Speakers are an important part of any home audio setup.
But not everyone has the budget and room space for those big and expensive floor-standing speakers.
Enter the bookshelf speakers.
They’re larger than portable speakers but much smaller than floor speakers. Thus, they offer a good balance between size and performance.
They’re placed on an elevated surface such as your shelf, desk, or table, and can easily fill one small or medium-sized room.
Best Bookshelf Speakers 2021 Buying Guide
Yes, they won’t give you chest-thumping bass around your whole house but will be good enough in your bedroom or living room.
Since bookshelf speakers come in a variety of sizes and specs, picking one for yourself can be an overwhelming experience for beginners.
Considering this, here are my recommendations for the best bookshelf speakers available in the market right now.
Edifier R1280T: Check Price On Amazon
Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers 2021
My first pick is Edifier’s R1280T speaker.
While most speakers in the sub-$100 category carry a simple design, R1280T comes with light wood on the sides and a metallic finish on the top. These wooden panels not only make it more durable but also give it a retro look.
The front side has a gray cloth grille with a thin line in the middle and Edifier’s Logo at the bottom. Removing this grille will reveal the same metallic finish on the front side along with a 4-inch woofer, a 13mm silk dome tweeter – on each speaker.
The right speaker of R1280T is a powered speaker and acts as the main unit.
It gets the power and then extends it to the left one through a detachable cable on its back panel. This back panel also contains a power switch and dual RCA inputs for connection with PCs as well as mobile devices.
In addition to all this, the right side of the right speaker contains three knobs on the upper area. The top one is for Treble adjustment, while the top and bottom ones do the same for Bass and Volume.
The weird thing I noted in the volume knob is that it has no start and end position and it can be rotated forever, literally.
The Bass and Treble knobs are at midpoint out of the box for a neutral sound, but you can adjust according to your taste.
But despite these adjustments, the overall sound balance doesn’t blow out of proportion. You get clear treble, and due to the rich bass you don’t probably need a separate subwoofer.
The main complaint I had with these speakers is the distortion you can get at the max volume level. The 7.7-inches depth makes these speakers slightly longer which can be a problem if you have a shallow shelf.
Lastly, the connectivity options are limited.
Presonus Eris E3.5: Check Price On Amazon
As mentioned above, Edifier R1208T is my pick for the best budget bookshelf speaker. But in case you have any issue with it, Presonus E3.5 can be a good alternative for you.
The first change you’ll note in Presonus Eris E3.5 is that they’re studio monitors instead of consumer-grade speakers.
As good as consumer-grade headphones and speakers are, they don’t give you an accurate sound – with most of them emphasizing bass. Yes, bassheads are everywhere but some people like a flatter and natural frequency response.
This is especially true for music production where you want to hear as accurate sound as possible.
If that is the case, you can consider studio monitors such as Presonus E3.5.
With solid plastic on the front, vinyl-covered MDF for case on both units, and metal mesh cover for woofers, I’m pretty satisfied with the sound quality.
On the front-side of the left speaker, you’ll find an AUX-in port, a headphone jack, volume wheel, and power buttons.
Since all of them are located on the bottom of the front side, the overall look is minimalist.
Moving onto the backside of this left speaker, you’ll get all the other connectivity options as well as two knobs to adjust highs and lows.
But considering it as a studio monitor, I liked them to be in their default positions.
In terms of raw specs, E3.5 comes with 3.5-inch woofer, one-inch tweeter (better than what you mostly get at this price), a peak SPL of 100 dB, and a frequency response of 80Hz-20000Hz.
Another advantage E3.5 has over Edifier 1280T is the maximum speaker output of 25W per speaker (compared to 21W per speaker in 1280T).
Kevlar woofers are the spotlight in these speakers because it’s not something we see in budget speakers.
If we talk about the sound quality, it’s pretty detailed, especially the instruments. The bass on neutral settings is slightly lesser than what it is in other speakers but is clear overall.
ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2: Check Price On Amazon
Debut B6.2 is an updated version of the original B6, and ELAC has tried to improve on the things that were criticized in the B6.
Although both of them look the same, the B6.2s are slightly taller, deeper, and narrower, which gives them a slightly large profile overall.
As a whole, these speakers have a vintage vibe but they look elegant thanks to the black finish. But some people don’t like this boxy design, so it’s up to you.
As far as the specs are concerned, you get a nominal impedance of 6 Ohms, Maximum Power Handling of 120W, 87 dB sensitivity, and 44-35,000Hz frequency range.
Since they’re front-ported speakers, you have much more flexibility in terms of how you place them in your home or office.
One of the reasons many people loved the B6 speakers was their exceptional bass performance, instead of treble-heavy sound in the other speakers of its range.
In B6.2 however, the sound is much more detailed and balanced. The frequency range is wide and open which means it can go well into Highs and Lows without any issue. You can go as high as 33000Hz without noticing any distortion.
This balanced sound is the reason why these speakers suit most of the music genres out there.
On the other hand, there’s no wall-mounting mechanism on these speakers and if you go that route you’re all on your own.
Audioengine HD3: Check Price On Amazon
Best Wireless Bookshelf Speakers 2021
All the speakers we have discussed so far are wired.
So as the fourth pick of this roundup, I’ve decided to go with a wireless speaker – Audioengine HD3.
Its design is like what you would expect from a typical bookshelf speakers pair: Two 7-inch tall rectangular boxes.
Although it comes in a number of color varieties (black, white, and cheery wood), I like the walnut version because it makes the speakers look classic and help them blend well with rest of the furniture at my home.
On the front side of the left speaker, you’ll find the power/volume knob, 3.5mm input for headphones, and a small Bluetooth pairing button.
The backside of the left speaker features all the input and the Bluetooth signal antenna.
The only input you’ll find on the passive right speaker is for the connection with the left one.
Overall, these speakers are well-built – something you expect at this price.
Being a wireless speaker, HD3 can be paired with your smartphone easily. And has an AptX codec for high-quality audio streaming. As for the computer, you can connect HD3 with it through a USB cable.
The Bluetooth range is pretty good and your connection can be maintained with up to 100m of distance with nothing in between. The switching between multiple audio sources is easy and seamless.
In sound quality, the results were interesting. The bass is good but you won’t notice it to be overpowering other frequencies until you hit the max level.
In case you don’t want the bass this way or have a separate subwoofer, you can press the bass reduction button at the back.
The vocals and instruments were pretty detailed in the midrange, but the treble isn’t as detailed as I expected.
Overall, HD3 carries good value for its money and you should consider it if you’re looking for a wireless bookshelf speaker.