Well, I thought I had this one pretty much sorted for me with the ProAc Tabs 10 Signatures…
I’ve had more small to mid size standmounts than I care to remember, but the last time I was at a point to choose from a few small mini monitors, it was between the ProAc T10Sigs, the Stirling V3, the Falcon LS3/5a and the Harbeth P3ESR 40th - and I liked them in that very order. And I have been enjoying the ProAcs enormously since.
One thing, however, was that the Falcons I had back then were the Silver Badge (standard) crossover LS3/5a model. How would the upgraded/better Gold Badge Falcons compare remained an open question and a curiosity for me. I decided it’s time to do something about it when I had the opportunity with a Falcon Gold Badge Q7 version which, for all I know, is the same but only with a slightly deeper cabinet (9" instead of 7" approximately) providing in theory and as a design spec for a more optimised bass response.
All of the listening last time was done with a Nait 2 and a Supernait 3 + HCDR, so I did the same this time too, comparing the ProAcs T10s and the Falcons Q7 with each amp.
I won’t keep you long - I now have the Q7s. Whether it’s more the Gold Badge crossover or the slightly deeper cabinet, or both equally, I don’t know, but the Q7 sounded just as open, agile and coherent as the T10s but almost spectacularly more vivid and convincing without at any point starting to loose tempo or speed, or start sounding like a “big” speaker, if that makes sense. Yes, the lower end was more pronounced but it’s more about overall presence and not just bass performance, and it’s the overall effect and realism that won me over, essentially immediately. The Falcons, Silver or Gold, have always had the mids absolutely golden, and both are slightly better than the ProAcs in this respect, so no surprises there. And ok, for the sake of full transparency, I should add that I have the Falcon dedicated stands, so if they helped too being naturally biased towards the Falcons, not sure, could be … but they do look pretty good together.
I should note about the ProAcs though - somehow they remain unequalled by any other such speaker I’ve heard in one aspect - a superb unique palpability with acoustic instruments, sometimes slightly lean but always totally believable. They also may be seem to retain a (very slightly) better soundstage too. And for this (and overall), I love them and will miss them.
I also had a chance to compare each of the 2 Naim amps with each speaker. I would say that the SN3 plays better with the Q7 than it does with the T10s but regardless I preferred the Nait 2 in a smaller, about 4m x 4m room, and that’s how it will stay. While the SN3 has an edge with the Q7 in a larger room, I think no large room would do any LS3/5a type speaker justice (or is it vice versa), or at least they no longer sound so special in my view. Still, the SN3 and the Q7 are rather attractive in a slightly larger space too.
So there you have it - my own personal answer for Naim with LS3/5a type monitors is now Q7.
Now, the previous question of how the smaller “regular” or “original” Gold Badge Falcons would compare remains still an open one for me … although to be honest, not any longer so much of a curiosity at this point. May be some other day:)
What’s your favourite LS3/5a type monitor and with which Naim?