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Christmas Gift Guide

KEF LS50 Monitor Speakers

KEF X300A Desktop Speakers

MonoPrice 8250 Bookshelf Speakers

GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven Speakers

Magnepan MMG Flat Panel Speakers

JL Audio E-Sub e110 Subwoofer

JBL LSR305 Desktop Speakers

Adam Audio F5 Desktop Speakers

Emotiva Stealth 6 Powered Monitor Speaker

Pioneer SP-SB23W Sound Bar

I cover a lot of high-end, audiophile-oriented gear, but I also love finding great-sounding cheap stuff. Sure, the brands may be unfamiliar, but each speaker is a stand-out winner.  So without further ado, here's the list of my favorite speakers, soundbars, and even one subwoofer. (See my related blog post for more details.)

The KEF LS50 was an instant classic from the day it was introduced in 2012. This ultra-high-end monitor speaker uses advanced technology driver mounted in a gorgeously constructed cabinet.

Caption by / Photo by KEF

KEF's desktop friendly X300A takes a high-end approach to computer speakers for the discerning audiophile.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The MonoPrice 8250 knocked off the venerable Dayton Audio B652 from our usual go-to recommendation for an outstanding dirt-cheap speaker. The B652 is still more than decent, but the 8250 just sounds nicer for close to the same price when you include shipping.

Caption by / Photo by MonoPrice

A lot of audiophile speakers can't rock out. They're "voiced" to sound best with acoustic jazz or classical music. Nothing wrong with that, but when you want to party they can't always cut loose. The GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven is very much an audiophile-oriented design, so it sounded clear and clean playing Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," but they also kicked butt with the Drive-By Truckers' "Go-Go Boots" album.

Caption by / Photo by GoldenEar Technology

The Magnepan MMG speaker is 48 inches tall, 14.5 inches wide, and a mere 1.25 inches thick (1219x368x31.7mm). It's very much a high-end speaker that sounds more see-through transparent than any box speaker I've heard that sells for two or three times the MMG's affordable price.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

If I had to sum up this 10-inch, 1,200 watt sub's sound in one word it would be precise. Bass notes start and stop on a dime, drum beats sound like sticks hitting a drum head. All subs make bass, that's easy, but most sound slower and less distinct. This one totally rocks and never sacrifices definition for oomph.

Caption by / Photo by JL Audio

Don't let the JBL LSR305's low price throw you, this little desktop monitor speaker is a powerhouse that throws a superbly focused stereo image.

Caption by / Photo by JBL

I've listened to a lot of desktop speakers, but the Adam F5 is the one I keep coming back to. It's that good.

Caption by / Photo by Adam Audio

The Stealth 6 has a built-in 110-watt amp on the 6.5-inch woven polypropylene woofer and a 100-watt amp on the flat tweeter, for total power of 420 watts per speaker pair. The super solid cabinet feels as well built as speakers I've seen that sell for five times as much. The sound is highly detailed and dynamic, it's great for home theater applications.

Caption by / Photo by Emotiva

This one sounds better than just about any other mid-price sound bar I've heard. While most sound bars typically try to wow you with excessive bass or gimmicky virtual surround effects, the SP-SB23W simply strives to sound more like a set of good home theater speakers.

Caption by / Photo by Pioneer
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