Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders

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pinkfloyd4ever

Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders
« on: 13 Oct 2020, 01:34 am »
Hi all. I’m looking to upgrade my speakers. Right now I have the super budget kings (IMO) Sony Core Series SS-CS3 floorstanders. But, as good as they are for the sale price I picked them up at ($200 for the pair!), I’m still pretty sure they’re the weak link in my system.

I have a medium-smallish room (roughly 25’x12’ with 8ft ceilings) that’s a combination front entry/ living room/ dining room.  But the speakers are centered maybe 1/3 of the way down the long side of the room. Here's a drawing for a better idea.


My current amp is this DIY MyRef Rev C (LM3886/LM316 based amp) : https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/chip-amps/54571-audiophile-lm3886-approach.html I really don’t know its output power specs because I don’t have the equipment to test it, but it drives my current speakers (6ohm, 88dB/W) well enough that I never go above 50% on the volume knob, and that’s with my preamp’s 20dB cut turned on.

BUT...I have a Fisher 500c (25-30 wpc) restoration coming up in the DIY project que. And I’m also strongly considering building a lowish wattage DIY Class A amp (Pass DIY Aleph J @ 25 wpc, Alpha Nirvana @ 40 WPC, or ABBB @ 50wpc) after the Fisher is restored.

So, with all that said I need some great-sounding speakers that meet all these criteria:
1.   Small floor standers. My “listening room” also happens to be our highly-trafficked living room, where the speakers are frequently moved around, we play with our crazy dog, and where my wife does yoga. Therefore, monitors on stands are out of the question unfortunately.
2.   Easy to place and work well in less-than-ideal spaces
3.   Relatively high efficiency (preferably 90 dB/W+, although I’d probably be fine with something as low as maybe 87-88, as I don’t really do much if any listening at loud volumes)
4.   Has the potential to sound great with as little as 25wpc (Fisher 500c tube receiver and Pass DIY class A amp), as well as my current DIY IC-based amp.
5.   Available for about $800 or less (including shipping, if necessary). I am definitely open to used, refurbished, or open box options.
6.   Sound good at low volumes (with appropriate loudness/ tone controls applied), since I find myself listening at low volumes more and more often lately.
7.   Non-fatiguing; easy to listen to for hours. But also fun and engaging to listen to without being overly colored; not dry or clinical/sterile.
8.   Preferably front-ported, since I’ll have to have the speakers (rear baffle) within 12-18 inches of the front wall (depending on the depth of the speaker).

I think my biggest problem is that, beyond what I’ve said above, I’ve heard so few of the speakers in my price range that I’m not entirely sure what type of sound I like.

Of course specs only tell you so much, and really don’t tell you how a speaker sounds. So I’ve googled ad nauseam for more detailed, subjective reviews. If everything on my list was within budget as new, I’d buy the top 2 or 3 contenders and do an in-home audition. But unfortunately, that’s not the case, as I need to go with used models to fit 2 or 3 of my 5 contenders into my budget. With that, my top contenders so far are: (in order)

1.   Tekton Lore Reference: $775 new, and looks to meet all my other requirements from everything I’ve read. Reviewers for more experienced than I say it’s easy to listen to for hours, addictive realistic sound makes it hard not to do just that. Just slightly on the warm side of neutral. Excellent sound for the money from what I’ve read. Not the world’s prettiest speaker, but I’m ok with that. The footprint is slightly bigger than I’d prefer, but they’ll work. If I got lucky enough to find a good used pair of these (not in some weird color) that was close enough to St. Louis drive to and pick up in a day, I’d jump all over them and call it a day.

2.   GoldenEar Triton 7 (used): So many glowing professional reviews on GoldenEar speakers, but I rarely see people on forums mention them. I wonder why? Are they truly as good as all the pro review say? I would think so because a bunch of different reviewers I trust have praised them. I would definitely need to find a used pair to fit them in my budget, and even then, I’m not sure I could find Triton 3s within my budget. So really I’m just looking for used Triton 7s.

3.   Kef Q550: Seems to meet my unquantifiable preferences and meets most of my spec requirements. Out of my budget at regular price, but they went on sale for $840 this spring, so I expect they will again for Black Friday/ Christmas. A used pair would probably be within budget as well, if I can actually find someone selling a pair.  The smallest footprint of all the speakers on this list, which is a big draw, particularly for WAF. I really like the way they look, probably my favorite on the list in that respect. Steve Guttenberg really liked them and the bookshelves in the same series are widely well-reviewed (Q350 is Stereophile class C recommended). Negatives are that the Q550s are a little bit lower efficiency than I’d prefer at only 87 dB/w, and their lower -3dB point is all the way up at 58Hz. I’m no basshead, but I don’t want to feel a need for a subwoofer either. But again, specs are just specs, and IMO not a good indication of whether or not I’ll like a speaker.

4.   Q Acoustics 3050i: I’ve seen them on sale for $715 a couple times now. Lots of glowing reviews. Reviews say they’re musical, warm, smooth, clean clear, and punchy. Awesome with vocals, sweet treble. Highs never hard or bright. Easy to listen to for hours. Somewhat concerned with the depth of the cabinet and the rear port, although they do include foam port plugs. Not the ultimate in transparency or soundstage depth though.

5.   Vandersteen 1C/1Ci (used): Looks like the 1Ci can be had used for around $750-800, maybe $4-500 for the 1C. Only a couple reviews on these that I could find, but I know people rave about the 2 series. But I’m not as sure how well they’ll do with only 25 wpc or about their ability to work in my very non-ideal room as I am with the other speakers in this list. For some reason it seems like I see used 2Ces for less than 1Cis go for. Unfortunately I don’t have the room or amp power for anything in the Vandersteen 2 series though. 

So what do you all think?


« Last Edit: 14 Oct 2020, 03:23 pm by pinkfloyd4ever »

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #1 on: 13 Oct 2020, 02:10 am »
Look at the Monitor Audio Bronze 6.  90db sensitivity.  Front ported.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_893BZ6B/Monitor-Audio-Bronze-6-Black-Oak-Vinyl.html?cc=07&tp=185

Wharfedale 11.3's.  The port is on the underside very bottom of the speaker facing the floor so you can get by with placing them a little closer to the wall.  90db sensitivity.

https://www.hifichoice.com/content/wharfedale-diamond-113

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_336D113WN/Wharfedale-Diamond-11-3-Walnut.html?tp=185

morganc

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #2 on: 13 Oct 2020, 02:37 am »
I've owned the Lore Reference but I believe I preferred the regular Lore which comes up used in your range.   Having said that both were quite good. 
I'd add Zu Omen Dirty weekend.   I've heard they are killer from reliable sources and you can potentially find them used at your price point if you're patient.

JLM

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Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #3 on: 13 Oct 2020, 11:29 am »
Nice sketch, but crummy room dimensions for bass peaks/dips. 

I'd avoid the Vandersteen loudspeakers.  The full length cloth covering could be destroyed by your "crazy" dog.

Heard Zu at an audio show, I know a terrible place to audition, but they didn't do anything for me.

Tekton is probably your best option, but haven't heard them.  I like their single tweeter designs best (Lore, Mini Lore) which are both currently discounted and within your budget.  And laminate finish would be ideal around your dog and active wife. 

What's that shown between the speaker?  Have found removing any furniture between speakers will reveal more of the soundstage. 


Ice10

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Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #4 on: 13 Oct 2020, 01:19 pm »
I’ve owned the Lore S’s and heard the regular Lores multiple times.  If I was looking for a speaker in your situation I’d probably look at the M lores, but that’s just me.  As mentioned they are boxy and not super eye appealing (in standard finishes)  but the Lores that I’ve owned/heard were quite nice.  You may want to consider getting a pair with grills as in my experience bare drivers attract a lot of unwanted attention and I think look better when the speakers need to play the role of furniture.

pinkfloyd4ever

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #5 on: 13 Oct 2020, 03:47 pm »
Look at the Monitor Audio Bronze 6.  90db sensitivity.  Front ported.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_893BZ6B/Monitor-Audio-Bronze-6-Black-Oak-Vinyl.html?cc=07&tp=185

Wharfedale 11.3's.  The port is on the underside very bottom of the speaker facing the floor so you can get by with placing them a little closer to the wall.  90db sensitivity.

https://www.hifichoice.com/content/wharfedale-diamond-113

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_336D113WN/Wharfedale-Diamond-11-3-Walnut.html?tp=185

Thanks, I appreciate your input and don't mean to be snide, but I'm looking for help narrowing down my list, not so much for more options to consider.

I did consider the Monitor Audios and the Wharfedales earlier, but have since ruled them out. Monitor Audio recommends 60-150 watts per channel for the Bronze . I also tend to get listening fatugue fairly easily, and I've read more than once that Monitors can be bright and fatiguing. I read that the Wharfedales can get boomy when placed closer than 3ft to the wall, despite their bottom port.

Others I considered but ruled out were:
JBL Stage A170 (rear ported, need to be 20-30" from wall for best bass, also have little/no finesse according to Steve Guttenberg), Elac Debut F5.2 (6ohm, 86 dB, rear ported), PSB Alpha T20 (needs to be 3 ft from wall to avoid boomy bass), Focal Chorus 716 (mfgr recommends 40-200 WPC amp, also has a reputation for being bright/fatiguing), Klipsch RP-5000f (rear ported, cabinets too deep for the room I have, more likely to be too bright/fatiguing than other options), Zu Omen DW Used (footprint is a bit big for my space, also seem to go for $800+ used, not including shipping, which these days is probably $150-200 for a pair of speakers that size)

I've owned the Lore Reference but I believe I preferred the regular Lore which comes up used in your range.   Having said that both were quite good. 
I'd add Zu Omen Dirty weekend.   I've heard they are killer from reliable sources and you can potentially find them used at your price point if you're patient.
I've seen several pairs of the Omen DWs come up for sale on the used market in the last few months, but when you factor in shipping charges they seem to be going for almost what they go for new. I'm also still unsure that I have the space for them as fat as they are at 12"x12". I know, the Lore Rererences are only a couple inches smaller, but it's a tight space, and the footprint of the Lore Refs are already pushing the size limits for me. Maybe I'll take a closer look if I see a used pair for sale locally.

Nice sketch, but crummy room dimensions for bass peaks/dips. 

I'd avoid the Vandersteen loudspeakers.  The full length cloth covering could be destroyed by your "crazy" dog.

Heard Zu at an audio show, I know a terrible place to audition, but they didn't do anything for me.

Tekton is probably your best option, but haven't heard them.  I like their single tweeter designs best (Lore, Mini Lore) which are both currently discounted and within your budget.  And laminate finish would be ideal around your dog and active wife. 

What's that shown between the speaker?  Have found removing any furniture between speakers will reveal more of the soundstage.
Yeah, I now, it's far from an ideal space.

I mean my dog doesn't tear up furniture or anything. I just mentioned him because he often runs around playing in the living room, and I wouldn't want him to knock a pair of monitors off their stands, for the sake of him, the speakers, or the hardwood floors haha. He's only 20lbs and usually stays away from the wall the speakers are on are when playing, but better safe than sorry.
He does shed a lot of fur constantly though, so good point about the fabric on the Vandersteens. I've read they can be a giant pet hair trap. I believe the GoldenEars have a similar full-height wraparound grill cloth sock thing as well?

That's a fireplace between the speakers, so it's not going anywhere unfortunately. I do pull the speakers out from the wall when actively listening. Should've labelled that, but here are some pictures:




I’ve owned the Lore S’s and heard the regular Lores multiple times.  If I was looking for a speaker in your situation I’d probably look at the M lores, but that’s just me.  As mentioned they are boxy and not super eye appealing (in standard finishes)  but the Lores that I’ve owned/heard were quite nice.  You may want to consider getting a pair with grills as in my experience bare drivers attract a lot of unwanted attention and I think look better when the speakers need to play the role of furniture.
Cool thanks. I'd prefer the smaller footprint of the M-Lores, but I'd be ok with the height of even the regular Lores. As a middle ground I settled on the Lore Reference. The Reference are also said to be more detailed than the M-More, but I could still consider M-Lores. I'm sure they'd still be a big step up from my current Sony Cores.

OH! And I also forgot to mention that I'm also toying with the idea of building a DIY SET tube amp at some point, which of course makes the requirement for 8 ohm impedance and high efficiency even stronger.
« Last Edit: 14 Oct 2020, 12:50 am by pinkfloyd4ever »

opnly bafld

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #6 on: 13 Oct 2020, 03:52 pm »
You can easily modify ported speakers to reduce boom when placed near boundaries.

pinkfloyd4ever

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #7 on: 13 Oct 2020, 04:08 pm »
You can easily modify ported speakers to reduce boom when placed near boundaries.
How so? Are you talking permanent or easily reversible mods? I'd prefer not to do any permanent mods as they would kill the speakers' resale value.

Craig B

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Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #8 on: 13 Oct 2020, 04:28 pm »
The Absolute Sound pretty much raved about the Emotiva Airmotiv T1 a couple of years ago. The current version (T1+) sells for $699.

Delta77

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #9 on: 13 Oct 2020, 05:06 pm »
My best guess for $1,000 towers, is going to be the Original Lore's form Tekton..
You can go cheaper $700-$750 for the smaller lore's , but I've noticed that most people upgrade from the smaller models to the Original Lore, So just spend the extra $200 (free shipping / No tax)..
$,1000 + $50 for the grills..
Don't skimp on the grills ( cleaning drivers is nerve racking )..

I've owned 2 sets of Tektons (Seas Pendragon & Double Impact SE) and 2 sets of Tekton subwoofers (Cinema & Enzo's)..

http://www.tektondesign.com/lore.html

opnly bafld

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #10 on: 13 Oct 2020, 05:26 pm »
How so? Are you talking permanent or easily reversible mods? I'd prefer not to do any permanent mods as they would kill the speakers' resale value.

Stuff the ports to reduce the airflow or completely block them, easy to undo if/when necessary.

sunnydaze

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #11 on: 13 Oct 2020, 05:44 pm »
I've owned the Lore Reference but I believe I preferred the regular Lore which comes up used in your range.   Having said that both were quite good. 
I'd add Zu Omen Dirty weekend.   I've heard they are killer from reliable sources and you can potentially find them used at your price point if you're patient.

With the right amp, and given where he's coming from, I could not imagine the OP not being absolutely thrilled with the DW.  My local buddy had a pair and we both loved listening to them.  And we both have over 25 yrs in this game and have owned speakers at many multiples their cost.  Give these serious consideration.  I would likely own them if my room weren't so big.

If you find a local pair your budget s/b acheiveable.  Maybe post a WTB ad? 

Also take a look at Omega speakers.  Their trademark is speed, transparency and musicality.  Very easy to drive with low power tubes.  Most new models are outside your budget, but check used.

Good luck with the search.    :thumb:


sunnydaze

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #12 on: 13 Oct 2020, 05:57 pm »
Small compact 2-way floorstanders I've owned and enjoyed, and are very easy to more around:  Coincident Conquest and Vienna Acoustics Bach.  Simple direct traditional designs with nice cabinets.  Both originally sold in the 1200 to 1500 range, but on current used markets are 300 to 600.  Yeah they are oldish models, but that doesn't mean they don't sound great.  My brother still has his Conquests that he bought in late 90's.

VA Bachs:


Coincident Conquests:



RonN5

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #13 on: 13 Oct 2020, 06:52 pm »
I owned the Lores so one more vote for the Lores, but maybe for a different reason. The room is not a small room and as a result any of the speakers with small woofers will probably end up sounding too bright because they won’t generate enough low end. The Lores with their 10 inch woofers should sound not only pretty good but pretty balanced in your room.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #14 on: 13 Oct 2020, 09:11 pm »
Pink Floyd,

I vote for the 3050i's.  I have not been impressed with Golden Ears.  Even the dealer I went to said they sounded midfi in comparison to the KEF's and Paradigms that he had on hand.   Vandersteens would not be good in your room.

By the way, those monitor audio's are anything but bright.  Older MA's were bright and I own a pair of MA S1's that can be fatiguing with the wrong gear.  But the newer MA's are way better.  I have not read a review that calls them bright.  I am surprised at the minimum recommended power since they are rated at 90db sensitivity and 8 ohms.  25wpc of tube power should be more than enough to play them fairly loud.

I heard some higher end Tekton's at RMAF last year and my son and I were not impressed. With Parasound gear they sounded bright.  Could have been the room or music though.



pinkfloyd4ever

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #15 on: 14 Oct 2020, 01:02 am »
The Absolute Sound pretty much raved about the Emotiva Airmotiv T1 a couple of years ago. The current version (T1+) sells for $699.
Thanks, but again, I'm looking to narrow my list, not add to it. Not to mention the fact that neither my wife or I can stand the look of Emotiva speakers.

My best guess for $1,000 towers, is going to be the Original Lore's form Tekton..
You can go cheaper $700-$750 for the smaller lore's , but I've noticed that most people upgrade from the smaller models to the Original Lore, So just spend the extra $200 (free shipping / No tax)..
$,1000 + $50 for the grills..
Don't skimp on the grills ( cleaning drivers is nerve racking )..

I've owned 2 sets of Tektons (Seas Pendragon & Double Impact SE) and 2 sets of Tekton subwoofers (Cinema & Enzo's)..

http://www.tektondesign.com/lore.html
So you must be a Tekton fan. The regular Lores are just a little wider than I'd prefer, hence the Lore Reference. Again, I'd really prefer something with the small footprint of the M-Lore, but I'll compromise on that a bit for the higher resolution of the Lore Reference.

If I were by some miracle able to find a nice used pair of Electrons or Compact Enzos for sale in or close to my price range, I'd jump on them in a heartbeat. But I won't hold my breath, lol.

With the right amp, and given where he's coming from, I could not imagine the OP not being absolutely thrilled with the DW.  My local buddy had a pair and we both loved listening to them.  And we both have over 25 yrs in this game and have owned speakers at many multiples their cost.  Give these serious consideration.  I would likely own them if my room weren't so big.

If you find a local pair your budget s/b achievable.  Maybe post a WTB ad? 

Also take a look at Omega speakers.  Their trademark is speed, transparency and musicality.  Very easy to drive with low power tubes.  Most new models are outside your budget, but check used.

Good luck with the search.    :thumb:
Small compact 2-way floorstanders I've owned and enjoyed, and are very easy to more around:  Coincident Conquest and Vienna Acoustics Bach.  Simple direct traditional designs with nice cabinets.  Both originally sold in the 1200 to 1500 range, but on current used markets are 300 to 600.  Yeah they are oldish models, but that doesn't mean they don't sound great.  My brother still has his Conquests that he bought in late 90's.

VA Bachs:
[img]
Coincident Conquests:
[img]
Thanks for the suggestions, but again, I'm looking to narrow my list, not add to it.  :)

It's looking like the Tektons are going to remain my top choice. Thanks all!
« Last Edit: 14 Oct 2020, 03:21 pm by pinkfloyd4ever »

morganc

Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #16 on: 14 Oct 2020, 01:21 am »
Tekton always has a Black Friday sale too btw. 
And I agree with you, any of the Lore, Lore Ref or M Lore will be a huge improvement over your current setup.  I've owned all 3 and you can't go wrong with any of them. 

Doublej

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Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #17 on: 14 Oct 2020, 11:28 am »
Based on your placement you need a pair of these:

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649521183-larsen-42-speakers/

IMHO your choices on used are going to be based largely on what is available within driving distance of your location. There are a lot of used speakers under $1k on Audiomart including Vandersteen 2cis.

JLM

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Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #18 on: 14 Oct 2020, 01:29 pm »
Smart to avoid monitors.  I've had two small cats knock over monitors (one was 10" x 10" x 20") on low (12") and higher (24") stands. 

Agree, wait for a Black Friday sale.  Tekton Mini Lore or Lore Reference are your best bets.  (I'm a fan of point source loudspeakers.) 



vilding

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Re: Help me pick some budget (<$800) floorstanders!
« Reply #19 on: 14 Oct 2020, 02:27 pm »
Hi there!

Have only heard the Kef and the MA. Out of those two, the KEF takes it all categories! The MA is not my thing. When I heard it I found it to be plain weird sounding. I got this feeling like looking at a poster at the bus stop through broken glass. Pixeled veils...? Don't know how to explain it better. The imaging was pretty good, the response seemed linear enough, not super detailed but good, maybe a bit bright. Just something weird about the sound... 
The Kef's on the other hand sound reaaally good. Detailed but easy and very satisfying to listen to.



Smart to avoid monitors.  I've had two small cats knock over monitors (one was 10" x 10" x 20") on low (12") and higher (24") stands. 





Guess the cats don't share your taste in music..?  :lol: :lol: