The 8 Best Overall Stereo Speakers Under $1,000 to Buy in 2018

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Bookshelf Speaker: ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers

In the realm of low-cost stereo speakers, the name ELAC requires little introduction and their Debut 2.0 B6.2 bookshelf speakers show why. Measuring 10.6 x 7.7 x 14.8 inches in size, the speakers fit well on most bookshelves and deliver powerful audio. Improving on its predecessors' already excellent sound is a high-performance woofer with 6.5-inch fiber cones and a one-inch soft dome tweeter.

Elac recommends that each B6.2 speaker be paired with a receiver up to 120 watts per channel. That all but ensures it will fill a medium-sized house with crisp, solid sound. Midrange sound hits on all the right notes while higher frequencies add a vibrancy that’s a slam dunk at this price range. Even if you put sound aside, the speakers’ good looks and clean design are reason enough to put them on a bookshelf.

Best Budget Bookshelf Speaker: Dayton Audio B652-Air

Dayton Audio B652-Air
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Very much at the affordable end of the bookshelf speaker scale, the 13.5 x 8.1 x 11.7-inch Dayton Audio B652-Air has a 6.5-inch woofer and weighs just 11 pounds. Along with the woofer, the B652-Air offers an air motion transformer tweeter in lieu of a dome tweeter, which promises a clear, less-distorted sound than what traditional dome tweeters can manage. Along with great sound, the B652s look good for the price, sporting a black ebony pica vinyl cabinet finish and removable grilles.

Overall, the 40-watt Dayton speaker takes up very little space while offering a clear sound and fit in just about any room in the house. The sound comes off nicely balanced without feeling too bassy or too high. Lastly, as a sealed speaker, it’s a little less sensitive to poor placement near walls or corners.

Best Overall Floor Speaker: Polk Audio Signature Series S55

Polk Audio S55

Amazon 

With warm sound that can fill a whole home, Polk’s Audio Signature Series S55 floor-standing speakers are worth every penny. As far as floor-standing speakers go, this model isn't small — they weigh 44 pounds each and measure 41.5 inches tall. Packed inside the frame is a one-inch tall Terylene tweeter and a 6.5-inch low-frequency drive; the combination of the two provides accurate sound that hits all the right notes.

Polk suggests pairing these speakers with an AV receiver or amplifier that can push out 200 watts per channel. That means buyers can count on these speakers hitting 100 dB without any distortion. Even without a subwoofer attached, the Polk will cleanly fill a medium-sized room without leaving any gaps in audio coverage. Because of their down-firing ports, they can be placed near or against a wall without any sound reflection.

Available in a classic brown walnut veneer, the Polk style is reminiscent of days gone by. The absence of a solid black box helps them stand out from the rest of the floor-standing speaker pack.

 

Best Budget Floor Speaker: Polk Audio T50 Standing Tower Speaker

With the Polk name behind it, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this budget floor-standing speaker delivers big sound. The T50 works with a pair of 6.5-inch woofers, a one-inch silk dome tweeter, and a dedicated 6.5-inch midrange driver — features that punch well above their pay grade. Polk’s use of Dynamic Balance technology is responsible for its powerful sound. The highs are balanced and the mids feel crisp and clear while the bass feels sturdy with plenty of heart-pumping potential for action and horror movies. Dialogue and vocals are excellent. It’s only when you try and push the Polk to maximum volume that distortion sets in. Leave the volume below 90-percent and you’ll never even notice.

The speaker cabinets are attractive and do well to hide fingerprints. On the rear of the cabinet is a five-way binding post that connects easily to speaker cables from satellite speakers or a subwoofer. You can even choose to utilize them as part of a surround sound system thanks to their compatibility with most home theater AV receivers.

Best Overall Home Theater Speaker: Onkyo HT-S7800

Onkyo HT-S7800
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Onkyo HT-S7800 is one of the systems that helps provide concrete reasoning why Onkyo is such a prolific manufacturing company of excellent quality audio equipment. There’s support for all the latest and greatest digital trends, including Dolby Atmos, 3D support, TrueHD, DTS:X, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Right out of the box are an a/v receiver, five satellite speakers, a powered subwoofer and a full assortment of color-coded cables for easy setup. The front left and right speakers have an additional speaker on the top that aids in support of the Dolby Atmos sound, so audio output bounces off the ceiling.

While the sound quality might already have you hooked, there’s more to love with the HT-S7800 home theater in a box. As a bonus, all eight 4K HDMI inputs support 4K/60Hz video and if your television isn’t 4K compatible, the receiver will scale 1080p content to display at 4K. The HT-S7800 includes support for Apple’s AirPlay and Google Cast, as well as streaming capabilities for Pandora, Spotify and Tidal.

Best Budget Home Theater Speaker: Polk Audio T50

If you’re looking for booming speakers that won’t break the bank, your best bet is a pair of Polk Audio T50 floor-standing tower speakers. These are large speakers measure 36.5 x 9.25 x 8.75 inches and weigh 20.4 pounds each, but once you have two of these in your home theater, you’ll see their size is worth it. Each speaker has a one-inch silk dome tweeter, a 6.25-inch extended throw composite driver, as well as two front-firing sub bass radiators. All of this leads to high-quality sound that will bring to life your next Star Wars marathon or Pink Floyd listening session. As for compatibility, these speakers have standard ports on the back that will work with most home theater receivers, stereos and processors.

Amazon reviewers have been mightily pleased with these speakers. Customers said these speakers offer excellent clarity with good highs and lows. They also mention that if you deeply care about bass, you might need to also purchase a subwoofer.

Best Overall In-Wall Stereo Speaker: Polk Audio 255-RT

Polk Audio 255-RT
Courtesy of Amazon.com

First released in 2011, Polk Audio’s 255-RT in-wall speakers remain the gold standard for the category with pitch-perfect sound, excellent build quality and good looks. The “vanishing” in-wall center channel speakers have only the screen visible, so they won't be an eyesore in your home. The magnetically secured grille protrudes just 7mm from its surroundings making the “vanishing” claim by Polk all the more believable. Installation is a snap with easy one-cut, drop-in setup with “perfect fit” templates that help achieve a vibration-free experience with minimal installation time. The speakers itself feature a pair of 5.25-inch woofers made with a composite polymer cone and rubber sound. There’s also a single tweeter with a silk and polymer cone to round out the sound. And drivers mounted on a flat base allow for easier wall mounting.

Best Budget In-Wall Stereo Speaker: Theater Solutions TS50W In Wall Speakers

Striking the right balance between sound quality and design, the Theater Solutions TS50W in-wall speakers deserve a good look. Measuring 11 x 7.5 inches per speaker, inside you'll find a 5.25-inch woven fiber cone woofer along with a silk titanium dome tweeter. Theater Solutions' recommended power is anywhere between 10-200 watts per speaker which makes them suitable for all kinds of AV receivers.

Once installed, the speakers produce full bass sound with mids and highs that sound crisp and vibrant. Theater Solutions claims each speaker is designed to amplify a full range of tones and they deliver, meaning they can play everything from Beethoven to action movies without skipping a beat.

Aesthetically speaking, the frames and grills are paintable to match your decor, so you won't have to worry about them receiving any unnecessary attention. The low-profile housing protrudes ever so slightly from the wall, making them easily integrable in any room. There’s no need for any mounting hardware and cut out templates are included for accurate sizing.