Recommendation for low to normal level listening a 13.5' x 21' x 8' room

Appreciate your advice on speaker selection and what I should spend proportionate to the rest of my system.  Recently retired and moved to Atlanta, I am restructuring my system, going from 2 systems to 1. Dedicated listening room measures 13.5' x 21' x 8', is carpeted and will have diffusers and absorptive panels.  I listen mainly to jazz. I would like to make this speaker purchase my last.

I've owned Bohlender Graebener and currently own Eminent Technology LFT8B hybrid planar speakers, also own Talon Raven C.  I like the sound of the Talons and the openness of the ETs.  However the ETs aren't as refined a sound as I'd like (the Talons are more so).  Neither speaker is particularly alive at lower volume levels, and more engaging lower level listening is one of my goals.  I like a natural sound that is non-fatiguing.  While imaging is nice to have, it is less critical to me than the overall sound.  I want openness and as I age, the top end needs to be present and not rolled off but not over emphasized.  I also like enough base response that the sound is balanced.  Finally, I want a enough of a dynamic sound to accurately portray the music as it has been recorded.


The rest of my system includes:

Chapter Audio Chapter 2 amp

Cary SA_200.2 Moon version amp (with volume control)

SAS Audio hybrid tubed line stage preamp

Classe CT-SSP processor

Eastern Minimax phono stage

Musical Fidelity A5 CD

Metronome tubed CD player

A number of mid-fi turntables including Technics SP15, Yamaha PX2, Lenco 75.  I also have a very cool  massive 16" transcription turntable from the old CBS radio station in Chicago that is a future project.  Cartridges are on the low end (Denon103 and Hana) and I plan to upgrade.

Mosscade Saturn 12 subwoofer

I intend to sell off what I won't keep to help fund my purchase.  My budget is $5K - $10K and I prefer pre-owned to get the biggest bang for my buck.  I have my eye on a pair of pre-owned SoundLab Majestic 845, but I have never heard an electrrostat and there doesn't seem to be a dealer within a reasonable drive of me. Also I'm not sure if my room would be too small to optimize the 845s and I will do most of my listening within 8' -12' of the speakers. I also am considering Maggies and I will be auditioning an Acoustat 2+2 locally.  

I recently listened to Klipsch Forte 2s and Belles.  I liked the Forte's base and the midrange of the Belles.  I did not care for the top end of either as it seemed recessed and lacking air.

My electronics (except maybe the Chapter 2 amp) aren't the highest caliber so I'm open to any suggestion to maximize my sound.  I don't have unlimited funds to churn thru equipment until I find what I like and I am frustrated with the lack of opportunity to audition the equipment I've researched that seems to be what I'd like.  So, your input will mean a lot to me.  Thanks in advance.




Thanks, all, for your thoughtful input.  I am digesting your recommendations and will look to audition whatever is locally available.

I heard a pair of Klipsch Forte IIs and really liked them but for the top end sounding a bit recessed.  I imagine the higher quality dynamic speakers will all sound good as well.   I have seen the Watt Puppies are Sonus Fabers noted in a quite a few threads in the past so I'll try to hear them for sure.

I am seeing what I consider a huge contradiction in the original statement. "Normal to low-level Listening" I consider Normal to low-level listening to have peaks into the 70 DB range as if you intend to even hear the quiet parts this is demanded. Also, I know I made exceptional speakers that have reasonably good Lows of around 50Hz easily achieved from 8" woofers; I seldom even get the desire to turn on my Sub. Considering that most Bass is a matter of what a certain instrument sounds like at that a given low freq, and how a particular selection is mixed, I ENJOY hearing what the studio intended for me to hear instead of some theoretical sound I am forcing into the system. By the way, I never had a graphic equalizer connected to any system I have ever owned and my current receiver is set to bypass the tonal controls. With this in mind, I HAVE learned that there are a number of pieces that I have found totally inadequately mixed, and am satisfied looking for better, rather than trying to override and artificially correct the studio's inadequacy.

4th recommendation for Cornwall IVs. I mostly listen to jazz atlow levels an these are a fantastic speaker for that.

My room is very similar to yours.

I have 4 way highly efficient horns/15" woofers similar to Klipsch others recommend, but that has nothing to do with enjoying music at low volumes.

It is easy to drive inefficient speakers at low volume, also nothing to do with enjoying ...

You need exactly what we all do at low volume listening: Boost Bass and Boost Highs to compensate for human hearing preference for mids at low volume.

Fletcher Munson analyzed and EQ curves (equal loudness) were determined long ago to automatically and progressively engage that EQ as volume lowers.


The Feature was horribly misunderstood because it was stupidly called ’LOUDNESS’. It is sadly omitted by modern equipment.

This Chase RLC-1 Unit implements Fletcher Munson EQ automatically and progressively at low volume listening



I have several, and my friends have added them to their systems, for ALL of it’s Remote Features with no detriment to system quality.

Note specs: 105 db S/N. You simply cannot tell it is in-line, (I/we have tried so many times, it ain’t there, yet it is). but You get Remote Volume/Mute/Balance/Bass/Treble as well as automatic bass boost as volume lowers below ’low normal’ (no boost engaged).

If others never listen at low volumes, it is still a great way to add remote features to equipment without remote volume ...

I was pleasantly surprised by how much better my current speakers are at low volume listening. 

After over forty years in this hobby, within the first five minutes of listening to my current speakers at home even the family exclaimed. I realized just how horribly inept I was at discerning speaker presentation.

They were suggested by many far more experienced people but they greatly exceeding my budget. Making a point to listen to them at audio shows and boutique retailers I concluded they seemed sleepy, lacking the bombast of many less costly brands.

Close to a decade of unsatisfied auditions and trials with other speakers had past. The manufacture upgraded their cabinet, crossover and some of the drivers yet maintained their outward appearance. Reminiscent of when the V8 MGB was introduced they didn't even put a scoop on the hood. 

The upgrade put them even further out of my budget but the once barren used market for the standard Avalon Acoustics Eidolon began to sprout. It'll soon be fifteen years and like my favorite longboard, I don't even bother.

Hope you find it, best of luck.