Q: I have a pair of Insignia NS-B2111 bookshelf speakers that have served me well for many years. But they're finally wearing out. Can you recommend a comparable replacement?
A: About 10 years ago I wrote the first of many columns featuring the NS-B2111 speakers. Sold exclusively at Best Buy, these stylish speakers used a carbon-fiber woofer and sold for $59 a pair when they were introduced, and $88 a pair when they were discontinued several years later. They looked and sounded great, and they were a smash hit in the audio enthusiast community. I regularly recommended them to anyone who had budget constraints or needed a second pair of speakers for a garage or bedroom.
The NS-B2111 speakers made it possible to build a nice-sounding stereo system with receiver, turntable and CD player for $500 or less. For years I hoped that Best Buy would bring them back, to no avail. I thought we would never see the likes of such a wonderful budget speaker again.
I am happy — and surprised — to announce that there finally is a legitimate successor. We have Sony to thank for this with their Core SS-SC5 bookshelf speakers. They received positive reviews when introduced at $220 per pair, but now the price is down to $110 a pair. Adjusted for inflation, that's about what the NS-B2111 would sell for today if they were still in production.
The Core SS-SC5 is a three-way bookshelf speaker with a Mica-Reinforced woofer. It is unusual to find a three-way bookshelf speaker at this price point, and even more unusual that it sounds so good. The listening experience is superior to the NS-B2111, with crisp, clear, slightly warm sound that never offends. They also provide good separation of instruments and effective stereo imaging. For $110, nothing comes close. You can buy them online and in many stores, including the previous home of the NS-B2111, Best Buy. Check them out, and prepare to be surprised.
I don't want to give the impression that these speakers are a replacement for audiophile-quality bookshelf speakers from manufacturers like Axiom Audio, Chane or SVS. If you can invest in such speakers, they are definitely the way to go. But for those who are looking for good sound on the cheap or need some extra speakers, the Sony Core bookshelf speakers are in a class of their own.
Auto lenses may need help
Q: Years ago I made the move from film to digital with a Canon digital SLR. I still have some excellent lenses from my film days, with an assortment of Pentax K and Olympus OM lenses. I would especially like to use my Olympus 300mm lens again. Do they make digital cameras for these lenses?
A: You can use your Pentax K lenses on Pentax digital SLRs, although based on the age of your lenses, the automatic features might not work. You can use the Olympus 300mm on your Canon SLR with a $16 Fotodiox Olympus OM to Canon EOS adapter. You will be operating fully manually for focus and exposure, but if you are willing to do that, you should get excellent results. It's certainly worth spending the $16 to see how you like it, because the Olympus 300mm is an outstanding lens.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.