Good bookshelf stereos that fit onto a 10.5" deep bookshelf?
March 10, 2006 6:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a compact bookshelf stereo with decent sound. The catch is that our bookshelf is only 10.5" deep. Any suggestions?

More details:

Must be able to play CDs, preferably front-loading rather than top-loading, CD changer not necessary. It'd be nice if it could play cassette tapes as well, but not necessary.

Budget: up to $400 Canadian.
posted by russilwvong to Shopping (15 answers total)
Well, it doesn't play CDs and it needs an iPod, but I'm thinking the iPod hifi is one of your better choices here.
posted by unSane at 7:55 PM on March 10, 2006

What about a Kloss setup? It's a little out of your price range, but very nice.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:39 PM on March 10, 2006

Best answer: I had this problem. I was utterly baffled that so few decent systems existed with a depth of less than 14" - absolutely no reason for it. Manufacturers believe you either want a BOOM BOX, with real ghetto-ized styling, or you want a Proper Stereo, 14" deep. They're missing a bet, IMHO. I eventually bought an Onkyo system.
posted by jellicle at 8:52 PM on March 10, 2006

Agree with nathan_teske. A stereo radio and cd player from Tivoli Audio costs US$ 399. Add a subwoofer and the total cost is US$ 480.
posted by iviken at 10:26 PM on March 10, 2006

Buy a Bose Wave radio
posted by webtom at 2:58 AM on March 11, 2006

Cambridge Soundworks makes a terrific, compact stereo (with CD player, tuner, and front inputs for MP3 player, cassette player, etc.)

The Radio/CD 740 costs $350; it plays both "regular" audio CDs and MP3 CDs. It is just a shade under 10 inches deep, and about 14 inches wide. We own two of them (one in our living room, one in our bedroom -- small NYC apartment) and they are an absolutely terrific value: smaller than a boombox but sound like you absolutely wouldn't believe from a package that small.

(Pssst... if you want a real steal, they have a radio-only version, the Radio 730, with front inputs intact, for $200. Plug in whatever audio source you like and enjoy the same fine quality sound.)
posted by enrevanche at 3:13 AM on March 11, 2006

(Um, that's USD 350 above, or roughly CAD 406. So we're six dollars over your budget - hope that's not a deal-breaker.)
posted by enrevanche at 3:15 AM on March 11, 2006

Buy a cheap portable CD player (<2 5$)br> and a pair of Alesis M1 Active MkII powered
speakers for about $350 (check froogle).
The speakers are 10" deep, so with
the plugs in back they're likely to protrude half
an inch or so in front of your shelf. It'll be
worth it.
posted by spasm at 4:09 AM on March 11, 2006

Best answer: That $400 can be spent wisely to get nice sound, but buying a packaged bookshelf stereo system isn't the way to do it - especially not the ipod stereo or a bose system. I would instead spend half the money at FutureShop (just an example, not an endorsement of the make or model in any way), or else put some serious effort into something that is really worth the time and expense.

I'm happy to make further suggestions if you like, just ask. I must admit my favorite solutions rely on people having alternative sound sources, like a PC or a DVD player. So, the fact that you need a CD player as well as speakers/amplifier might cause me some trouble.

Similar questions have been asked before, of course. The most relevant seems to be Is there such a thing as a good compact stereo?, in which I make this brilliant observation:
Mini systems available at electronics stores are hit and miss. There are some good models, and lots of garbage. It isn't easy to predict what you are going to get. It doesn't make much difference who the manufacturer is, it is model specific, and the models change every year so it is really hard for anyone to keep track of.
posted by Chuckles at 6:08 AM on March 11, 2006

Sound is very subjective. I have had systems like the one chuckles has suggested, and am much happier with the wave radio. Bottom line is you need to listen to as many as possible, and trust your ears. That is why it is hard to buy these type of things online.
posted by webtom at 6:24 AM on March 11, 2006

A second for the Cambridge Soundworks unit. I had a similar goal/problem and was looking for a more traditional bookshelf system. Couldn't find one I liked and ended up looking at the Cambridge Soundworks box. I am pleased and amazed with the sound. I realize that audiophiles may quibble, but the thing sounds A LOT better than any boombox I tried, and to my ear, better than the similar Bose units.
posted by cccorlew at 8:28 AM on March 11, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions!

jellicle, what was the model of the Onkyo you bought? (We're looking at the CS210, but it's 14" deep, so it won't quite fit our shelves.)
posted by russilwvong at 10:57 AM on March 11, 2006

The Onkyo I bought was this one:

which I found under "prior year models" on the Onkyo website. I'm perfectly happy with it, though I had a hard time finding a seller who had it, and it may not be available any more. Perhaps there is a successor in the current year models, though I don't see one. Perhaps some retailer has one sitting around.
posted by jellicle at 5:04 PM on March 12, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, jellicle. It looks like the MC35TECH has the same amplifier unit (about 12" deep, according to the manual).

Chuckles: I would instead spend half the money at FutureShop--

I think we'll end up doing just that. I think the Onkyo MC35TECH will be too pricey for us, if we can even find it. My wife would prefer to buy something locally, rather than through mail order, in case we need to get it repaired.

I should explain that we're not audiophiles. The space constraint is more important to us than getting maximum sound quality.

I must admit my favorite solutions rely on people having alternative sound sources, like a PC or a DVD player. So, the fact that you need a CD player as well as speakers/amplifier might cause me some trouble.

I'm guessing we could put together a better-sounding system--we do have a DVD player and a couple speakers (from our previous Magnavox mini system). So we could hook up an amplifier between the DVD player and the speakers, and place the speakers on either side of our TV. The downside is that it'd be much less convenient to play CDs, since we keep the DVD player in a locked TV cabinet. (We have small kids.)
posted by russilwvong at 11:15 PM on March 12, 2006

Response by poster: Update:

In the end, we never got around to buying a bookshelf stereo.

Instead we bought a used Pioneer SX-550 receiver (service manual) for $55 Canadian, connected the Magnavox speakers to it, and plugged in our DVD player. Our kids are old enough now that we no longer need to keep our TV cabinet locked.

Thanks to everyone for their advice. I found the FAQ ("if you're in doubt, go for separate components") and this post ("There is an awful lot of old stereo equipment around that is just waiting to be hooked up to your computer") to be useful as well.
posted by russilwvong at 11:00 PM on October 12, 2006

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