What makes speaker's sound big?

Does a speaker need to have many drivers or a large driver area to sound big and fill the room?
I am asking this question because I have a pair of tekton design double impact and would like to replace them with smaller speakers and a pair of subwoofer's to better integrate the bass into my room.
I just borrowed a set of B&W 702S. The are good but the just don't make that floor to ceiling sound that I like.
Maybe I have already answered my own question (: But again I have not heard all the speakers out there.
My room measure 15x19' and the ceiling goes from 7.5 to 12.8'

There a a million factors that dictate how big a speaker will sound.  The key factor is output coming out of the speaker, not in terms of SPL or sensitivity but dampening.  A box that is well damped will have minimal cancelation inside.  

Tweeter dispersion is incredibly important.  Ribbons and AMTs that spread around sound will sound bigger than a single dome tweeter.  

Do they rely on room reflections to build the soundstage or do they sound better when the room is heavily damped?  How is your room designed.  A speaker like MBL Radiastrahler 126s will sound massive in a room that is energetic but will disappear and sound small in a room that is over damped.  

The crossover design impacts this.  I find that the steeper the curve the less energetic a speaker is and the more you need big drivers, arrays and/or tons of power.  

There are a million different ways to accomplish this.  Open baffles, electrostats, composite cabinets, integration of room treatments, etc...

It really depends on what you want, aesthetics you can live with or find exciting/interesting and what your budget is. 

An extreme example is the Wilson-Benesch Endeavour.  It is a stand-mount speaker (that is $50K) but is an incredibly well made cabinet and has a monstrous output in terms of imaging and soundstage. 

Another example is Audiovectors R series with rear firing tweeters and/or midrange drivers depending on the model.  These sound much bigger than they are.  

In the end, they may not be complete substitutes for a large floorstander but you can get close enough to be happy.  
I have a pair of Ohm Walsh Sound Cylinders. They have an 8" driver crossed over at a high frequency to an upward-firing dome tweeter. They are capable of room-filling sound and 3-D imaging - from any listening spot! Bass quality is deep and full, so no need for sub's! Truly a remarkable design! 
Um, you have terrific speakers, and are looking for something worse. Is that right? And you expect to be able to get worse, yet somehow magically have it sound better. Alas, I only work in reality. Add a couple more subs, forget big you will be enveloped. I only go forward, never back. Sorry. But if you really are determined to screw up a good thing you don't need my help, plenty of others here happy to help you out.
I had the same experience as OP's with my KEF Reference 1s, they sounded great for jazz and baroque, but less satisfying for large orchestrations than the KEF Reference 107/2s they replaced.  So I carefully went through the setup of the Velodyne SMS-1 bass manager and the  pair of HGS-15 it manages, changing all the cables AND resetting the crossover from 40 to 80 Hz.  Magic happened.  The setup is as satisfying as ever for jazz and baroque, but now also has the spacious soundstage for large orchestrations.  A Mahler symphony sounds grand again.

There’s not really any substitute for BIG drivers and LOTS of them! The most “you are there” sounding speakers I’ve ever heard were a pair of Ezekiels; twin 15” woofers, twin 10” mids, a three inch Mylar dome tweeter and one ultra-HF horn tweeter in each cabinet. With good audiophile grade vinyl, or reel-to-reel tapes; you literally couldn’t tell the difference from a live performance. We used to go hear Steeleye Span and the Seldom Scene at local DC clubs all the time.  The sound was IDENTICAL!
MC give it a break, you never even heard the op’s speakers. The OP wants to get a different speaker and yes, they will be much better than what he currently has, it won’t take much. You don’t need large drivers to get big sound. Some of the best sounding speakers use multiple smaller woofers to get full sound. For example, look at raidho, revel salon 2’s/studio 2’s, and others. 
I don't listen to orchestral works often, but my little KEF Reference 1 monitors create a bigger soundstage and image better than any of the much larger speakers I've owned. Combining them with four subwoofers doesn't hurt either. 
I'll mention another element. Right amp makes speakers sound good and big ! Give speakers 'the current' !
Martin, no point source speaker is going to produce a life sized image. What you get out of them is a mini sound stage like you are sitting all the way in the back of the hall. Another problem is the sound pressure level of point source speaker drops of at the cube of the distance, very quickly. Linear Arrays or Line Source speakers produce a large image like sitting up front. Sound pressure levels drop of at the square of the distance, much slower so Line source speaker project sound better. In order to perform as line source a speaker has to be tall, preferably from floor to ceiling which unfortunately does not suit many people. Also unfortunately, everything else is just wishful thinking. You can be sitting in front of the biggest Wilson but close your eyes and you get the sound stage of any run of the mill floor stander. This is one of the reasons people love their Magnepans. Except in the bass Magnepans give a more life like sound stage because they function as line sources above 150 Hz.
Low distortion, low distortion on transients, wide dispersion, very low coloration, smooth FR.

many very small 2-way speakers with these qualities have an ability to sound HUGE and effortless.
I've owned Tannoy FSM with 2x15" drivers per unit.  Also owned little Harbeth P3ESR.   When I set up the P3 using the "Golden Ratio" (speakers 1/3rd from front wall, listening position 1/3rd from rear wall) the speakers disappeared & the whole room was full of sound.
If I had a dedicated listening room, that's how I would set up.

But I find a major factor is Source Material. Some recording have space.  Some are shut in.    
These speakers are very efficient (> 98 dB, right?) They have 11 driver elements including a pair of 10" drivers.  So by "big" sound, I wouldn't think the OP is referring to SPL (provided everything is hooked up correctly and we are not trying to rattle the neighbors' windows).

The OP may be referring primarily to the apparent height/width/depth of the soundstage. This is something many of us struggle with.  Before getting into new subs, DSP software, or room treatments, it might be a good idea to experiment more with speaker placement. Several formulas (or procedures) are available on the internet.  
dynaudio speakers from contour,confidence  line sounds big.It does not matter if it is  floorstander or bookshelf .
A few years ago, in our prior house, I moved my audio system from our 13'x24' living room to a 24'x26' family room and my then pair of Totem Fire monitors and Velodyne sub woofer with a 10" driver just didn't fill the new room.  I ended up replacing the Totems with the Focal Sopra No2's and the Velodyne with a pair of JL Audio F113V2's and they did fill the room up.

We recently moved into a new home with a 14'x19' listening room and my setup definitely fills the room.  I find I'm setting the volume level on the preamp a few percentage lower.

I auditioned the Focal 1038's driven by a McIntosh MC452 (450 wpc) power amp in a speaker room that was about 22'x22' and was blown away at how they filled the room.  I would have "pulled the trigger" and bought those, but one of my audio buddies let me know that the Sopra line was about to hit our shores, so I waited a few weeks and ordered those.
Easiest answer ever:


I realize that every manufacturer is not making tall speakers--wonder where they got THAT idea??

Try the best and the original.  Jim Winey was a pretty smart engineer, I guess.

Even though I know you guys like to shyte on MC, as an owner of a pair of Double Impacts I gotta say adding just one subwoofer so far has made a huge improvement. The sound got bigger and I think it brought out the mids and highs as well.
Been looking for a new house with a dedicated audio room. I plan on 2 subs when we get there.
From what I understand it will get even better.
My experience with the DIs are that they are big and they sound even bigger than they look. I dont think any small speakers are going to rival that aspect of sounding big. Different and possibly better. Sure .. but a sound coming close to rivaling them in sounding large, I doubt very much. 
A small room!

OK lots of good answers and some not so good.  There are a number of key factors making speakers sound bigger:

1 - Design - many speakers that sound big have cabinets that are narrow allowing the music to flow around them.  Flat faced speakers not as much in my experience.

2 - tweeter position - top - middle etc., will sound different along with a rear firing tweeter.

3 - bass drivers add to a bottom and do aid in the perception but not always

4 - Equipment - how does you amplifier impact the sound.  In building amplifiers, I experienced an amp driving a pair of old AR speakers from the 70s or 80s come right out of the box.  More open sounding than many high end systems completely filling the room with sound.

5 - I have heard a customer who owns both the DI speakers and also the Spatial Audio speakers.  Guess which one sounds more open and room filling with depth to the soundstage?

Happy Listening.

In my experiences, speakers are like engines, and so many other things in life LOL. All other things being equal (room, cables etc.)  There's no substitute for cubic inches..
Try open baffle.  Incredible soundstage.  I have the Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S speakers with REL S3 SHO subwoofers.  The sound is incredible in my large room with acoustic treatments.
You can achieve what you are looking for in a medium sized monitor and subwoofer preferably two.  

The differences within the speaker design (traditional box) that make for a big sound include-

1) Efficiency- higher efficiency = bigger sound / jump factor.  example Spendor A and D series.  
2) Coherence between drivers- perfect coherence and alignment of the drivers so that there are no gaps or suckouts.  The drivers sound as one.  example Spendor, Harbeth, KEF R series.
3) Dispersion.  Being able to disperse all frequencies in all directions has a big impact on sound stage size.  KEF, Harbeth, Spendor.  

Tube preamplification or amplification also helps.  

Subwoofers properly integrated is a must.  
What do you mean by "better integrated" bass? Again I harp on "requirements": Can you give us some more info pls? Do you not have enough? Too much? Perhaps you have a nasty bump in the frequency response someplace and it's boomy? Or bloated? Perhaps it's not a problem of equipment but room placement and tuning. I don't mean to sound rude. I believe that the issue needs to be clearly defined before a "solution" can be offered.
Happy listening.
Mark & Daniels. I have the 1st gen Maximus-Ruby. They use their own version of the AMT driver and a 5" woofer (crossover at 900Hz). Terribly inefficient but with a proper amp they have amazing dynamics and soundstage. The 2nd gen is supposedly even more refined. 
radiating area of drivers
dispersion characteristics of drivers
distance between drivers
baffle design
boundary reflections
When talking about sounding big that usually translates to full extended bass. Powered subs are your friends there. Big = powerful and the bass is where most of the power in music occurs. It takes exponentially more power to deliver flat response as the frequency decreases and that power must be converted to long wavelength sound waves so that pretty much explains it. Tiny drivers/speakers alone are more challenged to deliver full extended bass and all fall short alone to some extent.
This is a great subject and one I have thought about, or wrestled with for some time. Thanks for all the very good views and thoughts expressed.

I owned Martin Logan SL3s as primary audio speakers for 16 years and loved the immersion. I equally agree with getting that from Maggies! And I think it is the bi-pole nature that does help in that aspect.   I moved finally to Dynaudio Sapphires and they were a much larger sound than any of my conventional coned dynamic speakers. Yes, "horsepower" (good one!)

But the brand I'm living with now are Raidhos and although the D2s won't do what the much larger ones will do I still love the tonality and rich clarity plus tight bass to near 30. But, to enlarge that sound I have dialed in an REL Britannia B1 at 28Hz and low volume and it opens up large halls.

There are lots of great inexpensive powered subs that will integrate better than most of years ago, and they uncannily open up everything for a subjectively larger sound.   It's almost stunning that a simple $1k SVS SB-3000 is pretty much the equal of the B1 (or better?) at 1/3 the price. Unreal. Maybe that is one of the least expensive ways of getting 'bigger sound'.  Fun topic.

Stay with tekton, add some subs, two at least, avoid filters if you have them, make sure your amp plugged in to the wall, jump into middle and bass highliting cables and tubes if you have them, try to seal other rooms in your house, just close all the doors when listening. 
Clean SPL (in your room),  Clean Bass Extension,  Your eyes.

Everything else is just meaningless fluff.

You can either achieve a desired SPL, at your listening location, over a desired frequency range, in an undistorted fashion or you cannot.

That SPL is a factor of "total" speaker efficiency, amplifier power, speaker power handling, and room acoustics. I used the word "total" as outside bass frequencies, speakers are directional, and while say a bipolar may have lower on axis response, its total energy at a given frequency may be high, and what gets to your listening position is a combination of direct and reflected.  Have a large room, reflections have a longer path, and energy is less. You are also likely seated farther, so again, less power reaches you.

Note I don't mention speaker size? That is an implementation variable contributing to efficiency, no more, no less, though one can argue if wider range, it does effect doppler distortion but that is getting advanced.

Odds are the Double Impact has a bit more base extension and depending and while their 98db efficiency is likely over stated, they would be more efficient than the B&W, so you are going to need to turn them up.  The bass extension, depending on the music could have a big impact on your impression. That could also be a factor of location as well. Did you use exactly the same placement for each?  Other reviews of the tweeter array show the Tekton having good dispersion so their could be more mid-band energy as well, again filling out the sound.  The tuning of the B&W also looks like it is getting less reinforcement from the port, so if the speakers are close to the front wall, the Tekton may give more bass reinforcement w.r.t. the B&W.

Nope! When I had my wharfedale diamond 225’s set up, prior to getting my tannoys, they more than filled the room with sound, imaged like crazy, with plenty of bass. The speakers often performed a disappearing act and sounds seemed to come from well beyond the speakers, as if emanating from beyond the sidewall! I Drove them with my marantz pm14s1 @ 90 watts. They are astonishingly good speakers for the money!! Bought them after reading Herb Reichert and Art Dudley’s review in stereophile. They were right! If i had to, for some reason, put them back into the system, I would not be sad. Now I drive tannoy eatons with my sugden a21se, and to be honest, they do not play louder, but sound a bit more fuller, more oomph or authority. Do they sound better? That is subjective, as It is more likely that they sound different. Mind you the sugden is only 30 watt class A and the tannoys are only 89 db. However, if I was to put the pm14s1 back in to drive the tannoys, they may play a bit louder. I honestly could care less, as I seldom play music at ear shattering levels. Quality, not quantity, at least in my small world.
i find that scale to music comes from the speakers being properly matched to the room so the music can breathe. the music needs to be able to properly open up and become coherent. then the speakers and amps also need to be properly matched. and to add authority and ease to the scale your amps need to have headroom, and your power grid needs plenty of headroom too.

some good mid bass is also helpful; again the speaker driver surface in the mid bass needs to be matched to the volume of the room so it can propagate. the whole room needs to be energized.

sitting in the near field can also bring a larger scale presentation; more enveloping. but to do that typically requires a highly tuned room or the proximity to the drivers will be too harsh.

my sweet spot is in the nearfield in a very large room. and i am immersed in the music.

i did not read every post, so apologies if someone already posted this.

my experience is with owning multiple speakers systems in multiple rooms, and then visiting numerous audio shows. going to audio shows where you visit 20-40 rooms a day; if you listen for this aspect of the music it is easy to connect the dots.

i moved from my previous home, and built my room in my barn, to mostly accomplish this issue. not have the room limit the power or scale of the music. and it does not.
Thanks everybody. My conclusion is also that driver area is very important and a nice big room.
I have been thinking of smaller speakers and a pair of subs. So I will have the freedom to experiment with different placement of speakers and subs.
Have also been thinking about dipoles. Have heard that the bass should be easier to integrated in the room. Less boomy bass

To me, there’s really no substitute for size in producing a grand scale and room-filling sound, the best of which by far IME are tall, line-array designs (Pipedreams, Nola, etc) and larger planar or electrostats.  Sure smaller speakers with better dispersion characteristics and some other things can help, but they can’t match the true scale and impact of the larger designs IMHO.  Given what you’re looking for, if I’m you I’d look at dipole, bipolar, or omni-polar speakers.  The only ones off the top of my head in your price range would be the Ohm MicroWalsh Short or the Magnepan LRS or 0.7, but there are probably some others I’m missing.  If you have more of a budget there are smaller models from Boenicke and Nola that are excellent.  Anyway, hope this helps, and best of luck in your quest. 
Audiogon, where the science of audio goes to die ....

For a point source with an unencumbered spherical radiation, SPL reduces by 1/R, or it is 1/2 at double the distance (-20log(0.5) = -6db. Sound intensity (power) reduces by R squared. Human's are sensitive to sound pressure (SPL).   For a perfect line source, SPL reduces by 1/sqrt(R), or 1/squrt(2) at double the distance of -3db.

However, no line source is a perfect line source, and walls, floors, and ceilings contain the spherical distribution so the equations above are guides, and the reality is somewhere in the middle.

And "full" is still a factor of SPL at your listening location, over an extended frequency range, no matter how you achieve it, and what gets to you is a combination of direct and reflected.  Larger room, and the reflected is reduced. Damped room and the reflected is reduced. Line source and there is less direct loss with distance, but less reflected energy to contribute to the arriving SPL.  Larger drivers provide the ability to achieve higher SPL with less cone movement at low frequencies. Multiple small drivers can achieve the same thing.  You still need to move the same amount of air, area*excursion, to achieve a similar pressure wave.
Wow pull something useful out these comments will require use of a divining rod.
-"Buy a Raven amp. pair with the DIs and die a happy man"!
-"Buy a Maggie"
-"Ohm Walsh!"

Singblues says you can trade 4 ea 15" woofers in for 2 ea 5" Harbeths and with enough placement experimenting achieve
a nirvana similar to his FSMs. 

My experience- Similar room size as yours. I use the Tannoy FSMs now and have tried the Joseph Audio Pulsars to see
how it compared. 
After a few days of "adjusting to Pulsars" you may forget what
you liked about the big boys. i.e. they move a lot of air and you feel it in your chest. 
I let the Pulsars go to another friend and am happy with the Tannoys.

The answer to your question only brings up more questions.
Good luck!!
The things that make a speaker sound big are driver size, cabinet size, and low end capability. You can not defy the laws of physics so when you go to a small speaker with subs you get an uneven wave launch of sound on the mids and highs that does mesh right with the bass unless the three pieces are larger like a big wide baffle mid high tower with a large subwoofer.
^^^ --- Well this is pretty much made up nonsense --- ^^^

Not much else to say. This is just ignorance of how to properly integrate subs.
Martin, no point source speaker is going to produce a life sized image. What you get out of them is a mini sound stage like you are sitting all the way in the back of the hall.
Sorry but you are wrong.... Too much play with equalizer not enough with acoustic...

We must use not only passive treatment acoustic , but activated room acoustic...

My point source speakers produce a life size image filling all my room, the sound dont come from the speakers at all...


My room is activated by my devices, my grid of Helmholtz resonators doing great work and some others devices...

It is not the type of the speakers that matter, it is the relation between the speakers and the room first, and the method for activating the room...

The sound is not only a passive result of the boucing back of waves.... This is simplistic acoustic....It may be the result of a controlled pressurized dynamical atmosphere with different devices....Helmholtz teachings....

What make the sound big? many factors some here have already mentioned; but the main factor is an ACTIVATED room, there exist 2 necessary and COMPLEMENTARY ways in acoustic of small room: the material passive treatment, and the active non electronic one....Helmholtz resonators grid are very powerful....

Anyway even if you forget my acoustical remark, think about the absurdity of your affirmation.... All designers of point size speakers would have designed speakers condemned to always produce a "mini soundstage" betweeen the boxes? Asking the question is answering it....

The fact that you have never set a pair of point source speakers the right way yourself is a more probable answer....Sorry....

By the way i know how magnepan can sound in a bad room and in a better one....Each type of speakers ask for his type of room geometry and proportion and acoustic treatment and specific acoustic control....You dont put magnepan anywhere and small box speakers anywhere also....
The real question is Diana Krall ten feet tall ? IF your reference tells you she is, chase your own tail......
and I have been mucking about w various SOTA line sources since 1978.... Infinity, Maggie, Acoustat, Beveridge......

....no free lunch....

i agree with you

each speaker design, even ones purporting to be cost no object or state of the art, has inherent tradeoffs. strengths and weaknesses

let’s not confuse a speaker set sounding ’big’ with them sounding ’real’ - i.e. like real musicians playing live music

stereos largely downscale and recast the recorded music

someone wisely said -- ’it all sounds fake... we are all just picking the flavor of fake that we happen to enjoy’...
let’s not confuse a speaker set sound big with sound like real music playing live

stereo’s largely miniaturize the sound

someone said ’it all sounds fake... we are all just picking the flavor of fake that we enjoy’...
That is another debate....It is not the precise question of the OP.... How a sound could fill the room ?

Not, how a live performance could be equal to a stereo system ?.... It cannot.... It is like caned tuna and real tuna around a boat.... The same fish not the same recipe.... 😊

It seems i answered your post too speedily.... I apologize jjss49  ...

And you are right all speakers need their own space and needs...

My best to you.....

«There is love and there is love over the phone»-Groucho Marx