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matthewpiano's picture
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Affordable speakers

Had a look and listen to a few affordable speakers today and thought it might be useful to share my brief observations for each one.  Heard them all on the end of a Denon PMA720AE amp as this is what I am familiar with.

Monitor Audio BX2 - Wide, spacious sound with lots of detail but lacking body overall.  As I experienced when I owned a pair, they tend towards being a bit soul-less and I don't feel I want to carry on listening for any extended period.  Beautifully made.  £249. 4 out of 5.

Wharfedale Diamond 121 - Full, slightly warm sound with more presence and body than the BX2s.  Narrower sound-stage but more keenly focused and with very good detail levels.  Really nice sounding speakers, completely let down by fit and finish.  The black vinyl surface is cheap looking as is the black plastic front panel, and the vinyl covering didn't meet properly at corners.  I've long had concerns about Wharfedale's finish quality, being the owner of Diamond 9.1s and Diamond 10.3s, and things don't seem to be improving at all.  Not really acceptable when other brands can get it right.  £229. 4 out of 5.  (If they could get the finish sorted, 5 out of 5)

Dali Zensor 1 - I've owned a pair of these and, as then, today I found them to be very communicative and detailed if slightly lacking in warmth.  They control the soundstage well and are both explicit and refinded in the treble.  Nicely finished too.  £199.  4 out of 5.

Q Acoustics 2020i - Small but deep cabinets, pleasant looking but fairly unassuming, though nicely finished for the asking price.  Warmer than the Zensor 1s and BX2s but more open sounding than the Wharfedales.  Really immsersive and involving to listen to with a huge amount of detail nicely presented rather than thrown forward.  Have the special quality of making you want to carry on listening.  Impressive little speakers.   5 out of 5.

 

To sum up, all four are very talented speakers and each could make a great buy if partnered with the right amp.  The biggest disappointment is the finish on the Diamond 121.  They are clearly superb speakers but even at this end of the market it should be possible to make them look and feel better.  In terms of sound per pound, it is the Q 2020i which take the crown for me - super speakers, performing beyond their price.

 

 

Rega RP3/Elys 2 - Graham Slee Gram Amp 1 - Rotel RCD965BX - Exposure 1010 amp - Dynaudio DM2/6 - Chord Co. Chameleon VEE3/Rumour 2 - Musical Fidelity V90-HPA - Sennheiser HD595

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RE: Affordable speakers

Interesting, thanks Matthew.

I know you say the Wharfedale finish is below par but do they differ a lot sonically from your Diamond 9.1s?

Understand about the MAs being a little souless. The RS6s can sound a tad detached, although in isolation it's negligible.

Heard the Q Acoustics with Marantz 603 and the clarity was impressive. Bit like older Wharfedales they seem to be the Swiss Army Knife of hi-fi.

Amp; CDP; Turntable; Tuner; Speakers

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RE: Affordable speakers

Matthewpiano, much like plastic penguin, I too am interested in how your 9.1s fare against the others. I still have a pair of Anniversary edition (real veneer) and love them to bits, truly brilliant little speaker. I also got Jade 5s recently, and Jade C1, all in piano black, and happy to report that fit and finish on all of them is impeccable, Jades in particular.

I am actually thinking of bagging another pair of 9.1s from Superfi for 100 quid while they still have some in stock (for "spare parts" Lol .

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RE: Affordable speakers

What about Boston Acoustics A25/26?

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RE: Affordable speakers

ive just bought a pair of 9.1 just to see me through till i make my mind up what nice standmounters i want but i am so impressed with these i cant believe the sound that comes out of these small boxes.warmth detail imaging all great for my needs.just grab some at this price £100 before there all gone

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RE: Affordable speakers

So which ones are you going to buy Matthew? (Q 2020i I assume. Or are there more on the list?)

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RE: Affordable speakers

great review i think you hit the nail on the head:clap:

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RE: Affordable speakers

My 9.1s have really suffered in terms of the finish coming away and look a bit scruffy now, hence the desire to get something else.  The 9.1s remain a great sounding speaker, but I do find that compared to some of the newer competitors (including the new Diamond 121s) the sound can lack a bit of solidity and coherence.  For me, both the Q 2020i and the Diamond 121 sound more complete and more 'together' than the Diamond 9.1s.  The 121s combine the excellent detail and better bass of the Diamond 10.1s with some of the naturalness that the 9.1s were so good at.  In many ways they offer a great balance of the best qualities of the 9.1s and 10.1s.

The Qs are fantastic value, though, and they certainly didn't sound anything like the cheapest of the group.  To answer your question Chebby, the 2020is are hooked up to my system as I type (walnut finish).  It makes the system very much source first, with the CD player and turntable being by far the most expensive items, but it works really well.  PP mentioned older Wharfedales, and one of the really attractive things about the Qs is that they pull off that trick of sounding somehow 'right', pulling you into the music and making you want to keep listening, just as the best of the older Wharfedales always did.   With the 2020i being this good, I'd love to hear what the Concept 20s can do but, for now, finances don't allow that outlay and on the experience up to now, I feel I'm really going to enjoy my music with the 2020i.

 

Rega RP3/Elys 2 - Graham Slee Gram Amp 1 - Rotel RCD965BX - Exposure 1010 amp - Dynaudio DM2/6 - Chord Co. Chameleon VEE3/Rumour 2 - Musical Fidelity V90-HPA - Sennheiser HD595

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RE: Affordable speakers

How do you feel they compare to the Mission 751 Matthew?

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RE: Affordable speakers

matthewpiano wrote:
To answer your question Chebby, the 2020is are hooked up to my system as I type (walnut finish).

Excellent.

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RE: Affordable speakers

matthewpiano,

do they fit well on regular stands or have you bought the q acoustics stands ?

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RE: Affordable speakers

Hi Cypher

They fit quite well on my Mission 79 series stands but I do fancy having the proper Q Acoustics ones.  Will be giving it some thought!

Rega RP3/Elys 2 - Graham Slee Gram Amp 1 - Rotel RCD965BX - Exposure 1010 amp - Dynaudio DM2/6 - Chord Co. Chameleon VEE3/Rumour 2 - Musical Fidelity V90-HPA - Sennheiser HD595

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RE: Affordable speakers

the record spot wrote:

How do you feel they compare to the Mission 751 Matthew?

The 751s are more explicitly detailed but the Qs are easier to listen to and somehow more engaging.  The Qs seem to put the music first, whereas the 751s are very hi-fi to my ears.  Both are excellent speakers.  Again, my 751s were bought used and are cosmetically a bit scruffy so not ideal for the main living space.

Rega RP3/Elys 2 - Graham Slee Gram Amp 1 - Rotel RCD965BX - Exposure 1010 amp - Dynaudio DM2/6 - Chord Co. Chameleon VEE3/Rumour 2 - Musical Fidelity V90-HPA - Sennheiser HD595

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RE: Affordable speakers

matthewpiano wrote:

With the 2020i being this good, I'd love to hear what the Concept 20s can do

 

Hi, nice reviews for those speakers you mentioned. Hope you enjoy the 2020i's. I was wondering what you think of the power of the bass of the Q's and if you can perceive a difference in the lower bass extension compared to some of the other models you described above? What are the Q's like with rock/blues, for instance?

As for the concept 20's - they are fairly expensive considering the stands. I'd be interested to compare some floorstanders with better bass extension for the price. e.g. Mission MX5, Boston Acoustics A360, Q Acoustics 2050i etc

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RE: Affordable speakers

matthewpiano wrote:

My 9.1s have really suffered in terms of the finish coming away and look a bit scruffy now, hence the desire to get something else.  The 9.1s remain a great sounding speaker, but I do find that compared to some of the newer competitors (including the new Diamond 121s) the sound can lack a bit of solidity and coherence.  For me, both the Q 2020i and the Diamond 121 sound more complete and more 'together' than the Diamond 9.1s.  The 121s combine the excellent detail and better bass of the Diamond 10.1s with some of the naturalness that the 9.1s were so good at.  In many ways they offer a great balance of the best qualities of the 9.1s and 10.1s.

Excellent, thanks mp.

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RE: Affordable speakers

Matthewpiano

I should be getting some money soon and will buy the Marantz MCR603

I was going to get the Dali Zensor 1's with it all for around £450

I know we all have slightly different tastes and hear things slightly differently, so comparing the Dali Zensor 1's with the Q Aqcoustics 2020i would you say they are about the same sound wise going on from your review above

I currently have the Denon DM37 with there given Denon Speakers which I find a little bass heavy and boomy, so I should notice a good noticeable improvement would you think with the MCR603 and Dali Zensor 1's, thanks

 

 

 

Denon Ceol N8, Dali Zensor 1, HD480 II

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