Efficient speakers -- What was your journey from A to B to ?

This thread is for people who have tried a successive number of efficient speakers and are willing to relate what they learned on the way.

Here's where I am: Recent experiences with speakers and amps has lead me toward lower watt (not ultra low) amps and more sensitive speakers.

I currently am looking for a second pair of speakers to alternate with my Ascends which would play more nicely with my Quicksilver Mono 60s and my Pass XA 25. (If I found the right speakers, I could be willing to look into SET amps, etc. but that is not my quest, now.)

I am open to design -- horns, open baffle, single driver, etc. My budget is flexible but I won't spend tens of thousands. So, some options are likely not possible.

Here are the speakers I am keeping an eye out for, used, but please add to my list! 

Audio Note
Coherent Audio 
Coincident — planar magnetic tweeters
Living Voice 
Pure Audio Project

Again, I'm especially interested in hearing from folks who have tried more than one of these speakers and can explain what lead them from one brand or model to the next -- and why.



@hilde45 I agree with @blisshifi that the DIY route could be very beneficial if speaker sensitivity is important and you’ve the relevant carpentry and software skills and/or time x willingness to learn more.

Once I defined my own parameters for “best playback setup,” high sensitivity worked out to be a happy, inadvertent addition (not an initial goal). I sure like having it now.

The following diyAudio thread has been going nearly a decade; I first began keeping up with it late 2014 or early 2015. Don’t try to read through in one afternoon (or month):

The Making of the Two Towers

@ozzy62 ..."the current models of Heritage speakers are more forgiving and linear than older versions.".


Was glad to see this point, and wanted to resurface it. I tend to believe word and "belief" about the recent design changes are still getting out to the mainstream.

While I don’t own nor have tested the latest versions from Klipsch, a friend of mine is telling me this while we banter back and forth some about lower-watt single ended triode amplifier designs and preamps he’s paired up with prior and latest versions and models from Klipsch past few years. I've been re-interested since helping a friend co deign/build three pairs of Altec Onken replicas. Quite a project. 

Also interesting to read here how Greg at Volti is involved with mods on Klipsch, and partly what caught my attention about Volti Razz and Volti Rival. While I’m not back into SET amps right now, its fun to read what people are doing here on Agon. I’m sort of stuck and stubborn with my custom 93db speakers and push-pull amps I won’t part with, certainly enjoy learning and living vicariously with all of you who rotate all of the speakers mentioned so far. Good stuff - enjoy!


A lot of horn speakers have no time aligning....so the tweeter sounds hit your ear before the midrange. Klipsch have resonant horns and ordinary xover parts.....there is no diffraction control on them, as well. Also not open baffle....Open baffle gives more "open" sound. All this can be remedied with simple two way open baffle dynamic woofer and planar mid/tweet DIY speakers. The GRS planars are cheap and the Radians’s look really great too. Please see my website page for how to make these.....both active and passive versions are discussed. There will be people making these things (maybe you) so these super cheap killer speakers will be a reality soon. All designs discussed have at least 93db sensitivity.



This is an interesting thread about higher efficiency speakers.  It is indeed the case that most horn systems do not have great time alignment of drivers.  However, if the speaker is designed properly, this in not really much of a problem.  The trick is to have a wide range horn driver so that frequencies from 500 hz on up to around 5,000 hz or slightly higher are handled by the horn driver.  A single driver covering this critical range will make the speaker sound coherent, clear, and the drivers can be made to sound well blended.  As mentioned above, the tricky part is getting a woofer with decent efficiency to match the other high efficiency drivers.  There are woofers that can do this and are fast enough to work up to higher frequencies, but, they do, like all drivers, have their tradeoffs--most have low excursion so they don't do truly deep bass even when they are very large in diameter, most require a fairly large cabinet, and modern versions of such woofers are hard to find.

Also mentioned above is the use of active crossover and powered woofer to mate with the more efficient driver(s).  For example, I like the Cube Audio Nenuphar Basis system that employs their fullrange driver plus a powered woofer; to me it sound more natural and tonally balanced than their fullrange only systems.

I mentioned, and so did others, the Charney Audio speakers.  To be specific, I heard their Companion model with both the Voxativ and AER fullrange driver options (they have others).  I liked both drivers a lot, but, my preference was for the AER driver.  Pure Audio Project speakers are also modular systems with different options for their midrange/high frequency drivers.  I've heard their terrific sounding speakers with both a horn-based module and a coaxial driver; both sounded very good.  I have not heard the much more expensive module utilizing a Voxativ field coil driver, but, I've heard that driver in other systems and really liked its immediate, very dynamic sound.

My very favorite high efficiency speakers are custom systems utilizing new and very vintage drivers made by Deja Vu Audio in Northern Virginia.  This is a retail store that also makes speakers, tube amplifiers (linestages, preamps, phono stages), and even DACs (no longer made for lack of suitable parts).  Their systems typically feature vintage midrange horns and compression drivers matched to modern tweeters and custom woofers (woofers made to their specific requirements).  For some of their very best systems, modern manufactured drivers that are meant to be exact copies of vintage Western Electric drivers are used and their own custom built tube power supplies are used for these field coil drivers.  Right now, their most popular custom speaker utilizes a surprisingly small cabinet to house an 18" woofer (modern, custom design), a modern bullet tweeter, and a terrific sounding Japanese folded horn and compression drivers (probably from the 1960's); this is a scary good system that is a bargain at the $35,000 price they charged.  For my particular taste, I like them much more than contemporary horn systems like JBL Everests, and Klipshorn, Volti, or even the Edgarhorn systems that I've heard.

Coherent Audio built on Radian coaxial drivers are great speakers.

I listened to their model 18 a couple of times on the Montreal Audio Show. These speakers are really easy to drive. Actually the 300B SET did it very easily and the sound filled a big room.

In contrast, a modern JBL and Tannoy are designed for transistor amplifiers that have a heavy bass driver that don't afford them to work well on low volume and with small power amplification.