What's the best dirt bag speaker you have heard?

My minimalist side expects speakers that cost thousands of dollars to sound great. When I find something at throw away prices that exceeds my expectations I am inordinately delighted. I recently put a little system together for our cabin. The goal was that if the system was ripped off in our absence it wouldn't be a great loss. The only store in town was Radio Shack. They were closing out these RCA units with weird bi-direction tweeters. They sounded pretty good so I bought them for $40.00 apiece. Having listened to them for awhile now (with a sub-woofer) I am going to feel bad if they turn up missing next year.
I bought some AR-14's about 25 years ago for $200/pair. Still have them. They sound very good. Very decent base and nice midrange. I did have to have them reconed once. In today's dollars, I guess they might not be dirt-bags at a new price -- but there must be a ton of really nice used, older speakers out there like the AR's. Good question Steve.
How about a pair of Sound Dynamics RTS 3's? paid 179.00 for the pair and have been listening to them all day on my second system. There is no way these things should sound as good as they do.
While not exactly "dirt bag" type of products, i've found some great deals in various places for next to nothing.

One day at the local flea market netted me a pair of Genesis Physics speakers for $40. They were in excellent shape. The guy selling them to me said that they almost sound as good as Bose : )

On another occasion, an older gentleman that lives locally was complaining to me about his vacuum cleaner breaking and not having the money to buy a new one. I stopped by later that day with my old vacuum that i hadn't used in over a year. While i had intended on just handing it to him and saying "hope this helps, have a nice day", he insisted that i take something in trade. He said "i know that you're into electronics, so take these old speakers. I don't use them anymore, so you can put them to better use than i can". While i was curious as to what kind of Emerson, Electrovox or Sound Design type K-Mart speakers he'd come out of the back room with, i was amazed to see him carrying what looked like a pretty stout little speaker. As it turns out, he was giving me a pair of original Klipsch Heresy's that were in pretty darn good shape !!! Needless to say, it pays to be courteous and help your neighbors : )

My brother made some small "mini-towers" out of Pyramid car stereo drivers. The 5 1/4" mid-woofer was mounted near the top of a very slender ( about 6" wide ) baffle that was about 18" - 20" tall. The tweeter was mounted on top ala B&W and set slightly back to try to compensate for time alignment. The box was filled with fiberglass to simulate a larger box, absorb internal standing waves and damp cabinet resonance. He also used cloth on the top of the cabinet to damp / absorb reflections from the tweeter. He used a very simple crossover and angled the cabinet backwards to compensate for floor mounting. For less than $50 total, the "scrap box speakers" sounded quite good and imaged like crazy due to the small baffle area and free-standing tweeter.

He has since gone on to build a 14 driver / 12 box* speaker array that is quad-amped. Now do you see how much trouble and and expense DIY speaker building can get you into ??? : ) Sean

* all the drivers are in their own damped & sealed cylinders except for the 4 subwoofer drivers. Each cylinder houses two drivers that are running in push-pull to reduce distortion.
I love this topic! I too have a weakness for something so economical that it cannot work, and then being pleasantly surprised.

In my case, it's my computer system. Labtec on sale at Fry's for $39.95 for sub and two satellites (open box).

I laughed out loud when I stuck a CD in my PC's drawer and cranked it up. I know it's miles from high end, but the price was less than Pizza for the family.

Sort of brings a smile to your face :^).
The large speaker in my mom's vintage 40s Philco console system has a nice tone to it.
Steve, "RCA" is just the brand name they put on the Radio Shack speakers now. I am guessing that you bought the Pro LX550 or something like that with a Linaeum-designed ribbon tweeter. Linaeum made a really nice little speaker years ago, very clean wonderful sounding tweeter. The Optimus/RCA is a knock-off. The Optimus/RCA tweeter ribbon, however, is thicker physically and does not sound exactly like the original Linaeum. Many many people like them a lot and think they are a steal. I've tried two pair and taken both back. Not my cup of tea.

I dont know of anything better in that price range. At $300 list, real world something less, I like the Acoustic Energy Aegis speakers.
That would have to be the Dirt Bag X-3000's. Best damn speakers Dirt Bag ever made!
Great topic. I currently have NHT Super Zero's in my office and Spica TC-60's at home. Both great buys for the sound quality offered. My best "find" however was a 1973 Kenwood KT8005 tuner for $65. Can't believe how good FM can sound.

I found a pair of 1976 Large Advents for $65 at pawn shop in very good original condition. I hooked them up to a McIntosh MA6100 that I bought for $500 on the net and a Marantz CD63SE CD player that I picked up on Audiogon for $150. It turned out to be a respectable second system for the money. More importantly it serves as a great alternative to my teenaged sons using my main rig.
Stevemj- You must have found a pair of RCA speakers that have Lineum tweeters. Too bad that the best deal Lineum found was with Radio Shack, they make great tweeters and should not have been overlooked by serious manufacturers.
I liked that Senator from Texas a lot (can't remember his name though).
My vote would be for the Warfdale diamond 6's Audio Advisor blew out for $149 awhile back. A couple of bucks for some Cardas 14 & 17 ga to rewire the drivers, a pair of inexpensive stands, about 15 lb. of lead, and Oh Boy! I got some muscle to help twaddle the (mighty) B&W 808s out of the room of the main system, hooked up the Warfdales, found the right node, and was so pleased, I left them in the system for a week till the need for some lower register forced their removal. They still live and are thriving in another system somewhere in this house.
David, that's too obvious an answer, but I am offended, since I know which senator you're referring to (a fellow Buddy Holly fan) and I wouldnt call him a dirt bag.

Best regards,

Has anyone out there heard the BIC Venturi speakers modified by Ed Frias at EFE Technology? You can buy the speakers for around $120 or so and the mod costs around $35, if you pull the crossover out yourself and send it to them. This may be a little pricy for a dirt bag speaker, but the user comments on these things are impressive. I haven't heard these things but was thinking about them for a 2nd system.
Paul: Could be, pretty sure that his last name started with a "B" (still thought that he was a great speaker though).
I did get a chuckle out of your response DK, maybe it wasnt so obvious.
Paul: This has become my standard post to "best" speaker threads (but of course I don't own Harbeths:-). I saw the Quail/Benson (sp) debate on a huge projection screen @ a car dealership (just happened to be there @ the time) and have never been able to forget it. I actually felt sorry for bird/brain.
Hey Dekay, that's kinda the way I felt for Shrub whenever he had to debate anything, but look where that (not to mention Al & Bill) got me - now I feel that way for us all!