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Floorstanding speakers on a budget

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hey all. I'm a college student moving into a small apartment this fall. I know relatively nothing about audio equipment (I've only ever owned cheapo headphones and earbuds), but I'd like to buy a starter's setup for the small living room. It would be used primarily for music and occasionally for movies, and ideally be able to sound good quiet (for ambiance/studying music) but be able to bother our neighbors for the occasional small party. Given my lack of knowledge about speakers and need for room-filling sound, along with a relatively small budget (around $400, maybe a little over), I figured the best option would be pair of self-powered speakers with decent bass, since buying a receiver would cut into my budget a lot and they seem way easier to set up. I could always upgrade with a subwoofer later if need be. From what I can tell, floorstanding speakers might be the best option to get room-filling sound at low and moderately high volumes. Would that be the best setup, and does the community have any suggestions for the best speaker set to use? Also, any warnings about setting up such a system to a guy who knows very little about any of this would be appreciated.

tl;dr I have about $400-$500 to spend on a sound system from scratch for a small apartment, preferably on something that sounds good at all volumes and throughout the room. Suggestions?
post #2 of 23
These are on a tremendous sale, $198 for a pair of these:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882981007

Then grab a good receiver like this one for $119 (comes with the iPod dock too):
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/DENAVR1312/DENON-AVR-1312-5.1-Channel-A/V-Home-Theater-Receiver/1.html

That leaves you under $200 to save for either the matching center channel for the Motion speakers, or get a pair of surrounds.

Another option.

These floorstanding speakers:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882117403 ($130 for the pair)

This center channel:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882117404 ($50)

These surrounds:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882117405 ($50 for the pair)

And then you have enough for a better receiver:
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/DENAVR1612/DENON-AVR-1612-5.1-Channel-A/V-Home-Theater-Receiver/1.html ($200)

This is a great setup for the money and you can add a sub later.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Wow, those were some really helpful suggestions! Thanks for the input. Since I'm most concerned about music, I'm not sure if I need anything beyond a 2.0 or 2.1 setup (especially since the room is pretty small, with two large entrances and some furniture). Perhaps I could use only the first pair of speakers you linked to (the Motion 10s) and add a sub?

Is there a reason you'd advise against powered speakers and no receiver? A friend suggested just spending most of the money on something like this:
http://www.amazon.com/JBL-Studio-180-Floorstanding-Loudspeaker/dp/B00413OWNI
and just adding a sub later.

I forgot to mention, I won't need to hook the system up to a TV of any kind, just computers or MP3 players (hopefully it could have an out to a universal headphone jack).
post #4 of 23
Those speakers you linked arent powered, in fact you wont find many powered floorstanders out side of PA speakers. If you're mostly worried about music performance, and you dont need house shaking bass, a good set of speakers with a simple stereo receiver is your best bet.

These Boston A360's are imo the best speakers under $500
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/BOSA360WHA/BOSTON-ACOUSTICS-A360-3-Way-Dual-6.5in-Tower-Speaker-Each-White/1.html

Simply add a budget receiver like this
http://www.amazon.com/Sherwood-RX-4105-Stereo-Receiver-Black/dp/B0002EPWC0/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1344049961&sr=1-3&keywords=2+channel+receiver

All you would need is a cable like this to connect an audio device or computer
http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-Cable-CMR210-Stereo-Adapter/dp/B000068O3B/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1344050321&sr=1-2&keywords=1%2F8+to+rca
post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by XensityX View Post

Wow, those were some really helpful suggestions! Thanks for the input. Since I'm most concerned about music, I'm not sure if I need anything beyond a 2.0 or 2.1 setup (especially since the room is pretty small, with two large entrances and some furniture). Perhaps I could use only the first pair of speakers you linked to (the Motion 10s) and add a sub?
Is there a reason you'd advise against powered speakers and no receiver? A friend suggested just spending most of the money on something like this:
http://www.amazon.com/JBL-Studio-180-Floorstanding-Loudspeaker/dp/B00413OWNI
and just adding a sub later.
I forgot to mention, I won't need to hook the system up to a TV of any kind, just computers or MP3 players (hopefully it could have an out to a universal headphone jack).

For music, I would grab the Motion speakers are sale. The folded ribbon tweeter, IMHO, are great for music. Pretty sure those JBL speakers are not powered.

As for not getting powered speakers, you will be more limited, and there is the potential for failure, and down the road you many want a 5.1 setup.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

For music, I would grab the Motion speakers are sale. The folded ribbon tweeter, IMHO, are great for music. Pretty sure those JBL speakers are not powered.
As for not getting powered speakers, you will be more limited, and there is the potential for failure, and down the road you many want a 5.1 setup.

I noticed the Martin Logan Motion series are all 4ohm speakers. Makes me wonder how well they'd pair with the low priced AVR's being mentioned in this thread.
post #7 of 23
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Those speakers you linked arent powered, in fact you wont find many powered floorstanders out side of PA speakers. If you're mostly worried about music performance, and you dont need house shaking bass, a good set of speakers with a simple stereo receiver is your best bet.
These Boston A360's are imo the best speakers under $500
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/BOSA360WHA/BOSTON-ACOUSTICS-A360-3-Way-Dual-6.5in-Tower-Speaker-Each-White/1.html
Simply add a budget receiver like this
http://www.amazon.com/Sherwood-RX-4105-Stereo-Receiver-Black/dp/B0002EPWC0/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1344049961&sr=1-3&keywords=2+channel+receiver
All you would need is a cable like this to connect an audio device or computer
http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-Cable-CMR210-Stereo-Adapter/dp/B000068O3B/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1344050321&sr=1-2&keywords=1%2F8+to+rca
x3 fwiw, they have a pair of scratch and dent BA a360's for $299 with one new and the other with small dent on top (they have picture)this will have no issue with the sound.only one pair left
Edited by smasher50 - 8/4/12 at 5:34am
post #9 of 23
My recommendation would be to get a Denon 1612 receiver, which you can get for around $250, and a pair of Polk Audio Monitor 40 speakers for $180.

That is a very good receiver for the money.

Floorstanding speakers are usually not the best choice for a small apartment, and the Polk Monitor 40 has enough power and bass to do what you want, and at a very reasonable price.
post #10 of 23
Maybe you should look for used speakers, Go for names like Boston Acoustics, EPI, Polk, JBL, Paradigm, Kef, Klipsch, and Bowers and wilkins avoid bose and cheap junk rack stereo speakers.
post #11 of 23
Corsair sp2500 for about $200 and have some leftover to upgrade to a blue ray player in your computer or laptop.

butter and jelly please.
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Jeez, thanks so much to everyone who's responded. You guys have been way more helpful than I could have hoped for. Since I'm so unknowledgeable about the benefits/drawbacks of each of these components, I'd love a brief rationalization of each suggestion rather than simply the setup information itself. For example, why would floorstanding speakers not be the way to go for a small apartment? Is a sub really worth getting for the budget? How much will a better receiver improve sound quality, and why should I prioritize it over speakers or vice versa? Jay1's suggested floorstanding speaker setup seems to be the best option for the setup I initially suggested, but I'd love to hear why the setup might not be the best idea. Again, thanks to all for your help!
post #13 of 23
If you really are interested in stereo, this is a very nice stereo receiver from Onkyo with preouts and digital inputs. I think you can find them around $200 now. The features are much better for the money than the sub $200 options.
http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-TX-8050-Network-Stereo-Receiver/dp/B004UR486G/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1344139580&sr=1-2

If I had only $500 to spend and enjoying music was the primary concern I would consider Paradigm Shift A2 powered monitors. They go lower almost any passive floorstanding speaker you can get for under $500. You will not necessarily need a sub.Reviews will confirm this. Also, don't watch the silly marketing video. It's very cringe worthy.
http://www.paradigm.com/shift/powered/index.php

Unfortunately the non-black ash finishes are quite expensive. I do not think you can beat these with sub-$500 floor standers.
Edited by Tank_PD - 8/4/12 at 9:21pm
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by XensityX View Post

Jeez, thanks so much to everyone who's responded. You guys have been way more helpful than I could have hoped for. Since I'm so unknowledgeable about the benefits/drawbacks of each of these components, I'd love a brief rationalization of each suggestion rather than simply the setup information itself. For example, why would floorstanding speakers not be the way to go for a small apartment? Is a sub really worth getting for the budget? How much will a better receiver improve sound quality, and why should I prioritize it over speakers or vice versa? Jay1's suggested floorstanding speaker setup seems to be the best option for the setup I initially suggested, but I'd love to hear why the setup might not be the best idea. Again, thanks to all for your help!

Since you are only wanting a 2.0 stereo, there isnt really any advantage to a receiver costing a couple hundred more. If you want a more complex multi channel setup, then the auto calibration features found in these receivers would be a great benefit. You can always add a better receiver down the line if you feel like expanding (you only would have $100 invested in the stereo receiver, not a big loss), and you can always add a sub/center/surrounds piece by piece.

You will not get better sound quality by going with a $300 receiver and $200 pr speakers, now or in the future. You would have to upgrade the speakers to higher quality ones, costing you more in the long run.

There is not any disadvantages to floorstanders that do not also apply to monitors, both need room from wall boundaries to sound best (unless the monitors were designed for wall mounting). A floorstanders larger cabinet volume allows for deeper and stronger bass tuning, and with a speaker like the A360 you get dual woofers and a mid, for strong bass, clean mids, and good off axis response. Budget monitors are not going to be able to compete with this speaker when run full range, and even when crossed to a sub they will still have all of the same advantages minus the low end response.
post #15 of 23
fwiw, this can be very arguable but" imo" pretty much all 2 channel recievers ( and avr's ) are the same. they do not make your speakers sound any different. their main purpuse is to power them. but there can be a difference in a $300 and a $100 in that it has more belles and whistles like a phono amp input if your going to someday get into vinyl, a usb input for easy computer hook up some have built in dac for digital content and usually are built a little better. a mid priced avr might also be a good option as they have audyssey which helps with the best placement of your speakers for the best sound. and if you ever decide to go for the home theater sound you won't have to buy another reciever . another misunderstanding is with watts per channel, a 150 wpc reciever is not going to make your speakers sound that much more louder than a 100wpc
Edited by smasher50 - 8/5/12 at 5:59am
post #16 of 23
If you have a local Fry's store, see if they have any Infinity P363 for $99 each or $200/PR. Best damn speakers on earth for $200/PR brand new.

I own Revel Salon2, KEF 201/2, Linkwitz Orion3, Philharmonic3, Infinity P362, and just purchased B&W 802D2. I've also auditioned many other speakers.

I can tell you the Infinity P363 would be fantastic speakers for $400/PR. But for $200/pr, nothing will touch them.

If you only have $400 for both speakers & subs, then spend the other $200 on a subwoofer.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882269026

If you want to match for aesthetics, then get the Infinity Sub:

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_108PS410BK/Infinity-PS410BK.html
Edited by AcuDefTechGuy - 8/5/12 at 8:24am
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Great, it sounds like floorstanding speakers are the way to go. I think I'll wait on purchasing them until I'm actually moving in to make sure the floorspace is available. Your suggestions were invaluable and all appreciated. It sounds like a budget stereo receiver and the A360s will be the way to go, although the deal on the P363s is very tempting--unfortunately I live on the east coast and can't take advantage of it since there are no Fry's near me, but I'd definitely pick them up if I could so I could grab a decent sub as well. Thanks to all who gave me their two cents! I won't buy anything for another couple weeks so if anyone else has any suggestions I'd still love to hear them.
post #18 of 23
This will blow away a lot of the above listed options:
The Denon 1612 receiver and these speakers http://www.amazon.com/Definitive-Technology-Cinema-60-6-System/dp/B001GOK9GE

I have this exact setup and am stunned at how good it sounds.
post #19 of 23
Here is a review of the Paradigm A2 powered monitors if you do not want to stretch your budget to include receiver, speakers and sub. These will go lower than many of the floor stander speakers you are considering:
http://hometheaterreview.com/paradigm-shift-series-a2-powered-loudspeaker-reviewed/?page=2
post #20 of 23
fwiw, the paradigm a2 powered speakers might be great for nearfild listening but they won't even come close to the a360's in overall soundand they won't go lower than the a360's in the bass dept. the paradigm's have freq.range of 55hz-20khz where the a360's have a range of 38hz -25khz.
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by smasher50 View Post

fwiw, the paradigm a2 powered speakers might be great for nearfild listening but they won't even come close to the a360's in overall soundand they won't go lower than the a360's in the bass dept. the paradigm's have freq.range of 55hz-20khz where the a360's have a range of 38hz -25khz.

Low frequency point is 30Hz @ -3db. Paradigm rates their freq. response much more conservatively than other manufactures.
post #22 of 23
from 30hz to 55hz is a little more than conservative in my book
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by smasher50 View Post

from 30hz to 55hz is a little more than conservative in my book

You'll see similar numbers with some higher-end floor standing speakers. Freq response ending around 40-45 +/- 2db and low frequency points of -3 to -6db in the 20-30s depending on that particular manufacture measures. There is no standard for reporting this, so it is not always apples to apples; some do not least the degree of accuracy or what is meant by the low frequency point. They just combine it into a single frequency range.
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