Bookshelf speaker recommendations for XS3?

Hello everyone,
With a recent upgrade to a Naim Nait XS3 I’m thinking of upgrading the speakers next. The current ones are Dynaudio Excite 14s. They sound nice, maybe a bit bright with the new Naim but I should set my sights higher. The room is an odd shape–about 16 ft by 12 ft, a mix of hard and soft surfaces. My listening preferences are mostly jazz and classical at “reasonable” levels. Definitely need something that will work in a bookcase–but not jammed in–I have enough space for air around the speakers.

Neat Iota, Proac Tablette 10
Can‘t imagine the Dynaudio work reasonably in an actual bookshelf…
Could you show us a picture of your speaker setup?

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The Nait XS3 is a lovely amplifier and you are now thinking of spending a lot on speakers. ‘Bookshelf’ speakers are really not intended for use on bookshelves and really need stands in order to get the best from them. If they really must go on shelves, you need them to be at ear level and the same height as each other. As they would be close to the wall, rear ported speakers are unlikely to work well, unless specifically designed for such placement. Can you really not accommodate either speaker stands or floor standing speakers?

I might also be thinking twice about replacing what seem already pretty reasonable speakers. What source/s are you running?

I run a XS3, through Neat Motive SX3’s. I’ve also tried the XS3 via a pair of Neat Iota’s, and prefer the SX3’s, though the Iota’s are a great speaker and image really nicely.

My sources are now a Technics 1200G/DV 10x5 via Graham Slee Accession, and a Hugo mk1. The Neat SX3s were able to easily differentiate between 3 TTs all running the same DV cartridge recently, and though probably the source and amp might justify better, I don’t think they’re being held back too much.

I suspect if you could accommodate your existing speakers on stands, and set up properly, you’d hear what they can really do. Placing them in a bookshelf will limit their performance.

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The classic bookshelf loudspeakers are the BBC studio monitors, the LS3/5A, which were made under licence by five different companies. (The original Linn Kan was a rework of the design, but had a very different voicing, so that may be worth exploring too. It’s no longer made, but you may find a nice pair at Linn dealers.)

You may be able to find a decent pair of LS/3s or Kans on FleaBay or similar.

Alternatively, you can buy a brand new pair of LS3/5As from Falcon (with a range of flnlshes), who are based just outside Oxford. (I have recently ordered a pair myself, but have not yet taken delivery.) Pricey, admittedly, but worth it, I think.

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Dynaudio Emit M10s are actually designed to be placed on a bookshelf although they are at their very best on stands. I have a pair on wall brackets close to the wall and without bungs. They sound amazing out of my 5si. I’d keep your Dynaudios.

Could you tell us what your source is? That may be a better place to make improvements.

The new front ported Focal Vestia N1 maybe worth a go.

Hi @msm0412 and welcome to the forum. You say you should “set your sights higher” which seems to mean upgrading the speakers, but your current speakers are already of high quality. You don’t specify your source, but unless it’s at or above the level of a ND5XS2, I’d be looking to improve that first.

As for accommodating speakers literally on bookshelves, very few are designed for or will give of their best in that situation. Perhaps the safest option would be speakers designed for wall mounting. Something like ATC’s HTS 11 would fit the bill, though ideally driven by a SuperNait.

Other than possibly improving your front end, I’d forget about the endless upgrade ladder for a while and just enjoy the music.


“…this design allows the Tablette 10 speakers to be positioned close to a rear wall, unlike a ported enclosure…”
These would be a possibility, and there’s a dealer in my town who carries Proac speakers. I have the Dynaudios several inches away from back & side cabinet walls- it’s just not possible to have them on stands, unfortunately.

Part of my upgrade plan includes a new TT & cart. Probably a Planar 3 or above. Given the present limitations of my speaker set up you & others here are probably correct that the best way to improve would be with a properly situated small speaker on a stand. I definitely don’t want to be on that “endless upgrade ladder” and would prefer to appreciate my music with what I already have–it still sounds great and I’m really enjoying the XS3!

I think the XS3 can justify sources well above Planar 3 level. Unless your speakers are fundamentally unsuited to their location then I’d definitely leave well alone and look to source improvements first. You don’t list your sources, obviously you don’t have to, but it might help to let us know as it could very well be contributing to the brightness. Is it just a vinyl front end you have, or do you have a digital front end as well? And if so what is it?

Best of luck working it out anyway!

Maybe show us a photo of speakers in situ? I’m not an expert, but others are, and might be able to advise if the placement of your speakers could be causing brightness

I would suggest you to try Totem speakers such as Sky, Skylight and Signature One (this last one might need a better amp though). I’ve tried them with the XS2 and they work pretty well, great bass, nice soundstage and a lot of details. I think they work pretty well with jazz music, at least for my taste. However I agree with @robert_h, you might want to consider placing your speakers on stands, if you can. Proper setup makes such a huge difference.

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