Speakers for the big symphonies

Wagner and Beethoven sound great through my Kudos 808 speakers.


I used to have a pair driven by two Musical Fidelity P270s. I loved them but they were huge and needed a lot of space behind them.

They are magnetic drivers for mid and bass but planar rather than cones. They have ribbon tweeters.

Please please try to find a local dealer for YG Acoustics; just as you have recommendations for Wilson Audio, YG for me, is capable of breathtaking scale and drama when called for, but with finesse and grace beyond all expectations for quieter passages. Simply sensational performance that will suit classical pieces perfectly…

Please let me know if you would find this interesting or further YG experience of value; I have spent quite a while with my amazing retailer with this marque!

All the best…


Shahinian speakers were designed to reproduce orchestral scale. Anything from the Arc upwards is purpose built to ‘do’ big orchestra. They don’t work for everyone, but if big orchestral pieces are you priority then you should listen to some Shahinian speakers and find out if they’re your bag. Increasingly difficult as dealers are few and far between and production doesn’t really keep pace with demand, but IMO they are worth the trouble to investigate.
I use Obelisk 2, if I had a suitable room I’d have Diapason’s for the full experience.
Otherwise, I’d be happy with Kudos 808’s, big ATC’s, big ProAc’s or Wilson Audio.


The room really matters with large-scale music, as anyone who attended the Royal Albert Hall in the 70s or 80s will remember.

Assuming that you have a really big room with a really high and level ceiling and a really solid and non-resonant floor, the suggestions of big ATCs, big (and fairly recent) B&Ws and big Wilsons all look very good to me, and I would add Neat XL6 and big Tannoys to the possibles list. However, the best speakers in terms of delivering scale that I have ever heard were Shahinian Diapasons and the second best were Shahinian Hawks.

The Diapasons were also the most demanding speakers I have ever heard - I’d hope a 500DR would do the job, but I am not sure. That problem also applies to pretty well all the uber-speakers mentioned here to some degree. Given that, a pair of ATC SCM 100 ASL or ASLT active speakers may be the ‘cheap’ and easy to accommodate option here.

None of that is unachievable, with enough money and space and with very accommodating neighbours….


I very specifically voiced my system to reproduce large scale orchestral music. For that big sound you really need floorstanding speakers plus subs (at least a stereo pair). I had stand mounts with a single sub and that was just never satisfactory. They were great for rock, jazz, smaller scale classical. Mahler symphonies…nope, nope, and nope.

I have Dynaudio Confidence C2 Platinum speakers, powered by a 300 DR, and a pair of REL S/510 subs. I am considering a second pair of S/510 for a four-pack tuned array.

For Mahler, Bruckner, Strauss, etc. you need to bring out the big guns.


PMC MB2 - plays all music well, presumably due to minimal colouration, and can achieve high sound levels. If I was picking a Naim amp to try with them it would be the NAP 350 monoblocks.

1 Like

That depends hugely on where someone lives: Possibly in Italy, but not everywhere - and certainly not to suit all occasions one might want to listen. (This to me is the absolute beauty and purpose of recorded music and a good hifi system on which to play it.)


It is difficult to replicate a concert hall. Pete Thomas’ listening room gets closer than most. The small speakers are Fact 8’s.


Lots of damping materials.

How big is your room?

Not if you don’t have a concert hall around the corner.
Nothing can replace the real thing unless compromising.

My nearest concert hall is 150KM away, I’m sure there are many with a longer distance.
My compromise is to play Beethoven or Brahms or whatever suit me that day, its another experience, not perfect but leave me happy anyway.

1 Like

The listening room is 4.4 x 4.8m with a good tall ceiling about 2.8m. Being so close to square is probably a bigger issue than outright volume. I haven’t tried the Diapason here. WAF for the much larger Diapason is not high which is more the reason I’ve not yet tried😊.
John Burns told me he knows of one user who has a very small room with Diapasons and listens to them like a giant pair of headphones! John thought they sounded great!


Some while ago, I was at a concert in which Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony was played. As well as a very large orchestra, there were around 250 singers in the choir. The piece starts with a brass fanfare and then the whole chorus sings “Behold, the sea” fortissimo and the full orchestra comes in. It’s an overwhelming start and IMO no domestic HiFi can quite reproduce that emotional hit. Interestingly, that performance was recorded and issued on CD and I did indeed I find listening to the CD a rather different experience. I’m not sure it’s a massively inferior experience though. On the recording, I can hear into the orchestra in a subtly different way and after listening a couple of times I feel I “know” the bones of the work more deeply.

So, I have come to regard attending a concert and listening to a recording as different, though obviously related, activities. I reckon trying to fully reproduce the concert hall experience in a domestic setting is doomed to failure. But that doesn’t mean listening to large-scale orchestral music at home is pointless – just different but equally enjoyable.

Returning to the OP’s question, I would support the choice of ATC, preferably active, (I’m biased) but I think there’s more to reproducing large orchestras than just the speakers. I’ve certainly heard systems struggling with fortissimos and sounding unclear and muddled in big orchestral works but I think the electronics can be letting the side down just as much as the speakers. The Linn streamer with Organik DAC I now use has opened up those big orchestral pieces in a way none of my previous systems has quite managed. There’s no muddle, I can now hear details within those big climaxes I’ve not really experienced before. I’ve not yet listened to any 3 series kit yet, but I’d guess a NC333/332 with a power supply or two would also do a fine job.



My music room is 4x4m.
Well muffled, not reverberant.
Could a Shahinian Obelisk possibly sound good there?

1 Like

I think large speakers in a small room can work well, as long as you are happy with the ‘nearfield’ listening experience, which as @KJC says is a bit like using headphones.
I bought my Shahinian Arcs from a long standing Naim dealer who is also a Shahinian user, and he assured me that they generally work well in small rooms, and he had successfully installed them in a couple of tiny rooms for other customers.
As an aside, he also said that Linn Isobariks and other larger speakers could work well in a small room, sometimes better than in certain larger spaces. He mentioned that when Julian Vereker first set up the large Naim demo room Kans sounded fantastic in it, but he couldn’t get Isobariks to sound right at all.


If your room has decent height then the dimensions sounds pretty similar to mine, so it should work fine in terms of volume of the space. A square room is a challenge for any speaker though, so I’d definitely want to try them (or any other speaker) first if possible. I’ve used my speakers in a number of very different rooms and have not yet found one where they didn’t work OK.
However, there is working OK and there’s working brilliantly. I’d say my current room is not the best one I’ve used them in, which I think is mainly due to the near square dimensions.
Having said that, I’m still digging it greatly and I play quite a lot of big Symphonies!


Ditto (a couple of different speakers, both full range transmission lines, in many rooms). My current nominally near square room (at 23 x24 ft nearer square than the aforementioned, though not square in shape) proved to be quite a challenge to find the best positioning, but with REW software’s assistance didn’t take too long.

I see Pete Thomas of PMC has the same speakers as me, but the XBD version - I think I’d love them, though being somewhat tall might be more of a challenge aesthetically. He also has visible sound treatment, which I will do after a room remodelling. The best Ii’ve heard any hifi system, ever, was with no room - my speakers outdoors. System not as good as now, but complete absence of normal room effects made for absolutely delightful sound quality.

Proac K6 Signatures work well at my house. Two woofers. Ribbon tweeter. Nice looking in the room. And they rock hard and play gently for the rest of my music.