In search of a warm, relaxed sound

Makabura

Standard Member
I need a bit of advice. I am looking for a pair of budget bookshelf speakers (up to 500€, preferebly around 300€). I am going to run them with Cambridge Audio AXA35 in a small room. I want a relaxed, realistic sound with no listening fatigue. Mostly I listen to jazz, rock, ambiental and classical music.

-. -. -. -. -.-

Around half a year back, I picked up Q Acoustics 3020i. I liked them, but they were a bit lacking in bass (just enough to make me wonder). I changed them for KEF Q350, but after some time with them, I started missing natural, acoustic sound of 3020i. So I sold KEF Q350. Than I thought that I would find a compromise of natural, sweet sound and bass in Wharfedale Diamond 12.2. Not so, for my ears they were fatiguing; very forward, not relaxing. This surprised me, since most reviewers described them as easy going (I must be sensitive and small room with reflections also contributed to fatiguing sound). Now, I changed my Wharfedale 12.2 for a much cheaper Wharfedale D320 with the idea of having relaxed sound with bass. Well, in my room, D320 are really bloated in bass if listening of axis, e.g. in corners or near a wall (much, much more bloated than any of the above mentioned speakers; ps, all the speakers where properly driven in). This brings me to this day...

I try to remember myself that the perfect speakers at this price does not exist, but since I can still return D320 to Amazon, I thought to ask you for an advice.

-. -. -. -. -. -

So far I have these ideas:
1) Go back to Q Acoustics 3020i (300€) and have a bit less bass,but natural sound.
2) Buy Q Acoustics 3030i (400€), but here I am afraid that the bass would be bloated, since they are punchy.
3) Mission LX-2 MK II (300€) looks like a good deal, but are they fatiguing? I heard them with my amp briefly and they were lively and realistic. They made an impression on me, but didn't get a chance to listen to them for more than 20min at low to medium volumes.
4) Keep D320 and stop the search, since there will always be something not best to my taste.
For other brands that I researched, Dali's might be too bright, same goes for Triangle Borea and B&W. Elac's might be similar to KEF in neutrality and spatiousness, but might lack a bit of warmth and naturalism plus they are described as picky with amps a bit (never heard any of the here mentioned brands, except KEF).

Any idea or experience with mentioned amp and/or speakers (maybe even in a small room) is much welcome. Thank you.
 

Makabura

Standard Member
Arcam Alpha amps tend to be warmer.

Out of those speakers you won't go wrong with the lx mark 2
Thank you, Mission looks good. I bought Axa35 some time ago and now don't have the budget to get a new amp. I think that it is said that it is also sweet and not bright (didn't compare it myself to other amps).
 

FootHealer

Active Member
Hi,

Firstly, I have had a very similar experience to you with some of the speakers you mentioned. I also found the 3020i lacking in bass, and the Wharfedale 12.2 a bit fatiguing.

I wouldn't be too concerned about bass boom with the 3030i. I have a pair placed about 20cm from the back wall, in a room about 3mx2.5m, so not large at all. The bass is tight, punchy and goes down to about 37Hz. They are smooth and easy to listen to, even in a nearfield position.

The Q Acoustics Concept 20 is another option if you want smooth. It is more refined, smoother, and an overall better speaker than the 3030i. The only drawback is the lack of bass when compared with the 3030i. It goes down to around 65Hz if I place it exactly where the 3030i's are placed.

KEF, Dali, Triangle, Mission, and B&W are not speakers I would consider "warm and relaxed". Older Wharfedale speakers and the current PSB Alpha range are warm, in my opinion. The new 12 series by Wharfedale are a bit of departure from their typical "house sound". Personally, Q Acoustics would be my choice for warm and relaxed.

Good luck :)
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Can’t you get subwoofer? That is if the amplifier supports subwoofer. Other then this you probably can connect trough switch.

Arcam A80 is warm amplifier. It could be wise to first get the correct amplifier, then speakers.

Or keep the current speakers.

Got dam iPad spelling!!
 
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Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Triangle, Focal speakers are supposed to be warm sounding. You could audition the Triangle Bora speakers.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Bloated in the bass? The further away from the walls, the bass is more precise.

I don’t seem to recall you mentioned this in the post.
 

Makabura

Standard Member
Hi,

Firstly, I have had a very similar experience to you with some of the speakers you mentioned. I also found the 3020i lacking in bass, and the Wharfedale 12.2 a bit fatiguing.

I wouldn't be too concerned about bass boom with the 3030i. I have a pair placed about 20cm from the back wall, in a room about 3mx2.5m, so not large at all. The bass is tight, punchy and goes down to about 37Hz. They are smooth and easy to listen to, even in a nearfield position.

The Q Acoustics Concept 20 is another option if you want smooth. It is more refined, smoother, and an overall better speaker than the 3030i. The only drawback is the lack of bass when compared with the 3030i. It goes down to around 65Hz if I place it exactly where the 3030i's are placed.

KEF, Dali, Triangle, Mission, and B&W are not speakers I would consider "warm and relaxed". Older Wharfedale speakers and the current PSB Alpha range are warm, in my opinion. The new 12 series by Wharfedale are a bit of departure from their typical "house sound". Personally, Q Acoustics would be my choice for warm and relaxed.

Good luck :)
Thank you.:) It helps that somebody had a similar experience to me. What amp were you using with all of the mentioned speakers? I would guess that if my axa35 went well together with 3020i, will also went well with 3030i.
 

Makabura

Standard Member
Can’t you get subwoofer? That is if the amplifier supports subwoofer. Other then this you probably can connect trough switch.

Arcam A80 is warm amplifier. It could be wise to first get the correct amplifier, then speakers.

Or keep the current speakers.

Got dam iPad spelling!!
Maybe I should change my amp, but at the moment I don't have enough budget for speakers and amp. I think I will go with speakers that are smooth and natural sounding and in the future upgrade amp as well.
Maybe also some EQ due to room effect would be smart to do.
Thank you for a reply.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
Thank you.:) It helps that somebody had a similar experience to me. What amp were you using with all of the mentioned speakers? I would guess that if my axa35 went well together with 3020i, will also went well with 3030i.
Hi,

There is nothing wrong with the Cambridge AXA35...actually, it's a fantastic amp for the money. I'd keep it, to be frank, and change the speakers. Personally, I feel the amp plays a smaller role than the speakers in creating the overall sound of a HiFi system, although synergy between the two can have a big effect in my experience.

I paired the Wharfedale 12s, Concept 20s, 3020i and 3030i with an NAD D3020v2, which is 30w per channel, 5w less than yours. As long as you have reasonably sensitive speakers and don't listen in huge rooms, at insane volumes or several metres away from your speakers, 35w per channel should be fine. The NAD D3020v2 is a reasonably warm amp, and pairs nicely with the Q Acoustics, although the combination of warm amp and slightly warm speakers leans my system to the warm side rather than balancing it out. I do this because I am prone to listening fatigue and prefer an overall smoother, warmer sound.

The Cambridge Audio sound isn't warm, in my opinion, so pairing it with a neutral to ever so slightly warm speaker like a Q Acoustics 3030i or Concept 20 should be fine and closer to neutral than my setup. The AXA35 doesn't have a sub out or pre-out, if I remember correctly, plus it can be tricky to set up subwoofers, so selling the 3020i and getting a 3030i for more bass and slightly smoother top end would be what I would recommend if you like the 3020i sound overall. The 3030i speakers are easy to drive, so your amp should be fine at reasonable volumes.
 
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dogfonos

Well-known Member
Agree with FootHealer. You enjoyed the QA 3020i model when used with the Cambridge Audio AXA35 so the obvious choice is the next model up, the bigger 3030i. Sometimes, the obvious choice is the best.

If too much bass in a small room, try plugging or partially plugging, the ports before spending on new speakers. Can be a good enough fix for excessive bass - saves money too.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
Agree with FootHealer. You enjoyed the QA 3020i model when used with the Cambridge Audio AXA35 so the obvious choice is the next model up, the bigger 3030i. Sometimes, the obvious choice is the best.

If too much bass in a small room, try plugging or partially plugging, the ports before spending on new speakers. Can be a good enough fix for excessive bass - saves money too.
The 3030i is a big ol' box, but I haven't had any issues with bass boom despite having them quite close to the wall. They don't like being in a corner though, while the Concept 20s handle corners with ease. If you can get the 3030i 20cm from the back wall and 60cm or more from the corners, as I have them, I reckon they will be fine. I'd avoid plugging the ports completely. This makes them sound like a 3020i ;) I use minimal "acoustic treatment", and the room is quite reflective, but the 3030i seems to handle this tricky environment well.
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
If you really want warm, sweet and relaxed then you need Focal or Elac.
I completely agree with your comment of the wharfedale 12.1/12.2, I tried the 12.1's at home out of curiosity, they really weren't what I expected at all, terrible actually, and were returned very quickly.
The Elac DBR62 reference are the sweetest and smoothest sounding speakers I've ever heard south of £1000, I loved them so much I bought some and still use them every day in my main system.
They have good high end resolution but are super smooth and have plenty of punch if you wind up the volume, but they do need a gutsy amp to really deliver.

If you hurry there is currently a pair on Gumtree for £250, I'd snap them up.

 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Andrew Jones, I believe. Either way I’ve always heard Elac are well received speakers.

Sensitivity is 87 dB. An amplifier around 40 watts should be ideal. However quite large speakers.

So an amplifier with precise bass might be better.
 

password1

Suspended
How about forget the budget speakers such as the QA 3000i and audition the next level up, Missing QX2 mark 1 or QX1 mark 2. The QX mark 1 are on big discount.
 

FRFT

Active Member
Bit of a wildcard suggestion, but how about the wharfedale diamond 9.1? These were nice sounding warm speakers from memory. I have some 10.1s and I still like their sound when I hear them. These are similar to the 9.1 from memory. I'm surprised to hear that the 12.2 are bright, it sounds like wharfedale have gone for a new sound.

They're still in production now despite being an older model, so there must be something about them people love, and they're only £120 now


They're 5" woofers but they have some decent punch, depends on your room size though

AV have a good returns policy so it's no risk to try them

Edit:

I just realised you have written in euros, so I'm not sure where else you can purchase these or if it's easy for AV to ship them to you
 

Makabura

Standard Member
If you really want warm, sweet and relaxed then you need Focal or Elac.
I completely agree with your comment of the wharfedale 12.1/12.2, I tried the 12.1's at home out of curiosity, they really weren't what I expected at all, terrible actually, and were returned very quickly.
The Elac DBR62 reference are the sweetest and smoothest sounding speakers I've ever heard south of £1000, I loved them so much I bought some and still use them every day in my main system.
They have good high end resolution but are super smooth and have plenty of punch if you wind up the volume, but they do need a gutsy amp to really deliver.

If you hurry there is currently a pair on Gumtree for £250, I'd snap them up.

Thank you for your comment. Nice to hear that also other people found Diamond 12 edition somewhat weird. I had high hopes for them, but were disappointed. But i must admit, I liked the tight and refined bass and also sweet mids, nonetheless, all in one it was to forward and not coherent. Maybe amp and room, but still, not for me at the moment.

I got alot of recommendation of Elacs. I will check them out. At the moment I lean towards Q Acoustics 3020i with a sub or 3030i with no sub.
Regarding the attached link, do you know if I can order them to Slovenia? And is it safe? Thank you.
 

Makabura

Standard Member
How about forget the budget speakers such as the QA 3000i and audition the next level up, Missing QX2 mark 1 or QX1 mark 2. The QX mark 1 are on big discount.
Where can I find the discount? I am from Slovenia and I am afraid that the shipping is not possible or its expensive. Thanks for the idea of course.
 

Makabura

Standard Member
Hi,

There is nothing wrong with the Cambridge AXA35...actually, it's a fantastic amp for the money. I'd keep it, to be frank, and change the speakers. Personally, I feel the amp plays a smaller role than the speakers in creating the overall sound of a HiFi system, although synergy between the two can have a big effect in my experience.

I paired the Wharfedale 12s, Concept 20s, 3020i and 3030i with an NAD D3020v2, which is 30w per channel, 5w less than yours. As long as you have reasonably sensitive speakers and don't listen in huge rooms, at insane volumes or several metres away from your speakers, 35w per channel should be fine. The NAD D3020v2 is a reasonably warm amp, and pairs nicely with the Q Acoustics, although the combination of warm amp and slightly warm speakers leans my system to the warm side rather than balancing it out. I do this because I am prone to listening fatigue and prefer an overall smoother, warmer sound.

The Cambridge Audio sound isn't warm, in my opinion, so pairing it with a neutral to ever so slightly warm speaker like a Q Acoustics 3030i or Concept 20 should be fine and closer to neutral than my setup. The AXA35 doesn't have a sub out or pre-out, if I remember correctly, plus it can be tricky to set up subwoofers, so selling the 3020i and getting a 3030i for more bass and slightly smoother top end would be what I would recommend if you like the 3020i sound overall. The 3030i speakers are easy to drive, so your amp should be fine at reasonable volumes.
Reasonable idea. I think of doing so, but haven't decided yet. The only downside to 3030i for me is that I don't have much space. I attached a picture of my setup with Wharfedale Diamond 12.2. At occasions I can pull the speakers our, but mostly they must be there. Kef q350 didn't have problems with bass due to placement, also 12.2 did not; only Wharfedale D320 is really not behaving well. Not sure why, maybe bottom port, maybe reaches lower frequencies that resonate more in my room (it is rate at lower frequencies than other speakers, at kef q350).
Bit of a wildcard suggestion, but how about the wharfedale diamond 9.1? These were nice sounding warm speakers from memory. I have some 10.1s and I still like their sound when I hear them. These are similar to the 9.1 from memory. I'm surprised to hear that the 12.2 are bright, it sounds like wharfedale have gone for a new sound.

They're still in production now despite being an older model, so there must be something about them people love, and they're only £120 now


They're 5" woofers but they have some decent punch, depends on your room size though

AV have a good returns policy so it's no risk to try them

Edit:

I just realised you have written in euros, so I'm not sure where else you can purchase these or if it's easy for AV to ship them to you
Can I order them to Slovenia? They look nice, vintage vibe and hopefully good sound as well.

Ps: only now I know how to quote multiple comments. I do apologise for replying less systematically.
 

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Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Have you considered Denon PMA 600NE? This amplifier with the QA 3020i should be fine combination.

But if you plan to add subwoofer it’s wise to get one with Pre Out. I believe most forum members are going to recommend 3020i with subwoofer.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Edit, I see you plan to use the current amplifier. Is this correct? Even so it could simply be the amplifier you have at the moment does not suit the speakers you’ve tried before.

Getting the right amplifier is important.
 

Makabura

Standard Member
Edit, I see you plan to use the current amplifier. Is this correct? Even so it could simply be the amplifier you have at the moment does not suit the speakers you’ve tried before.

Getting the right amplifier is important.
I did consider Denon pma600ne, but over Internet reviews I choose axa35. I might made a mistake, but I like 3020i and axa35 combination. Maybe a bit warmer amp would be better, but at the moment I don't have the budget for both the speakers and amp. So I think of getting a bit warmer speakers (q acoustics are a bit warmer according to Internet reviews and my ears) and when I will be upgrading my amp in the future, I will select a warmer one.
 

password1

Suspended
The best thing to do is home trial or at least demo with your amp. In the UK the QX mark one are available at a discount due to the mark 2 being out.

Wharfedale Diamond 12 series are similar price range to lx2 and QA 3000i. Worth demoing if available. We can recommend different speakers but its difficult to know which sounds best to your own ears in your room.
 

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