A few weeks back I bought an Onkyo A/V receiver and speaker package which I reviewed previously, [read review]. My only real criticism was the lack of midrange definition coming from the satellite speakers supplied in the speaker package which wasn’t so noticeable while watching movies but massively impacted my enjoyment of music. This is where the Pioneer SP-FS51-LR speakers come in; I had been looking at some floorstanding speakers to replace the left/right satellite speakers but couldn’t find very much in the sub $200 category until I stumbled across these speakers. I have always been a fan of Pioneer products; I’ve had a number of systems from the manufacturer and the sound was always a notch above similarly priced and in some cases much more expensive units and these speakers are the same. I compared the SP-FS51’s against the $200 a piece Polk Audio Monitor 70’s online and was surprised at the reviews for each speaker, more people actually preferred the Pioneer’s to the Polks. The speakers themselves are fairly compact as floorstanding speakers go and features two 5 1/2in woofers, one 5 1/4 midrange driver and a 1in tweeter and have hard grills on each of the speakers cones which is a godsend when you have two young kids who like to pick and prod at my expensive toys. The frequency range is listed as 45hz to 20Khz and rated at 130w per speaker which is more than adequate for my needs; the amplifier these speakers are paired with has a 110w per channel output. I have these speakers paired with the Onkyo SKW-380 subwoofer with a crossover frequency of 50hz and the system produces thunderous yet controlled bass and the sound blends seamlessly when a 20hz to 20khz audio sweep is played through the speaker system in 2.1 mode. The clarity of sound is very good for a set of $200 speakers sounding better than some much more expensive speakers I have sampled over the years. The highs are crisp and clear with a great stereo image, the midtones that were missing with the subwoofer/satellite combination are there in abundance; the sound is much more full bodied and warm. The low end reproduction isn’t the greatest; these speaker don’t get down to those lows that you can feel in your gut but that said these speakers were designed to be used in conjunction with a subwoofer as they are part of a 5.1 speaker system. Overall verdict; these speakers sound much better than their $200 price tag suggests; they’ll add some much needed depth to any surround system that uses small sub 4in speakers for satellites. I like them so much that I am going to buy the matching SP-C21 centre speaker and SP-BS21 bookshelf speakers for rear channnels but will stick with my existing subwoofer as the matching Pioneer subwoofer doesn’t have the range I am looking for; 38hz to 150hz doesn’t cut it for me, I like the deep down bass that is provided by my current Onkyo SKW-380 subwoofer that gets down to 30hz.
Update [December 6th 2011]: Since I wrote this original review of these speakers I have discontinued their use as main front left/right surround sound speakers and have linked them to the ‘B’ speaker output to use them as dedicated stereo speakers for music. And they excel as stand-alone speakers, even more so given their $200 price tag; I have placed the speakers roughly 12in from the back wall for sound reinforcement and the bass is deep (about 32hz on a frequency sweep) but remains tight and controlled giving plenty of punch! More than enough bass for an apartment, even at lower level listening, the punch remains in the low end of the frequency range. The midrange and high frequencies remain controlled and creates a wide and convincing stereo image. I never did buy the related center and rear channel speakers for financial reasons so decided to use the original front satellite speakers for surround sound duties as all the speakers are identical and creates the best surround sound experience. The Pioneer SP-FS51-LR speakers showed up the inadequacies of the speakers that came with the A/V amplifier, I’m not saying the Onkyo speaker package is bad but you get what you pay for in the budget speaker system!