It is said that you should spend 50% of your total audio or home theater budget on speakers.
If you want to spend $4,000+ on your system, you should consider devoting two thousand of that just to speakers.
Certainly, nothing affects the sound as much as good (or bad) speakers, and it doesn’t make sense to hold back on them.
On the other hand, if you can find a real speaker bargain you can get a more powerful amplifier, a better surround sound receiver, and even a cool turntable so that you can start haunting charity shops and find the real bargains in the record bins.
We are going to look at six different speaker systems under $2,000 here that we think to offer such substantially good value.
They all are great choices for stereo, and all have a rich and musical sound, but they are also designed to be part of sensational home theater surround systems – two of our choices are, in fact, complete sets already, including all the speakers you need for your home cinema.
If you are looking for the best speakers for under $2,000, for your home theater system, or for your stereo music system, please read on – our selected list will make choosing the right speakers quick and easy!
Best Speakers Under $2,000 – Comparison ChartTable could not be displayed.
7 Best Speakers Under $2,000 – Reviews
Best Bookshelf Speaker under $2,000 – KEF R3 Bookshelf Loudspeaker
We begin our survey of the 8 best speakers for under $2,000 with a brilliant bookshelf speaker from a company long renowned for its speakers.
Essentially a 3-way system, the KEF R3 is large for a bookshelf-type or stand-mounted speaker and needs a little more space than smaller speakers to really open up, but when it does it offers truly audiophile-level sound quality.
Features of the KEF R3 include:
- A 5-inch Uni-Q midrange and tweeter driver array
- A 6.5-inch hybrid aluminum bass driver
- 2 sets of cable posts for either a single amplifier or bi-amplification
- Heavily damped high-density cabinet for low distortion and low coloration
- Specially tuned ports for deep bass extension
The Uni-Q array allows the high and mid-frequency notes to arrive at your listening position at the same moment, which provides incredible stereo imaging, with an almost holographic three-dimensional picture of the musicians. The alignment of the drivers also gives these speakers the extraordinary ability to extract every bit of detail from the music, rendering well-recorded sources with wonderful musicality, accuracy, and “timing.”
The exceedingly high-quality materials used in all parts of the KEF R3’s design and construction lead to astonishingly clear, neutral sound, and a fast, dynamic and exciting presentation. And while they won’t go as deep as some larger audiophile speaker systems or subwoofers, these R3 speakers have an amazing bass response and are really satisfying with all kinds of music.
As a surround sound system, the KEF R series really offers a whole new world of accuracy, dynamics, and beauty of sound, and perhaps the most vivid and coherent surround sound image you can get at any price. Add a KEF R2C Center Channel speaker, a pair of KEF R8A Dolby Atmos Surround speakers, and a KEF R400B Subwoofer and enjoy one the finest home theater speaker systems money can buy.
Not an inexpensive speaker, the KEF R3 needs pretty good equipment backing it up – it is such an accurate reproducer that inferior amplifiers or music players will be revealed for what they are.
On the other hand, with the right amp and source material, and in a larger space, the KEF R3 is one of the finest speakers we have recently heard, and certainly a great choice for audiophiles who are looking for the best bookshelf speakers under $2000.
Pros & Cons of KEF R3 Bookshelf Loudspeaker
|Best-in-class sound quality
|Will reveal problems with associated equipment (really a plus!)
|Incredible neutrality, detail, dynamics, and timing
|Beautiful, simple design
|A great value
Best Home Theater Speaker under 2000 – Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater Speaker System
Bose has been known among audiophiles and music lovers for decades now, due to their unique (though often copied) direct-reflecting speaker systems, especially the legendary Bose 901.
More recently Bose has gained just as much admiration, and just as many devoted customers, with their noise-canceling headphones and their brilliant home theater speaker systems.
The latter, the Bose surround sound speaker arrays, still take advantage of that remarkable direct-reflecting technology, which explains their superior ability to fill a room with sound and cast a solid and immersive surround sound experience – and this is especially true with the Acoustimass 10 home theater speakers.
Features of the Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater Speaker System include:
- Direct-reflecting technology for room-filling sound and immersive surround sound
- Slim profile for discrete installation
- Complete 5.1 system, with the center, front, and surround speakers and subwoofer
- The Acoustimass subwoofer is adjustable for easy placement and best sound integration
- Complete with clearly labeled cables for easy installation
The Acoustimass 10 Series V home theater speaker system is Bose’s flagship surround sound speaker system, which in addition to offering such striking surround sound also has absolutely amazing dynamics and musical energy, warm and accurate tonal quality, and low distortion.
Loud or soft, a soundtrack comes through clearly and sounds just right, and the rock-solid imaging surrounds the listener and brings the video and audio together into one singular cinema experience – in a way that even much more expensive surround systems can’t always manage.
Pros & Cons of Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater Speaker System
|Direct-reflecting technology ensures the best surround sound
|Not as much deep bass as larger, more expensive subwoofers
|Extremely high-quality audio – sounds just as good with movies or music
|Proprietary wiring means already installed in-wall wiring may need to be modified
|Very dynamic and exciting sound
|The bass from the subwoofer is well integrated with the rest of the system
|Beautiful, subtle design
|Complete system including all wiring
|Great value compared to similarly priced systems from other manufacturers
Best Floor-standing Speaker under 2000 – Klipsch RP-280F Reference Premiere Floorstanding Speaker
Another truly legendary speaker company, Klipsch has long been known and loved for their extremely low distortion and extremely high sensitivity – a thrilling combination that ensures you can listen to music as loud as you want for as long as you want.
The remarkable Klipsch horn-loaded speaker drivers allow for this unmatched musical energy, but they also mean that even at low volumes these speakers sound dynamic, natural, and engaging, with flat frequency response and near-perfect stereo imaging.
The latest advancements in Klipsch’s horn-loading technology can be found in the RP-280F Reference Premiere tower speaker.
A floor-standing speaker, the RP280F is the largest model in the Reference Premier line and offers sound as big as its cabinets.
Features of the Klipsch RP-280F Reference Premiere Floorstanding Speaker include:
- 90×90 Hybrid Tractrix Horn
- Linear Travel Suspension (LTS) Titanium Tweeter
- Spun Copper Cerametallic Woofers
- All-new Tractrix port for superior deep bass extension
- Dolby Atmos-ready
- 2 sets of cable posts for either a single amplifier or bi-amplification
The Klipsch RP280F may be the perfect speaker if you want true audiophile sound quality in your stereo system – big and exciting, slightly bright and with lots of detail, and yet still refined, accurate and neutral – and with slamming deep bass – but also want a home theater system (or may want to upgrade to home theater surround later on).
These speakers are perfectly matched to the Klipsch RP-450C center channel, the Klipsch RP-250S surround speakers, and the Klipsch R-115SW subwoofer – put them all together and you get a superb surround sound system.
By themselves, the Klipsch RP-280 speakers are among the best stereos speakers in their price range making them one of the best speakers under 2000, and with the matching surround sound speakers, you get one of the finest home theater speaker systems at any price.
Either way, you get that legendary Klipsch sound – high volume, low distortion, incredible imaging, tonal accuracy, and overall one of the most lifelike sounds money can buy, making them one of the best floor standing speakers under 2000 bucks.
Pros & Cons of Klipsch RP-280F Premiere Floorstanding Speaker
|Extremely low distortion
|Extremely high sensitivity
|Wide dynamic range
|Great deep bass response
|Great stereo (or surround) imaging
|A life-like and engaging speaker
Best Loudspeaker under 2000 – ELAC B6 Debut 2.0 DB 6.2 Two-Way Bookshelf Speakers
At this point in our Buyer’s Guide to the best speakers under two thousand dollars, we get to one of my favorite little speakers, a true audiophile mini-monitor at a tiny price.
The ELAC B6 Debut 2.0 is the second generation of the company’s popular B6 Debut, with an improved cabinet, tweeter, and woofer, and overall even better sound than its beloved forebear.
Like the original Debut, the new and improved 2.0 is designed to be a great choice for high-end stereo sound, and just as effective for home theater, as a part of ELAC’s complete surround sound system.
Features of the ELAC B6 Debut 2.0 DB6.2 speaker include:
- 1-inch cloth dome tweeter with wide-dispersion waveguide
- 6.5 inch Aramid fiber woofer
- Dual flared ports for deeper bass response
- Thick MDF cabinet designed for easy placement in your room
- High power handling for great dynamic range
The ELAC Debut 2.0 has a surprising bass response for such a little speaker, but that’s only one of the reasons they have become one of the best-reviewed and highest-rated speakers in their class.
They have the kind of neutral sound that one expects only from much (much) more expensive speakers, reproducing any music or movie soundtrack with clear, lifelike fidelity.
They have great dynamic range, playing both loud and soft passages with equal ease, and their imaging is superb.
And speaking of superb imaging, their ability to throw a three-dimensional sound image into your listening room serves them equally well as a part of the ELAC home theater surround sound system.
Combine the remarkable Debut 2.0s with:
- ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 Center Speaker
- ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Dolby Atmos Modules
- ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3010 400 Watt Powered Subwoofer
…and you’ll get a truly high-end cinema experience at a ridiculously low price.
Whether for stereo or surround sound, the ELAC Debut 2.0 DB 6.2 speakers may be the best bargain on our list of best speaker systems under $2,000!
Pros & Cons of ELAC B6 Debut 2.0 DB6.2 speaker
|Truly audiophile sound for a bargain price
|Don’t have as much deep bass as some larger speakers
|Neutral and accurate
|Detailed and accurate imaging
|Lots of power and dynamic range
|Equally great for home theater/surround sound
One of the most striking-looking speakers on the market today, the JBL 230 2-way speaker may seem a bit expensive for a small bookshelf or stand-mounted speaker system – at least until you hear them!
Another company with a long and excellent history and an almost fanatical following, JBL shares many attributes with Klipsch (see above in our list of best speakers under 2000 bucks) – the loaded horn design with its attendant low distortion, high sensitivity, and the ability to play loud with a no harshness or fatigue.
Features of the JBL Studio 530 Two-Way 5.25-Inch Bookshelf Speakers include:
- 1-Inch (25mm) High-Frequency Compression Driver
- Glass-filled ABS Bi-Radial High-Frequency Horn
- 5.25-Inch (130mm) Low-Frequency Transducers with PolyPlas cone
- Ultra-rigid MDF cabinet
- 2 sets of cable posts for either a single amplifier or bi-amplification
Compared to the Klipsch speakers above, these JBL 530 stand-mounted speakers are much smaller and less expensive.
They do have a similar sound, though, bright and detailed, and while they don’t go as deep in bass response they actually offer a lot of low ends and sound especially good with Rock, Hip-Hop, and Electronic music.
And they still offer a remarkably big and impactful sound for their size.
They also have extremely low distortion, which not only means they can be listened to for a long time without harshness or fatigue but that they reproduce all the detail – even the most subtle sounds – of whatever recording you’re listening to.
Their bi-radial horn also offers solid and convincing stereo imaging, with a deep and wide soundstage, making them a very satisfying speaker for Classical or Jazz music as well. If you are into classical music, we have a dedicated article on the best speakers for classical music.
For an exciting and immersive home theater surround sound speaker experience, add the JBL Studio 520SBK center speaker, two JBL Studio 210 surround speakers, and the awesome JBL LSR 310S Studio subwoofer.
These JBL 530 speakers enjoy an amazingly positive reputation, with maybe the highest customer rating of any speakers we are including in our list of best value speakers, and after even a few minutes of listening it is easy to hear why.
Polk Audio has emerged as not only one of the very best manufacturers of great-sounding speakers but also as a real leader in surround sound systems.
This makes their speakers a great choice for the audiophile who may be playing both music and movies in about equal measure.
Polk has also become one of the most respected companies regarding technological advancement and innovation, with an impressive history of research and development, patents, innovations, and sometimes even radical rethinking of how a loudspeaker should work – and all of it leading simply to better sound.
Indeed, so many of the company’s innovations and advancements have led right to the Polk Audio TSi200 Bookshelf Speakers – a quite affordable pair of stereo speakers with a warm, dark sound that makes even slightly lower quality recordings and equipment sound wonderfully musical and pleasing.
Features of the Polk Audio TSi200 Bookshelf Speakers include:
- 1″ Dynamic Balance silk dome tweeter
- 2 5.25” TSi Series polymer woofers
- Critically tuned flared port venting system
- Gold-plated 5-way binding posts
- High-efficiency design
With their rich, detailed sound, that’s always warm and smooth – at any volume and at any frequency – these Polk TSi200s also make great front speakers for home theater.
They can be combined with the CSi A6 Center Channel speaker, the DSWPRO 550WI subwoofer, and two more TSi200 bookshelf speakers for rear surround, for a superb yet affordable home theater speaker array with plenty of warmth and musicality and plenty of muscle.
Best Stereo Speaker under 2000 – Logitech Z-5500 THX-Certified 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Speaker System
Logitech may not be the first brand name you think of for high-quality speaker systems – especially compared to some of the highly regarded and well-established audio companies listed above. But they are certainly a brand directly associated with technology, innovation, and beautiful, functional design.
The Logitech Z-5500 THX-Certified 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Speaker System certainly has all of that – great looks, cutting-edge technology, useful features, and design. And, even compared to Audio giants like Klipsch and JBL, it also has absolutely beautiful sound!
Features of the Logitech Z-5500 Sound Speaker System include:
- THX-certified 5.1 speakers with 505 Watts of power
- 10-inch subwoofer
- Audio inputs for up to six devices
- Wireless remote control with batteries
- Real-time digital sound equalization
Designed to be a complete, all-in-one home theater package, the Logitech Z-5500 speaker system does without the usual large and complex home theater receiver:
- Amplifiers are built into the system, with plenty of power for an exciting home theater experience
- Up to six devices can be plugged in, including DVD, PC, MP3 or CD player, Music or Video Stream, and Game Console
- Both Digital SoundTouch control center and full-function remote control are included
- All speakers – center, front, surround, and sub – are included, as is all needed wiring
But how does it all sound? Well, the Logitech Z-5500 is not exactly an inexpensive system, but it sounds as good as almost any home theater system we have heard at any price!
There is tremendous power and impact from the big, clean-sounding amplifiers, with plenty of detail and no apparent distortion.
The speakers themselves are open and neutral, with little or no sound of their own, and when properly set up the surround sound imaging is completely coherent and really brings you into the action.
The deep bass is strong and adds to the excitement.
And, it sounds as good with music recordings as with motion pictures.
And the Logitech Z-5500 THX-Certified home theater system is really easy to set up and to use. Highly recommended!
Pros & Cons of Logitech Z-5500 Sound Speaker System
|Plays loud with clarity and with no distortion
|Doesn’t offer the ultimate level of flexibility you get from a complex home theater receiver
|Great surround sound imaging
|Good deep bass
|Easy to use, easy to set up
|Well designed on every level, and really cool looking!
What Makes Expensive Speakers so Good?
We use a lot of terms to describe the features of great speakers, like horn loading, bi-amplification, dynamic range, soundstage, frequency response, and more, and while these words and phrases are standard in the industry, it doesn’t mean everybody will know what they mean.
So I thought it might be helpful to include here a little glossary of some of the terms mentioned in this article.
This is in no way complete, but maybe it will be of some help.
Using two amplifiers to power a single speaker – one amplifier for the high frequencies and another for bass.
Speakers need to have two sets of connectors on the back (one connected to the woofer and one to the tweeter) for this to work, and you must also have a crossover device that sends the highs to their amplifier and the low notes to theirs.
There is also tri-amplification.
A small speaker can sit on a bookshelf or other surface.
These are also called stand-mounted speakers, and work equally well (and sometimes much better) sitting on a good, rigid stand.
An electronic circuit, usually built into a speaker, directs high-frequency music or sound to the high-frequency drivers (tweeters and midranges) and low frequencies to the low-frequency drivers (woofers and sub-woofers).
Basically, anything that changes the musical signal. In a high-fidelity audiophile stereo system, the main goal is to have the original recorded music come through to the listener with as little distortion as possible.
Distortion can, and does, occur at any point in the system – the CD player or turntable, the amplifier, the speaker, even the cables.
The part of the speaker that actually creates and projects sound – is usually a cone or dome of paper, fiber, or some hi-tech material.
These are usually seen on the front of the speaker, and generally, the small drivers (tweeters and midranges) handle higher frequencies, while the larger drivers (woofers and sub-woofers) handle the bass notes.
Dynamics, or Dynamic Range
Dynamics refers to the relative sound level, or volume, of music, and how it changes from softer to louder or louder to softer.
Dynamic range is a measure of the range from the very softest, or quietest, notes to the very loudest.
A special kind of speaker driver uses a high voltage static electric field to move a very light and thin membrane, which creates sound. Electrostatic speakers often have very low distortion and very open, clear sound.
Enclosure (or Cabinet)
The speaker’s box, in which the crossover and wires sit, and on which the drivers are mounted. As a rule, the thicker, heavier, and more damped the cabinet, the better the sound.
Just as it sounds, this is a speaker which sits directly on your floor, without stands.
These speakers are usually larger than bookshelf or stand-mounted speakers, and can often (though not always) provide better deep bass because of their larger woofer drivers.
The range of sound, from high notes to low notes, that a speaker can reproduce.
Generally, but not always, larger speakers, with larger woofers, have better low-end (bass) frequency response, and more expensive speakers with better tweeters will go higher and have more high-frequency detail.
Speaker drivers send their musical output into a horn – either pointed directly at the listener (usual tweeters) or folded into the speaker’s cabinet (usually woofers).
Horn loading is said to offer extremely flat frequency response without making any bass, midrange or high frequency notes louder or softer than they should be.
MDF: Medium density fiberboard
An extremely stiff material is used to make speaker cabinets, which allows the speakers to play even loudly without vibrations distorting or coloring the sound.
Even very expensive speakers use MDF for their cabinets rather than solid wood.
Small to medium-sized speaker drivers reproduce the notes in the middle of the musical range – like vocals, guitars, and much of the piano’s range. These notes fall between what the tweeter and the woofer would normally handle.
A specially tuned hole in a speaker’s cabinet can help extend the speaker’s bass response deeper – especially useful for smaller speakers that have smaller woofers and limited bass response.
The maximum amount of power (wattage – from the amplifier) that a speaker can handle.
It is important not to overload a speaker with too much power, but many experts say that it is even more dangerous to have too small of an amplifier – if an amp has to work too hard to drive a speaker, it will start “clipping” and the resulting distortion is more likely to hurt a speaker than too much power.
The space in which a musical performance, and the people and instruments performing, are found.
A sound stage can be very large, as for a whole symphony orchestra, or very small, as for a solo violinist, but a great speaker should be able to reproduce any size soundstage equally well.
A speaker with three different drivers – a tweeter, a midrange, and a woofer – handles high notes, middle notes, and bass notes respectively.
Check out the difference between 2-way vs. 3-way speakers.
Maybe the most difficult quality of great speakers to define. Timing is the sense that music moves forward, has energy and excitement, and moves the listener.
It is usually said to be a combination of many different things: the accurate reproduction of details, even very subtle details; accurate dynamics; low distortion; clear and accurate imaging and soundstage, tonal accuracy, and much more.
If you’re still not sure, look down at your feet while you are listening to a speaker system – are they tapping?
A small speaker driver which handles high notes. This might include a soprano voice, a flute, the high notes of a piano or violin, and more.
A speaker with two drivers – a tweeter and a woofer – handles high notes and low (bass) notes respectively. Check out the difference between 2-way vs. 3-way speakers.
A unique (get it?) technology found exclusively on KEF loudspeakers, in which the tweeter and woofer are mounted together in one single unit, and sit perfectly on the same axis.
This allows all sounds to arrive at the listening position at the same moment, which provides superb reproduction of soundstage and space, and also dramatically improves dynamics and detail.
A larger speaker driver is designed to reproduce bass music. Larger woofers, often in separate enclosures, are called subwoofers and handle deeper bass.
It might seem strange to purchase speakers on the internet, without having even heard them, but that seems to be the way of the future.
And that is exactly why we compile lists like this – to take the risks and mystery away and help you find a speaker system you are sure to love.
Every speaker on this list is built well, engineered well, offers exceptional value, and can be considered perhaps the best choice in its price range, either for high-end audiophile stereo sound or for home theater.
But, more importantly, every speaker on this list sounds really, really good!
While there are literally hundreds of other speakers you could consider to replace any of our choices – some of them pretty good, and some of them awful – we have done countless hours of research, comparing and listening so that you can consider any one of these as not just a safe bet, but a wonderful choice that will provide exciting entertainment for many years.