Big sound in a small package
November 16, 2007 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Recommend this rap listener a pair of small, great-sounding speakers (that I can afford)!

I'm looking for the holy-grail of speakers: small, affordable and with great sound.

I will be running them through a Sony receiver, and my genre tends toward rap and electronic music, so crisp and clear bass without distortion is very important to me.

Can you recommend a pair of speakers that fit these requirements and won't break my bank account? Bonus points if they look sweet.
posted by dead_ to Shopping (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Details on what you mean by "small" and "affordable" would help.
posted by erikgrande at 7:52 AM on November 16, 2007

You're probably best off getting a small 10" subwoofer and some satellite fronts. You could probably pick this up for $200 or less. You won't be able to get good bass from a set of small single components for cheap.
posted by morallybass at 7:55 AM on November 16, 2007

If you're truly going for cheap (but good), I've been pretty happy with the Sony SS-MB150H's (paired with a sub for bass end). They were rated excellent by Consumer Reports (link is behind paywall, sorry!) whose reviews tend to emphasize "value for money".
posted by Hutch at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

You might look at a pair of KEF iQ3 speakers. A subwoofer will help, but I have these and they really are no slouches in the bass department, especially for their size. The respond nicely to a bass boost via equalization or a psychoacoustic bass enhancer such as BBE or SRS. Retail is $500, but I got a used pair for about half that on eBay.
posted by kindall at 8:06 AM on November 16, 2007

What erikgrande asked.

My standard response for this question is, "Yorkville YSM1i."
posted by rhizome at 8:30 AM on November 16, 2007

Response by poster: Cheap meaning around $300 bucks or so and small meaning bookshelf size or smaller.
posted by dead_ at 9:03 AM on November 16, 2007

Response by poster: I'd also take recommendations on the setup that morallybass suggests, satellite speakers with a subwoofer. The more and more I look around I think that might be the way to go, but I'm just sort of uneducated on this stuff.
posted by dead_ at 9:09 AM on November 16, 2007

small speakers are going to be hard with electronica & rap, the bass has to be the effective 20-100hz kind, and it gets expensive, especially if you get a subwoofer or a crossover in each speaker.

in the price range of $200, home theatre is the nexus point. decent hifi sound at that range involves auspicious companies selling decent speakers at cost, which never happens. read audiophile forums if you want vague idealistic opinions on speaker quality, avsforums might have something too.

if you're running it from an ipod, or a PC, just get something like the ipod hifi or equivalent ipod speaker setup (expensive), or the logitech z5500's which make a cheap enough sub + DTS speakers for a home theatre bedroom, or living room.

there's also chinese branded 5.1ch setups that can do DTS, dont even bother with dd5.1 anymore ... pfft.

cheapest all-round 'decent' speakers would maybe be kit speakers, i.e. DIY soldering and stuff. kinda geeky though, and not all that cheap. check LSK's M4 monitor kit and the decent review.

they'd be similar enough to the sony's mentioned earlier, and they're not that bad, i'd buy them if i still had a hifi, but i don't. there used to be this screenshot where someone stuck a stormtrooper on the top of the speaker, which might be creatively useful.

at $200, i'd stick with headphones or earphones though, you get more use out of them. something like the shure e4c's or the etymotic er6i's for catching the train, etc since they block out everything, and everything is a lot when you try them out. though you get punished for that isolation, they burrow into your ear and require cleaning, etc. stick with the UE's or the shure e3c/e4c's maybe.

i balked and went for the ulltimate ears super-fi 5 pro's, for about $150 or so, the bass is decent and the volumes not bad for ipod use, and you don't kill the neighbours all that much or your own ears.

also, that said, the z5500's are not bad bedroom speakers, they match a ps2/ps3 or xbox360 pretty magnificently, but you need to muffle the subwoofer or something, its terrible when loud and distorts easily enough. but put it under a couch or something and set it on low, no problems for ~$200
posted by toliman at 9:41 AM on November 16, 2007

If you can find a pair of Tannoy System 6's on ebay in your price range, definitely grab them. They have nice crisp bass, wonderful fidelity. A friend gave me my pair and I've been very happy with them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:28 AM on November 16, 2007

I was getting really excited about the DIY speaker kit that toliman linked too, until I realized they are only available in Australia. :-(
posted by wfrgms at 2:55 PM on November 16, 2007

This is a ridiculously nice sounding pair of bookshelf speakers from Best Buy's "Insignia" house brand. I'm listening to a pair right now. Read some reviews - people go nuts for these speaks, and can't figure out - like I can't - how they came into being. Generally house brand anything from a big box chain is cheap Chinese crap, but these are a really, really surprisingly good sounding pair of speakers.

I actually retired a set of Tannoy monitors in favor of these.
posted by stenseng at 4:16 PM on November 16, 2007

More on the Insignias... turns out they're rebranded Radiient Europas or a varient, which explains the fantastic sound!
posted by stenseng at 4:25 PM on November 16, 2007

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