Great audio has never been more affordable. Right now, my reigning champion budget speaker is the Dayton B652-AIR bookshelf, which sells for a mere $50 a pair. The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR speakers are even better and run a still very reasonable $129 a pair. The ELAC Debut B6.2, at $299 a pair, is the top dog for the money.
It’s no surprise, though, that they’re all made in China. So the question is: Are affordable, good-sounding speakers still made in the US?
The most affordable speakers made in the US
I’m going to have to stretch the definition of affordable a bit to include a few of my favorites that sell for as much as $1,000 a pair. Some are well under though, starting with Role Audio’s tiny Skiff stand mount monitors.
Decked out in a lovely satin black finish, they’ve earned raves from the audiophile press, with prices starting at $495 a pair. Role Audio products are all conceived, designed, engineered and manufactured in North Carolina.
Next up we have the Tekton M-Lore towers, currently on sale for $575 a pair, with free shipping in the US. I reviewed them way back in 2012, and I have fond memories of them. Quoting from my own review, ‘Los Lobos’ Kiko CD sounded big and juicy, and vocals have the sort of presence and body you’ll never get with bookshelf speakers. The stereo imaging was broad, yet nicely focused.’
Next up, hailing from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, the $650-a-pair Magnepan MMGi speakers. These high-tech 1.25-inch thick flat panel speakers shouldn’t be placed close to a wall. Give them some breathing room and they’ll project a gigantic soundstage, with excellent transparency. No other budget speaker can touch them on those counts.
Zu Audio’s Omen Dirty Weekend MKII speakers are designed and made in Ogden, Utah, and these Zus like to party. Dynamics are lively — these 36-inch tall towers make a big sound. One catch: They’re made in small batches and are currently sold out, but the next production run will likely happen in April or May, with prices starting at $999 a pair.
Omega Speaker Systems in Norwalk, Connecticut has a few models of interest. The Super 7 MK2 stand mount speakers for $995 a pair caught my eye. A variety of real wood finishes are available. The 15 by 9 by 12.5-inch speaker features a single, proprietary driver. I haven’t heard the Super 7 MK2, but there’s a good chance an Omega speaker will land in my Brooklyn listening room sometime this year.
These five under-$1,000 speakers are the ones I know about, but there must be more — let me know in the comments. I hope to revisit this category soon.