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Terrific towers: Big speakers for less cash than decent bookshelf models

Dayton Audio's impressive T652 towers, just $119 a pair, for those who want to rock on the cheap stuff!

Dayton Audio T652 Dayton Audio

Dayton Audio's remarkable B652 has long been one of my budget speaker references, so when I heard about a new tower version of the speaker I jumped at the chance to review it. I had high hopes even before I cracked open the box, but within seconds of listening to the T652 towers I knew Dayton Audio has another winner on its hands. The price, currently $118.50 per pair from Parts Express, is almost too good to be true.

First thing: the bass is huge, the T652 has two 6.5 inch woofers, but I'd give most of the credit to the speaker's large medium-density fiberboard cabinet and front-mounted bass port for the T652's ample bass. There's also a 0.6-inch polycarbonate dome tweeter. The speaker has removable cloth grilles, it stands 30 inches tall, and its impedance is rated at 6 Ohms. I did the bulk of my listening with a $189 Emotiva Mini-X a-100 integrated amplifier (2 x 60 watts) -- it's a sweet combination.

The speaker comes with a pair of color-coded 10-foot lengths of wire; unfortunately, the T652's spring clip speaker wire connectors won't grip the wires as securely as binding posts do. That won't affect day-to-day performance, but whenever you move the speakers, check to make sure the wires didn't slip out.

Listening to electronica wizards Aphex Twin's "Syro" album, the T652 blew me away. The seriously deep bass was the big attraction, and definition and punch were credible. Upping the ante with The Drive-By Truckers' "Southern Rock Opera," the T652s handled high volume with ease, and if you crave dynamics these speakers won't disappoint; they'll be great for parties.

With purely acoustic music (KD Lang's "Hymns of the 49th Parallel"), the T652s were no slouches, but I heard some roughness in the sound of Lang's vocals, and the guitars and strings lacked resolution. Hey, considering the T652's price I can't be too hard on these speakers. I enjoyed them on their own merits.

For those of you strapped for cash, check out the tiny Lepai LP 2020+ stereo integrated amp that currently goes for $23.80 (that's no typo). The pint-size amp really clicked with the T652s. J. Cole's 2014 "Forest Hills Drive" album all but massaged the T652's woofers, and the beats really delved deep -- not bad for a system that runs less than $150 (used with your phone or computer as a music source)!

The Dayton Audio T652s are good, but the Pioneer SP-FS52 towers, for $260 a pair, are substantially better in every way.