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Recommendations for speakers that sound good throughout a room (Ohm Walsh, BMR Monitors, etc)

sundek

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Feb 28, 2023
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Hello all,

While I’ve followed a number of discussions here in the past, this is my first post. I wasn’t sure whether to post in this forum or under the Audio Beginner/Newbie Technical Forum. I hope you all won’t mind too much if I made the wrong choice. Having said all that, I suppose I will move on to my questions.

I’m looking for a new pair of speakers for 2-channel music (not home theater) use. I am open to supplementing the speakers with (a) subwoofer(s) though it would be nice to have speakers that at leave have the option of enjoying without the subs. Aside from wanting good quality, neutral reproduction of my music, my other priorities are:
  • To achieve a large “sweet spot” or minimize the drop off in the listening experience as one moves away from the spot. My listening area is also used as a general hangout and recreational space.
  • To avoid speakers that need to be placed more than a couple of feet from the front wall (I mean the wall behind the speakers from the listener’s perspective). Again, I don’t have the luxury of a dedicated listening space.
All other things being equal (which they won’t) I would prefer to have at least moderately sensitive speakers so that I won’t consume enough electrical power to run a small town.

The room that I am using is about 13’ wide x 7’4” high x 20’ deep as measured to a set of heavy curtains or about 30’ with the curtains opened. The speakers will have to live along the 13’ wall. I am currently using an old pair of Ohm Walsh 2s, driven by a Buckeye Audio NC252MP power amp. I’m happy with the way the Ohms provide a fairly consistent listening experience throughout the room but feel there is room to improve the overall quality of the sound that I’m getting. I am willing to consider a change of amps if necessary.

Based on my experience with the Walsh 2 and on what I’ve read here, I’m considering the following models of speaker:
  1. Ohm Walsh Tall 2000 – Basically, newer versions of my current speakers. My concern here is mostly that I don’t know if I’m trading off potential sound quality for the omni effect.
  2. Philharmonic BMR Monitors – In addition to getting generally good reviews, I’ve read here and elsewhere that these perform well in a variety of listening positions. A concern here is that I haven’t seen any indications as to best placement relative to the front wall.
  3. Philharmonic BMR Tower– These are included here mostly because of what I’ve read about the monitors and because I would prefer the stability of towers vs monitors on stands in the multipurpose space that I have. The HT towers are also interesting as they are relatively compact and rated to be more efficient, but it looks like I’d be giving up some useful low end grunt. Also, I’ve yet to see a review of the HT model.
  4. Salk Sound ??? – I have seen that they make (or made) BMR Monitors so perhaps some of the magic dust has rubbed off on them? What I can’t tell from what I’ve read about them is which, if any, models will sound good in a variety seating positions like the BMRs.
  5. Wharfedale Linton – These are a dark horse included here mostly because they’re relatively economical and seem to have reasonably wide dispersion. That said, I’m not sure that I’m interpreting the measurements that I’ve seen well enough to be sure that I’d be as happy (or nearly as happy) with their off-axis performance as with the other models listed here.
I am also open to other suggestions that might get me to where I’m trying to go. I would have included Larsen speakers here if it didn’t seem like they’ve disappeared from the US market. I have read here and elsewhere that Revels tend to perform well outside the sweet spot. I did not mention them specifically because I’ve seen some direct BMR vs Revel comparisons here it seems like the BMRs are a little more in line with my aspirations, but if you think that I've taken the wrong lesson from what I've read about that please let me know.

My budget is roughly $5,000 though of course I’d be very happy to spend less. Thanks for listening to my ramble and also for any suggestions or guidance that you can provide. I also welcome your corrective input if it seems like I'm misunderstanding any concepts here. I will be happy to learn.

Erik
 
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You can use this website to compare the horizontal directivity of all sorts of loudspeakers: Link
The wider the directivity, the less the sound will change as you move off-axis, the wider the sweet spot will be.

Considering your requirements and budget, and based on Amir's listening impressions, a JBL CBT may be worth looking into: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-70j-1-review-constant-beam-transducer.21469/

"If you have not ever heard a CBT speaker, it is something altogether different. You can walk up to it and level barely changes. Ditto for going back or even moving horizontally. It can almost be called "constant level speaker!" You feel like you are freed from sitting like a statute in a fixed spot. You can walk around a large area and overall response of the speaker barely changes."
 
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I heard a pair of beosound 2 speakers as a stereo pair and thought they did relatively good job of having stereo separation but also a large sweet spot. I am not sure if they go deep enough for your space though.
 
DALI makes speakers with wide dispersion, and some of the models are allowed/encouraged to be placed pretty close to walls. The Rubicon 8, for example, can be placed 8 inches from the wall, and sells for $5K, but Dali has lots of models that cost plenty less. They almost certainly don't sound or measure as good as the BMRs, which are basically State of the Art, but I think are worth a look. Pretty much all passive speakers are designed to be out in the room, which is less than ideal. Alternatively, you might consider the jump to active speakers. My KEF LS50 Wireless II system allows me to tell the speakers how close to the wall they are, and the sound gets some eq to optimize it. There are lots of choices among actives that would fit your budget (You might want to check out the Dynaudio Focus line, or JBL).
 
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Of the list, I’ve tried both the bmr monitor and the Lintons and both are very good speakers. But both speakers create plenty of bass (which I like), so you need room eq to make sure you don’t activate room modes quite strongly
 
Another wide dispersion consideration would be the Ascend Acoustics Sierra ELX RAAL towers. They would come in at around your max budget. They do offer a less expensive version with a dome tweeter, and less expensive yet with the "V2" option. All have a wide horizontal sweet spot. The ribbon versions will be the widest horizontally, but also the most limited vertically. In a rec room type environment the limited vertical dispersion may or may not be an issue, it would largely depend on how often you'd be standing up and how far away from the speakers you'd be at the time.

The ELX versions also offer very strong bass output and extension (33Hz @ -6dB), so for most music you won't need a sub. These are rear ported, however, so you will want to pull them out from the wall a bit, but a couple of feet or so should be workable.
 
Hello all,

While I’ve followed a number of discussions here in the past, this is my first post. I wasn’t sure whether to post in this forum or under the Audio Beginner/Newbie Technical Forum. I hope you all won’t mind too much if I made the wrong choice. Having said all that, I suppose I will move on to my questions.

I’m looking for a new pair of speakers for 2-channel music (not home theater) use. I am open to supplementing the speakers with (a) subwoofer(s) though it would be nice to have speakers that at leave have the option of enjoying without the subs. Aside from wanting good quality, neutral reproduction of my music, my other priorities are:
  • To achieve a large “sweet spot” or minimize the drop off in the listening experience as one moves away from the spot. My listening area is also used as a general hangout and recreational space.
  • To avoid speakers that need to be placed more than a couple of feet from the front wall (I mean the wall behind the speakers from the listener’s perspective). Again, I don’t have the luxury of a dedicated listening space.
All other things being equal (which they won’t) I would prefer to have at least moderately sensitive speakers so that I won’t consume enough electrical power to run a small town.

The room that I am using is about 13’ wide x 7’4” high x 20’ deep as measured to a set of heavy curtains or about 30’ with the curtains opened. The speakers will have to live along the 13’ wall. I am currently using an old pair of Ohm Walsh 2s, driven by a Buckeye Audio NC252MP power amp. I’m happy with the way the Ohms provide a fairly consistent listening experience throughout the room but feel there is room to improve the overall quality of the sound that I’m getting. I am willing to consider a change of amps if necessary.

Based on my experience with the Walsh 2 and on what I’ve read here, I’m considering the following models of speaker:
  1. Ohm Walsh Tall 2000 – Basically, newer versions of my current speakers. My concern here is mostly that I don’t know if I’m trading off potential sound quality for the omni effect.
  2. Philharmonic BMR Monitors – In addition to getting generally good reviews, I’ve read here and elsewhere that these perform well in a variety of listening positions. A concern here is that I haven’t seen any indications as to best placement relative to the front wall.
  3. Philharmonic BMR Tower– These are included here mostly because of what I’ve read about the monitors and because I would prefer the stability of towers vs monitors on stands in the multipurpose space that I have. The HT towers are also interesting as they are relatively compact and rated to be more efficient, but it looks like I’d be giving up some useful low end grunt. Also, I’ve yet to see a review of the HT model.
  4. Salk Sound ??? – I have seen that they make (or made) BMR Monitors so perhaps some of the magic dust has rubbed off on them? What I can’t tell from what I’ve read about them is which, if any, models will sound good in a variety seating positions like the BMRs.
  5. Wharfedale Linton – These are a dark horse included here mostly because they’re relatively economical and seem to have reasonably wide dispersion. That said, I’m not sure that I’m interpreting the measurements that I’ve seen well enough to be sure that I’d be as happy (or nearly as happy) with their off-axis performance as with the other models listed here.
I am also open to other suggestions that might get me to where I’m trying to go. I would have included Larsen speakers here if it didn’t seem like they’ve disappeared from the US market. I have read here and elsewhere that Revels tend to perform well outside the sweet spot. I did not mention them specifically because I’ve seen some direct BMR vs Revel comparisons here it seems like the BMRs are a little more in line with my aspirations, but if you think that I've taken the wrong lesson from what I've read about that please let me know.

My budget is roughly $5,000 though of course I’d be very happy to spend less. Thanks for listening to my ramble and also for any suggestions or guidance that you can provide. I also welcome your corrective input if it seems like I'm misunderstanding any concepts here. I will be happy to learn.

Erik
I bought Revel F228be speakers for a difficult room and I’m very happy with them. I suspect the F208, which now falls in your price range (and actually scores somewhat higher), is similar and worth a try.
 
Since 3 of your 5 choices involve designs by @Dennis Murphy, suggest you message him for a consult.

How well do your Ohm’s do currently if you need to keep them close to the wall? Seems contrarian to have an omni speaker close to the walls, but I understand your constraints.
 
Since 3 of your 5 choices involve designs by @Dennis Murphy, suggest you message him for a consult.

How well do your Ohm’s do currently if you need to keep them close to the wall? Seems contrarian to have an omni speaker close to the walls, but I understand your constraints.

That's a great suggestion, I will see if I can get a hand from Mr Murphy.

As for the Ohms, they do benefit from a little room. To my ears and in my space, though, they seem to do well at about 24" from the wall. I know that not everyone is a fan of omnidirectional (or semi-omnidirectional) designs and I do see that I'm making tradeoffs with a model that directs upwards. I'm trying to see if there is a way that I can move some ways towards a more traditional speaker design without ending up with something that only sounds good in one seating position. A different blend of compromise, if that makes sense.

Thanks again for your suggestion!
 
Another wide dispersion consideration would be the Ascend Acoustics Sierra ELX RAAL towers. They would come in at around your max budget. They do offer a less expensive version with a dome tweeter, and less expensive yet with the "V2" option. All have a wide horizontal sweet spot. The ribbon versions will be the widest horizontally, but also the most limited vertically. In a rec room type environment the limited vertical dispersion may or may not be an issue, it would largely depend on how often you'd be standing up and how far away from the speakers you'd be at the time.

The ELX versions also offer very strong bass output and extension (33Hz @ -6dB), so for most music you won't need a sub. These are rear ported, however, so you will want to pull them out from the wall a bit, but a couple of feet or so should be workable.
Thank you, I will looking into the Sierras.
 
You can use this website to compare the horizontal directivity of all sorts of loudspeakers: Link
The wider the directivity, the less the sound will change as you move off-axis, the wider the sweet spot will be.

Considering your requirements and budget, and based on Amir's listening impressions, a JBL CBT may be worth looking into: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-70j-1-review-constant-beam-transducer.21469/
Wow, those are really something else. I will try to wrap my head around them. Thank you!
 
DALI makes speakers with wide dispersion, and some of the models are allowed/encouraged to be placed pretty close to walls. The Rubicon 8, for example, can be placed 8 inches from the wall, and sells for $5K, but Dali has lots of models that cost plenty less. They almost certainly don't sound or measure as good as the BMRs, which are basically State of the Art, but I think are worth a look. Pretty much all passive speakers are designed to be out in the room, which is less than ideal. Alternatively, you might consider the jump to active speakers. My KEF LS50 Wireless II system allows me to tell the speakers how close to the wall they are, and the sound gets some eq to optimize it. There are lots of choices among actives that would fit your budget (You might want to check out the Dynaudio Focus line, or JBL).
I think that I'm probably going to try stick with passive speakers outside of a possible sub. I like the idea of being able to use the speakers if the amp dies. I didn't know about that feature of the LS50 wireless IIs, though. I will at least read up and have a fresh look at my inclination toward passives. And I will look for some reviews of the Dali Rubicons also - thank you for your thoughts on this!
 
I bought Revel F228be speakers for a difficult room and I’m very happy with them. I suspect the F208, which now falls in your price range (and actually scores somewhat higher), is similar and worth a try.
Thank you! I will read what I can find on the F208s.
 
I am looking for the same thing!

The upcoming Sonos Era 100 and 300 speakers might fit the bill. 100 is kind of bipole style, with two angled tweeters that should be very wide in stereo pair. The 300 is aimed at spatial audio with an array of side, front and up firing drivers, so possible more omni and wider still. Both can be paired easily with any Sonos sub.

Otherwise I have wanted to try the Teenage Engineering OD11, which is a remake of the Stig Carlsson classic with dsp crossover and Airplay 2. Not much feedback online but it follows his philosophy and can be stereo paired.

The only other speaker I have tested that did something special in this regard was the Technics SBC700, have a look at the spin data it has very wide horizontal and vertical polars, quite unique.

Edit: bipole not dipole
 
We are happy with our Ohm Walsh 2000's driven by a Buckeye NC502MP in a similarly-sized room with about 20% more volume with a similar objective: a decent stereo image when outside the speakers.

Another alternative would be to upgrade your speakers to the current model (SW2.2000, https://ohmspeaker.com/legacy-products/2xo/). While not currently available, it's relatively reasonably priced at $1900. Perhaps a phone call to them would provide some idea of the availability date.
 
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