I have a problem: I need a small 5.1 speaker system for my living room. I already have a larger system for the theater room, so I don't need another system to help me go deaf. The system should also not stick out like a sore thumb. I also spend/spent most of my cash on the theater room. Yet being an audio fanatic, I'm not going to be able to live with poor sound. There must be a happy medium in there, and I bet I'm not the only one with this situation.
So, here is a round-up of small 5.1
speaker systems, retailing for under $1,600 (including
powered subwoofer), and from companies you can trust. They are all designed to work very well with mass market receivers. The round-up will be
published in stages, with a detailed review of one system
published every few days as the editing is completed (so as not to shut down our server with overload
requests), then a wrap-up
at the end. Check back every few
days to see which new reviews are live.
Requirements for the Round-Up:
What We Tested:
Each system was evaluated based on the following:
Something to keep in mind is that small speakers can have quality. Compromises have to be made for size though, and volume can and usually is one of them. Where a large tower speaker can easily put out 110 dB without sounding harsh, small speakers can approach our tolerance for distortion. For each review, I present the best distortion measurement we could muster from the speaker. In the wrap-up, I show the 110 dB (at speaker) test, and it's a telling tale. You may think that 110 dB is loud, but at 10 - 15 feet away, it's movie levels.