Overkill for small room

Hello all - long time lurker, first time poster. I've enjoyed reading so many of these posts, and I feel like I'm learning so much from you guys. Thank you for that.

I am strongly considering a pair of Dynaudio 20i - I am aware they require serious amplification - but I suspect that they'll be too much for a small room

Room specs: (11 wide by 14 long, normal ceiling height with acoustical tile, carpet tile covering one entire wall, wall-to-wall carpet on top of cement slab, no basement).

Am I nuts? 

Thank you in advance.


I have not heard this specific one, but heard the floor standers. At the same time I also heard the Special 40 from Dynaudio. These should be good speakers for the room size you mention. And you are correct - these might need an amplifier that is comfortable driving 4 ohms load. With such a amplifier, you might be able to listen to this speaker at moderate volumes without overpowering the room with bass.

Hope people who have direct experience with these speakers respond soon.

no they will work fine they have deep enough bass to sound full but not too deep to overload the room


we would recommend using an nad m33 amplifier which has dirac room correction, and very high current


use a goodset of stands and bring the speakers into the room.


Dave and troy

audio intellect NJ

nad dealer

  1.  Whether you are nuts is irrelevant. The fact that you are asking questions on this site is all we need to know.
  2.  Why would they be "too much" for your room? Are you planning on turning it up to 11? Some speakers just need more oomph to really sing.

room correction could help for sure. 


Another option to add Dirac cheaply without messing up the quality of your pre and DAC is a mini dsp SHD studio. This is an all digital unit, you can place it between the source and DAC. It will do the correction in the digital domain and pass it to your DAC. This could be used to fix any overloaded bass in the room.

you mean Contours? I am confused that you are asking a question with such incomplete info, being the key part of the question.

Yes the Contour 20i - apologies for omitting crucial information.

I also meant to pose the title of the post as a question, as in "Overkill?" but I forgot the ?

Noobies.....🙄.....what are ya gonna do?

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They need to be on stands, tweeters at seated ear height. Lower, tilted back, aim tweeter to seated ear might work better in any room, it changes the angle of reflections off the floor and ceiling, while toe-in changes the reflections off side walls. I would rig up temporary piles of books/boxes, see which sounds better, then go for stands that height.

They have a rear port, so out from rear and side walls, OR, temporarily cover or stuff the port to put them closer to the corners. You gain placement flexibility and you will find you do not lose much bass extension.

Toe-In: To avoid scuffung the speaker bottom and stand top: I would put 3 small ’skid plates’ on the speaker bottoms (2 front/1rear), so the stands can stay at their ’normal’ position’, and the speakers stay put normally, but will move with some effort. play with alternate toe-in, starting with speakers facing the listening chair.

I don’t think they’ll be too much. It is possible though that you may require additional sound absorption panels in that room. Dynaudio speakers love to be cranked up. If you like to listen at low levels these are probably not for you. 

Many thanks for the helpful comments thus far. You've made me feel better already. 

My main concern is ending up with bass that's muddy/boomy/hard to control. With a small room, I won't have all that much space to pull them away from the front wall. They're rear-ported and allegedly require much care in placement to really shine, so I was concerned with distances from the back wall and side wall being problematic. 

Do I turn it up to 11? On rare occasion when the right song deserves it, but most listening is at med to med(+) volume. 

I've not used room correction previously, but I trust it's highly effective since it seems extremely well utilized among forum users here. I imagine there's a learning curve with Dirac/ARC as well.

I had Dynaudio Contour 1.8 floorstanders in a room your size and the bass was tight and solid but not at all boomy. They were probably amongst the best speakers I have owned and I have owned plenty over the years.

I have a smaller room than yours and am running Fritz Rev7 SEs.  They have a similar size footprint, woofer, frequency response, as well as being rear ported.  I know it’s not the same speaker but I do not think you will overload the room with bass.  My room is not.  I’ve even added two subs to my setup and it still doesn’t overload the room.  I have some decent treatment though.  I think you will be fine.  You can also plug the rear port if you like and see what that does.  I plugged mine with some memory foam inserts I made myself.  Good amplification with a good damping factor would help bring you nice tight bass.

Sounds like a great choice. DynAudio speakers are excellent. Particularly if you have control of the room you can really dial them in. There is plenty of room to pull them in from the walls and back. You can easily make a ~6 -7 foot triangle with the speakers and seat, with lots of room behind for a deep soundstage .

I just helped a friend set up a set of full sized Wilson Watt Puppies in a room about that size. They sound great from a whisper to head banging volumes. They are set up along the short wall with the equipment rack off to the side (amp in between ((Audio Research VSi80). Not putting the equipment in between the speakers was important. The speaker wall had tall windows which we covered with cushions behind curtains, deadening the window reflections.

Wow, this a wellspring of helpful info.

One question about damping: is this a function of the amp or the speaker?

If I understand 'good' damping correctly, it involves quickly stopping the woofer's motion when no bass signal is present. Do I have that correct? This would be especially important with larger diameter woofs and subs, no?

@letshearit no worries, thanks for the clarification!

I think they are fantastic speakers. You are right that they would be a better fit for a bigger room. I have the Evoke 20s for a room similar size with 1 sub, and they are awesome. The moment I can afford a pair of used Contours, I will buy them! I heard them many times at a local dealer and I love them.  

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Here is a good explanation of damping factor


It is a combination of the amp and speaker and it applies regardless of woofer size. I believe you have the correct general understanding.  I’m no expert on it though. Others here might have better insight.  

Those speakers will be fine in your room. But you will need a beefy amplifier to drive these. They are rated as 86dB and 4 ohms, Ouch!. An amp tat can deliver high currents should drive these comfortably.

@letshearit  I also have a room about that same size with a pair of Sonus Faber floor standers. I’ve found moving them well into the room and about 8’ apart solves wall reflections and some nasty bass nodes. I guess you would call it near field listening. My amp is a 140watt PC tube amp. The carpeted room sounds pretty fantastic. I don’t know the speakers but if you have room to play with positioning then I imagine even a larger speaker would fair well. Anyway…I hope so as I’m considering a size upgrade. Depends on this years taxes…! Good luck…!



@OP. You have plenty of space in a room that size to optimally position those speakers. They don't go particularly low in the bass either - which is a good thing in this case. Because this is essentially an American forum the way people evaluate room size is somewhat distorted. You room is not particularly small by European of Asian standards.

My room is almost exactly the size of yours, but opted for sealed cabinet Spendor 4/5 Classic (small monitors). But had some ported speakers before them and it was just fine. As stated earlier, with 14 feet you can pull them well away from the front wall - say 3-4 feet from the wall to the front of the speaker. Experiment with distance from sidewalls, but may need to get them a little closer to the sidewalls than in a larger room in order to get a decent enough stage. A bit of sidewall/ first-reflection treatment mixed with diffusion and some bass trapping is pretty much essential (even if you’ve got that much rug). Get in touch with a company like GIK for free advice on treatment and placements. But don’t overdo it, a little on the live side is alway more natural sounding 👍🏼

My first audio room was small like yours--13x15 feet.  Here is what worked great in that room:

Speakers were pulled off the front wall about 6 feet and then 2 feet from the side walls and toed in to the listening chair which was just off of the rear wall forming an equilateral triangle.

Treat first reflection points on the side walls and then behind the listening chair with rockwool panels.  Making your own is way cheaper and just as good or better.  If you want premade panels, check out Audiomute, priced better than GIK and some of the other routine recommendations.

I tried multiple speakers in that set up and the all sounded great with an stereo image that made that small room sound HUGE.

As I dealer, I had one too many customers say: "My room’s not big enough for a Home Theater!" So, I bought a 30" x 30" British phone booth (replica, the real ones literally weigh a ton) and put a full 7.1 surround system in it -- custom enclosures, infloor subs, etc. This thing rocked!!

After that, when people said the familiar: "My room is not big enough for home theater!", the qualifying question was: "Is it bigger than thirty by thirty inches?"

Small rooms have their challenges (and benefits). Great advice here from guys who know a lot about the subject. Best of luck.

EQ + room treatments will be your friend. 

The room treatments will keep the mid-high frequencies tamed, EQ will help you deal with room modes.  You may even consider bass traps.

Also, check out the AM Acoustics room simulator to help you find ideal placements for your speakers and listening location as well as to inform you of where to expect worst problems in bass.

I've had the opportunity to audition the Dynaudio Contour 20i speakers, and I must say, their sound quality is very impressive. According to Stereophile's review, the Contour 20 speakers pair well with two modest class A tube amplifiers (with 22-35 wpc), but they don't seem to favor a 400-watt per channel class D amplifier. This suggests that the compatibility issue lies more in quality matching rather than sheer wattage power. Given that a pair of used Contour 20 speakers is available at half the price of the new 20i model in the market, it's definitely worth considering.

My third system comprising NHT SB3, almost the same spec with 20/20i, performs quite well in my even smaller room.  What has been confined / compromised is soundstage due to space constraint but the rest of sound attributes can be tuned well with care.

Check out the room in my profile; its 13’x11’. I’m using Contour20s powered by a McIntosh 352 IA, 200 watts. Note: I was also using two subs but have since removed the subs from the set-up. They simply weren’t necessary with the deep bass range of the Contour20s. I do have the Contours mounted on the Dynaudio stands with tubes filled with sand for added weight and density.

My speakers are 3’ from both the back wall and side wall and I use sound material on the wall directly behind my seating position. I totally enjoy this space.

Plus one on the Special 40’s.

Oh, and if you’re nuts, welcome to the club.😁

I concur on room treatment, I have an even smaller room with decent size dipole speakers, adding sound treatment to various locations made a huge difference. 
GIKacoustics offers free room treatment advice which I found very helpful. 

I own the Contour 20i's and drive them in a small room with a 25W, Class A, First Watt M2...they sound GREAT. Plenty of dynamics, tight bass, and power at all volumes. These are not that hard to drive. And btw, my amp has a damping factor of 20...zero issues with bass control.

I will pile on and applaud your excellent choice.  They should work well in your room size, set up on proper stands and positioned with care.  You don’t say whether you have electronics, nor what you expect in terms of dynamics, but a pair of 7” woofers cannot be expected to deliver limitless impact no matter the amp.  I would start with a 50-100W high current model. Given the price range of the speakers, a used Michi integrated might be a good place to start.

Good advice about room treatment.  I would suggest getting a mic and using something like REW to measure your room before treating it, and measure after treatment installation.  Or you could use dsp or Dirac or some other digital room correction.  I have no experience with either of the last two.  I have used a mic and REW and that was straight forward.  I assume dsp and Dirac are as well.

I am always a little skeptical of speakers that will require you to purchase a new and more powerful amplifier....where does all that power go...into the crossover and out the door. So many choices out there...

All advice greatly appreciated thus far. I'm writing down the important stuff.

@sounds_real_audio - I don't feel that the speaker purchase requires a new more powerful amp. If I already had a serious amp I'd very likely keep it, but I'm upgrading from a not-so-robust Yamaha AVR that I'm sure is not up to the task (both from a quality and oomph perspective).

I'm weighing the options between separates and a great integrated. I presume some of you consider "great integrated" an oxymoron 😉, but unfortunately I have budgetary considerations to keep in mind.

There are many great integrated amps out there.  You don’t need to do separates, particularly if that is cost prohibitive.

A small room can actually be your friend. My system resides in a smaller room than you are working with, but like stated above, with the correct room acoustic treatments, the system can sound great. I use two small subwoofers to smooth out the response and a medium powered tube amp ( and a high powered ss amp, which sounds about the same in volume as the tube amp, although I do not use the ss amp at the same time as the tube amps). The size of the speakers does matter, but the speakers you are contemplating should be fine, assuming some care in placement and some acoustic treatments. Is this room going to be dedicated room?

@daveyf - yes, it will be a dedicated room, so I'll have flexibility as far as positioning and room treatments without disrupting the living space.

I have zero experience with tube amps, so I'll be starting with AB or D and go from there as I learn more about this world of HiFi and develop a better ear. 

I have a short list already, but opinions on amp choice is welcome too. This forum has infinitely more knowledge and experience than I, but I also realize that opinions vary widely, as does confirmation bias and brand loyalty. If you make a recommendation, please let it be something you know personally. 

@letshearit Since you have flexibility with treatments you can definitely make it work. I have a similar sized room and had a few speakers in there, including KEF LS50, Thiel CS3.7, and now Magnepan LRS+. I like the LRS+ in the small room the best because it seems the easiest to place. I do need 3 feet from the front wall.

I have managed to add 4 feet into my office space by leveraging a closet, and that helps the sonics. Also keeping the door open helps. I have photos on my A’gon Virtual System.

If you want a sonic safety net for a too big speaker in a small room, then this guy will solve your room issues. Genius level knowledge of room issues. If you use ROON then you can easily use his remote service to fix the room. I do not use his Convolution filters with the LRS+ since I find it an easy placement. I used it with the Thiel CS3.7.

Digital Room Calibration Services, Convolver, Headphone Filtersets (accuratesound.ca)

My LRS+ is a bear to drive to get it sounding as good as it can get. It needs a lot of power, and I used the following:

  • PeachTree GAN400 (a sleeper amp, with a touch of hardness on top. $1k used, Class D GANFET, 400 watts)
  • Sanders Magtech ($4k used from Sanders, Class AB 500 watts)
  • CODA #16 ($16k, mostly Class A and 150 watts, huge current)
  • Benchmark AHB2 (works in the small room but not as good as the other 3, 100 watts)

All 3 amps can work, depends on how fussy you get. I am now stuck with the #16 since it sounded the best with the LRS+. Though if I had not heard the #16 with the LRS+ I would have been totally content with the Sanders. The PeachTree is good and great for the price.

My takeaway is that even in a small room a hard to drive speaker sounds the best with a lot of power. My CODA is the most powerful sounding. The Sanders and GAN400 follow.


My LRS+ system sounds great but there are limits due to the room. If you want something that seems unlimited sonically (no room) then consider the new RAAL 1995 Immanis ($10k). I have the lesser models CA-1a/SR1a and that is better than the LRS+ system that I have. The SR1a is like 2-channel sound.

(51) RAAL 1995 headphones, Magna and Immanis | Headphone Reviews and Discussion - Head-Fi.org


I will only look at speaker like the LRS+ for my small room from now on. The LRS+ is good but the drivers have some limitations in detail, compared to my Livingroom speaker This was a bit of an issue for me until I put the #16 amp in and now, I am not bothered. However, when I was bothered, I did some research and found these guys who make an LRS+ competitor that has been compared more favorably than the LRS+.

Diptyque audio - Hauts-parleurs plans Haute-Fidélité - Home

Diptyque audio - Hauts-parleurs plans Haute-Fidélité - dp107


Welcome to the insane asylum! (kidding)

Lot’s of good advice here but no questions about what kind of music you like and at what volume?

The reason I ask, is that your musical preferences can and should inform your speaker/amp choices.

One of the reasons I went with Harbeth is they are designed to sound very good at low levels, and do IMO. But even the 40’s aren’t the best rock speakers.

Just an example - not trying to sell you on Harbeth at all.

Good luck and enjoy the ride.

Musical tastes are all over the place - Mozart to Metallica, Coltrane to Coldplay, Deadmau5 to Dylan, Bonamassa to Black Sabbath. Lots and lots of blues, both the old guard and newer artists. Good amount of classic rock, alternative, and prog rock too. In short, too many styles to generalize. Not sure if this makes choosing gear more difficult or less!

I guess I'm looking for good balance, tight bass, and revealing detail while avoiding harshness. I seem to be rather intolerant of brightness around the 1KHz to 3KHz range. Not sure if it's my existing room or existing system, thus the desire to relocate and upgrade.

Those Dyns are typically demoed with Primaluna integrated, which are a great match. But if you’re new to all this, might be a good idea to keep things simple and stay away from tubes, which can become another rabbit hole. The main issue with most Dyns is that they require high current. So look at integrated ams that double, 100 into 8 ohms, 200 into 4 and so on.

Based on advice from you and others, I’ve been paying attention to the WPC specs as impedance gets halved. 

I’m going to stick with SS for now. As with any complex subject, the more you explore the more you realize how much you don’t know. So many rabbit holes. Seems the rabbit holes have their own rabbit holes!

I have/had a small budget and so far I found the best combination: tube preamp, SS amp. If you are open to used, you can put together a great pair for under $1000.

I would also suggest going tube preamp and ss amp. Tube amps can sound amazing, but they do require more in ongoing maintenance and cost ( usually).and they typically run hotter ( this is something to consider...heat is not your friend in a small room). Whereas, I think you get about 90% + of the way there with a tube preamp and good ss amp. The Dynaudio’s work well with both a medium powered tube amp and a medium to high powered ss amp. So long as flea powered ( single ended typically) tube amps are not in the mix, all should be good.

My room is 11x15 speakers are Canton 9k stand mounted and two SVS SB1000pro subs driven by Technics SUG 700 integrated. The Cantons sound very good by themselves with their approx.7 woofers", that is until I added the two subs. 

The subs took the sound to another level, imagine, dynamics, soundstage, inner detail all improved by adding subs. I was not expecting this level of enhancement. Keep in mind you have a volume control, yea if I go nuts, I can shake the house, its a small cape cod after all. But woo the benefit of TWO subs in my room!  I bet they will make significant improvement to your sound in your room, so at some point check out subs.  


Putting a speaker into a small room is not easy. The issues of amp and other gear are minor compared to the speaker and room interactions. I learned this the hard way.



1,222 posts


@audphile1 Was that code for "they sound like crap unless you play really loud"?

I plead the fifth

One thing to think about is that smaller monitors with some subs may be more flexible in a smaller room. You can put the monitors where they image best and have the best overall tone. Put the subs where they interact best with the room. Since they’re two very different domains in terms of what’s happening in the room, there is some solid logic to breaking the speakers into more pieces rather than monolithic full frequency towers.

As long as you can EQ levels somehow, there’s no problem with adding speakers with too much bass capacity. At worst it’ll be wasted capacity. I’d be inclined to try to play that room sideways, assuming it’s ergonomically practical, which means some kind of treatment for the rear wall which won’t be far behind your head. I’ve got a 12’ x 20’ room and it’s much better played sideways. I like a wide and open sound stage and it’s hard to get that with only 12 feet. 14 feet is certainly better than 11. Of course if you can you should try it both ways. I’ll confess the bass was better when I played the setup on the 12’ wall. I was getting solid response down to 20 Hz. Now it falls off rapidly at 35 Hz before rising again for a while below 20 Hz. There’s real 5 Hz response, but what good is that with a hole between 20 and 35? It’s not too important to me, not as important as what’s happening up higher.

@asctim - interesting advice, as I assumed I'd set up the speakers on the narrow end, but I'll play with both and see what I like better.

Regarding subs, I agree. I've had huge speakers in the past (Acoustic Research TSW 810s I think) that did not need subwoofers! - we used to call them coffins. Anyway, those were tough to move from both a weight perspective and a room mode perspective (had large rear-firing woofers). 

I've since moved to smaller speakers (bookshelf) with a B&W ASW610 sub and I like the flexibility of being able to move things around more easily. As I prepare for my next significant upgrade, Ive been moving things around quite a bit to hear how the speakers and the room sound. When my new, smaller room is ready I can begin experimentation in there. Really excited. Sub is at least 20 years old and well used, so I'll consider replacing/upgrading (maybe 2) into the new space.