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.
- Mitchell Acoustics uStream One Review
- Edifier S3000 Pro Active Stereo Speaker Review
- Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Studio Speakers Review
- Edifier R2000DB Review
- Airpulse A100 Active Speaker Review
- Airpulse A80 Review
Best Bookshelf Speakers 2023 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.
1) Edifier S3000 Pro: Check Price On Amazon
Best Bookshelf Speakers 2023
I personally have no brand loyalty and I find being a brand fanboy is just a bit weird. That being said, when it comes to active bookshelf speakers, Edifier are normally a safe bet. I like all their products, but I think they face stiffer competition with their Bluetooth speakers, headphones and earbuds. For bookshelf speakers, they have a wide range of products covering a wide range of price points from very affordable to not-so-affordable.
The Edifier S3000 Pro bookshelf speakers are a new edition for the 2023 list. These sit at the top of the Edifier branded range priced at around $900, which is not cheap, but in the world of speakers, not necessarily expensive either. Edifier also own the Airpulse brand which is the premium priced range.
I reviewed these at the start of January 2022 and have continued to use them as my main office speakers since. There is nothing I have reviewed since that I prefer over these. The Airpulse A100 were arguably better for the added detail, but if I was spending my own money, I am not sure I could justify the extra £270/$335 over these Edifiers. The Airpulse A100 are smaller and more attractive, which could justify the price difference for some.
I can't understate how good the Edifier S3000 Pro speakers are, and they have been universally well-reviewed both by critics and users alike.
These have Planar diaphragm tweeters combined with a 6.5″ (179mm) bass unit that has a massive 256 watts total RMS output. When I dial these up I can feel the rumble of the bass without any distortion.
These then have Kleernet Wireless Speaker Connectivity which wirelessly connects the two speakers together, avoiding the need for the thick interconnecting speaker cable. And it works perfectly.
The built-in DAC is a PCM5242, supports 24bit/192kHz, and the signal-to-noise ratio is up to 114dB. You may need to install some drivers to get 24bit/192kHz. You also have the option for optical, RCA, balanced and Bluetooth connectivity.
Apart from the reasonably high price, the only issue you might have with these is the physical size, they are massive and weigh 21.1kg in total. I don't mind the overall aesthetic, they just have a traditional speaker look. Some people may prefer something more attractive (like the Airpulse speakers).
2) Edifier MR4: Check Price On Amazon
Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers 2023
For the 2023 list, I swapped out the excellent Edifier R1280T for the MR4. The Edifier MR4 are a bit cheaper at around $100, and I think they look nicer.
The frequency response of the MR4 vs the R1280T is about the same, but the MR4 appear to be preferred by most people. One comment was that the MR4 are about the same for near field use but superior for far-field use.
The right speaker is powered with aux and headphone jacks, the volume and power knob, and on the rear is the bass or high dial.
The left speaker is passive and wired up by a relatively thin speaker cable. These are also physically quite light and this is to be expected at this price.
The only downside is that these speakers lack an optical or USB input and the sound quality from your motherboard audio outputs may not be that great. A good DAC should significantly improve audio quality.
Overall, the Edifier MR4 is regarded by many as the best you can get for $100.
3) 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.
4) ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2: Check Price On Amazon
Passive Bookshelf Speakers
The ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 was placed on this list by the previous author of Make the City Sound Better. I wouldn't personally have chosen these because the other speakers on this list are active, while these are passive.
They are undeniably good speakers and good value for money, but they probably belong on a separate list for passive bookshelf speakers. I am leaving them as a recommendation for now, until a write a post dedicated to these speakers.
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.
5) Audioengine HD3: Check Price On Amazon
Best Wireless Bookshelf Speakers 2023
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.
I am a UK tech blogger and have been in the industry for over 10 years now, running Mighty Gadget and its sister sites and contributing to other sites around the web. I am passionate about all tech, including mobile, wearables, and home automation. I am also a fitness fanatic, so I cover as much fitness tech as possible.