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Speakers for Large Scale Symphonic

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Paul Dias, Apr 4, 2021.

  1. Paul Dias

    Paul Dias Member Thread Starter

    Greetings. New to the Forum and looking for advice.

    So I bought some Elac UB5's on eBay and paired them with my McIntosh MC2200 amp and McIntosh C27 Pre-Amp. There is also a Rel T5i in the mix. The UB5's are impressive with everything from Steely Dan to Beastie Boys to Cannonball Adderly to Gordon Lightfoot. However, when it comes to my most beloved genre....Late 19th century-early 20th century symphonic works, these speakers poop the bed. They simply can't get anywhere close to producing accurate tone color or the dynamics required for this music.

    I know, I know......."They're just little $500 bookshelves. What do you expect?" The choice of bookshelves was made because of the room size and configuration. It is 16' X 12' with speakers firing down the long side. Due to furniture and a protruding closet, the listening position ends up being "midfield" (about 6'-7'). Many audiophiles discourage midfield listening with floorstanders so I went with the UB5's as a preliminary taste test.

    So now I'm looking for smaller floor standers or bookshelves that will give me tone and dynamics. If it's the "right" speaker, I'm willing to spend up to $3,000, new or used. Home auditions don't seem to be in the cards right now. I've emailed several retailers and they're not responding to my inquiries or they've let me know that they don't offer in home trials.

    I'm looking at Sonus Faber, Vienna Acoustics, and Harbeth. If there's a bookshelf that will do the job, that's my preference but I can do a smaller floostander. Any thoughts?

    Tone? likes this.
  2. nwdavis1

    nwdavis1 Forum Resident

    Hi Paul,
    I’ve found myself in the same boat; confined to small rooms and small speakers. I too listen to mostly large-scale classical music.

    I believe that orchestral music really needs large speakers (and space) to deliver satisfying sound.

    Sorry, I know this really doesn’t help.......
    Paul Dias likes this.
  3. raindog69

    raindog69 Well-Known Member

    Chicago, IL
    What about Magnepan LRS? I’ve never owned them, nor heard them (something I hope to rectify soon), but if you’re looking for a spacious but small floorstander, take a look. I’m sure others here can offer more opinions about LRS’ and classical music...
    doctor fuse and Paul Dias like this.

    HIRES_FAN Well-Known Member

    I would suggest the Yamaha NS-F901 for your music requirements and the predicament you're in with room size, etc. This wonderful speaker might just save you the tail chasing you could otherwise end up with. Other choices i have in mind are a bit too big.
    Yamaha Soavo NS-F901

    Do treat your room though (if you haven't already).
    bluemooze and Paul Dias like this.
  5. In most cases, the bigger the speaker, the greater the dynamics. With this in mind, you might consider auditioning some medium-sized floorstanders to see what they actually sound like.

    Positioning will be important, but if they sound good then it’s job done.

    Also, leave the subwoofer out for that audition as it might not be required.
    Paul Dias and Khorn like this.
  6. jcn3

    jcn3 Forum Resident

    have you listened to the klipsch heresy iv (or maybe the new forte iv -- but it's $4.5k)? klipsch speakers have tremendous speed and dynamics. may not be your cup of tea, but worth checking out.

    i don't think harbeth is going to meet your needs -- they seem to shine best on smaller scale pieces.

    will look forward to hearing what you find that works for you!
    Paul Dias likes this.
  7. Paul Dias

    Paul Dias Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for the replies. Lots of good info. Based on someone's suggestion, I am auditioning the Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2EX. They have a rep for good tone and dynamics, so I'm giving it a spin. Glad that a company will let me do a trial run. As for the Magnepan suggestion, I have been really interested in the LRS, but since vintage McIntosh components are the cornerstone of my system, I've decided against the Maggies. According to some of my most trusted Mac bretheren, the Magnepans don't pair well with old Mac's.
    Stone Turntable likes this.
  8. leni

    leni Well-Known Member

    A nice Kef 104.2 (if you can find arealy good pair) will fi your problem
    bluemooze, StimpyWan and Paul Dias like this.
  9. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    Something like the Tekton Impact Monitor might work. They seem to be something between what I think of as a monitor and a small tower. The specs say they go down to 40 hz.
    Paul Dias likes this.
  10. leni

    leni Well-Known Member

    A nice Kef 104.2(i f you can find a good pair ) will fix your problem for less then 1k.
    Paul Dias likes this.
  11. noway

    noway Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    I've got two different pairs I think would work. The Dynaudio BM15 passive (which are hard to find used but the active versions are still available new) and the RCF Ayra Pro 8 active monitors which are dirt cheap. Both would be sold by pro audio stores so return policies are often pretty liberal. "Tone" is hard to quantify so best to see if something works for you and if not return it.
    Paul Dias likes this.
  12. I agree, I have two very different speaker systems. The bedroom system uses stand mounted Elac Navis ARB-51 powered speakers. These provide a very powerful presentation along with natural voice. They play large scale music with some authority.
    The main system is centred around Klipschorns and when moving from one system to the other it’s like stepping into another world. As much as I really enjoy the Elacs and spend a great deal of time with them if I seriously want to become involved then I listen to the main system. With all types of music, the bigger the presentation such as Orchestral shine and can in some respects transport you into the venue.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
  13. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    YMMV, and all that, but for some years my main system had old Magnepans driven by a Mac 2100, and I was very happy with the combination; might still be with it had family-related need for floor space not sent me off in a different direction. Magnepan at least used to have an in-home trial program for the MMGs. Might be worth checking out if you can make the space work.
    Paul Dias likes this.
  14. Paul Dias

    Paul Dias Member Thread Starter

    I want the bigger scale of towers but am concerned the room can't handle it. There are limitations here as it's a studio cottage, which means my listening room is my bedroom and living room. Due to the limitations of my 16'x12' space such as furniture, my listening spot can be at the most, 7-8 feet from the speakers, and mind you, with me sitting on a futon against the wall. It seems that this short of a distance wouldn't really give towers enough space to really open up and shine.
    Khorn likes this.
  15. Paul Dias

    Paul Dias Member Thread Starter

    You know, I so wanted to pair Maggies with my Mac. I had read from Mac people like yourself that they loved their Mac/Magnepan pairing, but then others highly discouraged it. I finally emailed Mike at Audio Classics which sells Mac and Magnepan and he highly discouraged it, something about the autoformer. After that, I just gave up on the idea.
  16. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine I'm All Ears

    Free Speech Land
    I sold Vienna and Sonus Faber.
    Very clear sounding but not comfortable with that Euro-sound.
    So I shopped at a competing dealer and paid full retail for a pair of Harbeths!

    I run them for large symphonic playback with four subs, two per channel.
    I was also a Kef dealer and took in lots of trades of 105s, whose sound was appealing to my ear.
    Not the tightest sounding design but very satisfying.
    Being time aligned they will provide an astonishing soundfield for symphonic stuff if you take the time to place them just so (use the Sumiko System of speaker placement with these).

    At the right price used I'd either get Harbeth mid sized or those 105s.
    It's hard to find a great pair of medium size (Monitor 30/Shl5s) Harbeths at your under 3 grand price point.
    But 105s are under appreciated IMHO and should meet your price.
    With your Rel sub and either, you might be right where you want to be.
    Glmoneydawg, bluemooze and Paul Dias like this.
  17. Unless, perhaps, they’re Audio Note speakers or something of a similar ilk.....
    Paul Dias likes this.
  18. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    A single 8" cone is NOT the path to success for "Large Scale Symphonic"! Google "Physics" ha ha. Or more seriously "Hofmann's Iron Law." I'd be wanting at least a 12" cone and 400+ watts, or a pair of that, to do big classical. Then your UB5s might be OK. Or not, since a 5" is also not too big for midbass reproduction at high levels. If you like their basic sound maybe get the center channel version and turn it vertical.
    - OH! Also I am betting you do not have any highpass filter cutting the bass out of the satellites? (Especially since REL recommends high level connection, which I disagree with). That would mean those little 5" are trying to slam out big kettle drums...FAIL. Whatever bookshelf speakers or even small towers you get, you really must insert a highpass filter, like this maybe https://smile.amazon.com/rolls-Tiny-2-Way-Crossover-SX21/dp/B00102VW6S (I think there is a subwoofer version) or this passive thing Parametric Crossovers or SOMETHING. Have mercy on those satellites!!
  19. mtrot

    mtrot Forum Resident

    Tyler, TX
    I don't think you'll get the dynamics you're looking for out of the LRS. Consider the Dali Oberon 7 for your purposes. I heard these at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and my group and I were blown away by the bass they get out of these. And the mids and highs were great as well. I like the way Dali gives you TWO 7 inch woofers on these small towers. For the size and the price, I think they might be up your alley. And they are gorgeous to look at as well, imo. For $1,500, it's hard to do much better.


    Being listed on Amazon, I assume you would be able to return them as well, in case you just didn't like them. But you would want to confirm that.

    Here is the setup they had at RMAF.
    [​IMG]DSC_0036 by MDTshots, on Flickr
    bluemooze and Paul Dias like this.
  20. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur All is Good

    You might want to look at Vandersteen 2Ce's
    Paired with your sub they might get you close to your desires.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
  21. mtrot

    mtrot Forum Resident

    Tyler, TX
    Or, you could look at something like these Dynaudio Excite X-38 from TMR Audio for $1,959. They have a few blemishes, but look pretty good from a listening distance, and you could touch up the blemishes a bit. With these, you're getting a set of speakers with an original MSRP of $4,500.

    Dynaudio Excite X38 Floorstanding Speakers; X-38; Walnut Pair
    I have the larger Excite X-44 and they will definitely crank out a symphony, and the X-38 are not that much smaller. They will hit you in the chest with big bass crescendos if you drive them with a stout amp. And you get a dedicated mid range driver. Dynaudio rates the X-38 down to 34Hz:

    Exite X38 - Floorstanding speaker with twin 18cm woofer - Dynaudio
    Paul Dias and woodpigeon like this.
  22. Daddy Dom

    Daddy Dom Lodger

    New Zealand
    Small, beautiful and sublime-sounding describes the Tannoy Autograph Mini. With a sub, these could be worth investigating for those "1812" moments.
    Tannoys (big ones, mainly) and QUAD ESLs were the go-to for mid-century European audiophiles with a classical diet. I recently heard the Minis and they were superbly detailed but I couldn't speak for dynamics.

    Also the company started by ex-Tannoy staff, Fyne Audio might have something that fits your bill/s.
    Paul Dias likes this.
  23. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    We had a family friend back in the day who lived in the same subdivision as we did in the same floorplan house. These were little houses built in SoCal after WWII and were 2-3 bedrooms and probably no bigger than 1200 sq. ft. This fellow was serious about his classical music and had a pair of Klipschorns in a maybe 10x12 bedroom along with whatever else higher end gear he had. Listening to classical on his system was quite the experience. Me? I like smaller speakers.
    Paul Dias, Glmoneydawg and Khorn like this.
  24. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Ontario Canada
    Horses for courses my friend:)
  25. AP1

    AP1 Forum Resident

    Based on my personal experience B&W 802 will work at 7 feet. Get D, D2 or D3 depending on how much money you can allocate. Will likely need more powerful amplifier too.
    Paul Dias likes this.

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