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Big sounding mini speakers

Roy_L

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Disclaimer: This is a question having to do more with psychoacoustics and subjective listening, although any measure-based answer will be greatly appreciated.

I'm looking for a pair of mini speakers which sound "big", while understanding this means substantial compromises. In the early years of this hobby, when I new very little and was easily impressionable, I fell many times for the "magic" of a small pair of mini bookshelf speakers (usually ~5.25 inch woofer, ~6 inch at most), which totally blew my expectations regarding how rich and deep they could sound ("No subwoofer connected? No way!"). I suppose this would require speakers with a driver capable of big excursion, some (rear?) port trickery, exaggerated upper bass and no actual bass whatsoever. Of course, nowadays I use much larger, properly engineered speakers with a sub in my main system; however, I want to try and recreate that past experience in another room just for fun.

Can anyone think of such "magically tuned" speakers?
 

MacCali

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Disclaimer: This is a question having to do more with psychoacoustics and subjective listening, although any measure-based answer will be greatly appreciated.

I'm looking for a pair of mini speakers which sound "big", while understanding this means substantial compromises. In the early years of this hobby, when I new very little and was easily impressionable, I fell many times for the "magic" of a small pair of mini bookshelf speakers (usually ~5.25 inch woofer, ~6 inch at most), which totally blew my expectations regarding how rich and deep they could sound ("No subwoofer connected? No way!"). I suppose this would require speakers with a driver capable of big excursion, some (rear?) port trickery, exaggerated upper bass and no actual bass whatsoever. Of course, nowadays I use much larger, properly engineered speakers with a sub in my main system; however, I want to try and recreate that past experience in another room just for fun.

Can anyone think of such "magically tuned" speakers?
I’m not certain what you are seeking precisely and was lazy to read your entire post; my apologies.

But a speaker that comes to my mind is Cabasse, I heard this at axpona 2022 and was floored by the experience. Definitely some voodoo.

You can always move up the line too.

 

DSJR

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Maybe not what the OP wants, but I was fooled on one occasion by the Harbeth P3ESR's sitting on top of the more full-range SHL5's. if volume wasn't too high, they made you think the larger one was playing and they even coped with Massive Attack's Karma Coma track without popping or cracking the bass line (they 'flubbed up' a bit instead if pushed too hard - don'tcha just love subjective descriptions? :D) They're rather expensive for a small box but superbly presented and without the upper mid issues in too many 'HiFi' speakers at lower prices and seem to hold value too in their particular market. In my experience, ANY P3 model eats LS3/5A's for breakfast, the latter shrill, 'squeaky' and fizzy too (a deliberate design choice for their original role in outside broadcast monitoring)

 

AnalogSteph

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Apparently the DSP will quickly dial back the low end at elevated volumes, which does not sound entirely pretty, but a 3" class speaker which is flat to 55 Hz (if only at modest levels) is nonetheless impressive.
 
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Roy_L

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While we're in that corner, the Ki Three is also worth mentioning.
Of course, I should have said something about budget, and it's not 10K$. More like in the area of 1,500$, second hand optional, even preferred.
 
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Roy_L

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Maybe not what the OP wants, but I was fooled on one occasion by the Harbeth P3ESR's sitting on top of the more full-range SHL5's. if volume wasn't too high, they made you think the larger one was playing and they even coped with Massive Attack's Karma Coma track without popping or cracking the bass line (they 'flubbed up' a bit instead if pushed too hard - don'tcha just love subjective descriptions? :D) They're rather expensive for a small box but superbly presented and without the upper mid issues in too many 'HiFi' speakers at lower prices and seem to hold value too in their particular market. In my experience, ANY P3 model eats LS3/5A's for breakfast, the latter shrill, 'squeaky' and fizzy too (a deliberate design choice for their original role in outside broadcast monitoring)

Seriously? Such an impression from a sealed box design? I assumed that this level of trickery must involve some creative port manipulations.
 

AnalogSteph

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Ready made, passive.
That makes it a lot harder then (a lot of bass extension is active filter / DSP magic these days), though one would think that something good should still be possible at that price range. Probably won't be terribly efficient though.
 

voodooless

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Of course, I should have said something about budget, and it's not 10K$.
You should probably also specify “mini” ;)

And is a sub allowed?

My guess is that something like Neumann KH80 would possibly work. Is that mini enough?
 
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fpitas

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Maybe a small omni, augmented by a sub?
 

Shiva

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I remember hearing these at an audio show and had that impression, small speaker-big sound. The Silverline Minuet. Have to find them on the used market now.

 

Doenerkunde

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I think if you want deep bass from small boxes going active might be your best chance, as it is easier to add bass energy with active crossovers. Of course this comes with a trade off as your maximum output may more limited.

Some words from Amirs review of the 5 inch woofer 400$/pair Adam T5V resonate with what you are looking for:

The ability produce lots of bass and loudly so puts it a clear step ahead of the competition. Yes, you pay a bit more for that but it is well worth it.

Really, I live for days like this. Discovering a budget speaker that exceeds your expectations and produces great sound with almost no faults. No need for, "well you always need a sub." No, a good speaker should not need a sub to sound good. The subwoofer should be augmentation, not filling design deficiency. A bookshelf speaker needs to deliver enough bass to balance the rest of the response and the Adam T5V does that. Ditto for ability to get loud.

Combining it with a sub 200$ budget SMSL or Topping DAC with remote could make an interesting secondary system at a great price point.
 

Everett T

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Disclaimer: This is a question having to do more with psychoacoustics and subjective listening, although any measure-based answer will be greatly appreciated.

I'm looking for a pair of mini speakers which sound "big", while understanding this means substantial compromises. In the early years of this hobby, when I new very little and was easily impressionable, I fell many times for the "magic" of a small pair of mini bookshelf speakers (usually ~5.25 inch woofer, ~6 inch at most), which totally blew my expectations regarding how rich and deep they could sound ("No subwoofer connected? No way!"). I suppose this would require speakers with a driver capable of big excursion, some (rear?) port trickery, exaggerated upper bass and no actual bass whatsoever. Of course, nowadays I use much larger, properly engineered speakers with a sub in my main system; however, I want to try and recreate that past experience in another room just for fun.

Can anyone think of such "magically tuned" speakers?
With an F10 at 36hz (edit: anechoic, lower in room and with nice distortion numbers) and carefully placed bass hump, the Philharmonic Mini Ceramic would be an option, checking many boxes.
 
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Dilliw

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I was in a bar yesterday and they were using a Sonos system using Era 100's. I was impressed at how well those little speakers handled the noisy environment. Not sure that they were very accurate through the entire listening range, but the amount of bass those little buggers put out was outstanding.
 
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Roy_L

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I was in a bar yesterday and they were using a Sonos system using Era 100's. I was impressed at how well those little speakers handled the noisy environment. Not sure that they were very accurate through the entire listening range, but the amount of bass those little buggers put out was outstanding.
Great example, actually. I own the Sonos Era 300, and that's exactly what they do. They sound huge, with tangible, thick bass, way more than they have any right to. Of course, there is no real low bass, but somehow it's perceived as such. Also, I'm sure the FR is far from flat, there is boxiness to the sound and the highs are too sibilant. But through some trickery, they truely sound amazing for non critical listening. So I'm looking for something similar, in passive bookshelf speakers form.
 

staticV3

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I own the Sonos Era 300, and that's exactly what they do. They sound huge, with tangible, thick bass, way more than they have any right to. Of course, there is no real low bass, but somehow it's perceived as such. Also, I'm sure the FR is far from flat
Looks pretty deep and flat to me tbh: https://www.rtings.com/speaker/0-8/graph#34837/4559

I think there's less trickery, and more just sound engineering involved in making these sound as well as they do.

Edit: more measurements here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/sonos-era.42236/post-1537555
 
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