High Efficiency Options?

I’m thinking about assembly a pretty modest second system based on tubes. I think for a basic el34 amp most speakers 85db or higher would satisfy but I’d like to play with low powered tube amps. System will be in a small bedroom and I won’t use it to listen loud often, so I’m thinking anything in high 80db range will work. To give you an idea of my taste I use Harbeth c7s with Primaluna seperates fed from my Audio Mirror Tubadour and Auralic Aries. I don’t have a large budget for speakers, probably 1,000-1,500, and I’ll buy used. I have decent grasp of what’s available for the most part, but not really when it comes to high efficiency speakers. I know of Zu and Tekton but don’t find what I’ve read about them too appealing. Outside of those two I’m not really sure what’s out there in my price range. Any ideas or recommendations would be much appreciated. 


High 80s is not high efficiency. It’s only average at best. Think mid 90s to 100 db. Even if you aren’t going to listen loud, higher efficiency translates to better micro and macro dynamics even at lower volumes.

At the upper end of your budget you can probably pick up a used pair of Klipsch Heresys. Reference 3a deCapos come to mind too. Both of these are what I’d call higher efficiency speakers.

Going with a high efficiency amp opens up many many choices these days.  Just saying. 

I use Ref 3A de Capos 92db with a 4 watt Decware mini torii not overly loud but good enough in a 12x22 room open on the side

I also use a Klipsch Quartet with a 6 watt Grommes PHI-26, they are big but sound very live


Not sure why you would be put off by Zu Audio.  Some of the most enjoyable and satisfying speakers I own and I use them with my Prima Luna PL5.  Just ordered a second pair to go with my Rogue Sphinx.

In any event, take a look at the offerings from Omega Loudspeakers.  I believe the Super 7 are a real steal.


Super 7 Monitor MK2


That sounds like great fun. A few years ago I decided I really wanted to experience a 300B amp. I had upgraded my headphone system in other respects… so I upgraded my headphone amp to a Woo 300B headphone amp… I fell in love with the sound. 

The problem was my main system didn’t sound as wonderfully musical as my headphone system. Well $70K later my main system sounds that good. Really happy I took the real tube route. My systems sound so much better than I ever thought possible. My systems are shown under my user I’d.

@ozzy62 is right.  You need a speaker in the 90db range for sensitivity.  Klipsch heritage series are one option to consider.  No direct experience with Omega that @rar1 mentioned, but full rage speakers are often a great option for tube gear.  These often do very well in terms of imaging and midrange reproduction.  The Omegas are crazy efficient at just short of 95db/watt/meter.  


Even if you aren’t going to listen loud, higher efficiency translates to better micro and macro dynamics even at lower volumes.

I agree with the above statement @ozzy62!

I don't think you will find a true high sensitivity, 8Ohm speaker, for $1500 a pair, if you did there would be no useful output below 55Hz. With that said I do like Zu speakers, but, 1500$ for a pair? OMEN DIRTY WEEKEND MK. II maybe. To me high efficiency is 2.7% or higher, remember efficiency is not the same as sensitivity. See below efficiency and sensitivity ratings.




Loudspeaker data
Efficiency  Percent  Sensitivity
0.2        20 % 105 dB
0.1        10 % 102 dB
0.05       5 %   99 dB
0.02       2 %   95 dB
0.01       1 %   92 dB
  0.005     0.5 %   89 dB
  0.002     0.2 %   85 dB
  0.001     0.1 %   82 dB

I think it would be hard to make valid suggestions without more information from the OP.

Does he want to stick with the tonal balance and sound that is similar to Harbeth? His other components like the DAC also lean towards a warmer musical presentation.

When he says low power, how low ... 3 watts or 10 watts? 

Perhaps the OP has an amp in mind that would give forum readers a better reference point for speaker matching based out of their experiences. What tubes does it run output? 300B tubes or 6bq5s? Both sound very different.

Finally, what kind of music and at what volume does he listen to?

How small the your bedroom? One man’s small is 10 x 10, another 15 x 15 with high ceilings. The volume of the latter is almost twice that of the first and you would need more efficiency and/or power to fill the room.

i once owned a pair of the Harbeth C7s and despite what the specs said, they needed a fair bit of power to sing and worked better with my 100 WPC SS and than my 45WPC tube amp which is not what I expected. I liked the C7, based on a very favourable review without hearing them but they were not the sound for me, and buying used I moved them along at no loss. 

Here's an idea. Buy your new low powered amp and try it with the Harbeths you own in your bedroom. If you think that works then you will know if a speaker of the sensitivity of the Harbeth will work fine. If it doesn't you can go with more efficiency.

Many readers use and will suggest Klipsch as a match for low powered amps. They are extremely efficient and are a good match, BUT, they don't sound anything like a Harbeth.

Thanks for all the input. I am starting to check out Omega speakers, and so far I like what I see. 

Far as how low of power, I’m really not sure. I don’t have an amp in mind at this point but probably a set amp of some sort. You guys are probably right that I’ll be better off with something over 90db to give me good flexibility with my amp selection.  I think I want to find speakers first and work backwards from there, but I’m open to purchasing an amp first. Right now I have a pair of Totem Rainmakers, and don’t think a SET amp would be to happy with them. That’s kind of why I was thinking speakers first. I unfortunately will have to buy one piece at a time and build slowly. 

The room is truly small, I believe 9x11 with 8 foot ceilings. Also I don’t think Klipsch would be a good choice for me with my tastes. I really prefer I nice full midrange and I’m willing to sacrifice elsewhere to achieve it. My experience with Klipsch was a pair RF5s, and found them fun but not my cup.  In this system I understand I may have to sacrifice significantly considering the budget I’m working with.  I’m hoping to eventually enjoy this system more than my main.  My thinking there is, smaller room = less money, SET = more magic, and also more uniform room with better placement options = better imaging and soundstage. 

Hopefully that gives you guys a bit more to work with. 

Where is MC? Bet he’d have a recommendation when it comes to sensitive speakers!

You need to look at higher efficiency speakers.  Not sure why you would want a sound system in a small bedroom unless you converted it to an office.

The room is truly small, I believe 9x11 with 8 foot ceilings. Also I don’t think Klipsch would be a good choice for me with my tastes. I really prefer I nice full midrange and I’m willing to sacrifice elsewhere to achieve it.


I'm normally a proponent of higher efficiency speakers. But in a bedroom system you usually are not playing all that loud and in a smaller room like this the efficiency isn't going to matter much.

Take a look at http://www.fritzspeakers.com

Fritz does excellent work and his speakers are very reasonably priced. They are in the high 80s for sensitivity. I have his smallest set in my bedroom system and my amp makes 5 Watts per channel. My room is larger and I don't come anywhere near pushing the amp hard. A powered subwoofer is nice, but Fritz is very good about getting low frequency bandwidth.

I have been putting together a tube system as my primary system for months and going through what you are starting. I’m now on my 4th amp and very dialed in.

Yes, you need 90+ dB, preferably 95+ with an SET.

For the SET you will need to decide if you are going to have subwoofers of not. Bass is the hardest thing to fill out with low wattage. If that isn’t terribly important to you (jazz of classical) then the task gets much easier. Many of the speakers being suggested to you are going to be weak on bass with a 6 watt system. I prefer a full range speaker and no subs.

I know it is hard to get past all of the bashing of the tekton speakers but you won’t find a better midrange than the array mids and you’ve said midrange is most important to you. I am using Encores in a relatively small room and they work great with low watts. If you prefer small, look at the Perfect SET.

One thing to keep in mind in a small room is heat generation. Some tube amps will make a small room very hot. Look at power consumption which is a 1:1 indicator of heat generation.


- @ 92 db efficiency, it’s a +1 for the REFERENCE 3a MM De Capos ( the predecessor “i” or the current newer “BE” tweeter models). If it’s for a smaller room (bedroom) then it’s smaller sibling DULCETs will do nicely.

- @89db efficiency in a small room and “within reason “ listening levels, here is a fine budget option




  Hi I have a budget limited system. Rogue RP-1 pre, Had Inspire SEP HO, and Zu Omens. Front end Schiit Yiggy and Thorens TT. I like the ZU’s very much. I have Heresy II’s in the closet. I gave them away and like a bad penny they’re back. I’m running SEP, some mentioned SET, big difference. I can run anything from EL 34 to KT 150. With the right tube, the Zu’s can produce amazing bass. I tailor the tone by rolling in a rectifier tube. The fellow I purchase the Zu’s from had Tekton, Klipsch, Omega and a few more. He currently rotates Devore and Zu Druids. That being said he preferred the Omens over ALL the other high efficiency speakers in the price range you mention. I had a pair of Klipsch KG 1.5’s that I gifted my son. They actually bested the Heresys and made more bass. I ran them in my bedroom on stands with the Had and then a Marantz. 2223. That being said today I’d consider the Triangle Borea 3 as my next to try. In this category the two biggest issues were taming brightness and creating enough low end to avoid a subwoofer. I hope my rambling is helpful and happy hunting. 

845SET amps open one up for less efficient speakers, expect lots of heat though.


I had Omegas matched to 2a3 SET monoblocks in bedroom system some years ago, magic mids, but these not full range speakers.


Merlin VSM may fit your needs, could be above your price range, very musical, 90db sens.