Speaker Pairing - First Watt F8

Entering into 2024 with a mid-term (12 month ) plan to add a set of new speakers to my system.  I have the time to do the research and as geography permits to listen to a narrowed down list of choices - would like to consider three finalists.  

My system consists of the First Watt F8, Modwright LS 100 preamp, Aurender N200, Schitt Yggy LIM, ClearAudio Concept with MCRU power supply & AT- ART9XI cartridge and Modwright PH 9.0 phono stage.  Speakers are the Zu DW6 Supreme.  I plan on repurposing these speakers to a separate system.  I find the Zu's to be easy to listen to and a sound that I would describe as warm, clean and able to punch.  I would like to take it up a notch and have a more detailed speaker thats in line with my other components.  

Listen to mainly jazz, female vocals ( think Melody Gardot, Madeline Peyroux, etc), R&B and Indie. Large room thats a combination great room/ kitchen/bar  thats 23' by 27' with 10 ft ceilings. Furniture, rugs, island etc with the speakers on a back wall and 12' apart.  

In an article by Herb Reichert in Stereophile, Herb asked Nelson Pass what speakers could most effectively be driven by the F8.  Nelson goes on to say the F8 excels with efficient speakers ( 90 db & above ) that have good dynamics and an impedance above 8 ohms.  The article also has Herb stating that in his experience choosing a speaker with high impedance and a benign phase characteristic is more important than high sensitivity.   Maybe someone can help me out with what is meant by "benign phase characteristic" ? 

Lastly, budget is in the neighborhood of $7.5K and certainly would entertain lightly used preowned speakers.  On my beginning list to further research at this time are the Zu Soul 6, Living Voice Avatar 4, Devore O 93 and Volti Razz.  

Net is that I would really appreciate your thoughts on the above.  Thanks in advance!  


I think it depends a lot on what you're looking for in the sound characteristics and what you're listening patterns are. My experience is that horns, like Klipsch, can sound amazing and have a very wide sweet spot but that they don't image as well as a standard driver speaker. The "liveness" is very appealing and fun to listen to. I have a dream of a second syst that's SET and horns. For me though, I love a detailed soundstage and while I definitely lean musical in sound, I also like a fair bit of detail. For all these reasons I'm not a horn guy but then that leaves you in a difficult space because you have quite a room to fill. I know the Devore's are definitely designed to run with low wattage but I'm not sure you'll fill that giant room. 

I'd encourage you to take a different approach. I always learned that you build a system around the speakers. It's clear that you love your first watt amp but if argue what you love is it with your current Zu speakers. If you want to meaningfully upgrade your system find the pairing speakers you absolutely love and then go from there. Don't limit yourself to what you can drive with your first watt. If needed, sell that too and get something that can drive the speakers you love. 

I have Vandersteen Quatros. I heard them and fell in love with them. Over the 8 or so years I've had them I've rebuilt my entire system around them. Every time I make an upgrade I just hear more of what I love about my speakers. I'm aware Im not answering your question, just providing an alternate approach. 

rmdmoore makes some great points.

I have a pair of Cornwalls in a room about the size of yours with similar intent. They are big speakers! And they do a terrific job of filling that room with energy and wonderful sound.

A couple of weeks ago, I swapped out the Cornwalls for O/93s. The Devores sounded great, but they lacked the...jump of the Cornwalls. I'm not talking about volume. I like the sensation of being "in" the sound, and the Cornwalls do that better in this bigger room, a room in which I have music playing a great deal of the time, not because I'm doing "serious listening," but because I like it.

The O/93s are fantastic speakers. They have detail that the Cornwalls just don't (for me), and I love nothing better than plopping myself down in front of them.

I like a lot of the stuff you like. I'm Zu-curious, particularly for the Soul 6. Volti looks very interesting. I think if you've got room for a big speaker, I'd look at a Cornwall or something similar (Volti?). This opinion is worth what you paid for it. And I never mentioned my low-level envy for your F8.

I guess I have to ask this question. "are you working to a better sound or do you just want to try new speakers?" 

+1 Volti Razz. Sounded dynamic and transparent at 2 different audio shows.

Happy Razz owner here! Complete agree with @decooney ​​​​@kennyc 

If you do go and visit Greg at his place you will not be disappointed. I pray you enjoy the visit as much as I did. Easily my top most memorable HiFi experience.