A good bookshelf speaker should have certain qualities that separate it from the other types of standalone tabletop/ desktop speakers. First of all, you need to consider features such as portability, the number of channels, input power rating, impedance, etc. Then you have to factor in the number of connectivity options that you’re getting. Bluetooth, WIFI, or Airplay can really help with multi-speaker or multi-room speaker setups.
You should always go for speakers made from quality components, both on the inside as well as the outside. For example, the case needs to be made from MDF or acoustic grade wood.No matter what the enclosure material, it must be resonance and vibration-free. Talking about inner components, look for high-quality electrolytic capacitors and heavy EI transformers. In terms of power output, look for something within the range of 40-150W per channel. Below, we have listed some of the best bookshelf speakers that you can get for less than 500 dollars.
Bookshelf speaker reviews: UNDER $100, UNDER $200, UNDER $300, UNDER $1000.
No matter what the enclosure material, it must be resonance and vibration-free. Talking about inner components, look for high-quality electrolytic capacitors and heavy EI transformers. In terms of power output, look for something within the range of 40-150W per channel. Below, we have listed some of the best bookshelf speakers that you can get for less than 500 dollars.
Audioengine A5+ Wireless Bookshelf Speakers
• Weighs only slightly more than 3 lbs. each
• Relatively giant five-inch Kevlar woofers
• Very warm sound
• Requires CR2 batteries to control sophisticated onboard circuitry
• Large cooling elements protrude out the back
• Bluetooth antennas pop up out of the back and maybe easily broken off
Featuring a 2.0 wireless design, Audioengine’s newly redesigned A5+ bookshelf speakers are among the most techie units available today that still offer the kind of performance that hardcore audiophiles demand. They feature 150 watts of raw peak power with 75 watts devoted to each channel, which is rare to find in units that feature an integrated amplifier. Variable line-out jacks give you the ability to interface it with almost any kind of stereo system, and the 47Ω impedance is very forgiving.
The large frequency response scale ranges from 50Hz-22kHz, which means that these speakers are so sensitive they can theoretically reproduce sounds only dogs can hear. RCA L/R jacks and a traditional 3.5mm mini stereo input are offered alongside modern aptX HD Bluetooth technology. Regardless of what method you use to transmit audio to these speakers, they boast an impressive signal-to-noise ratio of approximately >95dB so you won’t hear too many popping noises even if you’re listening to some vintage vinyl. They’re also relatively affordable for something with this many features, and they should work just as well with a modern AV receiver as they would streaming audio from a mobile device.
Edifier S2000pro Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speaker Set
• Includes a remote
• Onboard aptX decoder streams audio from connected mobile devices
• Very clear 105dB SNR
• Input and control knobs are on the rear
• Relatively small frequency response between 48Hz-20kHz
• Won’t always sound great when used for far-field listening
Featuring full wooden side panels, the Edifier S2000pro bookshelf loudspeakers are among the better active units you can find in this price range. The integrated amplification circuit boasts four separate EQ modes, including Vocal, Monitor, Classic, and Dynamic so you can jam to anything from opera to the blues without even needing an external stereo. By offering wireless, optical, RCA, AUX, coaxial and Bluetooth inputs, the S2000pro promises to interface with nearly anything you need it to. Audiophiles can hook it up to their turntable just as easily as their PC.
You’ll need a sturdy bookshelf to mount them on, considering that each unit weighs over 20 lbs. However, these are some of the best options available for those who are serious about getting the absolute best near-field performance possible. While the 12-50W power output numbers might look anemic at first, that’s only because the geometry of the tweeters and woofers offer excellent sound.
Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Bookshelf Speakers
• Healthy-sized 5½” subwoofer
• 48Hz-20kHz frequency response
• Gorgeous sound with a low SNR of ≥85dBA
• Relatively expensive
• Remote may eat batteries
• Tiny 25-35W power output
S1000DB speakers are sort of part of the same line as the S2000pro series, but they’re designed with entry-level users in mind. This doesn’t mean that they lack anything that their big brothers have, though. You can connect these active units to Bluetooth via aptX technology or take advantage of the wired optical, coaxial, PC, or AUX jacks on the back.
While active speakers usually don’t have much in the way of input sensitivity, the S1000DB series puts many passive designs to shame. While average listeners might not be able to hear the difference, those who are dedicated audiophiles will appreciate the approximately ±50mV sensitivity figures each of the individual jacks on the back boast. This helps to eliminate complaints regarding tinny or muddy tones at certain frequencies.
ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers
• Massive 46Hz-25kHz frequency response range
• 4Ω nominal impedance, which should be compatible with most equipment
• Powerful 5¼” aluminum woofer adds a lot to bass tones
• Relatively expensive
• Doesn’t feature the latest technology
• Only offers standard stereo IO
While the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 has been on the market for a couple of years now, the vendor still refers to it as their latest in the Uni-fi line and shows no signs of replacing it. Hardcore fans of traditional stereo equipment would probably claim that’s because it’s wrong to mess with a classic. Each individual speaker weighs almost 17 lbs. because it’s designed to offer extremely good bass by way of massive woofers coupled with the solid tweeter and mid-range units. With a peak power output pegged at a respectable 140 watts and five-way custom metal binding posts providing a place to plug into, these should also serve the needs of EDM fans who want to take advantage of the three-way bass-reflex design.
Various nice features like durable MDF cabinets and magnetically attached grilles make these sturdy units as well, which is perfect for those who plan to crank up the volume at their next house party.
Klipsch R-15M Bookshelf Speaker Bundle
• Compatible with all 8Ω equipment
• Frequency response extends past 54Hz
• Whole configuration weighs less than 30 lbs.
• Five-way binding posts provide only input
• Shouldn’t be used for signals that are already amplified
• Bass-reflex is only from a rear-firing port
If you’ve wanted to buy an amplifier as well as a set of bookshelf speakers, then this revamped version of the RP-15M might be the thing for you. Chances are you’ve heard of this Klipsch speaker in the past because it’s been out for a few years. However, the company decided to revamp it earlier this year and thus this bundle represents a newly redesigned system with an impressive four-inch copper-spun high-output IMG woofer.
While you’re going to pay for this kind of functionality, audiophiles will probably say that it’s worth it. Advanced components like the 90×90 Tractrix horns coupled with aluminum tweeters make for some excellent sound reproduction that’s rare in the world of bookshelf speakers. This particular bundle comes with a proprietary Powergate amplifier, which is great considering that these speakers are designed to take up to 340W of peak power. You shouldn’t have to worry about them ever kicking off.
Klipsch R-41PM Powered Flexible Bookshelf Speaker Set
• Sturdy flexible magnetic grille
• Full-sized one-inch aluminum LTS tweeters
• 105.5db maximum output at a peak of 240W
• Somewhat anemic 1.73kHz crossover frequency
• May need an additional exterior subwoofer for more bass
• Rubber feet may have to be secured a second time
While you might think of Klipsch audio as making any number of traditional models, their brand-new R-41PM loudspeakers are powered active units that rival the most techie options on the market. With a respectable 76Hz-21kHz frequency range, these marry Klipsch’s old-school attention to audio quality with a large number of inputs designed to work with modern stereo and PC equipment. Bluetooth connectivity is joined by optical jacks, RCA ports, and a single USB input. This makes it suitable for connecting to a television set or some other kind of home entertainment system as well as a traditional stereo, but keep in mind you won’t need an amplifier to use them.
In spite of all this I/O, Klipsch was able to keep the price somewhat affordable. They’re also notably easy to configure since they tend to perform equally well in any position.
Yamaha HS5 Powered Monitors
• Very clean audio
• Perfect for those who need studio-quality sound from devices like PCs or those who do any kind of music production
• At only 5″ tall, they’re small enough to fit in the tiniest bookshelves
• Short stature means the MDF case may vibrate if they’re not on a level surface
• Weighs almost 33 lbs. together
• Lacking in the low-end of the tone spectrum
HS5 loudspeakers offer a 54Hz-30kHz frequency range that’s well outside what most people can hear. They can offer 70W of amplification and feature a number of exotic I/O options like XLR and TRS phone jack inputs so you can configure them for balanced and unbalanced signal transfer. If this sounds like a bit much for a pair of bookshelf speakers, then consider how much work has gone into these. The HS5 is Yamaha’s latest entry-level option in a family that goes back to the 1970s. While they’ve been around for a few years now, it doesn’t look like they’re in much danger of being phased out.
The one issue many people users will have is the fact that these don’t feature independent grilles or other quality-of-life improvements you normally see on competing designs. This may be a problem considering the price they command. However, those who demand the absolute best treble quality will more than likely be very willing to overlook these shortcomings. They’ve been especially attractive to musicians for precisely this reason.
Anyone in the market for a bookshelf speaker that packs a punch should certainly appreciate everything that the Audioengine A5+ has to offer. It works equally well with or without wires. You shouldn’t have any problem connecting it to all of your various pieces of A/V equipment. Serious audiophiles will like the five-inch Kevlar woofers, especially if they want to listen to some vintage jazz recordings without worrying about excess noise. On the other end of the listening spectrum, they’re more than capable of reproducing treble-heavy dance hits.
Since the Edifier S2000pro uses the same onboard aptX decoder technology that the A5+ does, those who aren’t completely sold on it should take a look into these speakers. Those who prefer a much more traditional experience without any integrated amplification circuitry may want to look into the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 instead. There’s a reason that the manufacturer continues to promote them as their latest model in the UB series. They’re also sturdy enough to mount them anywhere.
Have you tried any of these speakers or did we miss your favorite model? We’d love to hear what our fellow audiophiles thought about our list!