The Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers with Amazing Output

Budget PSB Compact Bookshelf Speakers

I was not expecting to get this excited over what I think are the best budget bookshelf speakers on the market. I’ve been and still am a huge fan of the Dynaudio speakers because of their warm, rich output, but these PSB P3/P5s have impressed me so much that I now have them in the store.

Besides the fact they’re dirt cheap, the magic in them is the remarkable sound they deliver. I promise I am not trying to oversell you on these, but they will definitely give you a different perspective on what quality audio is and what it can be even at a lower price point. I’m not really sure what Paul Barton (designer/founder) and his wife did to make these speakers sound so good, but whatever it was, they did a freaking fantastic job.   

Doing Me Chasing After Quality Audio

I took a similar approach chasing after quality audio as I did with our pressure washers. Years ago, I decided to purchase and test a bunch of them (like 80) to see 1) which ones performed well and 2) how to connect all the different fittings consumers would need to make them work properly. From that experience, I learned that some of the entry-level stuff wasn’t too bad. Fast forward to now, I accidentally fell into the same approach when chasing after the best bookshelf speakers your money can buy. 

My whole intention was only to carry Dynaudio speakers in the store from the start. The smooth sound that emanates from them is mind-blowing. You hear me talking about smoothness and warmth a lot because of the atmosphere in which we’re placing these speakers - the garage. As you know or may not know, the garage is a very harsh environment for audio, so having speakers that distribute a warmer sound works perfectly for this application. And yes, both the P3s and P5s work well in the home. I do a deep dive into them in my passive speaker overview video. Be sure to check that out.  

How I came around to getting these in my hands started with my interest in the NAD (New Acoustic Dimensions) stuff, which consists of amplifiers. I fell for the NAD receivers because they’re Class-D amplifiers, which means they run really cool and the sound signature is fantastic. So, in my process of ordering these amps, I decided to purchase the PSB stuff as well since they were inexpensive. Now, let me clarify what I mean by buying these speakers; I ordered one of every bookshelf speaker PSB had - again, doing this product vetting my way. 

When everything arrived, I immediately started regretting what I had done. I’m thinking to myself, “what is this junk I purchased?” I’m saying junk because I’m a Dynaudio guy and comparing everything to the sound of Dynaudio speakers. But boy, was I caught off guard with these things. I was in my garage listening to my $1500 passive speakers and decided to pull the PSBs out of the box to hear what they sounded like and man, once I hooked them up to my NAD C368 digital amplifier, I was astounded. 

Initially, I was a disbeliever of these speakers. I love silk dome tweeters (for the warmth), especially for the garage space. The P3s and P5s have a ¾” aluminum dome tweeter with a 3” and 5” poly mid-bass driver. I’ve always hated aluminum in every speaker I’ve owned. Mainly because of the high-tinny sound they deliver.

Folks, these speakers are far from bright and tinny; they’re great.

PSB P5 Bookshelf Speakers

Why You Want These

I’ve discussed the price point before, which is super low for a quality set of entry-level bookshelf speakers. It’s obvious every penny that went into making these went into the quality of sound, not the quality of the cabinet. It’s super lightweight compared to other high-end speakers and the grill goes on kind of wonky where you have to adjust it. It’s vinyl-wrapped where you can see the seam on the bottom. I know I may not be doing the best job selling these, but I’m telling you, once you hook them up, it’s game over. Forget about the construction of these, which isn’t terrible and focus your attention on output. The sound is what had me in awe and once you have them in your possession, you’ll hear and see why my initial judgment changed. And, if you’re curious, these are designed in Canada and manufactured across seas. 

Paul S. Barton took a unique route with these; he decided that he wanted to keep things economical and focus his genius on performance. He and his team have taken all the tech, ability, and knowledge they have and poured it into these speakers, resulting in a masterpiece.

Let’s talk specs with both models.

The P3s

These can be used in various ways other than our application (inside the garage). You may decide you want them to serve as your front or surround speakers to listen to music or enjoy your favorite movie. 

  • Frequency response: 57-21,000 Hz (±3dB)
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB
  • Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
  • Recommended power: 10-80 watts
  • 3/4" anodized aluminum dome tweeter with front waveguide
  • 4-1/2" textured polypropylene woofer with rubber surround
  • Bass reflex (ported) design
  • Magnetically attached grilles
  • Gold-plated five-way binding posts
  • Dual threaded inserts for optional wall mounting
  • 5-3/16"W x 8-3/4"H x 7-5/16"D (each)
  • Weight: 4.9 lbs. (each)
  • Warranty: 5 years

The P5s

These would be my pick, simply because of the bigger woofer that will better fill the room. Again, these two can be used as your front or surround sound speakers. Like its baby brother (the P3s), the tweeter is mounted below the woofer, which is not your typical arrangement with speakers. Paul Barton has stated this is to help keep sound properly in phase for frequencies where the woofer and tweeter are both playing.

  • Frequency response: 55-21,000 Hz (±3dB)
  • Sensitivity: 89 dB
  • Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
  • Recommended power: 10-90 watts
  • 3/4" anodized aluminum dome tweeter with front waveguide
  • 5-1/4" textured polypropylene woofer with rubber surround
  • Bass-reflex (ported) design
  • Magnetically attached grilles
  • Gold-plated five-way binding posts
  • Dual threaded inserts for optional wall mounting
  • 6-3/4"W x 11-3/8"H x 9-1/2"D (each)
  • Weight: 10.15 lbs. (each)
  • Warranty: 5 years

As you can see, they both come with a 5-year warranty. I’ll be honest with you; I don’t give a crap about the warranty; these things will last you the rest of your life as long as you don’t do anything crazy to shorten their lifespan. If you’re concerned about overpowering them, I don’t think you can. You could probably put a monoblock amplifier on each one of these and they would open up even more.  

I understand that what’s considered the best speaker is subjective. I’m going out on a limb claiming that these are the best lower-cost bookshelf speakers you can buy. Times are different, where before we could walk into an audio store and listen to speakers before we purchased them. Today, we’re not afforded that convenience or listening opportunity. Plus, many shops still doing in-store audio listening don’t have much inventory. We have to go by what others are saying in product reviews. I hate reviews. The value I bring is having heard 1,000s of speakers in my lifetime and can easily detect when something is good or if it’s crap. Don’t believe me? Check out the behind-the-scenes audio listening session I did back in 2021, where I spent over 2-hours testing speakers. Easily one of the best moments of my life.

I’m asking you to leverage my experience. Playing these on video won’t really do much to sway your decision-making, but I can certainly speak to what my ears have heard—pure awesomeness.


Setting these up is super simple. I’ve even created an audio package that includes:

Because this will more than likely be part of a 2.1 system in your home or garage, there’s not a lot of equipment you’re going to need. For those of you who want to add in a subwoofer, I have Dynaudio subs available, but I will be adding SVS to the store very soon.

The sound the P3/P5 speakers produce is remarkable, and for how inexpensive they are, I’d highly suggest purchasing them if you’re looking to add quality sound to your home or garage.