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Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

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 2020.

An upgrade to your home audio doesn't have to be expensive when there are some brilliant budget hi-fi speakers around.

We've trawled through our reviews of the very best - standmounts, floorstanders and desktop speakers too - to create this selection of our favourites. Starting at just £129, there are plenty of What Hi-Fi? 2019 Award-winners among them.

Our list spans brands like KEF, Mission, Monitor Audio, B&W and many more, 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 flawless sonic performance that goes with them, of course), but it's amazing 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. 

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

1. Elac Debut B5.2

Brilliant budget speakers for the money.

SPECIFICATIONS

Impedance: 6ohms | Sensitivity: 86dB/w/m | Speaker terminals: Single | Dimensions: 34 x 18 x 23cm (HxWxD) | Tweeter: 2.5cm cloth dome | Mid/bass: 5.25cm aramid fibre

Reasons to Buy

Cohesive, insightful sound
Unfussy about placement
Solid build

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

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

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

2. Dali Spektor 2

These great-value Dalis offer unrivalled entertainment for the money.

SPECIFICATIONS

Impedance: 6ohms | Sensitivity: 85dB/w/m | Speaker terminals: Single | Dimensions: 29 x 17 x 24cm (HxWxD) | Tweeter: 25mm soft dome | Woofer: 13cm wood fibre

Reasons to Buy

Agile and expressive sound
Good detail resolution
Unfussy nature

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing of note

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 £179 they're virtually impossible to fault.

Read the full review: Dali Spektor 2

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

3. Monitor Audio Bronze 2

These are fantastic speakers and offer terrific sound-per-pound value.

SPECIFICATIONS

Speaker terminals: Single | Mid/bass driver: 16.5cm C-CAM | Tweeter: 25mm C-CAM | Sensitivity: 90dB/W/m | Dimensions: 35 x 18.5 x 25.5cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy

Rich, warm sound
Clear, precise treble
Sweeping dynamics

Reasons to Avoid

Need a little space to breathe

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

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

4. B&W 607

A marvellously entertaining pair of budget standmount speakers.

SPECIFICATIONS

Speaker terminals: Bi-wirable | Mid/bass driver: 13cm Continuum | Tweeter: 25mm Aluminium | Sensitivity: 84dB/W/m | Dimensions: 30 x 16.5 x 23cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy

Dynamic and punchy
Well detailed, with fine balance
Versatile with positioning

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

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

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

5. Fyne Audio F302

A fabulous pair of entertaining and affordable floorstanders.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 90dB/w/m | Impedance: 8ohms | Max power handling: 120W | Mid/bass driver: 15cm multi-fibre | Tweeter: 25mm polyester dome | Dimensions: 93 x 19 x 27cm (HXWXD)

Reasons to Buy

Full-bodied, entertaining sound
Fantastic timing and dynamic range
Plenty of low-end presence

Reasons to Avoid

Need some care in system-matching

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. They also manage to produce a surprising amount of quality bass given their size. If you needed any more encouragement, the Fynes also won a What Hi-Fi? Award in 2018.

Read the full review: Fyne Audio F302

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

6. Dali Oberon 1

High-quality small speakers with an unfussy nature.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 86dB/w/m | Impedance: 6ohms | Max power handling: 100W | Woofer: 13cm wood/fibre | Tweeter: 29mm soft dome | Dimensions: 27 x 16 x 23cm (HxWxD) | Speaker terminals: Single

Reasons to Buy

Bold and articulate sound
Excellent with voices
Fine build

Reasons to Avoid

Limited bass depth
Lack a little authority

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

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

(Image credit: Triangle)

7. Triangle Borea BR03

A new contender for best in class

SPECIFICATIONS

Impedance: 4.2ohms | Speaker terminals: Single | Mid/bass driver: 16cm paper cone | Tweeter: 25mm silk dome | Sensitivity: 90dB/W/m | Dimensions: 31.4 x 20.6 x 38cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy

Sophisticated, detailed sound
Impressive sense of scale
High-quality, agile bass

Reasons to Avoid

Aesthetic won’t be for everyone
Slight peakiness to treble

These are some very savvy musical performers with a great sense of scale and an even greater appetite for presenting music in a transparent and mature manner. There’s a nice tonal balance to the delivery, which is careful and considerate, and the Boreas also demonstrate an excellent sense of timing.

There's detail and insight across the frequency range and, given their size, plenty of weight to the bass too. Some might lust after a more musclebound delivery, but it’s the texture and quality that give the Triangles an edge. It’s not often we stumble across a pair of speakers at this price that sound as sophisticated as the Triangle Borea BR03s.

Read the full review: Triangle Borea BR3

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

8. Mission QX-2

Fun, easy to listen to and, at this price, excellent value for money.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 88 dB/w/m | Impedance: 8ohms | Max power handling: 120W | Mid/bass driver: 15cm pulp/acrylic fibre | Tweeter: 38mm ring radiator | Speaker terminals: Single | Dimensions: 32 x 22 x 31cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy

Energetic and insightful sound
Good rhythmic drive
Fine build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Tough competition

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

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

9. KEF Q350

Sophisticated, insightful speakers that belie their affordable price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Speaker terminals: Single | Driver: 16.5cm UniQ mid/bass with integrated 25mm aluminium dome tweeter | Sensitivity: 87dB/w/m | Impedance: 8ohms | Dimensions: 35.8 x 21 x 30cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy

Stunning levels of clarity and detail
Huge scale of sound
Good timing

Reasons to Avoid

Lack some punch and drive
Not best at low volumes

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

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

10. Mission LX-2

One of the best-value budget speakers around.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 85dB/w/m | Impedance: 6ohms | Max power handling: 80W | Woofer: 13cm fibre composite | Tweeter: 25mm microfibre dome | Dimensions: 30 x 19 x 26cm (HxWxD) | Speaker terminals: Single

Reasons to Buy

Insightful sound
Strong dynamics and fine timing
Punchy delivery

Reasons to Avoid

Need care in partnering

The LX-2s were originally tested at £200, but now at the revised price of £149 they’re an absolute steal, 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

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

11. Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2

Desktop speakers with a gorgeous design and superb performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

aptX Bluetooth: Yes | Inputs: Optical, line in | Output: Subwoofer | Dimensions: 17 × 13 × 13.5cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy

Stunningly musical sound
Subtle dynamics
Stylish, compact design

Reasons to Avoid

No USB input

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

Best budget hi-fi speakers 2020

12. Wharfedale D310

Clear-sounding, compact and detailed standmounters for less than £150.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 86dB/w/m | Impedance: 4ohms | Max power handling: 80W | Mid/bass: 10cm Kevlar | Tweeter: 2.5cm soft dome | Dimensions: 26.5 x 15.5cm x 22.8cm (HxWxD) | Speaker terminals: Single

Reasons to Buy

Clear, detailed sound
Impressive bass
Attractive design

Reasons to Avoid

Sound lacks energy
Lots of competition

At just £129, 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