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You don’t need to pay someone to find the right speaker system for you. If you are in the market for a good set of bookshelf speakers, you’ve come to the right place.
In the following article, we will break down the top options by price range. Whether you are looking to spend $2000 or $500, there are some good options to consider.
We have weeded out the lower quality product offerings that have shoddy workmanship and a poor track record.
By personally testing these speakers, I have narrowed down the list to a select few speakers that I can recommend and endorse fully.
See below for the details.
But first, here’s my TL;DR:
- Best Bookshelf Speakers under $2000? KEF LS50 Meta’s (Amazon)
- Best Bookshelf Speakers under $1000? KEF Q350 (Amazon / Crutchfield)
- Best Bookshelf Speakers under $500? Klipsch RP-160M (Amazon / Crutchfield)
- Best Bookshelf Speakers under $200? Fluance SX6 (Amazon)
I’ve also included 1-2 additional alternates in each of the above categories, so continue reading for the full story on these…
The Best Bookshelf Speakers under 2000
In this price range, we are looking at some of the best industry options for bookshelf speakers.
There is really only one speaker set in this price range that we can fully endorse and that is worth the money. See below for the down-low:
If you are looking for an outstanding set of speakers and price is really not an issue, the KEF LS50 speakers are – hands down – the best set on the market.
The LS50 was designed as a celebration of KEF’s 50th anniversary. The end result was a memorable present to audiophiles everywhere. To get the full review, check out this article.
- Technology: Not to get too far into the weeds, but the LS50 packs a powerful audio-technical punch. Using the latest Uni-Q driver (a full range driver created for this specific model) and the same game-changing technology found in the $30,000 KEF Blade, the LS50 is a turbo-charged little coupe.
- Sound: The end result of all this hi-tech infrastructure? A warm and clean sound that will sweep you up and take you to a higher level of acoustic pleasure. The sound is spacious without being overly so, allowing for a deep and smooth – yet precise – resonance, especially at deep bass levels. Most importantly, these speakers deliver studio-grade sound at a relatively affordable price. The only downside is that if you are looking to project into a very large space, the LS50 will struggle (just a bit – almost imperceptibly) at very high volumes. For what a bookshelf speaker should do, it does extremely well.
- Speaker Design: With a high gloss finish and a discreet KEF logo (with the Anniversary symbol), the LS50 is designed as the quintessential high-end bookshelf speaker. At 10.9″ x 7.9″ x 11.9″, they are perfect for subtle display or for easy hiding (like if someone comes home and starts asking about the $1500 that disappeared from your checking account). The ergonomic design has a classic sensibility with a modern flare. The carefully engineered cabinet box is optimized to have zero interference with the overall sound quality with perfect internal strut placement.
Overall, the LS50 Meta speakers have set the standard for the best speakers in the $1000-2000 price range.
The LS50 radiates an extremely large listening sweet spot and delivers a remarkably fast, clean, and expansive sound with its Unit-Q driver Array.
Where to Buy the KEF LS50 Meta’s?
Amazon: Generally have the LS50 Meta’s in stock and ships quickly. If you are a Prime Member and have the Prime card, an extra 5% cash back isn’t insignificant at this price point. Check out this listing on Amazon.
#2: SVS Ultra: Just Over $1,000
Starting off the list are the SVS Ultras. They kiss our price limit but sound like they cost even more. The first reason for this is the way the cabinet is built.
Tapered edges on the front baffle minimize diffraction, leading to a clearer and wider sound stage. They also come in a beautiful piano black, glass white, and black oak veneer finish which is a plus.
Internally, you’ll find both a 6.5” woofer and a 1” soft dome tweeter. Both of these drive units have their own sub-enclosure to minimize interaction between them. What results is a clear frequency response across the spectrum, one that sounds surprisingly full for the size.
- Technology: The SVS Ultra Bookshelf speakers utilize cutting-edge technology to deliver an exceptional audio experience. They are designed with advanced engineering techniques and high-quality materials that allow for incredible output and smooth in-room response.
- Sound: The SVS Ultra Bookshelf speakers are praised for their excellent sound production. They deliver an effortless full-range sound which is a critical aspect for any audiophile. Moreover, they are capable of creating an expansive soundstage with pitch-perfect accuracy, ensuring that every note is heard in its full glory..
- Speaker Design: The design of the SVS Ultra Bookshelf speakers is a unique selling point. These speakers are a rare combination of aesthetics and performance. They are designed in such a way that they not only look good but also produce superior sound quality.
If you have the budget, these are some of the best speakers you can go with. They sound amazing and look amazing, and the cost because of that is easily justified.
Where to Buy the SVS Ultra’s
If you are looking for the best deals, I’d recommend checking these retailers first:
- SVS Sound: Ordering directly from the brand has some benefits, namely better support, refunds, and warranty coverage. In this case, SVS also sells the individual speakers, whereas most other retailers only sell pairs (helpful if you need to add third or need a replacement). Check out this direct listing here.
- World Wide Stereo: WWS is one of my go-to’s and they have a great reputation for service in the industry. Check out this WWS listing here.
- Amazon: For the Ultra’s I’ve found Amazon’s selection to be a bit hit or miss, but worth checking to see if the prices are competitive. Check out this listing here.
Stuck between the SVS Ultra’s and KEF LS50’s? Check out our head-to-head SVS Ultra vs KEF LS50 comparison.
The Best Bookshelf Speakers under 1000
If you are looking to spend on a high-end audio system, but not go overboard, these mid to high-end speakers will not disappoint.
This is where things start to get interesting in terms of product variation. Below we have highlighted two of the best options to consider.
While you might find some other speakers in this category, they really can’t compete with these two offerings by KEF below.
#1 KEF Q350
Staying in the KEF fan club, the Q350 model has garnered many positive reviews from both users and industry experts alike. It’s a classic mid-level speaker set, with something for everyone.
It might sacrifice a bit on gloss and sheen, but it still produces an excellent mid-range sound. Best of all, it generally sells between $500-700, making it easily affordable for those looking to spend less than $1000.
- Technology: Like the higher-priced LS50, the Q350’s come standard with the latest version of the Uni-Q driver. In a similar fashion, KEF has exploited the progress of the Blade speakers and shared much of the core technology down the price range.
- Sound: We can discuss the finer points at length, but the bottom line is that the Q350’s deliver a well-detailed and expressive sound performance. There is certainly some tough competition in this price range, but this model can stand its own against the best of them (and for a lesser price). The overall experience with the KEF Q350 is actually quite dynamic. Each individual instrument can be heard in detail. The level of precision is actually quite good for this category of speakers. The only downside is that things will tend to get a bit thin at a very high treble.
- Speaker Design: The Q350 speakers have a more traditional bookshelf speaker design and offer a variety of different color schemes to choose from. Internally, the design features “tangerine” sound wave tweeters. This enables the Q350 to maintain and improve the sound wave flow. Another nice engineering feature is the control of “Cone Breakup”. What this does is essentially is establish a “moulding” to mediate between the driver’s cone and central motor, thus reducing resonance in the mid-level ranges.
If you are trying to find a good balance between cost and performance, these speakers will leave you with plenty of room to spare in your budget. You really can’t go wrong with these speakers.
Highly detailed, with excellent mid range, the Q350 is a great compromise that really doesn't sacrifice much quality in exchange for an excellent value price.
Where to Buy the KEF Q350’s?
Prices tend to vary online, but you can find a good price at this listing via Amazon (in my experience price hunting, frequently discounted).
That said, I’d also price shop Crutchfield (this listing here) to see who’s running the best deal.
#2: Audioengine HD6
The Audioengine HD6s stick out as an interesting choice in this list. They are not only the only wireless option but the only powered option as well.
If you’re looking for just a set of speakers, not part of a larger setup, then these would be for you. They’re totally self-contained, being powered, and super easy to set up due to them being wireless.
- Technology: Audioengine HD6 incorporates advanced audio technology to ensure a superior listening experience. It features built-in Bluetooth with aptX, allowing high-quality wireless connectivity. The speakers also utilize a dual class AB monolithic amplifier, which not only provides powerful sound but also ensures the speakers have high-energy efficiency.
- Sound: The Audioengine HD6 delivers exceptional sound quality. It is equipped with 5.5-inch Kevlar woofers and 1-inch silk dome tweeters, which work together to produce a well-balanced, dynamic, and crystal-clear sound. Whether you’re listening to music, watching movies, or playing games, these speakers offer an immersive audio experience, with a wide soundstage and impressive bass response.
- Speaker Design: On the design front, Audioengine HD6 shines with its aesthetic and functional aspects. These speakers feature a hand-built MDF wood cabinet that not only enhances sound quality but also adds a touch of elegance to any room. The cabinets are precision-tuned, which reduces unwanted resonances for a purer sound. The speakers also have a magnetic grill system and aluminum trim accents, adding to the overall sleek and premium look. Moreover, the speakers are available in multiple finishes, allowing users to choose one that best fits their interior decor.
Just because they’re wireless and powered doesn’t mean they sound bad, though. Yes, a high-quality amp with passive speakers is preferred over a powered option, but these sound good.
The woofers have diecast aluminum frames, which hold the woofer in firm. This pushes the bass out without the cone overreacting and absorbing the impact.
They look great too. Audioengine calls this a “retro-forward design”, something that looks retro, but not like an antique. Furniture-grade wood veneers are used to finish the cabinet in either natural, black, or cherry. Aluminum trim accents line the body, as well as detachable magnetic grills to fit the look you want.
Additional Context: Read our full Audioengine HD6 Review.
The Best Bookshelf Speakers under 500
At this price point, you will find some great value options for the money.
You’ll start to miss out on some of the higher-end features, but you are still in the category of feature-rich speakers. The following are two of my favorite bookshelf speakers for less than $500.
Coming in much cheaper than the previous options are the Klipsch RP-160Ms. Don’t let the price tag fool you, though. These speakers are more than capable of standing next to any of the others on this list with little to no issues.
- Technology: The Klipsch RP-160M bookshelf speakers incorporate advanced technology, which is a signature of Klipsch, a renowned American loudspeaker manufacturer. The speakers utilize the latest Tractrix Horn tweeter and Cerametallic diaphragm, which are praised for improving sound quality. Klipsch’s long history of using horn technology in its speakers ensures they remain a strong alternative to traditional loudspeaker firms.
- Sound: These speakers are known for their exceptional sound quality. The unique combination of the Tractrix Horn tweeter and Cerametallic diaphragm, along with the specific rectangular bass-reflex port, contribute to high-quality sound output. Despite their relatively large size, they provide an outstanding auditory experience.
- Speaker Design: The design of the Klipsch RP-160M speakers is impressive. They are not only efficient and neutral but also extremely authentic, contributing to their good looks. They include a permanently mounted plinth for added stability and reduced vibrations. Additionally, they come in a premium, limited edition Piano Black finish, giving a bold, theater-quality aesthetic in a compact, bookshelf design.
If you’ve used anything from Klipsch, you know that the star of the show is the midrange.
Across every Klipsch product, the midrange is very natural, lending a sound that sounds full, but not muddy.
As opposed to many other speakers, this area doesn’t sound scooped, making the precise in the room feel like it’s surrounding your ears.
The looks are no slouch either. Klipsch’s signature copper-spun woofer is present here, which gorgeous reflects light. Even mismatched with other speakers, these manage to stand out in a way that works in the favor of the whole setup.
This is not your average 5.1 system. We've compiled the latest Klipsch technologies to create the Reference Premiere RP-160 home theater system.
This is not your average 5.1 system. We've compiled the latest Klipsch technologies to create the Reference Premiere RP-160 home theater system.
Klipsch is another leading brand in the acoustic space. They generally have very solid, higher-end products, from headphones to speakers.
Their RB-51 bookshelf speakers are no exception. Coming in sub-$500, these speakers are among the best in this price category.
You can check out our assessment below:
- Technology: The RB-51’s feature a frequency range response of between 50Hz and 24KHz, with excellent power handling (maxing out at a 300-watt peak). At the core of these speakers is Klipsch’s patented Tractix Horn technology. While it’s a bit of mystery just what goes into this, the end result is a smart combination of clarity, precision, and power. This unique mix helps to set these speakers apart from the competition. Like KEF, Klipsch has scaled its technology from the high end down to the smaller compact bookshelf speakers.
- Sound: The 5.25-inch woofer really helps to enhance the bass quality significantly. It’s not necessarily a true subwoofer, but it still provides a very solid bass for a bookshelf speaker. The 1-inch titanium tweeter helps to keep the speakers running smoothly, even at a high frequency. There is a good definition, even at higher ranges. Overall, the sound is quite dynamic which is the mark of a good speaker system. The higher highs and the lower lows – and all the nuances in between – are accurately rendered.
- Speaker Design: These speakers are quite nice to look at. They feature a vinyl black wood style with a nice dark finish. Structurally, one of the things to like about the RB-51 is the unique woofer construction. It consists of a blend of metal and ceramic with a copper outer layer. This is a smart design feature that helps to project accurate sound and lessen distortion. The system as a whole is a “bass reflex” structure, meaning that it has a port on the back end of the box. This actually makes the speakers more conducive to mounting on a stand or even mounted on a wall as the sound will fire backward into most hard-backed bookshelves.
Fills medium-sized rooms with dynamic sound reproduction. Highly efficient design produces more output using less energy. Accurate, non-fatiguing sound.
This is another great entry for Klipsch. Again, this is one of the bookshelf speakers where you really can’t go wrong. Different types of users might prefer a few of the subtleties in specs, but really there is not much that separates this set of speakers from a similarly priced KEF set.
You can find the RB-51’s for a bargain price via Amazon.
Check out more relevant reviews and comparisons from this brand:
- Klipsch R-15M Review
- Klipsch Promedia Review
- Klipsch Quintet Review
- Klipsch Heresy III Speakers Review
- Klipsch Music Center 3 Review
- Klipsch Promedia 2.1 vs Logitech z623
The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 200
If you are really on a tight budget, but still need a good set of speakers, this is the bargain bin! You have to be very careful in this category because there is a lot of junk.
Not to worry, we’ve tested out a number of bookshelf speakers in this category and have found the following three (3) to be excellent value for the money.
Check out the following descriptions for details and then review the comparison table at the end.
#1 Fluance SX6
The SX6 is a bookshelf speaker with an attractive price tag and solid performance. It’s cheap, but it has a premium appearance, feels, and execution. If you are looking for a more classic bookshelf speaker, this should be the first speaker you look at.
- Technology: To start with, Fluance has emplaced neodymium tweeters to enhance the level of frequency response. This is a nice feature that sets these speakers apart. The fine-tuned base ensures excellent quality at the lower ends helps ensure fidelity at base levels.
- Sound: To put it succinctly, the SX6 speakers provide nice frequency response, minimal acoustic distortion, and a rich quality of sound. These speakers live and dance beautifully in the mid ranges, something I can’t say about most speakers at this price. Higher ranges are clear and accurate, clearly outclassing peers.
- Speaker Design: On the outside, the SX6 speakers offer a more traditional aesthetic. These are the type of bookshelf speakers that actually look nice…. on a bookshelf. The first thing you’ll notice is the sturdy construction and premium feel. Like some other smart companies, Fluance has mastered the art of intelligent spatial design and sound flow within the speaker box. While the price may be eminently reasonable, they don’t skimp on the construction. Audio MDF-grade wood is standard, helping to reduce resonance issues. 5-way plated bind posts also structurally support optimal sound performance. Finally – unique to the SX6 – is a butyl rubber layer that enhances durability and ensures accurate sound quality.
If you are willing to take a hit on some of the high-quality performance and sound perks, you can still find some excellent bookshelf speakers in this price bracket. You can find them for an excellent price here.
Technically these retail for around $299, but can be discounted lower. Hear me out on these.
The Polk ES15’s are a great, functional and budget friendly bookshelf speaker pairing. With curb appeal! I love the way these look and at under $200 you really can’t go wrong here.
Technology: The Polk Signature ES15 speakers deploy a host of advanced technologies to deliver an unparalleled audio experience. They feature Polk’s patented Dynamic Balance Technology to eliminate sound distortions and resonance, providing a clean, clear sound stage. The S15s also utilize a high-resolution Terylene tweeter for a higher frequency response and improved reproduction of audio fidelity.
Sound: In terms of sound, the Polk Signature Elite ES15s are exceptional. With a wide frequency response of 50Hz–40kHz, these speakers provide a detailed, rich, and expansive sound that covers the full audio spectrum. Deep, impactful bass, articulate mids, and sparkling highs are all delivered with stunning clarity and precision. The S15s make every note count, ensuring an immersive and engaging listening experience.
Speaker Design: The design of the Polk ES15s is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. The speakers feature a sleek and compact design that’s perfect for any bookshelf or small space. Their MDF construction reduces resonance and vibration, while the anti-diffraction magnetic grille minimizes sonic interference. The ES15s also boast a beautiful washed black walnut finish, making them a stylish addition to any room.
If you are looking to pick these up, they can be a bit hard to find on the usual spots (e.g. Amazon), so check these retailers out:
- Via Amazon: Generally well stocked and quick shipping. Check this listing here.
- Via Crutchfield: Good reputable name in the industry, free shipping and 60 day price protection if the price drops. Check this listing here.
If you really need something on the budget end – but that still packs a punch – consider the Edifier R1280T’s.
They come with a 4-inch primary woofer and 13mm silk dome tweeter, allowing for a full and rich sound. The R1280T features dual RCA inputs, enabling you to connect to multiple audio sources.
The speakers have a built-in tone control at the side, making it easy for users to adjust the sound to their liking.
Below I’ve have highlighted again some of the important areas where the R1280T’s deliver.
- Technology: The Edifier R1280T speakers come equipped with advanced audio technology that offers a premium sound experience. They feature dual RCA inputs, which allow for multiple audio devices to be connected simultaneously, enhancing their versatility. In addition, they have a built-in tone control that enables easy audio adjustment, making them user-friendly and convenient to use.
- Sound: The R1280T speakers are known for producing a full and rich sound. With a 4-inch primary woofer and a 13mm silk dome tweeter, these speakers provide a balanced audio output with clear highs, mids, and lows, ensuring an immersive listening experience. Their sound quality is not compromised even at high volumes, making them an excellent choice for music enthusiasts.
- Speaker Design: In terms of design, the Edifier R1280T speakers exhibit a classic touch with a sturdy wood finish, adding a stylish and elegant element to any room. They LOOK higher end than the price tag would suggest! The speakers are compact and designed to fit comfortably on bookshelves or desktops without taking up much space. Their aesthetic appeal combined with their exceptional sound output makes them an excellent choice for a bookshelf speaker.
I really, really, like these speakers for the price. They are packed with innovative features and all the small details to be a great value for the money.
Yes, they aren’t groundbreaking, but they do almost everything right that you could possibly expect at this price point. You can find them for a competitive $100-130 price.
What About the Best Bookshelf Speakers for Bass?
If you are specifically looking for something with killer bass, here’s a few names worth mentioning:
- KEF Q350 (Amazon / Crutchfield): These already made my list as the top overall under $1000 bookshelf speakers. You can what you pay for and these are ALL AROUND great speakers and the bass is similarly great, without compromising anywhere else.
- ELAC Debut ConneX (Amazon / Crutchfield): Excellent overall sound quality, excellent bass response. I like that these are more affordable (under $500) AND feature almost every connection option for easy setup.
Sub Compact Small Bookshelf Speakers for Space Conscious Living
If space is an issue (apartments, etc…), there’s some great new options in the bookshelf speaker space with surprisingly good sound quality without taking up a ton of space. Premium sound has much less to do with overall size than it used to (although still a factor, of course).
- Audioengine A2+ (Crutchfield): I mentioned their big brother the HD6’s in my under $1000 picks, but the A2+ is a great, compact bookshelf speaker that actually function more like desktop speakers (great for workstations, laptops, etc…).
- Q Acoustics 3010i (Reverb): These have more of a classic bookshelf speaker aesthetic than the A2+ above, but also feature a relative small (and narrow) footprint. A true “bookshelf size” as that actually fits in with the books.
Best Bookshelf Speakers If You Love Vintage
Looking for something with a classic appeal? One of my favorite options in the best vintage bookshelf speakers category is the Wolverine RSR100.
Here’s why I like it:
- Handmade: This handmade wood cabinet has the classic retro “vintage” feel that I like.
- AM/FM Tuner: This is a neat feature, representative of the classic speakers back in the day.
- Modern Capability: While the design is classic, this box has an AUX-IN jack and Bluetooth capability.
It’s not an amazingly high-tech system, but if the classic look and feel is what you are after, these do the job.
Top Vinyl Bookshelf Speakers
If you are specifically looking for a good bookshelf setup for your vinyl records, my favorite option is the Dayton Audio B452 speakers. They are affordably priced for the technology and quality that you get.
In particular, the sound waves are pushed in a square formation, meaning that there is less effort (distortion) in the process. This is ideal for vinyl.
Some Related Reading in the Bookshelf Speaker Category: