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Adivce for a good set of bookshelf speakers w/ sub for around $1K

 

Unregistered guest
I need some help. We need a small system for a very small house. The room the speakers will be in is about 300 sq. ft. I'm used to listening to high end speakers (have B & W and a Parasound Amp/ Preamp). What bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer would you recommend. There are limited choices of high end audio stores in Seattle. I don't want to limit myself to what is sold locally. I've listen to some Vienna Acoustics and some Boston Acoustics that sounded good... but they are more than I want to spend. Thanks in advance!
 

Unregistered guest
I forgot to mention that we listen to a wide variety of music: Jazz, folk, hard rock, Sinatra, new age, latin.... some are old recordings off of vinyl.
 

StuartNADfan
Unregistered guest
I used a pair of Totem Mites with a PSB sub (5i I think) in a similar situation. SOunded good to me.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 317
Registered: Feb-05
Gail, if you're going to spend that kind of money, do yourself a favor and go listen to some speakers. Take music that you know. You will probably get any number of responses to your posts. Maybe they will help you, but probably not.
 

New member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 6
Registered: Mar-05
Gail,

With your room size, musical tastes, being accustomed to quality sound, and finite budget I'd a pair of Ascend Acoustics CBM-170s and a Hsu STF-1 or STF-2 subwoofer, that'd be $646 to $759 shipped depending on which sub you go for.

Just do a Google search for them and you will find a massive paper trail of glowing reviews by professionals and consumers alike, this was one of the things that sold me on them because I could find no other speaker---especially not in this amazing price range---that was reviewed so well AND so widely. Very unique in this industry---usually speakers get reviewed by a handful of carefully screened (read: bribed, by various means) trade magazines and a handful of obvious shills on internet forums and consumer review sites like audioreview.com and Amazon.com

I was also lucky enough to find someone in my area who had bought Ascends and allowed me to come over and auditon them, which immediately sealed the deal. You may be able to do the same in the Seattle area, look at their users' forum at ascendacoustics.com

Had I not had the chance to listen first, I think I would've sprung for the 30 day in home audition anyway. If I had decided to return them for a full refund I'd only be stuck with about $30 in return shipping fees, which is nothing compared to the hefty 10-20% restocking fees many shops charge---if they even allow non-defective returns in the first place. (Places like Best Buy and Circuit City do allow refunds but with your B&W and Parasound background I imagine you've probably ruled them out already.)

It's definitely good to go and listen to speakers in shops so that you develop a good idea of what you like and don't like, and what level of quality you can expect at different price ranges. However listening to speakers in your own home, on your own equipment and with your room's particular accoustic factors, is a whole different ballgame.

Downsides: the only major one is form factor---the 170s are not the prettiest speaker, though the sound is gorgeous. And being a bookshelf you can't really expect deep bass from them, but you probably know that already hence you're wisely planning to have a sub.

Read up on the Ascends, and on other Internet direct brands like Axiom, Onix, etc. I was skeptical at first but now see that they do (at least my Ascends, haven't heard the others) offer a quality to price ratio that local retail can't match, unless something is being clearanced.

The one local retail speaker brand that did stand out to me in terms of excellent quality to price ratio though was Paradigm, you might want to look into their Monitor 5 which goes for around $500-550 a pair.
 

jimvm
Unregistered guest
If you like the B&W sound, consider the DM601 S3's at $450 a pair. If you're looking for something different, do what Dale M. Wiley suggested; get out and listen to as many as you can. I happen to like Paradigm speakers; IMO they give you a lot of "bang for the buck." But there are many other great sounding bookshelf speakers out there -- JMLab, KEF, Monitor Audio, PSB, etc.

Regarding a musical sub for a small room, you might look at the Rocket ULW-10 at $499.
 

Unregistered guest
I've been out auditioning speakers... found some Dali 300 (think that's the Also saw some Vienna Acoustics and Sonus Faber speakers I liked. I also like the B & W 805. All of these are not in my budget (unless I decide to nix the budget!). I did hear some cheaper Paradigms that sounded good. I'm not sure what model they were. I think I'll look into the Ascend Acoustics. Any other advice (give the speakers I preferred?
 

jimvm
Unregistered guest
It doesn't hurt to listen to speakers that are not within your budget. It's good experience and may give you an idea of the type of sound you like. In any event, it gives you a reference point.

When I was auditioning, the ones that sounded just about as good (to me) as the very expensive speakers were the Paradigm Reference Studio series speakers. I ended up with a pair of Studio 20's. To me, they sound as good as speakers twice their price and IMO they are one of the best bargains in audio at an MSRP of $800/pr. With a usual discount of 10 - 15%, they're around $700. Not only do they sound good, they're nice looking too.

That's not to say that they would be the "cat's meow" for you. There are tons of great sounding speakers out there, many within your budget. There's not doubt that you'll find some that you'll fall in love with.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 27
Registered: Mar-05
Gail,

Don't know what your music tastes are but if you like classical, jazz, and vocal-dominated music I would give the Magnepans a listen, provided that your existing amp/receiver can go down to 4 ohms. They have an internet-only model called the MMG that goes for about $500 a pair, don't know what the cheapest retail model is.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gas_wyoming

Cody, WY

Post Number: 14
Registered: Mar-05
Maggies paired with a Macintosh tube amp back when I was 18 years old ('79) was the best combo I ever heard! I agree with Edster...and (IMHO)there is no better stereo imaging than the Mag's.

I did see an interesting comment the other day...someone described the Maggies as projecting the image of a "10 foot tall Tenor Sax player". I'd love to hear them again now.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 179
Registered: Feb-05
The cheapest retail Maggie is the MG12 for $1100. I owned both MMG and the MG12 and will never own Maggies again. They are fun if you want to stay in the sweet spot all of the time. But thay lack detail, aren't versatile, and they are very power hungry. They don't sing with anything less than a serious amplifier. The Rotel RB981 (130 watts per channel) I had did not do the trick. It wasn't until I bought my Hafler 9505 (250 watts per side) that I actually heard what the Maggies could do. They are fun and for the right person they are THE speaker but for me anything less than the 3.6's (with the true ribbon tweeter) with Maggies aren't worth the compromises.
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