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I strongly suggest looking at used speakers. Also, visit this website for some good advice:
I have a pair of Ohm Acoustics speakers. They are the only high quality speakers I have bought. I recommend looking for some used Ohms on eBay or, sometimes, here on Audiogon. The best thing about these speakers is that Ohm will give you a huge discount on new speakers if you trade in some old Ohms. Their website is www.ohmspeakers.com. I've heard great things about Axiom Audio too. Also check out Magnepans and Aperion Audio. Regardless, GO USED!!! You'll get the best bang for your buck this way.
It is really going to depend on a lot of other factors what are going to be the best sub $500 speakers in your system and your room. The "best" speakers are likely to be very transparent and reveal the shortcommings of amps and other components.... something we don't want when we are on a budget. So depending on the components that you have, it will really depend. I did help a friend out with a modest receiver, and upgraded his speakers to Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 ($350) with very pleasing results.... brought his system to a new level without exposing the shortcomings of other components. I would also look at the Epos ELS3 and offerings from NHT, but these may be less forgiving than the Wharfedales.
I third the Sound Dynamics 300ti'a.
My fave affordable speakers are a used pair of Nola Minis. THey are giant killers.
The great thing about both the above spealers is you never miss what isn't there, they're quite dynamic, they don't get congested and they are great all kinds of music, including large scale classical. They're resolving enough to let you into the recordings, but in no way etched or hard ot tipped up.
The Minis have a better mid range and more refined treble than the SDs, a bit more transparent and airy too. I love 'em but I could be happy with the 300ti's in a minute.
Used Epos M5s are nice speakers too.
I've had the Spica TC50s and 60s, great imaging and super on small ensembles and chamber music but not my choice for rock or large scale classical.