Bookshelf speakers are considered as an upgrade to your computer speaker, and rightly so. They are affordable sound systems that can be connected to the home audio system to create a room-filling voice without taking much of the space in the room.
Bookshelf speakers are also ranked as the most compact form of hi-fi speakers. The best bookshelf speakers often perform similar to expensive subwoofers, and in come cases, even better.
Bookshelf Speakers? What Make Them Different from Other Speakers?
Bookshelf speakers are unique, but not very different from other stand-alone speakers. As the name reflects, they are designed to fit in or above a bookshelf, but you have an option to use them anywhere you want.
They act as a standalone music system in combination with an amplifier or a dedicated music player they are attached to. Simply put, they are used as an individual audio setup, not something to connect to your gaming console or TV like surround speaker systems.
Bookshelf speakers are usually made of two speakers or drivers, one small and one larger. The smaller one is called tweeter and the bigger one is called woofer. Both drivers are used to handle different portions of the frequency range, offering you a pleasant listening experience.
This also means, with bookshelf speakers, you don’t need an external woofer or sub woofer.
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The Common Types of Bookshelf Speakers
There are two types of bookshelf speakers – active and passive speakers. There is a significant difference between the both so make sure you are buying the one that suits your need.
What Features to Look for in the Best Bookshelf Speakers?
With dozens of top brands available in the market offering hundreds of models, choosing between top bookshelf speakers is not an easy task. Fortunately, there are a few key features that you can look into and compare to make sure you are buying only the best option and one that caters to your needs.
1. Matching with an Amplifier
If you are buying a passive speaker, and already have an amplifier to connect it with, the first thing you need to look is if it matches the wattage and impedance with your amplifier.
Wattage reflects the power of the speaker, that needs to be the same as of the amplifier. A mismatch will result in distorted sound as soon as you turn the volume above the medium range.
Impedance is also another important matching factor. The impedance offered by your speakers must always be more than that of the amplifier.
2. Build Quality
For this, you need to look into drivers quality and the cabinet design. As mentioned earlier, the bookshelf speakers come in two-way design, that consists of two speakers. The quality of these speakers, capability, and the strength can play a role in both sound quality and durability of the speaker.
Similarly, cabinet or box design also affects durability and sound quality. Make sure the speaker at least has MDF cabinets which is a standard material used in the industry.
The sensitivity or efficiency is measured in dB, also called decibels. This in easy language tells you how loud the speakers can go. This is also an important feature to look into as you may need a louder speaker for bigger rooms.
If you are buying a speaker for your bedroom, a speaker around 96db is more than enough. For the living room, you may want higher dB. Simply put, dB is the measure of how loud your speakers can go at a given volume. The larger volume you have in the room, the higher dB you need.
The Best Bookshelf Speakers: The Top Five Options
As there are hundreds of models available in the market for bookshelf speakers, looking into features and comparing them is not possible. This is why we have listed the top five options when it comes to the best bookshelf speakers, with pros, cons, and why they made to our top five list.
1. Edifier R1280T
The first on our list is the R1280T model from the Chinese manufacturer, Edifier. This one makes to the top of our list as the most affordable option that is low on price but at par with expensive models when it comes to features and sound quality.
It has an eye-catching design with its classic wood finish. But it is not all about its looks, it is also a very flexible option as it comes with two sets of RCA inputs and easy aux setup. Even though, many people may question its sound quality because if its low price, but the sound it produces matches any speaker from top brands.
It is an active speaker, which comes with a built-in tone control. This allows you to adjust treble and bass to produce the best customized sound. You don’t have to worry about owning any external amplifier for this one. This one also has two speakers, a powerful 4-inch woofer and a 13mm silk dome tweeter.
The box is made of quality MDF wood with a vinyl finish. This speaker can be used with a stereo, laptop, tablet, PC, TV, or a smartphone. It is also smaller in size and lighter in weight than other models on our list, which makes it very easy to move around. The dimensions are 9.4 x 6.9 x 5.7 inches.
2. SVS Ultra
Second on our list is a popular model from a US-based award-winning manufacturer, SVS. SVS Ultra is their most recognized model and for all the right reasons. It is also a passive bookshelf speaker that can work well with 20W to 150W amplifiers.
It also has two UltraSonic drivers, one is high-quality 6.5 inch glass fiber woofer while the aluminum dome tweeter has a diameter of an inch. In addition, it also features a 1.7 inch acoustic port that improves the bass content. Other than the quality bass sound, the low frequencies also offer a tremendous sense of definition.
It comes with a sensitivity of 87dB, which makes it a good fit for a bedroom and an average size living room. The SVS Ultra is also a rare ported speaker with a cabinet design made of ¾ inch MDF and a one-inch thick front baffle.
It weighs 19 pounds, which makes it slightly heavier that some other similar models, but the weight is due to the larger size of the driver. The overall dimensions are 10.9 x 8.5 x 15 inches.
One thing that makes it better than many of its competitors is its bi-wireable feature, that many other similar models lack. This means, you can connect it with more than one amplifier.
3. Elac B6 Series 6.5” Bookshelf Speaker
This model makes to our list because of its modern, sleek design and quality sound it offers for a very affordable price. Elac is a German manufacturer that is known for its high-end speakers. The latest from them is the B6 Series compact speaker, which is comparatively smaller in size but powerful enough to produce quality sound.
The passive speaker uses custom-made drivers made of woven aramid-fiber. The drivers also feature an intricate crossover and an integrated custom waveguide system. This is why the sound performance is much better compared to the other speakers of the same size.
The design is also durable as the outer walls are made of thick MDF wood with textured vinyl finish. The drivers also use the latest technology to provide you with the best possible sound quality. The silk-dome tweeter comes with a deep-spheroid custom waveguide that improves sound control and adds strength to the driver.
Simply put, the design is an example of superior German engineering. It uses gold plated 5-way binding posts to improve connectivity, uses dual flared vent, and an 8-element crossover for improved performance. The dimensions of this speaker are 10 x 8.5 x 14 inches.
4. Klipsch R-14M 4-Inch Reference Bookshelf Speakers
Next on our list is the latest model from the Klipsch, a well-known American manufacturer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The R-14M Reference speaker is one their best models that is well-recognized for its acoustic performance.
These are small and compact speakers, but packs a huge punch that may surprise many. They are designed for small and medium rooms and can easily fill the room with lifelike, powerful sound performance.
The R-14M uses two speakers, a one-inch aluminium linear travel suspension horn-loaded tweeter, along with a four-inch woofer made of copper spun injection molded graphite. Unlike other models, the cabinet of this one is not made of MDF but black polymer veneer. It is also among the most compact designs available in the market with dimension of 9.75 x 5.8 x 7.5 inch.
5. Wharfedale Diamond 220
Last on our list is the model from Wharfedale (subsidiary of the International Audio Group), one of the most recognized loudspeaker brands in the world. Based in the UK, Wharfedale offers you some of the best models out there in the market, but the one that offers you the best value for your money is the latest from their popular Diamond series, the Diamond 220 model.
The box of this model is made of layered MDF with an addition of chipboard filling. This way, it can dampen resonance while adding strength to the exterior. The solid box is available in different finishes that include Rosewood, White, Walnut Pearl, and Blackwood.
This is a passive model that can be partnered with any common stereo amp. It has a sensitivity of 86 dB and minimum frequency response of 56 Hz, which makes it a good option for a bedroom. The dimensions of the speaker are 12.4 x 6.9 x 9.8 inches.
The drivers are also powerful as it consists of woven Kevlar mid/bass speaker that is 5.1 inches in diameter. The smaller speaker or tweeter has a diameter of one inch, which is placed in a deep dish. For the best result and better bass response, make sure to position them near the wall.
All five bookshelf speakers on our list are among the best possible products currently available in the market, but the buying decision must depend on your own unique needs. For example, if you want an affordable option for a smaller room, the Klipsch R-14M is a top option. It is not only compact and small that can be placed anywhere in the small room, but also offers the best sound.
Those who want an active speaker which is flexible and can work with computer, tablets, and TV, they can opt for Edifier R1280T. This one offers you the best value for the money. But if you can spend more for an outstanding high-end listening experience, there is no better option than SVS Ultra. It may cost a little more than some other smaller options, but its performance is better than most other options.