I am looking to spend $300 or less (prefer around $150 but probably am dreaming) on some small speakers that will be really clear and crisp for the music I often listen to, jazz and classical and a little vocal-dominated rock. Bass is not important since my subwoofer takes care of all that. I have a Pioneer receiver that puts out about 100 watts per channel so the speakers should be able to handle decent power.
I have been told that those tiny Bose cubes aren't bad, though many people here seem to be very critical of Bose and they do seem a bit overpriced and overhyped.
I know Infinity Alpha 20 bookshelf speakers are on sale at Crutchfield for $199. They are normally more, but they are last years models. I used to own the Polk Rti 6, Infinity alpha 50 towers, and now I have Polk Monitor towers. I prefer the Infinity's to tell you the truth. I just listened to the newer model Infinity beta bookshelfs and I would much rather have those than my Polk towers. If you decide to go with Polk get the Rti models, the Monitor series are a downgrade I think. Your best bet to decide though is go to a Circuitcity if there is one near you since I know they have both available.
I'd pick the Axioms and Athenas over the Infinity Entra. But I would pick the Beta and Primus over the Fluance. Don't get me wrong, the Fluance is an excellent set of entry level speakers. Not a big fan of Wharfedale Diamond 8s.
Circuit City no longer carries the Polk Rti series. Polk developed the Monitor series expressly for CC. If you see any RTi's at CC they are old inventory that hasn't sold yet. I would hold out for the RTi's.
Whelp, you get what you pay for, I guess: I opted for Polk R20s for $80 a pair at CC on Black Friday.
Found that they deliver great bass but not much else, and they distort quickly at high volumes---so switched them out with an old pair of Mordaunt Short MS05 speakers I had in my bedroom.
Wow, what a difference! The tiny Mordaunt Shorts blew them clear out of the water---beautiful mids and highs, and zero distortion at near-maximum volumes! It's too bad that MS is so hard to find here in the US (I bought them in Saudi Arabia about 7 years ago) but I am now more sold on them than ever.