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Best bookshelf speakers for $300 (can they be better than Bose Accoustimass?)

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I’m shopping for something to replace my old Bose Accoustimass 5, Series 3 from over a decade ago. Is the Polk RTIA1 the best in this price range? Do they have a lot of treble, or is that only true of the floor standing speakers in this line (are the higher frequencies too dominant)? I guess I should avoid rear ported speakers because I might want to have them close to a rear wall at times. I will be using my new bookshelf speakers with a new subwoofer which I am also shopping for now.

 

I live in Canada so I can’t buy online at great prices like in the U.S. I’m mainly looking at what I can find on sale at BestBuy or Future Shop, plus easy to return if I don’t like them. They have lots of Polk, Energy, Precision, Klipsch and major brands like that. If anyone can offer any insight or suggestions I would really appreciate it.

post #2 of 26
http://www.theaudioinsider.com/product_info.php?p=arx-a1b-monitor-loudspeaker&products_id=65&

I have the big brothers (A5's) and the tweeter is insane for the price range. Don't doubt that 5.25 woofer either... I had them punching really impressive 30hz waves the other day. Guess that depends on your room though tongue.gif
post #3 of 26
Here's what I did and maybe it will help you:

I went to some higher end AV shops and listened to multiple brands of speakers to figure out what kind of sound I liked. I fell in love with some B&Ws, they we're clean and had an enormous soundstage (compared to the others I listened to). I didn't have the money for some brand new B&W 685s and my price range was about yours 300-375. So I started to scour the used market for some 602 S3s, the predecessor to the 685s. I eventually found a guy that was selling his for 300 and I talked him down to $250. I am super pleased.

I "upgraded" from some Polk Monitor 75Ts, they were some huge floorstanding speakers that I thought were sloppy but had great range.

There is always the internet direct route too, I think there are some Canadian companies that have some in home trials.

Good luck!
post #4 of 26
Just to add a little more.

The best buy near me really had some lackluster speakers in my opinion, if you have a BB Magnolia store up there then it is a different story but the polks and especially those Andrew Jones pioneers everyone is raving about I thought were less than enjoyable. I did find he Klipsches ok but I was comparing them to not so good speakers. I'm not sure the offerings your BB has though, they might have higher end lines than mine does.

Just to reiterate, I'd highly recommend looking at the used market, you can get a lot more for your money as speaker tech doesn't move like your other electronics and a 10 year speaker can still preform very well and be in great shape.
post #5 of 26
Add the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170SEs and the Cambridge S30s to your list. The CBM-170SEs are on sale for $298 and the S30s are typically $219 from most retailers.
post #6 of 26
post #7 of 26
I have the Ascend CBM-170's and they will simply blow you away. www.ascendacoustics.com. I'm sure they ship to Canada.
post #8 of 26
post #9 of 26
+1 several of the previous posts.

At the $300 price point ... the Ascend CBM-170 (on sale at the moment) and the Arx A1b. Can't go wrong with either.

If you want to spend a little less ... the Cambridge Audio S30.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaiforce View Post

http://www.theaudioinsider.com/product_info.php?p=arx-a1b-monitor-loudspeaker&products_id=65&

I have the big brothers (A5's) and the tweeter is insane for the price range. Don't doubt that 5.25 woofer either... I had them punching really impressive 30hz waves the other day. Guess that depends on your room though tongue.gif

+1.
post #11 of 26
There are a lot of good options at this price point. In addition to the Ascend and Arx recommendations, you could look at HTD Level Three, EMP E5Bi, Wharfedale 10.1, and Definitive Technology SM450.

What is your room size and sub budget?
post #12 of 26

I heard these at my local Best Buy and was able to compare them to some Polks in the same price range and man the Pioneers sounded like crap. I do not see why everyone is loving these, they were super muddy and sounded like the speakers were inside a hollow box, ugh. Probably the worse speakers in the store. It is entirely possible that BB had them hooked up wrong but their switcher was working properly from what I could tell.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

There are a lot of good options at this price point. In addition to the Ascend and Arx recommendations, you could look at HTD Level Three, EMP E5Bi, Wharfedale 10.1, and Definitive Technology SM450.

What is your room size and sub budget?

Steve Guttenberg from Cnet absolutely loves the Wharfedale 10.1s called them the best speakers on the planet for $350

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20064619-47.html
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnitedAV View Post

I heard these at my local Best Buy and was able to compare them to some Polks in the same price range and man the Pioneers sounded like crap. I do not see why everyone is loving these, they were super muddy and sounded like the speakers were inside a hollow box, ugh. Probably the worse speakers in the store. It is entirely possible that BB had them hooked up wrong but their switcher was working properly from what I could tell.

There could be many reasons (especially without knowing which exact store and going in and listening to them) including just having a dud pair on display.

I've been listening for 8+ months and they are wonderful for the price. (I've listened to super-expensive hi-end stuff and have been an audiophile for 35+ years.)
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnitedAV View Post

I heard these at my local Best Buy and was able to compare them to some Polks in the same price range and man the Pioneers sounded like crap. I do not see why everyone is loving these, they were super muddy and sounded like the speakers were inside a hollow box, ugh. Probably the worse speakers in the store. It is entirely possible that BB had them hooked up wrong but their switcher was working properly from what I could tell.

You were hearing soundstage. Speakers were prabably not set-up properly so that was a issue for you.
post #16 of 26
Every best buy I have been to has their speakers set up in a display row...so none of them are optimally placed. So when two poorly placed speakers are compared and one sounds like crap, one can surmise that placement is only one issue!
post #17 of 26
One thing for sure, he dosen't like 3D airy sound. He prefers forward speakers.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

Every best buy I have been to has their speakers set up in a display row...so none of them are optimally placed.
That's hardly the worst of it. All of the speakers not in use will act as Helmholtz resonators, literally sucking away the tone from the speakers that are in use.
post #19 of 26
But some speakers do suck regardless if they are in a row or at home...
In the sub-$400 range I like the Klipsch speakers (for my type of music). But not the ones at BB - the 5-1/4" have a rear-firing port. It is very seldom that that will sound right in an actual bookshelf. Only the Reference series bigger than 5-1/4" (6-1/2" and 8") have a front-firing port.
Edited by SoNic67 - 10/21/13 at 7:11pm
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

Every best buy I have been to has their speakers set up in a display row...so none of them are optimally placed. So when two poorly placed speakers are compared and one sounds like crap, one can surmise that placement is only one issue!

Definitely possible, but i have listened to a lot of different speakers there over the years and those were the worst. Unless there was something specifically wrong with how they set up those Pioneers and not the others next to it I have a hard time believing that it was a symptom of setup and not quality when non of the others sounded that way.
post #21 of 26

Not really suggesting the pios, just weighing in that my bookshelf set of pios sounds perfectly fine.  Quite enjoy them.  Few different BB stores I've been to have left the speakers on display even after they had been blown and literally sounded like poo.  Could be a possible explanation as I can't see any feasible way that these could be the single worst speakers you  have heard in there over a few years.

post #22 of 26
Just about anything will be better.

Try Cambridge Audio S30s, NHT Super zero, or for a bit more KEF Q100.
post #23 of 26
United, I was trying to agree with you. Our local best buy had Polk, klipsch and pioneer in a row and while nothing had great sq, the pioneers really stood out in a negative way!
post #24 of 26
Elihawk, oops, sorry. I didn't think people would agree with me so I figured you weren't haha.

@ Jason, any thoughts on what your thinking, I'd love to hear what you end up doing.
post #25 of 26
Jason 2013,

I considered both the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 and the Polk Rti A1 and the Polks won by a nose. mainly due to the dimensions. (See photo for tight fit) Got them at a great sale price though ($255 delivered) from Amazon Christmas 2011 for a new bedroom setup for my wife's iphone4S, along with a Roth MC4 Tube dock for the phone. Even though they're tucked into an open shelf media cabinet ... and have the rear port, the Polks just sing. The wife's downloads make for truly great sound when sweetened by the Polks and the analog out from the Roth. Also now use a simple Philips 3960 DVD player for CD through the Roth as well. Killer sound for the money

Have to say though I will always ponder what I didn't get with the Wharfedales ... they are that good. Am still using Wharfedale Emerald 97 towers (circa 2000) for the frontstage and remain very satisfied. You know your speakers are good when you continue to hear the subtle changes in the equipment upgrades you make through the years.


Edited by ClarkeBar - 10/24/13 at 6:32am
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the helpful comments. BB here in Montreal doesn't have Ascend Acoustics, Cambridge or Wharfedale but I will try to find another local store that does. In the meantime I might consider the Polk RTiA3. It costs a little more but maybe then I can get by without a subwoofer. These frequently go on sale at BB so I will see what the Christmas sales bring and at some point I may try them out.

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