Are you looking for the best speakers under $500? Well, you’re in the right place.
As a recording musician, I’ve worked in high-end studios fitted with professional equipment.
But it’s the speakers that always leave me in awe. I remember the first time I listened back to a recording in a control room through quality speakers. I could hear the finest details. In short, the sound quality was mind-blowing.
So now, I understand how important good speakers are to connect deeper with my favorite music.
But, said studios have speaker systems costing thousands of bucks. So with a budget of $500, can you get a pair of speakers to replicate such sound quality?
No, but you can come very close. Having put my ears to many quality speakers, I produced a list of, in my opinion, the most fantastic in this price range.
In this article, I’ll share the best speakers under $500 and highlight the pros and cons. Armed with this knowledge you can decide what speakers are best for you.
6 Best Speakers Under $500 in 2022
- Best Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf: Edifier S2000MKIII
- Best Passive Speakers: Wharfedale Diamond 12.1
- Best Minimalist Design: Kanto YU6
- Best Portable Speaker: Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20
- Best Floorstanding Tower Speakers: Klipsch Synergy Black Label F-300
- Best Bargain: ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2
Regardless of price, an audiophile will pick up issues from any speaker. Yeah, even those that cost upwards of $1000. So at $500, it’s important to know the good and bad so you can make an educated decision.
|Make & Model||Pros||Cons|
|Best Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf||Edifier S2000MKIII||Strong buildGreat Bluetooth sound qualityListening presets to suit the genreIndependent EQ adjustments||Visibility of buttons on remote|
|Best Passive Speakers||Wharfedale Diamond 12.1||Award-winning sound qualityTraditional designBritish build quality||Need a preamp. Recommended 20-100w amplifiersCompetition in this price range|
|Best Minimalist Design||Kanto YU6||Elegant modern designBuilt-in powerful phono preamp for easy turntable setupUSB charge port||Remote control qualityAn optical cable is needed to minimize interference|
|Best Portable Speaker||Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20||Portability for on the go Bluetooth listeningCapable of up to 8 hours battery lifePremium materials and build quality||No water resistanceAffordability, one speaker only.|
|Best Floorstanding Tower Speakers||Klipsch Synergy Black Label F-300||Room-filling soundSound great for TV and musicAffordable for tower speakers||Aren’t as compact as bookshelf speakersSynergy line discontinued so limited availability|
|Best Bargain||Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2||Affordable set of speakers.Great for vinyl listening with a wide soundstageStrong build quality with tweeter protection||Need a good preamp to get the best sound. Lose power at lower volumes|
Best Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf: Edifier S2000MKIII
When the Edifier S2000MKIII speakers arrive, and you get them out of the box. One of the first things you’ll notice is the weight. Even one bookshelf speaker is weighty, never mind two.
For me, this was a good start. While there’s more to it than weight alone, a heavy speaker gives me confidence in the build quality.
But early indications were right. The speakers are sturdy. Even if the side panels are PVC.
As powered speakers, they need no preamp. So, for a vinyl beginner, it skips the necessity for an external preamp and saves on space.
Not for vinyl alone, the S2000MKIII features multiple inputs. With two RCA inputs and a coax, hooking up a TV, vinyl, and a games console at once is achievable.
On top of these connections, there’s a Bluetooth 5.0 connection with aptX. What’s this mean? To put it simply, this technology ensures Bluetooth connections are high definition.
Regardless of the connection, the sound is sharp but not at the expense of power. What’s more, there are volume, treble, and bass controls. You can fine-tune the controls using the dials on the back of the body.
The speakers come with a remote. One thing I will say, if like me you enjoy listening at low light, the remote buttons are difficult to see.
But, overall, the Edifier S2000MKIII speakers are contenders for the best bookshelf speakers under $500. The number of output options makes them versatile for multiple usages at one time. Combined with the audio quality you can sculpt to suit, they’re true all-rounders.
Best Passive Speakers: Wharfedale Diamond 12.1
When Wharfedale launched its Diamond speakers in the 80s, few could’ve predicted the impact. Now, Diamond is a series comprising towers, subwoofers, and other varieties of speakers.
So, the Diamond 12.1 speakers live up to expectations. With traditional looks, they belong bellowing out your favorite vinyl. But, at the same time, they have the versatility to suit other outputs like home theater systems.
Priced around $450, the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1’s offer value for money on sound quality alone. So much so, they’ve received awards.
A 5″ KlarityTM driver and a 1″ woven polyester dome tweeter combine for a balanced frequency spectrum. The bass has a smoothness while the highs are open.
Sure, they face stiff competition in this price range. But Wharfedale’s excellence throughout the years shines through.
As passive bookshelf speakers, there are a few things you need to know. First, you’ll need a pre-amp to drive the signal. Second, Wharfedale themselves suggest an amplifier loaded with 20-100 Watts power.
Are you unsure of the whole receiver, preamp, speaker wiring scenario? Then check this article here that makes sense of it all.
With the Diamond 12.1’s, don’t expect modern gadgets that you don’t use or need. But instead of flashy technology, expect purified sound quality.
For the traditional analog listener, the Diamond 12.1 passive bookshelf speakers are a top pick. What’s more, they’re made by a prestigious British brand, continuing to make waves.
Best Minimalist Design Speakers: Kanto YU6
From the more traditional set of speakers to ones that look like they’re from the space age. Kanto YU6 speakers look every bit sculpted for the modern day with their elegant design. Also available in four different colors, there’s one to tickle anyone’s fancy.
The built-in amplifier packs a punch. With 200 watts of power, I find the loudness impressive considering the compact design. The YU6 speakers are unassuming.
So if you want loud vinyl listening from a small package without compromising on sound quality. The YU6’s are for you.
But, not just for vinyl, there’s Bluetooth connectivity.
On that note, I love the USB charging port. It’s convenient to keep smartphones charged when streaming through Bluetooth. The lack of musical interludes to go charge your phone is welcome.
Now for some negatives. The remote control quality isn’t the most durable. And, some users have found the YU6 speakers are prone to electrical interference. But, being though, you can near enough eradicate the interference with an optical cable, these aren’t major issues.
For vinyl, TV, and Bluetooth, these are multi-purpose sleek and compact but powerful speakers.
Best Portable Speaker: Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20
There’s always been a desire to take our music collection with us. Ghetto blasters, Walkmans, MP3 players, the list goes on.
The rise in popularity of the Bluetooth portable speaker is another on the list. But now, the technology allows for portable music listening to be better than ever. None more so than with the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20, which offers high-definition music listening on the go.
You could question the affordability. After all, it’s one unit as opposed to two like many on this list. But, let’s talk about what you get for the outlay.
First off, there’s little cost-cutting on the materials. To hold and carry it feels like it’s made of premium materials. And this is all-important for a speaker you’ll be traveling around with.
Also, the battery life is impressive. The manufacturers claim up to 8 hours of life, that’s a lot of music listening. Don’t set an alarm for 8 hours, the speaker will drop in volume to show the battery life is nearing its end.
The thing is with portable speakers; the technology is always advancing. Blink and you’ll miss it. Nowadays, you’ll find waterproof portable speakers for those pool days.
But while it may not have such innovation. Its stylish and energetic sound is enough to say it’s one of the best portable speakers in this price range.
Best Floorstanding Tower Speakers: Klipsch Synergy Black Label F-300
Be careful when buying floorstanding tower speakers. Sometimes, you’re only getting one tower. So, if you want the pair, pay close attention.
With that little rant out of the way, let me introduce you to the Klipsch Synergy Black Label F-300 tower speakers.
Since 1946, American company Klipsch has created high-end speakers. So what makes them so good?
Klipsch is one of the most recognizable speaker brands around. As soon as I set eyes on a pair of Klipsch, it’s the cerametallic woofers that are the giveaway. With their copper-like color, it’s a Klipsch calling card.
But such innovative woofers don’t just please the eye. With damping qualities, there’s a solid foundation for bass.
More innovation comes from the Tractrix Horns, regardless of price, this tech features on all speakers throughout their catalog. Designed to offer wide dispersion, wherever you place this pair, they fill a room with precision and power.
It’s these qualities that make the F-300’s not only ideal for music. But when connected to a TV, you’ll get a full-on cinematic experience.
On the whole, tower speakers are more expensive than bookshelves. So, these are quite the bargain, even for the pair.
But here’s the downside, they’re discontinued, so you’ll have to be quick.
Don’t expect compact speakers like bookshelves. But if you’ve got the space, they’ll bring the power.
Best Bargain: Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2
In the world of an audiophile, $500 isn’t a lot. But let’s face it, sometimes we don’t have a spare $500. Besides, who doesn’t love a bargain?
Currently in the under $300 price bracket, the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers save a few hard-earned bucks.
As passive speakers, the same principle applies as with the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1. You’ll have to get yourself a preamp, unless you own a vinyl player with one built-in, of course.
Although lightweight, the build quality is sound. With the wooden casing, I sense they’ll be blasting out tunes for a while. I love the tweeter protection for peace of mind.
So what about sound?
The frequency response says a lot going as low as 44Hz and as high as 35000Hz.
Handling the lows is the aramid fiber woofer. It’s rigid and sturdy, ensuring there’s no floppiness in the low end. Regarding high frequencies, the silk dome tweeter has clarity and smoothness. It’s a perfect balance with the midrange comfortable and profound in the middle.
For wide soundscape vinyl listening, they’re the budget high-performance choice.
Although there’s a loss of power at lower volumes, don’t underestimate the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2. They pack a punch.
Comparison Chart Of Speakers Under $500
Let’s merge some key specs of the top speakers under $500 so you can see them at a glance.
|Make & Model||Powered/Passive||Speaker Type||Frequency Range||Connection||Weight|
|Edifier S2000MKIII||Powered||Bookshelf||45Hz-40KHz||RCA, Coax, Bluetooth 5.0||37.70 lbs|
|Wharfedale Diamond 12.1||Passive||Bookshelf||65Hz-|
|Four terminal binding posts||15 lbs|
|Kanto YU6||Powered||Bookshelf||50Hz-20KHz||RCA, Aux, Bluetooth 4.0, Optical||17.65 lbs|
|Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20||Powered||Portable Wireless||37Hz-|
|Bluetooth AAC SBC, Aux||5.95 lbs|
|Klipsch Synergy F-300||Passive||Floorstanding Tower||35Hz-23kHz||Binding posts||60 lbs (120 lbs pair)|
|Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2||Passive||Bookshelf||44Hz-|
|Binding posts||16.31 lbs|
Do expensive speakers sound better?
Expensive speakers sound better than budget choices. Here are some characteristics of expensive speakers that you won’t find in cheap ones:
- A flat frequency response ensures there’s no bias towards certain frequencies, meaning accurate sound replication.
- Low in distortion, excellent speakers maintain clarity even at high volumes.
- Wide dynamic range, ensuring loud sounds aren’t harsh, and soft sounds are clear.
Is it better to have speakers high or low?
While less of a consideration for tower speakers, the height of a pair of bookshelf speakers matters. So with bookshelf speakers, there are a few things to know. Speakers should face the listener with the tweeters around ear level for the optimal experience. A suitable speaker stand allows for height adjustment for prime listening height.
Are bookshelf speakers good?
There are great bookshelf speakers available on the market. In most cases, you pay for what you get. If you use stock built-in speakers inside a computer, record player, or TV, there’s a vast improvement in sound quality. With more clear audio, bolder bass, and wider stereo separation, they produce audio to improve the entire experience.
So there we have it, the best speakers for under $500.
While not in the premium price range, you can still get amazing speakers for $500.
So which ones to pick?
First, you need to decide on your budget. If $500 is out of reach, then the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 speakers are a bargain. You can find more speakers that sound amazing with an attractive price in our Best Speakers for Under $300 article.
But remember, these need an external preamp. On that note, if you already have a pre-amp setup and want passive speakers. Then the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 speakers have picked up awards for their no-nonsense sound quality.
With a good pre-amp and a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 12.1, you’re heading into serious audiophile territory.
Active speakers reduce the need for extra equipment. So, if you want to plug and play or are short on space, these are where it’s at. In the active speaker category, the Edifier S2000MKIII and Kanto YU6 are two great choices.
Preference on looks will go a long way to decide which ones you prefer. That said, for wireless connection, the Edifier S2000MKIII speakers offer improved sound with Bluetooth 5.0 aptX connection.
But, I like to give you options. While bookshelf speakers are great, floorstanding tower speakers offer that something different. Klipsch Synergy Black Label F-300 speakers deliver cinematic sound from a blockbuster pair of towers.
From the huge home cinema speaker towers to the lightweight portable speaker. The Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 allows you to take powerful sound quality wherever you go.
So, the key is, decide your purpose, and look at your space. Sometimes, compact speakers are the only way to go. But don’t worry, because if the Kanto YU6 are the only sizable options, they sound exceptional.
Hopefully, you now have an idea which speakers are for you. Whichever way you decide, listen loud and enjoy the music.