Originally Posted by DaveAngel
From my guitar playing youth, i know that valve amps should be driven hard, and with that in mind i'm looking for a suitable speaker setup for around £150 (baby reduced budget) to fill a medium size (4-8m) living room
Really not sure where to start - the active route with something along the lines of the M-audio BX5 D2, which may not cope being near field monitors, or the passive with a pair of q acoustics 2020i, although not sure if the little t1 will power these.
1. For speakers, you don't need to drive tubes that hard (I assume you mean the bias), whether active or passive - it really depends on the the circuit, and the speaker if the tube is in the power stage. I'd say get a tube amp or preamp and everything else, as much as possible leaving the settings alone, but regardless of where the tube is the most important bit is always to get speakers with 90db@1w/m sensitivity to better fill a room with as little power as possible. Manufacturers may measure their products differently but it's still a generally useful indicator.
2. For nearfield monitors, don't worry too much about their capability to fill a room - twist the volume knob enough and you can do that. I had Swans D1080MkII08's before in my bedroom and I can take a shower in the bath down the hall, and house music bass (and everything else) is audible through the water noise and several walls (just to make me feel like I'm going out to party afterwards when in reality I'm gonna hunker down to work). If anything, they might not stage/image very well if placed in positions that are far off from nearfield, but I doubt that's impossible given I've made home audio drivers designed for larger listening areas sound great in a car (I use digital time alignment, sure, but hey it's still a car) - it may just require some tweaking. Or better yet, just position them and your chair as close to nearfield as possible for serious listening, and if you need to fill the room, just don't get finicky with these (I assume you'd probably be using them as background music then).
3. For passive speakers, you'll need a speaker power amp between the T1 and the speakers. I'm not sure if the potentiometer on the T1 works with the analog output on the back - if it does you just need a plain power amp but if not, you'll still need an integrated amplifier (ie one with a preamp stage, or at least a basic potentiometer in it).
Your needs considered though (baby, space, costs, etc) if I'm the same situation I'd go for the active speakers. Great passive speaker+amp combos aren't easy to come by on the cheap* given cheap, low noise/distortion amps tend to have low power output and thus require high sensitivity speakers that also have a smooth response and don't distort too much with a 10wpc or so amp. Also, unless you really want tubes, I'm leaning more towards the Modi, and an active speaker already has its own power and preamp built into it. Look around online if any dealers that you can get them from (without paying import fees) have the Swans D1080MkIV, and check reviews as well - generally these smooth out response a bit better than studio/pro-grade active monitors, not to mention that the response on some of the lower-priced ones aren't all that flat anyway (the BX-5 I think is one of the better ones for the money though).
*Many will suggest the Dayton standmounts and T-Amps, but I haven't really listened to these well enough