The 6 Best Bookshelf Speakers You Should Get For Better Sound!

If you’re putting together a home audio system and don’t have a lot of floor space, consider getting a pair of bookshelf speakers. Bookshelf speakers, which are larger than portable speakers but smaller than floor speakers, provide loud amplification and solid stereo sound for small to medium-sized rooms.

They won’t provide the same room-shaking power or rumbling bass as a full-sized set, but they’ll suffice for your office, den, or bedroom. If you’re putting together a home theater system, pair the speakers with a subwoofer to maximize the listening experience.

Best 6 Bookshelf Speakers You Should Get For Better Sound
Best 6 Bookshelf Speakers You Should Get For Better Sound

WHAT ARE BOOKSHELF SPEAKERS?

There are numerous factors to consider when selecting the best bookshelf speakers for you; listed below are the most important ones that we considered while researching this list.

 

Bookshelf speakers got their name because they are small enough to fit on the shelf of a bookcase, but their size and weight can still vary. We included those dimensions with each selection so you’d know what to expect. This is especially important to consider if you want to move the speakers around in your room to find the “sweet spot.”

  • Drivers: Drivers are the parts of the speaker that produce sound; larger drivers are generally better, but their material and location on the speaker are also important. Our top picks all have multiple drivers that handle different frequencies, ensuring that music sounds clear and smooth.
  • Passive vs Active: Bookshelf speakers are classified into two types: passive and active. Passive speakers, such as the ones on this list, do not have built-in amplification, so they must be connected to a stereo receiver to function. Active speakers are a more all-in-one solution because they include a preamp, volume controls, and inputs (ports that allow you to plug in devices) on the speakers themselves.

We chose passive speakers for this guide because you get to choose what else is connected to them rather than relying on what the speaker company chooses. Because the speaker housing must accommodate a lot more hardware, active speakers are heavier than passive speakers and can have smaller drivers.

 

THE TOP 6 BEST BOOKSHELF SPEAKERS

1. KEF LS50 Meta

SALE No. 1
KEF LS50 Meta (Pair, Carbon Black)
201 Reviews
KEF LS50 Meta (Pair, Carbon Black)
  • LS50 Meta features KEF's breakthrough Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) reducing unwanted sound from the rear of the driver by 99%.
  • Features KEF'S 12th Generation Uni-Q Driver proving a 40% increase in smoothness over the previous version.
  • THD 0.07%
  • Frequency range (-6dB) - 47 Hz - 45 kHz
  • Available in four stunning finishes: Cabon Black, Mineral White, Titanium Grey, and Royal Blue Special Edition

The KEF LS50 Metas don’t look like they’re any different from the LS50s, and they aren’t in many ways. The company considered revising that beautifully crafted enclosure but concluded that there was little that could be done better.

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The LS50’s Uni-Q driver array, in which the tweeter sits in the throat of the mid/bass unit, was one area ripe for improvement. This has been thoroughly reworked, incorporating all of the refinements developed by KEF over the last eight years and adding something new in the form of Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) – KEF’s method of dealing with the sound that comes off the back of the 25mm aluminium tweeter dome.

It doesn’t take long to realise that the LS50s have improved significantly. While the basic sonic character is instantly familiar, the new ones have gained a level of clarity and finesse the originals only hinted at.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Speaker terminals: Single
  • Frequency response: 79-28,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 85dB/W/m
  • Dimensions (hwd): 30.2 x 20 x 27.8cm

REASONS TO BUY

  • Exceptional sonic transparency
  • Subtle and precise presentation
  • Innovative technology

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Nothing at this price

2. Elac Debut B5.2

SaleSALE No. 1
ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2 Bookshelf Speakers, Black (Pair)
502 Reviews
ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2 Bookshelf Speakers, Black (Pair)
  • Easy-to-drive 6-Ohm nominal impedance - Compatible with nearly all AV receivers and stereo amplifiers
  • 5-1/4" woven aramid fiber bass driver and 1" soft-dome tweeter delivers deep impactful bass and smooth extended highs for both movies and music.
  • Front Firing Ports - Allows for greater flexibility in room placement - even up against a wall.
  • 46Hz - 35kHz frequency response - Ensures a wide range of accurately reproduced sound.
  • Thick MDF cabinet with internal bracing - The speaker cabinet has specially designed internal bracing reducing unwanted cabinet vibration.

Elac has been in the speaker business since the 1980s and has produced a number of high-quality products during that time. It’s safe to say that the new Debut B5.2 speakers are among the best the company has produced.

The Elac Debut B5.2s are excellent value for money. The speakers have a solid feel to them, are unfussy about placement, and can handle any music you throw at them. They have the dynamic expression, detail resolution, and tonal sophistication to handle it all, as well as the ability to improve even further with a system priced above their natural price range. They are exceptional value for money.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Speaker terminals: Single Q
  • Mid/bass driver: 5.25cm
  • Tweeter: 25mm
  • Sensitivity: 86dB/W/m
  • Dimensions: 34 x 18 x 23cm (HxWxD)
  • Sensitivity: 86 dB/w/m

REASONS TO BUY

  • Detailed and organised sound
  • Solid build
  • Unfussy nature

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Tough competition
Best-sounding Bookshelf Speakers
Best-sounding Bookshelf Speakers

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3. Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition

SaleSALE No. 1
Klipsch The Fives Powered Speaker System (Matte Black)
594 Reviews
Klipsch The Fives Powered Speaker System (Matte Black)
  • TRUE ENTERTAINMENT: Easy-to-use, powered, high-def speakers
  • TRUE HI-FI: Powerful, high-fidelity sound from dedicated right and left speakers
  • TRUE CONNECTIVITY: Can connect to virtually anything

The Bowers & Wilkins 600 series has been in production for 25 years. On paper, the low-key nature of the 606 S2 revisions leaves us underwhelmed given the significance of the anniversary. Cosmetically, they consist of adding an oak finish to the existing black and white options, as well as an inscription on the tweeter surround to indicate the Anniversary status.

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The only performance improvement is an upgraded crossover that now includes higher-quality capacitors, some of which were first seen in the recently announced and more premium 700 Signature series.

We weren’t expecting much of a difference in the sound given the minor nature of the engineering changes. We were mistaken. While maintaining a broadly similar sonic character, the 606 S2 Anniversary Editions outperform their predecessors significantly.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Sensitivity: 88 dB/w/m
  • Driver: Continuum 16.5cm mid/bass, 25mm tweeter
  • Impedance: 8ohms
  • Max power handling: 120W
  • Speaker terminals: bi-wire
  • Dimensions: 35 x 19 x 30cm (HXWxD)

REASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent clarity
  • Agile and articulate bass
  • Impressive dynamic punch

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Nothing at this price

4. Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition

SALE No. 1
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Wireless Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones (Black)
43 Reviews
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Wireless Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones (Black)
  • All-new 40mm drive unit design FEA-optimised for superior resolution and better imaging
  • New more powerful motor system with revised larger voice coil for lower distortion
  • Drivers are carefully angled inside each earcup to ensure a consistent more natural and immersive soundstage
  • Listen all day with 30 hours of battery life on a single charge
  • Bowers & Wilkins Music App for easy set-up and fine-tuning – including user-adjustable EQ

We dare you to find a better-sounding pair of speakers for less than $500. Except for some new capacitors and an inscription around the tweeter, little has changed between last year’s B&W 607 and this year’s Anniversary Edition, but the sonic gains have been enormous.

This is a cleaner, more insightful, and overall more engaging performance from a pair of speakers that were already among the best for the money. The older versions would have remained at the top of the tree if the 607 S2 Anniversary Edition had not knocked them off. But it’s difficult to go back when both pairs are in the same listening room.

If you’re looking for a pair of lower-midrange speakers and the B&W 606 S2 are just out of your budget range, then these are a superb option – and a pair of speakers worthy of celebrating any silver anniversary.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Speaker terminals: Double
  • Frequency response: 52-28,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 84dB/W/m
  • Dimensions (hwd): 30 x 16.5 x 20.7cm

REASONS TO BUY

  • Improved clarity and detail
  • More expressive than predecessors
  • Tighter, more agile bass
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REASONS TO AVOID

  • Nothing at this price

5. ProAc Response D2R

SALE No. 1
SVS PB-1000 300 Watt DSP Controlled 10' Ported Subwoofer (Black Ash)
433 Reviews
SVS PB-1000 300 Watt DSP Controlled 10" Ported Subwoofer (Black Ash)
  • High-excursion 10-inch driver produces ground-shaking output and subterranean low frequency extension without sacrificing detail and accuracy.
  • 300 watts RMS, 700+ watts peak power Sledge STA-300D DSP amplifier maintains precise driver control and accurate frequency response at all playback levels for accurate frequency response even at reference levels.
  • Weight: 46 lbs.; Dimensions (Inches): 18.9 (H) x 15 (W) x 19.4 (D)
  • Rigidly braced, sonically inert and custom tuned ported cabinet for pure, distortion-free bass at all drive levels.
  • “I don't need to come up with any flowery verbiage or clever analogies to sum up the PB-1000. Its performance speaks for itself... the best thrill ride I've gotten from a sub-$500 sub” – Sound & Vision

ProAc has long offered the option of a ribbon tweeter instead of a dome unit in its more expensive Response floorstanders, but this is the first time standmounters buyers have had such a choice.

If you want to get the most out of these speakers, you’ll need to put in some effort to install them. After initially sounding constricted and lacking in tonal warmth, our review samples took about three days of continuous use to sound their best. So, if you’re hearing factory-fresh samples, don’t be too quick to pass judgment.

But despite their obvious transparency, these ProAcs never strike us as analytical tools. Given suitably talented partners, these speakers excel at giving the music the limelight. We can’t ask any more than that.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Speaker terminals: Double
  • Frequency response: 30-30,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 88.5dB/W/m
  • Dimensions (hwd): 42 x 20.3 x 26cm

REASONS TO BUY

  • Responsive and dynamically expressive
  • Taut, powerful and tuneful bass
  • Impressively transparent

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Set-up needs care
The 6 Best Bookshelf Speakers for Most Stereos
The 6 Best Bookshelf Speakers for Most Stereos

6. Dali Spektor 2

On paper, these appear to check all the boxes, but once they’re up and running, it’s clear that they go above and beyond a decent pair of budget bookshelf speakers. They provide a range of skills that few other companies at this price can match.

The vocals are distinct and powerful, delivered with nuance and precision, and the performance is full of energy. They handle dynamics well, and the soundstage is quite expensive. They’re also simple to collaborate with. It comes highly recommended.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Speaker terminals: Double
  • Frequency response: 54-26,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 85dB/W/m
  • Dimensions (hwd): 29.2 x 17 x 23.8cm

REASONS TO BUY

  • Agile, articulate and expressive
  • Small
  • Unfussy

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Nothing of note

BOOKSHELF VS. FLOORSTANDING SPEAKERS

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether to buy bookshelf speakers or floorstanding (tower) speakers. If you’re not familiar, floorstanding speakers are tall towers that sit directly on the floor rather than on stands or shelves. They typically have more speakers than bookshelf models.

If you’ve read our advice on speaker size above, you’ll know that bigger isn’t always better. There are bookshelf speakers on our list that can easily outperform floorstanding speakers from several major brands. In terms of increased size and driver complement, bookshelf speakers provide two benefits.

For starters, they can present a wider frequency spectrum, which means deeper bass than many bookshelf speakers. If you have a pair, you may not need to add an additional subwoofer to your setup to benefit from good bass. We’d also like to point out that while this is a general rule, there are a few exceptions.

Alternative Video: The Best Bookshelf Speakers

The Best Bookshelf Speakers

CONCLUSION: Best Bookshelf Speakers

One thing is certain: there is no shortage of low-cost passive or active bookshelf loudspeakers for a variety of applications.

However, because active loudspeakers are a completely different breed — with numerous wired and wireless connectivity options and a significantly higher price tag — they have been excluded from the list below. (See our guide for our picks for the best active speakers.)

FAQs About Best Bookshelf Speakers

Are bookshelf speakers worth it?

They do not take up as much visual or physical space as larger tower speakers, and they do not produce as much bass. However, for the majority of people and music styles, a good pair of bookshelf speakers will provide a satisfyingly complete sound.

Are high-priced bookshelf speakers worth it?

Even if you only listen to Spotify and watch YouTube videos, the quality will improve noticeably as you move up the price scale. The most expensive speakers are generally only worthwhile if you work in audio production and listen to extremely high-quality media.

Are bookshelf speakers passive?

Because they are passive, you must connect them to a stereo receiver. If you’re putting together an audiophile surround sound system piece by piece, these are the bookshelf speakers to get.

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