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Bookshelf speakers are an integral part of most sound systems, whether as main speakers or to provide surround sound. These compact speakers are more versatile than just about any other speaker available – and more affordable too. They can be strong additions to your current home theater setup.

What to Look For

The list of criteria below will help you sift through the top-rated bookshelf speakers to find the right pair for you. Choosing the right speakers needn’t be a difficult chore. With the following information, you will be able to make a purchase decision free of stress.

Ultimately, the sound produced by any speaker is what makes or breaks it. For each speaker, we’ve evaluated the quantitative measures that go into making great sound. In an ideal world, a speaker could reproduce the entire range of human hearing, which is generally accepted to span from an extremely low 20 hertz (Hz), or cycles per second, clear up to 20,000Hz, more frequently written as 20kHz. In practice, no bookshelf speaker creates that entire range so we look at those that come closest.

Look for speakers with high efficiency ratings. Anything above 90 decibels is more than ideal. Speakers with high efficiency ratings convert electricity into sound with little power. The less a speaker has to strain, the better it will sound.

The enclosure design has an effect on the sound, particularly on the quantity and quality of bass 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. Sealed enclosures typically produce less bass response, but the overall tonal quality is more accurate.

The overall size of your speakers can make a big difference in how your speaker will sound and where you can place your speakers. Small bookshelf speakers can be placed in narrow spaces or hung on your wall with relative ease. Bigger bookshelf speakers generally have larger woofers or drivers and can produce bigger and bolder bass response.

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.

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