It’s that time again! This is when we look back at some of the best gear we’ve come across this year. The mission of HI-FI Trends is “Helping audiophiles to build affordable high-end audio systems,” and to that end, we’ve picked some of the best affordable high-end gear available right now. You can use these pieces to upgrade existing systems or use them as building blocks for a new one.
This post covers the best speakers we’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year, and there was a bunch of em’. We picked one Bookshelf, one Floorstander, and one Powered model, all of them provide remarkably impressive sound for the money! Read on for our list of “Product Of The Year-Best Speakers.”
Product Of The Year-Passive Speakers: Triangle Borea BR03 ($549)
For the second year in a row, we are dubbing the Triangle Borea BR03 our Speaker Of The Year, finding that still, no other speaker can match its value. For a paltry $549, you get a surprisingly elegant speaker in both build and sound quality.
Triangle billed the Borea series of speakers as “The new standard of quality performance for budget compact loudspeakers,” and I can’t agree more.
What we love: For fifty bucks above OUR $500 entry-level loudspeaker cut off, you can get these excellent speakers from French speaker manufacturer Triangle. We have made them our 2020 (and 2019) Product Of The Year For Loudspeakers because, as I said in our review “Their design, clarity, and range are head and shoulders above anything at their price point”.
Actually, they’re probably head and shoulders above any speaker under $1000.
All the audio reviewers are going crazy for these speakers because they are so tonally balanced and extraordinarily engaging! People love these so much, Triangle has a hard time keeping up with demand. These speakers are so darn enjoyable. They give you exactly what you need when you need it.
Need dynamics for an EDM track? They got it. Need focused imaging and wide soundstage for that church choir recording? They got it. They are an amazing speaker for $550, and they will scale up if you upgrade your electronics. Give them a listen! (Read our full review)
Watch out for: They are sometimes hard to get!!
Matches well with: Audiolab 6000A Play Integrated Amplifier with Wireless Audio Streaming ($1299)
Number of drivers: 3
Number of ways: 2
Sensitivity: 90 dB/W/m
Frequency range: 46 Hz – 22 KHz (+/- 3 dB)
Power handling: 100 W
Impedance: Nominal: 8 Ohm-Minimum: 4,2 Ohm
Dimensions: 8.11 x 12.36 x 12.12″ (206 x 314 x 380mm)
Weight: 15.4 lb (7kg)
BTW…for larger rooms (200 sq. ft. or larger) or if you want just a little more low end/dynamics, then check out the floorstanding version of these speakers, the Borea BR08…for more info, read our recent review.
Product Of The Year-Powered Speakers: Andover Audio Spinbase Turntable Speaker System ($299)
For our Powered Speaker Of the Year choice, we stepped away from our usual “bookshelf speaker with an amp built-in” choice. That’s not to say we haven’t come across some excellent speakers of that variety. The Kanto TUK is an amazing option, with it’s remarkable AMT tweeter that reveals a ton of detail in your music.
We also just got in the PSB Speakers AM5. The AM5 is probably the best sounding powered speaker under $1000 in terms of all-around sound. To get a complete sound system with the type of sound they provide for $599 is amazing. We just got them in, so we didn’t give them an award this time, but they have a great chance of being our Speaker of the Year for next year.
The speaker we did pick is the Andover Audio Spinbase, an all in one powered speaker system designed expressly for Turntables. It’s similar to those soundbars made to double as a base for your television. Its low profile forms a perfect stand for most turntables and it can play loudly without disrupting playback which is astounding.
What we love: It’s a special package that combines several source connectivity options (BT, Line-In, Phono), and high-quality music reproduction in the smallest footprint I have ever seen. It’s also amazingly simple to operate. The ingenious Isogroove technology allows you to place your turntable on top of it without disrupting the needle, and the 270º Sound Dispersion allows it to provide an amazingly wide sweet spot. It also provides a full, crisp sound on par with bookshelf loudspeakers. It’s a winner for those looking to build a hi-fi system in tight spaces or just looking for a simple way to enjoy music from a turntable.
If you’re looking for a stand and turntable to use along with the Spinbase, the affordably priced Spinstand and SpinDeck are perfectly matched options. The three form what’s called a “SpinSystem”, and it’s a cool setup. Check out our full review of the SpinSystem here.
Watch out for: While the Spinbase is super easy to use, the placement of the headphone jack and tone controls on the back panel is inconvenient.
Bass + Treble EQ Controls
Ceramic Cartridge Switch
Class D Amplification
18W RMS per channel
Frequency Range: 60hZ-20kHz
Dimensions: (18in/46cm W, 13.5in/34cm L, 3.25in/8cm H)
Two Year Warranty.
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My thirst for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.