Home theaters are incredibly popular these days, partially because of how affordable they are. You can get a big, high-resolution TV for a reasonable price. However, while the video fidelity will, indeed, be great, the same can’t be said about the sound quality. Most TV manufacturers put cheap, low-quality tweeters into their displays to cut production costs. So, if you’re not satisfied with how everything sounds, it’s time for an upgrade.
I’m talking about stereo speakers. They make the room look and feel “theatrical” and can greatly improve the audio quality, creating a truly immersive experience. And, you won’t have to break your bank to get them. Today, our focus will be on the Best Stereo Speakers Under 500 – five in total. Alright, let’s see which units deserve our hard-earned money!
Best Stereo Speakers Under 500 Review
1. Polk Audio T50 – Best stereo floor speakers under 500
Polk Audio speakers have always been a go-to choice for many home theaters. That’s because they are reasonably priced and deliver a balanced, “fine-tuned” sound. Plus, there are dozens of different configurations to choose from. Now, T50 is a single floor speaker, but it is also available as a stereo pair, a 3.1 setup, a 5.1 surround system, and more. And, no matter which kit you end up buying, it will be a great addition to a small or mid-sized room.
The sound quality also deserves our praise. As mentioned, it is balanced: the highs are nice and crisp (not sizzling), while the lows are impressively deep and punchy for this price range. The only downside has to do with the body of the speaker: it’s a bit fragile, which means you gotta be careful not to drop T50 on the floor. Other than that, Polk did a fantastic job with it.
- Well-balanced highs and deep lows
- Available in a dozen different configurations
- Perfect for a small- to medium-sized room
- Average-at-best build quality
Despite the so-so materials and build quality, T50 is a keeper. It will fit an average-sized room perfectly and fill it with defined highs and rumbling lows. This speaker is available in all kinds of different styles and configurations – select the one that suits you best, and enjoy!
2. Sony SSCS3 – Best home stereo speakers under 500
Here, we have another high-quality floor-standing speaker (again, sold as a single unit, not a pair). With it, you can crank the volume knob to 11 and there will still be no distortion (which isn’t the case with most speakers this cheap). The crystal-clear high frequencies sound really good and create an immersive experience. One of SSCS3’s standout features is the tapered faceplate edge design – it keeps the sound nice and natural.
Next, thanks to the optimized crossover components, signal loss is minimal. That makes the audio signal even more distinctive. Add MRC fiber woofers, high-precision tweeters, and a detailed user manual, and you’ll see why Sony deserves a spot on the list. As for the cons, while the highs do, indeed, sound phenomenal, the same can’t be said about the mids. They’re still decent, of course, but a bit hollow.
- Crips, crystal-clear treble frequencies with no distortion
- Optimized crossover components – minimal signal loss
- Tapered faceplate edges for clear sound
- The mid-range sounds a bit hollow
SSCS3 is a safe bet for home theater owners in the market for a reliable floor stereo with a solid audio output. Sadly, the mids aren’t very convincing, but the crisp highs compensate for that. Besides, with this speaker, you’ll get an Owner’s guide, MRC woofers, and almost no signal loss.
3. Edifier R1280DB – Best bluetooth stereo speakers under 500
Most of us are a bit tired of the gigantic piles of cables that follow pretty much every home equipment device. But, that won’t be an issue with the Edifier speakers, because they can connect to your TV, gaming console, or even Smartphone through Bluetooth. Plus, the package includes a remote control. More importantly, R1280DB is an incredibly affordable set that carries an excellent value.
That’s right: you’ll get a set of speakers with this kit, not just one single unit. And, they’ll be backed by the company’s two-year warranty – it covers labor and parts. The design is also a pro: it combines retro vibes with a modern style and looks great. So, is this a perfect stereo speaker kit? Well, not quite: the low-end doesn’t have enough punch and can’t fully “handle” hip-hop or heavy rock.
- Eye-catching design: equally retro and modern
- One of the most affordable speakers on the market
- Backed by a two-year parts + labor warranty
- Not enough low-end punch
Edifier is one of the safest bets for a home theater. R1280DB includes two speakers in the package, a remote control, and full wireless Bluetooth support. Add a two-year warranty, an affordable price tag, and an eye-grabbing design, and you’ll see why it’s so popular. The bass lacks punch, though.
4. ELAC – Best audiophile bookshelf speakers under 500
And what about ELAC – does it have any advantages over the competition, or not? What are its standout features? The first thing that’ll catch your attention is gonna be the engineering and material quality. The Debut speakers were built to last and can take a beating. Next, thanks to internal bracing, cabinet shaking/vibration is minimal, which results in a clear, pronounced audio quality without distortion.
Front Firing Ports will be a part of the deal as well: you can place the speakers anywhere you want (including very close to a wall) and there will be no excessive booming or anything like that. The ELAC stereo speakers come highly recommended by big names in the industry, by the way. What I didn’t like about this kit was the lack of depth at low volume. To get that “oomph”, you’ll have to crank the speakers up.
- Internal bracing for minimal cabinet vibration
- Front Firing Ports for free speaker placement
- Premium material and engineering quality
- Lack depth at lower volume levels
Superb material + build quality, internal bracing, and Front Firing Ports turn the ELAC speaker set into a must-have. The highs are very sharp and bright, while the lows are deep and punchy, just like you’d expect. However, to get the most out of the Debut speakers, you’ll need to raise the volume.
5. Klipsch R-51PM – Best home audio Bluetooth speakers under 500
Alright, finishing up with the list, let’s check out what one of the most expensive portable speaker sets looks like. The somewhat steep price is R-51PM’s biggest downside and might be a “turn-off” for many potential buyers. However, it also has a long list of pros that make it a worthy investment, especially in the long run. For example, these speakers feature IMG woofer cones that provide a remarkable low-frequency response.
The Dynamic bass EQ makes the low-end sound even better. Custom-tuned amplification for a smooth listening experience, Tractrix Horn (minimizes artificial reverb), Bluetooth + USB support, and the sleek design are more reasons to put Klipsch on the list of must-haves. The package, in turn, is very generous and includes all the necessary cables, a remote (with batteries), rubber feet, and more.
- IMG woofer cones for a strong bass response
- Custom-tuned amplification for max performance
- Generous package with cables and a remote
- The most expensive set on the list
This speaker set isn’t particularly cheap, that’s true. But, if you’re looking for a premium-quality stereo system, R-51PM will be a reasonable purchase. Advanced features like IMG cones, Tractrix Horn, automated amplification, and dynamic equalization make it worth your while.
And that is it for my top-five stereo speakers under $500 review. But wait – we still have things to discuss! What sets a stereo speaker kit from a true surround-sound system? Should you choose passive or active speakers? What’s the purpose of amplifiers? Is Bluetooth more important than RCA? If you want to learn the answers to these questions, join me, and let’s get to it!
#1: Stereo Setup vs. Surround Sound
This is the first thing that you gotta think about before making a purchase. Are you looking for a stereo setup or a true surround experience? For most home theater owners, a traditional stereo system – two speakers in a pair – is more than enough. However, to get that immersive, panoramic effect, you’ll need at least five speakers. Or, if you’ve got the extra bucks, get seven speakers + one woofer.
Oh, and don’t forget to position them properly to get the desired result. Obviously, two speakers are going to cost you less than five. Now, the great thing about modern-day stereo speakers: they’re easily expandable. What that means is you can begin with one single floor-standing speaker and add new ones once you have the budget for them. Start with one speaker, then add a pair later, and go from there.
#2: Passive vs. Active (Powered) Speakers
Without getting into technical detail, let me just say that passive speakers can’t make a sound on their own; active ones can. The reason – active (also known as “powered”) speakers feature an amplifier. It’s built into one of the speakers and is more than enough for a two-speaker kit. Ok, the big question here is: why should anyone even consider investing in passive speakers? Well, just like in the stereo vs. surround debate, your budget might come into play.
Active speakers are more expensive. And, if you decide to upgrade to a different system in the future, you’ll have to buy a brand-new kit. With passive speakers, you’ll be able to only upgrade the actual speakers and order a newer amplifier later. So, there are no 100% right or wrong answers here. It all comes down to personal preferences and the budget. Some folks invest in premium passive speakers and then start saving for a quality amp.
#3: Amplifier vs. Receiver
Most of us know what an amplifier is, but what about a receiver? You’ll see this term in the specifications of many modern-day stereo speakers. The difference between amps and receivers is minimal, but it’s still there. An amplifier is just that: a device that boosts an incoming audio signal, making it louder. Plus, it can shape the sound – make it louder, pan it differently, or add some effects (like you would to a guitar sound in a studio, for example).
A receiver, in turn, is an amp with a built-in radio unit. Back in the day, these devices were pretty popular, because people used to listen to the radio in their living rooms, and receivers removed the need for buying extra equipment. Today, there’s very little reason in buying such a “gadget”. It will be more expensive and bulkier than an amp but won’t have any significant pros over it.
#4: Inputs, Interfaces, Technology
RCA and Auxiliary inputs are available on pretty much all speaker systems. The same can’t be said about USB, though. This is one of the fastest and most reliable interfaces and ensures exceptional audio quality. Bluetooth is not very common among floor- or shelf-standing speakers either, but it can come quite in handy. As a wireless interface, it allows you to get rid of cables and connect to the system directly.
Next, let’s talk about technology – extra features that make the speakers sound better. Say, front-firing speakers can be put end-to-end to a wall (facing in the opposite direction) and won’t rumble/boom. Next, MRC fiber woofers are incredibly rigid, while tapered edges ensure a clean sound output.
Best Stereo Speakers Under 500 ()
|Polk Audio T50||
Well, that is everything I had to share for today! Stereo speakers have always been a popular choice, but these days, they’re in even larger demand. Quick to set up and easy on the eyes, the best stereo speakers can fit any environment nicely. More importantly, this home audio equipment is capable of dramatically improving the audio quality, allowing you to enjoy your favorite music, shows, and series to the fullest.
If you’ve got the TV installed in a small room, Polk might be a great investment. Sony, in turn, boasts crisp, satisfying treble frequencies, while ELAC is all about high-grade materials. The Edifier speakers are the cheapest option on the list; in contrast, Klipsch is pretty expensive but well worth it. Which speakers, in your opinion, carry the highest value? Share in the comments!