Bass Clarity on Newer Speakers

Let me preface this by saying I’ve only owned a few speakers and didn’t actually get into the audiophile side of music listening until the pandemic. I might be preparing for purchasing my third pair of speakers after the two mentioned below.

So I was doing an A/B between vintage Kef 104/2 floorstanders and the much more modern Elac UB5 bookshelf speakers. Obviously, this is an apples to oranges comparison, but still fun.

My big takeaway is that I love the Kef’s for orchestral recordings and in general, their midrange tonality. They have a big sound stage, and much more realistic tone/timbre. Where they disappoint is in the bass region. In comparison to the Elac’s, the Kef’s have a slow, inarticulate bass. The Elac’s punch down low with clarity, which really gives them a boogie factor the Kef’s don’t have.

My questions are:

  1. Is this slow bass par for the course with vintage speakers?

  2. Can all modern speakers generally be expected to have that clear, articulate presentation in the bass region?

  3. Which modern sub $2000 small floorstanders have that beautiful tonal characteristics of the Kef’s while presenting a nice articulate, punchy low end? Too many to name?

  1. Not necessarily
  2. No
  3. Tough budget, but maybe try Polk Audio at that budget. They have a few. Another to look at is Focal Aria 926, just slightly above the 2k mark. If you like Kef, the q550 is in that budget. I owned the q150 in an office system for a couple years and they were fine. My Kefs were replaced by Triangle Borea, which I found superior at similar cost. Fwiw, elac’s are well regarded in your budget range also

You didn’t mention what amp you are using, but don’t forget that the amp is also an important factor, and finding a good synergistic match.

Bottom line, speakers that do low frequencies well in systems under $3-5k are difficult if you are looking for anything close to full range. When I build systems in that price range I use better bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer

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Heard lots of good things about these speakers.


I’ve seen but not heard these. I can’t vouch for the sound but they looked pretty good and I’ve heard good things about them - probably mostly from those trying to sell them. They’re relatively new to the US.
Heck Aurora 1000

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I’m using an Odyssey Khartago but have also used a Vintage Mac with a very low damping factor and still noted the same difference between the speakers.

I’m not looking for deep bass but rather fast, articulate bass that the Elac’s seem to present much better than the Kef’s.

The bookshelf+sub combo leaves a lot to be desired when playing orchestral music. I have a Rel T5i that I’ve used with the Elac’s and some Ascend Acoustic Sierra’s (sent them back) and just couldn’t provide the sense of scale that floorstanders can give.

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It’s a quality vs quantity thing. Yes, floorstanders will always have better quantity (“scale” as you say). But $2k doesn’t buy you much of a floorstander, quality-wise, compared to what you can get with bookshelf (typically one or two series above the floorstander at same cost). $2k can get you a high quality bookshelf (better than Elac). I now have Spendor SA1, a $2k bookshelf speaker, in that office system with a Rel T7x sub (granted this is $3k worth of speakers, not $2k, and i’m not rocking out at work at high volumes - I’m concerned more with quality than quantity with that system and budget).

It’s all personal preference. Go out and listen. We can’t tell you what you will like. But yes, if big sound is your priority, floorstanders will almost always have that over bookshelf/sub combo. In my main systems - floorstanders always.

I’d go a route already mentioned here. You KNOW you like the firmer bass of the ELAC. Get a powered subwoofer of a quality design with EQ. This will open up the sound stage even more than the legacy speajkers that
don’t go too deep, really, but comparatively they do. Once you get that satellite set-up with a sub, look out! You’ll be ahead everywhere.

Best, a good 10" mono sub will work for a nice price and is easier to place…just one. There are a lot of CLASS D subs out there and people move up in size with the mains all the time. This means good 10" subs are almost always available. Look at what you find and then review the in-use performance to get an idea where they fall. REL and the like quality are out there. Do get a sub that EQ’s some for you. Again, this isn’t too rare now-a-days.

This is a WAY cheaper way to get A+ quality low bass than a BIG, BIG volume passive box. Bass in a box is VOLUME if you expect any efficiency out of it. Efficiency is a trade-off in deep bass and deep means TUNING with efficiency as a variable.

A sub is perfect for a budget because that class D amp has HUGE power so the sub can be SMALL, and still go DEEP. It isn’t cheating the equation for efficiency. It just plugs-in the class-D amp’s tremendously good value as an ideal bass amp design. True, stereo bass is better but the price goes up so we have a budget or we have a bigger budget. You have to decide that one based on what you find.

Some really good speakers at ALL price points use powered bass “units” like Vandersteen to really good effect. This isn’t a chincy way to get bass. It works very well with “satellites” up top!

Have fun,

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Under $2k, pop into my mind immediately is magnepan .7.
My current speakers are 20+yr old, and I have been looking for possible upgrade. Being looking into Maggie, but never get chance to listen to it. Since my wife likes the current speakers ( not for the sound, but for the look), I decided to do some patching work first by putting my $2k on a pair of subs, (+ some placement adjustments), sound improved a lot. So, my speakers upgrade will need to wait for awhile.

A $2000.00 US budget is quite constraining. I’d suggest saving a little longer, stretching just $500 would improve the choices. If you like KEF’s sound, consider a factory reconditioned pair of their new small R5 floor standers from

I certainly find the low end of these speakers to meet your requirements as long as they’re given adequate amplification. Newer KEF speakers are much improved over your earlier KEF reference point.

Anthony Gallo Acoustics fan boy here.

Keep an eye out for a gently-used pair of Reference 3.1 loudspeakers.

I have no idea how they compare to any Kef offerings, but the Reference line from AGA is remarkably “full range” and has the ability to “sparkle” and image like few speakers I have ever known; and the 3.1s are close to (if not slightly over) your budget.

You may want to save your pennies and grab the best sounding stand mounted speakers you can afford (focus on midrange performance and tone). Then add a subwoofer when budget allows, followed by a second subwoofer again later when funds are available.

I find a piecemeal, planed approach leads to less wrong turns and buyer’s remorse and more satisfaction and savings over time.


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Used KEF R500 or R700 (especially) would get you where you want if you enjoy the KEF sound…or as Photon46 said…see if you can find some open box R5’s. I would stay away from AccessoriesforLess though…had a couple garbage dealings with them…was not impressed.

You could give Paradigm speakers a look. I like mine. Paradigm has different speaker collections. They are said to outperform their price.