Howdy, y’all! I am seeking advice for a pair of passive bookshelf loudspeakers for listening in my bedroom. Unfortunately, I have a very poor setup or this would be a rather straightforward affair.
My situation is: the room is roughly 13 foot by 10.5 foot with standard 7.5 foot ceilings, all dry wall with bare wood floors. There is 5x7.5 area rug, window treatments, and a good amount of wood furniture, a bed, and an open connected closet filled with clothing. This is not an ideal audiophile reference listening room, but an everyday bedroom with a PC, desk, TV, bed, wardrobes, etc. Very lived in. To complicate matters, the speakers will be placed on a 30x15.5 Ikea Kallax 2x2 unit in front of a window. So they will be very close together with no room to “breathe.”
Yes, I am aware that this sucks and is very, very un-optimal. Unfortunately, I have nowhere else in the bedroom to place the speakers. It can not be done. I do, however, intend to buy portable speaker stands that fold up, and when I am not lazy and in the mood, I can mount the speakers to the portable stands for a listening session and put the stands away and return them to the Kallax unit. I foresee myself doing that only 20% of the time, so off axis performance and sub optimal placement performance will be paramount requirements for me.
Due to the bad placement, I need speakers that will perform well off axis and have as wide of a soundspace and best imaging possible given such poor placement conditions. I own the KEF Egg active speakers, and really like their sound. Due to the UniQ’s coaxial driver’s ability to somewhat broaden the sweet spot and perform well in nearfield and midfield, I naturally feel as if a KEF speaker would be my best choice. But I am open to other speakers that can perform as well as possible in my sub-optimal placement situation.
The Focal Aria 906’s seemed very tempting to me, until I read a review from AVForums stating : "Before I cover the nuts and bolts of what the Aria sounds like, a word on positioning. Focal speakers are voiced in a very specific way and rather than apply heavy correction to the crossover, the idea is that the speaker should be moved in the room (and in the case of the Utopia, the drivers moved relative to one another) to achieve the correct performance. This means that while it might be front ported and indeed less fussy than some of the other Focal models I have spent time with, the 906 still won’t take kindly to being plonked into a rough position and left. If you cannot have the Focal’s about two metres apart and at least ten centimetres from the rear wall with a further two metres from the speakers to you, they probably aren’t going to deliver. Sorry but that is a quirk of the voicing process. There are plenty of other options available to you however. "
After reading that, I scratched them from my shortlist sadly. The Elac Unifi UB5 BS looked appealing but I will be using a PS Audio Sprout to drive the speakers, and frankly given the Elac’s low sensitivity I feel my amp won’t be a good combo. That leads me back to the KEF’s.
Q150: seems decent, but I wonder if it has enough bass and I might be left wanting something more refined sounding?
Q350: a bigger version of the Q150, has a reputation for being picky about placement near a wall–would it be too boomy sounding for my smaller room? I like and want good bass without a sub, but I worry this speaker might be boomy and little lacking in refinement also.
R100: Hadn’t considered this until I saw a used one pop up on ebay for 600ish. It’s a higher end Reference line but also an older design. Unsure about this speaker.
LSX: Great speaker, great design. I like it. Heard it demo’d in person and am concerned it might be too small sounding. It sounds like a greatly improved version of my KEF Egg, but it’s a small speaker. Was hoping for bigger, more expansive sound with more low-end if at all possible.
LS50: I had originally considered buying the LS50 Wireless for this application since the app allows for some room correction in DSP, but I’d rather not swallow the 2k price tag for an active speaker. Reliability is an extreme concern of mine. I’d be crushed if something were to happen. Also I’d have a perfectly good PS Audio Sprout100 amp sitting around. So that leads me to consider the LS50 passives. They do seem like perhaps the perfect speaker for me but when I demo’d them they left me wanting a little bit more low-end sub-bass. I’d like something that could reach the 40s in dB. The LS50 can’t do it. I’d rather not have to go out and buy a REL subwoofer and integrate it into this system. I’d prefer to keep it 2.0 if possible. Although I am in a small room and the speaker will be placed closely to a wall/window so room gain is likely real. Should be okay with the Sprout100? Perhaps I am over-thinking things and this is the speaker for me.
R300: This meets all my criteria, and is the most expensive. I’m interested in the newer R3, but they expensive! So the R300 seems to be a good poor man’s R3. Can play down to low 40’s at -6dB if memory serves. Aside from price, my concern is would the R300 perhaps be too boomy for my situation even if using a bung to block the rear port?
Definitely open to any insight y’all may have given my situation. Or other speakers I didn’t consider under $1500. Or smacks across the face. I tend to listen to a wide assortment of music with both classical and alternative rock being my two most played genres. I value clarity a lot. I like sound signatures that are neutral to somewhat lively (I have a pair of Klipsch RP-51PM’s in another room with a RSW-100 sub when super lively sound is demanded). I like something refined but not dull. Good off axis performance and near/midfield performance is required.
Any input or insight appreciated.
P.S., I’d consider the Buchardt S300 or S400 but I sadly do not like the way these speakers look. No offense to any owners out there, they just aren’t for me. I wish I didn’t have this subjective criteria because I’d likely buy a pair and be done with my search altogether otherwise because they supposedly perform amazingly off axis, and in near/mid, with a massively expansive soundstage and good imaging. At the end of the day you spend more time looking at speakers than listening to them (sad truth).