Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The best stereo speakers you can buy

The Sonos One is my top pick, but it's not the only option. I found the best stereo speakers available and compared them all by size, build, connectivity, and price.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Emery Wright

Music is the soundtrack of life, so I recommend investing in high-quality speakers to give you the best sound. The right stereo speaker can add excitement or relaxation to every moment, changing the mood for the better.

There's nothing like a stereophonic, or stereo, speaker. While mono speakers play one audio channel through a single speaker, stereo speakers use two: one for the left and one for the right. Sound envelopes the room from the left and right, cloaking listeners in realistic sound. It delivers a more immersive experience, offering a 3D feel.

I love stereo speakers for their ability to incorporate dual speakers in a single build, making it the perfect fit for your home and office. But first, you need the best speaker to do the job. 

Before you spend another moment without your favorite tunes, check out my picks for the best stereo speakers you can invest in today.

Also: The best speakers you can buy

Pros & Cons
  • Superb clarity
  • Smart technology
  • Compact design
  • Doesn't support Bluetooth
  • Best with multiple speakers
More Details

Sonos One specs: Speaker type: Bookshelf | Dimensions: 6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 inches | Connectivity: WiFi | Power type: Corded electric 

The Sonos One remains a favorite pick at ZDNET, offering reliable and affordable sound in a compact, portable design. This bookshelf speaker features dual Class-D digital amplifiers with a woofer-tweeter combination for superior sound. The four-core processor supports a Wi-Fi connection, so you can access all of your favorite content. Choose from iOS, Android, Mac, or Windows devices to easily connect. This speaker is also humidity-resistant, so it's a great fit if you want to keep it in your bathroom.

Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are compatible with full voice control, so you can change the track or raise the volume without even leaving your couch. Music lovers are sure to appreciate this speaker, too, thanks to full streaming ability from favorite apps like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music. For even greater sound, purchase more than one Sonos speaker to build a whole-home system the entire family can enjoy.

Review: Sonos One

Pros & Cons
  • Deep bass
  • Fantastic clarity
  • Clean design
  • Must buy in a pair
  • Pricey
More Details

Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary specs: Speaker type: Bookshelf | Dimensions: 13.6 x 7.5 x 11.81 inches | Power type: Corded electric 

If you want something for your bookshelf, the Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary continues to be one of the best bookshelf speakers on the market. It's also the largest speaker that Bowers & Wilkins makes, offering excellent depth and clarity to highlight your favorite tunes. It features 120 watts of power and a sensitivity of 88 decibels to keep your ears safe while you listen. 

The 1-inch Decoupled Double Dome Tweeters fill the room with music, working with 6.5-inch continuum mid-bass drive units. Also incorporated is a dual-layer aluminum dome for fantastic sound. The entire construction is enclosed in a magnetic grille for a sleek finish that is a perfect aesthetic fit for your bookshelf. Flowport technology provides deep bass with a two-piece foam plug you can add at any time for adjustments. 

Pros & Cons
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to use
  • Removable grill
  • Subpar at high volumes
  • Mediocre bass
More Details

Dayton Audio B652-AIR specs: Speaker type: Woofer | Dimensions: 13.5 x 8.1 x 11.7 inches | Power type: Corded electric 

The Dayton Audio B652-AIR does not sacrifice quality just because it's the best budget stereo speaker. Using Dayton Audio's Air Motion Technology (AMT), this speaker boasts a pleated ribbon diaphragm for improved audio quality. It combines the Air Motion Transformer tweeter for incredible clarity, so you won't miss a note. Plus, the 6.5-inch woofer delivers deep bass you can feel. 

The Dayton Audio B652-AIR offers fantastic sound in a more traditional, compact package with a pica vinyl cabinet finish. Even better, the Dayton Audio B652-AIR is compatible with most devices, including your smartphone, laptop, PC, and tablet. This means easy connectivity and faster streaming.

Pros & Cons
  • Brilliant audio
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Modern design
  • Mediocre bass
  • No companion app
More Details

Fluance Ai61 Specs: Speaker type: Bookshelf | Dimensions: 9.2 x 15.6 x 13.1 inches | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Power type: Corded electric 

The Fluance Ai61 is another one of my favorite Bluetooth stereo speakers for a bookshelf. The 120-watt amplifier is matched by neodymium tweeters and 6.5-inch woven glass fiber drivers with a rear bass port for phenomenal sound. With a black ebony pica vinyl cabinet finish, it has an attractive finish and is one suitable for any bookshelf with its smaller size. 

Speaker cables come included so you don't have to worry about that extra step. This speaker offers excellent connectivity with extra ports for all your devices. Choose from RCA, Optical, and USB Type-C inputs. In addition to USB connectivity, the Fluance Ai61 also features Bluetooth connectivity. That means you can easily access all of your favorite apps and streaming services for even greater convenience. 

Pros & Cons
  • Fantastic sound
  • Solid construction
  • Different colors available
  • Stand is additional
  • Expensive
More Details

KEF LS50 Meta specs: Speaker type: Bookshelf | Dimensions: 7.87 x 11.02 x 11.89 inches | Power type: Corded electric 

If you have a little more to spend, the KEF LS50 Meta is our pick for the best stereo speaker splurge. It may cost more, but the performance far exceeds that of other speakers. The KEF LS50 Meta is a bookshelf speaker equipped with KEF's own Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), which reduces 99% of unwanted noise with sound absorption from the rear of the driver -- so you get purer sound. There is an enclosed subwoofer, plus KEF'S new 12th-generation Uni-Q Driver for sound that is 40% smoother compared to previous models. 

The LS50 Meta is KEF's prized speaker, based on its fantastic performance. The award-winning speaker offers a maximum output of 106 decibels for excellent volume control. The reinforced cabinet gives a sleek polish, and the curved edges won't interfere with the sound. With a sleek design, it is available in four colors, so you can match your speaker to your room's design. 

What is the best stereo speaker?

I found many great stereo speakers during my search, but I wanted to rank the best options available today. My pick for the best stereo speaker is still the Sonos One, which offers an incredible value with connectivity options and exceptional sound. I also love that it can be paired with other speakers for a whole-home stereo system. Plus, it's compact enough to move from room to room, so you're never without your favorite tunes.

To see how the Sonos One compares, here's my overview of the best stereo speakers.

Best stereo speaker


Wi-Fi connectivity

Sonos One


Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary


Dayton Audio B652-AIR


Fluance Ai61


KEF LS50 Meta


Which is the best stereo speaker for you?

With so many options to choose from, it can be a little confusing when trying to determine the best speaker for your needs. After a while, they can all seem to blend together and the details can get lost in the mix. There are specs to track, costs to compare, and dimensions to measure. 

Don't worry, though, because I am here to help. I know it is not always so easy picking out the right speaker, so these are my expert recommendations to help you find the best stereo speaker for your needs.

Choose this best stereo speaker...

If you want...

Sonos One

An affordable set of speakers with fantastic performance. You don't have to break the bank for quality.

Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary

The perfect speakers for your bookshelf. They won't take up too much space while adding a little style.

Dayton Audio B652-AIR

A budget-friendly stereo speaker that does not sacrifice quality for the price.

Fluance Ai61

A smart speaker that packs Bluetooth technology for easy connectivity.

KEF LS50 Meta

A top-of-the-line stereo speaker with serious sound. (The splurge is worth it.)

How did I choose these best stereo speakers?

When looking for the best stereo speakers, there are several factors I consider that may also help you with your search.

  • Size: Stereo speakers can come in any shape and size, ranging from bookshelf speakers to floor-standing models. I look for different sizes to fit a variety of homes and bookshelves.
  • Build: I look for a quality build that promises durability and holds multiple ports for better sound. 
  • Connectivity: Connectivity is also important, with the best stereo speakers offering Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for easier pairing. 
  • Cost: The price of stereo speakers can vary widely from model to model, as seen here. The best stereo speakers can cost less than $100 or more than $1,000, depending on the size and features you choose.

What are stereo speakers?

A stereophonic speaker, or stereo speaker, combines two separate speakers into one. Instead of a single audio channel, it incorporates a separate left and right audio channel into a single speaker. The result? An immersive audio experience that envelopes the room.

Stereo speakers are generally sold in pairs, so your ears receive bidirectional sound. Two speakers provide better spatial audio, allowing sounds to feel more realistic as if they are coming from different places in the room. It's meant to mimic your natural hearing with a 3D feel to transform your listening experience. 

What is the best active stereo speaker?

There's no shortage of stereo speakers to choose from, but sound quality varies. An active stereo speaker can be more reliable than a passive speaker because the active receives a constant supply of power. It makes them less susceptible to distortion and loss, so you'll receive clearer audio with a clean finish. 

If you're looking for the best active stereo speaker, my pick is the Sonos One speaker because it contains a built-in amplifier. That means you can skip the extra ports and cables that passive speakers require and instead get to listening faster.

How much does the best stereo speaker cost?

Stereo speakers run the gamut in price, so I looked for the best stereo speakers to suit a variety of budgets. The best stereo speakers range in price from $60 to nearly $1,500, depending on the model and manufacturer you choose. 

The KEF LS50 Meta is the most expensive on my list at almost $1,500, but it's an excellent choice if you want to splurge. If you're on a budget, the Dayton Audio B652-AIR offers its exclusive Air Motion Transformer tweeter for deeper sound. Either way, you can't go wrong when you pick one of these best stereo speakers.

Are there alternative best stereo speakers worth considering?

In my search, I also found these top stereo speakers that may be worth your consideration.

Apple HomePod Mini


Apple HomePod Mini - Best for Apple users

Apple users love their Apple devices. If you are an Apple fan, check out the Apple HomePod Mini.

View at Best Buy


Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin - Runner-up best stereo speakers

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin stereo speaker is on the heels of the other best stereo speakers as a great fit to consider for stellar sound.

View at Amazon
KEF LS50 Wireless II


KEF LS50 Wireless II - Best wireless stereo speakers

Not all stereo speakers have to be wired. The KEF LS50 Wireless II stereo speaker is the best wireless stereo speaker you can buy. 

View at Amazon

For other options, check out our picks for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best bookshelf speakers, and the best portable speakers

Editorial standards