Bookshelf stereo recommendations
Sep 11, 2009 at 6:43 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

baglunch

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I know this is a headphone forum, but I was wondering whether anyone has any solid recommendations for either a bookshelf (mini component) stereo system under $1k for the kitchen, or a recommendation for another forum that specializes in that sort of thing as this one does for headphones (and affiliated paraphernalia)... or a recommendation for a better place to post this question here at head-fi.

I thought I had my mind settled on a Pioneer Elite X-Z9, but it seems that no one sells them anymore as of a couple months ago. I really like the notes about the sound quality and the network-ability (for streaming from my computer, which shares a wall with the kitchen and I could just poke a hole thru for an ethernet cable).

I'm looking for something with great sound, a subtle, distinguished appearance, and if possible, ability to play FLACs from my computer.

EDIT: Added kitchen photo to this 1st post so anyone just jumping onto this thread will have all the info right up front (without presuming everyone will read every post, heh).

kitchen02.jpg


The green area is where I'm thinking to put the speakers, angled up to clear the crown moulding and have the sound bounce off the ceiling. Red arrows are the sound. Well, it was just fun making the red arrows. The receiver will go on the counter between the stove and the fridge.
Thanks.
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 8:08 AM Post #2 of 25

Uncle Erik

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No, you've come to the right place.
smily_headphones1.gif


The problem I've found with most bookshelf systems is that they come with lousy speakers. If I were you, I'd focus on finding a good pair of bokshelf speakers then add the head unit of your choice, even if it meant disposing of the speakers it comes with.

Though I think that Denon, Teac and NAD sell a few nice, compact all-in-one systems without speakers. I'm not up on the models, but a few searches should find them. Pair one of those with good bookshelves, and you'll have a nice setup.

A pair of bookshelves I think are pretty good are the PSB Alpha B1 speakers. I got mom'n'dad a pair for Christmas last year and hooked them up to their TV. I've run a few CDs through their DVD player and they are surprisingly good considering their size and cost. I haven't compared them against other popular bookshelves (there are other good ones out there) but they sound terrific.
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 4:41 PM Post #4 of 25

El_Doug

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Have you considered in-ceiling speakers? they work wonders in kitchens.

infinity makes some pretty rugged models, which you can then run to a $100 stereo amp and a squeezebox, both of which can be hidden in a closet or cupboard, with only the remote visible in the kitchen
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 4:58 PM Post #6 of 25

jilgiljongiljing

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You know what I did, I got a compact bookshelf system with the features I wanted (Mp3 cd playback, small footprint, permanent clock display etc) and got rid of the speakers and paired it with bookshelf speakers and have had very good luck. Currently I've using them with old Yamaha bookshelf speakers I got from goodwill. This makes a very nice set with the features I want and a small footprint. Getting a cdp and amp and bookshelf speakers just takes up too much space. This route is much simpler and cheaper and you get way better sound than the mini systems packaged speakers.
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 8:08 PM Post #7 of 25

Canuck57

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Sep 11, 2009 at 8:44 PM Post #8 of 25

Bmac

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Quote:

Originally Posted by baglunch /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I thought I had my mind settled on a Pioneer Elite X-Z9, but it seems that no one sells them anymore as of a couple months ago. I really like the notes about the sound quality and the network-ability (for streaming from my computer, which shares a wall with the kitchen and I could just poke a hole thru for an ethernet cable).


Costco (Canada) is carrying this for $650 right now. I bought one a while ago at Newegg for the bedroom and it's not bad, but if you want something you can really rock out with this is not the system for you. The soundstage is a good size, and the sound is clear and detailed to fairly loud volumes in a medium sized room, but dynamics are not the best and the mid-bass and bass don't have very much impact. I think the wattage rating on the digital amps is a little optimistic. I also read a fairly technical review on this system which advises against using this head unit with other speakers. The speakers themselves are very big and heavy (21 lbs. each) for a micro-style system. Unless you have a big kitchen with a tall and very solid shelf or room for speaker stands they are likely too big. The cabinets are exceptionally well built and the piano finish is nice but scratches easily.

I also have a Denon micro system, the D-M37 that I use in the kitchen. I bought that at Audiotronic for $450. I don't know if they have any stores on the west coast but they are online and will ship. Size-wise, the D-M37 is more suitable for a kitchen. Functionally, the D-M37 is a little quicker and more intuitive to use. The speakers are compact but can easily fill a small to medium-sized room. The bass does not go as low, but there is lots more of it and it hits with good impact. In fact, the bass might be too much for some. I use the bungs to plug the ports on mine. The speakers are not quite as detailed or refined as the Pioneer, but the sound is very dynamic and engaging. When I bought this system I had planned to replace the stock speakers, but the whole system works so well together that I haven't felt the need to yet. With your budget you could definitely find some better speakers to go with the head unit though. The head unit could definitely drive other speakers with ease.

Audiotronic also sells a Yamaha micro system. I listened to it before buying the Denon, but the Denon was both cheaper and had better sound quality.
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 6:28 PM Post #9 of 25

baglunch

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Thanks for the excellent information everyone! And Bmac, thanks for the Costco mention. I can't find a store locally carrying it, but the website is selling them cheaper than I was going to buy from craigslist for! But now I have some other good suggestions to investigate, as well. If anyone else has any suggestions, please keep em coming.
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 7:35 PM Post #12 of 25

baglunch

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We have a decent-sized kitchen, and were thinking to put the speakers up on top of the cabinets (for a room-filling sound, and have them essentially invisible). Here, I'll post a photo... please pretend it's cleaner, we just had it refaced (don't even have handles on yet) and are still getting things organized again.
kitchen02.jpg


So I don't want something like a Bose Wave where the sound is obviously coming from a single point. Also, will the crown moulding on the cabinets create any sound issues? I'm intrigued by the idea of built in speakers, but pretty concerned about cost issues. I'd just like to get the best sound out of $1k (for speakers and whatever's running them) as I can.

Looking at the squeezebox duet, it's a sharp little device, but it's CDN$450.00 for just getting the music to the room, before amp or speakers.

EDIT: updated image to show the green area where I'm thinking to place the speakers, angled up towards the ceiling to bounce the sound down. The receiver will go on the counter between the stove and the fridge. I've already drilled a hole up through the cabinet and shelves for speaker wires, so we're pretty committed to that location for the receiver. I also added this image and description to the 1st post for anyone just joining this conversation.
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 10:13 PM Post #13 of 25

greenhorn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by baglunch /img/forum/go_quote.gif
We have a decent-sized kitchen, and were thinking to put the speakers up on top of the cabinets (for a room-filling sound, and have them essentially invisible). Here, I'll post a photo...


Tivoli Audio.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 3:46 AM Post #15 of 25

baglunch

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Looking into the Tivoli, thx greenhorn and Canuk57. They look small, are they well suited to turning up, provide adequate bass? It's not a huge room, but when the stove vent fans are going, or you have something frying, we do tend to crank up the little JVC mini system we're currently using (and replacing).

DeusEx, why would my kitchen be unsuited to Energy RC-10s? Unless they weight 50lbs each or something, the kitchen cupboards should be able to handle the weight. We'd probably lay them down on their side regardless, perhaps point them up towards the ceiling to let the vaulting reflect the sound back down, and to help the sound clear the crown moulding.

EDIT: I've updated the kitchen photo above to explain how I'm considering setting things up. The green box is the area where the 2 speakers will go, angled up towards the vaulted ceiling to bounce the sound down for a less pinpointed "the sound is coming from right there" effect. Red arrows are the sound going up. I like arrows. Pew pew! And the receiver will be on the counter between the stove and the fridge (which is the wall shared with the computer room). Having this kind of configuration disqualifies the Tivoli setups, since their speakers are built into the receiver, which would put the controls inaccessibly high up.
 

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