NHT SuperZero 2.1 vs. Pioneer SP-BS22-LR

NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers
$300 $160
Dimensions (H × W × D)
9.00” × 5.50” × 5.00”
229mm × 140mm × 127mm
12.56” × 7.13” × 8.44”
319mm × 181mm × 214mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
85-20,000 Hz 55-20,000 Hz
ASR Score
3.4 5.0
ASR Score w/Subwoofer
6.7 7.5

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the realm of budget audiophile speakers, the NHT SuperZero 2.1 and Pioneer SP-BS22-LR stand tall. The SuperZero 2.1, a compact marvel, offers a clear, uncolored sound with surprising imaging capabilities for its size, demanding a subwoofer for full-range audio. Conversely, the Andrew Jones-designed SP-BS22-LR provides a warmer presentation with a built-in fuller bass response, crafted for those seeking a more balanced standalone bookshelf speaker. Both are excellent contenders in their price bracket; your choice hinges on whether you prioritize pristine neutrality with the NHTs or the richer, all-in-one experience delivered by the Pioneers.

Speaker Comparison

When it comes to affordable high-fidelity audio, the NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor and the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR bookshelf speakers are two contenders that often come to mind. Both have garnered acclaim for punching well above their weight class, delivering a listening experience that you might expect from more expensive models. Yet, despite their similar aspirations to high-quality sound and budget-friendly pricing, they have distinct characteristics that appeal to different aspects of the audiophile community.

Design and Build Quality

The NHT SuperZero 2.1 is as minimalistic as its name implies. With a compact and unassuming black box design, it's built to disappear into any room, aesthetically speaking. However, don't let the simple exterior fool you; the build is solid, with a well-braced cabinet that hints at the speaker's performance-oriented pedigree. Conversely, the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, conceived by the renowned designer Andrew Jones, features a unique curved cabinet design that not only looks more sophisticated but also serves to reduce standing waves inside the cabinet, theoretically improving sound quality.

NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker
NHT SuperZero 2.1 arrow (at Amazon.com)

Sound Quality

The SuperZero 2.1, true to its name, provides an almost vanishing quality, creating a soundstage that can surprise listeners with its imaging and detail. Its acoustic suspension design helps produce tight, controlled bass from a small enclosure, though it will not plumb the depths of lower frequencies like larger, ported designs might. In contrast, the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR offers a warmer and more forgiving sound. These speakers have a structured sound signature with a bit more emphasis on the lower midrange, making them versatile for a variety of genres and sources, even those of less-than-stellar recording quality.

Performance with Various Genres

In listening tests, the NHT SuperZero 2.1 displays its prowess with acoustic and vocal-centric music. The clarity is breathtaking, and the precision with which these speakers handle complex arrangements is impressive. However, when it comes to more bass-heavy genres like hip-hop or electronic music, they might fall a bit short unless paired with a competent subwoofer. The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, meanwhile, handles such bass-reliant music with more aplomb straight out of the box, offering a fuller sound that doesn't demand additional components to enjoy the full spectrum of your music library.

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR arrow (at Amazon.com)

For the patient listener, the NHT SuperZero 2.1 rewards with nuance and subtlety that can often go unnoticed on less capable speakers. They excel in the midrange, delivering vocals and instruments with a lifelike presence that's quite immersive. The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR seems to smooth over the details slightly in favor of a more cohesive overall sound. This isn't to say that they're lacking in detail, but rather that they present music in a way that's meant to be immediately enjoyable, without the need for critical listening.

Value and Accessibility

Both the NHT and Pioneer models are priced within reach of the budget-conscious audiophile, but they offer different value propositions. The SuperZero 2.1's are less sensitive and have a higher impedance, meaning they will require a more powerful amplifier to truly shine. The Pioneer speakers are easier to drive, making them a more accessible option for those with modest receivers or amplifiers. This ease of pairing with a wide range of equipment without compromising sound quality makes the SP-BS22-LR an attractive option for newcomers to the audiophile world.

Ultimately, the choice between the NHT SuperZero 2.1 and the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR bookshelf speakers may come down to personal preference and the specific use case. The SuperZero 2.1's might be the weapon of choice for the discerning listener with a penchant for acoustic clarity and a willingness to invest in the right amplification and potentially a subwoofer. On the other hand, the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR is a more plug-and-play solution that could satisfy a broader audience with its richer, room-filling sound. Both speakers stand as testaments to the incredible quality that can be achieved in affordable audio equipment, each with a distinct voice that beckons to be heard.

Check Current Prices:

NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker
NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers

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Disclaimer: the speaker data listed on this website are correct to the best of our knowledge, but we do not guarantee the accuracy of the data. Please double-check any measurements with the manufacturer before making a final purchasing decision.