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9 of the best budget speakers

A good pair of speakers is one of the most important parts of any hi-fi system. Luckily, there's a whole heap of choice, using different designs, materials and technologies, all of which can have a big effect on the sound quality.

The best stereo speakers on the market can cost thousands of pounds, but there is plenty of value and quality to found at the budget end, too.

A good pair of speakers for under £100 is hard to find but you can certainly find yourself a capable pair of hi-fi speakers for under £200. In this round-up we've got nine of the best hi-fi speakers under £300, giving you plenty of choice to match your room, system and personal preferences.

From Cambridge Audio to Dali, Tannoy to Q Acoustics, there should be something for everyone. See something you like? Click through to read the full review, see more pictures and get the full specs.

Best budget speakers to buy in 2014

The one to beat... 

Q Acoustics 2020i

Five stars

Tested at £150

An upgrade and improvement over the Q Acoustics 2010i speakers, these 2020i speakers are quite simply astounding.

For £150 you get incredibly good performance per pound value. And at just 27cm tall, they're compact enough to squeeze in to a small space.

MORE: Q Acoustics 2020i review

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Budget speaker alternatives

Cambridge Audio SX-50

Four stars

Tested at £130

Running the Q Acoustic 2020is close are the Cambridge Audio SX-50 bookshelf speakers. They can handle most genres well, but they do need to be carefully placed. About 30cm from a wall is perfect but too close or too far and the sound is compromised.

At 23cm tall, they're even smaller than the Q Acoustics, which may be useful for some, but for better dynamics and detail we'd spend the extra for the 2020is if you can.

MORE: Cambridge Audio SX-50 review

Dali Zensor 1

Five stars

Tested at £180

We first reviewed the Zensor 1s back in 2011, but to this day they still remain one of our favourite sets of affordable hi-fi speakers.

They deliver a performance you'd expect from a larger, more expensive pair, offer superb detail and are incredibly easy to listen to. Aside from being a touch more money than the Q's, there remains little to fault them.

MORE: Dali Zensor 1 review

Dali Zensor 3

Five stars

Tested at £300

Another five-star entry for Dali. At the top end of our budget scale here, they should deliver more than is offered elsewhere here... and they do.

As one of the few pairs that got our reviewers to use the term "stonkingly good" you can rest assured these are a fantastic buy.

MORE: Dali Zensor 3 review

Monitor Audio Bronze BX2

Five stars

Tested at £250

The best stereo speakers of 2012 remain a fine option. Detailed, fast and agile, we think they look pretty smart, too (there are a range of finishes).

Unfussy when it comes to positioning, they need a little care when it comes to system matching but are otherwise a very easy to recommend set of speakers.

MORE: Monitor Audio Bronze BX2 review

Pioneer S-CN301-LR

Four stars

Tested at £200

The S-CN301-LRs are a solid, well finished pair of standmount speakers. They're happier with trebley tunes than bass bangers, but a fast, clean and clear sound means they still have plenty of appeal. They're also rather easy on the, should that be a key concern.

MORE: Pioneer S-CN301-LR review

Q Acoustics 2010i

Five stars

Tested at £120

If you're after a similar sound to the 2020is, the 2010is are of course a good place to look. They feature much of the same engineering as their bigger sibling and still deliver a well judged performance that others find tough to match. At £120, you can't go wrong.

MORE: Q Acoustics 2010i review

Tannoy Mercury V1i

Four stars

Tested at £150

Another set of speakers to get the upgrade treatment, the latest Mercury installment keeps up a fine tradition of impressive cheap speakers from Tannoy.

Don't put them too close to a wall and you'll enjoy a calculated, balanced sound. The last word in entertainment and drive, they're not, but if you like your speakers to sound clinical and clear, these are worth auditioning.

MORE: Tannoy Mercury V1i review

Wharfedale Diamond 121

Five stars

Tested at £230

The Diamond 121s are, in a word, outstanding. They produce a sound above and beyond their small stature and aren't fussy when it comes to placement.

Bass levels are solid and treble is well judged too. We've had reservations over the build quality on our samples, but the performance does its level best to make up for it.

MORE: Wharfedale Diamond 121 review

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