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Small High Efficiency Speakers


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I'm looking for a pair of high efficiency speakers for my apartment, and am looking for a few suggestions as there does not seem to be a whole lot of options. I guess physics may be the problem here. 

 

Low power SET amps is the way I'd like to go, I'm looking at 45 and 2A3 amps in the 2 - 4 watt range, so I think I need something at least 95db sensitivity and closer to 100db likely to be ideal if I choose a 2 watt 45 amp. 

 

They will be in my apartment living room, so large speakers are not an option, either are speakers that need to sit off the wall. I'm fairly limited for placement options as well and the space is not ideal. 

 

Zu Audio make a few small speakers such as the Omen and Soul that are in the 97- 100db range, and I really can't find anything else as compact boasting such efficiency.   

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Track down a pair of these , Geoff   http://audioaddiction.net.au/shop/diva-monitor

 

 

Reasonably small footprint  tick.png

 

High Efficiency  tick.png

 

Love valves  tick.png

 

Close wall placement  tick.png

 

WAF  tick.png

 

The manufacturer recommends 5W minimum...not going to get that with either 45 or 2A3...but the efficiency is in the right place, so they just might work.  I reckon that they are as close to meeting the OP's criteria as are likely to be found, especially considering the front port and coaxial design.  

 

To the OP, perhaps consider a larger SET such as something based on 6C33C where with the right design you can get 12W-15W and excellent performance into the bass frequencies because of that tubes very low plate resistance.  Personally with 45 or 2A3 single ended triode I would be looking more at 105dB/w/m or better sensitivity speakers with high impedance drivers (eg. 15 ohm).  With 6C33C perhaps 100dB/w/m efficiency is the lower end of the useful sensitivity spectrum...because SETs excel when they only have to use a fraction of their available power.

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I use a pair of Bedford 1.5 8inch (used to be under Omega brand, now discountinued), efficiency is 97db, no problem using a 2W amp, plenty of headroom.

Omega speakers are definitely worth having a listen, very nice speakers.

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45 and 2A3 amps

 

If you are really wedded to this .... and you don't want big (subjective, I know) cabinets .... then consider a high sensitivity speaker which only has extension to ~ 80Hz .....   and then use a separately amplifier sub-woofer.

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Thanks for the suggestions, some nice speakers there to look at. They all look like good options. 

 

The amp I'm considering is a Yamamoto A08s, a 45 SET with 2 watts. While I highly doubt I'll have the opportunity to hear one prior to buying, the general online feedback on the sound is very positive, and the build quality looks exceptional. They're also very reasonably priced. They make a 300b model which would make choosing a speaker much easier, but it's a lot pricier than the 45 amp and out of my budget. They also make a single ended KT88 amp, which is the only one I've ever seen. http://userweb.117.ne.jp/y-s/A-08S-NEW-eng.html

 

Has anyone heard these speakers from the blue mountains? Made for valve amps and they appear nicely made. http://www.tubesoundaudio.com.au/loudspeakers.asp

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Physics is indeed against you here, as you guessed. The problem is the bass frequencies, where high efficiency passive speaker bass output really needs large drivers in large boxes.

 

Sometimes you find a compact passive speaker (the WLM is part active) that boasts a high efficiency at 1 kHz, only to find its output as you go down below 1 kHz starts to taper away, both in loudness and in power handling. It isn't really high efficiency at all if you look at its output below 200 Hz down to say 40.

 

For genuine full-range output from a compact speaker for an apartment, you will get great results with a good active speaker. Now, before you hang up on me, consider this: you could use the 2W SET power amp as a preamp for a classy active speaker, and get all its juicy colour plus beefy full range sound. A 2W power amp has a full-power output signal of about 4 volts RMS, which is less than some preamps. In fact it is a reasonable match for the balanced pro level inputs of some active monitor-grade speakers. So, with a 15 ohm 5W resistor across the SET amp's outputs, so that it sees a reasonable load, you are on your way to having cake and eating it too.

 

A couple of possible speakers for the above concept: KEF X300A, Genelec G5, ATC SCM19A, Event Opal, Adam Audio Pencil.

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Blumenstein audio from the US also have some nice small full range if you want small bookshelf type footprint, I have a pair of little orca 3inch sounds really nice in a small area.

Sent from my C6903 using Tapatalk

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I'm looking for a pair of high efficiency speakers for my apartment, and am looking for a few suggestions as there does not seem to be a whole lot of options. I guess physics may be the problem here. 

 

Low power SET amps is the way I'd like to go, I'm looking at 45 and 2A3 amps in the 2 - 4 watt range, so I think I need something at least 95db sensitivity and closer to 100db likely to be ideal if I choose a 2 watt 45 amp. 

 

They will be in my apartment living room, so large speakers are not an option, either are speakers that need to sit off the wall. I'm fairly limited for placement options as well and the space is not ideal. 

 

Zu Audio make a few small speakers such as the Omen and Soul that are in the 97- 100db range, and I really can't find anything else as compact boasting such efficiency.   

 

What do you call a small speaker with 97 - 100 dB sensitivity? A tweeter!

 

A real problem here is that you can't actually compare sensitivity ratings from different manufacturers. When you look at ratings, consider them as a guide to comparing speakers from a given manufacturer. These ratings vary from brutal honesty to pure fiction. Often the more a manufacturer is focusing on flea powered amp owners, the more they tend towards Unicorn specs. Unfortunately this makes it very hard for consumers to make an informed choice in situations like this.

 

The reality is that a speaker that can make a genuine claim of sensitivity this high is very large or it lacks bass extension. As a rough guide, with a 10" midwoofer you can expect around 94 dB sensitivity. A floorstander can achieve extension from 30 - 50 Hz but the stand mount version will give up an octave. In a very small room, with the listening position up against a wall, with the speaker also up against a wall, the stand mount version might achieve say 50 Hz extension. But I would say to this why not just get a floorstander? The foot print is the same and if you have the freedom to bring the speaker out into the room you can expect a better sound stage.

 

To get into the target range in a 2 way, you need either dual 10" woofers or a single 15". Now we are into the 97 db arena and we're now talking about a really big speaker even to just reach low enough to mate with a subwoofer. It's now a big chunky box and I know you're excited about buying a subwoofer as well!

 

If you have your heart set on a very low powered SET amp, then you have a dilemma. If you can consider an amp with a little more power, the choice becomes easier. Earle Weston's time machine is 7 watts and surprisingly it will power my HE2 (10" floorstander that I rate at 94 db) to quite loud levels. That's not my first choice but the combination was loud enough to keep most happy. In an apartment, it would be enough to become unpopular! If you consider something more like a Topaz, however, with say 40w your choices with speakers open right up. But I would be wary about backing myself into a corner with an amp that only really suits very large speakers.

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Thanks for the suggestions, some nice speakers there to look at. They all look like good options. 

 

The amp I'm considering is a Yamamoto A08s, a 45 SET with 2 watts. While I highly doubt I'll have the opportunity to hear one prior to buying, the general online feedback on the sound is very positive, and the build quality looks exceptional. They're also very reasonably priced. They make a 300b model which would make choosing a speaker much easier, but it's a lot pricier than the 45 amp and out of my budget. They also make a single ended KT88 amp, which is the only one I've ever seen. http://userweb.117.ne.jp/y-s/A-08S-NEW-eng.html

 

Has anyone heard these speakers from the blue mountains? Made for valve amps and they appear nicely made. http://www.tubesoundaudio.com.au/loudspeakers.asp

The ONLY way to choose an audio system is to first select the speaker you like the sound of, THEN choose an appropriate amplifier to drive those speakers. Choosing an amplifier, then choosing suitable speakers, is not the wisest path.

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The amp I'm considering is a Yamamoto A08s, a 45 SET with 2 watts.

 

This amplifier will be quite affected by the load connected to it.....  which will account for the very varied subjective impressions attributed to it.

 

 

 

But I would be wary about backing myself into a corner with an amp that only really suits very large speakers.

 

Definitely....   unless we accept the compromise of "no bass extension" .... and use a separately powered subwoofer(s).

 

But even then....  a few watts will only drive the highest efficiency direct radiators to "modest" levels  (eg. ~100dB@1m)....  so if we need some volume (only the OP can say for certain), then it is definitely a dead end.

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There's a lot of common sense in this thread, and I'm not making things easy for myself.

 

There are a few reasons I'm interested in such low power amps. One is that I like the simplicity, I enjoy things that are built with the bare minimum required to function. Secondly I'd like something that can perform in it's sweet spot at a relatively low volume. While valve guitar amps are completely different to hifi, that's where my experience is. No guitar amp I've ever played sounds its best when the volume is set to 1 or 2, and in reality probably anything less than half volume, and I'm referring to playing clean with lots of headroom here. My current amp is 30 watts with 4 6V6's in the power amp, and it's sweet spot is way too loud for the apartment, it would quickly make me the least popular person in the block. I'd sell it if I wasn't so attached to it, as it makes no sense here. 

 

I don't mind if my hifi set up is not capable of huge volume, but the aim is to have it sound effortless rather than choked or to clip, and this may come down to particular combo of amp and speaker. I generally listen at low volumes, as I'd rather listen for a few hours without upsetting the neighbours than have complaints the moment I spin the first track. 

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There's a lot of common sense in this thread, and I'm not making things easy for myself.

 

There are a few reasons I'm interested in such low power amps. One is that I like the simplicity, I enjoy things that are built with the bare minimum required to function. Secondly I'd like something that can perform in it's sweet spot at a relatively low volume. While valve guitar amps are completely different to hifi, that's where my experience is. No guitar amp I've ever played sounds its best when the volume is set to 1 or 2, and in reality probably anything less than half volume, and I'm referring to playing clean with lots of headroom here. My current amp is 30 watts with 4 6V6's in the power amp, and it's sweet spot is way too loud for the apartment, it would quickly make me the least popular person in the block. I'd sell it if I wasn't so attached to it, as it makes no sense here.

 

Simplicity is fine, but you should NEVER compromise quality in the search for simplicity. Some of the very best amplifiers on the planet (valve AND SS) are quite complex. Additionally, the needs of guitar amps is very different to hi fi amps. A guitar amp is part of the instrument and is designed to contribute it's own sonic signature. A hi fi amp should reproduce precisely what is fed to it. Adding nothing and subtracting nothing. Guitar amps add their own forms of distortion, which is to be avoided at all costs in a hi fi system.

 

The "sweet spot" for a decent hi fi amplifier should lie at any power level below it's maximum power output.

If you want plenty of headroom, then use plenty of power. It is that simple. 

 

I don't mind if my hifi set up is not capable of huge volume, but the aim is to have it sound effortless rather than choked or to clip, and this may come down to particular combo of amp and speaker. I generally listen at low volumes, as I'd rather listen for a few hours without upsetting the neighbours than have complaints the moment I spin the first track.

Then stop searching for the unobtainable. Select an amplifier which has plenty of power. 1 or 2 Watts is just silly. It may be fashionable, but it's still silly, unless you are using 100+dB/Watt speakers.

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unless you are using 100+dB/Watt speakers.

 

... hence the thread?!   ;)      ....   of course, I agree 110% that one should choose an amplifier to drive a speaker (not the other way around).

 

 

There's a lot of common sense in this thread, and I'm not making things easy for myself.

 

In order to make more realistic recommendations, we need more information about:

 

 

How loud do you listen?   What do you call not very loud? .....   as you probably appreciate there is a world of difference between 60dB, 80dB and 100dB peak SPL .... when every 3dB increase of SPL needs a doubling of power applied.       If you can measure your existing peak SPL output ..... then this will put an end to my "not very loud" .... needing 16 times as much power as your "not very loud".

 

What do you call a "small cabinet"? .... what is your "absolute max" that you could tolerate? .....   is a box 40cm wide, 50cm deep and 80cm high, "big" ?

 

Will you consider a (low power) speaker + a separately powered subwoofer? ......  if you refer back to the "laws - choose 2 of 3" ....    taking away 'bass extension' mean you can get (closer to) a 'high sensitivity small box'.

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Then stop searching for the unobtainable. Select an amplifier which has plenty of power. 1 or 2 Watts is just silly. It may be fashionable, but it's still silly, unless you are using 100+dB/Watt speakers.

 

Exactly.  This is well worth repeating.

It is fine to have certain individual goals and ideals for audio, but as much as we may wish to do so, we cannot change the laws of physics

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As everyone has already stated... You can't have everything and need to compromise somewhere.

My suggestion would be get a pair of Markaudio Alpair 12p from Darcher and build a Pensil box and enjoy. I'm planning the same thing when I get some time.

Taz.

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As everyone has already stated... You can't have everything and need to compromise somewhere.

My suggestion would be get a pair of Markaudio Alpair 12p from Darcher and build a Pensil box and enjoy. I'm planning the same thing when I get some time.

Taz.

The 10P would be another good option, albeit slightly lower sensitivity.

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Not to derail the thread, but I'm currently tossing up between the 10p and 12p myself.

For a 2a3 or 45 based amp with only a couple of watts, I suspect the higher sensitivity of the 12p would be useful, but I'm considering using it with a 300b amp which should produce about 8 watts.

Reading around, the 10p apparently has a slightly better top end, but the frequency response graph looks great for both and the 12ps greater radiating surface should give a bigger and more authoritative sound.

Any opinions for the OP and myself?

Taz.

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