Bookshelf speakers for $500ish


I'm looking to upgrade my Dynaco A25s to something more compact and modern.

They will be amplified by Marantz 2238B, and I'll be listening to acoustic jazz such as Bud Powell or Miles Davis- a lot of piano trios and small groups with horns.

The room is 10' x 12', and I won't be able to mount them on stands, or be more than a few inches from the back wall.

Budget is $500 or so. I like the idea of buying used, but I'm not up for a very long hunt. New options I'm considering are KEF Q300, B&W 685 S2.

Thanks for your help!
tmcevoy213
There is a pair of Triangle Titus Ex on another audio site that are near your budget. I bet they would make a good match for your Marantz, they are front ported and fairly easy to drive.
You can give these a shot!
http://www.musicdirect.com/p-107091-wharfedale-denton-limited-edition-80th-anniversary-bookshelf-speakers-pr.aspx?source=igodigital&
I really like the Dali Zensor 1 in a similar system. Haven't heard the larger Zensor speakers...
Forget my suggestion . Those speakers have ports in the rear!
Hyperion HW 585s -fabulous tweeters in these. Midrange OK really good bass for size, fine fit and finish.
Rega R-1 or RS-1
Focal 806v...free shipping...30 day trial.
music direct.com...$599..
On clearance
Either the Rega RS-1 or the Silverline Minuet Supreme Plus will work extremely well on your small room as they are not fuzzy about placement.

Supreme Plus having an advantage on Jazz over the RS-1.

RS-1 having an advantage over the Supreme Plus on Classic/ Small Chamber.
No idea if these are any good, I happened to see the review right before I saw your thread. They are active, maybe you'd like to get rid of that Marantz

http://noaudiophile.com/JBL_LSR305/
One of my favorite "bookshelf" speakers over the
years was the Sequerra Pyramid MET-7. They do't go very deep,
but their mid-range and treble are excellent. I used a small
subwoofer with the pair I owned, but without a X-over it's
hard to get a good blend. The speaker has been in production
for 30+ years, and while a new pair is well above your budget,
used examples can be an excellent buy (I recently saw a used
pair for $600), and there is a pair currently for sale on Ebay
for $375.
Check out the Internet for various reviews.
Here's an interesting listing for a pair of Rega RS-1s. No affiliation with seller.
Check out the Vanatoo Transparent Ones if you don't mind buying active. Tons of rave reviews! They start at $499.00 in black with multiple options including Bluetooth and Airplay.

From the Vanatoo website:
"Check out our home stereo speakers in the comfort of your own home with the Vanatoo 30 day audition period. If you decide within 30 days of receiving your Vanatoo speakers that you are not totally satisfied, you can return them for a complete refund. All we ask is that you pay for the return shipping".

Michael Fremer bought the review sample :-)
I think you're going to have problems replacing the Dynacos. One thing that's nice about the A-25s is that it delivers very tuneful and deep bass for its smallish enclosure size. The highs are rolled off and the midrange is not as articulate as more recent loudspeakers, but the bass makes it sound close to being a full range loudspeaker. I suspect this quality is very appealing to you when listening to small combo jazz. I can't think of a loudspeaker that is smaller than the A-25s that have anywhere near its tonal balance.
i've had the DYNACOS and had/have the REGA R1s (now the RS1s) in a prior B system/current surrounds in my HT kit

The REGA bookshelves smoked the DYNACOs .... full stop IMO.

http://www.stereotimes.com/speak121305.shtml

The Rega R1 Loudspeaker - A New Budget Reference
December 2005

"....Immediate impressions are a clear and transparent portrayal with very high detail retrieval, fast and controlled transient response, and superb musical timing, both in articulating rhythms and tempi, and in placing instruments within the temporal flow and context of the performance. The RR125 is an outstanding mid/bass driver, sonically and musically right in line with the midrange performance of Rega’s amplifiers and phono cartridges. Get the midrange right and everything else will fall into place. Get it wrong, and all the king’s horses…

The Rega R1 becomes my new budget reference speaker. In addition of its ability to get the fundamentals of music right, it adds clarity and resolution, and an ability to lay out a vivid and coherent 3-dimensional stereo image. In small room applications, what more could you want?..."
Akg ca, I to owned A-25's for years and your post is spot on !
Kiko65 is also right about the silverlines being a decent choice as well.
I should have mentioned two other bookshelf speakers in my previous post: the Snell "J", and the Krix Equinox. I had very good experiences with both of these models, and as used units they are well within your budget. Good auditioning to you!
For all those recommending rear ported speakers for a person who is going to back them against the wall, have you heard the speakers you are recommending in that position? I'm an owner and a huge fan of the Silverline Minuets, but if someone came to me for a recommendation telling me that they were going to postion them inches from the wall, it wouldn't be a speaker I'd recommend. I've tried it and didn't like it.

I'd hate the OP to end up with something that doesn't sound optimal.
I used the Zensor 1 very close to the wall, with very good results...
Thanks for all the ideas!

I auditioned the Rega RS1 and Dali Zensor 3 today. I liked aspects of each: the neutrality and detail of the Rega and the openness and blend of instruments of the Dali. However the Dali was just not tonally to my liking, and so Rega is my current frontrunner.

@Timrhu, thanks for the link, but I couldn't view- it said I didn't have permission to view the page.

I plan to do more audition sessions, so please chime in with more suggestions and thoughts. Thanks!
"....4-24-15: Seikosha
For all those recommending rear ported speakers for a person who is going to back them against the wall, have you heard the speakers you are recommending in that position..."

yes

The REGA bookshelves are designed to perform placed up against a wall. They even have their own wall mounting brackets available.
@Timrhu, thanks for the link, but I couldn't view- it said I didn't have permission to view the page.

I'm guessing you have to be a member there to view ads. The ad is for a pair of "mint" RS1s in piano black finish for $440 all in. I'm tempted every time I check classifieds at that site even though I have too many speakers already. It's just that I recall auditioning a pair of the Rega speakers a few years ago and was impressed.
Good luck with your search.
You mentioned two speakers you were considering. I am not familiar with the KEFs however do own the B&K 685s, which I use in a second system. I heard then in a dealership placed on a shelf against a wall and they sounded very good driven by a Rotel 1520 integrated amp. I bought them on AG used with the idea that should I wish to change, I could sell them at little loss. The 685s do show up used here on occasion for ~$350. I also heard the Rega RS1 and also liked them. However temporal distance and environmental differences prevent me from making any comparative statements.

Do you have a dealer for the speakers you are considering who would let you audition at home?
@Mesch: I'm not sure if they offer home audition, it's worth checking into. Their price is $800 for the Rega- double the cost of a used Minuet that I could sell for a little loss, as you mentioned. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's compared those two (RS1 and Minuet).
I'd try powered studio monitors. I have Equator D5s now and they are quite good, although with 5" woofers the bass is light. You also avoid the cost of a power amp. I have not heard any passive speakers in that price range that are as good as the Equators. In fact, I had Mackie MR1s actives (300 pr) that sounded quite a bit better than my BW 805 Matrix speakers to my ears. Bye, bye, B&W.

You can find used Mackies all over the place.
The Supreme Pluses add more "punch and snap" and are better suited for Jazz.

The RS1s add more "realism and clarity" and are better suited for classical/full scale orchestra.

I really enjoy the piano/string notes coming out of the Supreme Pluses on a small scale like duos, trios, and quartets but it gets a little congested with a full scale orchestra ensemble.

Keep in mind that both are rear ported so you would have to see if they would work in your room.

Good luck.
Consider an href=http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/infinity-primus-p363-
loudspeaker/>overachieving compact floorstander
.

These are not hard to find new w/warranty at $400/pr. Read the TAS review
before deciding. A small floorstander doesn't really take more overall space
than a stand-mounted compact monitor, while running on fewer watts and
having greater dynamics.
After listening to a pair of Totem Rainmakers last weekend, I think I've raised my budget to $1000ish. However, I have concerns that my little Marantz 2238b would be able to handle the Totems specifically. At the dealership they ran through a Peachtree that I imagine is much more powerful.

So my question is: given the rather small room and my not-super-powerful amp, would it be a waste to consider $1000–$1300 speakers? I was impressed by the improvements in tone and imaging offered by the Totems, and it would be worth the extra money if that would translate to my listening room. Please note that I'm not only considering the Totems, but considering auditioning speakers in the higher price range.

Thanks as always for your thoughts.
I would also wonder if a 35-40 year old receiver will bring out the best of the Totems even if it has enough power...my experience with equipment that age, even with all the dried out caps replaced, is no
I would be very cautious to spend that much money on a pair of speakers that will be placed 2-3 inches from the wall. Speakers, specially bookshelf, are extremely susceptible to placement.

Your Marantz is a somewhat decent receiver with a power output of 38 wpc into 8 ohms. Not the last word in resolution and/or power.

$1000.00 speakers may or may not improve sound quality depending on MANY factors. If you ask me, it's a waste of money. For that amount you could buy both, a better amp and speaker combo.

Price will NEVER dictate sound quality. Totem Dreamcatchers ($500.00) for example will blow your mind with classical music; Supreme Pluses ($600) will rock your small room with great satisfaction. Active monitors may be all you need.

Who knows, you may be more than satisfied with the amazing Pioneer SP-BS22-LR ($129.00) in your setting and look no further.

Trust your ears and not your budget.
No recommendations, but go with modern wave guide designs. They are just so much more dynamic and less demanding of components.
Agreed...doubling your budget to 1k for speakers will not fix room issues...although better speakers could be placed in a different environment down the road...still like the Focal 806 @ music direct $599...heard this at a dealer against some stiff competition... Fits your musical tastes