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If you are thinking of smaller speakers, you should check out a couple of Swedish offerings: Guru G-10, and Sjofn's "the clue". Both are designed to sit literally 1" from the back wall, being designed for the boundary reinforcement.
I run "the clue" in my living room system, because this suits my significant other much better. They sit in bookshelves on each side of the fireplace, and to be honest, they sound pretty good and articulate. Bass is adequate.
Wide speakers with a large baffle will work best. To get really close to a back wall check out these...
Horns work well too. The importance is to minimize the frequencies going backwards (sound that wraps around the baffle). Horns do this by virtue of directivity and large baffles prevent mid range sound wrapping round the edges of the speaker cabinet.
Audio Note all the way. I was so impressed with their presentation that I was even considering non-optimal location (i.e. away from wall). If you can afford it, go for the big ones in their basic model, though the smaller ones also sound good and of course benefit from boundary reinforcement. Unless you're running something very low powered, stay away from hemp drivers and the HE models.
@scottwsmith - as a general "rule of thumb" you could use any speaker that has either
1. a completely sealed enclosure
2. a bass port located in the front of the enclosure
Of course this is not definitive, but as a "guideline" it eliminates rear ported enclosures which are designed to have space behind them
Some e speakers with a downwards firing port in the bottom of the cabinet may also a good cabinet.. But this may only be true in some cases - t's a case of listening to them.
Hope That Helps - Steve
I’m also recommending Audio Notes. I run the AN E’s. The ability to run them against the wall is just icing on the cake, not a compromise in any way. That's part of the reason their presentation is unlike most speakers. My biggest audio regret is that I didn’t find Audio Notes years ago.
Of course it all depends on your sound preferences and amplification choices. Best of luck.
I like Audio Note speakers, even without considering their fitness for placement near walls and corners. The sound they deliver is rich, harmonically complete and saturated and musical. It is a BIG plus that they are reasonably efficient and easy to drive because I tend to favor low-powered amps.
I have heard, and liked the Gradient Revolution speaker in a near the room boundary position. It is NOT an efficient speaker, but, it is otherwise quite desirable for its placement flexibility (the bass cabinet can be configured for different room placement).
I have also heard British Neat speakers placed near the wall and they sounded good too.
Lot's of them are good for the wall as you can see. What is your system? Price? If this is a general question, then I too love the Vandersteen's. Their new carbon fiber tweeter is taking them to the next level for sure. I have some Linn's in the bedroom and am figuring out the configuration to put the new Vandy's in.
@scottwsmith, If you're speakers are going to be up situated in the corners of the room, the Klipschorns work very well - http://www.klipsch.com.au/products/klipschorn-floorstanding-speaker
I'd also 2nd the AN speakers, especially if partnered with AN gear.
A simple thought experiment is the question, "Would I expect a violinist, a pianist, or even a vocalist to sound good from that position? The answer is NO.
And another one, "Would any knowledgeable recording engineer ever record such instruments/performers in that location? The answer is NO.
So why would we expect loudspeakers to be at their very best in a corner or against the front wall?
hornguys"A simple thought experiment is the question, "Would I expect a violinist, a pianist, or even a vocalist to sound good from that position? The answer is NO. And another one, "Would any knowledgeable recording engineer ever record such instruments/performers in that location? The answer is NO. So why would we expect loudspeakers to be at their very best in a corner or against the front wall?
This is a misguided, confused or deceptive argument, inquiry or suggestion because some speakers designed for use in Music Reproduction Systems are specifically designed, specified and manufactured to be used in a corner or against a wall and in those locations such speakers will sound they're best when properly executed and installed.