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Best Budget Floorstanding Loudspeakers Under $1,000

Four of the best budget floorstanding loudspeakers below $1,000/pair are from Magnepan, Q Acoustics, Focal and Wharfedale.

Tarun (aka ‘A British Audiophile’) and eCoustics EIC, Ian White, took a look at 4 of their favorite floorstanding loudspeakers below $1,000 USD:

Each utilize very different driver technology but offer superb value and performance for the money. They are certainly some of the best budget floorstanding loudspeakers under $1,000 currently available.

Q Acoustics 3050i

Q Acoustics 3050i Floorstanding Speakers Gray
Q Acoustics 3050i

The 3050i does not get enough respect from the hi-fi press and that’s problematic because it offers so much value for the money. The build quality is quite high for the price and they do feel rather substantial when you set them up. The feet can be somewhat wobbly on carpet and I would stick with a hardwood floor if you can. 

Ditch the foam port pucks that are designed to be inserted if the loudspeaker has to be placed closer to the wall due to space limitations. I have my 3050i set up in my dining room along the long wall and there is only 8″ between the wall and the rear of the cabinet. 

They sound more open and spacious without the pucks and the low end impact is more than enough in a room that is 16′ x 13′ x 9′ with two openings into the living room and kitchen.

The 3050i have a rather polite presentation unless you drive them with the right amplifier and they can become almost boring if the rest of the system doesn’t have some top end energy and the midrange is fleshed out. 

Pros: Easy to drive, strong bass, can be placed near walls, flexible for home theater use, excellent with vocals

Cons: Treble can be rather polite, foam pucks muddy the bass, slightly unstable base needs better feet

Where to buy: $999 at qacoustics.com


Magnepan LRS

Magnepan LRS Loudspeakers

There are a million opinions online about the topic but the simple truth is that you can drive a loudspeaker like the Magnepan LRS (Little Ribbon Speaker) with any amplifier that can double its output and is stable into a 4 ohm load. A/V receivers are not great choices in this scenario. Their actual power output into a 4 ohm load is rather iffy.

Emotiva, NAD (not the C 316BEE V2), Schiit AudioBryston, Audio Research, and Pass Labs all work well with Magnepan.

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The LRS need a lot of space. A minimum of 3 feet from the wall behind them. You also need to angle the panels so that the tweeter potion of the panel are further from your ears than the woofer. I have my LRS turned so that the woofer panel is almost 2 inches closer to my listening position.

The LRS also benefit from either a heavy paving stone placed underneath the legs or a dedicated stand like the Magna Risers.

Don’t expect a lot of deep bass from the LRS – that’s not why you are buying it.

Pros: Transparency, detail, clarity, deep soundstage, very immediate presentation, superb value for the money

Cons: Limited bass, require high current amplification, wonky feet, need to be placed at least 3 feet from the wall behind them

Where to buy: Magnepan Dealer Locator


Focal Chora 816 Floorstanding Loudspeakers

Focal Chora 816

Focal created this line to produce high-fidelity sound, offering the performance and modern industrial design of their more expensive loudspeakers — in much more affordable price range.

We loved the Focal Chora 806 bookshelf loudspeakers which you can read about here.

The Chora range features the brand new Slatefiber cone. Developed and manufactured in Focal’s workshops in France, it distinguishes itself by a dynamic, detailed and balanced sound.

The Slatefiber cones are lighter, faster, and have better damping than the Polyglass woofers of the previous Chorus speakers; the Chora 816 have proven to be adept with electronic, jazz, and even large scale symphonic works.

The satin-finish wood-grain veneer looks very sleek (Black, Dark Wood, Light Wood) and Focal gets top marks for front baffles that visually compliment the choice of veneers. The Blue-Gray front baffle on the Dark Wood (walnut) version makes them the focal point of any room where they are set-up.

Focal built its reputation with its Beryllium tweeters; it is one of the most expensive materials to work with and the “house” sound that has entranced a lot of customers and members of the press over the years has focused on that aspect of the designs.

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Because of the cost, the Chora line-up utilizes a 1” Aluminum/Magnesium inverted dome tweeter instead and my ears tell me that it was a wise choice.

The Chora 816 are rated at 89 dB (8 ohms) which is rather efficient for a bookshelf loudspeaker, but they do dip down to 5 ohms so I would take the sensitivity rating with the knowledge that they do benefit from some power.

Pros: Warm tonal balance, detail, midrange resolution, bass impact, excellent with both music and movies

Cons: Need some power, slightly dark tonal balance, need some space from walls to not overload small rooms

Where to buy: $998/pair at Crutchfield


Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 Floorstanding Loudspeakers

Wharfedale Diamond 12.3

Wharfedale’s founder, Gilbert Briggs built his first loudspeaker in 1932 in his home in Ilkey, Yorkshire; the town was based in the valley of the river “Wharfe.” Briggs opened Wharfedale Wireless Works in 1933 supplying advanced loudspeaker drivers to the growing radio industry and the company became a leading supplier selling more than 9,000 units per year until the outbreak of World War II.

The company flourished after the war and became one of the first companies to offer a two-way loudspeaker in 1945 – the prototype for the modern loudspeaker.

The Diamond series has been around for a number of years and have always offered a lot of performance for the money. A pair of Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s have graced my home office for almost 6 years and I have zero desire to replace them; they work incredibly well with both solid state and tubes.

The Diamond 12.3s utilize two 5″ Klarity midrange woofers and one 1″ soft dome tweeter in a rather inert enclosure that blends really well in modern and traditional settings.

The 88 dB (8 ohms, dips to 5 ohms) sensitivity makes them rather easy to drive and they certainly love amplifiers like the Audiolab 6000A and NAD C 316BEE V2 Integrated Amplifiers.

The Diamond 12.3s deliver strong dynamics, detail, and a very high level of resolution. They don’t need to be pulled that far from the walls to really deliver balanced performance.

The build quality is superb for the money.

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Pros: Balanced, airy treble, punchy mid bass and upper midrange, excellent with vocals, superb value for the money

Cons: Need better quality electronics to really shine, slightly reserved presentation, vinyl veneer

Where to buy: $998/pair at Crutchfield


Watch Part 1 & Part 2

Watch on YouTube – Part 1 (Q Acoustics 3050i & Magnepan LRS)

Watch on YouTube – Part 2 (Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 & Focal Chora 816)

Related reading:

System Matching Ideas for Both the LRS and 3050i

Best Affordable Bookshelf Speakers Under $1000

Best Bookshelf Speakers from $1,000 to $3,000

Best Budget Integrated Amplifiers

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Perry

    November 5, 2022 at 10:31 pm

    Maggies are great. I have the SMGa and they are fantastic.

    If you’re skilled with wood, make some feet that will allow them to stand up a bit more straight. You’ll hear the difference.

  2. Renato

    November 7, 2022 at 7:53 pm

    I agree with the 3050i being a great speaker but deceitful. I even contacted you before about then. I now have the Iota Vx stack driving them and what a change that was. They are very underwhelming with lower end gear and that’s probably why they don’t get the praise they deserve. They need power and good electronics behind them and they are immensely rewarding. Every little improvement I made, cables included, end up being immideatly aparent.

  3. MadMex

    November 19, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    What’s with all the tall and skinny, statuesque, budget or no budget, floor-standing speakers these days? Where did all the short and stumpy, brick house, floor-standing speakers, a la Klipsch Heresy, go? Bring back the brick house, in my expert opinion.

  4. Doc Greene

    November 20, 2022 at 1:59 pm

    None of these really perform as well as the Paradigm Monitor SE8000F selling for around $849 each. This is due mostly to the best acoustic lab in the Hemisphere in Toronto Canada, and the cost of such being underwritten by the Canadian Government. I know its not fair to other countries but we can reap the benefit. I have been an audiophile for more than 40 years and I have owned just about everything including the Apogee Full Range ribbons at 8K each. Paradigm has always been amazing to me at any price.

    • Ian White

      November 20, 2022 at 2:17 pm

      Doc,

      Which makes them $1,700/pair. Read the headline again.

      Having spent time inside that lab and anechoic chamber back in the 1990s, I can confirm that Paradigm have a very unique R&D lab in my hometown and use it very effectively.

      Best,

      Ian White

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