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Best stereo speakers for 2018

Our top picks for a stellar listening experience

In this article: My top stereo speaker picks (updated 11/19/18)...

  1. Kipsch Reference Premiere RP-8000F
  2. MartinLogan Motion® LX16
  3. Definitive Technology BP-9060
  4. KEF LS50
  5. PSB Imagine T3
  6. Klipsch Reference R-15PM

…along with a few tips on getting the best sound from your system.

There are few things more enjoyable for me than listening to my favorite albums through a good pair of stereo speakers. It’s one of the things I purposely set aside time to experience.

What makes these speakers my favorites?

We carry hundreds of different bookshelf, floor-standing, and powered stereo speakers. So many in fact, it can be difficult to narrow things down. I’ve put together this short list of my favorites to help you choose.

My selections are based off of my listening experiences, ratings and reviews, and feedback we’ve gotten from our customers. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it highlights some of the best options available.

Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-8000F

Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-8000F — best value tower speaker

Over the years Klipsch's Reference Premiere speakers have been astonishingly popular with our customers. And for good reason — they offer clear, natural sound and don't require a lot of power to sound great.

The RP-8000F is the newest flagship tower in the lineup. It uses Klipsch's signature horn-loaded tweeter and two 8" woofers for dynamic, high-impact sound. Use a pair as part of a highly efficient stereo system, or as the anchors of a Reference Premiere home theater system.  

Details

  • dual 8" Cerametallic™ cone woofers
  • 1" titanium diaphragm tweeter with Tractrix® horn
  • Frequency response: 32-25,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 98 dB

What our customers say

"The highs are crystal clear and loud but not harsh or brash; they just blend right into the room. They are so good at the subtle sounds, that sometimes I think I heard something and have to convince myself that it was not real but came from the tweeters.... Amazing fit and finish, these speakers are high fidelity and beautifully constructed." — a Crutchfield customer from Mcdonough, GA

Read all of the Crutchfield customer reviews.

Martin Logan speakers on stands with a turntable

MartinLogan Motion® LX16 — best compact bookshelf speaker

The MartinLogan Motion LX16 offers a trio of highly sought-after bookshelf speaker qualities: superb musical performance, a small footprint, and great value. This customer favorite is also highly efficient, so you don’t need a large amp to drive it.

One of the reasons the LX16 sounds so good is its Folded Motion® tweeter. This unique, accordion-style design is quick, accurate, and very smooth. You’ll enjoy clear, natural sound throughout its frequency range.

Since a pair of these speakers is relatively small, you may want to add a powered subwoofer for deeper bass performance.

Details

  • 5-1/4" aluminum-cone woofer
  • 1" x 1.4" Folded Motion tweeter
  • Frequency response: 60-25,000 Hz  
  • Sensitivity: 92 dB

What our customers say

"After spending many months reviewing and listening to all the brands out there, I am pleased to say that the LX16s give you the most bang for your buck. Fantastic sound with a beautiful finish, and the price can't be beat." — Daniel M from Scottsdale, AZ

Read all of the Crutchfield customer reviews.

Definitive Technology BP-9060 speakers

Definitive Technology BP-9060 — best small-footprint floor-stander 

There’s a lot to love about Definitive Technology’s BP-9060 floor-standing speaker. This tower’s unique bi-polar design uses both front- and rear-firing speaker arrays for enveloping, three-dimensional sound.

The BP-9060 can really bring the bass, too. It has a side-firing 10”, 300-watt powered subwoofer built right into the cabinet. This active woofer moves in tandem with two 10” passive radiators, which together provide deep, powerful bass without the need for an external sub.

A pair of the BP-9060s makes for a formidable small-footprint stereo system with a huge soundstage. They’re also excellent as the front channels of a home theater system. Add Dolby Atmos® speaker modules to the top of each speaker for immersive overhead effects.    

Details

  • Front speaker array: dual 4-1/2" midrange drivers and 1" aluminum dome tweeter
  • Rear speaker array: one 4-1/2" midrange driver and 1" aluminum dome tweeter
  • 10" subwoofer with built-in 300-watt Class D amplifier
  • Dual 10” passive radiators
  • Frequency response: 18-40,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 92 dB

What our customers say

"They handle acoustic music with finesse and detail while showing warmth that begs for more volume. Sound stage is enormous and just envelops you in a bubble of sound." — Dave from Porta del Sol, PR

Read all of the Crutchfield customer reviews.

KEF LS50 speaker on stand

KEF LS50 — best high-end bookshelf speaker

For exceptionally revealing musical performance, consider KEF’s LS50 bookshelf speakers. This model marks 50 years of high-end speaker design from KEF, and the results are impressive.       

The LS50’s extraordinary sound comes in part from its concentrically mounted 1" tweeter and 5-1/4" woofer. The combined placement of these drivers provides a single-point source for each speaker's frequency range, giving you a full, realistic soundstage and precise stereo imaging.

With a sensitivity rating of 85 dB, the LS50s require a lot of power to sound their best. I recommend a high-output power amp or integrated amp to drive them. The LS50s are also available in a powered version. Read my in-depth comparison of the two models.

Details

  • 5-1/4" magnesium/aluminum alloy woofer
  • 1" vented aluminum dome tweeter
  • Frequency response: 79-28,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB

What our customers say

"Excellent vocal and music presentation. Very articulate treble soundstage with a judicious amount of bass. I'm very happy with this purchase!" — Carleton from MD

Read all of the Crutchfield customer reviews.

PSB T3 floor-standing speakers

PSB Imagine T3 — best high-end floor-standing speaker

I first became hip to the quality of PSB speakers when their founder, Paul Barton, paid a visit to our headquarters. The Imagine T3 floor-standing speaker is the epitome of Barton’s approach to high-end sound. It delivers incredibly clear, full-bodied musical performance and remarkably realistic imaging. 

The Imagine T3 sports a three-way design. It uses three 7” woofers, a 5-1/2” midrange, and a 1” tweeter to span its impressively wide frequency range. It also includes two port plugs, which let you seal one or more of its bass ports to tailor the speaker’s sound to your room.

As with the KEF LS50s — and even more so because of their size — a high-current amplifier is essential to getting great sound from the Imagine T3s. 

The sense of realism the T3s provide is unrivaled in their price range. I’ve found few equals when it comes to sheer musical performance.

Details

  • 1" titanium dome tweeter with neodymium magnet
  • 5-1/4" compressed felt/fiberglass cone midrange
  • three 7" compressed felt/fiberglass cone woofers
  • Frequency response: 24-23,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 91 dB

What our customers say

"These are simply the best speakers you have ever heard. I have them connected to a NAD M32 amp, and they are stunning." — Paul from Rohnert Park, CA

Read all of the Crutchfield customer reviews.

Klipsch R15PM speakers

Klipsch Reference R-15PM — best powered stereo speakers

Sometimes you want killer stereo sound without a rack of gear taking up space. The Klipsch Reference R-15PM powered bookshelf speakers are a perfect solution for the music-loving minimalist. The amplification is built right in, so there’s no need for an outboard amp or stereo receiver.

The R-15PMs are packed with digital technology. Built-in Bluetooth® lets you stream music from your phone. A rear-panel Type-B USB input connects to your computer. And an optical digital input is available for a CD or network music player.

My favorite feature? A built-in phono stage, which lets you connect your turntable to spin some vinyl. You can even add a powered subwoofer if you want more powerful bass from your tunes.

If you think powered stereo speakers are the way you want to go, read our guide to learn more about your options.

Details

  • 1" aluminum diaphragm compression tweeter matched with a 90° x 90° Tractrix® horn
  • 5-1/4" copper spun woofer
  • Frequency response: 62-24,000 Hz
  • Bluetooth streaming
  • Built-in phono preamp

What our customers say

"WOW!!! Solid performance... Lively sound and an abundance of features. Also a breeze to set-up with a clean and sharp look." — Efrain from San Juan, PR

Read all of the Crutchfield customer reviews.

Tips on choosing the right pair of speakers

Choosing speakers is a personal decision. Your room’s acoustics, your amplification, and your source material all affect how speakers will sound in your listening room. 

Generally speaking, you’ll want to match the size of your speakers to the size of your room. In my small home office, I use a pair of wall-mounted bookshelf speakers and get excellent results. In my large, open-to-one-side living room, I use giant floor-standing speakers to get the performance level that I like.

Get the most out of your new speakers

I’ve found that proper speaker placement goes a long way towards getting the best sound from your speakers. And the right wire and connections make a big difference, too.

Illustration showing stereo speaker placement

Want to create a "sweet spot" for your system? Read my placement tips on how to get the best sound out of your speakers.

What type of amplifier should you use?

There are lots of different ways to power your speakers. For a budget-friendly system, consider a stereo receiver, which combines amplification with source control and an AM/FM tuner. For higher-end systems, I recommend an integrated amp or power amp for the best sound.

An important factor when choosing your amplification is how efficient your speakers are. In other words, how much volume a speaker produces when fed a given amount of power. 

A pair of highly efficient speakers, like the Martin Logan LX16s, produces excellent volume with 40 or 50 watts of power. Some high-performance speakers — like the KEF LS50s and PSB Imagine T3s — are real gas guzzlers when it comes to power consumption. You'll want 100 or even 200 high-quality watts driving these speakers.

For additional insights into choosing speakers, read our stereo speakers buying guide. Check out our home stereo systems guide to learn more about how all the components in a stereo system work together.

Get free personalized advice from a music enthusiast

Have questions? Call, email, or chat with us today.

Our expert Advisors know the gear inside and out. Your Advisor can send specific Crutchfield pages to your screen, saving you a lot of browsing time. You'll get a shopping cart loaded up with everything you need for your new home theater.

Free lifetime tech support is included with your Crutchfield purchase.

Last updated 11/19/2018
  • Steven G.

    Posted on 12/1/2018

    Still very happy with my Vandersteen 2ce signatures.

  • Bryan from Houston

    Posted on 11/20/2018

    I'm partial to my Revel F206s.

  • Mike Conrad from Washington DC

    Posted on 6/4/2018

    Those KEFs are a work of art!

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/3/2018

    Hi James, I'm passing along your inquiry to one of our Advisors, who will get a little more information about your setup to make the right recommendation. Thanks!

  • James Townsend. from Blanchard, OK

    Posted on 5/31/2018

    Mr Crane, I've been looking for some compact speakers that would be equal to my JBL 4311's with Crown amplification. I have an extra Crown 300 watt to use with them, but I need something more compact for the space they are to be used in. Any suggestions?

  • Phillip from Gorham

    Posted on 5/11/2018

    Still, after 60 years, nothing comes close to Klipschorn Loudspeakers. Others keep making speakers that cost 100's of thousands of dollars, but the Klipschorn still overtakes them

  • Horace from Hampton, VA.

    Posted on 5/10/2018

    I see my Sony bookshelf speakers didn't make the list...

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/13/2018

    Hi Victor — the Signature S60s are indeed excellent speakers. If this list were longer, or if it were focused on a specific price range, I could see them being on it for sure. Our customers have certainly loved the S60s since their debut.

  • Victor from Saint Louis

    Posted on 4/12/2018

    Hello Kramer, I'm surprised that you didn't mention any of the Polk Signature Series speakers in your recommendations. I have owned many speakers over the years and I am truly impressed with the Signature S60 speakers from Polk. For the price, and well above it, I don't feel there's anything out there that competes with the S60. I also have the Signature S15 and they are a great bookshelf speaker that can pair well with one or two subs for immersive sound. Thanks for the article and the impressions of the speakers mentioned therein.

  • Steven Mitchem from Sanford, NC

    Posted on 3/17/2018

    You are spot on when it comes to the PSB Imagine T3's. I have a pair and they are the best I've ever owned. Beautiful as well with the cherrywood finish. They image like no other! I like the way that they sound the same weather you are sitting or standing. Deep tight bass with a silky smooth midrange and highs that are non fatiguing so you can listen for hours. Great speakers.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/8/2018

    Hey Don, that's a great question. I'm a big fan of the Uni-Fi UB5s. In fact, Andrew Jones himself brought them in for us to listen to when they first debuted. They are terrific speakers, and offer better low-frequency punch than the LX16s.

    The only real downside is that the UB5s are incredibly inefficient. Not a bad thing in and of itself — but it does mean you need a high-octane amp to really get the most out of them. That's true for most of ELAC's speakers (especially their new Adante line).

    By comparison the LX16s are much easier to drive, and offer a similar level of fidelity and nuance. Some folks find they are also more detailed in the high frequencies. I do prefer the MartinLogans personally, but you can't go wrong with either pair — both are excellent.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/8/2018

    Hi Ken, thank you for your kind words. As for the center channel, it really comes down to the other speakers that you'll be using in your system. It's important to have a voice-matched front soundstage regardless of what brand you go with.

    For example, if you're using Klipsch Reference tower speakers as your front left and right channels, you'll want a Klipsch Reference center channel as well. This ensures tonal consistency as the action pans across the room — a key element to believable surround sound.

    Feel free to call or chat with an Advisor for more detailed advice on matching up speakers to your room, receiver, etc.

  • Don from Evansville, IN

    Posted on 3/8/2018

    There seems to be a lot of buzz about the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5. Virtually same price point as Martin Logan lX16. How do they compare in sound ?

  • Ken from Redmond, WA

    Posted on 3/8/2018

    Hi Kramer, great article on speakers, I was hoping you would of said something about your favorite Center Channel Speaker as well, as I am in the market for one.

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