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What Are Bookshelf Speakers - All You Need To Know Before Buying

Updated: September 05,2022

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Regardless of whether you’d like to build a fancy home theater or are just looking for a decent speaker to connect to your computer, the range of different speaker types and models on the market can make for a daunting shopping experience. There are bookshelf speakers, tower speakers, subwoofers, and many more, so determining which ones you need can be challenging.

Unless you’re a huge tech geek with a keen interest in audio systems, you might wonder, “what are bookshelf speakers?” Bookshelf speakers are loudspeakers of a compact size that are typically box-shaped. 

This article will explain what they are in more detail, their purpose, and compare them to other types of speakers. Then, we’ll explore the pros and cons of these speakers and offer you a guide to choosing the bookshelf speakers that are a good fit for you.

What Is a Bookshelf Speaker?

A bookshelf speaker is a mid-sized loudspeaker designed to be placed on a raised surface that can be used as a part of a sound system. Remember that a regular speaker is distinct from a soundbar, as some may confuse the two terms. The latter is a device that comes with multiple built-in speakers.Edifier Wooden Speakers

Bookshelf Speaker 

Source: Amazon

A bookshelf speaker usually has two drivers, the circular parts on the front of the speaker. One of the drivers, the smaller circle, is referred to as a tweeter. The purpose of a tweeter is to produce high-frequency sounds. The other driver is a woofer, and it emits low-frequency sounds. Due to its compact size and yet the ability to deliver high-quality sound, this speaker is well known. 

Some bookshelf speakers feature a built-in amplifier. These are referred to as powered bookshelf speakers. An amplifier is a device that boosts or “amplifies” the maximum loudness of the speaker.

What Are Bookshelf Speakers Used For?

When it comes to the bookshelf speaker placement, they can be put anywhere, from a bookshelf to a desk. However, they are not made to be on the floor. You may pair your bookshelf speaker with a TV and create a spectacular home theater.

As for their purpose, bookshelf speakers are often used for home theater and hi-fi setups. Bookshelf speakers are adequate for computer gamers also.

How Are Bookshelf Speakers Different From Other Speakers?

A bookshelf speaker may seem like any medium-sized speaker to an untrained eye. However, there are some major differences. In this section, we’ll explore the distinctive features of bookshelf speakers and compare them to subwoofers, tower speakers, and bipolar speakers.

The most obvious difference between bookshelf and tower speakers lies in their size. Tower speakers are large and were made to be placed on the floor. Audiophiles adore them due to their ability to produce higher frequency sounds.

A bookshelf speaker differs from a subwoofer in that a subwoofer generally can’t be used without additional speakers. A subwoofer is a speaker that delivers bass and sub-bass sounds. That’s why it’s often used alongside speakers that can’t handle such low frequencies. You may use your bookshelf speaker with a subwoofer for an improved listening experience.

A bipolar speaker looks similar to a bookshelf speaker. More precisely, it’s designed as though two compact bookshelf speakers have been blended. A bipolar speaker was made to deliver sound in multiple directions and contains two or more drivers. 

All these speakers can be a part of a hi-fi system, as opposed to small portable speakers you can take anywhere with you

Reasons for and Against Buying Bookshelf Speakers

With any kind of investment, no matter how small, it’s wise to weigh all the pros and cons. There are numerous reasons to purchase bookshelf speakers, such as incorporating bookshelf speakers for surround sound, but it’s up to you to decide whether these apply to you. Some of the advantages include:

  • great price-to-value ratio
  • compact size, high-quality speaker
  • can be used as a standalone speaker

On the other hand, the disadvantages are:

  • not suitable for large rooms
  • might require a subwoofer to fully experience bass-filled sounds

How To Select Adequate Bookshelf Speakers

As with any tech equipment, when looking to buy a bookshelf speaker, you should take a close look at the specs. Although it can be a good start, it’s not enough to just look up the best bookshelf speakers online because every customer has specific needs. Our bookshelf speaker buying guide will tell you what you should pay attention to when examining the specs. 


For most consumers, price is a salient factor when deciding on what model of a product to purchase. Depending on your budget, you can choose budget-friendly, mid-range, or flagship bookshelf speakers. 

For instance, if you’re searching for the best bookshelf speakers under $1000, there is a plentitude of options. One viable option would be the Audioengine A5+ Wireless Speakers, a top-rated, high-quality Bluetooth bookshelf device. 

The speaker comes with an internal antenna which allows for better Bluetooth connectivity. Its price is $499 in most stores. There is also the A5+ Classic if you’re interested in a wired speaker of the same quality.

Audioengine Wireless Speakers

Audioengine A5+ Wireless Speakers

Source: Amazon


Although bookshelf speakers are generally known for their smaller size, the size still varies across different models, so you must ensure you have enough room for the speaker you want. For example, if you’re on a hunt for the best small bookshelf speakers, you may check out KEF LS50 Meta.KEF Meta Speakers

KEF LS50 Meta

Source: KEF


Speaker sensitivity plays a crucial role in determining what bookshelf speaker to choose. It’s measured in decibels (dB), which refers to the maximum loudness the speaker can reach while using an amplifier. The optimal sensitivity you should look for is anything from 87 dB and above. 

Frequency Response

Frequency response is the range of musical tones that the speaker can produce. It’s expressed in Hertz (Hz). A typical person hears frequencies between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, although this varies according to age. 

Bookshelf speakers’ most common frequency range is 60 Hz to 20 kHz. The more affordable bookshelf speakers, as you might expect, may not produce low frequencies to the full extent. 

This should not be a problem for those who don’t listen to bass-heavy material. On the other hand, for a bass-filled experience, you can either opt for some premium bookshelf speakers or add a subwoofer.  

Driver Materials 

You should know that there is no universal material for speaker drivers. To produce a high-quality sound, a speaker needs to have a cone that is lightweight yet firm enough. Manufacturers usually opt for polypropylene, paper, and sometimes even silk.

Final Comments 

Hopefully, after reading our detailed article, you know how to answer the question “What are bookshelf speakers?” and how to choose one for yourself. With so many options available, make sure you’re purchasing the best speakers for your needs.


What is the use of a bookshelf speaker?

A bookshelf speaker can be a part of a hi-fi system or a home theater. They also perform well as standalone speakers. These speakers are appropriate for small and medium-sized rooms due to their compact size.

Are bookshelf speakers good for music?

Yes, powered Bluetooth bookshelf speakers and other kinds of bookshelf speakers can be a great choice for playing music owing to their two drivers, tweeter and woofer, responsible for producing high-frequency and low-frequency sounds, respectively. However, if you wish to maximize the listening experience, you may also incorporate other types of speakers. For instance, you may use a subwoofer for deeper bass.

What’s the difference between studio monitors and bookshelf speakers?

Studio monitors are professional loudspeakers, which aren’t exactly meant for an average consumer. They can be seen in professional recording studios, for instance. On the other hand, anyone can use bookshelf speakers as part of a home studio setup or as a regular speaker connected to a device such as a TV or a computer.

Why are they called bookshelf speakers?

Bookshelf speakers earned their name because they are meant to be placed on raised surfaces, such as bookshelves.

How good are bookshelf speakers for mixing audio?

Bookshelf speakers are multipurpose speakers that can satisfy most customers, as you can tell from our article that attempted to answer the question “What are bookshelf speakers” in detail. However, they aren’t the best solution for mixing audio. Their sound coloration is not balanced, which results in slightly inaccurate reproduction. For this purpose, a studio monitor might be a better option.

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While Damjan started his career in humanities, his interests quickly moved on to the tech and IT world. VPNs, antiviruses, firewalls, password managers - cybersecurity is what he knows best. When Damjan’s not losing hair over the dwindling of our collective sense of tech safety, you’ll find him looking for solace in 100-hour-long RPGs and rage-inducing MOBAs.

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