Very small room systems and synergy


I have been trying for 20 years to put together a system for a very small (10' x 12") listening room and still haven't gotten it right.  I am currently using KEF LS50's with a NuPrime IDA8 integrated with moderate success.  I realize I really don't like metal dome tweeters and I've been drawn to class D amps.  This is probably due to my budget constraints of $2000 - $2500.  Does anyone have any input for me on this?
gmc56
Please provide more information.  What doesn't sound right?  How are placing the loudspeakers/listening position?  What are your sources?  Are you using acoustic treatments? What other loudspeakers/amps have you tried?
I have played with most other aspects of the system.  I've moved speakers into every possible position including moving furnishings, I have acoustical treatments that I've played around with for years and I think that is good now.  What I find is a lack of overall frequency response.  I'm 63 years old so my hearing isn't what it was but all my systems have sounded screechy and lacking in mid bass to bass.  I've even had subwoofers in the past I used with Maggies.  Maybe I expect to much?
Lets not be hasty here. It may be that what your are hearing has little to do with Metal Dome Tweeters.
It's likely that the overall sound is characteristic of combined effects.
Amplifier / Interconnects / Position.
"  What I find is a lack of overall frequency response "
This sounds like you are right on track with concerns of Placement.
Re-Set for Near Field Listening to ensure that you can evaluate the sound accurately.
Varying the distance between the two mains should help discern a difference.
No personal experience with KEF though all input indicates a refined
highly regarded Loudspeaker.
I think that an Amplifier will make the difference.
I have considered an amp change but really like the size, price, and convenience of the NuPrime. Any suggestions on that subject?
How do you have your speakers positioned? 
You say you're not getting enough bass and you're using speakers that go down to 47hz 6db down. Personally I agree on the subject of metal dome tweeters give me a soft dome any day. But what you need are either bigger speakers with better bass response or a subwoofer.
My room is the same size and have been into this since 2003. I agree maybe a larger 8" two way might be better in regards to frequency response. High efficiency with a tube amp would be even better. I've owned alot of more expensive speakers, but right now I'm having great results the Paradigm Atom v3 (bought used locally for $20.00). These are paired with a $100.00 appj 2013 tube amp and Sangean hdt20. This is the best "complete" system I've had in this small room. I think the source and tubes made the most difference, but the small speakers open up at low volumes and are forgiving in the right way.
I forgot to mention that I've read some prefer omni directional speakers like the Ohm Walsh Tall in small rooms. This has something to do with the indirect sound can use the room to better than conventional speakers. I've never heard these though and they seem kind of pricey for what you get. I honestly think you are hearing an "unbalanced" sound. Rather than metal dome irritating you more than likely the sound is just unbalanced in some ways and the highs are what you notice.
I have ls50s ( with sub) in one smaller room and larger (12") Ohm Walsh in the adjacent larger room running off same setup including Bel Canto ref1000m Class D amps and Audio Research tube pre-amp.

Love them both but big difference in sound. The tweets are no doubt quite different. Ohms are soft dome warmer and more laid back. Ls50s have very Crisp yet clean dynamic attack . Both are very coherent which matters a lot for me and sound of each is dimensional in their own way. Room layouts are way different.

Upstairs I have smaller 8" Walsh speakers with Bel Canto c5i digital integrated in family room open to adjacent kitchen, another good sized room. This system is the most easy on the ears of all.

I have a pair of powered Vanatoo Transparent 1 encores coming this week for my wife’s sunroom. Heard these at shows and was very impressed. Looking forward to hearing them on my turf.

Like Totem Arrow, micro Walsh does bass very well for its size. They are smaller than either of my Walsh speakers with drivers about the size of a CD . Prices have gone up in recent years but the one thing Ohms will do that most others cannot is the huge sweet spot, pretty much anywhere in the room.

Sound is like ice cream....many tasty flavors.

I’d say sell the ls50’s and buy something else.  
I have had the same problem and ended up using active monitors (Genelec Ones) for a couple of years.

There was simply no high end proposition on the market to give me the sound quality without the overkill power.

Recently, when I heard that Wilson Audio were finally releasing something small, I knew this could be the ticket. Had the Duettes before but they were too big, both physically and SPL-wise, for my room.

The TuneTots are the ticket. I know there are a lot of haters. I know people mock their value proposition and I am not going to go there. I acknowledge and respect their point of view.

But the Tots deliver the goods in my small room, better that anything else I have tried before and I have had many speakers, small and large.

They are very limited in what they can do, agreed, but what they deliver is a mature, high end, refined sound that will not require a pile of foam on walls, Dirac and all that other modern voodoo (I really don't like Dirac. Let me say this again: I really don't like Dirac for stereo reproduction!)

I know they are way over budget but for me the quest is over. Connected to a Pass Int-250 they sing like no other in my small, challenged space.

To return to your budget, Genelec Ones have worked reasonably well for me. They are the LS50 Wireless with less box coloration, no annoying metallic tweeter (I demoed it for exactly three days hoping that that tweeter would "burn in" but it didn't so I sent them back), a better frequency response (they are three way speakers) and quite a smooth sound. Probably 8341 would do slightly better than the 8331.

Still over your budget but you can probably try the SH market.  
I have the same room size (though I removed the closet door) and the same speakers and Class D Peachtreee Nova 150 integrated. I also keep the room entrance door open. My system sounds 100% better after adding the following GIK Acoustics room treatments. They cost $700 in total.

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/7605

GIK will work with you over the phone to recommend treatment options. You can use something like photos or Facetime to show them the room.

BTW - I am going to put a bigger speaker into this room soon because the acoustic treatments now allow me to do this. I will not use any digital signal processing to help out.
+1 on the acoustical treatments.

I also like the TuneTots but are definitely out of your budget.
Personally as much as I like what they can do I would probably not be satisfied with ls50 without a sub for serious listening.   They are small. 

With Ohm Walsh you just need the right size with a good high current Class D amp for your room and listening needs.  Some folks use a sub with them but I have never felt the need if set up right. 
I have had plenty of class D amps, some quite expensive - Devialet, Parasound, NAD to name a few. They never sound as smooth, lush, natural and musical as the class A monsters. I have never enjoyed a class D and it is with relief that I am now back to class A, remembering what I have missed all these years. It might be part of your problem.

LS50 on the other hand is a cheap monitor, it looks like a cheap monitor and it performs like a cheap monitor.

The box is not neutral at all and there is a very disturbing resonance, particularly if you come from a good studio monitor. That sound signature might appeal to some but it is not for me.

The bass performance is modest and, unless you use a sub below 70-80Hz, it muddles the midrange. The net effect of a sub is not necessarily bass extension, but clearing up and opening the midrange and treble. And it works effectively - if you are going to keep your setup I suggest a small REL sub (you really want something small and fairly low power for near field) to hear the difference.

What really spoils the LS50 though, because pretty much everything else is fixable, is the cheap metal tweeter. I remember the first Panasonic CD boomboxes in the 80’s - they sounded just like that.

In case people are wondering - I have had both the LS50 and LS50 Wireless for a demo for a week, at home, with my own toys. Tried a lot of stuff, from valves to Devialet and they didn’t deliver the goods for me. I tried Dirac as well which did correct quite effectively much of the box / bass problems but nothing could be done about the tweeter.

In my opinion the Quad Z series are so much better that I have never understood why the LS50 achieved this status. LS50 are supposed to be direct descendants of the cult LS3/5 BBC monitors. But those monitors had a soft dome tweeter and a superb midrange. LS50 has neither.
Hmmm well you may have jumped the shark a bit comparing the sound of ls50s to early cheap boom boxes.

I’ve heard ls50s sound both very good and very bad in my home. They are not at all suited for larger rooms. In smaller rooms they can shine. For serious listening I agree a sub is needed but in fact for bass extension not to fix the parts the ls50s do. 

It’s all in the setup.

Having said that there is no single speaker design that appeals to everyone. No two people or pair of ears are the same. Some are successful because they do have large appeal.

Also I replaced a Class A amp with Class D and never looked back.

Different strokes.....

Reven6e's post was how I pretty much feel about the LS50's. I've tried moving them changing the rooms acoustics but just don't get that spark.  What some call the "mid-range magic" that small monitors are know for.  Best sound I've had in a while where some Q Acoustic 3050 towers that sounded great but were to big and boomy for my small room.
What I would say is that to some extent. Is that cost is a limiting factor.
The Current Technics Line Up is quite good and priced at three levels.
Though don't give up on what you have until you have you can evaluate and hear the difference yourself.
A local HiFi dealer should be helpful for demo gear and evaluation in
your system.
After checking out (reading about) both NuPrime IDA8 and LS50. 
I think that both choices are outstanding.
But $1000 for an integrated is A Low price Range.
Although I am coming down on the side of Hybrid Integrated.
And that L/R Mains Position and Set Up are of great importance!
Also note that Planar Magnetic sound is very different sound field than 
Dynamic Driver Set Up.
A SubWoofer could be used to reinforce Low End.
If no one will believe me then refer to below video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTnituQu8ig



 

I mentioned small rooms only for ls50 but should also add amp matters a lot.

They sounded weak and totally dreadful in my larger room off a highly regarded 180 w/ch zero feedback Class A ss amp when another agoner brought his pair over a couple of years back.

Then we tried them in my wife’s 12x12 sunroom off highly damped 500 w/ch Bel Canto Class D and viola.

So results can run the full gamut with these easily for sure.

I'd say the pro reviews of these I’ve read are mostly on-target so recommend anyone considering read up.
I have never taken Q Acoustics very seriously but on occasions I did demo some of their speakers. They are not the most transparent or detailed but they have a pleasing sound and I think you might have something there.

Have you thought about giving some of their bookshelves a try, say the Concept 20s for instance? A stand floor will never work in a small room but, if you like their warm sound signature, I think one of their smaller speakers is definitely worth demoing in your room!
I had good success with AudioNote UK AN series (ANk, ANj, ANe) in a small room. my old room was only 11' x 12 and I managed to get the AudioNotes to work quite well in there. Only speaker I could find that did with out them in the middle of the room. 

The AudioNote AN series  speakers are designed to be placed into the corner so you make better use of the whole smaller room size you already have. 
the ANE's ( largest but most expensive) go low too like mid 20hz . 

Your going to look for used as new I believe are a little out of your budget ( maybe the ANE LX) but worth looking for if you can find a set. 

They are also easy to drive so no need for big horsepower amps. I drove mine with 8wpc probably could use 25wpc though to be honest. 

I think you'll find a million reviews online

https://www.audionote.co.uk/loudspeakers

oh you can get all their models in kit form as well if your handy you can save money that way. 
Audio Note speakers always sound wonderful set up in the corners when I hear them.

Worth pointing out that pretty much any speaker can be set up similarly with corner placement. Corner placement merely boosts bass levels. So trying any otherwise bass shy speakers in the corners is always a worthwhile proposition. 
Bose 901's. Let it's EQ tune your room. Sound is not the amp. It is the speaker. Cars stick to the road on tires, not horsepower.
To all Bose haters, I get it.
This is just my opinion, that was asked for by the OP.


gmc56 wrote: "...all my systems have sounded screechy and lacking in mid bass to bass."

Imo "screechy" implies excess energy in the 2-4 kHz region. This is where many speakers have a crossover from midwoofer to tweeter. The tweeter typically has a very wide radiation pattern in this region. In a small room (in particular), this excess off-axis energy bounces back quickly and correspondingly skews the frequency response and can contribute to listening fatigue. Ime this sort of problem is best addressed at the speaker design level rather than trying to fix it with absorptive room treatments.

Regarding lack of midbass and bass, perhaps there are significant nulls at the listening position. Multiple small subwoofers distributed asymmetrically around the room can often alleviate this kind of problem, as each sub’s room-induced peaks and dips will be at different frequencies, so they will tend to fill in one anothers dips, and their peaks not be as prominent either.

Unfortunately I have no handy suggestions for a simultaneous solution to both issues within your price ballpark.

Duke

speaker designer

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I run a pair of Legacy Studio HD(AMT tweeter and 8 inch driver) with a Wyred4Sound MINT integrated in my second system, pretty happy with it.  The MINT is a small form factor amp that puts out 100wpc @ 8ohms.  Something to consider if you are changing.  Good luck.
I also have a small (11' x 12') listening room with LS50s driven by a Bryston B60R Integrated.  I was drawn to the LS50s because of the coincident/coaxial driver design which works well in nearfield listening situations. I did find that speaker placement and room treatment (back wall, in particular) to be important in achieving the balanced sound I was looking for. 
I agree with the recommendation for room treatments from GLK. Would be a worthwhile investment. If you still find the sound to be bright, I would think about home trialing a speaker with lower bottom end extension and a soft dome tweeter — Buchardt S300.  Free return shipping if you don’t like it. 
Reven6e,

Any comment on the Wilson TuneTot review by HiFNews?

https://www.hifinews.com/content/wilson-audio-tunetot-loudspeaker

....In reflex mode, bass extension is limited to 73Hz (–6dB re. 200Hz) and follows a whopping peak at 113Hz (+8dB re. 300Hz).....
There’s a low-level resonance at 3kHz and the familiar high-Q 15kHz dome resonance from Wilson’s tweeter....
Best bedroom system I ever had-LS3/5a's or JR 149'sFisher 400 or 500C (both have great fm)Dragon Cassette
Sorry, only saw your post now. First of all I would tell you that I don’t believe in reviews and numbers. My room acoustic is different, my electronics are different, my hearing is different from yours or anyone else’s for that matter. I have had speakers that sounded great at a dealer but performed ghastly in my room.

I would also question the validity of a graph based conclusion. What is a good frequency response? What is the ideal one? Do you think a speaker measuring  perfectly flat would satisfy you? Probably pro monitors and DACs are closest to this target. How many of you use them?

Last but not least I would question the measurement itself. What room? Anechoic or some of those anomalies could be secondary to room modes? How much time did the reviewer spend positioning and time aligning the speakers, being aware that WA are quite directional and sometimes it takes months to find the sweet spot?
Having said all this the reviewer also mentions that with bungs covering the ports the frequency response is smoother and the bass extended to 55Hz.

I use them with bungs. I have a lowly Oppo player as a source now while waiting for my DAC and if I set up a high pass filter at 50Hz, I get more bass than at 60. And if I set it up at 40, I can still perceive a benefit. Can’t hear any difference below 40. Which means that, while the speaker may drop a few dB below 55, it still has enough output IN A SMALL ROOM to give me a full bodied, nicely rounded bass. Without the boom, without distortion, without the massive problems I have had in the past with bigger speakers.
Positioning is important. The right speaker cable was important (so far the best I have tried is the QED Supremus). Filling the speaker stands with sand made a positive difference. Taking time to position them is probably the most important thing. 

Ultimately a graph can only give you an idea. Until and unless you will try them in your room you won’t know better. 
reven6e,

Glad that the TuneTots are working out for you. Your use of stands is surprising since Wilson discourages the use of them. The speaker is a "near-boundary" design and intended for placement on cabinets. However, if it works for you that's all that matters.

As for measurements, I have an Engineering background and have learned the importance of measurements done properly. They can bring to light problems that were not obvious in brief listening sessions. 

As for reviews, it's always nice to get professional opinions from those who have learned to listen critically. Sometimes they pick up on things that I might miss (only to discover later). But as you said, everyone has different listening tastes.


At least two Wilson Audio dealers in UK demo them on stands and discouraged me from buying the custom plinths advising they are a waste of money. One told me that he only sold a pair of plinths for a customer who just liked the look but, as far as he is concerned, they deliver no sonic improvement whatsoever. 
Hi gmc56
I've been "working" what is essentially a "cube" 10'x10x71/2' for nearly 2 decades.  If you back read some of my posts, there may be some insights to help your journey.  Please do not discount the benefits of today's digital sound processing once all the physical work is accomplished.  Cheers.
More Peace, Pinthrift