Bookshelf speakers are probably the best way to get into high-quality audio. You don’t have to spend too much money in order to get good performance. The best bookshelf speakers made by a reputable brand can do a lot towards introducing you to high-quality audio and teaching you the basics of finding a great sound.
If this is something that you are looking into at the moment, you are in the right place. We have gone and compiled a list of the best bookshelf speakers you can find at the moment. The list isn’t too extensive, but it represents a good cross-section of what is currently available.
Our picks are divided into several different price ranges, giving every reader an idea of what might work for them regardless of the budget.
How to Choose The Best Bookshelf Speakers
Finding a bookshelf speaker that will work for you depends on the specs of the speaker, but also the specs of your room. One of the most prolific misconceptions about high fidelity audio is that bigger is always better. Not only is this notion wrong, but it can actually be pretty detrimental. Every speaker is finely tuned to cover a specific area.
The Room Size
Home speakers, in general, are designed for smaller rooms where you will be around 1 or 2 meters away from the speakers. However, that also depends on the model you are looking for. Don’t just consider the size of the room, but how open it is, too. For example, you might have a huge room, but it’s packed with furniture, this will affect the sound.
Generally speaking, if you have a small room that is fairly filled with objects, you won’t require a large speaker, and this will help to cut your costs. You might even be able to stick to just one speaker, although larger, open plan rooms, will need bigger speakers and possibly even more than one. If you purchase a large speaker for a small room, you’ll find that the bass sounds muffled and you receive an overall muffled sound.
Believe it or not, the floor surface can have a huge impact on sound quality. If you purchase a high-end bookshelf speaker that isn’t suitable for your floor type, you’ve basically wasted your money. Test out your floor type first by standing in the corner of the room and clapping. If you find that the noise echos far, you don’t want to purchase a large bookshelf speaker that carries too much sound. Carpeted floors absorb some sound, so you can increase the volume as the furniture will absorb some of the sounds. Therefore, consider the number of volume options the pair of bookshelf speakers offer.
What You’ll Use The Pair of Speakers For
Once you have figured out the space where your speakers are going to work in, next thing you need to define is the application. Are you the type of person who spends a considerable amount of time enjoying music, or do you casually listen to your favorite songs for a few minutes per day?
Those who belong to the former category will benefit from higher end speakers. On the other hand, casual users will get a decent performance even out of the more affordable models.
The third application that is often mentioned is music production. This is where a very niche type of speakers are necessary. These are what you call studio monitors, and they are very much different from your average bookshelf model.
What Makes a Good Pair of Bookshelf Speakers?
Defining a good bookshelf speaker isn’t as easy as it sounds, and a lot of people would argue that they are a lot harder to come by compared to buying a good soundbar, for example.
There are numerous factors that need to come together in order for you to experience a good sound. With that said, we know what some of the more important requirements are.
Number of Speakers
No single speaker is capable of authentically representing every portion of any given frequency range. In other words, there is no jack of all trades type of speaker. Instead, different transducers are tasked to handle different portions of the frequency range.
The most common configuration of loudspeakers is the two-way design. This means you have a smaller high-frequency tweeter that deals with trebles, and a larger driver that does the rest. Capabilities, build quality and overall nature of these two speakers can define what you’re going to hear.
Frequency range supported by most speakers goes high enough where we as humans are barely able to recognize anything. Problems start when you try to define the lower limit.
Those who love a thumping bass will need to find speakers that dig low enough in the bass portion of the range. Otherwise, you will either have to get a subwoofer (click here for our article on the best subwoofers) or deal with a shallow bass.
When you have multiple speakers working at the same time, they often tend to come into conflict with each other. The most common way of this manifesting is when you hear a sudden dip in response at a very specific frequency.
Crossovers are devices which are tasked with eliminating these conflicts and giving you as smooth of a transition as possible. Crossovers are borderline necessary if you want to get into high fidelity audio with any seriousness.
Believe it or not, cabinets are often times the most expensive and most complicated part of creating a speaker. You will generally want to have an MDF cabinet at the very least.
This material is considered to be the standard in the industry right now and offers great performance. The design of the cabinet matters because this component of the speaker does a lot to shape the output you hear.
Cheaper bookshelf speakers will generally come with a questionable build quality, which is also something you want to avoid. If you are on a budget, finding a solid cabinet might prove to be the hardest part of selecting your first speakers.
Necessary Additional Equipment
Some loudspeakers are active. In other words, these speakers come with a built-in amplifier, allowing you to just plug them into whatever device holds your music.
However, the large majority of bookshelf speakers are passive. That means that a standalone amplifier is necessary in order to power them. When you are choosing your first bookshelf speaker, it is a great practice to budget in some kind of an amplifier as well. It makes life so much easier.
The Best Bookshelf Speakers On The Market
This is a high-end bookshelf speaker made by a brand that goes the whole nine yards for every detail. However, that kind of package comes with an adequate price tag. These speakers don’t shine when playing lighthearted tracks as they’re designed for heavier, bassy songs. There’s certainly a lack of treble and more emphasis on bass and low-end frequencies, so bear this in mind with your music choice.
However, let’s not deny that these are one of the best bookshelf speakers on this list to produce an open, clear sound. If you love listening to music with numerous instruments, you’ll appreciate that you can hear each one in detail.
The build quality feels robust in a way you won’t always find with a bookshelf speaker, and they feel every bit a premium product. A combination of innovative and classic design tropes, they will blend well into any room without drawing unnecessary attention. These are the best bookshelf speakers if you are looking for a tall design for a large room. It’s not just the height, as these speakers are also wide with a back end that flares out to fill a room with audio.
Specifically, the back end of the speakers accommodate two 8” woofers on either side and these can reach all directions. These speakers are far from flimsy as they’re constructed of ¾” MDF to prevent any excessive vibrations. The cabinet’s exterior is radiused which limits any diffraction and ensures that the speakers last a long time.
While Andrew Jones’s work usually costs in the mid-five figures range, he occasionally designs an affordable speaker. ELAC’s Uni-Fi UB5 is the fruit of one such endeavor. Needless to say, he has managed to pack an incredible amount of performance in an affordable package. Uni-Fi developed balanced and detailed sounds with this pair of speakers and they’ll create an honest representation of whatever genre you listen to. Alternatively, if you intend on using them for streaming channels, these are also an ideal option for that as they enhance dialog and background music. The speakers also sync perfectly to the actors’ mouths to prevent you from getting lost in the show.
These speakers create a beautiful combination of string bass and kick drums, making them perfect for listening to musicals and jazz performances. In fact, these speakers bring percussions to life and enhance solo piano moments with clarity. But all the while, vocals are clear and far from distorted.
This pair of speakers is one of the best on the list in terms of appearance and design. Available in a walnut finish or a slim size with a satin or white finish, these look stylish and all for a reasonable price. The star of the show is definitely the 4-inch aluminum cone that surrounds the soft dome. Not only does this enhance the bass, but provides a luxurious touch to this pair of speakers.
Edifier is among the few manufacturers who insist that active speakers can meet the requirements of quality audio. Their S1000DB gives you a mix of both worlds. You get a great sound combined with the type of connectivity and versatility that only a good active set can provide. These speakers offer a deep bass with excellent impact and detailed high frequencies. They’re also great at placement so that instruments sound like they’re being performed in the living room with you. The angle of the speakers helps to enhance the sound and carry the audio to the other end of the room. You can also connect these via Bluetooth to your device, and the connection remains strong throughout the entire duration.
These are the best bookshelf speakers to carry on an old-school vibe. They’re retro and stylish to accentuate any room in your home. Plus, with polished wooden side panels, these project quality and high style to look a part of the room rather than like they’ve just been placed there. Edifier bookshelf speakers are among the heaviest on our list, which doesn’t impact the sound, but means you’ll require a sturdy shelf or desk to store them on. It’s evident that Edifier wants you to have the best listening experience possible which is why the speakers are equipped with fine-tuning knobs. For example, adjust the bass, volume, and treble to suit the occasion and music genre.
ELAC is not the only brand Andrew Jones cooperated with. One of his most affordable heavy hitters sports a Pioneer badge and goes by the name of SP-BS22-LR. These tiny speakers are among the very best in their highly affordable price budget. These speakers don’t quite deliver high frequencies like some of the other best bookshelf speakers can, but they succeed in the lower range. This is particularly true when you’re watching a film or TV show.
Without a doubt, these are one of the best budget speakers for clarity of audio tones. They’re a great asset to watching movies and you can purchase more than one of these bookshelf speakers to enhance your experience. However, only offer 80 watts, these aren’t the best bookshelf speakers to offer power and guts, but they are a great purchase to use as a surround sound.
We are not huge fans of the aesthetic of these speakers—a very generic, simple, but somehow quite obtrusive presence—, but their overall size means that this won’t be a huge problem within the majority of settings. However, we do love that these speakers are lightweight and only measure 7.2 x 12.6 x 8.4 inches, which enables them to fit into tight spaces. Pioneer over-delivered with the gold plating on the posts – a feature you’d expect for a much higher price bracket and the soft dome tweeter at the top of the speaker not only enhances the overall sound but improves the speaker’s design.
The result of that effort is a speaker that hits hard and comes at a reasonable price. The MB42Xs are highly sensitive to positioning, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on the variety and number of options you have available to you within whichever room you plan on using the speakers.
If you close your eyes and listen to the music blaring out of these speakers, you’d expect that they’d be coming from a much larger unit. The highs are bright and transparent to produce an overall enhanced sound and check your favorite song to a whole other level. These speakers are ideal for watching movies and listening to music, and they’re one of the best budget units to enhance vocals as well as soundtracks.
That said, the performance and build quality are both robust enough to ensure that you get a decent experience as long as you find an acceptable placement. This bookshelf speaker is designed in a way so it blends with any room or decorations. Each unit offers a carbon fiber woofer with rubber surroundings to protect the speakers while adding an element of sophistication. It might look slightly plainer than some of the best bookshelf speakers on the market, but what can you expect for such an incredible price?
These speakers might be taller and wider than a typical bookshelf speaker set. However, they’re much more lightweight than they appear, making them portable and ideal for moving from room to room.
These speakers bring a great bang for the buck, especially to the budget crowd. The bass response is somewhat lacking compared to other models we have tested in this price range, but the clarity of the overall performance is high enough that some listeners will not be put off by this fact alone.
These speakers have so much capability and can create a solid sound that is free from resonance and enables you to have the volume high without impacting the tone. Plus, the upper-frequency ranges are bright and not tinny. The mid-range frequencies are open while the bass has a surprising power kick to it.
T15 features magnetic shielding as well as front-firing ports, which are both features usually found in more expensive speakers. These bookshelf speakers are evidently designed to last a long time as they’re constructed with MDF which also reduces any distortion. Thanks to the design, you can easily position the Polk Audio T15 up close against your wall with minimal vibrations. As these speakers are compact, they can slide into any corner in your room. Plus, it helps that they look sleek and modern to blend into your room.
Jamo C103 bookshelf speakers generate a boisterous sound and can operate for a wide range of music styles. Towards the high end of notes, Jamo C103 impresses us all as treble sounds aren’t anything to be concerned about like with some of the best bookshelf speakers on the market. Also, towards the middle-range frequencies, there’s as much clarity and detail as the other ranges, making this a truly unique piece of equipment compared to some of the others on the list.
The 7-inch woofer and 1-inch decouples tweeter are responsible for generating such a powerful and accurate sound. Although, these bookshelf speakers aren’t overwhelmingly big that you can’t store them in an average-sized living room.
Jamo C103 speakers come in three different colors, including black, white, and walnut veneer. No matter which color you choose, all designs are high-quality, smooth and create a long-lasting impression on everyone who sets eyes on them.
If you take a look above the driver, you’ll spot a 25mm silk dome tweeter and waveguide, both of which are features that help to reduce any distortion and vibration, while enabling that the bookshelf speakers appear luxurious. We’re a huge fan of the appearance of overall design of these bookshelf speakers as they certainly meet the criteria of their price tag. They’re exciting to look at, while featuring subtle details that help to add a uniqueness.
Tannoy Revolution XT 6 are powerful, speedy speakers that have the ability to bring out even the smallest details of songs into your living room. They’re confident at attacking notes with the same energy that live performances have, so you don’t feel like you’re listening to a distant track, but that the music is playing in the same room as you.
Compared to some of the best bookshelf speakers available right now, Tannoy Revolution XT 6 doesn’t have a weighty sound, but more of its attention goes into agility and timing. These bookshelf speakers can grasp your attention by fully embodying all the notes you hear in the audio. As a result, it creates layers of instruments that seem to translate within each speaker to add a whole other dimension to music performances.
To further enhance this speaker’s capabilities, we suggest placing it close to a wall as doing so will add more weight and punch to the overall sound. You should also be aware of the device you connect the speakers too, and the preferences associated with your song as this can contribute to the flavor of the sound, too.
Tannoy Revolution XT 6 bookshelf speakers look sophisticated and professional that they’ll completely transfer the room you choose for them. It’s apparent that they’re beautifully crafted and they come with small details to inject personality into their overall design. However, the speakers design isn’t just for appearance purposes, but to help reduce any standing waves that don’t properly transfer into the room.
When purchasing these speakers, you have the option of dark or medium walnut or oak, but either way, you’re going to pick a winner. Finished with a wooden casing, these bookshelf speakers exude high quality and luxury. Plus, the small details of the Tannoy logo scattered on the driver and exterior show that the manufacturer cares about attention to detail.
One factor to consider about the design is that these speakers are slim enough to place in any area of your home. As such, you’ll have to think carefully about their placement in order to enhance their sound and not make them look trapped.
On the front of the speakers, you’ll find a six-inch dual-concentric driver that is firmly held in place by six bolts. The grille magnets are hidden within the front baffle and are strong and powerful, while remaining contained and hidden.
Kanto YU6 bookshelf speakers comes with a built-in Bluetooth technology that enables you to quickly and conveniently stream music from your chosen device. These bad boys generate a well-balanced sound with a separated bass and midrange-frequencies. If you love listening to detailed vocals in your music, you’ll appreciate that these push the sound forwards, which allows for details and personality to really come to life.
As you use the Kanto YU6 bookshelf speakers more, you’ll notice that they provide a warm and rich tone towards the low-end notes which helps to suit a variety of listeners. If you prefer a heavy bass for your music, you can purchase an additional woofer to add some more power and clarity to your listening experience.
The top-end notes are smooth and refined, but you can easily add more edge and roughness to the settings if you’d prefer. When you use these bookshelf speakers regularly, you may notice that the tweeters don’t create a circular sound that fills the entire room but focuses on the area they’re positioned in. For some music lovers, this could be a potential flaw, but you can purchase multiple speakers and connect them to generate more power and volume.
The left speakers is the most powerful unit and operates the main audio. If you’d like to adjust the volume, simple twist the knob on the speaker and press it until you reach your desired level. If you take a look at the back of the speaker, you’ll find a stereo input along with an analogue input with a minijack. This feature means that you can install multiple devices into the YU6 speaker to make switching from one phone to another much easier.
We also love that the USB jacks support charging capabilities so you chosen device will never run out of battery while you’re listening to music. Alternatively, you can opt for the Bluetooth 4.0 technology that uses a wireless setting, but will drain your device’s battery when used for long periods.
These bookshelf speakers are stunning to look at. Designed with a bamboo finish, they’re attractive, and modern and retro at the same time. Also, there’s a choice of color and classic styles as well as matte and gloss finishes so you choose a design to your liking.
This home theatre system is a popular choice for many households in today’s age, and it’s definitely an improvement on the previous model. Specifically, this is Cambridge’s fourth generation bookshelf speaker, and this particular version comes with improved efficiency, a larger magnet and larger driver excursion that enhances all ranges of frequencies.
Combined with BMR technology, these bookshelf speakers feature a flat back panel that means it won’t damage your home should you place it right up to your wall. As you regularly use these speakers, you’ll notice that they don’t create an intense or too harsh sound when a song or audio in a film becomes intense.
The Cambridge Minx bookshelf speaker is the perfect size for storing in a discreet location in your home, and as it’s a compact shape, too, it offers many flexible options. It also comes with an array of mounting options, so you can attach it to a wall if you like, or choose a desktop stand or height-adjusting stands to keep it on the floor. With smooth curves and lines, the Cambridge Minx speaker is stylish and has a huge emphasis on appearance.
You can choose from white or black, along with scratch-resistant finishes to ensure you select the best option for your needs. Plus, these customizations mean that you’re only paying for what you need.
The Epos K5 speaker has a solid and lively sound that you’ll instantly fall in love with. There’s also an incredible amount of detail and energy in all audios you listen to. We also love that there are no hard edges to any songs, meaning you can crank up the volume and not experience any distortion.
Another reason these are one of the best bookshelf speakers right now is that you can turn them into active speakers. Thanks to the removable baffle on the speaker’s rear, this makes it quick and simple to activate the passive crossover. As a result, you’re left with a truly unique design that totally transforms how you listen to music.
The K5 speakers produce lifelike details that help to make you feel like you’re in the same room as the singer. With a smooth and open treble response, you can recreate beautiful tones right in your living room. Another benefit of this device is the balance between acoustic tones and bass. Both bookshelf speakers work together to evenly compress sound to create an overall balanced tone that makes every listener feel like they’re getting a private concert.
We’re a huge fan of the overall design and theme of these bookshelf speakers. The minimalist, white finish exudes luxury and there are no visible screws on any parts of these speakers. As you get closer to the speakers, you can appreciate that they’re expertly made. For example, the edges are neatly polished, there are no wires on display from the front and the magnetic snap-on grilles are a great addition if you’re truly looking for luxury.
The cabinet is made from solid MDF and includes multiple features to reduce any discoloration and prevent any unwanted vibrations. Plus, the front front firing slot ports enable a large amount of air to press through the speakers without causing any distorted low frequency response which would be expected from such a small driver area.
Although the Dayton MK402 is small, its sound is not. Admittedly, it’s not the most popular speaker on this list, but it surpasses many in this price range. Dayton says that this speaker produces 60Hz bass, which is an impressive amount given the size and price of this unit.
Plus, the four-inch woofer helps to enhance the sound even more. Dayton MK402 offers a beautiful tonal balance that is smooth, which makes a perfect addition to any living room, although it’s not powerful enough to accommodate a large sized room or numerous people in one social setting.
Dayton Audio MK402 are one of the best bookshelf speakers if you’re on a budget while still searching for excellent quality. However, that doesn’t mean that these are poorly made. Featuring a 4-inch woofer with a 0.75-inch tweeter, these speakers are designed to generate a lot of sound and last for a long time.
The speakers have small drivers which means less power and volume, and this also means that the cabinets are slimmer than others on this list. But this isn’t a flaw, as it means you can store these speakers in more places around your home. Along the backside of the speaker is the bass port, so we recommend not placing these right up to a wall so you can have a more efficient low-end response.
Modern affordable loudspeakers offer a reasonable amount of performance for the money. Getting an entry-level set for less than $100 will get you a decent amount of definition as well as power. The main limitation with these speakers is their bass response, which is often lacking due to smaller driver size.
Going one class above the most affordable segment, you run into better balanced and more importantly, more powerful speakers. Right around the $200 price is where we start seeing first crossovers, which is a pretty significant upgrade for anyone looking to find good response across the range.
A $300 set of bookshelf speakers brings a lot of significant upgrades to the table. First and foremost, we see much better hardware being installed, more effort applied to building cabinets, and generally tuning the speaker for performance. You could say that this range is the sweet spot for decent home speakers.
Right around $500 mark is where we enter the audiophile territory in terms of bookshelf speakers. This is the budget where most brands will use their latest tech combined with top end hardware. Power and output are better as well, while the overall performance is often comparable with much more expensive speakers.
Investing a $1000 in a set of loudspeakers gets you close to the maximum potential this type of speaker can offer. The performance, materials used, and general sound of speakers found in this price range will satisfy even the more conservative audiophiles out there. Connect a turntable (click here for turntables reviews) to them for example and just sit back and enjoy the output.
Bookshelf Speakers vs Floor-Standing Speakers
There are many different types of speakers on the market right now, which provides you with a wide choice to suit your needs, style, and room. Another popular pair of speakers are floor-standing speakers. This is a great option if you don’t have a table or stand for bookshelf speakers in your living room. Not only are they ideal for limited spaces, but add some style and personality to your room. They can also be a huge benefit if you have a room with large ceilings and need the audio to carry far.
Floor-standing speakers tend to produce a thick, rich sound and focus on midrange frequencies, and you can also purchase tweeters for high-end frequencies. If you’re serious about your listening experience (whether that’s for music or watching films), floor-standing speakers focus on producing 30 percent bass. This also makes them ideal for parties, but not to much for smaller rooms.
They tend to have a bulky appearance and aren’t designed to hide in the corner, in-between the couch. Part of buying them isn’t just for usability but also to add charisma to the room. But, if you like to have your volume loud, make sure there’s no-one on the floor below you as these powered speakers form a lot of vibrations.
Finding a Pair of Bookshelf Speakers
Models listed above represent what we consider to be the best choices available across different price ranges. This should give you a good insight into what you can find out there at the moment. No matter which one of them you go with, you are guaranteed to get a good value for your money. Refer back to the section on choosing the best bookshelf speakers for you as everyone’s preferences are different.
Have you discovered an ideal pair of bookshelf speakers from the list above? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments to keep this conversation going.