Bookshelf speakers for 2-channel set up - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 87 Old 08-09-2019, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Bookshelf speakers for 2-channel set up

Thanks in advance for any input on my speaker selection conundrum!

I am new to the forums and in serious need of some experienced listeners to guide me in selecting a pair of bookshelf speakers from a short list that I have little hope of auditioning prior to pulling the trigger on one. My budget (up to $300) doesn't leave room for the costs associated with returns.

My set up and anticipated use scenarios are pretty basic.

Current gear consists of:
Rotel RA-01 Integrated Amp
Onkyo C-7030 CD Player
BIC America Venturi V802 tower speakers

I use the stereo to watch family-oriented movies (usually not a lot of demanding sound effects) and listen to music - guitar rock and classical mainly - in approximately equal amounts, though I definitely care more about the quality of music reproduction. We stream movies and watch on the screen of a Windows 10 laptop using a Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface connected to an input on the Rotel.

I bought the speakers new in the late '90s, and they are the only part of my stereo setup that hasn't had an update since. Now I am looking for bookshelf speakers due to wholesale reorganization of the room. I will be happy to end up with more musical speakers, but I am concerned that I will be disappointed with the loss of low end going from towers to bookshelf speakers with no near term prospect of adding a subwoofer to the mix. Maybe some day, but I can't count on that at present.

The room is not particularly large but also not ideally proportioned at 18 x 11 feet. The speakers will be oriented on the long axis positioned close to the side walls, and I probably won't be able to get the speakers less than 5 feet away from the rear wall.

I tell myself I like a revealing, detailed sound with faithful representation of instruments. However, I don't have many points of reference (having only ever bought the one set of speakers nearly 20 years ago) and am aware that my current speakers likely do not shine in that regard. So there's lots of room for improvement I think!

I went to Best Buy Magnolia the other day and heard a few speakers on their demo set up. Couple of pretty strong reactions - I thought the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 lacked refinement, though it did have a fuller low end than I expected to experience from a speaker that size; I really liked what I heard from the Martin Logan Motion 15, however I thought I might end up missing some bass heft on its own; I wished I could walk out of there with the Bowers & Wilkins 606.

The speakers that I have found good deals on (sales & manufacturer refurbished units) and am actively considering are:
Canton GLE 426
Infinity Reference 162
Wharfedale Diamond 10.2
Emotiva Airmotiv B1

Not an obvious set to be comparing I'm thinking; the Emotivas stay mainly because I liked the AMT tweeter on the Martin Logans so much. Still, any input at all would be much appreciated.

A wild card that I don't really understand how to evaluate is that I have an A/V receiver (10ish year old Yamaha - can't check the model number at the moment - that i got for free). Currently I only use it to listen to my local NPR station!

Thanks,
Ben
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post #2 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 07:19 AM
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Based on your music and sound preference I recommend the emotiva B1's. They should give you the clarity and accurate sound you're looking for.

I'd cross the wharfedales off the list. They are a joy to listen to but on the warm side of accurate.

If you end up wanting to go with Canton the chrono 502.2 are only $300 at A4less and are a step up from the gle
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post #3 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 07:51 AM
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For really good bang for your buck look at used speakers as well.... some gems here - totems my favorite of the bunch, but I like the older the B&W sound as well. The Vienna’s and Revels are good buys too.

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/...itor-speakers/

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/...rs-amp-stands/

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/...ic-hadyn-pair/

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/...3-totem-mites/
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post #4 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbmattes View Post
The speakers that I have found good deals on (sales & manufacturer refurbished units) and am actively considering are:
Canton GLE 426
Infinity Reference 162
Wharfedale Diamond 10.2
Emotiva Airmotiv B1

Not an obvious set to be comparing I'm thinking; the Emotivas stay mainly because I liked the AMT tweeter on the Martin Logans so much. Still, any input at all would be much appreciated.
Haven't heard the Canton, but of those 4 speakers, going without a subwoofer, I would pick the Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 to get the fullest sound, very warm and smooth, I think you will enjoy them. Music Direct gives you a 90 day return window on them.

The Polk LSiM 703 are currently on sale for $260 apiece shipped, these would also be a good choice for 2.0 usage if budget allows:
https://slickdeals.net/f/13262356-po...?src=frontpage
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post #5 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
Haven't heard the Canton, but of those 4 speakers, going without a subwoofer, I would pick the Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 to get the fullest sound, very warm and smooth, I think you will enjoy them. Music Direct gives you a 90 day return window on them.

The Polk LSiM 703 are currently on sale for $260 apiece shipped, these would also be a good choice for 2.0 usage if budget allows:
https://slickdeals.net/f/13262356-po...?src=frontpage
i agree , in 2.0 the 10.2s or the polk's seem like the best bet.. especially since it's not a small room .. as a matter of fact , i think the polk's hands down are the safest easiest pick... the emo's won't be real impressive in that set up..you might want to put the ascend cbm 170's on that list as well .. they are a big sounding bookshelf in a small package , very neutral, a bit "in your face " sound..
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YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in

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post #6 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 02:18 PM
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I would take a hard look at the Revel listed in post 3
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post #7 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 02:29 PM
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Chane A1.5 is quite revealing, and would give you a good approximation of the ML in detail and airyness, plus has better bass.

https://www.chanemusiccinema.com/A1.5
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post #8 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 02:50 PM
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Listening to speakers in Best Buy is not a good way to pick a speaker. The ELAC B6.2 would be a great option for a 2 channel system. It's a fairly neutral speaker with a better low end than most other bookshelf speakers in this price range. Best of all, you can try a pair risk free in your own home when you buy from Best Buy. I would definitely give those a shot first. The Polk S20 is also a very nice 2 channel speaker to look at.
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post #9 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 02:53 PM
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Jump on this, like right now

https://slickdeals.net/f/13262356-po...src=SiteSearch

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post #10 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post



That's cruel considering his max budget of $300.

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post #11 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIX_MASTER_ICE View Post
That's cruel considering his max budget of $300.
Is that $300 for the pair?

Aye...

I think there are too many constraints with that and he isn't going to be pleased with the low end from any bookshelf in that range.

$350 and make it PSB Alpha P5s

Add in stands and you're getting closer to tower territory, though.

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post #12 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 03:18 PM
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If you can extend your budget by a few dollars, these are highly regarded:

http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hb-1.html
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post #13 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Lp85253 View Post
you might want to put the ascend cbm 170's on that list as well .. they are a big sounding bookshelf in a small package , very neutral, a bit "in your face " sound..
I used to have 170SEs and liked them, but don't think they can stand on their own without a sub like the WD 10.2 can, or the AAMs.

The HTD Level 3 bookshelf reportedly has lots of mid-bass, and comes with free return shipping---worth a free experiment!
https://www.htd.com/Level-THREE-Bookshelf-Speakers
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post #14 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 05:22 PM
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I don't have a lot of A/B experience, but I did recently procure and audition Chane A1.5s. They are being used as surrounds, but I just auditioned them as L/R mains, and they are very impressive, even in my 4800 cubic foot space. Many folks are using A1.5s as mains and are very happy with them.

Review, post #13 in thread: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...l#post58406352
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post #15 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
I used to have 170SEs and liked them, but don't think they can stand on their own without a sub like the WD 10.2 can, or the AAMs.

The HTD Level 3 bookshelf reportedly has lots of mid-bass, and comes with free return shipping---worth a free experiment!
https://www.htd.com/Level-THREE-Bookshelf-Speakers
Forgot those are only $350 - should be on the short list.
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post #16 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow! Seriously eye opening to get feedback on this forum. Thanks for all of the input.

Tabulating what I've heard on the speakers I had come across for my situation:

Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 - two for / one against
Emotiva Airmotiv B1 - one for / one against
Canton - unfamiliar; consider moving up to Chorus 502.2
Infinity Reference 162 - crickets...

Only surprise to me there is that no one responded to the Infinitys, but I guess silence isn't too difficult to interpret in this case.

If I had to boil down what I've heard so far, I would say the message is try hard to move the budget up - even to $350 - and significantly better choices would open up. True for each increment of price probably, but all the more so I presume at numbers as low as what I'm working with.

Unless I'm missing a clever work around, it looks like in most cases shipping would run $50 or more either to buy a used pair of bookshelf speakers or to return new ones. Unfortunately, even if I can swing $350, that puts most of the used suggestions from callas01 out of my range. Same goes for the Polk LSiM703 that Zorba922 recommended at $260/ea. That is a steal! But definitely out of my range; a real shame, for me that is.

The most attractive offer on a Polk speaker that I have come across in my range is for the RTiA3. Different class of speaker, but maybe also a worthy option at sub-300 prices?

If I were in the LA area (opposite coast unfortunately), I would jump on the AAM offer. (I am correct in reading that as referring to the Philharmonic Audio Affordable Accuracy Monitor, right? Love that speaker name.)

Around the $350 price point people have recommended:
Ascend CBM-170
Chane A1.5
HSU Research MB-1 MK2
HTD Level 3
PSB Alpha P5

I will look into all of those. This has already been quite an education, and I thank you all again for your assistance!
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post #17 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
I used to have 170SEs and liked them, but don't think they can stand on their own without a sub like the WD 10.2 can, or the AAMs.

The HTD Level 3 bookshelf reportedly has lots of mid-bass, and comes with free return shipping---worth a free experiment!
https://www.htd.com/Level-THREE-Bookshelf-Speakers
i wouldn't argue that point , it's close as to whether they have "enough" extension down low to accommodate a listeners bass wants, i run them 2.2 and rarely run in 2.0..
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YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in
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post #18 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 06:31 PM
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Here's a good ELAC B6.2 review done by well respected reviewer, Sean at Zero Fidelity, which will give you a good idea of the nuances of the speaker.


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post #19 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbmattes View Post
Wow! Seriously eye opening to get feedback on this forum. Thanks for all of the input.

Tabulating what I've heard on the speakers I had come across for my situation:

Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 - two for / one against
Emotiva Airmotiv B1 - one for / one against
Canton - unfamiliar; consider moving up to Chorus 502.2
Infinity Reference 162 - crickets...

Only surprise to me there is that no one responded to the Infinitys, but I guess silence isn't too difficult to interpret in this case.
Most people haven't heard them. I would recommend the Infinity hands down if you can get them on sale for half off. At full MSRP it's a little harder but they are still a good choice. Forget about the Emotiva for living room use unless you want to pair them with a sub.
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post #20 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 07:39 PM
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Most people haven't heard them. I would recommend the Infinity hands down if you can get them on sale for half off. At full MSRP it's a little harder but they are still a good choice. Forget about the Emotiva for living room use unless you want to pair them with a sub.

I had the R152 and it was a very solid speaker. I bought them refurbished from Harman and they were like new. The R162 is actually available refurbished right now for $174.99. I wouldn't be afraid at all to buy them refurbished from Harman.

https://www.harmanaudio.com/speakers...SABEgKypfD_BwE

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post #21 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIX_MASTER_ICE View Post
I had the R152 and it was a very solid speaker. I bought them refurbished from Harman and they were like new. The R162 is actually available refurbished right now for $174.99. I wouldn't be afraid at all to buy them refurbished from Harman.
Does Harman still provide free return shipping for refurbs, or is that only for new items?

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #22 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
Does Harman still provide free return shipping for refurbs, or is that only for new items?

I'm not 100% sure, but there is nothing in their return policy terms that state it does not apply to refurbished items. Just states "The following Returns policy applies to purchases made directly from our online store."



It would be worth verifying, but I'm pretty sure it applies to refurbs, as Harman sells a lot of refurbished items. And my not being afraid of buying refurbs from them was in regards to quality of the product compared to new.
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post #23 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 10:24 PM - Thread Starter
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That refurbed Infinity offer is exactly what I had been looking at. Glad to hear the positive opinions about ordering that way from Harman.

Anyone in a position to compare the Infinity Reference 162 with the Canton Chorus 502.2? That Canton is deeply discounted ($950 down to $300) to the top of my price range on Accessories4less now. Honestly, part of the appeal of the Canton is the smaller form factor, but I would push (against spousal resistance factor) for larger speakers to get the best sound for my space and CD listening.

I understand that most of the numbers on spec sheets and even measured tests should not be given too much weight in differentiating between speakers, but I am curious if I should be wary of either of these models, or any of the others folks have suggested, based on my 40W/channel integrated amp's capacity to drive them?
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post #24 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 10:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Are the Philharmonic Audio AAMs available anywhere regularly at this point, or is it a question of getting lucky on the used market?
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post #25 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 11:08 PM
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Are the Philharmonic Audio AAMs available anywhere regularly at this point, or is it a question of getting lucky on the used market?
The latter. Dennis is no longer producing speakers.

However, if everything works out, we may see a kit appear at one of the DIY sites.
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post #26 of 87 Old 08-10-2019, 11:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for confirming that Soulburner.
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post #27 of 87 Old 08-11-2019, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mbmattes View Post
That refurbed Infinity offer is exactly what I had been looking at. Glad to hear the positive opinions about ordering that way from Harman.

Anyone in a position to compare the Infinity Reference 162 with the Canton Chorus 502.2? That Canton is deeply discounted ($950 down to $300) to the top of my price range on Accessories4less now. Honestly, part of the appeal of the Canton is the smaller form factor, but I would push (against spousal resistance factor) for larger speakers to get the best sound for my space and CD listening.

I understand that most of the numbers on spec sheets and even measured tests should not be given too much weight in differentiating between speakers, but I am curious if I should be wary of either of these models, or any of the others folks have suggested, based on my 40W/channel integrated amp's capacity to drive them?
The Canton Chronos will have excellent detail and clarity. You will also get pretty good bass out them.
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post #28 of 87 Old 08-11-2019, 09:07 AM
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The Canton Chronos will have excellent detail and clarity. You will also get pretty good bass out them.
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post #29 of 87 Old 08-11-2019, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by mbmattes View Post
That refurbed Infinity offer is exactly what I had been looking at. Glad to hear the positive opinions about ordering that way from Harman.

Anyone in a position to compare the Infinity Reference 162 with the Canton Chorus 502.2? That Canton is deeply discounted ($950 down to $300) to the top of my price range on Accessories4less now. Honestly, part of the appeal of the Canton is the smaller form factor, but I would push (against spousal resistance factor) for larger speakers to get the best sound for my space and CD listening.

I understand that most of the numbers on spec sheets and even measured tests should not be given too much weight in differentiating between speakers, but I am curious if I should be wary of either of these models, or any of the others folks have suggested, based on my 40W/channel integrated amp's capacity to drive them?
Canton is a great speaker, no doubt, but A4L has the worst return policy in the business.

If you don't like them you have to pay the real cost of shipping both ways, (not the discounted rate they show on your invoice when delivered), plus a $15% restocking fee.

They are near Orlando so if you lived nearby then you could save on the shipping cost by returning in person.
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post #30 of 87 Old 08-11-2019, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Canton is a great speaker, no doubt, but A4L has the worst return policy in the business.

If you don't like them you have to pay the real cost of shipping both ways, (not the discounted rate they show on your invoice when delivered), plus a $15% restocking fee.
Yikes! Thanks for that info.

Maybe I should pick up the Infinitys to trial since Harman has a generous return policy. If I'm not thrilled, then throw my lot in on the Cantons with fingers crossed. The Cantons have gotten some love here, so I am feeling pretty good about them already.
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