Monitor Audio R952MD loudspeaker Recommended Loudspeakers 1988
My personal list, in order of price per pair—but only very approximately of merit—now consists of: Monitor Audio R952MD ($1349), Vandersteen 2C ($1150), Spendor SP1 ($950), Synthesis LM-210 ($950), Thiel CS1 ($950), Celestion SL6S ($900), Monitor Audio R652MD ($859), Siefert Magnum III ($833), AR 35T ($700), ARC CS2 ($700), Quadrant Q-250 ($695), and Spendor SP2 ($650). To be considered by those on a more restricted budget are the Siefert Maxim IIID ($599), JBL 18Ti ($590), Monitor Audio R352 ($559), Magnepan SMGa ($495), Spica TC50 ($450), Rogers LS3/5A ($450), and Paradigm 5se ($329). The Thiel, Synthesis, Monitor Audio R952MD, and Magnepan designs represent particularly good value as, being floor-standing models, they obviate the need for suitable stands (which can easily run to another $150).
It has been suggested that Stereophile recommends too many affordable loudspeakers to retain credibility. ("Surely they can't all be good?") But, as I hope has become clear from my series of reviews, absolute quality in all areas of performance is not possible at this price level. The designers have to choose a balance of compromises—perhaps cut the bass extension a little here in order to keep the midrange clean there, sacrifice a little flatness of response in the lower treble in order to use an otherwise well-behaved but inexpensive tweeter, go for a lower sensitivity so that the woofer magnet can be kept affordable for a given LF cutoff—and, within limits, whether any particular balance is successful or not will be, to some extent, a matter of taste.
How, therefore, I suggest you use the above list of recommendations is first to define your own needs. Maybe you don't mind losing a half-octave or so of bass if the result is improved imaging; maybe you must have every last Hz of bass, even if the imaging is less good; maybe midrange accuracy or your distaste for any treble hardness at all are more important than either deep bass or the ultimate in imaging; perhaps domestic considerations dictate that the speakers must be used near the rear wall. In any case, smaller loudspeakers seem to work better in the bass in smaller rooms, and vice versa. Once you have worked out a rough idea of the kind of loudspeaker which will best fit your own needs, read the reviews to get a short list of three or four possible contenders. Then comes the hard part: Try to audition the list to see which works well with the rest of your system in your room. It is hard because it is unlikely that a single dealer will stock more than one model on your list, but persist. The end result will be worth it.—John Atkinson