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!
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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.

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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
 
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Big horns, open baffle type horn loaded midbass, in a 1500ish sq ft room (well, 60 feet long), 13 ft ceilings all done for you http://zero-distortion.org/silvercorewesternelectricshornssets/
This is useless without videos Ked lol... these are just pictures :eek: did you not do a video grab at silvercore... seriously though it would be really brilliant to hear how these sound and also check out what shoes you are wearing these days at the same time. Note to the EU... end all Ked lockdowns now.
 
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This is useless without videos Ked lol... these are just pictures :eek: did you not do a video grab at silvercore... seriously though it would be really brilliant to hear how these sound and also check out what shoes you are wearing these days at the same time. Note to the EU... end all Ked lockdowns now.

Back then I was like Ron and Steve and others that didn't believe in videos
 
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This is useless without videos Ked lol... these are just pictures :eek: did you not do a video grab at silvercore... seriously though it would be really brilliant to hear how these sound and also check out what shoes you are wearing these days at the same time. Note to the EU... end all Ked lockdowns now.
I think he meant to show his crotch not shoes Tao.
 
A couple of related questions for the group:

--Is it just the one dealer in North America for Avantgarde (Americansound in Canada)?

--Any suggestions for comparable subs to Rhythmik 15"? REL comes to mind, and if I went that route, I'd go with x2 S/812. Double the price, but I might be able to talk a dealer into helping me with the set-up/integration. I wonder, however, if 12" subs won't quite cut it in my room....

Thanks again, all.
 
Interesting to hear about Harbeth, as well.

Funny, but no one has really sung praises of the Magico or Focal or B&Ws I mentioned in the OP. A lot of horn fans here, it seems!

That said, demoing the Magico S3 (MK1) and the Focal Sopra No3, I was equally impressed by the imaging, the depth of stage, the coherence, and overall refinement. Very silky, very much drawing you into the music, though in a different way.

I think it boils down to the fact that your room is big so you need higher than usual SPLs to reach comfortable listening levels. Being very efficient, horns can easily reach +100dB SPL with little effort (a few watts). Additionally, positioning them is relatively painless, making horns the no-brainer solution from a practical point of view.
Plus, horns can sound very good & their dynamics are unparalleled!

As to the Focal & Magicos you mention -- both excellent designs -- I speculate they would struggle to the room to realistic levels. IMO, you need to consider the bigger models, such as the Magico M3 or the Focal Stellas -- BUT these are outrageously expensive and notoriously inefficient compared to horns

Of course, if you have usable corners, you might consider the Klipschorns; they have a cult following and a knowledgeable community that can help you mod / improve them!
Regards
 
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Interesting to hear about Harbeth, as well.

I love the M40 models and Harbeth specs them at 86dB 1W & 650W programme. On paper at least, these should do the trick, albeit with powerful amplification -- 250W or better.

It's fascinating to realise how many speakers are designed with small-medium sized spaces in mind!
 
Greg, 101dB/1m efficiency, steady 8 Ohms impedance, is why I'm recommending Zus. I'm biased obviously, but a critical reason I bought them was to be able to get them to hit full room energizing levels off triodes. My 70W Nats fully saturated my previous 29x27x13 room, ditto my current 18x48x9 room. And that's at moderate volume levels, the scale of saturation rising w increasing volume. Their onboard subs w full room response adjustability, taking a line level signal from tube amps imbues the sub-40Hz output w the character of the main tube amps.

The other reason I'd recommend Zus over some of the horns I've heard is their easiness and chameleon-like quality w all masterings. Great music sounds great on Zu. But more challenging genre masters like prog and fusion, classic rock, that can sound "fussy" and forensically dissected on some horns, totally shine on Zus.

So, Zus tick the box for filling your size room on 70W, scale up nicely, one of the few practical and affordable options to run on triodes in very large spaces, eager to please where horns can be dismissive, and plenty of goodness on more challenging well-recorded acoustic genres.
 
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Thanks, all. I'm chewing over all of this. Last night the Forte's weren't sounding too bad. (Again, I'm using only about 1/2 to 1/3 of the sq footage for a listening space.) It's just the bass that suffers. Hopefully going to hear some K-Horns today.
 
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I heard a pair of new K-Horns today. Something to my surprise, I didn't really connect with them. Though I do really like the dealer I visited, it wasn't the most ideal of demo conditions. (People talking a few feet away, etc.) Whichever way, I found the K-Horns surprisingly bass light, and also found the height of the tweeters quite odd. The music seems to be happening over your head, which is a weird sensation. The center image also struck me as quite vague and misty, and I missed a lot of inner detail, too.

One thing that did sound really good, however, was Philly Joe's drum kit on Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm section and Art's sax. You could hear the layout of the kit and the character of the individual drums (50s Gretsch, stick chopper hoops) really well, even with Philly Joe just in the right channel, and Art sounded his characteristic melodic but laid back self, too. The K-Horns struck me as laid back themselves on this recording, another surprise. (On other albums, they were quite forward.) Anyway, on the whole, I was left somewhat cold by this audition.

Markedly better, maybe a 3.5 out of 5, for these ears, was a pair of tall Monitor Audio towers somewhere in the $30K region. I gave them a quick listen. Impressive for sure. Still, I prefer the Focals and Magicos I've heard. Probably my favorite speakers I've demoed thus far are Quads (the big, current production ones), but they wouldn't play loud enough for my room.

Well, anyway, it was another lesson in how valuable it is to actually get out and hear something. I'd love to hear K-Horns again, but for now, I'm striking them off my list.
 
Probably my favorite speakers I've demoed thus far are Quads (the big, current production ones), but they wouldn't play loud enough for my room.

What was it about the Quads that stood out to you?

Can you tell me a little about the setup geometry, in particular their ballpark distance from the wall behind them, and what the surface of that wall was like (reflective, absorptive, diffusive)?
 
Detail, top-end sparkle. A little bright but very listenable. They seemed to do the spatial information really well.

They were in a typical dealer showroom, well-treated. I want to say it was something like a 10x12 room. Maybe a touch bigger. They were pulled 1/3 of the way out into the room.

They sounded great there, but I'm told--and can believe--that they'd struggle in my weird room.
 
Detail, top-end sparkle. A little bright but very listenable. They seemed to do the spatial information really well.

They were in a typical dealer showroom, well-treated. I want to say it was something like a 10x12 room. Maybe a touch bigger. They were pulled 1/3 of the way out into the room.

They sounded great there, but I'm told--and can believe--that they'd struggle in my weird room.

I'd agree with you that big Quads are astonishingly good speakers and surprisingly much better with bass than their reputation suggests. Old 57s, etc were light on bass, but 2902s and 2912s are good. They play much louder than many believe possible too. I bought 2905s with 2912 upgrades a few years ago and they were great in my large room, even though (for Duke's benefit) there was 12 ft behind one speaker and 15 ft behind the other. The back wall was floor-to-ceiling glass and angled, so far from ideal.

By contrast Martin Logan 13As in the same location were very disappointimng. My Quads were bought used as an experiment to see how electrostatics would perform in my room. They were resold as I didn't want "barn doors" in the middle of my room, but MLs are much slimmer and largely transparent. Sadly I didn't arrange anything more than a dealer demonstration at their premises. They are now for sale to someone with a more conventional room where I have no doubt they will thrill their new owner. This experience had added to my admiration of the relatively inexpensive Quads. Peter
 
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Detail, top-end sparkle. A little bright but very listenable. They seemed to do the spatial information really well.

They were in a typical dealer showroom, well-treated. I want to say it was something like a 10x12 room. Maybe a touch bigger. They were pulled 1/3 of the way out into the room.

Thank you.

In obvious ways good horns and Quads are very different, but they do have some common ground: Both have considerably narrower radiation patterns than conventional "cone-n-dome" speakers, resulting in a higher direct-to-reverberant sound ratio which tends to "take the room out of the equation"... except for room size. And both tend to generate more a spectrally-correct reverberant field than we normally get from a cone-n-dome speaker, which imo is one of the characteristics of live music that most speakers fail to get right.

The Quads do a superb job of getting the first-arrival sound right, and that is what conveys most of our image localization cues. The inherent lack of early sidewall reflections also helps with this.

Imo the spectrally-correct backwave of the Quad makes a significant contribution to its spatial properties, as it arrives after some time delay because of the distance travelled. Early reflections convey an undesirable "small room signature", but if the Quads are far enough out into the room, their backwave really doesn't convey "small room signature" but still does a good job of presenting the ambience information on the recording. So we get more of a "feel" of the recording venue space.

Horns generally do not have anything like the backwave energy of the Quads going on. Most of mine do, as they include user-adjustable rear-firing drivers, but I think the size of your room makes their contribution less significant than it would be in a smaller room.
 

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