Bookshelf speakers for a small room - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-09-2014, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Bookshelf speakers for a small room

I'm looking to upgrade my speaker system, which is currently a JVC 5.1 system with 3" woofers and no tweeters at all in the satellites. The room is fairly small, about 11x14 (open to a kitchen/dining area, 11x27 overall). As you can see from the photos, the area available for front speakers is limited by the door and the HVAC unit. There's about 28 cm/11" of space on either side of the TV. So what I'm looking for is something compact in the $600-700 range.

For pretty much any centre speaker there's no room in front of the TV - the stand doesn't have room either on top or inside. There's also not enough room for speaker stands on either side of the setup. I'd like to mount the TV on the wall, which would free up space on the TV stand, but I rent so I don't know if I can do that - it's something I'm looking into. Another option would be to get a new stand that would accommodate a centre channel better. Suggestions on how everything is arranged would be welcome.

I've read rave reviews about the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR and its matching speakers, and I could get the whole 5.1 system for under $600. But they seem quite bulky, especially if two of them are used as surrounds. I'm in Canada, and right now Future Shop has a good deal on Energy CB10 bookshelf speakers. They're more compact than the Pioneers and have bigger drivers. I can get them for $180/pair compared to $140 for the Pioneers. Any other ideas? I'm happy to buy second hand speakers if that would get me better value.

Finally, is the quality of the surround speakers as important as the main speakers? For those speakers the smaller the better.
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-09-2014, 12:15 PM
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That's not a bad price for the CB-10s.

PSB and Paradigm are both Canadian companies that make excellent speakers, and you may have good luck picking up some of their speakers used. Nothing wrong with buying 8 or 10 year old passive speakers as long as they still work well. You would get plenty more years of use. This could definitely be the best way to end up with the best system. I would take entry level PSB and Paradigms over the Energy CB series and the Pioneers. Since PSB and Paradigm are very popular globally, you should have no problem finding reviews and other information about their older models. There are owners threads for both brands where you could ask questions about the speakers you find: Paradigm Owners Thread and PSB Speakers Owners thread

The one disadvantage of going used for 2 speakers is that it might be hard to pick up the matching center channel later (see item 2 in the Basic Speaker Setup FAQ).
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Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-10-2014, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. I've been looking into both brands and there are definitely some second hand deals to be had. Here's a pair of PSB Alphas that are practically free. Finding an Alpha C1 centre to match shouldn't be too difficult and should give me plenty left over for a good sub.

A proper set of bookshelf speakers should work fine if I mount my TV a bit higher, but for the surrounds I still want to get something as small as possible. How would a pair of Energy Take20 surrounds work with the rest of the system? Future Shop has them on for $99.

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post #4 of 12 Old 08-10-2014, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mister f View Post
A proper set of bookshelf speakers should work fine if I mount my TV a bit higher, but for the surrounds I still want to get something as small as possible. How would a pair of Energy Take20 surrounds work with the rest of the system? Future Shop has them on for $99.
What make/model receiver do you have? Some very entry level receivers only allow setting one crossover for all speakers. Since the low frequency roll off is so high on those, it would negatively effect how you would have to integrate your sub with larger speakers in that instance.

Otherwise, they are decent for small satellites.

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post #5 of 12 Old 08-10-2014, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post
What make/model receiver do you have? Some very entry level receivers only allow setting one crossover for all speakers. Since the low frequency roll off is so high on those, it would negatively effect how you would have to integrate your sub with larger speakers in that instance.

Otherwise, they are decent for small satellites.
I have a Pioneer VSX-520, which is an entry level receiver and as far as I can tell has only one crossover setting for all speakers. That said, I'm planning on upgrading my receiver in the next six months or so. I have my eye on the Denon AVR-S700W. I'm in no hurry though, it's a brand new model and I'll probably wait for a Boxing Day sale. I can live with a 3.1 system until then.
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-10-2014, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay so I've been looking on Kijiji and Craigslist and there's quite a few of the original PSB Alpha speakers - the ones with 6.5" woofers in the bookshelves. That means that they're from 1997 at least. One seller is offering a full 5.1 system with a 10" subzero sub for $375. I haven't seen (or heard) them but they seem to be in good shape. Is there any reason to avoid speakers that are 15-20 years old? I've heard that smog and humidity can damage speakers over time, and of course Toronto has both.

I can get new Alpha B1 pair and the matching centre for $450 at this store. Add in a used sub and small satellites for the rears and I'd be looking at around $700. I'm inclined to pick up the used system, but the price difference isn't that much for new speakers that have had a couple decades of refinement. I'm torn!
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-10-2014, 09:14 PM
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JBL LSR 308's seem to be getting very good reviews for $200 speakers. Not sure if they'd work for your application, but the value is worthy of consideration.
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-11-2014, 05:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mister f View Post
Okay so I've been looking on Kijiji and Craigslist and there's quite a few of the original PSB Alpha speakers - the ones with 6.5" woofers in the bookshelves. That means that they're from 1997 at least. One seller is offering a full 5.1 system with a 10" subzero sub for $375. I haven't seen (or heard) them but they seem to be in good shape. Is there any reason to avoid speakers that are 15-20 years old? I've heard that smog and humidity can damage speakers over time, and of course Toronto has both.

I can get new Alpha B1 pair and the matching centre for $450 at this store. Add in a used sub and small satellites for the rears and I'd be looking at around $700. I'm inclined to pick up the used system, but the price difference isn't that much for new speakers that have had a couple decades of refinement. I'm torn!
I would start with a 2.1 system, and just get the PSB Image B5 instead. It is a nice step up in sound quality, and this gives you time to figure out your TV situation. Later on pick up the Image C5 and you can use your current speakers for surrounds. You should have an easier time finding the Image series used as they are more popular.

If you can swing it, pick up an SVS SB-1000 sub, it is compact and has excellent sound quality, good for an apartment. SVS ships to Canada and you would have a nice starter system that you can expand later.

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post #9 of 12 Old 08-16-2014, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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I ended up getting a set of 4 used PSB Alpha B1 speakers and the C1 centre. The guy threw in a couple stands and wall mounts too. They sound amazing even though I don't have them properly set up yet. I'll probably sell two of them and use something smaller for rears. I haven't done much research into subwoofers yet but that's the next piece of the puzzle.

As for mounting the TV, I ordered a BestMounts Best-67 tilting mount, snaptoggles to secure it and an in-wall cable/power kit. I'll be using 4 bolts in the steel studs and 4 more into the drywall. Turns out the BestMounts distribution centre is a few blocks from my building.
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-03-2014, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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So in my adventures in used speaker shopping, I've ended up with two sets of speakers: the PSB Alphas and the Energy e:XL-15 plus e:XL-C centre. The Energys were an absolute steal - the guy who sold me a subwoofer threw them in for basically nothing. Both have similar specs, but the Energys have slightly larger woofers (5.5 vs 5.25") with the exception of the centre, which has 4.5". The Energys also go deeper, at least on paper, to 60 Hz compared to 65. But they're older, by probably a decade or so.

In the time I've spent listening to both, the PSBs sound a little better to my decidedly non-audiophile ear. I didn't notice much of a difference in movies, but I did once I put on music (Awolnation). They just sound a bit more...full I guess. And the high end sounded a bit better too.

I'll no doubt spend some time with both to decide which I like better, but does anyone have any wisdom to share? The subwoofer is an Energy S8.2. So far I'm leaning towards keeping the Alphas but I'm keeping an open mind.
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post #11 of 12 Old 09-04-2014, 05:22 AM
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Whichever sounds better is what you should keep. I would probably save up for a new sub at some point, that Energy sub will be lost in anything but a small room.

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post #12 of 12 Old 09-06-2014, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post
I would start with a 2.1 system, and just get the PSB Image B5 instead. It is a nice step up in sound quality, and this gives you time to figure out your TV situation. Later on pick up the Image C5 and you can use your current speakers for surrounds. You should have an easier time finding the Image series used as they are more popular.
Oddly enough, I didn't find very many Image speakers used. Way more Alphas, mostly older models. All in all I'm very happy with the Alpha B1 speakers I ended up with. Maybe ignorance is bliss.

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Whichever sounds better is what you should keep. I would probably save up for a new sub at some point, that Energy sub will be lost in anything but a small room.
After some more listening I'm sticking with the PSBs. As for the subwoofer, it's a pretty small room and it doesn't feel lost at all to me. I actually have a 10" sub (Energy e:XL-S10). The problem is the size makes placement difficult. The only place I can really put it without blocking vents and doorways is under an end table, and that's about the deadest spot in the room for a subwoofer. The S8.2 is 6 inches narrower, which really opens up where I can put it. I don't "feel" it quite as much as the XL, but being in a condo I can live with that. Urban living does have its sacrifices.
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