The Best Bookshelf Speakers may not have the size of tower speakers, but don’t let size fool you. Over the past decade, technology and feature enhancements have made bookshelf speakers a great solution to achieve full sound and fidelity. You really don’t need anything larger anymore. They’re perfect solution for a surround sound system. And you can use bookshelf speakers as your surrounds or your mains. You can put them on stands, hang them from your walls or place them on bookshelves. And unlike quick solution home audio speakers, Bookshelf Speakers bring high quality and flexible music to your home theater or stereo. They have clarity, depth and fullness that soundbars and out-of-the box systems sometimes aren’t able to achieve.
Here is a list of 2017’s top rated and reviewed bookshelf speakers to help you choose the best products for your home surround sound theater.
Best Bookshelf Speakers | Top 5
|Our Rank||Bookshelf Speaker||Power Handling (RMS)||Sensitivity (dB)||Frequency Response||Price|
|1.||Definitive Technology Studiomonitor 65||20 - 300 watts||92 dB||30 - 30k Hz||$$$$|
|2.||KEF Q300||120 watts||87 dB||42 - 40k Hz||$$$|
|3.||Klipsch RB-61 II||100 watts||95 dB||45 - 24k Hz||$$|
|4.||Polk Audio LSiM703||20 - 200 watts||88 dB||50 - 30k Hz||$$$$$|
|5.||Martinlogan Motion 15||20 - 200 watts||92 dB||60 - 25k Hz||$$$$|
What to Look For
A set of one of the best bookshelf speakers will play a huge role in your surround sound system. But before you browse through our list of top rated speakers, there’s a few things you should consider. When you’re comparing and choosing the right speaker for you, you should always look at:
Drivers: Drivers are the heart of a bookshelf speaker. They are what produce the sound. Most bookshelf speakers come with a combination of drivers. This includes a high-frequency driver, mid-frequency driver and low-frequency driver to capture all ranges of sound. Generally, the larger the driver, the better it’s able to reproduce bass and low-frequencies. Vice versa, the smaller the driver the better it is able to reproduce higher frequencies. Finding a top rated bookshelf speaker that has a combination of drivers to reproduce a full range of frequencies is crucial.
Design: Design plays a role in your decision but for two reasons. 1. Looks – the look of the speaker needs to match the style you want. But there’s also design with respect to 2. Performance. The design of the bookshelf speaker and enclosure has an effect on the sound too. There’s two types of enclosure designs: Bass-reflex and Sealed. Bass-reflex use the inside and rear movement of the low-frequency driver to create bass. This sound projects through a bass-reflex port. Bass-reflex designs typically create heavier and more responsive bass than Sealed. Sealed enclosures use the front movement of the low-frequency driver to create bass. They don’t have a port. Also, larger bookshelf speakers typically will have a larger driver that can produce heavier and fuller bass.
Researching and finding the perfect set of surround sound speakers can be hard. But we did the research so you don’t have to! And if you’re looking to build an entire home theater, consider taking a look at our list of Best Floor Standing Tower Speakers, Best A/V Receivers and Best Soundbars. If you’re still undecided about a Floorstanding Tower Speaker or Bookshelf Speaker, check out more about the two in our post Floorstanding Speakers vs Bookshelf Speakers.
Our Top Picks
1. Best Overall: Definitive Technology SM65
- Bookshelf Speaker
- Power Handling: 20 – 300W
- Sensitivity: 92 dB
- Responsive Bandwidth: 30 – 30000 Hz
Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 65 Quick Review
If you want high-end performance in a slightly smaller package, the Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 65 is the choice for you. It’s one of the best rated and best performing bookshelf speakers on the market. The Definitive Technology brand was formed in 1990. They’re now rated as the top producer of audiophile-grade speakers in the US. These speakers have been praised by both every-day consumers and audio experts. They have high-quality components, are constructed with detailed workmanship and have outstanding sound quality.
The StudioMonitor 65 is the result of Definitive’s dedication to innovation and technological advances. The versatile design gives music lovers clear sound from 5 1/4 mid-bass drivers that are fixed to a bass radiator. This innovative design allows it to produce the full and deep sound like a 12-inch woofer. All while maintaining the mid and high frequencies of a smaller driver.
These speakers can handle a power handling between 20 and 200 watts of amp power. They have a frequency response of between 30 and 30,000 hertz, and have 92 dB sensitivity and 8 ohms impedance. Definitive Technology put as much effort into the enclosure design as they did in their sound components. Enclosed in a non-resonant braced enclosure, the StudioMonitor 65 combines high grade components with a high quality box. The result is clean, distortionless and full sound to your stereo.
Some of its other key highlights include:
- Linear response wave guide technology for a broader, more even dispersion of sound
- Rigid die cast driver baskets made from aluminum that have lower distortion
- Dual five-way binding post terminals on the speakers
- A wood grain, matte black enclosure along with a high glass and anti-diffraction baffle
- 5 year manufacture warranty
2. Best Bass Response: KEF Q300
KEF Q300 Quick Review
KEF is considered one of the leading speaker designers for the past fifty years. It’s no surprise that this speaker is among the overall best bookshelf speakers this year. Their expert technical engineers have designed speakers for every application. From everyday speakers for the average user, to custom speakers for high-end theater systems. Established in 1961, KEF is setting the bar for some great home theater speakers.
Among their latest innovative designs are the KEF Q300 bookshelf speakers. They are some of the company’s most creative and innovative designs to date. They’re meant to perform well regardless if you are using them to watch your favorite movie or blasting your favorite tunes.
The key feature of the KEF Q300 is the Uni-Q driver array. Uni-Q was designed and based on a Concept Blade HF driver. It has a newer, bigger, and higher performing tweeter that is mounted in the unit’s acoustic center inside a metal cone driver. This helps preserve the clarity and accuracy of the sound it produces. And it allows for a deeper and more accurate bass sound for listeners.
Other highlights include:
- Die-cast aluminum chassis
- Large voice coil
- Vented magnet assembly
3. Best for Surround Sound: Klipsch RB-61 II
Klipsch RB-61 II Quick Review
Paul W. Klipsch was said to be a genius in the industry. He designed the first Klipsch speakers. Paul wanted to bring the same quality of sound that live music presented to the comfort of the living room. And that’s exactly what he did with the Klipsch RB-61 II.
This speaker may look small, but it has the same impressive sound quality as bigger tower speakers. Klipsch has improved and updated their drivers, and use a brand new crossover system to give customers better, more efficient sound. The RB-61 II is built on 4 previous generations that date back to 1999. They are the 5th generation of the design with the highest quality of sound reproduction yet.
With the RB-61 II, customers get the benefit of both great design and all the best components. Its bass-reflex design with a front firing port is ideal for people who want to put their speakers alongside a wall or inside a bookcase. And its light-weight and rigid ceramic-metallic woofers produce incredibly full and smooth mids and low, crisp bass.
Additional key highlights include:
- Tractrix horn with a one-inch tweeter dome made of titanium
- A six and a half inch woofer of Cerametallic
- Can handle power up to 400 watts
- 95 dB sensitivity
- 8 ohms of impedance
- A black ash, wood grain vinyl finish
- Dual binding posts
- Frequency response of between 45 and 24,000 hertz
- 5 year manufacture warranty
4. Best Splurge: Polk Audio LSiM703
Polk Audio LSiM703 Quick Review:
Polk started in 1972 as with three men: Matt Polk, George Klopfer and Sandy Gross. It was their skills and knowledge that led to products like the LSi M 703. They helped to make the Polk brand the international brand it is for home audio applications.
The Polk’s LSi M 703 bookshelf speakers are one of Polk Audio’s flagship models. They maintain the company’s reputation for producing high-performance speakers. With the LSi M 703, music lovers get the versatility of the smaller bookshelf speaker without sacrificing sound quality. It may be small, but it puts out a pure, deep, realistic sound. It’s designed with Polk’s PowerPort woofer technology, which enables the 703s to produce deep and smooth bass.
If you love sitting in your family room and listening to those old big band tunes, these speakers will fit the order. The LSi M 703 offers listeners great features. Including a frequency response between 50 and 30,000 hertz and a sensitivity of 88 dB, 8-ohm impedance. As for power, it can handle between 20 and 200 watts.
Additional key features include:
- A three and a quarter inch super cell, aerated polypropylene midrange
- A one-inch ring radiator tweeter
- A six and a half inch super cell aerated polypropylene woofer
- Dual, gold-plated five-way binding posts
- Real wood veneer with hand finished lacquer
- Full five-year warranty
5. Best Looking: MartinLogan Motion 15
BIC America F12 Quick Review
The BIC America F12 is a fantastic product. It is one of the most popular home subwoofers on Amazon, with over 1000 reviews and a 4.7 star rating! The reason it gets so much praise is because it offers tremendous quality for a great price. The F12 is great for a home theater. The lows add a powerful vibe to any movieand gaming experience. Considering it’s a 12″ subwoofer, the F12 is on the larger side. So make sure you have a place to set it up as well as speakers that can keep up with it. Also, room placement is critical for this sub to optimize the sound quality.
- BASH designed amp
- Patented “Venturi” vent which eliminates port noise
- Adjustable volume control, adjustable crossover, automatic signal sensing
- Frequency Response: 25Hz – 200Hz
- 12-inch injection molded long throw woofer
- 21 x 19 x 22 inches (HxWxD)
- Weight: 42.70 pounds each
- Backed by 5 year parts and labor warranty
Common Terms Specifications
There are several things to know about bookshelf speakers before you make a decision to buy. Frequency range, efficiency, power handling – these are just a few things. Knowing the basics about bookshelf speakers will give you the knowledge to find the best ones for your home.
Drivers are the individual speakers that make up your bookshelf speaker. It’s important to know what they are made of and the individual performance for each. It’s the combination of these drivers, and how they complement each other, that makes up the overall performance of your bookshelf speakers. Here are a few terms that will help you understand the makeup of your drivers.
- Woofer: The speaker woofer can determine the responsiveness, and quality of the speaker. The stiffer and more lightweight the material used, the more effective the speaker is. Polypropylene is a very common material used for the cone, as well as woven fabrics such as kevlar. Aluminum and titanium are also used in higher end speakers.
- Woofer Surrounding: The woofer surround also is an important aspect of the speaker system and effect the sound as well. Durable, lightweight, and free moving materials are used to allow the woofer to move with as little energy possible. The material is essential for a long lasting and performing speaker too. As speakers get older and used, humidity levels and wear-and-tear can crack and even break the surrounding of the woofer. Rubber surrounding is typically the most long lasting an high performing material. Foam an cloth surroundings are found on less expensive component speakers, with lower performance and shorter life spans.
- Crossovers: When you purchase a component car speaker system, a crossover is almost always a part of the package. External crossovers are typically used to lessen the amount of distortion a speaker might have by separating the frequency inputs. Signals can cross through coated wiring and cause distortion, so an external crossover system will limit this.
Hands down the most important thing to consider when researching bookshelf speakers is the sound quality. Here are a few terms that will help you understand performance, and how to choose the best.
- Power Handling: Power handling is the measurement a manufacture gives to rate how much power a speaker can handle and operate at. It is given by two measurements, RMS and Peak (or MAX).
- RMS Power rating is the amount of power the speaker handles continuously, while the Peak Power rating is the amount of power a speaker can handle in short bursts. When comparing speakers, RMS Power is the more relevant and important rating to look at.
- Sensitivity: The speaker sensitivity rating is a measurement of the amount of sound the speaker will emit from the power it’s given. The higher the sensitivity, the more efficient the speaker is with the power it’s given. For lower powered systems, you want a higher sensitivity rating. For a higher powered system, you want a lower sensitivity rating. Lower sensitivity rated speakers are meant to handle higher power.
- Frequency Range: Frequency range is the frequencies that the speaker emits sound at, measure in Hz. Normally they are given from a low frequency to high, for example: 20 – 22,000 (22k) Hz. This measure how low and high the speaker can actually emit sound at.
Another major component to consider when choosing the best bookshelf speakers is its design. Size, enclosure, enclosure material, color – all are important! Smaller and lighter speakers are great for fitting in small areas, but might sacrifice frequency range and sound quality because of it. The type of enclosure and/or posts are important as well – you can choose between binding posts or box enclosures, depending on your preference and limitations of the space you’re placing the speakers. Binding posts typically give you more options for space and wiring, while box enclosures sometimes give you a fuller, better sound quality. Then of course there’s color. Some speaker models are limited by color, and might not match the style of your home.
Choosing the best bookshelf speaker to put in your home can be difficult, and expensive. Before you choose, make sure you know what you’re comparing and what you’re looking at!
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