upgrading speakers in very large room

Hi, all, my first post on your excellent forum, on which I've been lurking for the last few months. The below is humbly submitted, with apologies for a long-ish, perhaps tedious "what's better?" post. I'm inching my way into to the high-end, and am betting a lot of folks on here have been where I am now. Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
***********

I recently moved into a loft apartment. A classic loft, completely open, no walls, 13-foot ceilings, 1500 sq feet. My living area/listening area is about half of that. Before I moved in, I worried that it would be an echoing, reverberant mess. But it's actually not too bad. The ceilings, which are barreled, have some kind of textured treatment, which seems to help a lot. I've also got a number of GIK Acoustics panels up, and the furniture, curtains, bookshelves, and record shelves help, too. I'm waiting on a wool shag rug to be delivered.

I've been running Klipsch Forte IIIs, and they sound... not bad! They struggle, however, in the lower octaves--perhaps not surprising--but they can produce some good volume otherwise. I temporarily hooked up my HT sub--a basic 12" SVS--and it improved the bass response considerably.

I'm now considering a pair of Rhythmik 15" subs, to be run stereo (XLR) from my ARC preamp. I think these will really fill out what the Fortes can't do in this room. Rhythmik actually suggested two 18" (!) subs, but I think that might be a bigger pair of boxes than I want to deal with.

I've also considered REL, but they're maybe pricier than I want to go. I'm leaning toward Rhythmik for 1) their good rep 2) their value over other, dealer-distributed brands and 3) they don't use DSP in their amps. (I'd like to keep my chain all-analog.)

I'm mostly bouncing this plan off the group, but also would love to hear thoughts about other speakers that play well in big rooms, as I'm considering upgrading from the Fortes. (I probably will keep the Fortes as a secondary pair though.) I figure I'll be in this loft for about two or three years, and, well, what better time (not to mention Covid hi-fi madness) to mess around with some stupidly large speakers! I'm considering the following. Budget is up to $10K. New or used.

Klipsch.jpg


--Klipsch La Scala: Perhaps the natural upgrade path from Fortes. (Though there seem to be some out there who would have it vice versa.) I've seen some new La Scala B-stock and a fair number of restorations/rebuilds out there. Hard to know about the workmanship in the latter.... Note: I've not heard the La Scala, but I like the Klipsch sound generally. I don't quite have the corners for K-Horns, unfortunately.

--Magnepan 3.7i: A very different approach than the Fortes, obv. I heard a pair of Maggies--Timpani's, I think--a few years back; blew me away. I've got the space, could be a great time to own a pair. Q: A dealer (not of Magnepan) told me that panel speakers don't play well in large rooms. True? False?

--Focal Kanta No 3: I heard a pair of Sopra No 3 that really impressed me. They're a little out of reach, budget-wise, but I think I can get that great, Be tweeter and imaging in the Kanta.

--Magico S3 (used): They're certainly in the higher-end of the budget. I'd have to stretch. I demoed a pair and was impressed by the silky, controlled top end, but maybe a little unmoved by what I heard as a slightly restrained feeling. I often find that I have an emotional response to my Fortes--despite them being obviously less refined--and I might miss that in something like the Magico. Or maybe not. Maybe it was a so-so demo.

--B&W 802 (used): I think these can be had readily on the used market. The super speakers of ten, fifteen years ago? Again, I'm definitely not opposed to used.

--Harbeth: Maybe 40.1's? Harbeth are a big question mark for me, as I think big floor-standers will do best in my room. But a lot of people's whose tastes I dig on this forum use Harbeth.

I listen to all genres, though prioritize small-group jazz. I'm not buying for just that genre though. I'll be looking at new power amps (perhaps a Parasound JC5 or ARC Ref 75SE) at some point. I currently run the Forte's off a pair of Schiit Aegir. I'm well aware that most of the above speakers will want more power.

Here in Chicago, I can demo a lot of stuff and have been doing just that. But obviously my room is going to sound a lot different than most dealers' show rooms.

Anyway, would love to hear some feedback on my plan to add the Rhytmik subs, plus any thoughts/suggestions on good speakers to fill this big-ass room that might be a solid upgrade from my Forte's. Thanks, all.

*******
Analog: Garrard 401 with Artisan Fidelity stainless platter and bearing / Technics SP-10 MK2 / GrooveMaster 12-J and Jelco 850L and 850M arms / SPU #1E, Koetsu Black Goldline, and AT ART-9 carts
Digital: Schiit Yggy DAC / BlueSound Node 2i streamer
Pre: ARC Reference 40 / ModWright PH 9.0 phono stage
Power: Schiit Aegir (x2) / Quicksilver SET Mono (x2) / AES (Cary) SE-1 300B
Speakers: Klipsch Forte III
Interconnects: Blue Jeans Cables
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Good luck w your venture. I too ran a system in a classic industrial loft, 13' high ceilings, but only half your area. My reflective concrete ceiling, large windows, lack of break up or soft furnishings, made my journey there hugely frustrating. It seems you're not burdened with the issues I had.
You seem to have the accommodation for horns, have you considered that?
 
  • Like
Reactions: wbass
Good luck w your venture. I too ran a system in a classic industrial loft, 13' high ceilings, but only half your area. My reflective concrete ceiling, large windows, lack of break up or soft furnishings, made my journey there hugely frustrating. It seems you're not burdened with the issues I had.
You seem to have the accommodation for horns, have you considered that?
Yeah, it's perhaps not the ideal space, but apt living in Chicago, anyway, makes ideal difficult. It's, acoustically, better than I expected. I do have the huge windows, but the textured ceiling is quite helpful, and I'm trying to put as much big, soft stuff around the space as I can. Super precise imaging might end up being difficult, but I think I can get part of the way there.

I have thought about some big horns and drool over Avant Garde's. But big horns seem to be hard to hear in-person, at least around hear. Any other suggestions for horns?

I see you run Zu's, and I'm curious about those, too. Thanks!
 
You really need to look at the PBN horn speakers. I have a large room and the 15" drivers, huge dispersion of the wave guide "horn" and the MTM configuration of the speakers. Here's a look at the speakers and my system:

https://whatsbestforum.com/threads/the-all-analog-all-lamm-pbn-m2-5-system-of-jeffreyt.27837/
Nice. Thanks, Jeffrey. I've also admired your system and those PBN horns. I'm not sure I'd be able to demo them anywhere near me, but they're certainly on my radar. No subs in your system, correct?
 
Many find that modern Maggies generally sound best in shoebox-shaped rooms, not large open spaces. The bass will extend deeper in a shoebox room. The old Tympani models could sound magnificent in large open rooms, but they had a lot more bass panel area. I wonder whether even with a lot of horsepower behind them the 3.7s would play cleanly loud enough for you in your large space.

Since you like Klipsch speakers, I suggest you take a listen to the Cornwall IV. They, not the La Scala, are the logical upgrade from the Forte. Steve Guttenberg is a huge fan of the Cornwall IV, if that carries any weight for you. Simply Stereo out in Hoffman Estates has them on display for audition. They have an octave more bass extension than the La Scala, play almost as loud cleanly, cost less, and might reduce or eliminate your need for subwoofers. Simply Stereo has all the Klipsch models on display, including the K-horn and La Scala.

If you like Klipsch, you probably won't be wild about the Harbeth sound, but you never know. Klipsch speakers bring the performers into your room--they are forward sounding compared to "you are there" speakers like the Harbeths. Try to hear a pair of Harbeths and see how you react. For me, the M40.2 is one of the three best speakers I've owned. I've never owned Klipsch, but I have heard the Cornwall IV and the other Klipsch models at Simply Stereo many times over the years.
 
  • Like
Reactions: wbass
Hi, all, my first post on your excellent forum, on which I've been lurking for the last few months. The below is humbly submitted, with apologies for a long-ish, perhaps tedious "what's better?" post. I'm inching my way into to the high-end, and am betting a lot of folks on here have been where I am now. Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
***********

I recently moved into a loft apartment. A classic loft, completely open, no walls, 13-foot ceilings, 1500 sq feet. My living area/listening area is about half of that. Before I moved in, I worried that it would be an echoing, reverberant mess. But it's actually not too bad. The ceilings, which are barreled, have some kind of textured treatment, which seems to help a lot. I've also got a number of GIK Acoustics panels up, and the furniture, curtains, bookshelves, and record shelves help, too. I'm waiting on a wool shag rug to be delivered.

I've been running Klipsch Forte IIIs, and they sound... not bad! They struggle, however, in the lower octaves--perhaps not surprising--but they can produce some good volume otherwise. I temporarily hooked up my HT sub--a basic 12" SVS--and it improved the bass response considerably.

I'm now considering a pair of Rhythmik 15" subs, to be run stereo (XLR) from my ARC preamp. I think these will really fill out what the Fortes can't do in this room. Rhythmik actually suggested two 18" (!) subs, but I think that might be a bigger pair of boxes than I want to deal with.

I've also considered REL, but they're maybe pricier than I want to go. I'm leaning toward Rhythmik for 1) their good rep 2) their value over other, dealer-distributed brands and 3) they don't use DSP in their amps. (I'd like to keep my chain all-analog.)

Those lofts are tricky to compare to most demo rooms you will walk into (I'm in Chicago are as well). Remember that any small demo room will lift up the bottom a good bit and many medium sized, full range speakers are designed to compliment this, and will sound much leaner in your larger, more open, space. The good news is that while the larger spaces quite often need more overall power at the lower frequencies, they often allow for cleaner bass with less severe peaks and dips in the bass response.

Keeping things strictly analog will greatly limit your options, but I would suggest you might be happier by carefully integrating some subwoofers vs finding speakers that ideally compliment the room on their own. Obviously plenty of speakers will sound great on their own in a big space, but definitely different from a small room, and the ability to adjust the lowest frequencies can go a long way in getting the presentation you are after.

Rythmik would be a very good option to consider, and they weren't necessarily out of line in suggesting the 18" woofer. A pair of 15" or dual 15" subs should be plenty for music use, although the ideal is to always keep them loafing along. Make sure any sub you are looking at allows for a sufficiently low crossover to your speakers, which I believe most of the Rythmik subs all have.

I would also 2nd tmallin's suggestion to skip the LaScalla and look to the Cornwall if you wanted to stay with Klipsch.
 
  • Like
Reactions: wbass
Many find that modern Maggies generally sound best in shoebox-shaped rooms, not large open spaces. The bass will extend deeper in a shoebox room. The old Tympani models could sound magnificent in large open rooms, but they had a lot more bass panel area. I wonder whether even with a lot of horsepower behind them the 3.7s would play cleanly loud enough for you in your large space.

Since you like Klipsch speakers, I suggest you take a listen to the Cornwall IV. They, not the La Scala, are the logical upgrade from the Forte. Steve Guttenberg is a huge fan of the Cornwall IV, if that carries any weight for you. Simply Stereo out in Hoffman Estates has them on display for audition. They have an octave more bass extension than the La Scala, play almost as loud cleanly, cost less, and might reduce or eliminate your need for subwoofers. Simply Stereo has all the Klipsch models on display, including the K-horn and La Scala.

If you like Klipsch, you probably won't be wild about the Harbeth sound, but you never know. Klipsch speakers bring the performers into your room--they are forward sounding compared to "you are there" speakers like the Harbeths. Try to hear a pair of Harbeths and see how you react. For me, the M40.2 is one of the three best speakers I've owned. I've never owned Klipsch, but I have heard the Cornwall IV and the other Klipsch models at Simply Stereo many times over the years.
@tmallin thanks! Very useful thoughts here. Hmm, that's interesting about the Cornwall IV. I'll definitely put a trip to Simply Stereo on my to-do list.

I do like the Klipsch sound, but not necessarily at the exclusion of other sounds. It might be interesting to have a different/complementary pair of something to go alongside the Forte's, which I'll likely keep. Hence, thinking about the Maggies. But good to hear a warning about Maggies perhaps not playing loudly/cleanly enough in this unusual room.

Decibel Audio, local to me, has Harbeth's in-store, so I'll have to get up there. But I am concerned that even the biggest Harbeth will sound small in this room.

Thanks again.
 
I can certainly vouch for Zu. I've spent a fair amount of time getting them right, and they respond to any number of parameters including room positioning, upgrading low- and high-pass filters to Duelunds, power grid and cables, footers.

If you can hang on a little more, Sean Casey chief designer is about to release the new Definitions VII (and special order Dominances II). Both of these will run to three full range drivers/dual concentric supertweeters per side, differing only in size of cabinet and subwoofers complement.

They totally rule on classic rock, prog and fusion, with a fantastic capability of making real flesh and blood music where many other speakers just highlight the flaws in recordings. Despite fake news from naysayers, this is not as a result of homogenized colouration or lack of resolution, but from their properties of tonal density, dynamic shove and pop, and via high efficiency, easy impedance over the whole range, and lack of energy-sapping complex crossovers, they saturate and energise large spaces easily. My room which equates to half the size of yours is easily filled by 70W Class A triodes, my volume dial rarely exceeding 11 o'clock.

My ongoing refining of the Zu sound has resulted in greater neutrality and transparency, and way deeper insight into the music, the payoff being amazing performance on my jazz LPs. I'm getting the kind of timbral accuracy I only hear on more audiophile-approved spkrs, yet maintaining the fleshed-out sound I hear on my rock library.

The new Zus are gonna retail for $20-25k likely, current model that I run $16-17k, s/h examples under $10k, imho they remain a total bargain at these price points, and offer a compelling alternative to the usual suspects, especially with their magical ability to blossom with triodes and fill large rooms without the need for demanding megaWatts SS. For me, triodes on high efficiency full range drivers, is a package I can never move away from.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: wbass
Congrats...sounds like an amazing place. And if you are going to want to fill it with beautiful sound, a few thoughts:

1. I agree 18" subs is not a bad idea if you are up for the setup/calibration/cost
2. If you go to Audiogon...definitely have a look around. You can get some pretty awesome speakers in your budget.
3. For example:
- Magnepan MG20
- Classic Audio T3 (horn with some seriously big cones for bass)
- Wilson Maxx Gen 1 or 2
- JBL Synthesis 4367
- Dynaudio Confidence 10

4. I remember those Klipsh's...been a little while since i have heard them though. I like Harbeth's as well. You might like Classic Audio for the combination of room-filling sound, ability to be quite organic and powerful bass.

5. Interesting for just around 20K (maybe less), you could end up with Wilson X1/Grand Slamms or Sonus Faber Strads...or possibly Apogee Full Ranges...some serious state of the art territory stuff...awesome but we wont go there since that is not your budget...just saying! ;)
 
  • Like
Reactions: wbass
Those lofts are tricky to compare to most demo rooms you will walk into (I'm in Chicago are as well). Remember that any small demo room will lift up the bottom a good bit and many medium sized, full range speakers are designed to compliment this, and will sound much leaner in your larger, more open, space. The good news is that while the larger spaces quite often need more overall power at the lower frequencies, they often allow for cleaner bass with less severe peaks and dips in the bass response.

Keeping things strictly analog will greatly limit your options, but I would suggest you might be happier by carefully integrating some subwoofers vs finding speakers that ideally compliment the room on their own. Obviously plenty of speakers will sound great on their own in a big space, but definitely different from a small room, and the ability to adjust the lowest frequencies can go a long way in getting the presentation you are after.

Rythmik would be a very good option to consider, and they weren't necessarily out of line in suggesting the 18" woofer. A pair of 15" or dual 15" subs should be plenty for music use, although the ideal is to always keep them loafing along. Make sure any sub you are looking at allows for a sufficiently low crossover to your speakers, which I believe most of the Rythmik subs all have.

I would also 2nd tmallin's suggestion to skip the LaScalla and look to the Cornwall if you wanted to stay with Klipsch.
Thanks, Mark. Very helpful. I'm not 100% opposed to DSP, just wary of it. Sending you a PM.
 
I can certainly vouch for Zu. I've spent a fair amount of time getting them right, and they respond to any number of parameters including room positioning, upgrading low- and high-pass filters to Duelunds, power grid and cables, footers.

If you can hang on a little more, Sean Casey chief designer is about to release the new Definitions VII (and special order Dominances II). Both of these will run to three full range drivers/dual concentric supertweeters per side, differing only in size of cabinet and subwoofers complement.

They totally rule on classic rock, prog and fusion, with a fantastic capability of making real flesh and blood music where many other speakers just highlight the flaws in recordings. Despite fake news from naysayers, this is not as a result of homogenized colouration or lack of resolution, but from their properties of tonal density, dynamic shove and pop, and via high efficiency, easy impedance over the whole range, and lack of energy-sapping complex crossovers, they saturate and energise large spaces easily. My room which equates to half the size of yours is easily filled by 70W Class A triodes, my volume dial rarely exceeding 11 o'clock.

My ongoing refining of the Zu sound has resulted in greater neutrality and transparency, and way deeper insight into the music, the payoff being amazing performance on my jazz LPs. I'm getting the kind of timbral accuracy I only hear on more audiophile-approved spkrs, yet maintaining the fleshed-out sound I hear on my rock library.

The new Zus are gonna retail for $20-25k likely, imho they remain a total bargain at this price point, and offer a compelling alternative to the usual suspects, especially with their magical ability to blossom with triodes and fill large rooms without the need for demanding megaWatts SS. For me, triodes on high efficiency full range drivers, is a package I can never move away from.
Those forthcoming Zu's sound awesome!
 
Congrats...sounds like an amazing place. And if you are going to want to fill it with beautiful sound, a few thoughts:

1. I agree 18" subs is not a bad idea if you are up for the setup/calibration/cost
2. If you go to Audiogon...definitely have a look around. You can get some pretty awesome speakers in your budget.
3. For example:
- Magnepan MG20
- Classic Audio T3 (horn with some seriously big cones for bass)
- Wilson Maxx Gen 1 or 2
- JBL Synthesis 4367
- Dynaudio Confidence 10

4. I remember those Klipsh's...been a little while since i have heard them though. I like Harbeth's as well. You might like Classic Audio for the combination of room-filling sound, ability to be quite organic and powerful bass.

5. Interesting for just around 20K (maybe less), you could end up with Wilson X1/Grand Slamms or Sonus Faber Strads...or possibly Apogee Full Ranges...some serious state of the art territory stuff...awesome but we wont go there since that is not your budget...just saying! ;)
Cheers! It's not so different from a modest 1bdrm, just... no walls.

Yup, I haunt Audiogon and ponder various higher-end choices. I wonder if the Magnepan 20's would work in this room...?

I'll check out the Classic Audio! Thanks.
 
But big horns seem to be hard to hear in-person, at least around hear. Any other suggestions for horns?

Hi Wbass,

Welcome, and thank you for being so thorough in providing information about your situation and what solutions you are considering.

In my opinion you are on the right track to be looking at "big horns" for that enormous room.

If the Classic Audio speakers fit into your budget, imo they would be very hard to beat, and they are tube-friendly. Designer John Wolff owns and shows with Atma-Sphere output transformerless (OTL) tube amps. And Atma-Sphere's Ralph Karsten owns Classic Audio T-3 loudspeakers. At one time I inquired about becoming a Classic Audio dealer, but ended up becoming a manufacturer instead.

You mentioned big Maggies... I like them a lot and sell a conceptually somewhat similar line, the SoundLab fullrange electrostats. But imo either wold be challenged by the sheer volume of your room, and the amplifier power needed would be high.

Regarding the difficulty in hearing big horns "in person", that's become even more of a challenge with all of the audio shows shut down. I'm working on a couple of big horn designs and how to provide auditions is an issue.
 
Hi Wbass,

Welcome, and thank you for being so thorough in providing information about your situation and what solutions you are considering.

In my opinion you are on the right track to be looking at "big horns" for that enormous room.

If the Classic Audio speakers fit into your budget, imo they would be very hard to beat, and they are tube-friendly. Designer John Wolff owns and shows with Atma-Sphere output transformerless (OTL) tube amps. And Atma-Sphere's Ralph Karsten owns Classic Audio T-3 loudspeakers. At one time I inquired about becoming a Classic Audio dealer, but ended up becoming a manufacturer instead.

You mentioned big Maggies... I like them a lot and sell a conceptually somewhat similar line, the SoundLab fullrange electrostats. But imo either wold be challenged by the sheer volume of your room, and the amplifier power needed would be high.

Regarding the difficulty in hearing big horns "in person", that's become even more of a challenge with all of the audio shows shut down. I'm working on a couple of big horn designs and how to provide auditions is an issue.

Thanks, Duke. I've been following your posts, and your horn project sounds amazing.

That's another warning about the Maggies perhaps not filling this space. Good to have the info. I should clarify, however, that I'm only using half the space for listening. I'm definitely not trying to fill the entire 1500sq feet. (Though I realize my woofers are trying to do just that.) Still, I can certainly see the advantage of horns for my space, as they were sort of originally intended for this kind of thing, yes? Live sound reproduction, etc.

Yes, this would've been a good year to go to some shows. Oh, well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Duke LeJeune
Thanks, Duke. I've been following your posts, and your horn project sounds amazing.

Thank you sir! Unfortunately the ones I've been writing about in my little forum are going to clock in north of your cost target.

That's another warning about the Maggies perhaps not filling this space. Good to have the info. I should clarify, however, that I'm only using half the space for listening.

Good horns will do four things which imo are advantages in your situation:

1. They are directional enough that the direct-to-reverberant sound ratio will be pretty good even in that big room, and that's good news for clarity.

2. Their reflections will sound very much like the direct sound, which is good for timbre and clarity and preventing listening fatigue.

3. They have a wide enough coverage pattern to give you a wide listening area.

4. Significantly better ability to fill that big space than comparably priced cone-n-dome speakers, especially when augmented with subs (if needed).
 
Welcome to WBF, wbass!

Dear Mark and Duke,

Thank you for replying and helping out our new member!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: wbass

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing