Pros: Excellent tweeter renders smooth, detailed highs. Can be used without a subwoofer. Measures near flat, sound is uncolored.
Cons: Limited output without a subwoofer. Not the most exciting looking speaker. Relatively large considering the size of the drivers.
When on-sale, the Andrew Jones designed bookshelf costs $99/pair. Considering the quality of the drivers and the cabinet, it's amazing these speakers can be sold for a profit. I am a bit of a speaker hacker, and I had to see what the drivers in the BS22 were like. It's clear the Andrew Jones put a priority on generous magnets, because compared to a pair of Polk bookshelf speakers I also took apart, the Pioneers have gigantic magnets. There was no skimping on the parts that matter, and that includes the very solid, curved cabinet.
The woofer is rather small, measuring a mere 4" across. That doesn't impede its performance, so long as the speaker is not pushed to deliver club-level volume with dubstep. At moderate listening levels the output is full-range and very satisfying. With a little care in placement, the BS22 produces a nice holographic soundstage, with precise instrument placement and a sense of depth that belies their relatively small size, and undeniably small price.
The one-inch dome tweeter is slightly recessed in a metal waveguide. The tweeter itself is precisely machined, and is capable of tremendous output—after all it is the same tweeter that is used on the SP-FS52 tower speaker. When the SP-BS22 is crossed-over with a subwoofer, its performance improves dramatically. Even using a 80Hz crossover allows the little Pioneer to sing like a Soprano. The tweeter does not break up or compress, even when pushed to irresponsible levels. This is a tremendously useful quality, because it means these speakers are a good choice for a surround-sound system. When used as part of a 5.1 or 7.1 system—consisting of either all BS22s or a mix along with the FS52 towers—the resulting system performs far above its modest price point.
My listening habits lean towards electronic music, dub, and hip-hop. In those genres, the BS22 does not disappoint, as long as it has a subwoofer's support. For movies, the precise imaging and the smooth, clear highs make for a very dynamic surround-sound experience. The soundfield becomes three-dimensional and has a tangible, believable quality to it that lesser bookshelf speakers cannot conjure.
When I first bought the overachieving Pioneer, I was so enthralled with the sound, I built up a new system with three pairs. I bought a fourth pair and powered them with a mini amp for use as near-field monitors, which is very pleasing and still in use today. Eventually I did replace two pairs of the BS22s in my main system with FS52s, but one pair of displaced BS22s became "front height" speakers, fully realizing the potential of my Pioneer Elite SC-55 receiver. Which brings me to another point—I bought my AVR based on my experience with the BS22, which really was like a gateway drug. Now my system has plenty of Pioneer in it, and I blame Andrew Jones' over-performing little bookshelf for starting that addiction.