Speakers for a unique small room

So I have been going about speakers all wrong.  I am used to having a large listening room, but due to a divorce i am in a house that is pretty small.  I will be buying a new house in July but I need some good speakers for a small room now and hope maybe they will blow me away for when I get a dedicated room. 

So first here are some specifics the size of the area where I listen.  The room is 10 feet (3.1 meters) x 14 feet (4.3 meters) and the listening position from a speakers which front is 3 feet (1 meter) off the wall is 8 feet (2.4 meters).  The 14 foot wall has a large window, behind the listening area are stairs going up to the 2nd floor and their is no right wall as it is open to other parts of the house.  Here are some pics to put things into perspective:


So right now I am running a NAD M12 and M23 as well as an SVS 3000 Micro, My speakers are PSB Imagine X2T an 8 feet is just WAY to close.  I want something that if I am sitting 8 feet away from sound amazing!  I cant listen anything fatiguing, I am looking for a bookshelf.  I also would like something that would be amazing when I have a dedicated room as well.  I have tried the LS50 Meta, still have them but thought they were mediocre at best.  

So I am hoping I can get two pieces of advice, great speakers for a small listening space.  Harbeth P3ESR XD's are the only speakers I have seen that can be great in small spaces.    I want something that will be great and I have a budget of $2500 with a little wiggle room.  Would love as wide of a sound stage as i can in a small room, No Klipsch and no Focal please.  Great speakers but just way too fatiguing to me.  

I listen to a lot of Jazz and Classical the rest is filled with Grunge, Punk, and Classic rock but Jazz and Classical are my priority.  

Based on the pictures if anyone sees any opportunities for treatments in any way please call them out and I will get them.   



Not sure why you feel 8' away is too close. My speakers are 7' apart and my ears are the same distance from each speaker.

You asked about room treatment.

I have a treated room.

See pics. Just posted them.

Hope that helps.

@tomcarr maybe it is the lack of any treatments that I need to adjust.  Your room has given me a lot of ideas! Love those B&W's

OP, the acoustic treatment did more for the sound than anything else.

Do that first. I think you'll find out your gear is just fine!

@tomcarr your room a bit bigger but I think I can make some treatments that will help.  I can always put drapes up over the window as well 

I have been a major fan of Zu Audio speakers, both floor standers & monitors, over the last several years.  I have both floor standers & bookshelfs in my living room & second bedroom systems.  Very dynamic sounding.  Both LPs & CDs.  I would suggest the Zu Union Bookshelf @ $1800.  


Not that you asked this in your question ... have you thought about replacing the NAD amps and going with tubes?  My enjoyment increased exponentially when I went with tube amps almost 20 years ago.  



Good to see the dog bed has a place of honor in the room.  My pets made all  the difference when I went through my divorce 30 years ago.


Best regards,


@rar1 Rich, I do have a 2nd system and when I get into a dedicated listening room I will have a tube setup (Audio Research) I had a huge power surge several months ago and it damaged my LS5 MKIII and my VT-100 mark II and just have not have the time to make the drive to get them repaired. So I am running a temp system and run I get permanent room I will have the ARC stuff repaired and tubes upgraded running JM Lab/Focal Mini Utopias. The NAD is no slouch but it does not get along with Focal gear. The highs  with those inverted tweeters will melt you ears.

OP experiment with hanging blankets on the walls first. Don't forget the ceiling.


Post removed 

Ordered some acoustic foam so we can see what kind of difference that starts to make! 

LS 3/5 (15 ohm)+ SUB .

sonus faber extrema / elektra (vintage) 

but it's best to sell everything and buy a system with headphones ... ;-) 

Love your photos. System looks great.

I am very fond of Totem in smaller rooms. 

I have a similar room but just no open end I use my Harbeth 30.1. They seem very forgiving as far as placement and distance position. Also I moved all furniture out of room. Ya gotta want it. They are big in a small room but I did already have them. I downsized when I retired and perhaps I would get something smaller but for me Harbeth is still the best. They don't have anything like the 30.1at that pricepoint now I don't think...

Wilson TuneTots. They work well placed next to walls, in a small room. I tried many “best in class” bookshelf speakers from Magico, Raidho etc. While my favourite, cost no object are the Raidho TD 1.2 (I haven’t had the chance to listen to the Borresen yet), which just about work in a small room, although ideally they need more space to breathe, I have to say that, of all these speakers I have tried, the Tots have performed best in a small room. Not a large stand-floor performance by any standard, but really engaging and delivering just about the right amount of everything.

Many people judge the Tots by price alone, comparing them to bigger, better speakers for this reason or that. But they are missing the point. The point is that little else delivers this level of performance in a small room like yours. The larger Duettes, now discontinued, also do well close to walls but I found their output overwhelming in my small room, near-ish field.

I would NOT run a pair of stand-floor speakers in that room under any circumstances. Not even petite ones from Neat etc.

Edit. Sorry, I just saw your budget. I don’t think you can do much better than LS50 for the money. Have you considered placing the speakers on the short wall?

On second thought - would you have the opportunity to audition some Quads, say the S2 or the Z1?

And another observation. If you want soundstage you should clear the space between the speakers. Get the rack under the window. Or keep the rack and TV where they are, move the speakers on the short wall. The TV between speakers is a very bad idea if you seek soundstage.

I assume you are using the soundbar for TV duty so there is no need to have the speakers next to it. 

I would consider the British speaker sound, all non-fatiguing and there will be options new or used in your price range. Those include the Spendor Classic Series (4/5, 3/1, 2/3) and A series (A1) bookshelf models, also Audio Note UK have a bookshelf (AX One, AX Two, AN K).

You have room problems and you can change the speakers all you want and spend crazy money on upgrading (or crazy money on downgrading) but it will all be a waste unless you can fix the room first.

Speakers should be put where the left and right speakers "see" the same environment around them. ie. you cannot have one speaker in a corner and one out in the open and expect them to sound right. Fix that first. Both speakers with a rear wall behind them and a sidewall beside them. Or both out in the open with no walls nearby.

Agree with some other comments about TV reflective, etc. but also keep the stuffed chair well away from the speaker's output to the listening position.  Stuffed chair on RHS and none on LHS gives you another symmetry issue.


Agree with the suggestion to flip your setup 90 degrees; would also give some space behind your listening position.  I just set up a small room and considered many of the above suggestions - went with Omega CAMs and a 24W EL34 integrated and an SVS sub.  Very happy with this setup. Speakers are 95db efficient so I have the option going with a lower power SET in the future.  Haven’t heard ARC lately but for me, lower power tubes are the way to go in smaller spaces.  

Amphion speakers are specifically designed for small rooms in Scandinavian apartments. Argon 1 I use in my kitchen only like 8-10” from the wall.

They sound amazing and will destroy the psb

I am starting to think that a really nice headphone amp and pair of cans is the way to go until I get a new house with a dedicated room! 


I had a pair a few yrs ago.

Best little speaker I ever owned.



@justinrphillips I like the way you're thinking with your last post. Why spend money now when your room will be changing in the not-so-distant future. 

AirPulse A300 these should be less than$1500 USD with the stands or an incredible bargain used... Or go down to the A200 range

These are a few stand-mount / bookshelf speakers that have received very positive reviews and will extend close to 40hz or below in room for your consideration. I have auditioned most of them but pls take with a grain of salt.

  • Dynaudio Special 40; $2050
  • Dynaudio Confidence C1 $3000
  • Monitor Audio Gold 100 5G $1800
  • Burchardt S400 Mk II $2100
  • Golden Ear BRX $1750
  • Proac Tablette 2000 $750
  • Proac D2R $3000
  • Dynaudio Contour 1.3 mk2 or SE $900
  • Dynaudio Focus 160 $900
  • Totem Mani 2 $1500
  • PMC Twenty 22 $1700
  • Amphion Argon 3S $1700

The audio note AN K would probably work very well. Designed to be placed close to walls and corners. Proac is another suggestion I second on. 

ATC Scm7 which are better than the small Harbeths, but need high stands, like the Harbeths.

+ 1 on the Buchardt Audio S400 MkIIs. Doesn.t mind being near a rear wall, as little as 12 inches because it has a rear passive radiator and not a rear port. Great little speakers for a little over $2,000. You can find dozens of reviews on them on youtube

+++1 @ddd1 

Justin my room is 11 x 16. Not much bigger than yours. I have ZU Soul Supremes. Full-size tower.
I have a very low ceiling only 7‘3“. The room is HEAVILY acoustically insulated. It works. My system is incredible sounding to me. The ceiling is almost fully insulated with 2 inch insulated panel.



A good headphone amp and set of headphones can be really satisfying. Perhaps not forever and only. But for your situation. Perfect to dive in and put together a great little system.


I developed mine over about 15 years. You can see mine under my UserID. Typically I listen to it every day for a hour.

First I would like to recommend Woo amps. I have three. I started with a WA6. Then a WA6SE and finally a WA5. The latter I got because I really wanted to experience a 300B amp. Honestly, this system sounded so good that I found my main system really lacking in warmth and musicality. I caused me to upgrade my whole main system (the most important part being the ARC DAC and ARC amp). 

The Woo WA5 with top level 300B tubes is simply stunning…. Detailed, real and musical with incredible power to drive any headphones (and speakers if you want). Assuming you do not want to spend that much money.. if you choose efficient headphones like good quality Focals you can have and incredible system. 

Personally, from my experience, beware of solid state headphone amps… with the speakers so close to your ears hardness and fatigue comes with inexpensive / SS headphone amps. I have owned many. 

My favorite headphones are the Sennheiser 800s… but they required the power of the Woo WA5 to take control of them and feed them a very warm musical signal… otherwise they could be a bit trebly.

When did a 10' x 14' unsealed space become rated as small for use with small speakers only? I think the 1/3 rule for speaker placement would work, Cardas is practically identical in this room size, or at least it is a excellent starting point. noaudiophile has following for a 10'x14' room, if you flipped sides of the room(main wall to right of door) the staircase might actually work to your advantage. As far as convenience that would be up to the OP but should sound better.

Space Between Speakers 4.20
Head to Main Wall 7.70
Speaker From Main Wall 4.06
Speaker from Side Wall 2.90

I have a similarly sized room, though with some different challenges. the width is closer to 9.5 feet and the length is closer to 19 ft but with a bay window behind it. I also have (and love) that SVS micro. Mine seems to work best along the side wall. 

My best experiences have been with sealed and front ported speakers. I had the LS50s in there for a long time, but never quite got them to work. When I moved them to the basement and the main TV room where they had a lot more room, I started to understand why people like them so much. 

The two best fits for my room came in under what I had set as a budget - the Sonus Faber Lumina II and the Falcon Acoustics Mofi branded LS#3/5a (the sliver badge, I believe). Both sound fantastic. I got the Falcons used with very low hours, and they did take a while to break in. Both work incredibly well with the SVS sub. They also seem less sensitive to distance from the side wall. I basically have them 2.5 feet out from the front wall and the center point on the tweeters right around 6.5 feet apart toed in to a point just behind the listening position which is just under 7 feet away. It’s pretty close to an equilateral triangle. 

Rear ported speakers (or speakers with a passive driver in the rear) struggled even when the port was dampened. 

It is a totally different beast (or sound), and I know that you explicitly mentioned ‘no Klipsh’, but they play really well placed towards corners. I have Heresy IVs that I swap in on occasion when I want something more lively. The Falcons and SFs share almost none of the same sonic characteristics - my sense is that they will be more to your liking. 

Playing around with acoustics in a small room is an adventure, but you can certainly find great sound. Best of luck. 

Hardwood is horrible for music.

reflection is severe. I know, I went through it.



very nice room, bet Motörhead sounds wicked good !

Look at Salk stand-mounts; a lot of options (model wise and wood-wise) and great sound from the lot.



do you always leave the grills off?


if you don’t mind, I do this on my basement speakers.

cut some 1.5” x 1.5” old t shirt squares, tape as many as needed to bring down the highs. , start with 1 square, then 2 or 3 if needed, put the grills on, ….and, there ya go, I don’t like shrieking, piercing highs, makes me feel anxious and just,annoys me.   This way you will alleviate much of the high freq reflection.

have had 2 squares taped.over my basement tweeters for the past 7 or so years.


Just bought a few months back   Love them, also have a small room 13x14'  Fritz Carbon 7SE   $2500   hand made, Top shelf drivers   My venue is strictly, R&R around 90 DB  They handle it admirably! Robert TN

Since you listen to all types of music, you need a speaker that can reproduce all.  I am unsure if this would work, but Legacy Signature iiis with their rear tweeter permits very open and wide sound at close distances (9' tested).  It also comes with four contouring switches for bass, mid and treble as well as a rear tweeter defeat switch.  I don't know if it would work at 8'.  It does require some rear space to work.  Otherwise, maybe Von Schweikert VR35 Export which sits just a foot or less from the wall and definitely provides a very wide and spacious sound even seated 90 degrees from the speakers.  My friend plays all types of music with a Luxman CL35 III pre-amp and RAM 9 amp and it sounds wonderful.  He also has a placement issue so it is his solution.

Someone needs to point out the obvious here. If you have $2500 to spend you really ought to be looking at speakers priced in the $5000 range that are now in your approximate price range, on AG & likely other competitive sites. There are numerous ways of ascertaining what many of them sound like.

@john1 Exactly, the Legacy Sig IIIs usually sell for $1600-$2000 and the VS VR35 Export sells for about $3-$3500. These are affordable to the OP.  These were priced about $4K 30 years ago and $10K 10 years ago.

I second totem in smaller rooms.  And sonus faber stand mounted speakers (Cremona auditors for example)