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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

I'm on the hunt for a pair of $300ish bookshelfs for my office. It's a 12x12x8.5' room. I'll power 'em with a NAD D 3045 and likely be using my Emotiva Ultra10sub to create a 2.1 system. Smaller is better so i'll likely stick with the 5" variant of many options and let the sub fill things out. If i find i can get away without a sub, all the better.

I currently have a pair of Energy RC-10s, Cambridge Audio S30s, and JBL 306P studio monitors. Last night i ordered a pair of KEF Q150s and a pair of Elac Debut 2.0 5.2s. I'll also add a pair of Wharfedale Diamonds, but am debating 220s vs 225s. Anything else i should consider? Availability at Crutchfield is a big plus as they have a trustworthy return policy.

Here's the final line up for new speakers in addition to the RC-10s and S30s above:
  • Vanatoo Transparent Zero - $360 (actives with DAC)
  • KEF Q150 - $300 (regularly $600)
  • Elac Debut 2.0 B5.2 - $230 (regularly $290)
  • PSB Alpha P3 - $220
  • Q Acoustics 3020i - $315
  • NHT C1 - $280 (regularly $550)
  • Ascend CBM-170 SE - $300
  • Paradigm Monitor SE Atom - $240 (regularly $320)
Comparisons:
  • Cambridge Audio S30 vs Energy RC-10: Post #42
  • Energy RC-10 vs KEF Q150: Post #43
  • PSB Alpha P3s vs Vanatoo Transparent Zeros: Post #74
  • Elac Debut 2.0 b5.2 vs Q Acoustics 3020i: Post #109
  • PSB Alpha P3 vs NHT C1: Post #129
  • KEF Q150 vs Q Acoustics 3020i: Post #137
  • KEF Q150 vs Paradigm Monitor SE Atom: Post #143
  • Q Acoustic 3020i vs Ascend CBM-170 SE: Post #223
  • Elac Debut 2.0 b5.2 vs Ascend CBM-170 SE: Post #225
  • Elac Debut 2.0 b5.2 vs Paradigm Monitor SE Atoms: Post #226
 

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You just missed the Studio 530 sale that was going for less than $300. It just won a speaker shootout here on AVS in a higher price range. They go on sale a few times a year so if you have time to wait it out, definitely recommended.
 

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PSB Alpha P5
Chane A1.5
Ascend CBM-170

I probably would have gone with the Elac B6.2 instead.
 

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I'm on the hunt for a pair of $300ish bookshelfs for my office. It's a 12x12x8.5' room. I'll power 'em with a NAD D 3045 and likely be using my Emotiva Ultra10sub to create a 2.1 system. Smaller is better so i'll likely stick with the 5" variant of many options and let the sub fill things out.

I currently have a pair of Energy RC-10s, Cambridge Audio S30s, JBL 306Ps, and just received some Vanatoo Transparent Zeros.

Last night i ordered a pair of KEF Q150s and a pair of Elac Debut 2.0 5.2s. I'll also add a pair of Wharfedale Diamonds, but am debating 220s vs 225s.
Since you already have a sub and want a compact speaker, the 220s would be fine.

Would be curious to see how the 220s do vs the Q150 vs the Chane A1.5.

The Hsu HB-1 would also be worth a listen, $140 each.
 
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Definitely PSB Alpha P5 or P3
 

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nht c1 ... on sale at amazon for under $300, $139 /ea .. absolute steal compared to msrp... and they have a fine rep for making great speakers...
 
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nht c1 ... on sale at amazon for under $300, $139 /ea .. absolute steal compared to msrp... and they have a fine rep for making great speakers...
That's a great deal considering the NHT Superone 2.1 is going for $25 more than that. Normally they're much lower but the price spiked way up.
 
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I have the JBL 530s and Ascend CBM-170s. I love the 530s. but I have to give the edge to 170s, just barely. I think the difference is in the higher sensitivity of 170s.
 
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Interesting, I ruled out the Ascend CBM-170s after reading the audiosciencereview review.

PSB Alpha P5s are $400.. tempting, but at the price i'd have to include the Elac UB5s.. slippery slope. If there's a big bump in performance, i'd consider going up to $500, but it seems like many popular options are in the $300ish and then many in the $600-700ish.

I think the JBLs are too big for my space. This is a fairly near-fieldish setup.

I'll read up on the Chane and NHT options.

Thanks!
 

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That's a great deal considering the NHT Superone 2.1 is going for $25 more than that. Normally they're much lower but the price spiked way up.
the c series , from what i can tell is a big step up from the super series..
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Based on some more research, seems the Q Acoustics 3020i should be on the list for sure. I don't find myself much attracted to their looks or brand, but if they sound good they sound good.

I read the JBL 530 review on ASR. Looks like it measures great, but to be honest, i just find it ugly and large for my space. I also wonder if, as Amirm mentioned, maybe its too flat and sterile? I have JBL 306P monitors right here and i find them boring and unfun. I suspect these might be similar so i think i'll pass.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/jbl-studio-530-speaker-review.12298/

I don't have time or patience to test too many speakers, maybe one more. :eek::)
 

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Interesting, I ruled out the Ascend CBM-170s after reading the audiosciencereview review.

PSB Alpha P5s are $400.. tempting, but at the price i'd have to include the Elac UB5s.. slippery slope. If there's a big bump in performance, i'd consider going up to $500, but it seems like many popular options are in the $300ish and then many in the $600-700ish.

I think the JBLs are too big for my space. This is a fairly near-fieldish setup.

I'll read up on the Chane and NHT options.

Thanks!
The Alpha P3s are fairly small and punch well above their weight. They can be crossed over at 80Hz too...
 

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Interesting, I ruled out the Ascend CBM-170s after reading the audiosciencereview review.
I wouldn't take that website very seriously if I were you.

1. Anybody who claims that this hobby can be "science" is full of **** pushing their own agenda, or hopelessly simple-minded. Certain "objective" criteria can be applied to separate the indisputably BAD speakers from the good to excellent ones, but most of what makes one person prefer one speaker over another is 100% SUBJECTIVE personal tastes in both sound and their particular usage habits (whether they listen at low, medium or high volumes; whether they're doing mostly HT/TV or music, and if music then what specific genres they listen to).

2. Anybody who actually believes that measurements are anything more than a STARTING POINT in the speaker selection process is hopelessly simple-minded. Further, measurements can easily be fudged and/or screwed up depending on the conditions under which they're taken. Just like most specs, there is no industry wide standard or watchdog regulatory body to make sure that everybody is playing with the same toys. Again, many grains of salt.

3. I have owned the Ascend 170SE, and I have heard plenty of "bright" speakers. I despise "bright" speakers, other than for HT usage...for music, they are a form of torture as far as my ears are concerned. The 170SE are *not* bright, nowhere in the same league of "bright" as entry-level Klipsch, Polk, or Def Tech. I'd call them "neutral" bordering on "clinical"---a speaker that rewards a really good recording and ruthlessly reveals a poor one.

The fact that the reviewer provides zero commentary on how the 170SE actually *sounds* to his ears with any specific pieces of music, speaks volumes. Then he stupidly uses the infamously warm-and-wooly but mid-bass heavy Pioneer BS22 as a comparison in full channel mode...well DOH, guess which one is going to sound "better?" The 170SE like the 200SE were both designed to be used WITH a subwoofer...that's why it has much higher sensitivity than the Pioneer. A large part of my motivation for getting rid of them was a desire for a more forgiving speaker since much of my listening is with lossy streaming music.

Based on all of the above, I would happily trust these people's independent measurements of the 170SE over that of the ASR guy:
http://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/ascend_cbm170/
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I wouldn't take that website very seriously if I were you.

1. Anybody who claims that this hobby can be "science" is full of **** pushing their own agenda, or hopelessly simple-minded. Certain "objective" criteria can be applied to separate the indisputably BAD speakers from the good to excellent ones, but most of what makes one person prefer one speaker over another is 100% SUBJECTIVE personal tastes in both sound and their particular usage habits (whether they listen at low, medium or high volumes; whether they're doing mostly HT/TV or music, and if music then what specific genres they listen to).

2. Anybody who actually believes that measurements are anything more than a STARTING POINT in the speaker selection process is hopelessly simple-minded. Further, measurements can easily be fudged and/or screwed up depending on the conditions under which they're taken. Just like most specs, there is no industry wide standard or watchdog regulatory body to make sure that everybody is playing with the same toys. Again, many grains of salt.

3. I have owned the Ascend 170SE, and I have heard plenty of "bright" speakers. I despise "bright" speakers, other than for HT usage...for music, they are a form of torture as far as my ears are concerned. The 170SE are *not* bright, nowhere in the same league of "bright" as entry-level Klipsch, Polk, or Def Tech. I'd call them "neutral" bordering on "clinical"---a speaker that rewards a really good recording and ruthlessly reveals a poor one.

The fact that the reviewer provides commentary on how the 170SE actually *sounds* to his ears with any specific pieces of music, speaks volumes. Then he stupidly uses the infamously warm-and-wooly but mid-bass heavy Pioneer BS22 as a comparison in full channel mode...well DOH, guess which one is going to sound "better?" The 170SE like the 200SE were both designed to be used WITH a subwoofer...that's why it has much higher sensitivity than the Pioneer. A large part of my motivation for getting rid of them was a desire for a more forgiving speaker since much of my listening is with lossy streaming music.

Based on all of the above, I would happily trust these people's independent measurements of the 170SE over that of the ASR guy:
http://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/ascend_cbm170/
Fair points. I like your description of the Ascends. I think i like a little sparkle, not too laid back. When the treble is too laid back i can't stop thinking about how i want just a little more. I use cooking/food as an analogy. treble is salt. Salt highlights everything else and makes it pop. There's nothing worse than undersalted food, but of course you can go too far and ruin everything.

So far i've ordered:
KEF Q150
Elac Debut 2.0 5.2
Q Acoustics 3020i

The word that keeps coming up in Wharfedale reviews is smooth, warm, laid back. I wonder if i'd like that. Maybe i should skip them for the Ascends. Or PSBs.
 

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Interesting, I ruled out the Ascend CBM-170s after reading the audiosciencereview review.

PSB Alpha P5s are $400.. tempting, but at the price i'd have to include the Elac UB5s.. slippery slope. If there's a big bump in performance, i'd consider going up to $500, but it seems like many popular options are in the $300ish and then many in the $600-700ish.

I think the JBLs are too big for my space. This is a fairly near-fieldish setup.

I'll read up on the Chane and NHT options.

Thanks!
I think it's important to note that the ASR review of the 170s wasn't exactly negative. Amir can be pretty harsh when it comes to assessing very minor flaws. Also, the recommendation seems mostly based on Amir's short subjective listening test at the end, and has very little to do with the measurements. For example, he does not recommend the KEF Q150 because he didn't like the way it sounded, yet he does recommend the JBL 708 which measures worse and costs 5x as much. He also didn't strongly recommend the Genelec speaker due to it's limited full range output, despite it clearly being the best measured speaker to date. It's important to separate the measurements from the assessment, and it terms of measurements, the 170s didn't do bad. They actually measured slightly better than the Sierra 2s, which says a lot given their price. Don't get me wrong, ASR is probably my favorite review site now, but I think it's important to keep some of these things in mind when reading the review. The most valuable part is the measurements, especially once you've listened to enough speakers to kinda know the sound signatures you like best.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The Alpha P3s are fairly small and punch well above their weight. They can be crossed over at 80Hz too...
I really like the P3's design and size. Reviews are nice as well.. Pretty damn tempting actually, i'll bump them ahead of the Wharfedales as next up to buy.
 

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Fair points. I like your description of the Ascends. I think i like a little sparkle, not too laid back. When the treble is too laid back i can't stop thinking about how i want just a little more. I use cooking/food as an analogy. treble is salt. Salt highlights everything else and makes it pop. There's nothing worse than undersalted food, but of course you can go too far and ruin everything.

So far i've ordered:
KEF Q150
Elac Debut 2.0 5.2
Q Acoustics 3020i

Maybe i should skip them for the Ascends. Or PSBs.
The Q150s and QAs are usually described as "neutral-warm" whereas the Wharfedales are straight up "warm"---so yeah, the Ascends would provide a definite contrast.

I'd also look at the NHT C1, usually these are closer to $200 apiece but are currently just $139 each on Amazon. They are a sealed cabinet design so they would be ideal for desktop use, you can push them close against a wall if needed. Their sound signature is reportedly "neutral" as well. And Amazon's offering free returns on them...sounds like a great deal.
https://www.amazon.com/NHT-Bookshelf-Speaker-Single-Black/dp/B019PZ95J2/
 
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