So, you just purchased a new desktop PC or TV, but feel like the audio output is a little too low, or maybe it plain simply lacks clarity. Or perhaps, you are a college student and you want some speakers to boost the musical experience in your dorm room. Some bookshelf speakers are supposed to be “one box” solutions, while others are intended to be used as standalone speakers in a 2.1 speaker configuration by combining two bookshelf speakers with a powerful subwoofer.
Things you need to keep in mind before purchasing a bookshelf speaker
Basically, you need to pay attention to things such as- the frequency range of the speakers, the enclosure type (ported/non-ported), the number of channels in the speaker, its connectivity options, etc. Note that we did not include the wattage of the speakers in there.
Not because it is not important, but because you are going to get a similar experience in terms of audio output no matter which speaker you choose based on its power input rating. If two speakers are rated at 100 and 150 watts respectively, and if we assume that they are using the same driver design as well as impedance levels, then the extra 50W will hardly bring about any change in terms of actual audio output in decibels.
In fact, to double the audio output you need to increase a speaker’s power by 10 times. So yeah, 50 W is not that big of a deal. Also, manufacturers tend to be really shady when it comes to actual power handling characteristics. One manufacturers 150 may be the same as the 200 of another manufacturer. Always look for the continuous power rating of a speaker (RMS power), instead of maximum power handling ability.
Below, we have listed some of the best bookshelf speakers that you’ll find for less than 1000 bucks on the market. Look at the number of channels in each speaker (2-way, mono, 3-way, etc.), whether it is mounted in a ported or non-ported enclosure, and the I/O options. Having wireless connectivity is great, but it’s all about whether YOU need it or not for your particular audio setup.
KEF Q100 Bookshelf Loudspeakers
KEF speakers are known for their innovative design and incredible audio clarity. The Q100 is no different as it delivers mind-boggling midranges and shimmery highs, thanks in part to the absurdly wide frequency range of 49 Hz – 40 KHz. While human ears cannot hear anything that high, at least you will be happy in the knowledge that your speaker is outputting every single chord and note, even the ones that your ears cannot hear. The UNI-Q driver design incorporates both the woofer and the tweeter into one single speaker shell, with coaxial drivers and transducers that are immaculately synchronized and optimized to output crystal clear audio no matter whether you’re watching movies on your TV/ PC, or playing games on your console.
MartinLogan Motion 35XT
This MartinLogan bookshelf speaker looks costlier than it actually is, thanks to the premium dual-tone brushed finish on the sides, and the jet black perforated metal grill on the front. Underneath the front panel lies a special folded-motion 1” soft dome tweeter that offers 8 times more surface area than conventional tweeters, resulting in more well defined midranges and high frequencies. There is incredible warmth in the low-mid ranges as well, which is accomplished by incorporating an advanced Vostro crossover, and a high-performance aluminum cone woofer. The audiophile grade 5-way bi-wire binding posts provide the secure connection that you need to transfer signals from your AV receiver to the speakers.
DALI ZENSOR 3
The first thing that we noticed when we saw this speaker was the wooden woofer cone. That’s right, the woofer cone on this beauty is made out of wood fiber and it is 7” in diameter. You are getting a pair of these beauties to keep on your table, bookshelf, or desk. The 1” soft dome tweeter complements the wooden woofer perfectly, and there are ports on the front panel, that allows for a wider soundstage and better bass output. The sensitivity is also pretty good, at 87 db. In terms of frequency range, this speaker boasts a stellar 50-26500 Hz range which may not be extraordinary but is definitely more than a lot of similarly priced speaker out there. The lows sound deep and heavy, and the bass may not be “window-crackling”, but is definitely awesome. The sound has enough tonal warmth to it, and the soft dome tweeter makes the highs sound really shimmery and bright.
JBL Studio 530 Bookshelf Speaker
JBL has used their special PolyPlas cone in the woofer of this bookshelf speaker, which is why it’s bass sounds so deep and rich, yet remains under control. It appeals to both bassheads as well as picky music connoisseurs who demand tremendous sound clarity and crystal clear audio reproduction in every note. The large 5.25” low frequency transducers excel at generating punch, yet well-defined tones, making these speakers insanely good for the price if you want to watch movies or enjoy video games on your PC/ TV. The 19mm (3/4”) thick MDF enclosure completely seals away all vibrations and this means that the audio which you get will not be colored or seem artificial in any way.
Audioengine HD6 Powered Speakers
Pro: A/B monoblock power amps, analog, optical and Bluetooth connectivity, furniture grade finish, magnetic grills, aluminum remote control
Con: Bugs with Bluetooth connectivity, bass sounds muddy at times
The HD6 bookshelf speakers might be a little too large for their weight class, but if you are getting a pair of such awesome speakers for less than 1000 bucks, you really shouldn’t complain too much about the form factor. These have built-in class A/B monoblock power amplifiers, and incorporate audiophile grade components in the circuit board to minimize noise levels and decrease distortion. The premium wooden furniture finish looks like authentic veneer wood, and the magnetic grills further enhance audio output. Even the remote control for these speakers is made from solid aluminum. One of the things that is really noteworthy about these speakers is the number of I/O options that you get- Analog, Optical, and Bluetooth.
Pioneer Elite SP-EBS73
These speakers are part of the Pioneer Elite lineup and have been personally designed as well as tuned by Andrew Jones himself, the chief speaker engineer for TAD and Pioneer. Elite SP-EBS73 speakers are bigger than your average bookshelf speakers and need powerful amps in order to perform at their peak potential since these are quite power hungry and need a 4-ohm capable amp. The special CST driver (Coherent Source Transducer) delivers precise and distortion free audio reproduction at all sound levels. This particular bookshelf speaker features a true 3-way speaker design which means that each separate frequency band is represented by a different speaker- low, mid, and high. The enclosure is ported for delivering a wider soundstage and extra bass.
Peachtree Audio D5 Audiophile Bookshelf Speaker
The frame of the woofers inside this pair of speakers has been custom designed to deliver rich, deep, and thumping bass on all volume levels. The 1” silk dome tweeter does its job perfectly, which is reproducing audio on the other end of the spectrum, i.e. the mid to high end. The enclosure is made from real veneer wood (FSC and CARB certified), and these speakers are tuned to perform especially well in larger rooms such as living rooms, master bedrooms, guest halls, etc. There are special isolated circuitry components for each of the two channels, which means that there is next to no lag, noise, or artifacts in the audio coming out from each of the channels.
SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speaker
Pro: Premium grade capacitors, air-core inductors, heavy-trace printed boards, 2-way crossover and 1” aluminum dome tweeter
Con: More power hungry than most bookshelf speakers could use some extra bass
SVS have really outdone themselves this time. They might just have created the most balanced sounding pair of bookshelf speakers available for less than a thousand dollars. Yes, they are not perfect, in fact, nothing is perfect. You will need an external amp to drive them, or your AV receiver will have to be better than most. They also don’t have the best bass. But hey, these are speakers not woofers.
However, as soon as you pair a dedicated woofer to a pair of these, you will begin to notice the difference. Audio flows out like turbulence-free water from a streamlined faucet- no distortion, coloration, or overlapping. The SoundMatch 2-way crossover intelligently allocates the correct frequencies to each of the speakers. Which is why the woofers never get to play any frequencies that are above the low-mid ranges, while the tweeters never get anything but high and upper-midrange frequencies to play. Air core inductors, heavy trace printed circuit boards, and premium grade capacitors ensure an audiophile grade music and movie experience.