Best Bookshelf Speakers

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

25 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
300 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best bookshelf speakers

Last Updated October 2019

Few things make as big a difference when watching movies, or listening to music, at home as a worthwhile set of speakers. Dialogue, action, suspense, soundtracks, or those soul-touching notes of your favorite songs are all amplified and enhanced by quality speakers.

For many buyers, bookshelf speakers are an ideal option. On their own, many models are capable of impressive sound quality, working well in situations where space is at a premium. In addition, bookshelf speakers are an excellent way to augment an existing sound system, improving the overall quality and covering audio dead spots.

Whatever your needs, check out our guide to see what you should look for when choosing a set of bookshelf speakers, what to avoid and tips on how to get the most out of them.

Depending on the construction material and how they are tuned, different speakers may sound better in different applications. For example, some speakers may sound better playing music, while others are be better suited for watching movies.

Key considerations

A major factor to bear in mind is whether a set of bookshelf speakers has built-in amplification. If you’re looking for a simple solution to your audio needs, you’ll want to buy a set of speakers with a built-in amplifier. If you already have a sound system set up — including a standalone amplifier — and are looking to improve it, speakers without amplification can save you some money while getting the job done.

The size of your speakers compared to the room they will be used in is another major consideration. For example, a small set of speakers may work perfectly well for playing background music in a home office, but fall woefully short in the living room when watching your favorite action movie. Similarly, speakers that would work well in that scenario may overwhelm a smaller room. Therefore, it’s important to match the speakers you want to buy with the room they will be used in.

Excellent sound quality

These speakers are some of the best you can buy, especially at their price point. The dual, 5.25-inch copper-spun, high-output IMG woofers help these speakers compete with far more expensive offerings. The copper woofers, contrasted with the black enclosures, also give these speakers a stylish, sophisticated look.

Features

When looking for a good set of bookshelf speakers, one of the main features you want to look for is the kind of material the internal components are made from. Few things will impact the quality of the sound as much as the construction materials.

For example, the stiffer the material used to create the woofers, the longer the speakers will last and the better they will sound. Polypropylene is commonly found in mid-range speakers, while aluminum and titanium are used in higher-end models. The same is true for the material surrounding the woofer. Cheaper models use foam or cloth, which breaks down and is susceptible to moisture and humidity. Rubber is a superior material used in more expensive models that, again, lasts longer and produces better sound.

Different speakers have different specifications, which will greatly impact their performance:

  • Hertz. Take a look at the hertz rating of the speaker. Generally, the lower the number the better the speaker will be able to produce a deep bass sound.

  • Power or Watts. The higher this number, the more power the speaker will be able to handle, especially in shorter bursts. Some experts recommend using the maximum recommended wattage as the minimum wattage you should use when pairing your speakers with an amplifier. All too often, speakers are ruined by using too little power and compensating by playing the volume too loud, damaging the internal components.

  • Drivers. Most speakers have two drivers: a tweeter to produce high-frequency sound and a woofer to deliver bass. Higher-quality speakers will have a third, mid-range driver and offer the best quality. That being said, you’ll be far better off buying a quality set of speakers with two drivers than a cheap set of speakers with three. The quality of the materials and the technology used to make the speakers will result in better sound than simply adding a third, cheap driver.
EXPERT TIP

The sound properties of speakers can change over time. If you notice your speakers don’t sound quite as good as they once did, you may want to repeat the setup process to see if any positioning adjustments need to be made.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If your speakers are vibrating or the sound is reverberating, try placing them on top of a piece of foam or other soft material.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

When trying to find the perfect angle to position your speakers, play the same clip of music with each adjustment. This will make it easier to see how the change in position affects the sound and identify when you’ve hit the sweet spot.


Staff  | BestReviews

Price

Inexpensive

Basic speakers will have components made of cheaper materials, such as cloth or foam. They will also only have two drivers, limiting their range of sound. Speakers in this price range will be under $100.

Mid-Range

Mid-range models will start to have higher quality materials in their components, such as woven Kevlar. In addition, some mid-range models — especially on the higher end of mid-range — will include a third driver. These models will range in price from $100 on up to $500.

Expensive

Premium speakers will be made of the very best materials and the newest technologies. In addition, these speakers will often have enclosures that are designed to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. These speakers will range from $500 on up.

Versatile indoor/outdoor speakers

These speakers are an ideal option for outdoor use. Weather and UV-resistant, these speakers also come with swivel brackets that allow 120 degrees of range of motion, while offering a decent sound quality.

Tips

  • Contrary to their name, bookshelf speakers should not be put in an actual enclosed bookshelf. Doing so will cause the sound to resonate and echo off of the shelves. In fact, many bookshelf speakers sound best when placed a foot or two away from a wall or surface. Therefore, try to place the speakers on top of the bookshelf, on a dedicated stand or table.

  • Keep your bookshelf speakers at ear level. Having them too high or low will keep them from achieving tonal balance.

  • When placing your speakers, they should be placed at roughly the 10 and 2 o’clock position in the room, angled to cover the listening area.

  • Buy a set of speakers that fit with your design and decor. There are such a variety of shapes, sizes and exterior materials available that there’s no reason to settle for a set of speakers that stick out like a sore thumb in their surroundings.

Other products we considered

The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones Designed Bookshelf Loudspeakers definitely punch above their weight class. We love that this speaker features a 6-element complex crossover to blend the audio between the woofer and tweeter, giving a quality, mid-range sound. Most impressive is its relatively low $99 price tag. If you’re looking for the ultimate in audiophile heaven, look no further than the SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speaker in Piano Gloss Black. These speakers produce amazing sound and look impressive while doing it. They also come with a matching price tag, however, coming it at $998.

If you have sound quality issues, you may need to adjust the acoustics of the room. If you have hard surface floors, try placing an area rug. You may also try moving a couch or large chair closer to the middle of the room. Similarly, you may consider installing drapes over large sections of glass, such as French doors.

FAQ

Q. Can I use bookshelf speakers outside, such as on my patio?

A. The short answer is it depends on the speaker. There are speakers designed to be water- and weather-resistant, making them an ideal option for outside activities. Even with this kind of speaker, however, it’s important to remember that they are weather resistant, not weatherproof. They should still be in a somewhat protected environment, such as a covered patio or gazebo.

Q. Can I connect multiple audio sources to the speakers?

A. Quite often the answer is yes. Many bookshelf speakers feature multiple inputs so you can connect more than one device.

Q. Can I buy bookshelf speakers with wireless support?

A. Absolutely. In fact, many manufacturers not only offer wireless support, but also tout their speakers as having lossless wireless support, guaranteeing your audio experience doesn’t suffer for the sake of convenience.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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