There are a dizzying number of choices these days for audio speakers, receivers, and other such a/v equipment. It’s understandably tough to pick the right product, especially so for those who aren’t experienced audiophiles.
The truth is that picking the right product, unless you’re paying for consultation from an expert perhaps, is going to require some diligence – understanding what you actually need equipment and spec wise, then finding products that can deliver on said specs.
That said, there’s at least one simple and easy way to filter out good products: go with a reputable company. There are many established manufacturers, and there wares are often just as well priced as seemingly competitive off brands. We’d also seen in reviewing many, many audio products that good companies tend to specialize in different things: High fidelity, aesthetics, modest prices, etc.
Here’s a running list (in alphabetical order) of our favorite audio companies and brands of speaker manufacturers and why so specifically:
Bose – why: they get kind of a bad rap for being overpriced, but, they have a lot of really nice looking, well built speakers and products that are a good choice for a lot of people.
Dayton Audio – why: great builds and great specs for modest prices. If you want great sounding speakers that are not all that expensive, hard to go wrong with these guys.
Definitive Technology – why: great builds that look particularly slick, and great specs that specialize in strong bass, all at competitive prices.
ION Audio – why: they filled a gap with making really nice portable all-weather speakers that are on par with wired outdoor speakers, whereas most portable speakers are small hand-held units that don’t come close to box speakers.
Klipsch – why: excellent value per dollar spent, and some of the best and most powerful non-commercial grade speakers available on the market. Not to mention these guys have 5 plus year to lifetime warranties on some of their products.
Onkyo – why: they make a lot of HiFi stereo receivers that aren’t exorbitantly expensive, which they tend to get.
OSD Audio – why: a wide range of products at great prices for the specs. They also have certain specialty designs that are hard to find elsewhere, such as ported outdoor loudspeakers.
Sony – why: we all know one of the most recognizieable electronic companies in the world, but specifically with audio, they make a lot of great higher end receivers with a lot of channels that aren’t exorbitantly expensive, which they tend to get.
TIC – why: they actually solely produce outdoor/all-weather equipment, specializing in a seemingly small niche. Great products at solid prices where overall selection is limited, such as powered/active outdoor bookshelf speakers or on-ground omnidirectional speakers
Yamaha – why: also a well known company, but, specifically with audio, they make some of the lowest priced speakers and receivers that still have solid builds and specs. If you’re looking to make a system on a budget, chances are at least one piece of it will wind up being from these guys.
If you’re in the market for something, here are two good ways to shop:
One, use the best sellers list for the audio/home-theater section on Amazon. If you see something topping the list there by one of these companies (and they usually do), then chances are it’s a good choice.
Two, check out our “how to deal hunt” page here – there are some creative ways to find stuff that’s heavily discounted. Happy shopping!