The Good:  Pioneer’s SP-BS22-LR bookshelves are an excellent value. Their detailed accurate sound make them a top value pick.

 

The Bad: Although they have deeper bass than they should with only a 4 inch woofer, they don’t quite have the bass extension of more expensive speakers. Also, some may consider their overall appearance to be a little boring.

 

Summary: The Pioneer SP-BS22’s have no right to sound as good as they do. Based on their sonic acuity, they should probably cost twice as much.

Andrew Jones has been leading the charge over at Pioneer for several years now. In recent years Andrew Jones has worked earnestly with Pioneer to design affordable speakers that don’t skimp on sound quality. For the most part they’ve acheived a great deal of success. Because of this we were eager to get our hands on a pair of the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR bookshelf speakers.

 

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Speakers Appearance and Features

Pioneer SP-BS22 Bookshelf Speakers

When first removing them from the packaging you can tell that they have a good solid build quality. Is the quality the same as what you’d get with a $400 or $500 pair of bookshelves? No, but for $130 they’re pretty solid.

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones Designed Bookshelf Loudspeakers

Price: $128.00

4.7 out of 5 stars (581 customer reviews)

35 used & new available from $104.34

The Pioneer SP-BS22 speakers only come in one finish, black.  Other finish options would have been nice, but I’m sure this enables them to keep the cost down. The cabinet sides have a slight curve to them that’s reminiscent of the Polk RTi’s. Like the Polk’s, the curved sides not only add visual interest to the speakers but more importantly, the curvature makes the cabinet acoustically inert and reduces resonance.

 

When we received the SP-BS22 bookshelves we expected to find either cheap plastic binding posts or spring clips as connection options. Instead Pioneer went the extra mile and equipped these with gold plated binding posts which is more than you’d expect on a $130 pair of speakers.   Pull the grill off and you’ll see the business end of the speaker. At the top you’ll see a 1″ high efficiency soft dome tweeter with a customized wave guide. According to Pioneer’s documentation this, combined with a newly designed crossover, results in a more efficient speaker that can play louder. Below the tweeter is a 4″ structured-surface polypropylene woofer. The rigid nature of the woofer is supposed to improve the speakers mid-range and bass response.

 

Overall, they seem to be well built speakers. Personally I’m not a big fan of their appearance. Outwardly, they’re a little bland looking and nothing about their appearance really stands out. However, this could be taken as a positive since these speakers will have a chameleon like ability to just blend in on your shelf. Of course a speaker shouldn’t be judged solely on it’s appearance. More importantly, the sound quality is what matters most.

 

Performance

We threw a variety of source material at them beginning with a range of movie blu-ray soundtracks. One of the movies we tried was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The Pioneer SP-BS22 ‘s had an active and lively mid-range. The wave guided tweeter produced surprisingly clear vocals. However, the SP-BS22 bookshelves didn’t produce a perfect performance.  Although they did have good bass extension, there were a couple scenes in the movie where it was evident that these speakers were struggling with some of the lower frequencies. However, coupling these with a subwoofer filled in the gaps.

 
Next, we bombarded the SP-BS22s with a variety of jazz tunes from Miles Davis. Most of these songs have complex layers of instrumentals. Lesser speakers have a hard time reproducing the intricate subtleties of some of these jazz songs however, for the most part the pioneers did an admirable job. The highs were detailed, but not overly pronounced and the mids sounded rich and balanced. Considering that these only have a 4 inch woofer, it’s surprising the amount of bass that was present.  However, that 4 inch woofer also limits how much bass they can produce which is a bit of a negative.

 

Conclusion

Overall, these speakers have an excellent dynamic quality. They do well with mid-range frequencies and produce active detailed high frequencies. The biggest weakness with these speakers are probably their bass output. Larger speakers have the ability to go deeper than the BS22, but when you consider that they only have a 4 inch woofer it’s surprising that they dig as deep as they do. Value wise, I don’t think you can beat them. Pioneer’s crazy for only charging $130 for these so if you’re in the market for cheap good sounding speakers (and who isn’t) I’d suggest giving these a try before Pioneer comes to their senses.

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones Designed Bookshelf Loudspeakers

Price: $128.00

4.7 out of 5 stars (581 customer reviews)

35 used & new available from $104.34

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