Inexpensive Stereo Build: $60

Many of you may be coming here looking for the cheapest possible stereo system to play some music or outperform the speakers built into your TV or something to buy in lieu of a soundbar. This is the build for you. Reviews are forthcoming, but all of the items on this page I have personally tested. All of the items listed here can be purchased at my store.

Speakers
Dayton Audio B652 -$39.80

These are the cheapest available speakers that still sound good in a room. While I wouldn’t recommend them for short range use, if you’re 6+ feet away, many of the issues I have with them disappear. They’ll fill a room full of sound and be better than a cheap soundbar or a pair of computer speakers. A 6.5″ woofer is quite large, which is how this speaker achieves its performance. Full review here.

Amplifier
Lepai LP-A68 -$20.07

This is a basic digital amplifier that gets the job done in an apartment sized living room. I wouldn’t use it outside or with expensive speakers, but for the ones listed on this page, it is more than adequate. It provides a remote control, treble and bass controls, and will play MP3 files off of USB storage or an SD Card. Plus it has an FM radio. Quite a bit of functionality for $20.

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Micca MB42X and Lepai Amp

Wiring

One nice thing about the Dayton speakers is they include six foot lengths of speaker wire to hook the speakers up with. If you need something longer, Pyramid RSW18100 18 Gauge 100 Feet Spool of High Quality Speaker Zip Wire is a good choice.

You will also need to connect your sound source to the amplifier. You will need to get the sound into a standard Red/White RCA stereo pair. For most TV’s a RCA Audio Cable will suffice. For something with a headphone jack, 3.5mm to AV RCA Audio Adapter Cable will work. If your TV only has an optical output or digital coax, a Digital Coax and Optical Toslink to Analog Audio Converter will provide the connectivity you need, along with the appropriate Digital Optical Audio Toslink Cable or Digital Coaxial Audio/Video RCA Cable and a RCA Audio Cable to connect to the amplifier.

Mounting (optional)
If you don’t have 7″ of space on either side of the TV, you’ll either need to mount the speakers or put them on stands. The speakers come with mounting eyes, though mounting them to the wall isn’t the end of the world with the Dayton B652’s as they lack a rear port. Speaker stands also work. I won’t make a specific recommendation as the manner and height ultimately depend on your needs. You should get the tweeters (the higher driver) as close to ear level as possible.

Upgrades
Dayton Audio B652-AIR – $59.80+$7.95 shipping, A very worthwhile upgrade to the B652’s for just $28 more. Better treble makes this a speaker that performs at a constant quality throughout its range.

Dayton Audio T652  – $118.50+$9.95 shipping, A bigger, louder version of the B652’s. A bit more bass response, but will fill a large room with sound and will play very loudly.

Micca MB42X Bookshelf Speakers -$79.99, A smaller, better speaker than the B652 and B652-AIR with less low range, but a flatter response overall. Unlike the Dayton’s, these do not include 6′ lengths of speaker wire.

I don’t have a specific suggestion, but an amplifier upgrade would be to a stereo receiver, which start at about $120 and can get to $600-$700.

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