Best bookshelf speakers to buy in 2018

One of the most compact forms of hi-fi speakers you can purchase is a pair of bookshelf speakers. Having a good set of bookshelf speakers can do a lot towards improving your home entertainment system and giving you the audio experience you crave. You want to make sure you purchase speakers from a reputable brand and that you get the best deal that you can afford on your budget. Here are a few tips on what to look for a premium set of bookshelf speakers and a few reviews to help you start shopping.

Our selection of the best bookshelf speakers available in the UK market in 2018!

1. M-Audio AV32 Monitor Speakers (Pair)

2. Q Acoustics 2010i

3. Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 Speakers

4. Bose 161 Speaker System

5. E-Audio High-Quality 4-Inch Dual Cone Full Range Mini Box Speaker

1 - M-Audio AV32 Monitor Speakers (Pair)

M-Audio AV32 Monitor Speakers (Pair)

Versatile and powerful

When you are ready to upgrade your sound, the M-Audio AV32 Monitor Speakers have a two-way design that includes Optimage IV waveguides and optimized bass that give you clear highs and extended bass. You also get onboard amplification with 10 Watts per channel and MDF cabinets that are acoustically-inert getting rid of clarity-depriving resonances. These speakers give you punchy sound with superior imaging that you will enjoy.
You also get premium sound reproduction with the 3-inch woofers that are polypropylene-coated giving you accurate and tight bass as well as the silk cone tweeters that measure one inch and are Ferro fluid-cooled giving you clear highs. There are also handy RCA inputs to hook up mixers, DJ gear, and gaming systems as well a 1/8 inch stereo auxiliary input in the front panel for connecting your MP3 player, desktop computer or laptop. You also get private listening with the easy to access headphone output in the front panel.

Pros:

  • Nice size speakers, not too big
  • Prominent bass, not tinny or overbearing
  • Full of detail with a nice punch

Cons:

  • No possibility to switch the speakers or you have inverted audio in your headphones
  • Volume knob needs a little more detail
2 - Q Acoustics 2010i

Q Acoustics 2010i

Best performer at its price range

If you are looking for a compact bookshelf speaker set, the Q Acoustics 2010i gives you one of the best performances at this price point. It is a great choice for both home use and hi-fi music, plus it perfectly matches the 2070i subwoofer and the 2000Ci Centre speaker. This upgraded version features a new tweeter, an upgraded mid/bass driver cone, and a revised crossover that accommodates these changes.
The cabinet also features new trim on the front-panel but is otherwise unchanged, and you can easily connect to the speakers through single-wired terminals found on the bottom panel. Similar to the sound of the Q Acoustics 2020i, the 2010i has a great attack and refinement giving you an incredible performance for the price. These are some of the best speakers at this price point that can give you a sound that is so detailed and composed that also easily pairs with other equipment.

Pros:

  • Gives you impressive resolution
  • Nice build with a refined look
  • Has great tonal balance

Cons: 

  • A little on the small side for some users
3 - Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 Speakers

Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 Speakers

Best budget product

With a classic look, the Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 bookshelf speakers are known as some of the best budget speakers on the market. Providing incredibly balanced sound, the Diamond 9.1 speakers are available in a style design with great build quality that features curved cabinets that you normally only see on more expensive speakers. The cabinets also help to get rid of vibrations and standing waves providing you with superior bass and better overall performance.
You can also bi-wire the Diamond 9.1 speakers to separate the signal paths giving you a more precise and cleaner sound. You will get hours of awesome listening pleasure with the large amounts of detail on the top-end and a strong, tight bass. These budget speakers will definitely satisfy those that seek the experiences of a much more expensive speaker.

Pros:

  • Great value speakers with amazing sound
  • Works well with turntables to give you every nuance from an album
  • Easy to wall mount, not too obtrusive looking

Cons:

  • High-end is a little lacking, not quite as bright as you would want
  • To get their full potential, you need to bi-wire them to get their full potential.
4 - Bose 161 Speaker System

Bose 161 Speaker System

Sleek design

If you are looking for a versatile set of speakers, check out the Bose 161 to help you enjoy both music and films. Giving balanced audio with a sleek design, the Bose 161 is perfect to use with either home stereo or cinema components. Featuring Articulated Array and Integrated Stereo Everywhere technologies, this speaker system delivers high-quality sound just about every point in a room.
These are also easy to wall mount speakers in case you don’t want them on your shelves and come with custom mounting brackets to give you more options. You can use the Bose 161 speakers with an SA-3 amplifier so you can experience Bose-quality sound from an existing Bose Lifestyle system in other rooms of your home. With Articulated Array, you can create a constant audio field and the Stereo Everywhere feature allows you to enjoy balanced stereo sound over a large area.

Pros:

  • Nice thin profile so they can actually sit on a window ledge
  • Easy to wall mount if you don’t want them on your desk
  • Will surround you with sound when you are several feet away from them

Cons:

  • Bass is a little weak
  • Needs more definition to the sound
5 - E-Audio High-Quality 4-Inch Dual Cone Full Range Mini Box Speaker

E-Audio High-Quality 4-Inch Dual Cone Full Range Mini Box Speaker

Quick connect and 80 watt

Perfect for use in the ceiling, E-Audio Mini Box Speakers are a pair of high quality, dual cone 10 cm mini speakers. Boasting a robust ABS construction, these 80 Watt speakers include quick-connect terminals.
Sold in a pair, these are full range mini speakers that can be purchased in either black or white. The E-Audio Mini Box Speakers also features fast connect speaker terminals for easy setup.

Pros:

  • Nice inexpensive speakers that can handle quite a bit of power
  • Even though they are small, you still get a decent volume out of them
  • Gives you decent bass response and work well with a subwoofer

Cons:

  • A little dull in the higher frequencies
  • Need more treble response and mounting options

Considerations When Buying a Bookshelf Speaker

Number of Speakers

Keep in mind that it is impossible for just one speaker to realistically represent each part of any given frequency range due to the need for different transducers to handle each of these different parts. The two-way design is the most common configuration which has a smaller high-frequency tweeter that handles the trebles while a larger driver takes care of everything else. The quality of what you hear is defined by the build quality and capabilities of those two speakers.

Frequency Range

Supported by most speakers, the frequency range goes to where humans can barely able to hear anything on the high end. On the lower end, how well you hear the bass portion of the range will depend on personal preference and can require a subwoofer to hear the bass portion of the range.

Crossover

There is a tendency for multiple speakers that are working at the same time to come into conflict with one another. You will see this happen often when there is a sudden decline in response at a certain frequency. So, to eliminate this type of conflict, you need a crossover device that will give you a smooth transition, and they are pretty many necessities if you are into high fidelity audio seriously.

Cabinet Design

Cabinets can actually be a very expensive and complicated part of a speaker. When considering speakers, make sure that you at least get an MDF cabinet which is the industry standard and gives you good performance. A cabinet design is important as it shapes the speaker’s output. If you have a set of cheap bookshelf speakers, you probably have a build quality that is questionable, so if you are on a budget, it is important to find a nice solid cabinet as part of your search.

What are Speaker Specs?

Learning more about speaker specs can help you comparison shop, especially once you know the type of speakers you are looking for.

Frequency Response

Referring to the frequency range that can be reproduced by a speaker, the frequency response is measured in Hertz. To produce a specific amount of loudness, a speaker needs to be provided with an audio signal at a given frequency and level. In a perfect world, if you changed the frequency but kept the level the same, but change the frequency, the loudness would remain the same giving you a flat frequency response.
It is only possible for the average human ear to detect a maximum frequency range between 20 Hz to 20 KHz, so you want to find a speaker that can reproduce as much as possible in that range. There is really no standard measurement, so you also need to consider other features when comparing speakers.

Impedance

The impedance of a speaker tells you how much electrical resistance an amplifier will meet when trying to drive a specific speaker. Impedance is measured in ohms and you will find that most speakers are designed with 8-ohm impedance. Eight ohms works well with pretty much all home audio equipment, but for a consistent response, all of your speakers should have the same impedance.

Sensitivity

Referring to how much power your speaker will deliver, sensitivity uses the decibels per watt measurement. So, if you have a speaker that has high sensitivity, you will need less power to attain a high volume. You will find that low sensitivity falling around 88 decibels per watt, while higher sensitivity falls around 100 decibels per watt.

Power Handling

Indicating the maximum sound signal that can be accepted by a signal, power handling is measured in watts. If you give a speaker more power than it can handle, you can damage it. If you have a speaker with high power handling capacities, you will usually need to have a more powerful amplifier to let the speakers sound their best. If you choose speakers won’t have a problem handling the maximum output of your receiver, you will get the best results. There is also no standard on how this is measured.

FAQ’s

Here is a list of some frequently asked questions that customers have had when choosing bookshelf speakers.

Can you mix and match brands of speakers?
It is possible, but it isn’t a good idea. You get different sounds from different speaker brands and you want the sound signature to stay the same when sounds move from speaker to speaker in a surround sound situation. If you plan to piece-meal your sound system, just keep in mind that your system will sound better with each matching speaker that is added. The subwoofer is the one exception to the rule.

Does it matter if the subwoofer is a different brand from the speakers?
No, and in some cases, this is a good idea since some speaker makers are not great at making subwoofers. If you find that reviews for the subwoofer that goes with the speakers you have are not great, there shouldn’t be a problem adding a subwoofer from a company that specializes in them. Since a subwoofer is a large part of your home theater, you shouldn’t skimp on it.

Do you need two subwoofers?
In most instances, having one subwoofer will give you enough bass to allow it to stand on its own. If you place your subwoofer in a place that isn’t great from a performance perspective, adding a second subwoofer can give you the advantage of a cleaner sound and evening out dead spots in the room. A system with two subwoofers is also a good idea for those that love a lot of loud bass.

Top Brands to Look For

An integral part of any home’s entertainment system, bookshelf speakers are created to give you a high-quality listening experience. Designed to be placed on speaker stands on bookshelves, you get great sound at the desired height.
Choosing speakers that are reliable and high-quality can be daunting, but it helps to look for brands that you can trust and that have been around awhile. These brands will use better quality materials and give you designs that are appealing visually as well as give you better sound than you would get from an iPod audio dock.

Here are a few brands that are among the more popular:

SVS – With classy looks and superb clarity, SVS has received many industry awards and is one of most highly-regarded models on the market.
Sonus Faber – This is a great Italian company that features innovative designs with customizable looks and great audio quality.
Audioengine – With a big sound and a classic look, Audioengine makes great speakers for streaming wireless music.
Wharfedale – Creating some really incredible products, Wharfedale offers great dynamics at a good price point.
Q Acoustics – Offering customers a good product with solid performance, Q Acoustics are available at an affordable price.

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