Bookshelf Speaker Reviews

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Dennis Young  |  Feb 28, 2024  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $200/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Best speaker of any size, shape or configuration I've heard for the money
Small, easy to place

Minus
Needs wall power and a signal wire feed

THE VERDICT
My ears and wallet give the OSD Nero AB5 two big thumbs up.

Have you ever wondered why something good usually costs so much? Of course, we all have.

Outdoor Speaker Depot is a little-known—but celebrating a 20-year anniversary—Internet Direct site based out of Brea, CA, with quite a large array of goods to offer at prices that will make your jaw drop. The OSD Nero AB 5 is a case in point, utilizing active crossovers, bi-amped Class D amplifiers, digital signal processing, and quality drivers that rise above those typically seen at this price point. That's just scratching the surface of what is to be found.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 28, 2023  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE: $1,499/pair

AT A GLANCE

Plus
Excellent treble clarity
Warm, rich bass
Placement flexibility
Minus
Powerful amplifier
Minimal tonal controls on remote
Dialogue clarity

THE VERDICT
The Klipsch The Nines speakers are in the Heritage Inspired Speaker line, and the sound signature is certainly aligned with their historic products. Warm, rich, with that legendary detailed high end that is always a classic.

Klipsch The Nines, found in the Heritage Inspired Speaker lineup, harken back to a time when HiFi stereos were all the rage. Even The Nines’ logo is 100% mid-century modern inspired.

Mark Henninger  |  Oct 31, 2023  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE: $449

AT A GLANCE

Plus
Stereo sound from dual tweeters
Battery life up to 24 hours
Support for wired audio sources
Upgraded Wireless Charging Base
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities
Minus
Stereo soundstage is limited
Cannot be paired with Sonos subwoofer
Proprietary USB-C Line-In Adapter not included in box

THE VERDICT
With long battery life, a robust build, powerful bass, and superior connectivity options, the Move 2 is a compelling upgrade that's ready for both indoor and outdoor use. While it might be on the pricier side, for the quality and features offered, it’s an investment that delivers.

Sonos, a brand synonymous with wireless multi-room audio, unveils its latest: the Sonos Move 2. This speaker is not just a sequel but a significant upgrade from its predecessor.

Tom Norton  |  Oct 10, 2023  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Strong and clear sound
Excellent imaging
Made in France

Minus
Best with a subwoofer for action films
2-way center speaker

THE VERDICT
Unless it happened in the long forgotten, misty days of my earliest reviews, I can't recall ever before reviewing a Focal loudspeaker. But years ago, I did visit the Focal factory in France and was impressed by the company's forward, creative thinking. That remains true today, as the new Focal Vestia lineup clearly demonstrates.

Focal is a long-established, high-end French loudspeaker manufacturer that invests heavily in R&D to stay ahead of its competitors. While its flagship models have always commanded nosebleed prices, the new Focal Vestia line (three floorstanders, a bookshelf model, and the Vestia Center) tops out at $4400/pair in the U.S. for the Vestia No.4. Not exactly white van prices, but more than competitive in the international loudspeaker market.

Howard Kneller  |  Sep 27, 2023  |  4 comments

MTM-100 Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value

8-inch THX-Certified Sub
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $500/pair (speaker), $350 (subwoofer)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Delivers high value
Subwoofer output allows expandability
EQ permits tailored sound
Sub is THX certified
Minus
Lacks HDMI ARC for wired TV sound
Large cabinets may overwhelm small spaces

THE VERDICT
A value priced, but stylish satellite/sub combo that forgoes the snobbish brand name to deliver high performance.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 10, 2023  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Surprising upper bass accuracy
Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
Privacy controls
Minus
Minimal stereo Imaging
Compressed sound

THE VERDICT
Who says you can't improve on perfection? The Sonos Era 100 is the new replacement for the much heralded Sonos One speaker. Does it offer improvements? Absolutely! With Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, voice assist and extremely loud playback, the Era 100 lives up to the usual Sonos hype with sound that delivers.

Move over Sonos One—there’s a new kid on the block and its time has come. The Era 100 is one of two new products from Sonos, the other being the larger, pricier Era 300. The Era 100 boasts an array of features that address many complaints from earlier products.

Rob Sabin  |  Jul 12, 2023  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,471

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding full-dome Atmos movie effects
Superb spatial audio music reproduction
Plays loud without distortion
Minus
Expensive
No spatial audio streaming from the Sonos Tidal app

THE VERDICT
Sonos has scored a knockout with the Era 300 spatial audio surround speaker, which finally brings the full promise of Dolby Atmos to their flagship soundbar.

Back in 2020 I reviewed the then-new Sonos Arc soundbar for Sound & Vision, and it never left my family room. It’s been swapped out multiple times while I reviewed other Atmos-compliant soundbars, and some of these were mighty impressive.

Jim Wilson  |  Jun 08, 2023  |  2 comments

Motion Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
BalancedForce 210 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $9,194 (as tested)
Motion F20 $1,749 (each)
Motion C10 $999 (each)
MotionB10 $599 (each)
BalancedForce 210 $3,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Incredible mids and highs
Elegant appearance
Exceptional build quality

Minus
Not inexpensive
Perfect Bass Kit not included with sub
MAP (Manufacturers Advertised Pricing) enforced

THE VERDICT
MartinLogan blends exquisite detail with razor-sharp imaging and rich bass, then combines those elements into stylish enclosures. The Motion speakers and BalancedForce subwoofer provide a very compelling option for the serious audiophile.

MartinLogan, you know the name. They've been around since 1983 so pretty much everyone has heard of them. Renowned for its statement electrostatic speakers, the company also offers a full line of traditional cabinet speakers, subwoofers, wireless systems, architectural speakers, soundbars, even discrete outdoor systems.

Rob Sabin  |  May 10, 2023  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $449

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent stereo and spatial audio
Works as a standalone, in stereo pair
Use as rear surrounds with Sonos soundbars
Good "smarts" with Alexa, Sonos Voice
Bluetooth compatible
Impressive industrial design

Minus
No compatibility with Atmos tracks on Tidal
Does not work with Sony 360 Reality on Amazon
Sensitive to speaker placement

THE VERDICT
The Sonos Era 300 successfully brings high quality spatial audio to life in a compact, standalone package.

The Sonos Era 300 is the latest in a new generation of Atmos-compliant "spatial audio" speakers that bring a more immersive listening experience without the hardware and installation grief inherent with discrete surround systems. At $449 (in black or white), it costs more than its competition though, in typical Sonos fashion, it is engineered to a fare-thee-well and represents a considerable achievement.

Daniel Kumin  |  May 03, 2023  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding sound quality, dynamic abilities
Deep bass extension
Subwoofer output
Minus
No music-data or volume display
On the large side for stand-mount use

THE VERDICT
Big, powerful, flexible, dynamic, and all-around-excellent streaming loudspeakers.

How do you know when an audio trend is more than just a bandwagon? When America’s oldest hi-fi brand climbs on board. (Yes, I know that JBL and Klipsch were both founded in 1946. But JBL’s earliest incarnation goes back to the 1930’s.)

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 29, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1800/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Tight, crisp bass
Detailed, dynamic sound
Price
Minus
Looks suffer with grilles removed
Needs a subwoofer for bass-heavy films
Vintage style might not appeal to all

THE VERDICT
It might not be at its best in a large room without a subwoofer or two, but the dynamic, open, and detailed sound of the KLH Model 3s can otherwise equal or exceed the performance of many far more expensive loudspeakers.

In the early 1950s Edgar Villchur, Henry Kloss, Malcolm S. Low, and Josef Anton Hofmann founded the Acoustic Research and Development Corporation. Of the four founders, Henry Kloss may be the name best recognized by audiophiles with a bit of mileage on their wheels. Kloss later left AR (along with Low and Hoffman) and founded KLH. Kloss later founded two other loudspeaker companies, Advent and Cambridge Audio.

Mark Henninger  |  Dec 07, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $799.99

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Compact
Clear and precise sound
Wall mountable
Tunable subwoofer EQ
Minus
4 ohms impedance
Low sensitivity

The Verdict
This 5.1 HTiB speaker system combined with a suitable AVR offers a high-performance yet compact alternative to soundbars. The concentric driver satellites provide pinpoint imaging that results in cohesive surround-sound envelopment. Even with stereo music you get a listening experience that defies expectations for a system this small in size and cost.

Home Theater in a Box Done Right
The classic HTiB—an all-in-one subwoofer/satellite speaker system—was long ago supplanted by soundbars as the go-to upgrade for TV audio. But a solid HTiB system, with the speakers properly placed and paired with the right AVR, is a great way to get superior surround-sound on a budget—so long as the components are high quality.

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 02, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $900/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive low-end extension and dynamics
Good array of inputs including HDMI/eARC for TV sound
Subwoofer output lends expandability
Minus
The active speaker must be the right channel
Low-end balance may prove a bit strong for near-wall placement in some rooms
No systemic EQ
No file format data display

THE VERDICT
Outstanding sound quality in a compact, wireless-streaming speaker pair.

I haven't yet decided what to call the new genus of streaming-on-board powered stereo speakers. Streakers? Speamers? Whatever you call them, active DSP speakers, with amps, digital converters and crossovers, and of course, streaming capabilities built right in, are officially now a thing.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 19, 2022  |  0 comments

System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE (with subwoofer): $8,610

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, clear sound
Nice depth
Tight imaging
Excellent fit and finish
Minus
Needs a subwoofer for movies

THE VERDICT
Monitor Audio’s longstanding reputation of delivering great sound and solid value remains very much intact with the new Silver 7G speaker series.

I've reviewed many Monitor Audio speakers over the years. When I lived in California, I reviewed the Silver 10s. Later, after I moved east, I bought a pair of the Silver 10s (actually three of them—long story), and when Monitor released a proper three-way Silver Series center speaker, I acquired one of those, too. When other speakers aren't in-house for review, that Silver trio becomes the core of a Franken-system that includes surrounds, overhead Atmos speakers, and subwoofers from other brands.

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 28, 2022  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,400 (system)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Highly accurate tonal balance
Superb imaging
Sub output for instant upgrade
All-in-one solution with HDMI ARC for TV sound
Minus
Limited output in large rooms
No physical controls

THE VERDICT
The little KEF LSX II is a remarkably capable and versatile speaker that will amaze you with big, audiophile-caliber sound.

KEF's little LSX II exudes quiet sophistication, which begs a question: Is it a lifestyle speaker or an audiophile speaker? It's both, actually—and why not? The cantaloupe-sized wireless speaker is the British audio titan's latest self-powered "just add music" solution and it packs a punch, drawing on extensive signal processing to optimize performance, with the goal of delivering near full-range reproduction to a very high standard. The system also boasts a proprietary app that integrates setup, control, and streaming from virtually every important service—including Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, and Amazon Music—or your own file- or disc-based music collection.

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