A bookshelf speaker is basically any speaker that can fit onto a bookshelf right? Well, the answer to that is both yes and no. You need to know exactly why you should buy a bookshelf speaker, and what it has to offer in terms of sound output and connectivity.
Normally, bookshelf speakers may include mono or stereo channel output depending on their respective designs and prices. A bookshelf speaker can either be a “one-box” solution for all your audio needs, or it can be a part of a multi-speaker setup such as a 5.1 or 7.1 channel home theater system.
Cheap Bookshelf Speakers – under $100: What to look for?
The most common design for a bookshelf speaker is like this- a tweeter on the top, along with a subwoofer beneath it. The tweeter is responsible for producing frequencies between the mid and high range, while the subwoofer handles all of the bass. Some premium bookshelf speakers pack a dual-tweeter setup, with one tweeter dedicated to mid-range frequencies, and the other one dedicated to the high-end frequencies. While purchasing a bookshelf speaker, you also need to pay attention to stuff like frequency range, impedance, output power, etc. Ported speakers offer much more resonance and a wider soundstage than non-ported or closed designs.
Take a look at the following speakers to get an idea of which bookshelf speaker to buy under the range of 100 dollars. We have selected these speakers on the basis of their specifications, design, and customer feedback.
Dayton Audio B652 Bookshelf Speaker
Pros: Pica Vinyl cabinet finish, removable grill
Cons: Only suitable for small rooms, the mid-ranges appear slightly washed out at times
If you want solid build quality, soft dome tweeters, a decent woofer, and removable front grill, all for about 50 bucks, then no bookshelf speaker on the market beats the Dayton B652 in these aspects. The Ebony Pica vinyl finish looks excellent in any environment, while the small size allows it to fit into even the most crowded of places, be it your bookshelf or your computer desk. The clarity as well as detail are both pretty commendable for a speaker this cheap. And the bass is just enough to enjoy movies, games, and music without having to shell out hundreds of dollars on an expensive surround sound system.
Pros: Woven carbon fiber woofer, silk dome tweeter
Cons: Very slight distortion, only on the low end
The MB42 from Micca features high quality speakers at a very affordable price. The woofer cone is manufactured from woven carbon fiber, while the tweeter dome is made from silk. The bass response is transient and deep, while the highs are clear and powerful. The enclosure is ported, meaning that the sound signature is pretty neutral, yet has a lot of power to it. Bass distortion is nearly zero, while vocals sound extremely crisp and well defined, even at really low volumes.
ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2
Pros: Newly designed tweeter featuring wide-dispersion waveguide, woven Aramid-fiber woofer, slim cabinets
Cons: Tone may be too biased to the treble side by around 5dB with no roll off over 10kHz
When ELAC first premiered their Debut 2.0 speakers, people who were setting up their own home theater systems were among the earliest adopters. They wanted a solid pair of side surround speakers. The newly redesigned cabinets and 120 watts of maximum RMS input made them perfect for this use.ELAC’s latest offering has also proven quite flexible. They work equally well with 6Ω and 8Ω receivers, so they’re attractive to those who want a great pair of bookshelf speakers for a stereo setup. If you don’t mind bright and flat tones, then these would also be an ideal pairing for HD radio tuners too.
Pros: Integrated amplifier circuit, 3.5mm TRS stereo jacks are located on the front, offers 12 watts for each channel
Cons: No Bluetooth connectivity, amplifier is a bit soft
With a frequency response that reaches as low as 75Hz and as high as 20kHz, the DT-3 multimedia speakers have made quite a name for themselves in certain circles. They’re portable enough to serve as high-end PC speakers but sturdy enough to work with even the best stereo gear. A combination of ¼-inch pair ports and stereo RCA jacks gives you the freedom to connect almost any kind of gear to a pair of DT-3 monitors. Some purists might balk at the polypropylene woofer, but it actually sounds pretty clear. In fact, this unusual design choice also helps to cut down on the overall weight. Even the price tag seems relatively reasonable as far as powered speakers go.
Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers
Pros: Magnetically shielded speakers and sonically matched speakers
Cons: Sound lacks tonal warmth on the low ranges
This Polk Audio bookshelf uses special tweeters as well as exclusive Dynamic Balance drivers from Boston to deliver wide response along with low distortion. The speakers are sonically matched to work together in a synchronized manner so as to deliver a balanced and delay-free audio experience across all speakers. The 0.75” silk + polymer composite tweeter is equipped with a neodymium magnet, and it delivers an incredible sound experience, that consists of fuller midranges, along with rich, detailed high tones. The large 5.25” subwoofer pumps out heart-thumping bass and is actually pretty good for small-medium sized rooms. If you hook this speaker up with a decent amplifier, you’ll literally be “blown” away by the bass getting pumped out of this speaker. It is a shame they couldn’t make this ported design.
The Edifier R1280T Bookshelf Speaker
Pros: Wooden enclosure, 13mm silk dome tweeter and 4” full range unit
Cons: Lacks a bit of bass at the super low ends
These are actually studio monitor speakers, meaning that they excel at producing neutral, balanced audio without any standout frequencies o overpowering tones. Basically, they produce the exact same sound that was recorded in the studio, i.e. “natural” sound. The 13 mm silk dome tweeter excels at reproducing mid-high range frequencies, and really begins to show its worth when you listen to dialogues or music. The powerful 4” full range unit delivers an amazing soundstage with plenty of bass and treble on all volume levels, thanks to the more than adequate 42W of RMS power. And yes, the wooden enclosure for this speaker is ported, meaning that the bass is deeper, and the low frequencies resonate much better.
Micca MB42 speakers are probably a solid bet for anyone who wants to really pull the bass out of every track. Even music that tends to lean toward the treble end of the staff should sound nice and clear coming through the silk dome tweeters on these monitors. Those who are looking to put together a surround sound system for a home theater will possibly be happier with the HD sound range of ELAC’s Debut 2.0 speakers. Audiophiles who just want to listen to some old school jams, however, will probably stick to the MB42’s big-sized subwoofers.