Nov 18, 2018142 views

Under $1000 Speaker Pair Recommendations?

Being "I'm set for now" in terms of my hi-fi headphone stack, I'm looking to build up my stereo audio stack. I want to build from speakers down. I've budgeted $1000 (hard limit) for the speakers. So far I've looked at but nothing has piqued my interest yet so I'm looking for ideas:
  • KEF
  • ELAC
  • Pioneer
  • JBL
Requirements:
  • Bookshelf or desktop size.
  • Relatively easy to drive.
  • "Musical" disposition
  • Self-sufficient (i.e. punchy bass w/o need for a sub-woofer).
  • No gaudy design/unnecessary nobs or lights
2018-11-23 UPDATE: after much deliberation the KEF Q 150s were 40% off for black Friday and at $299 they were just too hard to pass up. Had sale not come through, I was leaning toward the Klipsch RP-600M. Anyway, thanks a bunch all for your suggestions. Really helps getting ideas/perspectives.
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KEF LSX KEF LS50
I think that's a solid price/value pick. Congrats on the pickup!
Why didn't u spring for the Q350s? Bigger driver = more bass
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The sadness! why can't we all have the savings? The world would be a better place!
DenonFanboy
Of all the First World Problems this is the firstest.
$1000 or under? I'd be looking at Aeon Flow open/closed, Focal Elex/Elagia, HFM Edition X to start. Pair them with a quality dac/amp combo and enjoy.
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I figured it was something like that. Not a bad answer to the assumed question at least
ProfessorPat
Ha! Thanks! I’ll read better next time. Had headphones on the brain :)
I went through this exact same quest about 3 years ago. What I finally decided on sticking with were Klipsch RP-160M's. Trust me when I say that I am not a Klipsch fanboy. I always found them to be "colored" but these were a revelation! They started off well but needed about 160 hours to reach their peak potential. Over the break-in period the treble both smoothed out & extended a bit. The bass is very good & there is no real need for a sub. I have one connected to the system but it's almost never used by me. My wife is another story! (She's a bass head!) The mids are wonderful with good detail & the soundstage presentation is very good. Best of all, they are extremely efficient. I am running mine in a bedroom setup with a Marantz M-CR610 (~35wpc @ 8 Ohms) because I wanted a small all-in-one unit for space saving purposes. The Klipsch were the best multi-purpose speakers that I auditioned in their price range. They do both audio/video well. I got them directly from Klipsch for under $450 delivered during a sale. FTR...…, I also have a pair of KEF Q100's but they are now packed away. I say this not to disparage the Q100's. They are the better speaker in a "music only" setting if properly powered. If that's your purpose, I highly recommend that you audition KEF's newest offerings as long as you can power them properly. The Klipsch are still the better all-arounder though. FYI..... Klipsch has recently introduced an updated model to the RP-160M. The RP-600M. I haven't heard them yet but the nearest I can tell is that they have an upgraded tweeter, slightly smaller dimensions & the angled base is gone. Personally, I like the angled base as it gives the drivers better alignment in a desk setup. They can be removed easily on the RP-160M's if desired. Hope this is of benefit!
Look at Definitive Technology
Harbeth! Oh wait, you said under $1000. The last pair of Harbeth bookshelf speakers I heard were $6000. Those instantly became my gold standard for what a smaller speaker can do. I can't afford the things, but wow. Anything from Dynaudio? Focal? No clue about their newer stuff, but Mordaunt Short? If you've got a room that is happy with them, Magnepan? Lots of stuff out there that's fantastic if it doesn't need to be new. Not sure how old you're going to have to go with some of these brands to get prices you want in a format you like, but there's certainly a lot more availability in the speaker world than headphones for older quality gear. And then there's the deep dark rabbit hole of DIY...
I know this is out of your price range but I love some good throwbacks: https://www.klipsch.com/heritage-speakers. These definitely remind me of my childhood. I am really keen to these and would love to have them in a dedicated room some day: https://www.klipsch.com/products/heresy-iii-floorstanding-speaker. They just ooze class and say, "Grab a glass of scotch, smoke a stogie, kick-back, and enjoy some tunes."
jaydunndiddit
If we are going old school I see your Heritage and raise you a Tannoy: https://hifiheaven.net/shop/Tannoy-KENSINGTON-GR-OW-Floorstanding-Speaker-Oiled-Walnut?language=en&currency=USD&gclid=Cj0KCQiA_s7fBRDrARIsAGEvF8RYRedVzupJ8OHO7pPFb_W7zZfA8W3r3gduKdYeSGiAlRZc5vUFZ8saAugiEALw_wcB Yeah I know they are like 18x OP's budget but I think they look seriously vintage.
jaydunndiddit
Are we not building a mono rig? That Heresy III is perfectly within budget!
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Not a Klipsch guy so I will defer to the fans on audiogon... here is a quick rundown of the RF-7 vs Forte vs KLF 20: soundguy8d541 posts 07-05-2006 3:21pm I own KLF-20 and RF-7 Klipsch speakers. I've also had the Forte II Klipsch speakers and the KLF-20 were on the thin side compared to the Forte's that kind of really bugged me, nice sounding but thin compared to the Forte and RF-7 but I replaced the diaphrams with the Titanium kit and this helped the KLF-20's not be so thin sounding. The RF-7's are smoother and all the way around better from top to bottom than both the KLF-20 and Forte II. I've heard the RF-7 sounding just ok, to absolutely stunning sound by just what it's run on, so the equipment you pick for it is very important as the RF-7 are very dependant of what sound you get with just how good of gear you run on it. Give the RF-7's the best quality and it will give you back stunning nirvana sound like no other, the RF-7's perform better than my 1995 Klipschorn's with imaging, resolution, and detail. The Klipschorn's have a larger soundfield but the RF-7's come darn close to it. My KLF-20's are from 1996 and I've never had any problems with them and the build quality is pretty good for todays speakers but yes, the build quality on the RF-7's are better. Klipsch speakers are not bright unless you put a bright source to them. The trick with any Klipsch speaker is to not put a bright source with them because Klipsch is VERY revealing speakers. The sound from the RF-7's are stunning and the crossovers DO NOT need to be changed, run them with very good quality high current gear and you will get great quality sound. People who changed the crossover are doing it to tame down the sound when using it with bright gear. I don't recommend that because it takes out the "presence" that is so revealing and involving that the RF-7's have"
ElectronicVices
If he could find a pair of RF-7’s for $1K... grab them... I have KLF 20’s, when bass is asked for - they provide, better than a sub I feel, balanced and direct, in your face... four 10” drivers,, old school wins here...;) “Thin”?? What are they driving them with, hard to hold them back... the new 600M’s with 8” drivers will kick when driven too, i’m quite sure for bookshelf’s.
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ELAC - Unifi series if you can afford it KEF Q Series Emotiva Airmotiv Series Skip the JBL and pioneer, add Chane A-series to the mix. Buy the best speaker your budget can afford and add extra gear later.
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I'm trying to help two different friends on a transition to true HT/Stereo gear. One caught the Q700's on clearance and the other is still waffling. Anything from ELAC/KEF/Emotiva/Chane will run fairly neutral and a good value. Pioneer is a very good value if budget is the primary concern but you can spend a bit more and get a lot with ELAC/Emotiva/Chane/KEF options
ElectronicVices
KEF Q150 are down to $299 right now. Super tempting!
I recommend the Audioengine A5+. These speakers are powered and cost about $400 and are, in my opinion, the best bang for your buck. I found that I needed to listen to much more expensive speakers to have appreciably more improvement across the board.
dcha12
Hifi has huge levels of diminishing returns. At that price point there are so many options to audition, but Kanto is having a black friday sale on their YU6's for $330, and those are very hard to beat at that price. https://kantoaudio.com/black-friday/
Can you say a bit more about your use case? I have no intent to be patronizing, but it sounds like you're making an initial leap from the headphone world, where you have expertise. Speakers introduce so many more design factors that It’s hard to make a decent recommendation for speakers on their own. Can you say more about room size, room materials, seating position and distance, movies/music/games, ability to apply acoustic treatments, are the speakers for show or should they vanish, etc? Are you replacing or starting new? Given your budget for a pair of bookshelves, you’re clearly not kidding around. It’s way easier to waste a grand on speakers than it is on headphones. Especially with bookshelf speakers. Unless you're working with a good acoustic space, they don't scale with price nearly as much as headphones do.  
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All good stuff, thanks. I'll have to give these a good look. The amp I linked came recommended by my dealer as it would "easily integrate" with the AVR I have now. Thinking on it, I'm sure that was just a sales pitch but I can't deny it looks, feels, and sounded pretty great when he fired them up in their studio.
Yeah, this was more for Rhodev. I only use angled speakers for presence in my current setup. My main 5.1.2 consists of loudspeakers with 5 1/4" woofers for 3.1 and 4" for my surrounds with 2 x 12" subs. I've been thinking of going to satellites for my Atmos/presence as the bookshelves honestly seem overkill for what they're doing. And I def agree with Polk. I'm biased here as I grew up with this brand (and Klipsch, too) so nostalgia plays a role as well as growing up with their sound. I was HUGE into Boston Acoustics and Infinity for many years before they went kaput for the most part. Polk however, had stayed the same for better or worse over the years which I appreciate. Now that I reflect on it, they remind me of Audeze in a way; good bass if powered correctly, nice mids, and smooth if a bit unremarkable treble. Polk gives me the feeling of how everything should sound 90% of the time but Focal gave me the feeling of actual "HiFi." They also have the price tag behind it, ha ha.
Focal makes some very nice bookshelf speakers that sound great and come under your budget. You may have to read reviews on which models have the most bass but I can say from what I've heard in shops, they sound similar to their headphones. Certain models can be bright but those are typically the uber-expensive floor standing models. Here's the model I was thinking of in particular but they have others as well: https://www.amazon.com/Focal-2-Way-Reflex-Bookshelf-Speakers/dp/B012BCU450.
jaydunndiddit
Nice. Will do some reading about them. Thanks.
I think you should consider active speakers, like the Adam Audio A5X. Comes right against your budget but Black Friday is almost here.
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powered monitors are almost always sold individually. Tower speakers are also often sold by themselves once you break a certain price threshold
Sweetwater sells Adam bundles, can get the powered speakers and a sub from them for a little bit of savings.