Q: I have a pair of Polk Audio LSi7 bookshelf speakers connected to a Harman/Kardon HK3390 stereo receiver. I'm looking for less expensive speakers to use in an adjoining room. I was thinking of something like the Insignia NS-B2111 speakers for less than $100 a pair, but those have been discontinued. Anything under $100 you would recommend?
A: I've mentioned the Dayton Audio B652 speakers, which sell on Amazon and Parts Express for $52 a pair, delivered. Like the $89 Insignias, they have been reputed to "just plain sound good" and give some $300 speakers a run for their money. I finally got a pair to try, and I'm glad I did.
The Insignias were more stylish and had nicer binding posts for the speaker wire. Beyond that, the Daytons are better. The sound is comparable to the Insignias, but the Daytons can play much louder without resonating. If you turn up the Insignias past a moderately high volume, the cabinet vibrates in a way that alters the overall sound.
The Daytons seem rock solid, probably by virtue of their boxy design. They won't win any beauty contests, but for $52 they sure can sing.
Looking for better soundbar
Q: I have a 42-inch Panasonic ST30 plasma TV. For sound I have a Panasonic SC-HTB10 soundbar linked to the TV through the Viera Link function. While the soundbar sounds better than the TV speakers, I was hoping for more of an improvement. Would the Oontz XL speaker be a significant improvement over the soundbar?
A: I haven't heard that particular Panasonic soundbar, so I can't say for sure. The Oontz XL won't interface with the television as easily as Viera Link. If you're looking for a big improvement, you have to go beyond the $99 Oontz XL.
Invest in something guaranteed to be a night-and-day difference. The best way is to get a receiver, subwoofer and a soundbar such as the Definitive Technology Mythos SSA-42 ($799) or GoldenEar Technology SuperCinema 3D Array ($999). This will be a dramatic improvement and will provide high-end home-theater sound.
If you're on a budget, you can get a sub and receiver for less than $550 by getting the Monoprice 12-inch powered subwoofer for $136 and the outstanding Marantz NR-1403 for $399. If you don't mind spending more, the matching Definitive and GoldenEar subwoofers are worthwhile upgrades.
You also can get a Definitive Technology SoloCinema XTR if you want a soundbar that combines the speaker, receiver and HDMI switching in one package with an included wireless subwoofer. It lists for $1,999 but is on sale for $1,599.
I'll be exploring modestly priced soundbars in the near future and will be sure to let everyone know if I come across any gems.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.