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under $200 bookshelves

16650 Views 62 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  edgebsl
i just took a chance on some chinese made speakers called aer acoustics on ebay.I thought at first it might be a speaker scam like the white van thing but decided to take a chance.

I am glad i did.The speakers I got are called pisces and they have kevlar woofers with an aluminum phase plug and a top mounted aluminum dome tweeter.They resemble b and w and swan designs loosely.They also have a flared 2 inch port.

They look great too!

How do they sound? Well the box says 89db efficiency but I think its more like 87.They want power! They were much quieter than my AR's .Once i cranked them up full range with my sub off I did a double take.They had some real deep bass! They sent me a graph when i requested it and it looked pretty balanced but a little choppy in the mids.Real quick peaks and valleys.There was no evidence of coloration in the mids when i listened though..I actually thought they sounded very true.Voices sound natural and midrange instruments seem to be right there.The tweets are bright but not harsh at all.The dispersion is really good too.I put them to small and turned on my sealed tempest sub and really cranked them up to ear splitting levels.I thought the sound was unbelievable!

Now I'm not suggesting these speakers compare to B&W or Swan.But at their price you get a little bit of that design technology trickled down.And there arent many options in this price range at all! What, would you go to best buy and buy a pair of klh's? Just think for around 500 you could have a complete matched 6.1 setup! Im pretty excited and i may go with these all around.

The box says 60 watts power handling.I suggest using much more because of their low efficiency.I actually tested them with a pair of yamaha mono PA amps (200 watts each).But if you like your music loud i expect you should use a sub to keep the woofers from reaching their limits.

This is an inexpensive speaker but I think they put my ar318ps's to shame.

I also prefer them to my bud's jbl studio series ensemble.
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Using restraint not to say *^&* you! lol

You know i couldnt find one thing on the internet about these. I was really skeptical.So I thought I would give them a glowing review....Its funny ,an infomercial? when someone gives a glowing review of an extremely popular product like say..the yamaha 2400 reciever it's informative -never mind that 20 other people already did it..I dont get that.

Lets hear you suggestions for under $200 a pair!

All my other suggestions would go over:

My apologies for almost cursing you....

I just searched "ebay" and found the dk design thread!

No doubt there are some shiesters selling some stuff on ebay...

In my opinion these are honestly good.

I'll post again after a break in period and let you know what i think....if they are too good to be true.

My bassist has a pair of tannoy pbm 6.5 studio monitors .i want to compare them to the aer's.

The guy was cool enough to send me a graph.And for what its worth wasnt claiming the retailed for so much more or compared to more expensive speakers.

If anyone else has any experience with these i would like to hear...

Especially tales of blown drivers or problems.
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With the sheer quantity of under $200 speakers out there and the lack of in-depth reviews, I thought it might be helpful to add my review of the bookshelf speakers I recently purchased.

The speakers are the Pisces PB-651 V2.0 speakers made by AER Acoustic. I hadn't read any reviews online about how they sounded so I purchased them based upon #1 Real wood finish, #2 Price, and #3 looks/design. These were purchased to be used as surround sound speakers.

When I took them out of the box I was immediately impressed by their finish. At first I was thinking that the statement about a real wood veneer was untrue since the finish surface was so perfect. After closer inspection, it is indeed a real wood veneer. My only disappointment was that the wood finish was considerably darker than pictured on the internet. It appears to be a lightly finished walnut. I emailed to ask about this and they stated that the different wood grain finishes are due to the differences in wood lots used in cabinet production - with some being lighter and others darker than the picture shown (I imagine this keeps costs down). I was told that this could be preselected based on my preference. I wasn't willing to pay shipping both ways again so I didn't bother exchanging them.

With the speakers out of the box, the next thing I did was to hook them up as my primary speakers and test them out on my high-end stereo system. I have Vandersteen 3A and 2W speakers, a Naim Nait 3 integrated preamp/amp, and an upgraded Assemblage DAC and Audio Alchemy DTI.

My jaw dropped! For under $200 speakers I was not expecting this level of performance. I listened to some 24-bit HDCDs and was amazed at the depth of the soundstage. Imaging is spectacular for speakers in this price range. I haven't heard speakers under $500 that can create such a coherent soundstage. I believe the key to such transparent highs is the separate top-mounted tweeter arrangement and the narrow front baffle design.

While the Pisces PB-651 V2.0 speakers present a detailed and open sound, they can sound congested in the mid-bass area with certain types of music. An excellent example can be found on Chris Isaak's CD, Baja Sessions. In his lower vocal range, the speakers begin to sound muddy. Regarding bass under 100Hz, the speakers were only used in conjunction with a Vandersteen 2W sub, so it is difficult to judge, but the speakers seemed to do quite well for single 6.5" woofers.

Often times speakers begin to sound better after the speaker cones have been played for a while. After playing for 40 hours at high volume levels (I'm actually amazed at the volume levels these speakers can produce - but they do take a lot of power, perhaps 87db efficiency, and the woofer phase-plug does get warm), a few things happened. The first was that a nasty buzz started to occur. I tracked this down to the tweeter mounting ring. It was vibrating against its mount at high volume levels. I inserted a piece of felt cloth inbetween and the vibration disappeared. As far as the mid-bass performance, after breaking-in, it did not improve, and if anything, actually seemed more noticeable.

Being the naturally curious person that I am, I decided to see how the speakers were constructed. I unscrewed the 6.5" woofer and was immediately impressed by how the cabinets were built. The face plate was an inch thick and the sides appeared to be about 3/4" thick. The material wasn't typical MDF, instead if was composed of a softer fiberboard (less glue, more fiber - somewhere between low and medium density). Taking a look at the 6.5" driver showed me everything I needed to know about the bass performance. While this driver has a great appearance (yellow Kevlar cone), the magnet structure is typical for speakers in this price range. The crossover is also average and uses typical electrolytic caps.

Speaker cabinets are normally over 65% of the cost of the finished speaker. In this case, I would say an even higher percentage went to building these cabinets. While they could have been built with higher density to be absolutely perfect, their construction is considerably better than any speaker I have seen near this price point. Purchasing better empty cabinets would far exceed the price of these completed speakers.

With that said, I think it's a shame that these speakers aren't available at a higher price-point with better 6.5" woofers. Although, for some, this may be a benefit. I can imagine these speakers might sell quite well with DIY speaker-builders. It's impossible to build speaker cabinets of this quality for anywhere near this price. With new crossovers, a pair of Seas 6.5" P17REX/P, and perhaps Morel MDT-41 top-mounting tweeters (optional since the existing tweeters are good) installed in these cabinets, these would truly be high-end looking and sounding speakers. Of course the list price of these drivers is far above the price of these speakers. And that brings us to the conclusion:

These speakers are incredible for this price point. Most people without high-end systems will simply think that these speakers look like thousand dollar speakers (they really do!) and sound good. And for those of us audiophiles that want high-end speakers cheap, spending another $150 and putting in the SEAS P17REX/P drivers and upgrading the crossovers would make these speakers both look and sound like high-end speakers.
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I am glad to see that I dont have to get my hearing checked out!

I have my 2 pairs on order to fill out for 6.1.I think its going to be interesting to have the same speaker all around for voice matching.

I agree that to a point about the woofer, but I think that the kevlar phase plug combo gives it good hi mid reproduction while it may suffer slightly in the bass region.I also found that without a sub it lacks that punchy snap around 60 to 80 hx that makes the kick drum feel like its hitting you in the chest- but i turn on my tempest and there it is.

I will report back.
You say they are better than the 318PS. I have 4 of the 318PS towers and they are very nice for the money when I bought them.

The drivers look alot like those made by hi-vi research and used in the swan's diva line from www .theaudioinsider .com . The fact that the speakers are made in china lends me to beleive this is a strong possibility. The tweeter looks exactly the same as the one used in the entire Diva line other than silver ring instead of gold. The woofer looks like the one used as a midrange driver in the 6.1 towers other than having a silver phase cap as opposed to black. If so, assuming fairly competent crossover design, these should be great sounding speakers at a great price.

Can anyone confirm or deny these are hi-vi research drivers?
Under $200 speakers? The Athena AS-B1.
Paradigm Atoms or Titan's. I will stick with one of the best.

Originally posted by Stephen Hopkins
The drivers look alot like those made by hi-vi research and used in the swan's diva line from www .theaudioinsider .com . The fact that the speakers are made in china lends me to beleive this is a strong possibility. The tweeter looks exactly the same as the one used in the entire Diva line other than silver ring instead of gold. The woofer looks like the one used as a midrange driver in the 6.1 towers other than having a silver phase cap as opposed to black. If so, assuming fairly competent crossover design, these should be great sounding speakers at a great price.

Can anyone confirm or deny these are hi-vi research drivers?
Thanks for pointing out the Swan line of speakers. I just took a look at the their product line and I'm almost certain that the Swan Speakers are being built on the same production line as the AER Acoustic Speakers. Swan doesn't mention the Chinese manufacture, but AER lists theirs as the Yueyun Audio Appliance Company: www .china-aors. com

If you take a look at the standard product lines (they do a lot of OEM work for other companies), the speakers look very similar to those offered by AER Acoustic and Swan as far as drivers and design. Now with that said, I believe the finish quality is most likely identical. When it comes to drivers, the tweeter looks identical to the tweeter on the Diva 2.1, 4.1, 5.1, and 6.1 and the woofer looks identical to the midrange on the 6.1 towers (their $1300 speaker).

In comparing the drivers, I looked at high frequency response graphs for the tweeters (hard to compare bass/mid drivers lower frequencies due to crossover effects). The response curves are not the same. The AER tweeters show a 5db dip in the response curve between 7.5k to 8kHz which is not seen on the Swan response curves. This might be attributed to the crossover design (Swan uses a 'CAD-optimized and hand-voiced crossover network using heavy gauge, air-core inductors and premium film capacitors' vs AER's fairly cheap crossover with electrolytic caps), or perhaps a different driver inside the tweeter capsule (Swan refers to a 'German' silk dome tweeter), or the response curve differences could simply be due to different speaker testing methods. My guess is that the tweeters are identical owing to the AER Acoustics excellent sonic performance.

In regards to the 6.1 towers' 165mm midrange with Kevlar/paper fiber hybrid cone and phase plug, it certainly does look identical to the woofers found in the AER with the exception of the phase-plug color. This could point to a possible difference in magnet and basket structure (which could result in a completely different sound). More importantly for the AER design, if the drivers are identical and it was initially designed to be a midrange, that would explain why I hear problems with it in the mid-bass section (it was never intended to do bass even though it does it quite well).

To put the problem with the mid-bass performance of the AER Pisces speakers into perspective, the problem isn't noticeable with all types of music. The easiest way to identify the problem is with lower frequency male vocals - they sound 'thick'. When directly compared to my Vandersteen 3's (which cost 15x more), there are obvious missing elements in the sound that are masked by this effect. Simply put, mid-bass sounds muddy. But unless you have thousands of dollars in a high-end audio system to reference it against, you might actually think it is supposed to sound that way.

Returning to Swan's product line, their similar product, Diva 2.1s, feature a different woofer, retail for $600 and sell for $450. Assuming the 2.1s have the same type of soundstage, build quality, and have fixed the mid-bass problem of the AER Acoustics model, I would think that $450 would be a great deal.

With that said, I've never heard speakers under $200 that I've liked (or could even tolerate for that matter). The fact that I actually like the AER Acoustic speakers with some types of music is amazing to me. I honestly don't think there are any other speakers that can compare to these in this in the under $200 price range.
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Well the differences in response graphs are most likely due to different crossover designs. I see a model PR666 on the china-aors website that has a 6.5" woofer that looks remarkably similar to those used in the 2.1, 5.1, and C3 swan models. My guess is some or all of their drivers are made by hi-vi research, which also makes me think the AER are using the same Hi-Vi Research drivers, or atleast similar drivers from Hi-Vi research. Like I said before, I know drivers don't make a great speaker, but assuming competent crossover and baffles-step design, these are probably great speakers for the price.
I now have 5 of these for a matched set.It sounds incerdible i must say.

I'm sold on having identical speakers all around.The imaging is so perfect!

You know I thought at 1st these looked a lot like swan/hi/vi drivers but I asked and they say they have nothing to do with them.The tweeters are aluminum dome and I would say that if the bandw and swan 2.1s werent studied closely in the making it would be one hell of a coincidence.

I havent heard the athena's but I do think these would bury the atoms the one guy mentioned.Ive heard them many times.As for the AR 318....they served me well.They are more efficeint and can probably go louder.But these bookshelves are more detailed and a flatter response.NO comparison in tweeters.The ARs almost have a built in v-curve...not to mention impossible to voice match to other speakers in the line.You did the right thing with getting 4.I hope you can squeeze another tower under your screen.
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Hey has anyone else tried out these AER Pisces? I'm thinking of giving it a go. Look nice for the money.

Later, Daman
Just wondering if there have been any more advancements as of late concerning the AER Pisces speakers. Are they the same as the Swans? Should I buy a pair? I am really considering it! Does anyone else have more new feedback about these speakers?


AER Pisces V2.0 Speakers

I received the AER Pisces V2.0 in good condition from the USA distributor. I also purchased the matching stands, which I believe are critical for getting the best performance from any small monitor speaker. The manufacturer’s representative I dealt with was very professional. He was knowledgeable about the product and helpful answering technical questions before and after the sale. Other aspiring Chinese audio distributors looking to get a hold of the American market have not been as knowledgeable or helpful.


Packaging was at a high standard for both the Chinese made speakers and stands and similar to American and Canadian audio in this price range. The Cayin amp and other products I have bought from China can be over packaged with very heavy boxes and cosmetic “extrasâ€. For example: The Cayin Tube amp came with a pair of white gloves. This makes the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me nervous when I see this. I wonder if they are trying to cover up for (engineering) deficiencies after the product has been released for manufacturing.


Yes, the cabinets are real wood and incredibly well finished. I had Theil 2.2’s with the Amberwood finish that were not as nice. The JM Labs speakers I now own have red cherry but are not nearly as nice with many flaws in the fit and the wood. One JM Labs speaker has stained putty covering a knothole. If you haven’t gone furniture shopping for a few years check out the fantastic quality of Chinese furniture (while you can before the proposed tariffs hit) for very little money.

The crossover component quality was standard for this category. The binding posts are gold plated metal and mounted on a mass produced plastic backplate that also holds the crossover board. It is cost efficient to manufacture and easy to remove for repair or modification.

Crossover components are rather pedestrian with a wire coil and the crossover components mounted on the breadboard. I would rather see the crossover board mounted more securely screwed to the inside of the cabinet. The wiring connecting the tweeter and kevlar woofer/midrange driver to the crossover would not make an audiophile happy. It is very thin gauge (looks like CAT 5 strands for the tweeter) and could benefit from an upgrade. Some audiophiles think it is reprehensible to have a manufacturer connect your precious tweeters with anything less than silver wire with Teflon dielectric, but perhaps the design team knows something we don’t (i.e. that adequate vs. high quality wire in short lengths will not audibly alter the sound). I had a pair of Legacy Classic (real) rosewood speakers that were $2800 and they used telephone hook up wire to connect their much-heralded tweeters.

For those who think speaker wire makes a difference as I do, check out the Absolute Sound’s 2-part speaker wire comparison. They claim a Home Depot 14-gauge extension cord used as speaker wire sounds very close to the10 other audiophile “name brands†tested costing up to $900 per 8 foot pair. I tried it and agree it is similar to my Monster 2.4 biwire, which was a staple on the Stereophile recommended components list for years. Very courageous of the Absolute Sound to publish such a review when you look at all the cable manufacturer ads.

Baffling was of the common white “insulation†type. The cabinets were thick enough so that the lack of cross bracing was not as detrimental as it would be with a larger box. The cabinets were not as acoustically inert as I would have liked when I knocked on them with the bare-knuckle test. I lined them inside with blu-tac which helped.

The Kevlar mid/woofer looks similar to the driver on other speakers listed on the china-aors site. This is stamped; not a die cast basket, with butyl surround and a phase plug similar to the B&W driver. The magnet is average for a speaker of this price. As mounted in the cabinet, the driver looks very high tech and fit for a high-end speaker.

The tweeter looks similar to the units on another china competitor, the SWAN 2.1 monitors, that is listed as a silk dome unit. It is mounted securely with a screen for protection. The unit does not have the metal housing and exposed heat sinking of the Nautilus line of tweeters. However it is freestanding and subjectively exhibits very wide dispersion. Inherent in this design is a driver that does not suffer as much from reflections as a one recessed in the cabinet. This lends to a more open sound with better depth of field.

The stands had a nice powder coat silver finish and assembled perfectly. By comparison, a few years ago speaker stands even at a much higher price point where painted which were easily scratched. I would have preferred carpet piercing spikes rather than chrome cones. They looked better than many $200 plus stands I have had. One sad note: These stands ring like a bell and need sand or lead shot to deaden them for best sound.

Is this a poor man’s B&W 805 you ask?


I have had both the B&W Matrix and Nautilus 805’s before I went to the JM Labs 820’s. I remember the matching stands alone for the Nautilus 805’s were almost $700 as recommended by Stereophile (thanks guys,,what a sheep I am). I did not have them on hand for direct comparison but did have a pair of the over achieving Sound Dynamic RTS-3 highly reviewed by Harry Pearson in the Absolute Sound.


Very smooth. Definition is fine but not hyper detailed. The sound is smooth and coherent enough so you will forget the need to analyze what you are missing or what is wrong. The tweeter integrates nicely with the midrange. There is little problem with beaming or point source. The driver subjectively seems to unload energy quite evenly from side to side thus reducing the need for the listener to sit on axis.


Blends well with both upper and lower registers. Detail is fine but like the treble not over done. I used a harsh sounding receiver and the speakers were forgiving of its sound. This is not to say the midrange is muffled, as it is not. I would compare the sound character of the Pisces to the Sennheiser 650 headphones in the way they are very musical and forgiving while still providing a musical level of definition. They are not as sharply defined as the Grado line of headphones.


Perhaps the strongest characteristic of the Pisces. Deep with good definition resulting in a dynamic full range sound. I did not feel the compelling need for a subwoofer in my 12L x 17W x 10H room and I like bass.


Dispersion is good with typical mini monitor, solid center channel imaging. Image is stable with a minimum of phase shift wavering. Depth is deep without sounding artificially holographic. Presentation is just right, not too forward or too laid back. Nothing is perfect and I would characterize the image being just a tad reticent if pushed and lacking the focus of the best.

A word of caution regarding the claimed 89db efficiency. The Pisces like power. If you want to get the best bass you will need to feed them high power with current. I also had an Aragon 2004 Mk 2 amp with (about) 100 watts that they did quite nicely with along the Aragon 200-watt beast.


Very nice for very little money. The Chinese audio products are coming and will change what we pay for hi-fi. No, this is not built like a B&W 805. But look at the trickle down technology you get: Kevlar driver, open-air tweeter, and high tech cabinet design with gorgeous real wood. I was worried this was nothing more that a B&W 805 knock off designed to be sold out of the back of a white van with the fake Rolex’s. Be prepared for a pleasant surprise.


Better bring a big amp, these are not efficient

No Bi-wire capability

Crossover and internal wiring of dissimilar quality to the rest of the speaker

Not the last word in definition



Trickle down high tech design

Solid Bass

Smooth and musical treble


I tested the speakers with the following discs:

Stereophile Test CD 1

Stereophile Test CD 2

Stereophile Test CD 3

Diane Krall Love Scenes Redbook CD

Neil Young One The Beach HDCD

Joni Mitchell Both Sides Now DVD-A

Mettalica Black DVD-A

Bob Dylan Freewheelin’ SACD


JM Labs Cobalt 820 speakers

Sound Dynamic RTS-3 speakers

Aragon 8008 amplifier

Aragon 24K preamp

Cayin TA-30 Tube EL-34 Integrated Amp

Sony 333ES SACD player

Rotel 991 HDCD player

Technics DVD-A10 DVD-A

Monster 2.4 biwire speaker cable

Silver Audio 4.0 interconnects (preamp to amp)

Radio Shack Fusion interconnects (not bad)

Signal Type 2 interconnect
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It is nice of you to post the same piece of marketing on two threads at the same time edgebs...errrr...tbonner1. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...43#post4013343
Anyone notice a trend here??

I think they call it "hyping" or "pumping". Good catch on the twin posts, looks like a swell marketing effort and subtle. too.
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