We show that systems with some specification properties are topologically or almost Borel universal, in the sense that any aperiodic subshift with lower entropy may be topologically or almost Borel embedded. This improves, with elementary tools, previous results of Quas and Soo [Ergodic universality of some topological dynamical systems. Trans. Amer. Math. Soc.368 (2016), 4137–4170].