Review : Pioneer S-HF21LR Speaker / Zenith DVD DVB-812 DVD / Cardas Clear Light Clone RCA

Budget Esoterica Review Magazine 

June 2023 Issue

Pioneer S-HF21LR Speakers, Zenith DVD DVB-812 DVD Player, Cardas Clear Light Clone RCA Stereo Interconnect


The Pioneer S-HF21LR speaker, another inexpensive small speaker with surprising bass and overall performance. For what the Pioneer speakers sold for new , they were a genuine bargain. That they have held their value in the used speaker market is testimony to the fact that they should be considered a minor classic. Personally i think this is a very attractive speaker , with the silver front panel , the 5 1/4 inch gold tinted woofer and the well finished black veneer you would think that you are looking at a much more expensive speaker. They are relatively small at just 6 x 10 x 6 inches. Power handling is listed at 100 watts and the frequency response is 55-20 kHz. 

If you are looking for a dvd player to use as a cd player and occasionally watch movies , the Zenith DVD DVB-812 is a great choice. I would also consider this player to be a minor classic that can be found on Ebay for $25. In fact , i bought mine new old stock for that price. Reliability and build quality on this deck is very good. The attached power cord is the thickest i have seen on any inexpensively priced component. 

I hooked the Zenith up to my classic Marantz receiver with the Cardas Clear Light clone interconnect. Build quality of this interconnect is excellent. I purchased mine from the SoundPath store on AliExpress for $17 with free shipping. The Cardas clone silver plated rca connectors look amazing. 

I bought an old Peter Murphy cd titled Dust that really showed off the high quality bass that the Pioneer speakers are capable of. Track number six, "Your Face" had astounding bass for the size of the speaker. Tight and deep sounding. The sound stage was slightly open and this helped with the speakers disappearing act. The bass sounds like a very deep heartbeat. Vocal smoothness and accuracy was excellent. The thunder sounds in the background were easy to hear. Track seven, "Jungle Haze" had a little bit of sound shaping going on. There was a slight sweetness to the sound. Skipping to track number nine, i  heard a very good sense of presence and the skins of the drums sounded very accurate. It was the stability and forwardness of the vocals that tied the whole song together. That plus the violin and drum performance added to the hypnotic effect of the song. 

So we have ascertained that the Pioneer speakers have an accurate mid range and good bass considering the size of the cabinet but what about the upper frequency performance. Does it cut the mustard? I certainly thought so while listening to "Happyology" by Yusef Lateef from the cd , Jazz For The Thinker. The highs were slightly tube like and lit up. But again, it was the mid range accuracy and tonal color that stole the show. The brass instruments sounded really good. In this regard you might like the Pioneer speakers better than some much more expensive speakers. That is the impression i got while listening to track number two, "O'Blues" also. I preferred the mid range accuracy of the Pioneers to a famous maker $300 speaker i had in house. There was a little bit of airiness and space in the mid range and upper frequencies and the highs were fairly detailed and crisp. I also liked the Pioneers sense of timing and overall sound while listening to the following track number three, "Midday".

Prior to starting this review i also tried the Zenith dvd player as a transport with my Musical Fidelity DAC and i am happy to report that it worked very well. In fact,  with some music i heard a little bit of magic in the mid range and timing arena. If you are looking to put together an inexpensive system, the Pioneer, Zenith and Cardas Clear Light clone is a wonderful place to start. All three offer excellent build quality and good sound.