How important is the efficiency of a speaker to you?

I went to an audio meeting recently and heard a couple of good sounding speakers. These speakers were not inexpensive and were well built. Problem is that they also require a very large ss amp upstream to drive them. Something that can push a lot of current, which pretty much rules out most low-mid ( maybe even high) powered tube amps. When I mentioned this to the person doing the demo, i was basically belittled, as he felt that the efficiency of a speaker is pretty much irrelevant ( well he would, as he is trying to sell these speakers). The speaker line is fairly well known to drop down to a very low impedance level in the bass regions. This requires an amp that is going to be $$$, as it has to not be bothered by the lowest impedances.

Personally, if I cannot make a speaker work with most tube amps on the market, or am forced to dig deeply into the pocketbook to own a huge ss amp upstream, this is a MAJOR negative to me with regards to the speaker in question ( whichever speaker that may be). So much so, that I will not entertain this design, regardless of SQ.

Your thoughts?


Planars just sound more realistic to my ears. If they need power, so be it.

I think amps sound better in their their optimum power range instead of a very powerful amp barely putting out even a small fraction of its power...learned that decades ago from guitar amps. I like an efficient speaker with an amp that's digging in a little, like my Heresy IIIs and one of two amps I use with them: A Dennis Had Firebottle SEP or a Pass XA-25. Works for me. It seems that a very high percentage of speakers are in the 89 or less DB range requiring at least my Had amp to stay away except at low levels. A shame. Give me some clear horns over any "conventional drivers in a box," except for nearfield recording monitors.

Dig deep? My Arion Audio S500 amp was priced at $2500 when I got it a few years ago. It packs 500 watts per channel and sound great. My inefficient speakers soak up those watts and sound wonderful to my ears.

Sorry you were belittled, but I think every manufacturer has to find their niche. 

I think that the truth of modern speaker building, especially 2-way systems is that they often give up efficiency for bass output, so I don't really think we can make the case that most speakers should be able to be driven by modest amps.  However, there's a big gap in "normal" 2 way speaker efficiency and say something like the Kef Ref 1 Meta (or whatever it's called) which is technically a 3-way with just amazingly bad impedance curves.

Your average 2-way is not that bad and a modest (50 wpc) tube amp will do well with it.

If you want a 2-way with excellent bass and very tube friendly look at Fritz.  Really excellent.

I just posted this elsewhere

I advise working very hard to find efficient speakers you love, they are out there. Don't even listen to inefficient ones.

That will keep the needed power down: less: cost/size/weight/heat and it will increase placement options of amps, especially integrated with a need to receive signal from a remote.

Importantly, low power needs allows a much easier way to try tubes.

More competition exists at lower power needs, thus more competitive prices, and more used choices.