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"I'm looking for suggestions for a good pair of floor-standing or sub/sat speakers under $300 from this era."
When you say "this era", speakers that were made in the 90's are just as diverse in sound quality as they are today. There's no "house sound", for lack of a better term. That said, I was a big fan of Mission speakers. You may be able to get a pair for $300.
Finding a good pair of speakers for under $300.00 (even 20 year old speakers) is a tough call, however you could pick up a pair of used Infinity Reference 6's for about that price. The Ref 6's had the Emit-R tweeter, a dedicated mid-bass coupler & newer IMG cones. Otherwise you could look for an older pair of restored Infinity Kappa 7's or Reference Standard 5's. My pick of that bunch would be the Reference 6's if you can find a nice, unmolested pair.
08-02-15: WhitecapThose Polk SDA speakers are classic for sure, though Infinity used lighter and stiffer cone material in their drivers & used a nicer tweeter imho (Emit-R). Carrie Christie also did a superb job on the wood cabinets, however that's only my subjective view as an Infinity lover.
I'm generally not a big fan of older speakers because there have been significant technological improvements in the last 20 years, especially the last 10.
However, I have a 19-year-old pair of speakers that are still competitive with many new offerings, and no, you can't have mine. They're the Mirage M5si floorstanding loudspeakers. They're a 2-way bipolar. They have the purity and immediacy of a 2-way mini-monitor with the room-filling sound of a bipolar radiatin pattern, and bass reach down to around 26 Hz.
There is a pair in much better condition than mine in the classified section (no affiliation here), but they're about twice your budget and the seller won't ship from Michigan, but will deliver to adjacent states at 30 cents/mile.
These are outstanding speakers that do everything right and nothing wrong that I've found in 19 years of ownership and daily listening. They like lots of power and open up further with bi-amping or at least bi-wiring. This is one 20-year-old speaker that you won't match or beat with current $600 speakers.
I just sold a pair of KEF 103.2 speakers on Craigslist for $300. They show up every now and then in that ballpark. I sold them for my aunt, who bought them new in the 80s. I hooked them up before selling them and was blown away, and would have been tempted to keep them in my second system, but I had literally JUST bought a pair of white KEF LS-50s for that system 2 months earlier. Not to mention the WAF of the LS-50s is a lot higher than a vintage pair (and the 103.2s were about twice the size of the LS-50s--not what I would describe as "small" bookshelf speakers.
I loved the KEF sound back in the 80s, and those were high-end KEF bookshelves at the time. For the money, I was truly blown away, particularly from the middle frequencies up. Bass not super tight but there was plenty of it for a bookshelf speaker. Midrange and treble were sweet and detailed. You might give a pair a try and at that price, you're not investing too much and can always resell them for about what you paid.