Bookshelf speaker recommendation for $400 budget for the pair in a 2 channel setup for music - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all, I'm looking to put together a simple 2 channel system for listening to music in my apartment living room, which is 12x20 feet.

I think i've already settled on the Emotiva mini-X a-100 as the amplifier. I will be playing mostly 2 channel audio from a digital source like computer and mp3 player, but have plans for adding a turntable/vinyl in the future as well. Now I just need to pick out some speakers.

I have a budget of about $400 max for the pair. My plan is to get a pair of bookshelf speakers that i can place on stands that will sound good by themselves right now, and then maybe 6 months to 1 year down the road add a subwoofer to to round out the bottom end. I've looked at the Arx A1b, as well as the Axiom M2v3 and M3v3, as these all seem to keep popping up in budget conscious threads, but am definitely open to any suggestions. The axiom m3 seemed more appropriate to me because of the larger driver, but i never seem to see that one recommended, only the smaller m2?

My main concern is finding a pair that will sound great on its own, specifically the bass response, as it could be a while before I add a sub, or possibly forego the sub all together (though that's not likely).

In addition, a faux wood grain finish would be a definite plus (real wood is not possible at this price point is it?), as aesthetics is a concern... as reference point i think the Arx A1b's are not very attractive at all.

Also I think it is worth noting that I currently tend to listen to a lot of electronic based music, but I do appreciate balanced sound. I would hope for speakers that could excel at this type of music but be equally at home playing something like Jack White's new album.

One last bit of info. This system will be an upgrade over one of those $80 5.1 in a box systems from logitech they sell to connect to your computer. The satellite speakers are all plastic enclosures, lack tweeters, and the 6 inch sub is loud enough, but way too boomy and draws attention to itself. I've had that for the last 5 years and want a more mature looking and sounding system.

So, am i on the right track with the axioms or Arx, or can you recommend some that I'm missing completely?

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 11:26 AM
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Well you are going to be hard pressed to find a bookshelf with good bass response for that price. But if you are adding a sub later, they will do a decent job until then, especially since this is only for music.

Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 ($450 but worth it over the 10.1)
Focal Chorus 705V
Polk LSi7 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/PAIR-LSi7-EBONY-Bookshelf-Loudspeakers-Polk-Audio-/390426100204?pt=Speakers_Subwoofers&hash=item5ae73581ec) These are being replaced by the newer LSiM line, but when given good power they sound wonderful. This would take advantage of your Emotiva's 4ohm support.

These are a few off the top of my head, I would lean towards the Polks myself, but YMMV.

Edit: If you can hunt down a pair of Energy RC-10, they are fantastic speakers with good bass performance, and were offered in a very nice cherry finish.

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post #3 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 11:29 AM
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If gently-used is an option:
- Paradigm Monitor 3 v3 or v4; or
- Paradigm Mini Monitor v1-v4.

If "large bookshelf" is also an option:
- Paradigm 5se MkII; or
- Paradigm 7se.
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post #4 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Well you are going to be hard pressed to find a bookshelf with good bass response for that price. But if you are adding a sub later, they will do a decent job until then, especially since this is only for music.
[...]
These are a few off the top of my head, I would lean towards the Polks myself, but YMMV.

I kind of figured 'good bass response' would be impossible with a bookshelf and at this price range, but as you picked up on I'm really looking for something that will still be nice to listen to until i do add a sub.

Also, what are the reasons you would lean towards the polks yourself? Is it simply a matter of value since the refurb price on ebay is significantly discounted?
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post #5 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jps1107 View Post

HiI've looked at the Arx A1b, as well as the Axiom M2v3 and M3v3, as these all seem to keep popping up in budget conscious threads, but am definitely open to any suggestions. The axiom m3 seemed more appropriate to me because of the larger driver, but i never seem to see that one recommended, only the smaller m2?

My main concern is finding a pair that will sound great on its own, specifically the bass response, as it could be a while before I add a sub, or possibly forego the sub all together (though that's not likely).

In addition, a faux wood grain finish would be a definite plus (real wood is not possible at this price point is it?), as aesthetics is a concern... as reference point i think the Arx A1b's are not very attractive at all.

So, am i on the right track with the axioms or Arx, or can you recommend some that I'm missing completely?

Well out of the Arx A1b, Axiom M2, Axiom M3 and Axiom M22 the Arx A1b has them all beat on deep bass extension. The Axiom M3 has a huge midbass hump at 100hrz to give the impression of bass but its not actually deep bass it rolls off at around 80hrz. The Arx A1b is flat and doesn't begin to roll off till 50hrz and has useful bass into the 40hrz. The A1b actually has deeper bass than the Ascend Acoustics 170SE and the HSU HB1 Mk 2 bookshelfs and those are also 6.5" woofers.

Finish is very similar on the Arx and the Axioms but the Arx is a much larger cabinet than the M2 or M3.








Thats the Axiom M2 and the older smaller Arx A1 the current A1b is about 4" deeper than the one pictured and a few inches taller.
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post #6 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 12:02 PM
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The LSi line is known for the tweeter, which produces a very dynamic and detailed sound, with great imaging. I have heard the LSi9 (the bigger brother) and they really do sound fantastic. Surprisingly good bass, and they are well built at 21lbs each... The only drawback to them is they are 4ohm speakers, with an 88dB sensitivity, so they really command a good deal of power to sound good. That Emotiva amp though is rated for 4ohms, and should provide ample power to drive them, and considering you are in an apartment, I can't imagine you will require any more power.

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post #7 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 12:25 PM
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+1 on the LSi. Great performers, excellent build quality and beautiful finish.

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post #8 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 12:45 PM
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I have usable output down to around 40Hz with my Wharfedale Diamond 10.2's. I can actually hear down to around 35Hz, but anything below 38Hz is just too distorted for my tastes.

Great bass, mids, and highs with the Diamond 10.2's. They are quite large though. Beautiful finish as well.

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post #9 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 01:55 PM
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The Wharfedale 10.1s have a fair amount of bass to get you by if you're considering a subwoofer. The 10.2s have a little more bass. Can't go wrong with either for the money.
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post #10 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 02:15 PM
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Another vote for the LSi. Really great sounding speaker line (I have the LSi25s) and are an excellent value at the current closeout prices.
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post #11 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 02:19 PM
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I will second that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Webomatic View Post

The Wharfedale 10.1s have a fair amount of bass to get you by if you're considering a subwoofer. The 10.2s have a little more bass. Can't go wrong with either for the money.

Almost as good, and for a ridiculously low price, are the Pioneer BS-22 speakers (only $103 per pair at Amazon).

See the review in this month's issue of Stereophile.
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post #12 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 02:37 PM
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http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882325060

This is a good deal but I have seen them cheaper, here.

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post #13 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 04:24 PM
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The sm450s are very good! However, I got them for right around 200 dollars/pr last year.

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post #14 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 04:40 PM
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post #15 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 04:41 PM
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If you can stretch the budget a little I would take a look at the Cambridge Audio S70 towers at $500 with free shipping and 60 day trial from Crutchfield.

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_779S70DO/Cambridge-Audio-S70-Dark-oak.html

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post #16 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 08:57 PM
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You can get very good bass output from bookshelves. Both the Polks and PSB B6s would be great choices. When I had the B6s I was never impressed with the low end until I put a good amp on them... after that they were a fantastic performer.
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post #17 of 83 Old 06-17-2013, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jps1107 View Post

I think i've already settled on the Emotiva mini-X a-100 as the amplifier. I will be playing mostly 2 channel audio from a digital source like computer and mp3 player, but have plans for adding a turntable/vinyl in the future as well. Now I just need to pick out some speakers.

Have you considered that the mini-X will need a preamp to be used with multiple sources as input? Unless you are restricted on size, a budget AVR could be a better option for adding onto in the future. Or, if you are determined to get a 2 channel device, check into the HK 3390 which has phono inputs as well.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
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post #18 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 07:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Have you considered that the mini-X will need a preamp to be used with multiple sources as input? Unless you are restricted on size, a budget AVR could be a better option for adding onto in the future. Or, if you are determined to get a 2 channel device, check into the HK 3390 which has phono inputs as well.

I have considered this, and correct me if my thinking on this is wrong, but I liked the simplicity of one quality two channel amp, that I will only have one source connected to 90% of the time. As far as the phone inputs, for my future turntable, I was looking at the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB which has a built in pre-amp. Simplicity and quality was my aim with the emotiva.
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post #19 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 07:58 AM
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Another option for a compact 2-channel amp is the Parasound Zamp v.3, they offer a whole matching line so you could add a pre-amp/DAC/CD player, just food for thought.

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post #20 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 08:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Everyone, thank you very much for all the recommendations!

After taking everyone's advice, I've narrowed it down. I'm now trying to decide between the Polk Lsi7 and the Wharfedale Diamond 10.x. Haven't decided which of either the 10.1 or the 10.2 if i were to go that route. I must admit I like the looks of the wharfedale diamonds better than the polk, but i'm not going to let looks be the deciding factor on something i'm looking at with my ears. I know the lsi7 is probably the best bang for the buck because of the closeout prices, having a much higher msrp than the others.

diamond 10.1 is $350
lsi7 is $400 for the black enclosure refurb on ebay
diamond 10.2 is $450
and the lsi7 cherry cabinet (which i prefer) brand new for $500 on ebay.

I am willing to push the budget to 450, but not 500, that kind of eliminates the better looking of the two lsi7.

That was mostly just me thinking out loud, but I do have a few remaining questions. Would the choice be different if i was never going to add a subwoofer to my system? To me the lsi7 seems like the winner, it's a higher end product, and saves me some money to use towards a sub in the future. But if I decided to never add a sub, would i be better off spending an extra 50 and getting the diamond 10.2 with the larger driver? Does the diamond 10.2 necessarily even have more bass than the lsi7 just because it has a larger driver?

Thanks.

Edit: I guess i forgot about the axiom m2's as well, they are still the cheapest of any of these. Should i forget about them? are the Diamond 10.1's better speakers?
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post #21 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 08:25 AM
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Well the Wharfedale according to it's specs will dig a little deeper, but you will really benefit from a sub with your music taste. It's hard to say how the bass performance compares, the Polks are 6 pounds heavier and the cabinet is slightly smaller. You could read some reviews and try to make a decision, I have never heard the Wharfedales though so I can't do much more than look at specs.

You would be better with towers in 2.0 if you didn't want a sub.

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post #22 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 08:57 AM
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Consider planning for the longer term, a subwoofer doesn't have to be added on day 1. The only concern I might have with your proposed path is the choice of amplifier. While it's debatable just how much power you need you are limiting yourself, and agree with cel that an AVR might be the better choice. I know the Polks like power.

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post #23 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Well the Wharfedale according to it's specs will dig a little deeper, but you will really benefit from a sub with your music taste.

I definitely agree, and will be adding a sub in the future, it was just a hypothetical question. I just rethought my motive for asking that, and I think what I really wanted to know was something different. I guess I'm curious if a 5.25" driver would blend better with a sub than a 6.5" driver. In other words, would the 5.25 give me a clearer/more precise sound at the expense of some bass (which i would later be adding in)? I understand this may not be a straightforward question to answer as not all drivers are created equal. This is completely conjecture but my intuition tells me a smaller driver would be tighter sounding (a good thing right?), especially if i was using a crossover and wasn't sending lower frequencies to the speaker. Or is this incorrect thinking? Is bigger always better?
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post #24 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 09:06 AM
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I wouldn't put much stake in the driver size, there are some small speakers like the Cambridge Audio S30 that produce a lot of bass; It depends on the speaker.

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post #25 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 09:16 AM
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Ever consider used? You can often score a heckuva speaker for $500/pr.
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post #26 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jps1107 View Post

I definitely agree, and will be adding a sub in the future, it was just a hypothetical question. I just rethought my motive for asking that, and I think what I really wanted to know was something different. I guess I'm curious if a 5.25" driver would blend better with a sub than a 6.5" driver. In other words, would the 5.25 give me a clearer/more precise sound at the expense of some bass (which i would later be adding in)? I understand this may not be a straightforward question to answer as not all drivers are created equal. This is completely conjecture but my intuition tells me a smaller driver would be tighter sounding (a good thing right?), especially if i was using a crossover and wasn't sending lower frequencies to the speaker. Or is this incorrect thinking? Is bigger always better?

There isn't any hard and fast rule on this. I've heard smaller drivers go deeper than larger ones and vice versa. The differences usually come from cabinet design. The enclosure build quality makes more of a difference than driver size, all other things being equal.
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post #27 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jps1107 View Post

I definitely agree, and will be adding a sub in the future, it was just a hypothetical question. I just rethought my motive for asking that, and I think what I really wanted to know was something different. I guess I'm curious if a 5.25" driver would blend better with a sub than a 6.5" driver. In other words, would the 5.25 give me a clearer/more precise sound at the expense of some bass (which i would later be adding in)? I understand this may not be a straightforward question to answer as not all drivers are created equal. This is completely conjecture but my intuition tells me a smaller driver would be tighter sounding (a good thing right?), especially if i was using a crossover and wasn't sending lower frequencies to the speaker. Or is this incorrect thinking? Is bigger always better?

Don't let the size of the driver make your decision for you. I was dead set on larger bookshelves because I was convinced they would provide more bass. I would up buying speakers with a 5.25" driver that happened to put out much better bass than the other two speakers I tried with 6.5" drivers. Pick the ones the sound the best to your ears in your room on your setup.

I'll also chime in on the pre-amp decision. Consider looking for used integrated amps. I think the convenience of a remote and input switching is worth looking into. You can get used Rotel integrated amps (RA-9xxBX, for example) or something similar for the price point of that Emotiva. A friend of mine has one and it's a great amp. I don't believe this would "complicate" your setup at all.
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post #28 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jm86wvu View Post

Don't let the size of the driver make your decision for you. I was dead set on larger bookshelves because I was convinced they would provide more bass. I would up buying speakers with a 5.25" driver that happened to put out much better bass than the other two speakers I tried with 6.5" drivers. Pick the ones the sound the best to your ears in your room on your setup.

I'll also chime in on the pre-amp decision. Consider looking for used integrated amps. I think the convenience of a remote and input switching is worth looking into. You can get used Rotel integrated amps (RA-9xxBX, for example) or something similar for the price point of that Emotiva. A friend of mine has one and it's a great amp. I don't believe this would "complicate" your setup at all.

I would also throw in a vote for picking up an integrated if you can. I have an NAD C372 (that I'm going to be putting up for sale soon to go with separates) that I use with my LSi25s and it does a great job. There's lots of versatility and flexibility when you use something like an integrated (or a dedicated preamp) that you're losing otherwise.
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post #29 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 10:01 AM
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I regularly listen to my Diamond 10.2's in pure stereo mode. The overall output and sound quality is very impressive. The bass is very nice on it's own and does very well with non-bass heavy music. As I said earlier, I have very usable output with my 10.2's down to 40Hz, with output even further down than that if you want it.

Since the 10.2's have good output around 80Hz, they easily blend with a subwoofer. That can be said about pretty much every speaker you're looking at right now.

As others have said, you shouldn't really pay much attention to driver size, as that doesn't always determine the amount of bass a speaker will have.

To me, the 10.2's are the better choice for stereo listening. Rather 2.0 or 2.1, the 10.2's are said to have a smoother overall response over the 10.1's. The 10.2's, despite being larger, actually produce the cleaner, more crisp sound.

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post #30 of 83 Old 06-18-2013, 10:45 AM
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I'm going to throw out a suggestion.
Mordaunt Short Aviano 2

With good placement and your seating arrangement which really is quite easy to do I think these can sound better than some tower speakers.
These speakers have plenty of bass basically anything mixed properly and you'll get great bass Now a sub really only gives you the bass that is sub bass usually in rap or electronic music or movies with things like explosions.For most music a sub isn't needed.

I mention the Mordaunt Short Aviano 2 just because of what your asking for a good speaker without maybe the need of a sub for music.And they really sound good in any room.
I'm sure the Wharfedale Diamonds are great too those would also be a good choice.
Really though a good speaker is a good speaker. Some you might like better than others. But these HIFI shops a lot of time have horrible placement and some speakers can do better with that than others in that situation I'm sure some people would have picked a different speaker than what they did buy with better setup and positioning.

Mordaunt Short Aviano 2 can be bought for $309-$400 a pair finishes walnut,rosewood,black ash the original price was $695 a pair
Hideflifestyle.com
Dedicatedaudio.com
Audioadvisor.com
You can also get these from those dealers through amazon and ebay Prices are different with each dealer and with amazon and ebay

http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/inc/sdetail/25569/26156 here is 1 link for example

Musicdirect who sells wharfedale also has the Epos Epic on sale right now. Which is in your budget range.
Really a lot of good choices out there at your budget range.
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