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.

*******
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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Well, I ended up making a move. Going somewhat against the grain, I found a nice used pair of Magnepan 3.7i and a pair of Maggie DWM bass panels. A few folks felt like Maggies wouldn't be quite right for my room, but I was blown away, years ago, by some big Maggies and have always wanted a pair, so threw caution somewhat to the wind. Also, an audition at a near-ish dealer (from whom I purchased a couple other things--Magnepan is pretty back-ordered) reminded me of how well Maggies can do scale, detail, and (I think) neutrality. They played louder, at the dealer's, than expected and made a fair bit of bass, too. Also, I thought I might be helped by the fact that I'm not trying to fill the *entire* 1500sq feet but just part of it.

In my space, the bass does need help, and the DWM panels do fill in the mid-bass fairly nicely. I'm also going to work with Mark Seaton on subs. The Maggies, thus far, don't have the visceral impact and jump factor of the Klipsch Forte's, but then I didn't expect them to and I can still get that sound when I need it.

I was somewhat surprised to prefer the 3.7i to both the Avantgarde Uno and Duo (both Series 2) which I also managed to audition. Those Avantgardes were beautiful, but a bit brighter than expected. They seemed to really favor good recordings, where they absolutely shone. I was also really tempted by @Duke LeJeune 's horns. But I think I just needed to scratch the Maggie itch.

At the moment I have both the 3.7i and the two DWM panels powered by a Rotel RB-1590 power amp. 350wpc into 8ohms. (They don't list the 4ohm specs, but it's a big ol' class AB amp, and I think fairly well respected.) I'm open to suggestion on other amps to try. Perhaps a Parasound JC5 or a pair of JC1s? Magnepan also told me to look into class D. Budget of about $5k. More than that seems like overkill (?). Also wondering if it's better to power the DWM from a separate amp. They do seem to integrate pretty well, as is.

Anyway, thanks again for all of the suggestions above. They helped me explore some really productive paths.
 
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They were. I felt I could get away with them anyway, as I was never trying to fill the entire 1500sq but just create a good immersive experience in the listening area, which is only 1/3 of the total sq footage.

So far, I feel, so good. The 3.7i are really immersive. You just feel surrounded by sound. They definitely don't have the impact and tactility that horns would bring, and I suspected they wouldn't. But they do such a good job, thus far, of unraveling detail and layering that I'm not much minding. I took a calculated gamble, but it seems, so far anyway, to have paid off.

I also think well-calibrated subs are going to make up for some of the missing slam.

Maybe I'm crazy. I dunno. But I'm liking what I'm hearing.
 
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I never quite got understood that advice. One of the most spectacular, if flawed, demos I've ever attended, was Apogee Divas on Spectral amps in a 25x35x15 room. No issues filling that space.

Is your listening area bounded? Ie bookcases, natural room dividers? Or is it fully open plan to 1500 sq ft? If it's the latter, consider some kind of bounding to one or both Maggies as appropriate.

My Zus were set up to one half of my 27' width. Meaning one spkr was 2-3' from record shelving, the other was in free space, 15' from side wall.

Had I stayed in that apartment I'd deffo have installed mirror image shelving to act as a symmetrical side wall.
 
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That your happy with how it’s going is everything wbass. Try looking into a second hand Magtech or any of the usual contenders for Maggies. There’s a gazillion forum posts looking at good matches. The quality and character of any amp will come through. Maggies reveal all. Going with the subs sounds like the best move to make them come to work in your room better still. I had 3.7s before going with 20.7s and subs do make them into a different creature. If your going with subs you could consider valve amps as well but big SS makes sense so just comes down to preference. Enjoy in good health.
 
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@spiritofmusic I've got a half wall of records and books that I'm working on filling out. Good advice.

They fill the space for sure. But, thus far, they don't slam. It's probably just the nature of the beast. But even when loud, they never get muddled. It's quite eye-opening. Still, I get the advice against them, as I suspect they'll always sound a bit ethereal compared to more conventional speakers. Sort of like electrostatic as compared to dynamic headphones?

I'd like to mess around with other amps @the sound of Tao We'll see how much patience I have for lugging around huge amps! I think the Rotel is doing well. Just an open question as to whether I'd do better running the DWM panels with a second amp.
 
@spiritofmusic I've got a half wall of records and books that I'm working on filling out. Good advice.

They fill the space for sure. But, thus far, they don't slam. It's probably just the nature of the beast. But even when loud, they never get muddled. It's quite eye-opening. Still, I get the advice against them, as I suspect they'll always sound a bit ethereal compared to more conventional speakers. Sort of like electrostatic as compared to dynamic headphones?

I'd like to mess around with other amps @the sound of Tao We'll see how much patience I have for lugging around huge amps! I think the Rotel is doing well. Just an open question as to whether I'd do better running the DWM panels with a second amp.
Lugging large amps? That's the least self-harm generated by this hobby Lol.
 
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Try getting a 125kg, sharp edged 30" x 30"x12" wooden packing crate 20' up 30" diameter spiral stairs.
Its 10x as hard as it sounds.
My neighbour made the same mistake as you...said he didn't need help.
He got my ultimate respect, and offer of unlimited beer as reward.
 
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Try getting a 125kg, sharp edged 30" x 30"x12" wooden packing crate 20' up 30" diameter spiral stairs.
Its 10x as hard as it sounds.
My neighbour made the same mistake as you...said he didn't need help.
He got my ultimate respect, and offer of unlimited beer as reward.
I thought you were going to say your neighbour became one of your best patients...
 
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Well, I ended up making a move. Going somewhat against the grain, I found a nice used pair of Magnepan 3.7i and a pair of Maggie DWM bass panels. A few folks felt like Maggies wouldn't be quite right for my room, but I was blown away, years ago, by some big Maggies and have always wanted a pair, so threw caution somewhat to the wind. Also, an audition at a near-ish dealer (from whom I purchased a couple other things--Magnepan is pretty back-ordered) reminded me of how well Maggies can do scale, detail, and (I think) neutrality. They played louder, at the dealer's, than expected and made a fair bit of bass, too. Also, I thought I might be helped by the fact that I'm not trying to fill the *entire* 1500sq feet but just part of it.

In my space, the bass does need help, and the DWM panels do fill in the mid-bass fairly nicely. I'm also going to work with Mark Seaton on subs. The Maggies, thus far, don't have the visceral impact and jump factor of the Klipsch Forte's, but then I didn't expect them to and I can still get that sound when I need it.

I was somewhat surprised to prefer the 3.7i to both the Avantgarde Uno and Duo (both Series 2) which I also managed to audition. Those Avantgardes were beautiful, but a bit brighter than expected. They seemed to really favor good recordings, where they absolutely shone. I was also really tempted by @Duke LeJeune 's horns. But I think I just needed to scratch the Maggie itch.

At the moment I have both the 3.7i and the two DWM panels powered by a Rotel RB-1590 power amp. 350wpc into 8ohms. (They don't list the 4ohm specs, but it's a big ol' class AB amp, and I think fairly well respected.) I'm open to suggestion on other amps to try. Perhaps a Parasound JC5 or a pair of JC1s? Magnepan also told me to look into class D. Budget of about $5k. More than that seems like overkill (?). Also wondering if it's better to power the DWM from a separate amp. They do seem to integrate pretty well, as is.

Anyway, thanks again for all of the suggestions above. They helped me explore some really productive paths.
I've come to this party a bit late, but I have a 975 sq ft room so I understand you problems with chosing speaker type.

You've chosen a panel speaker. I really hope it works with you because I found electrostatic panels were most disappointing in my room.

I don't believe room SIZE is the problem with panel speakers as much as where you place them in the room. The electrostatics I bought are fairly typical in that they emit their sound backwards and forwards in almost equal volumes. Unless placed reasonably close to the rear wall (the wall behind the speaker) the back-firing sound will be lost and you end up with a feeble and disappointing sound. So I've recently sold them virtually unused and returned to horn speakers

If you place them close to a wall I'm sure they will perform well, If in the middle of the room (as mine are) you would do much better with another type of speaker with horns probably the most suitable. Horns have their disadvantages too but if you are happy with a relatively small sweet spot for best listening, they shine in an open space and are happy mid-room.

Last year I bought used Avantgarde Duos from about 2006 for a very good price. Since then I've bought the latest XD version but this is well over your budget. However comparing the old ones with the new (I still have both pairs), there's remarkably little in it. If you can find a good pair of Duos from mid-00s (ideally with Omega drivers), they will be well within your budget.
 
@wbass
Adding a subwoofer to Maggies to extend the bass response may seem like a good idea, however the speed of the Maggies panels is significantly faster than the piston motion of the subwoofer. This timing mismatch is unsatisfactory for many. That’s one reason why Magnapan may be developing a faster matching subwoofer- Google “Magnepan for Condos”.

You’ve listed many dissimilar speakers with wide variations in both sensitivity/efficiency and frequency extensions so it’s somewhat difficult to narrow choices based on your preferences. Your amps are 80w, 15w, 9w. For less efficient speakers the I’m not confident you can drive them loud enough to satisfaction - the Magico has a Recommended Power of 50 - 500 watts.

To run all 3 amps on the same speakers you’ll need to get highly efficient speakers.

My personal preference leans toward frequency linearity with minimum coloring.
While researching for my second audio system based on a low powered 300B set, I’ve decided on the Volti Audio Riva $8k+ depending on finishes/options. The treble and midrange is horn loaded and it’s 100db efficient. Stereophile rated it an “A”.

Another speaker popular with low powered fans us the Daedalus Audio Ulysses, which at $10.5k. Sensitivity: 97.5 db. This speaker reportedly plays well with low to high (not nosebleed) amp power.

I know that Zu efficient speakers has a lot of fans (I’m envisioning Marc charging with an oversized Zu flag while playing his bugle) but it didn’t connect with me emotionally at a number of audio shows which may not mean anything because it’s all a subjective personal preference (I love Magico and YG, but Wilson’s not so much) coupled with audio show rooms notoriously known to often make speakers sound/perform poorly (I love the Magico sound, however at the last RMAF show it only sounded meh).
 
I got a pair of Sanders Sound monoblocks to pair with the Magnepan 3.7i. It all sounds really good. With a powerful amp, the 3.7i actually make quite a bit of bass, even in my large space.

Yes, I'm going to work on integrating a subwoofer or two. I'll likely have help placing and calibrating the sub(s) from someone who does this professionally. We'll likely explore using a digital crossover and room correction DSP, either on just the subs or on both the subs and mains. Maybe it will be a bomb, but I've got hopes.

Thanks for the suggestions though. Maybe I'll get back to exploring horns one day.
 
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I got a pair of Sanders Sound monoblocks to pair with the Magnepan 3.7i. It all sounds really good. With a powerful amp, the 3.7i actually make quite a bit of bass, even in my large space.

Yes, I'm going to work on integrating a subwoofer or two. I'll likely have help placing and calibrating the sub(s) from someone who does this professionally. We'll likely explore using a digital crossover and room correction DSP, either on just the subs or on both the subs and mains. Maybe it will be a bomb, but I've got hopes.

Thanks for the suggestions though. Maybe I'll get back to exploring horns one day.
Perhaps think about looking into 2 x REL 25s as you might not need XO nor DSP. They are pricey but fast and clean to match your panels.
 

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