best bookshelf speakers
Music Gear Reviews

7 Best bookshelf speakers & why we like them

This article contains affiliate links to relevant products at no extra cost to readers.

You’re looking for a warm and rich speaker set to subtly blend into your room’s decor aesthetic

Let’s look at the best bookshelf speakers out there and why you might like them.

Our 7 best bookshelf speaker picks

  1. KEF LS50 – Best choice for passive speakers
  2. KANTO YU6 – Best choice for powered speakers
  3. KLIPSCH RP-160M – Best choice for speakers for vinyl
  4. Q ACOUSTICS 3030i – Best choice for front-ported speakers
  5. ELAC DEBUT B5.2 – Best choice for small speakers
  6. KLIPSCH R-40PM – Best choice for Klipsch speakers
  7. ELAC UNI-Fi UB5 – Best choice for budget speakers

Skip to our reviews. ↓

best bookshelf speakers

3 things to look out for in bookshelf speakers

When buying bookshelf speakers, there are 3 main considerations:

Sound profile quality:

Getting the right sound profile will lead to a more enjoyable immersive experience.

Look for speakers that seem to provide a clear and accurate representation of what’s important to you. Some prefer to hear mids with clarity, whereas others prefer sub for their heavy bass songs.

Pay attention to the speaker’s power-handling capabilities. High power handling means the speakers can take more wattage without distorting. This is particularly important if you enjoy listening to music at high volumes.

Bookshelf speakers come with a two-way or a three-way driver system. A two-way system consists of a woofer and a tweeter, while a three-way system adds a mid-range driver. A three-way system can provide fuller detailed sound but will command a higher price.

Size & design:

Bookshelf speakers are small by design to a bookshelf or a raised surface. We’ve found they mostly come in dark wood tones, like walnut, to suit lounge aesthetics.

Pay attention to the quality of materials used in the speakers. Good bookshelf speakers are made with wood or MDF, aluminium and other robust fibres.

They’ll have internal damping materials like foam or wool to absorb unwanted vibrations.

Placement flexibility:

Bookshelf speakers are for various setups and room configurations. You may want a pair that can adapt to different positions. Whether placed on bookshelves, stands, or close to walls. Features like front ports or rear ports contribute to the sound when placed in proximity to walls.

Speakers that have mounting options should also be kept in mind. Placement flexibility will impact longevity as you decide to keep your speakers for future setups. Instead of selling them for a new pair once the room changes. You might see the wife get rid of your bookshelves altogether so it’s nice to keep placement options open.

1. Best passive bookshelf speakers: KEF LS50

Price when reviewed:
From $1499

kef ls50 bookshelf speakers

We like:

True detail and immersion
Look and feel premium
Uni-Q driver creates a beautiful wide space with precision
Versatile placement options

We do not like:

Needs HQ amplifiers to be unleashed
Limited bass/sub extension options
Larger than most bookshelf speakers

The design is beautifully sleek and modern, but don’t let that fool you – it’s not all about looks. The Uni-Q driver array, where the tweeter sits in the acoustic centre of the midrange cone, is a game-changer. What does that mean for you? Well, it translates to a remarkably wide and detailed soundstage. It’s like the music is coming at you from all directions which makes for total immersion

Now, size does matter when it comes to speakers, and the LS50 strikes a sweet spot. Not too big to overpower a room, nor too small to compromise on performance. These speakers deliver punchy bass without dominating the whole audio landscape.

The coaxial design isn’t only for show – it is actually for imaging and clarity. The vocals come through with impressive precision, making every note feel distinct and alive.

One of the standout features is the build. The cabinet is meticulously crafted. The rigidity and damping properties play a significant role in minimising unwanted vibrations. Less resonance means cleaner sound, and that’s exactly what you get here.

The LS50 boasts a frequency response that covers the entire audible range – from deep lows to crisp highs. These speakers shine with a wide variety of amplifiers.

The rose gold and titanium grey finishes add that premium feel to catch the eyes of guests and visitors. These are for where your budget is loose, probably the best bookshelf speakers under 1500.

Features

  • Uni-Q driver array with a 5.25-inch coaxial midrange and tweeter
  • Unique rose gold and titanium gray finishes
  • Rigid, curved baffle design
  • Front-firing port for enhanced bass performance
  • Compact and sleek design
  • Dual binding posts for bi-amping or bi-wiring options

Specifications:

  • Type: 2-way bass reflex
  • Frequency Range: 47Hz – 45kHz (-6dB)
  • Frequency Response: 79Hz – 28kHz (±3dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.2kHz
  • Amplifier Requirements: 25-100W (recommended)
  • Sensitivity: 85dB (2.83V/1m)
  • Impedance: 8 ohms (min. 3.2 ohms)
  • Maximum Output: 106dB
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 302 x 200 x 278 mm (11.9 x 7.9 x 10.9 inches)
  • Weight: 7.2kg (15.8 lbs) per speaker

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

2. Best-powered bookshelf speakers: Kanto YU6

Price when reviewed:
From $519

Kanto YU6 bookshelf speaker

We like:

Powerful and clear sound
Their Class D amplifier can standup across genres
Pleasing to the eye

We do not like:

Great bass but still might not be enough for subheads

The Kanto YU6s were built to last. The matte finish gives them a cool sophisticated feel. Solid and sturdy, these speakers feel like they’re ready to deliver satisfaction for a long time.

Now, what really sets the YU6 apart is the versatility. The built-in phono preamp is a game-changer for vinyl enthusiasts like myself. Plug in your turntable, ready to immerse yourself in the warmth of vinyl.

The connectivity options are a pro. Bluetooth streaming is seamless, and I’ve found it to be reliable with a decent range. The multiple inputs, include RCA, optical, and USB. It’s like a hub for all your audio sources, making it easy to switch between them without any hassle.

The YU6 packs a punch, and the 5.25-inch Kevlar drivers are a big part of that. They handle a wide range of frequencies, and the bass response is robust for speakers of this size. The silk dome tweeters add a crispness to the highs, creating a balanced experience.

The inclusion of a remote control might seem like a small detail, but it’s incredibly handy. Adjusting volume, changing inputs, and muting the sound – all at your fingertips.

These speakers can get loud. The 200W peak power per channel is welcomed. Whether you’re filling a small room or a larger space, the YU6 has the power to deliver satisfying audio.

A cool feature – the automatic standby mode. When there’s no audio signal, the speakers go into standby to save power. It’s a thoughtful addition that aligns with the modern, energy-efficient design of these speakers These are probably one of the best bookshelf speakers you can get for below 1000.

Features

  • 5.25-inch Kevlar drivers
  • 1-inch silk dome tweeters
  • Built-in Bluetooth with Qualcomm aptX technology
  • Phono preamp for turntable connectivity
  • Multiple inputs: RCA, optical, USB
  • Remote control included
  • Automatic standby mode for power-saving

Specifications:

  • Type: 2-way bass reflex
  • Peak Power: 200W per channel
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz – 20kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.0kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Impedance: 4 Ohms
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 10.7 x 7.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Weight: 14.3 lbs per speaker

Where to buy?
Check price here

3. Best bookshelf speakers for vinyl: Klipsch RP-160M

Price when reviewed:
From $350

RP-160M bookshelf speaker

We like:

Dynamic and detailed sound
IMG woofers give a warm representation of the midrange
Large freq response range captures vinyl nuances
Front-firing port gives monitor placement flexibility

We do not like:

Not for those looking for space-efficient speakers

The Klipsch RP-160M bookshelf speakers have been gaining attention for those who love spinning vinyl. These speakers hit the sound mark for us. The Tractrix Horn technology they’re equipped with delivers a crisp and dynamic audio quality. The 6.5-inch copper-spun IMG woofers contribute to satisfying vinyl richness. It’s that perfect blend of warmth and detail that resonates.

The rear-firing port is a smart design choice, making these speakers adaptable to different setups. I appreciate the flexibility – whether on stands or nestled into bookshelves, they seem to find their place without much hassle.

Klipsch has gone for a timeless look with a modern twist, and it’s getting positive feedback. The ebony finish and copper accents not only make them sonically pleasing but also visually striking.

The 90×90 Tractrix Horn and the LTS titanium tweeters create a wide sound dispersion that you’ll appreciate. The frequency response of 45Hz to 25kHz covers a solid range, capturing the nuances of vinyl recordings.

The 100 watts continuous rating and a sensitivity of 96 dB seem to be a good match for vinyl setups. It means these speakers can deliver a decent volume without requiring a powerhouse of an amplifier.

The physical size of these speakers is larger than expected if you’re limited with space.

The Klipsch RP-160M speakers have earned their stripes among the vinyl speaker greats. The clear sound, versatile design, and specs make them a reliable choice for those who need to live in the richness of vinyl recordings.

Features:

  • 6.5-inch copper Cerametallic cone woofer
  • 1-inch Linear Travel Suspension (LTS) titanium tweeter
  • Hybrid Tractrix Horn technology for enhanced dynamics and clarity
  • Rear-firing Tractrix port
  • MDF cabinet with brushed polymer veneer finish
  • Removable magnetic grille

Specifications:

  • Type: 2-way bass reflex
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz – 25kHz
  • Sensitivity: 96dB
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Crossover Frequency: 1500Hz
  • Power Handling (Cont/Peak): 100W/400W
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 16.67 x 8.81 x 12.86 inches
  • Weight: 19.0 lbs per speaker

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

4. Best front-ported bookshelf speakers: Q Acoustics 3030i

Price when reviewed:
From $543

Q acoustics 3030i speaker

We like:

Incredibly satisfying bass performance
Slick curves in the right places
Can pair with a lot of amp powers

We do not like:

Extended listening might bring about highs fatigue

The compact size of these speakers makes them attractive in various setups. The front port plays a significant role in the sound performance. The front port allows for flexible placement near walls without harming bass response.

The 3030i produces a rich and balanced audio experience. The 6.5-inch woofer is a standout feature. It’s larger than what you’d find in many bookshelf speakers, and it makes a noticeable difference. The low frequencies are punchy and well-defined with depth.

The treble is crisp and clear, thanks to the 1-inch tweeter. Users often mention the detailed highs, and I have to agree. Whether you’re into acoustic tunes or high-energy rock tracks, the 3030i handles it with finesse.

The 3030i cabinets are well-constructed, and the attention to design detail is evident.

Features:

  • 6.5-inch Aramid Fiber/Paper cone woofer
  • 1-inch decoupled tweeter with a dome made from P2P™ (Point to Point) bracing technology
  • Front-ported design
  • MDF cabinet construction
  • Magnetic speaker grilles

Specifications:

  • Type: 2-way bass reflex
  • Frequency Response: 46Hz – 30kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Impedance: 6 Ohms
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.4kHz
  • Power Handling (RMS): 75W
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 12.8 x 7.8 x 11.7 inches
  • Weight: 14.6 lbs per speaker

Where to buy?
Check price here

5. Best small bookshelf speakers: ELAC Debut B5.2

Price when reviewed:
From $270

Elac DB52 bookshelf speakers

We like:

Clear and balanced
Budget-friendly

We do not like:

Improper placement can impact its bass

These speakers deliver a clear and detailed audio experience. The 5.25-inch woven aramid-fiber woofer seems to be a star player here. Handles the midrange frequencies with precision.

Size-wise, the compact nature of the B5.2 is a hit among users. They seem to find these speakers fit seamlessly into smaller spaces without sacrificing sound quality. It’s a practical choice for those who might not have the luxury of a dedicated audio room.

The simple elegant look of these speakers is awesome for decor. The brushed black vinyl finish and the minimalist frame are an understated style in audio gear.

The frequency response of 46Hz to 35kHz is wide. Users have often praised these speakers for their ability to capture both low and high frequencies. The sensitivity of 86dB and the nominal impedance of 6 ohms makes them relatively easy to drive.

The speaker grilles can be a bit finicky to handle, which is minor but worth pointing out.

The precise sound, compact size, and specs make them a great choice for those seeking quality audio in a smaller package.

Features:

  • 5.25-inch woven aramid-fiber cone woofer
  • 1-inch cloth dome tweeter with wide-dispersion waveguide
  • Front-firing vented port
  • MDF cabinets with black ash vinyl finish
  • Removable magnetic speaker grilles

Specifications:

  • Type: 2-way bass reflex
  • Frequency Response: 46Hz – 35kHz
  • Sensitivity: 86dB
  • Impedance: 6 Ohms
  • Crossover Frequency: 2200Hz
  • Power Handling (Peak/RMS): 120W/50W
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 14.76 x 7.44 x 10.55 inches
  • Weight: 11.5 lbs per speaker

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

6. Best Klipsch bookshelf speakers: Klipsch R-40PM

Price when reviewed:
From $399

R-40M bookshelf speakers 1

We like:

Tractix Horn tech creates a lively listening experience
Great functionality and connectivity like USB and Bluetooth
Simple and easy setup

We do not like:

Subheads should pick a different model

The R-40PMs built-in amplifier is a game-changer. Having the amp integrated right into the speakers streamlines the whole setup. It will resonate well with those who appreciate simplicity.

The Bluetooth connectivity is always attractive to socialites. Being able to wirelessly stream audio from my devices is sometimes a must for many.

Several inputs including a phono preamp for turntables, mean you can use these speakers with a few audio sources. It’s a thoughtful inclusion that caters to preferences.

The 4-inch copper-spun shielded IMG woofer and the 1-inch aluminium LTS tweeter produce a well-balanced sound. The clarity and detail were magical to test out.

They have that classic Klipsch appeal – the black and copper combo looks so sleek. Remote control included.

Features:

  • 4-inch copper spun magnetically shielded IMG woofer
  • 1-inch aluminum LTS tweeter with Tractrix horn
  • Built-in amplifier with 70W total system power
  • Phono pre-amp for turntable connection
  • Bluetooth wireless technology
  • Infrared remote control included
  • Subwoofer output for additional bass

Specifications:

  • Type: Powered monitor speaker
  • Frequency Response: 94Hz – 24kHz
  • Maximum Acoustic Output: 106dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 1730Hz
  • Inputs: Bluetooth, RCA, USB, Digital optical
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 9.75 x 5.88 x 7.75 inches
  • Weight: 10.3 lbs per speaker

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

7. Best budget bookshelf speakers: ELAC Uni-Fi UB5

Price when reviewed:
From $250

Elac UniFi UB5

We like:

Exceptional for the price
UNi-Fi driver creates a wide immersive experience
Versatile mounting and placement options

We do not like:

Might be a little too heavy for a floating bookshelf

For those with a budget, these speakers sound great. They have this cool three-way design with a special arrangement of drivers that results in clear and detailed sound. High-end sound without the high-end price.

The cabinets have a simple design and the finish looks sleek. They even have custom-designed binding posts, which feel premium for speakers in this price range.

These speakers have a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. What does that mean? It means they’re not too picky about the amplifier you use, which is good news if you don’t have a super-powerful one. And the sensitivity of 85 dB means they can get loud without needing a ton of power.

They’re also flexible about where you put them. The front-firing ports make it easy to place them near walls without messing up the bass. It’s a smart design that works well in different rooms.

Whilst the bass is good for their size, it’s advised to add a subwoofer if you’re a serious bass lover.

Features:

  • 5.25-inch aluminum cone woofer with concentrically mounted 4-inch paper cone midrange
  • 1-inch soft dome tweeter with wide-roll surround
  • 3-way speaker design
  • Dual binding posts for bi-amping or bi-wiring
  • Cabinet features brushed vinyl finish

Specifications:

  • Type: 3-way bass reflex
  • Frequency Response: 46Hz – 25kHz
  • Sensitivity: 85dB
  • Impedance: 4 Ohms
  • Crossover Frequency: 270Hz, 2.7kHz
  • Power Handling (Peak/RMS): 140W/70W
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 12.75 x 7 x 10.75 inches
  • Weight: 16.3 lbs per speaker

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

How far apart should bookshelf speakers be?

The positioning of your bookshelf speakers plays a crucial role in the soundstage and stereo imaging. For optimal performance, it is recommended to place the speakers approximately 6 to 8 feet apart. This distance allows for a spacious stereo image and enhances the overall listening experience.

However, it’s important to consider the size of your room. If you have a smaller room, you may need to adjust the placement accordingly. Experimenting with positioning can help you find the sweet spot that suits your listening environment.

How high should bookshelf speakers be?

The height at which you place your bookshelf speakers can also impact sound quality. Ideally, the speakers should be positioned at ear level when you are in your usual listening position. This ensures that the sound reaches your ears directly and minimizes any potential distortion caused by uneven dispersion.

If your bookshelf speakers come with adjustable stands or mounts, take advantage of them to fine-tune the height according to your preference. Additionally, ensure that the speakers are positioned away from walls or other obstructions to avoid unwanted reflections that can degrade the audio quality.

Active vs. passive speakers

When researching bookshelf speakers, you’ll likely come across the terms “active” and “passive” speakers. Understanding the difference between the two can help you make an informed decision.

Active speakers:

 Active speakers, also known as powered speakers, have built-in amplifiers. They only require a power source and an audio input to function, making them easier to set up and more convenient for those who don’t want to purchase a separate amplifier.

Passive speakers:

 Passive speakers, on the other hand, require an external amplifier or receiver to power them. While they may involve more components in the setup process, they allow for greater customization and scalability, as you can choose an amplifier that suits your specific needs and preferences.

Ultimately, whether you choose active or passive speakers depends on your requirements and the level of control you desire over your audio setup.

Can bookshelf speakers sound as good as tower speakers?

One common question among audio enthusiasts is whether bookshelf speakers can deliver the same level of sound quality as tower speakers. The answer is, yes, they can!

While tower speakers often have larger drivers and enclosures, bookshelf speakers can still produce impressive sound when designed and engineered correctly. Advances in speaker technology, such as high-quality components and thoughtful design, have allowed bookshelf speakers to rival the performance of larger speakers.

However, it’s important to note that the size and placement of bookshelf speakers may limit their low-frequency response compared to dedicated tower speakers. That being said, many bookshelf speakers can be paired with a subwoofer to enhance the bass response, resulting in a full-range audio experience.

How would you mount bookshelf speakers?

Here are a few steps to guide you through the work:

Choose the right wall mounts: Look for wall mounts specifically designed for bookshelf speakers. Ensure that they are sturdy enough to support the weight of your speakers. 

Locate the ideal position: Determine the optimal height and placement for your speakers based on the room acoustics and your listening preferences. Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs for secure mounting. 

Mount the brackets: Attach the brackets securely to the wall using appropriate screws and wall anchors. Double-check that they are level and properly aligned. 

Attach the speakers: Depending on the mount design, you may need to screw the speakers into the brackets or use a secure locking mechanism. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure a secure fit.

Adjust and test: Once the speakers are mounted, make any necessary adjustments to their position and angle. Then, listen to some of your favourite tunes to ensure they sound as good as expected.

Why do audiophiles prefer bookshelf speakers?

Audiophiles, who are passionate about high-quality sound reproduction, often gravitate towards bookshelf speakers for several reasons:

When designed with precision and utilizing top-notch components, can deliver astonishing sound quality. Their compact size doesn’t compromise their ability to produce detailed and accurate audio.

Can be easily integrated into various listening environments. Whether you’re setting up a dedicated stereo system or incorporating them into a home theatre setup, bookshelf speakers offer flexibility without sacrificing performance.

Bookshelf speakers are designed to fit on bookshelves or other elevated surfaces. This space-saving feature makes them ideal for smaller rooms or areas where floor space is limited.

In comparison to larger tower speakers, bookshelf speakers often offer a more budget-friendly option without compromising on sound quality. They provide a cost-effective entry point for individuals who want to elevate their audio experience.

What is an amplifier?

An amplifier is a crucial component in any audio setup that enhances the low-level audio signals from your source and amplifies them to a level suitable for driving speakers. It plays a vital role in powering the speakers and shaping the overall sound characteristics.

When using bookshelf speakers, you have two options: integrated amplifiers or separate amplifiers. Integrated amplifiers combine a preamp and a power amplifier in a single unit, providing a convenient all-in-one solution. On the other hand, separate amplifiers provide more customization options, allowing you to choose specific amplifiers that match your speakers and personal preferences.

Can bookshelf speakers be used for surround sound?

Yes, bookshelf speakers can be used for surround sound. These speakers are versatile and can fit well in small spaces. However, there are some things to consider. Firstly, bookshelf speakers might not provide the same immersive experience as larger surround sound speakers. They may lack the power and range needed for big rooms. On the other hand, bookshelf speakers can still deliver good sound quality if properly positioned and paired with a subwoofer. Plus, they’re usually more affordable than full-size surround sound systems.

Does it matter what speaker cables you use?

The choice of speaker cables for your bookshelf speakers can have a minor impact on the overall sound quality, but it’s often a contentious topic among audiophiles. While some argue that expensive cables offer noticeable improvements in sound, others believe that reasonably priced cables deliver similar performance.

Regardless of your stance, it’s essential to choose cables that are well-constructed and suitable for your setup. Ensure that the cables have the appropriate connectors and sufficient length to connect your speakers to your amplifier or receiver. Properly shielded cables can also help minimize interference and signal degradation. Find the best speaker cables here.

As you can see, bookshelf speakers offer a wide range of benefits and possibilities. Their compact size, impressive sound quality, and versatility make them a fantastic choice for various listening environments. Whether you’re a casual listener or a dedicated audiophile, bookshelf speakers have something to offer. So, take your time, explore different options, and find the bookshelf speakers that resonate with your audio preferences!

Front vs rear-ported speakers

Front-Ported Speakers:

Front-ported speakers have a hole or opening, called a port, on the front side of the speaker. Like a window on the front of the speaker. This port allows flexibility in placing the speaker closer to a wall without affecting the bass quality. It’s like having a secret helper that makes the bass sound good even when the speaker is near a wall.

Rear-Ported Speakers:

As opposed to rear-ported speakers which have a port on the backside. You need to be a bit more careful about where you place the speaker. If it’s too close to a wall, the bass might not sound as good because the backport interacts with the wall. It’s like needing a bit more space behind the speaker to let the bass do its thing.

What does it impact?

Well, it’s mostly about the speaker placement. Front-ported speakers are more flexible and can be cosy with a wall. Rear-ported speakers prefer a bit more room behind them to make the bass sound its best.

Written by Sammy

Browse around our website for more detailed information on our online mixing and mastering service.

We offer a variety of different mix options as well as customized selections so you can specify exactly what you need for your tracks.

Give life to your music with MixButton!