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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So with the tower speaker evaluation going on I'd like to suggest a Bookshelf evaluation. This is of course unofficial and just to get some chatter started around the topic.

Most manufacturers of tower speakers offer a variety of bookshelf options as well. Usually enthusiasts will make room for larger more imposing speakers; but what about the people who want quality but their living space doesn't lend itself well to floor standing speakers?

Very often we have members joining these forums looking for advice on solutions that don't require a total room remodel or dedicated space. We make suggestions usually bookshelf or satellite speakers with or without a sub.

What speakers would you like to see reviewed with the detail of the recent evaluations of towers?

I'd love to see:
Definitive Technology
Bowers and Wilkins
Klipsch
Polk
Pioneer
Martin Logan
Swan
Axiom

What models or other speaker brands should be included?

How should they be evaluated? Maybe both on stands with ideal placements and on countertop/bookshelf placement closer to a rear wall?
 

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Re: Unofficial Bookshelf Evaluation Thread

So how should the speakers be evaluated. It seems to me that we should have two thoroughly evaluated placements, one on bookshelves and one on stands placed for optimal sound stage.

Bookshelves present a problem for objectivity. Do you place them on a shelf with books, if so how close? What about rear ported systems? One would want to treat all speakers fairly, but some may not lend themselves to certain conditions.

I also think that there need to be two categories, budget, say $500 and under, then $1500 and under. The interest in the two ranges will likely be very different.

Other questions is what about reference quality over $1500 and what about powered systems?
 

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Re: Unofficial Bookshelf Evaluation Thread

I would definitely think you should put the HSU HB-1's on the list. They look like quite the giant killers, especially at the entrance price.

As far as eval goes, I think doing them on stands for 2-channel eval out in the room (such as the other speaker evals have gone) as well as one that would be done in a living (IE non-dedicated) room so possibly in a bookcase or on shelves that are empty.

Another application is for those with dedicated rooms but limited on height/width due to non AT screen/limited room width to maximize screen/etc. I'm thinking specifically of my room (basement) which is 13' wide and with a large screen doesn't leave much room on the outsides for towers so having three matched high performance bookshelves underneath would be ideal. Possibly even having them sit on top of three matching subs :D

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
So how should the speakers be evaluated. It seems to me that we should have two thoroughly evaluated placements, one on bookshelves and one on stands placed for optimal sound stage. Bookshelves present a problem for objectivity. Do you place them on a shelf with books, if so how close? What about rear ported systems? One would want to treat all speakers fairly, but some may not lend themselves to certain conditions. I also think that there need to be two categories, budget, say $500 and under, then $1500 and under. The interest in the two ranges will likely be very different. Other questions is what about reference quality over $1500 and what about powered systems?
I'd expect a scaled down system would be ideal stereo receiver or integrated amp. SACD player, Turn Table, and maybe a digital source like appleTV (May need a dac) or Sonos connect.

Maybe 3 placement tests:
Stands
Bookshelf placement
Sitting on a hutch/dresser/buffet

No subs
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I like the idea of two ranges in price. Do the lower price point first then if there is a clear outstanding performer include it in the next tier reviews
 

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I wound suggest the under $500 include one serious budget friendly bargain basement performer. The Dayton Audio B652. It probably won't keep up with any of the $3-500 offerings from the major players , but it would be interesting to see how close they come for $40.
 

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Re: Unofficial Bookshelf Evaluation Thread

I can think of quite a few I'd like to see in a shootout.
<$500.00:
EMP Tek E5Bi
Ascend Acoustic CBM-170
Cambridge Audio S30
Aperion Audio Intimus B5
Klipsch RB-51
ARX A1b
and maybe a Primus and Pioneer

<$1500.00:
Seems to be an odd price point for me and bookshelf's, not all that many I'd be interested in but...
PSB Imagine B
Monitor Audio Silver 2
Ascend Sierra-1
Dynaudio DM 2/7
 

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Not to derail this into another topic, but how about also evaluating / comparing surrounds. I know that could get a bit dicey comparing configurations such as dipole vs others but I'm interesting in knowing which produce the best (read: emersive) surround experience.
 

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It is going to be difficult to simulate every possible scenario for setup. There are a ton of possibilities for bookshelf/monitor type speaker placements.

However, this may not a lot different than towers... simply because you probably are not going to be able to get that "critical" listening sound out of bookshelves when they are on a bookshelf or near a back wall. Depth of soundstage is going to be limited. In order to get the most/best sound out of them, you will need to pull them out into the room. Nearly all the bookshelf speakers we listened to at shows are out from the wall... for a reason.

So... are you going to be doing critical listening? Or are you just going to get a pair and stick them on a shelf and leave them there, never really sitting down to try to get some quality listening time with them?

I purchased the Carnegie's for my great room entertainment center (left, center and right), which are pretty expensive, but I NEVER pull them out and listen to them. I am in no way getting my money out of them... so I just recently purchased a very inexpensive set of Infinity Primus bookshelves with a center... actually sounds better for TV, but still far from anything that I would consider really good... and mostly because of their location. I plan to sell the Carnegie's and not be wasting that money. If I were going to be doing some critical listening, I might keep the Carnegie's, if I found them to sound good enough considering what I paid for them. But as it is... the closest they get to music is the music channels on Dish Network while my wife is cleaning the house... or if she watches one of them shows where all those nice dressed folks get trophies and there is a lot of singing going on between them making a fool of themselves.
 

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$1500
Totem rainmakers
Focal 806
Dynaudio excite x14
Dali ikon 1
Paradigm studio 10
Psb imagine B


$500(although I think it should be $750)
Totem dream catcher or Mites
Dali zensor 2
Salk song surround
Psb image b5
Paradigm mini monitor
Dynaudio dm2/6
B&W 685
Monitor audio rx1

I also think there should be a higher end category, $2500ish.

I personally think that a quick blurb on how the speakers perform against a wall similar to the last evaluation but the majority of the eval's should be on stands out in the middle if a room.
 

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I think I forgot to finish my point... being that with sooooo many different variables for bookshelf placement, and the probability that actual shelf placement is not going to be ideal for critical listening, it does not make much sense to try to test them in their bookshelf placement. If we did it here at my home (or anyone's for that matter)... there is a low probability that anyone else would have a setup like my entertainment center, which is custom built onto my wall... and we have a fairly large great room... with lots of big openings. There are just tons and tons of variables to make literally endless differences in setups.

My thinking is that we simply test them out in the room to learn how they sound for critical listening. Then buy your bookshelves based on the best ones for critical listening. They will probably sound about as good as the next one when placed on a bookshelf or near a wall with other stuff all around them.
 

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I think I forgot to finish my point... being that with sooooo many different variables for bookshelf placement, and the probability that actual shelf placement is not going to be ideal for critical listening, it does not make much sense to try to test them in their bookshelf placement. If we did it here at my home (or anyone's for that matter)... there is a low probability that anyone else would have a setup like my entertainment center, which is custom built onto my wall... and we have a fairly large great room... with lots of big openings. There are just tons and tons of variables to make literally endless differences in setups. My thinking is that we simply test them out in the room to learn how they sound for critical listening. Then buy your bookshelves based on the best ones for critical listening. They will probably sound about as good as the next one when placed on a bookshelf or near a wall with other stuff all around them.
Sonnie

I would think keeping bookshelf speakers out in the room, similar to how the speakers have been evaluated previous, would be the most consistent as you said. Otherwise there are just too many variables. So, yes, I'm amending my previous statement :)

Just as speakers that sound best out in the room won't always sound better close to the wall than others I would think its the best comparison keeping as many things as even as possible. That said, I think most bookshelf speakers are used actually in bookshelves or in less than optimal placement, at least in the more inexpensive category. I wouldn't be doing any critical listening with a set that I have (speaking from experience, it's never happened besides on rare occasions where I set up comparisons). Obviously people do critical out in room listening with bookshelves as I've seen countless high end systems showing that but I think that's the key, HIGH END.

Scott
 

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$1500
Ascend Sierra-2 (price should be released around beginning of next week)

Less than $500
Arx A1b, I'm curious if these are a standout like their big brother A5s.
 

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Oh I'd throw the HTD Level 3 bookshelves in the <500 mix too.
 

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Sonnie

I would think keeping bookshelf speakers out in the room, similar to how the speakers have been evaluated previous, would be the most consistent as you said. Otherwise there are just too many variables. So, yes, I'm amending my previous statement :)

Just as speakers that sound best out in the room won't always sound better close to the wall than others I would think its the best comparison keeping as many things as even as possible. That said, I think most bookshelf speakers are used actually in bookshelves or in less than optimal placement, at least in the more inexpensive category. I wouldn't be doing any critical listening with a set that I have (speaking from experience, it's never happened besides on rare occasions where I set up comparisons). Obviously people do critical out in room listening with bookshelves as I've seen countless high end systems showing that but I think that's the key, HIGH END.

Scott
what do you consider high-end? cause i consider my speakers mid-fi, and to me they werent cheap. however i do sit and listen critically to music. i dont have a great room either its a living room where i split ht and 2-ch equally, but i have worked to set them up to get the most out of them.

high-end imo is when you have speakers like the vienna kiss, dynaudio c1s, kef 201/2, wilson audio duettes and of course things like TAD CR1s and Raidho D1, high-end is a relavtive term.
 

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what do you consider high-end? cause i consider my speakers mid-fi. when you have speakers like the vienna kiss, dynaudio c1s, kef 201/2, wilson audio duettes and of course things like TAD CR1s and Raidho D1, high-end is a relavtive term.
I don't know the specific models you're referring to but was thinking speakers like the Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne and up. Evolution Acoustics makes some of the most phenomenal looking speakers I've ever seen and they seem to be exceptionally well received as well.

That said, keeping with the thread I would love to see the two categories compared similar style to the tower comparisons. I'm thinking bookshelves for my basement might be what I have to do so this is great :)

Scott
 

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I don't know the specific models you're referring to but was thinking speakers like the Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne and up. Evolution Acoustics makes some of the most phenomenal looking speakers I've ever seen and they seem to be exceptionally well received as well.

That said, keeping with the thread I would love to see the two categories compared similar style to the tower comparisons. I'm thinking bookshelves for my basement might be what I have to do so this is great :)

Scott
never heard them. at $2500 they seem like a great speaker with some very good tech, IMO, that price range is mid-fi, but it sounds like their performace is much higher then their price dictates.
 

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Energy, klipsch and Polk would be brands I would like to see evaluated. My budget and setup will never allow for high priced speakers. So lower priced speakers would interest me. An evaluation of Internet speaker dealers would be a good idea too.
 

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The HSU HB-1 certainly piques my interest for an under-$500 evaluation. As does the Arx A1b. And of course the Klipsch bookshelves, all the way up to RB-81s.

I am following the $2500 tower speaker thread with interest, but I honestly don't know if I would prefer towers or a good set of bookshelf speakers for my HT/music room. With bookshelf speakers I could use 7 identical units, but I'd want to make sure they could handle the typical volumes expected of a center and mains in a HT setting. On the other hand, using towers up front, with a big matching (but not identical, unless MTM) center, would allow HT use to abuse them fully, while still providing for the possibility of matching bookshelves for the sides/rears. Or maybe I could use towers for the sides too (raised up a bit?), and just need bookshelves for the rears. That's how my current set-up works - it's not ideal, but the room is not ideal, and I have too much stuff in there for ideal placements.

Anyway, I'm trying to say that any evaluations of bookshelf speakers done by the HTShack group is likely to be of great interest to me...

shinksma
 
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