best speakers under $500 that look nice, need no sub - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

My earlier attempt to get a wood-grained subwoofer that met my wife's decor requirements did not succeed. In fact, our listening room (living room) is smallish, maybe 24x12, and a sub is very prominent, wood-grained or not.

So now I am seeking recommendations for left and right speakers at around $500 for the pair. I will NOT have a sub (or any other speakers), so they should have reasonable bass. And they cannot be both large (floorstanding) and black. If they are floorstanding sized, they have to have some sort of wood grain, simulated is OK.

We mainly watch movies, but also listen to classical and jazz and rock. We listen at moderate volumes. We don't watch action movies much, and I don't need to hear all the details of the shots and explosions. My receiver is a Marantz, 50w/channel.

I currently have Advent 5012s, and they are OK, but I haven't been able to get them to sound as good as I'd like. I'm considering replacing them.

I was considering Axiom M22s. What else should I be looking at?

Thanks,

Hal
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post #2 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 03:09 PM
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Wood grained floorstanders for $500 is a pretty tall order. I can't even think of any. You might look on the used market, like audiogon.com. I would skip the Axioms. There is a good reason why speaker manufacturers do not typically use that kind of tweeter over two woofers configuration (called an MMT), and given Axioms disregard for a smooth frequency response, I don't think that speaker is an exception to the rule. A better arrangement of drivers for that type of speaker is woofer-tweeter-woofer, or M-T-M, like these. Those Ascends promise to have decent bass extension. Another speaker which has excellent bass extension and can be used as an MTM is the Hsu HC-1, you can get a pair of the Rosenut finish for $529 shipped. The regular Hsu HB-1s have pretty powerful bass as well.

There are some good studio monitors with very good bass extension you should look as well, check out the JBL LSR2328, that will have terrific bass and a great sound overall. Also check out the Mackie MR8 mk2, this on is very good and has terrific bass thanks to its 8" woofer. The JBL and Mackie are both active speakers so you don't need your amplifier to power them, they are self-powered. A good passive monitor with decent bass that can take advantage of your amp is the Behringer 2031p, it will save you some money as well.
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post #3 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 03:25 PM
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Mordaunt-Short Carnival 6 speakers in "Calvados" finish ($495 at Amazon.com). They're nice-looking and compact towers.

Sound-wise, they offer:
- good imaging and a wide soundstage;
- clear highs;
- a "laid back" mid-range; and
- decent bass (set "flat", it's a little light, but click your AVR's "bass control" up a notch or two and the bottom end fills out quite nicely).

All in all - and IMO - they're quite good for their size and price. smile.gif

This is how they look in black in my family room...



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post #4 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eljaycanuck View Post

Mordaunt-Short Carnival 6 speakers in "Calvados" finish ($495 at Amazon.com). They're nice-looking and compact towers.

Sound-wise, they offer:
- good imaging and a wide soundstage;
- clear highs;
- a "laid back" mid-range; and
- decent bass (set "flat", it's a little light, but click your AVR's "bass control" up a notch or two and the bottom end fills out quite nicely).

All in all - and IMO - they're quite good for their size and price. smile.gif

This is how they look in black in my family room...


There is only 1 left in stock, what is he going to use for the other channel? Lol
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post #5 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 03:54 PM
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post #6 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 03:55 PM
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There is only 1 left in stock, what is he going to use for the other channel? Lol
Not sure, but it looks like since the speakers are sold in pairs, "1 left" refers to one pair, not one speaker.

Regardless, WildWestElectronics.net currently has them in stock for $449. smile.gif


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post #7 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 04:09 PM
 
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Guys, he needs floor standing in wood grain...Of course, he could always buy some vinyl woodgrain veneer and put that over the black. But to the OP, no sub REQUIRES floorstanding speakers as bookshelf, and certainly not in walls, will give any amount of satisfying bass. And even black floorstanders for $500/pr will not meet what you are looking for. Why don't you DIY a sub? You can do an infinite baffle design and no boxes will be seen...Just some options you may have or not have thought/known about.
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post #8 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 04:10 PM
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fwiw, kef q300 $500 free ship.accessories4less
or
mordaunt short aviano6's $479 pair hidef lifestyle (list $1200 a pair) 5 star review from what hifi

i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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post #9 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 04:38 PM
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post #10 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 06:01 PM
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Kef Q300 is going to be a bit short on bass, Ascend CMT-340 isn't going to pass the WAF. Both great speakers otherwise. The Mordaunt Short is a great choice.

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post #11 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smasher50 View Post

fwiw, kef q300 $500 free ship.accessories4less
or
mordaunt short aviano6's $479 pair hidef lifestyle (list $1200 a pair) 5 star review from what hifi

I can vouch for the Aviano 6's. I've had em for a couple weeks now and these speakers rock. Dark walnut is a real nice finish too.
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post #12 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 06:29 PM
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Solid bass, floorstanding, wood finish, under $500 pair?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RTi8-CHERRY-Tower-Speakers-Polk-Audio-NEW-PAIR-/230997709953?pt=Speakers_Subwoofers&hash=item35c8895481


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post #13 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Solid bass, floorstanding, wood finish, under $500 pair?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RTi8-CHERRY-Tower-Speakers-Polk-Audio-NEW-PAIR-/230997709953?pt=Speakers_Subwoofers&hash=item35c8895481

already posted that link wink.gif , but yea they are a great deal.
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post #14 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by eljaycanuck View Post

Not sure, but it looks like since the speakers are sold in pairs, "1 left" refers to one pair, not one speaker.

Regardless, WildWestElectronics.net currently has them in stock for $449. smile.gif

yes you are correct. I thought it said each... / me insert foot in mouth.
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post #15 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by makinbiscuits View Post

I can vouch for the Aviano 6's. I've had em for a couple weeks now and these speakers rock. Dark walnut is a real nice finish too.
did you purchace them from high def lifestyle. if so how was the service and shipping?

i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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post #16 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 07:54 PM
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Quote:

Aww yes, the mobile links threw me off.

+1 to that then


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post #17 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 08:52 PM
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Towers with full range bass (down to at least 40Hz, preferably a little lower), good sound overall, come in a finish other than black, for $500 or less ... tough one. The HTD level 2 towers might be the best suggestion so far.

Other than getting something without much bass, or finding something used, here are some suggestions if you can bump the budget a bit (you've got some serious restrictions!) ...

$650 - Swan Diva 4.2 towers. Very nice looking for that price point, on sale at the moment so a good deal. http://www.theaudioinsider.com/product_info.php?p=swan-diva-4-2-floorstanding-loudspeaker&products_id=35&osCsid=d19430db8530117bea4d5cfc134bf956

$800 KEF Q500 towers. In Walnut or Cherry. http://www.accessories4less.com/

$800 HTD Level 3 towers. Uncommonly deep bass and play loudly exceptionally well at that price point. http://www.htd.com/Products/level-three-speakers/Level-THREE-Tower-Speakers

$850 Ascend Sierra 1 bookshelves. Only bookshelf on my list, goes down to 40Hz. http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM1/srm1.html

IMO any of the above would be a big improvement on the Polks.
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post #18 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 10:27 PM
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IMO any of the above would be a big improvement on the Polks.

Thankfully its your opinion and thats all it is. wink.gif
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post #19 of 81 Old 06-15-2013, 11:02 PM
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The Polk Rti speakers do have very good bass. I would try to make a stretch for the RTi 9 speakers though. Get those mid woofers in there to take a load off the Polk tweeter.
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post #20 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post

Towers with full range bass (down to at least 40Hz, preferably a little lower), good sound overall, come in a finish other than black, for $500 or less ... tough one. The HTD level 2 towers might be the best suggestion so far.

Other than getting something without much bass, or finding something used, here are some suggestions if you can bump the budget a bit (you've got some serious restrictions!) ...

$650 - Swan Diva 4.2 towers.

$800 KEF Q500 towers.

$800 HTD Level 3 towers.
$850 Ascend Sierra 1 bookshelves.
IMO any of the above would be a big improvement on the Polks.

Doesn't do the OP any good to recommend stuff outside of his budget... The HTD's being better is debatable


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post #21 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 02:12 AM
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Originally Posted by HalPri View Post

Hi,

My earlier attempt to get a wood-grained subwoofer that met my wife's decor requirements did not succeed.

http://www.veneersupplies.com/categories/Veneer__Products/Peel__%26__Stick__Veneer/
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post #22 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 02:24 AM
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... The HTD's being better is debatable

To clarify ... I didn't mean the HTD Level2 towers, I meant the "list" section (Swan, KEF, HTD L3, Sierra 1's). They're more expensive so it's not that unlikely they might sound better.
And of course it's still just my opinion, don't think I was unclear about that since I started that sentence of my post with the "IMO" wink.gif
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Doesn't do the OP any good to recommend stuff outside of his budget...
IMO that's debatable wink.gif OP's often adjust/increase budgets, and this OP has more qualifications/restrictions than average considering his budget - hence the atypical lack of options. This is a situation where I do think it can be helpful to offer a broader picture (for the sake of improving the OP's bang-for-the-buck).

The post right before yours, by Shadyj, recommended speakers that are 3x the OP's budget, considerably more expensive than anything I suggested. Curious why your comment would only be directed at me?
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post #23 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 06:58 AM
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post #24 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 12:15 PM
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If you could up your budget by just $50, these might fill these bill very nicely. http://www.theaudioinsider.com/product_info.php?p=swan-d2-1se%2B-stand-monitor&products_id=69&osCsid=cf589967f1fe8cfeffccf7ecfa81256c

They bested the Sierra Ones overall a few years back in level-matched, double blind head to head comparison by a panel. http://www.affordableaudio.org/aa2007-10.pdf

They also have a cool looking set of stands of stands to go with them for for $119. http://www.theaudioinsider.com/product_info.php?p=d-stands&products_id=44&osCsid=cf589967f1fe8cfeffccf7ecfa81256c I use a set of these stands for my Boston Acoustics VS260s.
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post #25 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

If you could up your budget by just $50, these might fill these bill very nicely. http://www.theaudioinsider.com/product_info.php?p=swan-d2-1se%2B-stand-monitor&products_id=69&osCsid=cf589967f1fe8cfeffccf7ecfa81256c

They bested the Sierra Ones overall a few years back in level-matched, double blind head to head comparison by a panel.

They also have a cool looking set of stands of stands to go with them for for $119. I use a set of these stands for my Boston Acoustics VS260s.

yea but its extra 300 for the maple finish...that price is for black. then you have to buy stands, so its significantly more coin. I will agree that there are better speakers than polk for those willing to spend the money, but not much will touch them in the 500.00 range.
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post #26 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 12:29 PM
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yea but its extra 300 for the maple finish...that price is for black. then you have to buy stands, so its significantly more coin. I will agree that there are better speakers than polk for those willing to spend the money, but not much will touch them in the 500.00 range.

So where did the OP say anything about they had to be maple? I just saw where he said that they can't be both floorstanding and black, which I interpreted as they could be black just so long as they weren't floorstanders. And of course, any bookshelf will likely need stands.

These Swans will literally smoke any Polks mentioned in this thread in terms of sound quality by a pretty wide margin (IMO of course).

Plus, I've personally heard these speakers before, and I can atest that they don't necessarily need a sub for music, even in a larger room
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post #27 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 01:20 PM
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Yeah, the no black rule only applies to floor standers. Easy to miss/forget.

... As I mentioned earlier this thread has a slightly more complex set of criteria than most wink.gif
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post #28 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 01:48 PM
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Yeah, the no black rule only applies to floor standers. Easy to miss/forget.

... As I mentioned earlier this thread has a slightly more complex set of criteria than most wink.gif

oh yea no worries...i have over looked details many times. the window of selection is definately narrow to meet the op's criteria.
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post #29 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

So where did the OP say anything about they had to be maple? I just saw where he said that they can't be both floorstanding and black, which I interpreted as they could be black just so long as they weren't floorstanders. And of course, any bookshelf will likely need stands.

These Swans will literally smoke any Polks mentioned in this thread in terms of sound quality by a pretty wide margin (IMO of course).

Plus, I've personally heard these speakers before, and I can atest that they don't necessarily need a sub for music, even in a larger room

with the op not using a sub them bookshelf swans wont hold a candle to the polks floorstander bass output...I highly doubt they could match the output of the rti-a3 bookshelf. please show me a graph of your swans extending to 30hz?
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post #30 of 81 Old 06-16-2013, 04:43 PM
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did you purchase them from high def lifestyle. if so how was the service and shipping?

I did. Service was near flawless. I live about an hour and a half their store but I ended up ordering through ebay from them. I had them at my house about 30 hours after placing my order.


I know everyone's ears are different and sure their are better speakers out there but I think one would be hard pressed to find a better floor standing speaker for under 500 bucks.
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