Standmount Speakers suitable for SET 300B / 2A3

Wharfedale EVO 4.1 4.2 Speakers

Beast_of_burden

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I have had to dismantle my setup and move to an open study area, using floorststanders in this space is quite inconvenient. I am looking for bookshelf speakers for near field listening(6-8 feet) that have a combination of high impedance and high sensitivity. A minimum of 5 ohms impedance preferably, but if it dips below 4 ohms it shouldn’t be in the bass frequencies . Sensitivity higher than 87 DB 1w/1m, even 85 DB might be ok since this is meant for near field listening only. Since I want to place them on a desk, I would like them to be on the smaller side, woofer no bigger than 6.5 inches.

Single driver frange speakers are ruled out as are floor standers. I have considered the following speakers:
Quad S2
Tannoy DC6 SE
Spendor classic 3/5 (used)
Revel M16
Revel M106
Fyne F500
Klipsch RP600M

Measurements are one thing, but real world experience would be far more useful. Harbeth P3ESR is way out of budget. Revel M106 is expensive. See how the list narrows, I am willing to go up to 1 L if the pedigree is right. A used Spendor 3/5 is my number 1 choice but unobtanium.

Dear fellow HFV members, please pitch in with your experience to help make a decision.
 

Analogous

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I have had to dismantle my setup and move to an open study area, using floorststanders in this space is quite inconvenient. I am looking for bookshelf speakers for near field listening(6-8 feet) that have a combination of high impedance and high sensitivity. A minimum of 5 ohms impedance preferably, but if it dips below 4 ohms it shouldn’t be in the bass frequencies . Sensitivity higher than 87 DB 1w/1m, even 85 DB might be ok since this is meant for near field listening only. Since I want to place them on a desk, I would like them to be on the smaller side, woofer no bigger than 6.5 inches.

Single driver frange speakers are ruled out as are floor standers. I have considered the following speakers:
Quad S2
Tannoy DC6 SE
Spendor classic 3/5 (used)
Revel M16
Revel M106
Fyne F500
Klipsch RP600M

Measurements are one thing, but real world experience would be far more useful. Harbeth P3ESR is way out of budget. Revel M106 is expensive. See how the list narrows, I am willing to go up to 1 L if the pedigree is right. A used Spendor 3/5 is my number 1 choice but unobtanium.

Dear fellow HFV members, please pitch in with your experience to help make a decision.
The new KEF LS50 Meta has some good reviews. Availability is a different issue.
ProAcs sound very nice too, but may not meet your sensitivity requirements.
 

Naturelover

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Both the amps you have there are low wattage amps and need very high sensitivity speakers.
Not sure if any of the shortlisted speakers will work.
 

Yelamanchili manohar

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I have had to dismantle my setup and move to an open study area, using floorststanders in this space is quite inconvenient. I am looking for bookshelf speakers for near field listening(6-8 feet) that have a combination of high impedance and high sensitivity. A minimum of 5 ohms impedance preferably, but if it dips below 4 ohms it shouldn’t be in the bass frequencies . Sensitivity higher than 87 DB 1w/1m, even 85 DB might be ok since this is meant for near field listening only. Since I want to place them on a desk, I would like them to be on the smaller side, woofer no bigger than 6.5 inches.

Single driver frange speakers are ruled out as are floor standers. I have considered the following speakers:
Quad S2
Tannoy DC6 SE
Spendor classic 3/5 (used)
Revel M16
Revel M106
Fyne F500
Klipsch RP600M

Measurements are one thing, but real world experience would be far more useful. Harbeth P3ESR is way out of budget. Revel M106 is expensive. See how the list narrows, I am willing to go up to 1 L if the pedigree is right. A used Spendor 3/5 is my number 1 choice but unobtanium.

Dear fellow HFV members, please pitch in with your experience to help make a decision.
+1 to what @Naturelover said

For 300B or 2A3 that can max output 8W, you need to start looking at efficiency atleast starting at 92 db as a minimum. Though starting at 95 db will be safer. You can Google " bookshelf speakers for SET amps" and check out your available choices :)
 

powerslave

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For that budget either used Audio Note AN-Js could be an option or speak to Dr. Viren Bakshi of Lyrita Audio. Vintage speakers could be an option however I don't recommend that path as not many have an appetite for it.
 

srinisundar

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My preference is to build a bookshelf speaker with Philips / Saba/ Siemens / Isophon driver and add an subwoofer which can be cut-off from 30hz and you are done with the setup. No need of any upgrade later. All the above will go well with 2A3 or 300B amps.

All the modern speakers are prone for future upgrade. I don't think so including me kept these modern speakers for long time.

Just a pair of boston ( philips ) 8" will do wonders than any of the above speakers you have mentioned..

If it is out of topic and not keen of DIY, kindly ignore the above.
 

pks.k

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For that budget either used Audio Note AN-Js could be an option
Is there any possibility to get used AN-J s on that budget sir.? I don't think so. Currect me if I'm wrong…

^ Thanks for correcting me I meant AN-Ks. I have AX-2s ; when I bought them a couple of years back AN-Ks Level1 could be had ~2 lakhs so used ones can easily come under 1 lakh.

Another option is Rethm Aarka but it's an active speaker with a hybrid amp it retails at around ~1.5 lakhs. I am mentioning it for its far more low footprint and cleaner setup for desktop . Obviously if OP loves those 300Bs and it's a must-have to drive speakers using those then Rethms are ruled out.
 

arj

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3 manufacturers who I know make SET friendly bookshelves are Omega, Reference3a and Merlin..

Don't think any of these are available in india but for the price omegas entry level might just meet your need.


Custom made lowther is another option
 

Analogous

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3 manufacturers who I know make SET friendly bookshelves are Omega, Reference3a and Merlin..

Don't think any of these are available in india but for the price omegas entry level might just meet your need.


Custom made lowther is another option
Indiq audio Achal has a sensitivity rated at 96db/1metre. Would this not serve the purpose?
Several FM have attested to the very nice SQ too.
 

Beast_of_burden

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+1 to what @Naturelover said

For 300B or 2A3 that can max output 8W, you need to start looking at efficiency atleast starting at 92 db as a minimum. Though starting at 95 db will be safer. You can Google " bookshelf speakers for SET amps" and check out your available choices :)
Is the efficiency the only parameter? My Klipsch RF3 s have efficiency to spare. In a bookshelf high efficiency is difficult to achieve, I have been studying impedance curves and phase angles as well. My 300B amps are quite comfortable driving B&W 603 S2 three ways and these speakers are only 89 db efficient. However as noted in the Stereophile review, the 603 dips below 4 ohms at a high 15 kHz and John Atkinson concluded it's a very speaker to drive as a result. I am not seeking high spl, nearly always nearfield listening. A speaker with a benign impedance load with average efficiency is probably as good as it gets.
Is there any possibility to get used AN-J s on that budget sir.? I don't think so. Currect me if I'm wrong…

^ Thanks for correcting me I meant AN-Ks. I have AX-2s ; when I bought them a couple of years back AN-Ks Level1 could be had ~2 lakhs so used ones can easily come under 1 lakh.

Another option is Rethm Aarka but it's an active speaker with a hybrid amp it retails at around ~1.5 lakhs. I am mentioning it for its far more low footprint and cleaner setup for desktop . Obviously if OP loves those 300Bs and it's a must-have to drive speakers using those then Rethms are ruled out.
The AN K and AN J are tube friendly for sure.
Indiq audio Achal has a sensitivity rated at 96db/1metre. Would this not serve the purpose?
Several FM have attested to the very nice SQ too.
Interesting, I need to look into Indiq.
3 manufacturers who I know make SET friendly bookshelves are Omega, Reference3a and Merlin..

Don't think any of these are available in india but for the price omegas entry level might just meet your need.


Custom made lowther is another option
I have owned fostex and Lowther single drivers, they can sound absolutely brilliant in front horns. In BLH and reflex, the vivid presentation is too much of a good thing. I have since reverted to more mainstream speaker designs that aim for a little balance in the presentation.
My preference is to build a bookshelf speaker with Philips / Saba/ Siemens / Isophon driver and add an subwoofer which can be cut-off from 30hz and you are done with the setup. No need of any upgrade later. All the above will go well with 2A3 or 300B amps.

All the modern speakers are prone for future upgrade. I don't think so including me kept these modern speakers for long time.

Just a pair of boston ( philips ) 8" will do wonders than any of the above speakers you have mentioned..

If it is out of topic and not keen of DIY, kindly ignore the above.
DIY is hard work, I have nothing but admiration for fellow enthusiasts who are willing to take this approach.

I have been studying impedance measurements of various speakers and one speaker caught my attention - RBH MC-6C, it measured 8 ohms minimum but the companys own literature mentions 6 ohms. Audioholics emphasizes the ease of driving this speaker.

The Dynaudio X14 also never dips below 5 ohm but the reviews tend to be quite unethusiastic. I am in no hurry to pull the trigger, the 603s are doing just fine. But I will snap up a spendor 3/5 if it comes up for sale.
 

Yelamanchili manohar

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Is the efficiency the only parameter? My Klipsch RF3 s have efficiency to spare. In a bookshelf high efficiency is difficult to achieve, I have been studying impedance curves and phase angles as well. My 300B amps are quite comfortable driving B&W 603 S2 three ways and these speakers are only 89 db efficient. However as noted in the Stereophile review, the 603 dips below 4 ohms at a high 15 kHz and John Atkinson concluded it's a very speaker to drive as a result. I am not seeking high spl, nearly always nearfield listening. A speaker with a benign impedance load with average efficiency is probably as good as it gets.

The AN K and AN J are tube friendly for sure.

Interesting, I need to look into Indiq.

I have owned fostex and Lowther single drivers, they can sound absolutely brilliant in front horns. In BLH and reflex, the vivid presentation is too much of a good thing. I have since reverted to more mainstream speaker designs that aim for a little balance in the presentation.

DIY is hard work, I have nothing but admiration for fellow enthusiasts who are willing to take this approach.

I have been studying impedance measurements of various speakers and one speaker caught my attention - RBH MC-6C, it measured 8 ohms minimum but the companys own literature mentions 6 ohms. Audioholics emphasizes the ease of driving this speaker.

The Dynaudio X14 also never dips below 5 ohm but the reviews tend to be quite unethusiastic. I am in no hurry to pull the trigger, the 603s are doing just fine. But I will snap up a spendor 3/5 if it comes up for sale.
You do have a point there that I won't contest ;D

My own massive 3 way floor standers, were designed by a forum member around a 8W 300B amp. And that is with 15 kgs external crossovers per speaker. So Iam not saying it can't be done.

Iam in the high efficiency camp, so that design was for my exact taste. So you have to experiment with what you can, in ways of auditions, before you take a call :)
 

Naturelover

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Beast_of_burden

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If you are interested in Audio Nirvana 8" full rangers then PM me as they should be around 96-97db sensitivity.

Thanks
Full rangers, been there and done that. I prefer the balance of a good two way standmount.
Saw the ad, I am leaning towards two way standmounts like the Quad S2, Tannoy DC6, spendor classic 3/5, Klipsch RB51 or RB81.

I will most likely go for the Quad S2, but not finalized yet.

John Atkinson had this to say.

My estimate of the Quad's sensitivity was 86.9dB(B)/2.83V/m, confirming the specified figure of 87dB. Fig.1 shows how the impedance and electrical phase vary with frequency. Though the impedance has a minimum value of 4.17 ohms at 190Hz and there's a combination of 5.8 ohms and –37° phase angle at 117Hz, the S-2 is a relatively easy load for amplifiers to drive.
118Quad2fig1.jpg
The impedance curve and phase angle are apparently benign, but in the review itself Ken Mocallef says the Haut Brion was stressed driving the S2s.

The Tannoy DC6SE measurements arent know but the Revolution XT 6's are. Here is John Atkinson of Stereophile again.

Tannoy specifies the Revolution XT 6's sensitivity as "89dB," which I assume is for 1W at 1m. My estimate was 88.8dB(B)/2.83V/m, which is both within the margin of error and a little higher than average. Props to Tannoy for an honest sensitivity specification.

Although the Revolution XT 6's nominal impedance is specified as 8 ohms, the magnitude (fig.1, solid trace) is greater than 8 ohms throughout the treble. The impedance magnitude drops below 8 ohms in the midrange, with a minimum value of 5 ohms between 185Hz and 230Hz. The electrical phase angle (dashed trace) is generally benign, as when it has a high value, the magnitude is also high, reducing the speaker's demand for current from the partnering amplifier. The shape of the magnitude trace in this graph, with a value of 12 ohms and above in the treble but averaging 7 ohms in the midrange, suggests that the XT 6's treble will be exaggerated with tube amplifiers that have high output impedances.

620Tan6fig1.jpg

My tube amps have only 8 ohm taps, I don't know if my 300B amps have a high output impedance. The XT6 does have rising impedance with rising frequency very similar to a full ranger like a Fostex or Lowther, this might lead to excessive presence region. But the impedance plot is not as steep as a full ranger.
 

Beast_of_burden

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I checked in with Avstore it's not a bad deal but I had already bought a Focal Aria 906 so decided to try a different flavor. Meanwhile a Quad S2 came up for sale in Bangalore and I bought it too. For the price of the Spendor I got two sets of well regarded bookshelf speakers now! Right now enjoying the Quads, haven't received the Arias yet.

Paul McGowan of PS Audio weighs in on speaker sensitivity:
and
There is no free lunch that is why I have long since ignored the sensitivity rating. I have spent some time with Fostex and Lowther drivers, but no one in their right mind would claim these have a flat frequency response. But some speakers are too difficult to drive, these need to be avoided even with a solid state amplifier. The best balance appears to be 89ish sensitivity with a benign impedance curve and phase angles that don't go south of -45 degrees. Extremely high impedances in the treble is also not good. In my view, Low sensitivity has some correlation with a speakers' bass performance. The designer likely threw away sensitivity in the treble to bring the bass and treble into balance. The Dynaudio X14 has extremely low sensitivity but a benign load, however I have been dissuaded as folks on this forum do not think highly of it.

John Atkinson knows a thing or two about this, I look for his opinion on how difficult a load the speaker will present the amplifer.
 

Beast_of_burden

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The Focal Aria 906s arrived today and installed them where the Quads were, immediately the bass was a bit too much. Pulled them out 3 inches more and the bass cleaned. But I am feeling they could use a couple more inches of breathing room. The Quad S2 are best placed within a foot of the wall measured from the rear of the speaker. These Arias need to be a little futher out at about 15 inches from the wall or even a bit more around 18 inches to avoid bass boom. They are seated on top of ISO200 monitor stands.

Some initial impressions on the 906s. Amp is a NAD 325BEE, no it's not the bee's knees but it's refined and is extended at both extremes without any glaring faults. It greatest quality I feel is that it feels quick, the amp plays with a certain snap reminiscent of vinyl.

The speakers are very refined, no particular frequency calls attention to itself except the bass to a small degree. The treble is actually quite laid back.

I am listening to Eric Clapton's EC was here and the speaker has the resolution to spotlight the individual guitarists while separating the bass line. The female backing vocalist is distinct from Clapton's voice.

The bass is very prominent and sounds pretty convincing. Both the Quad S2 and these Aria 906s can do bass! Both have metal tweeters that sound refined! Both need quality amplification however to sound sweet.

The 906s arent overly sensitive at 87db but in the nearfield, the NAD is barely above zero in the volume potentiometer. They have pretty good bass at low volumes. The 906s have a minimum impedance of 4.5 ohms at 200hz. The phase angle at this frequency os 0 degrees, this phase angle combined with the minimum impedance of 4.5 ohms is relatively benign I guess. Folks who understand this, kindly weigh in.

The measurements are here:

impedance.gif

electrical_phase.gif

I am amazed how good these 906s sound in the nearfield. Center image is really well defined when you sit at the apex of the equilateral triangle.

My original quest was however to figure out if these speakers will play nice with a low power SET amplifier in the nearfield. The latter is confirmed but the former is yet to be determined. I will be installing my tube amps in the next day or two and see how it goes.

The Aria 906 is a luxury product through and through, glass on top and faux leather on the baffle and rear. Muted colour palette in the piano Black with the flax woofer cone. Nice to look at.
 

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Today, I received the 5U4G rectifier and setup the JE Labs 2A3. Since, this bookshelf doesn't have as much sensitivity as the Klipsch RF3, the 50Hz hum is not quite so prominent. The Aria 906 doesn't have as much extension either, so the hum at 50Hz is less of an issue with these speakers. But I need to get that fixed sooner than later.

I haven't listened loudly yet, basically at really low volume. While the bass is present, it isn't quite so prominent. These focals have a light touch with the bass and don't have a bump in the FR, I suspect these will benefit from using a subwoofer. As expected these speakers sound really clear and transparent. But they also seem to be finicky about placement. I am planning to get them 6 feet apart and about two feet from the wall. Appears to me the 906s arent as easy going as I have come to expect from Brit monitors. Sort of mirrors my experience travelling Air France vs. British Airways. This is turning out to be quite the contrast.

Next up I will try the Quad S2s in the current position and see how that goes. At the moment I have a distinct preference for the S2s. The bass on the S2s makes quite the impression. These S2s appear to be better suited to my current use case.
 

Beast_of_burden

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Time for an update, I have been persisting with Focal Aria 906s. I found that they are soundstage champs, however if you give them too much space the voices get pushed way back in the stage. The soundstage will expand and contract depending on the recording. I like my voices to be spotlit between the speakers, even a little forward of the speakers. These focals need to be atleast 5 feet apart and about a foot from the wall to come into balance. 24 inch stands are a must, two inches higher and it feels wrong. At the lower height, voices come nicely into prominence. These can convey the danger in Lucinda Williams voice in Fruits of my labour. The midrange is perhaps the most outstanding quality of these speakers. These speakers are very reticient with treble such as cymbals, as a result they sound very refined but definitely lack some excitement.These speakers are reticient in the deep bass as well, when I added a REL T7, the presentation went from good to great. I am wondering if it is voiced like this to tame hot treble from modern SS and class D. Again, perhaps designed for an amp with more control in the bass.

Very quick and excellent timing, these can rock. You will find your tapping your toes frequently. All of the above with the NAD C325BEE. This combo is excellent and I want to listen no matter what is playing.

Now with the 300B Franks, at reasonable volume but still in the nearfield there is enough juice to comfortably drive these speakers even on bass heavy material. Voices are a bit more prominent and better fleshed out, it sounds a smidge more organic. A bit more holography in the voices. The NAD's calling card is it's organic sound, in my opinion it's not shamed at all in this respect. But the potential with a better preamp and better source is evident. Surprisingly, I didn't miss the deep bass with the 300B amps.

I am still trying to wrap my head around a few things these speakers do. I am guessing these things are broken in by now.

Pros
Refined to a fault
Imaging champs, very airy eventhough treble is rolled off(weird)
Timing
Bass is plentiful
Can scale and fill a large room effortlessly, can sound really big

Cons
Very picky with placement
Treble is recessed, miss the cymbals
Tonally lightweight
Not revealing but resolution to spare(weird)

The impression is one of a fleet footed performer. Once the placement is figured out, the refinement wins over. Over time, you will realize it's a carefully voiced speaker. The designers have slaved to iron out all traces of coarseness, and you are left marvelling at how good it sounds with practically any music you choose to play. They don't lose their poise at higher volumes either.

Now for some fun with the Quad S2s.
 
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