Speakers tend to be designed with a specific purpose in mind. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes for their designated use and placement. Do you want speakers for your television, for your computer or for a specific room? Perhaps you need portable speakers to take on trips? Not all speakers are created equal.
The various kinds of wired and wireless speakers include bookshelf speakers, computer speakers, outdoor speakers, Bluetooth speakers, floorstanding speakers, smart speakers and full home theater systems that offer an immersive listening experience.
We've highlighted the best speakers we've found that cost between $50 and under $1,000. While most of the included systems are powered speakers, you'll also find passive loudspeakers, such as the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2, that just need to be paired with a great AV receiver.
Each item we've highlighted has great sound quality and can be considered the best speaker in its particular category. We'll update this list periodically as we review new products, so you can take your audio setup to the next level without stressing over the options.
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With great sound, a compact size and the option of either Google Assistant or Alexa, the Sonos One reaffirms its place as the best smart speaker for the money and packs a lot of punch for a little speaker.
Elac has been belting out classic, affordable designs ever since its, er, debut in 2015. The Debut 2.0 exemplifies the brand's appeal to both the budget-conscious and audiophiles. It offers a lively, insightful sound and attractive looks for around $400.
Want the biggest sound? You'll need big speakers. The size of the Fluance XL8 towers, and their fit and finish, is unmatched by other speakers at its price. The sound of the XL8F is open and thrilling, but never shrill, and when fed a movie soundtrack these speakers simply zing. They're no slouch with music either. If you truly want the maximum speaker for your money, the huge Fluance XL8F has no equal.
Budget Bluetooth speakers are seemingly a dime a dozen, but among the countless options there do lie some gems. The $50 Tribit Stormbox Micro is a compact, portable speaker that offers both waterproofing and excellent bass for its size.
The $130 Roku Streambar is a hybrid soundbar-4K video streamer and the most welcome surprise is that it's able to perform both tasks well. Pair it with a bedroom TV and the optional Onn Wireless Sub for a killer home theater setup.
The Edifier R1280DB offers almost everything you could want in a PC speaker -- excellent sound, a range of connections including Bluetooth and a compact footprint -- and all for a reasonable $150. It doesn't offer USB, though, so connect the headphone/line out of your PC to it instead.
The Yamaha YAS-209 is one of the most fully featured soundbars the company has ever offered -- especially at the price. With Alexa, HDMI connectivity and a wireless subwoofer, this soundbar doesn't want for anything. The sound quality is great too.
The Vizio Elevate may have one big gimmick at the core of it, that revolving height speaker, but it also offers sound quality to back up the gee-whizzery. This is a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar, with a hefty subwoofer, and its performance is equally thrilling in both movies and music. Add in a bunch of streaming features and you have the best surround system under a grand.
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