The NS-B2111 is superb in its stock form. You won’t find a better speaker for $50, period. That’s the price of a tank of unleaded gas nowadays. Moving up to the $100-200/pair price range, you’ll start to find speakers that may have more detail or a more neutral midrange, but you won’t find one with the same expansive soundstage. What makes the Insignia NS-B2111 so exciting is that the compromises are done perfectly. It’s like comparing a PC with a mid-grade CPU, mid-grade GPU, and mid-grade memory configuration vs. a setup that pairs a Celeron with a GeForce 7950 GX2. The “overall” experience is better with the Insignia’s than other budget speakers. But the secret weapon is in the modding community.
The Insignia NS-B2111 Community
Let’s start with the enclosure. It looks nice, has the curved non-parallel rear wall, and even has surprisingly good binding posts. It’s 12 lbs! If you were to do it yourself, the labor would be way more than $50. There are some people who’ll buy the NS-B2111, replace the driver with a 6.5” woofer out and add a tweeter on top. Others say that the co-axial driver is pretty good, and the trick is to strengthen the enclosure to improve the sound. You can plug the port to make the bas more taut, add more polyfill into the enclosure, or reinforce it with Dynamat or other like materials.
There are some enthusiasts who are buying the speakers just to gut out the co-axial driver. The 0.8” silk tweeter and 6.5” woven carbon-fiber woofer are pretty good. You can buy several bookshelf speakers and make a line-source array of these for better performance. With regular speakers, the volume decreases at a rate of 1/(r-squared) where r is the distance from the speaker – with line source speakers, it’s only 1/r. Other enthusiasts have redesigned the crossover to improve the quality of the sound as well.
All it takes a trip to the DIYAudio.com forums or AudioAsylum.com forums to see how exciting the NS-B2111 is. Some modifications such as magnetically video shielding the speakers can be done for about $20/speaker, while replacing the crossover with GR-Research’s kit (http://www.gr-research.com/insignia.htm) can cost you an additional $100. At $50+100=$150, there’s much more competition (i.e. Onix x-ls) but it then becomes a question of how you want to balance detail, imaging, bass, and aesthetic of the speaker.