Good speakers (bookshelf or floorstander) for $500?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by KeithH, Oct 11, 2001.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    O.K., it's time for me to consider replacing the Energy e:XL 16 bookshelf speakers in my second stereo system with something better. As this is my second system, I don't want to spend too much money, and I don't need all-world speakers. As a result, I would like to spend no more than $500 for new speakers. They can be bookshelf speakers or floorstanders. Here is the key associated equipment I am using in this system:
    NAD C 350 integrated amp
    Sony SCD-C333ES SACD/CD changer
    Pioneer Elite PD-65 CD player
    Sony MDS-JB930 MD deck
    With the 'C333ES in this system, you may say that I should spend more than $500 on speakers, but remember, this is my second system. Thanks in advance.
    EDIT: In case you are wondering, NAD rates the C 350 amp at 60W x 2 into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz), but two British hi-fi magazines independently measured the continuous power at 95W x 2.
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    [Edited last by KeithH on October 12, 2001 at 12:28 AM]
     
  2. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

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    my personal suggestion is a pair of mirage frx-7 speakers. they retail at $700 but can be had for a little over $500 usually. i noticed an auction on ebay for a pair for $400 once. don't know if the seller sold them but it was relisted twice. pity too since i just bought a pair the month before for $515.
    kevin t
     
  3. Evan A

    Evan A Stunt Coordinator

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    Polk RT-55i
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  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Kevin,
    Do you know if these Mirage speakers are available at Tweeter? They sell Mirage.
    Evan,
    Do you know if Circuit City sells the Polk speakers you mentioned? They sell Polk. I'm off to Crutchfield's web site to look for them.
    Thanks for the suggestions. Keep them coming!
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  5. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

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    i'm pretty sure they sell them at tweeter. there's not one around here but i've been to their site and seen them there before. they're great speakers in my opinion. naturally there are better but for the money, i think they're hard to beat. i'm not sure about tweeter's pricing but from what i've heard they're pretty much retail and not willing to negotiate on the price. mirage's om-series are said to sound better than the frx-series but you stated you wanted to keep it under $500. definitely go to tweeter and give them a listen. as an aside, do you still hang out at minidiscussion.com? you used to be quite prominent there from what i remember. i went there the other day and it just all seemed pretty bland and boring to me. didn't really see any of the old regulars.
    kevin t
     
  6. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    when i went to my local hifi store last week to demo speakers, i was amazed by both the Paradigm Monitor 7's and the B&W 603's. i really love the sound of B&W speakers (though they are a little pricy), although the Paradigms were almost equally excellent. as you often suggest, Keith, go to your local hifi dealer and have a listen. it's all up to your ears.
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  7. McPaul

    McPaul Screenwriter

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    I'm not sure the Mirage and the Polk pairs will be much of an improvement for you Keith. I believe the B&W 602 can be had for less than $600 in the states. Good Luck with it!
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  8. DavidY

    DavidY Supporting Actor

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    Keith,
    I would recommend that you audition the Paradigm Reference Studio/20. It should be available in the US$500 range or so. I think that the US list is US$650/pair. In Canada, they are cheaper, listing for CDN$800/pair (street is ~CDN$600 and up). Some dealers haggle, other don't (sell at or above list). Currency exchange right now is US$0.64=CDN$1.
    Other speakers include PSB Image, Paradigm Mini Monitors, B&W 600 series (601 and 602).
    Personally, in the same price range, I would definately choose bookshelf speakers over floorstanding towers.
    Dave
    [Edited last by DavidY on October 12, 2001 at 01:39 AM]
     
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Kevin,
    Thanks for the info. I'll try to get over to Tweeter this weekend to check out the Mirage speakers. I realize Tweeter's prices are high, but I live in Delaware, which means that I don't pay sales tax. [​IMG]
    As for minidiscussion.com, I used to post there fairly frequently, but not much anymore. The discussions are heavily focused on portable players, and I am into home decks. I have a cheap Sony portable, but I rarely use it. There is also a good bit of flaming on that site, which I could do without.
    I also used to post frequently on consumerreview.com, but that site went downhill a long time ago, so I gave up. I check the site out about once a week and post infrequently.
    Thomas,
    Thanks for the Paradigm and B&W suggestions. I chose the Energy e:XL 16s over Paradigm Atoms when I was buying speakers for my home theater a year-and-a-half ago and recently chose Totem Arro floorstanders over Paradigm Reference Studio 60s. I also chose the Arros over a couple different B&W speakers. However, these Paradigm and B&W speakers are at different price points than what I am considering now, so I should keep an open mind.
    Yes, I will have to listen with my ears. I'm just wondering what the players are for $500. One of my local dealers sells both Paradigm and B&W, so I should try to get over there this weekend.
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  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Paul and David,
    Thanks for the suggestions. It looks like Paradigm and B&W are coming up as front-runners. As I said in my reply to Thomas above, I have a dealer in my area that sells both Paradigm and B&W.
    David,
    The old and inane philosophy that bigger speakers are better (great I suppose if you are in a college dorm room, which I am not) says that I should get floorstanders over bookshelf speakers. However, in general, it seems that $500 gets you away from the baseline bookshelf speakers such my Energy e:XL 16s, but $500 is on the low end of the scale for floorstanders. From that standpoint, I might agree with you about getting bookshelf speakers. Of course, I need to do some listening.
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  11. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    Keith: As much as I'd love to sell you my barely used bedroom speakers, I can point you to a brand new, fully warrantied, Stereophile recommended pair for $400. They have brand new Energy RVS-2 speakers for sale. Their pair is available for $399 plus shipping and can be ordered at http://www.tsto.com/
    God Bless America!!!
     
  12. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    John, thanks for the tip. Tsto.com only has one pair of the Energys you are referring to, and since they are discontinued, I may have to ask real fast. I am not at all familiar with these speakers and can't demo them elsewhere, so I am not just going to order them. TSTO is about an hour from my house, but I can't get up there right now. Unfortunately, I don't this is going to work, but I appreciate the suggestion.
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  13. Brian Fineberg

    Brian Fineberg Second Unit

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    I just bought a pair of Klipsch References series rf-3II's
    These are great speakers and are even internally wired with monster z series cable. I bought them for 525 for the pair. Let me tell you it was well worth it. They list for 850. I got them on brandnamez.com. But by all means go to tweeter and audition these and many others so you know what sounds best to you. I just figured to to add my 2 cents.
    good luck
    -B
     
  14. Randy G

    Randy G Second Unit

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    Keith,
    For a bookshelf pair that is considered to be worth TWICE its selling price of $650, go to audioc.com and check out the Emeralds. Then, go to audioreview and you'll find that these small video shielded bookshelves are totally in a class by themselves. Just as a starting point, they weigh about 15 lbs each, and when you see how small they are, you will understand how outrageously solid they are. The best thing is that they are available as a kit as well, and can be customized to your liking. In addition, I know somebody who can make a beautiful pair of them for you for $500.
    Bottom line: you can buy a wonderful sounding equivalent of $1300 speakers for $500(if you buy from my friend) or $650 directly from the company. The service you get from ACI is second to NONE!!!, and you'll have a speaker that is head and shoulders above whatever you can find in a regular retail store. The company also has its own online forum at smr-forums.com
    Go check it out. You'll be doing yourself a huge favor. And if you wanna be hooked up with the kit maker, email me at [email protected]
    Good luck
     
  15. John Gates

    John Gates Second Unit

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    Keith,
    The nOrh ceramic 4.0 speakers are very tough to beat for $400/pair. You can view these at http://www.norh.com, and if you'd be willing to post where you live, you might be able to scrounge up a home demo from an owner (these are only available factory direct and would doubless be much more expensive if offered through a dealer). They offer good-quality VIFA drivers, high-grade crossover materials, and a unique inert cabinet design that DOES impact the quality of the sound. As for looks, they aren't for everyone, but I find them intriguing. Besides sounding wonderful, they are a terrific conversation piece.
    Strengths of the nOrh 4.0: Detail (without brightness), excellent vocals (female especially), soundstage, off-axis response (HUGE sweet spot for 2-channel... I'm talking 7 feet wide in the listening position).
    Weaknesses of the 4.0: these don't go much below 65 Hz. I know you said you'd like to stay below $500, but I'd like to suggest you consider a Sony SAWM-40 subwoofer to go with the nOrh 4.0's for an extra $149.
    IF you can find the nOrh's used, you might be able to save a few bucks, but there aren't many owners letting these go unless they are upgrading to the SM 6.9's.
    I have not heard these brands, but you might investigate the following direct-sale speaker companies, as they also seem to offer good bang/buck:
    Axiom
    Home Theater Direct
    Ascend Accoustics
    Swan's Diva
    ACI (agree with Randy's post above. ACI has an excellent reputation, and you should check these out if you can).
    Have fun in the search!
    John
    PS. I have heard NHT and Klipsch also in this pricerange. The Klipsch SF-1 was a good performer, but a tad bright on vocals for my taste (a little edgy). I thought of the NHT line in this price range, the SB1 was a good performer. Strong bass response, but it had a slightly muddy midrange.
    [Edited last by John Gates on October 12, 2001 at 08:38 AM]
     
  16. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Keith, you can get NHT 1.5's on closeout from 6ave.com....you could do a lot worse. I'd also try and listen to the new NHT SB3 bookshelf speakers.
     
  17. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Randy and John,
    Thanks for the suggestions for the Emeralds and nOhr speakers. I've heard a lot of good things about the nOhrs, but with either of these options, I can't buy speakers by mail without hearing them first. Also, I would rather not buy a sub for the second system right now, and a 65-Hz rolloff does concern me. In addition to the cost of a sub, I likely would have to buy a crossover box to connect it to my integrated amp. I am about to purchase an Energy subwoofer crossover box to connect my Energy e:XL-S10 subwoofer to the integrated amp in my main system. I'd rather avoid doing that in the second system.
    Charles,
    Thanks for the NHT suggestions. I will not buy from 6th Avenue Electronics, but I might find NHT somewhere locally. Thanks again.
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  18. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

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    If you really shop, you could find the Paradigm Studio 40's for around 650 bucks... Jay Mitchosky and I both feel that's the Gem of the Studio line, and is pretty much the finest Bookshelf speaker on the market.....
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  19. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Steven, I have a Hi-Fi House store in my area, and they sell Paradigm and B&W, so I plan on taking a run over there. I'll see what types of deals they can muster. They appear to be more willing to wheel and deal than a high-end dealer in my area, so maybe I could do well with the Paradigms there. I'm sure I could get them to give me a good deal on a floor model if I am so inclined (they'd probably be broken in). What do the Studio 40s list for? I'm trying to get a sense for how good a deal $650 is.
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  20. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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