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$500/pair Tower Speaker Round-up for Two-Channel and Home Theater Listening

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Summary

  • Product Name: PA-8F Titanium Tower Speaker, A250, Reference Series R-24F, PL-89ii. RtR-EV15, NS-F150, Arena 170, XLF7F, TSx 330t
  • Manufacturer: Premier Acoustic, Boston Acoustics, Klipsch, BIC America, Yamaha, JBL, Fluance, Polk Audio, Sony
  • Review Date: October 26, 2016 18:00
  • MSRP: $ 500/pair or less
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

Executive Overview

Tower speakers can be used in a quality two-channel set-up or as front speakers in a pretty decent home theater depending on the brand, room size and acoustics.  If they are capable performers, the can be used without a subwoofer in some cases, especially for just two-channel music. But, there are still situations that can always benefit with the aid of a subwoofer to extend bass and allow the mid and high frequency ranges to “open” up by removing some of the bass load from the woofers in the tower speakers.  As with pretty much every product on the A/V market, there are many brands that claim their product is the best.  This is usually a purely subjective claim as it is always the end user that can make that judgment call based on their own personal preference and requirements for their room. This article is designed to help you with your decision, whether you are looking for some tower speakers or something entirely different.  There are many tower speakers that sound amazing and the price to go with it, such as the Gallo Classico CL-3 at around $1,600 a pair and the Philharmonic 3 for $3,500 a pair, but this article is for those who are in the $500 a pair price range and are looking to get good quality sound without breaking the bank.

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Premier Acoustic PA-8F Titanium Tower Speaker $499/pr

These speakers are part of Premier Acoustic’s Titanium Series that include bookshelf speakers, center speakers, subwoofers, and the tower speakers featured here.  These three-way speakers are 40.5”H x 10.35”W x 12.5”D with dual 8” drivers, one 5” mylar midrange, and a 1” titanium dome tweeter.  They have a frequency response of 35Hz-20kHz, 92dB sensitivity, 8ohm impedance, 175w power handling, and weigh 50lbs each.  They are available in Cherry or Black piano high gloss.  Both finishes come with Premier Acoustics signature piano gloss lacquer on the top and bottom panels.  With the two 8” drivers these speakers should be very capable of producing low bass without much distortion at reasonable listening levels. They are one of the three widest speakers in this round up.  They would do well in a room that has some space, but obviously would easily fill a small room as well.  These speakers come with a five-year warranty but it is not specified if it is transferable.

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Boston Acoustics A250 $299/ea ($229/ea on Amazon)

Boston Acoustics speakers, from Peabody, MA have always been among the best sounding “budget” loudspeakers available.  The A250s are two-way speakers that measure 33-1/8”H x 12-5/8”W x 8-7/8”D with dual 5.25” DCD ceramic/glass fiber polymer woofers, and Boston’s 1” Kortec soft dome tweeter.  The DCD stands for the Deep Channel Design of the drivers that according to Boston, deliver more bass with less amplifier power that results in a cleaner, fuller sound.  These drivers produce a frequency response of 45Hz-25kHz, 89dB sensitivity, 8ohm impedance, 175w power handling, five-way binding posts, and weigh 29.3lbs each.  These speakers are very stylish with high-contrast high-gloss cabinets, textured tops, rounded edges, and magnetic grills that one would find on more expensive speakers.  They also have a ported cabinet and internal bracing for less cabinet vibration for added sound quality.  These speakers come with a five-year warranty.

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Klipsch Reference Series R-24F $249.99/ea (Crutchfield)

Klipsch has been a common household name for many customers of big box stores like Fry’s and Best Buy.  Some of their products like their Reference Series are worthy of recognition even among the ID market.  The R-24F speaker is a two-way design that is 34.75”H x 6.5”W x 10”D with two 4.5” copper spun IMG woofers and Klipsch’s 90x90 hybrid cross section Tractrix horn with a 1” LTS (Linear Travel Suspension) aluminum diaphragm compression tweeter.  Klipsch’s horn tweeter is a love it or hate it type of speaker.  Some love it, some don’t.  In many of their lower-end models the sound may be too harsh, but I think they  have addressed that issue with their Reference series.  These ported speakers have a frequency response of 45Hz-24kHz, 95dB sensitivity, 8ohm impedance, 300w peak power handling, dual five-way binding posts, and weigh 25lbs each.  These speakers come with a five-year warranty and 60-day money-back guarantee.  If you want to go with something a little bigger and capable for a little peace of mind, especially during demanding Home Theater scenes, you may want to audition the R-26F.  The R-26F is only around $60 more depending on where you purchase them and have dual 6.5” IMG drivers as opposed to the 4.5” of the R-24Fs.

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BIC America PL-89ii $499/ea ($589/pr acousticsounddesign.com, they also take offers) 

BIC America, a little speaker company from Southern California has been in business since 1973.  Their retail prices are a bit inflated as you can see in the two models in this article, but their products are available at great discount if you search online like we've done for you.

BIC have been under the radar for a long time mainly because you cannot purchase from them directly. Their products must be purchased from third party retailers, such as Best Buy Marketplace, Amazon, Parts Express, etc.  HSU Research, which has their office next door to BIC America, has assisted the production of some of their products. Their PL-89ii loudspeakers from their Acoustech series are some of their finest products.  These two-way speakers are 43”H x 11”W x 10.25”D with dual 8” woofers and one 6.5” mid/high frequency aluminum dome horn and a very large front port.   They boast a frequency response of 25Hz-23kHz, 250w RMS, 800w peak, 8ohm impedance, up to 116dB maximum output, 55lbs each, and come with an eight-year limited parts and labor warranty.  BIC claims that this speaker incorporates and improved crossover design which enables smoother response for both mid and high frequency ranges.

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BIC America RtR-EV15 $798pr ($175/ea at Walmart

Another BIC America speaker that has made this line-up is the RtR-EV15.  This three-way speaker is one of the biggest BIC has to offer.  They are 43”H x 17.5”W x 12.5”D.  They come with a 15” woofer with a high powered heavy duty magnet, a sealed back 5.25” midrange, and one high efficiency horn tweeter with double front ports. These speakers have a frequency response of 24Hz-20kHz, 225w RMS output with 430 peak watts, 8ohm impedance, 116dB maximum output, and weigh 70lbs each.  They come with a five-year parts and labor warranty.  This speaker is also bi-ampable with dual five-way binding posts.  According to BIC, this speaker can handle the output of powerful amplifiers with ease and sound great doing so.  These speakers would make a great front LCR soundstage in a large home theater.  What they may lack in refinement compared to the other models in this lineup, they make up for in sheer output for those that really like to crank it loud.

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Yamaha NS-F150 $249.95/ea

These speakers from Yamaha’s NS speaker line are two-way speakers with dual 6.5” woofers and a 1” soft dome tweeter.  These come with floor spikes and a stand to de-couple the speaker from the floor.  These speakers are 40.5”H x 7-7/8”W x 14.25”D with a frequency response of 37Hz-30kHz, 88dB sensitivity, 6ohm impedance, 180w power handling, and 24.7lbs each.  These also come with an elegant high-gloss finish and five-way binding posts.  Due to the decent sensitivity and 6ohm impedance, you might need a good powered amp to drive these speakers whether using them for two-channel listening or home theater use.  These speakers also come with a small warranty of two years and a 30-day trial period.

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JBL Arena 170 $249.95/ea 

JBL is another well know manufacturer of loudspeakers that are used in many places such as concert halls, movie theaters, and outdoor concert venues.  Many of these can even be purchased for personal use.  The ones discussed here are the two-way Arena 170 loudspeakers. These rear-ported speakers come with one 7” polycellulose woofer and a 1” soft dome tweeter with a High Definition Imaging (HDI) waveguide.  Inspired by JBL’s own legendary M2 Master Reference Monitor, the HDI waveguide uses computer optimized positioning and network integration that results in ideal performance and lifelike soundstage imaging.  These speakers are 37.75”H x 8-17/32”W x 11-1/8”D, with a frequency response of 44Hz-40kHz, 87dB sensitivity, 8ohm impedance, 200w maximum, 27.6lbs each, include floor spikes, and a five-year warranty.

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Fluance XLF7F $499.99/pr | Review

Among Fluance’s loudspeakers, the XL7F floorstanding speakers made it to this list.  This three-way speaker has a 1” neodymium balanced silk dome ferrofluid cooled tweeter, dual 6.5” polymer treated midrange drivers in individual enclosures, and an isolated 8” polymer treated high excursion down-firing woofer at the bottom of the cabinet.  All drivers have butyl rubber surround ensuring durability and reliability.  They also have dual five-way binding posts.  These speakers are 45.8”H x 8.5”W x 13.4”D, have a frequency response of 45Hz-20kHz, 89dB sensitivity, 8ohm impedance, 200w maximum, weigh 45.2lbs each, include eight 1” floor spikes, and come with a full lifetime parts and labor warranty.  Fluance claims that their crossover network is a Butterworth design for audio equalization.  The individual dual midrange enclosures should give these speakers a superb midrange response and you can read more about this in our formal review.  The 8” woofer handles the bass leaving the midrange drivers free from any heavy lifting.

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Polk Audio TSx 330t $249.95/ea

Another speaker discussed in this round-up is the Polk Audio TSx 330t.  This two-way speaker come with a 1” Dynamic Balance silk/polymer dome tweeter, dual 6.5” Dynamic Balance bi-laminate drivers, a 3” front port, and dual five-way binding posts. These speakers are 37-7/16”H x 11.25”W x 13-3/8”D, have a frequency response of 33Hz-25kHz, 90dB sensitivity, 8ohm impedance, 150w maximum, and weigh 29.9lbs each.  They also come with a five-year parts and labor warranty.  It is claimed that all Polk speakers are timbre-matched within their series, designed with the same components throughout, to achieve seamless speaker-to-speaker blending effects in multi-channel systems.  This should be true for every speaker brand.  According to Polk, their curved enclosure design creates a rigid, acoustically inert space, with non-parallel curved side panels that reduce audible coloration.

Sony Core Speakers

Sony Core Series SSCS3 $239/ea

Sony has made some incredible strides back into the high end loudspeaker marketplace and now they've taken their expertise to more affordable price points.  Their Core series sports some impressive specs and parts quality and most importantly, sound quality as many on our forum have raved about.  This 3-way, 4-driver tower features dual 5 1/4" mica-reinforced cone bass drivers, 1" and 3/4" polyester tweeters.  Their frequency response is rated at 45Hz - 23kHz, 88dB sensitivity, 6 ohms impedance, and 145 watt power handling.  They come in black with a base plinth and tapered edges to spruce up their looks and add stability.  They offer a small footprint 36.3" tall x 9" wide x 10.25" deep and weigh 25.3lbs each.

Comparison Chart

Make/Model Premier Acoustic PA-8F Boston Acoustics A250 Klipsch Reference R-24F BIC America PL-89ii BIC America RtR-EV15 Yamaha NS-F150   JBL Arena 170 Fluance XL7F Polk Audio TSx330t Sony SSCS3
Price $499/pr $600/pr $499/pr $589/pr
$350/pr
$499/pr $499/pr $499.99/pr $499/pr  $460/pr
Dimensions H x W x D 40.5” x 10.35” x 12.5” 331/8” x 125/8” x 87/8” 34.75” x 6.5” x 10” 43” x 11” x 10.25” 43” x 17.5” x 12.5” 40.5” x 77/8” x 14.25” 37.75” x 817/32” x 111/8” 45.8” x 8.5” x 13.4” 377/16” x 111/4” x 133/8”  36.3" x 10.24" x 9.05"
Maximum Watts 175w 175w 300w 800w 430w 180w 200w 200w 150w  145w
Freq. Response 35Hz – 20kHz 45Hz – 25kHz 45Hz – 24kHz 25Hz – 23kHz 24Hz – 20kHz 37Hz – 30Hz 44Hz – 40Hz 45Hz – 20Hz 33Hz – 25kHz  45Hz-23kHz
Impedance 8 ohm 8 ohm 8 ohm 8 ohm 8 ohms 6 ohms 8 ohms 8 ohms 8 ohms  6 ohms
Sensitivity  2.83v/1m 92dB 89dB 95dB 98dB 95dB 88dB 87dB 89dB 90dB  88 dB

 

Conclusion

There are many floorstanding speakers on the market that produce exceptional audio reproduction at a reasonable price.  The speakers that can be purchased individually can also be used for a decent home theater that is comprised of three matching LCR's or five of the same exact loudspeaker all around for a multi-channel music system.  For $500/pr one can purchase some of these speakers and not have to rely on a subwoofer for decent bass reproduction for music listening. Although, a subwoofer will relieve the workload off your speakers and is usually recommended, especially for home theater applications.  Good choices for budget subwoofers would be the Rythmik L12, SVS SB-2000, or the HSU VTF-2 mk4 and RBH I-12 to name a few.  This list is a brief sample of what is available whether it be in stores or online.  We hope this list has helped you in your search for audio bliss depending on your individual tastes.  Please post your comments, experiences, or suggestions not listed here in our related forum thread below.

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About the author:

Kevin is a blue-collar family man and A/V enthusiast who was introduced to music and movies by the age of five. He took courses on Film Music and Film History in college just for the heck of it along with receiving his BFA in Illustration from Cal State Fullerton. He grew up listening to music on vintage equipment, and soon took an interest in home theater.

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Recent Forum Posts:

HTRPh posts on November 20, 2016 20:41
I just looked up the JBL Arena 170's on amazon. They are listed at $92/each new. Are these really as good as the rest? This seems like a screaming deal if that is the case.
shadyJ posts on November 13, 2016 13:00
Agreed, tweeters that can play low are expensive, and I would not guessed that they would have been used on the Sony speakers.
Dennis Murphy posts on November 13, 2016 12:10
shadyJ, post: 1156753, member: 20472
One thing a super tweeter can help with is alleviating the higher frequencies of the regular tweeter's playback range. This can enable the designer to use a tweeter that can play lower than typical, but at the expense of the higher end; a fine trade-off when a super tweeter is employed. By using a tweeter than can play lower, you can avoid many of the problems of having the mid woofer play higher frequencies. I don't know if the Sony speakers do this though, I can't seem to find its crossover frequencies.

I don't think that's the explanation in the case of the Sony's. I've examined a pair, and they aren't crossing the main tweeter particularly low. And there wouldn't be any point in a second, smaller tweeter if it were just a matter of on-axis response. But what the small tweet does provide is greater dispersion above 10 kHz, and you can hear that even if your ears drop off like a cliff at 15 kHz. Of course, it adds to the parts cost, and that's going to come out of some other design detail at this price, but the Sony is a nice little speaker if you don't need a lot of bass.
speakerman39 posts on November 13, 2016 11:49
KEW, post: 1158433, member: 41838
I have not yet heard the fluance signature series, but do have a pair of bookshelf speakers on the way. I have heard both the Sony core and the Elac in the bookshelf versions, and for me there is no contest. The Sony Core is a great speaker for me the Elac is lacking in detail and excitement!
Piano trills and grace notes played on a sax were where I noticed lack of detail on the Elac. I think it may ultimately be the same issue that caused the ELACs to sound dull.
But we all have different preferences. I would encourage you to pick up a pair of the core from Best Buy you'll have 14 days to return them and I assume you can still get the elac from Amazon with their return program for 30 days. You might want to do the test using the bookshelf for convenience of packing and transport.

Not to mention Best Buy will be offering the Sony Cores at 50% off very soon. Personally, I have heard both the Core Towers and the Core bookshelfs. Of the two, the Core Bookshelf did everything better inmho. For the money and when on sale, there is not much out there that can best them. Got mine for like $152 a set! So, it is worth waiting until they go back on sale. Might snag me a set myself to use for my desktop. Have not fully made up my mind just yet. Like always, it all depends on my funds.

Cheers,

Phil
KEW posts on November 13, 2016 10:53
bsf, post: 1157313, member: 71425
which of these 3 would you like best? Sony Core Series, Fluance Signature Series, or ELAC F5 tower
I have not yet heard the fluance signature series, but do have a pair of bookshelf speakers on the way. I have heard both the Sony core and the Elac in the bookshelf versions, and for me there is no contest. The Sony Core is a great speaker for me the Elac is lacking in detail and excitement!
Piano trills and grace notes played on a sax were where I noticed lack of detail on the Elac. I think it may ultimately be the same issue that caused the ELACs to sound dull.
But we all have different preferences. I would encourage you to pick up a pair of the core from Best Buy you'll have 14 days to return them and I assume you can still get the elac from Amazon with their return program for 30 days. You might want to do the test using the bookshelf for convenience of packing and transport.
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