Best Bookshelf Speakers for your Home Theater
There are a lot of bookshelf speakers out there. More than anyone could reasonably audition. We’ve heard a lot of them and have some go-to recommendations. We’ve listed them below in ascending order of price. While price isn’t always a direct reflection of sound quality, it does usually indicate better components and finishes. If you are on a budget, or are just looking for someplace to start looking, our best bookshelf speakers list is a great starting point.
Fluance Signature HiFi Bookshelf Speakers
Fluance has been well known for years for quality offerings at rock bottom prices. These are the home theater enthusiast doorway speaker. Many people buy Fluance speakers, use them for a couple of years, and then pass them down when they upgrade. The Signature HiFi Bookshelf speaker is a nice-looking and pretty good-sounding speaker. Dual front-ported, these bookshelf speakers are bigger than a satellite speaker but not by much. They have a 5″ woofer, 1″ tweeter, and claim a response down to 60Hz. If you are tight on budget, these sub-$200 a pair speakers are a great place to start your home theater journey.
ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2 Bookshelf Speakers
Andrew Jones, the designer of the legendary Pioneer speakers that are no longer available, created ELAC. ELAC was designed to be a great bang-for-buck option and we agree. When budget shopping for the best bookshelf speaker, these should always be on the list. Listing for less than $300 a pair, the ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2 are a great value. If you want to pay a bit more, you can get the B6.2 with a larger woofer and a tiny bit more bass. In most applications, we’d stick with the B5.2’s. These have a front port for easy placement near walls or in cabinets. They are 6-ohm nominal which means they should be easy enough to drive for any consumer-level receiver. At this price, you almost can’t go wrong with these!
ELAC Upgrade: BS243.4-SB Carina Bookshelf Speakers
If you love the ELACs but want premium sound and components, the Carina line is for you. Sporting a folded ribbon tweeter, the BS243.4 speakers have a cabinet that is angled on the bottom to utilize a down-firing port. This allows ELAC to control the boundary reinforcement from the port to accurately manipulate the bass response. While the response doesn’t look that much different than the B5.2 speakers, expect a more refined and revealing sound out of these. At nearly $1200 a pair, we’d hope so!
Klipsch RB-61 II Reference Series Bookshelf Loudspeakers
Klipsch confusingly labeled their entry-level speakers “Reference.” Their trademark horn-loaded tweeter and 95dB sensitivity promise lots of output for very little power. If you have a large room, sit far away from your speakers, or just like it very loud, Klipsch speakers should be on your shortlist. The RB-61 bookshelf speakers are a steal at their asking price but can often be found for under $300 a pair. These speakers are front-ported making easy placement near a wall. These extend down to 45Hz, sport a 6.5″ woofer, and are a touch over 32 lbs. If you are looking for an inexpensive speaker that will blow you out of the water with sound, the RB-61 speakers are your best bet.
Klipsch Upgrade: RP-600M Reference Premiere Bookshelf Speakers
If you like the RB-61’s but want a bit more, the RP-600M bookshelf speakers are for you. These have a slightly higher sensitivity but about the same bass response. The port has been moved to the back but the tweeter and horn have been updated from the RB-61’s. If you have a low-power amplifier and want something that rocks, the Klipsch are an easy choice. Plus, those reddish/gold woofers are just so cool! At over double the price of the RB-61’s, we don’t often recommend these but they do sound better than the other Klipsch speakers.
SVS Prime Bookshelf Speaker
SVS only offers two lines of speakers (can you guess what the SVS upgrade will be?) and the Prime speakers are their entry-level. These are fantastic speakers that are a perfect balance of cost and performance. At $500 a pair, they don’t break the bank while offering amazing performance. While you aren’t spending that much more on these from the speakers above, the sound quality is a big step up.
SVS Upgrade: Ultra Bookshelf Speaker
The Ultra series of speakers from SVS are an upgrade in every way. The drivers are better, the sound is cleaner, and they are much prettier. With a piano-gloss finish, these look as good as they sound. Now, they cost twice as much but you know you are getting more than just a physical makeover for your money. They upgraded the cabinet shape, the drivers, the crossover…everything.
Monitor Audio Bronze 100 Bookshelf Speakers
As we cross the $500 a pair point, you are going to start to see speakers that are more similar than dissimilar. Sound quality on all these speakers is very good but some will work better in your room than others. At just under $600 a pair, the Monitor Audio Bronze 100 speakers are a great option. They come in a number of finishes making them much easier to integrate into your decor. These are very revealing speakers with a gold-dome tweeter in a unique waveguide for even dispersion. The 8″ woofer is unusually large for a bookshelf speaker. Monitor Audio rates these down to around 50Hz at -6dB. While other speakers claim more bass, since we are going to recommend you cross them over into a sub, it really doesn’t matter.
Monitor Audio Upgrade: Silver 100 Bookshelf Speakers
The Silver line from Monitor Audio starts to dip into the realm of the audiophile with silver-coated copper internal wiring. They did upgrade the woofer material, the crossover components, and more. This speaker has more bass (40Hz at -6dB) than the Bronze offering. At almost $1200 a pair, these are not the cheapest option. But they do sound very, very good.
KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
We are KEF fans around here. They are certainly the most unique design of any speaker on this list. They sport a concentric design with the tweeter mounted at the center of the woofer. Years ago, KEF released the Muon speaker that was ridiculously priced but had every technological upgrade they could think of included. That technology has been trickling down to the other speakers in their line and it has really made a huge difference. The Q150’s are rear ported and have a claimed response down to around 50Hz at -3dB. The unique design of the tweeter is a direct descendant of the tweeter in the flagship Muon speaker. At just under $600 a pair, these are a great speaker with a very unique look and a few different finish options.
KEF Upgrade: LS50 Bookshelf Speakers
The KEF LS50 is one of our favorite high-end bookshelf speakers to recommend. They normally retail for around $1500 a pair but can be found at Accessories4Less for just under $1100. Accessories4Less sells factory refurbished products with full manufacturer warranties. We heartily recommend them and have used them ourselves for some of our purchases. If you really don’t like refurbished, as of this writing, they are also selling new pairs for the full price. The LS50s are insanely good-sounding speakers that will knock the socks off of almost any other bookshelf speaker out there. KEF has recently released a new version of these speakers called the LS50 meta so snatch these up while you can. Accessories4Less is the only place we know of that still has these in stock.
Focal Chora 806 Bookshelf Speaker
If you want to take the next step up in driver materials, look no further than the Focal Chora 806 speakers. These sport a Magnesium tweeter for faster and more accurate highs and a “slatefiber” woofer cone. Slatefiber is a composite cone comprised of recycled non-woven carbon fibers. The speaker is tilted back by design for time alignment. As you’d expect with speakers that are $1000 a pair, there are a number of finish options that elevate this speaker to the level of art.
These are some of the best bookshelf speakers we’ve heard and recommend. There are many more out there. We encourage you to go out and listen to all you can. That said, if you are shopping for speakers, make sure you at least audition a couple of these. We promise you won’t be disappointed.