voltron001
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Please help me decide - budget bookshelf
mrlowry
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The only speaker on your list that I have direct experience with is the Paradigm Titan and I have nothing but good things to say about that model and that company. You might want to add some affordable B&W speakers to your list. The DM303, DM600S3, and the DM601S3 spring to mind.

nunhgrader
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I auditioned a pair of Wharfedale's and I thought they sounded great (with Marantz mid-fi) in a less-than-perfect demo room. I also own a Whafredale sub for the living room and it has given me four years of trouble free performance.

However, I am also a fan of the other selections and would like to read others' experiences.

Yiangos
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The "titan" and the "diamond 9.1" are great budged loudspeakers but i would like to add something i read in magazines quite a few times.it seems all reviewers preffer Wharfedale 8.1 better than the 9.1.

voltron001
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Thanks for all of the input so far. I will look into B&Ws also. My inclusion of the Wharfedale 9.1 was heavily based on this Robert J. Reina review, as well as lots of other positive chatter it has received. Yiangos - I have heard something similar about the 8.1 being potentially better than the 9.1, though I would be more inclined to go for the 8.2 which has a more extended low range. I know if I go for Paradigms that I will get good build quality and a solid reputation, but the AV123 x-ls sounds like somewhat of a dark horse in bang-for-the-buck also. I can hear it coming - I really should go listen to all of them. I do live near a Paradigm dealer, and AV123 offers a free in-home trial, but I can't find anyone local who deals in Wharfedale.

pearsall001
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I highly recommend the C-3 Bookshelf from the Connoisseur line by Energy Speakers. Superb sounding & can be found within your budget on the used market. Energys new line is the Reference Connoisseur but they are over your budget. Worth checking out though.

jackfish
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If you listen to a lot of vocals the Wharfedales are magnificent.

voltron001
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Quote:
If you listen to a lot of vocals the Wharfedales are magnificent.

Sold! I'm a choral director and pianist, so piano and vocals are definitely the most important for me. Thanks again for the advice.

systemerror909
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I've owned the wharfedale 8.2's for a year and a half now and am very pleased for what I paid for them: about $250 including shipping. I really doubt that there is anything that can beat them in that price range. Being an older line than the 9's and possibly discontinued I imagine you would be able to get them for a great price.

While I chose the 8.2's for the greater bass extension, I have heard that the 8.1's have a better midrange. The high end is really fantastic, this is the same tweeter wharfedale uses for their more expensive speakers, many reviewers have said quality is at a level you would expect to find from speakers 3 or 4x the price. Sound staging is great, and they really show improvements with good cables. Bass is really good too for the size, excellent for all the pop type music i've played, really only showing limitations in some classical music like Saint Saens symphony no. 3 with 32hz organ pedals. The kevlar makes for very tight bass, no boominess provided they're at least a foot from a wall.

My only complaint: sensitivity is 86db Overall great speakers by a bit hard to drive with my Marantz 2215b at 15watts.

systemerror909
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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the 8.2's grills are really really flimsy, though with time it gets easier to get them on and off. They sound a good bit better without them on, I haven't used the grills for probably 6 months.

voltron001
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Thanks to everyone for their input. I had settled on Wharfedale 9.1s, then I found this incredible deal on a pair of Athena AS-B2.2 bookshelf speakers, and also a review from Goodsound that convinced me to give them a shot. I'm happy to report that the Athena's are impressive performers, and I've only been using them about a week - far less than the 100 hours break-in time the manufacturer recommends. Reports of these speakers being bass-shy (some online opinions) are quite false. It's startling how good these little guys are with both music and movies. They were appropriately sweet and delicate on the opening of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and appropriately terrifying with surprising impact and slam through the rest of Part I on my reference recording of this piece. Do they have the looks of something much more expensive, like Totem Rainmakers? No, but they look very nice and decor-neutral, and the binding posts clamp down very tightly. If you are on a tight budget (or not!), I don't think you can go wrong with these.

Monty
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I'm glad to hear you found something you liked. I clicked on your link and read the review. Based on the review, I think you chose wisely. Obviously, you like them and that's all that matters.

Canada is really producing some fine speakers and getting little recognition for their price to performance ratios. This is almost across the board.

exerciseguy
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Nice decision with those AS-B2.2. The only other competent large bookself speakers near that price are the Infinity Primus 160 on sale & the Acoustic Research ARXP62 for $99 (a steal!).

asobe
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I had a pair of titans and I loved them,Eventually I traded them in for a pair of paradigm studio/20s.I am not sure if it was just my dealer or all paradigm dealers but he gave me full credit for my titans towards the studio/20.
Goodluck and everybody is different and prefer different things from a speaker.I have often heard paradigms refered to as laidback.

seaan
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I don't normally think of the Paradigms (Studio 20v3 at least) as laid back. My listening preference leads me to speakers that are very detailed, and that some people call overly bright. But over the years I've concluded this is more of a preference - after all I've found that I prefer listening to symphonies in the first few rows where you can hear details and get all the dynamic loudness (where others like to sit in the far back and hear everything blended).

I recently went through an intense evaluation of small bookshelf speakers, and the Studio 20v3 was high on the list. I ended up with Klipsch RB-75 (front) and RB-35 (rear) because of a slight edge in detail and perhaps a little better micro-dynamics. But any speaker that came that close to satisfying me could not be called laid back :-)

As to the original topic, I know it is out of date, but for what it is worth - I've been very impressed by the low cost Infinity lines (Alpha/Beta). They present most of the detail I crave, are very dynamic. There total sound is a little less refined than the speakers I was shopping for (I did a close comparison with NHT M5 and liked almost everything the M5 did noticeably better - but this was also $250 vs. $900).

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