Speaker-Roundup Rodeo

We've roped in a trio of speaker systems priced under $2,000!

When was the last time you heard somebody say they were looking to spend as much as possible on something? When it comes to A/V equipment, you never hear people say, "Keep the change" or, "That's a little less than I was looking to spend."

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine called me up and asked for a few suggestions on speakers for his home theater. "How much are you looking to spend?" I asked. "As little as possible," he replied. Aren't we all?

We played the cat-and-mouse game for a while, until I finally threw out a figure. "I just reviewed some wonderful Mirage speakers a few weeks ago for around 10 grand." The silence on the other end of the phone said it all. After a moment, his cracking voice replied, "I was looking to spend around two grand, tops." Finally we were getting somewhere. Now, if only I could remember the last speaker ensemble I reviewed for less than two grand...

I was able to round up three speaker ensembles to whet his listening appetite. Indeed, each of these ensembles had its strengths and weaknesses, but each was an incredible value overall. I thought I should share my findings with you.

I connected each ensemble to a Parasound amp and preamp in hopes of maximizing each system's potential. In the real world, however, I'm not sure anyone spending two grand on their speakers would turn around and dump four grand on an amp and pre/pro. Of course, if you've been reading Home Theater for any length of time, you know that your system will only sound as good as your weakest component. If you're looking to buy either the Cambridge SoundWorks or B&W speakers reviewed in this article, then I'd give them as much power as you can afford. The JBL Studio series, on the other hand, is extremely efficient and could perform quite well with as little as 65 watts per channel.