Author Topic: Looking for bookshelf speaker recommendations to pair with my tube amplifier  (Read 1733 times)

Offline wonderbob

Hi All,

I am in the market to purchase a pair of brand new bookshelf speakers. This will be my first 'out of the box' speaker purchase ever, have always been using second hand / vintage speakers.

I have a tube amplifier that I built with Karel Mars at one of his workshops around 7 years ago, and using a Thorens TD-150 as source mostly, but also the occasional laptop / ipad for streaming.

So as the title suggests I am asking for recommendations for a pair of bookshelf speakers that will pair well with the tube amp. My budget is around R4.5k... hopefully that is enough for something relatively descent.


Offline stereosane

There’s the new Bentley Acoustics FR100,72304.0.html

Or Maybe a pair of Castle Knight 2..

Offline Winslow

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Bookshelf speakers are usually inefficient with an impedance curve form hell.

Some you might get away with, ignore the manufactures rated Db efficiency in my experience it means nothing if it is a pig to drive.  And it all depends on the crossover design.

Unfortunately HF speakers are expensive and not many makes are available in this country.
Klipsch dare I say it are great with most valve amps, love em or hate em.

Had some B&W 303's which much to my surprise sounded great with my 10W push pull valve amp.  Go figure considering their reputation.

Replaced them with Wharfedale 10.1's which also sound great on the small valve amp, perhaps not as good in the mids as the B&W's but much more transparent and dynamic.

If you are not pushing the speakers then any bookshelf you like the sound of will work just don't expect it to blow the roof off and get the neighbors 3 houses down to call the cops like Klipsch.

As you most probably are aware of some valve amps are better with difficult loads than others, some I have listened to are a disaster in that respect despite their rated output.  Have had some 20W valve amps that are useless, that even battled to drive my Klipsch KG4's with any conviction, they are a genuine 94db these with my 10w shake the rafters.   :nfi:
I have no direct experience with your amp have you thought of asking Mr. Mars for his opinions on a suitable bookshelf for your particular amp.
"Audiophiles don't use their equipment to listen to your music.
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Online fredeb

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Offline handsome

as previously mentioned bookshelf speakers, despite what most people think, tend to be harder to drive than larger speakers - all things being equal of course. Your best bet of course would be to audition potential candidates. My EL84 amp sounded great on Lowthers, Quad ESLs and small Missions (735s i think) but fell apart on a pair of PMC GB1s. More sensitive speakers (like the Klipshs) should sound better, not from a 'how loud can i play' perspective but rather a more controlled and dynamic sound. How powerful is your amplifier? And is it tapped for 4R speakers?

Offline stereosane

What is your room size, I’ve ran a few speakers on my tube amp in a smaller room and never had any trouble driving them to loud levels, if your room is big you’ll need them select a speaker carefully, but if the room is small I can’t see many speakers posing a big problem..

Offline AlleyCat

Agree with the above comments re sensitivity, any decent 90+ db speaker, even into 4 ohms should work fine.

My best experience was replacing a Krell KSA150 with a little Pathos amplifier to drive ny Jamo Conert 8 bookshelves, the Krell made the ports chuff, beautiful sounds and music from the baby amp. That speaker should be [just] above your spend [ if you can find them].

Lastly, what does Karel think? What does he suggest/recommend?
"Not everything meaningful is measurable, and not everything measurable is meaningful" - Floyd Toole

Offline wonderbob

Thanks for all the replies!

Firstly, I am not necessarily looking for something loud, in fact I would say 90% of the time the music will be at low to medium volume (sadly). So something that sounds good at those volumes... but does not fall apart when pushed a bit when the opportunity presents it self.

The room is of medium size, around 4.5x7m and the speakers will be on the short wall relatively close to the corners, on actual bookshelves.

As for the basic specs of the amp.... 25 watts into a 6 ohm load, Ultra Linear EL34 push-pull power amp (just copied from what Karel had to say about the amp).

I will ask Karel if he has any recommendations or specific things to look out for.

At the moment the Klipsch R15M looks like a good option considering the sensitivity and price point...

Offline Mars

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Hi Wonderbob

I agree with fredeb's suggestion: those Klipsch R15M does look like the right choice.  If you have more money to spend, B&W speakers are also a good match.
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Offline Bruce M

Hi Wonderbob

My experience with the Klipsch R15m's:

For valve amp use:

I recently bought a pair of Klipsch R15M's specifically to pair with my recently re-furbed Pioneer SA-400 valve amp. It's in a small study.

The first new set of speakers I've bought new. I think they sound great.

When sitting about 2 m away from the desk, it's unpleasantly loud if over about 60% volume. Bearing in mind that little amp is rated at 10 to 11 w on a good day.

I'm sure your mars amp is more powerful, so they should probably would work well if you put them in a larger room.

For "normal" use:

What impressed me with the Klipsch's was when I tried them on my lounge system, powered by a old Yamaha AX 396 (conservatively rated at 65w). They managed to fill a largish open plan lounge/kitchen/hallway area very convincingly.

In fact they sounded better than my Wharfedale 10.6's normally used for this duty, but obviously with less bass.

I then invited my mate round with his B & W 686's (similar size) for beer and a sound off, with a braai on the side.

Overall the B & W's had better midrange, but not by miles. Maybe it seemed that way due to the famous brightness of Klipsch's?

So in my humble opinion those Klipsch's are great speakers for the money, considering they are around half the price of the B & W's.

The only thing I don't like about the Klipsch's is that they are rear ported, so if I wanted to sit back away from the desk and crank them, I have to pull them away from the wall to avoid serious booming. I'm not sure why they make small "bookshelves" rear ported, seems to defeat the object a bit?

PS: After this, I'm now swopping over to bookshelves in the lounge, Wharfedales will be up for sale soon....

Online bbe22

Wonderbob ... my 2c ..... remember that in a commercial loudspeaker  only 10-15% of the sticker price is actual components / hardware within    -  So for 5K new you are looking at low-fi mostly, with sprinkles of mid-fi and hi-fi in choices available.
Since you can build stuff as with the amp  for your budget  also look at or  and similar

.... you will end up in performance much closer  to


Offline Ju_dy@RT

as previously mentioned bookshelf speakers, despite what most people think, tend to be harder to drive than larger speakers  ...

yip... So, does it have to be a bookshelf? honestly, if not, ito Klipsch, the R24F may be a better option. Lower Power handling, higher sensitivity, Better freq response...
But yes, it is also more expensive.

Or for much cheaper, you can also look at the Boston's... don't look at the sensitivity (which translates to volume) ... look a the minimim power req of 10w...

Offline crasher

The Bentley FR100 might surprise you and easily fits your budget

Offline wonderbob

The only thing I don't like about the Klipsch's is that they are rear ported, so if I wanted to sit back away from the desk and crank them, I have to pull them away from the wall to avoid serious booming. I'm not sure why they make small "bookshelves" rear ported, seems to defeat the object a bit?

Thank you for the detailed reply!

Unfortunately the speakers will literally be standing on a bookshelf, with the back of the speaker relatively close to the wall. Not right up against it, but we are talking a couple of inches away.

With all these things... the more you learn and the more options you look at... the more difficult it becomes!

Offline bearenzo

If you can push your budget up to this one
It will pair very well with your PP EL34.  :thumbs:

I had the ProAc Tablette 50 for a year, now I still own original Tablette & Response 1sc.
They work really well with my 15W KT66 pp Quad II.   
ProAc speakers tend to have higher impedance range that work well with the valve amps.
Unlike the typical low impedance B&W , Dynaudio, KEF reference...etc , they will sing happier with the high current solid state amps.