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.
- What is a Bookshelf Speaker?
- How Much Should I Spend on Bookshelf Speakers?
- Choosing The Right Speaker For The Size Of Your Room
- Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1000
- Monitor Audio Bronze 50
- Wharfedale Diamond 12.2
- Monitor Audio Bronze 100
- Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $2000
- Wharfedale Evo 4.1
- Wharfedale Denton 85
- Monitor Audio Silver 100
- Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $3000
- Dynaudio Evoke 10
- Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $4000
- Monitor Audio Gold 100 5G
- Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $5000
- PMC Twenty5.21i
- Dynaudio Special 40
- Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $20,000
- Dynaudio Confidence 20
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?
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:
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
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 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.
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 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.
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).
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 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.
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.
Choosing The Right Speaker For The Size Of Your Room
There is a very important relationship at play between your speaker and room size.
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!
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!
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.
Key Points for the Monitor Audio Bronze 50’s:
- 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:
Those seeking great entry-level Hi-Fi speakers or home theatre satellites at a brilliant price.
Pairs Great With:
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.
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.
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:
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 PM6006 is a brilliant amplifier match for the Diamond 12.2’s, providing plenty of mid-range clarity and tuneful bass.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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:
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 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.
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.
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!
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:
We’ve bundled this one together for you at a brilliant pack price - exclusive to LENC and very aptly called the ‘Silver 100 Pack.’
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.
Dynaudio is in very comfortable territory when it comes to producing superb quality and highly sought-after bookshelf speakers - and the Evoke 10’s are a beautiful example of this.
The Evoke loudspeaker line is one of the newest editions from the Danish loudspeaker company and is the result of countless hours of research, testing and development in Dynaudios patented multi-million dollar ‘Jupiter Measuring Lab’.
As the smallest bookshelf speaker in the line, the Evoke 10’s represent the starting point for the entire Evoke range and set a breath-taking standard for the innovation and performance that the range has quickly become celebrated for.
Producing a sound well beyond what their physical size would indicate, the Evoke 10’s 5.5” (140mm) ‘Esotec+’ mid/bass driver has been extensively tested and optimised to produce incredible ‘long-throw’ dynamics - allowing for powerful bass & immersive mids with equal ease.
Dynaudio achieves this by combining their long-standing use of thin and rigid MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) driver material & super tightly-wound aluminium voice coils with powerful strontium carbonate Ferrite+ ceramic magnets.
The 1.1” (28mm ) soft-dome tweeter used in the Evoke series is the very first of it’s kind - picking up the name ‘Cerotar’. Using ‘trickle-down’ technology from Dynaudio's super high-end Special 40 and Confidence range tweeters, the Cerotar comes from a powerful heritage and showcases some of the best tweeter engineering principles in the entire industry.
The most notable feature of the new Cerotar tweeter is it’s ‘Hexis’ inner dome, which is a rigid and dimpled piece of MSP that sits behind the tweeter’s playing surface for improved airflow. This not only gives a smoothed-out frequency response and eliminates unwanted resonance, but also protects the tweeter from being easily pushed in!
It’s worth noting that getting the best from your Evoke 10’s takes an amplifier of equal measure. Being only ‘moderately efficient’, we’d recommend looking at an amp with a decent power output to really express the reaches of the low and high-ends. From experience, Primaluna valve amps and Simaudio solid-state amplifiers both produce excellent synergy.
Aesthetically speaking, the Evoke 10 is the definition of ‘elegant Danish design’. You won't notice any mounting screws as it shows off nothing more than it’s clean smooth lines, one-piece drivers and classy gloss or timber finish. This classic Scandinavian look lets the Evoke 10’s find a place amongst any home decor.
Time and time again, we’ve seen people searching the showroom for the ‘hidden speaker’ as the Evoke 10’s effortlessly fill the room with their ‘long-throw’ style. The dynamics, detail and bass response is remarkable for their size. The small cabinets and tasteful design make them the perfect option for serious audiophile speakers that remain discreet and easy to place in any home.
Key Points for the Dynaudio Evoke 10’s:
- A fully integrated 140mm MSP mid/bass driver with a brand new proprietary 28mm Cerotar tweeter
- Utilises high-end technologies and engineering from much higher budget speaker lines
- Ferrite+ magnets, MSP drivers, second-order crossovers and super-light aluminium coils
- Super compact design with a classic minimalist look in 4 elegant finishes
- Moderate power efficiency, so pair with higher wattage amplifier to get their full potential
Want a closer look at the Evoke 10’s?:
Watch below as Nat takes you through the entire Evoke range!
Those looking for the best in Danish bookshelf speaker design - in both terms of appearance and performance. Compact and elegant with outstanding dynamics, bass and detail.
Pairs Great With:
As mentioned earlier, most Simaudio and Primaluna amplifiers are an excellent match for the Evoke 10’s. Specifically, I recommend you look at the Moon 240 I Integrated Amplifier or Primaluna Evo 200 Integrated Tube / Valve Amplifier.
For sources - consider a turntable capable of delivering excellent detail without distortion (such as the Clearaudio Concept Turntable) or a streamer such as the Node 2i or Moon 280D to access all of your favourite streaming services.
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...
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’.
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
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:
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.
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’.
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
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 Moon 340i Integrated Amplifier. After some run in time, the multi-award-winning 340i will have them reproducing your favourite music with immense accuracy, clarity and depth.
The Dynaudio Special Forty was first launched in 2017 as their 40th-anniversary speaker - representing a celebration of everything that has made Dynaudio so special and highly-regarded in over 4 decades of loudspeaker creation.
From the Dynaudio design team themselves, the Special Forty ‘brings the old band back together with some modern remixing and re-mastering’ (i.e. combines their already multi-award-winning and proven loudspeaker technologies with some amazing and innovative advancements.)
In doing so Dynaudio has truly created a very special stand-mount speaker, picking up as many Hi-Fi awards and glowing 5-star reviews as any speaker I’ve seen.
So ... what’s been retained from the ‘old band’, and what’s been ‘remixed and remastered’?
The Special Forty calls upon a number of features that have made Dynaudio quite famous in the bookshelf / stand-mount speaker category. The 6.7-inch (170mm) driver in the Special 40 is based on those found in the super-high-end Confidence & Evidence lines, with Dynaudio claiming this is their best 17cm driver in existence.
The driver is made from their proprietary MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) material as a one-piece cone, with countless engineering and testing hours going into unique improvements for the Special Forties.
Not to get too heavy on the specifications and details, but, via the use of an improved spider, specific AirFlow basket, aluminium voice coils, optimised alignment and a higher-grade hybrid neodymium magnet - the mid/bass driver is incredibly precise, accurate and authentic with a better frequency range than ever before.
The jewel in the crown for the Special Forty has to be the ‘Esotar Forty’ tweeter - specifically designed for this speaker release. Based on the classic Dynaudio Esotar tweeter design, the 28mm soft-dome Esotar Forty proudly sports improved airflow, damping and motor design with a unique DSR (Dynaudio Secret Recipe) coating - all resulting in better detail, super clean highs and less distortion than ever before.
Tieing the tweeter and mid-bass driver together is a simple but very effective first-order crossover with heavily optimised phase and impedance alignment technology. Combining this crossover with a seamless frequency overlap makes for a breathtaking and cohesive sound characterised by extended bass, magnificent imaging, immense detail and flawless rhythm.
While some of their only criticism has come from a ‘similar looking’ driver appearance to the cheaper Emit models (DEFINITELY NOT similarly performing), the finish on the Special ’40s is simply spectacular and highly unique.
Showcasing what is probably one of the most elaborate cabinet designs on the market, the original Special 40 boxes are made from 1.5mm-thick slices of Finnish birch wood pressed together to form a solid block and then cross cut in slices to form the veneer. Offered in both Red and Grey Birch, these are some of the nicest cabinets available for any speaker (in my humble opinion!).
2020 has also seen the release of two more finishes in a very different style - Ebony Wave and Black Vine.
Impeccably designed and completely hand-made at Dynaudio HQ in Skanderborg, Denmark, the Special Forty is a true testament to loudspeaker refinement, painstaking craftsmanship and attention to detail in every respect of the word.
Key Points for the Dynaudio Special Forty:
- A 17cm high-performance and notably-improved MSP mid/bass driver borrowed from the Confidence line
- A re-designed and purpose built 28mm Esotar Forty tweeter for stunning high-frequency replication
- Excellent frequency driver overlap with a first-order crossover
- Dynamic and detailed with solid bass, brilliant imaging, tight rhythm and excellent accuracy
- Beautiful and exclusive birch cabinet finishes unique to the Special 40
For those who looking for incredibly authoritative music reproduction with outstanding dynamics, accuracy and fluidity. A simply stunning speaker that displays quality at every step.
Pairs Great With:
We’ve combined the stunning and versatile Moon ACE Streaming Amplifier with the Special Forties for a simple and super high-performing ‘Special 40 Hi-Fi Pack’ that will leave you breathless. The synergy and compatibility in this combination is undeniably outstanding.
Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $20,000
This is it!
We’ve reached the pinnacle of bookshelf speakers in a category that if we’re honest, isn’t for everyone.
This is a solid investment no matter how you look at it, but one that will give you an uncompromised audio experience for years and years to come.
We only showcase one pair of very special bookshelf speakers in this category - the phenomenal Dynaudio Confidence ’20s.
Hailed by Dynaudio themselves as their ‘best speakers yet’ - the Confidence range represents some of the best audio performance available from one of the best loudspeaker manufacturers in the world.
The entire Confidence line was re-designed and re-released by Dynaudio back in 2017 and is the result of countless hours of testing, optimising and engineering in their multi-million dollar ‘Jupiter’ lab with almost every feature conceivable receiving a serious improvement.
The Confidence 20 is the smallest of the 4 speakers in the Confidence range and the only standmount available - sharing all of the same technology and improvements as the floorstanders in the range. Truly a standmount speaker rather than a bookshelf speaker - the Confidence 20’s come to you with a pair of dedicated floor stands included as standard.
The tweeter in the Confidence 20 is Dynaudio's best tweeter in existence and takes the name Esotar3. Taking the learnings from 40 years of tweeter R&D - the 28mm soft-dome Esotar3 uses a super-powerful neodymium magnet combined with innovations in airflow routing and their proprietary Hexis inner dome.
The mid/bass woofer in the Confidence 20 is just as advanced, made from the now-famous Dynaudio ‘MSP’ (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) combined with another neodymium magnet and an aluminium voice coil with a glass-fibre former. This all comes together for a 7-inch (180mm) driver with optimum weight and rigidity that effortlessly produces tight and controlled bass with a refined and super-engaging midrange.
Both drivers are assembled on a newly redesigned Dynaudio Directivity Control (DDC) baffle made from a fused material they’ve called "Compex." This unique, lightweight and highly engineered waveguide is almost impervious to diffracting resonances and effectively directs your music - improving the speaker's acoustic performance even further.
The Confidence 20 also features a down-firing bass reflex port with a wide dispersal mouth - preventing any vibrational noise and making them much more forgiving regarding placement and distance from the wall. As mentioned above - included in the purchase of these speakers are dedicated stands designed to accommodate and optimise this bottom port.
As discussed above, the cabinet construction is just as well thought out as every other aspect of this speaker, with its design also being integral to its overall performance. Aesthetically the Confidence 20 will undoubtedly turn heads and get visitors talking - showcasing sleek, smooth and elegant lines with a shapely and commanding baffle. There are 5 stunning colour finishes to choose from to match any decor – Midnight High Gloss, Smoke High Gloss, Raven Wood High Gloss, Ruby Wood High Gloss, and Blonde Wood.
To finish up - we’ve taken a snippet from Edgar Kramers review (at Sound Stage Australia) that we think is a great summary of the Dynaudio Confidence 20: "you’d be committing a crime against your love of music if you were to neglect auditioning this most extraordinary, nay, glorious loudspeaker creation."
Key Points for the Dynaudio Confidence 20:
- Countless hours, research and testing put into perfecting the Confidence 20 in Dynaudio's state of the art ‘Jupiter’ testing facility.
- The most advanced and refined tweeter from Dynaudio yet - the Esotar3
- Game-changing improvements and technology in the mid-bass driver, baffle and bass port for near unbelievable sonic performance
Anyone at the point in their Hi-Fi journey searching for quite literally one of the best bookshelf speakers in existence. This will uncover elements and likely reshape your thoughts on tracks you’ve listened to your whole life.
Pairs Great With:
If you’re looking to invest in the Confidence 20’s, you truly need an amplifier capable of getting them to perform at their peak. This is the Moon 600i V2 - a stunning solid-state integrated amplifier that has amazing synergy with these speakers. For you valve amplifier folks - you’d be looking to set up the Primaluna Evo 400 pre-amplifier and 2x Evo 400 power amps running as monoblocks for an outstanding combination.
So...Which Bookshelf Speaker is for You?
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!