Best budget hi-fi speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best budget hi-fi speakers you can buy in 2019.
We've trawled through our reviews – new and old – to present the best budget pairs of speakers you can buy for under £500 - including standmounts, floorstanders and desktop speakers.
Our list spans several brands from KEF to Mission, Monitor Audio to Tannoy and beyond - which just goes to show how many excellent budget hi-fi speakers are out there.
A tight budget may rule out flagship technologies and expensive materials (and the sonic performance that goes with them, of course), but it's surprising how good sound quality can be at this level. In fact, we're often shocked by the arrival of new speakers that manage to squeeze out even more performance for the money.
So whether you're building a hi-fi system based on separates or simply need a pair to accompany a micro system, you're sure to find something suitable on this list. Dig right in...
There's no shortage of talented budget speakers on the market, so it takes something really special to top our list. Needless to say, these Elacs sound sensational for the money.
At 34cm tall, they're a relatively compact single-wired design and use a 5.25cm aramid fibre mid/bass driver partnered with a 2.5cm cloth dome tweeter. The only downside is you've only got one vinyl finish (black ash) to choose from.
The Elacs are unfussy about placement but we'd definitely partner them with quality entry-level separates - this will allow their rhythmic talents to shine through. They're dynamic and expressive performers capable of dealing with any genre you throw their way. Buy with confidence.
Read the full review: Elac Debut B5.2
These 2018 Award-winners are excellent speakers, combining Dali's traditional strengths (agility, articulation and good insight) with a generous dose of entertainment.
They deserve top spot on this list for offering a level of fun even their most talented rivals struggle to match. For £199 they're virtually impossible to fault.
Read the full review: Dali Spektor 2
Previous generations of Bronze 2s were class leaders. As it turns out, these versions are too. For their size, these standmounts dig deep in the bass; they’re tonally balanced and impressively detailed too.
Add fine build and Monitor Audio’s usual high standard of finish and you can't go wrong. Another 2018 Award winner, these are a fine buy indeed.
Read the full review: Monitor Audio Bronze 2
The 600 Series to which these speakers belong is the most affordable range in B&W’s vast catalogue and, standing just 30cm tall, the 607s are the smallest and most affordable stereo pair in the line-up.
For a pair of standmounters at this price, you’d do well to beat the B&W 607s. Energetic, insightful and riotously entertaining, they're a truly stunning pair of budget hi-fi speakers.
Read the full review: B&W 607
If our Fyne Audio F501 review had your mouth watering, but at £1200 a pair put your bank account in peril, Fyne has provided us with another class-leader. One that belies its extremely reasonable price tag.
It’s rare to find such capable floorstanders under £500 - their blend of awesome dynamics and accurate timing makes them a pleasure to listen to. These budget Award winners are very special indeed.
Read the full review: Fyne Audio F302
The Mission QX-2s are terrific speakers. They sound at home across a wide range of music and have an infectiously energetic character that makes them a pleasure to listen to. If you’re in the market for budget standmounters around the £350 mark, you simply have to consider these. Another set of speakers thoroughly deserving of a 2018 Best Buy.
Read the full review: Mission QX-2
If your budget can stretch as high as £500, these standmounts are no brainers, offering stunning sound and elegant looks at a competitive price that see them taking the trophy at the top of their class.
Nearly every aspect of the speakers has been redesigned for Q350s to achieve a cleaner, more sophisticated look and sound. The result is an unquestionable triumph for KEF.
Read the full review: KEF Q350
You'll have to hurry if you want to pick up a pair of these budget floorstanders as they've been around for a while and aren't available on many shop sites.
If you do find a pair, you won't be disappointed: the Eclipse Threes turn in a musically engaging performance that compares to the best standmouns at the price. They’re enjoyable and informative while being easy to set-up and partner. For £250, what more could you ask for?
Read the full review: Tannoy Eclipse Three
About the size of a shoebox, these Dalis keep strictly to convention as far as design is concerned - they are a two way, rear ported design, just like all their closest rivals.
But ordinary performers they are not, for the Dalis are quite exceptional. They're wonderfully articulate performers that marry a bold, forthright nature with the kind of refinement and insight that’s rare at this level. They're particularly stunning with vocals, although be aware speakers this small are never going to produce loads of bass.
Read the full review: Dali Oberon 1
The LX-2s were originally tested at £200, but now at the revised price of £160 they’re an even bigger bargain, delivering a huge slice of fun that few rivals can get close to. If you don't like the look of the Dali Spektor 2s, these are the next best alternatives at this modest price point.
They may not be one of the newest speakers in the list, but they remain a solid go-to recommendation for anyone on a tight budget.
Read the full review: Mission LX-2
We loved the first Ruark Audio MR1 desktop speakers when they emerged in 2013, and as they entered mark two stage our love only grew stronger. Winners in the What Hi-Fi? Awards desktop speaker category, they are the closest any desktop wireless speaker has come to sounding like proper hi-fi.
Quite simply, these are superb speakers of their type.
Read the full review: Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2
At just £150, there's a lot to like about the Wharfedale D310s. They're packed full of engineering including downward-firing ports and woven Kevlar cones. The design is appealing too - with nicely rounded edges on the cabinets and a choice of black or white finishes.
If you're tight on space, the Wharfedales work perfectly well placed close to a wall, maintaining a good balance and stereo image. There's plenty of bass for the money and the way the D310s handle vocals is a particular highlight, displaying clarity and emotion in spades. They might sound too laid-back for some, but for the money there's little else to criticise.
Read the full review: Wharfedale D310