Audiophile speakers that rock well

I am interested in a monitor sized speaker that does all the audiophile tricks, but can also rock the house without bleeding my ears. Can I get both in a single speaker? I've heard some real good speakers that do vocals, acoutical type music well, but absolutle fail at R & R. Can I have the soundstaging, the imaging, etc.etc. With a speaker that rocks? Budget is $3K

As someone who's owned a couple of highly regarded "pro audio" monitors, & a ton of "audiophile" speakers, I'd say:

Totem Mani2 Sigs--they "do everything", IMO. Get them w/the Totem stands. You'd have to get them used for your budget. And I haven't owned Dynaudios, but I'd add those to your list. Most Totems & Dynaudios like lots of high quality SS power of course.
Dynaudio Contour S1.4
Usher be-718
Paradigm signature S2

Totem. Mani's used if you can find them for that price
As I see it, there's a tradeoff relationship between "monitor-sized" and "does Rock well".

In order to have good bass, a small speaker has to trade off efficiency. That's not a problem; the problem comes when "rock the house" levels are demanded of that small, low-efficiency speaker. A small speaker's thermal and mechanical limits are likely to be reached well before "rock the house" levels are, and sound quality takes a hit at that point.

Often a floorstander takes up no more real estate than a monitor-type on a stand, and the extra internal volume allows the designer to do things he couldn't in the smaller box, often resulting in a speaker that works better for rock.

That being said, one of the better small speakers for rock was the Cliffhanger Bulldog. A three-way in a market segment dominated by two-ways, the addition of a midrange driver allowed use of a bass-optimized woofer that had more thermal power handling and mechanical excursion than similar-sized woofer which had to reach up an octave or two higher. Out of production, they show up for used from time to time.

As a new owner of the Zu Soul Superflys I have to second the Zu recommendation.
ATC Monitors are popular with studios that produce a lot of rock - try to audition the SCM19 - small but plays surprisingly loud. You will need a beefy amp though.
Pick up that used pair of Piega P-10s. They are excellent at rock and will play as loudly as you care to listen.

Are you sure that the speakers are failing with rock? I'd suggest getting good speakers that detail well with good recordings and verify they can blast to your satisfaction. If more bass is desired augment with a sub or select another speaker. IMO most rock music is badly recorded and can make a good system sound plain. No surprising as in a concert you have a pile of 2 inch tweeters and 12 inch woofers. We are often playing it back on better stuff then it was initially played on. Guess it depends on what the user wants. ROck the house sort of indicates the desire to cause damage but in sonic control?. IF thats the case maybe some paradigm studio 100's, b&w CM9's and likely a bunch more. Another option would be to go to the music store and drop $800 on a amp combo unit. THe new ones take mp3 input and will cause damage in line with the origional performance. just a thought.


Sorry, I didn't see the "monitor sized" part of the original post before I made my Piega recommendation. But I agree with Duke, rock the house levels are best achieved with larger speakers. And if a "monitor sized" speaker is required because of the room size, then you aren't likely to achieve your goal anyway. If all you are concerned with is floor space, go for a floor standing speaker and reap the benefits it will offer.

And if a "monitor sized" speaker is required because of the room size, then you aren't likely to achieve your goal anyway.

True it is tough to rock out with small monitor type speakers. However the ATC SCM19 will play surprisingly loud (with a big beefy amp - I'd suggest 200 Watts minimum). The combined woofer and midrange actually has a 3 inch voice coil. This is a larger voice coil than on the vast majority of floorstanders - most floorstanders are using 1 1/2" voice coils (slightly bigger than a tweeter) from mass produced driver manufacturers.

Someone also mentioned Dynaudio and Totem Mani (uses Dynaudio) - these also use large voice coils in certain designs. They would be another good choice and worth investigating.
I agree with the posters who suggest the best way to reproduce rock (or full orchestra) music is with larger format speakers that excell at recreating the "scale" of the origninal performance. It is tough to beat the "wall of sound" you get from a good floor stander, and asking a 7" woofer to do work originally created by a 12" driver is probably misguided, but in smaller rooms can at least be approximated. I would add that smaller floor standers don't in my experience go a long way towards improving scale, they just have a little better bass and don't require purchase of a separate stand with perhaps some sacrifice of imaging. Maybe I have been listening to the wrong speakers (Duke?!), but I tend to think you have to go to really big boxes to get the at the "scale thing" described above.

In any case, the original poster wanted Monitor sized speakers, so I have given examples of some modest sized speakers that I think can make a heroic stab at presenting the dynamics and slam of rock while doing other genres in a way that most audiophiles would find at least acceptable - thus meeting the "audiophile" criteria in the original post. My approach was to think of speakers under $3K that I have heard that have a fairly broad envelope and don't get too distressed when driven hard by a good ("audiophile"?) amp. I also thought of companies that make studio monitors, feeling that somewhat more demanding approach bleeds into their consumer products (Dynaudio, ATC, and PMC for that matter).

Another speaker that may not quite have the sophistication (or higher price) of some of these others but I think rocks very well nevertheless is the Revel M22. Relatively strong bass from a stand mounted speaker, and a warmish presentation that evokes a live club atmosphere, at least for me.

Totem Model One Signatures may also fit the bill.
B&W......any of the 800 matrix or newer is the reason I choose them is that you can throw anything at them and not feel short changed. 801 matrix are a classic speaker but the nautilus don't break up in the mids at almost to loud volume it has a better mid driver and crossover.
A Zu Soul Superfly takes up only 1 square foot of floor space and is only 39" tall. It takes up no more, and sometimes less, space than monitors on proper stands.

It scales to stadium rock and full symphonic music on 20 - 40w, but can handle a mega-amp if you want to go that route. 30Hz bass rounds out the rock potential but the rock potential in no way compromises its abilities throughout the full tour of music genre. $2600 direct.

Being a die-hard rock and roller with some heavy metal thrown in, the speakers that have consistently delivered the R&R goods have been both the Acarian Systems LTD. Alon 1's, the Alon Lotus SE mk ll series and the Accent Speaker Technologies Nola Viper 1A's.

The Alon 1's are scary good at rock and roll and in a properly treated and sized room offer outstanding dynamics with a huge 3D soundstage and would be well worth seeking out a used pair. One does need to do their homework in amp/cable matching. A good/solid 30-50 WPC tube amp is the ticket here especially those that use EL34's as the output tubes. There is a synergy here that brings a strat or fender guitar right into the room and they can hit hard with well recorded material. Try Judas Priest "Hell bent for Leather" :-)

I've found the Alon series also have a musical synergy with MIT2 bi-wire speaker cables and take them up a few notch's when implemented, even over the stock Acarian Black Orpheus bi-wire cables. Bigger soundstage, deeper/tighter bass and sweet, sweet highs are on tap.

Combine the MIT cables with the above mentioned tube amp topology, along with the properly treated/sized room, and you'll lose sleep... I did and don't regret one minute.


With monitors you have to put them on stands, so just get a floorstander and enjoy the extension.

I recommend Zu as well.
Avoid JBL L100. I'm searching for the same thing in a speaker. I've gone thru Polk Monitor 10 and L100 and now have B&W P4 (colored mids/highs at low volume and hard to power). Looking at PSB, Focal or B&W after reading reviews.
The L100 was designed wrong. Cabinet is not made for the 123A woofer and should not be ported and crossover designed incorrectly. I knew something was wrong when I first heard them. There were weak spots between highs, mids and lows and too bright in some areas.
I listen to a lot of psychedelic rock (Hendrix, Trower) and Sabbath, Priest, etc.
Thats the first time in 35 years I've heard avoid the L100's.Live long enough...........must be the,Bob

I appreciate all the responses.when I used the phrase "rock the house", volume has a lot to do with it, but not everything. It's that live feeling that I am looking for. A number of speakers do this fine, as I noted in my original question, with audiophile approved recordings...not so many I have found can also do it well on the typical R&R recording.I want it both ways which I understand is not easy to get, either in speakers (or in life). I'm interested in hearing from people that really do feel that with their speakers they have their cake, and they are dining on it as well.

Rather than spending $3k on a pair of monitors, perhaps spend half of that (if not more) on a sub (even better, 2 subs). This approach lets you customize the low-end volume and crossover to your room and taste, yet maintain the imaging of great pair of monitors.
To surrender to notion that audiophile speakers can only do rock with just good recordings is not logical or accurate. Yes a lot of them actually can't. Since the genre has a lot of crappy recordings, doesn't mean we can't create systems that breathe some life into them. Yes these recordings can sound good on a boom box or car stereo and sound like hell in an "audiophile setup". However, please do not buy into the notion that you can't have your cake and eat it too. In other words there are components and speakers out there can put some air, separation, depth, and life into these type of recordings. Will it even the score with the good recordings? No way, but it also won't, as many audiophile put it, "expose all the flaws". Who wants a system that exposes flaws in their favorite music or recordings? Again, there is plenty of stuff out there the can bring some life to the poor recordings. Just have to know where to look.
monitor sized speaker
all the audiophile tricks
rock the house
without bleeding my ears
that live feeling

You are describing my Green Mountain Audio Europas. They were the first time- and phase-coherent speaker I ever heard, and also the first to properly recreate an intangible "something" from live shows that I hadn't heard any other speaker do. They have surprisingly little dynamic compression, and they get plenty loud for the hard rock/metal/hard electronic music I often listen to. They pull off the counter-intuitive trick of revealing many recording flaws, while NOT making those flaws intolerable to listen to. They also were the first speaker I ever heard properly reproduce the comb filtering of a distorting multidriver guitar amp.

Unfortunately, the Europa is no longer made, although it will occasionally show up for sale on Agon. GMA is currently making other speakers in your price range, however, all of which share the same time- and phase-coherent design principles of the Europa.

As good as the Europa is, adding a subwoofer to fill out the lower frequency range was still a significant benefit. Unless you're listening in a very small room, I'd recommend that at least demoing a subwoofer in your setup to see how you like it.
There must be some other speakers out there that fit this requirement - this is a good thread. I hope others offer their suggestions

I agree that book shelf speakers on stands might often just as well give up the space to larger speaker cabinets that sit on or near the the floor. One such speaker was the Celestion Ditton 66 - it might have been a tad colored but it played loud, went deep/low, and cranked out some strong rock and roll.

Other smaller speakers that did well with rock were Yamaha NS1000s, Dahquist DQ10s, and Large Advents; perhaps some of the Vandersteens belong on the list; but again, there must be others - please add yours to this thread.

My sense is that to have strong rock and roll you probably need to get down to around 32Hz (and up to close to 20KHz) +/- 2-3dB; and lower wouldn't hurt. And then of course, you need a good room. To me, there's not much sense in having a hifi system if you can't play good rock n roll - which isn't to say good speakers and a good system shouldn't do well with other types of music - they should - but good rock and roll is requirement. :)
OHM Walsh are still the best for me. And for most other kinds of music as well.

Most everything else sounds merely like hifi speakers in comparison to me until one gets into certain esoteric megabuck systems where few will ever tread.
"Again, there is plenty of stuff out there the can bring some life to the poor recordings. Just have to know where to look."


I am open to suggestions of "where to look"...

Mark and Daniel Ruby, WLM, Green Mountain Audio, and if you can find one, American Acoustic Development E-48s. The AAD E-48s are not expensive but just very big sounding, great with rock. I used to own a pair, if I wasn't a sick audiophile I would have just kept those and been perfectly happy. I have not actually heard the PSB Stratus Golds, but a dealer told me a fews years ago they are a poor recording friendly speaker too. Also, wide bandwidth amps can help in this area too.
They pull off the counter-intuitive trick of revealing many recording flaws, while NOT making those flaws intolerable to listen to.

Yes!! That's exactly what my GMA Callistos do. Bad recordings don't sounds bad - they sound like the are *supposed* to sound bad. Husker Du is listenable because the awful recording and engineering is presented as part of the art, not as a mistake. Now, subs are a must if you want to articulate the low end. But once you augment the low end of a GMA system, IMHO you have a full-range system made in heaven.

But then again, I'm biased....just check out my system.
I love Husker Du and I used them to do a direct comparison with the Mark and Daniel Ruby and the GMA Callisto. Both did a good job, but the M and D, just had more depth and wt. However, a sub was not used. But yes the GMA's surely fit the bill. The Husker Du album I used for the direct comparison was Wharehouse. As bad as that is, it is their best recording. I don't think there is any system that could bring help Zen Arcade. That one needs a good headphone system.
Nick couldn't be more right about GMA speakers. I have never heard music reproduced so "right" in my room.

Krell Resolution 3. I've owned a pair for five years. They can rock. The 8" woofer gives an added weight that many monitors with smaller drivers don't have. Excellent power handling with the Resolution 3, and you want that with a rockin' speaker. These speakers will play LOUD. But they are quite refined as well. There is a good review of them on 6 moons, just google Krell Resolution 3. And they look really nice to boot. In the used market they can be found within your budget.
I think you would be amazed by the Fritz Carbon 7. I replaced a pair of Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v.4's with a pair. Huge bang for the buck from a small boutique manufacturer. They do everything you would ever want from an audiophile speaker, soundstage, imaging, tonality and vocals and will rock beyond imagination when asked to. They go low for a small speaker with usable bass down into the 30's. They fit your budget, too. Give Fritz a ring and arrange an in-home trial. You will be glad you did.

Glrtrgi I wonder if another approach would work for you. How about looking at fitting out a 4.1 system and getting the whole room immersion sort of effect going? Decent monitor in each corner with a good sub?

just a thought
I should have mentioned that the reason the Europa is so revealing of recording flaws, without causing them to be unbearable to listen to, is because it has so little temporal distortion. It's not because it's treble is rolled off, although admittedly it's tonal balance is a tad dark.

And yet another Husker Du fan here too, LOL.
That they are. Fritz prefers to hand deliver the tower versions. Too big a chance they'll be damaged when shipped.
Depends on the rock and the room. You want a monitor sized speaker which is what I use but it is augmented with a sub. These are in a small room so they fill the space nicely, is that why you spec monitor size?
Standmounts, even the very best will fall short "rockin the house" The drivers in them can't convey kickdrums properly. I have been a drummer for 40+ yrs and played/play in a number of rock bands so I know what I am looking for when I assess a systems ability to rock. Find yourself a quality monitor that does what you want and accept that you will be adding a sub or 2. For your budget there is a Focal 1007 on sale, that would leave $$ for stands and a sub. I use the Focals and they do all that "audiophile stuff" superbly, they rock as well. The Beryllium tweeters convey cymbals properly and the leading edges of notes without the hash or harshness that causes that bleeding ear issue. Good luck with the search.
I also 2nd the ATC SCM19s- these speakers can rock!!! provided you give them a muscle amp.
First I want to say that your search criteria are WONDERFUL. Just what every old rocker wants. Smaller, great staging and detail, full range sound, and loud as hell. Rock speakers that shine even with old Zeppelin vinyl.

Yamaha NS1000 are INCREDIBLE. I adore my Klipsch Heresy's, but I don't think they are "audiophile quality," and they are a bit too big for a bookshelf. Many would object to the use of the word audiophile applied to any Klipsch) They DO rock the house and, unlike bigger Klipsch, provide delightful staging; which is, to me, the most important ofthe audiophile tricks. Creed, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Hendrix, Iron Butterfly - all relatively weak recordings but they provide tremendous presence and excitement factor on the Heresy's in my three car garage... doors closed or doors open! Mixed reviews from the neighbors on that... I am just using an old Carver and a cheap Denon CD player.
Despite the rep, B&W just plain do not rock. We have a local dealer and I go in once a year to listen to them. For an old rock and roll hippie (old enough to have seen Zeppelin live in Seattle), Paradigm and PSB stomp them at half the price. Even if you do like them for their interesting staging, OHM Walsh are absolutely not bookshelf. You MUST place them in an open space to get the effects they offer. Celestion is famous for off the chart bottom end - my giant old floorstanding Ditton 66 are spec'd down to a RIDICULOUS 18hz (on the right recordings I can feel low end that I cannot hear!) - but I don't know about their bookshelf models. TELL US WHAT YOU BOUGHT!!!
I should have mentioned that I have PSB Stratus Gold side by side with my Ditton 66, and the Ditton DEFINITELY have more immediacy and presence, as well as much better staging and higher efficiency. Both are huge and heavy, both are fantastic for average recordings, both have outstanding bass, both are smooth and painless at very high volumes, and both run around $500-$1000 on the used market depending on condition. (Yes, I am in love... when she was five my daughter used to say "If you love it why don't you marry it." I am thinking of proposing.)