Pioneer SP-BS21-LR 80-Watts RMS 2-Way Speakers

That's a pretty fancy lookin speaker, I especially like the big pioneer label off to the side, it's the thing you would see on the back of a car more than a speaker.

I've sat on these speakers for a while putting off the review for multitudes of reasons. I did the DSP correction for them back in September and put the word out that they were craptastic, but I still see these getting recommended so here we are with a full write up of my impressions.


Needing to resort to brute force methods of the dark art of paper clip folding to remove the grills I was wondering what could be hiding on the other side.

Looks come at a cost, and these grills are acoustically are unacceptable, if I was Andrew Jones I would have kicked the marketing guys in the face kung fu style for putting these grills on my speakers.

I'm not one to prioritize looks over sound in my gear, but man that's hideous. With the grills off it's on a whole new level of ugly speaker. We have a square frame driver in a circle and a plastic wave guide tweeter that just screams cheap. Now I can see why those marketing guys covered these up, I almost want to turn them around backwards to avoid looking at them. Sad part is the grills are just not gonna work, I get such bad sound with them on that it's deal with really ugly speakers or deal with really ugly sound.


Tweeter is a nice big 1 inch textile dome in a plastic wave guide that is suposed to match the directivity of the woofer, not something I place high value on, but making tweeters sound like they are inside of woofers is Andrew Jones' big thing, so yeah he did it here.

By my eye the Woofer is a suprisingly not a large enough of a cone to match the big waveguide on the tweeter, I guess it's a limitation of getting parts off the shelf. It also reminds me of a woofer from aura or something you would find in a large sound bar.

It's got an exceptionally large plastic ring housing that makes it look like it was an after thought more than a choice. Considerable sized magnet and a good quality spider, seems like it's a pretty good driver for this budget price.

Port in the rear, and nice gold looking binding posts are on the back, along with the big Andrew Jones signature.


I'm on the desktop, and even with how big these are they still need stands to get the tweeter up to my ear level. Tossing some random non-vibrating stuff under the speakers works well enough.

Uncorrected impressions:

First impressions, boomy, and inefficient.

They do have their upsides, as long as you don't have content that has bass or you like listening at a moderately high volumes. So yeah, If you can hear it over the booming bass they have a pretty good imaging with that waveguide image sound, which I find sharp and focused, but detached.

The port bothers me, but stuffing won't fix the problems I'm hearing, neither does placement, I'm pulling them out to the middle of the room and still getting the same boomy sounds that sounds more like a 4 inch subwoofer from a cheap 2.1 system than a quality speaker.

Time for some measurements:

Here is a tightly windowed response to avoid reflections with no smoothing so you can see the problem... it's +-5dB over 1k.

Well, it looks like it's not boomy, it's just got muted treble. This also explains why they are so inefficient by ear, down almost 10db from the woofer at 5k is very noticable.

DSP Correction:

Corrections that I provide are all cut based corrections.. in other words I turn down everything that is above the lowest point to make it flat.. well in this case I had to cut everything a bunch to give it an actual treble response. Outside of that I also ended up boosting the bass response below the tuning frequency of the port to give it a little more extension. This is mostly done by ear as I can't accurately measure the bass response of the speaker with my current measureing setup. I think I've got it close and it's pretty balanced now but still needs to be pulled out from the wall at least a foot on a desktop rig.

Corrected impressions:

My JVC 1024vbk finally gave up the ghost, and then caught on fire. It got the Viking funeral it deserved for years of service as it floated to the trash can of Valhalla. What I'm using now on my desktop is a Muse M50 which puts out about 30wpc on a good day. I'll have a review of that soon. Needless to say, it's not as great of an amp as the big JVC, but is neutral enough to do some listening impressions.

The reason this amp stuff is important is because after the corrections the Pioneer BS21's are epicly inefficient. At this point you would need a truck of an amp to get these loud. The little Muse M50 amp I'm using now is pushing these to about 85dB on the desktop and I don't want to push it any more than as I can hear distortion creeping in from the little amp, and maybe even the tweeter complaining about having to do its' job. It's the kind of distortion that smears high frequency energy, and gives headaches. I have a feeling that a bigger amp may net some rewards, but you will probably end up smoking the speaker or crossover trying to get it to volume for spirited listening as these speakers are only rated for 80wpc.

Final thoughts:

Uncorrected BS-21's sound bad, not the usual cheap ringing bad that we get from something without a crossover, but tonally unbalanced and boomy like someone cut everything they didn't like from the drivers using passive crossover parts, leaving massive holes in the treble. If you plan on keeping your listening below 85db you might be able to live with these speakers using the correction. I can honestly say that I would not use these speakers, with correction or without. They sound frustratingly bad and fixes take so much away from the performance that I don't recommend you buy them.

If you are unlucky enough to have bought these speakers pull off your grills give the corrections a shot so you can hear what you are missing. If it bothers you I recommend that you sell the BS-21's and pick up a pair of either the Micca MB42x or the Pioneer BS-22s.

Click here to get the DSP correction file for the Pioneer SP-BS21-LR speakers.

Check out the system finder to see what I recommend.

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