Pioneer Speakers with Marantz SR7005 AVR
Can you advise me on the choice between the Pioneer S-31B-LR-K, SP-BS41-LR, and SP-BS21-LR bookshelf speakers? The 41 and 21 have the Andrew Jones design going for them, but by proxy, so does the 31, being derived from the EX range. However the 31 is slightly smaller and more expensive!
Reading your review of the SP-BS41-LR system prompted me to finally replace an old Bose Lifestyle 28 system (something I regretted buying shortly after getting it). I already got the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 Blu-ray player (awesome!); next, the speakers, then the Marantz SR7005 AVR as the heart of the system. The sub will be last; don’t know which one yet.
Congratulations on upgrading your Bose Lifestyle system; good move! According to Pioneer, "the 31B is not designed by Andrew Jones; it's part of a different series. It has a 3.5-inch driver, small cabinet, and is basically designed as a small satellite speaker." So why is the 31B more expensive than the BS41? Primarily because it uses more expensive components, such as carbon-fiber cone material rather than polypropylene and real-wood cabinetry rather than MDF.
Pioneer goes on to say, "The difference between the BS21 and BS41 is that the BS41 has a larger cabinet and 5-inch drivers (as compared to 4-inch drivers in the BS21). They're both used in the same capacity, but the BS41 will produce a louder, deeper sound, and it's more sensitive than the BS21."
Well, the BS41 is more sensitive than the BS21 by 1dB (85 versus 84dB), and the 41 is spec'd to go 10Hz lower (55 versus 65Hz). Also, the BS41 can handle up to 130 watts of power, while the BS21 maxes out at 80W.
Which ones should you get to go with the Marantz SR7005 (reviewed here)? According to our measurements, with five channels driving 8-ohm loads, the SR7005 reaches 0.1% distortion at 91.2W and 1% distortion at 112.1W; with seven channels driving 8-ohm loads, it reaches 0.1% distortion at 74.6W and 1% distortion at 89.6W. However, both Pioneer speakers are spec'd with a nominal impedance of 6 ohms, so these numbers will be higher with those speakers. (We don't measure with 6-ohm loads, but with two channels driving 4-ohm loads, the Marantz reached 0.1% distortion at 200.1W and 1% at 222.6W.)
Given all that, I'd go with the system we reviewedSP-BS41-LRs for front and surround left and right, SP-C21 center, and SW-8 subwoofer. You could use the SP-BS21-LR for the surrounds if you want to save a few bucks, since the surround channels rarely require as much power as the fronts. But we're talking about a savings of only $200, which isn't much in the scheme of things.
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