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Best stereo speakers: the best bookshelf, floor and Hi-Fi speakers in 2021

the best stereo speakers
(Image credit: KEF)

The best stereo speakers are essential if you want to build a home setup that serious audiophiles would be happy with. Wireless speakers, including the Apple HomePod mini and the Sonos One, might be all the rage right now. But there are always people who want true stereo sound for a fully immersive home cinema or concert experience.

That doesn’t mean great sound should only be the ambition for a select few of us. Regardless of whether you're an audiophile or a casual listener, we can all agree that we want our sound to be clear, full, and most importantly, true to the original source. And although the principles of stereo sound might be decades old now, audiophiles far and wide still believe that two hi-fi speakers really are a whole lot better than just one.

But which are the best stereo speakers, and how do you find the ones that are right for you? To make the process easier, we've tested the best hi-fi speakers available now from all the most prominent audio companies out there, including Klipsch, KEF and Q Acoustics. We’ve brought everything from compact bookshelf speakers to room-commanding towers and subwoofers into this one guide.

Of course, we’ll be reviewing more units in the future and any that we think are good will be added to the list – so keep checking back. 

We think our latest addition, the KEF LS50 Wireless II, are the perfect stereo speakers for beginners and hardcore audiophiles alike. They are pretty expensive though – and if you are on a budget, you may want to hang on for Prime Day 2021, when lots of the stereo speakers in this list will probably be discounted.

 Check out the guide below to see the rest of the stereo speakers we’ve selected that you should buy in 2021.

[Update: Bang & Olufsen has brought out new stereo speakers, which the brand says are its “most advanced” to date. Their unusual design – think futuristic and industrial – means they’re a good option if you don’t have much space. Often good stereo speakers can take up your whole living room.

Called the Beolab 28, according to B&O they combine "advanced acoustical innovations with convenient smart speaker features". But they’re not cheap. For the fabric-covered models, you're looking at £9,750 (about $13,500 / AU$17,400) per pair, while the wooden models are even pricier at £12,000 (about $16,700 / AU$21,500). Ouch.]

Our top picks

What are the best stereo speakers?

definitive technology bp9080x

(Image credit: Definitive Technology)

1. Definitive Technology BP9080x

Incredible towers that earn their hefty price tag

Specifications
Dimensions: 7” x 50.5” x 16” (W x H x D)
Weight: 62 lbs
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: Yes
Active or Passive: Active sub, otherwise passive
Subwoofer: 12 inch powered
Frequency response: 16 Hz - 40 kHz
Reasons to buy
+These sound perfect+Dolby Atmos / DTS:X ready+Incredible bass that can be dialed in
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

In life, money isn’t everything. When it comes to the best stereo speakers however, it can pretty important.

Case in point: the Definitive Technology BP9080x stereo speakers. Right off the bat we want to make it clear that this stereo pair is a luxury item that is made only for the most avid audiophile on the market. 

If that’s you, then let us tell you just how amazing these speakers are. 

From beginning to end of the covered frequency range, the BP9080x speakers are crystal clear, articulate, and genuinely moving. The passive design is aided by an active subwoofer, giving the user independent control of the subwoofer volume on each tower, meaning it can be adjusted to fit any room with any standing waves. 

The midrange is as full and clear as any speakers we’ve ever heard, never getting overworked or muddy no matter what songs and sounds we threw at it. The pitch-perfect mid range blends perfectly into the gorgeous treble frequencies that never got harsh, even when the windows were shaking from the volume. The clarity from the top of the frequency range to the bottom can’t be overstated. 

On top of it all (literally) there are two “height channel” speakers that make this a perfect centerpiece in your Dolby Atmos or DTS:X home theater. 

All of this audio goodness is wrapped in a tall and slender package made from premium materials that is impossibly discreet, especially considering the amount of volume it can pump out. All we can say is that if you’re looking to spend the money (and it is a lot of money), we can’t recommend Definitive Technology’s BP9080x speakers enough. 

klispch forte iii

(Image credit: Klipsch)

2. Klipsch Forte III

Powerful towers with impressive flexibility

Specifications
Dimensions: 16.5” x 36” x 13” (W x H x D)
Weight: 72 lbs
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: Yes
Active or Passive: Passive, bi-amp or bridge
Subwoofer: 12 inch
Frequency response: 38 Hz - 20 kHz
Reasons to buy
+ Crisp mids with rounded highs + No noticeable distortion + Well built and designed 
Reasons to avoid
- Expensive 

Since 1985, the Forte floorstanding speakers from Klipsch have been the gold standard for home entertainment. Now, the Forte III speakers are on the market and hope to build on the success of their forebearers. 

Of course, as you might expect, these stereo speakers sound fantastic. Klipsch’s attention to detail on the fine tuning of the speakers is second to none, making way for a clear and intricate mid-high range. They’re also phenomenally designed and built, making a great addition to basically any living room. They are also very heavy, which can be a blessing and a curse. Once you figure out their place in the living room, these speakers aren’t going anywhere.

These speakers are built for bass, with a 12-inch subwoofer and a massive 15-inch passive radiator in the back of the speaker to help disperse the low frequencies. To get the most out of the bass speakers on these towers, you need to run two separate amps, or a single amp with multiple outs that is strong enough to get the subwoofer moving. Having separated or bi-amp control allows the user to control the power sent to the high and low channels, allowing them to get the exact balance they want. 

The downside to these stereo speakers is that they are even more expensive than the Definitive Technology BP9080x speakers and don’t have the powered subs or high-firing speakers that our number one pick has. Part of that premium is paying for the Klipsch name, but there is quality to back it up – just not enough value or pure sound power to topple the Definitive Technology BP9080x.

Klipsch RP-150M

3. Klipsch RP-150M

Amazingly clear reference monitors

Specifications
Dimensions: 7.67” x 14.57” x 10.67” (W x H x D)
Weight: 14.7 lbs
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Passive
Subwoofer: N/A
Frequency response: 48 Hz - 25 kHz
Reasons to buy
+Clear and crisp high frequencies+Rich midrange articulation+Lightweight design
Reasons to avoid
-Lacking bass

If you’re not in the market for full-on entertainment behemoths like the Definitive Technology towers, the Klipsch RP-150M speakers are a surprisingly affordable bookshelf speaker option with a mid-range and high frequency clarity that rivals our top pick. 

These light and passive reference speakers are beautifully designed and are a continuation of what Klipsch does best: honest and clear replication without over-coloring the sound. While the 5-inch woofer doesn’t do much in the way of bass, not coming audibly close to the 48 Hz promise on the frequency response, these speakers have a surprising amount of low-mid thump. 

The mid range in these Klipsch stereo speakers is completely clear and open, allowing for subtle articulation to come through that would be lost on lesser systems. The upper range never gets shrill and has a natural air under it that seems to be a signature in Klipsch products. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a solid pair of stereo speakers for casual listening, studio work, or piecing together an entertainment system, these Klipsch RP-150M speakers are just about as good as they come, especially for the price. 

KEF ls50 wireless

(Image credit: KEF)

4. KEF LS50 Wireless II

Truly phenomenal stereo speakers for wire-free listening

Specifications
Dimensions: 305 x 200 x 311 mm (12 x 7.9 x 12.2 in.)
Weight: 20.1kg (44.31lbs)
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Active
Subwoofer: N/A
Frequency response: 40 Hz – 47 kHz
Maximum Output: 108dB
Reasons to buy
+Phenomenal audio quality+Easy setup+Lots of connection options
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey

Available in a range of chic colors, the LS50 Wireless II build upon the success of LS50 Wireless, which impressed with their detailed sound and connectivity options, to create what could be the best stereo speakers you can buy today at this price. 

With support for Hi-Res Audio, an expansive soundstage, and excellent detail and dexterity, audio quality is nothing short of fantastic. Add to this a vastly improved app, the ability to adjust the EQ settings, and blissfully easy setup, and you have yourself a pair of stereo speakers that can really do no wrong in our eyes. 

Read more: KEF LS50 Wireless II review

Q Acoustics Concept 20

5. Q Acoustics Concept 20

Clear and well-rounded bookshelf speakers

Specifications
Dimensions: 6.69” x 10.43” x 11.10” (W x H x D)
Weight: 12 kg
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Passive
Subwoofer: N/A
Frequency response: 64 Hz - 22 kHz
Reasons to buy
+ Even and rich sound + Solid midrange + Low-profile design 
Reasons to avoid
- Not much bass

If you’re an audiophile who’s in the market for compact bookshelf speakers but doesn’t want to sacrifice on sound quality, it’s time to look at the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers. 

These extremely low-profile bookshelf speakers are rich in sound from the low-mids to the crispy highs. Even with the amplifier cranked (to safe power levels) the sound never broke up into distortion and remained clear, not shrill. Of course, with any speakers this size, there wasn’t much bass below the low-mid range to speak of, but what was there was full without being muddy. 

What could be seen as a pro for some and a con for others, the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers are passive and require an external amplifier. 

For audiophiles, this is a great excuse to drop even more coin on a high fidelity amplifier to get the best possible sound out these already great speakers. For casual listeners, however, it can be an inconvenience to worry about amplification with what should be small and discreet bookshelf speakers. 

After testing songs of every conceivable genre, it’s clear that the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers are up to just about any challenge. For those looking to fill out the living room with clear, crisp, Hi-Fi sound, these stereo speakers from Q Acoustics are a no-brainer. 

polk signature s60

(Image credit: Polk)

6. Polk Signature S60

A cheaper and worthwhile alternative to Definitive Technology

Specifications
Dimensions: 11.67” x 44.5” x 15.7” (W x H x D)
Weight: 52 lbs
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Passive
Subwoofer: N/A
Frequency response: 26 Hz - 40 kHz
Reasons to buy
+Good looking, discreet design+Clear and cutting mids +Plenty of treble...
Reasons to avoid
-...maybe too much treble

The beauty of Polk Audio is in its ability to make quality stereo speakers that compete with the biggest name brands while keeping a lower price tag. Do these beautiful full range Polk Signature S60 towers stand up to the prowess of the Definite Technology BP9060x towers? Well, not exactly, but these are stellar speakers in their own right. 

Polk’s passive signature series speakers for home entertainment are designed to provide full and immersive sound, and for the most part, they hit the mark. The mid-range, which is the easiest to muddy up, is crystal clear and articulate no matter what sound is blasting through these almost four-foot tall towers. 

The high frequency range is certainly lively, occasionally to the point of shrillness when the volume is really pushed, but never gets too harsh for comfort. As for bass frequencies, the packaging advertises a unique porting system that allows more low frequencies to travel more easily. However, to hear the bass really cutting through, the volume needs to be cranked quite a bit. Still, overall the sound quality is excellent in these Polk Audio speakers, the frequencies might could just use a little tweak with an external equalizer. 

If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to the Definite Technology towers, the Polk Audio Signature S60 speakers are a solid option that will likely outshine just about any other run-of-the-mill home entertainment system you’ll encounter. While they don’t handle the highs or the lows as well as our premium pick, we have no doubts that even the most critical ears will be happy with the signal these bad boys pump out.

sonus faber lumina i

(Image credit: Sonus)

7. Sonus Faber Lumina I

Luxurious looking speakers that ooze Italian style

Specifications
Dimensions: 11 x 5.8 x 8.4in
Weight: 9.7 lb each
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Passive
Subwoofer: N/A
Frequency response: 65 Hz - 24.000 Hz
Reasons to buy
+Classic design+Well-balanced sound+Controlled, tight bass
Reasons to avoid
-Sound could be more dynamic

The Sonus Faber Lumina I bookshelf speakers ooze Italian style, with neat, compact builds and luxurious wood veneer panels. 

These passive stereo speakers require an external amplifier to work, but once you get going you'll be struck by their tightly controlled bass frequencies, smooth mids, and detailed trebles. 

The Lumina I aren't he most dramatic-sounding speakers on this list; everything from the design down to the way they make your music sound is understated, and well-suited for casual listening (albeit with a sense of opulence). 

At $899 / £799 / AU$1595, they aren't extortionately expensive, despite their high-end looks, though cheaper bookshelf speakers are available.

Edifier r1280t

(Image credit: Edifier)

8. Edifier R1280T

Warm and compact desk speakers

Specifications
Dimensions: 5.75” x 9.5” x 7” (W x H x D)
Weight: 12.45 lbs
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Active
Subwoofer: N/A
Frequency response: 75 Hz - 18 kHz
Reasons to buy
+Affordable and lightweight option+Surprisingly well-balanced+No harsh frequencies
Reasons to avoid
-Highs and upper mids are muddy

The Edifier R1280T speakers are a popular choice on Amazon, and for good reason. These compact desk/bookshelf style speakers back an impressive sonic punch and look good doing it, all while keeping the price tag under $100 for the pair. Ok, it’s $99.99, but that penny really does count!

The standout features here include its active design, rich mid-range response, and surprisingly competent bass. Because of the small woofer size, these guys obviously don’t push much low-end, and because of the tweeter design, the highs aren’t as clear as the competition we tested. But other than that, the frequency response and clarity holds its own pretty well.

While they don’t compare to the encompassing power of the Definitive Technology BP9080x or even the clarity of the Klipsch RT-150Ms, these compact speakers certainly serve a purpose. If you’re looking for an affordable set of computer speakers, or better yet a warm stereo set up for your turntable, the Edifier R1280T speakers are a fantastic option for the money.

KEF lsx

(Image credit: KEF)

9. KEF LSX Wireless System

Fantastic audio quality with powerful bass frequencies

Specifications
Dimensions: 9.5” x 6.1” x 7.1” (W x H x D)
Weight: 7.9 and 7.7 lbs
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Active
Subwoofer: N/A
Frequency response: 49Hz - 47kHz
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic audio quality+Powerful bass
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-No built-in voice assistant

KEF has long been a major driver in the world of audio innovation since launching in 1961, and with the LSX wireless stereo speaker system, the company has set out to prove that you can achieve audio perfection with even the most compact speaker.

Separation among the different frequencies is brilliant, and the overall sound is extremely well balanced, with no one frequency overtly dominating the others.

For their size, the speakers perform very well when it comes to sub-bass, although you can connect them to an external subwoofer if you find they don’t quite hit the spot. 

Where these stereo speakers shine is in analogue sound; vocals, pianos, and acoustic guitar are given a timbral warmth without taking away any of the clarity provided by the brilliant phase correction and distortion reduction.

Read more: KEF LSX review

roku tv wireless speakers

(Image credit: Roku)

10. Roku TV wireless speakers

Very good speakers ... if you're a Roku TV owner

Specifications
Dimensions: 7.7" x 4.9" x 4.9" (W x H x D)
Weight: 4 lbs each
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Active
Subwoofer: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Quick setup+Includes Touch & voice remote+Rich, deep sound
Reasons to avoid
-Only works with Roku TVs

The Roku TV Wireless Speakers may be some of the best speakers to use in a bedroom because of the voice clarity and sound leveling features which will enable you to listen with full sound without annoying the neighbors or waking the children ... that is, as long as your bedroom television runs Roku TV.

As great as these speakers are, they only only work with Roku TVs from TCL, Insignia, Hisense, Sharp and others. They won't work with Roku streaming devices like the Roku Ultra, which is why these speakers are sold exclusively at Roku.com so that Roku can make sure that you're setup for success.

Beyond its limited availability, the Wireless Speaker's only fault is its anemic bass, due in no small part to the lack of a subwoofer. If you're after cinema-quality sound you'd be better off with a soundbar/subwoofer combo - like the ridiculously low-cost Vizio SB3621 – but, if you're looking for a late-night listening solution for your bedroom Roku TV, the Wireless Speakers are the way to go.

Read our full review: Roku TV wireless speakers

Best stereo speakers, at a glance

  1. Definitive Technology BP9080x
  2. Klipsch Forte III
  3. Klipsch RP-150M
  4. KEF LS50 Wireless II
  5. Q Acoustics Concept 20
  6. Polk Signature S60
  7. Sonus Faber Lumina I
  8. Edifier R1280T
  9. KEF LSX Wireless System
  10. Roku TV wireless speakers

The testing process

The testing process

Which speaker type is best for you?

There are lots of speaker styles to choose from – that's why we've put together lots of guides on the best speakers you can buy in 2021. 

If you need a speaker you can take everywhere, make sure you look at the best waterproof speakers and best Bluetooth speakers. Or, if you want to fill your entire home with sound, check out the best wireless speakers.

Want to boost your TV's audio? Check out the best soundbars and best Dolby Atmos speakers.

For total control of your smart home, invest in one of the best smart speakers, which come with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Siri built-in.

In testing these Hi-Fi speakers, we compared each stereo set at a comparable power level and tested the same tunes, plucked a variety of music genres. 

Our test songs spanned the dynamic range of music and artists, from John Mayer to Tom Petty, and from U.K. prog-metal band TesseracT to the likes of John Williams and Hans Zimmer. Each song was chosen to test the dynamics offered by each set of speakers with some speakers reacting better to certain genre’s than others, depending on their design.

Of course, not all speakers are created equal in function. The Definitive Technology BP9080x towers, for example, are obviously made to cover a more broad frequency range than say the Edifier bookshelf speakers with a 4-inch woofer. We used to our best judgement in testing these speakers according to their individual purpose and affordability, and graded them with that in mind. 

Since comparing bookshelf speakers to high performance towers is an obvious case of apples and oranges, we always at least try to make it clear which speaker is an apple and which is an orange. Sound good? Good.

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