Which monitors for my tube system in a large room?

Hi guys,

I was completely happy with my system---Devore Nines, Leben CS300XS---when I got blindsided by a new apartment and a new baby. Between those two life-changing factors, my space and time to listen to the system have shrunk. In this apartment the rig has to live in the living/dining room, which means the Nines are suddenly Too Big---not purely WAF, I also concede that they are looming weirdly over my shoulder when I'm eating dinner a few feet away.

Luckily, I can keep them---I will move them across town to the studio where I work, which from now on will be my serious private listening space, and where I'll build a new system around them (the fun silver lining.)

At home I don't want to give up having a serious setup, even if it will have to be used more for background-listening. My plan is to keep the Leben, which I love, and get some bookshelf speakers with stands, which won't be as imposing as the Nines. Obviously there will be a sacrifice in bass and so on, but maybe I'll have fun and discover the joys of smaller monitors!

They will need to work well with the 15w Leben, and the ability to play well from corners is a plus. They will be positioned on the short wall of an 18x21' room with 8' ceilings. I won't be listening very loud in the home setup, and at least for a few years probably won't be up late doing serious solo listening. I just want musicality and listenability.

To that end, been thinking about small models from Omega, Spendor, Coincident, Proac, Usher. I live in NYC and can demo some of these, others not.

Any advice?

Thanks so much in advance for your ruminations!
If you like the Devore sound, I would put the 3XLs on your list.
Reference 3A De Capo monitors or Veena floorstanders
2nd the DeVore 3XLs - great sounding and great looking monitors. The Omegas are another very good choice. Both easily meet your criteria for musicality and listenability and should be fine with your Leben. I wouldn't count either out for serious solo listening, especially the 3XLs.
You should listen to the MG-20's. Esoteric. small foot print and with the two 6" woofers the bass doesn't get the room excited. Great bass just with no exaggeration.

Check out the reviews to get a better idea of their sound.

dealer disclaimer.
How do you get blindsided by a new baby? With a little one in the house I would be more comfortable with a small footprint but heavy floor stander than a top heavy monitor. Perhaps you can fasten the stands to the ground?
Thanks guys. I should definitely give the 3 XLs a listen, I don't know why it never occurred to me.

I should say that there are a lot of great small speakers out there; my main concern is their capability as compared to the room and the low-power amp. I should say that the room is actually more like 18x25', as it opens into a kitchen, and it has three more large openings into other areas (5 foot wide each). So I'm looking for a speaker that punches above its weight and is still a very small item.
Bjesien: It's more that the baby completely scrambled my habits. Somehow I had envisioned me rocking the little one to sleep while listening to music, but that was naive. Suddenly my schedule is totally upside down. Also, the 'family room' got a lot more chaotic; with two people I could still get away with just sitting in the room listening to something with total attention, but now... It's just not what our home is about any more. Luckily I have somewhere else to take that hobby.
You should check out the Monitor Audio series as well...either the GS10 or PL100.
Hi, I'm a big fan of the Proac Tablettes, you might cringe but you can fill the sound out with a small powered subwoofer tucked away. After a long trip round Proac EBS, Apogees, Martin Logans and finally Tannoy 15's I now realise how musical the little Proacs ( 1st speaker ) are if you match them well. The Harbeths 30's I;ve heard on the leben sounded fantastic but didn't open up and fill out until you wound the volume up. This is possibly a point to consider, if you are in an apartment and are listening at lower levels. The Spendors - the older models such as the SP1 sound much more musical and are fuller sounding than the latest ones - you might want to consider these. The others to consider are compact floor standers ( no ugly stands ) - Proac 140's or Dynaudio 1.8's maybe. Finally 2 classics - original Linn Kans and Rogers LS3/5A.
I think there's something to be said for Bjesien's concern about youngins and stand-mounted speakers.

One way to get a less looming physical presence would be a near-wall floorstander, like North Creek's Big Kat, which is a slender box that can go very close to walls (around 4k with lovely custom boxes, and an afternoon of easy DIY). I have the Kat's little brother, the Eska, and it is very unobtrusive and decor friendly, as well as sounding lovely. I'd expect the Big Kat, which I've not heard, to easily compete with the Nines, and to have some of what you like in the them. They are claimed to dare well with tubes.
Maybe Merlin might work for you.
You know what? Audiogon is a bit like therapy... a talking cure. After formulating my post and getting a few comments, I've realized what was in front of my face all along---I need small floor standers, not monitors on stands.

Bjesien and JDoris, you are totally right about kids and stands. And why not avoid ugly stands and simply scale down what's already working for me? So I'm switching the hunt: looking for small floor standers now, guys. Now... any recommendations? I think I'm still probably in the same general area with the same companies. But let's say 36" as a top height.
The Odyssey Lorelei Upgraded speakers that are for sale might be worth checking out as well as Merlin.
Tonian Labs Tl-D1 speakers are floor standers with a small footprint.
I would seriously consider the Coincident Technology Triumph Extreme speakers. As with all Coincident speakers, they are very easy to drive. They also have a very neutral sound. As long as you have very good source components along with your Leben, you will get great sound and music from these Coincidents. Also, instead of buying the Coincident stands (which are excellent), you should consider the Coincident passive subwoofers, which act as a stand while also providing great help in the "nether" regions of sound.

I use 5 Coincident Triumph Extreme's in my home theatre set-up and for the front two speakers I use the Coincident passive subs. They work great. Guests are amazed at the wonderful sound the set-up produces. I've had people with $20,000 and up speakers say they are amazed by my speakers.

IF you want good full range sound, do not want to have to deal with monitor stands, and do not want to be locked into listening from a small sweet spot necessarily, take a look at small footprint floorstander designs from another vendor in Brooklyn, NY, OHM Microwalshes or Walsh 1000s (www.ohmspeakers.com).
Thanks Clio09, Tonian has interested me.

Has anyone got experience with the Omega Super 5s?
Mapman, thanks---I have seriously thought about Ohm, and I can swing by the shop because it's not far from where I work. However, from my reading on the subject, I had figured that the Ohms would want more power than the little Leben can offer (not out of the question to also change amps, was just hoping not to have to.) Of course I could always audition them for the trial period, and find out!
I hear you on the surprises of parenthood brother! Congratulations though, many good things come along with the grey hair.

Super 8, Verity Finn, one of the new Zu speakers...Are you looking for a different sound or direction than the nines?

I'm a Coincident lover (own 3 sets). However, not around little ones. Your awesome little one will be learning to walk soon. Pulling themselves up on any object, including wobbly speakers on stands. Also, with no grill covers on Coincidents little fingers will do damage, trust me.

Suffer for now, get floor standing speakers that have grills and preferably spike feet to help avoid toppling over.

Personally, I'd recommend something really nice but ugly for the next 2 years until you get the little one trained. Find a nice pair of speakers that work perfectly but have some cosmetic flaws so you won't freak out when junior puts his/her peanut butter and jelly into the rear port!
Bjesien, I do like the Nines a lot, but because I'll still have them around to listen to, I'm game to look into new directions (like single-driver... the Omega Super 5s are interesting). Also, since the kind of listening I do at home will change, might as well experiment.
"I had figured that the Ohms would want more power than the little Leben can offer (not out of the question to also change amps, was just hoping not to have to.)"

Good point. I missed the specific amp indicated in your post.

15 tube watts should do OK, especially for background listening, but more would certainly help.

That or integrate a sub to lessen the low end/bass load for the Walshes. I think OHM still sells subs as well but not certain.

If you live close by, I'm sure you could easily work out an in home audition and hear for yourself without even having to deal with shipping costs.

If you go by teh OHM shop, let us know your impressions. I have never been there but my understanding is it is quite unassuming.
How about VSA Unifield 1s?
Someone has already suggested the Esoteric MG-20; their MG-10 monitors are also excellent if you don't want floorstanders.

I'll also second the previous recommendation of the Reference 3A MM de Capo i.

Here's why...I recently completed my own search for new speakers. I set out looking for smallish floorstanders around $2k, but the only 2 speakers I fell in love with (in my price range...) were the Esoteric MG-10 and the Reference 3A de Capos, both monitors. I ended up buying the Reference 3As here on Audiogon.

For my tastes, both of these little speakers are giant killers!
Compact floor speakers - Tannoy Kensington's are superb and well suited to the Leben.
Gallo ref 3.5s are surprisingly small, and very good (I'd prefer them to the Nines), but they might require changing amps. I'm guessing they are pretty placement flexible, too. Exposed drivers might be issue with kids, but they'd still be unobtrusive with the "grills".

i would try Lawrence Acoustic Mandolins....I have a pair of Violins (their bigger monitor) and I can't be happier...i can gurantee that you'd love them...and your wife would like the speakers' look...
Thanks everyone for your responses so far. Lots to think about, and research, and hopefully listen to. Dover, the Tannoys would be amazing but a bit tall for what I am looking into. The Rega R5 looks interesting, and I believe I can check it out here in NYC at In Living Stereo. Same for Dynaudio. JDoris, thanks for the Gallos---considered those but my wife hates the look; I've settled on looking for fairly plain box enclosures. Still curious about Omega and about the Audio Note E line (good for corners, quite compact).
I definitely hear you about the Gallo's, Price. They look a lot better black on black, but still . . . . John
I recently went on a hunt for speakers for my room. I started with the Leben that you have. I ended up with two very different sets (kind of a long story how that happened). I got the Audio Note AN-K's and the Quad 22L2s. I listened to the AN-Es as well (they were a little out of my price range). The AN speakers have a beautiful, very musical sound. I did miss the bass with the smaller K's--and, I never felt like they rocked. I wish I had ponied up for the J's. I think that there is a generous AN trade in program. The Quad's (I have only had them a week) might be one of the underrated gems in the audio world. They can be had for around $1000 and are amazing for the money. They do just about everything well. They are not quite as musical as the Audio Notes, but I'm not sure much out there is. I had the Zu Soul Superfly's before (like I said, long story). They match well to the Leben but are a little more finicky in their set up.
I've heard those Quads and like them a lot.

Never heard them off a tube amp though. Assuming they are tube friendly, that could be quite a nice pairing.
Thanks Tjnindc. I've been curious about Audio Notes in general; they have a super dedicated group of fans/owners and seem to be special, though I have never heard them. I'm glad to hear they worked with the Leben---I had considered the AN-E as a speaker to somehow hunt down and listen to. Good listening!