Best Bookshelf Speakers for 2018-Review and Guide
Have you been on the lookout for the best bookshelf speakers? Well if you’re here it means you have been spending more than few hours online checking out bookshelf speakers and unable to decide what to buy.
I know precisely how that feels because while these speakers make the same claim, only a few are able to deliver the kind of performance you want and expect. The usual course of action is to read product reviews, but with thousands of speakers that is an almost impossible task.
So I did the work for you and have reviewed the top 10.
1. ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speaker
The ELAC was built with versatility in mind, and that is apparent the moment you set this up and play music. This is not your average bookshelf speaker as it packs enough power for use with a home theater system.
The ELAC speakers’ resonance is better than most because it makes excellent use of aluminum. The speakers are also equipped with a large magnet that enhances handling for powerful and clear bass.
Its 3-way design is superior to those on other speakers, mainly because it has a vast range. Its drivers are dedicated to mid, high and bass frequencies and have been optimized for maximum performance.
With its aluminum core woofers you’ll get the optimum range, and they work well with the speakers. The Uni-Fi series tweeter drivers are designed for optimum performance and work well with the custom terminals. These terminals are there to offer flexibility and make certain electrons move properly.
Speakers are only as good as the placement so make sure there is at least a foot of space between the speaker and the wall behind it. When you set up the speakers correctly, you will hear how the speakers are properly balanced with solid highs. The speakers sound good period.
- The ELAC comes with a braced cabinet built and a proprietary crossover design which provides a superior listening experience.
- The speakers come with a 5 1/4 inch aluminum woofer. With this built in, the ELAC is able to produce more powerful bass than the typical bookshelf speaker.
- Its concentric driver is custom made, and this allows for superior imaging when matched up against other types of speakers.
- The ELAC sports a genuine three-way design so it produces a more precise sound compared to a two-design.
- The speaker’s design leads to even directivity for better sounds and handling. Its frequency response has also been improved compared to other speakers.
The ELAC speakers are versatile and provide an immersive audio experience. It is ideal for music lovers and home theater buff. Once you set up the speakers properly you will get excellent sound comparable to more expensive sets.
2. KEF Q300WH Bookshelf Loudspeakers
The Q300WH speakers are built for standalone use, but that doesn’t mean you cannot use it with other components. In fact you can use the Q300WH with other Q Series speakers and set up your own home theater.
These speakers are versatile enough to be used not just on bookshelves but also serve as back speakers for any home theater. The sound quality is top notch and this is mainly due to the Uni Q driver tray. What this means is the soundstage dispersion is better.
The Q300WH also earns points for its versatility. Unlike other speakers, you can position the speakers anywhere in your room and still get optimum audio quality. The highs, mids and lows are all exceptionally good. The sounds in fact, are good enough not just for music but also games.
The difference maker is the 6.5” Uni Q driver array. Based off the Blade driver, the Q300WH has a bigger tweeter that keeps distortion down and increases sensitivity. The combination of the voice coil and the aluminum core adds to the superior quality and durability of the speakers.
The bottom line is the Q300WH generates excellent sound, producing sounds very close to the original audio, great for audiophiles.
- The Q300WH is equipped with a 6.5 inch Uni-Q driver array, giving it a precise sound with excellent dispersion. This gives it greater versatility compared to standard speakers.
- The Q300WH driver comes with a two inch voice coil that ensures low frequencies do not produce any distortion.
- The speaker is also equipped with a revamped aluminum core for better audio performance.
- The speaker is just 14 inches high and less than 12 inches thick, making it easy to find a place to put on your bookshelf.
- The Q300WH speakers are designed to work with different types of subwoofers, center channels and floor standing speakers.
These are excellent speakers, free from distortion and installation is easy. The speakers are a little on the heavy side but that is a good thing since it adds to the stability. Even so the sound that comes out is crisp and clear.
3. JBL Studio 230 6.5-Inch 2-Way Bookshelf Loudspeaker
JBL has been manufacturing high quality speakers, and the Studio 230 is one of the better loudspeakers for a bookshelf today. The speaker comes with a lot of features, and one of the highlights is the 6.5” PolyPlas midrange driver, designed for tight bass and vocal clarity found in more expensive loudspeakers.
The Studio 230 sound is clear, and the range is comparable to other cinematic type speakers. As part of the JBL Studio 2 line, this loudspeaker makes use of the latest tech to give you optimum sounds.
The other area where the Studio 230 speaker shines is its versatility. Other speakers are only good for specific types of music, but these are good for rap, rock, classical, hip hop, movies and games. There is no distortion and the accuracy level is very good as is the reproduction.
The difference between these Studio 230 speakers and others is the quality. Even to the untrained ear you will hear the difference and realize that these are top of the line and produce exceptional sounds.
With or without a sub woofer you will get excellent sound, and that says a lot about the quality of these speakers. For richness, depth and clarity, the Studio 230 speakers are hard to match.
- The speaker comes with a High Definition Imaging (HDI) waveguide that produces a sizable soundstage. This is also what gives you superior imaging precision.
- The Studio 230 is equipped with a 1 inch CMMD Lite high-frequency driver so the highs are superior to that of ordinary speakers.
- With its 6.5 inch PolyPlas driver, the speaker is able to produce a richer bass and greater midrange precision.
- Its drivers are built for long term use and ensures the sound is powerful and accurate.
- The speakers are made of durable parts and produce the same high quality sounds in different locations of your home.
The JBL Studio 230 is one of the most striking speakers I’ve seen, but it is not just looks. In terms of sound these are exceptional, with a deep bass and none of the shrill sound you get from ordinary speakers.
4. Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers
The S1000DB are built as all around speakers for those who want great sounds for music, movies and games. From the looks alone you can tell these are quality speakers, but there is more to these than just aesthetics.
With its advanced aptX codec chipset, the sound is greatly enhanced for games and all kinds of media. The speaker has also been upgraded from the previous version and does not have the latency problems common in other bookshelf speakers.
Want to hook up the speaker to your computer? No problem as there are connections for coaxial, optical, AUX and RCA provided. Once you connect the speaker to your chosen device, you can adjust the volume, bass and treble to the specifications you want. A connecting cable is also included.
Of course what it all comes down to is the sound and the S1000DB is one of the clearest in its class. The lows, mids and highs have no distortion and blend well together. The frequency response is good and the speaker also sounds good even at a high level.
Setting up the speakers doesn’t take much time, and once ready you’ll be able to fine tune the audio just the way you want it. The knobs for the bass, treble and volume are also within easy reach.
- The S1000DB speaker has full Bluetooth connectivity so it’s able to stream wireless audio. With this feature it’s more convenient to set up the speakers.
- A remote control is provided so you can control the speaker’s functions with your fingertips.
- With its 5.5” subwoofer you’ll get 120W RMS audio. The speaker also uses DSP for superior processing audio processing.
- The S1000DB speaker comes with AUX, coaxial and optical inputs, allowing you to connect the speakers to various sources.
- The speakers are equipped with a sophisticated type of aptX codec, enabling audio compression without losing audio quality.
The Edifier S1000DB speakers are exceptionally good and provide audio you’d expect from more expensive models. Its use of Bluetooth and remote control allows for greater convenience and makes listening more enjoyable.
5. Klipsch RB-61 II Reference Series Bookshelf Loudspeakers
The RB-61 II is a part of the Reference speaker line and it shares many of their high quality aspects. One of the better features on this speaker is its crossover frequency, as it has been revamped for superior audio. The end result is the axis integrates better compared to other bookshelf speakers.
By incorporating WDST, you’ll notice original recordings are correctly simulated. Localized reproduction is excellent and the sound quality does not change even when you position the speaker in different locations.
Klipsch has always been known for its use of technology, and the RB-61 II is no exception. It uses trickle down linear travel suspension technology for its tweeter, resulting in a clear, crisp sound. Sound wise it seems like you’re in the movie or the studio.
This feature is complemented by its powerful subwoofer that enhances sound quality and cuts down unwanted noise. This is a powerful woofer but is still lighter compared to others in its class. For audiophiles you will be able to hear the difference in terms of sound quality whether it is music, movies or games.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a sound expert and just want a good quality speaker, you will notice the sound is powerful and clear, with instruments, voices, explosions etc clear. The audio is also well balanced.
- The speakers employ Tractix Horn technology to produce a realistic sound without using as much energy as other other speakers.
- The RB-61 II series crossover frequencies has been upgraded so integration of on and off axis are better.
- With its Wide Dispersion Surround Technology (WDST), the speaker is able to generate sounds with accuracy and precision.
- The speaker has a titanium tweeter w/ linear travel suspension, so the sound is more natural and open.
- The speaker has a Cerametallic woofer with a patented aluminum for minimum distortion and better dampen.
When it comes to bookshelf speakers in this price range, you will find few that provide this level of audio quality. The treble, volume and bass are clear and imaging is well defined. For music and movies the RB-61 II do what they’re supposed to.
6. ELAC B6 Debut Series 6.5″ Bookshelf Speakers by Andrew Jones
The B6 Debut Series speakers come with a lot of excellent features, but the bottom line is the audio quality is great. Once set up, the speakers generate crisp, clear audio, with excellent imaging and the lows extended and firm.
The mids don’t have the coloring that you hear in other speakers, and the highs are detailed and smooth. Adding to the sound is the aramid fiber enhanced woofer. Without getting too technical, the good thing about this woofer is it performs better than plastic or paper drivers.
The speaker is made from high quality parts, and the added strength leads to a smoother response and bigger bandwidth. Add the solidly built walls and you’ve got a well constructed speaker.
A closer look at the speaker reveals how sturdily built it is. The binding post plating has been reinforced for more reliable connections. The speaker’’s design also keeps noise to a minimum and the sound clear.
A good bookshelf speaker must have quality crossovers and this is no exception. With eight elements, the crossover provides excellent blends and precision. Whether on a bookshelf or anywhere in your room, the speakers produce excellent audio whether it’s instrumentals, jazz, classical, hi hop or other genres.
- The speaker comes with a custom made woofer with aramid fiber around it. This fiber provides the speaker with excellent weight to strength ratio and enhances audio quality.
- The speaker comes with a deep spheroid waveguide that’s been customized and a silk dome tweeter for control.
- Like other ELAC speakers, these are built with a vinyl finish and solid MDF walls to ensure its long life.
- The binding posts are gold plated so you can connect it in different ways and get maximum performance.
- The speaker is equipped with a dual flared vent that cuts down air turbulence and keeps the sound clear and clean.
ELAC speakers have gotten a solid reputation for high quality audio and it shows in this product. The audio is comparable to a high end speaker, with great imaging, solid lows, mids and tops. The consistency and quality of the speakers are outstanding.
7. KEF Q100 Bookshelf Loudspeakers – Black Oak
The Q100 speakers says it sets a high standard for bookshelf speakers, and I have to say this is true. The speakers are equipped with a driver array that’s built for pinpoint soundstage. When you turn the speaker on the sound fills up the surrounding area.
Audio quality is clear and consistent thanks to the 1” aluminum dome tweeter and the 5.25” Uni Q driver array. This combo is what gives the Q100 its superb midrange audio quality. The speaker is also equipped with a KEF Z flex surround and enhanced cone for a seamless front panel transition.
The speaker is also equipped with a generously sized dome tweeter that reduces noise and distortion. With the way the speaker has been constructed, the speakers produce consistently clear audio whether on a bookshelf or as part of a bigger audio set up.
The speakers have a rubber spacer and a hanging bracket so you can position the speaker off the wall. Positioning the speakers should be a problem as they are designed with versatility in mind. The flexibility level allows you to use the Q100 on your home theater or computer. The finish is of good quality and the connectors are solidly built too.
The overall impression you’ll get is the speaker is accurate, with excellent imaging, transparency and good bass extension. Given its size it’s surprising how much bass it is able to produce, comparable to much larger speakers.
- These speakers have a 5.25” Uni Q driver array which enables the speaker to handle various kinds of frequencies.
- The speaker has been designed for spectrum frequency extension and ensure the balance of stereo imagery.
- With its aluminum dome tweeter in the middle, the Q100 speaker is able to generate clear and fast responses.
- The speaker driver is modeled after the Blade speakers, giving it greater sensitivity and precision.
- Power handling has been boosted so there is minimum distortion.
The KEF Q100 is first and foremost a bookshelf speaker, but that does not change the fact you can use this in different locations around your home. Its ability to handle various frequencies only enhances the audio quality.
8. Q Acoustics 3020 Bookshelf Speakers
The Acoustics 3020 has a compact built that is suitable for rooms of small to medium size. The key elements are the bass driver and the dome / ring tweeter. Both of them are comprised of aramid fibers and papers, no different from Kevlar and Teflon.
By using this material, the 3020 speaker produces a realistic, open sound, and a wide soundstage that is comparable to more powerful speakers. Its bass is more powerful than others in its price range thanks to its larger diameter and rapid response.
This newly designed bass makes the 3020 noticeably deeper sounding than the 3010. You will notice the difference when listening to rock, dance or orchestral music. The difference is also apparent if you use the speakers for movies or video games. Aside from a greater dynamic range, the bass works with moderately powered amps.
What it all comes down is the sound of course, and the 3020 does well in this department. The treble, bass, highs, mid and lows all register well and provide the ind of result you’d expect from a high quality speaker.
The speaker does not have a subwoofer though it works with just about any out there. No matter what frequencies you listen to there’s plenty of detail and texture. Overall the quality is really good and better than what you’d get with other speakers.
- The Q Acoustics is 3000 Series Concentric Ring Dome tweeter that enhances dispersion and cuts down distortion.
- The speaker has been constructed with superior low resonance and revamped crossover.
- The Acoustics’ bass response has been extended, giving it a better midrange and a more open sound. This also allows the speaker to generate quicker dynamics.
- The speaker’s compact design makes it suitable for anyone who is looking for a small to medium sized speaker that packs power.
- Its 2 in 1 dome tweeter / ring is built from aramid fibers that leads to better sound.
The Q Acoustics 3020 is a powerful, versatile speaker that delivers clear, distinct sounds with minimal distortion. With its wide dispersion and dependable performance, this 3020 is the kind of speaker a music buff will like.
9. Polk Audio RTI A1 Bookshelf Speakers
The RTI A1 bookshelf speakers are well named since that is what they are built for, but these are also versatile enough to be used in other areas of your home. What the RTI A1 does is use the latest technologies to provide the best possible sound.
The first thing you’ll notice is the speaker is made from MDF, a good since it improves the audio quality. The balance in the RTI A1 is exceptional and it doesn’t cause any unwanted noise as is common with other speakers. The dome tweeter has been upgraded for better sound.
As bookshelf speakers the RTI A1 are more than satisfactory, but this is just as effective when used for watching movies. The setup is easy and the audio is crisp even when it is at low, moderate or high volume, and you can clearly hear the instruments separately.
The midrange is pretty good as well and the highs are better than what you’d get with most other bookshelf speakers. However it has the edge in the bass as it is more powerful than those on other bookshelf speakers.
The settings work fine out of the box so there’s no need to mess around with the settings. But if you want to make changes you can adjust the satellite / subwoofer frequencies until you’re satisfied. The speaker’s USB port allows you to play your favorite music by hooking up a USB drive.
- The speaker comes with a neodynium magnet that keeps the speaker cool when running.
- A 1” polymer / silk dome tweeter that’s designed to give it excellent sound and consistent performance.
- With its Power Port technology there’s less noise when you listen to music.
- There is a 5.25” dynamic balance polymer/mineral composite cone driver for greater dynamic balance.
- The speaker is built with MDF parts for greater durability.
The RTI A1 speakers epitomize what a good speaker should be. You can position this in various areas of your room and he audio quality will still be the same. With its construction and technological innovation, expect high quality sounds.
10. Edifier R2000DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers
The Edifier R2000DB speakers are designed for those who want the best possible sound and connectivity. The speaker also comes with a subwoofer that provides a lot of bass. Made from quality wood, the 5 and half inch bass provides high quality sound with very little vibration.
The R2000DB looks like a classic speaker but it is equipped with the latest technology to provide an immersive audio experience. Apart from Bluetooth, the speaker also has Dynamic Range Control (DRC) and Digital Sound Processing (DSP) to produce high fidelity audio. There is also optical digital input built in.
The R2000DB has treble and bass integrated on the rear panel. You can choose from -6 to +6db to adjust both, giving you full control over the volume and range. You can also use the volume to adjust the input selector. Push one time to change sources, and you can push and hold to disconnect every paired Bluetooth device.
An optical cable is included so you can connect the speaker to a gaming console, DVD player, computer or TV. Regardless where you connect you’ll get lossless audio quality.
You also get a handy remote control so anywhere in the room you’ll be able to choose an input source, adjust the volume or set the speakers to mute with the press of a button.
- The R2000DB has built in support for Bluetooth so you can use the speaker for wireless play.
- You can hook the speaker on your Mac, PC, iOS or Android and hear your favorite music, movies or games.
- A remote control is included so you can change the volume and other settings from a distance.
- You can connect the R2000DB to any device with its dual RCA or 3.5 mm headphone.
- There is digital connection provided so you can link this to a DVD, TV, gaming console and other devices.
With all the features built into the R2000DB it’s hard not to be impressed with it. More than anything else, the speakers sound great. With its support for various devices and easy controls, it makes it easy to control the audio.
How to Set Up Bookshelf Speakers
No matter the brand or style, a bookshelf speaker performs at it best when it is set on an elevated surface. A bookshelf isn’t the only option as you can also put the speaker on a table or shelf. You can also set the speakers on a wall mount.
A raised, sturdy place is the most ideal for these speakers as it produces the greatest amount of clarity. Never put bookshelf speakers in an enclosed location as it will muffle the sound and keep audio from coming out smoothly.
A bookshelf speaker doesn’t necessarily have to be inside a bookshelf. In fact it’s better if you put the speaker on a speaker stand. It’s best if you buy a speaker stand because it saves you the trouble of trying to figure out the right height for your speaker.
Speaker stands are made from various materials like metal, wood or synthetic components. Look for stands with built in stops so it remains stable. Another reason to use a speaker stand is it keeps the speaker far from the wall, allowing the sound to flow smoothly.
Do not place your speakers close to flat, hard surfaces as it reduces sound quality. This is especially true with bass rich speakers will bounce the bass off these surfaces. Don’t put the speaker close to plants or furniture as it could disperse the sound badly.
Guide to Buying Bookshelf Speakers
You have to keep the following terms in mind:
Hertz is a measuring unit for sound frequency. The lower the hertz the deeper the bass.
Decibels determine the sound intensity. You use the speaker volume to control the audio level.
Watts indicates energy conversion rates and used to match amps with speakers.
Bookshelf speakers usually have 2 drivers, a tweeter and woofer, with some having a 3rd called the midrange driver. The tweeter and woofer are the main components or cones that make a speaker sound good.
Tweeters produce tones at high frequencies while the woofer generates the lower tones. Two driver speaks handle the full sound spectrum, but with a midrange driver, the tweeter and tweeter and woofer can concentrate on the treble and bass.
The crossover makes certain the low frequency signals don’t get to the tweeter and the high frequency signals don’t get to the woofer. All crossover networks have a point that indicates where the speaker keeps the signals separate.
The point where a 2 driver speaker keeps the signals apart is 2300 Hz, but 3 driver speakers have other settings.
The cabinet is the casing where the speaker parts are stored. Cabinets are made from different materials such as wood, metal, plastic, fiberboard etc. The type of cabinet material has a direct effect on the sound. Avoid non-sealed cabinets as it generates low quality audio.
Features to Look For
Here are some factors to remember the next time you look for a pair of bookshelf speakers. As you’ll see, it’s not all about the cost.
- 2 or 3 Drivers: 3 driver speakers cost more but provide more versatility. You decide if the additional driver is essential for your audio enjoyment.
- Connectivity: some speakers have Bluetooth connectivity and support for the iOS, Android, Mac and PCs. Look for this feature if you want a wireless listening experience and integration with your other devices.
- Remote control: some speakers come with a remote control so you can adjust the volume and other features.
- Input: what are the input sources available? Some have just a few connection options, while other speakers have inputs for DVDs, TVs, Xbox, PlayStation and other devices.
- Output: AUX, dual RCA and 3.5 mm headphone outputs are the most commonly found, and for most that will do fine.
- Warranty: the longer the warranty the better. You should also read coverage so you’ll know it covers in case of damage.
- Brand: buy only from a reputable brand.
- Ease of Use: how easy are the speakers to control? Can you position the speakers in different ways and still maintain sound quality?
- Accessories: does the speaker come with an optical cable? Other useful accessories are RCA to RCA, a 5 pin speaker cable and 3.5 mm to RCA.
- Sound Quality: what will you use the speaker for? Is it for dance music, orchestra, rock, movies, games?
There are other factors and features that you have to consider, but the ones above are the most important and make a huge difference when it comes to quality.
I hope this buying guide was able to give you a good idea of what bookshelf speakers to buy. Even if you don’t consider yourself an audiophile, it is still a good idea to get the highest quality available and have an immersive audio experience.
Now you’re probably wondering which of the ten is the best option. Well, all of them are exceptional when it comes to sound quality and durability. All you need to do is decide which of the ten complements your needs, and then you have in your hands the best bookshelf speakers.