Q: I have an audio system that features two ADS L570/2 speakers placed on bookshelves. Are there upgrade options that will provide more depth and presence but won't break the bank? The room does not allow for a pair of tower/floor speakers, so the solution will have to be a bookshelf option.
A: Your ADS speakers were some of the best of their day and are still held in high regard by many audiophiles. Their performance will hold its own against many modern speakers, and there are not a lot of vintage speakers that will do that.
When I considered your options, I realized that you have several non-bank-breaking options. In fact, two of the best choices come in around $300. The ADS speakers are larger than these two recommendations, so the bass might be slightly deeper as a result, but in all other respects the new speakers come out on top.
My first recommendation is Emotiva's Airmotiv B1+ bookshelf speakers. They use the same technology as the T-Zero speakers that won my 2019 product of the year award, but in a much smaller, more affordable package. These speakers deliver like no other budget speaker with precise, airy sound, outstanding stereo imaging and a palpable sense of space that really puts you into the performance.
The bass impact and fullness of sound is surprisingly good, so good you won't need a subwoofer in a small room. The B1+ speakers are priced at $229 a pair, and Emotiva has been offering a $30 off coupon to anyone who signs up for text alerts. If you have any interest in these speakers, I suggest visiting emotiva.com to sign up for text alerts, which will bring the price down to only $199. No matter how strongly I praise them, you are not going to be prepared for what you hear the first time you play them.
Another award-winning small speaker I dearly love is the $315-a-pair Q Acoustics 3020i (qacoustics.com). They use a hybrid tweeter that combines a ring radiator tweeter (as found on Polk LSiM speakers) with a conventional soft dome tweeter. Compared with the Emotiva B1+, the 3020i has a richer tone that really excels with vocals, similar stereo imaging and more bass, though the sound is not quite as spacious and the treble not quite as detailed. The wood-grain finish and smooth, rounded styling also has a decidedly upscale look compared with the B1+ and its plain black box.
You didn't spell out what you mean by break the bank, so let me offer one more, slightly more costly suggestion. The LSiM703 speakers originally retailed for $1,499 a pair, and nothing under $1,000 is going to be able to compete with them in looks or sound quality. But for bookshelf speakers, they are extremely heavy — nearly 30 pounds — and require a very sturdy surface, which has chased away some buyers and caused the price to fall. You can get them at polkaudio.com for $749 a pair. And if you shop online vendors, you can find them for as little as $569 a pair.
One thing all of these fine speakers have in common is that no matter which one you buy, you are going to be astounded at how very good they sound for comparatively little money.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.