Top Picks Compact Speakers

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(February/March 2015, Read Full Review)
Single Speakers and Stereo Pairs
Korus Wireless Speaker System: $199 and up
Korus offers three speaker options with its wireless speaker system: the water-resistant take-anywhere M20 ($200), the medium-size V400 ($300), and the large V600 ($400), which runs on AC or battery power. In addition to being well built and extremely easy to set up and use, all deliver excellent sound quality and work over a range that extends beyond most Bluetooth speakers. If you’re looking for an affordable and easy way to spread music around your home, Korus is worth a look. (February/March 2015, Read Full Review)
Sonos Play:1 Wireless Speaker System: $199
The cost of owning a Sonos wireless music system is lower than ever with the diminutive Play:1. Connect it to your router, download the free controller app to your smartphone or tablet, and start building a wireless wholehouse music system with access to dozens of streaming services. Describing its sound as spacious and engaging, reviewer Rob Sabin wrote: “There are many high-performance wireless Bluetooth speakers out there, but none of them offer the multiroom options of Sonos’ app-based control system.” (April 2014, Read Full Review)
Audioengine 2+ Powered Desktop Speakers: $249/pair
Our audio editor’s love of the Audioengine 2 budget desktop speaker system has grown deeper with the updated 2+ model. These solidly built speakers not only excel at close-up listening but are great for TV sound in those situations where a soundbar or larger system isn’t practical. Commenting on a landmark recording of the Vienna Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Fifth, Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The overall balance was concert-hall-like, and sounded especially good from my desk chair…Warmly and perpetually recommended.” (SoundandVision.com, posted June 20, 2014, Read Full Review)
NHT O2 Outdoor Speaker: $298/pair
For patio partiers: If you like your music loud when you’re hanging outside with friends and family, this speaker is for you. Designed to withstand temperature extremes of –20 and +140 degrees, the weather-resistant O2 delivers big bass and can play loud without audible strain. As reviewer Mark Fleischmann put it: “The speaker’s ingratiatingly warm tonal balance made blasting painless.” (July 2012 Read Full Review)
PSB Alpha PS1 Multimedia Speakers: $299/pair
Ready to rock your desktop? In addition to sporting finely finished, near-bullet-proof enclosures, the Alpha PS1 speakers play loud and deliver wonderfully balanced sound with more top-end air and detail than you’d expect from a desktop speaker. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann marveled at their performance: “While the system provided its best imaging in an equilateral-triangle desktop listening position, it maintained excellent off-axis response at a greater distance. The Alpha PS1 proved its mettle as both a desktop system and a general in-room system.” (July/August 2013, Read Full Review)
Denon Heos Wireless Multiroom Sound System: $300 and up
Heos is Denon’s answer to the popular Sonos multiroom music system and it ranks among the best in terms of sound quality, setup simplicity, and flexibility. It operates over Wi-Fi and you can build a system around any combination of three excellent sounding speakers: the Heos 3 ($300), Heos 5 ($400), and Heos 7 ($600). Denon also offers the Heos Amp ($499) for connecting any non-powered speakers and Heos Link ($349) for existing music systems. Everything—including the rooms in which you want music to play—is controlled by an intuitive app (Android and iOS). Heos is a worthy contender of the Goliathan Sonos and deserves serious consideration. (January 2015, Read Full Review)
Infinity One Wireless Speaker: $300
The Infinity One stands out in the crowded Bluetooth speaker category for its solid build quality and ability to fill a midsize room or small backyard with clear, full-bodied sound and palpable bass—something you don’t get with many portable speakers. Perfect for use while on the go or on a desktop, you can plug the water-resistant cylinder into a wall outlet or let its rechargeable battery provide power for up to 10 hours. An excellent choice for a college dorm or small office. (December 2014, Read Full Review)
Niles Audio OS6.5 Outdoor Speaker: $390/pair
Niles means business with an outdoor speaker that boasts a nearly indestructible enclosure made of ABS plastic and nylon with UV stabilizers mixed in. The OS6.5 actually exceeds federal anticorrosion specifications for military use, meaning it is flame retardant and can withstand a direct water spray. All that from a rounded speaker that will look great under the eaves while it pumps out solid bass and uses its wide dispersion to fill your patio with music. (July 2012 Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology Incline Desktop Speaker System: $399/pair
It seems unreasonable to expect powerful bass and spacious sound from a desktop system but that’s what you get with Incline. “Its strengths are in delivering dynamic sound with unusually powerful bass for a desktop speaker without a separate subwoofer,” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “Like other bipolar speakers I’ve heard, it also creates a wide, deep stereo image." Credit goes to the clever mini tower design, featuring a beefy 4-inch woofer/bass radiator combo, rear-firing driver, and slanted baffle that directs sound to your ears. (May 2014, Read Full Review)
Soundcast Systems Melody Bluetooth Speaker: $449
You’ll find plenty of portable bluetooth speakers out there, but you’ll search long and hard to find one that’s as well built, weatherproof, and good-sounding as the Melody. What does it bring to the (outdoor) party? An easy-to-manage cylindrical form factor with a built-in carrying handle, Bluetooth connectivity for stream-at-will convenience, 360-degree sound dispersion, controls for popular music apps like Pandora, and 20 hours of battery life. This is a great little take-anywhere speaker. (July/August 2014, Read Full Review)
Cambridge Audio Minx 200 Air Wireless Speaker System: $599
The Minx 200 Air might be small but it’s loaded with technology, including exotic drivers, AirPlay and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, digital amplification, and DSP processing. Most important, it delivers excellent sound from an inconspicuous cabinet. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “If you want music in the kitchen, in the bedroom, on the deck, in the garage—basically, anywhere with a power outlet—this $599 product is well worth the price. It certainly was a big hit in my home.” (SoundandVision.com, posted May 29, 2014, Read Full Review)
JBL Authentics L8 Wireless Speaker System: $600
A scaled down version of JBL’s Top Pick-winning L16, the L8 boasts rugged construction, classic styling, and powerful yet warm sound that will delight fans of big bass. The elongated speaker supports Bluetooth, AirPlay, and DLNA wireless connectivity and is equipped with analog and digital (optical) inputs. Perfect for a small apartment, the L8 could easily be called into action as a TV soundbar thanks to its optical output. (December 2014, Read Full Review)
Boston Acoustics Voyager Metro II Outdoor Speaker, $800/pair
Boat approved: Apart from withstanding extreme temperatures (Ben & Jerry’s uses them in some of its ice cream freezers), the Voyager is designed for marine use, which means its polypropylene enclosure is resistant to salt and impervious to UV rays. Sweetening the deal is a five-year warranty, a dual-voicecoil configuration that enables limited separation stereo from one speaker and sound with a detailed top end. (July 2012 Read Full Review)
JBL Authentics L16 Wireless Speaker System: $1,000
In a world flooded with wireless speakers, the L16 stands alone with classic styling, unusually comprehensive connectivity—including a phono input for a turntable with a moving coil cartridge!—high-resolution audio support, and powerful performance. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann called the speaker “truly formidable” thanks to its provocative cosmetics, three-way driver array, brawny amplification, and thoughtful construction, which includes a giant aluminum heatsink, shock-absorbent feet, and a rubber-lined compartment lid. “This is a powerful, and powerfully versatile, product.” (SoundandVision.com, posted September 29, 2014, Read Full Review)
Atlantic Technology AT-2 Speaker: $1,800/pair
Atlantic Technology did additional development of a concept developed by speaker designer Phil Clements that uses a combination of chambers inside the cabinet to drive significant bass performance out of smaller drivers. The result so far has been a tower speaker, this bookshelf speaker, and a recent soundbar. Mark Fleischmann, reviewing the AT-2 in a stereo pair, found that it delivered surprising low-end performance for its compact size, adding “if you’re thinking of eliminating the sub from your stereo or surround system—or would like to enjoy the better-integrated bass feel of a sub-equipped rig with a lower crossover—the AT-2 deserves a listen.” (May 2012, Read Full Review)
Home Theater Speaker Systems
Except where noted, prices listed are for a full 5.1-channel system as we reviewed it with speakers for left, right, center, surround right, and surround left channels, plus an active self-powered subwoofer.
<$999
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Speaker System: $500
Engineered by world-renown designer Andrew Jones, this system's predecessor, the SP-BS41, took our Top Pick of the Year award for value in 2011 thanks to the amazingly good sound it produces for its modest price tag. This recent update actually lowers the system price while further improving sound quality. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann noted, "Once again, Andrew Jones has delivered a gift to the surround audiophile on a budget." (December 2012, Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 Speaker System: $699
For less than a grand, you'll be hard pressed to find a compact speaker system that looks and sounds as good as the ProCinema 600. Reviewer Kim Wilson was impressed with its ability to deliver “surprisingly robust bass” as well as a “highly coherent surround field in a small room without degrading the sound quality, even at relatively high volumes.” An excellent value overall. (August 2011, Read Full Review)
Cambridge Audio Minx S215 Speaker System: $850 (for updated V2 system)
Ideal for rooms in which large speakers are simply not welcome, the Minx S215 teams five tiny cube speakers—each of which will fit in the palm of your hand—with a diminutive subwoofer that’s less than 9 inches in all dimensions. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann’s take in a nutshell: “Smart engineering and good materials enable the satellites to create a vivid sound field with modest but well-pitched bass reinforcement from the sub.” (June 2011 Read Full Review)
NHT SuperZero 2.0 Speaker System: $879 (for updated SuperZero 2.1 system)
The allure of NHT’s SuperZero, which achieved immediate acclaim when it debuted in 1994, is fully intact in the SuperZero 2.0. The updated 2.0 handles front- and rear-channel duties in this six-piece package, leaving bass chores to a highly competent, 11-inch-square subwoofer. As reviewer Mark Fleischmann put it: “For these small speakers, big words are not inappropriate—excellent, superb, brilliant—although words like comforting, nourishing, and nonfatiguing might be nearer the mark.” (July 2011 Read Full Review)
$1,000-$2,999
SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 System: $1,000
If you’re looking for a 5.1 home theater speaker system that delivers authoritative full-range sound with seamless sub/sat blending, SVS’s Prime Satellite 5.1 is about as good as it gets. Veteran reviewer Dan Kumin wrote: “The system as a whole proved capable out of all proportion to either size or price. Apollo 13 may be 20 years old, but the late-edition Blu-ray remains a stern test of home-theater sound (and picture!), one that the SVS suite passed with honors.” (SoundandVision.com, posted December 23, 2014, Read Full Review)
Klipsch Quintet Speaker System: $1,050
If you’re looking for exceptional home theater surround sound but have a small budget and limited room for speakers, start here. The Quintet system, now in its fifth generation, is one of the all-time best sellers in the affordable “subwoofer/satellite” category. But unlike other compact systems, here you get a refined mini version of the horn-loaded speaker technology that made Klipsch famous. A specialist in this category, reviewer Mark Fleischmann called the new Quintet “a marvel and a bargain.” (July/August 2013, Read Full Review)
Boston Acoustics A 25 Speaker System: $1,200
Veteran hi-fi enthusiasts will remember Boston’s popular A Series from the 1980s, which has been reborn in the A 25 ensemble featuring four reasonably compact satellites, a matching center speaker and a subwoofer that outperforms most subs in its class. The upshot: Well-balanced performance with a midrange that is vivid and alive at an affordable price. (June 2011 Read Full Review)
Orb Audio People’s Choice Speaker System: $1,297 (for system with updated X Series models)
There’s no denying that these little orbs are cute conversation starters but dismissing them as mere gimmicks would be a big mistake. The 3-inch drivers that inhabit the rugged steel spheres (one per orb) excel in terms of clarity and openness and combine to produce a delightfully airy sound field. Low-end support comes from a subwoofer that works best when located near the double-orb front-channel satellites. (July 2012 Read Full Review)
Monitor Audio MASS 5.1 Speaker System: $1,299
“Expect the unexpected” could well be the motto of the Mass 5.1 speaker system, which will blow your mind with its holographic imaging, enormous soundstage, and seamless subwoofer/satellite integration—all from a compact, affordable, and elegantly styled ensemble that serves both music and movies. “I’m not saying Monitor Audio’s MASS speaker system is perfect,” wrote reviewer Dennis Burger. “I’m merely saying that when it does exhibit any shortcomings, pointing them out sort of feels like scolding a gifted grade-schooler for bringing home an A-minus in differential calculus.” (SoundandVision.com, posted December 3, 2013, Read Full Review)
Cambridge Audio Minx S325v2 Speaker System: $1,449
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, ultra-compact home theater speaker system, the tiny satellites and diminutive sub that comprise the Minx S325v2 will shock you with larger-than-life sound. “The S325v2 speaker package is one of the best I’ve heard,” raved reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “Let me be more specific: As far as the Min 21 satellite is concerned, I’ve never heard a better one…The Minx offers a completely satisfying listening experience, both musically and cinematically.” (May 2013, Read Full Review)
Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Micro SE Speaker System: $1,614
The Nucleus Micro SE system is not just another “cute” speaker system. Anthony Gallo has been designing globe-shaped speakers for 15 years and he has it down to a science—so much so that you’ll be shocked at how big a soundstage these tiny speakers are capable of producing. “Unforced clarity is the Nucleus Micro SE’s strong suit,” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “Their other strength is dispersion… If you want a wall-mounted speaker to produce copious detail and spread it evenly throughout the room, this is an excellent choice.” (December 2013, Read Full Review)
JBL Studio 230 Speaker System: $1,630
If you’re looking for speakers with a warm tonal balance, you’ll probably want to focus your efforts elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you prefer brighter sounding speakers that bring out the detail of music recordings and shine with movie soundtracks, the Studio 2 speakers are worthy of an audition. Commenting on how they handled the often bombastic soundtrack for the movie Snitch, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The speakers uncovered every possible detail, and thanks to their low distortion, the assaultive effects went down like a spoonful of honey in a cup of tea…These speakers are great for movies.” (December 2014, Read Full Review)
Silverline Audio Minuet Supreme Plus Speaker System: $1,748
If you’re not familiar with the Silverline brand, don’t fret: The Minuet Supreme Plus is the kind of small speaker that makes listening to music an addictive pleasure. It’s also that rare kind of small speaker that gets very high marks from seasoned reviewers like Mark Fleischmann, who gave it five stars across the board. Put five Minuets together with a subwoofer and you have what he called “a perfect foundation for a compact, high-aspiring, moderately priced home theater system—or any other kind of audio system.” (November 2014, Read Full Review)
GoldenEar SuperCinema3 Speaker System: $1,750
You won’t find many satellite speakers as trim or as masterfully designed as the SuperSat 3 (and 3C center), which squeezes two 4.5-inch woofers and a folded-diaphragm tweeter into a cabinet that’s only 2.7 inches deep. Serving music as well as it does movie soundtracks, the svelte system is notable for excellent imaging and extended though not exaggerated highs riding above a solid foundation laid by the potent ForceField 3 subwoofer. (November 2011 Read Full Review)
Axiom Epic Midi 125 Speaker System: $1,786
Relatively unknown, Axiom is one of a special few companies that emerged from Canada’s National Research Council facilities, a world-class testing lab. And it shows: The Epic Midi 125 package is one of audio’s best kept secrets. Whether you’re grooving to music or enjoying a movie, these speakers let the content speak for itself, delivering high-performance and remarkable value for a system that sells for less than $1,500. Available online with a 30-day money-back guarantee, the Epic Midi 125 is well worth a home demo. (July/August 2013, Read Full Review)
Phase Technology V52 Speaker System: $1,880
Phase Technology, one of America’s great speaker companies, has struck gold with the update of its affordable Velocity line. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann did not mince words when summing up his impression of the V52 home theater speaker combo: "The new version of Phase Technology’s Velocity line is one of the best sets of affordable speakers I’ve ever heard. The speakers outperform most products in their price range and quite a few products above their price range.” (June 2013, Read Full Review)
PSB Imagine XB Speaker System: $1,846
Master speaker designer Paul Barton—the name behind PSB—doesn’t stand still for very long. His newest endeavor, the Imagine XB series, borrows technology from the higher end Imagine (sans X) line and brings it to market at more affordable prices. Recalling his experience watching Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit on Blu-ray, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “There was a wonderful disconnect between the sight of the little speakers and the huge sound they made.” A high compliment, indeed. The Imagine XB speaker ensemble is a perfect choice for a serious starter system or a step-up system. (November 2014, Read Full Review)
RSL 5.1 Theater Speaker System: $2,075
Based on RSL’s little mini-monitors, an LCR for the center, and a sweet little active sub with an outboard control panel, this system isn’t exactly cheap. But its price/performance ratio is so over the top we couldn’t help but declare it one of our Top Picks of the Year last year in the Value category. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann called the RSL 5.1 Theater system “the audio equivalent of a high-speed train. It’s a premium ride: smooth, pleasurable, hassle free, no annoying pat-downs. I fell in love with it from the first moments I listened to it.” (February 2012, Read Full Review)
Infinity Reference R162 Speaker System: $2,100
The R162 is all about attention to detail—in design and performance. It uses a patented waveguide to improve off-axis response and integration between tweeter and woofer, and excels at delivering sound so natural that it’s hard to believe voices are coming from a speaker. Reviewer Mark Fleishman wrote: “I’ve never heard any affordably priced product from the brand sound this good. These speakers taught me a lot about music I thought I knew like the back of my hand...I imagine this system pleasing every listener except for the ones who prefer a less enthusiastic top end.” (SoundandVision.com, posted January 13, 2015, Read Full Review)
Paradigm Mini Monitor Series 7 Speaker System: $2,494 (updated 2/17/15)
The Monitor Series is a long-running classic at Paradigm that recently underwent upgrading based on the company’s latest technology developments. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann called the redesign “an unqualified success,” noting that the system is voiced to mate well with less expensive receivers. The matching DSP-3200 sub, which features Paradigm’s Perfect Bass equalization kit as an affordable extra, also got kudos. “In general, these speakers would be great all-around performers at any price,” he said, adding, “At their asking price, they’re a superb value.” (December 2011, Read Full Review)
Morel Soundspot Theater2 Ultra Speaker System: $2,199
This adorably attractive system, with it’s orb-like speakers and matching eye-ball subwoofer, sounds simply sensational on both movies and music. It’s not inexpensive, but “the top specimens of any speaker genre generally command high prices,” said reviewer Mark Fleischmann, “and these well-made, musically satisfying, cinematically potent speakers make a convincing case not only for themselves but for their genre. Little speakers can sound amazing.” (September 2011, Read Full Review)
Cambridge Audio Aero 2 Speaker System: $2,446
With Aero 2, Cambridge Audio has reinvented the two-way speaker by using an extended range “balanced mode radiator” driver in place of a conventional tweeter. The result is smooth highs, a detailed midrange, and, with the formidable Aero 9 subwoofer in place, a robust bottom end. Summing up, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “Demo after demo, the Aeros got better and better, and I gradually pushed up the performance rating till I could push no further. What makes these unusual speakers even more remarkable is that they’re so affordable.” (May 2014, Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 55 Speaker System: $2,494
Definitive Technology introduced updated bookshelf speakers in early 2012, and our test system utilized the larger SM55s up front and a pair of smaller SM45s for surround duties, along with one of the company’s updated subwoofers. The SM55 was an outright revelation; even without a subwoofer its top-mounted passive radiator design delivered surprisingly deep and well-integrated bass, and these speakers imaged like nobody’s business. “There are the several enhancements to the speakers’ insides,” observed reviewer Darryl Wilkinson, “notably revisions to the bass drivers that result in speakers capable of ultra-revealing midrange detail and exceptional low-bass performance for their size and price.” (June 2012, Read Full Review)
Pioneer Elite SP-EBS73-LR Dolby Atmos-Enabled Speaker System: $2,500
Another amazing value from speaker wiz Andrew Jones, the EBS73 is an extraordinary two-in-one system that delivers excellent sound as a 5.1 setup or in a cutting-edge 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos configuration. All you need is an Atmos-capable AV receiver—each of the four main speakers has a built-in height module right on top. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann concluded: “If you want Atmos now, this system is a viable entry point. If you’re looking for a future upgrade path, the superb 5.1 and 2.0 performance makes it an excellent investment right away.” (February/March 2015, Read Full Review)
Paradigm Millenia One Speaker System: $2,648
Paradigm managed to produce an attractive, décor friendly, compact speaker system with a sexy oval-shaped cabinet that won’t disappoint serious enthusiasts looking for superior sound quality. A matching thin-profile subwoofer that can stand tall or be laid flat and slid under a couch rounds out the package. Reviewer Mark Flesichmann wrote that “the Paradigm MilleniaOne sets a new standard in performance for the compact satellite speaker category, and in terms of build quality and cosmetics, it’s top notch. As for sound quality, if you want satellite speakers, the MilleniaOne is simply the best I’ve heard—and if you don’t want satellites, it just might change your mind.” (October 2012, Read Full Review)
$3,000-$4,999
Morel SoundSpot MT-3 Speaker System: $3,000
Morel’s MT-3 Music Theatre combines steel truncated-sphere enclosures, concentric drivers, and a unique grille pattern to create a visually striking and high-performing compact sat/sub set. The ensemble is not cheap but delivers clear, detailed, and surprisingly powerful sound. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “In 12 Years a Slave, the matched satellites knitted together a seamless soundfield, which was most noticeable in the naturalistic insect noises that surrounded the 19th-century plantation exteriors—including scenes of horrific barbarism.” (May 2015, Read Full Review)
GoldenEar Aon 2 Speaker System: $3,000
With five foot-tall satellites and the powerful Darth Vader-esque ForceField 5 subwoofer, the system’s sonic signature is defined by GoldenEar’s sweet sounding folded-ribbon tweeter. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann raved: “Few speakers in my experience have gotten through both movie and music demos with such unfaltering grace and power.” But it was Abbey Road on vinyl that really captivated Fleischmann: “The system could stand up to high-level blasting, never losing touch with the warmth, smoothness, and texture that made me seek out the British vinyl in the first place.” (May 2013, Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology Wireless Collection Multiroom Audio System: $3,295 (as reviewed)
Def Tech’s Wireless Collection is an easy-to-set-up, mix-and-match multiroom audio system comprising five terrific sounding products: The cube-shaped W-7 speaker ($399), rectangular W9 speaker ($699), W Amp ($499), W Adapt module for existing audio sources ($399), and the W Studio soundbar system ($1,299), a Play-Fi-equipped version of the SoloCinema Studio. The system is based on the open Play-Fi wireless platform, which distributes uncompressed audio over Wi-Fi. While the W Collection beats Sonos hands-down for sound quality, its control app is less flexible and streaming services are limited to Pandora, Songza, and Deezer (more will likely be added). (April 2015, Read Full Review)
Acoustic Energy Radiance 1 Speaker System: $3,340
An unusual “ring radiator” tweeter helps give this high end compact system its signature sound, and made it a joy to listen to. “With the Radiance line, Acoustic Energy lives up to its 20-year reputation for making fabulous loudspeakers,” said reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “Listening to the ring radiator tweeter was a particular pleasure. If you find your current speakers harsh, but you don’t want to give up extended frequency response, you may love the Radiance 1…These are great speakers and overachievers in their price range.” (September 2009, Read Full Review)
SVS Ultra Speaker System: $3,348
SVS may be best known for its subwoofers but the Ultra ensemble is proof that this company also knows how to build a serious subwoofer/satellite speaker system. Wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann, “These speakers do everything well, and the more time I spent with them, the more I appreciated the way they could get the best out of any content in my library—free of gross flaws, too-obvious subjectivity, or little niggling quirks that grow tiresome in the long term…I don’t say this often, but I’ll say it now: I could live with these.” (HomeTheater.com, posted July 26, 2013, Read Full Review)
Klipsch Reference RB-61 II Speaker System: $3,350
This latest iteration of the Klipsch Reference series stole reviewer Mark Fleischmann’s heart for it’s tremendously detailed and focused sound. “Looking over my Klipsch reviews from the past couple of decades, I recall a lot of products I respected and liked but none that I fell in love with,” he wrote. “The Reference II is the first Klipsch product to tip over that subjective line.” (November 2011, Read Full Review)
Atlantic Technology System 4400 Speaker System: $3,425
This compact THX Select-certified speaker system, when mated with a THX Select A/V receiver, is guaranteed to play to peaks of 105 decibels in a 2,000 cubic feet room. That’s darn loud, but reviewer Mark Flesischmann found it was the system’s tendency to let him get lost in the music or movie that really moved him. The Atlantic Technology’s System 4400 “lends itself to superlatives,” he said. “The price/performance ratio couldn’t be more favorable: This package is a stellar performer as well as a pretty unbeatable value.” (November 2009, Read Full Review)
Pinnacle Black Diamond 650 Series II Speaker System: $3,996
The Black Diamond system is somewhat of a rarity in that it is designed and built by one of the few remaining family-owned speaker companies in the U.S. Pinnacle has been making excellent speakers for almost 40 years, a reputation that lives on with this compact home theater ensemble. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The Black Diamond II is that particular kind of great loudspeaker line that imparts a little of its greatness to everything it touches, especially in the top end, which is consistently smooth, warm, pleasing, and euphonic.” (February/March 2014, Read Full Review)
Tannoy Precision Speaker System: $4,414
The across-the-board five-star ratings say it all: Here’s a system that excels in performance, build quality, and value. Add to that a subwoofer that netted five stars for performance and value, four-and-a-half stars for build quality, and four stars for features and you have one serious home theater ensemble. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “Anyone hearing them would be impressed—Tannoy really has refined its Dual Concentric act to near perfection. I’m especially impressed that they have achieved such indisputably high-end, and—well—precise results at less than 600 bucks per monitor and just over a thousand for the sub.” (HomeTheater.com, posted June 21, 2013, Read Full Review)
NEAR IG 6 Outdoor Speaker System: $4,656 (as reviewed)
In case you haven’t heard of the company, New England Audio Resource (NEAR) has a long history of making outdoor speakers built to withstand the rigors of weather—in any environment—year-round. The IG 6 system we reviewed —comprising two IG 6 main speakers, an IG 12 subwoofer, and the 2x600-watt 6XL amplifier—is not cheap nor easy to install but the reward is serious high-performance sound for your backyard patio/deck or pool area. Calling the outdoor system the best he’s ever heard, reviewer David Vaughn wrote: “Music comes alive wherever you are in the yard.” (June 2015, Read Full Review)
$5,000 >
Dynaudio Excite X14 Speaker System: $5,100
When you hear Dynaudio’s Excite line you’ll be shocked at how big these small speakers sound. And at this price you won’t find any vinyl. Instead, you choose between four impeccable finishes: rosewood or walnut veneer and black or white satin lacquer. Calling the X14 everything a high-end compact speaker should be with movies or music, reviewer Daniel Kumin wrote: “These four monitors and center produce a wide, deep soundfield. Even with just two operating, the soundstage is generous and populated with palpable images. And bass is eyebrow-raisingly full, with or without the Sub 250 II.” (October 2014, Read Full Review)
Bowers & Wilkins CM6 S2 Speaker System: $5,850
The latest iteration of B&W’s CM series introduces a dozen or so engineering refinements that contribute to a stunningly gorgeous speaker system that is highly neutral and free of obvious coloration—just the way audiophiles like it. Heartily recommending the CM6 S2 ensemble, reviewer Dan Kumin wrote: “B&W’s re-refined somewhat-affordable system is a standout. The CM S2s did everything well and displayed no discrete vices…They sound gratifyingly open and depth-y, and produced solid spatial effects both from two-channel and surround productions.” (SoundandVision.com, posted September 8, 2014, Read Full Review)
Paradigm Prestige 15B Speaker System Review: $6,145
With five-star ratings across the board, the Prestige system continues Paradigm’s legacy of delivering impeccably designed speakers that never fail to impress. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann was won over by the speakers’ remarkable transparency and dynamic punch, credit for which goes to the cylindrical Seismic 110 subwoofer, which itself received a Top Pick rating. Summing up, he wrote: “The Paradigm Prestige series combines state-of-the-art design, ingenious engineering, and superb build quality with voicing that I found cinematically and musically unerring.” (June 2015, Read Full Review)
KEF R300 Speaker System: $6,800
British speaker maker KEF spent a number of years researching an all-out statement speaker system called the Blade, then begin trickling the technologies and concepts they developed into less pricey models. The R Series is a step down from their top-of-the-line Reference models, but provides much of the performance at an albeit still-high price for a compact speaker kit. “I’m struck by how much this system excelled in the human dimension—that is, the reproduction of speaking and singing voices,” noted reviewer Mark Fleischmann, “although it also handled pretty much all instruments and effects with aplomb.” (August 2012, Read Full Review)
Monitor Audio Gold GX50 Speaker System: $7,480
British speaker manufacturer Monitor Audio is known for the pristine, detailed quality and remarkable imaging from their proprietary ribbon tweeter. The Gold GX series is the real deal, a full-out dream “for the questing audiophile who wants to transcend the limitations of run of-the-mill dome-based tweeters and low-tech woofers,” wrote Mark Fleischmann. (September 2011, Read Full Review)
Bryston Mini T Speaker System: $8,881
“Mini” is a relative term. In the case of the Mini T series, Bryston is clearly pushing the boundaries with big, bulky speakers built to brick-house standards. Impeccably crafted as they are, though, they won’t win any beauty pageants. But beauty is not what the Mini’s are about—they’re about performance. And perform they did. Reviewer Daniel Kumin wrote, “I could hear the full depth and breadth of the huge orchestra, and the powerful brass statements and restatements of the opening theme were chillingly lifelike.” And with movies, the results were just as compelling: “Performance on material like the opening attack sequence from Pearl Harbor was as high-impact as I’ve ever experienced.” (October 2014, Read Full Review)
M&K Sound S300 Speaker System: $17,700
Hand-crafted in Denmark using audiophile-approved Scan-Speak drivers, the S-300 excels at delivering the kind of dynamic, natural sound you hear at great movie theaters. Not surprising when you consider M&K speakers have been widely used in famous movie production studios, including George Lucas’ fabled Skywalker Ranch where Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was mixed. Cueing up Sith for the ultimate test, reviewer David Vaughn wrote: “Each sound occupied its own space, but they all came together in a cohesive delivery of audio ecstasy. The immediacy and authenticity of the [sound]…transported me to another world.” What more could you ask for? (July/August 2014, Read Full Review)
Sony SS-NA5ES Speaker System: $19,000
When you think Sony, speakers are not what come to mind. But for years the company that invented the Walkman has embraced high-performance sound through products that bear the ES emblem. Drawing on a broad range of music and movie soundtracks, reviewer Mark Fleischmann put the fine drivers inside the Scandinavian birch enclosures through their paces. His conclusion: “They offer an incremental edge to listeners who want the very best—especially those who might appreciate their winning personality, golden midrange, spacious treble, power handling, that prodigious sub, and Sony’s avowedly listening-based approach to design.” (November 2013, Read Full Review)

COMMENTS
idaman@q.com's picture

I use you guys for buying electronics but I notice that you never do recommendations of these larger sizes that are under $3000.00.There has to be some good units out there and I am not interested in 3-D and could live without smart features if I can get a best picture at a down to earth price.

drron's picture

This may sound a little strange, but I am looking for a 12 " led flat screen tv for use on my desk. I don't have a great deal of room on my desk, so 12 or 13 " seems to be a good size choice. This seems to be an area that has been overlooked by most of the flat screen manufacturers along with S&V mag. Many of us spend long hours working at a desk and would like a little diversion now and then. How about some basic information on the smaller size flat screens?

Howard's picture

In your January 2014 you selected this Yamaha unit as a TOP PICK but it is not listed on Top Picks on your web site. Did you remove this unit as a top pick or just left it out in error?
Please advise. Thank you
Howard baskin
hbaskin1@verizon.net

tomd51's picture

Check under 'Processors & Amps' section, the CX-A5000 is a processor, not an AV Receiver.

kathleen's picture

Has anyone heard of - AZON DEAL UPDATER (google it)? They have a little gold box on the site that spits out any discount promo codes for any product on Amazon. Bought my Samsung HT-E6500 lower than the discounted price. Don't think too many people know about this.

Aschinck's picture

Good afternoon guys.
As a worker in the electronic industry i often look at your top pick to see if some of my products would find a place in it. Recently i realize that for a buyer your list is kind of shitty. First most of the model are 2-3-4 years back. Would it be possible to have a top pick of 2014 and then 2015 product so we can keep a fair track?

thank you

Vrahode's picture

There has been a lot of new technology in viewing surfaces in recent years as the prior post stated. Draper, for example, who I work for has released a new line of surfaces called TecVision that out perform many competitor products through wider viewing cones, more consistent gain, lower gloss levels and even superior angular reflectivity. We would love to send samples and allow the folks at Sound and Vision the opportunity for objective comparison of these recent breakthroughs in screen technology.

Angelo's picture

On my projectors JVC DLA-X3 the lamp is at 900 hours and the brightness has dimed a bit!
The brightness calibration on the unit is at 10(from day one) .
I use the projector only for movies . Can you please provide any suggestion/recommendations on how to calibrate the brightness !
Greatly appreciate your help.

johnny_y_mac's picture

Any thoughts on the X2000, 3000, or 4000?

briankeanton's picture

But I still feel this list should be updated cause there many new products with a large scale of features. Brian

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