The World’s Cheapest Speaker

We finally have a victor in the consumer electronics industry’s long-running race to the bottom: the Dayton B652. How much less expensive can a two-way speaker get than $34.50 per pair? That’s the price Parts Express currently demands for the B652. Order four or more pairs and they’ll knock that down to $29.90 per pair. Really, could prices possibly get any lower?

Yet the B652 doesn’t look like it cost $34.50 per pair. It’s a two-way model, with separate 6.5-inch woofer and 0.6-inch tweeter and a rated frequency response of 70 Hz to 20 kHz. You’d expect it to be molded from plastic so thin it makes a coffee can lid seem stiff, but it’s not. Instead, the 11.8-inch-high cabinet is made from real MDF, although it’s more like the MDF used in Ikea kiddie furniture than like the inch-thick panels commonly found in high-end speakers. Rap a knuckle on the side and it’ll thunk loud enough to make your dog think someone’s at the door.

The B652 has a real removable grille, and it’s finished in a dark-gray vinyl skin that looks no more hideous than the vinyl wrap covering the average $200-per-pair minispeaker. And it’s even made in China! I’d have thought they’d farm a speaker this cheap out to some country even Ban Ki-Moon’s never heard of.