Review: Pioneer SP-FS51-LR Floorstanding Speakers

Pioneer SP-FS51-LR Floorstanding SpeakersA 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!

8 thoughts on “Review: Pioneer SP-FS51-LR Floorstanding Speakers

  • jay commented on January 20, 2012 at 19:31

    Really good review. How do the speakers sound without the subwoofer? Is there any bass to speak of?

  • The speakers produce plenty of bass, getting down to about 30hz, on my amplifier I don’t even need to max out the bass control, I have it set +6 on a scale of +/-10 and there is more than enough bass to fill my 20x12ft living room!

  • Mike H. commented on March 31, 2012 at 11:22

    Really enjoyed your review. I was looking at buying all the pioneer components but after reading your review I may go with the Onkyo sub. My first purchase is going to be the Pioneer fs51 as my main speaker component…then as finances permit purchase the Sub, pioneer shelf and center speakers.

    Actually my second purchase will be the receiver. I am looking at last years pioneer VSX. Do you have any thoughts on the receiver? I like the versatility of the VSX as they integrate with computer, tv, ipod etc.

    Again, I found your review very helpful!


  • I’m happy you found my review helpful, Mike; for the price, I really haven’t seen a set of better speakers. I have the SP-FS51-LR paired with a Pioneer SP-C21 (center channel), SP-SB21-LR (bookshelf rears) and Onkyo SKW-380 (passive subwoofer, which came with my HTIB system), but I would recommend the Pioneer SW-8, which is matched to the other five speakers (you used to be able to buy them as a set). Powering them is an Onkyo HTR-380, which offers 130w per channel and decoding of all the latest and greatest surround sound formats.

    I can’t tell you too much about the Pioneer VSX receivers as I have never owned or auditioned them as I was looking for an Home Theater in a Box solution to get me started and add to it as time went on. But I have owned a lot of pioneer systems over the years and I have never had a need to complain and reviews for the VSX range seem to back that up so you can buy with confidence, good luck with building your new surround sound system.

    You can read my initial thoughts about the center and rear speakers here if you wish.

  • Mike H. commented on April 2, 2012 at 08:13

    Jason, Thank you! You should be an AV critic…

    My systems is coming together. Just ordered SP-FS51-LR as well as my pioneer receiver. As i started looking at the bookshelf speakers I found that there is an sp21 (that you mentioned above) and there is also an sp41 with a bigger magnet. Not sure this is going bigger than I need and their about twice the price.

    Do you have a recommendation on speaker wire. It is my understanding that the right wire relatively important.

    Thank again for your expertise!!

    Mike H.

  • Speaker wire is very important, I used 16 gauge speaker wire, which is the minimum you should use for hi-fi quality systems, no point paying thousands for kit only to lash it all together with cheap wire. I bought some 16 Gauge (RCA brand) cable, 100m reel for under $12 at As for the differences between the BS21 and BS41, the only difference is a 5 1/4in bass/mid driver compared to a 4in bass/mid driver in the BS21, for surrounds, a 4in mid/range driver is plenty! I don’t think it’s worth the extra cash for the BS41’s.

    Another little tip, you won’t get the best out of your amp or speakers until they have been run in, I would suggest running a CD on repeat at a moderate volume, maybe 1/3rd volume to run the amp/speakers in, new sound equipment never sounds at it’s best until 15 – 30 hours of use, never max the system out the box, it will end in some very expensive tears!

    I guess working as a professional sound tech for six years helps with my knowledge of all things sound related but I’m certainly not expert and certainly no critic, but thank you!

  • Fred commented on December 30, 2014 at 13:36

    So how do these compare to the Onkyo SKF-4800 speakers? The Onkyos get extremely good reviews everywhere, and they are in a similar price range, so I’m very indecisive. They are also known to have such good bass response that you don’t really need a subwoofer. Is that also true for these Pioneers? Can you please help me and shed some light on my situation? Thanks in advance.

  • I can’t compare the SKF-4800 to the Pioneers as I have never auditioned the Onkyo SKF-4800. If possible I would suggest that you audition both sets of speakers in-store if possible. The SP-FS51’s produce a good amount of low frequency sound paired with a good amp. But in a home theater situation I’d suggest that you still use a subwoofer as 5/7.1 audio has a discrete subwoofer channel, you’ll be missing out on a large part of the soundstage without it.

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