Top 8 Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500 – Entering The High Performance Territory

The $500 segment of the market is one of the most exciting brackets you can find. This is where some of the best bookshelf speakers can be found, period. Going with a set that belongs to this category is usually the going to give you the absolute best bang for your buck. This is why we have selected and arranged some of the best bookshelf speakers for you to check out. These models have proven their worth numerous times by now, which has earned them quite a reputation. With that said, let’s get started with the overview of our picks.

Top 8 Best Home Speakers Under $500

PSB Imagine Mini

4.8 Stars
  • PSB Imagine Mini Review – Good Things Come in Small Packages
  • PSB Imagine Mini Review – Good Things Come in Small Packages
  • PSB Imagine Mini Review – Good Things Come in Small Packages
  • A gorgeous design available in a number of equally appealing variations.

  • The small form factor is incredibly versatile.

  • The sound is unexpectedly powerful and surprisingly weighty.

  • Dynamics could be stronger, but it isn’t a deal breaker.

When it comes to bookshelf speakers at this price range, you’d have to work hard to find a better option than the Imagine Minis from PSB Speakers. The attention to detail in terms of the audio engineering is only matched by the attention which has been given to providing a beautiful housing for all the components. Audio performance is fantastic.

AudioRumble rating 96/100

Definitive Technology SM45

4.7 Stars
  • Definitive Technology SM45 Review – Remember to Warm Up!
  • Definitive Technology SM45 Review – Remember to Warm Up!
  • Definitive Technology SM45 Review – Remember to Warm Up!
  • A simple, effective design which is functional and attractive.

  • The sound quality is difficult to find fault with for the price.

  • A versatile form factor applicable to many scenarios.

  • Bass is a little lacking, but this is standard for bookshelfs.

With their SM45s, Definitive Technology has succeeded in creating a speaker that, once warmed up, provides a thoroughly pleasing audio experience that is about as good as you are likely to find at this price range. The design is certainly very simple, but this only adds to the overall versatility.

AudioRumble rating 94/100

ELAC Uni-Fi UB5

4.45 Stars
  • ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Review – Unusual Three Way Configuration
  • ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Review – Unusual Three Way Configuration
  • ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Review – Unusual Three Way Configuration
  • Three-way setup.

  • Great performance.

  • Balanced, controllable tone.

  • Cabs are a limiting factor once again.

Andrew Jones' cooperation with ELAC has proven to be extremely fruitful for all parties involved, including the end user. This creation by Jones features a three-way configuration that includes a coaxial tweeter/midrange setup. Combined with a fairly capable woofer, you are looking at a great bang for the buck speaker.

AudioRumble rating 89/100

DALI Zensor 1

4.4 Stars
  • DALI Zensor 1 Review – Intro To Danish Designs
  • DALI Zensor 1 Review – Intro To Danish Designs
  • DALI Zensor 1 Review – Intro To Danish Designs
  • Great design and build quality.

  • High-quality components and transducers.

  • Impressive response across the range.

  • Not all that great for larger rooms.

DALI's Zensor 1 bookshelf speakers rocked the industry when they were first released. Fast forward to today and their performance is still very much relevant. DALI's use of innovative solutions and great materials makes Zensor 1 both an attractive set of speakers as well as a capable one. Bang for the buck, you won't find speakers much better than these.

AudioRumble rating 88/100

Wharfedale Diamond 220

4.35 Stars
  • Wharfedale Diamond 220 Review -Award Winning Performance
  • Wharfedale Diamond 220 Review -Award Winning Performance
  • Wharfedale Diamond 220 Review -Award Winning Performance
  • Great quality of tone.

  • Improved cabinet design.

  • Slot-loaded ports.

  • Quality control could be better.

Wharfedale's Diamond series of affordable bookshelf speakers have seen several iterations so far. The latest Diamond 220 ironed out a lot of imperfections that plagued its predecessors. This time around, we've beefier drivers, better cabinet design and a more balanced performance. Overall, the result is a speaker that offers what is usually reserved for more expensive segments of the market.

AudioRumble rating 87/100

Edifier S1000DB

4.35 Stars
  • Edifier S1000DB Review – High Fidelity Versatile Audio
  • Edifier S1000DB Review – High Fidelity Versatile Audio
  • Edifier S1000DB Review – High Fidelity Versatile Audio
  • Versatility and wide selection of connectivity options.

  • Attractive yet simple design.

  • Great performance across the range.

  • Longer burn-in period.

Edifier once again delivers an active set of speakers that merge high-quality audio with current versatility demands. Their S1000DB are packed with great transducers as well as a fairly powerful, built-in amplifier. On top of that, we get to enjoy Edifier's well-known design which doesn't leave anyone disappointed.

AudioRumble rating 87/100

Audioengine A5+ Review

4.35 Stars
  • Audioengine A5+ Review – Reliable, Simple And Effective
  • Audioengine A5+ Review – Reliable, Simple And Effective
  • Audioengine A5+ Review – Reliable, Simple And Effective
  • Great performance right out of the box.

  • Simple design that puts function over form.

  • Lots of of power at your fingertips.

  • Lack of room acoustic controls

Audioengine A5+ are among the rarer active speakers that really have a lot to offer. With 100 Watts of RMS power, you are looking at one capable set, especially for home use. A5+ deliver a great performance with a balanced response across the range and a decent amount of bass.

AudioRumble rating 87/100

Definitive Technology ProMonitor 1000

3.7 Stars
  • Definitive Technology ProMonitor 1000 Review – All About Radiators
  • Definitive Technology ProMonitor 1000 Review – All About Radiators
  • Definitive Technology ProMonitor 1000 Review – All About Radiators
  • Planar radiators which actually work.

  • Decent performance across the range.

  • Cabs which are great for smaller spaces.

  • No wall mount brackets.

Definitive Technology ProMonitor 1000 are anything but ordinary. Even though they're still considered conventional in their core, the overall design of this speaker is anything but. This is a perfect set of speakers for those who want to squeeze the most bass out of compact bookshelf models. Lastly, the price is right where it should be for a package like this one.

AudioRumble rating 74/100

What Kind Of Performance Can A $500 Set Of Home Speakers Offer?

The jump in performance between the $200 set of speakers and $300 one is nothing in comparison to going from a $300 to a $500 set. This is where most brands will start using their good hardware, cutting costs mostly on cabinet designs. Seeing how CnC and other technologies have greatly simplified the manufacturing process of speaker cabs, we have run into a pretty interesting phenomenon. A good portion of speakers found in the $500 price range can easily go head to head with models that are twice or even three times as expensive. In other words, high quality audio has become ever more attainable.

In general, most of the speakers that will cost you around $500 will meet the needs of audiophiles. The only thing you need to pay attention to are the subtle but unique natures different models have. This being such a competitive segment of the market, most brands are compelled to deliver well rounded speakers. On the other hand, some brands such as ELAC, like to venture into more exotic designs. At this point, you are probably wondering why would anyone go and get a $1000 set of speakers, if $500 models are so great? The answer here is power. Going up the price scale will definitely bring some improvements in terms of performance, but the biggest difference you will see is raw output. Expensive loudspeakers generally tend to be optimized for larger rooms. That ability to saturate additional space costs money.

Even so, unless you have very specific requirements in terms of spatial performance, a $500 will give you a great bang for your dollar. In a way, this explains why speakers in this price range are among the most popular ones on the market. Another good thing about this particular category of speakers is the fact that almost all of them come with decent crossovers. That alone does a lot for overall performance. Because of everything we have said so far, dodging all of the more affordable speakers and jumping straight into a $500 set is an idea we can stand behind any day.

Conclusion

The $500 segment of the bookshelf speaker market is pretty exciting. Considering the type of performance you can find here, these speakers are often considered to be the optimal sweet spot. Models we’ve listed above perfectly explain that claim. Each one of the speakers from our list can go toe to toe with models that are twice as expensive. No matter what your favorite genre of music is, our picks will allow you to enjoy your favorite songs the way they are meant to be heard. At the end of the day, $500 speakers can easily catch you by surprise.

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