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The best stereo speakers: Build the perfect stereo system

What are the best stereo speakers? Our number one choice is the Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition. We analyzed design, wireless capability, speaker type, and sound quality in our list below.
lena-borrelli-author.jpg
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on

Whether it is catching the latest episode of The Walking Dead or blasting your favorite album, the right stereo system can make all the difference for your listening experience. However, finding the right system for your home and needs is not always so easy. 

We have done the hard work for you, researching the market's top offerings and analyzing critics' reviews, in addition to thousands of real-life reviews by customers just like you. Based on our exhaustive search, these are the best stereo speakers. 

Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition

Best stereo speakers

Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition
Best Buy

Tech specs:

  • Wireless: No
  • Speaker Type: Bookshelf
  • Enclosure Type: Bass reflex
  • RMS Power: 120W
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Minimum Frequency Response: 40Htz
  • Maximum Frequency Response: 33kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88 dB 
  • Number Of Speakers: 2
  • Number Of Tweeters Included: 1
  • Tweeter Size: 1"
  • Number Of Midranges Included: 1
  • Midrange Size: 6.5"
  • Number of Drivers Included: 2
  • Number Of Woofers Included: 0

What is included:

  • Grill
  • Port Plugs
  • Spikes and Rubber Feet

The Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition is reasonably priced for the quality and features you receive, making it our pick for the overall best stereo speakers in 2022. The speakers come in a pair and yet still manage a compact design perfect for your bookshelf. It does not sacrifice power, either. Continuum mid-bass drive units provide fantastic clarity boosted by heavy power, excellent bass, and exclusive Decoupled Double Dome Tweeters. Plus, this is a special anniversary version that incorporates upgraded crossovers, a trim-ring, and a magnetic grille. It combines a 1" decoupled Double Dome Aluminum Tweeter for better frequencies and a 6" Continuum Mid-bass that uses an incorporated flowport to decrease air turbulence. 

It makes for a new kind of listening experience with improved clarity and greater power than previous models. This model shows off the technology that Bowers & Wilkins has been perfecting for 25 years, and it certainly shows with this special Anniversary Edition. 

However, if you want stands, you will need to purchase them separately.

Warranty

Bowers & Wilkins offers a manufacturer's warranty for its 606 S2 Anniversary Edition that includes five years for parts and labor.

Pros:

  • Excellent build
  • Fantastic clarity
  • Superior bass

Cons:

  • Not wireless
  • Pricier option

Dayton Audio B652-AIR

Best budget stereo speakers

Dayton Audio B652-AIR
Amazon

Tech specs:

  • Wireless: No
  • Speaker Type: Bookshelf
  • Power Handling: 40WRMS/75W max
  • Impedance: 6 Ohms
  • Minimum Frequency Response: 70Hz
  • Maximum Frequency Response: 25Hz 
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB (1W/1m)
  • Number Of Speakers: 2
  • Number Of Woofers Included: 1

What's included:

  • Woofer: 6-1/2" polypropylene
  • Tweeter: 1" x 1" mini AMT
  • 2x 20 AWG 9.5 Speaker Cables Included

Dayton Audio B652-AIR is a budget-friendly bookshelf speaker that is compatible with computers, televisions, and DVD players, working with any receiver that supports speakers of 4-8 ohms for greater compatibility. It uses a simple, compact design with a pica vinyl cabinet and a removable cloth fabric grill. Set up is made simply by quick-connect terminals, plus the set comes with a convenient keyhole hanger bracket, rubber feet, and speaker cables, so you are ready to start listening without delay. It also includes a 6.5" subwoofer that comes in a sealed wood composite enclosure. 

The result is improved bass. That is combined with an Air Motion Transformer tweeter for improved treble clarity. The speaker drivers incorporate AMT technology with a design that incorporates a folded Kapton ribbon diaphragm for better dimensional sound. Even better? It is a very affordable model, priced less than $75 for those watching their spending.

Warranty

The Dayton Audio B652-AIR comes with a 5-year warranty with a convenient 45-day no-hassle return policy.

Pros:

  • Easy set-up
  • Compatible with home theater
  • Excellent quality

Cons:

  • Not the best for high volume
  • Limited bass

Definitive Technology BP9080x

Best sound

Definitive Technology BP9080x
Amazon

Tech specs:

  • Wireless: No
  • Speaker Type: Tower
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Minimum Frequency Response:16 Hz
  • Maximum Frequency Response: 40,000 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 92 dB 
  • Number Of Speakers: 1
  • Number of Drivers Included: 3
  • Number Of Woofers Included: 1

What is included:

  • Manual
  • Removable base
  • 4x Carpet spikes
  • 4x Hard Floor Glides

You also have the option to purchase the speakers in bundles with a home theater, cable, or additional bipolar surround speaker.

The Definitive Technology BP9080x provides surround sound and is both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X expandable. It is unique in that it is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with two-way positioning for better-customized sound. A leveling mechanism comes included for better-balanced sound, but that is just the start. This speaker comes fully loaded, using eight speakers with both front and rear 5.25" BDSS technology drivers, plus a front and a rear-facing 1" tweeter. All of that combines with an integrated 12" subwoofer with 12" bass radiators, so lows are low and highs are high, no matter the tune. The exclusive patented Forward-Focused Bipolar Technology provides exceptional sound dispersion. Plus, it eliminates the need for an additional purchase of a separate subwoofer. Intelligent Bass Control allows for improved bass that differentiates between lows and mids, plus enjoy Forward Focused Bipolar Array to stretch your room's soundstage. Just be aware that this speaker uses an incredible amount of power at 455W, although it is still far less than the McIntosh XR100. 

Warranty 

The Definitive Technology BP9080x includes a three-year warranty for electronic components and five years for drivers and cabinets.

Pros:

  • Integrated subwoofer
  • Intelligent Bass Control
  • Compatible with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X

Cons:

  • Delicate fabric wrap
  • More expensive model

McIntosh XR100 Floor Standing Loudspeaker

Best splurge

McIntosh XR100 Floor Standing Loudspeaker
Crutchfield

Tech specs:

  • Wireless: No
  • Speaker Type: Standing
  • RMS Power: 75 to 600W
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Minimum Frequency Response: 30Hz
  • Maximum Frequency Response: 45kHz
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB
  • Number Of Speakers: 1
  • Number Of Tweeters Included: 1
  • Tweeter Size: 3/4"
  • Number Of Midranges Included: 10
  • Midrange Size: 2"
  • Number Of Woofers Included: 4
  • Woofer Size: 6"

What is included:

  • Removable Base
  • 4x Carpet Spikes
  • 4x Hard Floor Glides

The McIntosh XR100 Floor Standing Loudspeaker is our pick for the best splurge when you want a high-end stereo speaker. An added benefit is the flexible positioning that comes from the ported 4-way design. With a power of up to 600W, it also has the highest frequency response on our list of best stereo speakers. This speaker can still provide the big sound of its competitors, an impressive feat considering its smaller size. It also includes Intelligent Bass Control with a thoughtfully integrated height module integrated into the system for full, immersive 3D sound.  You have the ability to use both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D audio. An acoustically-transparent magnetic grille is one of the thoughtful additions to this speaker, including patented Solid Cinch speaker binding posts with attractive gold plating to prevent corrosion. You will find that they also provide a secure attachment to the speaker cables. Plus, when you configure your speaker with a McIntosh system, you can enjoy an illumination on the front panel. Both spikes and furniture glides come included to ease in your set-up.

Warranty

A limited warranty accompanies your purchase of the McIntosh XR100 Floor Standing Loudspeaker. There is a three-year warranty for electronics with a five-year warranty for the cabinet and drivers.

Pros:

  • Immersive sound
  • Exceptional bass
  • Built-in subwoofer

Cons:

  • Very pricey
  • Must purchase accessories separately

Stereo speaker comparison

Product


Speakers

Type

Max. frequency response (Hz)

RMS Power

Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition


2

Bookshelf

52 - 28,000 Hz

120W

Dayton Audio B652-AIR


2

Bookshelf

70 - 25,000 Hz

75W

Definitive Technology BP9080x 


1

Free Standing

16 - 40,000 Hz

455W  

McIntosh XR100 Floorstanding Speaker


1

Free Standing

30 - 45,000 Hz

600W

What are the best stereo speakers?

The best stereo speakers are the Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition because of their modern design, and superb sound quality.

How did we choose these speakers?

There are many types of different speakers available today made to fit a variety of personal needs. In evaluating the best stereo speakers that the 2022 market has to offer, these are some of the key considerations we made to find the very best stereo speakers for your home.

  • Size: Stereo speakers can come in many sizes: some small, some big, some that are bookshelf-sized and others that stand tall. Consider what kind of space is available to accommodate our speakers.
  • Drivers: Powerful drivers are able to produce better sound and offer better frequencies, so it is a good idea to look for the best stereo speaker with multiple drivers.
  • Price: The cost of stereo speakers can vary significantly, depending on your budget. Speakers can cost under $100 to more than a few thousand dollars.
  • Ports: Stereo speakers generally come with single or multiple ports that affect the way music is routed through your speakers. The more ports, the better the sound frequencies will be. 

Be sure to shop your options to find the right design - and price - for your specific home and listening needs.

Which is the right stereo speaker for you?

The search for the right stereo speaker can be a bit overwhelming at times because there are so many options to choose from. Our picks for the best stereo speakers fit a wide range of needs and budgets, making it a great place to start when beginning or even ending your search.

These are our expert recommendations to help you find the best stereo system for your family.

Choose this product...

When you...

Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition

Want excellent value without sacrificing sound

Dayton Audio B652-AIR

Want the best bang for your buck

Definitive Technology BP9080x 

Want the best sound quality

McIntosh XR100 Floorstanding Speaker

Have extra to spend

How much do stereo speakers cost?

Stereo speakers can range significantly in cost, depending on the size, style, and features. Our picks for 2022's best stereo speakers range in cost from around $65 to $5,000.

Are floor-standing or bookshelf speakers better?

It all depends on your needs. Floor-standing speakers are much larger in size, offering greater range of sound and bigger bass. 

However, smaller rooms may benefit from bookshelf speakers that fit into a more compact area and do not overwhelm the room with sound. Assess the area where you plan to use your speaker in order to best determine which model is most appropriate.

What is the best stereo speaker in 2022?

There are many options to choose from, but not all will fit your specific needs. Consider your budget, room placement, and speaker use before you choose a speaker for your needs. Our list of the best stereo speakers in 2022 can help you begin.

Are there alternatives worth considering?

In our search for the best stereo speakers, we found several models worthy of your consideration. These are some of the stereo systems that almost made our list.

To round out your collection, consider our picks for the best Bluetooth speakers and the best smart speakers for your home! 

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