PSB Alpha P5 – Review of the Best Speaker under $500

PSB Alpha P5 Speaker

At A Glance

Our Take

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Simply the best speaker around for under $500. The PSB Alpha P5 gets my enthusiastic endorsement. 

Trying to find the right bookshelf speakers to deliver the sound you desire isn’t always easy. I was frustrated with speakers that didn’t deliver clear, crisp sound and seemed to only last for a few months before they started to wear out.

Luckily, I had the time to check out a few options in bookshelf speakers, and today, I’m reviewing the PSB Alpha P5. This speaker gave me a quality sound with outstanding performance. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Bookshelf Speaker

Bookshelf speakers may be small and not as fancy as larger speakers, but there is no reason why they can’t provide you with the same level of performance and quality. These speakers are the perfect fit for small to medium-sized rooms.

They can work well for providing sound for movies or just listening to music. However, they will not give a lot of bass as they don’t have a built-in subwoofer. They work best in addition to a subwoofer or if you don’t like or need a lot of bass.

If you want a quality set of speakers that won’t take up a lot of room, then bookshelf speakers should be the right fit. Do keep in mind that there is a range of speakers on the market, and some of them are incredibly low quality.

To ensure that you choose the speaker that provides you with the best value and experience, you need to understand a little about what to look for in a bookshelf speaker. Here are a few things to consider.

Wired or Wireless

You have two general options for hooking up your speakers. You can use wires that will connect to your sound system, or you can go wireless.

Wired systems often offer better sound quality. However, wireless systems are typically easier to install and great if you don’t want to have to worry about hiding wires. 

Size Limitations

The size of the speaker directly affects how loud it can play. Bookshelf speakers are not going to be huge, but they do come in some different sizes.

The Driver

You should consider the driver, which is the circular speaker on the front, which is what creates the actual sound. Try to choose a driver that is large with enough room around it to allow for the transfer of the sound to get the maximum volume possible.

Hertz and Watts

In the specifications for every speaker, you will see hertz and watts. When considering what speaker to buy, understand that a lower hertz number will provide more bass. If you need that bass sound, then this will be important to you.

The watts equal power, which directly affects volume. Higher watts mean higher power and more output. So, if you need a loud sound, then watts are something you want to note.

Presenting the Alpha P5

The Alpha P5 is from PSB, a Canadian company with over 40 years of experience in acoustic design and research. The company focuses on delivering accurate acoustics, which is apparent when looking at the Alpha P5.

This bookshelf speaker measures in at 6.75 by 11.375 by 9.5 inches and weighs 10.15 pounds. It comes with a finish that looks quite realistic and will blend nicely in a modern environment. You’ll love this feature if you are tired of fake-looking plastic finishes.

It avoids sounding shrill when playing high tones while delivering a sound quality that is close to live sound. If you want a real experience, then expect this to provide balance and tone that brings music or sound effects to life.

The rich sound rivals similar speakers on the market. You get a full experience without sacrificing enjoyment or paying too much.

When it comes to bass, you shouldn’t expect a lot. The bass tones bring a lot of port noise if you try to play them too loudly, but that is typical of this type of speaker. They do not have a design that should provide booming bass. You will need to add a subwoofer if that is something you want.

Performance of the PSB Alpha P5

Looking at the features and what they have to offer to you, you’ll first find that the refined bass reflex cabinet helps to create a natural sound. The 0.75 black anodized aluminum dome tweeter will lower distortion and give you a layered sound, which only amplifies the true to life sound. The front waveguide is low on the speaker to help smooth directivity, which dictates what you hear and provides a more rounded experience.

Finally, the Alpha Series tweeters use ferrofluid cooling to help reduce dynamic compression, and you get higher sensitivity thanks to the neodymium magnet.

Reviews From the Web

I was curious to see what other people thought about this speaker. I really wanted to know if they felt as good about it as I do. Here’s look at what people around the web have to say about the Alpha P5.

“No it doesn’t go superloud, nor does it go superlow. But like its predecessors, the compromises made by the designer to keep the P5 affordable have been carefully managed. For communicating the message of your favorite music, this little speaker scores super big-time.” – John Atkinson, Stereophile

 

“The Alpha P5 has become my favorite speaker under $500. The sweet highs coupled with the engaging mids and weight bass just draw you in, making for a very easy listening speaker that you can listen to for a long time. They also sound good with just about every genre. Comparing them to the competition, I think they give you liveliness and excitement of the ELAC Debut B 6.2 speakers, along with the detail and transparency of the Q Acoustics 3020i. They are like the best of both worlds. Just right. Highly recommend for a speaker under $500.” – hifitr5_wp, Hi-Fi Trends

 

“If you are in the market or a quality set of bookshelf speakers, the Alpha P5s should be on your short list. When paired with a good subwoofer, you can have sound that rivals many tower speakers and save lots of floor space. Paired with a nice DAC and computer, you could have a killer mini system. Either way, the Alpha P5s are a great way to get introduced to PSB sound quality if you are in teh market for a small speaker with big sound.” – Jim Milton, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity

 

The Competition

To give you a little more insight into what to expect from a bookshelf speaker, I want to go over a couple of other options. These are both similar in popularity to the PSB Alpha P5.

KEF Q150B

The KEF Q150B boasts a sleek finish and enhancements that smooth high frequencies and clean up the overall tone. It has a back port and a design that aims to improve clarity.

It features the KEF tangerine waveguide, which helps to disperse sound throughout a space. The dampened tweeter loading tube allows for a dramatic performance of higher tones while also providing for cleaner low tones.

Swans D1090

If you want to ditch the wires and go wireless, then the D1090 from Swans may be the right choice. The finish on these speakers is faux wood grain, and they have soft dome tweeters.

You’ll get more exceptional power options with this speaker due to the 28mm copper audio coil. If you want a better bass experience, these speakers feature a composite polypropylene to help with distortion and to bring out low tones.

The PSB Alpha P5 is the Right Choice

Considering that you want a bookshelf speaker that will be easy enough to install and use in a smaller space, the PSB Alpha P5 is unbeatable. You won’t have to worry about them being too big or being challenging to install.

They will provide you with a well-rounded sound that exceeds expectations. It has high-quality standards and delivers on the promises the manufacturer makes.

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