Needing a new way of playing your tunes but hi-fi takes up too much space? Speakers come in all different shapes and sizes, serving many different functions, with lots of different features.
Music is a way of life for some people. For some people, it works well in the background. A daily ritual for some and an occasional treat for others. However, I think we can all agree that music does play an important part in our lives. That’s why finding the best speakers out there for you is important.
So what is the difference between two bookshelf speakers models? Does cabinet construction matter?
What are the best budget ones on the market? Are powered speakers best for hi-fi? What about a silk dome tweeter?
We get it!
So many questions and it can be a bit of a minefield of where to start. To help ease that, we have taken the best collection of speakers, looked at the full range of best budget, and given them a review – so here it is!
The Best Speakers on a Budget of 2021
1. Edifier R1280T Bookshelf Speakers
Kicking off with an entry from Edifier. The R1280T bookshelf speakers are powered speakers and with a similar price to Polks T15 bookshelf speaker offering, it is no wonder they make the review.
For those looking for more than mid-range design in bookshelf speakers, the Edifier R1280T set could be perfect as there are some real premium features included.
You get a nice retro look with these, although not designed to be a prominent feature within the room, they certainly add to the overall style.
Constructed out of MDF, and combined with matte gray, these bookshelf speakers are one of the best looking out there.
The quality of the audio is deep and natural, with the bass performance and power being worthy of a positive mention.
For those wanting to connect to a turntable, the R1280T would be the perfect match.
- MDF construction
- Four-inch drivers
- The frequency spectrum is good
- Good for small rooms
2. Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers
Polk Audio is best known for good quality audio technology on a budget and with the T15 bookshelf speaker, this is no different.
This addition to the Polk lineup is entry-level to mid-range but the build quality is fantastic and really offers a contemporary look that is hard not to like. These are of an MDF cabinet construction. This wooden design really adds to the tone and when compared to their plastic counterparts, it looks and sounds to be of high quality and we really are a fan of how the MDF looks.
A great benefit of this is when you crank up the volume you won’t find yourself being subjected to that familiar buzzing you can often hear from speakers in this price range.
Bass is obviously something that is important to a lot of people and the T15s perform well. This could be as their design originates from some of Polk Audios’ high-end range.
When it comes to connecting to home theater systems, this should pose no issue and can be done easily.
Sound quality is rich and offers no distortion or muffling and for a set of speakers in this price range, and with so much style, it’s easy to see why they made the list.
- Great acoustic sound
- Easily connect to home theater systems
- Nice MDF construction
- Bass drivers offer good performance
- No Bluetooth connectivity
3. Anker Soundcore Flare Wireless Speaker
This addition from Anker would not look out of place at a pool party. With all-around sound, it could certainly hold its own at a pool party too and everyone would feel like they are in a concert. The Soundcore speaker would be totally safe too as it is IP67 waterproof so capable of working after being immersed in water.
If one speaker isn’t enough, which we get can sometimes be the case. Just add another one! You can have an audio setup that means two of these Anker speakers can be connected via the Bluetooth option to give you a full stereo experience.
The Soundcore Flare will add that little touch of something to your music. It comes with a range of LED lights designed to change, pulse, shine, and phase to your music so you can really get into your music in a visual way, not just an audio way.
- 360° Sound & Bass Up Mode
- Beat-Driven Light Show
- Colors might not appeal to everyone
4. OontZ Angle 3 – RainDance edition
Let’s start with the design of this speaker. Angled by name, angled by nature, the Angle 3 Bluetooth speaker is a triangular shape. Not only is this funky, but it also means when it comes up against knocks or drops, it has a better performance. It does mean it can be stood up or laid down and the sound will still be great, regardless. That is the flexibility that we love.
Enough to see you through the day, the battery lasts a good 10 – 12 hours, which for this price tag is an impressive feature.
Having touched on the quality of sound earlier, it is worth coming back to. This speak offers stereo sound. Angle 3 can be bought as a mono version but honestly, don’t. The stereo mode has 2 drivers built-in and is so much better, the bass is better, it handles lower frequencies better. It’s better!
Coming with Bluetooth 3.0, you can connect a device up to 30ft and it even links to Alexa. If Bluetooth isn’t your thing, you can also play your music through this speaker using an auxiliary cable.
- Can use it take hands-free calls
- Battery life is impressive
- Treble and bass are great
- Stereo sound
- Not the loudest on the market
5. Polk Audio Free Standing Monitor 60 Series II
Polk has been around since 1972. The company has always had the mission of creating high-quality and great sounding audio devices for everyone. That mission really comes through with the Monitor 60 Floorspeaker.
There’s no denying this audio system is stylish. It’s also a robust design that has a compact footprint that won’t take up a large space in your home but provide excellent sound. Constructed out of MDF, it really gives each speaker a solid feel.
Built into the package you get a 1″ dome tweeter and three drivers. All of this means you get detailed notes, deep bass response, and bright tones to create a great performance.
Patented by Polk is what is known as Dynamic Balance technology, these are fitted with this tech. What it does is ensure that the speakers produce superb sound, using top-quality drivers, speaker geometry, and the construction overall.
- Dynamic Balance technology design
- Good bass performance
- Quite tall
6. INSMY Portable Speakers
Some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market. The INSMY speaker is going to have huge appeal to those who are after a truly portable device.
The INSMY speaker is IPX7 100% waterproof. Not only that to save yourself an unwanted diving trip, these INSMY’s float, so dropping them into water is no issue. They will survive being underwater of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes and carry on playing those tunes as if nothing happened.
INSMY has the technology to make these speakers stereo. True Wireless Stereo Technology (TWS) means that you can pair two speakers together at the drop of a hat. When connected it will create a 360-degree stereo sound.
The battery life is in another league. With a mega 4,400 mAh rechargeable battery, this should give you 24 hours of playtime – with the volume at the 50% level. Back to full power within 4 – 5 hours, charging through a USB type C charging cable.
These speakers use the newest and best Bluetooth technology – 5.0 – and that means your connection to your other products should be quicker and more stable. With an impressive range of around 100ft, you won’t have to worry about losing connection.
- IPX7 Waterproof Floating
- Bluetooth 5.0 100ft Transmission Range
- 4400mAh 24 Hours Playtime
- Voice control
- Bass reflex is good
- A little heavy
7. Creative Pebble 2.0 Desktop Speakers
The design is inspired by the zen Japanese rock garden and does really look at providing a relaxing vibe about your desk space.
The Creative Pebble pair have an elevated 45-degree angle, this will help drive the audio to your ears, giving you the sweet spot in audio enjoyment.
These are powered by a single USB cable, so in terms of connecting to a computer, it is hassle-free and shouldn’t pose an issue when it comes to cable management. It also means that there is no need to take up an extra power socket when it comes to powered speakers.
The quality of sound produced from this pair of speakers is impressive. They are passive speakers and deliver a truly balanced audio experience, which you won’t help be find immersive.
An absolutely brilliant space-saving set of speakers at only 4.4 inches wide, the Creative Pebble can fit on almost any desk and not be intrusive or take up too much desk real estate.
Overall for USB powered speakers in this price range, they are seriously impressive.
- Comes in two colors – exquisite black or pristine white
- Balanced Sound
- Bass reflex
- Design isn’t for everyone
8. Logitech Z623 400W Satellite System
The Logitech system is designed to give you some of the most accurate sounds straight out of the box. With total realistic audios, your music, movies, and shows will come to life with THX sound.
These THX speakers are tuned to give you a realistic audio experience straight out of the box so you can be watching your favorite movie in a way you have never heard it before within no time.
Giving you audio you can not only hear but feel, this is through the 400 watts speakers – plenty of most and wonderfully crisp too.
Pushing the limits as to how versatile you can make audio technology, Logitech has ensured you have ample choice of inputs. These include RCA inputs and an Aux input. This will give you the joy of not having to switch between devices when you want to use another device as up to 3 can be connected at once.
Overall, if you’re looking to fill a big room with big yet clear, bold, and crisp then Logitech has you covered.
- RCA and 3.5MM inputs make it easy to plug in up to 3 audio units
- THX audio
- Bass performance is impressive
- Sells out quickly
9. Pioneer SP-BS22 Bookshelf Speakers
When it comes to looks, these bookshelf speakers are simple. In this case, simple is good, simple is an attractive option. There is nothing flash about these but we like that.
There is a lot more to the SP-BS22, the cabinet construction is curved. Sure it looks nice but that’s not all. It serves the purpose of reducing any standing sound wave and improving acoustics – this makes for a really full range of top-notch audio experience.
So the design may not be at the forefront of Pioneer when it comes to this model but the output is fantastic so no complaints there. Inside there are two drivers. That’s not all, there is also a one-inch soft dome tweeter as well as a four-inch woofer.
Let’s talk about the designer, Andrew Jones. His usual creations are beyond mid-range price. You would usually be expecting to pay in the thousands for an Andrew Jones product. However, he has designed this pair!
The frequency response goes as far as 20 kHz, with a lower limit of 55 Hz. As would be expected with a product from Andrew Jones, the sound quality is brilliant. This is all helped by a complex crossover of six elements, that provide superb accuracy between woofer and tweeter.
Overall whatever you decide to use these bookshelf speakers for, they may earn the title of best bookshelf speaker as the SP-BS22 gives you bass (and bass reflex port), power and drivers galore, all wrapped up in a tidy price.
- Andrew Jones influence
- Good frequency range
- Bass performance and bass driver is good
- A simple design may not suit everyone
10 . Edifier R1700BT Bookshelf Speakers
Let’s review this pair from Edifier. For those after a pair of speakers that not only sound good, can be bought inexpensively but also come with Bluetooth, you can’t go far wrong with the Edifier R1700BT.
Let’s be honest, Edifier isn’t known for its stylish offers usually. However, these budget bookshelf speakers have been styled beautifully.
A real contemporary design with a classic wood finish on the sides – finished off with a modern twist on the front and back of matte black.
Taking the grille off does – some would argue – give even more style to the products. Doing so will expose the silk dome tweeter and 4″ woofer, which can be a very sleek look.
With the Edifier, you don’t get much of a superficial feel and more of a studio-quality sound as the 13mm tweeters can handle high frequency no problem. The sound is very natural and deep which given the budget is very impressive.
Another extra feature that you get with this Edifier duo is tone control inbuilt so that you can get the sound output just how you like it. If you are a budding DJ or indeed a DJ it is worth noting that you can connect multiple devices through dual RCA inputs.
- Really Stylish
- Sound can be controlled
- Bluetooth speakers
- Great frequency response
- No NFC
- Bass performance can be a little heavy
11. Bose Companion 2 Series III
Bose. One of the best and well-known names when it comes to the speaker and hi-fi systems. So if you are after some quality speakers for your PC, then look no further.
This speaker duo benefit from Bose engineering and with that, they have a unique digital signal processing system. What that does is help to produce consistently clear audio. In addition to this, the Companion 2 Series III speakers performance when it comes to frequency range is also impressive. Featuring a ported design enclosure which means that the detail produced is solid, even in lower frequencies.
Connecting to other devices such as cell phones, tablets, anything with an Aux port is a doddle as the right speaker features an Aux-in port – offering the best versatility to the product.
- Works with both Windows and Mac
- Powerful but compact design
- Good frequency range
- Bass might not be for everyone
Buyer’s Guide: Things to consider when buying a budget speaker
Quality of Sound
Remember that what sounds good to your friend, may not sound good to you. Audio quality can be a personal thing.
If possible it is best to listen to a few different models and see which you consider being the best speakers.
Depending on what type of speaker you want, you may want to consider different ways to connect to your speakers.
If you’re in the market for budget bookshelf speakers, having Bluetooth as an option probably isn’t something you need to consider.
However, if you are intending to use your speakers while traveling, then Bluetooth is handy. When considering a Bluetooth speaker, it is worth thinking about where you are planning on using it. So if you can see yourself heading to the beach and taking it with you, looking for a speaker with a waterproof rating could be a good thing!
Again, before taking the plunge and buying a speaker, it is worth taking some time in considering what you are going to be using it for.
If pool parties, beach time, or traveling is something you are planning on doing then a great option is Bluetooth and can be totally achieved on a budget price tag.
You may need to ensure your speakers are durable. This could involve features such as water and weatherproof.
However, if you have no intention of taking your speaker outside of the home, then style may be more of a factor and bookshelf speakers may be the right avenue for you.
Some speakers can be paired together to produce even more sound and this can be a great feature if you really want to create a party atmosphere or have the same tune playing in different rooms in the house.
There are other features such a Bluetooth which will obviously add flexibility to your set up and that may be important to you.
1 . What are the speakers on a budget?
This really depends on your needs. Are you after a bookshelf speaker or a pair of bookshelf speakers? Then consider the Edifier.
Or are you after true portability? The Angle 3 may be your best bet for the price tag and durability.
There are many an option out there and it is a case of determining which product is the one for you. The list above is a great starting point and provides a variety of speakers.
2 . Can you get a good speaker for under $100?
As long as you aren’t expecting real top-quality performance and your expectations are realistic, then absolutely.
A budget speaker under $100 will be able to meet a lot of people’s daily needs, though it won’t meet the needs of an audiophile – I’m sure I don’t need to point that out.
The sets of speakers that made the list above serve as a great option for an upgrade. Particularly if you are considering upgrading from stock speakers. It is quite easy and can be done on a budget to get a better speaker than stock speakers.
3. Do expensive speakers sound better?
Sometimes but not always.
As you can see from the different offerings above, speakers can be decent at an affordable price. You may not get all the features that you would if you spent thousands on a product. However, these days budget speakers come with plenty of exciting features of their own.
Honestly, for a lot of people, it could be difficult to tell the difference in performance. You can get affordable products that produce realistic and high-quality sounds so don’t always feel the need to go for the expensive option just because someone tells you it’s better. Audio is personal!