Best speakers under $500? Fire away!


Looking for suggestions for budget speakers under $500.  Can be floor or bookshelf.  
Let's hear the suggestions for the experts out there!

Thank you
34dean
Absolutely the ELAC UB5.  No question.  

Anyone who who disagrees hasn't heard them.  
You already have me very interested in the ELAC's.  Read some great reviews.  
I wonder how much of an upgrade they would be over my Klipsch RB-61 II speakers?  
Huge -- but they are critical listening speakers.  What I mean by that is you have to be actually sitting down actively listening in the sweet spot to appreciate what they do that is so impressive for the money.


JBL 530 new or used around that price is hard to beat.  They were up there with Revel M20/22 for me which as you know sold for much more.
used Paradigm Studio or Focal
JBL 530's are way more than $500 from everything out there I see.
Can you please list the rest of your system? What music genre is your main passion? SYSTEM synergy matters - big-time.

I am assuming that you are also choosing pre-owned and not new speakers.

A  blind speaker brand and model offering randomly posted in this blog without knowing the rest of your system gear and your listening preferences as highlighted above, is just a blind and poor "shotgun approach"  with a very high probability of pointing you in the wrong direction.

So, can we adopt a "rifle approach" with some expanded info first?

cheers
akg_ca... good point!  :)

My budget system is:

NAD 3020 Integrated Amplifier (Completely restored, recapped, serviced to factory fresh specs)
Onkyo C-7030 CD Player
Musical Fidelity V90-DAC
Bluejean cables
I am thinking that your Klipsch speakers are very easy to drive making them a good match with your integrated. In what size room are you placing this system, and how loud do you play it? 
mesch... room is 17 X 17.  I do not play it loud.  "Normal" listening levels.
Spica TC50
Looking for suggestions for budget speakers under $500. Can be floor or bookshelf.
First, there are no best speakers at $500 pair. Or at $1000 pair. And so on, so forth.

Only the speakers that are best for you. And the speakers that can best be driven by your vintage NAD. And the ones that integrate the best with your room.

While I am sure that the Elacs that were suggested are good speakers, they probably are not the best speakers with your 20 wpc into 8 ohm vintage amp. The Elacs are 4 ohm with a sensitivity of only 85dB making them rather hard to drive and not the "best choice" for you. They are also rear ported so should be used with stands to sound their best. Do you have stands or did you plan on putting them on a bookshelf?

My suggestion is to understand your amps capabilities and how they relate to the two key specs of a speaker - impedance and sensitivity. Then make up a short list of models that are within your budget and go out and audition.

So there is a lot more to it than simply asking for suggestions on the internet. Doing that seldom results in the best speaker for you.
Using Infinity 4000a's and ADS L470's with my 3020 with good results. 
Another vote for Elac.  They are designed by Andrew Jones, the same person that designs TAD.  They perform well above their weight class.  I have a set of his monitors connected to a NAD 390DD in my office.  Great sounding setup!
I've heard no speakers that compete with the ELAC speakers,  at or close to there price range.
At that pricepoint and the specs of your NAD, here is another contender.

Wharfedale  diamond 10.1

google the reviews 

Wharfedale denton, new.  Superb cabinets, laid back and smooth sound, good soundstage, at this price no problem.
Infinity Primus 363 - great small floor-standers, very efficient
Agree with paraneer. I’m sure the ELAC UB5 is a fine speaker, but not a good choice for the 3020 since it is very inefficient speaker. Take a look at it’s specifications here,

http://elac.com/product/ub5/

Since it is a 4 ohm speaker. that 85db sensitivity is actually a 2 watt rating, and it’s 1 watt rating would be 82db. That’s 13db lower than the Klipsch RB-61 which is 95db. The UB5 needs more power than the 3020. Elac recommends 40 -140 wpc and I’m thinking at least 100 to be somewhat comparable to the capabilities of the Klipsch/3020 combo.

When you are playing your system at it’s loudest, how many of the lights above the volume control blink? That can give you a good indication of how low you could go in speaker sensitivity.

GREAT info gents.  Much appreciated!
The 95db RB-61's sound great but I wanted to compare them to another contender.  The sensitivity of the ELAC's do concern me though with my vintage 3020 driving them.  
I have always been a Wharfedale fan and the Diamond 10.1's are supposed to be killer for their price.  Have no idea about the Denton's.  Will need to research.  

Any other suggestions?
tls49... going to listen at higher levels and will see how many lights illuminate.  I was at only 10 o'clock volume the other night and 4 of the lights lit up.  
Ty jl35... researching those Infinity's.  
great review by REG in TAS
I have a pair and they are awesome for the price.  I used with an Onkyo A-9555 Integrated
Monitor Audio has some very nice entry level stuff in that price range. I’ve heard their line and am very impressed with what you get for the dollar. the bronze 1 and 2’s are surprisingly musical and a sweet spot in the lower range. silvers if you can stretch but the bronze are surprisingly good for the money.

the bronze 2's are 90db and nominal imp 8 ohms, probably a good fit for your amp.


KEF X300A can be had on Amazon for $500. I bought a pair and it is OK for the bedroom system.
You'll get as many opinions as there are Agonners here..... I will put my 2 cents in... without a doubt a used pair of Omega Super 3i monitors!

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doesn't crutchfield have a listen & return policy?
Randy-11 brings up a good point.  If they do, take advantage of it.  Along with other online venues like Music Direct and Audio Advisor.  Even if you have to pay return shipping, that's a small price to pay for an in-home trial.


+1 paraneer. The power requirement is what I was eluding to and should have expanded on with my post. There are many quality speakers in the $500 price range, few of them will be at their best with 20 wpc. Too many have overstated sensitivity ratings and represent a greater load to a speaker than the impedance rating would indicate. 

Making a short list of speakers that can be driven by your amp and then consulting with dealers, local and the aforementioned online ones, makes for a good approach.   


Jbl lsr 305 or 308, active studio monitors, no amp needed, amazing dynamics 
I heard the b5 and the uni b5 Elac they are good, but I prefer the B6, the stereophile reviewer of B6 is right on the money, The B6 has many wow factor.Markr is right Omega 3i is hard to beat, New is $600 I think.I have the wharfadale 10.1 and 10.2 both are highly musical, I also own Elac B6.i also own the Omega 3i....either one you can't go wrong....
TY jay.  Which of the four speakers you mention are your favorites?
The omega 3i, it has addicting musicality, they like tubes too, they are fast , but you can get away with Elac B6 is that good...the 10,2 is just as good...
Markr is a friend of mine, he has the alnico omega and 3i, he is upgrading to Omega alnico high output, I think he is selling his 3i, he might be able to give you a good prize.... if you are interested send him a message....
Monitor Audio Bronze 1 the best bookshelf speakers I heard under $ 500 .
Amazing bass and resolution for its price.
Not sure what speaker characteristics are most important to you, but an excellent all-arounder is the Silverline Minuet Supreme Plus.  It's not a hard speaker to drive and should be in your price range used.  Best of luck. 

I believe the Wharfdale 10.2 is on sale by Music Direct. Better than the 10.1s for your size room.  I believe easier to drive than the Elac B6, which is otherwise a easy recommendation at it's price.

Again, once one gets past the speaker/amplifier synergy issues, the choice of speaker is so subjective I hesitate to recommend a specific pair.

Good luck in your search.

"tls49... going to listen at higher levels and will see how many lights illuminate.  I was at only 10 o'clock volume the other night and 4 of the lights lit up."

If you listen at levels that cause that 5th light to illuminate frequently, then that is extremely close to the maximum capability of your system. It has nothing to do with the position of the volume control. Also, I'm thinking you should only consider speakers with a sensitivity above 90db unless you plan to replace the 3020 with a higher wattage amp. A 92db speaker would require 40 watts to have the same capability as your Klipsch/3020 combo, a 89db speaker would require 80 watts, and a 86db speaker would require 160 watts. Every 3db is a double or a half of power depending on the direction you're going.

Used B&W 685 is a great option too,one of the best B&W ever made ; spacious soundstage ,extremely detailed and great dynamics. 
Elac UB5.  Slam dunk.  
tls49... I agree.  I need a 90db+ speaker which eliminates many including the ELAC and Diamond 10.2's.  

I need to look at the specs on some of the other recommendations here.  
I really would like to try the ELAC's but their sensitivity concerns me with my 20 wpc 3020.  
Most of the standmount speakers have relatively low sensitivity but are more easy to drive than floor standing speakers with higher sensitivity .
Most of the standmount speakers have relatively low sensitivity but are more easy to drive than floor standing speakers with higher sensitivity .
Really?  Even a speaker that is 4 ohms with sensitivity of 85dB like the Elacs that keep getting recommended with no concern over the OP's limited amp capabilities.

Please explain.
the Primus 363 is both high sensitivity and easy to drive
jl35... I would very much like to try the Infinity's and have read nothing but rave reviews.  The problem is I can't find them?  Can anyone help?
Also read great things about the Tannoy Eclipse 3 but again... tough to find.
I own a set of the B&W 685s. I have been driveing them with the NAD 326BEE. Recently purchased the 356BEE to provide a little more power. Do not believe the 3020 is a good match for them.