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.
KEF X300A Desktop Speakers
KEF's desktop friendly X300A takes a high-end approach to computer speakers for the discerning audiophile.
MonoPrice 8250 Bookshelf Speakers
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.
GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven Speakers
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.
Magnepan MMG Flat Panel Speakers
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
JL Audio E-Sub e110 Subwoofer
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.
JBL LSR305 Desktop Speakers
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.
Adam Audio F5 Desktop Speakers
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.
Emotiva Stealth 6 Powered Monitor Speaker
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.
Pioneer SP-SB23W Sound Bar
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.