Speaker on entertainment center
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What to Look For in a Budget Speaker in 2022

Different people have different needs, so we’ve included a few different types of speakers on this list. You’ll find bookshelf speakers, Bluetooth speakers, soundbars, smart speakers, and subwoofers.

The first thing you need to think about is what you’re buying speakers for. Bookshelf speakers can be useful for both music and movies, but a portable Bluetooth speaker isn’t going to work for a home theater. Think about what you’ll be using the speakers for the most and let this guide your decision.

Many speakers these days are either battery-powered or use their own power supply that plugs into the wall. For these, all you require is any sort of audio signal, and you’re ready to go. Bookshelf speakers, on the other hand, need an amplifier to reproduce sound.

While most of the speakers we’re looking at here are wireless, some like bookshelf speakers and subwoofers need cables. We’ll make sure to mention the cables you’ll need if they aren’t included in the box.

For Bluetooth and other wireless speakers, you also need to consider where you’re using them. If you’re mostly using a speaker inside your home, it doesn’t need to be that tough. That said, if you’re taking a speaker everywhere with you, make sure it has some protection from the elements.

Finally, while we’ve included a single bespoke smart speaker, other speakers can include voice assistant support that lets them integrate with your smart home. If you value this functionality, make sure any speaker you’re considering has it, as it’s tough to add later on.

Best Budget Speaker Overall: Tribit StormBox Micro

People outside with Tribit speakers
Tribit

Pros

  • Straps make mounting to anything easy
  • Processing makes for prominent bass
  • You can pair two for stereo and more volume

Cons

  • Need two for true stereo

The Tribit StormBox Micro is best described as a sort of speaker companion. Not only does the audio not disappoint, but it’s packed with features that make it easy to take it everywhere you go.

One of the best features of the StormBox Micro is an unassuming little strap. The photos on the Amazon page show this used to mount the speaker to a bike, but you can also use the strap to mount it to a backpack or almost anywhere else. If you like a personal soundtrack but hate headphones, this is a great compromise.

Though it isn’t as waterproof as some other speakers we’re looking at here, the StormBox Micro is IP67-rated dust and water-resistant. You don’t want to drop it into a pool, but if you take the speaker along on a rainy walk or bicycle ride, you don’t need to worry.

Thanks to a clever design and some digital signal processing (DSP), the StormBox Micro sounds bigger than you’d expect, with surprisingly decent bass given its small size. If you want your setup to sound even bigger, you can easily pair a second StormBox Micro for stereo sound and increased volume.

The StormBox Micro comes in a relatively standard black finish if you prefer your speakers on the understated side. If you prefer a dash of color, Tribit also sells the StormBox Micro in blue and orange color varieties.

Best Budget Speaker Overall

Tribit StormBox Micro

The Tribit StormBox Micro is an affordable jack-of-all-trades speaker that can bring your music with you anywhere you go.

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker: DOSS Soundbox

pink soundbox on mint green table with macarons
DOSS

Pros

  • 20 hour battery life at 50% volume
  • IPX5 water-resistant
  • Capacitive touch panel is handy

Cons

  • A little small for use as a home speaker

Bluetooth speakers typically endure rougher conditions than other speakers, so people don’t always want to spend too much on one. The DOSS Soundbox is a great affordable option, as not only does the speaker pack in all the features you need, but it’s more rugged than many of its affordable colleagues.

The Soundbox is IPX5 rated, which means that while it can’t withstand immersion, it can handle jets and streams of water from any angle. If you’re looking for a speaker to bring to the beach, the Soundbox is a great choice, assuming you don’t toss it into the ocean.

Instead of the usual buttons, the DOSS Soundbox uses a capacitive touch panel for its controls. This lets you pause and resume playback, adjust the volume, change tracks, and answer and end calls using the internal microphone. You can even use the speaker with Siri or Google Assistant.

The Soundbox pumps out 12 watts per channel of stereo sound, and if you’re listening at 50 percent volume, you’ll get up to 20 hours of playtime. When it’s time to top up the battery, you can recharge with the included cable in three to four hours.

In addition to black, the DOSS Soundbox comes in blue, pink, red, white, yellow, and Tiffany Blue color options.

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker

DOSS Soundbox

The DOSS Soundbox combines a unique touch interface with powerful sound for the size and nearly all-day battery life.

The Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2022

Best Bluetooth Speaker Overall
JBL Charge 5
Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker
DOSS Soundbox
Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL Clip 4
Best Waterproof Speaker
LEHII BT-A7Pro
Best Bluetooth Car Speaker
Sony SRS-XB33
Best Loud Bluetooth Speaker
Gemini GC-206BTB

Best Budget Bookshelf Speaker: Monoprice 6.5-inch 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers

Monoprice bookshelf speakers on green background
Monoprice

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality for the price
  • Ribbon tweeters mean less distortion in the high end
  • Black finish looks good anywhere

Cons

  • Best for low to moderate volumes

Whether you’re looking for a simple stereo setup, or you’re shopping for the primary speakers for your home theater setup, a pair of bookshelf speakers are a good bet. For the price, it’s hard to beat the Monoprice 6.5-inch 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers.

These speakers feature a 6.5-inch polypropylene cone woofer for the bass and midrange, plus a ribbon tweeter for the highs. These speakers deliver 30 watts of sustained power, with a maximum of up to 60 watts at 6 ohms. The frequency ranges from 60 Hz at the low end to 20 kHz on the upper end.

That frequency range is enough to hear everything in the music you’re listening to. That said, human hearing can extend down to 20 Hz, so if you’re looking for bass you can’t just hear but bass you can feel, you might want to add a subwoofer. This is especially true if you’re using these speakers in a home theater setup.

Unlike every other speaker on this list, the Monoprice 6.5-inch 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers are completely passive, meaning they have no built-in amplification. You’ll need either a hi-fi amplifier or an A/V receiver to get any sound out of these, so factor that into your budget if you don’t have an amplifier already.

You’ll also need speaker wire to connect these speakers to the amplifier, and none are included. Standard two-wire speaker wire is affordable and is all you need to get these up and running.

Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers

Monoprice 6.5-inch 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers

If you're looking for high fidelity audio on a budget, these bookshelf speakers sound so good you'll forget how little they cost.

Best Budget Portable Speaker: Anker Soundcore 2

Anker Soundcore 2 outdoors
Anker

Pros

  • Special designed bass ports make for enhanced low end
  • IPX7 waterproof rating makes it pool-safe
  • 24 hour battery life

Cons

  • Sound isn't as good as larger speakers

Anker doesn’t just make speakers, but all kinds of chargers, cables, and other accessories. That said, the company’s Soundcore line of speakers has been popular for years now. While the company offers speakers from tiny to huge, our pick is the company’s update on its original—the Anker Soundcore 2.

The Soundcore 2 pumps 12 watts of power into stereo neodymium drivers. On the Amazon listing, Anker says it uses advanced DSP to make for thumping bass without distortion. This is enhanced by a bass port using a patented spiral design to make for even more powerful lows.

The Anker Soundcore 2 is the most waterproof speaker we’re looking at, with an IPX7-rated build. While these ratings are often provided by the manufacturer, not a third party, IPX7 means that the Soundcore 2 should be able to withstand immersion in up to one meter for up to 30 minutes without damage.

Inside the Soundcore 2, Anker has packed a 5,200 mAh battery that the company says can provide up to 24 hours of non-stop music. Anker doesn’t list the volume it used to get this figure, but if you’re listening at moderate volumes, the battery should easily get you through even longer days.

The Soundcore 2 is available in black, but those who prefer a more vibrant speaker can also choose from blue, red, and teal options.

Best Budget Portable Speaker

Anker Soundcore 2

If you're looking for a speaker that can handle any weather and isn't going to run out of batter life when you least expect it, the Anker Soundcore 2 is a fantastic option.

Best Budget Smart Speaker: Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot near front door
Amazon

Pros

  • Larger size makes for better sound than older models
  • Voice control makes choosing music easy
  • Smart features work well with your smart home

Cons

  • Optional clock costs extra

Voice-controlled assistants and smart devices haven’t quite brought the utopia we may have hoped for, but a smart home can certainly make your life easier in many ways. The Amazon Echo Dot works perfectly as a control center for your various smart gadgets, and it also happens to be a pretty handy little speaker on its own.

The outside of the Echo Dot is fairly simple, it’s a fabric-covered semi-sphere that displays the time. It may not look impressive, but it aesthetically fits in almost anywhere, and the true power lies inside the speaker.

While the Echo Dot is a smart speaker first, Amazon hasn’t forgotten about the audio quality. The latest version is larger than older models, allowing more room for speakers. As a result, the current Echo Dot sounds better than the older models, and they didn’t sound half bad to start with.

Using the smart features and the Alexa voice assistant, you can control lights, locks, thermostats, and more, but voice control is also great for your music. The Echo Dot prefers Amazon Prime Music by default, but you can set it up to work with many more streaming services by using the right Alexa skills.

You can opt for two basic versions of the Echo Dot—one with a clock, and one without. The clock-less model is slightly cheaper, but the clock is especially useful for some setups. It’s up to your personal preference in terms of which model to go for!

Best Budget Smart Speaker

Amazon Echo Dot

Forget about budget: the Amazon Echo Dot is one of the best smart speakers you can buy, it just happens to be affordable.

Best Budget Soundbar: Bestisan BYL S9920

Bestisan soundbar in home theater
Bestisan

Pros

  • Various sizes available to match your needs
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Various sound modes for movies, music, and voice

Cons

  • 40-inch as the largest size is a little small

Most of the speakers we’ve looked at so far come from an approach where making music sound good is the primary goal. If you spend more time watching TV and movies than listening to music, a music-centric speaker doesn’t really work best for you. Instead, consider a soundbar like the excellent Bestisan BYL S9920.

We’re looking at the 40-inch, 100-watt version, which is the largest in the range. If you’ve got a smaller TV or just want a quieter speaker, Bestisan also makes this model in 28-inch and 34-inch models, both with 80 watts of power. If your TV is larger, the 40-inch model will still be the best match.

There are a few different ways to connect the S9920 to your TV. You can connect wirelessly with Bluetooth, assuming your TV supports it, but this can be problematic with lip-syncing at times. Your best bet is to connect with digital audio via the optical connector or analog audio over the RCA connectors.

The Bestisan BYL S9920 doesn’t come with a separate subwoofer or provide a connection for your own subwoofer. That said, the soundbar uses DSP for various sound modes like movies and movies. Adjustable bass and treble let you fine-tune the frequency response for your room.

One neat touch that you often see in TVs but less so in soundbars is the dialog enhancer feature. This tunes the audio to let you hear voices, without turning up the soundbar so loud it bothers your neighbors.

Best Budget Soundbar

Bestisan BYL S9920

With models for everything from small bedroom TVs up to your main living room TV, the Bestisan BYL S9920 is great for movies and TV, especially the dialog enhancement feature.

Best Budget Subwoofer: Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer

Monoprice subwoofer on grey background
Monoprice

Pros

  • Compact size makes stowing each
  • Adjustable crossover makes fine tuning bass simple
  • Multiple ways to attach to an existing system

Cons

  • Need to use a Y-adapter to use certain subwoofer connections

If you’ve already got a set of speakers you’re happy with but feel like are missing out on the bass department, a subwoofer is a great option. These can get expensive quickly, but the Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer is a solid option at a solid price.

This subwoofer features a frequency range from 50 Hz to 250 Hz, meaning the midrange and highs from your other speakers remain untouched. You can adjust the crossover frequency between 50 Hz and 150 Hz to avoid low subwoofer rumbles from voices and other elements you want to avoid hearing low frequencies from.

I’ve personally used this subwoofer for several years, and it’s a very set-and-forget product. Plug it in, set the volume, set the crossover frequency to match your other speakers, and that’s about it. The subwoofer has an auto-on feature that means it will save power when not in use, then turn itself on when you begin using it.

This is an active subwoofer, so any amp you’re using doesn’t need a separate powered subwoofer output. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a cable. Most amps and A/V receivers have a single RCA output for the subwoofer. This speaker has that connection but can also use left and right line-in or a speaker signal from your amp.

The Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer measures 13.75 ร— 11.75 ร— 11.75 inches, so while it isn’t small, it’s more compact than most subwoofers, which means you can easily find a space to stow it away.

Best Budget Subwoofer

Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer

If you're looking to add bass to an existing stereo or home theater system, this compact, powerful subwoofer is all most people will need.

The Best Home Theater Systems of 2022

Best Home Theater System Overall
VIZIO Elevate Sound Bar for TV
Best Budget Home Theater System
Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
Best Wireless Home Theater System
JBL Bar 5.1
Best Dolby Atmos Home Theater System
Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4
Best 7.1 Home Theater System
Klipsch Reference R-26FA
Best 5.1 Home Theater System
Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer
Profile Photo for Kris Wouk Kris Wouk
Kris Wouk is a freelance tech writer and musician with over 10 years of experience as a writer and a lifetime of experience as a gadget fan. He has also written for Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, Android Authority, and Sound Guys. At MakeUseOf, he was Section Editor in charge of the site's Mac coverage.
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