Buyers Guide | Editorial Reviews

Editor’s Choice Best Floorstanding Speaker Under $2000

So many to choose from! Lets us boil it down.
How to Choose a Floorstanding Speaker that fits you.


Updated 7/11/2011

What things do I need to consider when buying floorstanding speakers?
There are basically four things you should take into consideration when shopping for floorstanding speakers.
Space - How big is the room you plan to put these in? Floorstanding speakers can be impressive but in a small room sometimes they are too much. Audio quality suffers without a lot of room treatment. If you have a smaller sized room, something less than 8-10ft wide and 10-15ft long you may want to consider bookshelf speakers and a sub set up. Imaging can sometimes be better and room reflections can be mitigated by seating distance from 2-way near field bookshelf speakers. Speaking of sitting distance, with floorstanding speakers, you’ll want at least 8-10ft of distance between you and the speaker so that the sound from the tweeter and woofers has enough space to fully meld into one before it enters your ears. Of course, every speaker is a bit different, but this is a good rule of thumb distance for 3-way or more speakers.  Sound image and quality can suffer if it hasn’t fully formed into one by the time it gets to you. With 2-way floorstanding speakers such as the Salk Songtowers, distance can be closer.  You’ll also want to make sure your the speakers aren’t stuff into corners. Rather 2-3ft from them so bass doesn’t become BOOMing and overwhelming. But finding your best sweet spot is your own challenge.  If you have the ability, and a dedicated rectangle listing room, try this Golden Triangle approach.  It is what I use.
Music Style - What kind of music you listen to can be greatly enhanced or detracted from by your speaker choice. Lucky most speakers under $2000 tend to sounds good across a large variety of music, but some have more bump, thump, or detail than others. Some are laid back, good for jazz or acoustic, while others that thump are better for rock, pop, and rap. Just looking at the speaker specs wont tell you how the speaker sounds, so you’ll want to research, read reviews, pro and user reviews, to get an idea of how the speaker will sound. If you can, it is always best to audition the speaker in person with power and input devices similar to your home set up.
Associated Equipment - You’ll want to make sure that your amp and input sources characteristics match your speaker characteristics for a desired result. For instance, if your amp is known to be bright, and you get speakers that are also known to be bright, the combo of the two can be over bearing and make listening unpleasant. If your pre-amp or tuner has high and low controls you can adjust for this. If they don’t, than it is a major part of pairing your equipment. Don’t forget to mitigate the associated equipment known as your listening room.  Make sure to at least put sound dampening material at the points of 1st reflection and behind you if you can.  Here is a good reference article on first reflections points from PSAudio.  It is easy and can make a world of difference for soundstage.
Home Theater or Stereo Only - If you plan to build up a home theater system at some point it is good to consider if the speakers you are purchasing have associated surrounds, center, and sub speakers paired with the floorstanding. In a surround sound system having matching sounding speakers is very important.
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!

Magneplanar 1.7 ~ $1,995
magneplanar-1.7
AudioREVIEW Editor’s Note – At the time of this article the Magnepa 1.6 would have made the list, but they have been supplanted by the 1.7.  Based off the reactions at CES ’10 these are added to this list in place of the 1.6.
The Absolute Sound – Jonathan Valin – that the new model is, indeed, all that Magnepan claims it is, setting a new standard in coherence for a quasi-ribbon Maggie, reproducing more detail top-to-bottom, improving low-level resolution and large-scale dynamics, and simply sounding more realistic than the already-quite-realistic-sounding 1.6
Stereophile – Brain Damkroger - The 1.7s sounded truly spectacular and at just $2000/pair, destined to be another winner for Magnepan.


Monitor Audio RX6 ~ $1200
monitor-audio-rx6
WhatHiFi – They’re an energetic, energising listen, with the sort of subtlety and manoeuvrability to lay bare all the fine details without losing sight of the overall picture, and remain composed even at antisocial volumes.
AudioReview Editor’s Note - The RX6 is the next generation in Monitor Audio’s Silver line.  The RS6 won over many consumers and reviewers alike, and the RX6, though only professionally reviewed at this time by WhatHiFi in England, is giving the Rx6 a better score.  For being just over a grand, these speakers are going to be awesome.


Dali Lektor 8 ~ $1800
dali-lektor-8
Audioholics – The excellent off axis response makes placement a breeze. The real strength of these speakers is the soundstage. Wider than your room (or so it seems), the DALI Lekors wrap the music around you even in a two channel setup. For the price, the DALI‘s definitely represent a top tier offering.
Techradar - Lots of loudspeaker for the money, with a big yet solidly built enclosure, Two 200mm bass drivers give loads of bass output, Mid-to-treble balance looks well judged

Salk Songtower ~ $1695
salksound-songtower
SonicFlare – Sean Fowler – Though they are not perfect, the SongTower’s combination of great (American made) build quality, first rate performance, versatility and over-all value all add up to an exceptional performer that is very easy and safe recommendation. Great stuff!
Audioholics – Tom Andry – The imaging is very good, the bass very deep and linear, and the detail is amazing. Female vocals sometimes come off as too forward, the soundstage is not as wide as I’d have hoped, and the speakers themselves are pretty large. Overall, though, the Salks are a very, very good speaker in a very, very pretty package.
AudioCirle -Nuance writes -The ribbon tweeter adds that last 10-15% and gives one an idea of what the word “transparency” really means.  I am now able to sit in my listening room, fire up some tunes and hear music fill the room rather than speakers trying to produce music, if that makes any sense.



Bowers & Wilkins ~ $1400
BestCovery.com: The sound of the 683’s is more refined than its predecessors in the 600 series. Their neutrality is great with minimal coloration and the midrange does very well with male and female vocals. The high frequency response is clean and extended and the soundstage is open and deep with good placement.
Thomas J. Norton – ultimateavmag.com – For me this sequence sums up what the B&Ws are about, and how they can send a chill up your spine whether the source is big or small effects, crisp dialog, or music ranging from gentle strings to soaring brass and vocal choirs.
6 Reviews 4.29 of 5 – PDN writes: I know some say that B&W loudspeakers lend themselves more to classical symphony music than good old rock N roll. That they’re not in your face speakers. To that I say hogwash. I don’t buy it. I listen to it all and they sound great regardless of the music genre. You should hear the drum slam on “Honky Cat” in the Elton John “Honky Chateau” SACD. WOW



More Floorstanding speakers on AudioREVIEW.

Yes, unfortunately, an Editorial list won’t, and probably couldn’t include everyone’s personal favorite speaker.  So, if you think we left a great sub $2000 speaker out, comment. Let us and others know why you think it should be included.  Help those in our community who are searching for speakers.  Be detailed if you can about sound, music style, and room set up.  It is great appreciated.

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  • Vulcan00 says:

    I cannot comment on the other listed speakers since I personally have not heard them. However after a year long search for speakers to meet my 2CH and surround duties I chose Salks. I was not disappionted with 2 channel or Home theater.

    I would like to point out one thing in a shootout where the SalkSongTowers were compaired to several other top contenders at ~$2000 they where chosen. I might add the Shootout was performed by unbaised top review organization.
    Vulcan00

  • darcman says:

    What about the Axiom M80?

    • James B. Lansing says:

      If your considering buying a pair of Axiom M80 speakers save your money for a real pair of speakers which are quality made !
      The Axiom M80 speakers are made of garbage.
      The lower end is sloppy and muddy sounding and it lacks woofer control big time ! The top end is very bright and brassy. The midrange is so narrow I am still waiting to hear it.
      They sound similar to the mass produced KEF series speakers which are not on this speaker list.

  • Randy Striemer says:

    for under 2k you can look at vanns website. they’ve got mirage floorstanders for $1000 and the Sonus Faber Concerto Domus for just under 2K.

  • jason says:

    no polk lsi 15?

  • Ken says:

    I have had a set of Magneplanar for over 27 years. Just last year sent them in to be refurbished. Came back like new. By far the best speakers around, also a good conversation piece. The cats just love them. Now have them covered so they no longer treat them like a tree.

  • Mike says:

    I have my JC2 polished the monoblocks primed and the Nordost blue heavens placed. I wonder, however, in the interim if I should plunk down the $1,200 for the Peachtree Nova to beset my digital source??? I dont know how much longer I can wait……….the 1.6′s were a dream – the soundstage, beauty of true musicality, fast, energetic replication of the pick as it struck the string and vibrations striking a pure balance of tonal perfection as the waves hit my eardrums…. better than the 1.6′s??? can this be true? For those who have not ventured beyond the box and cone due to the perceived and misguided response of \ too thin\ I say give them 60 days with the right gear and you will not return to the box…. indeed as I await and my focals paired with my M&K sub and Arcam A65+ there is something to be said for this set up, yet when they arrive the 1.7′s will take center stage and as I ponder the thought of 60 to 90 day delivery I wonder how magnepan or why the would not have built up a stock of these as they know that ever editor, writer of every music magazine having always named the at the top of this list of best of the best – even going as far to say at any price. So, hat gives in putting these on display then not having any in stock to deliver? This is painful!

  • Steve says:

    I agree the Mag 1.7′s are very good speakers. But without a doubt they need a subwoofer. So add $800 to the price. You want a better planar (hybrid) that is cheaper than the Mag’s and doesn’t need a subwoofer? Listen to Eminent Technology’s LFT 8B’s. They just got Hi-Fi World’s coveted 5 out of 5 rating! Talk about the best value in hi-end audio! It’s amazing people are so caught up with the Mag’s and don’t know there’s a better, less expensive planar speaker.

  • Mike says:

    Went to stereophhile to pull up any reviews on the Eminents but the review left me more confused than excited to audition.

  • Mike says:

    The Eminents are not comparing apples to apples since they are hybrids and employ a cone speaker for a bass so this acts as a sub ore or less. After break-in with my JC2 and JC1′s amps I have not found the need for a sub. As long as you power the maggies to make them sing they way they are meant to, I can do without a sunwoofer. I am not a big fan of the pounding, thumping you hear in the cars that make m roll my windows up at stop lights, so for me their (1.6′s) low end covers what my ears find to be very enjoyable.In addition I find the Magnepans to be much more attractive aesthetically than the ET’s, no bashing intended. Thanks for the heads up on these however. If I can find a dealer close I might give them a listen for the pure joy of having an open mind and ear to all components..

  • Scott says:

    I have had the Mag 1.7s now for about two weeks. They are the first planar speaker I have owned. I use a full compliment of Thiels in my HT room. When I decided to set up a bedroom (13×14) as a listening room after my son moved out I also pulled my McIntosh C37 preamp and MC7270 amp out of the closet as well. I had forgotten how much I enjoy 2 channel music. My room full of Thiels make for an impressive sound display, but its effect over purity.

    I was thinking about staying with Thiels, but decided to limit my spending to $2K and saw this article. After listening to the 1.7s and a pair of Vandersteens, both right at $2K, I kept going back to the clarity and sound stage of the Mags. The dealer also carried McIntosh so I asked them to put the two together to see what they might sound like. The McIntosh amps are a little richer and warmer than the Naim gear that he first had them paired with. In my house after these two weeks and experimenting with the setup, the sound is amazing for only $2k. Not perfect, but not $10k either. And the bass is WAY more than I heard in the store. I am not sure why but on recordings that are produced with a lot of gain, the bass borders on too much. Not sloppy at all, but I can’t imagine adding a subwoofer. Michael Jackson (Bad) and Foreplay (Foreplay) are two that massively jumped out at me. Not “make the windows rattle” bass but strong and very present.

    I am not done experimenting with the setup. So far I have the tweeters on the inside, the tweeters attenuated with the supplied resistors, and the units tilted back with the supplied spacers. I like this but I will probably go back to removing the tweeter resistors and switching them to tweeters on the outside for awhile just to compare for the best sound. I have them placed and toed in to the best spots I believe.

    Enough babbling, I really like these speakers. They are far more revieling and clear than my Thiels and I never thought I would say that. Elvis Costello (North) and K D Lang (Recollection) are two showpiece discs for these speakers. The center staging of the voice and clarity is amazing. The isocation of supporting instruments make them right there in the room.

    My only issue is that they get a little edgy when you crank the volume. The Thiels hold together at volume better, but they are more money and a totally different design, so I have to halt the comparisons there.

  • Zion says:

    my wife an ex concert pianist { she won several compettions in China as a prodegy and over here in the US even winning a full scholarship at Julliard} plays her stuff daily on a steinway , she has been studying and playing the piano all her life since the tender age of 5 in China , when i asked her which of my systems convey the sound of her piano in concert most accurately she always leans towards the Martin logans for their musicality, me on the other hand defended my month old magnepans 1.7 to the death, but who is correct a fine tuned perfectionist classically trained pianist inspired by the sounds of liszt or me the avid audiophile who has gone through so many systems costing more than a car searching for my version of sonic perfection? who really knows to each his own i say , but to most of others its hard to beat someones trained ears.conveying her trade.
    hers- pioneer sc 27 with d class amp stage and ML source
    mine- magnepans with krells pre and pwr mono blocks
    since i pay the bills i must be right ………or not

  • Richard says:

    Love your comments, Zion. Were the two systems compared in the same room? I recently set up my second, small, HT/listening room and found room to be one of the biggest variables.

  • maestroji says:

    Great comments from Zion indeed.
    Pity the wife did not listen to a Gallo Nucleus loudspeaker system as well.
    We would have had the opportunity to have learnt even more.
    Again as Richard has commented the audio room continues to be the most significant variable especially if it happens to be a small-sized room with several frequency nodes coming into song.

  • Zion says:

    In Response to my comments : My wife has retracted her statements about the Logans though engaging and transparent as it was , she has found her speaker of her choice to listen to, taking me out of the equation and taken over the living room. She decided that tubes are now her First choice and really enjoys the HUGE soundstage that the Sonus FAber Liuto offers, this speaker has gotten me perplexed on my maggies , the details are not so pronounced but this one has FUN written all over it, i ended up sitting on the couch with her and was caught up in the romanticism of its Italian heritage and super dynamics and wow this system i have to say really engages you! The Maggies have taken a back seat into my home office now and resides in a room where it cannot conquer 11x 14 as it needs its space both wide and deep to breathe., but when u sit in its perfect place it still rings home.
    current living room system
    primaluna 3 premium pre amp w/ PL monoblock 7 and main source an i decco ipod player supplemental support comes from nottingham jr TT..
    So in conclusion to the thread the maggies are accurate somewhat to a fault , the LOGANS like smaller rooms but need tonnes of space as does the maggies it also likes tubes who knew, and the Liuto likes the width of a room much more so. All speakers resided at one time in the living room 12x 18. Both the maggies and logans like 3-4 feet away from the back wall and 6 ft of width and the Liuto 2 feet from the back and 7-8 feet apart where it soundstage envelopes the room making not only you the person in the drivers seat but the whole family and who doesnt want a speaker closer to the wall so u dont have to dodge the speaker that is the same height as me.
    THE ROOM IS THE BIGGEST VARIABLE OF THEM ALL i concur.This audio search is so frustrating but yet its so much a part of my life and as long as that sound invokes the passion within all of us then whatever system u may have it will suffice as music always sings deep in the heart. HAPPY HUNTING AUDIOPHILES

  • Jeremy J says:

    At the time this list was created, I do not believe that they were available as of yet, but I have heard tremendous things about the Aperion Grand Verus towers (They run about $1800 for the pair).

    Anyone else care to comment – I’m working on trying them myself, thus no formal “review” from me. I’ve heard they are superb though (particularly at the price point and with the high end finish that you get in addition to the sound).

  • james F says:

    purcased 1.6′s in 2001. In 2006 voice coils came unglued from the speaker causing fuzzy sound. Called Magnepan and said this sometime occurs every years and that cost of the repair would be approximately $407+ dollars including shipping. Being upset, I declined and bought another brand. Very good speakers, but not the value others seem to think if this happens often. Was terribly displeased with what happened, especially since I yearned and saved for them for so long and owned them for only a short time. Did not want to keep them for this to happen again in another 5 years after the repair.

  • KC says:

    In regard to the Aperions, beware of a company that puts too much emphasis on the cabinet finish, and not enough into the speaker components. I live in Portland, and was able to go to the listening room at their factory, and in my opinion, the Grand Verus towers are intended to provide a high-volume home theatre “experience”. They do not create a decent soundstage. Aperion seems content to “blow you away” with volume and energy, though the Grand Verus are quite deficient in the treble frequencies, and there is very little subtlety or nuance.

  • harry says:

    Hi Samantha i have a pair of audio notesspeakers , i run these thrue a Linn set up with acustic resaerch active sub, up to day i have not listen to anything comparable,Leeds Harry

  • nate says:

    Ascend acoustics new Sierra tower speakers?? Considering that their Sierra-1 bookshelf speaker made the best bookshelves under $1000 category I’m surprised not to see the tower speaker on this list.

  • Harry Schneider says:

    Do not ignore the german brands like ELAC and Canton. They sound terrific and look terrific too for under 2000.-.

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