Secrets Q & A

Low-Profile Speakers for the Audiophile in Challenging Space?

Question:
I am somewhat spaced constrained and am looking for speakers (5-10K range) that are relatively low profile and, more importantly, are designed to be placed up against the wall. Many of the speakers I have sampled require a placement at least 12-18" from the wall. The room is approx.: 14 x 21. Ideally the speakers would be placed on the 21' wall. In wall speakers are not a good option (old plaster & lathe walls on 2/4 studs). I am looking for a 2 channel audiophile solution to replace an older system. Our listening preference is primarily classical (symphonic) and jazz with the occasional R&R. Generally prefer imaging over brightness.

- Peter R
Seattle, Washington

Answer:
Your room isn't what we would typically call small (Brian's tweaked theater is barely 110 sq.feet!), but we do see where you want to place the speakers in the short dimension (against the long wall).

If one were to look at this purely from a "flatish" speaker perspective, there are products you can audition.

Magnapans come to mind, or "small footprint" speakers such as certain Dynaudios and Totems. Depending on your pursuit of fidelity, these might warrant a subwoofer, the judicious adjustment and placement being a topic all on its own.

Slightly more involved than just "picking a speaker" would be to look into something like Auralex's ProPanels. These are acoustic treatments, rigid fiberglass absorption panels, which are available in a variety of fabric coverings which make them relatively benign in terms of decor (ie they will not make your room look like a recording studio).

A suitable coverage on the back wall and virtually any speaker can be placed much closer than without (and will probably sound better!).

A third thought, though much more involved, would be to look into high-end in-wall speakers and install a 4" false wall against the old plaster wall and install the speakers in it.