Best Affordable Stereo Speakers: GoldenEar Aon 2
With their side-mounted low-frequency radiators, the GoldenEar Aon 2s produce deeper base than you would expect from stereo speakers.
CREDIT: GoldenEar Technology
If you're a big music fan, don't dump your money on a surround-sound audio system with five speakers (or more) plus a subwoofer that take over the house. Concentrate your buying power on top-notch stereo speakers. Music is made for stereo, after all.For your money, you can't do better than GoldenEar's Aon 2 speakers, which sell for $800 a pair.
Why we like them
Most "bookshelf" stereo speakers — as this type is known — have only a tweeter for high notes and a woofer for bass. Each Aon 2 also features a pair of side-mounted low frequency radiators that produce deeper bass to fill out the sound.
On vocals, the Aons handle the complexities of the human voice with aplomb. Rather than a muddled mix of sounds, the system clearly separates elements that often get lost with other systems. Listening to Luciano Pavarotti belt out "Nessun Dorma" from the opera "Turandot" becomes a transcendent experience.
They rock out equally well, revealing individual notes within the crunchy distortion of Radiohead's "Bodysnatchers" or the complex, layered chord that starts the Beatles "A Hard Day's Night." Jazz, classical – whatever you've got, these speakers excel.
The Aons work for movies, too. You won't get the immersive experience that a surround system provides. But the Aon's detailed high and mid ranges reproduce movie vocals and effects well. Thanks to their special side-mounted radiators, the speakers even recreate the low-frequency effects that you usually need a subwoofer for.
Keep in mind
If all your music is in MP3s at low bitrates (160 kbps or less), you won't be able to hear how great these speakers are, since the encoding cuts out the highs and lows to make the files smaller.
You'll need a good, powerful receiver — at least 85 watts per channel (speaker) — to get the full effect. Speakers of this quality shine when they get loud. At lower volumes you won't hear a huge difference from other models.
If you like the physical rumble from a subwoofer during an epic explosion, stereo speakers may not be the right system. You can add a $500 GoldenEar Forcefield 3 subwoofer, but at that price you'll be better served with a true 5.1 surround-sound home theater system.
GoldenEar's Aon 2 let you listen to music the way it is meant to be heard: in stereo. With their incredible range – high, middle, and low – you'll be treated to music that sounds like the artists are in the room with you. Movies will be better than you'd expect from two speakers, as well. All in all, it's an ear-opening experience.
- One 6-inch bass/midrange driver
- One tweeter
- Two 6.5-inch side-mounted low-frequency radiators
- Dimensions: 8 inches (W) by 10 inches (D) by 12 inches (H)
- Weight: 17 pounds each
- Power requirements: 10-200 watts per channel