Technology can lower the price of a lot of things, but when it comes to speakers, the very best ones are really expensive, so if you want a world-class speaker be prepared to spend well over $10,000.
That said, you can buy a pair of very respectable speakers for less than $1,000. The following list is in no particular order, but since $1,000 is still out of reach for a lot of folks this top 10 will feature speakers ranging in price from $29 up (all speaker prices listed are per pair). And since the prime weakness of affordable speakers is they lack true authority in the bass, I've included one overachieving subwoofer, the Epik Empire to round out this list. I've covered bargains before, but this is the first top-10 list for speakers that sell for $1,000 or less.
Zu Audio Omen ($999). Zu is one of my all time favorite American speaker manufacturers, but they've never made a speaker as affordable as the Omen, which will be released November 1 for $1,500. The speaker is finished in real maple veneer and manufactured in Ogden, Utah. Zu speakers are extremely dynamic, lively performers, and they produce razor-sharp imaging. Right, $1,500 is priced over my self-imposed limit for this top-10 list, but for just this week (ending September 17) the company is taking preintroduction orders for the Omen for just $999.99, saving you $500! Zu is selling the Omen with a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Magnepan MMG ($599) This 4-foot-tall, 1.25-inch-thick flat-panel, made-in-the-U.S., bona fide high-end speaker will knock you for a loop. Magnepan's larger speakers, like my reference MG3.6, are only sold through dealers, the MMG is sold direct, and it's a great way to get a taste of what makes high-end audio so special. If you've only heard box speakers, the MMG will be a major treat for your ears.
Dayton B652 ($29) That's not a typo, the Dayton B652 sells for $29 a pair. It was $25 when I first wrote about the speaker a few months ago, but since then a lot of audiophiles on a budget have raved about this little speaker with a 6.5-inch woofer. Seriously, I know a few guys with very high-end speakers who love the B652 and swear its price/performance ratio is off-the-charts good. … Read more