Harbeth Compact 7s vs. Pioneer's $129 speakers


I’m not going to claim they are the equals of my Harbeth Compact 7ES-3s, but the $129 Andrew Jones-designed speakers by Pioneer (SP-BS22-LR) are quite remarkable. My point in posting is not really to compare them with my Harbeths, but to make the following observation:

>>I’m becoming convinced that modestly priced components that are very good at doing a few things you care about very much can offer satisfaction far beyond any expectations based on price.<<

That’s the case with the Pioneer speakers, which I believe now have a list price of $159.

I listen almost exclusively to classical music and chamber music, in particular. These Pioneer speakers have a way of presenting string quartets, piano trios and similar ensembles with a truly remarkable sense of realism. The few things I care about more than any others include the timbres and textures of unamplified instruments (i.e., the woodiness of a cello, the rosiny sweet gruffness of a violin) as well as rendition of the recording venue’s ambiance. The Pioneer speakers do these things extremely well.

They have earned quite a bit of commentary and praise since their introduction. Needless to say, they don’t do as many things as well as the Harbeths (nearly 25 times their price), but I find that for me, the above observation rings true. The tone colors, textures and spaciousness that the Pioneers get so right, despite other imperfections, give them the ability to reward me far in excess of the expectations I had for them.

Andrew Jones, of course, is the designer of Pioneer’s megabuck TAD speakers, and I think it’s especially admirable that he took on the challenge of designing speakers at the very opposite end of the cost spectrum. I’m not about to sell my Harbeths, but I really don’t feel significantly shortchanged when I replace them with the Pioneers from time to time.

-Bob
hesson11
Nothing like an inexpensive component performing way above it's price point putting a smile on your face. I just tucked away my tube amps away for the summer and am using a Pioneer VSX D912 receiver and it's ridiculous how good sounding it is.
It's good to know there are some worthwhile components out there that can be had rather inexpensively
Agreed. The Pioneer speakers need space to sound their best. I cannot do that currently, but when I put them in my main listening room, I was pleasantly surprised by the music they made. When I opened the cloth grill to check the bass driver, my jaw literally dropped, especially since I had placed them on the floor standers that are 4 feet from back wall and 2 feet from side walls.
Amazing speakers!
Oh, Yes. I still have Pioneer S-1010 speakers and they
outperformed many speakers including Harbeth M40.1,
Dynaudios and other so call "HI END Speakers"
How cool is that!
"Oh, Yes. I still have Pioneer S-1010 speakers and they
outperformed many speakers including Harbeth M40.1,
Dynaudios and other so call "HI END Speakers"

Good lord. Next you'll try and tell us there's a better vacuum cleaner than a Dyson. Funny story. I went to a vacuum cleaner shop with my wife to purchase a vacuum cleaner. I was talking to the owner and asked him about Dyson. He asked me to follow him to the back room where he revealed a sea of Dysons. When he saw the look on my face he said "Fixing Dysons is how I make most of my money".

I guess it doesn't matter how much money you spend. We ended up with a $1000 vacuum cleaner : )
My thanks to the OP. I have read several posters' thoughts on the Pioneer speakers. I have got to try a pair myself. I'll bet they pair nicely with my sub.

As for Dysons....I must have bought the same vacuum cleaner as Donjr (a Miele). The salesman told me how Dysons clog up after about one year of use. As he was telling me this, my neighbor drove and pulled his vacuum out of the car (a Dyson). I asked him how long he'd owned it. He told ...(drum roll)...."Just about a year.". It was all clogged up. Too funny.
Just a note that the Pioneer speakers have already been reviewed by The Absolute Sound (I'm not sure what issue.) They are also reviewed in the latest edition of Stereophile, July 2013. Both reviews are very favorable.

-Bob
Mresseguie, yes a Miele!!! And I agree it doesn't matter how much you spend, it's just a vacuum cleaner after all. Less plastic is always nice.

Seriously, I'd love to check out the Pioneers. I've always been fond of their products. I own a tv and DVD player made by Panasonic and they're built to last.
Good lord. Next you'll try and tell us there's a better vacuum cleaner than a Dyson. Funny story. I went to a vacuum cleaner shop with my wife to purchase a vacuum cleaner. I was talking to the owner and asked him about Dyson. He asked me to follow him to the back room where he revealed a sea of Dysons. When he saw the look on my face he said "Fixing Dysons is how I make most of my money".

I guess it doesn't matter how much money you spend. We ended up with a $1000 vacuum cleaner : )
Donjr

WOW! You got offended because Pioneer S-1010 might sound
better then your $$$$$ speakers.
By the way, BOSCH makes the best vacuum cleaners
A Miele or Riccar vacuum cleaner?
I had an Electrolux that Sears now sells as a Kenmore model.
Incestuous, but a bit cheaper, so there's something going for it.
Right now I have a LG and it's great.

All the best,
Nonoise
The Pioneer speakers are so inexpensive, it would be interesting to get five or six pairs and stack them on their sides (on 12-18" speaker stands) to see how they'd work as a low cost line array. That should expand the dynamic range by about 18 dB.
"The Pioneer speakers are so inexpensive, it would be interesting to get five or six pairs and stack them on their sides (on 12-18" speaker stands) to see how they'd work as a low cost line array. That should expand the dynamic range by about 18 dB"

Great idea! Please make it so and report your findings.
Spent a day in a studio last week with some old friends and some new. Done this for years but this was the first time I heard someone talk about equipment and not music. The equipment was these Pioneers (BS22's) and how natural they sounded especially at $130 and these were the musicians that brought it up and not the engineers!!!

I found them at Best Buy less than a mile from my house so I went and picked them up. I figured 130 each BUT it was for the PAIR. I like them!

Looked a little more into these to find out why they might be sooooo good:

Andrew Jones from TAD....designer
Waveguide for the tweeters...helps it blend with the woofer
Treated cone for the mid/woofer
6 ohms nominal with the minimum being 5.5
A very nice crossover with film caps and air core inductors.

IMO: Not just good for 65 each, but simply a well designed speaker period.
I got one of my kids a pair of those BS22s. Definitely solid mid-fi. I liked them better than all of the lower cost Paradigms that I listened to. He's driving them with an old Harman Kardon 80wpc amp using an ipod dock.
my interest was piqued enuff to give 'em another listen at "magnolia" (a/k/a the dank, uninhabited corner of best buy). fairly stated, they're very nice for the price--balanced, good low end heft, nice imaging. significantly more enjoyable than the 2x the price polk and klipsch offered for comparison. they don't move mountains---there's a lack of high end detail/transparency; cymbals and trebly guitar sounds are somewhat compromised; they're not gonna compete with your megabuck magicos or revels. someone looking for a very high value ht system could do a lot worse, however.
Bob,

I went out and bought a pair of these today based on your review. I am using them in my bedroom. I have them hooked up to a Marantz PM7002 integrated amp, Marantz SA8004 CD player and a Rega P3 turntable.. The first couple hours of play I did not think they were so great. A few CD's later they started to open up and I spread them a bit farther apart to about 5 feet. You are absolutely right. The timbre is right on. The top end is rolled off a bit but perfect for non fatiguing late night bedroom listening. They image very well and they produce a lott of sound for their small size. In my 10x20 room the sound fills the whole room. The sound in my room with my system i VERY SATISFYING. I found myself putting in one cd after another.. Best $129 I have spent yet in audio...

Thanks
Dan
Glad you're happy with them, Dan. They may not be perfect, but if the things they do well are the things that are important to you, they are truly remarkable for the price. I would love to see what Andrew Jones could do with a pair of monitors at the "princely" price point of $1,000 or so!

-Bob
Bob,

I am listening mostly to soft folk music at night. The voices and acoustic guitars sound just right. The speakers sounds exactly the same as the sound coming out of my Sennheiser HD598 headphones. They may not be perfect but they are enjoyable. BTW: Even the most expensive and pefectly sounding speakers that you may hear at one of the shows don't always sound great when you get them home.. The room and proper placement makes a huge difference. I agree with you ...... at $129 these are great.

Many thanks for the tip.
Dan
Yeah, those little Pioneers are a prime example of a good bang for the buck. They don't do everything right, but they don't do anything wrong, either.
Just bought a pair from TigerDirect.com they have them for $89.00 plus shipping, my total with shipping came to $102.00, they sound as good as everyone says they are for their size, a steal at $89.00
Dysons always work better when used with good stands, AC conditioners, and cryoed cables. You want them to really suck.
Not giant killers...but nothing really is at that price...however....every couple a years...there is well-engineered budget loudspeaker that sounds surprisingly good...the Infinity Primus 140/150 from a few years back comes to mind...actually I prefer the Primus 143 for 99 bones slightly over the Pioneers...still...cant really go wrong as there is nowhere else to go at this level...but up!...haha
Okeeteekid,

You must have gotten the last pair. Out of Stock!

Shakey
I Just looked, they're gone, i wonder if they will get more in, the towers are in stock, i think they are only $97 each plus shipping.
"WOW! You got offended because Pioneer S-1010 might sound
better then your $$$$$ speakers.
By the way, BOSCH makes the best vacuum cleaners"

No, not at all. I'm sure there many less expensive speakers than my Harbeth's that would sound better to my ears. You can't listen to them all or you'd be 80 years old before you bought you first system. Quite honestly it came down to my budget and what my friend sells. I only buy my stuff from my local shop because he's one of my closest friends. If he doesn't sell it, I don't own it.
Good point if you only care about certain types or music or certain sonic attributes you can save a lot of money and be very satisfied.
Guys, if you're looking for these at your local place and they're out of stock, you can get them from Pioneer directly. if you think these are great, you ought to hear they floor standing version. jaw droppppping! no affilitation.

jorge
"The Pioneer speakers are so inexpensive, it would be interesting to get five or six pairs and stack them on their sides (on 12-18" speaker stands) to see how they'd work as a low cost line array. That should expand the dynamic range by about 18 dB"

Hi Johnnyb53,

Have you tried this? I was thinking the same thing when I recently read about them and their price. I did a search in google and found this tread. :-)

See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiYjNfKyxNw

I wonder how stacked P3ESR's would sound? I love a sealed box...

redwineaudio

I didn't realize loved a sealed box until I first heard ATCs. Now, whenever I see a ported monitor I assume it might sound a bit boomy or cheap by comparison.

But for the price, I am fascinated by these Pioneers which I have always wanted to try.

Also, wondering how they might sound stacked.

Does anyone have any experience stacking monitors as found in redwineaudio's youtube link?

What configuration would you recommend? What do you put between the boxes?

Thank you
I've not heard the Pioneers, but I'd like to. I have sealed ATC SCM20SL and they're great. I'm expecting a set of Neumann KH310A any time now. As far as vacuum cleaners go, I own a Dyson and I'll never buy another. It clogs easily and doesn't work on my area rugs. It basically sucks - no wait -it doesn't suck.
I have now tried the latest version of the floor standing Pioneers with good results.

In summary, I am not selling my ATC monitors or Magenplanars just yet, but pleasant and fun to listen to with a wide variety of music. And decent imaging as well.

I assume Mr Jones has put similar effort into voicing and matching his subwoofer, the Pioneer SW-8MK2?

If so, wondering how one or even a pair added to the bookshelf or floor standing Pioneers might sound?

If a new "giant killer" thinking about that for my Xmas stocking.

Also, noting the Pioneers are also sold in a "home theatre" configuration, what about skipping the center channel but just buying 5 of the tall floor standing models and 2 subs for a 5.1 surround sound set up?