2020 Top Picks of the Year Speakers

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Speakers

Top Pick of the Year:

GoldenEar Technology BRX Bookshelf Speaker
(September) Read Review

GoldenEar's BRX brings the design strategies that have made the company's Reference Series speakers so compelling to a compact bookshelf model. Notably, it marks the swan song for audio industry luminary Sandy Gross, who moved on from the company in early 2020. In his review, editor Al Griffin found that "the BRX's natural tonal balance and dynamic, effortless character invited extended listening, and while bass in this case is necessarily limited due to cabinet size, the low-end the BRX does manage is surprisingly powerful for a small-ish speaker." $1,599/pair, goldenear.com

Finalists:

Monitor Audio Silver 300 Speaker System
(April/May) Read Review

This Gen 6 Silver Series system impressed with its crisp, detailed overall sound, high-performance three-way center speaker—with vertical mid-range/tweeter orientation for enhanced off-axis performance—and powerful sub with built-in room correction. Elegant looks and immaculate build quality drive home the system's appeal. $5,975 (as tested), monitoraudio.com

MartinLogan Motion 60 XTi Speaker System
(April/May) Read Review

The new "XTi" versions of MartinLogan's Motion speakers bring welcome upgrades in style and performance that take the series to the next level. The system we reviewed also featured the impressive Dynamo 1600X subwoofer, a feature-packed beast that, according to reviewer Michael Trei, "delivers both power and speed through its use of a sealed cabinet, powerful amplifier, and versatile room-correction technology." $8,000 (as tested), martinlogan.com

Andover Audio Spinbase Turntable Speaker System
(September) Read Review

Pulling double-duty as a vibration-reducing turntable platform and all-in-one powered stereo speaker system with Bluetooth support, Andover Audio's spinbase was characterized by reviewer Michael Trei as "a fulfilling high-performance alternative to an entry-level component-based stereo system." $299, andoveraudio.com

Definitive Technology Demand D15 Speaker System
(September) Read Review

Topping out at around five grand, Def Tech's slim, sleek tower-based Demand setup is easy on the ears and the eyes. Reviewer Daniel Kumin called it: "A handsome system that sounds very good with just about everything, and with enough bass extension to satisfy most needs." $5,056 (as tested), definitivetechnology.com

Revel PerformaBe Surround Speaker System
(October/November) Read Review

This high-end Revel home theater speaker package is notable for the company's use of Beryllium-dome tweeters and also for its impeccable build quality. Summing up his time with the Revel rig, reviewer Thomas J. Norton stated that buyers will be "assured of an exceptionally rewarding listening experience with both music and movies." $20,500 (as tested), revelspeakers.com

Magnepan LRS Loudspeaker
(October/November) Read Review

Designed and manufactured in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, Magnepan speakers are typically a high-end, high-priced proposition, but the affordable LRS is the company's effort to pull newbie audiophiles into the Magnepan fold. Careful setup and equipment-matching is required to get the best performance from the LRS, but once done, listeners can expect "extraordinary sonic transparency," and a "large, well-focused soundstage," according reviewer Michael Trei. $650/pair, magnepan.com

Focal Chora 826-D Speaker System
(December/January) Read Review

This system based around Focal's Chora 826-D ($2,790/pair), a tower speaker with a built-in up-firing Atmos Elevation module, delivered all-around excellent performance in our test, though editor Al Griffin found the included subwoofer to be pricey given its limited feature set. $8,360 (as tested), focalnaimamerica.com

JBL HDI-3600 Loudspeaker
(December /January) Read Review

We found JBL's upscale-looking HDI-3600 tower to deliver effortless, fatigue-free sound during our test, and were impressed with its wide imaging capability. Positioning and amp-matching initially posed challenges, but once locked in, the HDI-3600 revealed its sonic charms. $3,800/pair, jblsynthesis.com

Monitor Audio Bronze 5.1.4 Speaker System
(February/March 2021) Read Review

This Monitor Audio sixth-generation Bronze series system delivered good envelopment with Atmos soundtracks and sound that was "shockingly close to my Silver 10s at roughly one-third the price," in the words of reviewer Thomas J. Norton. Some subwoofer crawl aside, MA's Bronze rig registered as an excellent value. $3,659 (as tested), monitoraudiousa.com

ELAC Uni-Fi 2.0 Surround Speaker System
(February/March 2021) Read Review

It may look basic, but this next-gen Uni-Fi system's sound "came across as consistently clean and dynamic whether I was hitting it hard with action movie soundtracks or playing music," said editor Al Griffin in his review. The system also comes with a very capable subwoofer featuring a user-friendly control app and easily implemented Auto-EQ. $3,000 (as tested), elac.com

Bowers &Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition loudspeaker
(February/March 2021) Read Review

Though it competes in a crowded field, Bowers &Wilkins' 607 S2 was characterized as a "very fine, intelligently balanced small two-way" by reviewer Daniel Kumin. He did find it to be slightly bright with some recordings but concluded that "good stuff sounded uniformly great" on these compact bookshelf speakers. $700/pair, bowerswilkins.com

COMMENTS
SuicideSquid's picture

It's nice to see a range of pricing across your picks - good to see a mid-range priced bookshelf speaker as your top pick of the year, and a $700 set of B&Ws to sit alongside some of the $5,000 options. It's a lot more helpful to most readers than just leaning hard into the top-end.

The feature set of that Monoprice preamp looks amazing, but am I the only one who thinks it looks ugly as sin? The aesthetics of most of monoprice's gear makes me cringe.

mjmiller715's picture

Couldnt agree more.

I havent heard any of their products other than basic hdmi cables and the like.

I find it hard to believe they can copycat their way into such high quality but maybe im mistaken.

This coming from someone who uses an old anthem receiver that is not the prettiest girl at the party but it does quite well under most conditions.

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