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Small Speakers for Small Rooms

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I just noticed that I’ve recently not been posting a lot to my blog. This has been primarily for work reasons. I have a busy main job in the IT industry. I’m sure some of you can relate to that :)

Couple of months ago, I felt the desire to own a speaker rig. Don’t get me wrong – I really love and prefer headphones for undisturbed listening. But sometimes you really want to “feel” your music and the vibration of instruments. As a fan of electrostatic transducers, I pretty much decided on a pair of Martin Logan speakers. Given the current retail prices, I looked for a used pair because I saw no way how I could come up with a few thousand Euros for what I would consider a secondary system. Bargain hunting led me to a pair of Martin Logan reQuest speakers which is in excellent condition despite its almost 20 year panels. I power those by a DIY Hypex nCore Class-D stereo amplifier and the sound quality amazes me every time. The reQuest is a hybrid construction like the current models but unlike the newer Logans, the bass woofer is not actively powered so double work for my amplifier to handle the massive impedance swings. Nevertheless I’m more than satisfied with the results.

You can see a picture and a description of my setup at the Martin Logan Owners forum:

After careful positioning of the speakers, I learned a couple of important lessons that reminded me why I came to headphones in the first place.

First, my living room is way too small for larger loudspeakers thanks to the joys of living in a major city where space is at a premium.

Second, getting the right matching speaker for your listening room acoustics is key.

Most audiophile speaker manufacturers including B&W, KEF or even Martin Logan offer slightly smaller bookshelf speakers that offer similar performance to their reference lines. Their smaller siblings won’t go as loud and won’t fill an entire concert hall. But those are made for ordinary living rooms and I experienced first hand that a properly positioned B&W 805 or even the 686 perform way better in a small space than the B&W 800. This holds true for the KEF LS50 (advertisement) as well which is a fantastic bookshelf speaker and has technology trickled down from the KEF Blade

To sum it up, getting a small bookshelf speaker can get you the same level of performance as the reference models (except sound pressure of course) if you live in constrained spaced. On top of that, you save huge amounts of money because smaller speakers usually require less amplification power, too.

Since I live nowhere near a good hifi dealer, I prefer those products that can be bought on Amazon or other online retailers. Reason is I get full warranty and can return the product if it doesn’t meet my needs. Most brick and mortar businesses in my region won’t allow you to return the stuff hassle-free which I don’t like.

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  • PETER JASZ October 29, 2017, 13:03

    “Most audiophile speaker manufacturers including B&W, KEF or even Martin Logan offer slightly smaller bookshelf speakers that offer similar performance to their reference lines”.

    If that’s true, it’s not saying much about some of those manufacturer’s “Reference Series”. It also tells me you either haven’t experienced (or cannot appreciate) the absolutely brilliant KEF Reference-1’s; not only is it in another universe (than KEF’s lesser models) but puts many similarly-priced competitor’s to shame. It IS, that impressive !

    peter jasz