Interested in Cambridge Audio S30 but they seem kind of cheap? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey I've been lurking for awhile and I decided to sign up since I've been so impressed with the forum.

For my first post, I have a question, which I think should be an easy one, but I'm going to graduate school in 6 or so months and I wanted to get some speakers.

I'll be in a dorm/apartment type living situation, so I won't be able to play music too loudly. Plus my apt. is fairly small it's an efficiency style living accommodation so I figured good bookshelves would fill the room okay.

Also I am on a budget being in school and from what I understand you can't get good tower speakers for less than a few thousand. And I am a perfectionist and so are most audiophiles by nature as well which is why I appreciate these forums so much but so I don't really want to buy towers unless I can really put the money forward to make them worthwhile. So I will be going with bookshelf.

I have done some research and the Cambridge Audio S30's and the NHT Absolute Zero bookshelf speakers both stand out to me. The thing that surprised me is how cheap they are though. Both you can get for only a little over two hundred. I thought initially it was for only one speaker so it would be four hundred for a pair, but it appears it really is two hundred or so for two speakers.

This seems pretty low to me. I am on a budget but I am willing to spend four or five hundred. At the same time I don't mind saving money so if I can get great speakers for two hundred I'll do that, but it seems a bit too good to be true.

What do you think? I understand there are extra expenses with a receiver and sub, but still two hundred seems low I'm wondering if I could do better than these two if I put in a few extra hundred dollars.

Thanks.

I like metal and classical music. I don't know if that's necessary to know.
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post #2 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 03:55 PM
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There hasn't been much bad mentioned about these speakers. Read through this thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1327952/almost-got-floored-by-cambridge-s30/

Can you do better for a few hundred extra? Of course. Should you? That's up to you.

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post #3 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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What would you recommend? I had my eye on a few "budget" bookshelf speakers such as the Klipsch B20 which are closer to three hundred but I also read they are not a good value. That's what I've read about quite a few bookshelf speakers in the three to four hundred range. The PBB Image B6 is another example of a more expensive bookshelf but easily comparable to the Cambridge S30. Making me wonder if throwing extra money out is a good idea.
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post #4 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 04:23 PM
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The best deal on bookshelves I know of right now is the Mordaunt Short Aviano 1 and 2. Originally $600 and $700 speakers now for $250 and $309.
There is a lot of good bookshelves out there for $300 -$500 as well from many speaker companies so choosing can be a bit difficult.
The NHT Absolute Zero is $440 a pair I don't know of a $200 a pair deal the super zero 2.0 are $200 a pair though.
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post #5 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
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You're right the Absolute Zero is two hundred a piece making it four hundred total. I'll look up the Aviano right now. Thanks.
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post #6 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 04:49 PM
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Hi Def Lifestyle is the dealer with that deal BTW. You could also go through amazon.com and then Hi Def Lifestyle for the Avianos.

Some people like to audition and try out many speakers. I think that's a difficult thing to do especially if you've never had a good pair before you can't really say what you like or what your looking for and until you take them home and actually give them time and listen to your own music you really can't know which speaker is perfect and even then it's difficult to choose.
Since your interested in the NHT you could buy them from crutchfield try them out for awhile and return them if you really didn't like them and then you would have a standard to know from. I say crutchfield because of how easy they are on returns and $7 to return. Although since it's each it might be $14. You might need to ask them. It's better than driving long distances back and forth spending a ton on gas.
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post #7 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 04:59 PM
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These Pioneer towers are very good, but you might want a sub with them since they only have good output down to around 50hz. Here is a review: http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/floorstanding/pioneer-sp-pk52fs.

The S30s are very good. Do you like bass heavy music? Are you going to be watching movies? Then the S30s and a good sub could be a great choice. Even without a sub, the S30s have pretty good bass response for most music.

On the other hand, the NHT Absolute Zeros definitely need a sub.

I've owned the S30s, and if you want to jump up to a higher class of speaker, I would suggest the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE. I think they have better SQ than the S30s in terms of midbass, and they are bigger (6.5" driver) and can probably fill a room better. These ARX A1b monitors also get favorable reviews from people.

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post #8 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
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User error.
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post #9 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nothingspecial View Post

Hi Def Lifestyle is the dealer with that deal BTW. You could also go through amazon.com and then Hi Def Lifestyle for the Avianos.

Some people like to audition and try out many speakers. I think that's a difficult thing to do especially if you've never had a good pair before you can't really say what you like or what your looking for and until you take them home and actually give them time and listen to your own music you really can't know which speaker is perfect and even then it's difficult to choose.
Since your interested in the NHT you could buy them from crutchfield try them out for awhile and return them if you really didn't like them and then you would have a standard to know from. I say crutchfield because of how easy they are on returns and $7 to return. Although since it's each it might be $14. You might need to ask them. It's better than driving long distances back and forth spending a ton on gas.

Yeah I think auditioning is important. Especially when I heard $2,200 dollars speakers at Best Buy that that sounded maybe a notch or two above Logitech. It's amazing how extra money doesn't equal better sound.

I live close to a Nebraska furniture mart and they used to have a really awesome selection of speakers I would go up there all the time. And you could match them to any receiver you wanted. But eventually maybe it wasn't profitable but the department was cut down greatly and you can't mix and match receivers and speakers and only big brands are there like JBL audio and Klipsch. And Bose of course. So that is a bummer.

I like the online options because most have 30 day guarantees, granted your willing to potentially eat the shipping. That's how I'll probably have to do things. And honestly the shipping can't be that much worse than gas now a days anyway.

Yeah right now I'm looking at buying from Crutchfield. I'm looking at the S3's rather though because in that thread "Almost got floored by Cambridge S30" several people agreed S30's probably sounded better than the NHT Zeroes. (And for nearly half the price.)

I'm not sold yet but I'm intensely researching and I like the S30's even though they're so inexpensive.

I'm also searching the boards for reviews and commentary on the Avianos you mentioned.
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post #10 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

These Pioneer towers are very good, but you might want a sub with them since they only have good output down to around 50hz. Here is a review: http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/floorstanding/pioneer-sp-pk52fs.

The S30s are very good. Do you like bass heavy music? Are you going to be watching movies? Then the S30s and a good sub could be a great choice. Even without a sub, the S30s have pretty good bass response for most music.

On the other hand, the NHT Absolute Zeros definitely need a sub.

I've owned the S30s, and if you want to jump up to a higher class of speaker, I would suggest the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE. I think they have better SQ than the S30s in terms of midbass, and they are bigger (6.5" driver) and can probably fill a room better. These ARX A1b monitors also get favorable reviews from people.

I guess I thought of Pioneer as being kinda mainstream like Bose or something. But they are decent?

Yeah I'm looking at for sure getting a sub with the S30's.

Ascends huh? Interesting. About three hundred fifty a pair. I had heard people mentioning them but someone said they like the S30's better. I do like that the driver is a bit bigger I was surprised the S30 could sound so good since the woofer is so small.
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post #11 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wags13604 View Post

I guess I thought of Pioneer as being kinda mainstream like Bose or something. But they are decent?

Yep. Pioneer hit a home run with these. See that review. And read in the owners thread: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1278774/pioneers-speaker-genius-hits-low-price-point

In fact, you could buy the 5.0 set with the towers right now off Amazon for around $400 if you want a full set. Amazon has a special on the bookshelves.
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Ascends huh? Interesting. About three hundred fifty a pair. I had heard people mentioning them but someone said they like the S30's better. I do like that the driver is a bit bigger I was surprised the S30 could sound so good since the woofer is so small.

The S30 woofer is listed I think as 4", but it actually appears to be bigger. It does a pretty healthy job with midbass for it's size. That being said, I think both speakers are an fairly equal value for their respective prices. One reason I like the Ascends better is that I do tend to listen to some EDM, hip hop, and rap (among other genres), and the Ascends do have better SQ bass output to me. I also prefer the overall SQ, too.

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post #12 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 06:31 PM
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Insofar as I've heard the S30, the HB-1 Mk2, Pioneer 2nd gens, and some Polk speakers in Best Buy, I agree with this reviewer's bookshelf comparison: http://www.amazon.com/Cambridge-Audio-Speakers-Dark-Pair/dp/B004NDN9NK/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_2

If I hadn't auditioned the S30s, I'd still have the HB-1 Mk2s, which are a great speaker, imo.

I've also briefly heard Paradigm Atom Monitor V.7s which sounded impressive in the dealer's showroom.

If I could audition these Snell K7's easily, I would: http://app.audiogon.com/listings/full-range-snell-acoustics-k-7-k7-bookshelf-speaker-pair-near-mint-blk-left-almost-gone-2013-02-19-speakers-13850
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post #13 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Yep. Pioneer hit a home run with these. See that review. And read in the owners thread: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1278774/pioneers-speaker-genius-hits-low-price-point

In fact, you could buy the 5.0 set with the towers right now off Amazon for around $400 if you want a full set. Amazon has a special on the bookshelves.
The S30 woofer is listed I think as 4", but it actually appears to be bigger. It does a pretty healthy job with midbass for it's size. That being said, I think both speakers are an fairly equal value for their respective prices. One reason I like the Ascends better is that I do tend to listen to some EDM, hip hop, and rap (among other genres), and the Ascends do have better SQ bass output to me. I also prefer the overall SQ, too.

That 5.0 system looks cool, I'm researching it right now. My only thought is I'm interested in speakers 85% for music. I really don't watch many movies. Lol I don't even own a couch right now that's probably the first step in a home entertainment system yes?

So anway, that given, would it be better to focus on a 2.0 or 2.1? The only thing I can think of is I guess it would be extra sound coming out of extra speakers it wouldn't be truly surround but it could help filling the room/living area?
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post #14 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah I saw that Amazon review.

I read somewhere someone thought the Atom Monitors were probably better. It's still in my price range just barely, at nearly five hundred. But if it's only a knotch better than something that's only 229.00,,,,,
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post #15 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 07:00 PM
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My offhand take from some music listening was that the Atom Monitors sounded a shade less 'full' and 'engaging' than the S30. However, I haven't heard them in the same room together with familiar material, so it's hard to say.
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post #16 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Hm. I was just reading up on them and they appear to be made in China. But so are S30s.
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post #17 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wags13604 View Post

That 5.0 system looks cool, I'm researching it right now. My only thought is I'm interested in speakers 85% for music. I really don't watch many movies. Lol I don't even own a couch right now that's probably the first step in a home entertainment system yes?

So anway, that given, would it be better to focus on a 2.0 or 2.1? The only thing I can think of is I guess it would be extra sound coming out of extra speakers it wouldn't be truly surround but it could help filling the room/living area?

I don't particularly care for using DSP on 2 channel music to make it come out of all 5 speakers. But some people do like it.

Probably best to focus on 2.0 or 2.1.

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That's my understanding as well.
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post #19 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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http://www.musicdirect.com/p-15476-wharfedale-diamond-101-bookshelf-speaker-pr.aspx

These look pretty awesome. I would say right now these are the S30's main competition. Along with the Ascends.
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post #20 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
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Hm. I was just reading up on them and they appear to be made in China. But so are S30s.

Everything is made in China now, not a surprise at all.

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post #21 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 08:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I thought some of the high end ones were Canada/U.S. made. Mirage is Canada. Salk Sound is U.S. Though again that's why Salk floorstanding can cost $6,000 I suppose.
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post #22 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 08:50 PM
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The Ascends are assembled in the US with the drivers manufactured elsewhere, and even that's a rarity. One of the only non-very high end "speaker" items I know of made in the US is Grado headphones. They still make the drivers in Brooklyn.

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post #23 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
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What do you all think of the Studio Monitor 55?

Right now this is the competition:

Cambridge S30
B&W 686/5
Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

and now I'm looking at Studio Monitors 55.


Right now I'm leaning towards Cambridge because of price, but these 55's look legit.
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I own a pair of them - and they are a solid winner.

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Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
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post #25 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
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and now I'm looking at Studio Monitors 55.

Right now I'm leaning towards Cambridge because of price, but these 55's look legit.

If on a tight budget, then the Cambridge - and I will take them over the old Studio Monitors.

If you can swing it, then the Studio Monitor 55

I will take the Snell K7 over all of them.smile.gif

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post #26 of 61 Old 03-03-2013, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
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The thing I'm worried about in buying more expensive speakers is having to buy a more expensive receiver as well. I could drop an extra two or three hundred on speakers if I really thought it was worth it, but dropping even more on top of that to get a accommodating receiver could break the bank.

I see a deal right now to get the Snell k7 at same price as Studio 55's...
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You've been given many good choices. If you still insist that more $ should be spent I will throw another possibility into the ring. First, +1 for the Mordaunt-Short recommendation above, I have the smaller Carnival 2 speakers which I love. I'm putting another small 2-channel system together and after some research decided on Kef Q300, which can be had for $470 a pair b stock:
http://www.accessories4less.com/index.php?page=search&search_query=Kef+Q300

I've never heard them, no chance to audition. Descriptions and reviews indicate a similar 'laid back' experience to the Mordaunt-Short (also a British speaker company), so I think I done good smile.gif They'll be delivered this week.

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By the way, I don't think you've mentioned how your speakers would be powered, but I wouldn't worry so much about the need for a receiver upgrade. Pretty much anything can power everything that's been mentioned for your space. Most folks take system building in doses, and if you prefer more expensive speakers than the Cambridge S30 it makes sense to think about a receiver or amp later. Just a thought.

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post #29 of 61 Old 03-04-2013, 09:09 AM
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I ordered a pair of Wharfedale 10.2's and a CS center. The center should arrive tonight, but the 10.2's are still a few weeks on backorder. I've read seemingly every review for the Diamond 10.1's and they all claimed these speakers to be amazing. It's really tough finding information about these speakers though, and user reviews all seem to praise the 10.1 as well as the 10.2's.

Wharfedale manufactures all of their components(or so I've read), so they're prices are a bit lower than comparably performing speakers. This is everything I've gathered from reading online reviews though, as I have no experience with how they actually sound. I will know soon though, and will be able to directly compare them to the first gen Pioneer floorstanders and bookshelf speakers.

I looked at Wharfedale Diamond 10.2's, Focal Chorus 706V's, Kef q300's, Def Tech sm55's and lots of other speakers in the "$500 per pair" range. Since I couldn't audition them all I am going off of reviews and will try to audition the Wharfes with the Focal 706v's.

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post #30 of 61 Old 03-04-2013, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wags13604 View Post

What do you all think of the Studio Monitor 55?

Right now this is the competition:

Cambridge S30
B&W 686/5
Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

and now I'm looking at Studio Monitors 55.

Right now I'm leaning towards Cambridge because of price, but these 55's look legit.

If you're going to add those, might as well add the Canadian representation in there for budget bookshelves

Paradigm Atom Monitor
PSB Image B5 or B6

Both are quite popular choices among compact bookshelf monitors

I was intrigued by the DefTech SM's myself and then I read the review of the 45 and 65 and I wasn't too turned on by them:

http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article/test-report-definitive-technology-studiomonitor-sm65-and-sm45-speakers-supercube-8000-subwoo?page=0,2
The graphs show uneven response and "There’s also a rise around 2 kHz, which may be why I thought the sound was a bit bright." which was big turn off. I don't like speakers that have excess brightness because they grate on me after a while. There are probablty better choices for the money.

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