Have you been moving toward bigger or smaller speakers in recent years?

The conventional wisdom that "bigger is better" doesn't always hold true in audio. High-end speaker systems, for example, have evolved in both directions—some designs have grown enormous while others have almost disappeared entirely. Which trend do you favor?

Have you been moving toward bigger or smaller speakers in recent years?
Bigger is better
47% (66 votes)
Getting smaller
32% (45 votes)
Size doesn't matter
21% (29 votes)
Total votes: 140

Dave Bennett's picture

Recently my speakers have been getting bigger, but I'm guessing that most people would still consider them small. I still prefer standmounters but now they have "real" 8" woofers instead of wimpy 4" or 6" drivers. Takes me back 15 years or so, when I really enjoyed my sytem, but now the speakers are much higher quality. Best of both worlds? I think so.

Soren O Iversen's picture

Moved from a 4.0 Proac Response 4 system to 5.1 with Revel M20 as front and rears, Revel C30 as center and Revel B15a sub. It's so much easier to work with. I can carry them myself. Sounds better too, as it's easier to get a good match with my room. I move house every 3-4 years and need system flexibility. Great stuff.

Stefano Lindiri's picture

Luodspeaker design is a matter of phisic and full range extension, dinamics and involvement are appannage of big speakers

Monty's picture

No bigger than they need to be. Speakers are aesthetically challenged under the best of conditions. If you are going to build something ugly, don't make it anymore obvious than it has to be—and all speakers are ugly.

Andrew Maher's picture

The Magneplanars in my main system produce a greater sense of scale, but a pair of B&W 602s in a secondary system do a remarkable job for small boxes. I love Mahler, Wagner and grand opera. Perhaps the size of the opera has something to do with it?

Mannie's picture

Went from Avalon Monitors to Legacy Audio Victoria LEs. Bigger cabinet, larger woofer, but has wonderful ribbon tweeter, is 94dB efficient, and cost no more than the Avalon's did 5-10 years ago.

Roy E.'s picture

I'm consciously not changing the speakers at all. I love the sound of the big Thiels and I'm using them as a baseline as I improve the electronics around them.

Mike Agee's picture

We can't say size doesn't matter, no matter how much we wish it was so. And bigger is better, other things being equal and up to the task. Still, I have been considering smaller lately just because there does appear to be an "economy of scale" in terms of optimal highs and mids. The big one I currently covet costs 3x what the little one does. Realistically, and in light of my finite lifespan and the many other things that money can and must buy, the smaller ones have a much better chance of being realized.

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture

Like I always say. Just has to be big enough to satisfy me.

RBG's picture

To paraphrase Duke Ellington, "You won't get the jump if you ain't got the pump."

John Rau's picture

When it comes to bass, unless you know how to circumvent the laws of physics, bigger is definately better.

Randy's picture

Sold my Alon Circes (big) and purchased a pair of Verity Parsifal Ovations (smaller). No my wife didn't make me do it. I just wanted better sound in a smaller, more elegant package. If I spend two hours listening to my system, I also spend two hours staring at some speakers. So I would like them to get out of the way of the music both sonically and visually.

T.  O.  Driskel's picture

Question I would have posed was type by design! I have a pair of Big Klipsch horn loaded LaScalla's, B&W Nautilus 804'2 and Maggie MMG's for 3 different kinds of speakers but all very nice in their respective presentations;-)

Benoit Labelle's picture

As I move into smaller dwellings, the need for a smaller speaker producing less bass, I have to conseider the condo neighbors now come around

Bonzo's picture

I'm going bigger just because I've moved and now have a bigger room.

Jim S.  Place's picture

While a large speaker can "bring on the bass" much easier than a smallish design, if soundstage and imaging are paramount for you, as they are for me, ain't nothin' like smaller two-way. In recent years, new designs from many small speaker manufacturers have managed 32 Hz quite nicely in an appropriate room. My Totem Forest speakers are ideal for my 2200-cubic-foot room. A big bonus is the extra elbow room now that I no longer have those big monsters.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

By the time you set it on a stand, a small speaker takes up about the same amount of space as a big 'un. So, I see little utility in going small. Besdes, my Paradigm Reference Sudio 100s aren't goint to tip when a cat lands on top. And they enjoy 32' organ stops. Try that with your minis.

djl's picture

I used to have speakers that were huge. But as I've matured, so have my tastes in quality rather than quantity. I prefer the sound of smaller speakers, though the bass is lacking somewhat. Better electronics make up for some of the loss too allowing a cleaner sound to come through. Sounds weird I guess, but ain't all Stereophile readers?

macksman's picture

When I moved from Thiel CS3's to Wilson-Benesch Act Ones a few years ago, size was not a consideration. Having a robust speaker fill a large space with fast accurate reproduced sound was. That the two are about the same size was coincidence. When I put together a system for my office, the smaller Ruark Epilogue R speakers were sized to the task of filling a different space in a different way, driven by a Linn Classik. The loaded target stands make them as large and heavy as many floorstanders but, once again, that was not really a consideration. Both have been good choices.

Michael's picture

I only care about the sound.

Santiago Fandi's picture

Depends on the room you are going to listen in, the SPLs and headroom you want, and the kind of box—reflex, sealed, horn, etc. A good speaker sounds right if well selected and used, despite the size.

Louis P.'s picture

My last three pairs of speakers, covering about 20 years, are/were medium-size floor standing models. If I had a small, dedicated listening room, I would definitely go small.

Bill Bostancic's picture

Gave up my Magnapans for the mini Harbeths last year. The living room/stereo room is rather small in our vintage 1929 house and the Magnapans were not a good fit. I do however really like the Harbeths and at some point would like to go to the next size up in the line.

Dave M.'s picture

I've gone from Energy ESM2 monitors to Energy Reference Con. 22 minitowers to a pair of Hales Revelation Three sealed boxes, and finally, to a set of Hales Transcendence Eights. So obviously, I must believe that a bigger box is better. Sure, this approach has its shortcomings, but name me one approach to speaker design that doesn't.

Daniel Emerson's picture

Each philosophy has strengths, but there's something about the way larger speakers drive the room, which I prefer. It just seems more solid, more "real" (for what that word's worth in hi-fi), more fun.

reimyo2000's picture


Dr.S's picture

I prefer small floorstanders always.

UN's picture

Totem Arros! (And why has Stereophile never reviewed these superb imaging, inexpensive, and small floorstanders?)

Johannes Turunen's picture

I need full range speakers for realistic levels and ful size soundimage.

Gary's picture

Smaller speakers and a small subwoofer, unobtrusively out of the way