Boston Acoustics CS 226 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Reviewed

Boston Acoustics CS 226 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Reviewed

If you're in the market for a truly affordable floorstanding loudspeaker that puts performance above all else look no further than the CS 226 from Boston Acoustics. While it's outwardly appearance may be basic and a bit classic its performance is second to none considering it's ultra affordable asking price. The CS 226 is a classic looking loudspeaker with classic performance.

Boston-cs226-reviewed.gifLoudspeakers are fairly basic when you get right to it; a couple of drivers, some wood, a few bits of foil and metal and you're there. Now, how much can what I just described cost? A couple of bucks, maybe even $100? So how can a manufacturer charge upwards of $20,000 for a pair of loudspeakers consisting of essentially the same ingredients? It begs the question, how much loudspeaker does one really need?

Read more floorstanding speaker reviews from the likes of Boston Acoustics, PSB, Paradigm, Golden Ear, Revel, Klipsch and dozens more.

 

Now, I know what I've just said is a bit of an oversimplification and understand that there is a lot that goes into a modern loudspeaker that in many instances does warrant a higher price tag. That being said, Boston Acoustics has said "To hell with all of that" and has designed a speaker that harkens back to the days of yore when loudspeakers weren't crafted out of carbon fiber and Bald Eagle heads but of otherworldly materials like wood and screws.

Introducing the CS 226 floorstanding speaker from Boston Acoustics. It is...a traditional floor standing speaker in the classical sense, which is exactly what the CS in its name stands for: Classic Series. The CS 226 retails for $229.99 apiece and is a two-way design featuring a single one-inch soft dome tweeter mated to two six and a half inch graphite/polymer woofers. It comes in two finishes, black or cherry, both of which are of the vinyl variety, and features no fancy curves or flowing design language of any kind. The CS 226 is a box measuring in at 38 inches tall by eight and a quarter inches wide by 10 inches deep.

The CS 226 has a reported frequency response of 46Hz-25kHz and is easy enough to drive with its 89dB efficiency rating into its benign eight-Ohm load. About the only "advanced" thing about the CS 226's design is that it is video shielded, which is something old school, classic, loudspeakers were not. And you know what else? I actually kind of like it.

I'm not going to suggest that the CS 226 is some sort of giant killer because it's not, but it is refreshing if I'm honest. It's a few bits of wood, some glue, a couple of drivers and boom - there you have it, a speaker. And like any speaker the CS 226 plays music and it plays it with a sort of vintage flair too. No it doesn't sound all dusty, wobbly or vague but you get the sense listening to it that it's not trying that hard to impress you. I know some will look at the CS 226 as an entry-level speaker but I think there's more to it than that. There's purity here, a sort of maturity that a lot of newer designs lack, a sense of self that isn't constantly trying to be one thing or another. It just is. The treble isn't extremely airy or extended but it isn't brittle or harsh; it's smooth with enough detail to get its point across and get on with the show. The midrange is slightly colored by the cabinet, but it doesn't sound chesty - it just sounds a bit old fashioned, which works for the CS 226. There's a simplicity to the CS 226's sound, not overly detailed or etched, but with a touch of warmth that so long as you don't crank the volume will suit most casual listeners just fine.

Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on the next page

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High Points
• Simple styling in a straightforward cabinet design that isn't trying to hide the fact that the Boston Acoustics CS 226 is a loudspeaker. It's a bit boxy but far from being too big or impossible to integrate into ones living environment. 

• The CS 226 works and sounds good with a wide variety of electronics, including lower powered and inexpensive integrated amplifiers, making it an ideal speaker for super frugal audiophiles or students away at college etc. 
• The CS 226's high frequency performance isn't state of the art but it's far from horrid, possessing a smooth demeanor that is a touch laid back (when played at appropriate volumes) and has just enough extension and air to make instruments sound natural. 
• The midrange is full, rich and a touch warm, which suits vocalists and movie soundtracks just fine. I wouldn't call its lower midrange razor sharp or super agile but it also doesn't wallow about and sound muddy. 
• Dynamically the CS 226 is solid and its soundstage performance is a bit wider than it is deep, though the instruments do tend to stay within the confines of the speakers themselves. 

Low Points
• For true full range performance you're going to want to mate the CS 226 to a subwoofer. 
• The CS 226 isn't exotic nor does it even attempt to play the part. It's a boxy speaker made of wood and nails with a bit of vinyl veneer in a world dominated by aluminum chassis and narrower than thou chassis, which may or may not sit well with the more lifestyle oriented customers. 
• The CS 226 has its quirks and its drawbacks but still manages to be enjoyable; however it has some stiff competition from other budget oriented brands and designs that don't seem to suffer from the same foibles.

Conclusion

My friends and family constantly poke fun at my addiction to consumer electronics, especially loudspeakers, asking me the question, "How much does one really need?" Well, for me, I need a lot, which is why I own a wide variety of big ticket loudspeakers. However for those who don't need such luxuries this is why a loudspeaker like the CS 226 exists. For those in the market for a loudspeaker that won't break the bank and allow you enjoy your music collection with little fuss I recommend checking out the CS 226 from Boston Acoustics.

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