How to Choose a Speaker System for Your Home

There are so many subtleties in choosing loudspeakers that it is difficult for a beginner to navigate and not to lose heart. The equipment differs not only in sound quality, but also in the type of connection, size, design and price. I will give you some recommendations that will help you to approach the choice of speakers consciously.

Decide How Many Speakers You Will Need

The first thing you need to decide when buying an audio system is how and what you plan to use it for. To watch movies, especially with modern special effects, a multichannel audio system consisting of several speakers and a subwoofer will do. Such sets in different variations differ from each other by the number of speakers and subwoofers.

A popular option is a system of five speakers and a subwoofer, which is called 5.1. The 5.1 format can be considered the minimum necessary to create full surround sound when watching your favorite blockbusters.

Melomaniacs, who are more important to listen to music in excellent quality, it is better to pay attention to a stereo system with only a couple of speakers: the vast majority of audio recordings are encoded as a stereo signal.

If you’re on a tight budget, you might think about combining the two – buying a multichannel system to use for both movies and music. Yes, if you don’t have high expectations: a multichannel system can play records in stereo mode, but in sound quality it will lose to a classical stereo system.

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Choose Passive or Active Acoustics

All acoustics are divided into two large categories – active and passive.

Active acoustics are self-sufficient: in one case there is everything you need to work – the speaker system, amplifier and other electronics. Such equipment does not require additional components and is ready to work right out of the box.

Sound quality of active speakers differs depending on the class of equipment. You can see many small active wireless speakers on sale, but they usually sound mediocre. This option is suitable for listening to music in a small room in the background, to sound out a party or a small house party. Expensive models of premium brands of Hi-End class have a quality sound and a unique musical handwriting, are compact and floor-standing.

Active acoustics are ready to work “out of the box”, that is, immediately after unpacking and connecting

With passive speakers you’ll have to make a little fuss: they can only work by connecting to an external amplifier, which has to be purchased separately and is not easy to choose. You have to deal with the connection and setup. There is a plus: the passive speaker can be tuned and upgraded to suit your preferences. The sound of each model of speaker can be significantly different, and the amplifier additionally reveals them in its own way. Passive speakers are often used for home theater systems.

Often customers are looking to build a multi-channel system on wireless speakers. This is only partially possible: each active speaker, even if wireless, still has to be connected to electricity, so you can not get rid of wires completely.

Decide on The Format and Size of The Speakers

The size and shape of the speakers are divided into shelf speakers and floor standing speakers. Shelf speakers are compact and can fit on a table, rack or shelf. Because of its small size, it is limited in bass. Floor-standing models are much larger and can stand on the floor by themselves, and they do better with the bass.

The format should be chosen depending on the area of the room and the area in which you plan to listen to the sound. For small rooms up to 12 square meters can be limited to small shelf speakers.

If you want to add bass, you can supplement the system with a compact subwoofer.

In a room of 12-20 square meters, you can install a massive shelf acoustics or a small floor-standing acoustics.

With quality acoustics, you won’t have to constantly add sound to hear its nuances

For a room of more than 20 square meters, it is better to choose floor acoustics – it will create the necessary volume and density of sound. To enjoy music you don’t have to crank the sound up to the max: a quality music system can accurately reproduce the emotional color of the song even at a low volume.

Another parameter that is influenced by the size of the room is the location of the speaker’s reflex port. This is a special hole in the speaker cabinet to increase the bass level. It can be located on the front or rear side of the cabinet, that is on the back. If the reflex port is located behind, it is undesirable to put the speaker against the wall – you must leave a space of at least 15 cm. For a small room it is better to choose a speaker with the front location of the reflex port.

Consider Whether Design is Important

The appearance of acoustics is important to many: buyers want acoustics to fit organically into the design of the house or apartment. It is quite realistic to match the interior: there is a variety of finishes, colors of cabinets and elements.

For some models you can pick up a paint by RAL color catalog and change the color of their surface. Budget models usually have a film “wood-like”, more expensive models are decorated with a natural veneer of different types of wood. Finishing can be matte and glossy, when a multi-layer coating of luster is used.

There are situations when you like one speaker externally, but the other one is striking for its musical abilities. In my experience, these are the most excruciating situations in terms of choice, and the decision is up to the future owner to make. Personally, for me it’s the sound quality that’s more important.

Limit Your Budget in Advance and Test on Your Favorite Music

Before purchasing loudspeakers I recommend you to define beforehand a clear budget for the system in general: it makes no sense to listen to an expensive loudspeaker and then try to find the same one, but cheaper. This can be very frustrating: after such a listening the budget models will sound boring and will not please you.

If you are choosing speakers for the first time, I recommend not only to read articles, reviews and thematic forums, but also to take your time and go to a specialized store for a live listening. Each of us has personal musical preferences and unique differences in the perception of sound. One person may like the sound of one speaker, but another person will be disappointed from the first minute.

It is better to test acoustics in a good mood: the psychological effect on the sound perception.

I recommend to take a flash drive or a CD with your favorite records with you and listen to the tracks you know and like. Be sure to be in a good mood: psychological state affects the perception of sound. While listening you can share your impressions with the seller: an experienced specialist will quickly be able to choose the acoustics, the sound of which will be comfortable for you.

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How to Choose Your First Speaker System for a Beginner

  • Decide on the number of speakers in the system: two for listening to music or five for watching movies.
  • Choose active speakers so that you don’t have to bother with setup, or passive speakers so that you can improve and upgrade.
  • Don’t count on wireless speakers to be completely wireless.
  • Choose a shelf-mounted system for a small room and a floor-mounted system for a large room.
  • Provide extra space for equipment with a phase-inverter in the back.
  • Decide how important the color and design of the speakers are to the interior – this can be a stumbling block in the choice.
  • Determine the budget in advance, so as not to upset yourself with the sound of too expensive models.
  • Test the speakers with your favorite music and in a good mood.

15 Best Speakers for the Home

Neither a home theater nor a high-end amplifier can be imagined without a full-fledged and high-quality speaker system. The choice of good speakers for the home is just enormous – from budget speakers for unpretentious listeners to Hi-End class systems, where, however, more money is worth the brand than the sound itself. In this rating – the best speakers, popular in 2021 and earning positive feedback from experts and ordinary buyers.

Today we will try to find the golden mean, that is, a good speaker that will not leave you indifferent, and at the same time is devoid of unnecessarily expensive audiophile trimmings. We will choose the best speakers for the house in three main categories:

  • Floor-standing speakers are a good choice if you have enough space to install them. The large internal volume allows you to achieve optimum conditions for the low-frequency speakers, the height makes it possible to distribute the frequency bands over a large number of speakers. So, although often such acoustics are advised for home theaters, and the audiophile will be able to find its advantages.
  • Shelf and suspended (many models allow both installation options) speakers are compact and best fit into a limited space, but here you have to resort to separate tricks to achieve good bass in a small volume. The sound is most often bi-amped, so the midrange gets both the bass and the midrange.
  • Subwoofers are needed both to raise the bass with speakers where it’s not enough, and for a full presence effect when watching movies and playing consoles: you can even make the floor shake with the sound of explosions, if the neighbors appreciate it, of course.

Best Floor-Standing Speakers

#1 HECO Aurora 1000

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The HECO Aurora 1000 opens our rating of the best speaker systems for home. The top model in the Aurora line is certainly not a “high end” yet (this niche is occupied by La Diva speakers weighing under a centner and costing over 800 thousand), but, nevertheless, the sound elaboration issue is solved here with the real German meticulousness and quite canonically. The bass range is controlled by two 200-millimeter loudspeakers, behind which the middle frequencies are picked up by 170-millimeter one: in all three of them the cones are made of proprietary Kraft paper, giving the “warm-lamp” sounding. The tweeters are 28mm, with silk cones. The total power is 230 W RMS per channel. Provided for channel-by-channel connection, but the built-in crossover does not cause complaints. Acoustic sensitivity – 93 dB.

The manufacturer offers two versions: white (ivory white) and black (ebony black) under matt lacquer on the front and top panels, with removable fabric grills on neodymium magnets. Whether to use them or not is a matter of taste: they do not affect the character of the sound, but with open speakers, undoubtedly, more beautiful. Reflex ports are turned backwards, not changing the acoustic picture from the listener’s point of view – but this should be taken into account when the speakers are placed next to the wall. The directivity diagram is wide enough not to have any problems with the spatial orientation of the speaker system.

“Taste” in acoustics – with a bright touch of retro: the sound is detailed and soft, although this does not prevent the speakers to work through sharp jumps in volume. Paired with a good amplifier you can enjoy both vinyl and “soulless” lossless in “digital”. Complex compositions, where the sound picture is lined up from the powerful bass parts to the nuances of high-frequency cries in the second and even third plan, the acoustics is unambiguously “toe the line”.

So, what is there to complain about? Well, maybe the packing: it’s a real job to dig out big speakers from their boxes in a case of Aurora 1000. But, after all, you will have to unpack them only once and enjoy your speakers for a long time.

Pros
  • Excellent sound reproduction
  • Good design
  • Well-matched crossover performance
  • Possibility of channel-by-channel connection
Cons
  • Can be sorry about the price, but what can you do…

#2 HECO Victa Prime 602

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When creating the front speakers Victa Prime was used a curious solution – a pair of speakers of the same diameter of 120 mm is responsible for the woofer and midrange, while the tweeters take care of the traditional one-inch tweeters. As a result, we get a speaker with excellent sensitivity, capable of playing out all the nuances of sound. The sound of this series will not please the fans of ultra-low synthetic bass, but it is expected – the Victa Prime series has a separate subwoofer for them, the front speakers were created first of all reckoning with the natural sound.

A decent rated power (160 W per speaker, with a peak of 280) will require attention if you want to load the acoustics “for all the money” – either use a full-fledged biamping, or put attenuators in the high-frequency channel, so as not to damage the tweeters.

Pros
  • High sound quality, albeit with a little emphasis in the lower midrange
  • Excellent separation of the instrument parts, no “mush” at any volume
  • Fully functional three bands
Cons
  • Low bass, for electronics or home theater, it may not be enough without a subwoofer

#3 DALI OBERON 5

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Continuing our rating of the best loudspeakers in 2021 are the DALI OBERON 5. Relatively compact two-way speakers from the Danish company (already marked with five stars from “What Hi-Fi?”) have replaced the “good old” Zensor 5, which, I remember, before its withdrawal from our production, was presented at this very place of the rating. Involuntarily one wants to compare the “predecessor” and the “successor” and the difference is evident even externally – now the reflex ports do not face the listener, but look back (that is why installation should be not less than 15 centimeters to the wall). The speakers (all made in Denmark) are completely new: for bass and midrange frequencies are responsible for a pair of speakers with cellulose cones, reinforced with wood fiber (hence their characteristic texture), the diameter of the cones – 133 mm, as in the previous lineup. Tweeters grew in diameter to 29 mm, their textile diaphragm is extremely light and able to work not only the extreme “highs”, but also not to lose close to the midrange, which makes the sound character of the speaker in the sum “more even”.

Characteristically, some accentuation of high frequencies Oberon inherited from Zensor – just like in the last time, we will advise not to remove the cloth grills, which will slightly muffle and soften the ringing “tops”. It seems that this character of the Dali sound can already be considered a trademark. But the sound is really worthwhile: in spite of not very high sensitivity of 88dB, the speakers open excellently even at moderate volume, the absence of “infranzes” (which have no place in such a construction) you can feel only in direct comparison with more spacious three-way speakers with woofers of 200 mm and more. Compared with Zensor 5 the directivity diagram is wider here, which will allow you to place the speakers once and then choose the listening position to your liking, the sound became denser and more vigorous. However, smooth music without harsh drum parts and with deliberately softened articulation here also sounds very interesting. It is a pity that the sound setting is left entirely to the manufacturer – there is no way to bypass the built-in crossover, bivarying is not provided.

Pros
  • Wide horizontal directional pattern
  • “Delicious” sound, with warmth, but also with proper energy
Cons
  • Lack of bi-wiring/bi-amping support

#4 Wharfedale Diamond 11.4

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Perfectly assembled speakers attract the eye (especially in the white version), but we would still advise you to listen to them carefully before buying. The fact is that their character is clearly palpable: the speakers seem to come alive in complex parts, while the solo instruments are somewhat flat, and the compositions with an emphasis on male vocals (if it is not falsetto or extreme growling, of course) – not their specialty. It is more likely that they were designed for orchestral instrumentals, in this case the sound of the speakers is the most interesting.

Assembled as usually for floor-standing systems – in the high “tower” of the case there are two woofers 150mm in diameter, one 100mm midrange driver and a one-inch tweeter with a fabric cone. Both the woofers and the tweeters have Kevlar® cones: yes, it was probably the choice of material, combined with the sponge rubber surrounds, that made the sound so sweet. No questions about the high-frequency part of the spectrum: everything is excellent.

By the way, the speakers are also very sensitive to the location in the room: if you hear obvious accents and gaps in sound, do not hurry to accuse the manufacturer of being clumsy and lack of hearing, try first to play with the location and orientation of the speakers. But this has an obvious disadvantage – if you prefer to listen to music by mood in different places in the room, the sound in them will feel brightly different.

Pros
  • Worked-out lows, accurate tops.
  • No “mush” in complex compositions
  • Build quality
Cons
  • Demanding placement
  • Specific development of the solo

#5 Polk Audio S55e

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This speaker system from the Signature E line was created in America, but specifically for the European market and in comparison with the “regular” S55 is somewhat different in sound character. That, by the way, was noted by the AVForums resource, which awarded the Signature E speaker “Editor’s Choice” in 2020.

A common pair of speakers is responsible for the middle and low frequencies here, there is no full-fledged division into bands in this part of the sound spectrum: both speakers have 165-mm cones made of composite material (polypropylene plus mica). The tweeters are of the classic “inch” format with a terylene cone (terylene is essentially the same as lavsan, a synthetic fabric). Interestingly, the tweeters are designed with a decent “going” in the midrange, respectively configured and crossovers (cut-off frequency – 2.5 kHz). It is possible to connect Bi-Wiring/Bi-Amping – at this setup it will not be superfluous, because it is not a fact that you will like such a character of acoustics “out of the box”. The acoustic sensitivity is 90dB. The case is a reflex port, with an interesting design solution: the port is facing downward (straight to the partition), so each speaker is elevated on four legs above the stand, it allows the reflex port to work “in all directions”, expanding the speaker directivity diagram and allows it to work even against the wall. If you install a “full-throttle” fabric grill at the front, this space is covered by acoustic fabric.

The sound character of the speakers is more “cinema” than “musical”, still you can feel the influence of both the material of the cones and the crossover settings. Acoustics – from the category of speakers, which is worth listening to before buying: although the sound is well-detailed and has a decent reserve in dynamic range, but it feels some roughness, which, incidentally, can be corrected by bivarying with your own adjustment of frequency separation. But the author personally would still prefer “three-way” and more “natural” cones – or at least “two-way”, but like the Dali Oberon 5.

Pros
  • Interesting design.
  • The possibility of flush-mounting to the wall
  • Decent sensitivity
Cons
  • Good in elaboration, but still with a “flavor” sound

#6 Yamaha NS-777

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This three-way system is quite able to cope with its tasks and without a subwoofer: two 200-millimeter loudspeakers are responsible for the lower band, the middle is assigned to 127-millimeter one and the tweeter has a traditional diameter of 25 mm. At the same time, the owner can connect the bands separately, bi-amping mode in the speakers is provided. We strongly recommend it for those who like to squeeze the maximum out of the acoustics – when you connect the speaker to the common line at high volume there is a great risk to burn tweeters, some owners managed to do it even repeatedly without even thinking what is wrong here.

Let us warn at once that these speakers will be the best choice for home theater rather than for meditating on your favorite audio tracks: frequency response MF to HF here is not the most optimal, which can be partially cured by biamping and tuning… But is it not better to take a more perfect speaker exclusively for music?

Pros
  • Ability to use in 2.0 format without an acute need for a subwoofer
  • Bi-amping support
Cons
  • Cheap cabinet finishes.
  • Not the best sound quality in the MF-HF range

Best Shelf Speakers

#7 DALI OPTICON 2

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Next in our rating of the best speakers for home – DALI OPTICON 2 shelf speakers. With these speakers (as a part of complete 5.1 speaker system) the Danish company was able to get the EISA award in the European HT Speaker System category – so, it seems that a lot of money for two-way speakers is asked not only “for the brand”.

The weighty loudspeakers give away the manufacturer at once: the brown shade with flecks of lighter fibers is typical for Dali cellulose cones. The mid and low frequencies are powered by 165 mm drivers, while the tweeters are 28 mm, with soft domes, but at the same time they “digest” without distortions a high power signal. Speaking about power: the speakers are quite demanding to the amplifier, having the sensitivity of 87 dB. However, this does not dampen the sound nuances, the speakers are able to give and subtle shades of “tops”, and get into a decent low frequencies. Although, of course, “full range speakers”, unlike “floor-standing” ones, should be supplemented with a subwoofer without any doubts. Herewith, large and heavy enclosures allow the speakers to play dense, rich in bass and midrange frequencies music at high volume without dumping the instruments into the general mush and distortion. You just need not “plug” the rear inverter, putting speakers close to the wall, you need at least 10 centimeters of free space – and even from some black/death-album speakers will not send your ears into sacrifice to Satan.

Pros
  • Sound quality, especially on the “low-mid”
Cons
  • Two-terminal connection with no bi-wiring

#8 Polk Audio RTi A1

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One of the best speakers for the home can be called Polk Audio RTi A1. Thanks to the support of separate connection of amplifier channels to the tweeter and mid-bass, these speakers will allow you to adjust the sound to your liking much more accurately than it is possible in speakers with a non-mutable crossover. Connecting the speakers themselves is elementary, just unscrew the nuts from the terminals and take out the strips that connect the leads in pairs – and here you have separate inputs for connection.

Each speaker has two speakers – a one-inch tweeter with a composite cone (silk + polymer) and a 5 1/4-inch mid-bass, again composite (this time mineral fiber + polymer). Not the most audiophile choice, but we’re interested in sound in the first place, aren’t we?

Solid, but light enough mid-bass cones give more than excellent bass for such compact size, while not losing juiciness in the middle, and when you go to the top you don’t feel any dips in frequency response (we repeat, we’re talking about bi-amping connection). HF-range will cause displeasure only in comparison with tweeters, which cost as much as a set of these speakers, and even then not for all music – for example, tweeters play back electronics more interesting than pure silk.

Pros
  • Solid power in a compact size
  • Convenient wall mounting
  • Bi-amping support
Cons
  • Not the best built-in crossover setup

#9 Magnat Tempus 33

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When buying these speakers, you should be careful: their size is not fully reflected in the photo, but because of the rear phase inverter they also can not be pressed against the wall! Suffice it to say that the woofers here are 170 mm, which is a lot for a “shelf speakers”. Diffusers are coated cellulose. The tweeters are absolutely classic – one-inch cones are made of textile. Bi-wiring is not provided, so we will have to rely on the built-in crossover (cut-off frequency is 3.3 kHz).

Such a design makes you suspect that the speakers will have powerful (for a shelf, of course) “bottoms” and good “tops”, but the middle can lose in richness and brightness of sound. In principle, these suspicions have ground – if you compare with a crystal “flat” monitor speakers or good three-way speakers. But this does not mean that the Tempus 33 should be bypassed: on the contrary, if you have somewhere to put them, it makes sense to try listening too.

Pros
  • Good power reserve for the “bass”.
  • High frequency refinement.
Cons
  • Dimensions
  • Dull midrange, not for all music

The Best Subwoofers for the Home

#10 Wharfedale SW-15

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The Wharfedale SW-15 subwoofer simply must be included in our review of the best speakers for the home. For subwoofers, despite all sorts of tricks and modern technology, the diameter of the cone is still important. Well – like a true native Yorkshireman, the SW-15 is conservative, using a fifteen-inch long-throw driver with a cellulose cone. Paired with the built-in 400-watt amplifier it is able to really please the sound, intelligible and at the same time dense, collected in the whole bass band.

For a powerful speaker – a powerful body: Wharfedale weight is just under 30 kilograms. When listening you hear the speaker, the cabinet does not embellish the sound, much less spoil it. The presence of the phase-inverter is almost not felt, the subwoofer is perfectly suitable for instrumental music.

Connection is possible both to a dedicated subwoofer channel, and by summing the right and left optional. The subwoofer is devoid of any circuitry fiddles, plentiful and little-understood adjustments. One word – “Englishman” as it is.

Pros
  • High-quality speaker.
  • Good power reserve for working through the peaks at the low end of the bandwidth
Cons
  • Some character softness, more suitable for instrumental music

#11 Heco Victa Prime Sub 252 A

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In spite of not the greatest power (100W) in the specifications, this active subwoofer is capable of much, and its built-in amplifier is perfectly balanced with the capabilities of the speaker, not distorting the sound on the powerful peaks. Although its enclosure is traditionally a reflex port, there is no distinctive harshness in the sound: the subwoofer will play a wide range of musical parts and will not fail when you turn on a movie or a game console.

A paper speaker with special impregnation produces natural sound, and within a very wide range – from the lower limit of ear sensitivity to 200 Hz, so it can easily handle explosions in the next blockbuster, and bass solos, and synthetic teeth crushing in a terrible mix of triangle, sine and saw (for acoustics, this sound, incidentally, is a very serious test in itself). One of the best popular subwoofers, too bad its price has managed to almost double in recent years.

Pros
  • Natural sound with no flavor or embellishments
  • Good range extensiveness
Cons
  • Desirable to connect to a separate channel, rather than taking sound from the “high-voltage” front output of the amplifier

#12 DALI SUB E-12 F

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Another good subwoofer for your home is the DALI SUB E-12 F. Despite its compact size, this subwoofer is powerful enough to serve as a weapon for Slaanesh’s Noisemakers. 170 watts of rated power (220 peak) combined with a 12-inch aluminum driver is pretty serious, and the speaker at that can provide good readability and detail to the sound, confidently arguing with the paper ones. The subwoofer is versatile enough and will survive a drastic change in the owner’s preferences.

The only thing to pick on is the dual-mode phase adjustment (0 or 180 degrees) rather than smooth. You may have to experiment a few times with subwoofer placement before you find the optimal one. Oh, and don’t tell the audiophiles that there’s a switching power supply and Class D amplifier inside.

Pros
  • Clear and detailed sound without noticeable dips at different frequencies
  • Decent reserve in sound pressure
Cons
  • Price

#13 Magnat Signature Sub 530 A

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Although this subwoofer belongs to the “entry-level” series by the manufacturer, it is not cheap. However, its assets include a 300-mm speaker with a cellulose cone, an amplifier with smooth phase and cutoff frequency control, and a good-sounding built-in amplifier with a rated output of 140 W (300 W peak power). This design sounds really interesting – if you, of course, can nuancedly feel the difference between the “character” of cellulose or,
say, polypropylene. It will be minimal for electronic music, because this subwoofer’s “element” is instrumental music rich in nuances and overtones, in which case its price will be justified. If you are choosing a subwoofer for home theater or moreover for “boosting” low-frequency spectrum in games, you can also look at simpler models: they will “rumble” just as good.

Pros
  • Sound reproduction
  • Smooth phase control
  • Pretty moderate size with a 300mm driver
Cons
  • Not always justified price
  • Only one color version

#14 Bowers & Wilkins ASW608

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The subwoofer is capable of producing deep and dynamic bass. The sound can easily pump a room of about 20 sq.m. At the same time, the acoustics offers a variety of settings, including adjustment of the cutoff frequency. There is also an automatic switch-on or switch-off.

Pros
  • Perfectly complements a stereo pair and 5.0 system
  • Deep and well felt bass
  • Cutoff frequency control
  • Auto power on and auto off
  • Small size
Cons
  • High price

The Best Budget Speakers for Home

#15 YAMAHA NS-6490

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Putting the conditional ceiling for the best budget home Hi-Fi acoustics in the amount of 12 thousand rubles, shelf speakers “Yamaha” we put it almost on the verge – but this popular three-way model does not need any special introductions. Especially interesting is the fact that the speakers are made in a closed casing – and this, you know, is a completely different “taste” of sound compared to the bass-insulated acoustics.

Don’t be intimidated by the “plastic” look of the cones: both the bass 200mm and the mid-frequency 100mm speakers are cellulose, just coated. Only the dome diaphragm of the 22mm tweeter is completely polymer. Nominal sensitivity here is very decent – 90 dB according to the passport, according to real measurements – even more, so even not a very powerful amplifier can normally “speed up” these speakers without going into the zone of increased distortion. Distortions of the loudspeakers are more than acceptable – the average value of 0,7% at 94 dB for a budget model is very good, moreover, distortions are mainly “popping out” at the lowest frequencies for obvious reasons.

Due to the small and not very interesting tweeter, the high-frequency range of the speakers is a little bit suppressed, but the “middle” is bright and the “bottom” is not bad. The acoustics is able to play very well the Southern blues and will not give up when the playlist switches to death metal – simply speaking, any music where there is not a strong emphasis on “air” in the high-frequency spectrum, will go with a bang. It is worth noting that the brightness of the “upper-middle” and upper frequencies strongly depends on the orientation of the speakers to the listener – the directivity diagram here is quite narrow. Well, if you refine the speakers “for yourself” (practice thanks to the popularity of this model accumulated a lot), then they will play even better.

Pros
  • High sensitivity
  • Quite interesting sound for a budget class
Cons
  • Not the most suitable tweeter (they, by the way, are often changed, putting a good crossover at the same time)
  • Decent, by the standards of shelf speakers, dimensions

#16 YAMAHA NS-F140

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A good look is more expensive than money – and here the money is not much, especially by the standards of floor-standing speakers. Do you want something “special” but have a limited budget? Well, Yamaha offers pretty good budget “floor-standing speakers” assembled in rather heavy MDF cases in black or rosewood color with “correct” gold-plated terminals (a pity that studs for no less “correct” mounting should be bought separately).

The acoustic scheme is two-way. The low and medium frequencies are taken by a 16 cm speaker, the “tops” – a 3 cm dome tweeter. Sensitivity is not the highest – 86 dB, which should be taken into account when choosing an amplifier. The directivity diagram is a bit narrow, so you will have to tinker with the choice of the speakers orientation, but low distortions will definitely please you (they pass the 1% threshold only at frequencies below 60 Hz, which is to be expected with such a woofer design): if you divide the sound by frequencies on the amplifier or receiver, adding to these speakers a good subwoofer and not forcing them to pass through the lowest part of the spectrum, the result will definitely please. Especially for this money.

Pros
  • Design .
  • These are floor-standing speakers, and a well-known brand
Cons
  • Sensitivity to spatial orientation
  • Weak “highs” – but compared to the speakers of a higher class

#17 Denon SC-M41

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Denon SC-M41 continues our rating of the best speaker systems for home with relatively budget speakers. Denon at medium price goes toe-to-toe with Yamaha NS-6490, but still loses in sound – these two-way speakers are made of 12 cm polymer woofer and one-inch textile tweeter with soft dome in casings with reflex ports, so having more well-defined “tops” they give up positions in the midrange and in the low frequencies. Besides, the rear location of the bass reflex box imposes restrictions for installation close to the wall, which is quite inconvenient for the bookshelf speakers. However, the kit comes with plugs for the phase-inverters, so you can experiment with turning the speakers into a “closed box” – although in this case, according to the author, the originally closed “Yamaha” will also show itself “tastier”.

Of course, this is a matter of personal taste – some people are more interested in the purity and airiness of the “top”, despite the less bright middle frequencies and some “smack” in the low end of the Denon. But, especially considering the good potential for improvement of Yamaha, with equal prices we will still decrease the points of Denon – the competitor is clearly more successful, which is indirectly indicated by the difference in popularity of both participants of our today’s rating.

Pros
  • Good development of the “upper-middle” and high frequencies – music, where the “air” is important, here sounds as it should
  • A moderate level of distortion
Cons
  • A little bit wacky “middle”, it is especially noticeable in complex compositions

Conclusion. How to choose a speaker system for your home?

Listening to the acoustics in the store is not the best decision: the speakers that sounded good in one room, may noticeably lose in quality in another. The more so because the amplifier in the store is unlikely to be the same as the one in your home.

So let’s go based on the characteristics:

  • The uniformity of the AFC (amplitude-frequency response), indicated by the manufacturers or measured in the tests of profile publications – this is an excellent indicator of the quality of speakers. You will hardly like the sound of a speaker which overdamped some frequencies and overdriven some others: it would seem that you can fix it with EQ, but in fact no EQ will let you perfectly correct the sound by raising the neighboring frequencies in your band.
  • Number of bands – in theory, the more “highly specialized” speakers, the better. But do not forget that the signal between them is distributed by crossovers, and their quality and accuracy of tuning have a very serious influence on the final sound. Therefore, two or three bands is a reasonable optimum.
  • Power is quite simple: it should be greater than the amplifier’s power, otherwise you will inevitably encounter croaking speakers and burning windings if you try to turn the volume up to full throttle.
  • Bi- and triamping is the ability to connect two or three bands to separate amplifier outputs (or to different amplifiers at all). It is useful if the performance of the regular crossovers is not satisfactory to you, or the speakers are operated at high power – by “hanging” tweeters on a separate channel, you will save them from damage at volume peaks.

Good luck with your purchase!

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