• The SP-BS21-LR's build quality is fantastic and while it comes only in black, there's little to fault when you consider it appears and feels more robust than speakers costing twice the price.
• The SP-BS21-LR's sound is a touch warm with a slightly laid-back and polite top end that should serve a wide variety of musical tastes nicely, not to mention lower resolution downloads from, say, iTunes.
• Despite not having a great deal of bass, those with smaller rooms or thinking of using the SP-BS21-LRs as desktop speakers may be able to do without a subwoofer.
• While I only had a pair of SP-BS21-LR on hand for my demo, I have to imagine that they'd make fine home theater speakers as well, especially for those tight on space and cash.
• While the speakers themselves may only cost $99.99, that isn't the true cost of ownership for you'll need to invest in floor stands or wall mounts to ensure you're getting the best the SP-BS21-LR's have to give. Also, if you want to hear every note of your favorite music you'll have to add a subwoofer as well. When you take all of that into consideration, the biggest knock against the SP-BS21-LRs is that you can get four of them plus a center and a subwoofer for $200 more with the SP-PK21BS speaker package from Pioneer.
• While built to a high standard and finished with an attention to detail, there's no mistaking the SP-BS21-LR for anything other than a loudspeaker, which for some may be a deal breaker when you consider there are a number of affordable, lifestyle oriented products currently available - products such as Orb Audio for example.
Competition and Comparison
At $100 there may be no competition for the SP-BS21-LR. That doesn't mean they're the only "cheap" bookshelf speaker available today. If you're considering the SP-BS21-LR bookshelf speaker you should also look at and/or consider Aperion Audio's Verus Forte bookshelf speaker, Orb Audio's Classic One Speaker System, Boston Acoustics' CS 26 bookshelf speaker and of course Paradigm's Atom bookshelf speaker. All of the before-mentioned speakers are on par with the Pioneer SP-BS21-LR and in some instances a little bit beyond, though they all have one thing in common and that is their incredible value and performance for the money.
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There's a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Pioneer SP-BS21-LR bookshelf loudspeaker for it's a phenomenal overachiever when you consider a pair can be had for less than $100. The only reason I don't blindly recommend them to anyone looking to build a home theater or audiophile system on a budget is because I believe that Pioneer's 5.1 speaker package featuring four, SP-BS21-LR speakers mated to a matching center channel and powered subwoofer for $399 is the better value. Still, there's no denying the SP-BS21-LR is a great little loudspeaker.
• Read more bookshelf speaker reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's stuff.
• Find an AV receiver to pair with the SP-BS21-LR speaker.
• Explore subwoofers in our Subwoofer Review section.