Best speakers 2021: budget to premium stereo speakers

Best speakers 2021: budget to premium stereo speakers

Upgrade your home music system with our pick of the best speakers you can buy

The best possible stereo sound quality still comes from a pair of hi-fi speakers – no matter how good one-box wireless speakers might have become. Our round-up of the best stereo speakers you can buy below will ensure your home audio system is treated to the best possible sound for your budget.

Whether you’re on a tight budget or ready to splash the cash, take your pick from our selection of the best stereo speakers for music. We have both floorstanding speakers and bookshelf speakers to recommend, as well as desktop, active, and a number of all-in-one wireless stereo speakers in our best systems guide.

So whether you’re looking for your first pair of speakers as you build a music system, upgrading an old pair of budget speakers or going for broke with the best speakers your system, room and finances can accommodate, we’re here to help. Read on for our round-up of the best hi-fi speakers on the market right now.


How we choose the best speakers

Here at 7Review we review hundreds of products every year, including no small amount of speakers of all shapes, sizes and types. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?

The 7Review team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with the speakers, trying them with different electronics, in different positions and with different music. 

All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity.

From all of our reviews, we choose the top products to feature in our Best Buys, such as this one. That’s why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any of our other Best Buy pages, you can rest assured you’re getting a 7Review approved product.

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KEF LS50 Meta

Max power: 106dB | Sensitivity: 85dB | Frequency response: 79Hz – 28kHz | Impedance: 8ohms | Dimensions: 30.2 x 20 x 27.8cm | Weight: 7.2kg
Reasons to Buy
  • Exceptional sonic transparency
  • Subtle and precise presentation
  • Innovative technology
Reasons to Avoid
  • Nothing at this price

The original LS50 speakers had little wrong with them but after eight years, KEF figured they deserved a fresh look. And with the LS50 Meta they have delivered a worthy upgrade.

The LS50’s Uni-Q driver array, where the tweeter sits in the throat of the mid/bass unit, has been thoroughly reworked, taking in all the refinements that KEF has developed over the past eight years and adding something new in the form of Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT). MAT is KEF’s way of coping with the sound that comes off the back of the tweeter dome; a plastic circular maze of tubes on the back promising greater absorption for cleaner, less distorted highs.

While the basic sonic character is instantly familiar, the Meta speakers have gained a level of clarity and finesse the originals only hinted at, sounding clean while still offering muscle and dynamics.

We’ve loved the originals and the LS50 Meta takes the performance to a notably higher level. 

Read the full review: KEF LS50 Meta

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Dali Spektor 2

Impedance: 6ohms | Sensitivity: 85dB/w/m | Speaker terminals: Single wire | Dimensions: 29 x 17 x 24cm (HxWcD) | Tweeter: 25mm soft dome | Woofer: 13cm wood fibre
Reasons to Buy
  • Agile, articulate and expressive sound
  • Good detail resolution
  • Unfussy nature
Reasons to Avoid
  • Nothing of note

On paper, there’s little to differentiate Dali’s new Spektor 2s from any of their main rivals: the speakers stick to the classic budget standmounter formula like Superglue sticks to fingers. They offer everything we would expect from a typical box here, from two-way driver configuration and ported bass tuning right the way through to the 25mm dome tweeter and 13cm mid/bass driver. 

But these Dalis are much more than simply the sum of their parts: they ooze sophistication and offer a degree of entertainment that even their most talented rivals struggle to match. Powerful vocals are delivered with nuance and passion, grabbing the listener’s attention, and dynamics are handled with subtlety and class. They’re particularly composed at high volume, too, which is always an encouraging sign. 

Mission and Q Acoustics offer similarly-good options, and both have their relative strengths and flaws. But if Spektor 2s match your budget, these affordable standmounters deserve an audition.

Read the full Dali Spektor 2 review

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Triangle Borea BR08

Impedance: 8ohms | Sensitivity: 92 dB/W/m | Speaker terminals: Single | Dimensions: 102 x 20.6 x 31.4cm | Tweeter: 25mm silk dome | Midrange: 16cm paper cone | Bass: 2 x 16cm fibreglass cones
Reasons to Buy
  • Excellent dynamics and punch
  • Impressive rhythmic drive
  • Terrific punch and agility
Reasons to Avoid
  • Requires care in partnering
  • Needs a larger room to shine

There’s no shortage of talented rivals at this size and price, yet having spent some time in the company of the Triangle BR08 speakers, we feel they offer something special.

They may look fairly simple but they’re also neatly finished, well made and available in a choice of four finishes. Inside is on the predictable side, too, with classic speaker design but for some high-density EVA foam behind the driver for extra stability. However, a three-way design with a front-firing reflex port indicates there’s been no scrimping when it comes to the all-important aspects of the speaker.

A relatively high sensitivity means some care is needed when choosing your amplifier, while they also work best given plenty of room. Triangle suggests they work best in rooms between 20-40m squared in size, and the manual recommends placing them at least 40cm from a rear wall.

Sonically, they punch hard, deliver detail aplenty, and produce a musical and cohesive sound. Bass is deep but agile, helping deliver impressive scale and powerful dynamics. These are exciting speakers, which really come alive when turned up loud. 

These Triangle speakers challenge the very best at this price – we advise listening to them before buying any other floorstanders.

Read the full Triangle Borea BR08 review

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Q Acoustics 3030i

Q Acoustics 3030i Speakers (Pair)

Q Acoustics 3030i Speaker is the second bookshelf model in the 3000i range, sitting between the 3020i and 3050i. It offers double the internal volume of the 3020i and uses large powerful woofers despite its compact dimensions.<br />Attractive Looks<br />Elegance oozes from these speakers effortlessly. The…
Bi-wire: No | Driver: 16.5cm mid/bass, 22mm tweeter | Sensitivity: 88dB/w/m | Impedance: 6ohms | Dimensions: 32.5 x 20 x 33cm
Reasons to Buy
  • Insightful and expressive
  • Impressive, well-integrated bass
  • Fine build
Reasons to Avoid
  • Tough competition

The Q Acoustics 3030is are the largest of the three standmounters in the 3000i range and latest to receive a glowing five-star review.

Give these boxes a few days to settle and they produce a sound that’s familiar yet surprisingly muscular compared to other Q Acoustics speakers. Like the other speakers in this 3000 range, these are impressively cohesive performers with a smooth tonal balance and easy-going nature. 

There’s impressive weight at the low-end, but bass remains well integrated and controlled. Dynamics are impressive and they stay composed when asked to work hard at high volume. Detailed, rhythmic and ultimately rewarding, they’re a great addition to the speaker market at this price.

Read the full review: Q Acoustics 3030i

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Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2

Speaker terminals: Single | Mid/bass driver: 16.5cm | Tweeter: 2.5cm | Sensitivity: 87dB/W/m | Dimensions: 37.4 x 19.5 x 26.8cm (HWD) |
Reasons to Buy
  • Hugely transparent
  • Don’t force their own character
  • Rhythmic and dynamic
Reasons to Avoid
  • Unforgiving of poor sources

Having given these speakers’ smaller siblings a What Hi-Fi? Award at the end of 2019 (you’ll see those at the top of the page), we were eager to hear the bigger brothers. And we weren’t disappointed. 

There’s a larger driver here, as well as some changes to the tweeter design and port placement. Inside the cabinet has been further braced for a more rigid structure – reduced resonance and distortion is the aim. They do feel solid as a result, though the style remains simple.

While their looks are understated, and even sonically they refuse to beg for your affection, the Elac B6.2s are mature, transparent performers that confidently outline just what the rest of your system is doing. It is hi-fi mentality at a price that only just nudges into the midrange.

We’re big fans of this new Debut series. The B6.2 speakers take what we loved about their Award-winning siblings and build on it with an even fuller-bodied and more mature presentation.

Read the full review: Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2

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Triangle Borea BR03

Triangle Borea BR03 Speakers (Pair)

£379.00 £399.00
Triangle Borea BR03 Speakers (Pair) are compact bookshelf speakers, the largest speakers of Triangle's two Borea bookshelf models. The BR03’s are ideal for medium to larger sized rooms, and if you’re looking for the performance of a floor-stander but in a smaller compact design.<br />Why…
Tweeter: 25mm | Mid/bass driver: 16cm | Impedance: 4.2ohms | Sensitivity: 90dB/w/m | Dimensions: 31.4 x 20.6 x 38cm
Reasons to Buy
  • Sophisticated, detailed sound
  • Impressive sense of scale
  • High-quality, agile bass
Reasons to Avoid
  • Aesthetic won’t be for everyone
  • Slight peakiness to treble

French audio brand Triangle has come up trumps with the Borea BR03s. These sophisticated standmounters deliver a huge sense of scale, much larger than rivals such as the formidable B&W 607s, and boast impressive separation to boot. 

There’s detail and insight across the frequency range and, given their size, the quantity of bass is perfectly acceptable. Even better, where previous Triangle speakers may have sounded hard or bright, these are perfectly balanced.

The BR03s are the largest of two pairs of standmounters in the Borea range and boast a distinctive design that’s finished to a decent standard. They stand 31cm tall and feature a 25mm silk dome tweeter sat above a 16cm midrange/bass paper driver. Single-wiring is the order of the day, with a neat pair of terminals for 4mm banana plugs on the rear of each cabinet

Overall, the Borea BR03 are savvy musical performers with a great sense of scale and an even greater appetite for presenting music in a transparent and mature manner. Well worthy of your consideration.

Read the full review: Triangle Borea BR03

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