What is the one most important thing to look for while purchasing a new bookshelf speaker? Is it the audio clarity? Or perhaps you want some heart-thumping bass flowing out of the speaker right next to your gaming PC while playing the latest FPS games. Whatever the reason be for purchasing a new speaker box, there are some common factors that you want to focus on during your search for the perfect bookshelf speaker.
Bookshelf Speakers Under $300 – What to look for?
The first item on your priority list should be audio fidelity and number of channels. The more channels there are in a speaker, the better it should sound. We said “should” because there are many other factors that play a part in determining how your speaker sounds. These could be external factors such as source audio quality, the amplifier that’s connected to your bookshelf speaker, etc.
Try to get a speaker with dedicated tweeters for medium and high-frequency ranges, along with a 4”+ subwoofer in order to get sufficient bass for movies, games, etc. You don’t want to choose a speaker solely on the basis of its power output because those figures are often misleading.
Instead, look for the sensitivity and impedance numbers, because the higher the impedance the more power a speaker needs to output a certain amount of loudness. With higher sensitivity, a speaker will respond better to input signals, better to have medium output power and high sensitivity than high output power and low sensitivity.
Below, you can take a look at some of the best under 300 dollar bookshelf speakers currently available on the market. These have been selected on the basis of overall specifications, and customer feedback.
Sony SSCS5 3-Way Bookshelf Speaker
Pro: 3-way speaker, bass reflex system, foamed mica cellular reinforced woofer
Con: Suitable for anything other than a small room
Despite being available at a sub-300 dollar price this Sony bookshelf speaker spots a 3-way design. This basically means that there are dedicated tweeters for both the midranges as well as the high ranges. There is a 5.25” foamed-mica reinforced woofer cone, so you’ll experience very punchy and snappy bass that sounds great along with modern electronic songs and the beats will sound very responsive as well as powerful. The main tweeter is quite big at 1”, and sports a soft dome so the response is very nimble and precise. As a result, you get a maximum frequency of 50 KHz, and that is nearly twice as high as the standard top end frequency value on most speakers.
MartinLogan LX16 Bookshelf Speaker
Pro: Folded motion tweeters and woofers, perforated steel grill, thermal current protection, low-DF electrolytic capacitors
Con: Some form of wireless connectivity would have made these even better
There is a tweeter embedded behind the perforated metal grill front panel, and it is held in place by an aluminum suspension band that leaves enough room for the folding tweeter design to truly get into its own. The cabinet is constructed from resonance free thick MDF which provides both insulation, as well as a vibration free environment for the circuits. Thermals and currents are always kept in check so your speaker will never overload or damage its coils if the amp supplies more than the requisite amount of power. Then you also have the high quality electrolytic capacitors that give the output audio a nice noise-free and clean touch. Bass feels clean and deep, while the highs as crystal clear and bright.
Klipsch R-15M Bookshelf Speaker
Pro: 1” Aluminum linear travel suspension, horn loaded tweeter, 5.25” copper spun IMG woofer
Con: Highs might be a little too bright
The Klipsch name is synonymous with high quality audio and premium grade speakers, AV receivers, etc. They never cease to impress, even when we take one of their under 300 dollar bookshelf speaker units. The R-15M uses an aluminum linear travel suspension to hold the tweeter and woofer cones in place, the tweeter is horn loaded which allow it produce much more focused and well defined audio. A 5.25” copper spun IMG woofer pumps out window shaking bass that sounds even better when you pair this speaker with a decent AV receiver or a good integrated amplifier unit.
Polk Audio RTI A1
Pro: All MDF resonance free enclosure, Power Port technology, neodymium magnet
Con: Lower midrange seems slightly lacking
The entire case is made from resonance-free MDF that is nearly 0.75” thick. There is a giant port on the bottom, right beneath the woofer. All around the front panel, you will find six more ports arranged in a special configuration that prevents the hissing and distortion that is common at lower volumes with ordinary single port enclosures. The 1” tweeter features a soft silk + polymer dome, and the woofer uses a powerful 5.25” driver to deliver powerful and bouncy bass that sounds great during movies and gaming.
ELAC B6 Debut Series
Pro: Woven aramid fiber subwoofer, silk dome tweeter, dual flared vent
Con: Excellent sound and form factor but sadly there is no wireless connectivity
A woven aramid subwoofer cone gives the ELAC B6 plenty of well-defined and punchy bass, along with enough room for you to hit the volume knob and punch the bass even higher while playing games or watching movies. This bookshelf speaker will be able to handle output from amplifiers above 100 W, and the custom tweeter drivers give it a rather wide soundstage around the lower midranges, all the way up to the higher 20 KHz + range. An advanced crossover helps keep the audio discreet, so that all low frequencies are filtered out from the tweeter, and all the high frequencies are filtered out from the woofers.
Cambridge – Aero 2
Pro: 2” BMR driver, 6.5” woofer, large frequency response range
Con: Slight distortions in sound if used in a small space
Instead of a regular tweeter, the Cambridge Aero 2 uses a special type of driver, known as a BMR driver. This particular driver is 2” in size and its job is to handle the medium to high frequency range. Does it do that job well? Well, if you take a look at the specifications, you’ll see that the frequency varies between 40 Hz and 22 KHz. So yes, it seems that the 2” BMR driver is pretty good with handling wide frequency ranges. The 6.5” subwoofer is extremely good and sounds really well defined even on the lowest volumes, with absolutely no tearing or drops in bass output.
As long as you don’t need wireless connectivity, the MartinLogan LX16 bookshelf speakers are very likely an ideal solution for you. The unique folded motion tweeter and steel grill provide excellent sound quality and the low-DF electrolytic capacitors won’t have to be replaced for years. If you’ve ever heard horror stories from other audiophiles about needing to pull out a soldering iron, then you can put your mind at ease since you’ll never need to do that with the LX16 series. Best of all, they should sound great with almost any kind of music regardless of how you use them. That’s excellent news considering that they won’t break the bank, thus leaving you with plenty left over to spend on your record collection.