Speakers are the voice of any audio/video system, the final step in the signal chain before the sound reaches our ears. Also, they exhibit more variability in tonal quality than just about any other component, which is why many consider them the most important part of any audio system. To help you narrow the search for your next speaker system, we present a list of the best speakers reviewed on AVS Forum.
1. Our Pick: SVS Prime Pinnacle Speakers
The SVS Prime Pinnacle Speakers are our top pick, featuring an all-new driver array with the company’s first-ever 5.25″ midrange and triple woofer design with 1″ aluminum dome tweeter. Measuring 41.1″ tall by 8″ wide by 13.9″ deep, the SVS Prime Pinnacle has a frequency response of 29 Hz to 25 kHz (+/-3 dB). The 5.25″ midrange driver features a composite glass-fiber cone to deliver “pinpoint accuracy and broad soundstage for more immersive audio experiences,” while the 1″ aluminum dome tweeter brings crystal clear highs. A trio of 6.5″ high-performance woofers complete the package with impressive deep bass.
Our own Mark Henninger had this to say about the SVS Prime Pinnacle speakers: “If you’re looking for a premium, full-sized three way tower that does not compromise sound and yet is attainably priced relative to other gear of this quality, SVS always requires serious consideration. To me, it’s no surprise that these are phenomenal speakers because they are the latest and greatest iteration of the already familiar SVS Prime series. The company has earned its excellent reputation in terms of both product design and customer service.”
The KLH Kendall 3-way Tower Speakers feature a pair of 6.5″ Kevlar bass drivers, a 5.25″ Kevlar mid-bass driver, and a 1″ anodized aluminum tweeter. Delivering incredibly deep bass and crisp, clear audio, these speakers are housed in sturdy 3/4″ MDF cabinets crafted with real wood veneers in Black Oak or American Walnut.
The Kevlar drivers are matched with butyl rubber surrounds to reduce unwanted resonance, prevent distortion, and improve accuracy. Cast aluminum baskets featuring oversized magnets deliver better linear control, phase coherency, and clarity. The mid-bass driver combined with the anodized aluminum tweeter help offer rich mids and highs for full frequency detail.
“The bass extension of these towers is uncommon even at higher price points and has a quality to it that I would normally associate with premium subwoofers,” said Mark Henninger in his review of the KLH Kendall 3-way Tower Speakers. “It just goes to show that a speaker does not have to possess some esoteric new design, weigh 500 pounds and be made of solid aluminum in order to kick ass. The KLH Kendalls is a well-executed 3-way tower and an express pass to attainable high-performance sound.”
If you’re looking for a 7.0.4 3D immersive audio speaker system, you’ll want to take a look at Definitive Technology. This system consists of five models: BP9060 bipolar towers, CS9040 center channel, SR9040 bipolar satellites, BP9040 bipolar towers, and A90 Dolby Atmos-enabled modules.
The BP9060 bipolar towers feature dual forward-facing 4.5″ midrange drivers and a 1″ aluminum dome front-firing tweeter, while the rear-facing driver array sports a single 4.5″ midrange and an additional 1″ tweeter, along with a 10″ powered subwoofer. The BP9040 serve as the rear speakers in this system and are pretty much the same as the BP9060s, except they use 8″ subwoofers instead of 10″ subwoofers.
The CS9040 center channel is a horizontal driver array equipped with dual 4.5″ mid/bass drivers, combined with a 1″ aluminum dome tweeter. Side-surround duty is handled by a pair of SR9040 speaker in this system, with two 3.5″ mid/bass drivers and two 1″ aluminum dome tweeters. Lastly, there is a total of four A90 Dolby Atmos-enabled modules, each using a single 4.5″ mid/bass driver and a single 1″ aluminum dome tweeter.
In our review, Mark Henninger found the Definitive Technology BP9000 Series 7.0.4 speaker system to deliver “a complete immersive home theater experience.” He added, “It’s a great 3D immersive audio surround-sound outfit that’s only made better if you add ultra deep-digging subwoofers to the mix.”
Monolith by Monoprice offers a series of THX-certified theaters, which Mark Henninger reviewed earlier this year. Three new models are available as part of the lineup: THX-365T Atmos mini-tower, THX-365C center channel, and the THX-265B Atmos bookshelf speaker.
The THX-365T features a 1″ silk dome tweeter, a 2″ silk dome midrange, and a pair of 6.5″ long fiber pulp cone woofers. This mini-tower has an upfiring, Dolby Atmos-capable driver built in that is compatible with all Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processors or receivers.
The center channel speaker, THX-365C, boasts a similar setup with a 1″ silk dome tweeter, 2″ silk dome midrange, and two 6.5″ long fiber pulp cone woofers.
The THX-265B bookshelf speaker uses a 1″ silk dome tweeter, 6.5″ long fiber pulp cone for its main woofer, and a 5.25″ long fiber pulp cone as its Atmos woofer.
“Most impressively, these speakers appear to offer a very consistent dispersion pattern that allow them to maintain imaging even when you’re not seated perfectly centered between a pair,” Henninger noted in his review. “This effect was pronounced enough that at times I would forget there is no sound coming out of the center channel. Physically removing the center channel altogether prevents the brain from assigning the sounds to it, but the floating three-dimensional imaging remained. I don’t know how else to put it, these are incredible speakers for the money, by any measure.”
A more affordable option for speakers comes from JBL with the Stage A190 tower speakers. Measuring 42.12″ tall by 10.23″ wide by 14.57″ deep, these tower speakers feature a 2.5-way design with dual 8″ low-frequency woofers and a 1″ aluminum tweeter. In our review, Mark Henninger found these speakers offer “profoundly good 3D imaging” at an extremely competitive price. These speakers are available in pantone black or two-tone wood.
“The easy and obvious conclusion here is that you do not need fancy materials and high prices to create a pair of extremely competent tower speakers that do just about everything a audio enthusiast could want,” Henninger said in his review. “JBL Stage A190 speakers clearly demonstrate that good engineering can deliver exceptional audio performance that’s also affordable. If they size and the looks of these speakers agree with you aesthetic sensibility and domestic reality then giving a pair an audition is a good idea.”
Another affordable Top Choice option from AVS Forum reviewer Jim Wilson are the Dayton Audio MK Series speakers. Specifically the MK402 bookshelf speakers and the making MK442 center channel. The MK402 bookshelf speakers feature a single 4″ midrange driver paired with a 3/4″ ferrofluid cooled soft dome tweeter, while the MK442 center channel boasts two 4″ midrange treated paper woofers with a 3/4″ tweeter.
Don’t let the price of these speakers fool you as they “punch well above their weight,” said Wilson in his review.
“These speakers could be sold for twice what they are and nobody would complain,” he added. “If you are on a tight budget these are the speakers to buy.”
No list of speakers would be complete without an entry from Klipsch. The company’s RF-7 III floorstanding speakers is one of our Top Choices. These large 2-way towers each feature dual 10″ woofers combined with a 1.75″ titanium compression-driver tweeter with 90 x 90-degree dispersion. As you can tell, these speakers look fantastic and are offered in three real-wood veneer finishes: Black ash, walnut, and natural cherry.
“To my ears, these are the best-sounding Klipsch towers yet since distortion and dynamic compression are nowhere to be found,” said Mark Henninger in his review. “If you want it all—great looks and performance and craftsmanship—in speakers built in the USA (yes, using some foreign parts)—then the Klipsch RF-7 III speakers are absolutely one of the best deals out there. Then again, they are among the best speakers out there, period.”
Moving onto our “Recommended” products (as opposed to Top Choices), here are the PSB Alpha T20 tower speakers. Designed to be a more compact solution, these tower speakers feature a 3/4″ black anodized aluminum dome tweeter, and two 5.25″ textured polypropylene woofers with rubber surrounds. The tweeter used in these towers are new Alpha Series tweeters, which use ferrofluid cooling and a neodymium magnet for high sensitivity. Each woofer is backed with a rear-firing port.
“Among tower speakers I have auditioned, the new Alpha T20 towers offer the biggest sound in the smallest package that I have encountered, regardless of cost,” Mark Henninger noted in his hands-on preview. “By big sound, what I mean is the imaging is enveloping and holographic, the bass is deep, physical and tangible.”
A premium all-in-one speaker system is offered by Focal with the Dome Flax 5.1-channel speaker system. The speakers accompanying this system are extremely versatile and can be used on a stand, on a wall, or even hung from the ceiling. This is an ideal solution if you’re looking for ultra-compact, satellite-style speakers and willing to pay the price for Focal quality. Best of all, it includes a subwoofer that can be used wired or wireless, although its modest performance holds the entire system back from being a Top Choice.
“These are high-quality, ultra-compact, satellite style loudspeakers. They are beautiful to look at and a joy to play music, movies and games through,” said Steve Potenziano in his review. “The fit and finish is second to none for a HTiB, and the Flax cone material technology offers a distinct improvement is sound attributable to improvements in definition plus frequency response linearity (or so says Focal, but it does sound great). They have it all, really.”
From Paradigm’s Monitor Series are the SE 6000F 3-way tower speakers sporting five drivers total. At the top is a 1″ ferrofluid damped and cooled aluminum dome tweeter followed by a 5.5″ polypropylene midrange and three 5.5″ woofers. Each tower measures 41.25″ tall by 9″ wide by 14.125″ deep and is available in matte black or gloss white. In Mark Henninger’s review of the Paradigm Monitor SE 6000F 3-way tower speakers, he found they delivered “a smooth, balanced, catchy sound from the very first note.”
“There’s nothing explicitly extravagant about the Monitor SE 6000F tower speakers, they simply look sharp and deliver the sonic goods,” Henninger concluded in his review. “What more can you ask for!”
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