Speaker replacement advice

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solidgold

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A few weeks ago I borrowed a friend's Sonus Faber Concerto Domus speakers and Unison Research Unico Primo which worked really well with my CD player in my room. Unfortunately, the Sonus Faber speakers don't come up for sale very often - can you recommend speakers with a similar sound signature -smooth, detailed, free of sharpness and with a tight bass? My budget is around £500-£700, £800 at a stretch. Second hand. Floorstanders preferred.

The room is 11'x8' and the speakers are 30cm from the front wall. Due to furniture placement, one speaker is 37cm to the side wall while the other is 70cm. I'm listening 5.5'-6' away. My current speakers (Revolver RW45) work well in this space but I have tinnitus and am now finding the metal dome tweeters uncomfortable to listen to.

Btw, I'm going to sell my current amp (Audion Sterling) so suggested speakers don't have to work with a 12watt amp:)

Thanks for your help...
 

CnoEvil

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Jules_S

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With apologies and the greatest of respect to @CnoEvil on this one, and as a confirmed QA fanboy myself, I wouldn't have recommended them (although admittedly I've not heard the new 30's). Brilliant though they are, and they certainly meet the "smooth, detailed and free of sharpness" part of the brief, the one thing I wouldn't have described them as having is a "tight bass"; being ported in design and slightly on the more "voluptuous" side, although don't read that as flabby. Just not the sort of quality that you'd get from a sealed enclosure.

I've been racking my brains to think of things that fit all your requirements. There's not a lot of love for this brand here, but look out for some of the earlier PMC domestic models, like the GB1, FB1, etc. I found them to be quite smooth and easy to listen to and had more control in the bass with the transmission-line design than a straightforward port. The "i" updates introduced new drivers and better cabinet bracing - I've not heard those but imagine the sonic characteristics are similar, unless the tweeter changes things? (anyone?)

The GB1i floorstander is quite dinky but well within budget (check eBay and the usual other sources), as are the bigger FB1i

FB1i - eBay
GB1i - eBay
 
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CnoEvil

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With apologies and the greatest of respect to @CnoEvil on this one, and as a confirmed QA fanboy myself, I wouldn't have recommended them (although admittedly I've not heard the new 30's). Brilliant though they are, and they certainly meet the "smooth, detailed and free of sharpness" part of the brief, the one thing I wouldn't have described them as having is a "tight bass"; being ported in design and slightly on the more "voluptuous" side, although don't read that as flabby. Just not the sort of quality that you'd get from a sealed enclosure.

I've been racking my brains to think of things that fit all your requirements. There's not a lot of love for this brand here, but look out for some of the earlier PMC domestic models, like the GB1, FB1, etc. I found them to be quite smooth and easy to listen to and had more control in the bass with the transmission-line design than a straightforward port. The "i" updates introduced new drivers and better cabinet bracing - I've not heard those but imagine the sonic characteristics are similar, unless the tweeter changes things? (anyone?)

The GB1i floorstander is quite dinky but well within budget (check eBay and the usual other sources), as are the bigger FB1i

FB1i - eBay
GB1i - eBay
There is absolutely no need to apologise.

I would make 3 comments:

1. It was a suggestion that was to be put on a dem list at around the available budget- and thus allow the OP to decide if the bass was tight enough - which in itself is subjective.

2. Until it is put in situ and set up with a given system, in a given room - it's hard to know just how tight (or not) the bass will be.

3. If buying new at the given budget - I think there is a limited choice of quality speakers that meet the brief. Compromises will have to be made....and I think smoothness is likely at the top of that list, as really tight bass with piercing treble would not make the cut.
 

Jules_S

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Completely understand where you're coming from, and fair point about "tight enough" - my "loose & flabby" might be your "extended and powerful" (I'm going to stop now before the innuendo machine properly kicks in...). And in all other respects I agree with you - the QA house sound is soooo easy to live with but musically rewarding and definitely meets the rest of the brief.

The OP did indicate S/H rather than new which opens up more choice, certainly new I agree you'd be hard-pushed to find something satisfying for the budget and the requirements. Could some of the vintage KEF models possibly work? The older KEF reference like the 2 and 3 (slightly out of budget) were front-ported which could potentially work with that relatively close-to-wall placement? I think @HoopsOnToast has (or had) a Ref model so might be able to comment on placement?
 

Lawrence001

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I've had all 4 Kef Ref Models and can say the later version of the original, or the Model 2 with the boundary compensation device will help with placement. Model 2.2 can be picked up within the budget and possibly the 3 (but unlikely the 3.2).

Soundwise they should fit the bill (in fact the first version will be closer) but they do like watts and current and eat amps for breakfast, dinner and tea.

Some Ushers have a similar sound signature, the ones that slope back with the wooden sides.
 

CnoEvil

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The OP did indicate S/H rather than new which opens up more choice, certainly new I agree you'd be hard-pushed to find something satisfying for the budget and the requirements.
Going second hand can make it hard to audition.....but gives better vfm.

Though Q Acoustics give such good vfm new eg 3050i @ £450 / 3050 @ £350 -(Richer Sounds)....that they are certainly worth a listen imv
 
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Jezzer

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Some Ushers have a similar sound signature, the ones that slope back with the wooden sides.

I used to have the Usher Be-718 and, while it does have a metal (beryllium) tweeter, it never sounded sharp. Incredibly refined with really punchy bass. I’ve also owned the Unico amp and had that partnered with Dynaudio Contour 1.3mk2 speakers - very smooth with decent punch. Huge soundstage from that combo!
 
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Mcribbons

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A pair of previously loved Dynaudio Evoke 10 would/should fit the bill. I have a pair and I love their warmth and soft treble, as I also have tinnitus (a legacy of COVID). There are two pairs on ebay, neither anything to do with me.

you are more than welcome to have a listen to mine if you are anywhere near the depths of north-ish Lincolnshire
 

Rayymondo

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speakers are 30cm from the front wall.
This is a major factor in my opinion - not 100% sure all the recommendations above will work at their best in this position, but sometimes you need to suck it and see. The below is a list I compiled when looking for speakers that work relatively close to the wall that might help or be of interest;

  • Audio Note - most, but not all models , AN-K would be a good starting point maybe
  • Neat Ministra - this relatively new model is designed to work near the boundary wall - great bass for small speaker
  • Larsen speakers - again these are designed to work against a rear wall
  • Buchardt S400 - think this is also designed for close to wall placement
  • MAD 1920 - these are the speakers I use - although rear ported they can also go up close to the wall behind them
  • Xavian - this company also make speaker that work against the wall
  • PMC DB1i
  • Proac SM100
  • ATC SCM11
  • Audiosmile Kensai
  • Audiosmile LMBii (small british monitor)
  • Some of the smaller Spendor and Graham Audio monitor speakers ...
You would need to buy used and not always easy to find!

Edit: Sorry, Just realised many of my suggestions are bookshelf speakers - which is my preference. Never mind - someone else may find it useful!
 
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FirstWatt

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Spend your £800 on a good used ProAc ,all day long ,depending on the model it was probably in the £2k to £3k bracket when new
spending this amount on a new speaker that's full of the cheapest parts available for them to make a profit is crazy .
ProAc D18 , Studio 130 , D15 ,Studio 140 , all of these on ebay right now ,all are bottom ported so easy to position.
and very easy to drive
 

hifinutt

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This is a major factor in my opinion - not 100% sure all the recommendations above will work at their best in this position, but sometimes you need to suck it and see. The below is a list I compiled when looking for speakers that work relatively close to the wall that might help or be of interest;

  • Audio Note - most, but not all models , AN-K would be a good starting point maybe
  • Neat Ministra - this relatively new model is designed to work near the boundary wall - great bass for small speaker
  • Larsen speakers - again these are designed to work against a rear wall
  • Buchardt S400 - think this is also designed for close to wall placement
  • MAD 1920 - these are the speakers I use - although rear ported they can also go up close to the wall behind them
  • Xavian - this company also make speaker that work against the wall
  • PMC DB1i
  • Proac SM100
  • ATC SCM11
  • Audiosmile Kensai
  • Audiosmile LMBii (small british monitor)
  • Some of the smaller Spendor and Graham Audio monitor speakers ...
You would need to buy used and not always easy to find!

Edit: Sorry, Just realised many of my suggestions are bookshelf speakers - which is my preference. Never mind - someone else may find it useful!
Great suggestions but remember budget is 800 pounds . Buchardt might cost more than that
 

hifinutt

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Spend your £800 on a good used ProAc ,all day long ,depending on the model it was probably in the £2k to £3k bracket when new
spending this amount on a new speaker that's full of the cheapest parts available for them to make a profit is crazy .
ProAc D18 , Studio 130 , D15 ,Studio 140 , all of these on ebay right now ,all are bottom ported so easy to position.
and very easy to drive
Good call, my 125 were quite smooth
Strangly i run some revolver r14 and they are smooth but dont know the r45
 

Radioham

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Dali seems to be well liked for low cost speakers of reasonable size.

DALI OBERON 5 LOUDSPEAKERS £749 (New)

 

Speedracer

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The obvious answer would be Sonus Faber Toy Towers if you could find them in budget. I have a pair & use them in a small listening space with a suspended wooden floor & they sound wonderful, if I say so myself. They are quite petite as floor standers go, & despite having 2 (small) ports at the rear I can use them close to the back wall. They have loads of detail & quite surprising taut bass given their size. I use them with a 22 watt per channel valve amp.
 

uzzy

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Did a flick through ebay and would recommend a listen to the following
Ok I will stop now .. but as you can see, how long is a piece of string .. there are loads of great speakers out there but if your ears love the SF Concerto Domus - unless you choose a pair against them you will alway have that nagging feeling in the back of your head. I had the same in 74 when I heard the Gale 401s way out of my price range .. but i saved my pennies for three years and managed to bag a pair second hand for what I had saved.
Have a check through the listings above then do a search yourself (and start at £200 going up as there are some veritable bargains from the past that crop up at the right money (Spendor BC1 2 and 3, Celestion Ditton 44, etc etc)

What I would say is in your small room the Vienna acoustic at the top produce a big big sound from a small speaker (check the Stereophile review). Similarly the Totems produce a huge sound from a small box ... and the Q acoustics are generally loved by all for the money they cost versus the performance they deliver.

Take your time and do not rush into anything. Check for local wammers and see if you can go round to listen to their systems .. it may throw up some speakers you never ever thought of.
 

Nopiano

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There are some Concerto Domus on eBay currently at £1700, which is fairly typical for decent ones. The older pre-Domus Concerto grand piano I used to own, and they seem to be around £1000 these days. I sold mine for c £600 in 2017, and bear in mind many will be 25 years old now.

I thought the now discontinued Venere 2.5 sounded similar to mine, though i wasn’t mad on the ‘modern’ styling. They’re not too costly used, as they never really caught on and were made in the Far East, possibly China. The newest Lumina range is Italian and bargain priced - well worth hearing, especially as they will work closer to the wall that the older ones.

As you’ve heard and loved Sonus fabers there’s nothing else quite like them. Not that there aren’t many other great speakers around, many of which have been mentioned above.
 
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solidgold

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Thanks for all the very helpful responses...

I'm definitely going 2nd hand which I realise will limit my opportunities for auditioning. I've recently been made redundant so having
to be careful with funds!

@FirstWatt - Thanks for your ProAc suggestions. I've read plenty of comments about the Studio 140 being very bassy, do you think the D15 or D18 would work better in my room? I don't know what the sonic differences are between the two models

@Mcribbons - thanks for the offer but I'm in SE London. I'm not familiar with Dynaudio speakers and it's good to hear they're tinnitus-friendly!
Did you audition any of their floorstanders?

@Speedracer and @Nopiano - thanks both for the other Sonus Faber recommendations - will check them out

@uzzy - thanks for your suggestions. Lots to consider!

Thanks again for all your recommendations(y)
 
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