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Best Bookshelf Speakers in the $500 range.

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20 replies to this topic

#1 of 21 Rich Moorehead

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Posted August 09 2003 - 02:37 AM

lets hear it guys, im curious as to what you think are the best bookshelfs for 2 channel music in the 500$ range. this is strictly for music. and no subwoofer.

#2 of 21 CurtisSC



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Posted August 09 2003 - 03:55 AM

Ascends, Axioms, Rockets, Paradgms, Athenas, NHT, JBLs.....a lot out there and a lot of opinions.

All a matter of tastes......
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#3 of 21 ChrisWiggles



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Posted August 09 2003 - 04:45 AM

What curtic said Posted Image. A lot of people also like the B&W 600 series. I personally dont, i think paradigm mini-monitors (350/pr) are better, but hey, just some ideas, take a listen, and see what you like.

#4 of 21 Bry_DD


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Posted August 09 2003 - 04:50 AM

Axiom M22ti for $400. Have not heard them but plenty of happy owners here. i can only comment of the quality work of the speaker cuz i have the M60ti and also the superb customer service.Posted Image

#5 of 21 Lew Crippen

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Posted August 09 2003 - 09:02 AM

Pretty much what Curtis wrote—I think that the internet companies that he listed offer particularly good value.
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#6 of 21 Jon_Welker


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Posted August 09 2003 - 02:24 PM

I would highly recommend the KEF Q1's. I believe MSRP for a pr. is $450. I did some listening to them today, and thought they sounded excellent. Very good bass out of them. I felt that they had better bass extension the the NHT SB2's, and I'm a big NHT fan. Just my suggestion.

#7 of 21 John Garcia

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Posted August 09 2003 - 06:58 PM

I just listened extensively to the Q1s ($449) and was not so impressed. Incredible imaging, but not enough detail (Denon 9000 w/ 5803). Definitely a lot of bass for their size. I liked the SB3s better ($600/pr). The SB2s don't have much bass, but they are also sealed, and more accurate, or more musical to my ear anyway.

For comparison, I listened to the Infinity Kappas, better, but still something not quite right. Bloated bass? Trying to do too much, I guess is how I would describe the impression. Not what I expect from a $1200 pair of speakers.

Next up, the NHT M6 Evolutions. Now we are talking Posted Image, though they were also $1300/pr. Almost no bass at all by themselves (-3dB @ 61 Hz), and a tad bright, but they rendered every type of music I put to them very well.

I'll have to second the Axiom M22Ti.
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#8 of 21 CurtisSC



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Posted August 09 2003 - 07:41 PM

The Ascend CBM-170 compared very well to the more expensive NHT's in this review:

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#9 of 21 David WD

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Posted August 10 2003 - 06:07 AM

if you have the opportunity, give the klipsch rb35's a try. they are bookshelf speakers that sound better than towers. their bass is unreal, better than expected. and, the clarity of the highs is excellent - to the point that i find myself turning the volume down - which is usually the opposite for me, in that i listen loud, these are very efficient speakers.

#10 of 21 Angelo.M



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Posted August 10 2003 - 08:36 AM

Lots of good options, I agree. I recommend the JBL S38IIs, being cleared out in various places for $200 or less for a pair. Use the left-over $300 on some new software.

#11 of 21 David WD

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Posted August 10 2003 - 10:54 AM

i was about to buy the JBL S38IIs and then i heard the klipsch rb35's and my decision was then made, and much to my pleasure, so was my wife's. two positive votes for the klipsch's, and i made the purchase. the are more crisp and bright than the jbl's and they have better bass as well. weather it is music or HT you are listening to, the klipsch speakers are good. the jbl's would be my second choice.Posted Image

#12 of 21 Seth--L



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Posted August 10 2003 - 11:53 AM

B&W 600 series, especially the 602s.
Well - There it is.
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#13 of 21 Scott Oliver

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Posted August 11 2003 - 03:30 AM

If you can find them Sound Dynamics 300 Ti.

From Absolute Sound:
Posted Image
Sound Dynamics 300ti loudspeaker system
Price: No longer manufactured, but they were $300 per pair back in 1996/97
See Issue 132

hadn’t intended to list any “discontinued” products. I put the word in quotes because I’ve never been quite sure that the parent company, Audio Products International of Canada, has truly shut down its production line for this superb and inexpensive three-way system1. It would be the speaker of choice in my dream summer home in the mountains. And even if it has been officially discontinued, a dumb move in my opinion, it ought to be available in the used-equipment market. (Why do I think it’s a dumb move? Because it sounds better than most of the other speakers this company produces.)
What distinguishes this speaker is its superb octave-to-octave balance. No, it doesn’t go much lower than, say, an old AR-2a might have, but it gets down deep enough to give you a visceral tingle. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the intriguing metal-dome tweeter does the same thing for the top octave and a half. And the midrange is slightly recessive, like the sound on a good electrostatic back in the wildly woolly early days of high-end design. It also has an uncanny balance between the way it reproduces microdynamic shadings and the larger swings between pianissimo and double fortes; and its resolution through its frequency range will surprise you, given its humble cost and relatively plainspoken look. Worth looking for.

1 Until recently the Sound Dynamics Web site featured a link to this product and even called it the “HP” speaker. The copy warned that someday it would be over, but that you could still buy speakers right now. As of May 25, 2003, however, the Web site seems to have disappeared. Just in: I learned today (5/28/03) that the entire Sound Dynamics company is defunct. Has been for a long time. Just blink in this racket and you miss something. The new API line that took its place is called Athena. –Scot Markwell
Reviews from AudioReview.com

#14 of 21 michael_mo


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Posted August 11 2003 - 07:49 AM

If my budget was $500 and I wanted two bookshelves and no sub (as you mentioned)... this would be a no-brainer.
B&W 601s3.
I think the 601's are the strong point of the 600 series. $450 MSRP. clarity is excellent, bass is tight- not booming. If you ever do add a sub, it will definitely add to the listening, not subtle. I prefer these much more than the higher priced Paradigm studio 20s (about $700 for the v2 line).
If you price range was $200 for a set of bookshelves, I heard a pair of Athena's in bestbuy that (IMHO) sounded absolutely great for the price ($179 i think, per pair). Cant remember the model # though. You may want to look into those plus a small consumer level sub... and still fit into $500 budget.

#15 of 21 Dan Hitchman

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Posted August 11 2003 - 08:39 AM

B&W 602 Series 3. Very good for the money IMHO.


#16 of 21 ChrisWiggles



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Posted August 12 2003 - 03:27 AM

I'd just like to add the need to go audition. Speaker choice is very heavily decided by personal taste and preferences. I take the last couple recommendations for th B&W 600 series ad an example. I think both the monitor series and the 600 series are solid, but i just personally didn't like the 600 series. They fatigued me almost immediately. I always think that one should go audition some popular and well-regarded speakers and decide what's right for you.

Let us now what you end up with too.

Good luck! Posted Image

#17 of 21 Tom Grooms

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Posted August 12 2003 - 03:43 AM

OK, lets try this again.......

How big is your room?

Will the speakers be on a stand?

Will this be a dedicated listening room?

What other equipment are you using on the front end?

What type of music do you listen to?

What is your typical listening volume?

Carpet or Hardwood? Windows?

How far will you be sitting from the monitors?

All these questions need to be answered before anyone should blindly toss out loudspeaker suggestions.........


#18 of 21 BrianAe


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Posted August 12 2003 - 04:19 AM

I demoed and researched bookshelfs in that price range pretty extensively for a 5.1 system. I'd add Aperion Audio to your list for sure. However, if you really are going no sub then I'd say the best I've heard for such a use would be Swan divas and then the Ascends.

#19 of 21 Andrew Pratt

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Posted August 12 2003 - 05:27 AM

I'd buy Magnepan's MMG's. Details here Look under the "offer we hope you can't refuse"

#20 of 21 libra9



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Posted September 02 2009 - 01:58 PM

I am a novice and would like any opinions on MB Quart.  I have not bought anything yet, but these German-made bookshelf speakers impressed me.  They have a massive crossover and a titanium tweeter. Selling out of the high-end store at $500 ea.  
Thoughts pro or con?