Play back audio from a wide range of sources with this Insignia™ NS-SH513 compact shelf system, which features Bluetooth technology, a USB port and a CD player for flexible use. The FM tuner features 30 presets for simple station recall.
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A few snags but amazing for the price!
Posted by: chuckhawks from: Nevada on
As a long-time recording engineer/producer, you can imagine that sound quality is important to me. As I am on a long-term project but staying in my own dwelling (not a hotel, etc.), I wanted a cheap but decent sound system through which I could stream music and play CDs (when I want better quality.) I shopped all around for a while and found this system. I kept shopping, honestly figuring for the price it couldn't be all that good. All the great reviews on other sites as well finally got the best of me and I took a chance and ordered it - especially since it was so inexpensive (my budget was $250-300).
Well, let me tell you... for what this is, it sounds fantastic! The speakers on this system are great - going way above and beyond on solid, tight, yet deep bass response. Like REALLY good bass response but not being just a big floppy/muddy mess! The upper midrange is pretty anemic but the highs are nice and smooth, while being pretty extended. While I wouldn't say this system is "accurate" it is very "pleasant" sounding. Everyone I've played it for has been blown away. Especially with the Bluetooth streaming sound quality - it is AMAZING!
In fact, the system sounds so good that I volunteered it one night for "movie night" for the crew with whom I'm working as the source for the sound (got longer, better quality speaker wire from a local shop). Our movie night consisted of an outdoor setup, so any sound system would be challenged with having no support of surrounding walls. We did it at the resort's pool area and the sound was so good, everyone was raving about it. It was so good that now 'movie night' is a regular thing.
Imaging and soundstage are very nice, if a little 'laid back' and the clarity is excellent. The first time I fired them up and gave them a critical listen, I was truly reminded (showing my age) of the old Rogers LS3/5A speakers - studio/audiophile level speakers that to this day, well over 30 years after they were made still will set you back $1000-2000+. The highs aren't as 'sweet' as the Rogers and the midrange isn't as accurate but hey, it's darn close for $130 including the receiver, amp, and BT receiver!! These things actually have BETTER bass response than the Rogers! Crazy! And they are about the same size, if you are familiar with the Rogers LS3/5A. If not (and I don't expect many to have a clue about them...), just know that these speakers hold their own against some REALLY expensive, European (British) world renowned recording monitor speakers for less than 1/10th the price.
Since the base unit to the system is so small (only about half the size of my Blue-Ray player), I put it on top of my Blue-Ray player (BDP) and simply plug the BDP into the Aux-In jacks. For movie night, I just unplug the speakers, antenna, and AC power from the unit, disconnect my TV's HDMI cable and AC from the BDP and go. It takes 5 minutes to teardown/setup due to its size and ease of use.
Now, for the not so great:
It's max indicated volume is "50" and on some source material, that is not loud enough. If the source material was recorded at a high gain, then this system get plenty loud. Even outdoors, it's held its own accept for one 5 or so minute quiet scene in a movie. That's pretty easy to live with. What's not is the system seems to have a threshold that if something is streaming (BT) to it and the volume is low - like a fade-in or fade-out on a song, the system just mutes the signal. So what you end up with is a song that either starts well into the actual song, or you hear bits and pieces that pop in and out (out being muted in between and it's quite obvious) in those quiet passages. This is very annoying and there seems no way to cancel that "feature". At any price, this is pretty unacceptable and is my biggest complaint about the system. I'm giving the system four bars for "Features" due to this. If it didn't have BT streaming and/or an Aux-In (both requirements for me), then it would likely get 1-2 bars from me on Features - because of this design flaw.
The system also has a time-out (energy saving?) if it has not played anything or received a BT stream (even if it is still actively connected to the device) where the system turns itself off. Your BT device (iPod/iPad, etc.) will not turn the system back on the next time you start playing it; you actually have to turn the system back on with its power switch or remote control. This too can be annoying but, enh... for the price, I find it livable. One good thing about it is when you do turn the system back on after such a BT time-out, it will automatically reconnect to the last BT device and start playing whatever song is/was queued up when it went to sleep.
The last thing is the speaker wire that comes with the unit. There's no other way to say it - it's terrible. It's 22 gauge at best and just really poor quality. But again, for $130 - go buy better speaker wire. With this level of system, buy some 12 gauge 'zip wire' and you'll be doing great! If they were going to skimp, I'd rather them skimp on accessories like speaker wire than on the system's actual quality - which is exactly what they did. Kudos.
I would also recommend getting a better FM antenna if you plan to listen to the old-school radio. The unit does not have an AM band receiver, only FM. It sounds great for what it is but the antenna that's supplied is nothing more than a single piece of cheap wire. The antenna connector is designed to take better quality coax antennae if you choose to use such.
Overall, I am VERY happy with this system and know that when I do return home, it will find a treasured place there too. This system would make a great bedroom, study, dorm, kitchen, shop, garage, etc. system and give WAY higher quality sound than a boombox, or most other small bookshelf systems I've seen/heard for up to $1000, much less under $150!!
If you're on the fence, my suggestion is go for it and return it if you don't like it. My best guess is you won't be returning it because you'll love it too much.
87 out of 95 found this review helpful.
Good but limited
Posted by: havanajoe8 from: Mansfield, MA on
I am moving into a bigger apartment and will have room for a small stereo system for background music. I was interested in this system due to the USB connection plus the ability to play CDs (my girlfriend has tons of them). Overall I am happy with the system except for one glaring issue- random works only with regular CDs. This means no random with MP3 CD-Rs or with USB. Not only that, but if you change sources or turn the system off and then on again it forgets what song you were on last and starts from the first track! I have over 1,500 MP3 files so this is unacceptable. I tried using Bluetooth, which gave me the ability to use my phone and shuffle tracks that way, but the sound was not very good- may be a reflection on my phone, as it's a cheap one. Finally I realized that I could connect my iPod and get what I wanted that way. One strength of this system is that it offers so many connection options- Bluetooth, USB, RCA, CD and FM. Once I got the iPod connected I was happy- sound quality is quite good, a little weak in the bass but good highs and mids. Volume is plenty for a small room. Remote works well, has a lot of range and the unit looks nice- understated and "adult", not too bright or high-techy. Black wood finish matches my main stereo system so that is a nice bonus. I decided to keep this unit, happy with it but just cannot understand how the random only works with CDs... This would be a 4 or maybe even a 5 star item if that one feature existed!
29 out of 32 found this review helpful.
Good for playing CDs, Not mp3s flash drives.
Posted by: TroyInt from: Troy, MI on
This is a decent sound system for the price. It's quite small and looks nice, so it sits nicely on a shelf. Set-up was quick and easy. I did have to return mine because it didn't quite fit my needs though (see below).
I'm not a music expert so I'll try to describe the sound in layman's terms. The sound is surprisingly good for such small speakers. But the higher end is a bit distant and metallic. So the bass sounds good but the vocals could be more up close. Why does EVERY sound system out there sacrifice everything to the almighty bass? You can turn up the top and tone down the bass but it doesn't really make the top sharper. Overall it's really not bad.
There are several settings for different kinds of music, but they are all totally awful, just leave the setting on normal and it's fine.
Still, for the price, the speakers are good and do fill up a bedroom or a small to average living room quite well. I found them definitely loud enough for 95% of CDs. Some early CDs were way too compressed and will not sound right or loud enough on any system.
I thought this system might provide an elegant solution with its flash drive port but...
I have over 900 CDs and ripped everything at 320 kbps, amounting to about 105g. Obviously no phone can hold all that, and only the ipod classic can store that, although I dodge the ridiculously over-hyped and over-priced Apple like a plague. I don't want to bother with putting some things on a phone and having to unplug and swap that for another device or inserting CDs, and repeat. What options do people with a lot of music have these days? What I wanted to do was get a 128g flash drive and plug it into this system, which has a port right in front, and be able to quickly access all my music at once without importing to an app or anything in between.
Which leads me to the one big flaw with this system: Yes it plays off flash drives, BUT, it doesn't recognize your folder structure: so for example if you put 10 albums on it, each with 9 songs, it sees tracks 1-90. And it ONLY displays the current track. So if you want to play track 8 from album 6, you just have to skip forward until you reach it. You can enter track "65" on the remote control, but again you can't SEE any track titles until they are playing. So you can imagine having 900+ CDs on a flash drive would be completely ridiculous.
I realize that this port is for phones or mp3 players with their own displays and touch screens, but again they don't hold enough and I don't want an ipod or iphone. I can also plug in my laptop to the headphone port, but I don't want to have to turn on a laptop to listen to a speaker system, and it sounds much worse that way.
Also it does not recognize external drives, but it does recognize flash drives.
I would give this 4.5 stars if I could, subtracting one half for speakers that are decent but not quite excellent, but the big oversight of not having a searchable display makes me knock it down a bit further to a 4.
So in summary, if you want just a CD player this is good (and it DOES play mp3 discs.) If you have a small amount of music on your phone or mp3 player and you want to plug it in here and control it from your other device this is also good. If you want to make any sense of your own stored music and folder structure that you've ripped and saved yourself this will not work. I don't know what people are doing these days to simply play a lot of music off one source.
25 out of 27 found this review helpful.
Great value, simple, functional
Posted by: Teak from: on
We've owned the Insignia NS-SH513 compact shelf system for about six months and have been very pleased with the product and especially pleased with the value of the product's features and functionality for the $70 price we paid. Initially our objective was to find a product that was easy to pair with our Apple iPhones using Bluetooth. Our in-store testing showed that the NS-SH513 paired quickly and easily with our Apple devices even with the noisy Bluetooth environment of the store and was superior to other products on the shelf with Bluetooth pairing. Our perception is that the sound quality of the system is very good and certainly good enough for our casual listening and surprisingly better than other bookshelf sized systems we've had that were much more expensive. This little system is ideal for a bedroom, home office, or small living room area. We have used the system on the patio during the summer simply because it is small enough to move easily, and it is functional for an outdoor sitting or dining area, but lacks the power to fill a larger outdoor space with quality sound. The remote is simple and easy to use. A final note of endorsement that we will be buying another one of these for a hobby room in the basement.
18 out of 18 found this review helpful.
Does Everything I Want and Need!!!
Posted by: cmcjiff from: South Carolina on
I wish I hadn't waited so long to dive into the world of streaming music! But then again, maybe I wouldn't have found this wonderful device and at such a great price! I had looked at Bose which is very pricey! Also looked at Sonos, but it doesn't have the CD player and the radio. Then I found this baby!
It was easy to set up and pair with my downstairs computer which I had originally planned to use exclusively to play my music library. Then I decided to take the dive into streaming Pandora on my Android phone which I had never done. Before the Insignia would pair with my phone, I had to turn off the downstairs computer. After that it connected and I was listening to the Peaceful Christmas station on Pandora! Oh, another thing - this morning when I went to use it with my phone, I first had to unpair and then pair again for it to work. Still, not a deal breaker for me.
I love having the ability to set the EQ and tone (bass, treble, mids) to suit the song or just my tastes, something I had learned was not possible or available in other similar devices. Also, a big plus, is having a CD player and a radio. An all-in-one great audio device!
I should mention that I have other Insignia products and the quality is always top-notch! Don't be afraid to purchase this non-name brand!
15 out of 15 found this review helpful.
Posted by: AZMoose from: Chandler, AZ on
I purchased this stereo for use in my garage to replace a 20+ year old boom box. It is a great little unit for the price, packed with features, and I believe it to be a solid value. After using it for about a month, I have found a couple of minor things to nit-pick, but I do not find these big enough issues to dissuade the purchase of this unit.
1. I wish it was a bit louder since the garage is a pretty large space to project into.
2. I have it on a shelf that does get a lot of direct natural light, and it becomes really hard to see the digital display. It would be nice if it had a variable display that allowed dimming and brightening as needed.
All-in-all I am pleased with the performance of this system and would definitely recommend it.
13 out of 13 found this review helpful.
Don't be fooled just because its 'Insignia'
Posted by: BigBrandsAreNotBetter from: Miami, FL on
I previously purchased the Sony cd/am.fm/'bluetooth'/nfc stereo system for $200 and disappointed are not the words.
This Insignia combo doesn't include am but who cares. This one beats the sony one of the water. This little small brand radio packs a great amount of sound inside of it! It is way louder than the Sony and it does not compromise sound quality.
The Sony system advertises that it is Bluetooth and nfc but I couldn't pair my Galaxy s5 to save my life. there were no instructions on how to do so neither. I took the Insignia out the box, set it up, selected the Bluetooth function and within seconds it paired with my phone and I was jamming! It also has great EQ presets for your preference of sound whether jazz, pop, dance, etc.
The only negative about this system is that it doesn't look as fancy smancy as I would want but its a great buy for the price.
P.S. I don't like companies that rest on their laurels and make inferior products and expect to sell them to people based on brand power alone.
14 out of 15 found this review helpful.
Overall, A Good Buy
Posted by: DMATx from: Dallas, TX on
My goal was to replace my older model Insignia shelf system NS-A2111 (with DVD player) in order to gain more connectivity options.
This little unit has terrific sound for its size and price point; even without using any of the EQ settings or tone controls, it has a nice, smooth, rather bassy sound that I really like. The connection options are just what I needed; the USB port recognized my thumb drive right away, and the Bluetooth capability worked fine with my Samsung Galaxy S4. Of course, those playing CDs will find that the CD player works very well, even with scratched discs - I tried one of my more scuffed up CD-Rs, and it played without a hiccup. The FM radio works well, once the included antenna is stretched out and away from the unit; it does lack AM, however. It has an AUX connection for playing sound from a TV or other device with a line-out.
There are a few downsides, though. The system exhibits a delay whenever a command is executed, either from the front panel or the remote. The mp3 navigation is lacking, whether playing from an mp3-laden CD or a thumb drive plugged into the USB port; as another reviewer mentioned, the unit seems to lack the capability to see folders - it only sees the total number of individual mp3s. It's possible to skip forward to a given track number, but it will be difficult to hit the folder and track you might be aiming for, and you'll probably have to keep skipping forward and backward to find the song you're seeking.
Overall, however, for the price (especially since I caught it on sale), I think this is a nice little shelf system. The built quality is pretty good, and the sound quality is surprisingly great for its size. More money would buy a better user interface and mp3 navigation features, but for those on a budget, the Insignia NS-SH513 is definitely worth a try.
11 out of 11 found this review helpful.
just what I was looking for
Posted by: w84it from: on
I've regretted giving up my albums and don't want to give up my CDs! There isn't too much available out there for those who don't "i" anything. This has been just what I was looking for in size, price, and function.
8 out of 8 found this review helpful.
Wonderful Compact Stereo
Posted by: we4nparadise from: Spotsylvania, Virginia on
I bought this stereo for my 16 year old daughter's bithday. In the past when I looked for personal stereos all I found were "in your face" Boom Boxes, or "tacky" looking bookshelf systems. I always wondered why they didn't make a system like my vehicle stereo. Everything you need in a small space with great sound quality. When I clicked on this product from Insignia I thought "they finally did it". It has all the features you want. Am-FM, CD Player, Bluetooth, USB, Aux Input. My kids set it up while I was at work and had the Bluetooth going in minutes. I love music and have an extensive CD collection, so I can appreciate quality sound. This stereo has it! I was totally impressed! Love It!