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The 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers

The 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2018

 

If you’re looking for a new pair of speakers for your audio setup, you’ve come to the right place. You might need a new pair to add to your laptop, PC, home theater, or turntable setup. Maybe you’re just looking for a quality pair to keep in your room and stream via music Bluetooth from your phone. 

You may have tried one of the newly-released wireless smart speakers, but either weren’t happy with the sound, or don’t need all the extra features. No matter what your purpose is for tuning in, our 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2018 guide includes more than enough options for you to choose from. 

The models we chose range in features, speaker type, price, and purpose. We’ll help you narrow down your search by including the most important factors you’ll want to consider for each model. Our goal is to make your search for the perfect pair of speakers as easy as possible.

As you scroll down you’ll be able to see why they’ve gotten such positive reviews and why we think you’ll most likely agree. Take a look below to see how we chose which bookshelf speakers to include and why.

 

The 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers

 


The 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2018

Our Top 10 list features a wide range of models to choose from. It will include all of the speakers listed below:

  1. Mackie CR3 Creative Reference Monitors (Best Bang For Your Buck)
  2. Edifier R1280T 
  3. Klipsch R-15M
  4. Edifier R1700BT
  5. Q Acoustics 3020 (Most Versatile)
  6. Kef Q100 Loudspeakers
  7. Audioengine HD3 Wireless
  8. Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active
  9. KEF LS50 Mini Monitors (Most Expensive)
  10. ELAC Uni-fi UB5 (Our #1 Favorite Overall Pick)

 

How Did We Choose The Best Models? – Basic Criteria

All 10 of the models on our list were hand-picked based on the strongest overall mix of the following factors:  

  • Build and Sound Quality
  • Cost vs. Performance
  • Average Customer Rating

 

There are speakers here that will fit any budget and be suitable for both casual and audiophile use, Bluetooth media streaming, and even turntable listening. Our hope for you is that after you read through our guide, you’ll be able to make an informed selection and take your audio to the next level!


Mackie CR3 Creative Reference Monitors – Best Bang For Your Buck

 

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Includes acoustic isolation pads
  • Driver size: 3″ woofer, 0.75″ tweeter
  • Frequency Response: 70 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Impedance: 20 kΩ
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB
  • Input: 1/4″, 1/8″ TRS/RCA
  • Output: 1/8″ stereo headphones
  • Weight: 9.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 6.2 x 8.2 inches

Cost vs. Performance

The CR3 reference monitors are a popular choice for not only people who want to listen to music, but also for recording use in a home studio. 

Since these are technically reference monitors, they’re great for getting a detailed, well-balanced reference on your tracks. If you do decide that you want to use headphones for mixing – there is a built-in 3.5 mm headphone port directly on the front of the monitor. 

There have been some concerns about the quality of sound when you plug your headphones in directly, but it is an option. Streaming Bluetooth is made easy and is fully compatible with most smartphones and other wireless devices (including the Amazon Echo). 

 

Average Customer Rating

Out of over 1,000 customer reviews, the CR3s have gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback. These are small enough that they’ll fit on pretty much any size desk (next to your laptop, etc.) and don’t lack in performance for most needs.

These monitors are very versatile and can be used with your turntable, laptop, portable MP3 player, and more. If you don’t have anything better, they’re an absolute essential addition to your home audio setup and wouldn’t be out of place on a top 10 budget studio monitor list either. 

 

(Actual price may vary from any mention in the video, use the link below for the most updated information.)

You’ll Love These If…

You need a home audio upgrade but aren’t ready to fork out upwards of $500. You need a pair of speakers that can be used for multiple purposes without sacrificing overall performance. 

No matter how you decide to use the Mackie CR3 reference monitors, they’ll meet your expectations at every level. Use the link here to see both positive and negative feedback from customers, pricing info, and star ratings. 


Edifier R1280T

 

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Mini remote included (volume up/down/mute)
  • Driver size: 13 mm tweeter/4″ woofer
  • Frequency Response: 75 – 18000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Output: AUX/RCA
  • Weight: 10.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.45 x 6.89 x 5.71 inches

Cost vs. Performance

The classic wood finish on the Edifier R1280T makes these a great pair of speakers for any room. Set them next to the other furniture in your listening space and see how well they not only blend in, but also add to the room’s aesthetic. They might be smaller in size, but they pack a punch

A 4″ woofer + 1″ tweeter in each speaker, allows you to turn the volume up louder than you’d expect from a speaker of this size. 

Each unit has multiple input/output options that are fully functional with an Echo or Echo Dot, laptop, or other portable music player. Maybe you do like the convenience of voice-activated controls, but the Echo doesn’t play music at the level of quality that you wish it did. 

Average Customer Rating

The customer reviews on Amazon are the true testament to how well these have been received. They score an almost-perfect 5 out of 5 stars from over 1,300 reviews (and counting). 

There have been a few minor complaints about the audio becoming muddy at higher volumes and an overall lack of power. Overall, most of the reviews sway to the positive side with only a few slightly negative pieces of feedback. The video below will help you decide for yourself.

 

Watch the video below to see an unboxing and a full review:

(Actual price may vary from any mention in the video, use the link below for the most updated information.)

You’ll Love These If…

You have reasonable expectations for the performance to price ratio that the Edifier R1280T have to offer. If you expect to hear audiophile-level sound quality and an out-of-this-world build design – you’re setting yourself of for disappointment. 

If you’re in need of a new pair of desktop speakers, or something on the leaner side that you can connect to your turntable, these will serve most of your needs just fine. Use the link here to see more details, customer ratings, and/or the current price on Amazon.


Klipsch R-15M

 

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Driver size: 5.25″ woofer/1″ tweeter
  • Frequency Response: 62 – 24000 Hz
  • Impedance: 8Ω
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB
  • Weight: 10.3 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7 x 8.11 x 12.5 inches

Cost vs. Performance

Upon first look, the R-15M from Klipsch have a pleasing, but expensive-looking outward appearance that might be deceiving. (Don’t worry, they’re not one of those $20,000 units.) The 5.25″ copper-spun woofers set just below the 1″ tweeter for the treble sound as good as they look

It’s virtually impossible to find another pair of similarly high-performing speakers in this price range. Although these don’t have any wireless capabilities, it’s because Klipsch decided instead to put all of their focus into designing a strong-performing, awesome-looking set of speakers without unnecessary frills. 

 

Average Customer Rating

You might be thinking, “That sounds great but does it mean it’s too good to be true?”. The customer reviews speak for themselves and the R-15M have an almost-perfect 5 star rating on Amazon. 

They’re rated very highly, have recently seen a major price cut, and perform well for various needs. 

You’ll Love These If…

Your current pair have been collecting dust because you’re not happy with their performance and you need a better option. If you don’t need Bluetooth, but you want something that you won’t have to replace after a month (due to lack of quality) – the Klipsch R-15M might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. 

Use the link here to see more details, star ratings, and pricing info. 


Edifier R1700BT

 

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Driver size: 4″ woofer/19 mm tweeter
  • Frequency Response:  60 Hz – 20 KHz
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Input:  AUX/RCA
  • Weight: 14.55 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 8.35 x 9.84 in

Cost vs. Performance

Edifier specializes in making affordable speakers that continue to make home audio fans happy. The R1700BT come ready out-of-the-box with Bluetooth compatibility, plus a woofer/tweeter combination that will adequately fill most listening spaces. 

If you want to connect this to your turntable because you need more detail out of your records, there are RCA outputs for you to do so. If you’re not fully convinced that wireless smart speakers are the future but you still like the convenience of wireless connectivity, these are a great entry-level model to consider. 

The initial setup isn’t confusing and switching audio input devices is as easy as unplugging a few cords and re-connecting them to your preferred device. 

 

Average Customer Rating

While these do score a little bit higher overall than the Mackie CR3, they haven’t gotten quite as many reviews yet. It’s not only easy to switch between Bluetooth from your phone, an Amazon device like the Echo Dot, and a laptop – but the sonic performance remains intact across a range of devices. 

Some Bluetooth devices have a hard time keeping up with a wired connection, but the R1700BT have been proven as a worthy competitor

 

You can watch the video below to see a hands-on review and sound demonstration:

(Actual price may vary from any mention in the video, use the link below for the most updated information.)

You’ll Love These If…

You’re like most casual listeners (either looking for an upgrade or replacement), the Edifier R1700BT come at a very affordable price, score high in versatility, and work great for casual use. 

If that sounds like exactly what you’ve been looking for, you’ll want to take a look at the full details here to see everything these have to offer.  


Q Acoustics 3020 – Our Most Versatile Pick

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Driver size: 5″ woofer/1″ tweeter
  • Frequency Response: 64Hz – 22kHz
  • Impedance: 6Ω
  • Sensitivity: 88 dB
  • Weight: 10.14 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.7 x 10.2 inches

 

Cost vs. Performance

This speaker set from Q Acoustics punches well above it’s weight. It’s available in 3 different color schemes and produces a strong true-to-life soundscape. It outperforms some of the over-hyped, pricier competition in terms of sound quality. 

The 5″ woofer has an accurate bass response that’s matched by the high end frequencies emanating from the 1″ tweeter. Q Acoustics delivered the unit that audio enthusiasts have been asking for, and it continues to exceed expectations. 

 

Average Customer Rating

It’s hard to argue with reviews mentioning that these speakers (compared side-by-side) with other competitors is a hands-down, no questions asked – better option. 

They’re also rated very highly on Amazon, with a near-perfect rating out of 5. Right out of the box, they’re ready to plug in, connect, and play. They work great with turntables, your laptop, smartphone via AUX, and even home entertainment systems. 

If you do decide to hook them up to your TV, some have suggested that pairing them with a subwoofer might be a good idea. 

 

Take a look at the video below for a quick overview and feature breakdown: 

(Actual price may vary from any mention in the video, use the link below for the most updated information.)

You’ll Love These If…

You’ve been anxiously waiting and waiting and waiting for a compact, yet powerful pair of speakers to experience without having to drop $1000 on overpriced materials. The Q Acoustics 3020 might be the solution to your problem.

If that describes your needs, and you’re tired of paying more and getting less – you’ll want to click here for more details such as pricing info, and/or more customer reviews. 


Kef Q100 Loudspeakers

 

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Driver size: 5.2″ woofer/1″ tweeter
  • Frequency Response: 49Hz – 40kHz
  • Impedance: 8Ω
  • Sensitivity: 86 dB
  • Weight: 32 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.1 x 10.7 x 11.8 inches

Cost vs. Performance

KEF specializes in hi-res audio and the Q100 are no exception. In a few seconds, when you watch the sound demo below, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what to expect. 

They come highly reviewed and rated from trusted audio publication Hi-Fi Vision stating that they set “the benchmark for compact loudspeakers very high”. With a larger woofer size and Uni-Q driver array, the Q100 has been able to surprise even the most seasoned audiophiles.

 

Average Customer Rating

That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Q100 have attracted the ear of many satisfied listeners. Nearly every piece of feedback mentions the surprisingly awesome audio playback and sonic clarity. 

These have and will continue to surpass expectations in the future, no matter what preferred device of listening you choose. Out of over 150 ratings (and counting) these are one of the most highly-rated, top-selling pairs of speakers on Amazon. The video below will better demonstrate why they’ve gotten so much praise.

 

Watch the video below for a full sound demo:

(Actual price may vary from any mention in the video, use the link below for the most updated information.)

You’ll Love These If…

You’re someone who values the concept of “you get what you pay for”. It might seem like a good idea to jump at the first offer you see in favor of a lower price tag, but (as you know) the excitement eventually wears off as time goes by. 

If high performance matched with a very reasonable retail value is what gets your gears going, look no further. The sound demo for the KEF Q100 loudspeakers peaked your interest, and you want to learn more.

If that sounds like you, go ahead and use the link here to see more details, customer feedback, and pricing information. 


Audioengine HD3 Wireless

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Driver size: 2.75″ woofer/ 3/4″ tweeter
  • Frequency Response: 65Hz-22kHz
  • Impedance: 5Ω
  • Sensitivity: 95 db
  • Weight: 9.92 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8.86 x 11.81 x 11.61 inches

 

Cost vs. Performance

The HD3 Wireless from Audioengine are available in four different colors and have a built-in DAC for optimum audio reproduction. 

You can stream music from Tidal Music, Spotify, or Amazon Music Unlimited. The HD3 feature aptX Bluetooth streaming quality so the quality doesn’t have to suffer when you’re listening wire-free. 

If you’d rather listen using a wired connection, you can use the RCA outputs, 3.5 mm AUX, or USB connection. With audiophile-grade build materials at a not-so-audiophile price point – it would be wise to keep the HD3 in mind

 

Average Customer Rating

While these do fall in the mid-range speaker category price-wise – when you read one of the over 50 reviews on Amazon, it would appear that they’re anything but mid-range. 

Although these do offer Bluetooth connectivity, some listeners choose not to utilize it. (As you’re most likely already aware, the audio quality over a wireless connection can decrease in quality.)

Just like wireless headphones, pairs (like the Sennheiser HD 4.50) can stream at a higher quality than average and that seems to be the case with the HD3 as well. 

 

Take a look at the video below to see an in-depth review and hands-on demonstration:

(Actual price may vary from any mention in the video, use the link below for the most updated information.)

You’ll Love These If…

You’re not quite ready to make the jump into the above-500 dollar speaker category but want to experience a similar level of sonic quality. Even at the higher price point, the Audioengine HD3 Wireless have secured themselves a spot in the Top 100 best-sellers on Amazon. 

If you’re someone who occasionally enjoys the convenience of Bluetooth media streaming but you also value a strong wired connection that’s compatible with multiple audio devices, you’ll find it hard to come up with any legitimate listening complaints.

If you fall into either of those categories, or you’re just curious about what they have to offer, click here to learn more


Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active

 

 

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Wireless connectivity (with Bluetooth aptX)
  • Mini remote included
  • Driver size: 5.5″ woofer/1″ tweeter
  • Frequency Response: 48 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11 x 8 x 13.5 inches

Cost vs. Performance

At first look, it’s hard to argue with the overall build design and visually pleasing aesthetic of the Edifier S1000DB. Is it really possible that a speaker can look that good but also match it with performance?  (Your question will be answered with more detail in the video below.)

Compared to the other Edifier models that we previously covered, the S1000DB has more to offer in terms of audiophile-grade audio playback. Just like the R1700BT, these also have built-in aptX Bluetooth capabilities.

You can pair a different wireless speaker like the Sonos One with the S1000DB to create a surround sound effect while watching a movie or new series on Netflix. 

Alternatively, these will supplement a decent turntable that needs to be paired with a quality pair of speakers. A turntable like the Audio Technica LP60BT would make a great partner with this set – especially since they’re both wireless (and some purists might argue that that would be blasphemy). 

 

Average Customer Rating

These are among the Top 3 most highly-rated sets compared to most of the other units on our list. As you’ll see when you read some of the (over 150) customer reviews, they score well in terms of versatility, sonic performance, and affordability. 

It’s not an easy feat to be able to check off all three areas in one swoop but the S1000DB aren’t your average pair of bookshelf speakers. 

 

Check out the video below for a full review and sound demo near the end:

(Actual price may vary from any mention in the video, use the link below for the most updated information.)

You’ll Love These If…

None of the previous speakers seemed to have what it takes to meet your needs and wants. You’ll also love the Edifier S1000DB if you haven’t quite found the perfect balance between versatility, affordability, and sonic performance yet. You want to have the ability to stream music via Bluetooth but it’s not absolutely necessary. 

You trust that the 5.5″ woofer has enough oomph to properly represent your favorite records, songs, and other audio. If you’re curious but need more information, use the link here to learn more on Amazon. 


KEF LS50 Mini Monitors – Our Most Expensive Pick

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Driver size: 5.25″ woofer/1″ tweeter
  • Frequency Response: 47 Hz – 45 kHz
  • Impedance: 8Ω
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Weight: 15.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.9 x 7.9 x 10.9 inches

If you’ve seen a demo on YouTube for the KEF LS50, you’ll know why we couldn’t resist adding this set to our list. (If you haven’t seen a demo, stay tuned – we have a few that you can watch below.)

We aren’t trying to suggest that you need ultra high-end speakers to have an elevated sonic experience – we just thought it would be fun to show you how much audio equipment can really vary

 

Cost vs. Performance

To put it bluntly, the LS50 mini monitors look like audio gear from the future. The superbly minimal but ultra-sleek design is almost enough to file bankruptcy over (just kidding, they’re not that expensive).

You can get them in 3 different color schemes and they sound as good as (if not better than) they look. Think of these as the KEF Q100s on steroids. They’re sound stage is extremely detailed, versatile, and well-rounded. 

Fans of any genre of music will, without a doubt, enjoy the sonic performance of the LS50. 

 

Average Customer Rating

When you read reviews about how these perform on the same level as other units that cost upwards of $20,000, it becomes a question of “Can I?” rather than “Should I?”. For a pair of speakers, some customers recommend that you pair these with a quality amp for the best results. 

Again and again, the positive feedback is overwhelming as you scroll through the reviews. 

 

Watch the video below to see why these cost as much as they do – and why they’re widely-regarded as being one of the best that money can buy:

For a full sound demo, take a look at this video:

You’ll Love These If…

You’ve been saving up and waiting to find a pair of speakers with the exact features that the KEF LS50 mini montiors have to offer. You don’t plan on using these to play music in a warehouse setting but you really want to feel your audio coursing through the airwaves in your house or apartment. 

Maybe you’re already a fan of KEF and you’ve experienced some of the less-expensive units but they just don’t cut it. If that’s the case, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t at least take a closer look


ELAC Uni-fi UB5 – Our #1 Favorite Overall Pick

 

Features & Technical Specifications:

  • Driver size: 5.25″ woofer/4″ tweeter
  • Frequency Response: 46 to 25,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 4Ω
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Weight: 35.9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.87 x 10.75 x 12.75 in

 

Cost vs. Performance

The Uni-fi UB5 were specially designed by Andrew Jones who has worked with KEF, Pioneer, and Technical Audio Devices Laboratories. He’s built up a reputation that also comes with certain expectations. 

He took over design responsibilities for the UB5 and his years and years of experience definitely paid off. The basic, to the point, yet sleek and minimalist design of the UB5 might not be what comes to mind when you imagine an ultra high-performing speaker of this type. 

A 5.25″ woofer isn’t anything out of the ordinary but the larger 4″ tweeter size might seem a bit odd. Since the tweeter isn’t being dwarfed by the woofer, the overall sound stage is more well-rounded and robust. (See the video below for more on the thought process behind that.)

 

Average Customer Rating

Sometimes long-awaited releases are so hyped up that our minds create unreasonable expectations that often times go unmet. Fortunately, this isn’t one of those times. 

The Uni-fi UB5 had the momentum going forward and continues to pick up more steam with every positive response being added by the day. Once again, ELAC gives us another highly-rated and respected pair of speakers for us to enjoy. 

It’s hard to pinpoint any major flaws with this unit but you can use the link here to see both positive and negative feedback on Amazon for yourself. 

 

Watch the video below to see a behind-the-scenes chat with legendary speaker-designer Andrew Jones:

(Actual price may vary from any mention in the video, use the link below for the most updated information.)

You’ll Love These If…

You’ve been continually let down by any of the major audio equipment manufacturers and are tired of wasting your hard-earned money on a product that doesn’t show up when you need it to. 

The ELAC Uni-fi UB5 is our favorite overall pick. It features a nice balance of producing hi-res, well-defined audio, without any unnecessary add-ons to distract from the main objective. Click here to see more pictures, star ratings, or to check the current price. 


Which Pair Will You Be Adding To Your Bookshelf? - The 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers

Which Pair Will You Be Adding To Your Bookshelf?

Now that you’ve been able to scan and compare our favorite picks, you should have enough information to decide which direction you want to go. The goal of our guide was to point you in the right direction, and it’s helpful to know if we were able to do that.

Which one of the 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2018 was your favorite? Were you able to pick one out as the clear winner in your mind

Did we forget any specific speakers that you think should be included here? Leave your comment below to let us know how we did! If you’d like further clarification or just want to ask a question, feel free to ask away!

If you know anyone else that could also benefit from our guide, feel free to share the link on your social media or bookmark this page for later. 

As always, we appreciate your support and want to thank you for sticking around til the end. If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably like our 25 of the Best Audiophile Albums list or our guide on Waterproof Headphones For Swimming.

Thanks again, we hope to see you here again! 

 

Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves. 

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