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Speakers 2010 Holiday Gift Guide  Print E-mail
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Written by Dick Ward   
Sunday, 05 December 2010
Article Index
Speakers 2010 Holiday Gift Guide 
Mid-Range
High End

You can have the best TV, the most feature packed Blu-ray player and the highest quality receiver on the market, but to get the full effect you'll need to get your hands on some great speakers.  What makes a great speaker depends entirely on your tastes and needs, so we've crafted a list that should satisfy a wide range of needs.

Entry Level

When it comes to the entry level, we're looking at speakers for folks that are stepping up from their TV's built-in audio or from home theater-in-a-box type setups.  Whether sold as a pair or as a full 5.1 setup, these range under $1,000 and are some of the best you can get at the entry level.

energyEnergy 5.1 Take Classic

Audio enthusiasts can't agree on much, but what seems to be unanimous is the suggestion of Energy speakers.  If you're new to surround sound, you'll be surprised at the amount of sound you can get out of a set of 5.1 speakers this size.  It's perfect for apartments and smaller viewing rooms.

You'll get four 2-way Energy satellite speakers and a single center channel, all of which boast a frequency response from 115Hz to 20kHz.  A 200w eight inch subwoofer is included with this set, which will get you down to 33Hz and up to 150Hz.  It's not enough to fill a giant room, but for a speaker set that's regularly found between $400 and $600, you won't find better.

zvoxZvox Zbase 550

Sometimes a speaker system just isn't right for the room.  Space constraints can make floorstanding speakers an undesirable option and different materials – like cement walls – can rule out wall mounted speakers altogether.  In these cases, a soundbar is an excellent option.

If you're going to go with a soundbar, the Z-Base 550 is a great way to go.  Instead of sitting in front of your TV, it sits under it.  The speaker system is just under 3.5 inches high and packs five main speakers at two inches each as well as a single 5.25 inch subwoofer.    It boasts a 60 watt amp and produces frequencies as low as 45Hz, but offers an RCA output for an external powered subwoofer if you want to ramp things up a bit.

paradigmv6Paradigm Monitor 9 v.6

Paradigm's Monitor 9 floorstanding speakers are one of the best deals in loudspeakers today.  They've got an MSRP of $999 for a pair but you'll regularly find them for less.  As our reviewer Andre Marc puts it, "They are very nicely put together, sound great across the frequency spectrum, and are very versatile. They work equally as well for fronts in a home theater set up, or for main speakers in a two channel set up."

The Monitor 9 has a pair of 6.5 inch bass drivers and a 6.5 inch bass/midrange driver, all three of which utilize a one inch voice coil and a die-cast heat sink chassis.  It also utilizes a single one inch dome tweeter.  They can handle up to 150 watts at 8 ohms and have a sensitivity of 96dB.  

kefKEF iQ90

Though they've got a manufacturer's suggested price of$750 each, you can find these for $999 a pair in Black Ash, Dark Apple and American Walnut finishes. Not only are these great sounding speakers, but they've got a higher end look at an entry level price.

The iQ90 is a three-way bass reflex speaker with a 6.5 inch mid/bass Uni-Q driver that's designed to reproduce the human voice in all its nuances.  Low frequencies down to 33Hz are handled by a pair of 6.5 bass drivers and highs are tackled by a 0.75 inch aluminum tweeter. 



 

 
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