Seeking Bookshelf Recommendations

Looking for some new bookshelf speakers for a second system in a small bedroom.   The room is pretty well treated with 6 broadband absorption and 9 diffuser panels. I’m running Audio Mirror Reflection 45 mono blocks with a Canary preamp. Source will most likely be a Gustard R26 as both dac and streamer. I also have a pair of Rel t5i subs and Aperion dual firing super tweeters.  

Soundstaging and imaging are king for me. I want the biggest most dimensional sound I can afford.  My amp pairing is really smooth so I’m not looking for anything too warm.  I’d like something that is neutral but full in the lower mids and upper bass but also extended and airy in the treble.  My current Totem Arros do the soundstaging/imaging but are a little weak for me in the lower mids and upper bass.  Also I really value clarity and resolution as long as the magic isn’t lost of course. Basically I’m looking to have my cake and eat it too. My budget is around 3k and right now tops of my list are Fritz Carreras and Kef R3 metas. Also, Joseph Pulsars would be at the very top of my wish list but I’m trying to spend less unless it’s truly worth it.  Others that are lower on the list are Nola Boxers, Totem Signature Ones, Merlin TSM MMM, and maybe even one of the smaller Thiel floor standing speakers

As always I’m looking forward to everyone’s thoughts and hopefully there is at least a couple great speakers I’m missing. 


I've had the Fritz Carrerra BE's for several years and they are superb speakers for the money, and Fritz is a great guy to talk to. I ended up selling them when I moved up to Marten Parker Duo's last year which were a whole lot more expensive....  

The Kef Meta line tends to be extremely hard to drive.  If you are looking for a speaker that will mate well with most amp, go with Fritz.  If you want something  very demanding, go with the Kefs.

You have done your homework well.


You mention a smaller room. Is that 8 x 10 or?


You may want to consider Buchardts.. I have owned the Fritz BEs twice now and want them again.

I like the Metas but not as much as the Fritz.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I’ve actually owned the baby Harbeths before and they are great. I’m tempted to try them again now that the room is treated and I just might. Although, my gut says to get something that can play louder. Reference 3a is a big one that is on my radar but forgot to mention. Wish I liked their look a bit better but still would gladly try a pair if a pair comes up at a good price. Fritz is probably where i have been leaning and so far that seems like a good direction, but curious if anyone knows the differences between the original be tweets and the current ones he’s using?  Is one preferable to the other? 

There’s a pair of reference 3a reflectors on “the other audio site”. I’ve heard this guys pair and they are real real good and they are built like bomb shelters. I would snatch them up if I didn’t just buy speakers. Price is good as well. 

I used to have the KEF LS50 Meta + KEF KC62 sub in my small office, 12x11x9 (+ 4 extra feet in closet). That was very good. My Benchmark AHB2 was more than enough to drive them. I used a lot of other amps, and they all were good.

A year ago, I picked up the Magnepan LRS+ to try. They cost $1000 but need a lot of power. I have tried amps from the used $1000 PeachTree GAN400 (good) to the $16k CODA #16 (great).  

The LRS+ are 3 feet from the from wall and I am 8 feet away. The sound is huge, a wall of sound. There is depth to the sound because the panel radiates the sound in both directions.

I needed spend $300 to improve the sound with Magna Risers (feet). My minor complaint about the LRS+ is the details could be improved. There is a $300 cross over upgrade that is supposed to improve the minor issue I have with them. I am waiting on feedback from someone who got the cross over. I may get it if it is easy to install, otherwise, it is not a deal breaker. The LRS+ do too many good things.

I also feel it is easy to place the LRS+ in my room, the KEF LS50 Meta was also easy to place.

lots of choices here >>>

My list in the price range, including used would be Revel, Revival, Mofi and Sonner 


I’d have a look at Totem. They have several bookshelf speakers. I have a pair of Mites and a matching mini sub. They are wonderfully punchy and natural… beautifully crafted. Mine are cherry they are simply stunning and do great off center. Perfect for a spall bedroom.

Personally I’d wait for a nice used pair of the original Pulsars, and you’re obviously aware of why.  That said, I can’t see going wrong with the Fritz, Totem, or Ref 3a speakers given what you’re looking for and would add the Usher Dancer Mini X as another option well worth a look.  The Boxers might be a little on the warm side and the KEFs and Thiels would probably be a tough load for your amp.  Merlin and Thiel are obviously (and very sadly) out of business, and as the owner of speakers from a defunct manufacturer I can tell you it’s a precarious existence.  Living in constant fear of blowing a driver or some other mishap is not something I’d recommend especially when there are excellent alternatives like those above from companies that are still in business.  Hope this helps, and best of luck.

I was also going to suggest the Joseph Audio Pulsars - wonderfully musical, and they go down to about 40 Hz so they reproduce acoustic bass well.

I bought some used ones a few years ago at about 35% of list price (so 65% off).

You guys are making think I need to figure out how to get a set of Pulsars. Which is probably what I needed to hear. Otherwise I may just end up wondering what if. There is a couple pairs available but the asking price is more than I could spend. I’ve seen them around 3500 and that’s probably the most I could pay. If anybody’s looking to sell though definitely message me. 

I owned a pair of Quad S-5 that I ran head to head with my Focal 926s.  The thing that impressed me the most was about the S-5 was the imaging.  But I ultimately kept the Focals and sold the S-5.  After some time my listening became more refined and I realized I kept the wrong speaker.   I emailed the buyer and offered to buy the S-5 back.  "HAHA , No"  he said and I knew why.  Last year I was able to purchase a pair of Quad Z-4s and am currently enjoying imaging and staging, "The King"  

Check out this review , At about the 5:10 mark he starts to talk about the imaging/soundstage.  


Two pairs of Pulsars on Audiogon for sale right now.  They are over your budget though.  I have Fritz Rev 7 SEs and they are excellent in my small listening room.  I don’t think you’d be giving up much, if anything, having the Carreras vice the Pulsars.

I have owned S400 buchardts 

Totem model ones not the signature but regular

And Diapason Micro

I think of the 3 i liked the buchardt s400's 

Had a much better lower end

But Diapasons cant be beat for mids and highs

Never tried any Joseph audio but they would definetly be on my short list

Cheers and happy listening


The Philharmonic BMR Monitor is really nice but you'd have to pre-order the June/July 2024 batch to get them.

Others not mentioned to consider MoFi PointSource 8, KLH Model 5, and Wharfedale Linton.

The Borresen x1 monitors with matching stands ,a fantastic loudspeaker

and compete with anything at 2x it’s price.retail $6600 but shop around you can 
get a pair for less .

If you want a really nice sounding speaker that's a bargain on the used market you might want to consider a pair of KEF Reference Series Model 101's.  They can usually be purchased in nice condition for around $500.  I've had Rogers LS3/5A's (both 15 ohm and 11 ohm) as well as Harbeth HLP3ES, and I prefer the KEF's.  

Take a look at the mofi source point 10s.  Very easy to drive at 93 db(I believe).I have mine spaced about 20’ apart and the ss is very good, clear, defined. They have been on sale as of late. I considered the kef metas and habeth the but these were more in my price range. I took a chance and am really happy. Driven by a pair of ps audio m700 

I have a pair of Sonus Faber Sonetto II's paired with a McIntosh in my family room.  This is a second system paired with B&W surrounds in the walls.  First of all, if you are looking for wide soundstage these will fit that requirement.  They also have great bass and I'm not using a sub plus the midrange and high end all match flawlessly.  I bought these due to space requirements sight unseen but recommended by my dealer and have been very impressed.  Oh, by the way, I got white to match my bookshelves and play without the grills and my wife doesn't complain (that much).


Good Luck and let us know how you make out.

@brylandgoodman I’m a good friend of Vlad’s and know his amps well, and have had experience with your preamp once.

I’ve advocated a lot for the Joseph Audio Pulsars in past threads, but I should ask - do you plan to put the bookshelves on stands? If so, one speaker I would highly recommend you look at given your system is the Scansonic MB-2.5B. It is basically a small floorstanding speaker that has the form factor of a narrow bookshelf on a stand, and it weighs that much as well. That said, it delivers a really clear, engaging sound (think Raidho and Borresen, as Michael Borresen originally designed the MB series). They would work really nicely with the AM Reflection amps.

The MB-2.5B will also dig deeper than most bookshelves given its cabinet size. It is also bottom ported, so it can be kept closer to walls. It’ll fill up to medium-sized rooms (around 18ft wide) without the need for a subwoofer.

Some people look negatively at Scansonic, but that’s typically because of poor amp matching. They require high current amplifiers, and the AM Reflections will wake them up and properly control them.

Just like Raidho and Borresen speakers, they image and soundstage exceptionally.

I am an authorized Scansonic dealer, but I purchased the larger MB-6B prior to being a dealer by trade. They unseated my $25K Wilson Yvette. I thought the line was such a n incredible value that once I became a dealer, I had to take them on.

@larsman +1

I have the same speakers running with a Luxman 509Z. Outstanding speakers. You can get them from Fritz on a 30 day trial basis. If you are not pleased you can send them back. 

Fritz Carrera BE Specifications (

Mine are not going back. 

Have given any thought to getting a pair of the new PS Audio FR5’s? 
They are $3500 and are returnable if need be.

Having said that, The JA Pulsars are much better looking and I’m sure would make you very happy, but are three times the price.

Let us know what you decide.


Joseph Audio Pulsars ($4,300 used, but usually don't last long), Fritz Carrera ($3,700 new), Buchardt Audio S400 MKII ($2,400 new), and Philharmonic BMR ($2,000 new)

I have had the Pulsars and BMRs in my system on extended loan from friends, and several times at shows. I own the Buchardt S400 MKIIs, and am recommending the Fritz based on reputation and having heard them several times at shows and an acquaintances home......that would be the short list if I didn't already own the Buchardts, which I will not be selling and love for the money.

If you can bump your budget up a bit more, go for the Pulsars.....they are great speakers

I've spent for my B&W C202 $5 at garage sale.

They're excellent bookshelf speakers that I use for PC audio!

I don’t know your budget. 
$10k is Arrtai bookshelf

$16k us Sonner bookshelf with matching stands. 

if these are in your budget then you are welcome. 

if you are in the Chicagoland area I believe Holm Audio is a Sonner dealer and can probably get you the Aertai through a distributor. Please talk to Mike Holm and not staff. 

🙄 I might be a bot. No Im human,  I made a mistake. KEF Ref 3 Meta. One of my favorite in that price range. If you can find a used pair of Revel M126. I love the glossy walnut. I have the Revel Studio 2. They do good without room treatments but are beasts with them. They both have great bass. I feel the Revels are more controllable if putting closer to the front wall even though they are rear ported too. 
1001011010. Are we allowed to swear on this forum?🤪

I was really happy with my JBL 4309s, but then I found these, from a newer speaker company, and they blow my socks off. Check them out.

Revival Atalante 3


I think you should try the monitor audio platinum 100G3 very three-dimensional airy spacious and enveloping sound stage.

As you can see everyone has their favorites as speakers are the most subjective component. Read reviews to get a sense of the characteristic sound of speakers in your price range. Then go audition them at local audio stores. As most stores stream you can select your favorite tacks right from Tidal or Qobuz. If possible listen to another pair as a contrast to the one you’re focusing on. Or get a home trial. Don’t buy without listening or on the basis of a review.

In my experience I was very excited about Revel Speakers after reading reviews and watching Youtube Demos. The 128B3 was my primary target, There was a store about 45 minutes from me that had them on display. Once I heard them with Classical Music I new that their sound characteristics were not to my liking There were no other brands there that I was interested in so I left and went to a second store that carried my alternate, Harbeth, which I knew would probably have a completely different presentation. However I really wanted to hear the 30.3 Monitor and the C7es-XD. My target was the 30.3 and after an hour long comparison I selected the C7. So research. Create a short list and then listen, compare or get a home trial.

This post is beyond my capabilities to understand. You want to fill a small room with enough power and sound than most will do for a room 3 times the size. I don't understand spending 10k plus for such a small space. You are way out of my expertise and price range. Good luck

I second the BORRESEN X-1's @ $5500 pr.  Tremendous value and very musical w/ gigantic soundstage.

A much-overlooked speaker is the Technics C 700s. They are exceptional and available for less than $1K. Read the reviews, they are easy to find. I have a pair and love them..



If soundstaging and imaging are important are you considering room correction and  active amplification?  

You only have 45 watts! Not a lot of speakers will work. The only one I know that WILL work are the ones from Audionote or devour

You might contact Ty of Tyler Acoustics and inquire as whether he could build you a pair of his older Taylo Reference Monitors—the version with the Seas Millennium tweeters. They are essentially a slightly larger Joseph Pulsar, and very well built. 

On the used market they can sometimes be bought for between $800 and $1100, which makes them one of the best values in all of audio. They can do some things better than some $15K speakers IME. Supplement them with subs and you have “end game” performance. 

You might contact Ty of Tyler Acoustics and inquire as whether he could build you a pair of his older Taylo Reference Monitors—the version with the Seas Millennium tweeters. They are essentially a slightly larger Joseph Pulsar

No, they’re not.  Just because they may use similar Seas drivers doesn’t make them “a slightly larger Pulsar.”  The magic in the Pulsars (and all JA speakers) is in the infinite slope crossover that’s patented and can’t be replicated.

I was thrilled for years with my KEF LS50s (bought when they first came out) driven by a Pass XA30.5.  I never got the amp out of class A (Pass needle never moved), even when old pals came over and it got loud...  I would recommend them to anyone.

It takes a lot to beat them.  I only upgraded last winter, when fortune allowed me to find a pair of MBL 126s within driving distance and a pair of Pass XA100.5s to drive them. 

BTW the MBLs sounded absolutely wonderful with the XA30.5, but the needle was moving.  With XA100.5s, the needles don't even twitch, and bass is noticably tighter.

In a small room you’ll get the best results/least room boundary interaction with a sealed/acoustic suspension speaker. They are few and far between, but well worth seeking out. I’ve had 4 or 5 pairs of sealed speakers in my small home office and got good results each time.

The pick of the litter in the manageable size options has to be the ATC SCM11s. I had the studio monitors, SCM12 Pros, which have the same drivers as the SCM11s in a slightly larger box. This is impeccable, dynamic, musical sound.

They’re ~$2K new, and there are always a few used pairs circulating (example below).