Bookshelf speakers are a great way to save space and updates in audio tech over the last ten years means you no longer have to trade off sound quality for size. We’ve been busy collecting reviews of these tiny titans and put together the definitive list of the best affordable bookshelf speakers.
1. Edifier R1280T
At under £100 these speakers provide, quite literally, the best bang for your buck on this list. Don’t be fooled by their retro looks – they have a distinctively modern sound. The brand might not be the best known in the world, but if they keep putting out quality like this then we’re sure that is going to change.
The Negatives: Nothing at this price point
The Positives: You can be incredibly smug at getting such a bargain.
Verdict: These are our top pick.
2. Q Acoustics 3020
The Positives: It was a close run contest for our second spot, but these 3020 speakers get the silver medal. They are an update to the 2020i model (which itself has made the list) with a new ‘2 in 1’ Concentric Ring Dome tweeter and a 125mm aramid fibre/paper bass cone (previously it was paper/mica). The high-end is incredibly accurate and you will definitely feel the bass, but the new set up has what Q Acoustics calls a more ‘natural tone’ and we have to agree.
The rounded edges also give this model a more natural look. It comes in Matt Graphite and American Walnut which are very pleasing to the eye.
The Negatives: You have to pay considerably more for the white and black options.
Verdict: A very welcome update from Q Acoustics.
3. ELAC Debut B6 Bookshelf Speakers
The Positives: These speakers would be excellent value at double the price.
ELAC, while they may not be a household name, are a solid and respected German company. They have an expert designer in Andrew Jones, who has previously worked for pedigree brands such as KEF and Infinity and also designed £60,000 professional speakers.
The Debut B6s will deliver pitch perfect sound whether you are listening to music or connecting them up to your television. Their sweet spot though is their bass production – we’ve simply never quite heard anything like it in a speaker of this price.
The Negatives: They only come in one design, so if you are not a fan of their look there’s little you can do. Also, they are a bit on the large side (35.5 by 21.6 by 25.4 cm), so if you are after bookshelf speakers to save space then you might be slightly disappointed.
Verdict: An excellent all round set of speakers.
4. AVX Audio 6.5 Inch Bookshelf Speakers
Another incredibly priced pair of speakers. They’re not going to reach the lofty heights of some of the more expensive speakers featured on this list, but for their price range, we reckon they are unbeatable.
The Negatives: Not the best looking speakers. Sound quality is not quite in the premium range. If you’re ordering from the UK you might have to pay some import tax.
The Positives: Fantastic performance for the money.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a bargain then look no further.
5. Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Powered Speakers
Another entry on our list from this challenger brand. If you fancy a punt on the upstart and have a few hundred bucks to spend then go for their more premium model. Even at the more expensive price you are getting great value.
6. Dali Zensor 1
The Positives: Despite the tiny size of the speakers (162 x 274 x 228 cm), these Dalis provide an exceptionally fun sound. The midrange is crisp and clear and they manage to avoid the muddy bass that so many other rivals in this price bracket fall prey to. These speakers are comfortable with both classical and R&B, so if you have a fairly eclectic taste then they could be for you.
Their design is quietly eye-catching – especially the walnut finish – and build quality is high.
The Negatives: These speakers were unparalleled at their price point for many years – but now and rivals like the Q Acoustics 3020 and Wharfedale Diamond 220 are offering a better soundstage.
Verdict: At the time of writing, nobody has given the Zensors a bad review on Amazon UK, and we can see (or more correctly hear) why.
7. Monitor Audio Bronze 2
The Positives: We’re not sure the pictures do justice to just how good looking these speakers are. They are not just a pretty face though with their well-balanced sound handling classical music especially well.
The Negatives: They may need a larger room for you to get the best out of them.
Verdict: If you want bookshelf speakers that look as good as they sound, then the Monitor Audio Bronze 2 is the system for you.
8. Mission LX2
The Positives: These great affordable speakers are a return to form from Mission. They do well in filling the whole room with sound and perform well above average in all areas.
The Negatives: Can apparently be a little bit difficult to partner, so would go for these ones only if you really know what you are doing.
Verdict: You would probably be better shelling out the extra 15 quid for the Q Acoustic 3020.