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Best Bookshelf Speaker


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13 replies to this topic

#1 of 14 JustPlainNuts

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Posted July 22 2007 - 09:15 AM

My wife and I are remodeling our entire downstairs area. I am getting rid of my PSB Image T6 towers and 9C center channel in favor of some smaller bookshelf speakers because of some of the changes we have made. I just don’t have the room anymore for the towers. I want three identical bookshelf speakers up front. I also want good imaging, tonal balance, and overall audiophile level sound. I have a fairly large room (22ft x 14ft) with a low ceiling of only 7.5ft. So I need a speaker that will work well in this environment. However, of course, I need all this on a budget. I am trying to stay below $300 per speaker.

FYI, I have a Denon AVR-3300 rated at 105 watts/channel.

After doing some exhaustive research on the web, I have narrowed the field down to a the following speakers:

Aperion Intimus 632-LR $300 each
AV123 x-ls$219 each
Axiom Millennia M3 V2$185 each
B&W 685$300 each
Energy RC-10$225 each
Tannoy Reveal 6$200 each
Epos ELS 3$150 each

So, I have two questions. First, can you provide your own feedback on the models I have listed? And second, what other speakers should I be looking at within my budged? I know my ears will have final say so, but I wanted to get your opinions as well.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

#2 of 14 Stephen Hopkins

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Posted July 24 2007 - 11:48 AM

I would add Swans 2.1s ($300 - $450/pr), Ascend 340s ($568/pr), HTD Level 3s ($300/pr), and SVS SBS-01s ($200 - $225/pr). In terms of B&M brands I would say the Polk Monitor 40s are a gem ($300/pr) as well as the JBL L830 ($600/pr) if you can find them.

#3 of 14 mazersteven

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Posted July 24 2007 - 03:21 PM

Street Price on these should be a little over $300 per speaker. IMO nothing mentioned can come close to these with sound quality. Plus they look great.

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#4 of 14 Alex Prosak

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Posted July 26 2007 - 05:24 AM

I think you're looking at some fine speakers in that group. The ones Stephen mentioned are also worthy candidates though possibly outside of your budget. Another potential candidate would be Paradigm bookshelf speakers. FWIW I own a pair of AV123 x-ls speakers that I use in my bedroom system and I absolutely love them. For the money they're pretty tough to beat though that all depends on your sonic preferences, they're on the laid back side. One potential issue with them is that they are rear ported so it would be best if you can give them a bit of breathing room. They got a phenomenal review in the latest issue of Home Theater Magazine.

#5 of 14 Stephen Hopkins

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Posted July 26 2007 - 05:31 AM

All of the speakers I've mentioned are within the OP's budget... the street prices are even lower (for the retail options) with the JBLs easily being found around $400/pr. Notice the OP has a budget of $300/each which translates to $600/pr. The AV123 X series are definitely worth looking at. Also to go along w/ the SVS SBS-01 I would also consider the SVS SCS-01, a vertically oriented bookshelf similar in design to the SCS-01 Center.

#6 of 14 LanceJ

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Posted July 26 2007 - 07:04 PM

Not to nitpick, but "audiophile" sound can mean different things to different people. But to keep things very simple, here are the two most common types of sound I see decribed as something an audiophile would like:

1) extremely accurate. Studio monitors fit this description & they allow you to hear everything....good AND bad. So if you're watching a movie from the 70s with a soundtrack made on substandard gear, you'll be able to hear the analog tape hiss just as clearly as the actors' voices. Crunchy/staticky distortion from overloaded mics at a 90s grunge band recording session? That too!

2) realistic sounding. Not the same as above. Such speakers can add their own "sonic spices" to everything they reproduce and this can be a good thing for all those recordings - movies and music - that weren't recorded all that well (despite being in the age of digital with all *its* inherent accuracy, the human element still ends up asserting itself in various ways and can chip away at that accuracy ---> interestingly enough, many times something is recorded badly on purpose to generate a specific feeling in the listener's head). But when playing back well recorded music/movies these same speakers can reduce their playback quality (or "dumb it down" in some people's opinions) to almost the same level as the worse recordings. The positive side of this situation is that the owner gets to hear the sound he enjoys pretty much with everything he listens to i.e. if his ears are particularly sensitive to treble frequencies and he bought a speaker with a softened hi-end, well, he's all set!*

BTW: some of those speakers in your list have wildly different sonic personalities but since that opinion is based on what I've read here and elsewhere, rather than personal experience, I'll let their owners talk about that.

A bookshelf that was on the cover of The Absolute Sound recently from a company I admire:

the NHT Classic 3.

They also sell a cheaper 2-way version.

Here's a gi-normous thread (149 pages!) at another forum about this series of speakers.

Boston Acoustics VRB (large-ish bookshelf w/7" woofer along with BA's best tweeter)

Boston Acoustics CR77 (6.5" woofer + their soft-dome tweeter)

Publicly BA gets little respect for some reason (I STILL don't know why either, despite repeated direct requests) but when asked who owns them and likes them, many members here and on other forums will pipe up and say so. Same with Infinity, older Advents and other good brands. BTW, I own BAs myself. Posted Image Relatively speaking, IMO they don't cost much for all the technology you're getting though to do this, they usually leave out real wood veneers and other non-sound related features.

* not trying to piss off anyone, but electrostatic speakers - the ones with no separate conventional "helper" tweeter - are a design that is like this as far as upper treble is concerned. Listening to most rock & pop music on them is rather a disappointing experience for me, since the top end is so muted and soft.

#7 of 14 Steve_Corrick

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Posted August 02 2007 - 01:51 PM

New "BUDGET" audiophile lineup from Revel - Concerta's

- Cabinets are mfrd - assembled in MEXICO to reduce cost.
- Concerta M12 A bit out of your stated budget for bookshelf's @ 700 pr
- Concerta C12 the matched center - is over @ 599

Same internal parts as the comparable sounding Revel performa models priced @ 2000 pair and 1800 each respectively.

Your speakers and the room acoustics will probably have the greatest imapct on sound over any thing else you will invest in.

If you can find these prices - they kick @$$ - You used to be able to pick up Polk LSi-9's on the grey market delivered for around 650 per pair and the LSi-C for about 350 a few years ago -vs- current 1100 - 500 - Seems like Polk locked that down pretty quickly. LSi's are in use in my office probably going to the LR when my old Boston Acoustic towers wear out. I will probably look at the Revel M12's for my office music system.

M12 review @ http://www.soundstag...fi/20060215.htm
Pull up a chair, make yourself comfortable.
It's time for a movie !

#8 of 14 Raymond lee Leggs

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Posted August 03 2007 - 10:33 AM

Are there any cheap Bookshelf speakers that are bassy?

#9 of 14 bobbyg2

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Posted August 03 2007 - 04:44 PM

That would be horrible for movies, and I would use a subwoofer for the bass rather than the speakers.
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#10 of 14 LanceJ

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Posted August 04 2007 - 11:38 AM

Quote:
Are there any cheap Bookshelf speakers that are bassy?
For a small room like a teen's bedroom or especially the typical shoebox-sized dorm room, these would produce some decent bass for many movies (yep, I know they won't produce subsonic bass but we're talking entry-level here as Raymond asked for; and anyway not every adventure movie has bass below 20Hz and much sound effect bass is located above 30Hz).

MTX 60i - $200/pair. bookshelf w/dual 6.5" woofers. MTX speakers traditionally trade off some depth of bass for amount of bass, so these will probably have lots of punch with little power applied.

Pioneer 3-way bookshelf - 8" woofer. 80-100 clams per pair. Sold at Parts Express and Circuit. Low efficiency rating of 84dB but as usual for speakers with such low effciency ratings, for their size they can go quite low (I own the previous version of this speaker which surprised me with its depth AND level of bass output; Pioneer builds all their own drivers so this helps too).

#11 of 14 inthezone

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Posted August 08 2007 - 08:24 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by LanceJ
Publicly BA gets little respect for some reason (I STILL don't know why either, despite repeated direct requests) but when asked who owns them and likes them, many members here and on other forums will pipe up and say so.

JustPlainNuts,

Sorry I don't have any advice for you, I still researching to get my first system.

LanceJ,

How would you rate BA to Def Tech? I see BA has an affordable VR1 floorstanding speaker, whereas Def Tech does not have much in the unpowered, unbipolar format.

#12 of 14 Louisville Fan

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Posted August 09 2007 - 04:27 AM

I just picked up two VR2's and a VRC for a matching 3.0 system for $608 from CC and I love them. They look great and sound even better!! Now I need to get my rears and my sub to complete my 7.1 system.

#13 of 14 LanceJ

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Posted August 09 2007 - 05:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by inthezone
How would you rate BA to Def Tech? I see BA has an affordable VR1 floorstanding speaker, whereas Def Tech does not have much in the unpowered, unbipolar format.
Actually I like Definitive's speakers and while I have only heard them in various showrooms, they seem to have a similar sonic personality to BAs, full/rich bass and slightly bright high frequencies but which are not harsh or grainy (Polk Audio and some cheaper Klipsch speakers - to me - are like this). Boston trivia: also like Definitive, until about four years ago BA also used to sell some speakers of their own that included built-in powered subwoofers.

If I had the right room for a bipolar speaker, I would consider Definitive dipoles for a 2-channel music system, but personally I don't like using bipolar speakers (or dipoles like electrostatics) for HT use since they add so much reflected sound and in turn reduce the directionality of movie sound effects & add ambience to scenes that aren't supposed to have ambience. With music this isn't as critical IMO.

#14 of 14 inthezone

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Posted August 10 2007 - 07:30 AM

Thanks Lousiville Fan and LanceJ. I think I've been swayed towards Swan Divas, but I'll continue to research.

LanceJ--I like your comment about the bipolar and dipolar, makes a lot of sense





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