "literal" than my much more expensive 300B monoblocks and PX-25 amps. Not dry or colorless, just very accurate without embellishment.

One thing my wife and I have found with squatty flat-top speakers (like the Altecs I mentioned) is that they in effect raise the floor up thirty inches or so. They're not so tall that you can't put things on them, and when so decorated they blend into a room better than their width would lead you to expect.

I've been scratching my head about reasonably narrow, deep speakers with decent bass and smooth impedance curves, and Fried and Buggtussel come to mind. I was a dealer for the latter company, which is now sadly out of business. Both use transmission-line enclosures. While both have models rated at 4 ohms, with the Buggtussels at least it's an honest, resistive 4 ohms - still a relatively easy load to drive.

Another possibility is SP Technologies. The Timepiece 2.1 meets all of your requirements except efficiency. I like the two-way with waveguide approach.

Soliloquy makes tube-friendly speakers. I'm not real familiar with their lineup, but recall liking what I heard from one of their larger models at CES a few years ago.

How close to the nearby walls do you anticipate placing the speakers? Can they be toed in? Given that the Tyler PD speakers failed the WAF test, can you give us an example of a speaker that would pass, even if it doesn't meet your other requirements? If it turns out that you can't "have it all" at that price, in what area would you be least reluctant to relax your requirements a bit?

How close to the nearby walls do you anticipate placing the speakers?
Approx 3 feet from the rear wall (no farther into the room), and about 2 feet from the side walls.

Can they be toed in?

Given that the Tyler PD speakers failed the WAF test, can you give us an example of a speaker that would pass, even if it doesn't meet your other requirements?
She has no problem with the VR4 Gen III HSE, Silverline Sonata III, Reimer Wind River. Essentially, slim profile and deep is better than wide and shallow...and she would like nothing taller than the VR4, which are about 44".

If it turns out that you can't "have it all" at that price, in what area would you be least reluctant to relax your requirements a bit?
Price...within reason.
The Reimers are front ported so placement within a few feet of the wall is not a problem. One of the postings above mentioned that deep bass and low wattage was not meant to be. I suppose that it would depend on the amp I am continuously suprised at the quality bass I get with the 18 watts Lamms and the Tetons. This seems to be the hardest thing for a speaker to get right and IMHO the Tetons nail this. There may be speakers out there that project a different soundstage or provide slightly more resolution but most all of them sacrifice in the low end. I have thought of upgrading from the Tetons but I do not want to sacrifice the deep, tight, integrated bass and so far have not heard a speaker that comes close without costing three times the price.
The JM Reynaud line would be worth looking into.

They are all right around 90dB and have flat impedance curves that hover around 4 ohms.

I drive my Offrandes with 13 wpc to satisfactory levels.
Offrandes and above are also rated to 30hz, although when I had mine measured once they were -6dB down at 30hz and 0dB down at 35hz.

Used these would fit the bill or move up to Concordes
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. There are some excellent ideas here.
Tvad, I did some modelling and what you are looking for (89 dB efficient, -3 dB at 30 Hz without significant reinforcement from nearby walls, fairly small footprint) is definitely possible. An 89 dB efficient woofer in a 3 cubic foot enclosure will give you honest extension to 30 Hz.

Note that marketing department claims can and often do wax a bit optimistic, but the basic tradeoffs of box size vs efficiency vs bass extension that the engineers work with are pretty consistent, at least in this quadrant of the galaxy. An overly optimistic claim doesn't mean that the engineering is suspect; only that the marketing department's claims aren't reliable. I can think of a manufacturer who exaggerates bass exension claims by almost a whole octave, yet in my opinion builds some very competitive speakers despite their (imho) questionable marketing approach.

Tvad, I see you have ruled out the Druids. What didn't you like about them? I know, from previous posts, that you weren't impressed with them at trade shows, but if you can get a listen in a more acoustically friendly place, you may like (love) them. Possible? peace, warren :)
08-27-06: Warrenh
Tvad, I see you have ruled out the Druids. What didn't you like about them?
I don't want to rehash this. Suffice it to say, they are not under consideration. Let's leave it at that.
"Given that the Tyler PD speakers failed the WAF test, can you give us an example of a speaker that would pass, even if it doesn't meet your other requirements?"

The WAF factor is a major consideration, far more important than sensitivity, impedence or output transformers. Mine likes the Living voice Avatars and she grudgingly accepts the Acoustic Zen Adagio's might be OK, but some of the bigger units like the Tyler PD's, forget it. Speaker manufacturers really must get their designs passed by a representative comitte of house proud audiophiles partners
Well there's the trade off. The Avatars have a sensitivty of 94, so may be acceptable to the wonderful world of low watt tube amps. But how do they sound? I'll admit the 300B was incredible on jazz lite music etc, though the Silverline Sonata did have a "bark" in certain fq's of the human voice. Totally unacceptable. And for classical, forget it.

So we come to those power hungry Seas drivers in Tyler's line. But are they so demanding after all? The little 40 watt Jadis drove the LSS's with comanding power and authority. Not only did the human voice have no "bark' in any range, but classical was vivid, full rich, dynamic.
IOW I'm not a believer yet in these low watt amps, as the speaker tecnology is just not there yet.
The Seas IMHO is the finest offering of musical reproduction. Until Seas comes out with a line that can be driver with low watt tubes, I'm staying with what I know is best.
Horn's are totally unacceptable, not only for the WAF, butI also think they are ugly. Horns are not a consideration for me. Forget Fostex.
Even if Seas did come out with a low watt tube friendly driver, most likely I'd not cahnge. The dynamics in their Excel line are to "die for".
>>IOW I'm not a believer yet in these low watt amps, as the speaker tecnology is just not there yet.<<

A handful of examples have already been posted for your edification. How many more are needed before you are a "believer"?

I guess you can lead a horse to water but....
Good suggestion Soliver,

The 90dB/4 ohm speakers that I mentioned working extremely well with the Almarro A318 "A" & "B" were Jean Marie Reynaud Twins mkII monitors. Their floorstadning models are equally easy to drive and provide greater low frequency response.

Easily my favorite line of moderately efficient speakers.
The Speaker List (in no particular order):
Silverline Sonata III
Gallo Acoustics Ref 3.1 w/Ref 3 S.A.
Reynaud EV3
Triangle Celius
Acoustic Zen Adagio
Merlin VSM-xxx

Others? Comments?

The Integrated Amp List:
PrimaLuna Prologue 2 (KT88 or EL34, 40wpc)
Ars-Sonum Filarmonia SE (EL34, 22wpc Class A, 40wpc Class B)
Eastern Electric M520 (EL34, 24/18wpc Class A)
Wright Sound WIA1515 (EL34, 15wpc)

Others? Comments?
Speakers: Gershman AvantGardes - they go down to 24 Hz (87db/8 ohm, 40w min recomm power)- great WAF factor.

Amp: Onix H6550 Integrated Amplifier (6550 or KT88, 50wpc) (30-day in home trial)
How about an alternative with a built-in 250W amp. All you need is a good preamp and you've got a great stereo/home theater set-up.

Here's a review:
Budget buster, Sherod.
Well, i love my merlins and the ars is bobby's choice for a good match at a good price. never heard the amp, but i do know that my Cary 2A3 pp amp (about 15 wpc, i think) seemed to have enough power in a room of similar size (14.5 x 20), but i don't listen much to full orchestra or hard rock so my power demads are not great. You will get an honest 30 hz and the new super bam is a real improvement. if you buy used, you may be a little over the $3k and the superbam upgrade would set you back another $4-500, depending on shipping costs, but well worth it.
If you are considering Reynaud, then definetly look into Audiomat's integrateds.

Bob Neil, reviewer of the Solfege Reference, used Audiomat's during his series of reivewes covering the Reynaud line.

Prelude Reference review

Solfege Reference review

There are a couple of used Prelude References for sale here for $2,700.