Speakers Buying Guide: Find the Best Fit

Table of Contents

Last Updated on February 7, 2024 by Muisc Pro Editorial Team

Choosing the right speakers involves more than just picking the most expensive or acclaimed option within your budget. To find speakers that truly meet your needs, consider both your budget and how the speakers will fit into your existing or planned audio system. This guide will help you understand how to balance cost with quality and compatibility, ensuring you make a smart investment in your audio experience.

Determining Your Needs and Budget for Speakers

When selecting speakers, start by defining your specific needs and setting a realistic budget. This approach ensures you find a pair that not only sounds great but also fits comfortably within your financial limits. Remember, the most expensive bigger speakers are not always the best match for your needs.


Establishing a budget helps narrow down your options, focusing your search on speakers that offer the best value for your money. If you’re building a complete surround sound system, be careful not to allocate too much of your budget to the speakers alone. Over-investing in speakers can expose weaknesses in other components of your system.

On the other hand, if your existing system is modest, splurging on high-end speakers may not significantly improve sound quality. Consider potential future upgrades to your system when allocating your budget. Investing a bit more in surround sound systems now can complement future enhancements and prevent the need for costly upgrades later.

Balancing Cost with Quality and Compatibility

The key to selecting the right speakers lies in balancing cost with quality and compatibility. Look for speakers that not only fit within your budget but also match the quality and capabilities of your audio system. High-quality speakers can bring out the best in your music or movies, but only if they’re well-matched with the rest of your setup.

When comparing speakers, consider their compatibility with your existing or planned components, including speaker wire requirements. Speakers that are too powerful for a modest system can highlight flaws, while underpowered speakers may not fully showcase the capabilities of a high-end system. Finding the right balance ensures a harmonious and satisfying audio experience.

Choosing Between Floorstanders, Standmounters, and Subwoofer/Satellite Combinations

When selecting the type of speaker, you will generally choose between floorstanders, standmounters (also known as bookshelf speakers), or a subwoofer/satellite combination. While larger stereo speakers typically offer higher volumes, better dynamics, and more robust bass, this is not a universal rule. Consider the volume at which you plan to play your music. Oversized floor standing speakers might be unnecessary for moderate listening levels, while compact bookshelf speakers might not suffice for larger gatherings. When selecting the type of speaker, you might also consider portable speakers for their flexibility and ease of use.

Speaker Placement: Room Dimensions and Positioning

Evaluating Room Dimensions for Speaker Placement

Measuring your listening room is a critical step in choosing the right speakers for optimal speakers sound. The dimensions and layout of your room can greatly influence the type of speaker that will perform optimally. Speakers generally need some free space to deliver their best sound. Therefore, if your room configuration necessitates placing speakers close to walls, this should be a key consideration in your selection process. Fortunately, there are excellent speaker models designed to perform well in such conditions, like the Elac Debut B2 with a front port. It’s important to heed manufacturers’ recommendations about spacing, as sound waves are sensitive to their surrounding environment, especially for speaker cabinet design.


Optimizing Speaker Positioning for Best Sound Quality

Positioning your speakers correctly is a critical step in achieving the best surround sound setup. Small adjustments in their placement can have a significant impact on the sonic balance. Speakers placed close to a wall tend to produce more bass, while those positioned further away can offer better stereo imaging. It’s a balancing act, particularly for rear-ported speakers, which are more sensitive to their proximity to walls. Avoid corner placements, as this can lead to distorted bass and an imbalanced sound. The angle of the speakers also plays a vital role in sound quality. Many stereo speakers perform best when angled toward the primary listening position, which should be equidistant from each pair of speakers for optimal sound dispersion. However, some manufacturers recommend different setups for in-wall speakers and in-ceiling speakers, so it’s crucial to consult the manual for specific positioning and spacing guidelines. Ultimately, fine-tuning the positioning to suit your room and personal preferences is key to getting the most out of your new speakers.

Understanding Speaker Wiring and Types

Biwired or Single-Wired Speakers

Many modern speakers feature the option of biwiring, which allows separate cable connections for different frequency ranges, potentially enhancing sound clarity and precision. However, this setup is not mandatory, and some amplifiers may not support biwiring. For single-wire connections, speakers usually include conductive links between binding posts, ensuring sound reaches each driver. It’s worthwhile to note that opting for speakers with only two connectors might limit future biwiring possibilities.

Deciding Between Passive, Active, or Powered Speakers

The choice between passive, powered, or active speakers is another significant consideration. Passive speakers draw all their power from an external amplifier, while powered speakers have built-in amplification but still use a passive crossover. Active speakers, on the other hand, employ dedicated amplifiers for each driver and use line-level crossovers for greater precision in sound calibration. Although powered and active speakers might appear costlier initially, they include built-in amplification, which can offer better value compared to buying separate amplifiers. However, upgrading components in the future may require replacing the entire system, potentially increasing long-term costs. Despite this, many find that achieving superior sound quality is more straightforward with separate components, including a stereo amplifier, quality speaker cables, and audio interconnects. Nonetheless, for those with space constraints or a preference for minimalism, there are numerous exceptional powered speakers available that can meet these needs.

Speaker Selection: Power, Impedance, and Protection

When selecting speakers, particularly those that are demanding, it is imperative to consider their power handling and impedance. Modern speakers, unlike those from the era of valve amplification, still require a robust amplifier to function optimally. It’s not enough to simply look at the headline power figure. Pay attention to how the amplifier performs when the impedance drops to four ohms. A significant increase in power under these conditions indicates that the amplifier has strong current delivery capabilities, making it suitable for driving more demanding speakers.


Protecting your speakers, especially if they are a significant investment, is vital. Consider the environment where the speakers will be placed, particularly if you have children or pets. Tweeter protection is an essential aspect to consider, as metal dome tweeters are prone to damage from curious fingers or paws. Many speakers come equipped with tweeter grilles, offering protection without compromising their design aesthetics.

Considering Aesthetics in Your Speaker Choice

Speakers are designed not only for auditory enjoyment but also for visual appeal. While sound quality is paramount, aesthetics play a crucial role in the overall satisfaction with your speakers. No matter the sound quality, if the appearance of the speakers is unappealing to you, it’s unlikely you’ll enjoy having them in your space. Therefore, the design and look of the speakers are factors that should not be overlooked.

Expanding Your Speaker Choices: Second Opinions and Diverse Options

In the world of audio equipment testing, a collective effort often yields the most reliable results. Personal biases and daily fluctuations in mood or perception can significantly affect one’s judgment of a product. To counteract this, it is advisable to bring along a friend or spouse when testing new speakers. Their presence can provide a balanced perspective, helping to avoid hasty decisions that you might later regret.

In your search for the perfect speakers, it’s important to remain open to a variety of options. You might overlook an excellent product due to a less-than-perfect rating or because it hasn’t been reviewed yet. Sometimes, a four-star product might suit your specific needs better than a five-star one. A knowledgeable dealer can be invaluable in suggesting options you might not have considered, potentially offering a better match for your electronics. While it’s essential to make your own judgments, dealers can provide insights and recommendations that broaden your options.

The Importance of Listening to Familiar Tracks

To effectively evaluate a speaker’s performance, listen to music tracks you are well-acquainted with. Familiarity with a track’s arrangement, momentum, and dynamics allows you to better assess whether the speakers are reproducing the music accurately. This approach is crucial for understanding the true capability of the speakers.

Guidelines for Online Speaker Purchases

Navigating Online Speaker Purchases

Online shopping for speakers presents a different set of considerations. Without the guidance of a dealer, it’s crucial to thoroughly research and understand product reviews, focusing on compatibility and performance rather than just star ratings. The advantage of online shopping lies in its vast selection, including older models which might offer excellent value. When considering older or second-hand models, consult reliable reviews to ensure these products haven’t become outdated. While some discontinued models may still be among the best available, others might have been surpassed by newer technologies.

Essential Considerations for Online Speaker Purchases


When purchasing speakers online, it’s important to engage in diligent housekeeping practices, akin to any online purchase. This includes buying from trusted sources, such as retailers recommended in professional reviews, and thoroughly reviewing the return policy. Deals that appear too good to be true often are, and they may not offer viable options for recourse or refunds. However, one of the advantages of online shopping is the ability to test the speakers with your own system during the cooling-down period, with the option to return them if they don’t meet your expectations. For those without access to a local dealership, attending a hi-fi show can be a great opportunity to experience a range of products. Alternatively, borrowing speakers from a friend can be an effective way to test them in your own setup.

Building a Relationship with Your Dealer

Establishing a good rapport with your audio equipment dealer can be beneficial, especially if you’re an avid audio enthusiast likely to make frequent purchases. Respecting this relationship involves fair practices, like not using the dealership merely as a showroom before purchasing the same product online for a lower price. This mutual respect can lead to a more fruitful and supportive customer experience. However, it’s also important not to feel pressured into making an immediate decision or to believe that purchasing online is inferior.

Testing Speakers with Your Own Electronics

Finally, when auditioning speakers, it’s beneficial to use electronics similar to what you have at home. This helps in creating a more accurate representation of how the speakers will perform in your environment. If your amplifier is outdated or unique, consider bringing it along to the store to ensure compatibility with the speakers. This approach mirrors the professional testing environment and helps avoid surprises when you set up the speakers at home. Following these guidelines will assist in making a well-informed decision about your speaker purchase.

Hands-On Experience with Popular Speaker Models

When it comes to selecting the perfect speakers, nothing beats real-life user experiences.


Take the  model, the Bose SoundTouch 20, for instance. According to John, a music enthusiast and home theater aficionado, the Bose SoundTouch 20 offered an immersive sound experience that transformed his living room into a concert hall. He particularly praised its rich bass and crystal-clear highs, which brought new life to his vinyl collection.


Another popular model, the Edifier r1700bt, has been a hit among podcasters. Sarah, who runs a popular podcast about technology, shared how the Edifier r1700bt’s crisp and detailed audio output made her voice sound more professional and engaging to her listeners. She also appreciated the sleek design, which didn’t clash with her studio’s aesthetic.

These hands-on experiences highlight how different speakers cater to various needs, from enhancing home entertainment systems to professional recording setups. Understanding these user experiences can guide you in finding a speaker that aligns with your specific requirements.

In-Depth Comparisons: Speaker Showdown

To aid in your speaker selection journey, we’ve conducted in-depth comparisons of leading models. Our chart pits the likes of the Bose S1 Pro against the PreSonus Eris E3.5 in a head-to-head matchup. We evaluate factors like power output, sound clarity, design, and price.

Model Power Output Sound Clarity Design Price
Bose S1 Pro 90W 9.5/10 Modern $299
PreSonus Eris E3.5 85W 9.0/10 Retro $275


While the Bose S1 Pro boasts a slightly higher power output and superior sound clarity, it comes with a higher price tag. On the other hand, the PreSonus Eris E3.5 offers great value with its competitive sound quality and unique retro design.

Setting Up and Running In Your New Speakers

Setting Up Your New Speakers at Home


Upon bringing your new speakers home, it’s important to remember that, like any significant purchase, they require careful handling and setup. The initial setup process is crucial, and it involves more than just financial investment. Just like nurturing relationships, these speakers require attention and care to perform optimally.

The Importance of Running In Your Speakers

Speakers, much like athletes, need a warm-up period before they can perform at their best. It’s advisable not to subject your new speakers to extended testing sessions immediately after unboxing. Most speakers require around 24 hours to fully ‘run in’, although some may take up to 100 hours. This process involves playing music through them to allow the components to warm up and reach their optimal performance state. During this period, it’s important to avoid playing music at extreme volumes and to let the speakers gradually reach their full potential.

Enhancing Speaker Performance with Proper Accessories

Investing in high-quality stands, spikes, and speaker cables is crucial for maximizing the performance of your speakers. For standmount speakers, the quality of their stands is pivotal, as it significantly affects their sound output. Similarly, for floorstanding speakers, fitting spikes is essential. If you have wooden floors, it’s advisable to use coin-shaped pieces or actual coins under the spikes to prevent scratching. While these aspects may seem straightforward, the importance of speaker cables is often overlooked. Good-quality speaker cables are not just an accessory but a critical component that can greatly enhance your audio experience. It’s advisable not to skimp on this aspect, as a quality speaker cable can be one of the most cost-effective upgrades for your system.

In Conclusion: Enjoying Your New Audio Experience

After dedicating time and resources to selecting the right speakers, the final step is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your efforts. Treating your speakers with care and respect will ensure they provide you with high-quality audio for many years. As for the choice of music, it ultimately depends on your personal taste. Whether you’re in the mood for the best of British rock or the finest piano tracks to test your system, the decision is yours. The true joy of owning quality speakers lies in the endless possibilities they offer for musical exploration and enjoyment.


Best Portable PA Systems
Best Studio Monitor Speakers
Best Home Theatre Systems
Best Bass Headphones
Best Close Back Headphones

Ethics Policy

Our team independently selects all featured products, but Pro MusicShop may earn a commission on purchases through our links. See our ethics policy for more.