Speakers for Classical Music listening?


I am interested in finding speakers best suited for classical music listening. (An ultra-pounding bass is not something I'll be needing.) I seek clarity, balance, and resonance. Any recommendations would be more than appreciated.

Listen to the upper-end Paradigms, Bowers and Wilkins and How Hear This

John K.
You haven't mentioned if it has to be tower speakers. My listening is almost entirely classical and I use the Axiom M22s, which are a sensational bargain at $400(sometimes $360 on sale). If I needed tower speakers I'm now sure that I would go with the Axiom M60s.


We not only need to know your listening interests, but your budget and what kind of elelctronics (receiver/amp) you have, as well.

For classical music, you can't do any better than Magnepans, which are floor standing flat panel speakers (no box). Go to the Magnepan website ( and you will see an "Offer You Can't Refuse". This is a pair of Magnepan MMGs for $550, shipping included, for a sixty day no strings trial. If you like them, you keep them. If you don't like them, you ship them back. You won't find a better sounding speaker for under $3K. However, there is a catch--not every receiver can play them as they have a very low impedence and require a lot of power. But if you have the right electronics and you can accept a floor standing speaker, you should check them out. Once you have heard Magnepans, you are not likely to be satisfied with anything else. If you want to hear them first, go to your local Magnepan dealer and listen to the MG12s, which is almost the same model.

Floor standing speakers are what I'll be needing. How are the Kenwood reciever/amps? It has been frequently recommended to me, but I'm not sure. THANKS for all your advice.


What receivers work best with Magnepans?


You still haven't answered a fundamental question. How much money are you willing to spend?

pdurek, If you want a resonably priced monitor speaker that just about any midfi receiver can push cleanly, than take a listen to Monitor Audio Bronze 2. Just two speakers will fill a room 14X18 perfectly unless you have vaulted ceilings or some higher than 8 foot.

I'm just about at 60 hrs break in of mine running on an 12yr old 38 watt Nakamichi and I can hardly put my volume past 35% full. They are loud and very clean sounding.

The classical stuff sounds excellent on these. Even during the break-in phase. Can't wait to really hear these speakers at their peak,.

I currently own Magnepans, a Sonance THX-certed custom theatre, Energy C-2s and a pair Mirage's, not to mention a few amps, receivers and source units. Hands down the Magnepan MMGs are my favorite for classical music. But positioning them is absolutley critical. Their power requirements are mostly legend. I find they work quite well in a 14X18X9 foot room with a good 50W/Ch amp. Receiver-wise I would look at a Denon or an HK. My preference would be a British Integrated amp, or a small amp-preamp from maybe Adcom or Paradigm to keep cost down.

I have tried them with a tube amp. but the overall result was too soft. Use decent interconnects, like Monster 550s from your source to the amp and at least a 14 Gauge speaker wire. Locate the speakers 1-1/2 to 2' out from the wall and 2 to 3' from the side walls for starters, toed in to point on-axis at the listener. In my rooms they have always sounded better tweeters out. Your mileage may vary. Happy listening.

If you've got some extra cash, I recommend these.

I decided to go with the Magnepans MMGs. I Appreciate the advice from all of you.
Now... I'm trying to figure out whether or not to get an integrated amp. I've heard good things about the NADs, as well as Creek and Onkyo. I'd like to keep the price in the lower-to-moderate range. All suggestions greatly appreciated.


I agree with Richard that despite what magnepan says, I think they sound better with the tweeters on the outside, but I disagree with his recommendaitons for electronics. I have a Denon receiver and it is not a good match for the Maggies. Too dry and not stable at the 4 ohms impedence of the MMGs.

Look to NAD, either a receiver or integrated amp, as all NAD amplifiers are designed to handle speaker loads as low as 2 ohms. At a minimum, look at the NAD 320BEE. It is a 50 wpc integrated amp, and I think the 320's 50 wpc is the lowest power you should consider. MSRP is $399 for the 320BEE, but I have seen it for about $320. Better still, look at the 370 which is rated at 120 wpc. MSRP for the 370 is $699, but again, it can be had for $449 for a factory refurb.

Creek has some very nice integrated amps, but the only one i know of that goes for less thatn $1K is the 4330/Mk 2, which is $600. this unit is only rated at 40 wpc and I just don't think this is enough juice for the MMGs.

A real good combo for the MMGs is with the NAD 752 receiver, rated at 80 wpc (x5) or 90 wpc (x2). That unit is priced at $899 but can be had for $725. If you think you might want to go for a HT receiver, this would be the best way to go.

Are NAD's receiver fans audible at low volume levels? How reliable are the NAD's?

I try and stay away from receivers that have fans because that means they run too hot for a reason. If you look at the high end receivers very few have fans and they put out 200 wpc!!!

Steve McKenna
If someone has a budget of $XXXX, what sort of ratio should they spend the budget on, let's say, a DVD player, amp and speakers?

The reason I'm asking is about 12 years ago I lived in the UK. When I first put a budget system together (or any budget according to the magazines such as "What Hifi") they always recommended to spend most on the source, 50% on the DVD for example, about 30% on the amp and the remainder on the speakers. Their logic was if the CD (no DVD back then) isn't pulling off the full freq range of the music then no matter how good the amp and speakers are, it can't replace the missing information from the CD player and the same logic would apply between the amp and speakers.

Does that rule still apply today or has the DVD players etc. improved so much that you don't need that amount in the source (I only recently got back into the audio, HT set up as you know doubt can tell)

Also, in the UK when they were measuring the amp output power it was in RMS, not peak to peak. What do they use in the US as their frame of reference as I don't see any mention of RMS or peak to peak mentioned when specifing outpower power when looking at speakers in the US?

30% Transducers
30% Source
30% Clean amplification
10% Interconnects

Thats the way I've always approached this hobby. Everyone has their own listening parameters so there's no one answer to your question.

Hmm... To NAD or not to NAD? I'm really having trouble coming up with a receiver and
integrated amp (or should it be amp-preamp?) to suit the Magnepan MMGs. Power is a concern - 50W+ needed. Right now, I'm considering NAD, Paradigm or Adcom amps. Reasons as to why or why not any of these would well suit the Maggies are welcome.


Any of the brands you mentioned would do fine. I am really fond of a two channel Parasound Halo A23 amp, but it runs about $850, and I would need a pre-amp to go with it. Adcoms have pleanty of muscle, so it is a good brand (you can get a GFA-5300 for about $500). But again, you will need to get a pre-amp. So, it really comes down to what kind of a budget you have. What do you want to spend?


The response from Anonymous about the proportions to be spent on the different components sounds about right. Feel free to adjust any one by 10%.

Pontus Wiegert
When I found this discussion I was very glad since my current project is to find good speakers for classical music, especially vocal. My problem is that I live in Sweden where these brands you suggest can´t be found. I´ve searched in the UK and some other european countries but nobody seems to be selling Magnepan or Axiom. (I´ll be using a NAD-amp, surprisingly this you can find over here...)

My main question is does anyone know about retailers in europe that sell these speakers or should I investigate possibilities to ship from USA, is it worth it?

My second qestion is if anyone could speak on the qualities of the speakers that do exist over here in comparison with the Magnepans MMG. (so far I´ve encountered for example Mission, Infinity, KEF, Wharfedale, B&W). I´m prepared to pay around 500-550$.

Any kind of tip or information would be greatly appreciated.

John A.

Magnepan dealer in Stockholm:

There may be others around the country. I can't find Axiom.

Just put [Makername] plus Sweden in Google, or try

If you want a pair of stereo speakers for real music at that price there are many possibilities. Hifiklubben (perhaps where you bought your NAD) has good prices, does demos, and carries B&W, for example. My personal favourite "most musical" speaker maker is KEF. They match really well with NAD in my opinion. There are about 12 KEF dealers in Sweden. Go to, choose "Stores", and your nearest city. Those will most likely be good dealers and may carry some of the other names mentioned here.

Good speakers reproduce all sound clearly and accurately. "Classical" is just a word. The point is probably that "classical" music consists of mostly natural (acoustic) and quite complex sound sources you wish to reproduce, not usually ones generated electronically in the first place. Speech is one of the most critical audio tests, our brains are tuned into it.

John A.
Sorry, that link was to a distributor. The six Magnepan dealers in Sweden are listed here:-

Pontus W.
Thank you, John!

John A.
You are welcome. Good luck. mvh.

I think JM Lab and B&W would be your best bet for classical listening. Both shine with their clarity and imagery. Their cabinets are tastefully crafted. Both are efficient and can be biwired and biamped. They will not overwhelm your room in size and do not eat up valuable real estate from the wall. NAD runs hot, might look into a musical fidelity integrated.

I agree with Beau...the B&W's have great imaging and thier a warm sounding speaker (especially if you can afford the 700 series), that's a good combo for classical


Europe makes better speakers for classical music. We like the imported stuff here in US. Places like has good prices too.

I would check for buying guide.

Upgrade the cables for better results - about 10% of your systems price.

I too love classical music, and I love the Tannoys revelation series. B&W is another big name in classical music. You are in the right place for classical music enjoying. Monitor audio bronz has nice soft non-fatiguing sound.

Mate them with an amp like arcam, or cambridge audio, and you have a good basic startup system you can enjoy for years, 'til you get the upgrade bug.

Hmmm. I like the B+Ws for classical music, but I just spent three hours yesterday listening to JMlabs Cobalt line (their higher end line) and the Cobalts are just too bright and edgy to be good speakers for Classical music IMO.

Getting back to pdurek's question about electronics, the NAD C 370 integrated amp is superb, and so are the Rotel RA 972 or the RA 1060. The 972 is 50 wpc x 2 amd the 1060 os 60 wpc x 2. Either has substantial power reserves and can drive the MMGs well. Likewise the NAD 370, which has 120 wpc x 2 and gobs of dynamic headroom.

Cobalts suffer from trickle up technology. Their drivers are the same as the Chorus line which is a step down. The electras on the other hand get much of their technology from the Utopia. JMLab has a tremendous break in period, expect 400 hours before they are through. Still think for the money Musical Fidelity is an amp that will help any bright speakers. Not tubelike but with some of the same tendencies. Runs very cool and quiet. Never cared for NAD or Parasound because of their construction. Feels thin and tinny, I like beef in my amps. Always afraid they would dent easily. B&W and Rotel are a very good pairing as well. The Nautilus 804 is a wondeful speaker and finished in dark cherry is simply stunning

Pontus W.
Thank you all for your help.

It looks like I´m going to spend most of my money on a NAD C370 which means that for now, I have to settle with a smaller speaker. I´ve listened to B&W DM601 S3, which I like, but the treble is so "strong" that overtones from powerfull voices and high strings sort of hizzz. Is this a question of break in time?

I´ve also heard good things the Mirage FRx3, which I can get second hand to a good price. Can anyone help with a comparison of these two?

Has anyone seen the Catswhiskers audio site?
I purchased some speakers from them purely for
classical music.They are superb!

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