Whether you're shopping for bookshelf models or a pair of floorstanders, these are the best speakers for the money.
Soundbars and powered speakers are great for regular use. But if you want the best sound possible, you'll want a pair of passive speakers powered by an AV receiver or amplifier. No matter your budget, there's a set of speakers for you -- from the adorable $65 Dayton Audio B652-AIR to the seriously thrilling $999 Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary. If you listen to music then just add a pair of the following, but each set will also perform well on movie night as part of a surround system.
Here are the best stereo speakers I've tested at CNET between $50 and $1,000.
At their regular price of $400 these speakers are still the best for the money, but at their current sale price the value is simply astounding. The step up from the $65 Dayton Audio (see below) to the Elacs puts you as a listener in a whole new ballpark. These little audiophile speakers can challenge even the best on this list. Best proverbial bang for the buck by far.
If you're looking to fit out a workspace or children's room, the Dayton Audio B652-AIR offers a great deal of performance for the price of a meal for two. They don't look cheap, either, with that striking folded-metal tweeter at the top. Sure, you can always do better, but if the budget's tight, these are the ones we'd choose.
Monoprice has been producing audio products for as long as it's been around, but with its offshoot brand, Monolith, the company has shown it wants to compete with the big names. The Encore 6 is a fantastic speaker with an excellent build quality and a sweet, seductive sound perfect for vinyl. The only unusual thing about it is that it's rated at 4 ohms instead of the industry norm of 8 ohms, but it shouldn't pose a problem for a $500-or-so receiver. At its sale price of $150 the Encore B6 is up there with the Elac Debut in providing audiophile quality within reach of the rest of us.
We love the Elac Debuts, but to hear them at their best, they really need a good (read: expensive) amplifier to partner with. If you're looking for something that's a little more even-handed, the Q Acoustics 3030i offers great looks and a satisfying amount of bass. They'll also perform well with budget receivers, making them perfect for an AV setup.
The Fluance XL8F offers an exceptional value for floorstanding speakers: They boast both a high-level finish and involving sound quality. If your budget is under a grand and you have the room, these speakers should be at the top of your audition list.
Bowers & Wilkins has been at the forefront of speaker manufacturing for a lifetime. The best part about this company is that when it invents a new technology -- such as the silvery Continuum drivers that appeared on its flagship models -- the tech ends up trickling down to the mainstream. Better for everyone! The 606 Anniversary look amazing, thanks in part to the drivers, and they sound amazing, too
Read our Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition review.