What now?

At the risk of repeating a question that has been asked and answered a few times, let me tell you my story.  I am an old-time audiophile (now 79) who has to adapt to new circumstances.  For the past forty years or more I have listened to music on two pairs of Snell type A speakers (A and AIII), one pair in my living room and another pair in the studio where I paint.  I have moved to a smaller house.  I had to sell the Snells because I don't have room for them (they went to a good home).  I also have sold some fairly high end equipment that powered them.  I now have two Marantz 60009 receivers and a nice vintage turntable.  The turntable is in a small (about 12x15) room, with a piano.  I need to find floor-standing speakers I can put on either side of the piano and close to the wall behind them.  I want to find them used, but not too used - I don't want to need to repair them anytime soon.  I am used to good sound and my hearing is still pretty good.  I listen to some classical, some choral, some solo voice, some guitar, etc.  I like what might be called a "warm" tone - without wanting to get into a debate about what that means - just don't want treble that is on the edgy side.  My budget is flexible, but not unlimited - maybe from $700 to $3000.  I do care how they look.  Some years ago I had a pair of Acoustic Zen adagios, which were OK, but I always preferred the Snells (maybe I was just used to them).  So - what do you recommend?  Adagio?  Vienna Acoustic Bach?  Tannoy?  Sonus Faber?  I am not in a place where I can easily audition speakers, and many of the ones I would consider are no longer sold new anyway, so I need to rely to some extent on the judgment of others.  What do you think?


Ag insider logo xs@2xtwilightround
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Putting speakers on either side of a piano sounds like a big no-no acoustically speaking.

I don't get it. A piano is about 5'x7'. It takes up most of the room. Where would you sit to listen?


I don’t recommend towers positioned as you described. I do recommend stand mount speakers positioned at a height near your listening level. You can make any adjustment to height, toe in, etc. As for what brand of speaker I like JBL and they have the Stage line at lower prices and the Classic line at higher prices. These have adjustable height:


These would fit nicely on those stands, near the piano, toed in like a studio engineer would do in nearfield:


You already mentioned Tannoys, which would be my recommendation. 75 yo Tannoy listener and lover.




PRIOR MODEL ( pre-owned) RS5




current model RX5



did anyone understand/visualize the room layout? Or you guys are just throwing out names of speakers that you like?

I need to find floor-standing speakers I can put on either side of the piano and close to the wall behind them.

That’s a huge bummer, and I just wouldn’t do it. I’d suggest you use something like these gliders from Herbie’s that’d allow you to easily slide your speakers out for critical listening and cover the piano with a sheet or thin blanket to help minimize that nightmare.

Also, with your audio obstacle course and if you’re in the northeast go pick these up. They’re awesome floorstanders and will only cost you $775. Use them with the Herbies and sheet and hopefully you can make the best of a bad situation. Best of luck.


@soix I see no arrangement that's not a giant mess and a compromise. This piano is a giant whale in a small room. Maybe wall-in speakers at least 2 feet above the top of the piano on the back wall? But I wouldn't hold my breath. Along the same lines, the piano must pretty bad in such a small room. 

Something to look into new (rarely see them on the used market).

They also have a Plus version with more bass (have not heard it).



I would definitely go for something laid back in that room. Bigger room my favorite would be Focal. I would go maybe Dynaudio in that space. Nice pair of Focus160s for sale here I think there still available. 

A secondhand pair of Vandersteen 2's. Older versions are fine! They are still a classic design and are eminently faithful to the music.

I still have and Harbeth C7es. I still love my Snell Jii's, but the Harbeths are similarly warm and musical with more detail. 

First - thank you to all who have responded helpfully.  As to the physical layout, I have very few choices. I like the new house and community, but the house is considerably smaller than the one I left. The piano is a small Yamaha electronic one - full keyboard, but quite compact and sounds damn good.  The piano is on the 12' wall, and the only place in the room for the speakers is on or very near the same wall. . They might be placed as much as 10' apart.  The room is also a spare bedroom, so there is also a bed in the room, with its head on the opposite wall. The listener will be sitting (or lying) on the bed. I thought towers would be best because they could put the mid-range and tweeter high enough and the elevation of the bass wouldn't matter.  I suppose it does sound like an audiophile's nightmare, but it's what I've got and I can't change it.  The budget is flexible - I'm not constrained as to money, but can't see spending many thousands for this environment.  I will look into all the suggestions. Thanks again ...

No ports of any kind when near the walls and piano.

I have a piano on my side wall, but surprisingly do not hear any complimentary vibrations when I use my test cd, playing/stopping 1/3 octave test tones.

My friend has a 'seismo' app and walks around my room finding this and that. Top of my dining room table 'adds' something, but never noticeable or detrimental and I keep a heavy table cloth on top anyway.

My toe-in is flexible, find the best for single chair, and adjust toe-in when two listeners to maintain decent awareness of center and other side,

Tilt them back to avoid parallel reflections off the ceiling/floor, and 'mess up' the side/rear wall reflections (tweeters aimed at seated ear level).

Larsen and Ohm come to mind if you need to be close to a wall. Both available in your price range I think. 

Well, the piano being a "compact electronic" keyboard is now not anywhere near as worry as we may have thought. Capacitors and silicon don't vibrate and resonate like piano wires.

Seems like you understand it's not an ideal situation - that's good.  You mentioned Vienna Acoustics Bach.  I love my Bach Grands, listening to them right now.  Warm ish presentation with silky smooth tweeter and great mids.  Beautiful rosewood finish.  They also do a wonderful disappearing act in my room.  But, I have them pulled out almost 5 feet from the front wall.  If you try and put them up against a wall the port will boom out the room.  Believe me, I've tried them in different scenarios.  A non or front ported speaker is your best bet.  Good luck!

there are speakers that make a small room sound big - monitors - not towers. Your budget is a big range, you can look at real sweet boutique brands. Are there dealers near you?

ProAc Tablet 10 Signatures might be a candidate for near wall use, though if said wall is dry lined they might need to come out a bit. Not floor standers though.

@twilightround: without mentioning my age, based upon your affinity for your Snell speakers and some of the other things you mentioned, I suspect our ears may be somewhat kindred audiophile spirits, so to speak. With that in mind, I offer this bit of nostalgia and two cents worth of feedback in the hopes it might be helpful to you.

In my audiophile coming of age, so to speak (i.e.  early 70s), my ears were quite fond of loudspeakers such as:  EPI, Ohm, Klipsch, Cerwin Vega, AR, ESS, Advent, JBL and others. My first pair of serious speakers were small Studiotech. All I could afford, back then, as an impoverished college student. As I recall, Studiotech was manufactured by Bose at the time. I quickly upgraded those to a pair of Ohm C and, many years later, to a pair of Paradigm Studio Monitor 9, which also served me quite well for many years. My ears have always gravitated toward a sound signature that is accurate but not too accurate. Acoustic guitar and piano need to sound as live, to me, as possible, and high frequencies need to be relatively smooth, accurate, detailed and not shrill or fatiguing after long listening periods.

Several years ago, I embarked on a quest to upgrade my entire two-channel system as sort of a retirement bucket list. This upgrade culminated, at least for now, in a pair of Revel F206 speakers. The amp (McIntosh MA5200) was first on my upgrade list, replacing a trusty stalwart friend of some 20+ years, a Sansui 2000x receiver, and an equally loyal and enjoyable TT, a Philips 212. I spent several years of serious research, reading and dedicated & orchestrated critical listening time. I tend to be compulsive, that way, as I think most serious audiophiles are. During this quest, there were, of course, speakers (and other components) I heard that impressed my ears more than what I bought. However, I don't have the deepest pockets and forced myself to stay within the realm of a relatively sane, self-imposed budget considering the dimensions and acoustic properties of my sound room and component matching issues. Staying within your specified budget range (i.e.  new and gently used) and not knowing, more specifically, the dimensions of your sound room, room placement constraints, acoustic properties, component-matching constraints, etc., I think your ears might like Monitor Audio, Revel, Martin Logan, Paradigm, Focal and others. If you're interested and if you have the stamina to deal with the method to my madness, check out "Time to Upgrade Speakers" and "Sequel to "Time to Upgrade Speakers; in the Stereophile Forum. I think I may even have posted a few things here in Audiogon, seeking guidance on this quest.

Good luck!

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A word of caution regarding speakers with AMT tweeters. In my experience and as some professional reviewers have also pointed out, speakers with tweeters like this can sometimes cause listening fatigue, sometimes relatively quickly, if the listening position has a wall directly behind it. The emptier the space behind your listening position, the better. I would say, at very least, 6 feet of empty space but more is better.

Again, thanks for the comments.  I have a couple of prospects.  One is Ohm 1000 new at about $2900 with shipping, with a return option if they just don't work for me.  A second is Melin VSM-MXe with Bam in mint condition, asking $3400 and about 50 miles from me.  The seller says he researched speakers for many hours to find ones that worked well quite near a front wall, and the Merlins were his choice.  They were much more expensive than the Ohms ($13,000), Stereophile A rated, but are probably more than 10 years old, which is a concern because I don't really want to get into repairing very heavy speakers. They are supposed to be good in a small room.  Also have a chance to buy Ohm 3X0 about 50 miles away, with new drivers installed by Ohm, for $3500, but Ohm says they may be too much for my smallish space.  I'm thinking the new Ohm 1000s may be the safer choice.  Any thoughts?

i would cast a wider net. If you are comfortable with ordering from Amazon and Crutchfield, you can try out a lot of great options. But it sounds like you are set on the Ohm, and just want confirmation?

No, not set.  Would generally prefer to buy used from a reliable seller on Audiogon.  But am somewhat concerned about the space and the Ohm seems to be designed to work there. 

I never thought about earphones ...



If you have the return option on the Ohm, why don't you try it. I know nothing about them, but the list is long for great speaker that work well near the wall.



Snell Type A's were so musically pleasing and the way they radiated sound into a room reminded me of dropping a pebble in the center of a pool of water and watching the ripples move out from center. Do a little reading up on some of the current designs and characteristics they possess. Best of luck. 

I know.  I wish I could have kept the Type A's, but I no longer have a place for them.  But I do like the smaller home and the community.  I find that I may not have described adequately the environment in which the new speakers will have to make music.  They have to be on either side of the electronic piano (which is only 36" high and 18" deep.  They have to be close to the front wall, but, depending on their depth, not right up against it.  I think in total the front of the speakers could be as much as 30" from the wall.  The other problem is height.  The only place to sit in the room is a bed, which provides very comfortable seating for me, but which is high for a bed (33").  That means the listening head will be at 50" or more and close to the back wall.  I am thinking that some acoustic suspension speakers or some front-ported speakers might work and that taller ones would work better than shorter ones.  I have a chance to buy, locally, Merlin VSN-MXe in very good condition with master bam for $3400 or Usher Audio Dancer Mini One DMD for $1950.  If anyone knows these speakers and can comment on their suitability for this environment, please let me know.

I haven't heard the dancers but they were on my list. I have read every review about them and I was very impressed. 

this looks like a pretty cool monitor:


"Are you Experienced?"

No matter... voting with @mapman , this is a job for Walsh omnis'!


.....with adult augmentation, but show restraint, pulese.....

Having the cruisers show up when the neighbors go postal' is a downer...;)

Re the piano.  It may not be 5 foot by 7 foot.  It could be an upright, 5.5 foot by 1,8 foot.

Yes the strings will vibrate to the tune of the sound waves from the hi-fi.  But pianos have a pedal that can damp all the strings by lowering felt pads on them.  Using a lever and a wedge, the pedal can be rigged so that it damps the strings full-time.

Ok, thanks all for the suggestions. Here's an update, and I hope you're still with me.  I described this bedroom/listening room.  It is about 12x15 with a 10' ceiling. The south (12') wall has a Yamaha electronic piano.  Also on this wall is my turntable and other components. The head of the bed is against the north (12') wall.  The bed is 34' high (storage underneath).  At the foot of the bed, about 6' from the south wall, is a chest of drawers (33' high). I began this thread asking what floor standing speakers I might use on either side of the piano and close to the south wall. I appreciate the suggestions for the Ohm, and have talked with the fellow there, who suggests the tall 1000.  That's well within my budget.  My concern is with the sound stage of the omnidirectional speaker.  I understand that I can return the Ohm's if they don't work for me, but I want to avoid doing that if I can.  I am generally concerned that even with a good-sized floor speaker, the sound, especially the higher frequencies, will be coming from well below my head when I am sitting on the bed.  So ... it has occurred to me that I might put two good bookshelf speakers on the chest of drawers, facing the head of the bed, on low stands that would raise them the a few inches to the ideal height.  The could be about 5' apart, and 6' from the south wall.  The would also be about 7' from my head. Of course, that would require that I run speaker cable to the from the south wall, along the east wall, along the north wall to the bed, then under the mattress to the speakers (probably 25 to 30' in all).  However, in terms of speaker placement, this seems promising.  What do you who know much more than I think?   And, if you think this would be better than anything I can do on the south wall, what specific speakers would you recommend at, say, $3000 or under, new or used?

For $3k you can purchase a pair of Martin Logan Spires used that will blow you away. I’ve seen several sets available for sale recently. But you won’t drive them with a receiver. Great speakers. Nothing near them at that price. Originally $9k new. 

there are literally 2-3 posts every week in the speaker section asking for recommendation in the 2-3-4-5 grand range, with 100s of comments

You are right, of course.  I just thought I was special 😗.  Actually, I thought my space was especially problematic.  I have followed the speaker discussions in forums, and what I find is too many recommendations.  Many take no account of the space.  And dozens of recommendations don’t really narrow the field much, especially when there is little opportunity to demo any of them.  Nevertheless, audiogon is the best place there is to get useful information.  


you are special :)

you can try Crutchfield and Amazon 60 days no cost about 8 great brands combined. I would say your room is OK but your listening position is definitely a little unusual.
Because of your space, culturally, I would say speakers from countries that have typically small apartments will be a better fit (NOT THE USA) because they have to solve the space problem. As I read on this forum: these effluent people build rooms for speakers, in Europe, people build speakers for (whatever) rooms. >> the Brits? the Austrians?
But of course that was a pretty stupid generalization. 

My space is worse than yours. You are not pursuing perfection, you are pursuing maximum joy and a lot of high quality speakers will get you there. It will be a great journey.

I have ordered the GetBetterSound book, hope it may help. I have some possibilities for speakers.  One is vintage McIntosh XRT 18 - pretty amazing concept.  Another is Revel f208, which provides for some attenuation of bass if needed.  A third is Triangle Antal 30th anniversary, which one reviewer says can sound good only 8” from front wall.  I may also be able to do some sound conditioning on the walls.  Thanks to all who have answered.  Any comments welcome.  


Have you considered what stringreen suggested earlier which is headphones?  For less than the price of the speakers you seek, you could purchase a quality set of headphones. Sennheiser HD800S, Focal Clear, Hifiman Arya,  Audeze LCD-X, and others.   In my opinion, the bang for the buck can't be matched by any loudspeaker.  If headphones are out of the question, there's a set of Monitor Audio Gold 200s on Ebay for $3200 plus shipping.