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Best speakers for a vivid sound at low volume

Discussion in 'audio' started by Elephantears, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    I may need to live with some speakers that are good at low volume for a while, due to an ear problem.

    My room is 15 x 12 and the speakers fire from the 12 foot wall. I use Harbeth C7's. They have been a reasonable compromise for some years now, but they work a good bit better in my larger room upstairs.

    I tried going huge (Klipsch La Scalas), and sadly it did not quite work out. Perhaps I should go small?

    I suspect that Electrostats will be recommended. I heard Electromotions and they seemed fine, but not as good as the reviews suggested. I suppose ESL63s are a possibility, although I will miss the bass.

    Are there any small speakers with electrostatic quality that might fit the bill?

    I tried Harbeth Monitor 30.1s. They are excellent, but I missed the bass below 50Hz. So I would miss even more with P3ESRs.

    I'm intrigued by Proac Studio 100 or the older 1SC.

    I liked Dennis Murphy's CAOW1 very much, but only heard them with S-Man's bass reinforcement system so don't know what they are like alone.

    I like the new Sonus Faber Olympica range; they seem very good at low volume in small rooms, but they are very pricey. I don't want to spend big until I know more about the future of my ears.
  2. mudlark

    mudlark nearly half a clue

    In my opinion you will not be able to acheive what you want. The room is too big to allow you to enjoy your stereo at low volumes. In order to drive a larger room more volume is required.

    I would try headphones.
  3. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Headphones are the devil's work.

    I guess I'm stuck with my office system then.
  4. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    You definitely want to try ESL63s, they go pretty deep (miles lower than La Scalas!) and do so with good control and the 'ease' of a big speaker, plus they have a stunning and utterly seamless mid-band and top. They are unquestionably one of the best loudspeakers I've ever heard and remain on my 'to do' list, in fact they are about the only sensible thing left on it (the rest being things I'd never be able to find or afford e.g. JBL Paragons, Tannoy corner GRFs, Autographs etc).

    PS Drop Rob a PM, I'm sure he'd let you go hear his '63s (he's got them sounding really nice in a traditional Quad rig of their period).
  5. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer fourhundredandthirtytwo

  6. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    I guess if my ears fail and I retreat to a monastery I could at least tell my fellow monks that before my quiet days I had La Scalas and ESL63s.

    What are the rules regarding space to the side and behind with 63s?
  7. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete


    YNWOAN 100% Analogue

    Not so much to the side but plenty to the rear.
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Apparently flexible - Rob has his '63s singing in a rather small room in which I'd really not have predicted they would work (I'd say about 2/3rds the volume of my front room). They are a fairly big speaker so ended up a little close together, but work in a really nice open, clean and boom-free manner in that context. I'm sure there are some pics of his rig somewhere on the Systems thread.
  10. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer fourhundredandthirtytwo

    The Proac D2s, Andrew. Although the 1.5s are good too, and rare. The D2s have an understated presentation that's relaxing to listen to for hours on end. At the time allot of my listening was done late at night so low volume. The combination was very nice but at the time was coming in over £5K! and I still needed a DAC. So I ended up with a supernait and WB Arcs. Wish I bought the D2s/150+ combo as Densen did eventually release their DAC module.
  11. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    ok that is a thought then. I've been curious to hear the small Proacs for a while, but then the small Sonus Fabers are appealing too.

    Regarding Proacs; I read somewhere that Deco (or Noteworthy, as they were then) once claimed that the Studio 100 were the best speakers under £30,000. I've nothing but respect for that level of exaggeration. I mean, if you are going to exaggerate, you might as well do it properly.
  12. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    I've tried but his inbox is full, so if you are listening Rob...

    (oh, and I won't pester you about the Audiosmile BC1 clones any more!)
  13. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    What about Audio Note?

    Come to think of it, why do we not have an Audio Note mafia on pinkish?
  14. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer fourhundredandthirtytwo

    AVI stylie, innit.
  15. Bungle

    Bungle pfm Member

    I had studio 100's back in the 90's, and they were very good. They punched above their weight, and were very natural sounding, but there were better speakers at the 2k mark. Response 2's were stunning. I guess the D2 is the natural successor, so might be worth a try. There was a pair on ebay for about 1k i thought recently.
  16. Igloo Audio

    Igloo Audio Registered User

    Mind you, if the recording was mastered on a pair of Yamaha NS10's, I'm not entirely sure what a £30k speaker is going to bring you over a Studio 100.

    Just saying...

  17. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer fourhundredandthirtytwo

    There are indeed, tiz why I went for a listen.
  18. Plutox

    Plutox Registered Abuser

    I would be inclined to stick with your current hardware and shape the frequency response according to your needs. Very deep bass, IME, needs to be accompanied by reasonably high volume to be effective, hence I suggest that you do not get hung up on the idea of reproducing the difficult bottom half-octave.

    While only you can be the judge of the effects of your condition, quiet listening invariably benefits from a considerable lift in both the LF and HF, (more the former) consistent with the equal loudness contours, but combined with the need to listen at low volume, this should be easily achievable.

    If you use a computer source running JRiver software, they have a 'late night' mode that more or less deals with this kind of thing with little messing about.
  19. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    No, no computers, sorry. Lots of vinyl and cds. Computer in the office system. Anyway, augmenting the bass on lossy boxy Harbeths would be a recipe for disaster.
  20. S-Man

    S-Man Kinkless Tetrode Admirer

    When I first built them I took them round to a friend's house to compare to his 989s. All 3 of us that we there had one of those jaw dropping moments when we put them on. They were remarkably similar in terms of frequency balance, however further listening showed up the fact that the Quads have a rather more transparent midrange. To get the CAOW1s up to Quad clarity levels you have to relieve them of their LF duties and banish the ports to hellfire and damnation.

    Have you thought about Elacs? They have always sounded decent to me. Unfortunately most small speakers come complete with the devil's arsehole and small IBs can sound a bit weak, which brings us back to NS1000s and Gale 401s - but then these like to play loud.

    I reckon ESLxx is your best bet.

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