I don’t know why this review has taken so long. I’ve owned the Pioneer Andrew Jones line of speakers for my surround sound for about 18 months, and I’ve been extremely happy with them. I’m certainly not the only one that feels that way. This line of speakers has been wildly heralded throughout the audio community. This line of speakers is one of the best bargains in audio, giving you great performance at an entirely reasonable price. There’s a reason I used one for the banner of this website.
There are three speakers in this line, each with their own specialties. They each serve a dedicated role in a home theater, and the differences are pretty standard for the industry.
The SP-FS52 Tower Speakers ($130 each) are the best of the bunch. These are tower speakers, which should be the best speakers in any home theater set up. With three large woofers in a four foot tall enclosure, this is no surprise. If you’ve never bought a pair of tower speakers, these are the best first pair of tower speakers you can buy. They will teach you how great large speakers can sound, and how they fill the room with sound. Compared to the bookshelf and center speaker, these will have more bass, have fewer floor reflections, and do a better job at high volumes. However, a pair of tower speakers costs twice as much as the smaller pair of bookshelf speakers.
The BS22 Bookshelf speakers ($127/pair) are a real bargain that make this line of speakers so popular. Bookshelf speakers can fit in almost any listening environment and are very versatile. They are about a foot tall, and are seven inches wide. You can use them in a modest sized home theater like mine without ever running into volume issues.
The C22 Center Speaker ($97) is quite adept as a center speaker, and comes with all of the benefits and issues inherent in a Mid-Tweeter-Mid design. If you’re buying the set for a home theater, make sure to get one as your center channel. 60% of a movie’s soundtrack comes through the center channel, so don’t skip out on one.
I’ve spent dozens of hours listening to this speakers. These speakers work great for both movies and music. The sound is a little bright (treble boost) directly in front of the speaker, which is in some circles considered a good thing for movies. This comes from the way actual movie theater speakers are constructed, especially the ones used by sound editors. Movie theater speakers tend to be bright straight on as well.
All in all, these are great sounding speakers for the price. These speakers are seriously good for your house. No one will ever turn their nose up at speakers like these, even the most elitist audiophile would disparage you owning these speakers. These are great speakers to have.
Looking at these speakers, each one shares common design elements. If you look at the tweeter, you’ll notice the dome is recessed slightly to create a slight horn effect. This makes them a bit more directional and sensitive. This makes the speakers sound a bit more like a theater, with very directional high end; as we’ll see in our measurements.
The woofer is made of Kevlar, a fantastic material for building speaker cones. They are lightweight, stiff and durable. The speaker housing is curved, which creates a mechanical cancellation of the major harmonics. This is a pretty innovative idea by Andrew Jones, but it makes them tough to mount.
I use these mounts in my own home theater. They work great with the Pioneer BS22s.
You’ll notice I’ve removed the grill from my own speakers. Some people, along with myself think this helps the sound. I suggest you try both and stick with whichever you prefer.
One thing you’ll notice about the construction is the speaker cabinet is large relative to the size of the woofers. This helps with the low end, but looks a little strange.
Now lets take a look at the measurements, looking at the BS22 first. In case you haven’t seen it before, here is my standard explanation of Bode plots.
Measurements are a very important part of reviewing speakers. Most reviews you find won’t put in the effort to do the detail I have on a pair of $40 speakers. However, I make sure to include them in any review I do because it verifies that what I’m hearing corresponds to something innate about the speakers.
The first measurement we look at is the classic Bode Plot. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, allow me to explain briefly, or just skip to my TL;DR below.
What we hear is sound is the variation in sound pressure in the air. The number of times in a second the sound pressure goes from high to low is called the “frequency” of the sound. Each note on a musical scale has its own special frequency. When a speaker is asked to play a particular note at a particular volume, it creates a slightly (and sometimes not so slightly) different volume for each tone. To create a Bode plot, you play the each note at the same volume from the speaker and record how loud it is on the microphone.
An important aside is that when doing measurements, the Bode plot (as well as others) are influenced by the room the speakers are in. I use special modern techniques of computer-aided measurement which enables me to isolate the speakers. This means my measurements are only useful above 200 Hz. Below that, the effects of the room cannot be reliably separated from the effects of the speaker.
The TL;DR of the past two paragraphs is: in a perfect world, the graph below would be a straight horizontal line and deviations from a straight line help to explain some of the imperfections of the speaker.
The frequency response of the BS22 is very flat compared to the other speakers we have previously reviewed, as far down as my tests can measure. There is an uptick above 10,000 Hz that is audible to the trained ear.
The step response on the BS22 recovers quickly with minimal ringing and without very distinct tweeter and woofer peaks, meaning that it has a good crossover.
In the directional response, you’ll notice a common feature on the this line of Pioneer speakers is a high frequency boost straight ahead with a roll-off to either side. This is the intentional effect of the horn that has been discussed before.
Moving on to the C22, you’ll notice the plot is very similar to the BS22, but with a rolloff in the 700-4000Hz range. This is because of the two woofers on the center speaker interfere with each other. This is normal for a center speaker.
The C22 has a similar step response to the BS22. Like the Bode plot, the two woofers of the center channel alignment account for the big differences, such as the two peaks around 2 ms.
The Pioneer FS52 has a very flat response curve like the BS22. It is hard to measure, but there is clearly more response at lower frequencies, as one would expect from a tower. The high end boost is particularly evident here as well.
The step response is louder, but otherwise very similar to the BS22, as expected from a tower speaker. The three woofers add the small peak before the main peak.
The directional response is pretty much what we expect at this point. A boost at high frequencies which becomes smaller off-axis.
All in all, the Pioneer Andrew Jones Speakers are perfect speakers for an entry home theater. They are good enough to impress most people and are well known in the audiophile community for their low-cost performance.