Top Picks Compact Speakers

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Stereo Pairs/Systems and All-in-One Speakers
OSD NERO AB5 Active Studio Monitor: $200/pair
It’s remarkable to think that you can get kick-ass sound from a speaker that stands less than a foot tall and sells for $200 a pair, but that’s exactly what you get with OSD’s Nero AB5. Reviewer Dennis Young calls the AB5 the best speaker of any size or shape he’s heard for the money, an assertion he backs up with Sound & Vision’s Top Value designation. The AB5 is a powered two-way system where all of the electronics, controls, and connections reside in one of the speakers. The system is not wireless, so there is no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth streaming capability, but it is built using quality components and the main speaker houses an active crossover and digital signal processor alongside the power amplifier. (April/May 2024, Read Full Review)
Sonos Era 100 Wireless Speaker: $249
The Era 100 is a follow-up to the much-heralded Sonos One speaker and little brother to the excellent Era 300 Atmos-compliant “spatial audio” speaker. The Era 100 supports streaming via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi/AirPlay 2 with voice control. Of course, it’s also built to work within the long-admired Sonos multiroom ecosystem, which is known for its excellent app. The speaker also uses Sonos’s proprietary Trueplay tuning to compensate for room acoustics no matter when you place it and can play surprisingly loud without breaking a sweat. If you’re looking for a decent sounding speaker that can be used almost anywhere, the little Era 100 is worth a listen. (August/September 2023, Read Full Review)
Monolith MTM-100 Powered Desktop Speaker 2.1 System: $850
Monoprice, the California-based company once known mostly for selling good quality AV cables and accessories at bargain-basement prices, continues its foray into home audio. This time with a formidable desktop system that mates a pair of 14-inch-tall speakers with a compact THX-certified subwoofer featuring an 8-inch woofer, dedicated 150-watt amplifier, and full set of controls. At $850, the system is not cheap but it does deliver audiophile-caliber sound for a reasonable price, hence the Top Value designation. In his listening tests, reviewer Howard Kneller praised the system for its clean delivery and extraordinary sound staging. (Posted 9/27/23, Read Full Review)
Klipsch The Nines Powered Speaker: $1,449/pair
Klipsch is often associated with big, but the company makes plenty of compact speakers, including The Nines, one of several powered speaker systems in its Heritage Inspired line. The beauty of this system is just that — it’s a stereo system with onboard power and a preamp that facilitates the convenience of Bluetooth streaming while providing a variety of analog and digital inputs. A basic remote is provided but the Klipsch Connect app provides considerably more control. If you think mating an 8-inch woofer with a horn-loaded 1-inch titanium tweeter can produce big, powerful sound, you’d be right. If you’re looking for a simple “stereo” system that is flexible and doesn’t take up a ton space, The Nines are well worth a look and listen. (December 2023/January 2024, Read Full Review)
KLH Model Three Bookshelf Speaker: $1,800/pair
The Model Three is one of a few new KLH models based on the iconic brand’s original designs principles. The dynamic, open, and detailed sound they produce equals or exceeds the performance of many far more expensive loudspeakers. (February/March 2023, Read Full Review)
Home Theater Speaker Systems
RSL W25E In-Wall Speaker System: $2,020
Audiophiles who think it’s impossible to get credible sound from in-wall speakers that all but disappear will be shocked when they hear what RSL’s W25E speakers can do. The affordable 5.1 setup we reviewed mated four W25E in-walls with a timbre-matched freestanding CG25 center speaker and standalone Speedwoofer 12s. The W25E speakers used in the front left/right and rear surround positions feature the company’s patented Compression Guide enclosure and an MTM (midrange-tweeter-midrange) driver arrangement in which the tweeter is offset; the layout, which also places the drivers on an angled baffle, is designed to improve vertical and horizontal dispersion to achieve a smoother response at the listening position. Guess what? It works. Long-time reviewer David Vaughn praised the setup for precise imaging and its ability to “create a solid wall of sound that emanated from the front of the room.” (August/September 2023, Read Full Review)
Sonos 7.1.4 Atmos Speaker System: $2,471
The Sonos Era 300 is a mighty impressive speaker on its own but we wanted to see what level of home theater goodness we could achieve if we mated a pair of the little 300s with a Sonos Sub (Gen 3) and the outstanding Arc soundbar. Could this four-piece system deliver a full-on Dolby Atmos experience to rival a top performing eight-speaker Atmos setup? Indeed it can! Reviewer Rob Sabin described the experience as “full-ticket awesome.” Sonos calls this setup the “Ultimate Immersive Set with Arc.” We call it a knockout. (August/September 2023, Read Full Review)
Stereo Pairs/Systems and All-in-One Speakers
Fluance Ai41 Bluetooth Speaker System: $250/pair
The Ai41 Bluetooth speaker replaces and improves upon the outstanding Ai40, one of our Top Value Picks in 2019. Like its predecessor, the Ai41 is a two-way bookshelf design built for Bluetooth streaming and, though it looks almost identical, there are notable differences. For one, it’s a ported design, whereas the Ai40 was sealed plus it packs more power and boasts a set of stereo RCA analog inputs, an optical digital input, and a subwoofer output, whereas the Ai40 provided only RCA inputs. And instead of an app, you get a compact remote that puts everything you need at your fingertips, including bass and treble controls. Most important, the Ai41 conveys vocals with lifelike presence and is able to play loud and clear without turning multilayered music into mush. (February/March 2022, Read Full Review)
Andover Spinbase Turntable Speaker System: $299
The Spinbase is a unique all-in-one powered speaker that doubles as a turntable platform. Think of it as a music-focused soundbar that replaces the added complexity of (and space consumed by) two speakers with a single box that actually sounds good. We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t the top of a speaker the last place you should put a turntable? Absolutely, which is what makes this bar so amazing. Andover employs a remarkable technology it calls IsoGroove Feedback Elimination to ensure the top surface is well-damped and free of vibration. Longtime audiophile Michael Trei was astonished by the speaker’s ability to deliver open, room-filling sound without any obvious sonic downsides. Adding to its appeal, the Spinbase supports Bluetooth streaming and is dead simple to set up and use. (Summer 2020 Read Full Review
IK Multimedia iLoud MTM Desktop Speaker System: $700/pair
At 11 inches tall, the iLoud MTM monitors are quite a bit larger than your garden-variety PC speakers and miles ahead in terms of sound quality, with each woofer-tweeter-woofer complement drawing on 100 watts of power to create an amazing near-field listening experience. On its own, the driver configuration goes a long way toward improving sound by minimizing potentially destructive reflections. Add to that stands that can be adjusted to tilt each speaker between 0 and 20 degrees. But IK doesn’t stop there, equipping the speakers with a DSP-controlled crossover, EQ settings for tailoring the sound to your liking, and automatic room correction. If your post-pandemic desktop audio setup is in need of an upgrade, put the iLoud MTM speakers on your short list. (April/May 2021, Read Full Review
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Loudspeaker: $700/pair
The hallowed British speaker company Bowers & Wilkins (a.k.a. B&W) has undergone a fair degree of tumult in recent years but through it all has managed to continue producing first-class products like the 607 S2 speaker. It sounds as good as it looks and is one of four models representing the seventh generation of B&W’s popular 600 Series. Standing just shy of a foot tall, the speaker is a two-way, ported design with a 5-inch woofer made of a proprietary "Continuum" woven material and B&W’s signature "decoupled-dome" tweeter. The payoff for reviewer Dan Kumin: Impressive bass and an accurate tonal balance free of “obvious colorations, vocal sibilance, and top-octave fizz.” (February/March 2021, Read Full Review
Klipsch The Fives Powered Speaker System: $799
If you had to pick one word to describe The Fives, it would be “versatile.” These foot-tall speakers are equipped with a generous helping of onboard power and just about any type of connection you could want — including phono inputs, an audio return channel (ARC)-enabled HDMI port (great for TV hookups), and Bluetooth streaming to name three of the seven options. In other words, The Fives will accommodate a variety of setups without you having to worry about hunting down an outboard amp or receiver. More to the point, they play loud and will light up a good sized room with rich detailed sound and surprisingly robust bass. If you’re looking for a good sounding, versatile speaker system, start here. (Posted 7/23/20, Read Full Review)
KEF LSX II Wireless Speaker System: $1,400
The LSX II is a well-conceived and impeccably built compact wireless music system that is completely self-contained, requiring nothing more than power and an internet connection. Fire up its app, and you have Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, Amazon Music, and other top streaming services at your immediate disposal — without having to worry about “hooking up a system.” You don’t even have to run a cable between the speakers if you don’t want to. Veteran reviewer Dan Kumin remained consistently captivated by the speakers’ ability to present a believably real sense of space, regardless of music genre. “No matter what I cued up, the sound was clear, detailed, and spatially distinct.” (October/November 2022, Read Full Review)
GoldenEar Technology BRX Bookshelf Speaker: $1,599/pair
GoldenEar’s first high-performance bookshelf speaker is a formidable effort that borrows key elements from the award-winning Triton series and puts them to work in miniature. The company’s signature folded-ribbon tweeter is paired with the same 6-inch woofer used in the Triton Reference and two 6.5-inch passive radiators (one on either side) in an enclosure that’s only a foot tall. The BRX is voiced to match its Triton brethren and delivers surprisingly powerful bass for a speaker of its size. Reviewer Al Griffin was won over by its natural tonal balance and detailed, dynamic sound — traits that invite extended listening. (Posted 4/1/20, Read Full Review)
Q Acoustics Q Active 200 Loudspeaker: $1,999
The décor-friendly Q Active 200 wireless speaker system from England’s Q Acoustics is latest entrant in the bustling "just add music" category. But it is far from ordinary. In addition to receiving 24-bit/96kHz resolution music wirelessly over a 5GHz link from the supplied hub, each speaker uses a pair of unconventional full-range drivers to produce sound reviewer Daniel Kumin described as “impressively neutral and accurate.” Add to that a 4.5-inch woofer that fires through a port in the back of the speaker and you get a deep, spacious, and diffuse soundstage with a stereo effect that remains strong well off-axis. Topping things off, the speaker is Roon Ready and supports wireless streaming via AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and Spotify. (December 2021/January 2022, Read Full Review)
KEF LS50 Wireless II Powered Speakers: $2,500/pair
Wireless speakers are ubiquitous these days but how many of them deliver an all-in-one streaming solution and true audiophile sound? Not many. Which is why you might want to check out KEF’s LS50 Wireless II, an update of the LS50 it introduced a few years ago. Though the new version looks almost identical to its predecessor, it features several innovations designed to incrementally improve sound quality and is now a Roon Ready hi-res wireless streaming system that plays MQA music files and supports a whole host of streaming options. Reviewer Dan Kumin was blown away by the sonic capabilities of these little speakers: “The LS50 Wireless IIs nailed my ideals of coloration-free, timbrally honest reproduction, with impressive spatial and dynamic qualities.” (June/July 2021, Read Full Review
Home Theater Speaker Systems
Except where noted, prices listed are for a full multichannel speaker system as we reviewed it with at minimum speakers for left, right, center, surround right, and surround left channels, plus in most cases an active self-powered subwoofer.
Monolith M518HT 5.1 THX Sub/Satellite System: $800
This 5.1 HTiB speaker system combined with a suitable AVR offers a high-performance yet compact alternative to soundbars. The concentric driver satellites provide pinpoint imaging that results in cohesive surround-sound envelopment. Even with stereo music you get a listening experience that defies expectations for a system this small in size and cost. (Posted 12/7/2022, Read Full Review)
Elac Uni-Fi Reference UBR62 Surround Speaker System: $3,100
Germany’s Elac made a brilliant return to the U.S. market in 2016 with a series of excellent speakers designed by the Andrew Jones, who had previously worked for Pioneer and its one-time high-end speaker division TAD. As it turns out, the Uni-Fi Reference UBR62 speaker system is the last system Jones designed before leaving the company in 2021. The five-piece setup we reviewed comprises four UBR62 bookshelf speakers and a matching UCR-52 center-channel speaker. Two UBR62 speakers alone would make for a nice stereo setup but in a multichannel theater setting you’ll want to add a subwoofer to this ensemble, which is why we tested the quintet with a pair of SVS PB-3000 subwoofers. In both cases, the results were impressive. (April/May 2022 Read Full Review)
Stereo Pairs and All-in-One Speakers Archive
JBL One Series 104 Powered Reference Monitors: $129/pair
We know what you’re thinking: Let’s get real: there’s no way you’re going to get crisp, distinctive sound from a pair of powered minispeakers that cost $129 a pair. But we’re here to tell you that’s exactly what you get with JBL’s stylish One Series 104 speakers. Need a pair of kick-ass speakers for your desktop? Look no further. (October/November 2019, Read Full Review)
OSD Audio Nero Studio5 Bookshelf Speaker: $170/pair
OSD has parlayed its expertise in custom installation into a compact two-way speaker that delivers plenty of bang for the buck. So much so that the Nero Studio5 was singled out as a Sound & Vision Top Value Pick. In exchange for $170 you get a handsome pair of speakers that project a wide soundstage while delivering sound that is detailed and well balanced. (August/September 2019, 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.” (, 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)
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)
Serene Audio Talisman Desktop Speaker: $395
If you’re tired of listening to the cheesy plastic speakers hitched to your computer, Serene Audio offers a unique option. As reviewer Bob Ankosko put it: “The Talisman is an extraordinary-looking and -sounding speaker guaranteed to transform ordinary desktop listening into a musical adventure.” Worried they might be a little too exotic? Serene offers a no-strings-attached 30-day return policy. (January 2016, Read Full Review)
Audioengine HD3 Powered Speaker: $399/pair
Stylish and only 7 inches tall, the HD3 makes for a perfect desktop speaker thanks to its PC-friendly USB input, hi-res-capable DAC, and robust amplifier. The speaker even supports Bluetooth streaming and has a convenient front-panel headphone jack for added flexibility. How’s it sound? “Midrange is addictively sweet,” observed veteran audio reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “It makes you want to listen to any music with a human voice.” (July/August 2017,, 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)
Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-140SA Atmos Elevation Module: $499/pair
If you’re ready to upgrade to object-based Dolby Atmos or DTS:X surround, you’re going to need an AV receiver to handle the processing and one or two pairs of height speakers. The RP-140SA “elevation module” conveys the height effects Hollywood sound designers use to create a spectacular you-are-there experience without you having to worry about installing speakers in your ceiling: It bounces sound off the ceiling. Using two pairs to complement his 5.1 system, reviewer Mark Fleischmann said the add-ons “palpably filled the top part of the 360-degree surround bubble…just what the doctor ordered.” (November 2016,, 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)
Sony CAS-1 Compact Audio System: $1,000
Sony’s CAS-1 is a carefully considered update of the upscale minisystems most big-name audio companies offered two or three decades ago. It’s elegant, super compact, supports wireless streaming as well as hi-res files up to 24 bits/192 kHz, and delivers a wonderful near-field listening experience. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann called the Sony “a superb choice” that justifies its price with outstanding digital-to-audio conversion. (February/March 2017, Read Full Review)
Solus Audio Entré II Speaker: $1,795
The Entré II is not your garden-variety bookshelf speaker. Instead of the usual dome tweeter, it relies on a folded planar-magnetic driver to deliver the highs and a unique multi-chambered structure to coax big bass out of a small enclosure. “Solus Audio’s Entré II is a well-rounded loudspeaker masquerading as a one-trick pony,” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “It does that trick — producing carefully proportionate amounts of extended bass — handily. Yet it also sings in the midrange and top end, and it can give you the feeling of being in a good hall with an orchestra…a unique and gratifying experience.” (July/August 2017, 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)
Quad Z1 Speaker: $1,999/pair
The Z1 is most definitely not your father’s Quad. Not even close. For one, it’s a fraction of the size of the iconic ESL full-range electrostatic speaker, standing only 15 inches tall. For another, the company that was founded in Great Britain 80 years ago is now owned by Taiwan’s International Audio Group. What it does have in common is an exquisite finish (check out the cherry) and excellent sound, thanks to a beautifully voiced ribbon tweeter whose depth, breadth, and detail will surprise you. (September 2016, Read Full Review)
Elac ARB-51 Powered Speaker System: $2,000 (as reviewed)
The virtues of powered speakers come into sharp focus with Elac’s Navis ARB-51 — a serious alternative to today’s popular smart speakers, many of which gloss over sound quality in pursuit of glitzy features like voice control. Behind its elegant façade is a full-on three-way design featuring a soft-dome tweeter mounted concentrically in the top midrange driver, an electronic crossover, and a separate amplifier custom tailored for each driver. Reviewer Dan Kumin called the UB5 a “consistent source of wonder.” (June/July 2019, Read Full Review)
Elac Adante AS-61 Speaker System: $2,500/pair
Germany-based Elac pulled off a coup of sorts when it lured noted speaker designer Andrew Jones away from TAD/Pioneer a few years ago. The AS-61 moves considerably up the price scale from last year’s Top Pick-winning Uni-Fi UB5 bookshelf speaker but in the words of veteran reviewer Tom Norton “gets most everything right,” especially when paired with the company’s excellent SUB3070 subwoofer. “The AS-61s’ sound impressed me immediately,” he wrote. “With good source material their top end was neutral — neither rounded off nor overcooked…The imaging was solid, and the sense of depth satisfying.” (Posted 8/22/18, Read Full Review)
Home Theater Speaker Systems Archive
Dayton Audio B652-AIR Speaker System: $299
No, the price is not a misprint. Dayton makes it possible to put together an audiophile quality 5.1-channel speaker system for less than the price of a cheap soundbar. It’s secret weapon? The pleated diaphragm air-motion planar tweeter used in the $60-a-pair B652-AIR bookshelf speaker. (September 2015, Read Full Review)
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)
Q Acoustics 3000 5.1 Speaker System: $900
Can you buy a credible 5.1 speaker system for less than a thousand bucks? Absolutely. Britain’s Q Acoustics 3000 package delivers sweet, spacious sound with dynamic bass for $900. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “I recommend these speakers to budget buyers with unbridled enthusiasm. They equal or outperform most under-$1,000 sat/sub sets I’ve heard. Moreover, this is one of the rare sat/sub sets where the subwoofer is worthy of the satellites.” (September 2017, Read Full Review)
Klipsch R-41M Speaker System: $996
If you think it’s impossible to build a kick-ass home theater while spending less than a grand on speakers, think again. The Klipsch R-41M six-piece speaker system is a shining example of why we created the Top Value Pick designation in the first place. With movies, the 5.1-channel setup is fully capable of creating an atmospheric soundscape without sacrificing clarity in dialogue. And with music, it delivers the sort of lively, dynamic sound you’d expect to hear from systems costing much more. (April/May 2019, Read Full Review)
Klipsch Reference Theater Pack Speaker System: $999
Klipsch has made a few compromises in redesigning its bestselling sat/sub system — now on its sixth generation and named the Reference Theater Pack — but it still produces excellent sound with the distinctive clarity and superb efficiency its horn-based speakers are known for. April 2018, Read Full Review)
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.” (, 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)
Enclave Audio CineHome HD Wireless Home Theater System: $1,199
The Enclave Audio CineHome HD aims to keep everyone happy, combining the easy setup and simple operation of a soundbar with the true surround performance of a discrete 5.1 speaker package. And by eliminating the hassle of running speaker cables, the system delivers a true, fuss-free surround experience that no single-point soundbar can match. Summing up, reviewer Michael Trei wrote: “If you want something that’s way better-sounding than the glorified mono of a soundbar, yet remains simple to use…the Enclave CineHome HD is hard to top.” (September, Read Full Review)
Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 Speaker System: $1,299
Focal of France demonstrates with this compact and reasonably priced set of home theater speakers that you can have your cake and eat it too. The Sib Evo system looks and sounds great, which goes a long way toward explaining why we selected it as one of our 2017 Top Picks of the Year. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that its subwoofer rocks and two of its five satellites have an upward firing driver designed specifically to convey ambience and overhead effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks. (January 2018, 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.” (, 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)
Naim Mu-So Wireless Speaker System: $1,499
If you’re in the market for a great sounding tabletop music system, the Bluetooth/Airplay-capable Mu-so deserves serious consideration. In the words of reviewer Fred Manteghian, “The Mu-so is by far the best-sounding device of its type I’ve encountered, filling the room with music at a level that is very satisfying for all but metalheads.” (January 2016, Read Full Review)
Wharfedale Diamond 220 Speaker System: $1,546
The Wharfedale legacy is alive and well in this gem of a speaker system. Bottom line: The Diamond 220 looks and sounds far better than its modest price tag would suggest. As reviewer Mark Fleischmann put it: “These are the best budget speakers I’ve heard in a long time. They are amazingly transparent for their price. With the right content, they are sweet and euphonic (though they don’t disguise substandard content).” (April 2016, Read Full Review)
Atlantic Technology FS3 and LCR3 Speaker System: $1,550-$2,075 (as reviewed)
Atlantic Technology has come up with a flexible soundbar-based 5.1-channel system with setup options to suit different situations and preferences. Whether configured with a three-channel soundbar up front or compact LCRs all around, the system delivers deeply satisfying performance for the price, with plenty of listening comfort. “The Atlantic Technology FS3 is a thoughtfully designed, beautifully voiced, hi-res-worthy passive soundbar. It is not only beyond excellent for its price but well into best-in-its-class, I-could-live-with-this territory,” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann” (September 2016, Read Full Review)
Enclave Audio CineHome PRO Wireless Home Theater System: $1,600
Enclave's CineHome PRO system brings the experience of true surround sound to TV and movie watchers who want more than a soundbar. But here’s the kicker: it does so wirelessly, meaning you don’t need to snake a half dozen cables around the room (though you do have to run power to each speaker). The system is easy to set up and employs the proven WiSA protocol to ensure reliable wireless performance; it’s also the first wireless system certified to meet THX audio standards. Reviewer Rob Sabin was impressed with the system’s ability to play loud without breaking a sweat and deliver a “wide and tall soundstage and coherent sound bubble.” (Posted 5/13/20, 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)
Focal Dôme Flax 5.1 Speaker System: $1,999
If you’re looking for ordinary, you can skip over this entry. If, on the other hand, you want something singular, you owe it to yourself to give the Dôme Flax 5.1 a serious look. France’s Focal has been making fine speakers for more than 30 years and it shows in this sophisticated “sub/sat” system, one of six speaker packages to make our 2016 Top Picks of the Year list. (February/March 2017, Read Full Review)
Elac Uni-Fi UB5 Speaker System: $2,047 (as reviewed)
Speaker designer Andrew Jones, who built a stellar reputation designing great sounding speakers at low prices while at Pioneer, has continued along this path with Elac’s Uni-Fi UB5, a six-piece speaker system featuring five compact monitors and a unique, app-controlled subwoofer. As reviewer Mark Fleischmann explained it, “The Uni-Fi series is an even more laser-focused version of the same approach, with an extra dollop of resolution…[and the same] superb value.” Whether movies or music is your passion, you won’t be disappointed. (January 2017, 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.” (, posted January 13, 2015, Read Full Review)
Emotiva BasX 5.1 Audio System: $2,143 (as reviewed)
Emotiva’s BasX series of products is sure to capture the imagination of budget-minded audiophiles. The system we reviewed teams a Dolby Digital-based 5.1-channel surround processor with a killer 5 x 80-watt amp, five speakers, and a serious subwoofer &mdash. “The BasX separates exemplify the best of the ‘low end of the high end’ school,” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “For $1,098, the cost of a mid-priced receiver, you can have separates that include a butt-kicking little amp. For another $1,045 to add the speakers, you can have something just slightly bigger, warmer, and more fun than any other sat/sub system I’ve heard at that price.” (December 2017, 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)
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)
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)
Q DALI Oberon 5.1 Speaker System: $2,546 (as tested)
Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries (a.k.a. DALI) has proved once again that they not only know how to build great sounding speakers but know how to do so at reasonable prices. The Oberon lineup we tested delivers balanced sound with effortless treble and deep bass from five compact speakers and a five-star subwoofer guaranteed to bring music and movies to life. Summing up, reviewer Dan Kumin wrote: The (main) Oberon 1 is a “world-class example of the sort of speaker that gets you 90 percent of the way there (and in some regards well past 90) for about 10 percent of the cost of pricier options.” (December/January 2020 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)
Monoprice Monolith THX-365T 5.1.4 Speaker System: $2,900
Monoprice has cemented its reputation of delivering high quality AV gear at great prices with the Monolith THX-365T home theater speaker system, a THX-certified suite of speakers that will accommodate a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X surround setup without compromising music playback. If you’re looking for a serious theater/music setup that won’t require a second mortgage, start here. (October/November 2019, Read Full Review)
Raumfeld Wireless Multiroom Audio System: $2,944
In a world overflowing with me-too Sonos imitators, Raumfeld’s multiroom wireless system is a true contender, offering a choice of speakers, excellent sound quality, and something most systems in this category simply can’t handle: Hi-Res Audio. (December 2015, Read Full Review)
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)
KEF Q Series Q350 Speaker System: $3,150 (as reviewed)
The new Q350 Series upholds KEF’s longstanding tradition of making fine speakers built around the company’s trademark Uni-Q driver array and, in this case, a great value nestled between the step-up Reference line and compact-satellite-based home theater packages. “You can have a 5.1.4-channel Atmos treatment with refinement and a whole lot of woofing and subwoofing for just north of three thousand bucks,” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “And I’m impressed by how much performance KEF got out of the $700 price of the Kube12b sub.” (June 2018, Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology Demand Series D11 Speaker System: $3,196 (as reviewed)
The Demand Series lives up to Definitive Technology’s pedigree with satisfying, well-balanced sound — just what you’d expect from the brand audio luminary Sandy Gross created 28 (!) years ago. It further distinguishes itself as one of only two Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker systems on our 2017 Top Picks of the Year list. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann commended Def Tech for a “brilliantly unorthodox design that makes good on its rhetoric and aspirations with deeply satisfying sound.” (February/March 2018, 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.” (, 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.” (, 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)
Tekton Design Impact Monitor Theater System: $5,350
With its circular array of tweeters staring back at you like a giant fly, Tekton’s Impact Monitor Theater system — reviewed in a 5.1-channel configuration with the company’s excellent Brisance 12 subwoofer — is unconventional to be sure, but it more than lives up to its name with performance that reflects the unique priorities of designer Eric Alexander. The result in the words of reviewer Michael Trei: “a speaker [system] with notable speed, slam, and detail resolving capability” made possible by Alexander’s patented multi-driver design. (October/November 2018, Read Full Review)
XTZ Cinema M6 Speaker System: $5,494
Scandinavia has been a recurring theme in the world of loudspeakers for decades and in the case of XTZ’s Cinema M6 ensemble we’re talking Sweden. The first thing you notice about these speakers, apart from the elegant black finish, is the unusual multiple-tweeter layout—designed to increase power handling while decreasing distortion—and the “tripole” surround speakers. The upshot is a “very impressive home theater setup” in the words of audio maven Daniel Kumin—one that’s particularly well suited for use with acoustically transparent projection screens. (, 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.” (, 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)
PSB PWM-1 On-Wall Surround Speaker System: $6,193
PSB namesake Paul Barton’s latest creation is a line of slim on-wall speakers for enthusiasts who want great sound from a setup that doesn’t commandeer the room it occupies. In our case, that room was a 12 x 15-foot space we outfitted with five PSB PWM1 speakers, arranged in a standard home theater layout without occupying any floor space. Bass duties were handled by PSB’s excellent CustomSound CSIR Sub/CS 500W amp combo. Our tests revealed that even a midline AV receiver could drive these low-profile speakers to realistic cinema-sound levels without strain, though a top-line AVR brought more authority. The PWM-1 ensemble strikes a perfect balance between unobtrusive design and performance. (April/May 2021, 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 S150/S150t THX Ultra Speaker System: $10,595 (as reviewed)
More than a decade after it exited the speaker business, the revered Miller&Kreisel brand, better known as M&K Sound, is back in full force with the spectacular S150 Series, an update of the original series. The seven-channel home theater we assembled comprised three S150 speakers in the front L/C/R positions and four wall-mounted S150T Tripoles, one of the most versatile surround speakers known to man. Reviewer David Vaughn praised the system for its accurate sound and ability to project a deep, seamless sound stage with music and create a lifelike experience with movies. (October 2018/January 2019, 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)
Origin Acoustics/Bang & Olufsen BOC106 In-Ceiling Speaker: $1,595 each ($7,975 as reviewed)
The collaboration between Origin Acoustics and Bang & Olufsen has produced a stellar speaker that’s inconspicuous and easy to install. “Watching Disney’s recent live-action feature Beauty and the Beast confirmed for me that the BOC106 speakers are absolutely wonderful for home theater use,” wrote reviewer Darryl Wilkinson. “It didn’t take long for the unrestrained and open characteristics of the system to draw me in.” (October 2017, Read Full Review)
RSL W25E In-Wall Speaker System: $2,020
Think it’s impossible to get credible sound from in-wall speakers? Think again. The affordable 5.1 setup we reviewed mated four W25E in-walls with a timbre-matched freestanding CG25 center speaker and standalone Speedwoofer 12s. The W25E speakers used in the front left/right and rear surround positions feature the company’s patented Compression Guide enclosure and an MTM (midrange-tweeter-midrange) driver arrangement in which the tweeter is offset; the layout, which also places the drivers on an angled baffle, is designed to improve vertical and horizontal dispersion to achieve a smoother response at the listening position. Guess what? It works. David Vaughn praised the setup for precise imaging and its ability to “create a solid wall of sound that emanated from the front of the room.” (August/September 2023, Read Full Review)
GoldenEar Technology Invisa Signature Point Source In-Wall Speaker System: $7,250 (as reviewed)
GoldenEar’s Invisa Signature Point Source speakers are proof that you can build an attractive, non-intrusive in-wall speaker offering performance that rivals that of an equivalently priced freestanding speaker. Throw in a SuperSub X subwoofer and there’s no turning back. “I’m not sure you can find another speaker at the $1K price point that sounds anywhere near as fantastic as the Invisa SPS in-wall does ‐ whether it’s for a two-channel or multichannel system,” concluded reviewer Darryl Wilkinson. “GoldenEar has created an in-wall loudspeaker that just might convince a die-hard in-room speaker fan.” (May 2018, Read Full Review)
Triad InRoom Bronze LR-H Speaker System: $11,050
This 9.4.4 Atmos system, based on the compact Atmos-enabled InRoom Bronze LR-H ($1,000 each) and tested with four in-wall subwoofers, proved to us that bouncing sound from Atmos height channels off the ceiling really works—and works well, when the basic speaker design is as solid as this. September 2015, Read Full Review)
Origin Acoustics Director D108 In-Ceiling Speaker System: $14,400
The nine-channel system we built using Origin’s D108 speaker ($1,600 each) proved not only that you can create an impressive sounding Atmos experience using only in-ceiling speakers but that it’s possible to fit a bass-rich 10-inch woofer into a cutout sized for an 8-inch speaker. (November 2015, Read Full Review)