Warm and accurate bookshelves that can handle volume

Hi and thanks for your help. I have been collecting and trying vintage speakers and ended up with B &.W 803 matrix series II, and also Celestion ls700 Se. The latter  are bookshelves and I use them with an NHT SW2 subwoofer. I like them both but prefer the 700s because they more accurately bring out the timbre of orchestral instruments and can be less fatiguing. Troubke is I have a pretty big room and I can’t play full orchestra at realistic volumes on the Celestions without distorting the sound. Are there bookshelves that will be warm, musical and accurate like the Celestions, but can handle volume?  Rest of the system is Qutest DAC, RA LS25 II pre, Adcom GSA555 II speakers. Thanks for feedback on which speakers to try. My reading etc suggests Harbeth Spendor Sonus Faber. Locally have tried kef and paradigm, but can’t get to much else. Will travel to try your recommendations. Seems that satellite and sub will be more flexible and cost effective than tower. 


Harbeths really? Yes they are fine sounding BUT turn up the vol and they fall apart, at least in my experience. Local dealer sell them so have heard them many times.

Same experience here. They sound nice at moderate volume. Even with high current amps they struggle with high SPL. Those who allege they can play clean and loud obviously haven’t compared them to something like ATCs in a large room. In a small room and sitting less than 10’ away they are fine for most music. But this notion that they can handle large scale orchestra at near live levels is laughable—“NFW.”

This shouldn’t be surprising when you look at the size and mass of their motor structure. Most drivers of that type can handle about 30 watts continuous power and 70 watts for very short duration. The typical 8” pro audio driver from the likes of Eminence can handle way more power and play far louder, but pick one up and it becomes obvious as to why. The unfortunate truth about many audiophile “loudspeakers,” even rather expensive ones, is they simply aren’t built for high SPL.

If anyone wants to bring their M30/C7/SHL5 Harbeths over to my place to compare to perform a high volume shoutout between them and my 2-way Tektons or Stirlings they are more than welcome. Just send me a PM.


Hmmm, you can have “accurate” and “warm”, but it usually means flat-ish frequency response up to 15-17kHz and then rolled off response above that to reduce listening fatigue.  So, actually “accurate” across all frequencies except the very highest treble.  Old JBLs sounded great in the showroom, mixing room, and at home when drinking heavily, but for long serious listening sessions, they were a bit much.

Classical music is more demanding for system performance across the board.  You have a very smooth but detailed DAC that can reveal the detail imbedded in classical recordings.  For a higher end solution, I might suggest Monitor Audio Platinum 100 3G combined with a good REL sub.  That pairing would provide a great performance envelope for nearly any type of music with your gear.  For a lower price point solution, I agree the Wharfedale Linton with a REL sub could be very satisfying.

Seconding the recommendation for Aerial 5T. I love mine, and they sound so sweet and lifelike. They are not finicky about source material or placement. They just play everything well.

Fritz Carrera BE.  An incredible speaker and really nice guy that builds them.