Bookshelf Speakers Review

 By
 

Why Should I Buy Bookshelf Speakers?

When it comes to buying speakers for a home theater system or for the pure joy of listening to great stereo music, consumers have a multitude of options. While each of the various solutions has its own benefits and drawbacks, bookshelf speakers are the single most versatile choice.

A good pair of bookshelf speakers can be perfect for listening to your favorite music, especially in a relatively small space. They’re also an indispensible part of just about any home theater. While many people choose the ease of a sound bar or a home theater in a box system, pairs of bookshelf speakers can offer flexibility and sound quality that isn’t otherwise available. Home theater systems can employ one, two or even three pairs of bookshelf loudspeakers to complete the surround sound experience.

All of the TV and stereo speakers that are featured on this review site will be at home as part of a home theater or for stereo listening. They’re also economically priced and provide a lot of bang for the buck. Their small size makes them ideal for pairing with a subwoofer to obtain full-range sound. As a component of a home theater, they work well as home cinema speakers in conjunction with floor standing speakers and center speakers. For additional information, you can check out our articles on bookshelf speakers. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™

Bookshelf Speakers: What to Look For

Choosing the right bookshelf speakers needn’t be a difficult chore. Each of the best speakers shown on this site has its own relative merits and personal preferences will often dictate which is best for any individual. Here’s a list of the criteria we used to rate the products.

Performance
Ultimately, the sound produced by any speaker is what makes or breaks it. Under the performance heading, we’ve evaluated the quantitative measures that go into making great sound with bookshelf speakers. In an ideal world, a speaker could reproduce the entire range of human hearing which is generally accepted to range from an extremely low 20 Hertz (Hz), or cycles per second clear up to 20,000Hz, more frequently written as 20kHz. In practice, no speaker creates that entire range so we look at those that come closest. Ultrasonic overtones can also be reproduced by some speakers. These are sounds that are too high for us to actually hear but they’re important in completing the lower frequency sounds and add a lot to the ambiance and spaciousness of great recordings.

Features
Since bookshelf speakers are often used in home theater setups, most of them are magnetically shielded so that they don’t interfere with the video image if placed near a CRT television. This isn’t, however, an issue for today’s flat-screen TVs. We also consider the input wattage that will best drive the speaker. Manufacturers site these specifications in different manners. Most quote recommended minimum and maximum input levels while some specify the average and peak wattage that can be handled. In choosing speakers, it’s important that your amplifier or receiver provide power within the ranges noted by the manufacturer.

Drivers
Drivers are the individual sound transducers contained within a speaker enclosure. Most bookshelf speakers include a single low-frequency driver for reproducing bass and mid-range tones and a tweeter, or high-frequency driver, for the upper ranges. A passive crossover is included which routes signals of a specified frequency to the correct driver. While it’s generally true that a larger driver can produce lower bass because it can move more air at greater pressure, there are other factors such as driver material and construction that play a part in producing the best sound.

Enclosure Features
The enclosure is the box that holds the whole speaker assembly together. The cabinetry in this price range is typically made of medium density fiberboard, MDF, and is finished with either wood-grain or gloss vinyl. The enclosure design has an effect on the sound, particularly on the quantity and quality of bass that is produced. Bass-reflex speakers use the rearward movement of the low-frequency driver to create additional bass. That sound pressure is routed outward, either rearward or forward through a bass-reflex port. While producing more bass, this configuration can result in muddier sound. The alternative design, acoustic suspension, utilizes a sealed enclosure. There is typically less bass response but what’s there is often more precise.

Help & Support
Bookshelf speakers don’t typically require much customer support but, as with any consumer product, there are always times that it’s needed. We look at the various support avenues provided by the manufacturer. We also make note of product warranties.

Bookshelf speakers are an integral part of most sound systems, whether as main speakers or to provide surround sound. While there is something to like about all of the products in the review, we found the Klipsch B-20 to be the overall best performer followed closely by the Boston Acoustics CS 26 and the Polk Audio TSi100.

 
 
Electronics » Home Audio » Bookshelf Speakers Review
LIKE OUR REVIEWS? SUPPORT OUR SITE BY LIKING US ON FACEBOOK OR GOOGLE PLUS
Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Klipsch B-20 Boston Acoustics CS 26 Polk Audio TSi100 JBL ES20 BIC America DV62si Cerwin-Vega VE-5M Boston Acoustics CS 23 Yamaha NS-B210
Klipsch B-20 Boston Acoustics CS 26 Polk Audio TSi100 JBL ES20 BIC America DV62si Cerwin-Vega VE-5M Boston Acoustics CS 23 Yamaha NS-B210
Reviewer Comments Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Lowest Price
Visit Klipsch B-20
$279.00
Visit Boston Acoustics CS 26
$129.95
Visit Polk Audio TSi100
$199.00
Visit JBL ES20
$399.00
Visit BIC America DV62si
$109.88
Visit Cerwin-Vega VE-5M
$129.00
Visit Boston Acoustics CS 23
$99.85
Visit Yamaha NS-B210
$99.95
Ratings
9.43
8.82
8.68
8.20
7.82
7.68
7.55
7.18
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9.75
9.75
8.75
8.75
9.25
9.00
9.00
8.50
8.50
8.75
8.75
8.75
8.50
8.50
8.75
8.25
8.25
8.00
8.00
8.75
8.00
8.00
7.50
7.50
7.50
7.75
7.75
7.50
7.50
7.75
7.50
7.50
7.50
7.50
8.75
7.00
7.00
7.50
7.50
7.50
 
Performance
Sensitivity (2.83V @ 1m 92.5dB 89dB 89dB 86dB 90dB 89dB 89dB 86dB
Low-end Drop-off (+/-3dB) 62Hz 52Hz 61Hz 60Hz 43Hz 60Hz 120Hz 75Hz
High-end Drop-off (+/-3dB) 23kHz 25kHz 24kHz 40kHz 21kHz 20kHz 20kHz 35kHz
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms 8 ohms 8 ohms 8 ohms 8 ohms 8 ohms 8 ohms 6 ohms
Features
Magnetic Shielding
 
 
Inputs Single Post Five-way Five-way Five-way Five-way Five-way Five-way Five-way
Minimum Input Wattage   10W 20W   10W   10W  
Maximum Input Wattage   150W 100W 125W 175W 125W 150W 120W
Average Power Handling 85 W    60W     40W
Peak Power Handling 340W    240W     
Drivers
High-Frequency Driver Size 0.75 inch 1 inch 1 inch 0.75 inch 0.75 inch 1.25 inch 1 inch  
Low Frequency Driver Size 5.25 inches 6.5 inches 5.25 inches 5 inches 6.5 inches 5.25 inches 3.5 inches 3.125 inches
Crossover Frequency 2250Hz 2400Hz 2500Hz 3300Hz, 12kHz 3500Hz   2700Hz None
Super Tweeter    
    
Enclosure Features
Design Type Bass Reflex Bass Reflex Bass Reflex Bass Reflex Bass Reflex Bass Reflex Bass Reflex Acoustic Suspension
Available Finishes Black Black, Cherry Black, Cherry Black, Cherry Black, Oak Black Black Black, Brown, Piano, White
Height 12.5 inches 12.25 inches 11 inches 12.5 inches 14.25 inches 6.1 inches 7.7 inches 8.4 inches
Width 7 inches 8.25 inches 7 inches 6.9 inches 8.9 inches 7.2 inches 5 inches 4.1 inches
Depth 8 inches 9.1 inches 10.2 inches 8 inches 9.1 inches 10.3 inches 4.9 inches 5.2 inches
Weight 11 pounds 12.5 pounds 10 pounds 10.3 pounds 15.5 pounds 7 pounds 4 pounds 3.5 pounds
Help & Support
Warranty 5 Years 5 Years 5 Years 5 Years 7 Years 5 Years 5 Years 2 Years
Email Support
Telephone Support
Live Chat
 
     
Online Manual
 
FAQs