Pioneer BS22 vs Dayton B652-Air

When looking at speakers, a common thing to wonder is what are you getting for your extra money. While bother the Pioneer BS22 and Dayton B652-Air are considered “good for the money” and “budget” speakers, the Pioneer speaker costs twice as much.

I will use this post to help explain what exactly you’re getting for twice the money.

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Pioneer BS22-LR Alongside Dayton B652-AIR

 

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Dayton Audio B652 vs. Dayton Audio B652-AIR

Dayton Audio makes two versions of its well-received B652 speaker. The first costs $40, and the second has an upgraded tweeter and costs $60. I’ve reviewed the Dayton B652 here, as well as the Dayton B652-AIR.

Dayton B652 (right) and Dayton B652-Air (left)
Dayton B652 (left) and Dayton B652-Air (right)

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Micca Covo-S Review (Updated 6/24/2015)

Micca COVO-S Compact 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers -$39.95

These speakers are tough to review for me. On the one hand, as speakers to listen to music on, by themselves, these fall far short of offering something compelling. As a feat of engineering and getting all they could for $40 in a tiny speaker, it is fairly remarkable. So, starting at the conclusion, the Micca Covo-S is suitable only in an extremely compromised position, when you need both a cheap and a small speaker. They could work as a soundbar alternative or in a cheap surround sound setup.

One interesting thing about these speakers, is, in order to make them small, the tweeter is physically inside the woofer. That’s pretty neat by me.

When I listen to music, the problems with these speakers are quickly evident. The low end is a complete mess and non-existent. The very high end is surprisingly missing. The middle frequencies are actually pretty good. This makes them completely unacceptable for listening to music. As far as playing surround sound tracks, they will do just fine at whizzing bullets and spaceships. I also listened to some television programming, and they handled dialog and such just fine.

So, when would I recommend the Micca COVO-S? If you can’t afford a better small speaker, and are using them in an exclusively living room setting. That is to say, I can only recommend them in particular situations and then with reservation.

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Micca MB42X Review

Micca MB42X Bookshelf Speakers with 4-Inch Carbon Fiber Woofer and Silk Dome Tweeter, Black – $89.99

When someone first gets into audio, they are often looking for an affordable, small speaker that doesn’t compromise on performance. The Micca MB42X fills that role admirably. If you’re looking to buy a pair of speakers for under $100, these are your best bet.  Speakers like these sound much better than any soundbar in the same price range. You really will be getting a big step up in performance versus what you get from a typical soundbar.

These speakers are significantly smaller than the Dayton B652 and Dayton B652 AIR, and also offer a flatter frequency response, but with less bass. All-in-all these speakers are really nice at their price point.

I found these speakers enjoyable to listen to when I tested them. They did a nice job with music and voices. They seem to have been designed to handle the typical movie soundtrack and dialog quite well. It shows a real synergy between the marketing and engineering teams in my opinion. A speaker that costs $90 can only do so much. By focusing on a specific problem: making the speaker sound as good as possible on a typical TV show or non-action film soundtrack, they deliver a speaker which is quite good for most of the population and use cases. This isn’t going to be the centerpiece of an exquisite music listening setup, no $90 pair of speakers would be, and the designers didn’t try to make it for that role, to their credit.

My main complaint while listening to them is they are begging to be paired with a subwoofer to give you something even better. This is hardly surprising. They’ve got 4.5″ drivers so physics dictates they won’t have good bass. That said, if you want to get the most out of these, buy a subwoofer. This one should do the trick.

Even when you upgrade your speakers later, these are the kind of speakers you will always find a place for in your house. You’ll use them in other rooms, for parties, your workshop, even with your computer. They are incredibly flexible, and unless you plan on using them for an outdoor event or in a large hall, they will satisfy your needs.

The biggest marketing point to these speakers is they have a well made crossover circuit inside. The Micca MB42 does not, and costs less than half the price. The circuit is a big deal. Dayton Audio’s B452, B652 and B652-Air have very minimal crossovers. A crossover is a circuit that splits the sound and sends part to the tweeter and part to the woofer. The MB42X properly splits the signal between the two which accounts for much of the cost of the speaker, as well as the reason behind its higher quality sound than the Dayton speakers.

To reiterate, these are fairly small speakers, less than 6 inches wide, so they should find a place wherever they are needed. You can put them on their side and underneath a TV, and that should work pretty well.

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Dayton B652 Review (Updated 3/21/2016)

Dayton Audio B652 6-1/2-Inch 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker Pair – $39.80

When you’re looking to buy a set of speakers on a tight budget, it is important to squeeze as much performance as possible out of them. You want something that will sound pretty good that you can use for playing music at parties or for taking your first steps towards an awesome system for your TV, but at the same time won’t cut into your monthly budget.

These speakers are my choice of speakers for you if you’re looking for something which does a reasonable job for playing music, playing video games, or watching movies, and want to spend as little money as possible.  Dayton Audio is a company which makes a wide range of audio products, many of which I review here. They are a company which regularly puts out great bang-for-your buck products. You have to be careful and read reviews though, because some are better than other.

That said, at $40, these are necessarily pretty cheaply made speakers and it shows. The box is made of Plywood. While this is better than the common plastics used in other cheap speakers, it isn’t the first choice of material. The speaker design is what is called a sealed box design, which doesn’t extend the bass as well as more intricate designs, but is less sensitive to manufacturing variations. A single capacitor on the tweeter (the top, high frequency driver) serves as a crossover, which prevents the tweeter from breaking, but doesn’t create a smooth transition from the big 6.5″ woofer to the tweeter.

However, the speaker does include wires to hook it up to an amplifier, which most speakers do not. It is a nice inclusion for $40 speakers that makes these a much nicer buy for people who aren’t comfortable cutting your own speaker wire from a spool. (NB if you are confused by this paragraph and are wondering why you need an amplifier, check out my post on an inexpensive stereo build.)

I took some time to listen to my favorite songs and some Netflix shows with these speakers. I was honestly quite impressed with the quality of the sound you get for the price. They sound much better than mass marketed audio products at two or three times the price.

Most people will think these sound pretty good in a typical living room space. They are so much better than what a majority of people have in their houses, you’ll impress your friends and family even at this low price. So if you’re looking to get something reasonable sounding at a low price, this is the speaker to go with. Its why I included it in my build for my inexpensive stereo build.

When I listened with a critical ear, I keyed in on one major flaw, and that is the high frequency response. Voices and higher frequency instruments just don’t have the realistic, natural sound I’m used to hearing on high quality speakers. This leads to instruments a bit muddled versus higher quality speakers as well. The measurements that follow really highlight that point.

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Inexpensive Stereo Build: $60

Many of you may be coming here looking for the cheapest possible stereo system to play some music or outperform the speakers built into your TV or something to buy in lieu of a soundbar. This is the build for you. Reviews are forthcoming, but all of the items on this page I have personally tested. All of the items listed here can be purchased at my store.
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