Best Bookshelf speakers for a 3.1 setup in $400 to $700 range - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

 

Opening a new thread for Bookshelf recommendations. I have a large room 23*16*9 open to a kitchen around the same size. The kitchen is also open to a sun room 15*12*9 on one side. Most of the viewing listening is done about 10 ft away from the source. I am planning to buy a HSU VTF3 subwoofer.

 

Initially was planning to buy an S70 pair but I am now focusing only on Bookshelf speakers.

 

Some options that were suggested in other threads were ARX a2rx-c * 3 for LCR and HTD Level 3 setup.

 

a2rx-c as LCR looks interesting. I also wanted to explore other options before making a final decision.

 

What are some other speakers in the price range or is a2rx-c my best option? Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 11:52 AM
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im sure someone here would offer these as a suggestion, they have been getting good write ups here.

http://www.amazon.com/JBL-Studio-530-Bookshelf-Loudspeakers/dp/B00622STI0/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1390333415&sr=1-1&keywords=jbl+530

http://www.amazon.com/JBL-Studio-520CBK-Channel-Speaker/dp/B00622SUHK/ref=pd_bxgy_e_text_y
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post #3 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 11:56 AM
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+1
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post #4 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 12:07 PM
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the HTD Level Three's are nice. i havent heard the Arx but i wouldnt also hesitate buying them and trying them out.
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post #5 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 12:26 PM
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I have not listened to the Arx - however, I have owned the HTD Level Three - I own
the JBL Studio 530, and consider them a clear step above the Level Three.

However the Level Three are still good, and better than some name brand popular
speakers out there.
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post #6 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 01:41 PM
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NHT currently have their Classic Two's on sale for $200ea, this would be a good choice also but I haven't heard the others listed to make a good comparison.
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post #7 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 01:45 PM
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I have owned the Classic Two, and they are nice - however, I still prefer the
JBL Studio 530

NHT is still a nice option
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post #8 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 04:13 PM
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+1 for the ARX's.

I've been 30 feet away from them and slightly to the side, and they fill the room beautifully. It sounded like 5 speakers were in the room, when there were only 2. tongue.gif
I've owned more expensive speakers that couldn't fill the room this beautifully. It was as if they were 10 feet away and a lot quieter, but in reality were 30 feet away and a bit louder, kind of like the air was pressurized perfectly with sound, even at such a distance.... if that makes any sense. biggrin.gif

You won't be disappointed. Good luck on your decision.
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post #9 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 04:33 PM
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i know looks are not all that important, at least for me but out of the speakers listed the HTD's use a real veneer and their cherry finish that is absolutely beautiful.
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post #10 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 05:39 PM
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I have to recommend the JBL 530 as I have chosen them above the NHT Classic Three and a host of others. That is not to say the Classic Three is a lesser speaker but the JBLs are roughly similar caliber speakers. The NHT is much more expensive of the two and has more attractive finish. I prefer the sound of the JBL on most music and I paid hundreds less for it. If I could have a redo I would have bought two or three pairs of the JBL at the sale price I got.

The Studio 530 is only available in pairs so you would need to be thinking in terms of a pair plus a dedicated center with the JBL for the front stage. I was only looking to use mine for music. I am not nearly as demanding for Home Theater.

The Arx A2rx-c center / LCR loudspeaker is an attractive option from a price point for the 3 speaker front stage. The drawback to all bookshelves is that unless you have suitable stands the pricing advantage is a bit overstated. I actually have my JBLs sitting on top of Pioneer towers temporarily until more appropriate stands arrive. Actually a good set of stands and bookshelves may not be much cheaper than some towers. This is a bedroom and the Andrew Jones 2nd gen Pioneers will go back to their occasional use for bedroom Home Theater duty once my stands for the JBLs arrive.

Do not rule out the Ascend CBM170SE at $299 a pair. They come in for almost universal praise.. Were they available at brick and mortar stores at their price point they would take big chunks out of everyone's market share. Even Ascend has a hard time competing with it entry level product. They(Ascend) keep building more and more sophisticated and expensive speakers but the 170SE makes you question the value proposition on the rest of the line. They are very good audio bang for the buck but the build quality is only adequate.

It is an odd thing that we all want to discover the next great cheap speaker. Some of us kind of know how good the entry level Ascends are and yet we don't seem to want own them. I count myself in that camp.

My brother has a pair of the Ascend CBM170SE bookshelves, he also has a pair of Definitive Studio Monitor 450s which is another pretty decent bookshelf that had been as low as $299 a pair at Newegg until just recently. Both are very good speakers at the $300 price point. I would not be in the least surprised if Ascend had plans to kill off the 170SE for being too good a speaker for the money. People beat a path to their door over the 170 and the 340SEs and Ascend is moving heaven and earth to get those customers fixated and upgraded to something more expensive. It seems to me they don't want to be selling $300 a pair bookshelves when they can be selling lot of speakers at $1K - $2K a pair.
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post #11 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I agree. The Level 3's do look good in the pictures. I'm going to price some of the options mentioned above and put them up here. Thanks for all the suggestions.

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post #12 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb903369 View Post

I agree. The Level 3's do look good in the pictures. I'm going to price some of the options mentioned above and put them up here. Thanks for all the suggestions.

the pictures really dont do them justice, people have been turned off by those cartoonish pics.
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post #13 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
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JBL Studio 530 pair+520CBK(free shipping)  $     760.00
Boston E60(3 @ $250 each)+$62 shipping  $     812.00
Arx2c(3@$229) + Shipping????  $     687.00
Arx2c(1@$229) + A1b(pair @$299) Shipping????  $     528.00
HTD Level 3 (pair @$299)+ center(@$199)+shipping???  $     498.00
Cambridge S30(2@199) +S50($179)(free shipping)  $     378.00
HVL- 1  Wavecrest   $     335.00
NHT Classic 3 3 @ 449  $  1,349.00
NHT Classic 2 3 @ 329  $     990.00
CMT 340SE(@$298)+CBM170($298 pair)+$50 shipping  $     646.00

 

I included Cambridge S30 as they were highly recommended by zieglj01 in other threads. Same with HVL -1  and Boston E60 even though they are outside the range mentioned in the title. I didn't see the sale on NHT Classic 2's as mentioned above. Maybe on a different website? 

 

I have it narrowed down to Arx2c+ 2 A1b's or JBL 530s or CMT340SE+170s for now.

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post #14 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 08:38 PM
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E60's, definitely an underrated speaker and a pleasant bookshelf to listen to. I have them in my office doing near-field duty on the desk. Only a few exist on amazon, then they will officially be extinct wink.gif Too bad they aren't the cherry red ones.... the finish was so nice and shiny rolleyes.gif
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post #15 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 08:46 PM
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Just a correction, the 340SE's are $568/pr, the 170SE are $298/pr. And if you do order this week, the Classic Two's are $200/ea.

Nice speakers all over that list though, I've seen pics of the dark cherry HTD's and they do look sharp.
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post #16 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb903369 View Post



















































JBL Studio 530 pair+520CBK(free shipping)  $     760.00
Boston E60(3 @ $250 each)+$62 shipping  $     812.00
Arx2c(3@$229) + Shipping????  $     687.00
Arx2c(1@$229) + A1b(pair @$299) Shipping????  $     528.00
HTD Level 3 (pair @$299)+ center(@$199)+shipping???  $     498.00
Cambridge S30(2@199) +S50($179)(free shipping)  $     378.00
HVL- 1  Wavecrest   $     335.00
NHT Classic 3 3 @ 449  $  1,349.00
NHT Classic 2 3 @ 329  $     990.00
CMT 340SE(@$298)+CBM170($298 pair)+$50 shipping  $     646.00


I included Cambridge S30 as they were highly recommended by zieglj01 in other threads. Same with HVL -1  and Boston E60 even though they are outside the range mentioned in the title. I didn't see the sale on NHT Classic 2's as mentioned above. Maybe on a different website? 

I have it narrowed down to Arx2c+ 2 A1b's or JBL 530s or CMT340SE+170s for now.

Great list. It seems it is time to audition now. wink.gif

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post #17 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtgray View Post

I have to recommend the JBL 530 as I have chosen them above the NHT Classic Three and a host of others. That is not to say the Classic Three is a lesser speaker but the JBLs are roughly similar caliber speakers. The NHT is much more expensive of the two and has more attractive finish. I prefer the sound of the JBL on most music and I paid hundreds less for it. If I could have a redo I would have bought two or three pairs of the JBL at the sale price I got.

The Studio 530 is only available in pairs so you would need to be thinking in terms of a pair plus a dedicated center with the JBL for the front stage. I was only looking to use mine for music. I am not nearly as demanding for Home Theater.

The Arx A2rx-c center / LCR loudspeaker is an attractive option from a price point for the 3 speaker front stage. The drawback to all bookshelves is that unless you have suitable stands the pricing advantage is a bit overstated. I actually have my JBLs sitting on top of Pioneer towers temporarily until more appropriate stands arrive. Actually a good set of stands and bookshelves may not be much cheaper than some towers. This is a bedroom and the Andrew Jones 2nd gen Pioneers will go back to their occasional use for bedroom Home Theater duty once my stands for the JBLs arrive.

Do not rule out the Ascend CBM170SE at $299 a pair. They come in for almost universal praise.. Were they available at brick and mortar stores at their price point they would take big chunks out of everyone's market share. Even Ascend has a hard time competing with it entry level product. They(Ascend) keep building more and more sophisticated and expensive speakers but the 170SE makes you question the value proposition on the rest of the line. They are very good audio bang for the buck but the build quality is only adequate.

It is an odd thing that we all want to discover the next great cheap speaker. Some of us kind of know how good the entry level Ascends are and yet we don't seem to want own them. I count myself in that camp.

My brother has a pair of the Ascend CBM170SE bookshelves, he also has a pair of Definitive Studio Monitor 450s which is another pretty decent bookshelf that had been as low as $299 a pair at Newegg until just recently. Both are very good speakers at the $300 price point. I would not be in the least surprised if Ascend had plans to kill off the 170SE for being too good a speaker for the money. People beat a path to their door over the 170 and the 340SEs and Ascend is moving heaven and earth to get those customers fixated and upgraded to something more expensive. It seems to me they don't want to be selling $300 a pair bookshelves when they can be selling lot of speakers at $1K - $2K a pair.

Great points on the Ascend speakers. I imagine it does seem like they're trying to move into a different price bracket. However, the CBM-170SEs and CMT340SEs are also their "bread and butter" and they couldn't have gotten where they are or continue development without the large volume sales of these speakers (IMHO).

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post #18 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ien2 View Post

Just a correction, the 340SE's are $568/pr, the 170SE are $298/pr. And if you do order this week, the Classic Two's are $200/ea.

Nice speakers all over that list though, I've seen pics of the dark cherry HTD's and they do look sharp.

To the OP HTD maxes out shipping at $45

and here are a couple pics...


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post #19 of 45 Old 01-21-2014, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb903369 View Post



















































JBL Studio 530 pair+520CBK(free shipping)  $     760.00
Boston E60(3 @ $250 each)+$62 shipping  $     812.00
Arx2c(3@$229) + Shipping????  $     687.00
Arx2c(1@$229) + A1b(pair @$299) Shipping????  $     528.00
HTD Level 3 (pair @$299)+ center(@$199)+shipping???  $     498.00
Cambridge S30(2@199) +S50($179)(free shipping)  $     378.00
HVL- 1  Wavecrest   $     335.00
NHT Classic 3 3 @ 449  $  1,349.00
NHT Classic 2 3 @ 329  $     990.00
CMT 340SE(@$298)+CBM170($298 pair)+$50 shipping  $     646.00


I included Cambridge S30 as they were highly recommended by zieglj01 in other threads. Same with HVL -1  and Boston E60 even though they are outside the range mentioned in the title. I didn't see the sale on NHT Classic 2's as mentioned above. Maybe on a different website? 

I have it narrowed down to Arx2c+ 2 A1b's or JBL 530s or CMT340SE+170s for now.

HTD maxes out shipping at $45
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post #20 of 45 Old 01-22-2014, 03:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark62 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by pb903369 View Post



















































JBL Studio 530 pair+520CBK(free shipping)  $     760.00
Boston E60(3 @ $250 each)+$62 shipping  $     812.00
Arx2c(3@$229) + Shipping????  $     687.00
Arx2c(1@$229) + A1b(pair @$299) Shipping????  $     528.00
HTD Level 3 (pair @$299)+ center(@$199)+shipping???  $     498.00
Cambridge S30(2@199) +S50($179)(free shipping)  $     378.00
HVL- 1  Wavecrest   $     335.00
NHT Classic 3 3 @ 449  $  1,349.00
NHT Classic 2 3 @ 329  $     990.00
CMT 340SE(@$298)+CBM170($298 pair)+$50 shipping  $     646.00


I included Cambridge S30 as they were highly recommended by zieglj01 in other threads. Same with HVL -1  and Boston E60 even though they are outside the range mentioned in the title. I didn't see the sale on NHT Classic 2's as mentioned above. Maybe on a different website? 

I have it narrowed down to Arx2c+ 2 A1b's or JBL 530s or CMT340SE+170s for now.

HTD maxes out shipping at $45

The nht's are on sale directly from their site. http://www.nhthifi.com

I'm strongly considering the Two's(especially at the sale price). Only hold back is the accompanying center channel is expensive($450) eek.gif

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Regarding NHT

If you buy the twos on sale and want the center you may be able to e mail or call them to see if they will discount the center.

I bet they would
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post #22 of 45 Old 01-22-2014, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I am having a hard time making a decision. I want to get a pair of JBL530 now and the center later. But my setup is more for TV and movies(about 45% movies, 35% TV and 20% music) and as I mentioned, I have a large room(23*16*9) open to other areas just as large. Would the JBl's be loud enough? How about the Ascend 170's. From what I have read, the HTDs will be fine.

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post #23 of 45 Old 01-22-2014, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb903369 View Post

I am having a hard time making a decision. I want to get a pair of JBL530 now and the center later. But my setup is more for TV and movies(about 45% movies, 35% TV and 20% music) and as I mentioned, I have a large room(23*16*9) open to other areas just as large. Would the JBl's be loud enough? How about the Ascend 170's. From what I have read, the HTDs will be fine.

You will be sitting 10 ft from the source, and will be using an HSU sub - the JBL will get loud.
They are not hard to drive.

The HTD will sound a little bigger and is a little more sensitive - however not by much - the JBL
will be more clean/transparent, smooth, and refined with sharper dynamics.>> The JBL is more
tight, cohesive and articulate. The JBL will hold up better with more power. > I can play JBL in a
bigger room than yours.

HTD is still not a bad speaker - I can not speak for Ascend, and I will not speculate - however,
I am confident that they are a nice speaker.

Your call
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post #24 of 45 Old 01-22-2014, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb903369 View Post

I am having a hard time making a decision. I want to get a pair of JBL530 now and the center later. But my setup is more for TV and movies(about 45% movies, 35% TV and 20% music) and as I mentioned, I have a large room(23*16*9) open to other areas just as large. Would the JBl's be loud enough? How about the Ascend 170's. From what I have read, the HTDs will be fine.

I have the HTD Level Two Towers, center, bookshelves, and had the Levels Three bookshelves, my room is about the same size as yours but i sit a little closer that you do, but at -10 on my receiver they are plenty loud.

I have had higher end gear in the past and i will say that the HTD's more than hold their own.

i have not heard the JBL's or Ascends but I'm sure they are fine speakers. it is all subjective in the end.
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post #25 of 45 Old 01-23-2014, 10:53 AM
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+1 You really can't go wrong with the HTD, JBL or Ascend speakers mentioned so far. (The potential downside to the Boston E60 is it's end-of-life, so things like warranties, expansion or repairs are difficult.)
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post #26 of 45 Old 01-23-2014, 11:25 AM
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I don't think speakers are like subs where you need huge speakers because your room opens up to other rooms, I think it is more about how far your listening position is from the speakers? Correct me if I am wrong. I have a very similar thread to yours with a very similar budget, I am looking to also include surrounds. I currently have Polk RTiA5 towers up front...well not really, they are boxed up and I never opened them but the way my room will be configured, there will be hardly any room for them so now I am looking at bookshelves.

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Quote:
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I have the HTD Level Two Towers, center, bookshelves, and had the Levels Three bookshelves, my room is about the same size as yours but i sit a little closer that you do, but at -10 on my receiver they are plenty loud.

I have had higher end gear in the past and i will say that the HTD's more than hold their own.

i have not heard the JBL's or Ascends but I'm sure they are fine speakers. it is all subjective in the end.

 

Why did you replace the Level 3 bookshelf speakers? Did you replace them with the Level 2 towers?

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post #28 of 45 Old 01-23-2014, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by PolishDude View Post

Why did you replace the Level 3 bookshelf speakers? Did you replace them with the Level 2 towers?

basically they were having an issue with the tweeters, that is resolved now but i didnt want to wait for them to fix the issue. the Level threes are a little more refined in the highs than the twos but both are fine speakers. I did get the L2 towers.
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post #29 of 45 Old 01-23-2014, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by pb903369 View Post

Hi,


What are some other speakers in the price range or is a2rx-c my best option? Thanks in advance.


The cambridge aero 2's bookshelves that are $499 a pair - one of the most incredible speakers i have heard ever - in this price category

the use a 3rd generation balanced mode radiator (bmr) for the highs - this speaker just sounds so right

there is no midbass - just a woofer to handle the lows (bmr handles the highs and the mids)

i have had almost 2 months and so impressed with what this speaker does in terms of clarity, insight and non-fatiguing

its not so sweet spot dependent either
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post #30 of 45 Old 01-23-2014, 02:09 PM
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