Best Budget Hi-Fi Speakers (2022)

When you build a hi-fi system, the speakers are probably the most important and the most difficult component to select. At the end of the day, it’s the speakers that allow the rest of the system to shine, and they also have the biggest impact on the overall character of the system.

If you’re working with a limited budget, this is a great time to be in the market for speakers, because new technology and modern materials have allowed speaker designers to do a lot more with less.

Speakers in the sub-$1000 price point have never sounded better, and when you pair them with quality affordable amps from established hi-fi brands like Cambridge Audio and NAD, you can build excellent hi-fi systems without breaking the bank.

More: How To Build A Mind-Blowing Affordable Hifi System In 5 Steps!

At this price point, we will mainly concentrate on bookshelf speakers since they provide the biggest bang for the buck, but we also have a floorstanding pick.

Here at Hifitrends.com, we have over 25 years of experience in both evaluating and building hi-fi systems, so we can help you find the best gear on the market.

For more information on purchasing speakers, check out our Speakers Buying Guide:


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Here’s our shortlist of the Best Budget Hi-fi Speakers (2022)


The List:

Mighty Mites: KLH Albany II 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers ($349)

Specs:

  • Enclosure Type: Bass-reflex
  • Power handling: 200 watts
  • Frequency response: 35Hz-23KHz +/- 3dB
  • Sensitivity: 92dB
  • Impedance: 8 ohms
  • 5.25” Woven Kevlar mid/bass driver
  • 1” Anodized Aluminum tweeter with a linear response faceplate

What we love about them: Beautiful Design; Remarkable Soundstage and Imaging; Great Clarity and Detail For The Price

What to think about: Can lack bass extension

Overall, the handsome and compact KLH Albany II is capable of an extremely powerful musical performance, especially for its size. But like many speakers its size, the rhythmic drive and engagement are sometimes constrained by the lack of deep bass, especially in larger rooms. You’ll probably need a sub in that case.

For: Audiophiles who are short on space but want big sound.

Full Review

Buy: Amazon or Crutchfield


Nice Bang For The Buck: ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2 Bookshelf Speakers ($329)

Specs:

  • Enclosure Type : Bass Reflex
  • Frequency Response: 46Hz – 35000Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 86db @2.83v/1m
  • Max Power Handling: 120 Watts
  • 5-1/4″ woven aramid fiber bass driver and 1″ soft-dome tweeter

What we love about them: Smooth treble and midrange; nice punchy bass; plays nice with any genre of music; easy to listen to

What to think about: Not the most detailed; can be boomy with the wrong amp; a little power-hungry

If you’re looking for a low-cost do it all hi-fi speaker, the ELAC‌ Debut is one to get. Designed by master speaker designer Andrew Jones, they have smooth treble and midrange, along with a nice punchy bass that plays nice with any genre of music.

It’s a speaker that’s easy to listen to and matches up well with a variety of electronics. If you want to get acquainted with audiophile stuff like soundstage, imaging, and perspective without spending a ton of money, this is an excellent speaker to get.

Conversely, they aren’t as detailed as some of the other speakers listed here (including the one above). If you pair them with too warm a receiver/amp, the bass can be boomy.

For: Audiophiles who want a fun-sounding affordable speaker

Buy: Amazon or Crutchfield


Immaculate Bass Response: PSB Alpha P5 Bookshelf Speakers ($449)

Specs:

  • Enclosure Type : Bass Reflex
  • Frequency Response: 55-21,000Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 89dB
  • Rec. Power Handling: 90 Watts
  • ¾” Black anodized aluminum dome tweeter with front waveguide
  • 5. 25″ textured polypropylene woofer with rubber surround

What we love about them: Refined Sound for The Price; Sounds Good With Many Genres; Excellent Off-Axis Performance; Deep Taut Bass

What to think about: Doesn’t have the widest soundstage

Before the Triangle Borea BR03 dropped in price, the PSB Alpha P5 was my favorite speaker under $500. The sweet highs coupled with engaging mids and weighty bass just draw you in, making for a very easy listening speaker that you can listen to for a long time without fatigue. In addition, they also sound good with just about every genre.

Comparing them to the competition, I think they give you the liveliness and excitement of the ELAC Debut 2.0 speakers, along with the superior midrange detail and transparency of the Q Acoustics 3020i. They are like the best of both worlds. Just right. Still highly recommended for a speaker under $500.

For: Audiophiles who want deep bass from a small package

Full Review

Buy: Amazon or Crutchfield


Absolute Best Speaker Under $500: Triangle Borea BR03 Hi-Fi Bookshelf Speakers ($499)

Specs:

  • Enclosure Type : Bass Reflex
  • Frequency Response: 46 Hz – 22 KHz (+/- 3 dB)
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms (down to 2 Ohms)
  • Sensitivity: 90 dB/W/m
  • Maximum Output Power: 100 Watts

What we love about them: Detailed, Yet Warm & Balanced Sound; Great Build Quality; Beautiful Design; Easily driven by low-power amps

What to think about: Doesn’t have the deepest bass in relation to its size; Doesn’t have the widest soundstage

We thought these speakers were a great deal when we reviewed them (and made them Product of the Year) at their original price of $549; but now you can find them at prices well under $500, which now makes them an amazing deal. It’s hard to find a speaker under $500 that can both groove with more energetic music, and yet provide enough refinement to bring out the nuance in audiophile recordings.

The $499 Triangle Borea BR03 is a 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker with a 22mm (1 Inch) Silk Dome tweeter and 16cm (6 inch) midbass/woofer which does all of the above. This relatively large speaker has nice punch and scale, but at the same time, it has a lot of the midrange and image clarity offered by smaller monitor speakers. They also have a silky smooth treble which lets them provide good detail without being fatiguing to the ear. My only caveat is they don’t have the lower bass extension you would expect from a large-format standmount speaker.

The Borea BR03 is offered in a wide variety of cabinet-level finishes, including White, Black, and Walnut, plus they are easy to drive, so they will make a great first pair of speakers. They are also good speakers for those looking to upgrade from a pair of old speakers without spending a ton of dough.

For: Audiophiles who want a proper hi-fi speaker that won’t break the bank

Full Review

Buy: Amazon


Detail and Presence Monsters: Wharfedale Diamond 12.2 Bookshelf Loudspeakers ($599)

Specs:

  • Enclosure Type : Bass Reflex
  • Frequency Response: (+/-3dB): 50Hz-20kHz
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms (down to 4 Ohms)
  • Sensitivity: (2.83V @ 1m): 86.5dB
  • Recommended Amp Power: 20-120W
  • 1″ soft dome tweeter (woven polyester)
  • 6-1/2″ Klarity™ woofer (polypropylene and mica)

What we love about them: Beautiful Design; Superb Build Quality; Remarkably Neutral and Balanced Sound, Next-level midbass driver for deep bass

What to think about: Sound runs a little cool, needs a warmer amp to shine

The Wharfedale Diamond 12.2 is a beautiful, well-constructed speaker that clearly demonstrates how far this market segment has come. It sets a new standard for build quality at this price range. Soundwise, it does things unimaginable at this price even a year ago.

The soundstage and imaging are class-leading, plus the bass is fast, deep, and precise. I personally could use just a touch more warmth and richness in the upper bass and low mids, but I haven’t heard another speaker at this price range with such precise separation and placement.

If you like a neutral, refined, speaker that can still get down with the best of them, you need to give the Diamond 12.2 a listen.

For: Audiophiles that want a reasonably priced speaker that’s neutral and revealing

Full Review

Buy: Amazon and Crutchfield


If You Can Spend A Bit More: Wharfedale EVO 4.2 Bookshelf Loudspeakers ($1199)

Specs:

  • Enclosure Type: Bass Reflex
  • Sensitivity (2.83V @ 1M): 90dB
  • Recommended Amp Power: 25-120W
  • Frequency Response (+/-3dB): 48Hz ~ 24kHz
  • Nominal impedance: 8 ohms compatible
  • Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter
  • 2″ soft-dome midrange
  • 6-1/2″ woven Kevlar woofer

What we love about them: Beautiful Design; Nicely Braced Cabinet; Excellent Imaging and Separation;

What to think about: Soundstage Not The Widest, Somewhat Restrained Bottom End

For listeners who value sharp imaging and immersive depth, you probably can’t do better than the Wharfedale EVO4.2 for around a thousand dollars a pair. This large-format 3-way bookshelf speaker with its precise separation and excellent tonal balance provides astounding realism for the price, making it an amazing value.

Keep in mind, despite its size, this is not a party speaker. You won’t get a subwoofer-type rumble, but instead, a tasteful thump to punctuate the rhythm. The soundstage is also not the widest, but the remarkable depth more than makes up for it.

For: Audiophiles looking for an entrée into full-blown high-end audio

Full Review

Buy: Amazon and Crutchfield


Our Floorstanding Pick For Around $1000 A Pair: DALI Oberon 5 Floor-Standing Speaker ($1299/pr.)

Specs:

  • 1-1/8″ ultra-light soft textile dome tweeter
  • 2 x 5-1/4″ wood fiber cone woofers
  • Enclosure Type: rear-ported bass reflex
  • Frequency response: 39-26,000 Hz ±3dB
  • Sensitivity: 88 dB
  • Recommended power: 30-150 watts
  • Nominal impedance: 6 ohms

What we love about them: Big, engaging sound from a very compact tower, remarkable soundstage, imaging, and depth, very good-looking, easy to place

What to think about: High-end can be a little edgy on-axis (not designed to be used on-axis)

The DALI Oberon 5 is a truly remarkable speaker…I have no idea how they got such a big, musical sound in such a neat and tidy package. They do all the audiophile stuff like soundstage, separating instruments, and, imaging but at the same time they never forget to have fun. If you’re looking for a quality floorstander that is easy to set up, fits any room, and provides top-notch sound, these DALIs fit the bill…

For: Audiophiles who want immersive, almost full-range sound with no muss and no fuss

Full Review

Buy: Amazon and Crutchfield


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