Budget 3 speaker system?


Well-known Member
OK, so not your usual query. In effect, currently have a 49" TV on a stand and a Google Home hub away in a corner. Also a Panasonic all in one soundbar, 2.1 and very sleek, but a bit muddy if I'm being honest, and suffers a bit with lip sync over hdmi. Has no optical in.

So we play music through the home hub, it's OK. I'm not signed up to Tidal or alike, likely never will be.

Soundbar hardly gets used. Doesn't improve voice on TV much which I struggle to hear.

We have small kids too, so anything too bassy would not get used in the evening, nor do we watch many action films. Again, it's the vocals that go missing in the films we watch.

Finally, attached a photo of current TV on stand.

So... What I'd like to get to..

1. Something small, speaker wise
2. Something musical, that can take a BT feed from the home hub to output stereo
3. Something that could improve vocals from TV
4. Something discrete and wife friendly
5. Something very, very budget! We are not audiophiles but do have music on most evenings with the kids dancing about. Happy to go 2nd hand, ideally less than a couple of hundred all in.
6. Likely not a soundbar. It'd just get ripped off by the kids.

I'm wondering if something like a slim reciever, with some CA Minx maybe the ticket? Could use a 22 for a centre (maybe a stupid idea, I really don't know) and the 11/12 for LR channels. Those are small enough to either sit to the side or TV, or probably tidy enough I could wall mount them.

If I do have stereo speakers.. Would either side of a 49" TV give enough seperation? Do 3 speaker receivers exist? Am I just thinking the centre will help with vocals but am wrong?

After advice from the great and good here, I think I know what I want but not sure how to get there.


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Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
'We are not audiophiles' - everyone is, it just means you enjoy decent sound :)

If you are shopping on a budget the best option, by far, is to go second hand and where you have a limited budget I would stick with a 2.0 or 2.1 system and not try to force too many channels out of your budget.

Could you place a pair of floor standing speakers or stand mount speakers either side of the TV cabinet?

If you want to add a Centre you need to go with an AVR which means channels you will not use and for the most part a lesser quality stereo playback.



Well-known Member
2nd hand for sure. More I've looked, more I think stereo 2.0 is definitely the way to go. I just find the sub on my wee soundbar really does muddy music. It's fine for sport, not for music / speech.

So thinking more to a pair of active speakers, or a cheap BT/Optical amp with 2nd hand smaller passive speakers. I don't have the room for floorstanders nor the need, volume is not a priority or that room filling quality. More clear projection, well rounded sound.


Active Member
I’d personally recommend Ruark MR1’s.

They’d knock any soundbar out the park for music, will offer proper stereo separation and would utilise the optical output from your TV for TV viewing, and also offer Bluetooth for syncing with phones for music duties.

Just make sure your TV is set to PCM stereo, as they can’t decide Dolby Digital etc.

For voices with TV watching, experiment with positioning. Ideally place each speaker to the left & right of your TV, so that your main listening position forms an equilateral triangle (plan view) with your speakers. And ideally the speakers should be placed at about ear height when seated.

Not that you’d want to by the sound of it, but you can even add a subwoofer later for a 2.1 system.

New they’re £350, but you can often find used examples on well known auction sites.

They even look very significant other friendly with dark or soft grey finishes.


Well-known Member
The Ruarks are probably my new favourite option. Although I've never heard them.. But the sound to stereo quality ratio from all reviews makes it seem a no brainer.

Any idea if the mk1 is a real step down from the mk2? Just in terms of saving a few quids.


Active Member
I have a feeling that the Mk1’s don’t have an optical input for your TV. They only have Bluetooth and a 3.5mm analogue input.

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