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Best pair of compact speakers under $250

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
I need a pair of small bookshelf speakers for my bedroom. I'm willing to buy them used of ebay or wherever so they can be under $250 used, as long as it would be realistically possible to find them at that price. They will be used for watching movies/tv and listening to music. I havnt decided what receiver to pair them with yet. They will be part of a 2.1 setup, but I havnt decided on a sub yet.

Polk VM 10's didnt seem that bad and despite retailing for $650 on their website they can easily be found for $150. But I want the absolute best for the money so I'd like to know what you guys would recommend.
post #2 of 61
Craigslist is the best place for sneaky good deals, what area are you in?

For new I'd suggest PSB's Image B15 ($229 from Saturday Audio)

Here are my faves from audiogon: Wharfedale Diamond 9.2
NHT Classic 2
B&W 610i

Ron
post #3 of 61
Thread Starter 
I'm in the Wisconsin area, Eau Claire I think is the closest city Craigslist uses.
post #4 of 61
Also, Energy RC-10, usually slightly more but severely underpriced.

Ron
post #5 of 61
How compact do they need to be?

- Energy RC-10 - probably be tough to find them under $250, but might be able to find a used pair for that price. You just missed them on sale over 4th of July at WWStereo for $237 with a promo code

- Tweak City Audio WAF-1... $189 shipped. Note widely known, but very good for the price. There are some reviews of them around the forums, and they were reviewed in Affordable Audio online mag (and given a best of '09 award).
http://tweakcityaudio.com/index.php?...emart&Itemid=1

- PSB Image B15 that Ron mentioned.

If you need something smaller... PSB Image B4 are nice small speakers. They retail for $300, but if you find a dealer willing to negotiate you might get them to come down in price. Saturday Audio is a PSB dealer, so they might work with you on these if the B15 are too large.

Another nice small speaker is the Ascend HTM-200SE. You could get a b-stock pair from Ascend for around $250... but if you find them used you should be able to get them around $175ish and still in great shape.
post #6 of 61
Thread Starter 
I was actually looking for a something a bit smaller than most of the stuff I've seen so far.

And alphaiii most of the speakers you've offered seem to be almost in my price range new, I'd go the used route if I can get better speaker for the money.
post #7 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron52101 View Post

I was actually looking for a something a bit smaller than most of the stuff I've seen so far.

And alphaiii most of the speakers you've offered seem to be almost in my price range new, I'd go the used route if I can get better speaker for the money.

Are the Ascend HTM-200SE too big - 11"x6.5"x6.4"?

The PSB Image B4 is very compact, and I think a very nice small speaker. Problem is, they are fairly new and I have yet to see a used pair pop up for sale on ebay or Audiogon (although my pair may end up there if I can't sell my Mirage OMD-5's for a decent price).

Best bet would be to find a local PSB dealer and give them a listen. If you like them, negotiate on price. And check with Saturday Audio beforehand so you know what kind of deal they can offer. You could very well get them new in your price range if you haggle with a dealer a little.

Saturday Audio also had some B-stock pairs they were selling for $239/pr. And their website is advertising free shipping right now.
http://www.saturdayaudio.com/picture...psb_bstock.htm
post #8 of 61
Another option could be the Audioengine P4... $249 brand new. Onecall has them open box for less, with free shipping.
http://www.onecall.com/product/Audio...ker/_/R-100251

I haven't heard these though so I don't know how they sound, but they have a few positive reviews so far. Audioengine has a good reputation as well.
post #9 of 61
Thread Starter 
The Acends aren't bad I could see those working. I like the 3 way driver design. But like I said they are new and still in my price range. Do you know anything that retails for in the $300s that I might be able to buy used at a good deal and get a slightly better speaker?
post #10 of 61
Best speakers I have seen under $200 based on performance and measurements are the Behringer TRUTH B2031P speakers.

Of course maybe they are too big, If the Ascend HTM-200SE are too big?

I have had the Ascends, they are small and weak little speakers.
post #11 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray View Post

Best speakers I have seen under $200 based on performance and measurements are the Behringer TRUTH B2031P speakers.

Of course maybe they are too big, If the Ascend HTM-200SE are too big?

I have had the Ascends, they are small and weak little speakers.

But keep in mind, the OP is looking at something as small as the Polk VM-10.

So small and weak is relative.
post #12 of 61
Thread Starter 
Well at right about half my budget those speakers are affordable but I'd be willing to pay more.
post #13 of 61
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

But keep in mind, the OP is looking at something as small as the Polk VM-10.

So small and weak is relative.

Well not necessarly as small, but as compact as you can get while still having a good speaker under $250
post #14 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron52101 View Post

The Acends aren't bad I could see those working. I like the 3 way driver design. But like I said they are new and still in my price range. Do you know anything that retails for in the $300s that I might be able to buy used at a good deal and get a slightly better speaker?

The problem is finding something that fits your size requirement while still being available for under $250 used.

There aren't many truly good small speakers out there (some would argue there is no such thing as a good small speaker).... and if you find them, they aren't cheap.

Things like the ACI Emerald XL, Era D4, Silverline Minuet... are considered very good small speakers (within their limitations), but you won't find any of them for under $250 used. I doubt you'd find them under $400.

There are so many limitations with small speakers excluding your price requirements...

For instance... the Polk VM-10's use only 3" drivers for "woofers". That's an extremely small driver, and as a result, it just cannot play low frequencies with any real authority. Polk rates them as -3dB at 100Hz, but in such a small speaker with 2 very small "woofers... I don't buy that spec. You'd have to be listening at low level for that to hold up. Start upping the volume and those little drivers are going to run out of steam...then you have a real world -3dB up more in the 150Hz-200Hz range.

Basically... if you want or need to go with small speakers...just be sure you understand the limitations in doing so.
post #15 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron52101 View Post

Well not necessarly as small, but as compact as you can get while still having a good speaker under $250

what are your *actual* size requirements?

Ron
post #16 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron52101 View Post

The Acends aren't bad I could see those working. I like the 3 way driver design. But like I said they are new and still in my price range. Do you know anything that retails for in the $300s that I might be able to buy used at a good deal and get a slightly better speaker?

Also, don't get completely hung up on price.

Some speakers are way overpriced. Finding something used for $250 that sells new for $350 doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be better than something that sells for $200 brand new.

The RC-10's had an MSRP of $600 when they were released, and it was only after Klipsch bought out API (Energy, Mirage, Athena brands) and apparently decided to discontinue the rosenut and cherry veneers, that prices of the RC-10's dropped drastically.

The prices in black ash veneer didn't drop until after the rosenut/cherry stocks disappeared. While the black ash supposedly always way outsold the rosenut/cherry... they probably weren't as appealing after people saw the rosenut/cherry selling for 50% off...so prices on those dropped as well.


Something like the WAF-1 or HTM200SE is from an internet direct company... so the tend not to have inflated MSRPs.

The WAF-1 has dropped from $229 to $189... mainly because it just never took off. Those that own them tend to like them (I can't say I've read anything outright bad about them at all), and feel they outperform their price, and this was at $229 before the price drop. My guess on why the WAF-1 didn't really succeed is that many people flat out don't like how they look.


The point of all this is to not get completely stuck on price of the speakers new. It's a factor...but not a guarantee you're going to get a better speaker.
post #17 of 61
post #18 of 61
Thread Starter 
Right thanks for all your input. I guess most of your recommendations havnt been that bad, it's just they are mostly new speakers retailing under $250, and I'd rather get like say a $400 speaker that is used at around $250. So if you could recommend speakers just a little bit higher quality I would probably see exactly what I'm looking for.
post #19 of 61
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldoCombs View Post

Monitor Audio R90
Epos ELS-3

Thanks those arent bad
post #20 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron52101 View Post

Thanks those arent bad

They are both pretty good - not as good as my other suggestions due to the laws of physics.

Ron
post #21 of 61
Thread Starter 
lol thanks. If it does mean getting a significantly better speaker I could up the size a bit. They just can't be oddly large for a bedroom
post #22 of 61
The Epos is a good recommendation.

Personally, I'd skip on the Monitor Radius R90 though, for the same reasons as mentioned regarding the Polk VM10. I think you're paying more for small, lifestyle appearance instead of actual performance.

If you want something that small... I'd first recommend the Energy RC-Mini from electronics-expo for $125 each with coupon code (try SUMMER35 or EMPLOYEE) - so $250 a pair new. They still have limitations of being such a small speaker... but they are very good for what they are.
post #23 of 61
Thread Starter 
The EPO ELS 8 is the current model so I might check around to see how much those cost.
post #24 of 61
You could try to find a used pair of Mirage OMD-5's, although even with Vann's ridiculously low pricing right now ($180 each)... getting them for $250 might not be possible.

The are certainly a more capable speaker than the Monitor Radius R90 (based on specs) or even Energy RC-Mini (based on owning both).

IMO, they outperform the PSB Image B4 as well. This is my opinion based on a level matched A/B comparison between them.

And for what it's worth, I found I slightly preferred the the PSB B4 to the Ascend HTM200SE (I A/B'd these as well), although there were things each did better than the other, and I think they are relatively close in terms of overall performance.


I'd say the OMD-5 is the best speaker I've owned in that size range, except for the ACI Emerald XL, which, within it's limitations, is one of my favorite speakers.
post #25 of 61
One additional recommendation...

2 Energy RC-Mini Center Channels. These were designed to be used horizontally or vertically, and the extra woofer and cabinet size adds a good bit over the RC-Mini bookshelf (again, based on owning them).

No doubt in my mind you can get them for under $250 used. There's one on Audiogon right now for $100... I know where you could find another used .... And of course...Vann's has them in rosenut for $140 new.
post #26 of 61
Thread Starter 
i gotta say the the Mirage's are one odd looking speaker, but I'll keep them in mind
post #27 of 61
Thread Starter 
post #28 of 61
+1
"Tweak City Audio WAF-1... $189 shipped. Not widely known, but very good for the price. There are some reviews of them around the forums, and they were reviewed in Affordable Audio online mag (and given a best of '09 award).
http://tweakcityaudio.com/index.php?...emart&Itemid=1"

I gave my daughter a pair last week (along with 2-channel receiver and low end DVD player for MP3s, etc.). She was very happy. I was very impressed with the spaciousness and clarity of the sound.
post #29 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron52101 View Post

http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....mount/bookshel

Any thoughts on these?

I haven't heard those but here is some interesting reading: Nearfield Monitor Quick Takes

Here is a stereophile review for the EPOS: EPOS ELS 3

Ron
post #30 of 61
Thread Starter 
Axiom M3's?
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