Please recommend bookshelf speakers within $300 to $500

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by KevinQ, Nov 10, 2002.

  1. KevinQ

    KevinQ Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi, Guys,

    I have the Kenwood HTB504 package. I am planning to upgrade my front L & R speakers within a budget of $300. I might spend up to $500 to $600 (including stands) if improvement is substantial. I would like the speakers to be as neutral as possible within that price range. (I mostly use Sennheiser HD-600 and Sony 7506 headphones for music now)

    The room is about 10 by 16. The use would be 90% music and 10% movie. My music preference is 80% classical (orchestra, chamber, opera), 10% Jazz/vocal, etc. The original Kenwood front L & R will be used as the surround L & R. I will keep the Kenwood 8" sub for now, and will upgrade in the order of center/L&R/sub in next 6 to 12 months if I get into multi-channel SACD/DVD Audio.

    The speakers must be shielded. After search the forum, I found there are several popular bookshelf recommendations:
    JBL studio: s36/38 won't fit my setup. I might buy S26 II + studio center ($330 from etronics.com)
    Axiom: M3Ti ($275, matching stands cost $90)
    Paradigam: Mini Monitors (not sure how much)

    I highly appreciate you recommendation on which brand/model to audit.

    Thanks,

    Kevin
     
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    When you write that the S36/38's won't fit your setup, do you mean that you don't have the physical space for them?

    --AM
     
  3. Robert James Clark

    Robert James Clark Second Unit

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    How about some of the PSB setups available from Jawaonline? You can get the PSB Alpha A/V setup for very little money and they're small...

    Robert
     
  4. Jason_Me

    Jason_Me Stunt Coordinator

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  5. Jeff Kohn

    Jeff Kohn Supporting Actor

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    Axiom M22ti's are more "musical" with a more accurrate high-end than the M3ti's, which are somewhat laid back. Given your taste in music the M22ti's would be a perfect match. They're a little bit more expensive, but still within your price range. http://www.axiomaudio.com/m22ti.html
     
  6. Pablo Abularach

    Pablo Abularach Supporting Actor

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    I think you shouldnt take JBL our of your options,

    I have S26 and are very good for the money, but if I had the money I would centanly consider the S38 as my first option.
     
  7. KevinQ

    KevinQ Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for recommendation.

    I do not have enough space to accomodate the width of S36/38. I can not move them forward due to space limitation.
    I will add M22ti and PSB A/V to my list of audition, though both are hard to find in our small town.
     
  8. Jeff Kohn

    Jeff Kohn Supporting Actor

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  9. KevinQ

    KevinQ Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeff, that is an excellent point. If I go with the Axiom, I will order the M22 + Stands ($480) and add V100 center later.
     
  10. Pablo Abularach

    Pablo Abularach Supporting Actor

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    Kevin,

     
  11. BradJudy

    BradJudy Stunt Coordinator

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    You should consider the Ascend CBM-170s ($360 IIRC) - I like mine a lot, but like many bookself speakers they don't go very low. It depends on your taste for bass. I am very happy with my Ascend/Hsu combo.

    I also really liked the KEF Q1s ($450). I liked them much more than any Paradigm Monitor series speakers, and I would guess you would prefer KEF to Paradigm given your statements of taste.
     
  12. KevinQ

    KevinQ Stunt Coordinator

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    Pablo,
    Thanks for the tip. I actually found the S38s are put vertically at local BB. [​IMG]
    The problem with BB is that it is just too noisy to make any serious audition. Even the CC here has a show room.
     
  13. Curt Gilker

    Curt Gilker Agent

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    Kevin
    On an Axiom note, the M22s are indeed very good, but so are the M3Ti's ($275 or $247.50 Factory Outlet).
    Since you have a sub, the extra "bass boost" of the M22 might not be required (although the M22's also have more "balance" in the mids, according to some reviewers).
    I have the M3Ti's. By the way, you can get stands just about anywhere (you don't have to get them from Axiom, for example).
    Here are some websites and stands (all 24" stands) that I have recently priced. Including shipping, most will be $50 - $60 per pair.
    NameRetailer
    Sanus Basic Foundations III (BF-24Bwww.globe-mart.com
    Sanus Basic Foundations III (BF-24Bwww.racksandstands.com
    Sanus Basic Foundations III (BF-24Bwww.superpriced.com
    Sanus Basic Foundations III (BF-24Bwww.partsexpress.com
    Sanus Basic Foundations III (BF-24Bwww.onecall.com
    Sanus Basic Foundations III (BF-24Bwww.audioc.com
    Sanus Basic Foundations III (BF-24Bwww.audioadvisor.com
    Sanus Basic Foundations III (BF-24Bhttp://www.admtechusa.com/Sanus.html#Pricing
    Wood Technology WT-24.5www.dealznet.com
    Wood Technology WT-24.5www.globe-mart.com
    Wood Technology WT-24.5www.wildwestelectronics.com
    Wood Technology WT-24.5www.racksandstands.com
    PartsExpresswww.partsexpress.com
     
  14. KevinQ

    KevinQ Stunt Coordinator

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    BradJudy, I did consider the CBM-170s. The problem is that Asceond Acoustics doen't offer higher models if I want to upgrade again. I will add the KEF Q1 to my quickly expanding list.
    Curt, that is a lot information on stands shoping. Thanks. [​IMG]
     
  15. KevinQ

    KevinQ Stunt Coordinator

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    After the initial SACD thrill, I found I have around 200 Redbook CDs and only 10 SACDs. I have 10 to 15 SACDs and similar amount of CDs on my wishlist of next several months. Man, the materials offered by SACDs are just too limited.

    Since two channels music will take at least 80% of my music listening in next one or two years, I can spend up to $600 to $700 on a pair of bookshelfs now. I am really a bad person. :b

    I will use Kenwood VR507 receiver to drive them. My current list of audition are (in no particular order):
    1. Axiom M22ti($400) or M3ti($275): in home 30 day audition
    2. KEF Q1 ($450) or ??
    3. Polk Lsi9 ($650 shipped) or Lsi7($510) from Sounddistributors.com. Is it a good store? I noticed Polks are 4ohms. Is 507 able to drive them.
    4. B&W DM602 S3 ($600+Tax)
    5. Paradigm Monitors 5 ($519+Tax) or Mini ($349)
    6. JBL S38 in vertical placement ($300) or S26 ($200)
    7.
    8.


    I will audit at least two models from each brand. If the improvement is significant, I will buy the higher model. Otherwise, I will go with lower end and move them to the surround in the future.

    Any input is highly appreciated.
     
  16. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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  17. Jeff Kohn

    Jeff Kohn Supporting Actor

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  18. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Kevin,
    i just finished upgrading from my Kenwood (503?) HTIB.
    i had the 407 reciever (no dsps) but otherwise i think the speakers and subs from our systems are the same.

    i too thought i could just upgrade the speakers, which i took to be the weak link here, and started out with a JBL S center, last winter.
    bad choice for me, with the reciever it seemed way too bright.
    i actually got a piercing headache listening to it more than a few minutes.
    might be just what you want, though- you'll have to try it to make sure.

    i came to the sad realization a few months back that the reciever was going to have to go. the speakers i tried, that i liked the best (ascend cbm 170s), need a good, higher current source to really sing. i only got the the front three speakers, leaving the smaller kenwood surrounds and the kenwood sub, at first with a HK reciever.
    a few weeks back i finished the upgrade with a new reciever, ascend 200s as the surrounds, and the Hsu sub.
    there is a large difference.
    i know realize just how weak the kenwood sub was, and how much it was impairing movies and music. i'm still not confident i have the Hsu dialed in right, but there is a much better, more transparent integration of bass and LFE now.

    i chose the Ascends because
    1) they sound spectacular with music-exhibiting all the qualities i really wanted that i saw in much higher priced speakers; transparency, wide, large soundstage, highly precise imaging.
    2) they had silk domed tweeters. i found that in all my auditions, the speakers that i liked the most all shared this trait,regardless of their price, # of drivers, etc
    3) they were some of the most inexpensive speakers i found
    4) they were very close in size to the kenwoods , so the room wasn't going to be thrown out of whack.

    you may want to look at PSB and Paradigm atoms or titans, and maybe even those JBLs would light your fire.
    i do think though, that if you do end up with a good pair of speakers, the reciever, sub, and surrounds are going to have to go.
    while I think the Kenwood HTIB is actually a good value, especially for first time users, once you start to upgrade its value becomes very limited.

    as for not choosing the Ascends because they don't have a higher model to upgrade to later...that strikes me a little odd. someone here told me, when you hear the right speaker for you, you'll know it.
    i'd just add, that when you do hear it, you're not going to be consumed with plotting future upgrade strategies either.


    this is just my experience, ymmv
     
  19. KevinQ

    KevinQ Stunt Coordinator

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    Paul, that is exactly the information I am looking for. As a fellow Kenwood HTiBer, I had some very good time with the system. I watch only 1 or 2 DVDs per month. I am happy with its performance, though the center channel leaves something to be desired. The sub is ok for me, I am not a bass-heavy person and I live in an apt anyhow. If no for music, I won't change the system at all.

    I found I spend one to two hours per day on average with music (mostly classical). I mean serious listening in the sweet spot. The room is about 10 by 16. I do not like to play music loud, just proper amount to tell the details in symphonies. I am looking for something as neutral as possible, neither bass-heavy or too bright. The note on the brightness of the JBL S-center is very important.

    Headphones offer best music reproduction for me except the sound stage, but they are sometimes fatiguing and inconvenient. I do not think I can approach the performance of Sennheiser HD-600 or even the SONY 7506 with my budget for speakers, but I want something as neutral/transparent as possible.

    I am trying to build a 5.1 system starting with 2 channels. That is why I pay attention for those major brands (B&W/Paradigm/Polk/KEF). The starting cost might be a bit high, but it allows large room for future upgrade, which is inevitable for most of us. I really liked the frequency response of the Ascend Acoustics, but there is no way I can audit it locally. If I can not find anything satisfactory at local stores, I will try the Ascend and Axiom.

    I read somewhere that the Polk Lsi9 requires good power to sounds right. If the VR507 turned out to be incompetent, I will add a two channel amplifier to match the speakers within a budget of $300 to $500.

    Any thought on the speakers and amplifiers?
     
  20. Pablo Abularach

    Pablo Abularach Supporting Actor

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    Kevin,

     

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