Help me choose speakers

I currently have a setup in our main living room that I’m considering upgrading, but it’s a very compromised room. It’s a large space with lofted ceilings, open to another large room, one side wall is mostly taken up by two sets of glass French doors, and there is a built-in bookcases/cabinet that the speakers will have to go on. The front baffle of the speakers can only be about 22” front the front wall. Usage will mostly be TV (80%+), power comes from a Naim Uniti Star, and I have a subwoofer to fill out the bass. Given the placement restrictions (No my wife won’t compromise given that I have other setups and this is the main family space), am I wasting my money? 

I’ve considered some used Focal Kanta no1 for their synergy with Naim, but the rear port seems like it could be particularly compromised. Alternatively, Aerial Acoustics 5T are designed for a compromised placement, but might need more power according to some reviews. Given the other limitations of this large untreated room, am I better off saving the money and getting a pair of Dynaudio Special Forty or Focal Aria 906(front port but not the same league as the others if I could set everything up ideally). Max budget is $4500, but obviously don’t mind spending less if there’s no further benefit for the price. Usage >80% TV/movies <20% music. Dialogue clarity is paramount, followed by imaging, soundstage, and musicality. Doesn’t have to be strictly neutral. Really no options to demo in my area.


Anybody else with particularly compromised rooms have experience with speakers that outclass the space they’re in? How worried should I really be about rear ports with the front baffle that close to the wall? Other thoughts?


Unless you prepare to remove built-in bookcase/cabinet, I suggest that you install Sonos Arc underneath your TV and Sonos sub on the floor (right wall). I am using this exact system in my family room and lounge. The Sonos Arc and Sub will serve dual purpose (TV plus music from cloud services like Spotify, Tidal, Amazon and Qobuz). Your wife will thank you for clutter free look :-)


Zero chance I’m getting into the Sonos ecosystem when I have several other systems in the house that already are configured for multiroom functionality without Sonos. I also plan to add a turntable back to the living room when my kids get old enough to not damage it. I definitely want 2.1 and to use the separate integrated amp I have. 

Forgot to mention the Sonus Faber Olympica I as my other option for used that I’m considering besides the Kantas. Same issue of a rear port as the Kantas, however. The cabinets are significantly deeper on the level the speakers sit than levels above them and I have 2-3ft laterally that doesn’t need to have anything filling the space if that helps. 

If you can't place your speakers for best performance, you are just stuck with what you have. You will still hear an improvement with better loudspeakers, but you may be far from optimized.

Agree with Eric about HSU (either the MkII horn of the coaxial).

Listened to the MKII horns years ago in a large space (with/without sub).

The II's were on stands placed fairly close to the front wall (maybe 12").

There is a long sound demo of the coaxial on Youtube.




I have the Naim Unitilite, somewhat similar to the Star. My local dealer with whom I have a great relationship has let me try them with most of the Focal Range and the Special Forty. I find all the Focal's far too bright and the Forty to be anything other than Special. I upgraded to another pair of Audio Physic speakers however these have now more than doubled in price so I wouldn't go there although I absolutely love them. I have however gone to twin subwoofers with great success as well as a minidsp used to get rid of really (really) bad room modes.  As for speakers several by Argon are very nice and suit the Naim Unitilite.

If placement is a problem, get yourself a pair of Kii speakers, or perhaps German Physiks omni directionals.

I'd be comfortable recommending the PolkAudio LSiM703 bookshelves. Very placement friendly with the rear powersport and wonderful warm sound. And affordable. Don't poo poo on them just cuz they are Polk, they really are worth con soderation.

Vandersteen makes a true bookshelf speaker. It's called the VLR wood and they've now upgraded to a carbon tweeter. It's under 2k I believe. You're not going to get any real bass from them but you have a sub so should work out ok. When I say true bookshelf what I mean is that it's designed to be placed on a bookshelf rather than on a stand. It's not ported and it doesn't need space around it. They sound amazing given their size.

Might look for a pair of na speakers. The ones the made a number of years ago were loaded by being placed against  the wall. Also I believe  linn speakers were to be setup the same way. 

I think you will like the Focal No 1. Great detail  and not fatiguing. Good luck !

I wasting my money? 

Probably. I would not spend more than $1k/pair for speakers that will be placement-compromised like this. There's very little benefit.

ELAC - Debut Reference DBR62 for $700/pair (or similar) will be all of the speaker you'll ever need for this application, IMHO.


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I’d get a pair of LSA-20 Signatures for $1699/pr. and a DSpeaker anti-mode 2.0 that can help deal with your room/placement issues. There’s one available here…

Best of luck. 

The Spendor A1 should fit the bill. Sealed with no ports. I owned them a few years ago and there is no placement problem !


Here is a review!!