Some Stereo Speakers Appropriate to my Setup and Around $500 or Less (if possible)

Hi.  First post here.  Looks like a good forum.

First, my system:

Denon AVR-1912
Oppo BDP-93

The "home theater" is in a small living room, wood floor with an area rug, plaster walls, the usual furniture: chair, couch, etc.

I've had a cheap Infinity 5.1 speaker set for 10 years or more and they are finally burning out.

My plan is to start with a pair of stereo speakers, as in the old days, for the purposes of listening to music.  Genres are all along the spectrum -- mainly rock, folk rock, singer-songwriter, blues, but also classical and jazz, though not much hip-hop.  Can't say speaker selection would be based on a specific genre.  I want a good, solid, fairly clean pair of stereo speakers for music, but with the option of adding on satellites at a later date for movies that make use of 5.1 and also audio CDs that are mixed for 5.1.  

Is this possible?  Any recommendations for a "decent" pair of stereo speakers for around $500 that would work with my system and room?


Paul Spillenger

These are surprisingly good:  As you poke around, you'll see that there's a great deal of love for the designer.

There also bookshelf speakers in the line, if that's a requirement for you. In that case, or

If your plan is to go to 5.1 eventually, you really should only look at speakers where there is a matching center.  Getting them voiced properly across the front makes a huge difference.

An audiophile friend of mine recently bought a pair of Wharfedale 10.2 speakers - hooked to Creek Evolution 50A integrated, for his son's birthday. I heard them last week and I thought they sounded really good in his moderately small bedroom. The system sounded full and crisp. Not sure how much he paid but I'm sure he did plenty of research before he picked the set.  

Vandersteen's are known to be serious performing speakers at a great value. The Absolute Sound recently had a video of a panel discussion with the owners and designers from 5 top audiophile companies. Among them were Wilson Audio, D'Agostino, VAC, and Vandersteen.  Of course this is not definitive, but it does suggest that the value driven Vandersteen brand is worth taking seriously. There is a pair in your budget on Audiogon now, link below.
Damn. The link I gave you was for a pair of Vandersteens for parts only! Sorry about that.
I think that the most difficult part of your wish list is the ability to expand to 5.1. I have built several systems based on Spica TC50 speakers. The price is right. They sound great for a wide range of genres. But as the foundation of a 5.1 set-up? Not sure. 
If if there existed a Vandersteen speaker in your budget, I would have made it my first suggestion.

I was (very) lucky to find a pair of Vandersteen 2Ci speakers with Sound Anchor stands locally and bought them about a month ago. They look truly brand new and I only paid $450.They do come up for sale occasionally but they are very heavy, especially with the stands so the shipping cost may be very high. They sound excellent even after so many years and would have been worth it even at 3-4 times the price I paid. They replaced a pair of a year old Magnepan MMGs that I was also lucky to find used locally, around the same price. Only had them for two months but had to let them go when I found the 2Cis and can not be happier with my decision. If going the used route, depending on where you live, there are great bargains out there. Just need to keep your eyes open and look, and be a little patient. All the best.

Thanks, everyone, for all your helpful advice.  Clearly, I need to rethink the plan to build onto stereo speakers a 5.1 system.
Cedargrover gives good advice on the ELACS. Also the advice on the Vandersteen speakers is great too. I have the 2CE Sig II and they are very, very good for the price point. A good way to go about this is to follow a very good speaker designer/engineer like Richard Vandersteen, Andrew Jones or Kevin Voecks. These guys know what is important with regard to getting great sound from a speaker.

Also don't discount small speakers (standmount). Some of these smaller speakers give really great sound, maybe not the last bit of bass, but can provide tonal balance. Many sound great with lower powered receivers.
 I'm completely biased because I'm not interested in home theater.  however I do enjoy films, and I really enjoy music. If I were in your position, I would spend the entire budget on the front speakers and choose them for their audio principles.  I would be of the position that  the rest of the home theater system doesn't necessarily have to be a perfect match with  the main speakers.   For me, The music is more critical  to get right.  I may even go for some very cheap, old, nearly disposable speakers to fill out the rest of the 5.1 and then update or upgrade them a little later date.  

  Of course this is an extremely biased opinion! However, if you plan to listen to a lot more music than home theater, and you're really interested in top sound  for music, this might not be a terrible approach. 

 Furthermore, as one of the above posters mentioned, there are value speakers by respectable brands that Produce a selection of home theater speakers as well. If you were to start with a pair of Martin Logan electrostatics as your main speakers, you can replace the cheap home theater stand in speakers  with some Martin Logan  speakers in the future  to create an incredible 5.1 system. 
 I think I may have confused this past with another regarding the mention of Martin Logan, however I think it is a perfect recommendation. Some of the older models are quite affordable on the used market, and electrostatics a really detailed!
Have a look on eBay for some  NHT super zeros. If you can find some have been beat up a little bit,  you can acquire them  extremely cheaply,  and they're not terrible for tiny little  speakers!

  Here's a set of three for a steal:
Look at this on eBay:


I use 2-channel for both music and video. In a small room you might find 2 channel satisfactory also. Buy a pair that satisfies you for music. For movies you can add a subwoofer later, which would need not be too expensive. 

Are you willing to purchase used?
Are you wanting floorstanders, or willing to go with monitors on stands?
There is a slightly used pair of B&W 685s for sale here on AG. Price is $435 including shipping. I have a pair in my 2nd system and think them wonderful. Good base extension for size, great soundstage image well, cohesive.