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Best Home Audio Products For An Audiophile On A Budget

We’ve all known at least one of them: audiophiles to whom money is no object. All that matters to them is the eternal search for the very best sound from the very best equipment.

Most of us don’t have that luxury, even if we consider ourselves audiophiles. It’s simply not possible to spend thousands of dollars for every new component that hits the market when you’re on a budget, no matter how much you value powerful bass with high definition, clear mids, bright highs and perfect balance.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone had compiled a list of the best reasonably-priced home audio components that even an audiophile could love?
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Someone has.

Best Budget Receiver: Denon AVR-S730H

This is the best sub-$500 receiver out there, delivering strong and dynamic yet natural-sounding audio performance both for challenging movie soundtracks and more intricate musical performances. There are seven 75W amplified channels with Dolby Atoms and DTS:X support, so high-quality 7.1 surround setups are no issue. There’s also the Denon HEOS system that lets you stream music from Spotify, Pandora and many other services to multiple speakers. The audio is great, and the versatility is terrific.
Sony STR-DN1070
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We also like the more expensive Sony STR-DN1070 which provides slightly better sound quality than the Yamaha, but doesn’t support DTS:X or Dolby Atmos.

Best Budget Towers: SVS Prime Towers

If $500 per speaker is too much for you to spend, we’ll have a great alternative next. But the three-way SVS Prime Towers are a bargain for their price and sound as big as much more expensive competitors. Actually, SVS calls them 3.5-way, since there are two bass drivers with separate crossovers that provide powerful, accurate bass, while overall audio resolution, clarity and texture are simply outstanding, lacking only a bit of warmth.

Best Bookshelf Speakers: ELAC Debut B6

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Audiophiles on a budget will love these ELACs, created by famed speaker designer Andrew Jones. There are matching (and more expensive) Debut towers as well, but the B6s are large enough to work just fine as towers on 20-inch stands if necessary. But their real value is when used as designed, since they blow away more expensive bookshelf models yet are priced at less than $300 per pair. From authoritative bass to full mids and accurate highs, performance is clear, bright and impressive. These are a bargain.

Best Turntable: Audio-Technica LP120-USB

Thankfully, at least for audiophiles, vinyl is back. And even though this is a direct-drive model with a solid plastic case (the reasons for its sub-$300 price), the A-T LP120-USB is surprisingly quiet with almost no detectable rumble, and quite well-built. Features are what make this our top choice; there’s a built-in phono amp so you won’t need a pre-amp, the cue lever is hydraulically-damped for gentle tone arm placement, the aluminum platter can spin at 78 rpm as well as 33 1/3 and 45, there are strobe dots to judge spin accuracy and a lockable pitch control switch. As with most modern turntables, there’s a USB port, too.

Best CD Player: Marantz CD6006

Believe it or not, high-end CD players designed specifically for audiophiles can run as much as $10,000. This Marantz, though, will satisfy all but the pickiest listeners for around $300. Its 24-bit DAC faithfully reproduces audio on standard discs, as well as high-res WAV, MP3, WMA and AAC files inputted through the USB input, with amazing detail. There are digital optical and digital coax outputs, but the sound is also superb when using the CD6006’s stereo analog outputs. There’s also a high-quality discrete headphone amp, and the build quality of this player is outstanding.
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There’s nothing wrong with buying the very best components on the market, if you can afford them all. For the rest of us, these selections will provide audio performance that will make most snobby audiophiles drool – once you tell them how little you paid. And on the subject of budgets, our complete collection of Cmple digital and analog audio and speaker cables are the perfect match for all of these banana plugs and audio adapters components; they deliver outstanding, faithful audio at the best prices you’ll find in stores or online.
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