It doesn’t matter what you’re listening to - be it one of the first 45s you ever purchased, a heavyweight 180 gram vinyl reissue of one of your all-time favourites or your latest Bandcamp purchase - your music deserves speakers that can do it justice.
MOJO are here, then, to deliver our pick of the best speakers out there in 2023. A selection that, crucially, shouldn’t bust the bank, either.
The best speakers at a glance:
• Best overall: KEF Q350 - View at Amazon
• Best budget hi-fi: Cambridge Audio SX-50 - View at Amazon
• Best wireless: Marshall Woburn III - View at Marshall
• Best portable: Marshall Middleton - View at Amazon
You may be asking yourself whether upgrading your speakers is worth it - those hi-fi separates were good when you bought them 15 years ago, so what’s wrong with them now?
One of the most significant improvements you’ll notice when upgrading your audio setup is the ability to maintain quality and clarity at any volume. All too often, speakers sacrifice sound quality when turned up to higher volumes. The bass becomes distorted, and the highs screech and lose their crispness. All the speakers we’ve selected below provide exceptional sound performance across the entire volume spectrum. Whether you prefer to listen softly in the background or crank up the volume, these speakers consistently deliver impressive sound without compromising quality.
In our testing of modern speaker systems, another thing that has consistently impressed us is that bigger doesn’t always mean better. The compact size of these speakers belies the incredible technology packed within them. Manufacturers have fit advanced audio components into small boxes without sacrificing sound quality.
So, don’t underestimate the power and performance of compact speakers—they punch well above their weight and provide an immersive audio experience that will leave you impressed.
MOJO's Best Speakers In 2023
1. KEF Q350
The best speakers overall
Though a seemingly insurmountable task, KEF has done it: a speaker pair adept at almost every
- Affordable and excellent KEF audio
- A good size for most rooms
- Fuss-free design
- Will need backup in larger rooms
The best budget hi-fi speakers
Confounding owners of high-end audio setups worldwide, British-based Cambridge Audio has garnered
- Affordable hi-fi speakers
- Wall-balanced sound
- Louder speakers are available
The best wireless speaker
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a mainstay amplifier brand remains a mainstay speaker brand. The Marshall
- Precise but fun sound
- Great quiet, better loud
- Timeless design
- Large - you’ll need a bit of space going free
The best portable speaker
Organic and rich, whether on low or full blast, the audio performance of the Marshall Middleton is
- Excellent audio quality
- Stereo sound
- Long battery life
- Portable but still heavy
The best multiroom speaker
Streaming your day’s playlist to any room in the house is the kind of sci-fi we like here at MOJO.
- Huge sound
- Easy to set-up
- All the mod-cons of a smart speaker
- For the best sound, dedicated speakers are recommended
The best bookshelf speakers
Some mock the idea of a bookshelf speaker, and the DALI Spector 2 scoffs in return. Cleverly
- Superb room-filling audio
- Compact bookshelf design
- Wide soundstage
- Patience is needed for the sound to run in
The best premium wireless speakers
The KEF LS50 Wireless II are a pair of wireless speakers. But they are also so much more - the
- Industry-leading sound
- Versatile connections
- Beautiful design
- Equal levels of enjoyment exist at lower prices
The best budget active speakers
The Edifier R1280DB speakers are a bargain hunter’s dream - they do almost everything you could
- Rich sound
- No amp needed
- Bluetooth for extra versatility
- Not for audio purists
The best floor-standing speakers
The Audio Pro A48 deserves the highest praise in our books for their outstanding sound quality and
- Fantastic sound
- Huge versatility and has built-in amp
- Modest in size only
- The app could be better
The best budget floor-standing speakers
While the aesthetics of the Q Acoustics 3050i floor speakers will blend seamlessly into modern
- Enjoyable sound
- Great design
- Excellent value
- The deep body might be a problem for some
How to improve your speaker sound
There are a few things we recommend trying out to get the most out of your new speakers.
Placement: Position your speakers symmetrically and around ear height, and make sure they point to where you’ll be listening from. Don’t place them too close to walls or corners; this can play havoc with the bass. Each room is different, so experiment with speaker placement to find your best position.
Room acoustics: Speakers sound better when not playing in an empty, echoey space. Improve the acoustics of your listening space by adding soft furnishings, curtains, rugs, or even acoustic panels if you’re feeling hardcore.
Isolation: Use speaker stands or isolation pads to minimise vibrations and resonance. This helps prevent unwanted noise from the floor or furniture, so you should get a cleaner sound.
Where is the best position for my speakers?
The best place to put speakers depends on the room layout and personal preference. However, a common recommendation is to position speakers symmetrically along the longer wall of the room, facing towards the listener, while avoiding placement too close to walls or corners.
Do I need an amp?
Whether you need an amp depends on the type of speakers you have. Passive speakers require an external amplifier or receiver, while active speakers have built-in amplifiers, so you don’t need a separate amp. Check the specifications of your speakers to determine if an amp is necessary.
Passive speakers versus active speakers
Passive speakers require an external amplifier or receiver to power and drive the speakers. The amplifier receives and amplifies the audio signal to a level that can drive the speakers effectively.
Active speakers have built-in amplifiers, which means they can be connected directly to a source without needing an external amplifier. The amplifier is integrated within the speaker enclosure, simplifying the setup and reducing the need for additional equipment.
Bass, midrange, and treble
Bass, midrange, and treble are three fundamental components of audio frequency ranges.
Bass refers to the low-frequency sounds, such as deep tones from drums or bass guitars.
Midrange encompasses the middle frequencies, including vocals and most instruments.
Treble represents high-frequency sounds, like cymbals or high-pitched instruments.
Adjusting these elements in your setup allows you to fine-tune the characteristics of the sound.
Drivers, tweeters and woofers explained
Drivers are the components within a speaker responsible for converting electrical signals into sound waves. They play a crucial role in producing accurate and high-quality audio reproduction. Two common types of drivers are tweeters and woofers.
Tweeters handle high-frequency sounds sitting in the 2,000 Hz to 20,000 Hz range. Also referred to as treble, this range includes vocals, cymbals, and other high-pitched instruments. Tweeters are usually small and use light diaphragms, such as fabrics, silk, or metal domes, to accurately reproduce these delicate sounds with clarity and detail.
Woofers are responsible for reproducing low-frequency sounds, including bass tones and midrange frequencies, which sit between 40 Hz and 2,000 Hz. Woofers are larger than tweeters and employ stiffer diaphragms, such as paper, plastic, or other materials, to handle the power required to produce deep, impactful bass notes.
By combining tweeters and woofers in a speaker system, speakers aim to cover the audible frequency range, providing a balanced and accurate audio reproduction. The balance between these drivers decides how well-rounded the listening experience will be.
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