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Quest For Sound
Please bear in mind that most "bookshelf" speakers sound best on stands out from the walls. As such, they can present a hazard to clumsy little ones (not to mention that many of the stands have ferocious spikes). Even on shelves they must be well secured as they can do much more harm than most books. Inexpensive floor standers can be tetherd in such a way so that the speaker will be supported by nearby walls and prevented from falling away from the very same walls. Good luck.
I have used Vandersteen 1B's as my mains for HT for years and they are absloutely fantastic! (You can pick up 1B's or 1 C's used betwen $300 - $500) Small footprint and great value for money (floor standing). For you center get the Vanderteen VCC1 ($549 new - I got mine used for $350). For about $800 you can get a great set of front mains and center. Good luck!
Used for around a $1000 you could get a pair of the original B&W CDM-1 and the CDMC Center; or the CDM-1SE/CDMC-SE.
You might try to find a used pair of NEAR 20M's. A very good speaker for the money. You should be able to find them for about $500 used
Try and find a pair of the Sound Dynamics 300ti loudspeakers on the net. It may be a difficult task, but if you are patient and end up purchasing these speakers, you won't look back. I have a pair connected to about $11,000 worth of electronics. . .they are that good!!! New they ran about $650, but were usually discounted to around $450 or so.
Happy hunting and good listening!
How about B&W DM303's and the LCR center. You can pick up all three of these speakers for Under $700 new from an authorized dealer! Dollar for dollar I think these speakers have the most accurate mids and highs on the market. I own a pair of B&W nautilus 802's, which I use in the main system, and a pair of MD302's which are in the wifes system in the bedroom. Every once in a while I steal the wife's DM302's and hook then up in the main system. I am just amazed at the sound that comes from these little speakers. The highs and mids are so clear and they image incredibly. They need to be paired with a subwoofer because there is nothing below 80 hz. Also, you might consider a pair of B&W LM1's or LM2's. I have a pair of LM1's mounted above my desk, on the wall, in my office. I use a little parasound zamp (30 watts/ch) hooked to a creative labs audigy soundboard in my computer. I find my self listening for hours while I surf the web. Again, great highs and mids and soudstaging. If your getting the impression that I am a B&W fan fanatic, then you are correct. Over the years I've owned speakers from Conrad-Johnson (synthesis LM302's, Lm200's), Vanderstein (2b's and 3C's), A/D/S (m15's), Kef(reference 3's), NEAR (50's), Mirage (m1's), and Accustat(spectra 22's and 2+2's). I have been the most satisfied with the B&W's and will be purchasing another pair when the upgrade bug hit's again.
P.S.-The DM303's and LCR use the Nautilus tweeter technology.
If you're going to continue to use the Sony receiver I'd stay away from metal tweeters given your price range as most will tend to sound overly bright and/or harsh. I've seen Soliloquy 5.0s available for around $500 used and they do offer a center channel as well, but they need a few feet from the front wall to open up. They are relatively efficient and although detailed are more forgiving given their silk dome tweeter so they may make for a nice match with your receiver, and they're good enough that you can upgrade your other components around them for the future. Failing this you might check out Axiom speakers, specifically their M3ti($275/pr.) fronts and 100(around $200) center channel--you can try them at home for 30 days risk free and they have gotten great reviews. Best of luck.
Getting Vandersteens 1B or 1C is the great idea if you can stretch some room for them. Also check out Totem Arro that are tiny-tiny but the slam and the music realy can come out from them. Their new price is a-bit more than $1k but used you can get for $700.
Do your search and enjoy the music!
If clarity and tonal accuracy are important to you I'd strongly recommend Klipsch Heresy II's for your mains. You can use these speakers on a shelf, stand or better yet on the floor for best bass response. They are VERY efficient, so driving them will not be a problem. You would also have a classic American speaker that will hold it's value if taken care of. I've owned a couple pair of these for years and will always have Heresy's somewhere in my home. If you decide on these wonderful speakers let me know, I would sell you a pair that are in pristine condition well within your stated budget. Not meant to be a sales job, just fact.
Paradigm reference 20s - hands down. I have owned B&W and Vandersteen and just love the Paradigm Reference line - owning the Studio 100s now and am just floored by them. Now if you want an expensive name over excellent sound....
Paradigm Ref speakers are great speakers, and the 20s just got a good review in Stereophile (I think that was the mag). May also want to take a look at the Taylo Ref Monitors listed here in Audiogon. Give Ty a call, and I'm sure he'd provide a trial session. I'm just a fan of Ty's speaker line.
If you have a sub, you might consider Hornshoppe speakers. Very easy to drive, only go down to around 60 Hz. In your price range. They have alot of positive feedback at decware.com.
You could probably find a pair of NHT 1.5 bookshelf speakers (they're sort of large for bookshelf speakers, but should go on stands anyway) and the matching NHT AC-1 center channel - I don't know if they're still in production, but they're probably around $1000 new, and 1/2 that used. They're great for a mixed-use system (HT and audio). -Kirk
I listened to the Boston Acoustic VR-M60s, with the matching center and surrounds, and they sounded pretty good from a reciever. They are a bit expensive new, but once in a while I see them here used. If you are in a smaller room, they might work well for you.
I would go with a pair of AV1+'s or Paradox 1's from GR Research. I just let my PSB Goldi's go for these bookshelf speakers. Of course I use them with a sub but if you do a search on AV1+ on this site, you'll find my review on them. On Audio Asylum (another audo site) folks have been preferring them to speakers that cost $2500 and they cost less than $600.00 turn key.
I am brand new here but just purchased a home theatre system with Paradigm Titon's in front, Atoms in rear, CC170 center and the 10" sub - driven by the new Integra 5.3 receiver. For my untrained ears it rocks! All had for less than $1500 including cables.
Titans are great speakers for the $$$, and if your ever looking to upgrade, the Mini monitors blow the Titans out of the water, and are not too expensive. If budget allows, check em out, or even get crazy and look at Paradigm's Reference Line
I love my pair of Vandersteen 1Cs, supplemented by an ACI Titan II LE subwoofer, for music and the occaisional movie. If you have the room, a pair of Vandersteen 2Ces (used) will produce a taller soundstage.
Audiophile35, Marakanetz, Sek -- What amplification are you using with your Vandersteen 1b or 1c speakers? Are these speakers demanding to drive, requiring high-power amplification, or can they be used successfully with 40 w/ch amplifiers? What CD players are you using with them? Are they particularly sensitive to the brand or model of CD players used, or do they sound reasonably good with most? Any other comments you would offer on these?
Sound City is selling the NHT 1.5 for $299 (half price), an excellent deal on an excellent speaker.
If you can find them, some used Energy RVS-2 for the front pair and the matching RVS-1 center speaker do a fine job with music and movie soundtracks. Will probably work ok with the Sony. You might consider Sony's ES line of recievers. They have discrete amplification as opposed to a single chip that drives all five channels. Will definitly improve the sound of your system. Good luck and have some fun in your quest for beter sound.
Their neutrality will reveal the weakness in your reciever.
Tremendous two way stand mount speaker!!!
I second the Vandersteen 1B or 1C..I used to have a pair running off an old 20wpc NAD 7225pe...I now have the B&W CDM 1nt's run off a Bryston B60 and am quite happy, but with your receiver, the Vandy's might be the way to go.
Tesla II outstanding mids and a very handsome look. Fits into a lot of undesirable acoustic settings.
I was using with my Vands Creek 4330R amp(45W/ch) and Marantz CD67SE player.
I felt that the bass isn't controlled but for the money spend the clarity and stage were incredible. If I would go for budget amp with greater power I would not think that it would improve the sound. Later-on I switched to Bryston 3b-st/Bryston 11b combination and realized that these speakers do benefit from power but stretching a budget for the "quality watts" is needed more than for "quantity watts"
I heard many times Vands 1c with tubes and the key thing of these speakers is musicality: soft bass(that actually never goes tight), clear highs but not bright and soft midrange and there is nothing you can do to make the bass tight on these speakers efen if you bring some 300W/ch amp.
The best upgrade for these speakers I would suggest getting a 2Wq subwoofer leaving the rest of your electronics unchanged
As for CD-players I would say that the maximum price point where you should look for it is arround $1k but not more for the new piece and used arround $500.
To finalize I can say that Vandys 1C or 1B are truly be champions on budget or beginers setups.
Although more than you'd like to spend, the Meadowlark 'Swift' at a $1000/pair would be a great combo with the Sony.Meadowlark also makes a bookshelf speaker, the 'Swallow' which is the Swift with less low end, for $800. But, then you buy stands and your at or over the cost of the floorstanding Swift speaker.
The Meadowlarks can be had in some beautiful real wood veneers. Being a new speaker on the market, the chances of finding a used pair are rather slim though.
My other suggestion would be the Vandy '1C'. Another good match for bright sounding equiptment.
Most of the other suggestions are nothing more than audiophile speakers,hence, your typical spit and s--- speakers, that you'll grow tried of very soon.