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Best Overall: Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 at Amazon
"For a reasonable price, you’ll get a pair of speakers so you can enjoy hi-fi sound in stereo."
Best Studio Monitors: Yamaha HS8 at B&H Photo Video
"Though they cost a fair bit, the speakers have their own amplifiers built-in."
Best Affordable Bookshelf Speaker: Edifier R1280T at Amazon
"You don’t need to invest in extra sound equipment to get these stereo speakers up and running."
Best Affordable Tower Speaker: Polk Audio T50 at Amazon
"[Its speakers] measure 3 feet tall, with enough real estate to accommodate all four included drivers."
Best In-Wall Speaker: Polk Audio RC85i at Amazon
"Once you install them into your walls, they’re made to virtually disappear."
Best Wireless System: KEF LSX Music System at Amazon
"The KEF LSX Wireless speakers can connect to each other wirelessly or using an Ethernet cable."
Best Budget Wireless System: Edifier R1700BT at Amazon
"All the more impressive is that these bookshelf speakers cost as little as they do and still look this good."
Best Soundbar: Sonos Playbar at Amazon
"If you want simplicity without sacrificing quality, this one will meet your needs."
A good set of high-fidelity speakers are a vital part of your home theater setup. The best hi-fi speakers should offer great audio quality with a wide frequency response range, and good compatibility with your existing sound system. We've researched a variety of hi-fi speakers across every budget so you can find the pair that best suits your needs. If you're also looking to invest in a full home theater setup, be sure to check out our list of best home theater systems.
Courtesy of Amazon
Wide frequency response range
Not plug-and-play with TV or phone
If you’re looking for an excellent pair of bookshelf speakers, ELAC’s Debut 2.0 B6.2 are worth checking out. For a reasonable price, you’ll get a pair of speakers so you can enjoy hi-fi sound in stereo. In each speaker, you’re getting a 6.5-inch woofer and a vented pole piece paired with a 1-inch soft-dome twitter. In addition, there's an internally supported cabinet to place the speakers.
A big perk of the Debut 2.0 B6.2 is the wide frequency response range — they go from 44Hz on the low end all the way up to 35kHz on the high end. That’s part of what makes these the best low-cost stereo bookshelf speakers on the market, too.
They aren’t plug-and-play with your TV or phone, though. You’ll have to pair them with proper audio equipment and wire them up. They have a nominal impedance of 6 ohms and a max power input of 120 watts. Their performance, however, is well worth the effort and price. You can also upgrade with the rest of the Debut 2.0 lineup for a full surround setup.
Courtesy of bhphotovideo.com
Wide frequency response
Amplifiers built in
Studio monitor speakers are ideal for those trying to do any sort of audio recording and want to listen back to the audio in its purest form, as they can give you the high-fidelity sound you need. With that in mind, we find the Yamaha HS8 studio monitor speakers to be the best studio monitors for superior sound.
They don’t come cheap for a pair, but you’re getting incredible quality with 120 watts of total output. They have a simple design with black cabinets, black tweeters, and white woofers. The woofers measure 8 inches across while the tweeters are 1 inch. The pairing offers a wide frequency response range from 38Hz on the low end to 30kHz on the high end, letting you check the quality of your recordings thoroughly.
Though they cost a fair bit, the speakers have their own amplifiers built-in. It has separate amplifiers for both the woofer and tweeter as well, each of which is tuned to deliver flat frequency response.
Includes remote control
Not as powerful as the competition
For an excellent pair of bookshelf speakers that match quality with affordability, look no further than the Edifier R1280T speakers. Not only do the speakers cost under $100, but they also have their amplifier built right in, so you don’t need to invest in extra sound equipment to get these stereo speakers up and running.
Both speakers feature a 13mm silk dome tweeter and a 4-inch full-range bass driver as well as a 21-watt total power output and a 60Hz-to-20Hz frequency response range. So while they're not insanely powerful, they should cut it for a small living room setup. The cabinets, made of medium-density fiberboard with a vinyl finish, have a refined look and come with a two-year warranty.
The right speaker houses the amplifier and has two stereo RCA inputs, letting you connect multiple input devices at the same time. It also comes with a remote controller — letting you change the inputs, volume, and balance from the convenience of your DXRacer — but you can still use the controls built onto the right speaker should you be inclined.
"For the average listener who wants a pair of computer speakers for multimedia and gaming, the Edifier R1280T are the most affordable pair you can get without compromising on performance." — Alice Newcome-Beill, Associate Commerce Editor
No need for dedicated subwoofer
Requires AC receiver or amplifier
If you’re looking for tall tower speakers to set up on either side of your TV for a powerful sound and slick look, Polk's T50 tower speakers incredibly choice. These floor standing speakers measure 3 feet tall, with enough real estate to accommodate all four included drivers.
Each cabinet includes a 1-inch silk dome tweeter, a 6.5-inch composite driver, and two 6.5-inch, front-firing sub-bass radiators. That combination of drivers lets the T50 tower speakers achieve a wide frequency response range from 38Hz on the low end to 24kHz on the high end. In other words, a pair of these speakers can complete a capable sound system without the need to pick up a dedicated subwoofer.
These speakers are passive cabinets, so they do require an AV receiver or amplifier to deliver their pristine sound. Each has a nominal impedance of 6 Ohms and a peak power handling of 150 watts, and Polk Audio recommends 20 to 100 watts per channel. Fortunately, these speakers are affordable, so you can invest in them and a decent amp without breaking the bank — and can even build out a full surround sound system.
Nice hidden setup
Requires installation into wall
Needs amp or AV receiver
Some hi-fi speakers deserve to be seen; others are more covert. The Polk Audio RC85i, already the best in-wall speakers you can buy right now due to their overall excellent blend of quality and value, have a hidden stereo setup, so you won't need to worry about wires or occupying too much space.
The Polk Audio RC85i come as an affordable pair, with the combo coming in below $200. Each speaker includes a 1-inch tweeter with a metalized soft dome and a swivel mount in addition to an 8-inch dynamic-balance woofer. Combined, they offer a frequency response range from 30Hz up to 20kHz.
Once you install them into your walls, these speakers are made to virtually disappear. And since they are designed to hold up in humid, moist environments, you don't have to take them out for regular maintenance either. The front grilles are paintable, letting you coordinate them with your wall color. (Just keep in mind that these are passive speakers, so you’ll need an amp or AV receiver.) Otherwise, they have a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms, and Polk Audio recommends 20 to 100 watts per channel from the amp.
Connect wirelessly or with Ethernet
Excellent sound quality
No amp or AV reciever needed
Many inputs and Bluetooth stupport
Remote and app could use some work
For a bit of an investment, the KEF LSX Wireless Music System is well worth your attention. Exhibiting quality sound and a whole host of extra perks, this is an active, two-speaker pairing, so you don’t need to worry about having an expensive amplifier or AV receiver to get the most out of these speakers. Better yet, you also don’t have to think about wires.
The KEF LSX Wireless speakers can connect to each other wirelessly or using an Ethernet cable. The LSX system supports audio inputs up to 96kHz/24-bit, so you can enjoy seriously hi-fi audio, but you’ll need to use the Ethernet pairing for that, as the wireless connection only transmits 48kHz/24-bit.
The speakers combine a 19mm high-frequency driver with a 4.5-inch driver for mids and bass. Beyond the audio quality, the input options help the KEF LSX Wireless system shine. It can receive audio from a local network using DLNA, via Wi-Fi, through a 3.5mm AUX input, through a TOSLINK optical input and also through Bluetooth with support for the high-quality AptX codec.
Supports Bluetooth and inputs
Frequency range could be wider
If you want a quality wireless system but don’t want to spend all your money on high-end, primo features, you can still get a great set from the Edifier R1700BT, an upgraded version of the Edifier R1280T that wields more power and support for Bluetooth.
The Edifier R1700BT is a two-speaker system, so you’re ready to go with stereo sound from the start. Better yet, the right speaker is an active one with an amplifier built in to drive both speakers — meaning you don’t need any extra equipment to drive power.
Each speaker has a 19mm silk dome tweeter and a 4-inch bass driver, which together offer a frequency response range from 60Hz to 20kHz. It has two stereo AUX inputs as well as Bluetooth connectivity, giving you plenty of options for how you decide to listen. And a remote control out of the box makes it all that much easier. All the more impressive is that these bookshelf speakers cost as little as they do and still look this good.
Nine amplified speakers
Supports Wi-Fi and Ethernet
While some of these hi-fi speaker options are fairly straightforward in their setup, even a pair of speakers will appear complicated next to a soundbar. Luckily, these days, the soundbar market poses some seriously killer options. The best soundbar is the Sonos Playbar, and if you want simplicity without sacrificing quality, this one will meet your needs.
The Sonos Playbar might be just one unit, but it has nine amplified speakers built-in. Six are mid-woofers, meant to handle the middle and low frequencies; three are tweeters responsible for high-frequency sounds. All of that is packed into a chassis measuring under 3 feet wide, 5.5 inches tall, and 3.3 inches deep.
The Sonos Playbar doesn’t necessitate much in the way of wires either. It gets power from one cable, and can connect to your TV with an optical cable for stereo or Dolby Digital audio. It can also connect to your network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet to listen to music from your favorite streaming services. If you want to expand the setup, you can pair it with a Sonos subwoofer and satellite speakers for wireless, 5.1-channel surround sound.
"The Sonos Playbar is a great home audio solution for an apartment dweller. It packs all the power of a multi-speaker setup, without requiring the same degree of hassle when it comes to installation." — Ajay Kumar, Tech Editor
The best hi-fi speakers for your home audio setup is the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2. They're some of the best low-cost stereo bookshelf speakers you can get, with a wide frequency response range and solid performance. If you're in the market for studio monitors, the Yamaha HS8 are a pair of excellent studio monitors with 120 watts of total output and a stylish look. They're not cheap, but they have their own built-in amplifiers making them well worth the price.
Mark Thomas Knapp has been working in tech journalism since 2012. He's covered everything including TV, streaming content, smartphones, tablets, computers, games, audio, and more.
Alice Newcome-Beill is Associate Commerce Editor at Lifewire. Previously published on PCMag, PC Gamer, and GamesRadar, Alice has been building and working on computers since she was six. She's very familiar with PC products and accessories, including computer and bookshelf speakers.
Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor at Lifewire. With over seven years of experience in the industry, he's previously been published on PCMag and Newsweek where he's reviewed thousands of products in every category. He's very familiar with speakers, Bluetooth audio devices, soundbars, and computers. He prefers using soundbars like the Sonos Playbar in his apartment setup.
Design - Hi-fi speakers can come in a few different designs. Most are bookshelf speakers. They tend to be a pair of modestly sized speakers (small enough to fit on a bookshelf or desk), and often have an exposed woofer and tweeter, though some may have a mesh or fabric covering to keep dust off. Some speakers may have amplifiers built-in, while others may require you to connect to an AV receiver. A few interesting designs include wall speakers that let you hide most of the unit inside a wall mount, as well as soundbars, that live under your TV console.
Audio Quality - A wide frequency response range that goes from the low to high end is an important aspect of hi-fi speakers. If you tend to listen to bassier music, you'll likely want a pair of speakers with good response on the lower end, while if you want music at its cleanest (a flat frequency response) you want a pair of studio monitors. Other factors that impact audio quality include the number of woofers and tweeters, if there's a build-in amplifier or not, and if playback is happening through wired output or Bluetooth.
Compatibility - Some speakers are powered, meaning they can function as standalone devices and plug directly into your TV without needing to go through an AV receiver. Others are passive, and will need to be connected to an amp and AV receiver. Other extra features might include Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth, to allow for playback from your phone or other devices.