Best sounding 2.0 speakers under $500

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Willing to go with powered or passive. I have a decent 2.0 receiver but if there's a better option in powered I can always sell it. Will not be using a subwoofer so ideally something with good bass. Size is of no concern. Willing to go cheaper too as that's always nice. Might be going to JBL but willing to hear other options.

Also love the sound of amped portapro headphones, something that has a similar type of sound would be welcome.
 

atarione

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Thanks for those options, sounds like the Elac might be the closest to what I'm looking for. Is the bass adequate without a subwoofer?

Anyone have any opinions on the jbl arena series?
 
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atarione

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for me I would think they would be fine without a sub (especially using them at your computer...)

here I have some JBL L1's (vintage also 6.5" woofers and ported) I am using them w/ my Sony TA-N77ES power amplifier and TA-E77ESD pre... In my bedroom office I find the bass to be more than ample in my own case here... sometimes honestly more than as i frequently have my wife complaining asking me to turn it down.
 

HammerSandwich

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First, what's the environment?

I'd check if Elac's UB5 is available. If not, it should be soon.

Best value for you is probably the Vanatoo, because you could sell the receiver.
 
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First, what's the environment?

I'd check if Elac's UB5 is available. If not, it should be soon.

Best value for you is probably the Vanatoo, because you could sell the receiver.
How do the ub5's compare with the b6's? It's my bedroom (typical master bedroom size). Like I said though size isn't important I can make room for anything. I'm perfectly fine with floor standing if that would be a better solution. Also I will read some more about the airmotiv's.
 

HammerSandwich

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How do the ub5's compare with the b6's?
The UB5 is a higher-end, 3-way design with a concentric mid+tweeter. Slightly smaller box with equivalent bass extension, so the UB5 demands a bit more from the amp. I haven't heard a set, but reports from CES were universally positive. Extremely positive.

Of course, whether that makes them better - or better for you - than LSR308s or Vanatoos is effectively impossible to answer right now.

It's my bedroom (typical master bedroom size). Like I said though size isn't important I can make room for anything. I'm perfectly fine with floor standing if that would be a better solution.
So this isn't a desk setup. Will the speakers be placed close to walls? Etc.

Also could be worth keeping an eye on Craigslist, Ebay & Audiogon for local deals. $500 will buy a lot of used tower with a little luck. Atarione will +1 this plan.
 

Sycraft

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If you are looking at passives the SVS Prime series are pretty great. The bookshelf variant is right at the edge of your budget. They also make a smaller (and cheaper) satellite variant but I don't know if the bass would make you happy without a sub.

In the powered arena a lot of people seem to really like JBL LSR 305s and 308s. Never heard them myself but on pro forums people go on about them all the time. I have seen complaints about noise though.

Floor standing speakers can be a good way to get more bass but the thing to note is it increases the effect the room has on your sound. If you put the speakers pretty close to you, and far away from the walls, you hear more direct sound and so the room has less effect on the final sound. If you but them near the walls and farther away from you the reflected sound is more audible and so the room is more of an issue. Not a deal breaker or anything, I personally use tower speakers, but I also use room treatment and active room correction.

You might want to swing by a Guitar Center and have a listen to some of their active monitors. They have a lot in that general price range and you can see if any of them meet your tastes.
 

N4CR

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Do your research into and buy some used HiFi gear around the 2-4 year old range, it will be far better bang for buck and quality than anything you will buy new. Various friends, including myself for part of build, used this approach very successfully.
 
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Just when I think I'm close to coming to a decision I'm thinking about fucking my budget and splurging on some Magnepan 1.7's. Come to find out a local place actually has them available to hear, this is not an easy decision.

I've looked used and haven't found any great deals to be honest. Mostly really old speakers or shit on my local craigslist.
 

N4CR

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Dooo eiit ;P

Shop around, don't rush into it. Took me a few months to find my speakers. Stuff like that is up for grabs a few times a year max in my country, so I'd imagine similar for your area.
Also some dealers/stores have used/demo stock also, worth seeing what they have. Picked up some great speakers at a good price (and amazing condition) with this approach before.
 

GeneO

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I have a pair of the Vanatoo. Good price an very good sound quality down to 48 Hz in a very compact case. If small matters any these would be an excellent choice. They also have a 30 day complete money back trial period.
 

project86

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I would go check out the Maggies if just to get an idea of what type of sound is possible for more money. They need lots of breathing room and like stout amplification so they may not work for you.

The Adam Audio F series is my go-to recommendation - powered desktop monitors with front ports to minimize placement issues, adjustable bass and treble for tuning to your space/preferences, and that sweet AMT style tweeter.

The F5 is relatively affordable, F7 is bigger and more expensive but will get louder and go lower.
 
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Got a hell of a deal on Harmon Kardon's website for a set of refurb studio 180's for $80 each. I have them now and they are arguably the best speakers I've ever heard. Thanks for all your help. Unfortunately the price is back up to $199.99 each now.
 

atarione

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right now I'm listening to an AC/DC album on my circa 1977 Hitachi Turntable ($20) and my $75 circa 1989~ Sony TA-N77ES and TA-E77ESD ..etc stack w/ my 90's vintage $40 JBL L1's and I can say for $135~ish... this is kicking a whole lot of butt...

used gear is obviously the luck of the draw to some extent.. if you are interest in going used and can't find anything local joining AudioKarma might be worth it some nice gear on their member sales forum pretty often...
 

Ruoh

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I'm using a pair of wavecrest speakers with a smsl 160w external stereo amp. Overkill, but they sound amazing.
 
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I used to have Dalı - zensor 1 while I was staying with my parents . It was fantastic . I miss the day which I listened loud music at home with my mom's scream:) . Now I am married so I have no chance to listen . But this is a great speakers .
 

TechLarry

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If you want an entertaining read and some good advice for 2.0 speakers, NO Audiophile Review is good for some laughs.
LOL!

Logitech Z313. Same old Logitech speaker problem:

Crossover
No traditional crossover here, instead the sound is split between the subwoofer and the satellites by an active crossover in the plate amp at 250Hz

Holy NO Musicality, Batman !
 

TechLarry

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windianrecords

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In regards to the powered JBLs listed above (305/308s), these come highly recommended - Ive heard no audible distortion on either set at 90+ dB listening volume in a professional studio, and at my home mixing desk i run the 305s with the matching subwoofer and have the sub set to 8 out of 20 - this is in a 14x22 treated room.

The Adams are nice choices but dont disperse as well as the JBLs, however if you are just sitting at your desk and dont have people sitting/listening on a couch behind you this probably isnt a big deal.

I also own the Elac B5s (smaller than the B6) and I still have to check occassionally if my receiver is really in pure direct mode and not sending signal to the subwoofer, they go down that low. Id assume the B6s are even lower and clearer.
 
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LOL!

Logitech Z313. Same old Logitech speaker problem:

Crossover
No traditional crossover here, instead the sound is split between the subwoofer and the satellites by an active crossover in the plate amp at 250Hz

Holy NO Musicality, Batman !
... My normal stands were too big, making a baffle extension in front and behind the tiny speakers. The elegant solution was bluetacking the satellites to chili cans.

This line had me lose my shit, cause right now I have a couple WD Red NAS retail boxes duct taped together for speaker stands.
 

MacLeod

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For a powered 2.1 system I'm run ING Klipsch Promedia and love them. They're not audiophile quality but for $150 or so I think they're just about impossible to beat.

If you go with dedicated bookshelf speakers to be powered by a good receiver you'll get better performance obviously but you won't get a sub. For music it won't really matter but could for games and video.

For some bookshelf speakers, I've always loved Polk Audio's RTi series. They're $400 a pair on Crutchfield. The Focal Chorus 706 is a very good speakers too. They're on sale right now at $550 down from $750 on Crutchfield. A little over your budget but thought I'd mention them.
 

TechLarry

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For a powered 2.1 system I'm run ING Klipsch Promedia and love them. They're not audiophile quality but for $150 or so I think they're just about impossible to beat.

If you go with dedicated bookshelf speakers to be powered by a good receiver you'll get better performance obviously but you won't get a sub. For music it won't really matter but could for games and video.

For some bookshelf speakers, I've always loved Polk Audio's RTi series. They're $400 a pair on Crutchfield. The Focal Chorus 706 is a very good speakers too. They're on sale right now at $550 down from $750 on Crutchfield. A little over your budget but thought I'd mention them.
I've had a set of Polk RTI-10's for some 12 years now. They are awesome.

Also have the CS-3 center (I think that's the number) and the surrounds are dual driver. Polks in a wedge shape. I forget the number.

Also have a Velodyne SPL-10 sub that is awesome.

This is my home entertainment system, of course.
 

FJC

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I just bought a pair of the Klipsch R-15PM powered monitor speakers. Much like the Vanatoo, they have a built-in DAC and have inputs for analog, USB, Optical, and more, including built-in bluetooth. Also a subwoofer-out like the Vanatoos. Great sound from them. Same retail price as the vanatoos, but you can find dealers that will discount them.

Klipsch R-15PM Powered Bookshelf Speakers Review - AVSForum.com
 

windianrecords

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I just bought a pair of the Klipsch R-15PM powered monitor speakers. Much like the Vanatoo, they have a built-in DAC and have inputs for analog, USB, Optical, and more, including built-in bluetooth. Also a subwoofer-out like the Vanatoos. Great sound from them. Same retail price as the vanatoos, but you can find dealers that will discount them.

Klipsch R-15PM Powered Bookshelf Speakers Review - AVSForum.com
Hey, these look nice, thanks for the link! I have a friend who has always bought Klipsch that's looking for something like this in a little studio we're setting up, although I'd tell him to get the JBLs these would be compatible with his wife using them too (bluetooth).
 

StoleMyOwnCar

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My only issue with getting those would be that the review is relatively worthless. Entirely subjective impressions. You can get someone to give a glowing review of literally anything if they're just sit there and listen to a sound signature they like. I'd still recommend the Vanatoo's simply because they've had measurements taken of them, and impressions done by someone that obviously has a some audio engineering experience. (Well that and their bass goes lower)

The built in bluetooth (assuming they don't have the problem that plagues other bluetooth speakers: turning off randomly when the signal goes too quiet) and remote is nice, though. I'll give them that.
 

Ruoh

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My only issue with getting those would be that the review is relatively worthless. Entirely subjective impressions. You can get someone to give a glowing review of literally anything if they're just sit there and listen to a sound signature they like.
Z Reviews
 

StoleMyOwnCar

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...? I don't see where you're going with this. I don't see him taking measurements and plotting charts out. And on the first page I don't see him reviewing the Klipsch, just the Vanatoo's. Which we already have a better review for, from noaudiophile.
 

MongGrel

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I'd still be checking out ELAC speakers myself, ever since Andrew Jones migrated over there.

I do not own any of them, but for the money they do look pretty nice, but haven't really been in the market for speakers in awhile.

I do have one of the Andrew Jones SPC-21's that works well for a center channel with all my old guys.

Pioneer SP-C21 Center Channel Speaker Single - Newegg.com

It was $99 bucks then though.

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: ELAC B6 Debut Series 6.5" Bookshelf Speakers by Andrew Jones (Pair)
 
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Under $500 I'd look at:

1) Ascend Acoustics CBM-170SE (probably the most linear bookshelf at the price range, frequency response wise)

Here's an FR plot: 100 Hz - 10KHz range is +/- 1db which is phenomenal



2) Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE (currently on sale at $498. Basically a 170SE with more output).

3) Chane A2 - a chance to own ribbon speakers at a low price range, Chane speakers tend to do quite well in AVS speaker shootouts
 

FJC

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My only issue with getting those would be that the review is relatively worthless. Entirely subjective impressions. You can get someone to give a glowing review of literally anything if they're just sit there and listen to a sound signature they like. I'd still recommend the Vanatoo's simply because they've had measurements taken of them, and impressions done by someone that obviously has a some audio engineering experience. (Well that and their bass goes lower)

The built in bluetooth (assuming they don't have the problem that plagues other bluetooth speakers: turning off randomly when the signal goes too quiet) and remote is nice, though. I'll give them that.
The small quantity of reviews did give me some pause (these just came out this year). And believe me, I came close to getting the Vanatoos. I had them in my Amazon cart with my mouse hovering over the "Place Order" button a few times.

Ultimately, I went with the Klipsch because my home theater setup is all Klipsch speakers and I'm extremely happy with them. Bass wasn't an issue, as I have an SVS SB-1000 sub that would be connected to whatever set I bought.

Basically I weighed the pros/cons of each set for my needs, and they came up dang near identical. Then I went with the Klipsch as they are a known brand to me. I figured if I was unhappy I could always swap them out for the Vanatoos.

Had I gone with the Vanatoos I'm sure I'd be just as happy. Though I have no experience with them, I certainly wouldn't argue against them to anyone; clearly they are a well-regarded product.
 
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