Best stereo speakers for 2021

Soundbars and powered speakers are great, but if you want the best sound possible then you’ll want a pair of passive speakers powered by an AV receiver or amplifier. No matter what your budget there is a set of speakers for you — from the adorable $65 Dayton Audio B652-AIR to the seriously thrilling $900 Bowers and Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary. If you listen to music then just add a pair of these, but each set will also perform well on movie night as part of a surround system.

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At their normal price of $350 these speakers are still the best for the money, but if you can find them on sale their value becomes just astounding. The step up from the $65 Dayton Audio (see below) to the Elacs puts you in a whole new ballpark. These little audiophile speakers can challenge even the best on this list. Best proverbial bang for buck by far.

Read our Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 review.

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If you’re looking to fit out a workspace or a children’s room the Dayton Audio B652-AIR offers a great deal of performance for the price of a meal for two. They don’t look cheap, either, with that striking folded-metal tweeter at the top. Sure, you can always do better, but if the budget’s tight these are the ones we’d choose. 

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We love the Elac Debuts but there’s a couple of little chinks in their armor — firstly, they’re a little bass shy, and secondly, they really need a good amp in order to shine. If you’re looking for something that’s a little more even-handed, the Q Acoustics 3030i offers great looks and a satisfying amount of bass. They’ll also perform well with budget receivers, making them perfect for an AV setup.

Read our Q Acoustics 3030i review.

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The Fluance XL8F offers an exceptional value for floorstanding speakers: They boast both a high-level finish and involving sound quality. If your budget is under a grand and you have the room, these speakers should be at the top of your audition list.

Read our Fluance XL8F review.

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Klipsch

Klipsch has been making rock ‘n’ roll speakers since before rock was even a thing. The Klipsch RP-600M offers an up-front performance that’s perfectly suited to AC/DC, but they will also handle the odd piano concerto or two. The RP-600Ms also look the part with their bold, brass-colored drivers. CNET’s Audiophiliac chose them as his favorite speakers of 2018. 

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Alongside Klipsch, Bowers and Wilkins has been at the forefront of speaker manufacturing for a lifetime. The best part about this company is that when it invents a new technology — such as the silvery Continuum drivers that appeared on its flagship models — it ends up trickling down to the mainstream. Better for everyone! The 606 Anniversary look amazing, thanks in part to the drivers, and they sound amazing, too

Read our Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition review.

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