Best Speakers For Vinyl Under $100
So you just bought a new turntable, dusted off the old records, and want to start playing. You plug everything in, put the record on, drop the needle…and the speakers just don’t play right. Maybe they don’t play loud enough, or the sound quality isn’t what you would expect. Either way, you are really disappointed that after all of that buying, with the turntable and any components you may have chosen to customize the turntable and sound equipment, your sound quality is still poor.
Luckily, there are a lot of options available to you. When people think about good quality speakers, they imagine having to spend hundreds of dollars in order to get those speakers. Not so. There are many options for speakers that provide great sound quality that you can get for less than $100. As we will see below, you can get speakers with RCA/wired hookups that are fantastic as well as wireless/bluetooth speakers that will work just as well for less than $100.
Before we get to the best speakers for less than $100, a short explanation placing the speakers into the overall context of the turntable is in order.
How The Quality of Speakers Help Provide Great Sound Quality
It is pretty obvious to state that one of the core components of the turntable and sound system are the speakers. The less capable those speakers are, the lower the quality of sound you will hear. No matter how expensive and well-engineered the turntable and sound system is, with a pair of junky or inoperable speakers you will not get good sound quality.
Yet, what is less obvious to state is that though the speakers are an integral part of the turntable sound system, every component is an integral part of the sound system. Making sure that you know how every piece in the turntable works will help you make sure that anything you buy will fit perfect and provide you a great sound experience. With that in mind, a quick description of the operation of the turntable is in order.
Operation of the turntable starts with an engine housed in the turntable’s unit that has a belt attached to it. The engine turns the belt at the desired speed, which in turn turns the “plate,” that round thing on top of the unit. Atop the plate is a rubber pad upon which the record sits and is spun by the engine and belt beneath. When the record spins at the proper speed, a stylus (the needle), which is attached to a cartridge and tonearm is placed atop the spinning record.
Here is where things get interesting. When the needle is placed atop the spinning record, it picks up vibrations from the needle running over specially crafted grooves. Those vibrations are transported along wires in the cartridge and up the tonearm back to the internal components of the unit. There, a phono preamplifier takes those vibrations and amplifies them to waves lengths that can be picked up by the ear. Those are then sent to the speakers, either through a wired connection (nowadays, often RCA connections) or wireless, with bluetooth.
The speakers, then, are the end product of a very complex process that over the years has become more simplified and streamlined. The turntable itself has become an engineering marvel that can sound great fresh out of the box or is open to modifications that fit your style better. Audiophiles across the Internet have written thousands of words reviewing and detailing their experiences with different components on the turntable, demonstrating the power of making your turntable yours.
This is why many of these conversations discuss the speakers audiophiles use for their sound experience. And unsurprisingly, many of these audiophiles are using speakers that cost no more than $100. Without further ado, here are the best speakers for less than $100.
Best Speakers Under $100
We should get this out of the way up front and tell you that a majority of speakers that will are high quality under $100 tend to be listed as “bookshelf speakers” because, well, they’re supposed to sit on a bookshelf. They are smaller. And with that in mind, our top pick is the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones Designed Bookshelf Loudspeakers. Pioneer makes really excellent sound equipment (check out their turntables too!) and these speakers are no exception. Coming with either wireless or wired connections (the linked ones are wireless), they provide really great sound in a beautifully designed unit and a great price.
These speakers have a four inch structured surface subwoofer, meaning that the speakers bass is absolutely fantastic, providing a really rich sound to your music. More important though is the design: an RF molded curved cabinet that provides excellent acoustics. Moreover, it comes with a great complex crossover that blends the sound waves in the proper proportion between the subwoofer and speaker with really good accuracy.
While we did take a moment above to detail that a lot of these speakers are “bookshelf speakers” we do have to say that these are slightly larger than the average bookshelf (unless you own one of those bookshelves with the tall bottom shelf that you can fit textbooks on). At around 12 ½” tall, this may be a little big for bookshelf speakers, but the sound quality is still excellent on these speakers. Plus the design is beautiful and you can get either wired or wireless, which is pretty cool.
Here is another superb quality speaker that is small enough to be a “bookshelf speaker” but still affordable. The Micca MB42X provides excellent sound because of its excellent components: the 4-inch carbon fiber woofer provides great bass and undertones and the silk dome tweeter provides a well-balanced sound to those undertones. The Micca MB42X linked above is to the advanced bookshelf speakers, but they come in a variety of makes under the B42 model.
The Micca MB42X’s components make these speakers real winners, particularly at their asking price. A highly optimized 12Db crossover, high performance silk dome tweeter, and a carbon fiber woofer are all engineered together to provide you superior sound quality. The techno-jargon of the previous sentence means that the sounds from the record are balanced through intricate electronics, which provide sound that is so similar to the way the record was created that you might as well be sitting in the studio listening to the album.
Amongst audiophiles, there are a couple of complaints that the midrange and high range sounds are completely lacking or harsh without the addition of another piece of equipment that can balance the sound better. This is particularly evident prior to the “breaking in” of the speakers, which needs to be done with more speakers than you probably imagined. Nonetheless, as a starter set of speakers for someone looking to upgrade, these work really well and work even better the more you use them.
If you don’t know the name “Polk” when it comes to sound equipment, you should start getting familiar with it, as they continue to come out with sound equipment that performs really well for an affordable price. Polk left nothing behind with the Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers, which are specifically engineered to provide you great sound quality, whether you are listening to vinyl records or using them for surround sound. In fact, many people use the Polk T15 Bookshelf Speakers for both, and it doesn’t let them down in either situation.
As we mentioned above, the sound engineering that went into these speakers is almost unsurpassed on this list. The unit itself is magnetically shielded, which help eliminate any outside distortion that could be affecting the sound. The woofer and tweeter are sonically matched not just with each other but with the opposing speakers woofer and tweeter to provide an excellently matched sound. And speaking of the woofer and tweeter, both are excellently balanced to provide a sound that is not too basic, but rich and with a lot of depth. For all of the components that come in these speakers, $99.95 seems almost too cheap.
Just a disclaimer before jumping into other downsides of the Polk T15 Bookshelf Speakers: these are not meant to play bass at really good levels. In fact, for many audiophiles, the woofer can be kind of lacking. And for good reason: Polk sells all of its equipment with an eye for a complete sound system, including separate subwoofers and relays. The bass it does provide is still decent, but nowhere near as good as some other speakers on this list, so keep that in mind. Another possible downside is that while you do have to break these in, it also seems to take a few minutes for the speakers to “warm up” meaning that you may not be hearing everything you want to for the first twenty minutes or so.
Balanced tones are the name of the game when it comes to Edifier’s R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers. The sound engineering included in the units make sure that the lows and highs are well balanced, providing a really beautiful sound. Moreover, the connectivity options for the Edifier R1280T speakers allow for it to be used as vinyl speakers, home audio, or computer speakers and works great across all three.
As we were discussing the intro paragraph above, the R1280T’s ability to balance the highs and lows, providing really crisp on the high and really rich lows makes these speakers a winner for any audiophile. The 13mm silk dome tweeter and woofer provide great acoustics and it is housed in a beautiful wood finish that makes its design really stick out amongst competitors. It also comes with a remote control, in case you want to turn up the volume or adjust the sound levels without leaving your couch.
The downside most discussed amongst audiophiles about the R1280T is that it does not come with wireless capabilities. However, it does come with every type of wired connection short of USB that you can imagine, meaning that as long as you have them close enough to the turntable or have really long wires, you can still get great quality sound from them. Beyond this, the only other disappointment seen amongst audiophiles reviewing the product is that they don’t sound all that great when they are first out of the box: again, break the speakers in and within a week or two you should have top quality sound.
Finally, we come to Dayton Audio’s B652-AIR Bookshelf Speakers with AMT Tweeter, and boy did we find a great one to round off this list. Dayton Audio’s AMT Tweeter is described amongst audiophiles as delivering professional quality treble (or highs) while the included 6-½” woofer provides rich lows. For anyone looking to upgrade their speakers for the first time, these may be a winner.
There are three great things about this product. The first are the quality of the tweeter and woofer described in the introduction. Working together, they provide a rich combination of highs and lows that will really bring great sound quality out of your records. The second is the design: compact, housed in a black wood like material, they stay out of the way while still providing excellent sound. And finally, the price: while the post says “Best Speakers Under $100” these are actually below $50 ($49.88 to be exact) which is extremely affordable for what you are getting.
Again, the two biggest complaints about these speakers are so similar to the others on this list that we am starting to sound like a broken record. First, they need to be broken in, so the sound quality at first is not all that fantastic. Second, they sound much better with additional equipment added as mods. In both cases, you can wait to hear how well the sound turns out then make your decision to add more components if you would like additional sound.
As you can see, there are numerous great speaker systems that will run you less than $100. Yet, these are not the only speakers that can provide you great sound quality for less than $100. Companies like Klipsch, JBL, and Cambridge Audio all have speakers for less than a hundred that can provide you great sound quality; the reason they were not added to this list is that they have speakers that provide superb sound quality for a little more, with their cheaper speakers not providing as good of quality of sound as those on this list. Regardless, if you are on the market looking for speakers and would like to spend below $100, check out the speakers on this list and if none are to your liking, explore around the Internet. There are numerous reviews for speakers for less than $100 that can give you possibilities.