Usher S-510 used.
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You know the first time I heard B&Ws I fell in love with them, too. But the more I went and listen to other speakers the less I liked the B&Ws. At your price point, the top speaker I would be looking for is a used pair of the Usher S-510, as it's the small speaker to beat, after thst the Energy RC-10s are some very nice sounding speakers. Beyond that you might want to check out some NHT Classic Two or Threes, hell even the Polk RT series aren't bad for the money. There's a lot of good speakers at your price point out there and you owe it to yourself to hear as many of them as possible.
thats the problem, auditioning isnt really possible except the polks maybe but for some reason ive never heard a polk speaker i liked! Heard a lot about NHT but not availible around here! AGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! whats even more stupid is the fact that im looking at b&w's that are not the specific model I heard!!!!! The ones I heard are about 150 out of my range and im hoping that other bookshelf b&w's sound similar!!!! Wow after typing that I realize how silly I am!!!!
Glowplug, you should realize it takes a while to warm up! Take a breath and relax - remember 0 to 60 in, oh, well, something less than a day for a diesel, right?
Here's some ideas...
-the Usher idea is a great one.
-you cannot go wrong with the B&W 300 series, I have yet to hear ANY of their products that I have thought were losers.
-I really like the Energy C-100 and C-200's
More award winning Canadians
-Paradigm Atom v.5
-PSB Alpha B1
More English designed speakers to duke it out with the B&Ws (although the B&W 300 series may be the only English made of this bunch)
-Monitor Audio BR1 new, and BR2 and R90 used
-Cambridge Audio S30
-Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 or 9.2
I addition, here is a previous thread, and I'm sticking to my advice there as well, although these speakers are a bit pricier if purchased new:
There are a lot of great speakers available in this price category. Turn the key on, surf the Internet, and when the plugs are warm - light it up!
Everybody is in the same ballpark as far as being able to hear a lot of the speakers that they may be interested in. About the only way you can audition many speakers is to buy them, listen to them for awhile and if works out, keep them. If not, sell them for pretty much the same price you bought them for and try something else. One of the best places that I have found to do is, is through Audiogon sales listing (hit browse). In here, many people, just like me and you are buying and selling various pieces of audio equipment. And quite often you can get some pretty damn good deals. Believe me, this is the route many Audiogoners have gone down in trying to find equipment or speakers that they would like to try and/or can afford. If I was you I would go to Audiogon sales listing on a regular bases, as there is many good speakers turning up there at a variety of price points. Find what you're looking for, contact the seller, ask needed questions, work out the details of payment and shipping, and then, hopefully, happy listening. Fact of the matter is, this is exactly the way I put my system together.
Btw, B&W speakers show up there quite often, as do many of the other speakers that have been suggested in this thread. Check the listings daily, as you never know what might show up.
If you can find some used mission/cyrus 781's or 782's. I just got a pair of 781's here on A-gon for $250 shipped. The day I got mine I found a second pair here too for $200. I prefer and own the 782's but havent seen any used. I bought the 781's for spare parts since they are the same drivers and crossovers. The sensitivity of the 781's (ported) are about 90db and the 782's (sealed) are about 91db. I recommend 24" stands for either and a sub.
I've owned and used the 782's for over 19 years. Even though I just purchased Dynaudio C1's (3 weeks ago) to replace the 782's to me they are worth a lot more than the retail ($800) I paid 19 years ago. I'm hoping I can afford a small second system for my computer room. So why did I buy the C1's after getting the 781's for parts? I didnt think I would ever find a monitor that would 'WOW' me like the C1's did. The top 2 closest contenders were the B&W 805's and the Sonus Faber cremora auditor m's. Both were only slightly better 'in my opinion' and couldnt justify the bucks spent.
Take your time and be patient. It took me 3 years (on and off) of bringing my 782's to stores to compare just the speakers before finding something worthy of an in-home demo. I did this because what I thought was better by listening without comparing them to my speakers it turns out that I was listening to all different electronics in different rooms. Besides if I demo-ed a speaker in my home and didnt care for it it meant only 1 trip to the store instead of 2.
thank you all for helping me on my quest!!! I didnt think my meager budget would garner so many options!!I have heard good things about the dynaaudio's,usher, wharfdale and psb, but any thoughts on thier sonic signature in comparison to B&W book shelfs? I think I have read that english speakers are laid back? Is that what i liked so much? And also based on my rotel which is only 30 watt is there a minimum sensitivity I should be looking for? Thanks again you guys are great!!!! ohhhh 1 thing.....signal cables good for a system like mine?
I think it will be tough to score Dynaudios for this price point. As for the others you mention, they are all very good and do about the same thing - bring you well presented and musical sound for your investment with an emphasis on the midrange portion of the audio spectrum. Don't expect big bass from any of these, nor crystalline highs that will make you want to weep. Reviews of most can be found here:
Given these are all very good, you may want to focus on availability and price used. Cleaneduphippy has some great advice about shopping Audiogon's For Sale pages.
And since you will be using a 30W amp, you may want to focus on the speaker's sensitivity:
PSB Alpha B1 = 89db, 4-6 ohms impedance
B&W DM302 = 91db, 8 ohms impedance !!!
Usher S-520 = 86db, 8 ohms impedance
Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 = 86db, 6ohms impedance
So the B&W and PSB are the most efficient, but the B&W has a higher impedance - so should be an easier load on the Rotel amp.
PS - I own a Cambridge Audio Azur 640C v2 and am very happy with it. You should check out others as well - with decent used players frequently available from NAD, Cambridge and others. See my review of the Cambridge 640C v1 and v2 compared with some others in this price category at AudioReview.com. I am a big believer in starting out with the best source you can afford. Your system can't reproduce musical information later on in the chain that isn't captured to start with, and there have been a lot of technological advances in DACs and their implementation that have made budget players in particular much better than they were.
If you like the "sonic signature" of B&W, you might want to check out Epos and Wharfdales. In your price range, the Epos ELS3 would be an excellent speaker. This little Epos has gotten quite a number of excellent reviews and from hearing this speaker I can see why.
Epos ELS3 = 87db, 4 ohms impedance.
While I agree somewhat with Knownothing about focusing on speaker sensitivity and impedance, I would also say that your 30 watt Rotel should be able to drive any of these speakers quite well, as long as your mindful about not using excessive volume which will drive your Rotel into clipping. Basically if you listen to your music at a moderate volume level in a small/medium size room 30 watts should be plenty.
Thanks a lot I have a lot to dig through!!!! So, from what I know about car stereo's, if you have a 4 ohm speaker and drive it with an 8 ohm amp, you will get louder output but its tougher on the amp as in extra heat and clippling, my rotel probably doesnt have a protection mode or anything, so like you said just dont crank it. Which if im correct I should get louder volume without cranking the amp anyway in comparison to an 8ohm speaker....right?! Is clipping the amp going to cause permanent damage or shorten the life of the unit--other then of course sounding terrible??!!!!
The damage that clipping will do is not so much to the amp, but to your speaker's tweeter. Many tweeters have been "fried" because someone trying to crank-up a lower powered amp and drove it into clipping. What's happening is, your amp can put out more power, but unfortunately that extra power comes with a high levels of distortion. And it's this distortion that kills tweeters.
The thing to remember is that unless you're cranking the amp up loud (pass the 12 o'clock position on the volume control) and/or have your tone controls on the amp turned way past their flat position (which is usually at the 12 o'clock position) then you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
One thing you might want to check out is how well your Rotel can handle a 4 ohm load. Probably the best way to do that is check it's manual (if you still got it) or send an email to Rotel asking them about your amp. Some amps can handle 4 ohms loads very well, other amps not so well.