Speaker and Cable Suggestions Please

Greetings, some time ago (maybe over a year ago) I asked for some advice as to what tube integrated amp to buy. It was to be my first tube amp and I needed a lot of help. After a long search and much study, I decided on an ARC VSi75. Now I need your help again. I currently have a pair of Focal Aria 926. My listening room is small, 15'7" x 11'7" (4.75m x 3.5m).

I'm looking for a speaker for a near-field situation that extends into the upper mids and high frequencies. Since my amp puts out 75 watts of output, I need something with decent sensitivity, say at least 91db. I also need new speaker cables. I'm using circa 1980s Monster Cable now.

One more consideration, I have lost some hearing due to a neurological autoimmune condition. Yet, when I auditioned Paradigm Persona Bs recently through an ARC, I could here all the sound that I remember hearing when I was a teenager. The point being, I know that upper range I'm chasing is possible I just don't know if it's achievable on my budget. I have about $4,000 to spend on speakers and cables. I was thinking about DH Lab Q-10 for cables and the rest for speakers. What do you guys think? I don't mind buying used. Thank you.


For your size room don’t limit yourself to a speaker with 91db sensitivity. A Ls3/5a type speaker would be a good choice with that ARC amp and near field listening. Harbeth, Spendor, Falcon, ProAc, etc. make outstanding speakers in your price range!

This Harbeth has always been my favorite of that type speaker!


I think you need a starting point about what you expect a cable to do/be with your stuff, in your room. Waste a few buck, and buy some Blue Jeans and Mogami cables of the same gauge and length. They are quite different and sound quite different. I'm not recommending either one of these necessarily, but since you're willing to spend big bucks, this should give you some idea of what type of cable (sonically) you should be looking at. Some folks like a cable I'd probably call bright but others would think it's the cat's meow. FWIW.

Congradulations on your new amp. Great choice.

High quality audio systems can make up for reduced hearing. I think mostly by revealing the whole spectrum of sound in the music. If you miss a bit of the real high frequency, it just isn’t that obvious. Most sound are pretty large spreads across the spectrum and things like snare drums have a very high dynamic impact so, the stand out.

There are lots of great speakers out there, I would look at Sonus Faber and DynAudio for sure. A very classic combo is Sonus Faber, Audio Research and Transparent wires.


I would not worry about fancy speaker cables right now. I would get the best possible speakers you can afford… maybe used… a few years old. This can get you into a category well above the one you would be looking in new.


Then get your speakers… break them in, get to know them really well.. Five hundred hours or more. Which can easily be a year. Then when you are financially recovered start looking for speaker cables. Do the same kind of work you did picking out your speakers. This way you will be able to audition cables and know when you tried the right one.


This method will hel- assure you you are getting the most out of your purchases.

In that size room and if you don’t listen very loud, B&W 805 D2 would be a good fit for what you’re trying to accomplish. They love power though so your ARC integrated is going to work for its money but I think it should be fine.
As far as speaker cables, I can second the suggested on Audience AU24sx above. Used all this may be slightly over $4,000 used but not by much. If you want to do cheaper cables, you can find a used pair of Acoustic Zen Hologram II. 

I'd agree with the others -- for near field listening in a small room with a 75 watt/ch amp, the last thing you need to be concerned about is speaker sensitivity. (One exception -- if you are looking for a rock-concert 100+ dB average sound level, in which case you can ignore my comments.)

I have a pair of Spendor 4/5 speakers (under $3K new) in a small room and really enjoy their natural sound and consider them very musical for their small footprint.  However, I can't tell from your original comments concerning mids & highs as to whether you are looking for emphasis in that range or just very natural. BBC type designs are legendary for their presentation in the vocal range, but that's not what everyone is looking for.

Thank you all for your responses. I hope to read more. I may go with good cables first. I was thinking about Hologram II. The Audience AU24sx are out of my budget range, even in the used market. I want to keep speaker cables under $1,000. I was also looking at Avanti Vivace. I find the company's use of separate cables for the positive and negative an interesting concept.

I'm beginning to think I should just get better cables and bid my time, use my Focal Arias, and wait until I can better afford a more appropriate speaker for my room. It's just that my trade-in value for my Arias is never going to better than right now.

I’m beginning to think I should just get better cables and bid my time, use my Focal Arias, and wait until I can better afford a more appropriate speaker for my room. It’s just that my trade-in value for my Arias is never going to better than right now.

I think this is a good move. The Arias are very nice speakers. And I think the Hologram II will be a good match. 

You compromised and bought a 75 watt amp for your low sensitivity speaker.  If you wanted to replace your speakers, you should have done that first, got a 96dB+ speaker and gone SET.  So buy a sensitive speaker so in the future you can.

Thanks carlsbad2. My Aria's are at a relatively high sensitivity at 91db, that fact was why I chose the 75 watt output amp. I'm considering different speakers to achieve more definition and air in the mid and higher frequencies. In terms of volume, the Arias do quite nicely. 

You can buy the original version of  AU 24 speaker cables for less than $1,000.  Maybe even gen. 2.  I bought my 3m pair for $500.  They come up occasionally on A’gon and US Audio Mart and will be a nice match for your speakers.  

Also in a small room you can easily get away with speakers under 90db so long as they’re any easy 8 ohm load and you’re not a head banger.  Mine are 87db and fine in a similar sized room.   

Just checked specs for your speakers. Not an easy load.  They dip under 3ohm.  Not really a good match for tubes.  You’re probably loosing the lower octave of your music.

You need a speaker that is very coherent and you will need to treat the room.



A lot of nice speaker recommendations. Here's mine: The Monitor Audio Silver 300 7G. It's nearly identical big brother the 500 7G was given Stereophile Class A status for a reason. The 300s work better in smaller rooms, and don't have to be so far out into the listening space. Their dual rear ports allow LF trimming to avoid mid-bass 'thickness' on vocals. But most importantly they have both smoothness and dynamics. They sound like what I always hoped for: the British "PRaT" Pace Rhythm and Timing, with the definition and clarity of a horn, yet none of the harshness. Way more speaker per dollar than anything else I listened to. Soundstage and imaging? Very good. My LS-50s required that I be within a few feet (nearfield) otherwise they sounded tiny and my Magnepans simply required too much real estate. The B&Ws - didn't care for their house sound, and as much as I respect Harbeth, Spendor and ProAc, they required spending at least 2-3X my budget to even get close to the Monitor Audios. Use the change to play with cables, and you can bring it all in for your $4K budget.

@diminishedchord check the Focal website and spec sheet for your speakers.  I believe it says your speakers drop to 2.9 ohms, which can be difficult for a tube amp to handle.  Do a search here for speaker impedance. Lots of info to digest and one more important point to consider if you replace your speakers and continue to use tube amps.

Now I have a new question. As marco1 suggested, my Focal Arias operate at a nominal 8 ohms but at a minimum impedance of 2.9 ohms. I don't know what this means. Does the impedance fluctuate during operation? If so, what makes a speaker have a fluctuating impedance? Should I use the 4 ohm speaker terminals on my integrated or the 8 ohms?

If your budget doesn't stretch to the Audience AU24Sx speaker cables, another suggestion is Auditorium 23.

I have Audience AU24SX RCAs and AES/EBU cables. Fabulous.

Spend your money on the speakers as they are 99% or more of the sound.  Use 14 or 12 gauge zip cord for cables.  Yes, cables can make a tiny tiny difference and if you are a trained listener and have 30 year old perfect hearing, they can be audible. For the rest of us, nope.   

Of course, the more you spend the more your brain will justify magical improvements.  I love magic, but my preference is the old school right in front of you slight of hand. Blackwood kind. 

YES, speaker impedance varies with frequency. The "nominal impedance" is a pretty useless value.  Minimum impedance is more helpful, but that does not even really explain everything as phase issues can cause even bigger current draws around crossover points.   An example: 

The Truth About Speaker Impedance – Aperion Audio

Refer to your owners manual which terminals to use.   I would use the 4 Ohm tap for sure. 

2.9 Ohms minimum impedance is, well sorry, a terrible design.  You can get away with this on class D amplifiers OK, but is brutal on linear amplifiers and an absolute no-no on most AVRs. Not only due to current draw, but some amplifiers can become unstable and blow up.  On tube amps, it is more about distortion than damage. 

Audio Research to me has always been a safe choice in amplification. I once owned a Vt-100 amp and never felt I was missing anything, even after upgrading to another amp still look back on it as a very good amp. Cable wise, Cerious Technologies Graphene Matrix are my bang for the buck cable. Great performance especially for the price. And, even though a bargain at the brand new pricing, usually a steal on the used market.

Thank you all for your input. I learned some things from all you guys. For example, I had no idea that speaker impedance fluctuates, sometime drastically. I may give Fritz Heiler a call. His claim to fame is producing Tube-amp (SET amp) loving speakers with stable impedance. His speakers, however, are not the most sensitive. It will be one of the things I will ask him about once talk to him.

I will hold off on speaker cables for now and put the money towards better speakers. After careful consideration that seems like to most sensible course of action to take. If it wasn't for all of your contribution to my plight, I would have continued to chase my tail in my quest for better sound without even being aware of it. Again, Thank you all.

I agree with those advising a focus on impedance over sensitivity. Much more important, especially considering a tube amplifier. Sensitivity becomes most  important in large rooms. Always important to match impedance to amplifier regardless of room size.

I own Fritz Carbon 7s with a PP tube amplifier using EL34 output tubes in triode mode to drive them in a 12 x 15 room having 8.5' ceilings.

These, Marrow Audio, will not break the bank. Have on two systems. Cardas Iridium line very good/affordable.


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@diminishedchord hook up VSi75 with your speakers. It should have no issues driving the Arias. You can experiment with 8 or 4 ohm taps and land on whatever sounds best. Get a baseline for the sound you’re getting. The Aria 926 are pretty competitive and with the right amp will sound very good. You can then either upgrade the cables or research what speakers to get next but keep in mind, again, the 926 are not garbage. 


Definitely check out the Dynaudio line of standmounts. Your integrated has the power to drive them, and these are speakers that get great owner reviews as well as critic reviews. Yes, the Harbeths, Spendors, and ProAcs are great as well, but imo, Dynaudios are quite frankly just as good and even better in their high frequency naturalness.

Oh, and you'll be fine with 12g stranded cable with good connectors... don't misdirect your money on $$ cables.


I remember early on I was inclined to get expensive speaker cables immediately, I think to throw everything at the speaker purchase to make sure I could hear a difference that would justify the financial outlay I made for the speakers. I would not be surprised if that isn’t common. Lots of time there is a lot of anxiety on these large purchases.


Over time, the anxiety disappeared with experience and confidence in my judgement increased and I started making more logical decisions and worked in stages to upgrade my system. 

+1 ghdprentice.

FWIW, I’m always saddened to see folks ’waste’ money by buying wires out of angst more than a need for which they have developed the skills to appreciate. I think a lot of folks think that more $ chased after wires assures good performance when, in fact, better sound could often be obtained by using the money to buy better stuff in the first place, and then, over time as their listening skills develop they can investigate wires and learn how they can impact their system. That thought is what caused me to mention the Blue Jeans (Belden) and Mogami cables. They are very different and if you can’t really hear it then you’re premature in buying expensive cables. If you can, then you can look for ’better’, not necessarily more expensive, cable which has similar sonic potential. Some folks might never actually need to buy expensive cables for many reasons but finding good cables is much easier if you have enuf basic knowledge to start your search.

+1 for calling Fritz.  I have the Rev7 SE and I can’t say enough good things about them.  My room is a bit smaller than yours and the Fritzs sound amazing to my ears.  All his speakers have a smooth impedance curve, no wild swings or deep dips. Mine don’t go below 6 ohms so even though they are 87db sensitive they are easy to drive.  I have a 200wpc MA8900 that rarely gets anywhere near the 1 watt to drive them to 80db+ which is plenty loud for me (and my neighbors too I’m sure 😁).  Having done a decent amount of listening at local audio retailers, imho, it would take spending at least 2-3x to better what these speakers offer.  That will probably happen some day but today I’m very happy with the Fritzs.

I forgot to mention I realize you are using a tube amp but your 75w is plenty of juice.


Like most everyone, I started out by cutting the ends off of extension cords.  When I bought better equipment, I bought some 12 gauge, stranded wire that each strand was silver coated.  Then I bought better equipment, I bought some AudioQuest cables.  Don’t tell my wife, but I’m getting the itch to get better amplification and probably better speaker cables. 😁

George,  If I go back to tubes, how many tube watts would you suggest I need for 90dbs speakers?  




My speakers are 90db efficient. I am running my ARC 160 in triode mode… so 70wpc. I could blow my ears out ( I had some youngsters over here that wanted to see if they could damage their ears).


I would think 60wpc would be plenty. Your room is not huge so maybe less. Tubes do not suffer / benefit with too little / much power like solid state.

A solid state amp delivers the power equally across impedance variations.  A tube amp will put out more power at varying higher impedances resulting in a uneven frequency response similar to if you used an equalizer to boost the mids and highs up or down.
With a tube amp, sensitivity or efficiency of the speakers isn't the only thing to consider.  BTW- your ARC amp is very powerful!
I have 11 different tube amps ranging in power up to 80 watts with KT 88, 6L6, 6550, EL 34, 300B and EL 84 tubes.  Even the 2.3 watt per channel EL 84 Decware amp drives all of my 87-88 dB speakers in my 14 x 22 ft room well.
Loudspeakers which have series crossovers typically have a gradually rising impedance curve and a straight phase curve. unlike most loudspeakers with conventional parallel crossovers.  Series crossovers use far fewer and much small components that don't suck up a lot of power and good sound.
Google any loudspeaker and see if they have a Stereophile review. Go to the measurement page & check out the impedance & phase curves. They will look like mountain ranges with peaks & dips. No other speakers will have smooth curves unless they use series crossovers.
Attached below is a graph of one of my loudspeakers with series crossovers.  Thanks, Fritz

PM sent to OP.

I have a set of the monster cables from the 80s. You might enjoy something to compare to those speaker cables as a first step. There's good advice above for both cables and speakers and such. I think that you might be pleasantly surprised with an inexpensive speaker cable swap.

I've heard the Persona Bs, and recently the Dynaudio Heritage Specials. I own a pair of the Founder 40b, and have used them for small and medium room listening..

All I can tell you is this, if you can get your hands on a good pair of pre-owned JPS Audio Superconductor 3 speaker cables, you'll be done with speaker cables for life.  I've owned my Superconductor 3 cables for over 15 years and have found them to be some of the best speaker cables regardless of price.  Over the years, I've changed all my cabling except for the Superconductor 3s.  They were pretty expensive when they were being produced new, and I'm not sure what they're currently go for on the used market.  But, I can assure you, they are well worth every penny.       



With high frequency hearing loss, I think that the Dynaudio 40 is a great recommendation based upon what I have heard about Dynaudio having the best tweeters. GR Research has an upgrade for it that will take it to a much improved level. Speakers, often insanely expensive ones, frequency use really horrid components in their crossovers. So, if you can solder, that's probably a great way to go. He sells speaker cables too, but I have never heard them. Another consideration is to get bright speakers. I know a guy who has hf loss, and his system would drive most out of the room, but he loves it. There's no shame in designing the system for you, just don't try to impress others with it! 😉 All listening is personal. Some like systems so muddy that you can't hear differences in cables. They love their systems, I'd have listening fatigue in a minute, but they'll listen for hours. It's tough since most stores don't really focus on audio anymore. I think that TMS, The Music Store may work with you as long as no damage is done, and you'll pay shipping and perhaps a restocking fee, but I can't tell you that authoritatively, I think I read it somewhere. Hope you find what pleases you!

High efficiency is always a good choice for tubes imo. 

As for cables, try lamp wire.*

Seriously: focus on good speakers first. Then see how much you want to waste on speaker cable. Imho, as long as it’s thick enough, you’re good.

* Oh merciful God, please protect me, your humble servant, unreceivedogma, from the slings and arrows of expensive cable fetishists. 😬😬😬

Stager Silver Solids pure silver cables have a reputation for being exceptionably accurate and transparent, among the finest available according to users and critics alike - many of whom purchased them for reference cables and for their own use.

And priced well below what you would expect.

Website has all the specs, review links, user comment - worth a look:
Stager Silver Solids Pure Silver High-End Audio Cables

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I use the DH Labs q10 cable mentioned with both my Harbeths and Maggies.  It’s silver clad over copper and is exactly the sound I prefer- essentially neutral but a tad cool/crisp but with strong bass.

@diminishedchord If you are not absolutely sure how your hearing condition is going to impact on your experiencing the full Audio Frequency Range, typically 20 - 20Khz.

You might not be too impacted as realistically, recordings are commonly produced between 40K - 18?Khz. It might be worthwhile having a hearing test, as can let you know where the frequencies are not being detected as a audible sound.

If hearing limitations are discovered, there are options for Speakers that are not going to break the bank.

The frequency Range you are asking to have a notable performance will be found in ESL Speakers and not many Cabinet Speakers are able to do what a ESL does across this frequency.

With ESL's there is the efficiency hurdle to get over, I use my own ones with Low Watt Valve Power Amp's and have not felt the ESL is compromised. 

I also have developed a interest in a alternate speaker design, I have supplied sample materials to be used by a skilled producer of this design.

If you are interested in an alternative speaker design, and are liking a non-intrusive design, which will be a project that is not too demanding to create. I suggest a investigation of the Link and take the time to listen to some of the recordings listed below and the more recent additions put out by those who have working Speaker Models.

Page 116 – Post 2302 - Page 117 – Post 2303 -2321 – 2332 – Page 171 – Post 3410 (Interest)    

Page 172 – Post 3421 (Interest) – 3423 – 3427 - 3429 (Interest) - Page 173 –

Post 3447 (Interest) –  - 3459 (Interest)

Post 4726 is a Video using the DML Design as a PA

 Post 5622 has a recording of a Panel in use as a Mono Set Up and from Post 5640 - 5642 there is a Stereo Recording and further discussion on the merits of the material in use. ( My supplied Sample Material) 


A lot of nice speaker recommendations. Here's mine: The Monitor Audio Silver 300 7G.


This is a great suggestion.  I even like the Silver 100 7g a little better.  I have recommended this speaker to 3 others in your exact situation and they love them.

I also agree on buying the speakers first before you pick up some speaker cables.  Get used to the sound before changing anything else in your system.


Prudent advise is always try to find your speakers first.  Then in due time think about different electronics, wires, etc.  otherwise I think you’ll find that you’re always chasing your tail.