The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 500 Dollars are here! These speakers are perfect for anyone who wants to add great sound to their hi-fi system without spending much cash.
If you want to learn more about audiophile speakers, check out our Audiophile Speaker Buying Guide:
If you want to learn how to build a hi-fi system around these speakers, check out our system building guide:
Here’s our shortlist of the Best Budget Hi-fi Speakers (2022)
- KLH Albany II 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers ($349)
- ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2 Bookshelf Speakers ($329)
- PSB Alpha P5 Bookshelf Speakers ($449)
- Triangle Borea BR03 Hi-Fi Bookshelf Speakers ($449)
- Polk Monitor XT20 Bookshelf Speakers ($299)
KLH Albany II 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers ($349)
- 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
If you are looking for a good quality speaker at a very affordable price, these Klh Albany II 2-way Bookshelf Speakers should be one of your first choices. Overall, the handsome and compact Albany II is capable of a compelling musical performance, especially for its size.
But like many speakers its size, rhythmic drive and engagement are sometimes constrained by the lack of deep bass, especially in larger rooms. So you’ll probably need a sub in that case.
For: Audiophiles who are short on space but want big sound.
ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2 Bookshelf Speakers ($329)
- 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 2.0 B5.2 is the 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 wide variety of electronics. So 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 buy.
Conversely, they aren’t as detailed as some other speakers listed here (including the one above). However, if you pair them with too lively a receiver/amp, the bass can be boomy.
For: Audiophiles who want a fun-sounding affordable speaker
PSB Alpha P5 Bookshelf Speakers ($449)
- 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: It doesn’t have the most expansive soundstage
If you are looking for something more powerful and resolving than the ELAC speakers, check out the PSB Alpha P5 ($449). Before the Triangle Borea BR03 dropped in price, the PSB Alpha P5 was my favorite speaker under $500.
The sweet highs coupled with the natural mids and weighty bass draw you in, making for a straightforward listening speaker that you can listen to for a long time without fatigue. In addition, they also sound good with just about every genre.
While these speakers provide deep bass, you should pick up the matching Alpha subwoofer if you’re looking to rock the house.
For: Audiophiles who want deep bass from a small package
Triangle Borea BR03 Hi-Fi Bookshelf Speakers ($449)
- 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: It doesn’t have the deepest bass in relation to its size; it Doesn’t have the widest soundstage.
This speaker is one of the best speakers under $500 because it offers a lot of refinement for the price point. 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 a fantastic deal.
It’s hard to find a speaker at their price that can groove with more energetic music yet provide enough refinement to bring out the nuance in audiophile recordings.
The $449 Triangle Borea BR03 is a 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker with a 22mm (1 Inch) Silk Dome tweeter and 16cm (6 inch) midbass/woofer. It’s a relatively large speaker with nice punch and scale, but at the same time, it has much of the midrange and image clarity offered by smaller monitor speakers.
In addition, they are easy to drive, so they will make a great first pair of speakers that you can use with a cheap amplifier you may currently have, but then you can improve their sound by upgrading to a better amp later.
My only caveat regarding these speakers is that they don’t have the lower bass extension you would expect from a large-format standmount speaker.
For: Audiophiles who want a proper hi-fi speaker that won’t break the bank
Polk Monitor XT20 Bookshelf Speakers ($299)
- 6-1/2″ paper cone woofer
- 1″ Terylene dome tweeter
- power handling up to 200 watts
- impedance: 8 ohms
- frequency response: 38-40,000 Hz
- sensitivity: 87 dB
- 5-way binding posts
What we love about them: Solid Build Quality; Nice Tonal Balance; Breathtaking Natural Sound
What to think about: Slight Midrange Coloration; Dynamics Can Be A Little Soft At Times
With the Monitor XT20, Polk Audio has proven that it can make an enjoyable hi-fi speaker at any price point. While its looks are plain, the overall build quality is solid, and the compact size will fit many applications.
When the Monitor XT line came out, Polk promised speakers with clarity, high output, and effortless bass, and I think they deliver for the most part. They kind of run out of steam when you play extraordinarily fast and loud music, but for most tracks, they provide a wide-open sound with natural midrange and deep bass.
They’re a great all-around speaker for those building an entry-level hi-fi system, especially if you listen to a lot of Jazz and Acoustic music. So if you can catch these speakers on sale, don’t hesitate to grab them!
For: Those who want a speaker with a solid build and engaging sound quality for a bargain price.
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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 hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.