When it comes to speakers, size does matter. Big speakers clobber little ones in two ways: they can play louder and make more bass. But since the market demands increasingly smaller speakers the question comes up: can small speakers ever sound better than big ones? Well, the answer is sometimes and in some ways, but great-sounding small speakers are never cheap.
The best-sounding small speakers I've heard in quite some time came from a pair of Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference Strada speakers ($995 each). The speaker is comprised of two small, stainless steel spheres, each with a 4-inch woofer; the spheres straddle a cylindrical tweeter that produces exceptionally broad dispersion. The Strada doesn't make much bass, so I heard it with the matching Gallo TR-3 cylindrical subwoofer. The system was sweet, detailed, dynamically alive, and very, very natural sounding. But it costs over three grand and doesn't have the muscle of a hefty floorstanding speaker for the same or fewer dollars.
So if you plan on never, ever listening to loud music or having a party, and room-shaking bass isn't a priority, wee speakers might be the way to go. How tiny is tiny? Obviously, size is relative, but I'd rate any speaker that is either less than 7 inches high, or has a smaller than 4-inch woofer as a tiny speaker. If your room is large--say anything bigger than 15 by 20 feet (300 square feet)--don't even think of buying small speakers. … Read more