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Dayton Audio T652-AIR review: So much speaker, so little money

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The Good The Dayton Audio T652-AIR offers performance that belies its ultracheap price. The fit and finish are better than you would expect and the inclusion of an AIR tweeter is unusual for this kind of money.

The Bad They don't go very loud without distorting, and only come with spring clips for attaching speaker wire. The cheaper Dayton Audio MK402 is a better buy.

The Bottom Line The Dayton Audio T652-AIR minitower speakers give good performance for very little money.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Sound 6
  • Value 9

If you're looking at buying big, separate speakers, it makes sense to invest in floorstanders. They don't need stands and they pump out more bass and sound more powerful than bookshelf versions. We quite liked Dayton Audio's smaller B452-AIR and B652-AIR speakers, so we were hopeful the floorstanding version, reviewed here, was an even better value.

When you hear the word "floorstander" you might think "towering monster of bass," but the T652-AIR isn't that. It's really short, just over 2 feet tall. At just $140 for a pair (!) it costs less than many bookshelf speakers, and there's a surprising amount of insight to their sound. Try playing them loud, however, and they end up sounding forced.

The T652 is a good deal -- where else can you find speakers this big for so little? -- but we still prefer the more refined, and much cheaper, MK402 bookshelf speaker, which adds up to an even better value.

Appearances aren't everything

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Like the standard T652, the upgraded Dayton Audio T652-AIR is the shortest "tower" speaker we've tested: it's just 30 inches high. So it's less visually imposing than most floorstanding speakers, or even a small bookshelf speaker on a tall stand. The T652-AIR's stealthy presence (and low price) notwithstanding, closer inspection reveals its fit and finish are entirely respectable.

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The speaker comes with an Air Motion Transformer tweeter (which gives the speaker part of its name) plus twin 6.5-inch polypropylene woofers. There's a bass port near the bottom of the front baffle, so while you can get away with putting the speaker up against a wall, it will sound better when placed 6 or more inches away. For better isolation from the floor, the speaker comes with integrated, nonmarking rubber feet. The company recommends an amplifier between 90 and 150 watts for a nominal impedance of 6 ohms and says the speaker will reach down to 45Hz.

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Though not unexpected at this price, the spring clip wire connectors are worth a gripe. We much prefer binding posts -- such as those included on the MK402 -- for their more secure grip on speaker wires.

Listening

In order to test the T652-AIR, we hooked a pair up to a Sony STR-DN1080 ($448 at Amazon) AV receiver and an Oppo UDP-205 Blu-ray player. At low to medium volume the T652-AIR's pleated ribbon tweeter's tone is rather sweet, with no edge or brightness to its sound. 

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