The 11 Best Bookshelf Speakers to Suit Any Budget - [In 2021]

The 11 Best Bookshelf Speakers to Suit Any Budget - [In 2021]

Bookshelf speakers (or standmount speakers) are a quintessential building block for many an excellent Hi-Fi system.

They can offer the perfect mesh of high-fidelity sound, discreet placement and compact sizing - allowing for unbeatable versatility and immersive sound that can fill small, medium and even larger rooms.

As with everything in life though, not all bookshelf speakers are made equal and there are a number of considerations to make and pitfalls to avoid.

With over a decade of experience across countless 2-channel systems and bookshelf speaker brands, we are elated to have put together this ultimate guide in helping you choose the best bookshelf speakers for your particular budget and unique audio needs!

Let’s get straight into it.

CONTENTS:

  1. What is a Bookshelf Speaker?
  2. How Much Should I Spend on Bookshelf Speakers?
  3. Choosing The Right Speaker For The Size Of Your Room
  4. Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1000
  5. Monitor Audio Bronze 50
  6. Wharfedale Diamond 12.2
  7. Monitor Audio Bronze 100
  8. Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $2000
  9. Wharfedale Evo 4.1
  10. Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2
  11. Wharfedale Denton 85
  12. Monitor Audio Silver 100
  13. Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $3000
  14. Bowers & Wilkins 706 S2
  15. Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $4000
  16. Monitor Audio Gold 100 5G
  17. Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2
  18. Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $5000
  19. PMC Twenty5.21i

silver 100 hifi pack

What is a Bookshelf Speaker?

A bookshelf speaker is a small-sized speaker that derives its name from traditionally being positioned in a small space such as a bookshelf!

Bookshelf speakers most commonly showcase a two-way design (i.e. two drivers – a tweeter for treble frequencies and a woofer for mid/low range frequencies), however, larger bookshelf models may have a three-way design with three dedicated drivers – a tweeter, a mid-range driver, and a bass driver.

As you’d imagine, this generally gives more detailed frequency separation and a ‘bigger’ overall sound.

An important point to note is that the term ‘bookshelf speaker’ can actually be a bit misleading in some cases.

While many speakers in this category are designed to fit snugly on a bookshelf, many go by the term ‘standmount speaker’ and perform much better when given a little space upon a dedicated bookshelf speaker stand.

Before making your purchase make sure you look into the specifics of the speaker model you’re considering in relation to where you will be aiming to place them! Is the speaker going to fit your space? Is it the right size for your room? Is it rear ported and in need of space from the wall to breathe?

wharfedale denton hertiage

Bookshelf Speaker Specifications

Before purchasing bookshelf speakers, it's worth understanding the technical specifications given by the manufacturer to make sure you pick the right set of speakers for your space and listening preferences.

Let's run through what you need to know below:

Dimensions

This is simply a measurement of the physical size of the speaker. You’d hate to spend good money on a speaker and find out it doesn’t fit where you need it to go, so make sure you measure before you buy!

Most manufacturers will quote in inches or mm in a similar layout to what’s below.

(W x H x D)

· W - Width

· H - Height

· D - Depth

Weight

Quoted in either Kg or Pounds depending on where you’re buying from - make sure that the stand, shelf or cabinet that you plan on placing the speakers on is up to the task of supporting the speaker's weight.

Frequency Response:

Frequency response refers to the range of sound frequencies or tones that a speaker can reproduce and is generally measured in ‘Hertz’ (Hz). Human hearing typically spans between frequencies of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Some speakers have a frequency range above or below typical human hearing.

One Hertz (Hz) is a single sound wave cycle in one second. As a rough guide - ‘bass’ can be thought of as being between 20 and 300 Hz, mid between 300 Hz to 4 kHz, and treble as anything above 4 kHz.

dynaudio tweeter

Sensitivity:

Sensitivity is a measurement of how well the speaker converts the energy from the amplifier into sound. In other words, how loud the speaker will go on a given amplifier.

Sensitivity is measured in decibels (dB - a unit of amplitude) and generally speaking - the higher the sensitivity number (dB), the less power (Watts) you will need from your amplifier.

Power Handling:

Power handling refers to how efficient a speaker manages power output and is measured in 2 different ways - ‘Root Mean Square (RMS)’ & ‘Peak Power’.

RMS - Root Mean Square measures how much continuous power a speaker can handle. Peak Power – Peak power is a measurement of the maximum amount of power a speaker can handle in a short burst.

It’s important to factor in both of these power measurements when matching your speakers and amplifier to make sure the speakers can handle both the continuous and peak power outputs comfortably.

Drive Units:

Technically, an individual speaker is called a ‘driver’ (e.g. a tweeter or a woofer), while the entire speaker box with multiple drivers is known as a loudspeaker. The whole unit is often now simply referred to as a speaker by many.

Depending on where the manufacturer is located, the size measurement of the individual drivers is given in millimetres, centimetres or inches and refers to the diameter of the unit.

As a general rule the larger the driver, the more power it can output and the louder it will be.

There are typically two types of different drivers in a bookshelf speaker:

· HF – High frequency or "tweeters"

· LF – Low frequency or "woofers"

If you see a loudspeaker being referred to as ‘2-Way’ or ‘3-Way’ it’s referring to the total amount of drivers in the box (e.g. 2-way means 2 drivers - usually one tweeter and one woofer).

denton 85 drivers

Cross-overs:

A cross-over is a component within a loudspeaker that separates the audio signal and sends the appropriate frequencies to each driver (i.e. high frequencies to the tweeter and low frequencies to the woofer).

The crossover splits the signal based on a defined frequency threshold and will be found in most loudspeakers with the exceptions being speakers with a single full-range driver and speakers that use software to separate frequencies.

Impedance:

Impedance is quoted in ohms and is a measure of the resistance the electrical signal meets while powering the speaker. The higher the impedance, the easier the signal passes and the less demanding the speaker is on the amplifier.

Speakers will typically have 4, 6- or 8-ohm resistance. It is vital to correctly match the amplifier power and speaker impedance.

Amplifier Requirements:

Matching your bookshelf speakers to the right amplifier is essential. Mismatched components will not only leave a lot of quality and potential on the table but can also damage your speakers.

Generally speaking - amplifier impedance should match the speaker impedance. It is ok for the speaker to have higher impedance than the amplifier, but you'll run into problems if the speaker has a lower impedance than the amp.

Keep in mind that this method doesn’t take into account the concept of ‘synergy’ between components, with certain brands and styles working together to give a more pleasing sound quality.

Many speaker manufacturers will also give you the recommended amplifiers specifications.

amplifiers for bookshelf speakers

Choosing The Right Speaker For The Size Of Your Room

There is a very important relationship at play between your speaker and room size.

Simply put:

Sound interacts with the room it’s in by pressuring air, so if your speakers are too small for the room they will be working very hard to fill the space, resulting in distortion and bass that is washed out and hollow. If they are too large, you will be unable to run them at volumes that allow all of the frequencies to be appreciated.

Nat, our systems consultant, takes you through everything you need to know in this quick video below:

How Much Should I Spend on Bookshelf Speakers?

This is obviously a very personal question but there's no denying that your budget is a necessary consideration when selecting your bookshelf speakers.

Bookshelf speakers can range in price from a few hundred dollars to 10's of thousands, with everything in between!

Price is often a good quality guideline, however, spending a lot of money doesn't guarantee you'll get the best product, and vice versa for those on a lower budget.

Getting the speakers you need will obviously require you to determine a budget, but you’ll also need to look at your amplifier specifications, the particular features you’re after, the size of the room you’ll use them in and the aesthetic that suits your home!

Below we've detailed a range of brilliant bookshelf speakers at many different price points, from manufacturers such as Monitor Audio, Wharfedale, PMC & Dynaudio!

Combining years of industry experience with many hours of testing allows us to proudly stand behind all of these units and will hopefully guide you towards finding the right pair for you.

Read on below and explore the wonderful world of Bookshelf Speakers!

Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1000

With a lot of cheap knock-off’s and poorly made equipment now flooding the market, there’s no denying that you can ‘trip up’ at this price point if you’re not careful. There are horror stories out there of people paying many hundreds of dollars for a set of ‘bargain speakers’ that aren’t worth cardboard they’re shipped in.

That being said, there are still some great entry-level options worth considering if you're limited by budget, or just wanting to test the waters.

The bookshelf speakers we feature below are all tried and tested by us in-store and come from some of the worlds most highly-regarded Hi-Fi manufacturers. These represent the perfect speakers for your first Hi-Fi setup, or for that smaller dedicated Hi-Fi room!


1.) Monitor Audio Bronze 50

monitor audio bronze 50

To kick this list off (and coming in well under $1000) - we bring to you the small, but mighty, Monitor Audio Bronze 50’s!

The direct successor to the fifth-generation (5G) Bronze 1 speakers - the Bronze 50’s are the smallest and most compact bookshelf speakers available in Monitor Audio’s sixth-generation (6G) range and offer a great mix of value, performance and aesthetic.

Carrying over many of the details that made the 5G Bronze 1’s so sought after, the 50’s also feature a bigger woofer, a rear-mounted bass port and a sharp new look.

As a 2-way speaker sporting 1x 25mm C-CAM (ceramic-coated aluminium magnesium) Gold Dome tweeter and 1x 5 and 1/2-inch (140mm) C-CAM bass/mid-range driver - the Bronze 50’s have plenty of punch to fill a small room with music, bring your video games to life or position as excellent surrounds for a home theatre system.

Bass is energetic, tight and particularly impressive for their size, delivered with the aid of the now-signature Monitor Audio HiVe II rear-mounted bass port. The soundstage is wide and deep, with nice detail, clarity and separation coming from high-end components such as gold-plated bi-wire terminals and Pureflow silver-plated oxygen-free copper internal cabling.

While these speakers are brilliant for a small entry-level Hi-Fi system, they are just as great in a home theatre setup - particularly when combined with the Bronze AMS Dolby Atmos units. These are specifically designed with the same base size dimensions as the Bronze 50 and 200 models, and position perfectly on top of the box as up-firing speakers.

All-in-all, the Monitor Audio Bronze 50 bookshelves represent excellent value for money and are the perfect candidates for our first entry-level bookshelf speakers. Coming in well under $1000 with size-defying performance, they are brilliant for both an entry-level Hi-Fi system or as satellite speakers for an excellent home cinema.
monitor audio bronze 50 terminals and bass port

Key Points for the Monitor Audio Bronze 50s:

  • 25mm C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter with a 5.5 " concave 'dished' mid/bass driver
  • High tech at low cost - including: HiVe II rear-mounted bass port technology, premium gold-plated terminals & pureflow silver-plated oxygen-free copper internal cabling
  • Compatible and perfectly designed to work with the new Monitor Audio Bronze AMS Dolby Atmos Enabled Speakers
  • Compact & versatile with finishes to match any decor
  • Excellent value for money - perfect for your first foray into Hi-Fi, or to build out an immersive home cinema

Want a closer look at the Bronze 50’s?:

Watch below as Dan opens them up and takes you through a full product unboxing!

Specifications & Warranty:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications & warranty information.

Perfect For:

Those seeking great entry-level Hi-Fi speakers or home theatre satellites at a brilliant price.

Pairs Great With:

The Rotel A10 Integrated Stereo Amplifier and Pro-Ject Essential III Turntable.

We’ve bundled this one under the name ‘The Performance Pack’, which comes complete with all the speaker wire and cables you need to ‘plug and play’ straight out of the box.

In our opinion - this is one of the best ‘entry-level Hi-Fi’ packs you’ll find anywhere, hitting that highly-sought-after sweet spot between budget and performance.

bronze 50 bookshelf speakers

Buy It:

Click here for our best price on the Monitor Audio Bronze 50 Bookshelf Speakers

2.) Wharfedale Diamond 12.2

wharfedale diamond 12.2

The Wharfedale ‘Diamond 12’ series (12 for 12th generation) is the product of nearly 40 years worth of speaker refinement, innovation and improvement - with the first Diamond model being released in 1982!

This 12th iteration of the already very successful Diamond series is definitely the most impressive so far - calling on the talents and expertise of the very famous and renowned loudspeaker designer Karl-Heinz Fink. Mr Fink was reportedly given complete creative control with this range and it has paid dividends with the Diamond 12’s already receiving much critical acclaim and many glowing reviews.

The Diamond 12.2 is the ‘middle child’ of the 6 speaker range and the largest of the bookshelf speakers in the series. As the largest bookshelf speaker in the range, the Diamond 12.2 is the compact option for your medium to larger rooms and listening areas.

Wharfedale's goal with the 12.2 (and the rest of the Diamond series) was to create affordable, authentic hi-fi loudspeakers that truly capture the spirit of music, whatever you play – from rock to classical, jazz to electronica – whilst conveying the recording with truth and accuracy, as all great ‘hi-fi’ should. We think they’ve hit the nail on the head.

The 12.2 showcases all-new driver design with Fink opting away from the kevlar cones that have become synonymous with Wharfedale, and instead creating a new polypropylene/mica composite material called they’ve called Klarity which is reportedly stiffer and faster than ever before.

The Diamond 12.2’s mid/bass Klarity driver spans 6.5-inches (165mm) and is exceptionally well developed, showcasing custom-engineered ribbing and a low-damping surround for excellent dynamics and musical detail. The driver utilises a precise and powerful magnet with a voice coil wound on a high-power epoxy/glass fibre bobbin to allow for deep and powerful bass without distortion.

The 1-inch (25mm) dome tweeter is fabricated from woven polyester and finished with a high-gloss coating - completely optimised to deliver open, smooth and uncompressed highs. Even the front plate for the tweeter has been modelled and engineered to expose the dome as much as possible and further improve performance.

The cabinets show a bold and authoritative ‘classic’ Hi-Fi styling, with finishes available in black, white, walnut and oak/white. Some serious computer modelling and testing time has been put into the box bracing as well, with unique wood composites used on opposite walls to eliminate any cabinet vibrations or movement. You’ll find the bass port for the Diamond 12.2 located at the rear of the cabinet, so give them some space away from the wall to get the best out of them.

The Diamond 12.2 is a big, powerful and authoritative bookshelf / standmount speaker at a very approachable price point. Engineered by one of the world’s leading loudspeaker designers and representing one of the most recognisable speaker lines in history - the 12.2 is a commanding listen that will deliver an immersive sound throughout your medium to larger size rooms.
wharfedale diamond 12.2 terminals and bass port

Key Points for the Wharfedale Diamond 12.2’s:

  • 6.5 " Klarity mid/bass driver with a 25mm woven polyester dome tweeter
  • Large and intelligently spot-braced cabinets to remove any noise or vibration
  • Designed by one of the worlds leading loudspeaker engineers
  • A big, immersive and bold sound for your medium to larger rooms

Specifications & Warranty:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications & warranty information.

Perfect For:

Anyone after a medium-large bookshelf / standmount speaker at a great price point that features excellent Hi-Fi design and carries undeniable heritage!

Pairs Great With:

The Marantz PM6007 is a brilliant amplifier match for the Diamond 12.2’s, providing plenty of mid-range clarity and tuneful bass.

diamond 12.2 bookshelf speakers

Buy It:

Click here for our best price on the Wharfedale Diamond 12.2 Bookshelf Speakers

3.) Monitor Audio Bronze 100

monitor audio bronze 100

As the bigger sibling to the Bronze 50’s the Monitor Audio Bronze 100's are, as you’d expect, bigger in every way - larger cabinets, a bigger driver and more bass. That said, they also manage to tuck in nicely under $1000!

Anyone familiar with the multi-award-winning Monitor Audio Bronze 2’s will already have a slight idea of what to expect, with the Bronze 100’s being the successor to this much-loved model. That being said, the Bronze 100’s have been upgraded in almost every way!

The first change you’ll notice from the Bronze 2’s is very visual, with the Bronze 100’s sporting a larger box design, elegant new front baffle in a variety of colours, and most noticeably, a rear-mounted bass port.

The Bronze 100’s have carried over the same signature Monitor Audio Gold Dome C-CAM tweeter from the Bronze 2’s (although now behind a re-designed mesh cover), with the bigger cabinet now allowing for an upgrade to a notably larger 8-inch (203mm) C-CAM bass/mid-woofer from the previous 6.5-inch (165mm) driver.

Monitor Audio has worked extensively on developing proprietary technologies and high-quality internals to get the best performance they can from each speaker at every price point. The Bronze 100’s are of course no exception - showcasing their C-CAM drivers, HiVe (high-velocity) bass ports, premium gold-plated terminals and Pureflow silver-plated oxygen-free copper internal cabling to name a few.

After a bit of breaking in, this all combines for a sound that is notably detailed and energetic with good separation and impressive bass response - just be sure to position them slightly off the wall to allow the rear bass port enough room. Additionally, they offer a number of stylish and elegant baffle/box finishes to match nearly any aesthetic - comfortably making them one of your best options for high-quality bookshelf speakers under $1000.
monitor audio bronze 100 terminals and bass port

Key Points for the Monitor Audio Bronze 100’s:

  • 8 " mid/bass driver with concave 'dished' C-CAM cone profile and 25mm C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter
  • HiVe II rear-mounted bass port technology, premium gold-plated terminals & pureflow silver-plated oxygen-free copper internal cabling
  • Gold-plated Bi-wire/Bi-amp terminal configuration
  • Compatible with the new Monitor Audio Bronze AMS Dolby Atmos Enabled Speakers
  • The successor to the wildly popular and critically acclaimed Bronze 2’s

Want a closer look at the Bronze 100’s?:

Watch below as Dan opens them up and takes you through a full product unboxing!

Specifications & Warranty:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications & warranty information.

Perfect For:

For those seeking powerful and well-rounded bookshelf speaker performance with a sleek and stylish aesthetic at a budget-friendly price point.

Pairs Great With:

The Rotel A11 Tribute Integrated Stereo Amplifier and Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge.

This package comes together under the name ‘The Symphony Suite’, complete with all wires and cables to simply plug and play within 10 minutes of setup. This pack offers exceptional performance and component synergy at a very attractive price. Buying as a bundle like this allows for cost savings on high-quality components that individual purchasing can’t come close to matching.

We've sat in front of this one for hours listening to a range of musical genres - and can honestly say it’s one of the best ‘value for money’ Hi-Fi packs on the market.

bronze 100 bookshelf speaker

Buy It:

Click here for our best price on the Monitor Audio Bronze 100 Bookshelf Speakers

Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $2000

The next stepping stone on the bookshelf speaker path takes you to those under $2000.

This price point is a definite jump up from ‘entry-level’ in terms of build quality, design, technology and performance, and is a great step down the path to building an excellent Hi-Fi system.

Read on below to check them out.


4.) Wharfedale Evo 4.1

wharfedale evo 4.1

The Wharfedale Evo 4.1 Bookshelf Speakers are the starting point in terms of both price and size for Wharfedales newest range - ‘EVO’.

Referring to Evo as the ‘dawn of a new standard’, Wharfedale has set out to produce an advanced and premium series of Hi-Fi speakers that offer great performance and longevity, while still remaining affordable.

The premium design feel for the Evo range is apparent as soon as you take the 4.1’s out of the box. Taking inspiration from the much higher-priced flagship ‘Elysian’ range, the Evo 4.1’s not only lean on highly-advanced and meticulously engineered internals, but also a build and finish that is sleek, robust, elegant and universally eye-catching.

One of the first things you’ll likely notice about the Evo 4.1 is the unique and highly-developed 30mm x 60mm tweeter or ‘AMT’ (Air Motion Transformer). Utilising the same technology from the Elysian series, the Evo transducer moves away from the more common ‘soft-dome’ setup and instead incorporates a pleated lightweight diaphragm with a number strategically placed magnets. This system allows for very efficient air movement that gives very low distortion and impressive detail to your high-frequencies.

The mids and bass for the Evo 4.1 are taken care of by a 5-inch (130mm) woven Kevlar cone, fitted with a low loss rubber surround. Again calling on Elysian technology, the woofer is driven by a super low distortion motor system which results in excellent dynamics and mid-range detail with tight and controlled bass.

Tying it all together is a very highly-engineered crossover designed with the help of advanced computer modelling and countless hours of testing. It’s been built from specifically chosen materials that give excellent audio transparency and very low interference to deliver crystal clear and precise frequency separation.

We’ve discussed the refined style of the cabinets above but it’s important to note that the cabinets not only look the part - they also have a large role to play in the bass delivery for the Evo’s. Built with Wharfedale's proprietary PLSP (Pressure Loaded Slot Port) technology the Evo 4.1 box is skillfully designed to equalise pressure in any room when venting bass energy. This design allows them to be placed almost anywhere, in fact, often performing much better when in tight against the wall.

Incorporating some very high-end and clever engineering, the Evo 4.1 is a ‘true bookshelf speaker’ - compactly designed to fit in any room and perform without limitations. Calling on advanced Hi-Fi technology and components to effortlessly deliver a smooth, engaging and detailed sound, it’s a serious surprise that these are priced as affordably as they are.
wharfedale evo 4.1 terminals

Key Points for the Wharfedale Evo 4.1:

  • A unique and advanced 30mm*60mm pleated diaphragm tweeter
  • 5 " mid/bass woven Kevlar driver with a super low distortion motor
  • Robust, sleek and functional cabinet design with PLSP technology for bass venting
  • A ‘true bookshelf speaker’ with unique bass porting technology - making it super versatile in terms of placement

Specifications & Warranty:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications & warranty information.

Perfect For:

Anyone after a brilliantly designed bookshelf speaker built on class-leading technology with a detailed and engaging sound that can be positioned almost anywhere.

Pairs Great With:

After some serious listening time in the Living Entertainment showroom, we can confidently say that the AudioLab 6000A is an excellent and affordable amplifier match for the 4.1’s.

evo 4.1 bookshelf speakers

Buy It:

Click here for our best price on the Wharfedale Evo 4.1 Bookshelf Speakers

5.) Bowers And Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition

bowers and wilkins 606

The Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 is the new standmount speaker offering in the revamped and reimagined 600 series ‘Anniversary Edition’.

B&W have been in the speaker game a long time with the 600 series alone now hitting the 25 year mark. As the seventh edition in this iconic series, the Anniversary Edition really is a celebration of everything that has made the 600 series so great.

If you’re a previous owner of B&W 600 series speakers you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect, however, prepare to be impressed by the noticeable improvements in sound quality that some relatively minor technical advancements have made.   

Adopting a ‘if it ain't broke, don’t fix it’ approach, the 606 S2 has carried forward the same 2-way vented cabinet setup from the previous edition. The 606 S2 combines a 25mm (1 in) aluminium Decoupled Double Dome tweeter with a 165mm (6.5 in) bass / midrange driver which uses the same patented Continuum cone technology that B&W originally designed for their flagship 800 Series Diamond. 

The most significant internal upgrade to the 606 S2 Anniversary Edition are the crossovers which have been optimised and improved with higher-quality capacitors.

As small as this improvement seems, it has had a noticeable impact on sound quality when compared to the previous model. The 606 S2’s display brilliant clarity and separation with a nice wide soundstage, and if you’re comparing them to their predecessor, you’ll notice a much tighter and more controlled bass response. They also maintain their clarity and detail nicely at both lower volumes and when delivering complex tracks.

Aesthetically, they are a simple and elegant build, aiming to blend into their surroundings, no matter the decor. The only real change from the prior model in this regard is the availability of an oak finish to go with the classic white and black, and an inscription on the tweeter surround reading ‘600 Series Anniversary Edition’.

All in all, the 606 S2 Anniversary Edition standmounts exemplify what makes Bowers & Wilkins so great - value, performance and classic style. They are an excellent option in this price range and well worthy of an audition.

bowers and wilkins 600 series anniversary speakers

KEY POINTS FOR THE BOWERS & WILKINS 606 S2:

  • The latest result of 25 years of continuous development and improvement to the B&W 600 series
  • Great detail and clarity with tight and controlled bass
  • Using trickle-down technology from the flagship ‘Diamond Series’

SPECIFICATIONS & WARRANTY:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications & warranty information.

PERFECT FOR:

Those looking to celebrate 25 years of the B&W 600 series with a skilfully designed speaker that displays a beautifully balanced sound. 

PAIRS GREAT WITH:

The 606 S2’s work well across a number of amplifiers we’ve tested, but in our opinion, the sweet spot for matching price and performance is the AudioLab 6000A or the Rotel A14 MKII - both are a brilliant choice. 

B&W speakers

BUY IT:

Click here for our best price on the Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Speakers


 

6.) Wharfedale Denton 85

wharfedale denton 85

Founded in 1932 in the sleepy market town of ‘Wharfe’, Gilbert Briggs built the first loudspeaker that would launch one of the longest standing and most-famous British loudspeaker companies ever - Wharfedale. Starting out in the humble basement of Gilberts Yorkshire home, Wharfedale has gone from strength to strength over the many decades since, pioneering numerous speaker features and technologies, and setting the standard in many ways for manufacturers across the globe.

First launched in 1967 to meet the needs of the young and mobile working professionals of the time, the Wharfedale ‘Denton’ range became one of the companies best-selling and category-defining lines. The Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary Edition Bookshelf Speakers are a celebration of the companies 85 years in business and represent its founding principles of craftsmanship, quality and affordability.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in my opinion, the Denton 85’s are as pleasing on the eye as a speaker can be! Available in either a mahogany or walnut finish, the cabinets are hand-crafted with an inset tungsten cloth grille - giving that strong and nostalgic look that is reminiscent of classic vintage Hi-Fi!

As vintage as they appear though, the performance of the Denton 85’s utilises the best in modern Hi-Fi innovation. As a two-way speaker featuring a 1” (25mm) soft dome tweeter and a 6.5" (165mm) black woven Kevlar woofer, they effortlessly deliver a bold and authoritative sound throughout any small to medium-sized room.

Significant time and research has been put into the cross-overs, and it shows in the excellent separation. When positioned correctly, the soundstage is impressively wide and deep, with excellent dynamics from deep and rich bass, right up to detailed and energetic highs - characteristic of that classic ‘British-speaker Sound’.

Again, although the Denton 85’s are categorised here as bookshelf speakers, you wouldn’t be wrong calling them ‘stand-mount speakers’ as they require some room away from the wall to allow the rear bass ports to perform effectively.

Celebrating 85 years of loudspeaker manufacturing excellence - the Denton 85’s are purpose-designed to beautifully represent Wharfedales operating ethos of ‘craftsmanship, quality & affordability’. If you’re after a classic retro look and affordability with serious modern Hi-Fi performance - these are your ticket!
wharfedale denton 85 terminals and bass ports

Key Points for the Wharfedale Denton 85’s:

  • 6.5” (165 mm) woven Kevlar mid/bass driver with 1” (25mm ) soft-dome tweeter
  • Beautiful vintage Hi-Fi look with powerful modern performance
  • Great bass with an easy-going sound
  • Works well with many different amplififers
  • Coming from one of the worlds longest standing speaker manufacturers

Want a closer look at the Denton 85’s?:

Watch below as Dan opens them up and takes you through a full product unboxing!

Specifications & Warranty:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications & warranty information.

Perfect For:

Those looking for a rich and smooth sound with a classic vintage Hi-Fi aesthetic.

Pairs Great With:

After many hours of listening, tweaking and tinkering - we discovered that the Denton 85’s pair particularly well with AudioLab.

As such, we’ve put together some excellent value ‘plug and play’ packs with these pairings - but also wanted to give you the option depending on your preference for analogue or digital.

If you’re an analogue lover, I’d recommend checking out our ‘Vintage Analogue’ pack which brings together the Pro-Ject X1 turntable and AudioLab 6000A Integrated Amplifier with the Denton’s.

If you’re more interested in the versatility and convenience of digital - have a look at the ‘Vintage Digital’ pack that gives you AudioLab 6000A Integrated Amplifier with the AudioLab 6000CDT CD Transport (or 6000N Network Streamer) as your sources.

denton 85 bookshelf speakers

Buy It:

Click here for our best price on the Wharfedale Denton 85 Bookshelf Speakers

7.) Monitor Audio Silver 100

monitor audio silver 100

As I’m sure you can probably imagine, the Monitor Audio ‘Silver’ range is the natural step up from Monitor Audios ‘Bronze’ range and takes you notably deeper into audiophile territory.

The Silver 100’s are the larger of the two bookshelf speakers available in the Silver range, and pack in an 8” (200mm) woofer with a 1” (25mm) tweeter to deliver a much larger sound than their size should be capable of.

Both the gold dome tweeter and mid/bass driver are made from Monitor Audio’s proprietary ‘C-CAM’ (ceramic-coated aluminium magnesium) and are combined with a vented Neo-magnet system in the Silver 100. As you’d expect - the internals utilise some of the best materials in their class, including Pureflow silver-plated cabling, polypropylene film capacitors and air-core / low-loss laminated steel-core inductors.

This proprietary technology translates to a sound that is beautifully balanced and clear with excellent PRAT (Pace, Rhythm And Timing). Sound quality is further enhanced by the unique DCF coupling mechanism (borrowed from the pinnacle ‘Platinum’ range), lowering distortion and improving high-frequency fidelity.

The bass response from the Silver 100’s is deep, tight and rhythmic - accentuated by the rear-mounted and rifled HiVe II bass port. The dished design of the C-CAM driver brings extra clarity to the mid-range, so the low-end is snappy with no muddled sound. Plenty of punch to comfortably fill a medium to large room.

The build quality is particularly impressive with solidly built cabinets and 6 classic colours to choose from. The Silver 100 combines well-known shapes and finishes with their new ‘hexagonal mesh’ tweeter cover to give an aesthetic that is a smart mix of ‘traditional Hifi’ and modern design.

Beyond just creating solid cabinets, they've also integrated their Rigid Surface Technology (RST) into the bass/mid driver cone material to strengthen the surface, so it resists mechanical warping. The driver will last longer and remain undistorted. Intertwined in all this epic construction is a cast-polymer driver chassis to elevate the speaker's rigidity and dampening ability.

The Silver 100’s are brilliant at replicating music to its raw and realistic nature via snappy drum rhythms, crisp vocals, detailed instrumentals and hearty bass melodies. They are emotive and immersive, giving you the full and balanced experience of any track you put to them. Capturing numerous awards, 5-star reviews and industry praise - the Silver 100’s proudly round out our ‘best under $2000’ category.
monitor audio silver 100 terminals and bass port

Key Points for the Monitor Audio Silver 100’s:

  • 8” (200 mm) C-CAM mid/bass driver with 1” (25mm ) Gold Dome tweeter
  • Notably solid build quality and cabinet construction
  • An exceptionally well-balanced, rhythmic and dynamic sound profile
  • Utilises some of the best advancements in speaker technology - including: ‘RST’ C-CAM concave drivers, cast-polymer driver chassis design, the proprietary HiVe II bass-port, Pureflow silver-plated OFC copper internal cabling and bespoke polypropylene film capacitors ... to name a few.
  • 5-star reviews, ‘Product Of The Year and ‘Best In Category’ awards from industry juggernauts such as What Hi-Fi? and Home Theatre Review

Want a closer look at the Silver 100’s?:

Watch below as Dan opens them up and takes you through a full product unboxing!

Specifications:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications.

Perfect For:

If you’ve been impressed by the power, bass and energy of the Bronze 100’s (or Diamond 12.2’s for that matter) and are ready for a jump-up in quality, dynamics, clarity and PRAT - the Silver 100’s are your match!

Pairs Great With:

The Pro-Ject X1 Turntable & Rotel A12 Integrated Stereo Amplifier combine perfectly with the Silver 100’s for a stunning vinyl sound with beautiful detail, timing and presence!

We’ve bundled this one together for you at a brilliant pack price - exclusive to LENC and very aptly called the ‘Silver 100 Pack.

silver 100 bookshelf speakers

Buy It:

Click here for our best price on the Monitor Audio Silver 100 Bookshelf Speakers

Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $3000

Stepping into the ‘best bookshelf speakers under $3000’ puts you in the company of some truly special speakers, showcasing another noticeable jump in detail, quality and refinement.

You are beginning to invest in the makings of a premium Hi-Fi system here. Expect very high-quality components and a refined build quality from companies that are tried, tested and very well regarded.


8.) Bowers & Wilkins 706 S2

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S2

The 700 series represents the middle child of B&W’s traditional speaker series, nestled between the 600 series Anniversary Edition, and the 800 series flagship Diamond range. The B&W 706 S2 is the second bookshelf (or technically standmount) speaker of the 700 series.

Described by B&W themselves as designed to have ‘the acoustic heft to satisfy the demands of bigger rooms’, the 706 S2 undeniably delivers room-filling sound. 

Utilising the innovative proprietary Bowers ‘Continuum’ material, the 706 S2 packs in a super stiff 6.5 inch (165 mm) mid/bass driver that gives a smooth and detailed mid-range coupled with tight and controlled bass. 

The tweeter in the 706 is a 1-inch (25 mm) Carbon-Dome design which is unique and purpose-built for the 700 series. This upgrade from the aluminium tweeter design used in the 600 series has notably reduced distortion and gives much better accuracy and clarity to the highs.   

When compared to its larger siblings the 705 & 702 that sport a futuristic-looking tweeter housing that sits atop of the speaker box, the 706 S2 is a much more classic, conservative and traditional design. Similar in appearance to the 606 S2 Anniversary Edition that we featured earlier - the 706 S2 aesthetic is sleek and sophisticated with options for a Gloss Black, Satin White or Rosenut finish.

It’s worth noting that the 706 S2 performs much better when utilised as a ‘standmount speaker’ with some space given off the wall to breathe and really push the bass. If you have a nice and roomy bookshelf you can definitely get away with it, but if you’re going to invest in a pair of 706’s - tack a little bit extra on for the stands. It’s probably one of the cheapest and simplest performance improvements you can make. 

The Bowers & Wilkins 706 S2 all packs neatly into an elegant vented cabinet that not only delivers the advertised ‘room-filling acoustic heft’, but does so with an impressive level of refinement and sophistication. Count on the 706 for dynamics, detail, space and insight into your music.

706 s2 B&W

KEY POINTS FOR THE BOWERS & WILKINS 706 S2:

  • Carbon Dome tweeters for pinpoint imaging accuracy and detail
  • Impressively versatile, performing well across most music genres and both low and high volumes.
  • A big sound that carries nicely for your larger rooms

SPECIFICATIONS & WARRANTY:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications & warranty information.

PERFECT FOR:

Those looking for an excellent value standmount speaker with a big sound that is also detailed, precise and versatile. 

PAIRS GREAT WITH:

Like the 606’s we’ve featured above, the 706 S2’s also play well with a range of good amplifiers, however the sweet spot for matching price and performance is the RA1572 MKII or the Hegel H120 - both will have you dancing with joy. 

Bowers 706 S2 standmounts

BUY IT:

Click here for our best price on the Bowers & Wilkins 706 S2 Anniversary Speakers


Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $4000:

We are really getting towards the pointy end of our list now, as our best bookshelf speakers under $4000 will put you in unquestionable audiophile territory.

Prepare yourself for breathtaking high-fidelity performance and a level of detail in your favourite music you may have never heard before...


9.) Monitor Audio Gold 100 5G

monitor audio gold 100

Put aside its stunning beauty and delicately refined sound - the Monitor Audio Gold 100’s might just take the cake for pure ingenuity and advancement of bookshelf speaker technology.

The entire Monitor Audio Gold Series is the result of ‘trickle-down’ technology from the painstakingly engineered and highly-refined Platinum II Series.

The Gold 100's drivers are simply world-class, utilising every scrap of development from the Platinum II series. The 6.5-inch (165 mm) long-throw bass/mid driver is put together from their second-generation rigid diaphragm technology (RDT II). This proprietary design combines two extremely robust & light skins - an outer skin comprised of their renowned C-CAM material, a Nomex core and an advanced woven carbon fibre inner skin.

Monitor Audio refers to this unique combination as a composite 'sandwich' structure that allows this 6.5-inch (165mm) driver to perform like an 8-inch (203mm) with no distortion. Furthermore, the reported frequency response from this particular driver is 40 Hz to 50Khz which is almost unprecedented for a speaker of this size.

As incredible as the mid/bass driver design is - the high-frequency tweeter is just as impressive and built to match. Again borrowing tech from the Platinum series, the Gold 100’s employ a Micro Pleated Diaphragm (MPD) High-Frequency Transducer for smooth, articulate and extended high-end frequencies. From the outside, it looks like a ribbon coil but that's the tweeter diaphragm folding over itself many times over. By folding the diaphragm, the tweeter can encompass a surface area 8x larger than a traditional dome tweeter.

Monitor Audio refers to the function of this design as "a super-fast accordion" that presses the diaphragm pleats together to for a high-end output of up to 100 Khz.

The Gold 100’s also carry Monitor Audio’s proprietary rear-mounted HiVe II bass tuning port - discussed in detail in the MA speakers earlier on. As with many of the ‘bookshelf speakers’ on this list, you’ll really need to stand-mount the Gold 100’s to give the port room to breathe get the best bass response possible.

From an aesthetics point of view, I believe the Gold 100’s in ‘Piano Ebony’ are the most stunning speakers in this entire catalogue. With a striated gloss ‘tiger’s eye’ finish, smooth leather top, beautifully rounded cabinets and magnetic grills - the Gold 100’s are a work of art.

With some of the best bookshelf speaker technology and design available, the Gold 100’s unmask unheard nuances in melodies, vocals, and instruments on tracks I've listened to a thousand times before. The class-leading driver design means the Gold 100’s sound much larger than their size suggests - easily mistaken for a floorstander if you aren’t paying attention.

Aside from breathtaking dynamics, accuracy, emotion and pure performance, the 5G Gold 100 also wins my vote for ‘sexiest bookshelf speaker of 2021’.
monitor audio gold 100 terminals and bass port

Key Points for the Monitor Audio Gold 100’s 5G:

  • Packed with class-leading Monitor Audio technology from the Platinum range including an MPD high-frequency transducer and a dual-layer RDT II / C-CAM / Nomex 6.5-inch (165mm) driver
  • The highly engineered HiVe II bass port
  • Phenomenal dynamics, bass response and accuracy of reproduction
  • The best looking bookshelf speaker for 2021 (in my humble opinion)
  • An outrageous amount of industry awards, critical acclaim and recognition

Specifications:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications.

Perfect For:

Those looking for a genuine audiophile-quality bookshelf speaker that is built with some of the best Hi-Fi technology and design features currently available. With a sound and aesthetic levels above what the price would suggest, the Gold 100’s are a wide-favourite for good reason.

Pairs Great With:

The Gold 100’s absolutely sing when paired with either the Roksan Blak or Hegel H120 integrated amplifier. Both of these units extract immaculate detail, dynamics and bass from the 100’s.

gold 100 bookshelf speakers

Buy It:

Click here for our best price on the Monitor Audio Gold 100 5G Bookshelf Speakers


10.) Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2

bowers and wilkins 705 s2

In continuing on with our love for the Bowers & Wilkins 700 series, we are rounding out our category of the best bookshelf speakers under $4000 with the B&W 705 S2.

It only takes a quick glance to see that some seriously impressive design and engineering has gone into the 705 S2. As what has become one of the most defining features of the 705 S2, B&W have set the tweeter in its own independent housing and proudly top-mounted on top of the main cabinet.

By placing it in its own solid block aluminium housing, they’ve not only created an aesthetic that is unlike any other speaker range on the market, but also achieved a design that produces an impressively detailed sound.

This unique setup and design results in an impressively low resonance that allows the highs to remain crystal clear and nicely detailed. The independent tweeter housing is also positioned slightly forward in comparison to the main cabinet to promote better timing and accuracy for the treble. 

When looking beyond the tweeter setup you’ll see that at least on paper, the other specifications of the 705 S2 are largely similar to the 706 S2 that we’ve featured earlier. 

It shares the same 6.5-inch (165 mm) Continuum cone mid/bass driver, the same 1-inch (25 mm) carbon dome tweeter construction, and even the same cabinet dimensions. However, if reading the specs sheet was all you did to compare the two, you’d be leaving some serious sound quality and refinement on the table. 

The 705’s are a notable step up on the already brilliant 706’s, with the superb engineering behind the top-mount tweeter design making an impressive difference. The 705’s showcase crisp and detailed treble, coupled with brilliant dynamics and timing. The bass is smooth and plenty full enough to fill your larger rooms - bringing it all together for a listen that is impressively refined, pinpoint accurate and beautifully balanced.

Oh. And they look absolutely stunning in our humble opinion, but that’s for you to decide!

bowers and wilkins 705 tweeter

KEY POINTS FOR THE BOWERS & WILKINS 705 S2:

  • The largest and best-performing standmount speaker in the Bowers & Wilkins 700 series
  • 1 of 2 speakers in the range to feature the stunning and effective top mount tweeter design
  • A beautifully refined, detailed and precise sound

SPECIFICATIONS & WARRANTY:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications & warranty information.

PERFECT FOR:

Those looking for a standmount speaker that is a cut above. Showcasing standout performance and beautiful design - you’ll struggle to find a more impressive speaker in this category.

PAIRS GREAT WITH:

You’d be doing the 705 S2’s an injustice by pairing them with anything less than the  RA1592 MKII or the Hegel H190 amplifier. Not to say these are your only options, but they are both brilliant amplifier matches for these speakers and the quality benchmark you should use if using another brand.

B&W 705 S2 anniversary edition

BUY IT:

Click here for our best price on the Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2 Anniversary Speakers


Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $5000

We're now entering into some of the finest bookshelf speakers that money can buy.

The attention to detail, technology and production quality here is without compromise.

These speakers are the result of decades of design evolution and reproduce music in a way you may have never heard before.


11.) PMC Twenty5.21i

pmc twenty5 21i

Following on from everything the world loved about the multi-award-winning Twenty5 series, PMC (Professional Monitor Company) has recently launched their Twenty5 ‘i’ range.

With the ‘i’ standing for ‘improved’, PMC engineers have carried the same principles over from the original Twenty5 range and improved on every aspect with ‘trickle-down’ technology adapted from their top-of-the-line, highly-engineered and much higher priced ‘Fenestria’ speakers.

True to PMC form, the quality and attention to detail in this range is undeniable with hand-built cabinets, unique PMC technologies and proprietary designs - all heralding straight from the U.K.

The PMC Twenty5.21i represents the smallest of the two bookshelf speakers available in this series, however, is in no-way ‘small sounding’.

Using PMC’s industry famous ‘Advanced Transmission Line’ (ATL) technology, the Twenty5.21i showcases an astoundingly large, clean and clear bass response at both low and high volumes. This technology combined with PMC’s proprietary Laminair ports in hard-braced and tightly-lined cabinets allows for beautiful separation, clarity and detail across all frequencies.

Utilising a two-way design, the Twenty5.21i cabinet houses a 5.5-inch (140 mm) long-throw mid/bass driver and 0.75-inch (19 mm) soft-dome ferrofluid-cooled tweeter with a 34 mm outer surround. This tweeter is a particularly notable upgrade from the Gen 1 Twenty5.21, receiving a complete redesign based on the super high-end flagship ‘fact Fenestria tweeter.

The crossover in the 21i is also borrowed from the fact range, adopting military-grade technology to give a lower crossover point and better frequency definition than its predecessor ever could.

All of this highly-refined technology and design comes together for a sound that is breathtaking in how immersive, accurate and detailed it can be throughout the full dynamic range. Their compact size makes them the perfect premium speaker for your small/medium-sized rooms, and with front-facing bass ports they can function in almost any space - making them a true ‘bookshelf speaker’.
pmc twenty5 21i terminals

Key Points for the PMC Twenty5.21i’s:

  • Markedly improved and completely redesigned tweeter and crossover utilising super high-end technology from the flagship PMC Fenestria line
  • Packed with award-winning proprietary PMC technology such as their Advanced Transmission Line and Laminair bass ports
  • They require some breaking in before they reach their full potential, but are most definitely worth the wait
  • Beautifully detailed & accurate sound profile

Specifications:

Click here for the full manufacturer specifications.

Perfect For:

Anyone with a listening style or musical taste that calls for detail and clarity. Look to use them in a small to medium room, and if space in your house is at a premium, these are the perfect candidate with their small cabinet size and front-facing ports. They also lend themselves perfectly as surrounds for a high-end ‘Twenty5i’ home theatre system.

Pairs Great With:

The Twenty5.21i’s really come into their own when run on the Hegel H190 amplifier. After some run in time, the brilliant H190 will have them reproducing your favourite music with immense accuracy, clarity and depth.

twenty5i bookshelf speakers

Buy It:

Click here for our best price on the PMC Twenty5.21i Bookshelf Speakers

So...Which Bookshelf Speaker is for You?

best bookshelf speaker

As you can see, you aren’t stuck for options here in Australia when it comes to quality bookshelf speaker choices.

There are many excellent options available no matter your budget, style, room size, amplifier and personal sound preference!

We are passionate about helping people find the right audio setup for their particular needs - understanding that everyone has a different set of requirements and relationship with their favourite music!

We hope this article has helped guide you to ‘your perfect pair of bookshelf speakers’, however, if you have a few more questions or would like to clear anything up, don’t hesitate to send us an email, give us a call or shoot us a Facebook message via any of the footer links below!

Thanks again from all of us here at LENC for reading, we look forward to hearing from you!