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How to Choose The Best Bookshelf Speaker

by Reyna Thomas

It can be difficult to pick the ideal speakers for watching movies or listening to your favorite music. Although there are many options on the market, bookshelf speakers can provide you with the ideal combination of space and quality for your workplace or home theater.

They are small and compact, as their name implies, and they are the ideal addition to a brand-new hi-fi system. Keep reading to learn the essential steps for selecting bookshelf speakers, from size and positioning to wireless audio and amplifier matching.

bookshelf speakers

What Are Bookshelf Speakers?

Bookshelf speakers are just one type of speaker system on the market, but they have many features that make them ideal for a range of home and office audio setups.

As their name would suggest, bookshelf speakers are designed to be small enough to fit on a bookshelf or another elevated surface. This makes them much more versatile and easier to place around your room than floor-standing speakers.

Most bookshelf speakers are two-way systems, which means they have a tweeter for high frequencies and a woofer for low frequencies. Some models also come with an additional subwoofer to provide even more bass.

While bookshelf speakers are small, they can pack a serious punch. Many models can produce a rich, detailed sound that rivals that of larger floor-standing speakers.

Specifications of Bookshelf Speakers

Here are some factors you need to know when shopping for bookshelf speakers.

  • Frequency Range: The measure of the highest and lowest tones a speaker can reproduce. For bookshelf speakers, a frequency response of 50 Hz to 20 kHz is considered ideal.
  • Power Handling: Sometimes called “power,” it is the amount of power in watts a speaker can handle before it becomes damaged. The average bookshelf speaker can take an average of 50 watts of power.
  • Watts: The unit of measurement for power (essential to know when choosing an amp).
  • Drivers: Transducers that convert electrical energy into sound. There are two main types of drivers for bookshelf speakers: tweeters and woofers.
    • Tweeters: Reproduce high frequencies and are typically made from silk, metal, or ceramic materials.
    • Woofers: Reproduce low frequencies and are typically made from materials like paper, plastic, or metal.
  • Hertz: Or Hz is the unit of measurement for frequency. The human ear can hear sounds in the range of 20 to 20,000 Hz.

woman in home office featuring bookshelf speakers

How To Choose the Best Bookshelf Speakers?

Now that you know a little more about bookshelf speakers, it's time to learn how to choose the best one for you!

Wired or Wireless Audio

Do you want a set of wired or wireless speakers? That is the first choice you must make. This pertains to both practicality and audio quality. A stereo amplifier must be connected to a pair of wired speakers because the amp will both transmit the audio signal to the speakers and give them the power to play it. However, a pair of wireless speakers will have their own internal amplifiers, so you won't need to attach anything to them other than a power source.

Speakers can occasionally be described as active or passive. Although an active pair of speakers have internal amplifiers, a passive pair needs an additional amplifier. While passive speakers won't be wireless, active speakers almost certainly will.

bookshelf speakers closeup 


Better sound is not always produced by larger speakers. More often than not, they do equal more volume. If the speaker is active, a larger size also translates to larger drivers and more space for the amplifier. A larger bookshelf speaker might be something to consider if you value volume. Smaller speakers may not be nearly as loud, but they are much easier to move around because of their size. This is important if you want to experiment with placement to get better sound.


It's completely acceptable to place bookshelf speakers on actual bookshelves. That's why they're called bookshelf speakers! You can really place them almost anywhere - just not on the floor, as this will alter the acoustics, and you won’t enjoy the fullness of the sound.

home office with bookshelf speakers

When placing your speakers, there are a few things to keep in mind. If there is an open bass port at the back of the speaker, you should try leaving a small amount of room. This will improve your low-end and let air move freely. Additionally, the most ideal place to position the speakers is with their tweeter at ear height. This is why they are usually placed on bookshelves but using speaker stands can also achieve this.

Sound Quality

Bookshelf speakers feature a limited number of drivers due to their small size. A tweeter for the high frequencies and an "all-range" driver for the mids and bass are typically all they have. Here, one of the bookshelf speakers' drawbacks is that they lack the size and power to produce truly booming bass. 

A set of bookshelf speakers should work fine if the music you listen to doesn't place a lot of focus on the bass. If you really appreciate bass-heavy music but still want a pair of bookshelf speakers, you should upgrade your system by adding a second subwoofer to handle the low end. The good news is that most wired and wireless speakers can easily connect to a subwoofer.


Passive speakers, or those connected to amplifiers, are the only ones to which this applies. So, skip this section if you only want a pair of wireless speakers. You essentially want the amp to feed the speakers the appropriate amount of power when using wired speakers. You risk harming them or, at the absolute least, losing sound quality if you use too little or too much. Each set of speakers will have a recommended amplifier wattage because the amplifier output power is measured in watts. All you have to do is locate an amplifier with a compatible output wattage.

Bring Home Better Sound

living room with bookshelf speakers

Bookshelf speakers are a great option if you're looking for high-quality sound in a small package. And now that you know more about how to choose the best bookshelf speakers for you, it's time to start shopping! Once you've considered all these factors, you'll be sure to find the perfect bookshelf speaker for your home at Toton’s TV. If you still have questions or need more help, just give us a call!