£1k (approx) bookshelf speaker shootout!

RugbyAl

Well-known Member
Promised @pressure I’d do a write up on a demo I had of a few popular speakers down my local hifi shop a while back – apologies for taking so long, a combination of work, Glasto and then covid got in the way.

Existing speakers were Rega RS 5s, a slim floorstander which I have had a while. Whilst these are fun, with good rhythm and timing, I just felt I needed a change.

I decided to investigate bookshelf speakers as it has been a while since I have had a pair, quality over quantity being my thought process. Budget was up to around £1200. I wasn’t concerned about any reduction in bass as I have a capable sub (BK XLS-300 PR) with high level inputs. Time spent with a test tones and a meter have shown that its location in the room is just about perfect with a flat even response down to around 30 Hz – perfect if I feel additional low end output is needed.

The following speakers were shortlisted; Kef LS50 Meta, Wharfedale Linton, Kef R3 (non Meta) and Q Acoustics Concept 30. Another requirement was that they all had to be secure on their stands to avoid damage. All but the Lintons have mounting holes on their bases, the Lintons making do with their sizable mass!

As requested, an Audiolab 6000A (as I use at home) was set up ready to go when I arrived, source was a Bluesound Node (latest version). The music I chose (over Tidal) included (but was not limited to) The Eagles, Steve Ray Vaughan, Black Sabbath, Nils Lofgren, AC/DC and a little bit of Metallica.

TBH – I could have left the shop with ANY of these speakers! They all displayed sufficient detail/dynamics and accuracy that it was obvious that they are all well engineered and built.

Speaker summaries are as follows (in order listened to):

Wharfedale Linton: My favourite looking speaker. A big full sound but perhaps not the very last bit of delicacy at the top end of the treble. My biggest concern (apart from what the wife would think of their size) was whether that 8” bass driver would set off a room node. My room is a good size, but I know from experience that this could be a problem where they would be positioned. One of my requirements for this speaker change was my desire to hear guitar tones more clearly, those warm woody resonances that fill the room; this speaker did that.

Kef LS50: More detailed straight away, very clear and even in tone – a little ‘matter of fact’ - perhaps down to the pairing with the amp. Again this was a very minor concern possibly bought over from comments I have read prior to the demo elsewhere. I believe the human brain can be quite fallible in this respect – your ears sometimes confirming any preconceptions you may have. Also not sure of the cosmetics. I like how they look but long term I think I’d prefer to look at a more traditional cabinet (as would the wife…).

Kef R3: As above but with a bit more bass. Better looking, most expensive option especially with the stands added. Do I need the extra bass if I have a sub available? Decisions, decisions…

And finally, the Concept 30s. I enjoyed these straight away. Slightly smoother at the top. I have a minor case of noise induced tinnitus (ok during the demo) and knew straight away that in this respect these speakers would suit me very well. Still accurate, if B&Ws are a couple of dB up in the treble, these are a dB or so down. The treble is still detailed and easy to listen to. The bass response was surprising too, the port tuning help give that ‘live quitar’ sound I love. I just kept wanting to try one track after another. Perhaps not the speed of the Kefs but a good match for the Audiolab.

So, in the end the Concept 30s are what I got (in a lovely metallic silver). 20% off on offer so the cheapest option too at £720.

If I’d listen in a different order, who knows, I may have chosen one of the other options, they were all that good. Was the desire to keep playing the Concept 30s because I enjoyed them the most or because I wasn’t wishing to get on to the next one?

I have had them at home for a few weeks and have wired/set up my sub and I’m enjoying them hugely. Had a friend over to listen and when he saw them, he said “Huh. You’ll be needing a sub then”. I played them and he said “Well, perhaps not”. The sub was off at that stage so that really surprised him!. Admittedly, when on, the sub (set at 40Hz) just seems to improve things further, The Eagles Hotel California drum strikes near the beginning just sound and feel like they go on a lot longer when the sub is helping out.

Misgivings? None really. They look great but those Lintons, man, that’s how a speaker SHOULD look!

Ps the Concept 30s (as well as the rest of my system) can be seen in situ in the pinned thread at the top of the HiFi stereo systems forum.
 
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Jester1066

Well-known Member
Great write up. I went to look for a pic of your set up, but cannot find it in the thread. Could you post a link here for the pic. Its a rather large thread to trawl through 😆
 

Jester1066

Well-known Member

Jester1066

Well-known Member
Cheers! Very nice. Loving the trio of Audiolabs. I've a 6000A myself - cracking value for money and a very underrated amp imo. 👍🏼😃
The 6000CDT is on my "wanted list".
 

RugbyAl

Well-known Member
The 6000CDT is on my "wanted list".

To be honest, it doesn't get a lot of use. I have over a 1000 CDs in the same room but stream mostly these days. Still, the 3 components together do look the part and help with the 'upgraditis' as I daren't choose anything new that doesn't match! (hang on, how much is that Audiolab power amp...? ;))
 

Jester1066

Well-known Member
(hang on, how much is that Audiolab power amp...? ;))
Which one! 😉🙊

8300XP,
8300MB (you'd need 2 as they're monoblocks!)
8200P (or SX)
Audiolab M-PWR

Edit: sell me the CDT, then get one of the above to keep the "trio" intact? 😉🤣👌🤷
 

gava

Well-known Member
Congrats on your C30s. Your setup looks great.
 

Onlythesound

Well-known Member
Excited for you with those C30s. £720 seems a bit of a bargain when compared with that August company you were able to test them against.
 

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