Speaker Buying Guide

This Speaker buying guide is designed to help you make an informed decision about choosing the best speakers for your lifestyle and tastes.

We like to listen to music and watch movies on our phones and laptops. We are content with headphones, but the best experience is provided by good speakers. They have been around for a long time, for about 20 years they have been called computer speakers or desktop speakers. Since then, some features have been added, and you can find them in models of all formats, sizes and price ranges. Price is not always the best indicator, because you can easily find gems in the form of impressive sounding speakers whose price is within any budget.

Good speakers are key to getting the best possible sound experience from your sound system. You can pair the best turntable on the market with the best AV receiver, but without the right speakers, your audio or home theater system isn’t worth much when it comes to sound quality. Loudspeakers are the interface between the electronics of an audio system and the physical world in which the sound is actually reproduced. Choosing the right speaker system can make the difference between a cramped, muddy soundstage and crystal-clear concert hall sound.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is a very personal matter. Everyone has different tastes, and what sounds fantastic to one person may not convince another. There is no “best” speaker, and more than one model may be equally appealing to individual ears. When buying speakers, listen to several models with music you know well.

Bring your favorite music on CDs or a USB stick with digital tracks to get a feel for the speakers you like. Listening to live music is also a good benchmark for evaluating speakers. The music should sound natural to your ears, have a balanced sound, and be easy to enjoy over a long period of time.

Usage of Speaker

Most speakers are designed for a specific purpose. If you are clear about this purpose, you can achieve a lot. So you can choose a model that offers good value for money and fits exactly into your budget, so you do not have to compromise. At the same time, a more expensive speaker can be better, but serve a completely different purpose.

For Casual Music Listening (2.0 Speakers)

Many of us like to listen to music casually, more as background noise while we do other things. You can listen to music while writing, designing, or just lying in bed reading a book. These speakers don’t have to be loud or distracting with extremely boomy bass. Subwoofers are responsible for the bass, so you can opt for speakers that don’t come with one.

These are called stereo speakers or 2.0 speakers and are perfect for you. The 0 in the model means that there is no subwoofer. These types of speakers are good companions if you want to listen to light music from your laptop, desktop or cell phone. Thanks to their compact design, they can be placed on your desk or nightstand.

For Gaming and Music Listening (2.1 Speakers)

Some of us like our music loud and punchy. We like it when the window rumbles to the music and the tables sway along to the sound of the distorted guitar. Bass is an important part of a lot of music, whether it’s the latest pop earworm or a metal song from your favorite 90s band. Speakers that are perfect for this type of audience may be a bit larger and have an extra speaker, the subwoofer, but they make a big difference in how you listen to music.

They are called 2.1 speakers, where the .1 refers to the subwoofer in addition to the 2 satellite speakers. However, for them to sound good, the subwoofer needs to be on the floor. They are best suited for use on a desk or in the living room next to the TV or in conjunction with a game console or PC. Movies and music are the strength of these speakers.

For Movie Watching (5.1 Surround Speakers)

While 2.1 speakers are great for loud, punchy music, 5.1 speakers (5 speakers with a subwoofer) add a new dimension to sound. They are perfect for an audio-video room, a living room where space is not an issue. The 5 satellites include two front speakers, the center speaker for the dialogue in a movie and the rear one for the ambient sounds in a scene. The woofer provides the bass that is essential for a good surround sound speaker. This combination is perfect for any movie lover, especially those who have a penchant for action movies. You may need to make arrangements to run cables along the edges of your room so that the rear speakers can take their ideal position. Make sure they are facing you and are at about ear level for optimal sound.

Passive, Powered or Active?

Most speakers are so-called passive speakers. They need some kind of external amplifier to drive them and produce the sound. The advantage of this type is that you have control over the amplifier used, which affects the sound quality. With a powered speaker, the amplifier is already built into the cabinet, meaning you connect a cable that carries the music signal from your source, as well as a power cable.

These speakers also have a built-in crossover that splits the amplified signal into high and low frequencies before sending those signals to the appropriate drivers. The low frequencies go to the larger woofers, while the high frequencies go to the smaller tweeters. The third type is powered speakers. They are similar to powered speakers, except that each driver has its own amplifier. The audio signal is split into high and low frequencies before amplification, so more finely tuned components can be used, which improves sound quality.

The biggest disadvantage of powered speakers is that you are tied to the built-in amplifier. If you want to upgrade either one in the future, you’ll need to replace both. Generally, the best sound comes from an external amplifier, but powered speakers can be a good option if space is limited or you want to reduce complexity.

Measure Your Room

The Next important task is to measure your listening room. The space available to you may require or restrict a particular type of speaker, and this should narrow your search in terms of positioning. Most speakers require a certain amount of free space to perform at their best. So if you can only place them close to the wall, you should take that into account in your search.

This doesn’t have to affect the quality of the product you end up taking home – there are many sonically outstanding speakers that don’t mind having their backs to the wall, such as the Dali Menuet SE. Just remember that you’re dealing with sound waves that are affected by whatever they hit at any distance. If a manufacturer suggests a distance of two meters between their speakers and a wall, don’t push your luck.

Types of Speakers

There are many types of speakers found in homes today. Each type of speaker serves a different purpose and is suitable for different applications.


Today’s TVs look great with their thin screens, but unfortunately this leaves little room for speakers. Soundbars are probably the easiest and cheapest solution to this problem. Soundbars are long, thin enclosures that contain multiple speakers and the electronics to run them. They are usually placed directly in front of the TV and offer an inexpensive and easy way to extend the sound of your TV.

In terms of channels, soundbars attempt to replicate most of the existing home theater configurations such as 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, etc. The difference is that they do this in a single box, and the general rule is the more channels, the better. Of course, this single-box solution is a compromise, and while it doesn’t offer the same experience as a full home theater system, it’s a good option if you have limited space or budget.

Modern soundbars offer a whole range of connectivity options. The best is HDMI ARC, which allows you to connect your soundbar to your TV via a single HDMI cable. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi options are also available if you want to connect your phone or table to it. Optical connections are another way to connect your TV and soundbar, but full 5.1 sound is often not possible with this method.

Surround Speakers

It can be helpful to consider surround speakers in terms of placement rather than a specific speaker type, as there are a number of options for this task. Bookshelf speakers are typically used as surround speakers. Their size makes them easy to place on stands or against back walls, and their sound quality rivals that of towers. Satellites are smaller speakers with lower power that provide additional presence and surround sound. They are usually quite small and are tasked with reproducing mid and high frequencies.

They are a complement to the main speakers and come in 2.1 and 5.1 systems. The first number indicates the number of satellites, the second stands for a subwoofer. Satellite speakers are easily integrated into stands or wall mounts and are a relatively inexpensive way to fill up the sound in your room and add a new dimension to your home theater.

Bipole or dipole speakers are angular speakers with drivers radiating in different directions. They are great for distributing sound around the room, making them a good choice if the speakers are close to the listening position. This type of speaker can be switched between bipole and dipole and offers flexibility in rooms where the speakers are difficult to place due to doors, windows or walls.

Architectural Speakers

Architectural speakers are mounted in the ceiling or wall and are designed to integrate seamlessly into a home. They can be used to provide music to different rooms in the house or as height speakers in a home theater to provide additional atmosphere and spaciousness. These speakers often come without enclosures, with the wall cavity taking over this task.

Using these speakers requires a little more planning, as installation requires some construction work. For this reason, it’s important to get them positioned correctly the first time, and we can help you with that. We can look at the dimensions of your room, the intended use, and other equipment before recommending exactly where you should place this type of speaker. A lot of research is needed to get the best result, and we will be happy to advise you.

Floorstanding Speakers

Floorstanding speakers are the larger model among your options. They are usually relatively large and heavy, which allows them to absorb additional vibrations well and fill the room with a full, rich sound. Because of their larger volume, they tend to have more presence than smaller bookshelf speakers with the same drivers. Floorstanding speakers are usually preferred by those seeking the best possible sound, but they offer good value for money and are the most popular type.

Floorstanding speakers have multiple drivers, each responsible for a specific frequency range. Tweeters cover frequencies between 2,000 and 30,000 Hz, midrange drivers between 500 and 2000 Hz. Lower frequencies are reproduced by woofers (40 to 1000 Hz) and subwoofers (20 to 200 Hz).

Although they stand on the floor, these types of speakers often rest on small spikes designed to minimize the transmission of unwanted vibrations. This can be a problem, especially with suspended wooden floors, which can lead to unwanted reverberation.

Bookshelf Speakers

Think of bookshelf speakers almost like mini floorstanders. They fit in smaller rooms, hence their name, but can really be placed anywhere. They’re a great alternative to a soundbar if you need a little more power when watching movies, and they’re also great for playing music with a two-channel system.

It would actually be most logical to place bookshelf speakers on a shelf, but most people use some sort of stand to mount them. Bookshelf speakers describe their size rather than their final location, and a stand probably provides much better sound quality as well. Thanks to their smaller size, these types of speakers also mount well on the wall. This is ideal if you’re short on space or have small children who run the risk of knocking over floor-standing speakers.

Center Speaker

When movie soundtracks are mixed for surround sound, the vocal track is usually given its own channel. This can cause a problem when played back on a two-channel system, because the vocal track is split between the two channels and direct control over its volume is lost. Sometimes voices or dialogue can be difficult to hear and there is no way to adjust accordingly. Adding a center speaker provides more clarity and volume to the vocal track.

When adding a center speaker to existing floor standing or bookshelf speakers, we recommend using the same brand if possible. The sound profiles of these speakers are matched. This is especially helpful when the sound permeates the room and all the speakers together create a dense, immersive effect. This is called timbre matching and can make a real difference to your viewing experience.


If you feel that your current audio or home theater system lacks punch or depth, then a dedicated subwoofer could make a difference that you can not only hear, but also feel. Subwoofers are usually square boxes with their own power supply that are responsible for the deep bass. When choosing a subwoofer, there are two main things you should look for: Size and power. The size of the drivers is usually between 10 and 30 cm, and the enclosures are relatively generously sized for optimal performance. There are no set rules for the size of subwoofers, but in general, larger and more powerful models are better. It is better to run a large subwoofer at 4″ than a small subwoofer at 10″.

The same general rules apply to power as to other speakers. Look for the continuous power a speaker is rated for, not the peak power. Remember that these numbers are only an indication of how much power a subwoofer can handle, they are not always representative of quality. For any room size, 100 watts is probably the minimum you should consider. A well-designed 10cm subwoofer with 100 watts may well sound better than a 15cm subwoofer with 250 watts. So here it pays to do your research, read reviews, and talk to a dealer.

Specs to Consider

The best speakers reproduce sound exactly as it was recorded. Unfortunately, there is no simple, universal specification that you can use to determine the quality of a speaker. And since sound quality can be subjective, a speaker that sounds impeccable to some may sound tinny to others. Ideally, you’ll be able to listen to a speaker before you take it home. However, based on the following information, you can get a pretty good idea of a speaker’s quality.

Price Range

When pricing a speaker set, it’s important to plan for the cost of the speakers, amplification, wiring, and possibly installation. The price range for the speakers themselves is incredibly wide. Some bookshelf speakers cost as little as a few hundred dollars. Others can cost thousands and are worth every penny and more.

In the price range up to $300, you’ll get a solidly built bookshelf speaker with optimal performance starting at 60 Hz (mid-bass). For a pair of bookshelf speakers with powerful deep bass (around 40 Hz) and a desirable balance across the sound spectrum, you should spend between $300 and $600. Speakers that offer deep bass at lower price points are sure to miss out on other important areas of the frequency spectrum, often the crucial mids.

Frequency Response

The frequency range of a loudspeaker is a measure of how wide a range of tones it can reproduce. The human ear is capable of hearing tones from 20 – 20,000 Hz. The lower the number, the lower the tone and vice versa. Most speakers are capable of reproducing tones from about 45 to 20,000 Hz. But just because a speaker can cover a certain range doesn’t mean it will deliver good sound for every frequency.

A speaker’s deviation from “flat” can be a useful measure of its performance. This is expressed as “+/- x dB.” The smaller the deviation, the flatter or more accurate a speaker’s frequency response. Typical deviations range from +/- 0.5 dB to +/- 3 dB, with the lower value usually limiting extreme frequencies. That is, a speaker with a stated frequency response of 50-25 kHz, +/- 3 dB, is -3 dB below “flat” at 50 Hz and 25 kHz. This does not mean that information below 50 Hz cannot be heard, only that the fall-off after this point can be steep.


The sensitivity of a loudspeaker is a measure of its efficiency. Highly sensitive speakers emit a higher volume for a given voltage. This gives you an indication of how big the amplifier needs to be to drive the speakers. This measurement is expressed as a specific number of decibels (dB) per 2.83 V input voltage. For example, “88 dB/2.83 V.” Unless you are using a monster amplifier, you probably want speakers with an efficiency of at least 86 dB, although 88 dB or more is preferable.

Power Handling

The power handling capacity indicates how much power the speakers can handle without being damaged. If a speaker is rated at “maximum 100 watts,” don’t worry too much if you choose or own an amplifier rated at 200 watts per channel. Chances are you will never put that much power into the speakers. In fact, a speaker is usually damaged by using too small an amplifier and driving it to the “clipping” (distortion) level. The loud high harmonics in the distortion are what cause the damage.


The impedance of a speaker refers to the resistance that an amplifier encounters when it attempts to drive a particular speaker. Today, most speakers are rated at 8 ohms. However, the impedance of a speaker varies with its frequency. Modern solid state amplifiers can effectively drive most properly designed loudspeakers. For reasons too complex to go into here, you should still look for speakers rated at 8 ohms, even though most amplifiers can easily handle a 6-ohm load.


Another important aspect is stereo reproduction or “soundstaging”. With speakers that have good soundstaging, you can hear the “location” of the different sounds as if the band were playing in front of you. Maybe the singer is front and center, while the guitarist and keyboardist are on the sides and the drummer is pounding behind them.

Unfortunately, a speaker’s specs don’t tell you anything about its soundstaging. To properly evaluate a speaker’s soundstaging, it’s important to sit directly between the speakers and listen to a simply produced live or “acoustic” recording, not an artificial studio production with multiple tracks.

The human ear responds well to spatially accurate cues in the form of subtle reflections from surfaces in the room where the music was recorded. When these reflections are faithfully recorded and reproduced, the result can be an amazingly realistic sonic portrait of a musical event.


As with sound itself, choosing the best speakers depends on personal preference, the way you listen, and hardware requirements. This Speaker buying guide is designed to help you make an informed decision about choosing the best speakers for your lifestyle and tastes.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staffhttps://www.bollyinside.com
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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