The coronavirus outbreak has pushed consumers to change up their routines and media habits. Around 35% of US smart speaker owners listen to news through their device, while 36% said they had increased their consumption of music and entertainment. While smart speakers and headphones are an acceptable option for listening to music, nothing quite surpasses an excellent bookshelf speaker setup when you want your music truly to come alive.
Small, portable, and practical, bookshelf speakers provide the complete music experience for hardcore music lovers. With a built-in subwoofer, bookshelf speakers keep the sound clear in small and midsize spaces; as long as they are placed on an elevated surface, they can even work well for a home theater system. Many bookshelf speaker manufacturers harness plenty of engineering innovations for top-notch speaker performance. Here are some of our best bookshelf speaker picks for every budget:
1. Dayton Audio B652
With a $40 – $55 price range, the Dayton Audio B652 isn’t the prettiest model on the market, but it’s surprisingly good for its price range. The dull, black vinyl covering and plain design is better suited for workrooms and kids’ rooms — areas where an expensive speaker might not make much sense — rather than a high-style living space. Appearance aside, the Dayton Audio B652 delivers where it counts.
Compared to other speakers in its price range, this passive speaker has a far superior sound quality. Its sealed-box design also has no bass ports, so it can be placed against a wall without creating a booming bass sound. When paired with an inexpensive amplifier, it won’t feel like a sound system that costs less than a hundred dollars.
2. Audioengine HDP6
If you’re looking for a solid, passive bookshelf speaker that gives good clarity on the midrange, the Audioengine HDP6 is a good choice. For a speaker in the $300 – $400 range, this model delivers on bright, balanced sounds with impressive delivery on vocals and guitars. Even bass-heavy songs will perform well on the Audioengine HDP6 speaker, although it won’t give a room-shaking thump. With its classy design and finish, you get your value for the price.
The Audioengine HDP6’s technology also allows you to avoid the distorted sound waves caused by damper vibrations in a conventional speaker. Instead, the tweeters are cooled by ferrofluid, originally developed by NASA for rocket engines, but has since been used to reduce speaker damper friction. It keeps the diaphragm and coil in place for clearer sound and increased energy efficiency.
3. Abacus C-Box 4
Abacus is a boutique German company that specializes in designing and producing unfussy, handmade audio-related equipment like active speakers, subwoofers and pre-amplifiers. The C-Box is their most affordable line, and it’s perfect for music lovers who want a compact bookshelf speaker with a full-range sound. Although the C-Box 4 is very small at 160mm x 160mm x 269mm (D x W x H), it can perform with the depth and range of a speaker twice its size.
The C-Box 4 has a frequency response of 32Hz to 20kHz at -6dB, which are numbers you’d normally find with much larger speakers or studio monitors with a large woofer. You get great voice reproduction, immense bass response, and detailed highs with this speaker for a price tag of $1,025, which excludes the shipping fee. You will also need to buy the cables or a receiver with RCA plugs, but the C-Box 4 is definitely worth it.
4. ATC SCM19
The Acoustic Transducer Company (ATC) is an old loudspeaker company that’s been around for 40 years or so, manufacturing everything by hand in England. ATC is best known for their powered monitor loudspeakers, for which they also produce passive and actively powered home versions. At a premium consumer level, the ATC SCM19 model can cost you anywhere from $3,900 to $4,200, but you will appreciate ATC’s analytical, engineered-approach to production.
The ATC SCM19 produces an honest, insightful sound from a nicely made, sealed-box cabinet. Regardless of what you’re playing, you’ll hear all the details you need for a fantastic listening experience. It’s also highly flexible, allowing you to connect with analog components and digital sources alike.
5. Sopra N°1
Focal’s Sopra N°1 has a compact, modern design with a powerful delivery despite its size. Made in France, this high-end speaker can cost between $4,900 – $9,000, because you’re investing in smooth, solid, and full sounds with articulated bass and textures. Sopra N°1 works best in smaller rooms, so you can appreciate the cutting-edge technology it’s made with.
Every speaker unit needs a magnetic bobbin on the back, which can distort the sound. In order to build a system with optimal control, the researchers at Focal had to design a special ring to tame the magnetic field. This Neutral Inductance Circuit is a special circuit board that overcomes modern PCB layout challenges, such as adding complex functions into a small board, by using HDI and autorouting its components. A PCB layout software is also used to keep the environment consistent, resulting in a less distorted, high definition, and dynamic sound.
We hope this article proves useful. To read more about the best music gear, visit the Speaker Hunter blog archives today.