6 Best Bookshelf Speakers for Under $100/Pair

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
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#1
Audioholics has recently completed a string of reviews of ultra-affordable bookshelf speakers from Monoprice, Dayton Audio and Polk Audio that we thought could possibly punch above their price points. These speakers are priced in the $45 to $100 per pair range and bear some signs that the engineers who created them were really trying to get good sound out of modest components. In this article, we summarize our findings and discuss the advantages that each design brings to the table.

bookshelf-speakers.jpg

Read: 6 Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers

Which of these is your favorite budget speaker? Please share your experiences with them and some pics of your setup.
 
T

Tony Watkins

Audiophyte
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1
#2
At $50 a pair, not sure why the Dayton Audio B652-Air are not included.
I bought them specifically to use in my (dusty) garage driven by a 35 year old Technics receiver with an Airport Express to deliver Roon (if not listening to FM radio).
The 6.5" woofers and air tweeter are plenty to fill the 20'x25' room with decent sound that won't worry me if damaged.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
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5,763 22 38
#3
no love for Pioneer BS22? typically $99 or less.
a bit bending rules would be C-Note kit for $100/pr. Just add a bit of time, clamps, and wood glue
 
gene

gene

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#4
At $50 a pair, not sure why the Dayton Audio B652-Air are not included.
I bought them specifically to use in my (dusty) garage driven by a 35 year old Technics receiver with an Airport Express to deliver Roon (if not listening to FM radio).
The 6.5" woofers and air tweeter are plenty to fill the 20'x25' room with decent sound that won't worry me if damaged.
The B652-Air are currently listed as clearance items. We rounded up a half dozen products in this price range and compared them. We can't cover every product from every brand. Pioneer speakers are old and well covered already.
 

TechHDS

Audioholic General
Ratings
748 2 12
#5
Very nice review on budget speakers Gene, James is spot on with Polks T15’s. I have a pair in a 5.1 set they are very good for surround use and they do get loud without distortion. Also they perform very well with movie scenes when, raindrops or birds chirping in the background or bullets flying when action scenes get loud. Not everyone can afford $1500 pair of surrounds, I have spent more in the past on Center and Rear surrounds.

Mike
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,420 33 17
#6
We actually received another speaker that was going to be reviewed in this series, but it was discontinued during our review period, so we decided not to put the effort of a full review toward that product.

But just because an inexpensive speaker was not included in this bunch doesn't mean we still can't review them. If you have any suggestions for comparable speakers to review, let us know. We might not be able to get to them right away, but that doesn't mean we are not interested in reviewing them at all.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
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4,420 33 17
#7
At $50 a pair, not sure why the Dayton Audio B652-Air are not included.
I bought them specifically to use in my (dusty) garage driven by a 35 year old Technics receiver with an Airport Express to deliver Roon (if not listening to FM radio).
The 6.5" woofers and air tweeter are plenty to fill the 20'x25' room with decent sound that won't worry me if damaged.
We could have reviewed these, but my hunch was that the B452-AIRs might actually perform better since the 4" woofer could possibly blend better with the tweeter by keeping a wider dispersion pattern up to the tweeter frequencies, and also shifting breakup artifacts up in frequency and thereby possibly reducing their audibility.
 
mattlach

mattlach

Junior Audioholic
Ratings
22
#8
Huh, no love for the $89 Micca MB42x or the $99 Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones

These used to both be considered amazing bang for the buck speakers.

I have a set of Micca's in my kitchen and they are great for the price. Set up a friend with a pair of the Pinoeer Andrew Jones, and he absolutely loves them.

I think I'd put these to above all of the ones on the list above that I have heard. Certainly better speakers than the Daytons.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
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4,420 33 17
#9
Huh, no love for the $89 Micca MB42x or the $99 Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones

These used to both be considered amazing bang for the buck speakers.

I have a set of Micca's in my kitchen and they are great for the price. Set up a friend with a pair of the Pinoeer Andrew Jones, and he absolutely loves them.

I think I'd put these to above all of the ones on the list above that I have heard. Certainly better speakers than the Daytons.
Both the Miccas and Pioneers already have had a lot of exposure, so while it would be interesting to measure them, I would actually rather bring attention to speakers that don't already have so much exposure. I would be more interested in looking for an undiscovered gem.
 
mattlach

mattlach

Junior Audioholic
Ratings
22
#10
Both the Miccas and Pioneers already have had a lot of exposure, so while it would be interesting to measure them, I would actually rather bring attention to speakers that don't already have so much exposure. I would be more interested in looking for an undiscovered gem.

I can agree with you there. If the title of the article only were "6 great speakers under $100" rather than "6 best" :p
 
mattlach

mattlach

Junior Audioholic
Ratings
22
#11
We could have reviewed these, but my hunch was that the B452-AIRs might actually perform better since the 4" woofer could possibly blend better with the tweeter by keeping a wider dispersion pattern up to the tweeter frequencies, and also shifting breakup artifacts up in frequency and thereby possibly reducing their audibility.

Interesting. I've never auditioned the smaller 452's. The AIR models must be new. Last I was shopping for inexpensive speakers, there were AIR versions of the 652, but none of the 452's.

The few comparisons I could find back then rated the 652's much better, but its unclear if they used them with a sub or not. I'd imagine the 652's would be much more tolerable without a sub than the 452's would be.
 
gene

gene

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#12
I can agree with you there. If the title of the article only were "6 great speakers under $100" rather than "6 best" :p
You CAN thank Google for the "Best" crap. They reward ANY articles with that in the title now. You can't compete these days unless everything is a comparison or "best of".
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
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#13
You CAN thank Google for the "Best" crap. They reward ANY articles with that in the title now. You can't compete these days unless everything is a comparison or "best of".
Mostly agree, Yes, google shows these first, but only since most people search for these terms very often.
Yes it sux, but c'est la vie .
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
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5,763 22 38
#14
Both the Miccas and Pioneers already have had a lot of exposure, so while it would be interesting to measure them, I would actually rather bring attention to speakers that don't already have so much exposure. I would be more interested in looking for an undiscovered gem.
hmm, ok, what about these: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=16074
also these, absolutely huge gamble, but that box alone nearly worth the price.
https://richway-speaker.en.made-in-...iFi-Home-Bookshelf-2-0-Speaker-Ven-K313b.html
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,420 33 17
#15
hmm, ok, what about these: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=16074
also these, absolutely huge gamble, but that box alone nearly worth the price.
https://richway-speaker.en.made-in-...iFi-Home-Bookshelf-2-0-Speaker-Ven-K313b.html
I actually inquired to Monoprice about reviewing the retro speakers, but it looks like that is only going to be a limited run speaker, so it I don't think its going to have continued availability. I would rather put effort in a review in a product that will be around for some time to come. As for that Chinese unbranded speaker, well, firstly its over $100 for the wholesale cost alone, secondly I would rather review something that the customer doesn't have to buy a minimum of 200 pairs just to own one. If a US vendor decides to distribute it without too huge of a markup, it might be worth looking at in the future though.
 
S

sterling shoote

Audioholic General
Ratings
279 5 1
#16
I think we can all agree there are inexpensive bookshelf speakers out there that get the job done for peanuts in relatively small listening areas. Not on your list but certainly contenders at the next price point are the JBL 305's, Studio 230's, and JBL Control 5's.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
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#18
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
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#19
I know powered speakers are not what this article is about; but at the same time, it is very relevant to someone trying to figure out how to best get good sound on a budget!
I would love to see how something like the Edifier R1280T stacks up against one of the better sounding speakers in your pool.
At $100 it includes the amp, but restricts flexibility (no sub output or AVR features); however as a simple way to put sound in another room or for the kid looking for something that sounds good on a tight budget, it is a viable alternative.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016P9HJIA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 
MR.MAGOO

MR.MAGOO

Audioholic Chief
Ratings
322 9 11
#20
I'm so wealthy I might buy a set ( 6 speakers ) of these cheap ones, and a set (6 speakers) of KEF LS50, just to compare , depending where I buy them, I could maybe return the set I don't want and pay the re-stock fees! :p
 

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