Speakers for a large room for around $1000

I am moving soon into a new house where the main room is about 12x14ft with a vaulted ceiling up to the second floor (maybe about 15-20 ft high).

I am looking for 2-channel stereo speakers exclusively for music. I don't really play my music that loud, but I do like the music to really fill up the room. I'm not a huge audiophile (meaning I'm not going to spend a lot of time analyzing or obsessing over my speakers)--- all I'm looking for are some good solid speakers that have a good frequency response (and might sound good with a tube amplifier).

My budget is about $1000. I could stretch that up to maybe $1300, but I'd have to be convinced the extra is really worth it. I'd also really prefer to have new speakers, mostly for the warranty. Though again, I could be convinced otherwise if it's worth it.

I've considered speakers from a whole bunch of manufacturers, i.e, Paradigm to B&W, Axiom, DefTech, Klipsch, Polk, etc, but due to my geographical location I'm really not able to demo many, so I'm stuck trying to make this decision based on online reviews. It's tough for me to separate audio speakers from home-theater speakers just by reading reviews.

Any and all help is really appreciated!
My mistake, it's 20x14ft. Also it is wall-to-wall carpeting, with your basic living-room furniture and not a lot of pictures or hangings on the walls.
With your requirements, I'd suggest a used pair of Klipsch La Scalas. A 3 way horn design, they work well with tube amps and will completely fill any size room you put them in. If you need deeper bass, consider a sub or go to a pair of Klipsch Cornwalls or Chorus. Best of luck to you in your search!
Below I list some of my favorite modest floorstanding speakers that are in your price range new. The PSB and Focals are the most efficient.

-Focal Chorus 714V or 716V
-B&W 684
-Aperion Intimus 5T or 6T Tower
-Paradigm Monitor 7 or Monitor 9
-PSB Image T5, T6, T65 ($800/pr. at Audio Advisor now) or G-Design GT1 Tower (1/2 price at $1000/pair at Audio Adivsor now)
I've looked into the Klipsch La Scalas/Cornwalls/Chorus before, and while I'd love them, I think the lady in the house will most definitely not. They just out way too big.

I have considered getting some other floorstanding Klipsch speakers, as I know they have high sensitivity so they might work well with tubes and/or a big space, but I don't really know which models (either used or new) are the best to pursue.

Some of the others I've been looking at (both new and used) are the Revel Concerta F12, Vienna Acoustics Bach, Monitor Audio RS6 and RS8, and as Knownothing mentioned, the Aperion Intimus 6T, but it's difficult for me to figure out how these will hold up in a large space.

I did have a chance to listen to the Paradigm Monitor 7s and the PSB Image T5 at only store near me. I found the PSBs to have very congested mids (just not to my taste), and while I like the Paradigms, they seemed to just barely be able to handle the room they were in, which was about 1/2 the size of mine.
For sale here, I'd seriously consider these NHT 3.3's for $1050. Great review by Stereophile, too. (You'll probably be better off with a solid state amp, though.)


That room isn't that large that you need confine your speakers needs that much. Looks like a very friendly audio/speaker room to me. You might want to decide on your speaker first before constraining them to tube power, especially on your budget.
blnd, among the ones on your list the monitor audios are a real good choice--lots of slam and very good value. the focals are nice burt don't really extend deep; the revels are also fine speakers but need tons of power and probably wouldn't match well with lower-powered tubes. i'd also look at von schweikert vr2, which i often see for around $1250 or so, energy veritas or meadowlark kestrel.
Unsound --- I just wanted to make sure you saw the edit... the room is actually 20x14, not 12x14. I'm not sure which size room you were commenting on.

I'm not really set one way or the other on speakers for tube amps. It's just something that I would like to have the option to check out at some point. Right now I just have a little Marantz P325 amp, so I am probably going to have to upgrade either way.
Blnd2spll, I did see the edit. I would imagine that most here would find a 20 X 14 room about average. Now, the vaulted ceiling does add to the room volume, but probably in a good way. It seems as though you running on a bit of tight budget and tube amps can get expensive faster than ss does. I've always subscribed to the idea of choosing your speakers first and then choosing the appropriate amp, not the other way around.
hi, i would absolutly look into a pair of used vandersteen 2ce. forget about klipsch, polk, b&w . the vandersteen will give you a much more satisfing sound and thay are built very well so do not worry about buying a used pair, they will last a very long time very well built.
Mirage OMD-15, available in black or rosewood. These were originally designed to sell at $2500/pair, but Vann's, who's an authorized Mirage dealer, sells them at $1K/pair in either finish. I paid $1700 for mine two years ago and don't regret it because of the value I've received.

As to your room-filling needs, my living room is very similar to yours--13.5 x 19 ft, with 15' tall cathedral ceiling, set in an open architecture living space. Since the entry hall is part of this living space, the immediate space is more like 20 x 19 ft. plus the arched ceiling.

Anyway, I have been using a pair of Mirage OMD-15s in a primarily LP-based 2-channel system in the living room for about two years. The OMD's are omnidirectional, so they are particularly adept at energizing the entire room and living space. Because the speakers were designed to interact with the listening space, the timbres and soundstage are like live music. I know, because I got married in this living room and we had live music. These speakers match the timbres and how the source music interacts with the room acoustics with notable accuracy.

They are also not power hungry. I power mine with a modestly priced Onkyo A-9555 integrated amp, rated at about 85/170 watts/channel into 8/4 ohms respectively. I got the amp from Amazon a couple years ago for under $500. It's an excellent match for these speakers.
Revel, very good... For 100± watts solid state. Monitor Audio very good... For a smaller room. Vienna very good, not sure how it will work in this application. A couple of other speakers that I really like but might not cut it in that space are the Quad 21L2 and Rega RS3. In any case, one or two subwoofers would be a welcome addition.

The best small floor standers I have ever heard in a space that size are the Totem Forest, but they list for $3500.

Here is another idea that may work very well - Vandersteen 1c. $1000 new, and musical as all get out. I might recommend matching a modest solid state amp instead of tubes, say NAD, Cambridge, Music Hall or Rega with the Vandy's and then just enjoy.
hi.again with all do respect to this thread.i look at all these opinions and i am puzzled at some of these speaker recomendations. you can purchase used vandis 2ce sig 800 to 900 used and with tube amplification will sound great, they even sound good with average amplification.not that i am a vandi juckey,but why would anyone buy mirage or a klipsch ext. i understand speakers are personal taste, but come on klipsch and mirage with tubes, not for me.
Hey Dmastri, in what way do you find Mirage floorstanders deficient? Can you articulate it beyond your "but Mirage? C'mon!" comment? What may be self-evident to you is not apparent to many of us.

The Mirages I recommended list at $2500/pair but are available right now at the OP's target price with return privileges and full factory warranty. They use cloth surround titanium dome tweeters and titanium-coated midrange and bass drivers. The enclosures are curved and tapered to avoid in-cabinet standing waves. Their crossovers, phasing, and dispersion patterns are based on at least three decades of research into psychoacoustics and room interactions. The Mirage M1, their initial bipolar design that started their bipolar/omnipolar/omnidirectional evolution, was a Stereophile Class A speaker. The second generation version was the personal choice of Brent Butterworth when he was editor of Home Theater magazine. And when Chris Martens of The Abso!ute Sound recently reviewed the OMD-15's big brother, the OMD-28, he bought the review pair and made it his reference.

Furthermore I listen regularly to a pair of the Mirages I recommended in a setting and application nearly identical to the OP's, and they fill the bill better than pretty much anything I could imagine at that price point.

I don't know why you think that Vandersteens are somehow several levels above Mirage. Vandersteens have always been good at imaging and phase relationships, of image focus, but Mirages have long been good at timbre accuracy, linearity, bass extension, and interacting with the room like live performers.

The Vandersteen 2Ce has a sensitivity rating of 86 dB and recommended amp range of 40-150 watts/channel. That's a pretty limited dynamic range and not so suitable for such a large listening space. The Mirage OMD-15 has a sensitivity rating of 91-93 dB, power handling of 250 watts, and can be biamped as well.
Thanks for the responses so far. From what people have said, it sounds like the Vandersteens would be a great thing to look into, but I am pretty sure that my wife will veto them on aesthetic/size grounds (she's not a real music fan, so it's a bit of a give and take with my hobby).

I'm not really sure where that leaves me. I am drawn to the Vandys because from what I can tell they have a reputation for being very musical speakers and have a very full and rich sound (even if that means a slight loss of detail). Are there any speakers that fit a similar description, but are a bit more wife-friendly?
Johnnyb53 - I'm intrigued by the Mirages, but I can't find a lot of other reviews or discussions about them. If you or anyone knows of some good resources, I'd love to research them a bit more.
04-26-10: Blnd2spll
I am drawn to the Vandys because from what I can tell they have a reputation for being very musical speakers and have a very full and rich sound (even if that means a slight loss of detail). Are there any speakers that fit a similar description, but are a bit more wife-friendly?
The Mirage OMD-15s are very attractive and non-intrusive; they have a footprint of about 8x12" and are about 43" tall. They are available in elegantly understated high gloss piano black or more extroverted rosewood. Despite their modest size, with a good high current amp they have strong bass down to the low 30's, and are smooth and transparent with a nice rich sound. This does not mean they're boomy, tubby, or indistinct. They are very listenable on a wide range of material. Out of the box they sound OK, but they take awhile (100 + hours) to break in. As they break in, you find that they have superb resolution of low level detail, but never exaggerate it.

Johnnyb53 - I'm intrigued by the Mirages, but I can't find a lot of other reviews or discussions about them.
Home Theater mag review
Home Theater Sound (an editor's choice)
OnSpeakers.com (pay no attention to their fear that they wouldn't be able to fill a large space; they can with ease)
Amazon user review
Crutchfield customer review
Buzzillions user review

I would also consider your room average size. I recommend ProAc speakers. They are easy to drive and sound good with tube amplifiers.
OK, I was anticipating the WAF issue - why I hesitated with the Vandy recommendation up front, and why in part I suggested the 1c over the 2ce, which is just more of the Vandy thing visually. But the 2ce is closer to full range than any of the other speakers you or I have mentioned here.

High WAF with decent sound narrows the field some. I suggest focusing on Focal, Vienna, Monitor, Quad, anything used from Totem, and maybe the Aperions and the PSB G-Designs. One speaker I didn't mention earlier is the Paradigm SE. These are very nice looking and sounding speakers, a little more costly than the Paradigm Monitors.

Here is what I recommend, buy the best sounding and looking small floorstanders you can find new or used and be prepared to have to try several pairs in your space. Do the same with amplification - don't restrict yourself to tubes at this time and price point. I would plan on eventually supplementing your system with one or two subwoofers, since most small floorstanders are essentially stand mount speakers with an extra (small) woofer and a built-in stand.
Blnd2spll, The Vandys are a brilliant value oriented recommendation, and can match beautifully with another super audio value; the McCormack power amps. While they have a different overall balance, the Thiels share many design parameters, and a similar sonic presentation as the Vandersteens, with IME a much higher WAF. The downside of the Thiels is that they can be pretty demanding of high quality amplification.

I was going to recommend Vandersteen speakers, but I did not because they are a risky purchase when buying used. Vandersteen has an ongoing problem with heat build up in the crossover which can damage crossover parts and degrade the sound. This occurs when the speakers are played at high sound levels for extended periods of time.
if people get offended at opinions,maybe they should not be in threads,wow johneyb53 knows how to read from a speaker manual,If you listened to the question properly blnd2spll said he wanted 2 channel speakers does not really play music loud and wanted something that would sound good with tubes,and all i said was for what he is looking for the vandis would be a much beter speaker than the mirage being a former vandi owner and at the time had them paired with audio researth tubes it was a good sounding budget system. Mirage do not pear well with tubes not to say it is a bad speaker,but again for two channel and not playing loud music without question a vandersteen is the way to go over a mirage.i do not get into the mombo jumbo about specs,again listen to what the questio said thank you.
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blnd2spll, if the vandis are not what the wife would like, try to find a used pair of proac studio 125, I have owned the 1sc, 1.5 where i live i had a proac dealer right down the street from where i live. so i have spent alot of time listening to proacs the studio 125 are realy nice and in my opinion mate very well with tubes,and goodlooking speaker as well. but i must say proacs do need good amplification to sound their best.just another suggestion,good luck

Unsound, I don't have to, Vandersteen admits it.

I am an old fan of Vandersteens and I have had great sound with Vandersteen speakers and Audio Research, but before buying a pair of used Vandersteens I would have to know the life history.
Rrog, being a former vandersteen owner, I would have to agree with you.My former vandis were hooked to a audio research vs55,sweet sound.
So I'm really thinking about pulling the trigger on a pair of the Mirage OMD 15s. As far as I can see it, here are the pros and cons of the main ones I'm considering (sorry this gets a bit long winded):

Mirage OMD 15s:

-Designed to be musical speakers that interact well with the room and are have very good off-axis response.
-The price is right (and on top of that, for $2k speakers originally, it's a great deal)
-New, so they have a warranty
-30-day in home evaluation/return policy

-might not be that great at low volume levels
-might not match up great with tubes
-I don't have an opportunity to hear them in action


-Everything but the aesthetics and size

-The aesthetics and size
-possibly have some build issues over time (but I'm not really concerned about this)
-no warranty
-no ability to hear them in action

-the older ones are way to big, the newer ones get a lot of crap for their quality (or compared to the old ones, at least). And I can't demo these, and supposedly horn speakers are very hit or miss with each person. But, they would work with tubes and fill a room.

Revel Concerta F12
-A bit more than I really can spend, maybe not good with solid state, getting a bit on the big side

ProAc Studio 125
-Hard to find and listen to. Can't really find too much about them.

Paradigm Monitor7:
-I was able to demo these, and I liked them, but they seem like they have trouble filling a room, and they have all the limitations of slightly smaller speakers. But they have the benefits of being new and warranty.

As I said, the Vandy are, unfortunately, pretty much out of the race, as they are the only ones on this list that my wife specifically vetoed on aesthetic ground (and until I get a dedicated music room, I can understand her concerns). The same goes for the older Klipsch models. There also a bunch of other brands (Aperion, Axiom, DefTech, Focals, Pols, B&W, Totem, Vienna, Monitor Audio, KEF, Energy, Epos) that for one reason or another have yet to really stand out as valid or good possibilities.

Any last thoughts before I make a final decision on this. Is there anything above that I am wrong about or overemphasizing? Are there any last models that people might suggest I take a look at or at least consider?

(and thanks again for all of the help)

Unsound, Richard Vandersteen told me about this problem during a telephone conversation. On some of the later models he incorporated a warning system with LEDs that would flash behind the grill.

A common cause is when the volume is increased enough to hear music outside like during a party or a backyard BBQ.
Since the speaker is a sealed enclosure there is nowhere for the heat to go, no ventilation.
Here's a longtime favorite of mine in your price range:


The DCM TFE-200s are a really high value speaker, IMO. They are large speakers, but with a narrow baffle that might pass the WAF test. They are avilable in a wood or black veneer.

I heard them in a large conference room at one of the NYC HE shows, driven by a 25 watt/channel Joilda integrated. There was no sense that they could have used more wattage. Everyone in the room was impressed by their open, dynamic sound and full, tight bass. I believe they come with a 30-day return option, too.

If I had the space and a limit of $1K to spend on loudspeakers, I would probably end up with these.
Rrog, there are many sealed box speakers. I not aware of this alleged problem being endemic to these designs. One particular brand of speakers that are reputed to being most sensitive to being over driven, are box-less ESL's. Perhaps, it would be fairer to say that any used speaker might be compromised by being abused/over-driven by the previous user?

Unsound, This is not like over driving an electrostatic speaker and most people would not consider this type of use as abuse.

As always, don't take my word for it. Call Vandersteen Audio and ask if this problem has been resolved.
IMHO, using speakers not specifically designed for such use, with increased volume outside for a party or BBQ, would qualify as abuse. That's a job for something like PA system.

"most people would not consider this type of use as abuse."

I agree with you and I happen to like Vandersteen speakers. I have fond memories of great sounds with Vandersteens, but they do have their limitations.
BLnd2spll,just a quick question,if you do not mind before you pull the trigger,what kind of music do you listen to mostly? and what is your tube gear?
Blnd2spll,There is one more speaker that you should really consider,it is cosmeticly beautiful,very well built and sound is excellent.mates very well with tubes very very room friendly,it is the vianna acoustic mozart. if you look on audiogon their is a pair of mozart for 1000.00 used retail is 2800.00 then another pair of mozart grands for 1300.00 used 3000.00 retail.I can asure you out of the vandersteen,mirage,and other speakers mentioned these viannas for the money will well outperform the speakers you are considering.and the wife will love the looks of them.because of the wife factor and what you are looking for, money wise,being you want a floorstander can not think of a better speaker.and you can give them a listen at your local best buy store.last i knew they carry vianna. please do not think i am trying to promote any for sale listings,it is just that i love this hobby and been into it for 22years,have owned over 20 pairs of speakers and travel to many audio shows.and have helped many friends put budget systems together.just something i love to do. good luck dave
Dmastri - in terms of music, I listen to a lot of alt-country, folk rock, straight folk/acoustic music; a fair amount of classical and minimalist neo-classical, and then some rock and alternative music thrown in.

I don't have any tube gear or any in mind. This is just something I would like to have the option to try at some point (mostly because of my love of guitar tube amplifier). But, I am willing to sacrifice this requirement if it just seems too difficult to satisfy.

I have been considering the Viennas, and I keep eying that pair for 1000. I guess my biggest hesitation with them is the finish, I'm really not a piano black fan. Though again, maybe that's the sacrifice I'll have to make for good speakers...

At this point the Paradigm Monitor 7s have moved up into the front again, mostly because of the WAF appeal, I've actually had a chance to listen to them, and there are some suggestions that they might work well with tubes. My biggest concern with them is that they will have trouble with the size of my living room, though from what other people have said, I shouldn't really be worried about my room size that much.

Unsound, You're a funny guy. Did it appear that way? Sorry about that. I was posting a response to your last post.

I am trying to say I am not picking on Vandersteen in any way since I also agree some Vandersteen models are a terrific bargain and I have enjoyed Vandersteen speakers in the past. However, I would still be leary of buying a used pair of Vandersteens speakers without know the speaker's history. The only other speakers I would be this concerned about would be Martin Logan CLS and Quad Electrostatics.
me again,there is a store in my state called sterio discount center,this store sells paradigm,listened to them many times,but not the 7s.just keep in mind that with the viennas if in time to come,may it be 6months, 1year, 5 years, etc.you decide to upgrade you electronics.that speaker is only going to sound better and better with upgrades.where as the 7s are limited.i personally listen to jazz, and alot of female vocals,midrange is very important to me that is why i am a harbeth owner.but you have to go with what you like,and keep the wife happy as well, anyway good luck with what ever choice you make.
I didn't read every post here but it isn't clear what amp you intend to use - although I thought I saw something that indicated you might like tube gear (which is generally preferred, imo). With respect to tubes, there are lots of amp (and preamp) choices, but some speakers will need more power than others. If you happen to select some high efficiency speakers (100db efficiency or so), you could then look into low powered SET amps (I like 45s, but 2A3s and 300Bs are other possiblities). This would allow you to get great tube sound for perhaps less than medium to high powered tube amps. I think your biggest challenge is the WAF. If you could live with Vandy 2Cs (used in good condition), or Dahlquist DQ-10s (used in good condition) you would be looking at speakers well under $1k for the pair and you could get yourself a nice $1k or so ARC or other tube amp. Or if you could live with the Cornwalls (under $1k used vintage), you could get a 45 SET amp. Almost no speaker is going to sound very good pushed up against a wall or in a corner (although that's what Cornwalls were supposedly named for). Based on what you have written, I think you would like Vandy 2Cs if you could get permission to put them several feet out from the back wall. You could get yourself a vintage ARC D76A or D70MkII, or you could get yourself a Marantz 2230/45/70 receiver and I think you would be surprised at how good it would sound. Or you could put the same electronics on a pair of DQ-10s. I think you are down the tube path (given your guitar amp experience) and you really ought to get some speakers that will synergistically show off what a good tube amp can do.

One thing you will find is that all the good speakers and electronics in the world will only constitute some portion of the resulting sound. The room size, shape, and furnishings will drive a bunch of the results and the location of the speakers in the room will also drive a bunch of the results. Clearly, the speakers and the speaker interaction with the room are key considerations, none of which almost ever synchronizes well with the WAF.

I am not crazy about unique Mirage or Ohm sound. Some people love it, but it is not my cup of tea - personal preference. So I think you can't go wrong with either Vienna or Paradigm. I wonder if your local Paradigm dealer has the SE model available for a look and listen - they have real wood veneer versus the Montor 7's vinyl, and have better parts and sound top to bottom. If the Monitor 7 is a great budget speaker, the Paradigm SE is a REALLY great budget speaker. Either will probably make you and your wife happy.

That said I have to agree with where Dmastri is trying to take you here with the Vienna recommendation. The Mozarts are a cut above the Monitor 7's and probably the SE's too. Craftmanship and sonic qualities are more sophisticated and as Dmastri says, will reward better upstream gear as it is upgraded. The Vienna sound quality is understated but very natural to my ear. I agree with you on finish, and prefer a nice warm wood grain over black. I know my wife would send tall, dark and shiny speakers straight to the dump.

Another idea:

If you can stretch to $1249, there is a pair of Spendor S6 for sale on Agon right now. Like the Vienna's or ProAc's mentioned above, these are very, very nice speakers.

There is also a pair of Monitor Audio RS-8's for $800 that look to be in nice shape. Nice sound, high WAF.

Good luck.
I suggest you give the Polk LSi 15 a try. A truly fantastic speaker for less than 1K (used) and will compete with many up to 3K. It's a no-brainer, read up on it.

Good luck.
"Clearly, the speakers and the speaker interaction with the room are key considerations, none of which almost ever synchronizes well with the WAF. "

No truer words have been written here.

04-29-10: Hi_hifi
One thing you will find is that all the good speakers and electronics in the world will only constitute some portion of the resulting sound. The room size, shape, and furnishings will drive a bunch of the results and the location of the speakers in the room will also drive a bunch of the results. Clearly, the speakers and the speaker interaction with the room are key considerations, none of which almost ever synchronizes well with the WAF.
That's one of the reasons I strongly recommend the Mirage OM-15s. They are designed to interact well with the room, and I've found them to be pretty forgiving with placement. You can even position the speakers pretty far apart and not lose the center image. The OMD-15 is fairly petite and is available in gloss black or rosewood, depending on your wife's preferences.

I don't know where this perception that the Mirage is an inferior speaker came from. The OMD-15s were designed to compete at the $2500 price point, which they do very well. Sometimes I'm simply stunned by the detail and ambience they can retrieve, while never sounding hyped up or artificially detailed.

Presently, however, new owner Klipsch has discontinued Mirage's two top-line floorstanders, so they are available from Vanns.com for 60% off list, but with 7-day return privileges and full factory warranty. Their tonal balance is neutral, the dispersion pattern emulates the average thrown off by live music, and therefore they yield excellent results when speakers have to be placed in a living room rather than a dedicated listening room. The soundstage stays put no matter when you sit or stand in the room.

The Vandersteen is a great speaker, and in fact the 2Ce and OMD-15 have a very similar tonal balance, one I find to be very natural. The Vandy has an advantage in image specificity because it is a phase coherent design. But the Mirage has the advantage in soundstage, and its imaging isn't bad. For tubes, the Vandy has a benign impedance curve, but you still should use a tube amp with 4-ohm taps. On the other hand, they're not efficient. Stereophile's test report measured its sensitivity at a very low 84 dB (at 1w input). Even with two speakers and the in-room boost, the sensitivity rating would be around 87 db tops, where the Mirage puts out 93 dB under the same circumstances. That means the Mirage can achieve the same SPL as the Vandy on one-fourth the power. Think about that--15 wpc instead of 60, or 40 wpc instead of 160. Like the Vandersteen, you should use the 4-ohm taps (on a tube amp so equipped), but the Mirage doesn't require much of a damping factor. The bass drivers are a mere 5-1/2 inches in diameter, so motion control is not a big deal. My amp has a low damping factor of 25, yet bass is extended and tight. They achieve their deep bass owing to a Mirage design and patented surround which enables greater cone excursion while maintaining linearity.
My room is very similar to yours and my NHT classic fours do a good job filling it with sound. You should be able to get them for around $1000 shipped used. I don't think they would be great for tubes though- they like power.

These are available from both Audioadviser and Best Buy (the Magnolia room) for $1000.00 I don't own them but heard them playing at Best Buy on a HT receiver and they sounded great. Not sure you could do a whole lot better new for the money