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Audiophile Bookshelf Speakers: Looking for Ebay Gems


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I am starting to get tired of my PSB Alphas and will be looking for some replacements before too long. I want to buy used off of Ebay at less than 300 dollars for the pair. I'm looking for true high quality speakers with hardwood cabinets if you know what I mean. For instance would be brands like Snell, Triangle, Miller and Kreisel, PSB, and Signet. I also am willing to consider gems in brands like Klipsch, Polk, JBL, etc.

 

This is for my office system. I can't crank music very loud here and don't care about looks in spite of the wood cabinet reference above. They can be old with scuffed up cabinets for me. Sound is going to be the premium for me. Most likely I will not be able to audition these speakers and overwhelming evidence will push me toward a certain brand.

 

I'm sleuthing this by looking at speakers that have refoaming kits made for the drivers. Must be good if people want to go to the trouble right?

 

I listen to Classic Rock by the way. That and Classic Blues.

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Hello there

 

 

Not sure how hard they are to get in the States do a search for these two Dali Zensor 1, and the Q Acoustic 2010i.

 

Demoed both, went with the Dali in the end, but there wasn't a lot in it. Both could be had for £200 new, but I think the Q Acoustic have been updated.

 

 

Cheers Frank

PC>JRiver> Lindemann USB-DAC 24/192> White Bird Amplification VIRTUS-01> Sennheiser HD650 headphones

PC>JRiver> Lindemann USB-DAC 24/192> Cyrus 6VS> Dali Zensor 1

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Hello there

 

 

Not sure how hard they are to get in the States do a search for these two Dali Zensor 1, and the Q Acoustic 2010i.

 

Demoed both, went with the Dali in the end, but there wasn't a lot in it. Both could be had for £200 new, but I think the Q Acoustic have been updated.

 

 

Cheers Frank

 

 

Thanks Frank!

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A good solution might be some new JBL LSR305 monitors. They are unreasonably good (though not flattering). New price ranges from $300/pr and less. If you have a Guitar center or similar music store near you, then you can go hear them for yourself. Self powered, if you can get a line level signal to them you are good to go. No amp or receiver needed.

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_7?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jbl+lsr305+studio+monitor&sprefix=jbl+lsr%2Caps%2C191

 

Another overlooked entry in quality bookshelf systems are the Quad 12L and 10L speakers of a few years back. Some versions were active (self powered). These are a very good sounding speaker as well as being attractively finished. Spendor made them for Quad. Yes Quad had some cone and box speakers. As a second hand purchase they might be at your budget or just above.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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A good solution might be some new JBL LSR305 monitors. They are unreasonably good (though not flattering). New price ranges from $300/pr and less. If you have a Guitar center or similar music store near you, then you can go hear them for yourself. Self powered, if you can get a line level signal to them you are good to go. No amp or receiver needed.

 

For obvious reasons (see below), I completely agree with this. There's also the big brother, the LSR308, which goes new for a little over $400. Guitar Center frequently has sales and also used and blemished units for sale. I think I got my 305's for around $240 (new), on sale at Guitar Center.

 

--David

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Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

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A good solution might be some new JBL LSR305 monitors. They are unreasonably good (though not flattering). New price ranges from $300/pr and less. If you have a Guitar center or similar music store near you, then you can go hear them for yourself. Self powered, if you can get a line level signal to them you are good to go. No amp or receiver needed.

 

Amazon.com: jbl lsr305 studio monitor

 

Another overlooked entry in quality bookshelf systems are the Quad 12L and 10L speakers of a few years back. Some versions were active (self powered). These are a very good sounding speaker as well as being attractively finished. Spendor made them for Quad. Yes Quad had some cone and box speakers. As a second hand purchase they might be at your budget or just above.

 

Thanks so much. I will look at Amazon and see if there's a Guitar Center nearby.

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Heirge, I echo the Dali Zensor and Quad recommendations, along with at least checking into most any PSB/Paradigm/B&W/Definitive Technology that you'd see for sale used on any site in your price range. You can always google each one, to try to separate each manufactures "average" efforts from their more impressive ones in a given price range/given year/given series.

 

I'd add NHT and Energy to the mix. And, for one of my personal faves after going through innumerable speakers (always allowing for an individual's listening preferences) in my time in the biz and as an aficionado, if you can find some Celestion Sl6's (with the copper tweeter)when they appear in that price range on e-bay, I would sure jump on them. The last pair I bought on e-bay were $200 and there are few new speakers (even from the guys mentioned) under $500 that I find to be superior reproducers overall, or even equally sophisticated in sonics and technology.

 

But in new speakers, Music Hall has a very well regarded entry level product at around $350--the Marimba (I was impressed with it, too). Same with Cambridge's new entry level speakers using some newer driver technology. You also may want to investigate what online only sellers--like Aperion, Swan, etc--are offering.

 

There really are a lot of good options that should appear in that $300 range (used or new---but i'd shop used) these days, if you're patient and keep it among "the usual suspects" as in the brands mentioned so far. These companies are all speaker specialists who have been fielding widely well-regarded and high-value products in those price range for years.

 

Just research the specific ones that grab your attention.

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Heirge, I echo the Dali Zensor and Quad recommendations, along with at least checking into most any PSB/Paradigm/B&W/Definitive Technology that you'd see for sale used on any site in your price range. You can always google each one, to try to separate each manufactures "average" efforts from their more impressive ones in a given price range/given year/given series.

 

I'd add NHT and Energy to the mix. And, for one of my personal faves after going through innumerable speakers (always allowing for an individual's listening preferences) in my time in the biz and as an aficionado, if you can find some Celestion Sl6's (with the copper tweeter)when they appear in that price range on e-bay, I would sure jump on them. The last pair I bought on e-bay were $200 and there are few new speakers (even from the guys mentioned) under $500 that I find to be superior reproducers overall, or even equally sophisticated in sonics and technology.

 

But in new speakers, Music Hall has a very well regarded entry level product at around $350--the Marimba (I was impressed with it, too). Same with Cambridge's new entry level speakers using some newer driver technology. You also may want to investigate what online only sellers--like Aperion, Swan, etc--are offering.

 

There really are a lot of good options that should appear in that $300 range (used or new---but i'd shop used) these days, if you're patient and keep it among "the usual suspects" as in the brands mentioned so far. These companies are all speaker specialists who have been fielding widely well-regarded and high-value products in those price range for years.

 

Just research the specific ones that grab your attention.

 

Interesting.. any different speaker suggestions for rock&roll or pop music listeners? I also want to do something to my office. thinking of putting something simple but robust (and $ in mind). I am using Bose companion II currently and I really don't like it, poor bass. Thanks a lot.

A good song finds me even during my sleep.

Thank God for my aging ears. I now can filter out blah blah blah and tune in blue blue blue...

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Heirge, I echo the Dali Zensor and Quad recommendations, along with at least checking into most any PSB/Paradigm/B&W/Definitive Technology that you'd see for sale used on any site in your price range. You can always google each one, to try to separate each manufactures "average" efforts from their more impressive ones in a given price range/given year/given series.

 

I'd add NHT and Energy to the mix. And, for one of my personal faves after going through innumerable speakers (always allowing for an individual's listening preferences) in my time in the biz and as an aficionado, if you can find some Celestion Sl6's (with the copper tweeter)when they appear in that price range on e-bay, I would sure jump on them. The last pair I bought on e-bay were $200 and there are few new speakers (even from the guys mentioned) under $500 that I find to be superior reproducers overall, or even equally sophisticated in sonics and technology.

 

But in new speakers, Music Hall has a very well regarded entry level product at around $350--the Marimba (I was impressed with it, too). Same with Cambridge's new entry level speakers using some newer driver technology. You also may want to investigate what online only sellers--like Aperion, Swan, etc--are offering.

 

There really are a lot of good options that should appear in that $300 range (used or new---but i'd shop used) these days, if you're patient and keep it among "the usual suspects" as in the brands mentioned so far. These companies are all speaker specialists who have been fielding widely well-regarded and high-value products in those price range for years.

 

Just research the specific ones that grab your attention.

 

Thank you so much for adding to my list and knowledge on this. I've started to watch these speaker auctions on Ebay to get an idea of the price ranges etc. I'm going to get a list together and watch auctions to get the deal at my price when I'm done researching. I want to narrow it down to three or four just out of my price range and wait for one to fall. I will keep watching for the ones you mentioned.

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A recent review at Stereophile has me interested in a pair of Emotiva 4S for TV speakers. They are active and reasonably priced like most Emotiva products. Here's a link. The 4S at USD299 is worth considering.

 

Hmmm. I will look in to them. Thank you.

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Suggest you add the Akimate powered speakers to your list for review.

 

AktiMate

 

I'm sitting on my balcony listening to the Akimate Mini + as I type - seriously convenient with great sound - creek amplifier driving epos speakers.

 

There are lots of great inexpensive powered speakers available, however, if you can stretch your budget you will get serious hifi performance from used Adam A7s active speakers.

 

Good luck

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

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TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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A good solution might be some new JBL LSR305 monitors. They are unreasonably good (though not flattering). New price ranges from $300/pr and less. If you have a Guitar center or similar music store near you, then you can go hear them for yourself. Self powered, if you can get a line level signal to them you are good to go. No amp or receiver needed.

 

Amazon.com: jbl lsr305 studio monitor

 

Another overlooked entry in quality bookshelf systems are the Quad 12L and 10L speakers of a few years back. Some versions were active (self powered). These are a very good sounding speaker as well as being attractively finished. Spendor made them for Quad. Yes Quad had some cone and box speakers. As a second hand purchase they might be at your budget or just above.

 

The 305s are outstanding for the cost, I use them with the matching JBL sub for my home monitors for mixing/mastering when I'm not at the studio. I was shocked by the quality, they easily compete with Adams and other active monitors 2-3x their price range. They're also small and easily adjustable, have -3/0/+3dB switches for hi and low-pass filters on the back. For office listening I would think you wouldn't require the sub, but again, that JBL series' sub is also a bargain (I even got mine cheaper from Amazon's warehouse deal).

 

And yes, I listen to a lot of Classic Rock on them, since most of that era was recorded well, it really shines. I rock Canned Heat's 96/24 reissues constantly because I've never heard them sound that good at home...

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Andrew Jones created these for Pioneer and they have been very well received.. Big bang for the buck... I've not heard them, but read lots of good things.

 

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR loudspeaker | Stereophile.com

 

"It's impressive when a talented speaker designer such as Andrew Jones takes time off from designing $80,000/pair speakers to come up with a quality speaker costing less than $200/pair. It's even more impressive when he takes the time to revise and refine such an inexpensive design. Jones's SP-BS22-LR is a stunning achievement at $159.99/pair. Its sound is balanced, neutral, and involving, with no significant shortcomings. I'm scratching my head at how Pioneer can produce this level of quality at this price. Every audiophile—even well-heeled investment bankers—should listen to the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, to hear what's possible for the fiscally challenged music lover."

Longtime audiophile. Longtime IT professional. Two worlds finally collide!

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Andrew Jones created these for Pioneer and they have been very well received.. Big bang for the buck... I've not heard them, but read lots of good things.

 

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR loudspeaker | Stereophile.com

 

I have them in my office system and like them a lot. Bought mine for $80 for the pair at Best Buy.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Interesting.. any different speaker suggestions for rock&roll or pop music listeners? I also want to do something to my office. thinking of putting something simple but robust (and $ in mind). I am using Bose companion II currently and I really don't like it, poor bass. Thanks a lot.

 

Warning: long-ass response ahead.

 

That does get tricky. It was popular during the big home-stereo boom of the late 60's through late 80's to use terms like East coast v West coast sound (referring to "mainstream" American-made speakers), even though IME and by statistics and logic, pop/rock music was typically (and happily) the most common form often being played on both "types." Advents sounded great on Led Zeppelin and many JBL's could sound wonderful with many classical recordings. We all know it can get very "personal" and individual with speaker preference, yet we seem to be able to relate to very broad generalities and shared preferences/dislikes with fair agreement.

The east coast sound (KLH/Advent/AR/Boston Acoustics/etc) was often described of as more for "acoustical music" fans and was described as featuring a more laid back, mellow, smooth, balanced, "musical" presentation etc., whereas the West coast sound (JBL, Altec, Cerwin-Vega, Infinity, BIC-Venturi etc) that was usually linked to "rock lovers" was more "bright" and detailed and often more bass-heavy or even boomy in many cases, and more dynamic (more efficient and designed to play more loudly without breakup) and "exciting. "

This type of "either or" grouping also tended to neglect many U.S. specialty manufacturers (burgeoning "high end" or "upper mid-fi" of the day) who could often "do both" like Polk (Models 5, 7, 10, initially), Dahlquist (post the DQ 10), DCM (Time Window), some horns (Klipsch mainly, as Altec was solidly stuck in West coast sound by the labelers), famous imports that could "do both" to a point (Danish/British/French stuff like Kef/B&W/Dynaudio/Cabasse), Japanese mainstream boxes (all those lattice-work wood grilles) or the growing category of sub/satellite systems (M&K as one standout).

Obviously this is very (I'd say "unfortunately" in any product era) generalized and subjective, to the point at times of being almost arbitrary in the "sorting" of what characteristics put one in either camp. Many of the above had many models that did a mix of qualities associated with either "sound", yet were firmly stuck in one camp or the other by many people. If you go down the list of manufacturers of the day (most still around) and consider how many models couldn't be shoehorned into either of those two "sounds" even with sloppiness of their definitions, it becomes a bigger question as to the usefulness of those "camps" as terms.

IMO the same difficulties apply to grouping the "pop/rock speakers" and the "jazz/classical/acoustical speakers."

 

I think it all gets kinda off-target and easily becomes counter productive. My personal deal is a speaker should reproduce the signal it's given with as much fidelity to the source recording (whatever the music type and associated hardware) as possible for the price point.

 

Floyd Toole's work has really impacted the North American market (PSB, Mirage, Paradigm, Energy etc) the last three decades in providing very defined playback characteristics that seem to work very well when properly implemented.

 

Adhering to such well-validatedparameters have yielded a number of companies fielding great performing models with all type of musics for all kinds of price points. But many models are still often tweaked or voiced to stray from some of the technical parameters that lead to more "accuracy" and move towards some form of hoped-for "attraction" to its "customized" reproduction of a certain spectrum/characteristic, as a marketing choice.

 

Sorry for the treatise, but given there's still this "rock/pop speaker v jazz/classical/acoustical" stuff that goes on a lot, I wanted to cover some background. I think the best things to be focused on in such a situation start with a speaker that does do all the things the so-called "acoustical listener" seeks (theoretically) but for the rapper/hip-hopper/rocker, with more of a focus on how loud you want to go and how low you demand the bass to go without distortion at those volumes.

 

If you want to crank Daft Punk or Drake and you might not want the Music Hall Marimba when for about the same bucks you get an Infinity three way tower. Neither speaker is some underachiever in the other speaker's area of "superiority", yet given the room, music choice, and volume level desired, one could be a much better choice than the other, obviously.

 

 

In this regard (and reflecting Toole's impact) most of these "high-value engineering" speaker specialists are making models at mots price points that are technically solid in seeking accurate reproduction of the signal and also satisfy a wide range of listening preferences. Still, you can make best choices if you lean heavily towards a certain genre of music or volume level you like by carefully considering how loud you want to go and how much bass you "need" as priorities over say, "better imaging" or "lower coloration in the midband" (real things).

 

Right now, if I have to play the game, I'd say for the heavier rock, metal, hip-hop, electronica/dance, the Definitive Techs, most Polks, the JBL monitors, and the entry level infinity floor-standers, will provide more lower-distortion low bass at high volume than most counterparts without seriously neglecting all the other attributes usually sought, while the Paradigm, PSB, Energy choices at these price points will likely feature superior imaging or "sound-stage" and less coloration, while also still and very good bass and being able to play fairly loud at the same price point.

 

Just try to figure out how loud and low you need to go as a priority for your enjoyment. Check such mundane things as the claimed frequency response (ideally stated within a 3db or less variation) of the speaker for it's bass limits and linearity (technical state reports are helpful at times), and that it's efficiency rating matches your amplification's output so that your desired loudness level is attainable.

 

I note I didn't mention Jone's mega-popular series of cheap but well-designed Pioneer speakers that others are correctly recommending, and they are a lot of bang for the buck. Having used a pair of the 22's for awhile, they're a great value for a new speaker that cheap (@ deal prices) and if size is also a concern.

 

I'd still prefer hanging on until I could spend a little more (like $350-450 for a true quality entry level new speaker) and would heavily shop the used (inc. vintage) speaker market in those <$150 pair price points. Juts hooked a guy up with some EPI 100's in good shape for $60 who had been trying the Pioneer 22's from Amazon. He's much happier, but I think the Jones speaker had the more sophisticated midrange and imaging while the EPI did "everything else" better. Personal. :)

 

Never have there been so many solid affordable choices in audio in all categories as there is today. Oh, and while they have come to make a few actually good products, and though I got pulled into a double-pair Bose 901 series 1 system with the big Bose 1801 amp (worst amp I ever owned), I generally "hate" Bose products across the decades. Typically with them, the further up you'd go in their speaker line, the less competitive a product you found, IMO.

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