What Do You Get When You Spend More on Speakers?

We all know that there is a point of diminishing returns. When spending more money on a thing doesn’t net you as great a quality improvement. This is true with home theater speakers as well. When comparing the absolute cheapest offerings to ones that cost only slightly more, you’ll notice lots of improvements. Improvements in not only sound quality but build quality and aesthetics. We’ve already talked about our suggested budget for different types of speakers. From a more general point of view, what do you get when you spend more money on speakers? Let’s discuss!

More Money Means More

As you increase your speaker budget, you get more everything as you spend more. The cheapest speakers won’t play very loud, they don’t have the best bass or treble extension, and they look…well…cheap. As you spend more on speakers, they will play louder, have more extension (treble and bass), and have a more even frequency response.

Aesthetically, your options will also improve. Spending more on speakers will increase the quality of the speaker’s enclosure, the available finishes, and even give you more options for sizes and shapes. Higher budgets will allow you to afford tower speakers (even though we rarely recommend them).

You don’t need to spend this much to get great speakers

Diminishing Returns

At some point you get a speaker that has very good performance, all the volume you need for your room, and looks good (and works with your decor). Spending more will get you improvements, but how many of them will you actually experience? Many times you’ll get increased bass extension but you’ll likely have subwoofers at this point so it won’t matter. You probably will have speakers that get louder than you’ll ever play them. We often refer to this as “headroom.” These are performance metrics that look good on paper but won’t actually ever come into play in your room. So why pay for them?

With greater expenditure of money, you can also get speakers that are objectively better sounding. They will have greater clarity and transient response. What this means is that they play just the sounds that they are asked (by your source/amp) and stop playing sounds very quickly. This can create a sonic experience that is more realistic than lower-cost speakers. They will also sound much better at low volumes than other speakers.

But to hear those types of improvements, you’ll need a room that isn’t masking the small improvements. Your room acoustics can take a great speaker and make it sound mediocre or a good speaker and make it sound great. If you are looking to spend a bunch of money on speakers and you haven’t treated your room, you are probably wasting your money.

Take Away

At first, spending more money on speakers will get you a better overall speaker. It will sound better, get louder, and look prettier. At some point (around here), you stop getting such massive increases and the improvements are more subtle. They are there to be sure, but they are harder to pick out without addressing other aspects of your system (specifically your room acoustics).

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