Best (front) bookshelf speakers $200-300?


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These will be running off of an Onkyo 601 which I keep reading is quite bright. I'm running a powered subwoofer so they don't need to have much bass, I just want the best possible mids and highs in this price range. I have a Wharfedale center speaker too which takes much of the midrange.

Recently bought a pair of Polk R20s at a great price from Circuit City but found their sound to be overwhelmingly bassy and very lacking at all other frequency ranges...will either use them as rear surrounds or return them.

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First, you should be certain to carefully match your speakers. If you like the Wharfdale center, you should look into mains and surrounds from the same company (It's easier to match the driver compliment, cabinet design and sensitivity that way.)

You might consider looking for some used higher end gear at Audiogon, like B&W, NHT or Triangle. The huge discount over new will allow you to get a lot more bang for your buck.

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> First, you should be certain to carefully match your speakers.

I'm curious, just how important is that, if you have a receiver that allows you to adjust output to each individual speaker? I would've thought that would make up for differences in sensitivity.

Are you saying that for say a 5 speaker setup, all five speakers need to be from the same manufacturer and model? Yikes.

Silver Member
Username: Elitefan1

Post Number: 917
Registered: Dec-03
Not the same model but from the same manufacturer is best and absouletly critical in the front three. The goal is a seemless soundstage across the front. I don't know that the Onkyo is that bright and Onkyo generally has never been considered that way. The two I have owned were anything but and a review of the 701 in Perfect Vision called it "dark" which is how I always thought of my old Onkyo pro-logic model 525. Killer for two channel music. As I see it you can either buy a pair of Wharfdale speakers to go with the center or three from another brand you like.

Unregistered guest

Have you ever listened to Wharfedales, and if so what did you think of them? I get the impression people either love or hate them.

As for a "seamless soundstage"---couldn't that be achieved by adjusting the receiver's crossover frequencies for each speaker individually? I'm just poking around in the dark here, so bear with me if that's a totally ridiculous question. : )

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I think what therealelitefan and I are trying to stress is not exclusively the speaker's sensitivity, but rather the 'voicing' of the speaker, its driver compliment, and design philosophy coupled with sensitivity are all of equal importance.

Seamless is a good term to describe the importance of the front 3 cabinets. None of the front 3 speakers should be able to be localized. They should all just dissapear if they are set up correctly. In other words, if one cabinet is a 2 way acoustic suspension design, with a silk dome and 6 1/2" mid driver, they all should be or they likely will not create a believable sound stage as a unit. You are certainly aware of how different two dissimilar speakers can sound. It can be a very unsatisfying listening experience if you have one or more speakers in your theater system that sound differently enough from the rest to call attention to themselves.

I don't necessarily think you have to buy all your speakers from the same manufacturer, but if not, you need to be very critical of which ones you decide to mix and match. You are just much more likely to end up with a convincing and cohesive sound if you buy all one brand.

Unregistered guest

Hmmm! "Seamlessness"---that's a very interesting criterion for speakers I've never considered. I'll try to listen specifically for that quality when the Onkyo arrives in a couple of days.

What if it turns out that the speakers do sound different, but I don't mind? : )

Just an idle question... Guess I'll find out just how primitive my ears really are!

Unregistered guest
If you're like most of us silly 'philes, as you gain experience, your tastes will probably change and you will want to upgrade, especially so when you start listening to more upscale gear and get a taste for the 'better' stuff.

You touched on a point that I should have brought up earlier: if you like it, then it is good. That ultimately must be the bottom line. No matter the price, manufacturer, or reputation of the gear, if you like it, that is all that matters.

Happy listening!
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