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Buyers Guide | Feature Articles | Speakers

Best Speakers Under $500 You Should Own

So many to choose from! Lets us boil it down.

We’ve collected a list of the best speakers under $500.  For your iPod, or Computer, Bookshelf speakers and Floorstanding speakers.  There are actually some very good speakers out there under the $500 mark.  This is by now means a definitive list. There are a lot of great speakers out there under $500 – But we feel these are the best we’ve heard and we’d like to share them with you.  If you feel something got left off the list or that we are completely bonkers – well use the comment box below to let us know.
There are two honorable mentions.  Two speakers that come in at $600 but if you don’t mind making that extra stretch these are well worth it.  In fact they are both the number 1 floorstanding speaker and the number 1 bookshelf speaker on our Top 100 list.  Which is generated off of weekly page view stats.  Together they take the number 1 and number 2 place on the list.
Experts may all agree on the advantages or shortcomings of any product they review but, at AudioReview.com, we believe that the average consumer can best summarize all the details a product has to offer… So read what users have to says!

Axiom Audio M3v3 ~ $348
Bookshelf Speakers
AudioReview – When I checked the price again I was blown away to find out they were $348, especially when considering their performance. The M3v3 do most of what a great speaker should. They present a large and open image, linear reproduction of sound, offer a good amount of detail, and be as transparent as the speaker can be. Read Full Review
pcdistrict.com - The M3 is Axiom’s most versatile and compact stereo and home theater speaker. Winner of the SoundStage! Reviewer\’s Choice Award and GoodSound! Product of the Year, the M3 delivers powerful bass, outstanding treble, and award-winning musical sound for under $400…

>> Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1000

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Audioengine 2 – $199

Computer Speakers

Mid-range vocals and soft silky highs are what these are all about. I’ve just finished demo’ing them at the 2011 California Audio Show and I was blow away by the clarity and presents of the vocal mid-range.  Pair with a sub for better bass performance. Vocal’s pop off these so they will surely make great speakers for movies. Plus they fit in a small bag and are easily portable. Take them with you on your next vacation or biz trip and actually get good sound in your hotel room.

The long list of reviews from a variety of sources speaks for itself.  These are great little desktop speakers.

>> More Computer Speaker Systems.


  • Type:2.0 powered (active) multimedia desktop speaker system
  • Inputs:Dual 1/8″ stereo mini-jack and RCA jacks
  • Amplifier Type:Dual Class AB monolithic
  • Drivers:2.75″ Kevlar woofers, 20mm silk dome tweeters
  • Power Output:60W peak power total (15W RMS / 30W peak per channel), AES

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Audyssey South of Market ~ $399

iPod Dock – Wireless Speaker

Free yourself.  The new Audyssey takes your phone out of your pocket and puts it were it should be.  A good looking dock that display’s your most prized procession.

The Audyssey sounds very good, rivals the B&W Zeppelin and the Bose Sounddock.  But it is so much more functional.  With 2 directional microphones, remote, 3.5 cables for connecting your MacBook.

The sound from the Audyssey is stellar. With four separate amplifiers, probably class D digital amplifier, the sound is smooth and bass is robust.

And it works with Bluetooth devices also.  Andriod and other phones near by can stream music to it.

>> Best Wireless / Outdoor Speakers

  • Two 4-inch long-throw woofers
  • Two .75-inch silk-dome tweeters
  • Audyssey Smart Speakerâ„¢ Technology
  • Two directional microphones
  • Bluetooth® (A2DP)
  • 3.5 mm line input

Bose 301~ $328
These little speakers pack a big punch.   They can handle high volume parties or just fill your room with soft gentle tones for you to relax to after work.  With Bose Direct/Reflecting® technology these speakers offer a wide soundstage that Bose is well known for. Even if it isn’t spot on perfect, one can find comfort in its envelopment. Bose accomplishes this with 2″ Stereo Targeting® tweeters matched with a long-excursion 8″ woofer, and proprietary Stereo Everywhere® technology. Everyone can enjoy the sound, there is no perfect sweet spot in a system like this. Just music.
Bookshelf Speakers

>> Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1000

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Get Free Shipping on orders $49 or more! Buy It Here

Fluance ES-1 ~ $400
Floorstanding Speaker
Amazon.com reviewer Richard Hebbourn – Although I’ve heard quite a few good things about the ES1 speakers, I was still surprised by the amount of bass that comes through them. The highs are even better – each note is crisp and defined, and the sound fills my entire house.
AudioReview - 9 Reviews 4.11 of 5 writes – My lucky day! Awesome speakers when coupled with a sub for frequencies below 70Hz. I power them with a 120 watt per channel HK Stereo (yes I said stereo) reciever and run them through a 15 band equalizer just to tweak them ever so slightly. Add a 12 inch 150 watt sub and CD’s, Movies, and Concert DVD’s rock! Don’t let the fact they won’t cost ya an arm and a leg fool you, these may be the best deal in HiFi to be had in a long time!
AudioReview - writes – First few weeks, these speakers were breaking in. They sounded distinctly harsh. After the break-in period, however, they REALLY smoothed out. I would highly recommend them as excellent value. They look good (my wife likes them) and they sound very good.

>> Best Floorstanding Speakers Under $1000

>> Best Floorstanding Speakers Under $2000

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Magnepan Magneplanar MMG ~ $600
Floorstanding Speaker
Goodsound.com – They’re so good that they’ll make you look like an audio wunderkind and make your system sing as never before. They do need to be driven by a good, strong receiver or amp — no 25W weaklings need apply — and they’ll expose weaknesses upstream from them (if you have a cheap, tinny-sounding CD player, for instance). They’ll also expose the intricate layers of beauty that might be hidden by your current speakers, so if you’re tempted to give ‘em a try, you can have these Maggies in your home for a 60-day, money-back trial.
AudioReview - 283 Reviews 4.72 of 5 stuartson writes – First off, The MMGs are amazing! Not simply “amazing for the money”, but flat out amazing. The soundstage is open and expansive, the tonal reproduction is exceptional, the speed and detail are mind-boggling at times. They truly have the ability to reproduce certain types of music with a scary accuracy and realism.
AudioReview - DPS writes -I have had a pair of MMG’s for about six months and will most likely quit searching for the elusive audio nirvana I’ve been chasing since the mid 70′s. The simple fact is these speakers provide a window into my music tastes that cannot be duplicated by any other available speaker any where near this price.
Promo Code 1001
$325 pair
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Bowers & Wilkins 685 ~ $600
Bookshelf Speaker
WhatHiFi – After all, they were What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision Award-winners in 2007 and 2008, and to date we haven’t reviewed another speaker capable of worrying these entry-level marvels.
AudioReview - 8 Reviews 4.88 of 5 writes – Base is much tighter and punchy than the old 602′s. Massive base for such a small speaker! Clarity is mind blowing, especially with Jazz recordings.
AVGuide.com – Wayne Garcia - Let’s get straight to the point: B&W’s 685 is a terrific little loudspeaker. It has impressive tonal balance, tremendous rhythmic authority, conjures a nice, open soundstage, has impressive if not super-extended bass response, a singing treble, plays loudly without strain

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  • Jon Ferriss says:

    This is a nice list, though you’ve transgressed your own rule by including two $600 speakers (which are great speakers nonetheless).

    I’m a big fan of the Bose 301 which, to my mind, are among the most well rounded bookshelf speakers around for the average consumer (not the audiophile, however).

    I’ve posted my response to this list here..perhaps you would want to check it out

  • adam says:

    Hi Joe –

    Yes – you are right – but I did warn in the leader about Two honorable mentions. It is just the MMG and B&W are loved by so many, and they are only $100 more – I just didn’t feel right leaving them out of that price point opportunity.

  • Hunter says:

    I’d like to add the Cambridge Soundworks Model Six to the list. Based on a Henry Kloss acoustic suspension design, they are reminiscent of the old KLH and Advent goodness. Extended, non-fatiguing highs, coherent mids, and a tight, tuneful, but never lean bottom end. Not the last word in soundstaging and all of that, but hey, for the money, they sound better than amazing. They are on the business end of my Harman Kardon 330c receiver, loving every minute of it.

  • steve says:

    I’d like to add my three cents worth in as much as what I have for book shelf speakers (not really shelf, because I have them mounted in the corner of my stereo room). MTX’s HTS628S-40W/80Wpeak, shielded for video apps, 90Hz -20kHz freg response.

  • JDCD says:

    Hmm if we are going to add speakers in the $500 to $600 range I say the KEF Q300 bookshelf speakers should be included in this bunch. They can be found for under $500 used or as an open box item. New I believe they go for $650 shipped. I have them in my system and love them. They are powered by a re-built Sumo Nine amplifier along with a Grant Fidelity DAC-09. The imaging is dead center and the music is just sweet to me.

  • oakland_stan says:

    For under 500 let’s not forget about the NHT Classic Three. There have been plenty of professional write-ups done but as a real world user, I can confirm they are worth the money. I use them in combination with a Rotel amp and their performance is stunning – particularly for the money. They have great separation resulting from their three way design and bass is impressive from a speaker its size. I will also add that I use NHT’s Evolution U2 subwoofers for low end and the combo is fantastic.

  • sam says:

    do one for studio monitors. tannoys?

  • sb01 says:

    Sorry but any “best of” speaker list that includes a Bose product immediately loses its credibility with me (although I do agree with the Maggies.) Not necessarily because the 301s are a bad speaker– they may be great for all I know, I don’t really care to listen to them and find out– but because Bose as a company has lost any goodwill it ever had when it became far more concerned with obtaining as many meaningless patents it could, and worming its way into every department store and niche shop in America to drive out the competition (which it will never do.) They have become the Monster Cable of speaker companies.
    On a side note, how did Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 not make the list? I have never heard them, but they have a 4.91 rating and for a good long while they were the speaker to beat on audioreview (if they still aren’t.)

  • Ian says:

    A list of sub $500 speakers and no Paradigms? The shame! I also have to agree with the previous poster in that any “best speaker” list that includes Bose is pretty worthless. I’ve heard the 301s over the years and have never been impressed in the least. Their idea of “improvements” is to find cheaper ways to make their speakers while keeping the selling price as high as possible… They still use untreated paper cones for goodness sakes… Made in China no less. And their innovations are nothing more than insignificant mods to already existing designs… Direct Reflecting = omni-polar. Waveguide = Transmission line (aka 1/4 and 1/2 wave). Acoustimass = Heimholtz (sp?) resonator. Ok. End of rant.

  • MRGUMBY says:

    Bose 301′s being included in the list tells me something very clearly. At an audio shop where there are 20 pairs of speakers stacked on one another, during a click click click switch-through comparison by the salesperson…they can impress at their price. When you take them home and live with them for a couple of days however…


    now, turn to the side and cough again, Mr Gumby


    They SERIOUSLY fail to satisfy. Muddy bass (BTW, BASS is how you spell the low notes of a speaker…not, “BASE”) does not bother me nearly as much as the sparkle in the highs…no, SIZZLE would be more accurate.
    Lots of highs initially sounding clean, till you live with them for a bit and realize all it is doing is frying bacon (sizzle sizzle sizzle).

    If I was outfitting a bar room and needed sound reinforcement speakers to place around the room at 8 feet mounted to the wall…you know, the speakers that a smart bar owner runs with multiple stout integrated amps…welllllllllllll, they might be okay for that.
    In the living room? NO WAY.

    Maggies+BIG S/S amp (Even the old massive Adcom monoblocks)=GOOD!

    All of this does not matter though, since someone can never be taken seriously when the spelling and diction is better in the readers comments than in the reviews themselves.
    God, guys! Hire someone who speaks English!

  • Scott says:

    Any list of sub $500 speakers has to have the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170′s – period. An incredible accurate monitor speaker. Add a decent sub and you will blow away most anything under $1200.

  • Chris says:

    I would recommend the Totem Dreamcatcher…….

  • ElSales says:

    What about Adam A5X? I love it!

  • Jim says:

    Also, How about PSB Image B6′s?

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