Basic Set of Bookshelf Speakers for under $200? - AVS Forum

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Kurth01's Avatar Kurth01
01:10 PM Liked: 10
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02-01-2013 | Posts: 55
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What would you recommend? Looking to pair these with a vintage Kenwood Model 11GX I found in my father's basement and cleaned up. No plans for future 2.1 or 5.1 or 7.1 or any expansion.

Just need a solid pair of book shelf speakers that get me the most bang for the buck. Will be used in a relatively small bedroom.

Options I've been looking at so far are:

(1) Pioneer SP-BS22LR 4" Andrew Jones-designed 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker Pair = $127 (free shipping) from Parts Express

(2) Polk Audio Monitor 35B Compact Bookshelf Loudspeaker (Cherry) Pair = $109 (free shipping) from NewEgg

(3) Polk Audio Monitor 45B Compact Bookshelf Loudspeaker (Cherry) Pair = $199 (free shipping) from NewEgg

or, for something really, really cheap:

(4) Dayton B652 Pair = $29.98 + $15 shipping ($44.98) from PartsExpress

Surprisingly, that $30 pair of speakers has gotten some decent press:

Stereophile review

cnet review

Sound and Vision review

So, what are your thoughts? And thanks in advance for the help! smile.gif
afrogt's Avatar afrogt
02:40 PM Liked: 444
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02-01-2013 | Posts: 23,636
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How about some Infinity P163 bookshelf speakers for $59 each. Hard to beat at that price.

http://www.frys.com/product/7237393?site=sa:adpages%20page:P6_FRI%20date:020113
Jim McC's Avatar Jim McC
03:02 PM Liked: 33
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Damn. I just paid $85 each for 3 of them from Amazon, free shipping though. This would be about $30 less. Will Amazon credit me the difference? Thanks.
Kurth01's Avatar Kurth01
03:09 PM Liked: 10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McC View Post

Damn. I just paid $85 each for 3 of them from Amazon, free shipping though. This would be about $30 less. Will Amazon credit me the difference? Thanks.

Did you get them yet? If so, do you like them? Think they'd be decent in a simple 2.0 stereo set-up?
drocpsu's Avatar drocpsu
03:14 PM Liked: 10
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02-01-2013 | Posts: 280
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You just missed the NewEgg sale on Definitive StudioMonitor350's for $175! The sale ended a few days ago. I would've voted for those. They are $250 currently, (though the 450's are only $279 right now as well).

Also, unless you are specifically looking for Cherry speakers, the Polk 45B speakers in Black are $169.99, not $199.

I have read some nice things about the Andrew Jones Pioneers though.
zieglj01's Avatar zieglj01
03:29 PM Liked: 601
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02-01-2013 | Posts: 11,755
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The HTD Level Two - and 10% off > coupon code - 2013sale
http://www.htd.com/Products/bookshelf-speakers/Level-TWO-Bookshelf-Speakers?gclid=CLaoz-uTlrUCFdSnPAodrigA8A

Or, the Pioneer BS22 speakers
Jim McC's Avatar Jim McC
03:39 PM Liked: 33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurth01 View Post

Did you get them yet? If so, do you like them? Think they'd be decent in a simple 2.0 stereo set-up?

Yes I did get them. They are very nice speakers, and they sound great in stereo. BUT I also have an 8" sub hooked up. I didn't listen without the sub. I was going to go with the Pioneer BS22's until I found out they are rear ported.
Kurth01's Avatar Kurth01
08:29 PM Liked: 10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McC View Post

Yes I did get them. They are very nice speakers, and they sound great in stereo. BUT I also have an 8" sub hooked up. I didn't listen without the sub. I was going to go with the Pioneer BS22's until I found out they are rear ported.

Why was the rear porting a deal breaker for you on the Pioneers?
Kurth01's Avatar Kurth01
09:03 PM Liked: 10
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02-01-2013 | Posts: 55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drocpsu View Post

You just missed the NewEgg sale on Definitive StudioMonitor350's for $175! The sale ended a few days ago. I would've voted for those. They are $250 currently, (though the 450's are only $279 right now as well).

Also, unless you are specifically looking for Cherry speakers, the Polk 45B speakers in Black are $169.99, not $199.

I have read some nice things about the Andrew Jones Pioneers though.

I just checked on Newegg and saw the sale on those DefTec 350's for $179 is still going on.

Between the DefTec Studio Monitor 350s at $179
The Polk Monitor 45Bs at $169
The HTD Level 2s at $199
Or the Pioneer BS22s at $127

. . . Is there a standout winner? Are there any I should scratch from the list. Keep in mind this is for a 2.0 set-up (I.e., no sub, center or rears).

Thanks!
Bond 007's Avatar Bond 007
09:29 PM Liked: 920
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Too bad you didn't start this thread yesterday. These were $99 for 2 weeks. I got a pair and they sound great.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1&_dynSessConf=&id=pcat17071&type=page&sc=Global&cp=1&nrp=15&sp=&qp=&list=n&iht=y&usc=All+Categories&ks=960&st=klipsch+kb15
Elihawk's Avatar Elihawk
09:51 PM Liked: 254
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I have heard the def tech, polks and pioneers on your list. IMHO, clear winner is the def tech!
Jim McC's Avatar Jim McC
10:44 PM Liked: 33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurth01 View Post

Why was the rear porting a deal breaker for you on the Pioneers?


Because they sit on a shelf, and the back of speakers are only 1-2" from wall.
drocpsu's Avatar drocpsu
06:10 AM Liked: 10
post #13 of 27
02-02-2013 | Posts: 280
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurth01 View Post

I just checked on Newegg and saw the sale on those DefTec 350's for $179 is still going on.

Between the DefTec Studio Monitor 350s at $179
The Polk Monitor 45Bs at $169
The HTD Level 2s at $199
Or the Pioneer BS22s at $127

. . . Is there a standout winner? Are there any I should scratch from the list. Keep in mind this is for a 2.0 set-up (I.e., no sub, center or rears).

Thanks!
I still say the Drfinitives are the winner, especially without a sub. They use a side-firing passive radiator, which helps them play significantly lower than other similar sized bookshelf speakers. I think they sound great, on top of that.
alphaiii's Avatar alphaiii
08:03 AM Liked: 47
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02-02-2013 | Posts: 2,156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drocpsu View Post

I still say the Drfinitives are the winner, especially without a sub. They use a side-firing passive radiator, which helps them play significantly lower than other similar sized bookshelf speakers. I think they sound great, on top of that.

Two things..

1) A passive radiator serves the same function as a port and actually has a steeper roll off below tuning.... so it doesn't guarantee lower extension than a ported speaker with similar sized cabinet (that depends on the woofer as well). It does however allow for smaller size cabinet than a ported speaker when using the same woofer.

2) When it comes to specs, Def Tech has been know to embellish more than a little
commsysman's Avatar commsysman
08:06 AM Liked: 266
post #15 of 27
02-02-2013 | Posts: 5,353
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Putting the speakers near the rear wall with rear porting tends to increase the midbass.

This is not always a bad thing. Listen and decide.

The Polk R150 speakers are $150 per pair at Amazon.
Bond 007's Avatar Bond 007
08:20 AM Liked: 920
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02-02-2013 | Posts: 12,678
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

Two things..

1) A passive radiator serves the same function as a port and actually has a steeper roll off below tuning.... so it doesn't guarantee lower extension than a ported speaker with similar sized cabinet (that depends on the woofer as well). It does however allow for smaller size cabinet than a ported speaker when using the same woofer.

2) When it comes to specs, Def Tech has been know to embellish more than a little
For sure. They claim the 350s go down to 53Hz I believe. I saw a review of them that tested them at 79Hz. That's not really any lower than any of the other speakers mentioned here.
zieglj01's Avatar zieglj01
08:25 AM Liked: 601
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bond 007 View Post

For sure. They claim the 350s go down to 53Hz I believe. I saw a review of them that tested them at 79Hz. That's not really any lower than any of the other speakers mentioned here.

The Pioneer BS22 has a lower -3db at 63 hz > they have nice bass
Bond 007's Avatar Bond 007
08:27 AM Liked: 920
post #18 of 27
02-02-2013 | Posts: 12,678
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Sorry, they claim that they go down to 30Hz rolleyes.gif
I found that article.

http://www.hometheater.com/content/definitive-technology-studiocinema-350-ht-labs-measures
Kurth01's Avatar Kurth01
09:18 AM Liked: 10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bond 007 View Post

Sorry, they claim that they go down to 30Hz rolleyes.gif
I found that article.

http://www.hometheater.com/content/definitive-technology-studiocinema-350-ht-labs-measures

Sorry for being dense, but I'm not sure what this means:

"The StudioMonitor 350's listening-window response (a five-point average of axial and +/-15-degree horizontal and vertical responses) measures +1.91/-1.55 decibels from 200 hertz to 10 kilohertz. The -3dB point is at 79 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 60 Hz. Impedance reaches a minimum of 3.63 ohms at 241 Hz and a phase angle of -45.02 degrees at 126 Hz. Sensitivity averages 87.5 dB from 500 Hz to 2 kHz."

Does that mean that DefTec's claimed frequency range of 26 Hz - 30 kHz is bunk?

I was going to pull the trigger on the DefTecs because they looked like clear winners over the Polk45b, but if those specs are inaccurate, maybe that's not the right move. In truth, I like the look of the Polks a lot better, not to mention the fact that they have removable grills instead if that silly sock on the DefTecs and they're $10 cheaper.

I wish I had an opportunity to listen to them, but unfortunately, that's not in the cards.
zieglj01's Avatar zieglj01
09:31 AM Liked: 601
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02-02-2013 | Posts: 11,755
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurth01 View Post

Sorry for being dense, but I'm not sure what this means:

"The StudioMonitor 350's listening-window response (a five-point average of axial and +/-15-degree horizontal and vertical responses) measures +1.91/-1.55 decibels from 200 hertz to 10 kilohertz. The -3dB point is at 79 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 60 Hz. Impedance reaches a minimum of 3.63 ohms at 241 Hz and a phase angle of -45.02 degrees at 126 Hz. Sensitivity averages 87.5 dB from 500 Hz to 2 kHz."

Does that mean that DefTec's claimed frequency range of 26 Hz - 30 kHz is bunk?

That is what we said/meant. Their bass loudness/roll-off level drops from 79 hz down.

I would take another look at the HTD Level Two and the Pioneer BS22

I have owned Polk Monitors, Definitive Tech, Pioneer and HTD speakers.

However, it all comes down to your choice/preference - good luck.
Elihawk's Avatar Elihawk
09:53 AM Liked: 254
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02-02-2013 | Posts: 2,783
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The def tech probably don't get as low was they say...but, man, they hit pretty low and it sounds great for a small bookshelf! As I have said, I did a head to head comparison of the Polk m40s vs the series one pioneer...polks won that head to head, IMHO...then about a year later, bought the def tech and now the polks sit in my basement! I have the dt sm450s (because of price, I also bought a set of sm350s) and use then in a 2.0 bedroom set up- excellent speaker for essentially 200/pr!
rdclark's Avatar rdclark
01:46 PM Liked: 206
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02-02-2013 | Posts: 4,188
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Specifications do not describe the sound of a speaker.

If you can find tests run identically on two different speakers by the same lab, you might have a basis for comparison that doesn't involve listening. For example, those lab results from HT Mag could be compared to the same tests in the same lab run on Polks or Pioneers or whatever. And then you would know something about which speakers have better bass extension, for example.

But you still wouldn't know anything about how they sound. Only listening tells you how a speaker will sound, and only listening in your listening room tells you how they will sound in your listening room.

The Internet has made it much too easy to buy speakers without hearing them first. And unless you already know good sound, almost anything you buy that's decent is going to impress you when you unpack it and get it fired up in your home. Especially when you think about the hassle of packing it all back up and shipping it back if you decide you don't like them.

Meanwhile, one speaker is -3dB at 80Hz, and another is -3dB at 70Hz. Do you automatically buy the second one? Why would you do that? Bass extension is only one quality -- and arguably far from the most important quality, given the availability of decent cheap subwoofers that will get you down to 30-40Hz -- of a bookshelf speaker. How smooth is the high end? How's the imaging? How's the quality of the crossover?

To illustrate my point, here are some quotes from the same review of the SM350 according to which some would have you dismiss the speaker because in their lab measurements its bass extension is not what DT claims it is:

"The StudioMonitor 350's vibrant dynamism in no way interferes with its careful subtlety, whether you're listening to a beautiful choral layering of voices (as on the Gadeamus Sacred Feast disc) or on a simpler but no less engaging arrangement of voice, accordion, and guitar on Sara K.'s 'Whiter Shade of Pale' (What Matters)."

"The bass response is smooth and natural—about as good as you're going to find in a passive speaker this size. "

Now, I'm not suggesting these 10-year old quotes are a reason to buy these speakers, any more than the 10-year old lab test is a reason not to. I'm suggesting that neither one tells you anything about how the speakers will sound in your room, or how well they will match what you want and expect to hear.

Listening, not reading specs, is how you learn how a speaker sounds.
JerryLove's Avatar JerryLove
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I think you undervalue what can be gleaned from measurements. The problem being that proper measurements are many and complex and take significant experience to properly read.

Indeed: they are in some ways *better* than listening. If I put a speaker in my room and it sounds bad: measurements might show me where that can be fixed rather than tossing out the speaker as "poor sounding". I wonder how many excellent options have been tossed out because someone didn't know they needed to look for a resonance mode or standing wave, or had a problem with early reflection.
Bond 007's Avatar Bond 007
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You are both correct. And in all fairness, there is a standard for those specs otherwise they would all be irrelevant. If they just let people test them in their garage with a radio shack spl meter and then publish their results your argument would hold more water. It is the speaker companies that skew and flat out lie about the test results. That is why it is important to seek independent testers. So you have to consider everything. The manu specs and features as well as independent specs and listening opinions. And listening to them at the store.
But there is no test better than hooking them up to your equipment in your room and listening to them with your ears.
Kurth01's Avatar Kurth01
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02-07-2013 | Posts: 55
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Update: With all the help here, I narrowed my options down to the DefTech SM350s, the HTD Level 2s, and the Infinity Primus p163s.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to listen to any of them, so I had to go by reviews and price. Reviews (users and media) for all these speakers were laudatory, so it really came down to price.

At $59 per speaker for the Infinity's I almost went with them, but then I saw that with shipping, they'd end up at ~$155 for a pair. The HTD Level 2s looked good but priced out around $200. The DefTech sale at Newegg ended (they were briefly listed back up at $499 before dropping back to $199), but they had a new, open box pair this morning for $152.99. Since I also had a $45 credit from Newegg (resulting from a Klipsch RW12-d that arrived with a broken grill), once I applied that to the DefTechs, they ended up at $107.99 shipped. At that price, I figured they were tough to pass up and pulled the trigger.

Can't wait to get them hooked up to the old Kenwood and see how they sound. I'll report back.

Thanks for all the great suggestions!
Elihawk's Avatar Elihawk
01:24 PM Liked: 254
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02-07-2013 | Posts: 2,783
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Did you end up with the SM350 or the SM450? both good speakers, I bought both and really couldn't tell the difference.
Kurth01's Avatar Kurth01
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post #27 of 27
03-11-2013 | Posts: 55
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Ended up with the SM350s. They sound great! Absolutely no regrets.
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