Good Speakers for Rock and Roll Under 15K

I have nice speakers for acoustics, jazz, vocals, etc. but are not great for rock and roll.  Would welcome any recommendations for speakers that do a great job with classic rock and roll.  I will add some components in my system that might influence thinking:

New Audio Frontiers Tube Preamp, New Audio Frontiers 845 Tube Power Amp, Lampizator Atlantic DAC, Innuos Zenith Streamer, Tchernov cables.


People are suggesting $25,000 ATC’s (ATC SCM50ASLT) the OP requested $15k price ceiling. Which is why I suggested Legacy Focus XD's, they are a hell of a value for that $.

"Classic Rock and Roll" is a highly diverse genre that encompasses intimate acoustic guitars, dedicate piano passages, weepy vocals, full orchestra (including pipe organ) and, yes, raging guitars and pounding rhythms with more energy than a Jane Fonda workout video.

My guess is that the OP is looking for something that will require a hand gesture to others in the room to turn down the volume because he’s pinned back against the chair and can’t get up.

We go waaaaaay back with speakers that can hurt you before you can hurt them which begin with the legendary Altec A7s (JBL guys referred to these as "Voice of the Outhouse". Today there are many good choices.

As one contributor mentioned, the Golden Ear Reference is worth a listen. Having been a dealer for these and involved with mulitple "shootouts" in side-by-side against very high efficiency (100db +/-) speakers they will not disappoint. If you took a polite British loudspeaker, vintage ESS AMTs, a commercial sound reinforcement speaker and put them in a blender, the concoction would sound a lot like the Golden Ears. The built-in sub is a brute and you may find your furniture rearranged and have to be nudged back into their proper place after a "highly enthusiastic" listening session. You also may find yourself reaching for a tissue after those weepy vocals (when no one is watching, of course).

Good luck with your search for the perfect speaker that will create a purple haze around your brain, and show you a whole lotta love.

ATC SCM50ASLT active speakers retail for $22k. Discount or used bring these down pretty close to $15k. The passive version, what the OP probably is looking for, retails for $16k, well under $15k with discount or used. With that said, current revision ATC 50/100/150 speakers, active or passive, rarely come up used; folks that buy them keep them. I would be one example.

I've directly compared the 50 vs the Legacy Focus in my home. I much prefer the ATC in all respects. Of course, IMHO as a classic rock musician and recording engineer.

Speaking of recording, both ATC and Legacy sell pro versions to the pro audio market. I'm guessing the ratio of ATC vs Legacy in most of the world's best recording studios would be around 50 to 1.

Here's an example of ATCs clients:

ATC Client List

No one with direct ATC experience, either active or passive, would call them polite.

To quote Brad Lunde, US ATC importer: "The company founder/chief engineer (driver inventor) Billy Woodman had a specific target in mind back in the 70s and 80s: the wide dynamics of American speakers (JBLs, Altecs, etc) and the high resolution of British speakers (Quad, 70’s era KEF). The fault of many of these earlier American speakers is they played loud but sounded awful. Inversely many of the British speakers had great sound quality but would not play loud enough for rock and roll."

Yes, a great way to describe the dynamics of ATC speakers would be "speakers that can hurt you before you can hurt them".

I have never heard ATC, but for some reason I got the impression they were more on the colder analytical side.  I thought maybe I read a review or something.  Anyway, am I wrong on that assumption?

@gregjacob Its actually a myth that a speaker can be good for one genre of music (rock) and not another. If your speakers aren't good for rock, then they are likely weak with jazz and classical too. Put another way, no-one has ever figured out a way to design any electronics (including speakers) to favor a certain genre.

Put yet another way, what makes a speaker good for rock should make it good for classical, jazz and folk just as well. If it isn't, its not that good for rock either, which is simply to say its not that good.

Now it might be that you want more sound pressure or more bass. That will benefit classical recordings too. The thing is, humans all use the same hearing rules, so classical, jazz, folk, electronia, whatever- all has the same energy spread across the frequency range. So it takes more power in the bass and almost none at very high frequencies.