Best Bookshelf Speakers For TV, Home Theater and Music 2023

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For small spaces and smaller home theater rooms, bookshelf speakers are often the go-to choice. Although many of us associate bookshelf speakers with our own modest stereo systems from our dorm rooms or salad days, compact speakers such as these can deliver audio quality that is unrivaled. While some are amazingly affordable, others may come with price tags that can make a floorstanding speaker blush.

In this guide, our audio experts will direct your attention to a selection a bookshelf speakers that they believe deliver incredible audio quality at very reasonable prices in small footprints.

How We Chose These Bookshelf Speakers

They say music soothes the savage beast, right? Well, sometimes (okay, maybe most times) we need to let off a little steam and nothing starts that quite like firing up your favorite tunes. It helps even more if the sound you’re getting is awesome, too! “But I don’t have the room for those big speakers I’ve seen delivering world-class audio,” you might be saying. While possibly true on the space constraints, you may not be aware that you can still receive killer sound in a significantly smaller package. We have a guide on the best floorstanding speakers and thought that the bookshelf speaker category needed one, too, because not everyone has the room (or sometimes the budget) for those larger speakers. So whether you’re banging your head to Metallica or chillin’ with Steely Dan, allow our experts to guide you to your perfect speaker pair. We put in the time listening to a ton of speakers and selected the ones we were most excited about. Please read on if you’re interested in our advice, criticism, and overall feedback on some of the finest bookshelf speakers around!

If you want to dive deeper into bookshelf speakers or have any other questions, talk directly with our product experts by calling 1.866.961.7781 or chatting with us. We love to talk about this stuff!

Here Are Our Picks for the Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2023:

  1. The Best Bookshelf Speakers Overall: Bowers & Wilkins 606 S3 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker with 6.5" Continuum Cone Driver - Pair (Black)
  2. The Best Front-Ported Bookshelf Speakers: Focal Vestia No.1 2-Way Bass-Reflex Bookshelf Loudspeaker - Pair (Dark Wood)
  3.  The Best Powered Bookshelf Speakers: Kanto TUK Premium Powered Bookshelf Speakers with Headphone Out, USB DAC, Dedicated Phono Pre-amp, & Bluetooth - Pair (Matte Black)
  4. The Best Small Bookshelf Speakers: Bowers & Wilkins M-1 Satellite Speaker - Each (Matte White)
  5. The Best Klipsch Bookshelf Speakers: Klipsch RP-600M II Reference Premiere Bookshelf Speakers - Pair (Walnut)
  6. The Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers: Kanto YU6 Powered Bookshelf Speakers with Built-In Bluetooth - Pair (Matte Black)
  7. The Bookshelf Speakers Under $1,000: SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers - Pair (Premium Black Ash)
  8. The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1,500: KLH Model Three 2-way 8-inch Acoustic Suspension Bookshelf Speaker - Each (English Walnut)

The Best Bookshelf Speakers Overall

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Bowers & Wilkins 606 S3 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker with 6.5" Continuum Cone Driver - Pair (Black)

Regular price $2,200.00
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  • Type: 2-Way Vented Bookshelf Speaker
  • Tweeter: 1” Titanium Dome
  • Woofers: 6.5” Continuum™ Cone
  • Frequency response: 52Hz - 28,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 8 ohms
  • Recommended Amp Power: 30-120 watts
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 7.5" x 13.63" x 12.81”
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Bowers & Wilkins (a.k.a B&W) 606 S3 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers set a benchmark for how good sound can be at an attractive price point. That is precisely why they were a shoo-in for the Best Bookshelf Speakers Overall crown. Sure, you can spend a whole lot more on more expensive speakers from B&W or another manufacturer, but that’s not the point: this is about overall value.

The 606 S3 we unboxed to listen to were finished in “Oak”, which means that the front of the speaker is white while the remaining sides are natural wood-looking. We found the contrasting finishes of these speakers to be eye-catching and elegant, but we can certainly understand that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Like many other speakers, there are some other finishes available if you’d like to check them out: black and white. The included protective grilles, which attach magnetically, cover the entire front of each speaker, if you opt to keep them on. Spinning the well-built cabinets around shows us that B&W used their Flowport™ rear-firing bass port to help improve bass response. The 606 S3 speakers came with a pair of foam inserts for use in those ports so you can better tune the speakers depending on their placement and environment. We also saw that this is one of the few speakers that we reviewed that offered the capability of bi-amping or bi-wiring for improved output.

In examining the drivers themselves, we saw that B&W used their new 1” Titanium Dome tweeter design (which we are big fans of) for not only silky-smooth high-frequency response, but the design also mitigates the tweeter’s output from being colored by a resonating speaker cabinet. Sliding our eyes downward a bit showed us the 6-½” Continuum™ woofer that does a remarkable job of marrying the output of the tweeter to the larger midrange driver for well-balanced response. This technology is actually shared with their higher-performance 700-series and 800-series brethren.

Okay, enough chit-chat about cabinets and speaker technology - let’s move on to what matters the most: how they sound. Like the Dynaudio Special Forty speakers we speak about below, these B&W speakers are extremely well-suited for both movies and music. They sound rich, smooth, and have decent bass response thanks to the bass-reflex cabinet design. Like every other bookshelf speaker, we do suggest adding a subwoofer to help round out that bottom end bass response. B&W’s Flowport™ certainly improves bass response, but there was a bit to be desired - especially in bass-heavier mixes. Instruments, vocals, and movie sounds (soundtracks, explosions, commentary, etc.) all sounded realistic and forward. Since we spent more time listening to music, we can say that every vocalist and/or musician each seemed to have their own stage to perform on - no detail was lost in the reproduction. The 606 S3 bookshelf speakers exceeded our already lofty expectations.

Pros: Beautiful cabinet design. Runs well off a variety of power levels. Well-suited for music and movies.

Cons: Bass can be thin, so we suggest adding a subwoofer into the mix. Rear-firing port can limit speaker placement ideas.

The Best Front-Ported Bookshelf Speakers

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Focal Vestia No.1 2-Way Bass-Reflex Bookshelf Loudspeaker - Pair (Dark Wood)

Regular price $1,398.00
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  • Type: 2-way bass-reflex bookshelf loudspeaker
  • Tweeter: 1” TNF Aluminum / Magnesium inverted dome
  • Woofers: 6.5” Slatefiber
  • Frequency response: 56Hz – 30kHz
  • Sensitivity: 89.5dB
  • Recommended Amp Power: 25-120W
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 8.62" x 15.25" x 10.25”
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France does a lot of things right. France’s premier loudspeaker designer and manufacturer, Focal Audio, is one of those things done right. Focal’s passion and pursuit of audio excellence is displayed throughout their entire lineup - including our Best Front-Ported Bookshelf Speakers winner: the Vestia No.1 speakers. The No.1 is Focal’s traditional 2-way bookshelf speaker and measures 8 5/8” x 10 1/4" x 15 1/4."

The No.1s will have an optional stand available for purchase separately. The stands will be 21 5/8” tall and places the speakers at the perfect height to match your seated listening position.

The aerodynamic front port is an ideal design to be able to place the bookshelf speaker in a more enclosed space without overly affecting the audio reproduction. Other manufacturers will have rear ports for their entry level bookshelf speakers but will include plugs to help reduce wall effects. You often will not see front ported speakers until you reach much higher in the lineup. We appreciate that Focal has included this feature in the No.1s.

The No.1 is designed for rooms up to 322 square feet (about the area of a parking space), which makes them great for a small listening room or personal office and will handle smaller amplifiers from 25-120 watts. I would lean towards higher wattage amplifiers because you will be able to enjoy clarity at lower volumes.

The No.1s will be great for music lovers who may not have the space for larger floorstanding speakers, but still want stylish bookshelf speakers. If you want to fill out the sound, you will want to add a subwoofer to match up with the No.1s. To learn more about the entire Vestia lineup, read Brian's full review about what makes this series different from other Focal speakers and what they have in common.

Pros: Great for small rooms. Fantastic build quality. Very wide soundstage for a bookshelf speaker. Front-firing port for versatility in speaker placement.

Cons: A little thin on bass response, so a complementary subwoofer is suggested. Leans toward higher wattage amplifiers.

 The Best Powered Bookshelf Speakers

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Kanto TUK Premium Powered Bookshelf Speakers with Headphone Out, USB DAC, Dedicated Phono Pre-amp, & Bluetooth - Pair (Matte Black)

Regular price $799.99
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  • Type: 2-way powered bookshelf speakers
  • Tweeter: Air Motion Transformer (AMT)
  • Woofers: 5.25” aluminum
  • Frequency response: 50Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Recommended Amp Power: 130-watt Class D amplifier built-in
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 7.06” x 10.94” x 10.86”
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What? A pair of Kanto powered speakers in this guide? Yup and for great reason: they sound incredible and are the most versatile speakers you can get in a bookshelf speaker’s compact footprint. The TUK speakers are the flagship powered speakers from Kanto and offer impressive sound quality and an assortment of inputs and outputs for you to utilize. This is why they clinched the “Best Powered Bookshelf Speakers” spot.

Available in both a matte white and matte black finish, our review pair was of the former variant. A white grille covers both front panels of the speakers, but leaves access to the headphone output, source lights, and volume knob. Just like Kanto’s other models, the left speaker houses not only the drivers, but also the 130-watt Class D amplifier in addition to the inputs and outputs that the system has to offer. There are also the speaker wire output terminals that wire over to the right speaker. When we took a longer look at the front of the speakers (with grilles removed as we haven’t achieved x-ray vision quite yet), we were presented with a 5.25” aluminum woofer and, above that, Kanto’s Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter. A simple, yet elegant, design, we believe.

Since we just very briefly mentioned the inputs and outputs of the system, we wanted to take a moment and dive into that a little bit more. On the input side of things, the TUKs have a Toslink™ optical input, stereo RCA inputs, phono input, and a USB-B input. The USB-B input is capable of decoding audio tracks up to 24-bit/96kHz thanks to the on-board digital-to-analog (DAC) converter. Bluetooth is also built into the system for wireless music streaming if that’s your thing. The lone output that exists on that rear panel is for adding Kanto’s SUB8 powered subwoofer. The last thing of note on the rear of the speaker is the bass port (located near the top of that rear panel) that helps maximize bass output.

In listening to the speakers, we were amazed as to how “big” the sound was considering the rather small footprint of the speakers. The sound was rather full (and here comes the part where we do recommend adding a subwoofer into the mix for better bass response) and exciting. The treble was present and sometimes a bit much when we had the speakers up a bit higher on the volume side of things.

We did test the Bluetooth streaming aspect of the speakers too and found the Bluetooth to sync up more readily when compared to the YU6 we also tested. The resulting sound quality was also quite good. If you happen to be using these speakers on a desk and you also happen to own a set (or, if you’re like us, 10 sets) of wired headphones, you may want to take advantage of that headphone output on the front panel of the left speaker. This will allow you to continue to enjoy your tunes if you have to share your space with another person.

Pros: Great cabinet in a compact footprint. Built-in amplifier negates the need of an external one. A ton of inputs make it versatile. Great sound quality. Headphone output on the front of the speaker. Remote control for easy adjustments at a distance.

Cons: A little thin on bass response, so we do recommend the Kanto SUB8 subwoofer as a complement. High-frequency response can be a tad fatiguing at louder, longer listening sessions.

The Best Small Bookshelf Speakers

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Bowers & Wilkins M-1 Satellite Speaker - Each (Matte White)

Regular price $299.00
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  • Type: 2-Way Satellite Speaker
  • Tweeter: 1” metal dome
  • Woofers: 4” woven glass-fiber
  • Frequency response: 64Hz – 23kHz
  • Sensitivity: 85dB
  • Recommended Amp Power: up to 100 watts
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 4.5" x 9.75" x 6.5”
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The Bowers & Wilkins M-1 compact satellite speakers are the epitome of the “great things come in small packages” saying. We mean, how much sound (and rich sound, mind you) these little guys produce is incredible and is the exact reason why they nabbed the Best Small Bookshelf Speakers title.

The B&W pair we sampled was in the black finish, but it’s also available in a white finish if that’s better for your room’s aesthetics. The compact size of the speakers certainly lends to the “discreet” look that some people are sure to be looking for. Or maybe your sound room/movie room is in a smaller room of the home and you can’t get floorstanding speakers to fit the room properly.

Inside each speaker is a 1” metal dome tweeter that’s tube-loaded to deliver superior high-frequency response by mitigating pesky resonance. A 4” woven glass-fiber woofer marries quite well to the output of the tweeter for a smooth transition of sound. Because such a small driver is used, bass response does suffer. Ideally, you would add a subwoofer (we have those, too!) to complement the output of the speakers. The bass-reflex rear-firing port does what it can to improve bass output, but there’s only so much that can be done. Trust us, a subwoofer will add a lot of depth to the music or movies you’ll be enjoying through them.

These speakers will handle up to 100 watts of continuous power without breaking a sweat, which we found impressive considering the small stature of the speakers themselves.

In the box, the speakers will come with table-top stands as well as wall brackets (assuming you want to mount them, of course). One small thing that B&W did that we absolutely love is that the speaker wire connections on the speaker are hidden, which makes for a neat and tidy installation and look. Speakers in general look awesome. The wire that connects them to the amplifier? Not so much. B&W thought of that, so you don’t have to worry about it. If you need floor stands, B&W does have the FS-M-1 stands available.

In our listening session, we were impressed with the stellar output and quality of sound that the M-1 speakers delivered. If you shut your eyes and listen, you would think that you’re listening to a larger bookshelf speaker. Music sounded relatively full (read about the subwoofer option we suggest exercising above) and dynamic thanks to that metal dome tweeter. Singers, guitarists, and that snare of a drum kit popped forward without grabbing too much attention. When we swapped to movies, the sound was just as good - lifelike and engaging.

Pros: Very compact chassis. Great sound quality. Hidden speaker wire inputs for a tidy installation.

Cons: Thin bass response makes adding a subwoofer a necessity.

The Best Klipsch Bookshelf Speakers

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Klipsch RP-600M II Reference Premiere Bookshelf Speakers - Pair (Walnut)

Regular price $649.00
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  • Type: 2-way bookshelf speaker
  • Tweeter: 1” titanium diaphragm w/ Tractrix™ horn
  • Woofers: 6.5” Cerametallic™
  • Frequency response: 44Hz - 25,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 8 ohms
  • Recommended Amp Power: up to 100 watts
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 8” x 15.81” x 13.17"
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If you’re an audio enthusiast, you have no doubt heard of Klipsch. If you’re not familiar with the brand, fear not: we’re going to tell you why their RP-600M II Reference Premiere bookshelf speakers won our Best Klipsch Bookshelf Speakers category.

Klipsch has been in the biz for decades and continues to make some of the most intriguing speakers that money can buy (check out their Klipschorns, for example). The RP-600M II speakers produce dynamic and engaging sound that are just plain fun to listen to.

Starting with the design, Klipsch continues to use their tried-and-true bass-reflex cabinet with rear-firing Tractrix™ port to help improve bass response while reducing port noise, for solid and dynamic bass performance. The ebony finish on our listening models had a simple and neat appearance that would probably fit into just about anyone’s home decor. What’s neat about Klipsch’s finish is that it’s a furniture-grade ebony vinyl which can help reduce scratches from appearing on your speakers. If you prefer a more natural look, a walnut finish is also available. A protective grille is held in place by magnets for a sure fit every time. If you remove the grille, you’ll see the 1” titanium diaphragm tweeter that’s loaded into a Tractrix™ horn for better imaging and an improved soundstage. Below the tweeter, you’ll find the copper-colored 6.5” Cerametallic™ cone woofer that delivers terrific midrange and midbass response.

Now onto arguably the most important part: the sound that they produce. If you’ve ever listened to a Klipsch speaker’s dynamic output, you’ll be pleased to know that the RP-600M II produce that same quality of sound. That output is energetic and fun. We did notice that the tweeters run a little hot if you’re listening to them at louder volumes. We actually prefer a little more treble, but we can certainly appreciate that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

We found the speakers to have a wide soundstage, which wasn’t too surprising because of those horn-loaded tweeters. Vocals and lead instruments were pushed to the front on the tracks we listened to. Not once were instruments lost in the mix. We were really pleased with the punchiness and depth of the bass response, too. It’s not like it was about to knock paintings off the walls, but it was engaging enough for us to smile appreciatively.

The RP-600M II speakers will handle up to a 100 watts of continuous power, but can handle less juice quite well. In an ideal world, you would have an amplifier to properly match the speaker's expected power to maximize their performance (and bass response!).

You can grab a pair of stands (sold separately) if you don’t have space on a piece of furniture for them, too. Just because they’re labeled as “bookshelf speakers” doesn’t mean they actually have to live on a bookshelf.

Pros: Great build quality. Classic energetic Klipsch sound quality. Highly efficient speaker. Solid bass performance.

Cons: High-frequency response can get a little “tinny” at louder volumes.

The Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers

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Kanto YU6 Powered Bookshelf Speakers with Built-In Bluetooth - Pair (Matte Black)

Regular price $479.99
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  • Type: 2-way powered bookshelf speaker
  • Tweeter: 1” silk dome
  • Woofers: 5.25” Kevlar® woofer
  • Frequency response: 50Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Recommended Amp Power: 100-watt Class D amplifier built-in
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 6.94” x 10.69” x 10.25"
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If you’ve done any research on powered bookshelf speakers, we are sure that you came across the Kanto line. These guys have been crafting some of the finest-sounding powered speakers for some time and continue to be industry leaders in that market. Superb sound quality, a relatively compact footprint, and a price easy on the wallet locked the YU6 speakers in as our Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers.

Personally, we love the white finish on these speakers. We know it may not fit everyone’s motif, but they look sharp. If white isn’t the color for you, there are matte black, walnut, and bamboo finishes available too. There are no grilles on the speakers, so you get to showcase the 1” silk dome tweeters and 5-¼” Kevlar® woofers that reside in the speakers. That’s an important thing to remember if you have little ones or pets in the home - you want to ensure that these speakers are out of harm’s way. If you have need for speaker stands for YU6 speakers, there are two options available: the SP26 (26” speaker stands) and SP32 (32” speaker stands) to choose from.

One of the best parts about these speakers is that since there is an efficient 100-watt Class D amplifier built into the left speaker (which has a speaker wire output to the right speaker), meaning you don’t need to concern yourself with implementing an amplifier. Also, there are a small host of inputs available to hook up just about any conceivable source. There are two Toslink optical inputs, a stereo pair of RCA inputs, and a 3.5mm input all on the rear of that left speaker. The YU6 speakers are also “turntable-ready”, so if you have a turntable you’re hoping to use, you’re in luck. Simply plug the analog audio output of your table into the RCA inputs on that left speaker and flick the RCA switch over to “Phono” to start enjoying your favorite albums. If you’re looking for a source that might be a little more convenient for you to use, the YU6 speakers also have Bluetooth built into it for wireless streaming capability from a Bluetooth-enabled device. We found that pairing the Bluetooth was a little hit-or-miss, and that might be chalked up to the version of Bluetooth (4.0) being used in these speakers. Once paired, the connection seemed rather stable. aptX high-resolution audio streaming technology is built into the Bluetooth chip being utilized and it was rather impressive.

When we got to the listening portion of our assessment, we were blown away by the sound delivered from these speakers. Rich midrange response mingled well with high-frequency response. Due to Kevlar® being utilized for the woofer cones, vocals were clear and present and weren’t lost in the mix when more complicated music was played. The highs were smooth and natural sounding, thanks to the silk material being utilized there. Bass response was emphasized via a bass-reflex cabinet design (with rear-facing ports) but could be a little thin depending on the style of music being played, so if you’re into having a bit more impact with your music, we do recommend adding Kanto’s SUB8 powered subwoofer into the fold. All in all, we were quite pleased with the sound quality from the YU6 powered bookshelf speakers.

A remote control is in the box with these speakers, so if you’re enjoying the speakers at a distance and want to change the volume or some other basic feature without being disturbed, that will certainly come in handy.

Pros: Compact size. Built-in amplifier. Turntable-ready. Great sound quality. Remote control included.

Cons: Bluetooth can be tricky to pair. A little thin on bass response. No grilles for protection.

The Bookshelf Speakers Under $1,000

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SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers - Pair (Premium Black Ash)

Regular price $599.00
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  • Type: 2-way bookshelf speaker
  • Tweeter: 1” aluminum dome
  • Woofers: 6.5”
  • Frequency response: 48Hz - 25,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 8 ohms
  • Recommended Amp Power: 25-150 watts
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 8.06” x 13.5” x 10.31”
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SVS isn’t just known for making some of the best subwoofers that money can buy - they also offer some impressive floorstanding and bookshelf speakers to complement their subwoofers. Since this is the bookshelf speaker guide, we checked out SVS’s Prime Bookshelf speakers. After several hours of auditioning them, they were a slam dunk for the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1,000 category.

SVS prides itself on designing their speakers and subwoofers in-house and for good reason - when they go into something, they're all in. This passion and dedication are on full display with each one of their products.

Finished in the “Premium Black Ash” finish, the Prime Bookshelf speakers are sleek and attractive. They emerge from the box with the protective grilles attached, but since we weren’t concerned with damaging them (they were safe in our sound room), we removed those so we could see the woofers in action. Once those grilles were removed, we were presented with a 1” tweeter and 6.5” woofer installed in each bookshelf cabinet. Spin the speakers around and you’ll take a gander at the rear-firing bass port and speaker wire terminal array. The back was boring, so we turned it back around.

In terms of music, the speakers shined. Thanks to SVS’s tweeter material selection (aluminum), the 1” tweeters certainly recreate every nuance of high-frequency - sometimes a bit too harshly when the volume is on the higher side. The diffusor that is fitted over each tweeter does a remarkable job mitigating harshness - particularly from a metal dome tweeter - but there’s only so much that it can do. That 6.5” polypropylene woofer in each cabinet offers solid midbass impact that really comes alive with tracks featuring a kick drum. When we put on music that had a lot of low-lying bass sweeps, we noticed that the Prime speakers couldn’t quite get us to where we wanted to be bass-wise - even with the bass-reflex cabinet design. Due to that, we do suggest having a legendary SVS subwoofer accompany the speakers for fuller sound.

When we switched over to movies, we were again captivated with the Prime Bookshelf speakers’ output and quality. We knew we were only listening to a fraction of what they could do (again add that subwoofer, but also know that a center channel and rear speakers to fully flesh it all out), but the Primes were a HUGE upgrade over the TV’s built-in speakers. As a bonus, they fit onto the furniture we had in-place neatly. If you don’t have the furniture for these speakers to rest on, please know that there are a variety of speaker stands available to get these speakers as close to ear level as possible.

Pros: Solid cabinet design. Relatively compact design. Strong midrange response to help enhance vocals.

Cons: The bass lacks some depth, so a subwoofer is recommended for full low-extension bass response. Treble can be a little sharp from time-to-time.

The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1,500

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KLH Model Three 2-way 8-inch Acoustic Suspension Bookshelf Speaker - Each (English Walnut)

Regular price $749.99
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  • Type: 2-way bookshelf/stand-mount speaker
  • Tweeter: 1” aluminum dome
  • Woofers: 8”
  • Frequency response: 46Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 6 ohms
  • Recommended Amp Power: 30-150 watts
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 12.25” x 28.25” x 11.5” (with angle metal riser)
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Almost large enough to be considered floorstanding speakers (especially when they are sitting on the angled metal risers included in the box), KLH’s Model Three bookshelf speakers are the largest we auditioned in the bookshelf speaker category. If you’re a fan of the KLH brand, you’ll be pleased to see that the Model Three speakers took the “Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1500” crown.

In classic KLH fashion, the speaker cabinets that were employed in the Threes are exquisite. The set we checked out had the “English Walnut” finish and featured a natural wood veneer that looked stunning. A light-colored linen protective grille is magnetically attached to the front of the speaker, but we removed that in our test because that’s what we like to do. If the English Walnut finish isn’t quite your look, the Model Three is also available in a West African Mahogany finish and a Nordic Noir finish. One other thing definitely worth mentioning is that the Model Threes were the only bookshelf speakers we reviewed that featured an acoustic suspension design (meaning the cabinet is sealed). All the other speakers had bass-reflex cabinets employed.

With the grilles removed, you are greeted with a 1” aluminum tweeter and 8” woofer in the front panel of each speaker. The retro-styled speaker cabinet is attractive and is reminiscent of older speakers (like the ones your parents might have grown up around), but the newer technologies used in speaker driver design permits better sound quality versus those speakers of old. The rear of each speaker is rather unassuming looking: speaker wire terminals are directly below the MD-HF knob. This knob allows the listener to adjust between the “LO”, “MID”, and “HI” settings that will change the output of the speaker to your listening preferences. With each selection, we noticed an audible difference in output, so it’s totally worth your while to try the different settings and see where your happy place is.

Like the other speakers we have listened to and critiqued, the Model Three bookshelf speakers were tested with both music tracks in addition to movie segments. The speakers excelled with just about anything we could throw at them. For reference, we did set them on the floor with the angled metal risers being utilized. Music was dynamic and robust and movie segments were replicated with unerring precision. We would suggest a subwoofer to complement the output of the speakers for better bass extension (an acoustic suspension enclosure generally produces lower bass output compared to those cabinets with bass ports) for true full-range sound. It should be mentioned that while bass response might be a bit more subdued with this cabinet design, it sounds tighter and more controlled.

Pros: Fantastic build quality. Finishes are beautiful. Larger woofer permits punchy bass response. Loud and clear treble response. Angled metal risers are included for best-possible performance. Rear adjustment knob permits slight sound adjustments.

Cons: Bass response could use a hand with a complementary subwoofer. Large size won’t fit many compact applications.

Considerations When Buying Bookshelf Speakers

Can you put these on a bookshelf if you really want to? As we’ll see, as long as you follow one simple guideline, the answer is yes. But there are a few other important factors to consider when choosing a speaker to use in your stereo system or home theater, so let’s dig in:

Size Matters, But So Does Distance

In the professional audio world, speakers of this type are called monitor speakers. People who edit audio in the music, film, or TV business will monitor their work on very high-quality speakers that are no bigger than the ones you see in this guide. These are called near-field monitors because they’re intended to be listened to at a close distance. In pro audio, such speakers are expected to have sound that is clear, natural, and uncolored, as well as a superb frequency response from one end of the range of human hearing to the other, and beyond. This helps pro audio editors ensure that the product they’re delivering is accurate and has the highest quality audio possible.

The bookshelf speakers our experts have selected for you in this guide are no different. What sets them apart from larger speakers is simply that these are intended to deliver flawless sound in a smaller space and at a closer range than larger speakers.

A Two-Way Conversation

Typically, bookshelf speakers have a two-way speaker design, which includes a tweeter for high-frequency sounds and a single speaker driver that handles the midrange and bass response of the audio spectrum. When appropriately matched to a room and listened to at a distance intended by the designers, bookshelf speakers can deliver an exquisite listening experience.

Passive or Powered

This can be one of the more tech-y topics for bookshelf speakers, but in the real world, it's a simple decision. Whether you need passive bookshelf speakers or powered bookshelf speakers depends on where your audio is coming from.

If you're looking for wireless connectivity and you're streaming from a device or from a receiver, then you’ll need powered bookshelf speakers with Bluetooth capability, which have their own amplifiers built into them. These powered speakers usually have power cables you'll have to plug in, so they're not entirely wireless. Some powered bookshelf speakers are designed to accept wired inputs directly from your stereo equipment, such as a CD player or turntable. One aspect of powered speaker design that can be an advantage is that the speaker will split the incoming audio into the high frequencies and low frequencies before it amplifies the signals and sends them to their corresponding driver. This can be a plus, depending on where your audio is coming from.

If a receiver/amplifier unit is the heart of your audio or home theater system, then you'll use passive bookshelf speakers. Passive speakers don't have built-in amplifiers of their own; the wired audio signal from your amplifier is at the right level to drive the speakers. If the speakers are designed to work with your amplifier, then they're already set up to make your audio sound the best it can. If not, many passive speakers have controls that you can tweak to adapt to a particular receiver — and this is something that our in-house team of audio experts will be happy to help you with!

All About That Bass Response

In some installations, bookshelf speakers can be augmented with the addition of a subwoofer, or even two. This isn’t necessarily just so you can get your disco on; this can give you a clearer perception of the bass instruments playing in an orchestra, or of the space in which music is recorded, as well as the blood-chilling thud of a dinosaur’s foot in everybody’s favorite subwoofer-oriented film.

More importantly, the addition of a subwoofer can direct the bass in the precise location to give you a perfectly balanced sound. In this regard, bookshelf speakers can offer more flexibility than larger speakers, making it easier to match the characteristics of your space, and give you optimal bass response.

Another important consideration with bookshelf speakers: If you’re going to be placing them in an actual bookshelf, or other similarly enclosed location, or even close to a wall, consider speakers that have front-facing bass ports, rather than rear-facing. Bass ports are openings in the cabinet that enhance the longer waveforms of bass frequencies. If your installation will be away from a wall, then a rear-ported enclosure may be the best choice for your system.

Stand By Your Speakers

For installations not using existing furniture or wall mounts, a very important factor is the type of speaker stands you choose. For one thing, you’re going to want your speakers to be at the ideal height for your ears when you’re in a sitting position. For another, a substantial stand can help ensure that the sound of your speaker gets transferred efficiently. A good stand can also look great with the rest of your furniture.

Another advantage of bookshelf speakers is that you can add more of them to a stereo pair to create a matched surround system. When your side speakers and rear speakers match your front pair, the sound of your home theater can become more coherent and enjoyable.

Whether you call them monitors or bookshelf speakers, these compact units can resemble each other to the untrained eye. Our experts can help you discern the critical differences that will make one or the other of these fine speakers the clear choice for you. Read the reviews in this guide, then if you'd like more information or to consult our team, give us a call.

Still not sure? We got this.

If you’re still not sure which bookshelf speakers are best for you, give us a call or send us an email. Tell us a little about how you will use them, what kind of music and movies you like, what’s your budget, and/or anything else you think we should know. Just think of us as your own personal audio gear shopping concierge, on-call to help you pick the perfect bookshelf speakers for you. Our goal is to help make sure you get what you need to enjoy your favorite music, movies, and shows. If we can get you closer to that with just a conversation, that's great. If you choose to make your purchase with us, we know you'll be very satisfied. With 40 years of building great relationships with our clients and USA Today's #2 rating in customer service, you can count on our having your interests at heart. We're not here to just move boxes out the door!

One more thing...

In the early days of the speaker, it was easy to decide where to buy your speakers: In a brick-and-mortar store, since the Internet wasn't the e-commerce juggernaut it is now. But then as now, the best way to approach your purchase of home theater gear was to buy it from a trusted dealer. And the more experience and longer the track record, the better. Even more so today than 40 years ago, a good dealer will take care of you in the event anything happens.

Speaking of trusted dealers…

World Wide Stereo is home to some 90+ industry-leading audio/video professionals who love what they do, and talking about it, too. We opened our doors in 1979, gained a small yet diehard following, won a slew of national awards for everything from killer car audio installations to customer service, grew the business online… and today we enjoy a faithful following of like-minded TV-watching, music-listening, gear-loving defenders of fun for the whole family. Our only rule: no one leaves unhappy. We’re brutally honest when it comes to this stuff. Want to know if something is as good as advertised? Even if you're shopping somewhere else? Call us or stop by one of our showrooms — we’ll give it to you straight. We love what we do, and we love sharing that love.

With us, you get our guarantee, which includes perks like free shipping, 60-day returns, and support even years after the sale — always. Hence our rule: "no one leaves unhappy." Ever.

Thank you for reading – and enjoy your new speaker system!

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