Best Cheap Speakers - New or Old

Sure if money is no object there are many speakers that we all "drool for". But having said that, there something to be said for a good "cheap" (less than $500 a pair MSRP) speakers. Granted they're not going to be in anybody's main system (probably they'll be found in somebody's bedroom, office, garage system, usually with some older vintage components driving them). But nevertheless, they deliver decent performance at a resonable price and they're honest in what they do. Not "state of the art" by a large margin, but still good "musical" friends. My choice is an old pair of Boston Acoustics A-60s, that I bought back in the late '80s for probably $200 a pair. Granted there are tons of better speakers out there, but for what they do, and age they are, and the money I paid, they still deliver some pretty damn good sound and performance. Anyway, curious on what others may think and what "cheap" speakers have held a "soft spot" in their "sonic" hearts?
Spica TC-50s
Paradigm 3se mini's
Magnepan SMGa and MG2b (used) MMG (new)
I'll second the Spica TC-50's (good call), and would add Klipsch Heresy's (originals), and Klipsch Forte II's to the list.

If you were sticking to new speakers with a $500 cap, I'd look at Era Design 4's.

klipsch KG4
Energy Pro 22 - probably available second hand for about $150.
Canton Fonum 601's in the mid 90s were great speakers.
They listed for 1000 and probably will go for 400 used today.
The Spica TC-60's are in your price range and even better than the TC-50's (more bass). A small speaker that sounds big.
Any of the Paradigm Mini Monitors are a great choice, too. The Paradigms have incredible bang for the buck -- great resolution.
Epos are another good choice -- amazingly lifelike sound and imaging.
Since the Spica TC-50 and TC-60 are both over the $500 MSRP limit, I'll also cheat a bit and throw in the Quad 11-L.
Perfect little office speakers, IMHO.

If you insist on being a stickler with the <$500 MSRP, then I'll offer up the Wharfedale Diamond 7.2's.

Usher S520's. Picked mine up in Taiwan for under US$120 and sound great in a tube based second system.
I've got two pair of Boston A-70s in my bedroom sysytem. They're statcked with the top pair upside down to keep the tweeters close. They sound great and the cost of both pair plus some refurbishing, new foam all around, i've got less than $500 in them. I added a HSU sub and well, I like it.
look at the eposm5 or quad11L can be found under your budget used
Klipsch Heresys ...

I regret ever selling mine .. you can drive them on an old receiver or a set of Levinson monoblocks and they kick serious tail either way. Play em soft or loud enough to make your ears bleed.

Run them on a small tube amp in a medium sized sound room and you will get one heck of an enjoyable system. The Steely Dan horn section has never quite sounded the same since!

As for MSRP they run a little high but isnt that why we all shop on this site? You can pick up a used pair for $350-500.

DCM Time Windows can be had for a cheap price and really very good speakers, old Vandersteens probably always a nice bet, anybody still have the "Black Bag" speaker?
I agree with my friend John(and others).The Spicas are an excellent used value.My friend Bob has several pair(both 50's and 60's).We compared them to his Thiel 2.3 and they were very close in overall performance and better in some areas.The Quad 11-L are the best small speakers I have owned(they would be a good value at twice the price).The Wharfedale's are also excellent value for the money.They are made in the same factory and use many of the same components as the Quads.The Diamond Anniversary (updated 7.2 with real wood veneer) from a few years ago originally sold for $599 and by the end of their run were down to $299 with a street price under $100.They are outstanding!!! Michael at TSOT has great deals on the Wharfedales and Missions.He sells a pair of small Floorstanders from the Wharfedale Crystal Line(like the Diamond 7 series with lighter cabinetry)for $109 NIB!They sound really nice! I've recommended them to a couple of the young guys who work for me and they have been very happy.I've also been impressed with the small AAD's and Ushers that I've heard at Quest For Sound.I believe they are under $500.

Great Post. Back in the 70's those of us w/ no $ had Dynaudio A-25's. Also have to agree w/ the Maggie smga & the Klipsch Heresys. But now, the cheappie's that I hold onto are Wharfedale's Emerald E97. Can sometimes be had for $350-400
Polk Audio 7b
large advents, epi 100's, dynaco a25's, jbl 4312's or century 100's, snell j's, allison 4's o 7's
I have a pair of The Advent/1 that I just love. I got them off eBay about 3 years ago for $250. They have been restored. Their tone is just excellent (full and rich) and sounds better in some ways than my Apogees.

Here are pics of the Advents:
geogap....i too have advents, and they compete with my gradient revolutions, and my other 'much more expense' speakers...henry kloss was a genius.
Dynaco A25s (virtually free by audiophile standards). I used them happily for 12 years way back when. They show up used fairly often here and on eBay and other audio trading sites.
A pair of Spica TC-60's just went up for sale on audiogon for $475.
vandersteen are worth considering
you can score some model 2
for around $500
pretty good neutral sound
i got my 2ci for$400
very happy
These pint-sized speakers were produced late in the life of the company Bozak. Designed by Peter Lederman (sp?) currently principal at SoundSmith. Deliver huge sound for their size, and great bass performance too. Expect to pay less than $200, for speakers more than 20 yrs old.
I agree about the spica tc 50. They image as well as anything out there anyway near their price
I have to agree about the Dynaco A25s. I had them throughout college and I never got tired of them. Wish I had kept them just see what I think of them today.

Give PSB a try. Amazing sound for the money.
Ok I feel that this thread has gotten off track. So I will put in my 2 cents.

Radio shack minimus 7's at a whopping $50.00 a pair back in 86. Rebuild the crossovers for $25 and you are good to go.

Ok anyother low bidders.
Good to hear someone else thought highly of the Dynacos. Dynaco called them "natural sound" speakers. I wish some of the big speaker designers could hear what such a minimalist box could accomplish. Regalma1: What PSB's did you like?
I love my small speakers - Nola Minis. They used to retail for street [price of $595 but can be had in the $350 a pair range here at A-gon. The previous incarnation, Alon Lil rascals can be found occassionaly for $300.

These are just terrific sounding, unboxy, expansive speakers with a huge stage, a lovely midrange, refined highs and surprising bass heft for their size. The are also extremely dynamic - they remain transparent and uncongested whether pumping out The Rolling Stones or Ralph Vaughn-Williams.

I couldn't say the same of the vintage Spica TC60s. These are imaging champs fersher, as in...holographic, 3-D musicians in the room with you. But they spit the bits when it comes to large scale, complex music. Great for chamber and small jazz ensembles. Look elsewhere if you rock or orchestral music is what floats your boat.
From what I've read on the forums the last few years the two $500 speakers that seem to be the top contenders are the Nola Mini's and for $400 a pair this is highly recommended.
Usher Audio RWS-708 X series Speaker Stands - nice :)
Ascend Acoustics 170SE for $350 new.
Rgs2 I don't know the model number. I just sort stumbled on the dealer and gave them a listen. The setup was far from ideal, yet they came through quite well. They listed for about $500/pair and were floor standers.
Anyone have opinions on Aperions? Just read a review in Stereophile. If it can be trusted they sound like quite the bargain.
I've got a pair of Bozak 401s in my office, circa 1975. I'm very fond of them, though some of this could be that they were my very first hi-fi purchase, back in the day when they cost a month of my take-home pay.
04-02-07: Regalma1

Give PSB a try. Amazing sound for the money.

Eleven years ago, I paid $30 for my PSB Alphas that are now hooked up to a Denon integrated in my downstairs office. I have definetely gotten my money's worth!

About 15 years ago, I got a pair of PSB 500's from a store I worked at for $150. I gave those away to a friend about three or four years ago. Those were great little speakers.
Great thread ... I am in the vintage category so here goes:

- Magnepan SMG any model, there are a few here on Agon.

- Dahlquist DQ-10 with mirror image and cap mods, there are
2 pair on CL in the Chicago area.

- DCM Time Windows (not Time Frame), 2 pair here on Agon.

The DQ-10s eat amps for lunch. SMG's are a bit better. Not sure on the DCM's look like they are pretty efficient from what I have read. I have had DQ-10s, sorry I sold them, now have SMG's and hope to own the DCM's soon.
as for vintage, my ole' 2 way jbl's from college. 10" woofer and 1" soft tweeter. front ported. forgot the model but paid $400 in early 80's. the old polks were good too.

the little nht's from a few yrs back. sealed design. they rocked for leas than $350. both were very musical albeit not hi'end.
Some good suggestions here; I'll echo the Spicas.

One I'd like to add are the Fried A/6. They have routinely beat out new loudspeakers in the $2000 - $6000 range in my system, including the winner of a loudspeaker of the year award. Tuneful/tight, nicely extended and weighted bass response, very smooth, relaxed, and natural midrange, with phenomenal imaging. Not so common to come up on the used market here on Audiogon or ebay, but when they do, selling price is usually in the $300 - $400 range.
I purchased an old pair of KG-4's off ebay and powered them with a vintage Marantz receiver for my garage system. I mounted them up near the ceiling point down at about a 45 degree angle. For a garage system it kicks butt.
Update - I have a pair of DCM TimeWindow 1's. Pictures here: (and 1 on my virtual system here on Agon)

Check the thread, there is a pair of TW 3's owned by a former co-worker that look to be in fantastic condition for sale in Milwaukee. Modded by him.
A pair of Lynn Tukans (bought two months ago for 200.00 on audio.gon) or a pair of KEF 101 Reference Series. The KEF's lack much in the low end, but they have the world's sweetest midrange and a beautiful high end. Far better than the Tukans, and better than the Spendor 3/5. If you can find a pair of KEF 101 Reference Series, buy them. I've seen them sell between 350.00 and 600.00.
AV123 released some new speakers a few months ago, the ELT 525's @$299. Great monitors, some would use a subwoofer with them. I am perfectly happy with them as a pair used in my office system.

I certainly love mine!!!!
Sound dynamics 300ti
I picked up a pair of NHT classic 3's and they are really nice for 500 off a'gon
I recently got a pair of Spica TC 50's after hearing about them and curious to hear them for many years and have been completely underwhelmed. They image well but so do a lot of other small speakers I have had. They are of course bass shy but also not very full bodies. I am driving them with 275 watts of class A triode tube power and other main system equipment. Just curious if anyone else has had my experience.
Actually, just the opposite. I put together a pair of systems for my girlfriend using Spica TC50s, and both systems sound great. One uses Linn electronics and the other Audio Refinement (YBA) electronics. Good imaging and off axis listening and rich full sound. Her rooms are small; I had to position the speakers on the long wall in both cases and close to the back wall.
Old - Fried Betas
New - Pioneer SPBS22-LR
I have a pr of early 90s era JbL j830m speakers that constantly surprise early Harmon effort, these are surprisingly laid back and mellow...something not usually associated with JBL...not a ton of bass considering their size but balanced nevertheless...not the last word in transparency or razor sharp imaging...but a solid engineered product that is a steal on the used market...ssssh..
don't tell anyone a former Spica owner I can attest to your you touched upon...they do image well...often in reach out and touch 3d realism...however they have two glaring faults...non-existent bass and limited treble audiophile friend described their sound as 'mushy'...
would you guys get the spica ts 50 or dynaco a 25?
great thread; lots of really good nominees. among the ones mentioned, the energy 22 are seriously great (the more modern energy c-3 are also really good). i'll suggest a couple of others:
kef coda 70 (extremely impressive for their size/price--they look and sound like a $1k monitor)
jbl hls 610 (a modest, mass-market piec which just happened to do everything right. you can find these used for $50 or so)
design acoustics ps6 (another unexpectedly great sounding, modestly priced speaker; really big dynamic range and soundstage)
ads 700/710
to bbro's point, i was also underwhelmed by the spica tc50.