What is the best audiophile speaker for a tiny square room?

I currently have Soundlabs M545 electrostatic speakers in my 9 x 11ft room. They are great speakers particularly for this small room because they are more directional than box speakers and therefore decrease sidewall reflections. However, like other electrostatics, they are hard to drive and require big amps (>200W), which tend to generate a lot of heat. Class Ds don't go well with ES speakers. Are there great easy to drive speakers that would work well in this room without compromising SQ?
1f35d35f 7061 4ae3 a4c6 ab05c585e924chungjh
How about the Audio Notes?  Fit right in the corner.
I just put in Thiel CS 3.7 in a slightly larger room than yours. I removed a closet door to give me a bit more space, especially the space from my head to the wall behind me. I am assuming your space is a dedicated listening space. 


1) If you can do anything with this room them get some GIK Acoustic treatments (or from anybody else). GIK will work with you  remotely to find the best products to use for your room. My stuff was the lowest priced ones and the 9 panels totaled $700. They make an incredible difference. That floor stander in my room sounds great after the panels were added. I am shocked that my floor stander works so well in this room.

2) I am going to explore adding Digital Room Correction next after I get my speaker repaired (figure that out tonight). With DRC I would not even need the panels but they are supposed to make the DRC easier to implement in the treated room. I use ROON for my streaming digital and the DRC will be implemented as Convolution file(s). Not too expensive to get a professional sound engineer to implement this remotely. PM me if you want more details. I am in the process of doing this, though I hit a road block with a speaker driver problem that will get solved soon.

3) If you  have separates why not go for a Class AB amp such the CODA #8, Bryston 4B3, Parasound JC5, Hegel 390 integrated. These are not that expensive and run cool. I will be running 2 Benchmark AHB2 which I am  not sure would work with your speakers. PM me  if you want to talk about the AHB2, I did a lot of research on this amp into low impedances.

4) The KEF LS50 META maybe something you would like. It is a perfect fit for your room size. I replaced my KEF LS50's with the Thiel CS3.7 but the LS50's worked great in my treated room. Prior to treatment not so great.

Big speakers in a small room. Been there, done that, got it to work great.

You're going to be hard pressed to beat the Soundlabs. Are you sure you shouldn't be looking for cool-running non-class D amps instead?
Trenner & Friedl markets their speakers as being ones that are designed in such a way that they can go right up against the wall and not suffer from it. I have heard the RA and Isis and was captivated both times. https://www.trenner-friedl.com/
If you are looking for bookshelf speakers and not floorstanders, then notwithstanding T&F, my first choice would be Ensemble Ondiva. I think those are the best monitors in the world. Lastly, Focal Sopra (1 or 2) are easy to recommend. 
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You might like Janszen. Get the active version to cut back on components. 
Soundlabs are tough to beat. If you are going to replace them, my recommendation based on quite a bit of time listening to Soundlabs, is to get speakers with ribbon tweeters. Maybe Proac D 30r? 

I have not heard the Jantzen speakers, but as someone else suggested, you might want to audition them as they are electrostatic hybrids.
I’ll have to object to your blanket assertion. Class D goes swell with MY ESL’s. Better than the last three AB’s.
Try a better amp.
Electronic Industries JansZen ESL’s can be powered by anything 25 watts on up.

Which Class D and which ESL are you using?


Why did you chose Thiel rather than others for that room? I already ordered GIK panels.
You might want to audition Belcanto amps. They are class D but have great write ups. Get mono amps and put them behind the speakers. Run balanced cables. Going to other speakers will be a far more serious downgrade than getting e decent class  D amp.
PS Audio ICE Power S300 with Acoustat.
A Superphon DM 220 welded the woofers so I replaced them with 4 ohm Dayton's.
Better than stock. Sometimes I'll try to turn the subs down and realize I forgot to power them up.
Last amp was a Superphon 400S that I traded to Paul for the S300 and The Music Room promptly sold.

I have heard those Tannoy Audograph minis. Sound and look wonderful. Were driven by a 10wpc Luxman tube amplifier.  Would make for a truly class system in a small room. 
Also have a small listening space and a pair of Kef LS50s with a Rel T/5i sub makes for a nice listening experience. The LS50 coincident/coaxial driver design excels in near-field listening situations.
AVM and Rogue both produce tube/hybrid Class Ds.  I have a customer who just added and AVM A5.2 to his system to drive a pair of Martin Logan 13As and he saw a significant improvemtn in performance. 

The Rogue DragoN will have plenty of power for you.  You might want to roll in NOS tubes to the input stage.  

I am an AVM dealer, I have no affiliation with Rogue other than I personally own a Rogue Hydra which is a 100w class D hybird.  
Easy to drive full range single drivers maybe? Would be a big change of pace and allow you to explore almost any amplifier while retaining coherency and keeping you in a crossoverless paradigm. Rave reviews all around for these: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/cube-audio-nenuphar-single-driver-speaker-10-inch-tqwt-enclos...
You're going to be hard pressed to beat the Soundlabs. Are you sure you shouldn't be looking for cool-running non-class D amps instead?
I’ll have to object to your blanket assertion. Class D goes swell with MY ESL’s. Better than the last three AB’s.
The problem is that a class D amp behaves as a voltage source and this does not work well on most ESLs. The reason is that a full range ESL like the Sound Lab has a variable impedance curve that varies by nearly 10:1 from the bass peak to 20KHz. But this is not due to a driver in a box as everyone here knows- its due to being a capacitive load. What this means is unlike a driver in a box where the impedance curve is a map of how efficient the speaker is at various frequencies, the impedance curve of an ESL really has nothing to do with its efficiency. Put another way, to make 90dB of sound pressure at 60Hz you need the same amount of power as you do at 5KHz, despite the impedances being quite different at those frequencies.

This is fundamentally unlike box speakers. So if an amplifier can double power from 16 ohms to 8, from 8 ohms to 4 and from 4 ohms to 2 (and most solid state amps including class D can do this if they are not at full power) you can see that its going to be making too much power at high frequencies, so it will sound bright. Now the Sound Lab has controls (unlike most ESLs) that allow for a bit of compensation- you can turn down the Brilliance control, and set the bass jumpers for +3 or +6dB and that helps compensate for this problem. What is needed is an amplifier that can make constant power regardless of load impedance rather than constant voltage. Martin Logan and a few others get around this problem by setting the bass impedance quite low- 4 ohms is typical and thus the 20KHz impedance might by only 1/2 ohm. This causes the speaker cables to be a significant series resistance and the amp itself to have troubles making power at these frequencies (but IMO/IME they still tend to sound a bit bright).

But Sound Labs have a 30 ohm impedance in the bass, and simply put, most solid state amps don't make much power into such an impedance. For example a solid state amp that can make 600 watts into 8 ohms makes slightly more than 150 watts into 30 ohms, and this is where the majority of the energy of the musical signal is concentrated. For this reason, a tube amp of only 150 watts can easily keep up with a solid state amp of 600 watts on this speaker!

Atmasphere, I know your amps are very popular with Soundlabs and your explanation makes a lot of sense. How does class A fit into the sound quality equation for AS amps? Some people say for tubes, class A doesn't make that much difference- the way it does in SS amps. What do you think?

How does class A fit into the sound quality equation for AS amps? Some people say for tubes, class A doesn't make that much difference- the way it does in SS amps. What do you think?
Class A in a push-pull amp is nice because it helps reduce distortion at all power levels. This is about the operating point of the output device- the class A point being where distortion of the that device is at a minimum from zero to full power. It is audible in a tube amp- make no mistake!
I would love to have a pair of the Tannoy Autograph mini speakers just because they are affordable Tannoys and love the retro look.
@chungjh Great that you got panels coming your way. It will open up a world of possibilities for your speaker selection.

I chose the Thiel CS3.7 because I always wanted it. It was my second favorite all-time speaker and a local sale came up, so I went and picked it up. I would be reluctant to buy a used unit that needed shipping. The original packaging is now old.

The Thiel CS3.7 has a bit less bass than the speaker i was expecting to the get for this small room, the Yamaha NS5000. Both speakers sound best in a larger space but the sound I have now is very good. I think once I get the DRC implemented I will have excellent sound. I may have to spend another $1000 to fix my driver issues (with OEM drivers) but this speaker will be my, "to the grave office speaker", so I want it perfect.

Some other floor standing speakers that I demoed and now know they would fit my room were:

Vivid Kaya 45
Paradigm Persona 3F
Magico A3
TAD ME-1 (not floor stander)
Yamaha NS5000

BTW - I started measuring my room with a Minidsp mic and the REW software running on my Windows laptop. A lot of great info can be gained especially for folks like us in small rooms. This was how I discovered a problem with my driver though I cannot hear it.
Amphion are a unique speaker using a matched waveguide voiced to work in almost any room and a rear tunedBass radiator 
using world class Seas drivers ,used by many recording studios 
for accuracy and musicality .I am using my modded Argon 3-S monitors 
with Svs 3000  SB subs which btw are the best sub by a country mile in its price class and much more , it’s a fantastic combination 
That makes a great fully range setup that can compete with floorstanders several times its cost.
Dutch and Dutch 8C

State of the art actives designed to be placed close to a wall and built in DSP. I have mine in a reflective 10 by 10 room where most other speakers are doomed to fail, but they sound outstanding. The 8Cs can go almost anywhere and do very well.
Earphones with accompanied amp
Keep the SoundLabs, upgrade the amplifier!
" Keep the SoundLabs, upgrade the amplifier! "

In a small room you don’t need 200 WPC. A good 80 watts should drive about anything. I like tube amps but that will not help your issue. I’m not sure what amp to recommend but even my Parasound A21 didn’t get all that hot driving tough loads. It’s been a long time since I had a small SS amp but they are out there.
I am leaning toward keeping Soundlabs and changing to a tube amp. Any tube amp recommendations for a small room? I have a great tube preamp in BAT Rex 2. I would like a top quality amp-preferably used. Do others agree with russ69 that >80W would be sufficient? I just sold my Pass Labs 250.8X--450W of heat, just on idle. I considered BAT VK-655 (300W) for synergy, but it generates 400 W heat on idle. 
I'd go one step further and get speakers with an AMT tweeter. I really like the new monitor audio gold generation 5 speakers or the Platinum generation 2 very natural warm detailed sound.
This is a classic case for a minimonitor. The KEF LS-50 is at or near the top of that list, and the new 'Meta' version, even more so. To that I would add a small subwoofer, perhaps a REL. Especially in a small room, a 2.1 setup is easier to balance. 

 I would also take a listen to the Goldenear BRX, or Martin-Logan 35XTIs if ribbon tweeters are more to your liking. 

And yes, acoustical panels and bass traps are almost mandatory in a room this small. 

Beware of vendors who tell you that other people’s products don’t work. There is a huge conflict of interest there.

If heat is the big issue, are thermionic valves really the answer? Not all SS amps run hot. The Pass Labs ones do, but the newest ("cubed") Brystons run quite cool. Maybe you could audition a 14B3 or pair of 7B3s and see what you think.

If you do want to change speakers, the Janszens (I own a pair) are easy to place and easy to drive and will give you a good measure of electrostatic low distortion and transparency. They will not give you the rear wave of large panels and the sonic presentation may seem smaller than Magnepans or SoundLabs.
Someone already mentioned the Ls50 but in your size room rhe smaller LSx versions may do just as well. This and room treatment should give a precise enjoyable sound. 

I have them in my bedroom as a 3rd/4th system and they sound great once level up a bit. (not a whisper system)

YG Acoustics Carmel or Carmel 2
Magico S1
+1 @panzrwagn
I also think Kii Three or Boenicke W5 would work great.
I would research Ohm Speakers.  They are designed to go up against a wall and come in three different sizes.  They have been well reviewed.  
+1 for the LS50s or LS50 Metas mentioned above.  I use the original LS50s, supplemented by a sealed SVS sub in a small room with great results. I have them about a foot from the back wall and approximately 2.5 feet from the side walls.  From my listening position I cannot place the speakers, it just sounds like the music (sweet music) is coming from the front of the room somewhere.  Zero plans to upgrade anytime soon.

Look at all these different preferences or suggestions.  The answer is very simple.  Once you get into a relatively large circle of speakers for any set of circumstances (dollars, room size, etc.)...it's Taster's Choice.  We all listen and prefer differently...there is no definitive or wrong answer.
Second the LS50's.  I'm impressed with them on 24 inch wooden stand filled with sand in a 11 x 10 room with a 7 foot ceiling.  I listen nearfield of course with a Bedini amp and Superphon revelation pre.  Very musical in that room.
I like this manufacture out of Poland. I have owned most of the $15000 monitors and at $5500 USD including the stands the hORNS by Autotech Atmospheres are incredible.
Hello chungjh, I'm respectfully skeptical by your assertion that your speakers require >200wpc. In contrast, I have a pair of Acoustat 1+1s, 83 dB sensitivity, which I can play to delightfully loud levels with an ARC VS110 (115wpc) with subwoofer. I happily grant you that the M545's are a very different animal but you've got less than 800cu/ft to fill (9x11x8') (accounting for 8' ceilings) vs my 12x18x8' room. Disregarding the difficulty of the load, are the M545s at 86 dB sensitivity truly that inefficient? Goodness in a 9x11' space, how loud do you play them? LOL

However it also appears that you've found them a new home already:

Which is a pity as I was going to suggest that you audition something in a tube amplifier before you did that. Granted tubes will generate heat but I think you might've been surprised at the sound of your ESLs without having to have a huge amount of wattage to push them.

Happy listening!
The one that sounds best to you.  Use your ears.
I would suggest the Magnepan LRS...they are ready made for a small room.  I have the MGIIIc larger ones in a  small to medium room...they work great.  The LRS also do not have huge power requirements.

Ignore that ad. M545s are still my speakers. Ok,  I am glad you and Russ69 think that I can get by with smaller tube amps. I don't want to use a subwoofer as my room with the audio rack is pretty clustered already. What amps do people suggest?
Tannoy Autograph mini...I have three systems...large room, medium room, small room...these are the speakers I have in my room which is 12 by 12...mesmerizing.
By the way, I have decided to sell 85% of my vinyl..this 85% is about 500 albums in crappy, good and great condition...anybody reccomend a vinyl resale site?
I would try and compare the ls50's to the audience 1+1, i have the audience in my bedroom, they are easier to locate near room boundaries than the kef's and the midrange is as good as any speaker. Like the kef's a good sub, like rel t3/5/7 should be considered for bass depth
I would recommend Harbeth speakers. Depending on your budget, they create an incredible sound for the space consumed. 
@zaphod2006 I had the Audience 1+1 and the KEF LS50 driven by a Peachtree Nova 150 in the the same room for a few months. The 1+1 was 2x the cost and I wanted to like it more than the LS50 however, I could not get it to sound good. The imaging was bad the soundstage was not correct. I just could not get it to sound correct in the small room. I even called Audience to ask advice.

It think the 1+1 needed more space from the front wall and I did not have the space to do so. The KEF LS50 was perfect in my acoustically treated room. I think the Coincident design makes placement easier.

My new Thiel CS3.7 also has a coincident driver design (Thiel COAX driver) which I think helps in placement.