Tarun, aka A British Audiophile and EIC Ian White continue the discussion as we select our favorite bookshelf speakers in the $1,000 to $3,000 price range.
Part One focused on three of our favorite bookshelf loudspeakers from PSB Speakers, Spendor, and Amphion. Each model offers a very different sonic presentation, but all three deliver exceptional performance below $3,000.
PSB Synchrony B600
PSB is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the Synchrony B600s might be one of the finest loudspeakers to come from Paul S. Barton. The rather hefty Canadian stand-mounted loudspeakers deliver dynamics, bass, and a much larger sounding soundstage than almost anything in its price range.
The slightly warm tonal balance and spaciousness makes the PSB Synchrony B600 one of the most engaging loudspeakers we have listened to in many years but care needs to be taken with the amplification. The Synchrony B600s require more power than the specs might suggest but reward the listener with a degree of scale that is beyond impressive for the asking price.
Where to buy: $2,799 at Crutchfield
For more information: Read our PSB Synchrony B600 Review
Amphion Argon 1
Finland is not known to be a leading manufacturer of high-end loudspeakers, but Amphion is a very strong exception to the rule. The brand has become quite successful in the pro audio world and their technology has trickled down into some excellent products like the Argon 1.
A loudspeaker that does not take up a lot of space but delivers a lot of sound and a very spacious presentation. If you crave something clean and detailed but also quite punchy and capable of handling rock, electronic music, and hip-hop — the Amphion Argon 1 might surprise you with its capabilities.
Where to buy: $2,000 at Alma Music & Audio
For more information: amphion.fi/products/argon1/
Spendor Classic 4/5
The entry-level Classic 4/5 offers a more affordable option from the venerable British manufacturer with a very balanced presentation, excellent transparency, and detail galore for a Spendor. This sealed box won’t bend the laws of physics but its bass response in a smaller room (16′ x 13′ or smaller) might be enough for a lot of listeners.
The sensitivity is on the lower side so consider 50 watts/channel to be a good starting point. Spendor offers custom stands for these that are way too expensive in our opinion, but any 24″ stands with some solidity and weight will work.
Where to buy: $2,825 at Upscale Audio
For more information: spendoraudio.com
Watch our Part 1 discussion on YouTube (or click play at the top of the page).
The second part of our discussion focuses on three bookshelf loudspeakers from ATC, DALI, and Acoustic Energy. All three models fall below $3,000 and deliver exceptional performance and build quality.
DALI Menuet SE
DALI are the second largest manufacturer of loudspeaker cabinets and every component in the Menuet SE was designed and manufactured in-house; including the screws that are engraved with the DALI logo.
The Menuet SE offer excellent build quality and one of the highest levels of finish in a bookshelf loudspeaker.
The 11.5cm mid/bass driver is manufactured from DALI’s proprietary wood fibre cone material, which strikes a good balance between rigidity, low weight and damping properties.
The 28mm dome tweeter is both airy and detailed sounding without ever sounding etched at higher volume levels. The 86dB (4 ohms) sensitivity rating is somewhat low but you don’t need to drive them with 100 watts to hear what makes them so special.
See Tarun’s full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK9RPHsOcS4
For more information: dali-speakers.com
Acoustic Energy AE1
The Acoustic Energy AE1 ($1,590.00) are active loudspeakers because they feature separate power amplifiers inside each loudspeaker; both the tweeter and midrange driver/woofer have their own amplifiers, active crossovers, and do not require a connection to the other in order to work.
You are tied to the sound of the power amplifiers but that’s a very good thing in this case.
These are not wireless loudspeakers, but they will work quite effectively in the context of a wireless digital streaming system.
Vocals can also be slightly cool sounding if your DAC or pre-amp lean that way; detail might be phenomenal in this scenario, but I wouldn’t trade greater tonal color for it.
The more I listen to them – the more I feel that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of their capabilities and that makes them the basis for a fantastic sounding system for the long haul.
See Tarun’s full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy0g28eaWFw
Also see Ian’s article: Acoustic Energy AE1 Active Loudspeakers: My Favorite Audiophile System Builder
Where to buy: $1,590 at The Sound Seller
ATC SCM 19
While slightly difficult to drive, the ATC SCM 19 deliver very high levels of resolution, detail, transparency, and low end response. ATC’s drivers are all custom designs manufactured in-house and designed to withstand years of musical enjoyment. The British manufacturer does not cut corners and the build quality is superb; the industrial design betrays its pro audio roots but these are some of the best bookshelf/stand-mount speakers available.
The ATC SCM 19 are ruthlessly revealing of the sources and amplifiers on the other end and careful attention needs to be paid to maximize their performance.
See Tarun’s full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiUlJg-q5YM
Where to buy: £2,300 at Audio Affair
For more information: atc.audio
Previously we awarded the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1,000 in 2022.