As an audiophile, we understand the quest of finding the right speakers that fit our budgets, environment, space, and if it gets the nod of approval by your partner for the aesthetics. Bookshelf speakers have been around for decades and with every decade emerges a new brand claiming superior performance. This article has narrowed down the top three models of bookshelf speakers amongst piles of boxes that rattle.
The 3 Best Bookshelf Speakers
Like anything else, doing your research before making a decision will pay off for sure. So down below are the three of the best speakers that will for sure rattle your mom’s collectible plates.
Klipsch R-41PM Bookshelf Speaker – Best Overall
Way back in 1946, Paul W. Klipsch dreamt of bringing a live concert at his place. For that, he worked day and night in a rusty tin shed and created a speaker which he called “Klipschron.” Over seventy years, many things have changed, but their principles haven’t changed. The founder aimed to produce Low Distortion, High Frequency, Flat Frequency response, and Controlled Directivity.
Klipsch has a very old name in history for making top-notch loudspeakers. Their varieties range from entry-level to high-end speakers. However, the Klipsch R-41PM lies somewhat in mid-range, but their performance blows everyone away. This small, yet sophisticated audio set, offers optimum versatility without compromising on the performance. It is designed to fit perfectly in your living room, and the sleek design would make a perfect accessory in your bedroom’s media console.
R-41PM got introduced with another variant, R-51 PM. However, this model is much compact than the latter. The R-41PM is under ten inches high, less than six inches wide, and approximately less than eight inches deep; hence, it will also cozily fit in a small bedroom or on your desktop. Keep in mind not to place it flush against the wall; these speakers have a slightly bigger rear port, leaving some space at the back for best performance.
This new R-14PM model has a similar design structure to the model it has replaced; R-41. Like all the speakers from this brand, R-14PM has a sturdy built and smooth finishing with high-quality connectors. The cabinets are made out of MDF wrapped in black vinyl, which gives a solid foundation to the drivers.
For an extra touch, each speaker comes with a magnetic black grill that can be removed with ease, unlike many high-end speakers that come butt-naked. Their dainty little copper-colored screws on the big Tractrix Horn add the much-required Klipsch touch and complete the statement look.
This versatile pair of the speaker includes a phono input; making it ideal for vinyl-record fanatics. They are designed to support all kinds of audio sources essentially. Fortunately, now you do not need a carry around separate amplifier or receiver; their built-in amplifier and a dozen of inputs allow you to connect your audio sources, or you can even connect your phone through the Bluetooth feature.
The back panel has a group of RCA plugs accompanied by a tiny switch that involves the phono stage; this encourages a strong connection with no hums. If you plan to connect your turntable to these speakers, you will find a Stereo Mini Plug Cable adjacent to the set of RCA plugs.
Did you say you want to add a sub-woofer? R-41PM has got you covered! There is an output for your sub as well. In addition, you will find a Toslink and USB-B input on the digital input side, where you can connect the digital from a TV, and in case you want to connect your laptop, USB works fine.
If you thought that was it, then you are wrong; the set of speakers also comes with a remote, which lets you control the sub’s bass too. Usually, the bass control is set at the back of the sub-woofer, but this remote eliminates the inconvenience of getting to the sub to adjust the settings.
Adding to the long list of features, the R-41PM comes with Dynamic Bass Eq. This follows the same old template of the loudness button on a classic stereo receiver. The feature adds fullness to the audio at low auditory levels and works great, especially if you do not own a sub-woofer.
The Tractrix technology is exclusive to the Klipsch speakers only. This feature makes sure that the high frequency is directed to the listeners only, eliminating the synthetic reverb or indirect sounds that bounce off from the walls around.
And in no time, you can blast your favorite metal song!
The consumers are hooked on the new R_14PM set and are ready to jam. They claim this powerhouse in a compact size offers prominent highs and amazing bass for the size and holds great volumes.
Some suggest that these produce decent bass, but someone who listens to heavy drum & bass all day may want to connect sub-woofers.
- The Linear Travel Suspension aluminum tweeter reduces distortion
- The Injection Molded Graphite woofer cones offer an excellent low-frequency response
- The exterior is scratch-resistant
- The speakers do not require a stereo receiver
- The rear has endless input options
- Sleek and compact design fits in all spaces
- The speakers offer eloquent highs with rich bass
- The system doesn’t offer treble adjustments to control the sensitivity.
This set emits unbelievable quality of sound. The sound is so well-rounded you will feel Lil Pump giving you a private performance in that very room. It emits all the high pitches clearly with incredible low-frequency responses too!
Edifier R1280DB – Light on Pocket
Edifier, formally known as Beijing Edifier Technology Company, Limited, is an audio company hailing from China, established back in 1996. While most Chinese brands carry a notorious reputation, many audiophiles vouch for this brand for manufacturing impressive quality speakers that deliver balanced audio at affordable prices.
We don’t see many speakers like R1280DB in the market; this retro-looking audio set is one of a kind and truly loved by individuals with vintage-eclectic taste. They are designed to work along with personal computers and home stereos. And with dual inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, you can connect multiple sources at once.
These speakers sound and look good too. The set is 9.2 inches tall, 5.7 inches wide, and 7.7 inches deep, which is fairly compact and can snugly fit in tight spaces. The exterior is built out of warm MDF wood paneling with prominent wood grains on the side and contrasting, matte metallic finishing at the top. The speaker coverings are rather a mellow grey that transitions the stark contrasts. If you are one of those who love to watch their drivers rattle with music, you may remove the covering; however, the raw look would not go well with the sophisticated look of this preppy set.
Posted under the grey grilles is the classic EDIFIER logo in a minimalist font that is removable. Each speaker contains a four-inch woofer with a 13 mm Silk Dome Tweeter and a vent to allow air that helps the drivers work more efficiently. Amongst the two speakers, one is marked PC and includes a 3.5mm RCA cable, while the other is marked as AUX RCA-RCA cable. Only the right speaker gets powered, while the left one feeds on its power through a detachable cable. And all the power switches and hardwired cables are located at the rear panel.
The manufacturers have brought together the perfect combination of retro aesthetics with modern auditory features in this model. The good thing is that their bass and treble knobs are more refined than various other EQ controls. Also, the drivers deliver a flat frequency response, which is a good thing that indicates that the speakers are accurate, with no dips, peaks, or ups and downs.
When we tested a few mixes, with some dramatic alterations with the bass fully turned up, the balance did not topple. This means you can easily amp up the bass expressively while still maintaining a sense of balance.
Next, when we played the song “If I had a Heart” with neutral settings, the speakers emitted strong bass even at high volumes. It might be possible the sound may get pushed on the edge of sounding distorted but then, it depends on how high your audio source gets. However, the audio gets pretty loud before you start hearing minor distortions; at medium volumes and normal settings, the bass response is fairly loud and quite powerful, so we are sorted with the bass segment.
To test if the speakers overcompensate for the bass, we tried a track with way less deep bass. Luckily the drums did not sound exaggerated or thunderous. With R1280DB, the track sounded rather natural to its original tone, and all the highs, mids, and lows were crisp and clear.
Moving on, this set by Edifier allows you to customize the settings as per your preferences through the treble, bass, and volume dials installed on the active speaker. Unlike various loudspeakers of this price range, R1280DB comes with remote control as well. So you can customize your choice through the remote control or alter the volume levels without leaving your cozy seat. For audio geeks who need their adjustments to the T, this set also allows micro-adjustments of bass and treble from -6 to +6 dB. And the volume setting resets to a comfortable level to hear every time the speakers get turned on.
All chant the same affirmative statements about the EdifierR1280DB, from the broke college students to seventy-year-old music enthusiasts. Almost all consumers bought the cheaper brother from the Edifier speakers range with high hopes but were blown away with sound clarity and bass notes.
- The Speakers pair directly through Bluetooth in no time
- The most affordable set of loudspeakers with impeccable quality
- The speakers allow you to connect multiple devices
- The RCA inputs are present at the rear side of the speakers
- Both Optical and Coaxial inputs are available
- The manufacturers offer an incredible two-year warranty on the speakers
- Adjust volume setting through remote control at the touch of your finger
- The fusion of contemporary and retro design suits in all modern places
- The power cable is fixed
- Distortion at very high volume levels
The Edifier’s R2108T offers handsome looks at a handsome price. Unfortunately, speakers that are so cost-effective usually do not sound that great. However, R2108T delivers powerful and stable audio with changeable EQ and remote control.
Audioengine HD3 Wireless Speakers
These speakers are placed last in our list, but they are certainly not low in quality whatsoever. Audioengine is a trusted company established in our very own Hippie Haven, Austin, Texas, back in 2005. Since then, they have been producing quality audio devices like speakers, amplifiers, subwoofers, and compatible accessories. We chose the very best wireless speakers from their assortment, which we confirm is raved about for outstanding audio output.
This handsome pair of stereo speakers is a refreshing outlook amongst other single speakers expected to do it all. Moreover, this pair allows for real-deal audio separation. These hunky boxes are available in a few furniture-grade polishes like cherry and walnut but in a wooden veneer that is sealed with aluminum trim. The right and the left speakers each measure 7.0″x4.3″x5.5″, which is a compact dimension that can be fitting as desktop speakers and powerful enough to fill the entire living room.
There is a 2.75″ woofer on the frontal side and then a ¾” tweeter, both snap closed by a protective mesh grill that attaches magnetically.
These speakers can be connected to a PC, Phone, or tablet via Bluetooth for high-quality streaming. Now the main purpose of these speakers is probably at your desk, but it is always handy to switch to the Bluetooth feature.
The front face has a button for Bluetooth pairing that flashes depending on which mode you are playing your sound on. Pairing does not take any time; just in few seconds, you get connected to the speakers, and the HD3 feature can memorize around six different devices; however, you can only pair one device at a time via Bluetooth.
Moving, on the speakers offer outstanding sub-bass and strong bass-depth as well. Unfortunately, certain songs tend to get extremely loud, which pushes to sound quality to distort at a point. Nevertheless, when we played some heavy-duty bass-rich songs, the speakers performed extremely well even at high levels, but we noticed faint distortion at max volumes. But at such high levels, no one really can make out the slight creaks.
- Speakers are built-in with 24-bit DAC
- They can be connected via Bluetooth in seconds
- Comes in attractive designs and wood veneer finishes
- Emits pristine highs and rich lows
- Offer a three-year transferable warranty
- It may not fit in everyone’s budget
The speakers are slightly expensive, but they come with a few bonuses; Bluetooth connectivity, built-in DAC, smooth sound quality all add up to the compelling price tag it is labeled with.
Factors to Consider before Buying
Excellence of Sound
The quality of sound is the most important factor that should determine your purchase. The best speakers possess a balance of treble frequencies and bass, and the sound should sound clear and crisp.
Today, we listen to our audios through multiple sources; hence choose speakers with multiple inputs that accommodate all the sources or at least the sources you often use.
Speakers should first be east to installed and also used later on. Also, the convenience is measured by how accessible the volume control knobs and other adjustments are.
What are bookshelf speakers?
Back in the 50s, the bigger speakers were all the rage, while the small ones were synonymous with low audio quality. Then as the 60s hit, manufacturers started producing compact cabinet speakers of better quality and started selling them at a higher price. People living in smaller places and apartments started opting for these bookshelf loudspeakers, and from then onwards, the demand grew.
The two figures accredited as the inventors of these speakers as Edgar Villchur and Henry Kloss. Years later, in the 90’s thanks to mass production technology, these audio boxes were then available at many affordable prices for most audiophiles. These bookshelf speakers are designed to be compact and sleek and are generally aimed to be sold be as consumer-grade audio applications. These speakers are related to shelf stereos or included in the home theater set meant to be placed on a raised surface.
How to Position You Bookshelf Speakers?
Despite being a versatile bookshelf, the speaker cannot just be kept anywhere. So it is advised to avoid putting them too close to the windows or the wall. Another tip from High Fidelity suggests that the speakers should be placed at ten and ten, facing them towards the ideal listening position. It is also important to keep in mind that the speakers should be placed at the ear’s height.
Next, watch out for vibrations; you need to separate the speaker cabinet from the surface you place it on; adding a buffering or decoupling material between the base of the cabinet and surface ensures better performance. Some loudspeakers already come with silicone feet or tips, while stands accompany some.
Moreover, it would help if you observed the distance around the speaker’s circumference and the room’s size. For example, you need a distance of more than 50cm around the speakers and avoid placing any furniture or obstructions within that radius. Doing this will help eliminate the rumbling effect many speaker owners complain about.
How Are Bookshelf Speakers Different From The Other Kinds?
Loudspeakers are divided into three major categories; Bookshelf, Bipolar, and Floor-standing.
Bookshelf Speakers are the most popular kind out of the three. They are slightly smaller than floor-standing speakers, and they are compact enough to fit on a bookshelf, on a desktop with a TV system. These small boxes or cabinet-shaped speakers have an exceptional low-frequency response and can be paired with sub-woofers for enhanced range. In addition, certain active bookshelf speakers have built-in amplifiers that allow them to perform as a whole music system alone.
Bipolar speakers emit sound equally in two directions, and for this feature, they are mostly bought to be included in a surround system package. However, surround sounds come into effect when one speaker driver is placed opposite a speaker cabinet that creates Omni-directional audio. To create a fuller soundscape and fill in the audio gaps, try to place them on the sides of the room, and to use these speakers for a rear sound, place them at the back.
Music lovers particularly prefer floor Standing Speakers for their high-frequency capabilities and adaptableness. They do not need to be placed on shelves or desks. They can house various speaker drivers and passive radiators. Since the Floor Standing Speakers can cover the full range of frequencies, they eliminate the need to add supplementary speakers, saving you space and money.
Can Bookshelf Speakers Be Used As Front Speakers?
They can be used as front speakers; however, they perform optimally in a Home Theater Sound System and pair with bass sources like sub-woofers. These cabinet speakers have limited drivers hence why their placement is crucial for efficient performance. The most popular trip is to place them at a ten to ten angle for best results.
Are Bookshelf Speakers Better Than Sound Bars?
Soundbars are long and thin speakers that are placed under or by your TV. They normally have one driver on the bottom on top, some tweeters, and a sub-woofer, of course. Soundbars are inexpensive and convenient to set up; however they come with certain drawbacks. Bookshelf speakers offer better audio quality. They offer a greater range of frequency response and greater dynamic range. Soundbars certainly take up more space than most bookshelf speakers and also demand more power. Also, if space is an issue at your place, then pair of bookshelf speakers are ideal. You will not need an additional receiver or amplifier with bookshelf speakers, while a soundbar needs the two.
What Are Passive Speakers?
Passive Speakers draw power from an outside amplifier which is connected through a speaker wire. Speakers with Passive radiators are usually just long cylinders that aid in bass response and are mostly used at home. With these kinds of speakers, you need to connect a speaker wire. At the same time, active speakers need to be connected to AC power. Also, since passive speakers are not built with amplifiers, they are comparatively lighter and hence portable.
After all the tests n trials, and reviews, we pretty much enjoyed our music best with Klipsch R-41PM. This number is well worth considering for its retro designs and rich basses. This all-rounder emits high frequency to perfection, and the superior low-frequency responses blew us and our windows away.