Top 5... SPEAKERS
There's nothing technical about this top 5 listing and I fully realise that there are loads that could have been here that aren't... but these are speakers that I've bought, sometimes owned and sold over the years. They are all, in my humble opinion, great units within their price range. My strongest advice is that if you like your existing speakers but are looking to upgrade, first look further up the model range from your manufacturer before heading elsewhere.
1. KEF 105
If anything proves that you need to listen to speakers before you make your choice, my experience with KEFs is just that. For whatever reason, I've always found them underwhelming, despite having heard models that are often raved about. I fully understand that I am in the minority here, but I have seen the light with the 105s, which have now kicked out my trusty Castles! Not only do these speakers look more than a little bonkers, but they sound astonishingly good. Mine have had the caps in the crossovers replaced, and the result is a pair of speakers which is hugely analytical and, perhaps, unforgiving. But put a good recording through them and you'll be hooked.
2. Celestion Ditton 15, 44 & 66
If you can tell anything from the heading, it's that I'm a fan of Celestion speakers. The small Ditton 15s are super cheap these days, but one of the nicest small speakers you can find for the money - great on midrange and vocals. The Ditton 44 is a large great hunk of old-fashioned speaker and that can often put people off... finding an unmarked set can also prove tricky, but the sound is really great - well worth trying if you have the space. And if you have the space, the collectable Ditton 66s offer everything the 44 does, but more!
3. Castle Howard
No-one seems to rate Castle speakers, except me! The styling is a bit old fashioned I'll grant you. The Howard was Castle's top of the range unit and you can find it in S1, S2 and S3 form. All are worth catching and certainly don't discount the earlier versions. The Harlech is a smaller version of the Howard and even better value!
The Howard has an almost seismic bass, but it also has a sublime mid range an a very easy-on-the ear treble. Positioning is important and they do not like being close to walls. But locate them correctly and I doubt you'll be disappointed. Sub £400 for a pair is a bargain.
4. Royd RR1
I'm a relative newcomer to Royd, but this British company has produced some cracking speakers. The RR1 is certainly one of the smallest floorstanding speakers I've ever come across, but the sound produced is lovely. Styling is highly distinctive and build quality seems high. Pop off the grills and you may be surprised to see a lack of a dust cover over the centre of the base driver, but it's not broken... that's just how Royd did them.
5. B&W 603 S3
Bowers and Wilkins has a great reputation and while I'm not going to suggest these are the best speakers out there, I think they work brilliantly are built to a consistent standard and should prove reliable and long lasting. They will also hold their value.
These 603 S3s are not small speakers, so you'll need a good space in which to house them, and let's not forget that they also sound great.
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