Speakers are the most important part of a stereo or home theater system and the key to determining the overall sound from your system. Speakers can be floorstanding, bookshelf, in-wall, on-wall or a satellite system with a subwoofer. They come in all sizes, shapes and finishes and the best way to choose speakers is to listen to several models before making a decision and using your personal tastes in music as a guide.
Audiophiles and avid music lovers know the KEF name well and associate it with fine loudspeakers. The iQ50 is a 2 ½-way floorstanding bass reflex speaker in the middle of the Q series line with sound that belies its small size. I suppose it could be classed as a mini tower. The KEF iQ50 speakers are among the best speakers I've reviewed in the sub-$1000 per pair price range and it's clear to me why serious music lovers revere KEF speakers. Although the KEF speakers sounded great with movie sources, their real strong points are music reproduction. Neutral, uncolored and balanced are a few of the descriptions I would use to summarize my review.
Paradigm is well known for its extensive research and development. They offer a wide range of floorstanding, bookshelf, in-wall, on-wall and in-ceiling speakers. The Monitor Series speakers are aimed at the budget-minded audiophile market – music lovers that want accurate sounding speakers but don't have an unlimited budget. The Paradigm Titan Monitors have many of the sound characteristics I appreciate in my Paradigm Reference Studio 100 Monitors, even though the Studio 100s are floorstanding towers and far more expensive than the Titans. This makes the Titan Monitors an outstanding value. Their full bass response, open midrange and detailed high frequency response are an impressive accomplishment for $298 apiece.
The Infinity C205 bookshelf speaker has a small footprint, measuring 7 ½" wide, 15 1/8" tall and 9 ¼" deep The C205 is a vented enclosure with a 5 ¼" mid-bass driver and a 1" tweeter. Both drivers are constructed using Infinity's Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragm (CMMD) cone, which according to Infinity is stiffer than a metal cone with greater damping that results in less cone distortion. It would not be an overstatement to say that the performance of the C205 belies their size. A small two-way bookshelf speaker with a 5 ¼" driver certainly has its limits but the C205 had a surprising amount of mid-bass. The combination of warm bass, clean midrange, detailed highs and an affordable price of $698 per pair make them a winner in my opinion.
The KEF iQ30s are one of best bookshelf speakers I've tested and are a great value priced at $599.00 per pair. Whether you're a casual or critical listener, rock or classical music aficionado, there is something for everyone to like in the moderately priced KEF iQ30 bookshelf speakers.
Mordaunt-Short is a British loudspeaker maker with a reputation for making high-end products. The company started in 1967 and offers a wide range of stereo and home theater speaker systems and the Carnival 2 is one of their more (very) affordable bookshelf models.