AVR and Speakers for under $1500

I am considering buying a Denon AVR-2112CI receiver with Bose Acoustimass 10 speakers. I chose Bose because I have a small living room (15x20 feet). I have a 46-inch Sony LCD TV, and the space to put a 5.1 speaker system is 2.5x5 feet. I've been saving for a year and cannot decide whether I should buy Bose.

I recently came across your site and found your Top Picks for A/V receivers and compact speakers. In particular, I was interested in the Pioneer VSX-1021 AVR and the Cambridge Audio Minx S215 or Definitive ProCinema 600 speaker systems because they are smaller than the Pioneer SP-BS41-LR system.

I hope you can advise me on which receiver and speaker system to get. My budget is between $1000 and $1500.


First of all, I would definitely not get the Bose Acoustimass 10. In my opinion, that company's speaker systems are more about marketing the Bose name and less about performance, which generally isn't as good as many other systems out there.

I agree that the Pioneer speakers are probably too big for your very small space—how can you even fit yourself in a space that's 2.5x5 feet? And why would you have so little space in a room that's 15x20 overall? Of the two alternatives you mention, I'd probably go with the Cambridge Minx S215, which got slightly higher marks all around than the Definitive Technology ProCinema 600.

In terms of AVRs, we reviewed both the Denon AVR-2112CI and Pioneer VSX-1021. Because of the Denon's relatively poor video performance, it did not receive a Top Picks designation, while the Pioneer did—plus, it's $100 less than the Denon. Pairing the Pioneer VSX-1021 with the Cambridge Minx S215 will set you back $1350, which is right in the pocket of your budget.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askhometheater@gmail.com.

adriandeftones's picture

Would you consider a Harman/Kardon HKTS 20BQ, or HKTS 30BQ, they are compact and and easy to wall-mount. Also if your space is small 5.1 is the way to go I guess.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

We reviewed the HKTS 30 system here:


It's more expensive than the Cambridge or DefTech systems, and it scored lower in performance than either of them, so I wouldn't recommend it.

RajaSri's picture

Hi Scott,

Harmon Kardon HKTS 30 can be found now at $445.


I read the review and it says the main limitation is its price. Do you recommend getting this at this price?


theo's picture

Please don't think of this as Bose bashing, but I absolutely agree with Scott. Bose does not allow their products to be peer reviewed... why? Moreover, if you listen to a Bose system and then even a small monitor from any company like PSB, Boston Acoustics, Atlantic Technology (these are probably closer to the Bose Price point) there is a distinct difference in the sound.

No question, Bose has done a great job marketing, but I don't see them as accurate speakers. The Acoustimass 10 are also a terrible design. The crossover is way just too high and splitting the crossover that high--I think it's 120hz(?) is putting some of that great midrange sound into the boomy sub. It's just not a good design in my opinion.

But if you enjoy them, that's the great thing about audio.... it's all subjective. So it you love them, by all means go for them. Just don't go for them because someone said to you that "Bose are the best" because they are not and far from it.

clifford schall's picture

As an audio dealer I have lost thousands and thousands of dollars not selling Bose speakers.

They are the worst or close to the worst Brand name speakers money can buy. The Bose rep wanted Bose not to be on demo with other speakers. It is astounding that Bose speakers sell so well and sound so bad. Most people do not compare speakers or listen to more than appliance store speakers before they buy. I have sole a lot of center speakers to Bose system owners and give them three months to get a refund on them because if they put their Bose center back in the system and they are not severely hard of hearing they will not return the center speaker I sell them. No one has ever returned one.

Knocking Sheldon's picture

If I would like to use a budget receiver that has better video processing,would the Onkyo TX-NR609 be a good option although the price is slightly higher? I have a display(Sony-KDL40XBR6) that does not let me view 720p with no overscan. I can easily enjoy blu-ray at 1080p with no-overscan,but if I play a game that only outputs at 720p on a Playstation 3,I lose about 5% of the image. If I use the TX-NR609 to process video,would I be able to up convert 720p to 1080i or 1080p in which I have no overscan(Full-Pixel)?

Comparing the definitive technology speakers to the cambridge or pioneer speakers,how important is it to have a speaker system that can go down to or 1-5 hz above 20Hz on the subwoofer in an entry-level system? For mostly blu-ray playback and video game playing,how low would I need the subwoofer to go to get a compelling bass performance. I was considering the Onkyo TX-NR609 with the Defenitive Technology ProCinema 600 speaker system mostly for how low the subwoofer can go. Am I wrong in focusing on this specification in terms of performance?

K.Reid's picture

I concur with Scott's opinion regarding Bose.

Look to the Energy Take Classic 5.1 system or RC Micro system with the former being reviewed by HT Mag sometime in past - if memory serves me correctly, but Scott can opine on whether it was reviewed as well as my other recommendations. If you can stretch the budget to $2k, you can really step up to the likes of Paradigm's Atom Monitor and Monitor Sub 8 or 10.

K.Reid's picture

Knocking Sheldon:

My recommendation is to try not focusing so much on the speaker specs as they do not tell the whole story. The frequency response may not be near ruler flat as certain areas in the spectrum may be emphasized (highs, mids, upper bass). You must listen and let your ears be your guide. Def Tech provides specs but often times there is no +-db quoted (e.g 25hz-22,000khz +-3db). I've owned Def Tech BP20 tower speakers for a long time. When I brought them, I did read the specs but ultimately my listening dictated my buying decision.

I recommend that your bring some music or bluray that you are very familiar with and schedule a listening session paying attention to vocals/dialogue and overall sound characteristics. Take notes when you do and then based on that make your decision. Go to the reviews section on HTMag's site and read Mark Fleischmann's reviews for his impressions.

ALX's picture

I think the OP was stating that he only had 2.5 x 5 feet available for the speakers. Not the entire area for viewing, listening, etc. Hopefully he meant only the front speakers, not the surrounds as well.

grtgrfx's picture

As a recent Pioneer VSX-1021 buyer, I can say there are goods and bads to this receiver. It does sound very good and their room analyzer works very well. The drawbacks are that Pioneer engineers have no idea how to document their hardware, and setting up this device is a bear. I still can't get one of my devices (a Series 2 TiVo DVR) to switch to the right inputs and I had to rename four out of six devices because the input ports are all mislabeled for my needs. Besides that, the back panel layout is really poorly thought-out and labeled, and there aren't enough independent audio and legacy (5.1 analog, s-video) inputs for a $500 receiver.

As far as speakers, maybe the OP should consider in-wall models to avoid the necessary tradeoffs that micro systems entail. Putting three in-wall fronts by the video source and two or more in-ceiling speakers close to the listening position might be an even better option than using those tiny cube speakers that are so restraining and avoid the Bose marketing machine. With a good room-correction system and a decent amp, he could solve all the space issues at once.

sgaudro's picture

Hi Scott,

Why did you guys never reviewed the Newton Series MC630HD 5.1 Speaker System from CSW priced at around that price point but without the AVR?

albert26's picture

Dear Scott,,the Denon AVR2112 is an absolute,phenomanl AVR,with a great sounding Pre-amp section ,,something you will never get from a typical Onkyo or Pioneer,its simply a better receiver,the flac chips are made in Japan,unlike anyone elses,,,
It is high current unlike a Pio,,has a 2yr warranty,plz stick with your'e thoughts on that & they are servicable in almost every state
unlike Onkyo,,,
Look or listen to the Polk Audio Blackstone speakers,come in white or black,nice sound ,very art deco looking,& then you have 3 subs to choose from,don't have to buy everything together,like the rest of those amataer comments,,ck Polk Pro440 8' subwoofer,you can down or front fire it,sounds great,also all this equipment is extremly reliable,,I install it everday,,,,,
good luck Kid

sjsomerset's picture

The Denon AVR-2112CI didn't receive a top pick due to poor video performance. Are the signals not passed through? I'm confused. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

sjsomerset's picture

The Denon AVR-2112CI didn't receive a top pick due to poor video performance. Are the signals not passed through? I'm confused. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

albert26's picture

When it comes to Video performance,,the actual HDMI interace cables are more important ,as with decent speaker cables.
I have never had any single client , unhappy with the video that came from a Denon ,whether its a AVR1312 or a AVR 4312,,,,,,,,,
Go to Denon & then Pioneer's site & check what processing chips there using,,,,if anyone believed all reviews,we would all b driving Honda's

baynoli's picture

Why would someone connect their players to their receiver where most TVs have hdmi inputs. Will there be any improvements between directly connecting the video input to TVs and to the receiver. It doubles the electricity consumption i think. :)

Scott Wilkinson's picture
There are several reasons to connect your source devices to your receiver rather than your TV. Chief among them is audio quality; unless you use multichannel analog connections, the only way to get Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio to your sound system is via HDMI to the receiver. And you certainly do NOT want to rely on the internal sound of the TV itself, which is generally terrible. Then there's the convenience of being able to select which source device you want to watch and listen to from the receiver, instead of switching the receiver for audio and the TV for video. With HDMI, there is usually no loss in quality going through the receiver, though some receivers might degrade the video or audio, which we test for in our reviews.
kodfish's picture

I have a Pioneer SC-37 receiver that I bought out of the box from Best Buy. Unfortunately, my wife will not allow floor standing speakers. Therefore, I need small cube speakers as our living room isn't very big. Another requirement is the speakers need to be white or grey.
I have purchased Bose Acoustimass 10 speakers but I know I won't be getting the complete value out of the receiver.
Does anyone have any recommendations for small 5.1 speakers/sub in white or grey? I'm not confined to a particular price range. What is most important is piece of mind that its a great system with top performance.
Also, can somebody point out what exactly I will be missing by using the Acoustimass 10 with such a superior receiver?

Thanks in advance!


Scott Wilkinson's picture

Here are two highly recommended 5.1 systems with small satellites similar in size to the Bose that are available in white, along with links to our reviews:

Cambridge Audio Minx S215 ($800)


Morel SoundSpot Music Theatre 2 Ultra ($2199)


I don't recommend Bose speakers because they simply don't perform very well. In my view, they are much more about marketing and name recognition than performance.

ssshah10's picture

Hi Scott,

My concern with Cambridge Audio Minx S215 is lack of dedicated center channel. Cambridge Audio Minx S215 looks better than DT Pro Cinema 600 but are they better in Sound Quality?

At best buy I heard Mirage Nanosat, DT 600/800/1000 & Cambridge Audio 2.1

I am confused between Cambridge Audio Minx S215, Mirage & Definitive Technology ProCinema 600.

Pls provide your input.

Thanks In Advance,