You know that feeling when you want to play some music and dance around your room till you drop, but the sound is just not right? There’s nothing I hate more. Or even worse, when I turn the volume up, and the music is still not loud enough!
Well, guess what — most of the time, it has nothing to do with the track quality. If the sound seems off, the speakers are the guilty party.
You’ve probably heard people say that you can’t expect anything special from bookshelf speakers. I agree to some extent — bookshelf speakers are small and can’t have the power or quality of PA speakers that live bands use. Still, just because I’m listening experience to music at home, from my phone or computer, it doesn’t mean that I have to settle for average sound.
Therefore, if you want to enjoy the best audio experience possible, you must go for premium-quality speakers. However, there are so many options, which makes picking the right speaker set rather tricky.
So, to help you out, I tested and reviewed some of the best bookshelf speakers and chose a winner. But before we move on to my list, let’s see what features you should pay attention to when choosing your new best speakers.
A Comparison Table That Will Help You Choose The Right Active Bookshelf Speaker
|Product Image||Product Name||Highlights|
|Top||1. Klipsch R-15PM||A fantastic speaker set overall, R-15PM is ideal for those who enjoy a rather smooth but powerful sound. The combination of a built-in amplifier and Bluetooth support will satisfy any audiophile.||CHECK PRICE|
|2. Edifier R980T 4"||If you’re looking for a simple, budget speaker set, R980T is the right way to go. It’s easy to use, has great sound quality, and outstanding bass.||CHECK PRICE|
|3. Audioengine A5 Plus Classic||A5 Plus Classic will provide you with unparalleled power and silky-smooth sound. Its different positioning and multiple connectivity options are a huge advantage, as well.||CHECK PRICE|
|4. Presonus Eris E3.5-3.5"||As a speaker set that you can use to create your own mixes, Eris E3.5 offers unmatched quality. What’s more, it is amazing not just for music but also movies, TV shows, and gaming.||CHECK PRICE|
|5. Edifier R1280T||The best budget option, R1280T combines great design with strong bass, powerful sound, and superb wattage.||CHECK PRICE|
How to Pick Good Active Bookshelf Speakers — A Buyer’s Guide
Premium bookshelf speakers can turn any song into a fantastic music experience. In contrast, if you go for an average option, the sound quality will be everything but great.
Hence, it’s essential to consider several factors if you want to buy the best bookshelf speakers. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Power and Capacity
When it comes to active bookshelf speakers, the wattage depends on several factors. A major one is, of course, your taste.
I, personally, like to turn the volume up and listen to more energetic music. So, if you share my preferences, you will need a stronger speaker set to avoid sound distortion.
However, if you’re a fan of calmer music and don’t like the sound to be too loud, a bookshelf speaker set with 20–30 watts will be more than enough.
Another thing to consider is your room’s size and layout. The larger the room is, the stronger the speakers must be. Still, bear in mind that bookshelf speakers are designed specifically for small and mid-size rooms. Even the most energetic sets of bookshelf speakers can’t cover large spaces.
As for the room layout, the best speakers should be placed in an open space. If there is a wall or a piece of furniture in front of them, it will serve as a sort of barrier, and the sound won’t be loud enough. In that case, you would need to get the best speakers with plenty of watts.
Also, pay attention to the frequency response range. If you listen to electronic music and enjoy a stronger bass, you will need a wide dynamic range. Otherwise, you will probably need to buy an additional subwoofer.
Bookshelf Speaker Components
Most bookshelf speakers have two components: a woofer, which is in charge of low frequencies, and a tweeter, responsible for higher frequencies. However, if you like listening experience to bands and live concerts, you should look for a bookshelf speaker set that also has a mid-range driver.
Related Speaker Buying Guide: Best Affordable Studio Monitors
Bookshelf speakers can be made of lots of different materials, including metal, rubber, plastic, and paper. Besides giving the hi-fi speakers a specific look, these materials also influence the sound quality. The best bookshelf speakers are made of premium materials, which is one of the reasons their sound is outstanding.
Top bookshelf speakers have soft materials, such as silk, on their tweeters. This feature enables them to produce beautiful and smooth sound. On the other hand, stronger materials prevent distortion and make the sound clearer, not to mention increase the durability of the HiFi speakers.
In the end, your best bet is to find hifi speakers that have the right balance of light and durable materials.
Connectivity Options and Functionality
One of the most critical features of any speaker is connectivity. As for bookshelf speakers, they can have different input options.
Most bookshelf speakers include at least one 3.5 mm AUX port. This port enables you to connect the speakers to RCA cables or headphones.
However, if you want to connect your hi-fi speakers to the DVD player, TV, console, or any other similar device, you should make sure that they come with a digital connection output.
Also, you may want to check out bookshelf speakers that support Bluetooth connectivity or other wireless types of connection. That way, you will be able to connect them to your phone, tablet, or any other Bluetooth device, which does sound incredibly convenient.
Bookshelf Speaker Placement
Bookshelf speakers work best when placed on elevated surfaces, such as bookshelves, which is where they get their name from. Still, when it comes to their placement, they are quite flexible. If you don’t want to keep them on a bookshelf, after all, you should consider buying a pair of speakers with multiple positioning options.
Some bookshelf speakers come with gear that enables you to mount them on the wall. Others can be placed on a speaker stand or a piece of furniture, like tables and other surfaces.
Whichever speakers you go for, bear in mind that you should keep them on a hard surface. Soft surfaces absorb the sound and diminish the quality.
Of course, how a bookshelf speaker looks should not influence the sound quality. However, if my new pair of speakers is an eyesore, I probably won’t like spending much time around them.
Fortunately, modern bookshelf speakers have a beautiful and classy design. You can easily find a premium-quality speaker set that also goes well with your room decor.
Just like all devices, bookshelf speakers can’t live forever. In time, they will need some servicing to help them keep the best sound quality possible. Therefore, it’s essential for a speaker set to come with a warranty.
The more extended the warranty, the better. Still, even a short warranty period is better than no warranty at all.
My Top Picks for the best-powered bookshelf speakers — 2020 Speaker Reviews
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to see what the best bookshelf speakers of 2020 can offer. When choosing products for this list, I considered all the previously mentioned factors. Still, your final choice should depend on your own needs and preferences.
#1. Klipsch R-15PM: Premium Sound, Power, and Performance
As one of the giants in the audio industry, Klipsch is famous for its premium-quality powered speakers that provide us with crystal-clear, natural sound. Now, with Klipsch R-15PM, the company has its first wireless speaker set designed for home use. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these are among the best bookshelf speakers.
The first thing I noticed about Klipsch R-15PM is that the speakers are quite small. Weighing only ten pounds, they are incredibly portable, and you can place them wherever it suits you.
Still, don’t let their size fool you — this powered speaker may be small, but their quality and power are incredible. Klipsch R-15PM active speaker produces vibrant, dynamic, and yet, smooth sound, strong enough to fill any room. Even when I pumped up the volume, I could hear no sound distortion, and the whole audio experience was more than satisfying.
One of the greatest things about Klipsch R-15PM is that it comes with a built-in amplifier. This feature not only saves some space but also improves the sound since no external cables are connecting the powered speakers to the amp.
The amplifier has the power of 50 watts and successfully maximizes the output. You’ll be able to say goodbye to your old external A/V receiver; with Klipsch R-15PM, you won’t need it anymore.Connectivity Options
When it comes to connectivity and compatibility, Klipsch R-15PM is genuinely superb. This speaker set is incredibly versatile, and you can connect it to plenty of other devices.
The powered speakers have a phono preamp, digital optical, a USB port, and a 3.5 mm input port. Whether you want to connect them to your TV, computer, or a game console, these little guys will do their job well. There is also an analog RCA input, so you can connect them to an additional subwoofer to improve low frequencies.
Klipsch R-15PM also supports Bluetooth technology. This feature should be incredibly useful to those who hate seeing cables all around. Connecting a speaker set to your phone or any other device that supports wireless Bluetooth connectivity has never been this easy!Remote Control
Klipsch R-15PM comes with an IR remote that significantly improves the user experience. You can access the system features, turn the volume up, and change, play, and stop tracks without getting up from your sofa. Unfortunately, the remote is made of plastic, so it’s not as durable as the powered speakers.Design
I have to be honest — I love the way Klipsch R-15PM speakers look. They have a beautiful black vinyl wrap that gives them a modern and classy touch. Also, there is a copper dome, which not only improves the appearance even further but also protects the woofer from potential damage.
- Lightweight and portable
- Incredibly powerful due to the built-in amplifier
- Multiple connectivity options, including Bluetooth
- 5-year warranty if you buy the speakers from an authorized reseller
- All inputs are located on one speaker
- Fans of strong bass will need a subwoofer
#2. Edifier R980T 4″: High Functionality and Powerful Bass
After the success of its older speaker models, Edifier decided to surprise us with new active bookshelf speakers that are both high-quality and affordable. Edifier R980T speakers are the cheapest entry on this list, which makes them the best bookshelf speakers for those on a tight budget.
Edifier R980T is yet another small but excellent speaker set. The dimensions are ideal for people who like to move their speakers a lot. You can even place them on your desk, and they still won’t get in your way.
Yet, this speaker set is quite powerful when we consider its compact size. With a total power output of 24 watts, it’s strong enough to fill small and mid-size rooms with full and deep sound.
Also, it is straightforward to set up and control. You will find all the necessary controls, such as the bass knobs and master volume, on the back of the main speaker. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you won’t have any trouble adjusting the audio to your liking.
However, while this speaker set is ideal for those who love minimalistic devices, some audiophiles may find it too essential.
Even though Edifier R980T does not offer wireless connectivity, there are still more than enough options. The main speaker has a 3.5 mm input, as well as two RCA inputs, which enable you to connect two devices to the speaker set at the same time.
Therefore, you can use the speakers with your TV, computer, or any similar device. Even better, all the cables you may need to connect the speakers are included.Incredible Bass
Edifier R980T is specially designed for fans of loud, deep bass. While the tweeter is pretty good, the woofer is what makes this speaker set shine. Also, there is a bass reflex port in the front. I found the low frequencies to be more than decent while the bass is enhanced enough to satisfy any EDM fan.Design
Edifier R980T has a simple design that can fit any room or office interior and layout. Its black enclosure is made of wood, which successfully minimizes acoustic resonance. Thus, your audio experience won’t be disturbed by energetic vibration.
What’s more, the speakers are magnetically shielded, which is not so familiar with budget speakers. Because of this feature, you won’t have to worry about magnetic interference — your speakers can safely stand next to your computer or TV.
- Compact and portable
- Amazing bass
- Several connectivity options
- Great user experience
- 2-year warranty
- Not strong enough for more substantial rooms
- No wireless connections
- Only a few, basic options
#3. Audioengine A5 Plus Classic: Great Build Quality and Sound
Audioengine, as one of the digital music veterans, is always a safe choice. Its A5 Plus Classic are, without any doubt, some of the bookshelf speaker stands I’ve ever seen. Compared to their predecessors from the A5 series, A5 Plus speakers look quite similar at first. However, these have gone through some serious upgrades and can outperform any of their older brothers.
What I first noticed about Audioengine A5 Plus Classic is that, despite their small size, these speakers are rather heavy. The right speaker weighs 9.6, and the left one 15.4 pounds. That makes them less portable than some other active bookshelf speakers on this list.
However, their weight can be an advantage if you intend to keep them on your desk or another piece of furniture you often use. The chances of accidentally knocking them over are pretty small, which is excellent news for all of us clumsy folk.
In terms of connectivity, Audioengine A5 Plus Classic is genuinely exceptional. Whichever audio device you can think of connecting it to, this speaker set will support it.
On the back of the left speaker, you will find mini-jack and RCA ports. Of course, the speakers come with all the cables that you may need as well. There is also a USB power charge port that you can use to charge your phone battery.
Better yet, Audioengine A5 Plus Classic supports both PC and Mac. It even supports all Apple phones, tablets, and music players, as well as the Apple Airport Express and AirPlay.Built-In Amplifier and Amazing Power
Another great thing about Audioengine A5 Plus Classic is outstanding quality.
Due to the built-in amplifier and 150 watts peak output, this speaker set is strong enough to satisfy even the most demanding audiophiles. The sound it produces is full and rounded, and there is no sound distortion. That makes Audioengine A5 Plus Classic perfect not only for music but for watching movies or playing video games.
Moreover, the bass is just amazing! What I especially like about the bass is that, while it is strong, it is not super-enhanced. It blends perfectly with other sounds and allows for an amazing audio experience.Design
If you like your speakers to look classy but not boring or generic, Audioengine A5 Plus Classic is the perfect speaker set for you. The cabinets are made of wood, which gives them a sophisticated look, while the tweeter dome is made of silk — that’s why the speakers offer incredibly smooth sound. Also, these bookshelf speakers are magnetically shielded.
Finally, I know that the speakers’ design gives you plenty of options when it comes to placement. You can keep them on any hard surface and also mount them on a speaker stand.
- Amazing power and quality
- Plenty of connectivity options
- Remote control
- Can be placed on a speaker stand
- No wireless connection
- A bit pricey
#4. PreSonus Eris E3.5 – 3.5″: Plenty of Functionality and Quality Audio
PreSonus owes its success to its fantastic studio monitors and professional gear. That’s why the company decided to launch PreSonus Eris E3.5 — the best bookshelf active speakers for superiorly perfect mixes. These share many traits with the models we can find in the best music studios.
PreSonus Eris E3.5 is yet another compact bookshelf speaker set that also happens to be extremely powerful. With 50 watts of power, these speakers will fill any mid-size room and even some larger ones.
The sound is fantastic. I especially enjoyed the bass, as it is neither muffled nor boomy, even at high volume. What’s more, the audio experience is excellent, not just when it comes to listening to music but also when watching movies and playing video games.
Even though PreSonus Eris E3.5 doesn’t support wireless connection, you’ll still have plenty of options. The speakers have both the balanced TRS and unbalanced RCA inputs, as well as an AUX input. Therefore, you can connect them to your phone, music player, and even studio equipment.Acoustic Tuning
PreSonus Eris E3.5 is one of the few bookshelf speaker sets that have acoustic tuning. Because of this fantastic feature, the sound coming from the speakers adapts to the size and shape of the room quite quickly.
Even if you have high ceilings, you still won’t experience reverberation or echo. What’s more, you can safely place the speakers very close to the wall — this terrific feature will prevent vibration and keep the sound accurate.Accurate Mixes
The fact that the PreSonus Eris E3.5 speaker set can create perfect mixes makes these speakers fantastic not just for amateurs but for professionals, as well. In my opinion, it is this feature that makes them some of the best bookshelf speakers in 2019.
With these speakers, you can create mixes that will sound great on any device. If you’re about to record your new music hit, you’ll love them since they provide you with studio-monitor quality at the price of regular bookshelf speakers. Your home studio mixes will be perfectly balanced.Plenty of User-Defined Settings
On the back of the main speaker, you will find several settings that enable you to tailor the sound according to your taste. These settings include Mid-Range and High-Frequency controls, bass settings, and signal-to-noise ratio settings. With so many options to choose from, even the most demanding audiophiles will be happy with these speakers.Design
What I especially like about PreSonus Eris E3.5 is that this speaker set looks much more expensive than it is. It owes its elegance to its clean lines, black vinyl finish, and medium-density fiberboard, which also suppresses resonance. Also, the tweeter cone is silky, which comes with plenty of advantages.
Overall, these speakers may look simple, but they are surely pretty stylish.
- The quality of professional speakers
- Acoustic tuning
- Sound adjustment options
- Speakers seem too fragile
- No wireless options
- No remote control
#5. Edifier R1280T: Quality Design and Good Value
As the older brother of R980T, Edifier R1280T speaker set is a bit larger than its successor. However, it’s sturdy, more attractive, and you won’t have to break the bank. In my opinion, these may be the bookshelf speaker for those who are looking for a good quality/price ratio.
Edifier R1280T offers fantastic quality, which is not expected from such a low-budget speaker set. Both the highs and the mids are outstanding, while the bass is quite profound. With the power of 42 watts, it is strong enough to fill most mid-size rooms. Also, it works great with movies and games.
What I especially like about these speakers is that there are several user-defined controls, including treble and bass dials. Therefore, you can easily adjust the sound based on your music choices.
Also, Edifier R1280T comes with a remote controller. However, I found it to be too basic — the only settings it offers are volume control and a mute button.
Edifier R1280T doesn’t include advanced connectivity options, such as USB ports and wireless connection. Still, the two AUX inputs are more than enough for most users. You can easily connect the speakers to two devices at the same time. Also, you can connect them to any device with a 3.5 mm headphone or a dual RCA output. You can even use them for your turntable.
The speakers come with all the cables you may need, including a headphone-to-RCA adapter.Powerful Bass
Whether you are into hip-hop, electronic music, or rock ballads, you’ll probably find the bass powerful enough for a fantastic audio experience. Edifier R1280T has a 4-inch bass driver, as well as a bass reflex port. Thus, you will enjoy some strong bass full of depth, without any booming sounds.
Still, if you’re a fan of extremely enhanced bass, you might need a subwoofer.Design
In terms of design, Edifier R1280T is my favorite bookshelf speaker set. I love the combination of the modern front and the retro enclosure.
The speakers are made of MDF with a wood vinyl coating. Yet, by looking at them, you’d never guess that the material is not real wood because of the side panels’ warm color. And, even though the central part is made of plastic, I have to say that I found it both attractive and high-quality.
The wire connecting the speakers is eight feet long, which I found quite satisfying. Still, if it isn’t long enough for you, there’s no need to worry. The wire is not fixed, so you can always switch it out for a longer one. However, the same cannot be said for the power cable — you can’t replace it.
One of the few downsides I’ve noticed is that, although the speakers are relatively small, they are a bit too large for my desk. Therefore, I suggest that you either place them on a bookshelf or any larger surface.
- Strong and balanced sound
- Visually appealing
- 2-year warranty
- Great value for money
- Fixed power cable
- No wireless connection or USB port
Best Bookshelf Speakers — Runners-Up
Before I reveal what the best bookshelf speakers of 2020 are, let’s take a look at the runners-up. Bear in mind that these speakers are also of high quality. Still, they have several disadvantages, which is why they didn’t cut.
#6. Polk Audio T15 Speakers
Polk is one of the audio industry’s most significant companies, so how come I didn’t include any of its speakers on my list? Well, hear me out.
Polk Audio T15 is a decent active bookshelf speaker set. It is pretty powerful and comes at a reasonable price. Moreover, you don’t need to keep it on a surface since it can easily be mounted on a speaker stand.
However, it has plenty of downsides that any audiophile will notice, which is why I believe it doesn’t belong among the best bookshelf speakers on my list. Even though Polk Audio T15 has excellent power, in terms of sound quality, it is not up to standard.
High treble is especially weak, and you may find it too soft. Mids and lows are OK, but there is still much left to be desired. If you go for this model, you will need to buy a subwoofer. Overall, the sound seems somewhat congested.
Another thing that I noticed is that the sound quality drastically changes when you put the speakers on an elevated surface. The sound becomes more precise and more rounded. However, if the speakers are on a desk or a lower bookshelf, the sound quality goes down.
Finally, while this speaker set is, by no means, unsightly, the design is too dull. You can tell that these are some of the cheaper-looking bookshelf speakers on the market.
#7. Edifier R1280DB Speakers
At first glance, the Edifier R1280DB speaker set seems pretty similar to R1280T. Design is more or less the same, so it is quite attractive. But there is one notable upgrade — it supports Bluetooth connection. Also, most users will find it compelling enough.
Mids and highs are pretty decent. The woofer is also great, and you will get a nice and deep bass. Still, even though the bass is satisfying, it’s nothing to write home about.
At lower volume levels, the sound is just beautiful. However, if you turn it up, you can expect some distortion and crack. In comparison to R1280T, the overall sound quality is too average.
A significant flaw of Edifier R1280DB is also its greatest strength — Bluetooth. It happens to be one of the few wireless speaker sets that you can get at a bargain price, which makes it quite desirable. However, I found Bluetooth to be unreliable and low-quality.
It might take a while until you can successfully connect the speakers to another device. To make things worse, the connection is weak. If there is an object between the speakers and the connected device, the connection will probably break.
#8. Micca MB42X Speakers
Although it is not among the best bookshelf speakers on my list, Micca MB42X remains an excellent speaker set. In comparison to the older model, MV42, it has seen some significant upgrades.
Most notably, it has a new crossover, which significantly improves its performance. Also, its silk dome tweeter and carbon fiber woofer produce both highs and lows of excellent quality.
However, even though the bass is nice and deep, it’s not powerful enough. This downside was especially noticeable when I tested this speaker set with electronic music and action movies. If you love strong bass, these speakers won’t meet your demands — you’ll also have to get a subwoofer. Also, the sound quality depends on how high you place the speakers.
When it comes to the design, it is quite simple — the speakers look like they belong in the 1990s. Still, if you like entirely understandable speakers with a grille, you probably won’t mind it.
All in all, while Micca MB42X is more than decent, the speaker set is certainly not among the best bookshelf speakers you can find. Still, if you’re not looking for anything spectacular and want regular speakers for calm music and watching movies, it is an excellent pick.
#9. Audioengine A2 Plus Speakers
A2 Plus is yet another decent set of bookshelf speakers with some great features. After all, we didn’t expect anything less than superb quality from an established audio company such as Audioengine.
Audioengine A2 Plus produces rich sound, free of DSP, and has a high-frequency response. The sound is accurate, and the vocals truly shine.
As for its connectivity options, this little speaker set can connect to pretty much anything that crosses your mind. Besides RCA outputs, it also comes with a USB port and supports Bluetooth connection.
Unfortunately for A2 Plus, it cannot compare to A5 Plus that I mentioned earlier, especially in terms of sound quality. While this speaker set is pretty powerful when we take its size into account, it can perform well only in smaller rooms. Also, you must elevate it or angle it upward to get high-quality sound. Otherwise, your music will sound muted and congested. Moreover, the speakers don’t perform well at higher volumes.
Another thing that I didn’t like about this set is that the bass is too weak for my liking. It’s not deep enough, and distortion is quite common. So, if you like a somewhat richer bass when listening to music, you should look elsewhere.
#10. Yamaha NS-6490 Speakers
A veteran in the audio industry, Yamaha has given us a fantastic three-way speaker set with NS-6490. Unlike most bookshelf speakers, this set comes with a mid-range driver besides the woofer and tweeter, so the mids are just fantastic. I also liked the bass, which is deep but not too boomy. Moreover, its frequency range is fantastic for a pair of bookshelf speakers.
Still, the tweeter is pretty small, and the highs are not that great. This downside is especially irritating when you turn the volume up.
Also, it doesn’t offer acoustic tuning. If you don’t place it in a certain way, the sound quality will be too saturated. Still, the overall quality is decent, and there is also a built-in crossover.
What I found to be the most significant flaw of Yamaha NS-6490 is its design. Even though this speaker set is marketed as a pair of bookshelf speakers, it is way too bulky. If you want to place it in a small or even a mid-size room, you will have trouble finding a place where it can fit in well. Also, its appearance is far from visually appealing.
If you’re not too fussy about speakers, Yamaha NS-6490 might be the right choice for you. However, if you want to treat yourself to the best bookshelf speakers, you should consider another model.
And the Top Bookshelf Speaker Set Is… Klipsch R-15PM!
After careful consideration and much testing, I concluded that I have a clear winner — Klipsch R-15PM.
This model has it all — high-quality Bluetooth, all sorts of compatibility options, and high power. Also, even though you may need a subwoofer if you enjoy a wide range of bass frequencies, Klipsch R-15PM still produces exceptional bass.
In terms of sound quality, it outperformed every other model. With these speakers, you will enjoy rich, outstanding sound. Therefore, there is no doubt that they are, by far, the best bookshelf speakers of 2020. With Klipsch R-15PM, you will always feel like turning up the music and dancing to the beat!
Although this speaker set is not wireless, it still has plenty of connectivity options and supports various devices. Furthermore, since this is a budget speaker set, the sound quality, bass depth, and design are truly outstanding.