Best Bookshelf Speakers In 2021-2022 Buying Guide

Best bookshelf speakers in 2021-2022 Best Speakers are most used instruments in the music lover people. Even every body loves music.

If you are looking to buy the best bookshelf speakers in 2021 you are in the right place. We have listed best seller bookshelf Speakers so that you can buy the best one. Check more best seller bookshelf Speakers Under 200, Best under 500, Best under 1000. You may also Check- Camera, Phone, Computer,Printer, Sewing machine, Camcorder .

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The Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2021 Top List

Bookshelf Speakers 2021 Bookshelf SpeakersCheck Now
1.Best Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers Best Under 200  Buy Now
3.Best Klipsch R-41M Powerful Bookshelf Speaker Best Budget    Buy Now
4.Edifier R1700BT Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers Best Sounding    Buy Now
6.Best Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Speakers Best Under 500    Buy Now
8.Best AVX Audio 6.5 Inch Bookshelf Speaker 2021 Best Under 100    Buy Now
9.Audioengine A5+ 150W Bookshelf Speakers Best Wireless    Buy Now
11.Micca COVO-S Compact 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers  Best Under 50    Buy Now
13.Rockville HTS8C -Best Home Theater Speakers Best For Home 300    Buy Now
14.Best Fluance Ai40-Best Bookshelf Speakers 2021  Best For 2021    Buy Now

Best Bookshelf Speakers Reviews

Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 200

1.Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers

$199.99 -Buy On Amazon

The R1850DB is a dynamic 2.0 active bookshelf speaker housed within a MDF frame. The woofers on this model produce a quality sound and swift execution. The bass of this model vibrates any room or space it occupies. The additional subwoofer output allows you to add a subwoofer to transform this model from a 2.0 system to a 2.1 system. The R1850DB is exemplary and fun with the most recent Bluetooth innovation permitting recess from smartphones, tablets or PCs.


  • DIGITAL / ANALOG INPUTS – RCA/Aux for PC, turntables, etc; Optical/Coaxial for lossless connection; Bluetooth for convenience
  • BLUETOOTH V4.0 – Latest wireless technology for playing from phones, tablets or laptops
  • TREBLE/BASS CONTROL, SUB-LINE OUT: Adjust bass, treble, volume and toggle inputs on rear panel. Need a little more oomph? Add a subwoofer to your 2.0 setup by simply connecting to the sub-out jack
  • WIRELESS REMOTE – Handy compact remote control for input selection, volume adjustment and track control (Bluetooth).
  • 2 YEAR WARRANTY – Guaranteed high quality and reliability with hassle-free parts and labor warranty for two years in USA and Canada.

Best Under 1000 /Best Overall /Best 10 List /Best  Buying Guide

More:Best Wireless Speaker 2020

Best Sounding Bookshelf Speakers

2.Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers

$99.99 -Buy On Amazon

Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 100

The R1280T powered bookshelf speakers has combined a retro look with a modern sense of audio quality. If you’re looking for affordable and versatile bookshelf speakers with uncompromising sound the R1280T bookshelf speakers is your go-to 2.0 speaker system. Featuring a 4-inch bass driver and a calibrated, flared bass reflex port, this bookshelf speaker system delivers robust, rich bass notes that are full of presence and depth. The faithful sound production and performance of the R1280T are any audiophiles dream. Most Edifier customers are using our R1280T powered bookshelf speakers for connecting their turntables for the best audio experience. Enjoy your classic vinyl’s while enjoying the advancements in modern day audio technology.

R1280T powered bookshelf speakers lets you connect to multiple audio devices using the dual RCA inputs. By looking at the back panel you can easily tell one of these is a passive speaker and one is an active speaker. The active speaker has two inputs located on the back. These inputs are perfect for RCA to RCA or RCA to AUX connections. Connect them to a PC, laptop, tablet, phone or record player. The speakers are connected to each other via regular speaker wire. The variety of cables included ensures our customer enjoy their music from most devices right out of the box.


  • 2 x AUX INPUT – Convenient connection to any device that has a 3.5mm headphone output or dual RCA output. Connect to two devices via AUX at the same time, no plugging and switching needed.
  • STUDIO SOUND QUALITY – Natural sound reproduction from 13mm silk dome tweeter and 4 inch full range unit
  • REMOTE CONTROL – Adjust volume at your figure tips. Bass and treble control located on the side of main speaker.
  • CLASSIC WOOD FINISH – High quality MDF wood build finished with wood effect vinyl serves as a great compliment to any home decor.
  • 2 YEAR WARRANTY – Guaranteed high quality and reliability with hassle-free parts and labor warranty for two years in USA and Canada.

Read More:Best Bluetooth Speakers

Best Bookshelf Speakers For Home -Studio

3.Klipsch R-41M Bookshelf Home Speaker Set

$149.00 -Buy On Amazon

The R-41M bookshelf speakers offer maximum versatility without sacrificing performance from a small, yet elegant audio solution. Designed as main speakers for a compact living space or surround sound to support a Reference speaker system, the R-41M bookshelf speakers are the ideal choice for your home theater system.

Klipsch exclusive 90×90º Tractrix horn technology ensures that the speaker high frequency energy is aimed at the listener and reduces artificial reverb or filtering caused by indirect sound bouncing off of walls. Using this proprietary focused technology gives you the clarity, dynamics, and detail from your movies and music.


  • 1″ Aluminum LTS tweeters
  • 90×90 Square Tractrix Horns
  • 4″ Spun-Copper IMG Woofers
  • Bass-Reflex via Rear-Firing Port
  • Strong, Flexible Removable Magnetic Grille
  • Dimensions: 11.3″ x 5.75″ x 7.9″

Read More:Best Comuter Speakers

Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers

4.Edifier R1700BT Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers

$149.99 -Buy On Amazon

Versatile speakers will have you wanting to play every device off of them. Plug in your gaming console, computer or TV for exceptional sound quality. The R1700BT has built-in Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and Dynamic Range Control (DRC) to prevent distortion.

The R1700BT is equipped with a 19mm dome tweeter and a 4-inch bass driver in each speaker creates rich lows and clear highs. With the front facing bass reflex port, low frequencies are emphasized giving the bass more power.

Conveniently located dials on the side of the speaker allow complete control of audio, bass, and treble. You can also alter your music from the ease of your couch with the wireless remote.


  • BLUETOOTH CONNECTION – Pair your phone, tablet or computer for a true hassle free wireless experience, perfect for any iOS, Android, MacOS or Windows device.
  • 2 x AUX INPUT – Convenient connection to any device that has a 3.5mm headphone output or dual RCA output. Connect to two devices via AUX at the same time, no plugging and switching needed.
  • REMOTE CONTROL – switch input sources, control volume and mute/unmute at your figure tips.
  • CLASSIC WOOD FINISH – High quality MDF wood build finished with walnut wood effect vinyl serves as a great compliment to any home decor.
  • 2 YEAR WARRANTY – Guaranteed high quality and reliability with hassle-free parts and labor warranty for two years in USA and Canada.
  • Treble adjustment: -6db to +6db
  • Bass adjustment: -6db to +6db
  • Digital volume control resets to a comfortable level at power on
  • Push-in volume control dial to select input source
  • Push and hold volume control dial to reset Bluetooth pairing

Read More:Best Outdoor Speakers

Best Cheap Bookshelf Speakers

5.Best Micca MB42X Bookshelf Speakers

$79.95 -Buy On Amazon

The Micca MB42X builds on the success of the sensational MB42 by significantly raising the performance bar while still taking up very little space and budget. Handsomely styled with classic contours and updated design cues, the MB42X is easy to place and blends into any room or decor. Its enhanced tonal balance and clarity makes it a great fit with a wide range of usage scenarios, from background music to home theater.

High performance 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter. Well integrated driver output matching for smooth treble, wide dispersion, and accurate imaging


  • Balanced Woven carbon fiber woofer for enhanced transient and impactful bass
  • High performance Silk dome tweeter for smooth treble and accurate imaging
  • Highly optimized full18dB crossover with Zobel network and baffle step compensation
  • Ported enclosure delivers extended bass response with low distortion
  • Dramatically transformed sound signature that is incredibly open, balanced, and dynamic
  • Frequency Response: 60Hz-20kHz (Typical In-Room); Sensitivity: 85dB 1W/1M
  • Dramatically transformed sound signature that is incredibly open, balanced, and dynamic
  • Neutral and accurate sound signature with excellent vocal clarity
  • Compact classic design is easy to place and disappears into any room or decor

Read More:Best Home Theater Speakers

Best High End Bookshelf Speakers

6.Klipsch RP-600 Bookshelf Speakers

$549.00 -Buy On Amazon

Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 1000

Klipsch RP-600M

Redesigned from the ground up, the all-new Reference Premiere series leverages over 70 years of Klipsch signature acoustic expertise with cutting-edge technology to deliver the ultimate home theater solution.Leveraging a 1″ titanium tweeter matted to our proprietary hybrid Tractrix horn – the RP-600M bookshelf speaker delivers incredible acoustics to fill your home with loud, crystal-clear sound and robust bass that no ordinary bookshelf speaker can.

Hybrid Tractrix Horn

Horn loading maximizes efficiently and increases detail while focusing high frequencies towards the listening area. Proprietary Tractrix geometry provides the most efficient transfer of high frequency waves into the listening area. The phase plug and compressed molded silicon face ensure smooth frequency response. When combined, the cleanest, most natural sound possible is created.

Linear Travel Suspension Titanium Diaphragm Tweeter

The exclusive Linear Travel Suspension minimizes distortion for enhanced, detailed performance. LTS tweeters are a hallmark of previous Reference lines, making it a core component of some of the best speakers in the world.

Vented Tweeter Design

The new vented tweeter housing reduces standing waves that create unwanted harmonics, resulting in enhanced detail and clarity in high frequency reproduction.

Spun Copper Cerametallic Woofers

A signature feature on the Reference Premiere series, Cerametallic woofers are exceptionally rigid and lightweight for minimal distortion and maximum efficiency. When paired with the Tractrix horn-loaded LTS tweeter, it provides the highest speaker efficiency in its class.


  • 1” Titanium LTS Vented Tweeter with Hybrid Tractrix Horn
  • 6.5″ Spun Copper Cerametallic Woofers
  • Bass-Reflex via Rear-Firing Tractrix port
  • Dual binding posts for bi-wire/bi-amp
  • Strong, Flexible Removable Magnetic Grille

Read More:Best car Speakers 2020

The Best Bookshelf Speakers

7.Sony SACS9 10-Inch Active Subwoofer

$198.00 -Buy On Amazon

I wish the SACS9 had binding posts that would accept banana plugs, instead of spring-clip terminals.

2) I wish the SACS9 had an autopower function that actually worked correctly. (Mine stays on for about three minutes after turning off my amp, and refuses to come back on when I turn my amp on, later – so I’m having to turn it on and off manually.)

3) But I absolutely LOVE this subwoofer, otherwise. It’s crossover network is doing a great job of passing the higher frequencies to my Definitive Technology SM45 bookshelf speakers (, without degrading the signal in any way and by offloading the heavy work of driving the lower frequencies to the Sony’s 10-inch driver, my SM45s are faster and more accurate in the mids and highs, than they were when they were trying to handle the lows.

4) The Sony SACS9 has terrific speed and pitch discernment – it’s not in the least bit “honky” at any particular bass frequency. Recordings having a lot of content down in the low frequencies really sound musical, rather than simply percussive, as is so often the case with poor bass handling.


  • 115 Watt, Amplified Subwoofer (6 ohms, 80 Hz, 10% THD).Compatible with High-Resolution Audio
  • 10″ Foamed-Mica Cellular Reinforced Woofer
  • Speaker and Line Level Inputs, Frequency Response 28-200 Hz
  • In the box: RCA cord, Instruction manual

Best Mini Bookshelf Speakers

8.AVX Audio 6.5 Inch Bookshelf Speaker

$64.99 -Buy On Amazon

I ordered these SA6.5 bookshelf speakers from AV-Express for $40.00 in “very good” condition. Two days later they were at my door. Opening the box I was pleased that everything inside looked brand new.
I also own Micca MB42 and Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers. The SA6.5’s have a larger woofer and they do give more bass response than the Miccas and Polks.
I like the front facing mail slot type bass port on the SA’s, it saves vertical space and seems to work effectively.
The high frequencies on the SA’s are more mellow which gives them a warm sound making them better suited for music than dialog.
I’m using an Insignia Bluetooth receiver with 100 watts per channel to power them. The SA 6.5’s front-facing bass reflex port makes them ideal for mounting flush against a wall. They do come with a metal hanging bracket attached but I used a pair of “VideoSecu” wall mounts($25.00) for a more secure install with tilt and swivel ability.

The finish on these SA’s isn’t up to Klipsch standards and they do have cheap spring clip wire connectors, but at this price point I’m a happy camper for the quality of sound vs dollars spent!


  • Designed to impress: The appeal of these bookshelf speakers extends to appearance and performance. High-quality components coupled with black wood grain cabinets allow this stunning speaker to compete with and outperform much more expensive speakers.
  • Stands apart: These capable, audiophile grade speakers will not break your budget but will exceed your expectations. Refined silk dome tweeters, 6.5″ Polypropylene Woofers and a custom tuned bass reflex port accomplish fantastic sound in an unparalleled, affordable package.
  • Dimensions: Cabinet measures 12″ (H) x 7.75″ (W) x 7.5″ (D). Can be wall mounted with the included eye hook and is also pre-drilled to accept the Aeon speaker mount. Search Amazon for ASIN: B005SEN20S.
  • Specs: Impedance: 8 Ohms. Power Handling: 80 Watts RMS. Frequency Response: 45Hz to 22kHz.
  • Warranty: Three year parts and labor (limited) warranty. AVX Audio guarantees this product will be free from defects in workmanship and materials.

9.Audioengine A5+ 150W-Best Wireless Bookshelf Speakers

$499.00 -Buy On Amazon


In 2005 Audioengine was founded with a simple goal:  Build a speaker that sounds great, is easy to set up and use, and that makes people want to listen to music every day.

Audioengine’s core products are powered speakers; all-in-one music systems which allow you to connect all your devices wirelessly (or wired) for great stereo sound.  They started with just one powered speaker, the A5;  simple and beautiful, yet versatile enough to be used in your workspace as computer speakers, on stands in your living room, or in a home theater setup.

But the Audioengine team wanted to offer even more for their customers.  After years of hard work, the versatility of their products was pushed even further by offering a number of add-on audio products that can be used with existing music systems.

Their passion is to help people hear all their favorite songs as they were meant to be heard and to discover new music and appreciate it with the highest sound quality.  And they’re doing exactly what they had planned, which is to change the way people listen to music.  Audioengine is now proud to offer a complete line of products that bring the sound quality of professional studio monitors right into your living room, without the inconvenience of multi-device stereo receivers or big clunky passive speakers.

The A5+ Wireless Speakers are Bluetooth speakers with sound that fills any room and connects to any device. No network setup, passwords to enter, or buttons to push.

“the A5+ Wireless are really the cream of the crop when it comes to wireless bookshelf speakers.”


  • Small speakers with a big sound to fill any room
  • Custom aramid fiber woofers and silk tweeters
  • High-fidelity Premium Bluetooth aptX-HD
  • Built-in power amps wrapped in hand-built wood cabinets
  • No network setup, no passwords, no hassle

10.Micca MB42-C Center Channel Speaker

$69.00 -Buy On Amazon

Micca MB42-C Center Channel Speaker

Note: MB42-C speakers are not self-powered and require an amplifier or receiver to play music

Enjoy amazing quality movie soundtrack and music in your home with the compact and budget friendly Micca MB42-C center channel speaker. Handsomely styled with classic appearance and natural textures, the MB42-C is easy to place and blends into any room or decor. Its well balanced sound signature and vocal clarity makes it perfect for use in a home theater, anchoring important dialogue and action to the screen for a cinema-like experience.


  • Neutral and accurate sound signature with excellent vocal clarity
  • Compact classic design is easy to place and disappears into any room or decor
  • Perfect tonal match for MB42 bookshelf speakers for a low cost yet high performance home theater solution
  • Balanced Woven carbon fiber woofer for enhanced transient and impactful bass
  • High performance Silk dome tweeter for smooth treble and accurate imaging
  • Ported enclosure delivers extended bass response with low distortion
  • Neutral and accurate sound signature with excellent vocal clarity
  • Compact classic design is easy to place and disappears into any room or decor
  • Frequency Response: 60Hz-20kHz (Typical In-Room); Sensitivity: 86dB 1W/1M

Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 50

11.Micca COVO-S Compact 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers

$44.99 -Buy On Amazon

The COVO-S compact speaker system is another landmark product form Micca that delivers great sound in a small package. Drawing from the same classic yet distinctively design as Micca’s popular MB series speakers, the COVO-S looks great and is easy to place in wide variety of room decors. Its exceptionally rich sound belies its diminutive size and makes it a great selection for use in a small to medium sized listening areas such as an office. The COVO-S is shielded.

Superior Sound Through Superior Engineering
Built using patented concentric driver design, the COVO-S’s audio performance results from a balanced application of sophisticated drivers, enclosure tuning, and crossover construction. The speaker driver used is a 3-inch wool paper cone woofer with an inset mounted 0.75″ PEI dome tweeter. By sharing a common acoustical center point, the concentric woofer and tweeter design maintains coherency through the crossover transition region. The unique curve of the woofer cone serves as a horn waveguide for the tweeter, resulting in improved off-axis dispersion characteristics.

The COVO-S employs a ported enclosure design, generating modest bass output for a warm sound signature. A 6dB/octave crossover makes for a smooth transition between the woofer and the tweeter. Rounding out the package are full size 5-way speaker wire binding posts and removable grills.

Compact and Affordable
Hearing is believing. Discover how good a pair of affordable compact speaker can be by trying them risk free in your home. Due to the COVO-S’s small size, they work best when used in a small to medium sized listening area. Place them along a wall or near a corner of the room for better bass output. If you are not absolutely delighted with the COVO-S’s performance, simply return them for a refund.


  • Patented concentric driver design delivers common acoustical center point and maintains coherency through crossover region
  • 3-Inch wool paper cone woofer with waveguide cone design for improved tweeter dispersion
  • 0.75-Inch PEI dome tweeter for crystal clear treble and accurate imaging
  • Ported enclosure delivers extended bass response with low distortion
  • 6dB/octave crossover at 3.2kHz makes for a smooth transition between the woofer and the tweeter

Best Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers

12.Wohome Bookshelf Speakers 60W Powered Bluetooth

$99.00 -Buy On Amazon

Wohome bookshelf speakers BT106,a great powered Bluetooth active home theater speaker with classic Wooden Enclosure and wood color, pair of 2, built-in 2×4 Inch full range speakers and 2x tweeter speakers, powerful 60w output 95dB loud sound, designed with DSP technology, enjoy deep bass and clear voice, enhance your hearing experience, a perfect gift choice for you and your families.

The medium and high frequency is clear and bright, the layers are distinct, and the vocals are restored! The low frequency is slightly insufficient, but as a 2.0 speaker, the sound quality is extremely prominent. It allows you to easily indulge in beautiful music. The wooden appearance gives the speaker an atmospheric rating. USB, aux and Bluetooth three modes to meet your various needs. If you want to find a good pair of speakers to play music, it is highly recommended that you buy it, although this brand may not be famous. But it is worth the money, you will not regret your choice.


  • Bluetooth 4.2: enjoy wireless streaming music from your smartphone, tablet, PCs, TVs, and other Bluetooth embed device, remove the hassle of wires
  • Powerful Bass: built-in 4-inch full range driver, 1-inch silk dome tweeter, and bass reflect tube, produce deep bass for all your movie, TV show, music, and gaming
  • Clear Voice: designed with DSP technology for amazing clarity and precision for enhanced dialogue, let you hear every word clearly, what’s more, bass and treble adjustment
  • More Feature: USB and AUX input, AUX cable provided; stylish outlook with the classic wood finish; use high-quality MDF wood; speaker cover is removable; powerful 60W, output 95 dB loud sound
  • 100% satisfaction service: we offer one year warranty, 45 days money back guarantee, lifetime technical support, please feel free to contact us through Amazon message or service mail
  • High-quality MDF wood, the speaker cover is removable
  • Stylish outlook with the classic wood finish, a great decor for your home
The Best Bookshelf Speakers 2021
Best Overall Bookshelf Speakers
Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers
Best Under 200 Bookshelf Speakers
Best Cheap Bookshelf Speakers
Best Under 100 Bookshelf Speakers
Best Bookshelf Speakers Buying Guide
Best Affordable Bookshelf Speakers
Best 10 List Bookshelf Speakers

Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 300

13.Rockville HTS8C –Best Home Theater Speakers

$222.72 -Buy On Amazon

The Rockville HTS8C is a complete all in one home theater system! You will not need to purchase anything else. This has everything built in! Each speaker has a powerful 8” woofer for incredible bass and a 1″ neodymium silk dome tweeter for incredible highs. These speakers have Bluetooth, USB, SD, FM radio, and all of the inputs and outputs you will ever need. We also added a ¼” mic input so this system can be used for karaoke.

With the HTS series by Rockville you get:

True studio sound in your home! These are the best sounding home theater speakers on the market! An entire home theater system all built into (2) speakers! No additional amps, radios, receivers, etc! Beautiful design that will enhance the look of any room in your house. 90 day money back guarantee including return shipping. We know you will love these. If not, we will send you a pre-paid shipping label and return all your money.

Rockville’s APM series has been one of the top reviewed and bestselling studio speakers on the market. What we did was we took the exact same studio speakers and added Bluetooth, USB, SD, FM radio, and changed all the inputs and outputs on them to create the ultimate home theater system! We also added a fully functional remote control. When we say that these speakers give you studio quality sound, it is more than true! These are literally the same speakers we sell for studios.


  • Rockville HTS8C cherry-wood dual 8″ complete home theater system
  • 1000 Watt powered bi-amped speakers (Pair)
  • RMS Power: 250 Watt
  • Two-Way Speaker Design
  • Quad Amp Design: Each Driver Features Frequency Specific Independent Amplifiers
  • Built In Bluetooth with 150 foot range and perfect interference-free sound quality
  • Built in USB playback
  • Built in SD card playback
  • Built in FM radio with crystal clear reception
  • Digital display on front panel with brightness control
  • Full function remote included
  • Enclosure is made of top quality MDF wood. Our enclosure is not particle board, it is true high-grade MDF! The enclosure is 0.5” thick while the front board of it is a full 1” thickness to give you the ultimate best sound quality!
  • Comes in 3 enclosure finish options Wood finish painted black. Wood finish painted white. Wood finish with vinyl front board

14.Fluance Ai40-Best Bookshelf Speakers

$169.00 -Buy On Amazon

I bought these because Steve Guttenberg (The Audiophiliac) gave them a rave review on his YouTube channel. Now that I have them all I can say is “wow”, they may be the single best value in audio I’ve come across in my 50 years of playing with audio equipment. My girlfriend is going to love these. Heck, I’m going to love them too:)

Designed with superior performing components, these speakers include an integrated class D amplifier that delivers a robust, powerful sound. The silk soft-dome tweeters produce natural highs, while the woven, glass fiber drivers round out the performance with detailed mids and deep bass, recreating the vocals of every song as if your favorite singer was performing in your home.

Experience pure vinyl sound by pairing them with a turntable. Add high performance audio to your computer setup to give your music, movies, and video games the sublime soundtrack they deserve. Upgrade your TV’s built-in speakers to give the big picture the big sound, or simply pair any Bluetooth device for wireless music streaming.


  • Unparalleled Performance – With an integrated 70W Class D amplifier, these active speakers deliver room-filling stereo sound that elevates your musical experience
  • Pairing Your Passion – Marry your music from your turntable, PC, Laptop, TV, or wireless Bluetooth device to these versatile speakers, a perfect union you’ll want to last a lifetime
  • Premium Components – The 1-inch silk dome tweeters and 5-inch high performance woven drivers produce crisp highs, balanced mids, and powerful deep bass, with stunning acoustic accuracy
  • Precision-Crafted Wood Cabinets – Enjoy warm sound from the engineered MDF wood cabinets, meticulously designed for exquisite audio reproduction
  • Elegantly Simple – Easily connect directly to your favorite audio source through RCA/Aux or Bluetooth aptX without the need for a separate amplifier or receiver

Best Bookshelf Speakers Buyers Guide

What Are Bookshelf Speakers?

Prior to the 1960’s, home audio entertainment was mostly in the shape of integrated radio or record player units sporting built-in amps and speakers. Standalone ‘high fidelity’ speakers were, at the time, pretty much floorstanding models – huge, bulky and very expensive. Bookshelf speakers are different. They are designed to be used as part of a discrete audio system. You shouldn’t be connecting them to your surround sound system – although, you probably could with a little tinkering. Instead, what you’re doing is pairing them with an amplifier, or a dedicated player, in order to create a single, self-contained system. Hence the use of the word bookshelf; they’re meant to be off on their own, away from everything else. Typically, they are easy to spot. They’re big, boxy, and usually have one small driver (the tweeter) and one big driver (the woofer). You can usually cover these with a mesh grille, which makes them a little easier on the eye.

This was until bookshelf speakers were invented and popularized by Edgar Villchur at Acoustic Research, and their name came about from the speaker enclosures’ size – they were big enough to live on a bookshelf and yet reproduce a full range of frequencies, often matching the frequency response of larger floorstanding units. It’s easier said than than done to manage such a trick – up to that point in time, smaller speakers were famed for their thin and brittle sound that couldn’t match the sonic oomph of ported – also known as bass-reflex – floorstanding speaker designs.

The invention of air suspension – also known as acoustic suspension – speaker enclosures was the real game changer. Instead of using ported design, the boffins at Acoustic Research came up with a sealed cabinet design. Those being nearly airtight, helped the air inside the cabinet act as a sort of a cushion, or even a spring behind the woofer, aiding its retraction. This significantly reduced excursion of the bass woofer and delivered a tighter, richer and more controlled sounding bass, and in turn that gave bookshelf speakers the much flatter frequency response they are famed for. They certainly sounded awesome. So, the name bookshelf speakers stuck around and countless music lovers living in small apartments created a huge demand for this compact speaker format – a trend continuing until today. The key thing to remember is there’s a subtle difference between bookshelf speakers and computer speakers. Bookshelf speakers are more geared towards hi-fi sound – in other words, with separate amps and subwoofers. Computer speakers, or desktop speakers, are more likely to be made for use with computers and laptops, despite the similar size and design.

How We Chose our List of Bookshelf Speakers

We know you can spend huge amounts on speakers. Our list is meant to reflect the best speakers for most people. We’ve broken things up into categories – best overall, best budget and so on – to make it easier to pick the right speakers. We’ve tried to keep prices sane. If you’re looking for $25,000 Magico speakers or $10,000 Revels, this may not be the list for you. Our picks have already made a name for themselves – most of them you’ll know already – and if there are brands which sound unfamiliar, let us assure you that thy’re anything but generic. Dimensions and wattage are quite similar and consistent for this speaker format, but we do try to make a point about varying connectivity and specs, such as driver and tweeter sizes.

Wired vs. Wireless Speakers

If you haven’t read our in-depth explainer on wired vs. wireless speakers, here are the Cole’s Notes. With the ever-growing world of wireless technology, it’s archaic to believe that a wireless speaker will never sound as good as its analog source. Some of the wireless speakers on this list – the Audioengine HD6, for example – have a powerful sound that could have us convinced they were wired. We even have many examples of high-end wireless speakers, complete with aptX Bluetooth – the leading Bluetooth technology at the moment – which cost thousands of dollars and could knock any of these out of the park. Many wireless speakers are fully capable of producing a sound that you will love, and bookshelf speakers are no exception. Wired or not, you can get a great sound out of your bookshelf speakers, and shouldn’t correlate wireless with lesser-quality.

The greatest advantage to having wireless speakers is lack of clutter. If you’ve ever tried to set up a 5.1 system, you certainly understand where we’re coming from. While wireless bookshelf speakers aren’t usually truly wireless – they often require a cable to connect the right and left channel – they seriously reduce the amount of cabling running across your desk, or below. Another serious advantage to wireless speakers is not having to plug into them via an analog input. Wireless speakers are equipped with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (sometimes both), meaning you can pair to them via your smart phone or laptop. We found this very handy during our office testing, making switching between multiple sources effortless. In cases like the Fluance Ai60, they were perfect for boosting our laptop sound, and creating a wide soundstage that could have seriously had us fooled. Now, those speakers are worth their value!

Passive vs. Active Speakers

Bookshelf speakers are traditionally Passive, meaning that they need to be powered by an external amplifier. A classic hi-fi component system featuring bookshelf speakers would normally consist of your source media players (CD, MP3, DVD, BluRay, etc) connected to a receiver/power amp which itself feeds the speakers in stereo (one channel per speaker). Increasingly, you might run all their media off a PC or laptop. If this is the case, instead of a full receiver, you might opt for a simple stereo amp (receiving audio directly from your computer’s soundcard) to power your pair of bookshelf speakers.

Active (self-powered) bookshelf speakers are becoming increasingly popular too. In this case, each will have its own built-in power amps (two actually, one for the woofer, one for the tweeter), and all they need is an audio feed – a mini-jack from your smartphone or a tablet, or if you are using an A/V receiver, the main Line Out  (normally RCA) connected directly to the powered speakers’ input. Perfect example: the Audioengine HD6, one of the few active speakers on this list. No amp matching needed here. Note: you really don’t want to connect power amp outs (from a receiver) to active speakers! Things may get a little…smoky.

Impedance and Wattage: How to Match Amps and Speakers

You might be a little confused with the wattage/impedance/sensitivity figures in the table above – that’s the suggested amplifier wattage thing. Not to worry – we’ve got an entire explainer on those specs here. Here’s a shorter version, if you don’t want to click through.

Wattage is important – and that’s before you’ve even bought your bookshelf speakers. We’ll ignore active pairs here – they are all internally matched, wattage-wise. Things may get a little less clear-cut when matching passive speakers to an external amp, as you’d ideally have to know whether they are compatible. Fortunately, the first part of that is easy. Let’s take the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2, which have a suggested amplifier wattage of between 30 and 120 watts per channel. That means that all you need to do is find an amplifier that puts out a wattage in that range, and you’ll be good to go. A common problem when (mis)matching speakers to an amp is when the amp is too powerful for your speakers – when this is the case you will find your optimum volume level on the amp dial reduced. You will find that turning the volume higher than a certain level (say halfway) results in a flabby, tearing sound known as speaker distortion. Prolonged playback in such conditions may result in blown drivers. The other way round is equally problematic – when an amp is too under-powered for your speakers. This scenario normally involves the amp clipping and going into the ‘red’ as it struggles to deliver the wattage – if you keep pushing it, it would just go ‘boom’.

Impedance is something you also need to pay attention to. You’d need to make sure that your amp or A/V receiver has an equal or lower impedance figure than that of the speakers. Here’s a good place to note that amps utilize their full potential wattage at their lowest impedance. For instance, if an amp is rated at 100 watts at four ohms, the rule goes that when the amp is working at eight ohms (powering a pair of eight ohm speakers like the KEF R3), it can only deliver half the wattage of its four ohm potential – which in this case would be 50 watts. This might sound too much like a math lesson, but many people use this rule to their advantage – to get the amp’s full power working, they simply would add another pair of eight ohm speakers, as the combined impedance of the four eight ohm speakers to four ohms, thus matching the amp’s impedance figure!

Sensitivity Explained

This is a measure, quite simply, of how loud a pair of speakers will go at a given volume. Really, that’s all there is to it. Measured in decibels, sensitivity (sometimes referred to as efficiency) is a good way of working out the volume that a pair of speakers can deliver. It’s measured in decibels, and as the amount of sound produced when a certain amount of power is put into the speakers – usually one milliwatt.

Using these, you can compare different speakers and see how they measure up in terms of loudness. A speaker with a lower sensitivity may struggle to fill anything beyond a small room, whereas one with a higher sensitivity – such as the 96dB MartinLogan Motion 35 – Will put out significant volume for the same amount of power, making them ideal for large rooms.  However: be careful of putting too much emphasis on sensitivity. Although almost all manufacturers listed, what they don’t do is list the amount of power they are applying. This is an standardised across the industry, so there are variances between manufacturers. If you’re choosing a pair of speakers based on sensitivity, keep this in mind. The specs can be fudged.

Speaker Connections Explained

We’re assuming that you already have an amplifier – and of course, a media source such as a laptop or a wireless streamer. What you need to look for to get them connected to your amp are the binding posts on the rear of the speakers, which are normally red and black rotaries that can be screwed up and down. Occasionally, they’ll take the form of little squares you can insert wires into, labelled plus/minus.

Next up, buy some speaker wire – this is relatively cheap. If you are wondering what to choose, you should normally go for a 16-gauge, which is perfect for regular bookshelf speaker impedance (the majority is rated at 8 ohms). If you’re going to be positioning things over 50 feet away, you might be better off with a ticker wire at 12 or 14 gauge, which is also recommended for speakers of 4 or 6 ohms. Once you cut off a decent length of wire, use a boxcutter to strip the insulation off either end. You should be left with a short length of copper wire, which you should twist into a tight coil. You can then insert this into the binding posts on either end, separating speakers right and left, and being sure to screw red into red and black into black. Please take care doing this – and make sure the amplifier is unplugged. If you don’t, things might not work right at best, or go bang at worst. This system works for the bookshelf speaker model type known as passive – they don’t have amplifiers or internal power included, and so need to draw their power from an external amp.

Bookshelf speakers are ideal for small rooms | The Master Switch

Bookshelf Speakers vs. 2.1

Bookshelf speakers are famed for their flat response – they are quite fair to the music content (as intended by the music producer), reproducing the recorded material ‘as it is’ and  not ‘blanketing’ the audio with their own specific character. That said, they are universally small- to medium-sized (with the exception of things like the Magico Q1, which are insane-to-ridiculous-sized, and cost $25,000 – small wonder they aren’t on our list!). Their sealed design and internal woofers can only manage certain bass frequencies.

Adding a subwoofer makes a bookshelf speaker speaker into a 2.1 system and everything starts to sound seriously impressive, as the crucial mid and upper frequency detail is backed up by a fully extended low bass. How do you add a sub to a pair of bookshelf speakers? Let us start by saying that most subwoofers are self powered. You don’t need separate amplification for them. Adding a subwoofer is therefore really straightforward if you are using a receiver, as most current models have a dedicated and clearly-labeled subwoofer audio output. Just connect to the sub, turn up the level (at the back of the sub) to your liking and you’re set. Things may get a bit blurry if you aren’t using a receiver. Say you’re running just a stereo power amp. How would you patch that sub in this more spartan approach? Quite simple, really. Subs come with audio inputs and outputs, so the approach here is to plug your source into the subwoofer first and feed the audio outs from the sub into your amp’s inputs (or powered bookshelf speakers audio ins). 

Bookshelf Speakers vs. Surround Sound

These two setups work well together. There’s nothing to say you can’t incorporate your bookshelf speakers into a multi-speaker 5.1 or 7.1 setup. You would, of course, need a capable surround A/V receiver with ideally enough power to match your speakers. As always, it’s OK (and sometimes even recommended) if your amp/receiver has a little more wattage than your speakers. Each speaker needs to connect to its own power outlet (black to black, red to red, as explained above). The only catch is that most bookshelf speakers are sold in pairs – for a classic 5.1 setup, you might have to buy three pairs and a sub, and leave one speaker in storage. Or just make it a novelty coffee table ornament. We don’t know. Whatever. If you decide to go this route, then we suggest you use the bookshelf speakers as your front left and front right speakers in the surround setup.

This Bowers & Wilkins speaker needs careful placement | The Master Switch

Bookshelf Speaker Placement Explained

More often than not, bookshelf models are aimed at a particular sweet spot – it may be your seat in front of your computer, or the sofa. Manufacturers strive to optimize this sweet spot, and some models are naturally better at this than others. What you could do to improve your listening experience, though, is to try and level your speakers so the tweeters are at the same level as your ears. The best listening spots are roughly where you form a triangle with the speakers, and they are at an equal distance from your left and right ear. You may need to experiment; some speakers, like the Klipsch The Sixes, need a little bit more fine tuning to get the best out of them.

Speaking of ‘tuning’, as noted in our list, some cheaper models may have issues with frequency ‘holes’ or even worse: over-emphasized frequencies. Most receivers have very capable EQ processors built in, or even self-calibrating frequency modes. These can really do wonders and can ‘cure’ such little imperfections. Bookshelf speakers used in surround modes, would have to be placed in the now established traditional way – front center, front left and right, rear left and right and so on, depending on the size of the format – 5.1, 7.1 etc.

Speaker Stands Explained

Not surprisingly, many hi-fi stores demo their products on speaker stands. These improve the stereo imaging and the frequency response. At The Master Switch, we use Sanus stands to mount our speakers; they are both practical and affordable, and isolate well.

The opposite scenario – of placing your brand new pair on a large oak table, for instance – might make things sounding quite boomy, as furniture tends to vibrate with the music, enhancing certain frequencies. Speaker wall brackets are another good option – they can be a little more discreet, though not invisible. If these choices spoil the vibe and the look of your music room, they’ll at least make the music sound a tiny bit better!

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