As we survey the many different types of speakers in the market today, we come across a relatively specific kind for our home theater systems. The best bookshelf speakers will really elevate the quality of your TV shows, movies and more — we feel it’s a wise investment, especially if you’re a fan of the quality of home audio (which many people tend to forget about as we are constantly marketed to about new TV’s, projectors and more). Today we review the top 10 best bookshelf speakers to give you some options in regards to different price-points, shapes, sizes and more. Let’s see what we found.
What is a bookshelf speaker?
Bookshelf speakers are specifically designed to provide peak quality of sound in a room of a medium or small size. They can be a stand-alone addition to your family room and are best for a larger home theater system as well. Another amazing thing about bookshelf speakers is that you can purchase them even when you have a limited budget and an unlimited desire for listening to peak quality sound. Keep in mind they’re meant to be placed on elevated surfaces like a table, shelf or even wall (but never on the floor). Proper positioning of the bookshelf speakers is very important whether you place them on the speaker stand, on an actual bookshelf or on top of a media console. According to the general rule, bookshelf speakers are settled in a 10 o’clock or in 2 o’clock position. They’re typically accommodated by satellite speakers (and recommended to grab as well if you wanted a smaller, more versatile option for your system).
Whether you’re an audio junkie or not, there are some basic tips you should keep in mind when purchasing bookshelf speakers. Check the frequency range — the lower the figure, the heavier the bass will be (and vice versa with the highs). Secondly, higher Watts means greater output (although louder isn’t always necessarily better). Thirdly, the two drivers named woofers and tweeters should give you a nice balance to ensure you’re getting an accurate sound across all available frequencies. With that being said, regardless if you’re building a home theater system or merely upping the ante of your current setup, grabbing one of the best bookshelf speakers will only elevate your overall listening and watching experience.
Picking the best bookshelf speaker
- Budget – As usual with speakers, there’s quite a range out there since both the internal and external builds can vary depending on particular specs and features each model brings us. We have a few in here under $100, others can get near the half-thousand mark, and some within the middle price-point as well. How much cash do you have at hand? Do you want to wait on your purchase to save up some more?
- Single or pair? We don’t know too many individuals who want just one speaker, however there are times where some need to add only a single speaker to their setup. Most of these are sold in pairs (we know those who want 4 sometimes).
- Does it fit? Although a bit broad and there’s always ways to incorporate your speakers some how, these are in fact bookshelf speakers, which means they’ll have to be placed somewhere other than the ground. Just keep in mind how big your existing setup is (or setup you plan on creating will be).
- Extra equipment – Some of these are passive speakers, which means you’ll need an amplifier to power them. Others may involve you purchasing separate speaker wire to hook them up, as well.
The top 10 best bookshelf speakers
Polk Audio TSi100
Up first, we have in our opinion one of the best bookshelf speakers in the market today. For starters, and most importantly for speakers, its internal organs have a 1″ silk dome tweeter that gives some clear highs as well as a 5 1/4″ poly-carbonate woofer to even it out with some solid bass. The super sleek piano black top plate and wood grain vinyl finish of the product make it not only stable to last you quite a while but more attractive and a wonderful piece of decor. You can crank up the volume with freedom as you are provided with braced MDF cabinets. The Tsi100 also provides you with some ‘dynamic balance drivers’ for exclusive laser testing that would help you exclude the resonance points so that you could enjoy the sound clearly and accurately. You have a solid frequency response of 53 Hz to 25 kHz and for a better fit or security, you can also mount it on the wall if that’s how you plan on working it into your system. The Polk Audio Tsi100 is our pick for the best all-around bookshelf speaker that you can add to your system for a more open, clear and attractive sound. It isn’t too expensive, either (it comes in a pair so you won’t have to buy two, unless you’re in need for even more).
ELAC Debut B6
Up next, we have another one of the more popular bookshelf speakers for the money, and with this we’re at the higher-end mark of the category. If you wanted a better quality speaker(s) to add to your repertoire and have the cash, this is by far well worth the investment. It was WireCutter’s #1 pick in their best bookshelf speaker article. For one, the black brushed vinyl cabinet finish gives the Debut B6 an attractive look. It’s higher quality than others with its 2-way speaker (1 x 1 inch cloth dome and a 1x 6.5 inch woofer) that gives some very balanced and clear sound experience for even the critical music listener. The recommended amplifier power for this special product is 30 to 120 wps. It’s stated to be by “Andrew Jones”, and although definitely a marketing hype, still tells us something — it had some thought put into it since he’s no stranger to sound. Each speaker is 356 mm high and 254 mm deep and its net weight is 14.3 lb. They are not powered so keep in mind you’ll need an amplifier\receiver to drive them. The ELAC Debut B6 is a very excellent combination of beauty and performance. Just make sure the website you’re looking at is providing either the individual speaker or pair.
Up next, we have another relatively budget-friendly model to check out by Pioneer. This is a pretty high-quality home audio solution that can satisfy your desire for clean and accurate sound. This model has the ability to handle 80 watts, and although not necessarily the most powerful of the bunch, can provide you with some decent power (we know many who obviously don’t always think loud equals better). The SP- BS22- LR is a wonderful product that you can use not only as a stereo speaker but also as part of a multi-channel home theater system. In terms of build, these speakers have a very nice curved cabinet design that reduces the standing sound waves inside its cabinet to help out with a cloudy frequency spectrum.. The product offers a 4″ structured surface woofer to improve the rigidity and to get the bass accuracy. The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR is also designed with a 1″ soft dome tweeter that is responsible for playing louder while utilizing less power. It’s a great solution for those not wanting to buy the fanciest of the list.
Klipsch RB- 61 II
Now we’re talking high-end bookshelf speakers. If your budget allows, it provides the intensity and clarity of te floor standing speakers in a convenient and sleek bookshelf design. It has something called ‘Tractrix Horn technology’ which helps conserve energy, reduce distortion and aid in overall sound clarity (said to be more ‘natural’ sounding for all you audiophiles). A nice built-in crossover helps give us some smooth frequency distribution (a bit better than other 2-way speakers due to the on-axis and off-axis integration). In regards to build, the RB-61 II has a very nice and attractive wood-grain vinyl cabinet that can enhance the essence of your room. The specs are a bit larger than others as well, coming with a 6.5 inch high-output ‘cerametallic woofer‘ as well as 1″ titanium tweeter. If you’re seeing it will fit your rig, each individual speaker is 15.4 inch high, 8.5 inch wide and 12.25 inch deep. The Klipsch RB-61 II is well-known — if you have the cash, here’s your pair to buy.
The KEF Q100 brings us into almost another world when it comes to bookshelf speakers. If your budget is very high and you wanted what many think to be the best high-end pair of bookshelf speakers in the world, these things are marvelous. These are hi-fi speakers with a very precise sound to them, giving us even a mid-range frequency response that many other 2-way speakers fail to bring. It has ‘Uni-Q point source‘ configuration which is their nifty internal setup stated to help disperse sound more evenly than others. It may be utilized as a music speaker for your living room or study, main speakers, general purpose speakers for multi-room structures or rear speakers in a home theater. These speakers weigh 13.01 lbs (5.9 kg). The KEF Q100 are not only sleek and attractive so that it could be part of your family room, home theater and more, but brings us specs and features that defeats most other competitors out there (for a price, of course).
Here’s another one of our favorite brands, and Audioengine usually dominates many speaker categories for a reason. Though it is short in size, the performance of this bookshelf speaker competes with the larger-sized theater specific models due to the overall quality and power you’ll be getting with the P4 (it also made it into LifeHacker’s five best bookshelf speakers guide). Although not necessarily the cheapest, the build is great with gold-plated 5-way binding posts and magnetically shielded components. These speakers play best when you use them with the amplifier of your own choice (they’re passive and will need one). Another reason for the great performance of the speakers is their 3/4″ silk dome tweeter and excellent sensitivity level of 88 dB as well as the ability to handle 125 watts of overall power. The 4″ Kevlar woofer aren’t the biggest but are super nice and the front-firing port finish the list of the unique features of the Audioengine P4. The user can place it anywhere in the home or in the office for its attractive look and smart size. It weighs only 6 lbs and is considered best for wall mounting as well as for shelf placement.
Here’s another one of our favorite Klipsch pairs of bookshelf speakers, and with this one we have a bit of a budget-friendly price-tag to them if the previous model by them was priced too high for you. With this one, you have a 4″ copper-spun IMG woofer and 1″ tweeter (aluminum diaphragm-compression linear travel suspension), 64 Hz to 24 kHz frequency response, MDF bass reflex enclosure, up to 200 watts of peak power (50 watts continuous), and some magnetic shielding for protection. There’s no Wi-Fi or anything, but in our opinion that’s a waste with speakers and typically just hikes up the price. You’re also missing wireless connectivity to your smart devices, but bookshelf speakers are typically separate from your music players. Check out the Klipsch R-14M for a pretty affordable, yet super nice pair of bookshelf speakers by Klipsch.
If you weren’t looking for anything above $100 and wanted to keep it simple yet effective, then the MB42 may be the perfect solution for your setup. Since it’s the cheapest pair in this top 10 guide, you won’t be getting anything that will rumble your home or anything, but it definitely packs some great features in a cheap package. It is compact in size and takes little space in a room, incorporating a 0.75″ silk dome tweeter for decent high frequency performance and accurate imaging. Its 4″ woofers are made with a carbon fiber cone surrounded with rubber to render some great performance. It consumes merely 75 watts (each), but the output is so excellent you can use it for numerous applications, from background music to home theater use. Each speaker is 9.5 inch high, 5.8 inch wide and 6.5 inch deep. Grab the Micca MB42 if you wanted one of our favorite picks for the best budget-friendly pair of bookshelf speakers that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
DALI ZENSOR 1
The versatile and compact Zensor 1 speaker could be a great addition not only for your many devices but also for the aesthetics of your room and setup. As another one of the best bookshelf speaker pairs in the market, they’re distinguished by their max power of 100 watts, 6-litre cabinet, wooden fibre cones for a great dynamic sound, and ultra-low mass dome tweeter material for a colorful range. Its dimensions of 27.4 cm height, 16.2 cm width and 22 cm depth as well as its rounded edges, wall bracket and rear-mounted bass reflex port make them fit in most rigs out there. The Dali Zensor 1 has been proved as an all-round stereo sound available for a decent price if you’re looking in the higher-end. It gives its optimal performance when placed in a medium or small-sized room. We just hope it fits your budget.
Last but not least, The PCB3BK is a unique style of speakers. These bookshelf speakers are available in a nifty cubical shape for one of the lowest prices we’ve come across. Weighing only 2.61 lbs, they give the listener multiple choices regarding the placement of the device, especially if your setup is a bit smaller than others (or perhaps you just didn’t want whopping speakers in your theater?) The speakers, pushing 100 watts, are powered by a 3 inch paper cone driver, and they provide a frequency response of 90 Hz to 18 kHz. It’s not a fancy or professional 2-way speaker with different components per frequency, but we wouldn’t really expect that with its price. The smart speaker is 3.6 inch high, 3.6 inch wide and 4.6 inch deep. The video shield of the structure is also great to secure it from the damage to CRT monitors if you’ll be near a computer. The Pyle PCB3BK tops off our list since it’s a bit of a different spin to the best bookshelf speakers, not because they’re not effective.