Floor-Standards to Monitors?

I am always tempted to try a good pair of monitors/bookshelf speakers mated with my two subs and see if I can equal or surpass a good pair of floor standing speakers ($15k to $30k) in my 20 x 16 (vaulted ceiling) treated room. The thought of being able to move and set up things without help is very appealing as I get older.  Also, with much of the price of floor standing speakers going into the large cabinet, I am thinking that that an equivalent, or better sound, less the low end should be achievable at “reasonable” prices.  With the application of DSP/room correction, does this eliminate the gap between most of these products? Once you get to a magic price point, are we just paying for company name, exotic materials that may or may not have an impact, and aesthetics?

There are so many monitors out there and the price range is staggering – I have named a few below. The magazines say they are all wonderful and clearly there is no place to hear them all. Where there are measurements, it differentiates them somewhat. I like dynamic resolving speakers (Magico/Vivid) and concerned about mid/bass impact between 80 Hz and 250 Hz when you crank them up where the subs do not help. I would also like a US presence and a company that builds more than 25 copies a year. What do you think? Can I get there? Is paying more than $5k just crazy for monitors? Does room correction level the playing field? Any thoughts or recommendations?

ELAC DEBUT 2.0 B6.2 and AS-61 – both sounded very good at AXPONA

ATC – Never heard them / multiple options

Kii – Great reviews out there but all seem to point to a small room

Revel –M126 Be

TAD – ME1 – sounded great in small room at AXPONA. Likely too small for my room and very expensive as you move up the line

Dynaudio – New Confidence 20 monitor coming out and Contour 20

Focal - Diablo Utopia Colour Evo (expensive) and Sopra 1

Dutch and Dutch – Not highly available in the US but supposed to be exceptional

B & W – 805 D3 – Would need a very treated room

Paradigm – Persona – I have found the entire line bright and lean on bass

Fritz - Carrera 7 Be- A small company but sounded excellent at AXPONA

KEF – A laid back.

Raidho – Expensive

Magico – Very Expensive and old Q design

Harbeth –Cabinet resonance built in - odd

I had monitors (various) for years with subwoofers. Changing to floorstanders was a huge improvement for me. I think you are heading in the wrong direction, but maybe you will like the change.
jperry, That is the type of feedback I am looking for.  I definitely do not want to move backward.  Have other experience the opposite?
I’ve owned many floorstanders and many monitors. I always prefer the boxless sound of a monitor type speaker!
I find monitors sound better at lower volumes and much of my listening is done at lower volumes. Moreover, I have never had much luck integrating a sub to my liking.  However, if you want to crank it up, the monitor might have issues in that space.  

I too liked the Fritz, but heard them in fairly small room.  I wanted to hear the new Dynaudio Contour 20, but it didn't work out.  They have the Esotar2 tweeter and a newly design mid/bass if I am not mistaken.  However, many of the reviews seemed to indicate these to be very analytical - that might be to your liking (warm vs detailed).
I have always had floor standers and have had the same thoughts about going to monitors with a good sub mix in my small room.  I tried the sonus faber Guarneri and loved them but missed the low end.  I understand for floorstanders, the Von Schweikerts E3 MKII are great all around with good bass.  I will be interested to follow this thread. 
I have had ProAc Response 2, Joseph Audio Pulsar, Fried, Rogers LS35A, Harbeth Compact 7 as well as some others and IMO none are as good or as cohesive as the ProAc D-40r I currently have in service.

Additionally using a stand mount plus subwoofers takes up more floor space than a floorstander.
I agree with jperry. I did that and regretted it in 7 months. As good as Lipinski L707's sound (I also used 2 subs) I'd rather wrestle with big speakers and big drivers including the hassle of shipping them. It took me 6 months to get the price I wanted for my Wilson Witt series II speakers (I loved the sound) but the wait was worth it due to the steal I got on a pair of Legacy Whispers. No more monitors unless in a second system for me. Best of luck.

In my opinion, before you expect room correction to "level the playing field", you should be aware that there are two things DSP cannot fix:

1.  DSP cannot correct the dynamic limitations of a loudspeaker.  It cannot make the motors handle more wattage before overheating, and it cannot make the voice coils travel further before going into over-excursion.   

2. DSP cannot improve the radiation pattern.  For example if a speaker has a lower treble over-emphasis because the radiation pattern is very wide at the bottom end of the tweeter's range, thereby putting out too much energy into the reverberant field in that region, the best you can hope for is a compromise.  If the on-axis and off-axis responses differ significantly, you cannot fix them both at the same time via DSP.

My point being, if you're going to rely on DSP, then make intelligent initial choices in these two areas because DSP can't fix them. 

That being said, it is quite possible for a standmounts-plus-subs system to outperform many floorstanders.  It depends on the specifics - there is a lot of variation possible.  Sometimes standmounts-plus-subs is the configuration of choice, rather than the configuration of necessity. 



Too many variables to make a blanket statement here as @audiokinesis mentioned in his last paragraph, but I’ve also thought about this quite a bit myself and have a couple thoughts.  But to answer a couple of your questions, when audiophiles are frequently spending $30k+ for speakers, spending more than $5k+ on very good monitors seems very reasonable to me.  And no, I don't think DSP/room correction, although quite awesome when used properly, can make up for all the advantages larger floorstanders can provide...

First, if you’re talking about large, multi-driver speakers or line array speakers IME there is a soundstage size/scale, coherence, dynamics, and perceived effortlessness thing going on that I just don’t see a monitor and subs being able to match. Period. Size and physics still matter.

Short of that size/scale, etc. thing though, and more focusing on more reasonably-sized 3-way floorstanders, I think the lines get much blurrier.  And this is where all the variables really make the ultimate answer very situation and brand specific. I’ll use one specific case I’ve been considering that I think brings some of these things to light. One of my potential end-game speakers are Joseph Audio Pearls, but they’re currently way out of my budget and may remain so. So I’ve thought about pairing Pulsars with a couple very good value priced subs from the likes of SVS, Rhythmic, Hsu, etc. or a swarm-type setup to create a "Mini Pearl," which would cost around $20k less than new Pearls. (I use Pulsars not only for personal taste but also because they can reach down fairly low on their own, which I think is important in trying to achieve similar seamlessness and dynamics to full or near full-range floorstanders -- not sure smaller monitors that don’t go much below 80Hz could pull this off). Now, although the Pulsar very much shares the JA house sound (and tweeters) with the Pearls, the Pearls have a more substantial and dedicated midrange driver that I think will give it an advantage over the Pulsars with subs (PWS) in dynamics and coherence (among other things) that I can’t overcome. But, on the flip side, I’d expect the PWS to reach significantly lower and cleaner in the bass range -- very possibly better coupling with my room and assuming I’m using good DSP integration technology -- that could bring significant advantages in that area (let’s leave the amp not having to work as hard thing out for purposes of focusing on speakers here, but we all know that’s a big potential factor here as well). Now, even if I can’t match everything the Pearls do with the PWS setup, I’d bet I’m getting pretty darn close with an extra $20,000(!!!) in my pocket, thankyouverymuch. Let me repeat that number -- TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. Just think of what else you could do with that much disposable income. The Pearls would have to conjure up quite a bit of synergistic magic to fill that big of a monetary hole.

But there’s another option. What if I ponied up for the Perspective floorstanders and paired THEM with subs? Now I’ve got two (or, maybe more technically accurate, one and one half) of the Pulsar’s midwoofs working to replicate the larger midrange driver of the Pearl, and I can cross the subs over even lower since the Perspectives produce more and lower useable bass than their monitor siblings. I’d think I’ve now closed a good bit of the dynamics and coherence gap that existed in the above PWS configuration, thereby coming even closer to the Pearl’s level of performance. But, as per the OP’s wish list, I’ve still got small floorstanders that are very easy to move around, and I’ve also still got about an extra $10k in my pocket!!!

All that said, if I had the scratch for the Pearls would I choose either of these options instead? Nope. But to be honest I’m an idiot, and I don’t plan on moving my speakers around at all and can still add a couple good subs and create my own "Super Pearls." As Sam Tellig used to say, "I laugh my evil laugh." It never ends, right???

Anyway, I used this specific example not to be self serving but because I think the same variables here can be applied across several brands, and it surfaces a lot of the basic issues on which I think the OP was looking for thoughts/feedback. Peace out.

@soix said:  "First, if you’re talking about large, multi-driver speakers or line array speakers IME there is a soundstage size/scale, coherence, dynamics, and perceived effortlessness thing going on that I just don’t see a monitor and subs being able to match."

Sometimes it is the exceptions to the rules that make high-end audio interesting!

I'll be showing a monitor + subs system at RMAF 2018.  On paper at least, I think my system will theoretically compete with some six-figure floorstanders in several areas, including bandwidth and dynamics and effortlessness.  Harder to compare soundstage and coherence by making educated guesses, but I don't think these are necessarily compromised by the monitor + subs format. 

So IN GENERAL I agree with you, but I'm involved with something that aspires to be an exception to the rules. 


Much happier with my monitors and two subs but, in fairness, the monitors have two 9-inch woofers in each sealed box and go very loud wIthout compression, the sealed-box (acoustic suspension) bass is excellent down to 40hz
I too am getting older and wanted to be able to move speakers around (constantly) by myself. Had Merlin floorstanders for 15 years then switched to monitors and found I preferred them. I have a small dedicated listening room 11x18 and listen to acoustic music (classical and jazz) at low to medium volume. I ended up with 2 entirely different sets of monitors, Harbeth 30.1 and Revel M126be. When I get tired of detail, I switch to the Harbeths and then when I crave detail, back to the Revels. I love both but they are night and day different. Note that if you didn’t like the Personas, you might not like the M126be’s. For my taste, I thought the Persona B was one of the best but ended up with the M126be’s instead.

I’ve heard a lot of live music and the 30.1s sound like live music. The Revels have more WOW factor and are surreal. I use two small subs, REL T/zeros, rolled off at 40hz with one sub at 0 phase and the other at 180 so they don’t fight each other. Subs are at very low volume. I don’t like a lot of bass but find that the two small subs in stereo at low volume settings add just a touch of fullness.

Fantastic discussion here – Please keep it coming. I kept the topic broad, so I can hear multiple opinions. I find that speakers tested through the Canada's National Research Council (NRC) or Stereophile gives great insight into flaws and solid designs. I tend to ignore the glowing review and just go right here. It is my opinion that speakers that do not test well, do not sound well. BUT, speakers that do test well, don’t necessarily sound good (getting into people’s personal opinions). I have ruled out ribbon tweeters because of dispersion issues and I do generally buy into to the Harman approach that is, if a speaker is designed well, and has a general flat and downward slope from low end to high end, along with a broad and flat off axis response, it “should” sound very good. As I had mentioned, and others commented on, I am still concerned about the low midrange impact. This is why ATC became interesting.  They have 3-way monitors in their SCM40s and SCM50s (but they seem very “old school”). The Revel M126 Be seems to have everything but the ability to generate this low end response.  The Kii and Dutch and Dutch both seem very interesting, but neither are in my area to hear. A little history of my prior speakers for a baseline – Aerial 10Ts, to Avalon Eidolon Visions to Focal Sopra 2s. With my vaulted ceilings, DSP has helped fined tune all off these – more a function of the room than the speakers. These are all excellent speakers so matching my Focals or even surpassing them in a monitor/sub configuration may not be possible.

The Avalon’s are great speakers. At the time I bought them they were more affordable than they are today. Also, with the passing of time, the ceramic tweeter was a much older design, and did not reflect the diamond and/or the new Accuton Cell tech in many of the more modern speakers. I missed this more dynamic sound so decided to trade them. I am not sure how they would compare to Revels since I have never heard them in the same room. Also, at this point, I am truly considering monitors if I can get everything I want – no compromise.

I've had many floor standing speakers and monitors (and still do have both).  I always gravitate back to floor standing speakers as more satisfying, both for the fullness in frequency range, and for the size of the sound and the effortless quality.   But that said I haven't tried to pair the monitors with a sub (though I've heard many such pairings elsewhere, I've never found them coherent enough to satisfy).

Though I have some subs now I'm going to play with.


We think alike!

I'm taken with Joseph Audio speakers at the moment and decided I'm aiming at the Perspectives over the Pulsars.  That's because they are more likely to satisfy without a sub, if I choose not to add one, but also because I'd expect adding a sub will elevate them even more (if I can get it right).