The 8 Best Affordable Bookshelf Speakers of 2021

Find quality speakers that won't blow your budget

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The best affordable bookshelf speakers can tie together your perfect audio setup, or they can function on their own. You don't need to buy high-end speakers to get amazing quality. These speakers all blast clear, crisp sound while maintaining a lower price tag.

When searching for your new speakers, you will need to keep in mind the size, Bluetooth capabilities, and powered vs passive output. Those points should be the key factors in your decision. Make sure to measure the spot you decide to make your designated speaker area to ensure a perfect fit. If weight can be an issue, make sure to purchase lightweight speakers. Next, if you will be streaming audio from your smartphone or computer, Bluetooth is a crucial feature you will need.

Lastly, powered speakers can work without any outside devices. If you do not want to purchase something from our list of best receivers, you will need to make sure your new pair of speakers are not passive models. No matter what customizations you decide on, the best affordable bookshelf speakers are available to you!

The Rundown
Best Overall:
Edifier R1280T at Amazon
You can use this incredible pair of speakers on their own or as part of a larger audio set-up.
Best Bluetooth:
Edifier R1700BT at Amazon
Offer a hassle-free wireless audio experience that pairs well with any Apple or Android device.
A remarkable pair of copper and black bookshelf speakers that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
A mainstay on the market for a few years now, but it is still the best entry-level option.
Adapts based on the human ear’s ability to hear different frequencies, providing a new standard of listening experiences.
Fill your room with an unprecedented and expansive audio experience.
This pair of satellite speakers offers you a great look in a compact size.
Best Passive Bookshelf Speakers:
Micca MB42X at Amazon
If you are ready to build a complete audio center, these budget bookshelf speakers are a great option.

Best Overall: Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers

Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers
What We Like
  • High-quality sound

  • Beautiful design

  • Reasonable price

What We Don't Like
  • Lack of connectivity options

  • Little sound-shaping controls

  • A little heavy and bulky

These best-selling bookshelf speakers evoke a retro feel with their classic wood finish, but the sound quality is very modern. The combination of grained walnut brown wood and a smart grey speaker grill looks great in any room, while the two sets of RCA inputs and easy aux setup make for a flexible option for any sound system.

The active loudspeaker comes with a built-in tone control that can adjust treble and bass from -6 to +6db. A remote gives control over volume from across the room, while 100-240v full range voltage input makes it easy to listen. Sound is amazing for the price, thanks to 42 watts RMS power 13mm silk dome tweeters, and a four-inch full range woofer. Because you can use this incredible pair of speakers on their own or as part of a larger audio set-up, they are ideal for just about anyone but the most discerning audiophiles. 

Size: 6.9x9.5.x5.8 inches | Controls: Remote | Input: 2x aux or dual RCA, Bluetooth | Power: 21Wx2

"On music listening alone, these speakers punch above their weight." Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best Bluetooth: Edifier R1700BT Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers

Edifier R1700BT Bluetooth Speaker
What We Like
  • Great sound quality

  • Beautiful design

  • Bluetooth included

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy, bulky footprint

  • A lack of sound-shaping options

  • Bargain brand name

These Bluetooth-connected speakers offer a hassle-free wireless audio experience that pairs well with any Apple or Android device. They also have two aux inputs where you can simultaneously connect two devices, as well as a remote to control the action. Inside, clear sound comes from a 19mm dome tweeter and a four-inch bass driver that make for a well-rounded sound. Low frequencies are enhanced by a front-facing bass reflex port, which routes to give more bass power. You have further adjustment options with included digital volume control, including bass and treble adjustment between -6b and +6db.

The pair of speakers are constructed with classic high-quality MDF wood and have an attractive walnut finish. One speaker is active with a five-pin connector to the passive speaker and both include RCA input.

Size: 6.0x8.0x9.75 inches | Controls: Remote| Input: 2x aux or dual RCA, Bluetooth | Power: 15Wx2 + 18Wx2

"Edifier has put its classic spin on these speakers by putting two walnut/cherry planks on the sides of each speaker." Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best Value: Klipsch R-14M Reference Bookshelf Speakers

Klipsch R-14M Reference Speaker
What We Like
  • Full bass response

  • Sleek, impressive look

  • Reasonable price point

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks detail at low volumes

  • Small speaker drivers

  • Requires subwoofer for full experience

Klipsch, an iconic American audio manufacturer, has designed a remarkable pair of copper and black bookshelf speakers that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time you fire them up. The small, versatile speakers are built with one-inch aluminum linear travel suspension horn-loaded tweeters and a four-inch copper high-output IMG woofer. A proprietary 90x90 Tractrix Horn pairs with the tweeter for crystal clear high-end response, resulting in a dynamic and natural sound. Meanwhile, copper-spun Injection Molded Graphite woofer minimizes cone breakup and distortion, creating a remarkable low-frequency response. Together they produce speaker efficiency and clean sound unrivaled in its price range.

This is all packed in a black polymer veneer cabinet with a rear-firing port with five-way binding posts, so it's ideal for connection flexibility that will work with your setup.

Size: 7.5x5.9x9.8 inches | Controls: Amp required | Input: 5-way binding | Power: Passive (amp required)

"With about 90 decibels of power and 8 ohms of resistance, we were pleased with the power of these speakers when we hooked them into our home theater setup." Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best Budget: Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers

Polk T15 Bookshelf Speakers
What We Like
  • Great value

  • Well-rounded sound quality

  • Substantial build

What We Don't Like
  • Some roughness at high volumes

  • Safe, boring design

  • No bells and whistles

This pair of Polk bookshelf speakers has been a mainstay on the market for a few years now, but it is still the best entry-level option. The case is finished with minimalist black polymer veneer, matched by a black mesh speaker grill. Inside, you will find a polymer composite 5 ¼-inch woofer and a silk ¾-inch tweeter that can handle 100 watts at an overall frequency of 60Hz-24kHz.

The wide dispersion drivers and tweeters are enhanced by Polk’s exclusive Dynamic Balance function that delivers a cinematic wide response and low distortion. The pair of speakers have magnetically shielded enclosures for reduced distortion and improved clarity, while the engineering ensures the speakers work in a synergistic manner, performing complementary tasks for the best sound performance. 

Size: 6.5x10.63x7.25 inches | Controls: Amp required| Input: 5-way binding | Power: Passive (amp required)

"They’re the perfect speakers for your first home audio setup, or if you just want to put some reference speakers next to your TV and don’t want to dip into your savings."Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best Splurge: Klipsch R-41PM Bookshelf Speakers

Klipsch R-41PM Bookshelf Speakers
What We Like
  • Excellent sound quality

  • No receiver required

  • Built-in Bluetooth

What We Don't Like
  • No automatic connectivity

Klipsch has carved out a reputation for its high-quality audio devices, and the R-41PM bookshelf speakers are no exception, fusing a classic, compact appearance with room-filling sounds. Measuring just 10 inches tall and well-suited for integration into many décor schemes, the speakers boast a built-in, custom-engineered amplifier designed to fill your space and create your ideal ambiance. The dynamic volume control adapts based on the human ear’s ability to hear different frequencies, providing a new standard of listening experiences, and Tractrix Horn technology aims high frequencies at listeners to minimize artificial reverberation.

Thanks to Bluetooth wireless technology, an integrated phono preamplifier, and analog RCA and USB inputs, gone are the days of needing an A/V receiver, opening up the possibilities of connecting the speakers with any of your devices, from turntables to cell phones to televisions. The speakers come with Injection Molded Graphite (IMG) woofer cones that are both light and rigid, but another subwoofer can easily be added to boost low frequencies. 

Size: 8.51x5.75x11.3 inches | Controls: On-speaker| Input: 3.5mm analog mini jack, USB, digital optical, analog RCA, Bluetooth | Power: 70W (240W peak)

Best Bass: Sony SSCS5 3-Way 3-Driver Bookshelf Speaker System (Black)

Sony SSCS5 3-Way 3-Driver Bookshelf Speaker System (Black)
What We Like
  • Robust, triple-driver design

  • High max power

  • Great bass and overall audio

What We Don't Like
  • Dull design

Fill your room with an unprecedented and expansive audio experience with these Core Series speakers from Sony. They feature a three-way, three-speaker bass-reflex system that stays in harmony with your room, whatever its layout may be. The speakers are constructed with foamed mica woofer diaphragms that deliver supple sound and balance low weight with a powerful and deep bass response from a 5¼-inch foam woofer. The woofer is complemented with a one-inch polyester main tweeter and a ¾-inch Sony Super Tweeter. The super tweeter delivers ultra-responsive high-frequency audio up to 50kHz. The speakers have a 100-watt max input power that delivers clear and powerful audio.

Size:  7.18x13.25x8.75 inches| Controls: None | Input: Wired | Power: Passive (amp required)

Most Compact: Polk Audio Audio Signature S10

Polk Audio Signature Series S10 Bookshelf Speakers
What We Like
  • Compact bookshelf design

  • Room-filling sound

  • Supports surround sound

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks low-end audio

Polk Audio is known for being a reasonably affordable brand, but the Signature S10 line comes in at a slightly higher price point than normal. This pair of satellite speakers offers you a great look in a compact size, whether you’re using them as a small pair of bookshelf speakers or as part of a larger surround system. There’s a four-inch, mica-reinforced woofer that will pack a good amount of oomph and a one-inch high-definition tweet that adds presence and punch. Pair that with Polk’s engineered audio power to bolster the chassis with directional sound support. and you have a really powerful system. It’s easily mountable, too, with a threaded screw insert and keyhole slots so you can add this speaker to any system or living room setup—whether you have a shelf or not.

Size: 6.1x5.4x8.4 inches | Controls: None | Input: Wired | Power Output: Passive (amp required)

Best Passive Bookshelf Speakers: Micca MB42X

Micca MB42X Bookshelf Speakers
What We Like
  • Highly affordable

  • Compact design

  • Crisp sound signature

What We Don't Like
  • Won't fill room as well as more powerful options

Passive speakers require an amplifier or stereo receiver, but if you are ready to build a complete audio center, these budget bookshelf speakers are a great option. The speakers are built in a ported enclosure that balances a four-inch woven carbon fiber woofer with a .75-inch silk dome tweeter. They also contain an 18dB crossover and baffle step compensation, creating a balanced and dynamic sound that faithfully reproduces highs and lows.

The tweeters and woofers are housed in a classic back polymer casing with a mesh grill. The sophisticated design looks great in any room, while the frequency response of 60Hz-20kHz and impedance of 4-8 ohms sounds great.

Size: 9.5x5.8x6.5 inches. | Controls: None| Input: Wired | Power Output: Passive (amp required)

Final Verdict

Our top choice for an affordable bookshelf speaker is the Edifier R1280T (see at Amazon). It boasts great sound and a beautiful design at a reasonable price, you'll be hard-pressed to do much better than this pair of bookshelf speakers. For a wireless option we like the Edifier R1700BT (see at Amazon), the connectivity is barebones, but it works well with Apple and Android devices while still offering solid audio.

About Our Trusted Experts

Patrick Hyde lives in Seattle where he works as a digital marketer and freelance copywriter. With a Master’s degree in history from the University of Houston and a job in Seattle's booming tech industry, his interests and knowledge span the past, present, and future.

Jason Schneider is Lifewire's audio expert. Jason has reviewed hundreds of products ranging from headphones and soundbars to speakers and receivers. He's also a musician and contributing writer for Greatist and Thrillist.

FAQ
  • Will the distance of my speakers from the audio source affect my sound quality?

    Yes, while it's not always possible, for the best audio quality, you'll want to keep the length of cable tethering your speakers to your receiver as short as possible. Although your sound quality won't suffer very much unless they're 25 feet or more from your receiver. For any wired speakers, you should use a 14-gauge cable, and potentially use a 12-gauge cable for any speakers extending past 25 feet from the receiver.

  • Where should I place my speakers?

    This can be a little different depending on if you're using a stereo, 5.1, 7.1, or 9.1 setup. However, there are a couple of evergreen rules to follow regardless of how many speakers you're using. This will obviously depend on your room layout, but you should try and have your speakers equidistant from each other with surround speakers placed in the corners around your listening area. You should also try to keep your speakers free of obstructions and if you can safely mount them on a wall, even better.

  • How many subwoofers do I need?

    This all depends on the size of your room, more subwoofers give you a better bass quality and offer you more flexible placement when looking for the best spot for optimal sound quality. However, having more than a single subwoofer in a small listening area may be overkill. Also, some single speakers provide enough bass as standalone options that an additional woofer isn't required.

What to Look for in Affordable Bookshelf Speakers

Powered vs. Passive

Check to see whether the speakers you are purchasing are passive or powered. A set of powered speakers can be plugged into the wall and begin working immediately because their amplifier is built-in. For example, 100-240v full range voltage input tends to be standard for powered speakers, with the two speakers being capable of between 40-100W. The downside of the powered speaker is that they tend to weigh more. However, a pair of passive speakers will require you to purchase an additional amplifier to get them to produce sound, requiring a bit more setup and expenditure. Speaker wire typically comes in 100-foot spools, offering some flexibility in the placement, though the process is certainly more involved.

Size

With speakers, sometimes size does matter. While you might be inclined to search out the smallest and cutest pair you can find, know that a larger couple will generally offer fuller sound. Our top pick on this list has measurements of 6.9x9.5x5.8 inches and weighs a hefty 12.5 pounds. That's much more than the passive Klipsch R-14M, for instance, which measures a similar size at 9.75x5.88x7.5 inches, but comes in at a modest 7.13 pounds.

Additionally, as bookshelf setups typically lack a subwoofer, you will be relying on your two speakers to produce sufficient bass. If you're keen on room-filling sound you'll want to look for bookshelf speakers that are compatible with surround sound setups so you can augment their audio. The standard audio channels you'll want to keep an eye out for are 2.0, 2.1, 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1.

Bluetooth

Do you want to stream music from your smartphone or computer? Check to see if the speakers you are seeking offer Bluetooth streaming built-in. The latest standard is Bluetooth 5.0, but older speakers tend to have Bluetooth 4.1 or 4.2. Bluetooth range tends to average 33 feet for reliable connection, so if you want anything longer your best option may be wired. The wireless technology will allow you to send music from any modern device to your speakers with the push of a button. This can help you cut the cord, though most bookshelf speakers also have more traditional inputs in addition to Bluetooth.

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