You probably haven't heard of Dayton Audio, but the company is a leading supplier of "raw" loudspeaker drivers and speaker-building accessories for hobbyists. Dayton also sells a line of stereo and home theater speakers, like the B652 bookshelf speakers reviewed here, which are popular with budget-minded audiophiles. The sound is crisp, and bass quality and quantity are truly exceptional for a beer-budget speaker. Construction quality isn't lavish, but there's nothing about the B652s' appearance that screams shoddy (it has a $51.99 per pair MSRP, online pricing is closer to $45). If this speaker retailed for two or three times as much it would still qualify as a budget champ, and the B652 would still be a remarkable value.
Design and features
To be clear, the Dayton B652s are passive speakers (not self-powered models). That means you'll need to provide an amplifier, such as an AV receiver, to get sound. But bargain hunters can rest easy: pair them with the $25 Lepai LP-2020A+ stereo integrated amplifier, and you've got yourself a quality mini stereo system for less than $75. And, unlike a similarly priced iPod speaker dock or Bluetooth speaker, using separate speakers means you can deliver true stereo separation, with speakers at each side of the room.
This medium-size bookshelf speaker can be placed on a speaker stand, within a cabinet, or even in an actual bookcase. The second and third options are possible because the B652 doesn't have a rear (or front) bass port, so the speaker can be placed up against a wall, but as with most speakers, it will sound best placed a foot or two away from a wall. The matte-black vinyl cabinet's front baffle is covered by a removable black cloth grille, which is neatly mounted on a fiberboard frame. The B652 measures a trim 11.75 inches tall by 7.2 inches wide by 6.5 inches deep; the pair of speakers weighs 14 pounds in their shipping box.
For an inexpensive speaker, the B652 boasts an unusually large 6.5-inch polypropylene cone woofer. That's augmented by a ferrofluid-cooled 5/8-inch polycarbonate dome tweeter. The speaker's impedance is rated at 8 ohms. There's a metal keyhole slot to facilitate easy wall-mounting, and you get a set of plastic spring-clip wire connectors. Unfortunately, the connectors don't provide a secure grip on the wires, so an inadvertent tug might yank the wire out of place.
Our only qualm about the design of the Dayton B652s is an aesthetic one. It's not that they're ugly, it's just that the competing bargain speakers, the $69 Sony SS-B1000 speakers, are more attractive. Yes, they're also black boxes, but the SS-B1000s just looked a bit better.
In our tests, the B652s' sound was balanced and clear. For speakers of their size, bass is full and definition is decent; there's no overt thickening or bloat. I doubt most buyers will feel the need to add a subwoofer to their Dayton music systems.