If you’re serious about your music and are listening in a small or medium-sized room, then bookshelf speakers make a lot of sense. Linked to the right receiver, and for not a lot of money, you can produce some great sound quality.
Some of the options on our list have built-in receivers, and these are called active speakers. If there is no built-in receiver, then these are called passive speakers, and you’ll need a receiver to drive them.
The choice for the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500 is wide. However, we think we’ve provided a diverse list to cover a broad range of price points, with all speakers pushing out some great sound.
So, let’s dive in and take a closer look…
Top 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500 On The Market 2021 Reviews
1 Edifier R2000DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers
The Edifier R2000DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers measure 9.5” x 11.25” x 7.5” and weigh 22lbs. The RMS is 60 watts per speaker, and the frequency response is between 55Hz-20,000Hz.
It features a five-inch alloy woofer and a one-inch silk dome tweeter. And there are coaxial, two RCA, and an Optical connection input to the rear of the active speaker. Also, there are a further two auxiliary inputs, plus volume, treble, and bass controls.
There’s no doubt that these speakers have plenty of modern connectivity. There are wired connections to enable you to plug into your preferred electronic device, or use Bluetooth as a wireless alternative. They also have a remote control.
Finally, it’s good to see a no-hassle two years guarantee.
These are active speakers, so they do not require a separate receiver. They’re made in China and are nicely constructed and finished. These wood-finish speakers are actually made of MDF with a wood stain finish. Be aware that they are not solid wood.
They have a pair of nice quality detachable grills that we would be tempted to use. The exposed drivers and speaker fronts are not going to win any awards for their looks. Best to keep them covered.
The woofer is not particularly large, but we were still able to hear plenty of low end. The bass output sounded relatively tight and well balanced. What’s more, like the treble, it’s adjustable too — a very useful feature.
The mids were even with little, if any, coloration. Vocals were clear, and instruments were clearly defined. The high end was well taken care of by the 1” silk-domed tweeter which delivered some clean, crisp highs, even at lower volumes.
The Edifier R2000DB speakers have a relatively un-colored sound. Taking their power output into consideration, this makes them a good choice for use in a small-sized studio.
- They have plenty of modern connectivity.
- Well-balanced sound.
- Tight bass.
- Good build quality.
- LED light on the speaker can be distracting.
- Not the prettiest of speakers with the grills off.
2 KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
The KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers measure 21” x 16” x 17” and weigh 25lbs. And they have a peak power of 100 watts per speaker, with a frequency response between 55Hz and 28,000Hz. They have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms
There is a 5.25” aluminum Uni-Q woofer and a one-inch aluminum dome tweeter. And these are passive speakers, so they’ll require a receiver to drive them.
They have a warranty of up to five years.
KEF continues to design, research, and manufacture its flagship products from its original site in England. Their other products, like the KEF Q150, are now manufactured in China. And their KEF Q150 are very well-made speakers.
Theses are true HI-FI speakers built with quality components within quality vinyl-covered cabinets.
The Uni-Q drivers look like jet engines. They look stealth-like, serious, even a little austere. Grill covers? Forget it. There are no grills to cover up these fellas. Fasten your seat belt folks; it’s all business here.
KEF has put some interesting innovation and design into these speakers.
The newly enhanced 5.25” Uni-Q driver Array now has an increased sized surround with a new, improved suspension. This has helped to deliver cleaner bass at increased volumes. Further, a new cone structure has improved clarity in the midrange, and improved Auxiliary Bass Radiator enhancement has increased bass detail and performance.
Their enhanced design contributed to noticeably smoother trebles coupled with more accurate sound reproduction across all frequencies. What’s more, the addition of new tweeter dampening has improved the performance of the lower highs still further.
Also, increased internal dampening and the repositioning of the reflex to the rear of the speaker has helped to reduce resonance, always more prominent with aluminum drivers, and improves clarity.
Matched with the right amplifier, these bookshelf speakers will produce true HI-FI quality sound.
- High build-quality.
- Extended warranty.
- Good clarity across all frequencies.
- Excellent performance in the lower range.
- Minimal resonance.
- No grills available.
3 Sony SSCS5 3-Way 3-Driver Bookshelf Speaker System
The Sony SSCS5 3-Way Bookshelf Speakers measure 7 1/8″ x 13 1/4″ x 8 3/4″ and weigh 9lbs and 4ozs. They have an RMS of 30 watts and a peak power of 100 watts per speaker. While the frequency response is between 55Hz-50,000Hz.
These are a three-way speaker, so have a woofer, midrange driver, and a tweeter. The woofer is a 5.25” constructed from Mica Reinforced Cellular. The midrange driver is 1” and made from polyester. The ¾” tweeter, or super tweeter as Sony likes to call it, is a soft-dome design.
These are passive speakers; consequently, you’ll need a receiver to drive them. And they have standard binding posts at the rear of the speaker to connect to the receiver. With a nominal impedance of 6 ohms
They have a warranty of up to five years.
Sony SSCS5 are relatively inexpensive speakers, and we can see that the construction is not as solid as some of the other speakers we’ve reviewed. The cabinets are vinyl covered MDF. It’s a commonly used material, and the quality and finishing are fine but not up to the same level as you’ll find in more expensive speakers.
Components such as the 1” polyester midrange driver and the soft dome tweeter are examples of further cost containment from Sony. Hardly surprising, given their price, but this does have an overall effect on the sound that prevents them from being best in class.
The first thing you’ll notice is that with only 30 watts of RMS power, they’re not particularly loud. They struggle to give precise sound at higher volumes. However, at lower volumes, they are perfectly fine.
The overall sound is decent. The midrange is reasonably well defined, and there are some nice smooth trebles. The bass at lower volumes is acceptable but can boom and resonate at higher volumes.
- Smooth trebles.
- Grills included
- Extended warranty.
- Low volume.
- Some resonance and booming at higher volumes.
4 Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones Home Audio Bookshelf Loudspeakers
The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers measure 12 9/16″ x 7 1/8″ x 8 7/16″ and weigh 9lbs 2ozs. However, the peak power is only 80 watts per speaker. And the frequency response is between 55Hz-20,000Hz.
They have a 4” structured surface woofer and a 1” soft dome tweeter. And have a nominal impedance of 6 ohms and a crossover frequency of 3,000Hz.
They only have a standard 12 months warranty.
The overall quality of the cabinets is fair enough; after all, these are budget-priced bookshelf-speakers. They have the typical MDF wood-stained finish you find at this price, and frankly, they look uninspiring.
The grills do little to improve matters; if anything, they make things worse, which we didn’t think was possible. These things need to be burnt at the stake. The fact is, it’s not only are they’re ugly, but the thick plastic maze of their structure seriously interferes with the tweeter trying to punch its way through with some high-frequency noise.
Let’s hope there’s better news with the sound. Oh, wait a second, these were designed by Andrew Jones, the legendary speaker designer. That’s means we don’t even need to listen to them because they’ll be brilliant.
Ignore that. We’ve been told we have to listen to them anyway. We’ll be back in a short while…
There’s definitely some good news here. Honestly, The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers may not be the most exciting to look, but at this price, their sound is hard to beat.
Firstly, the complex 6 component crossover between trebles, mids, and bass is outstanding. It’s super-smooth and not something you’d normally expect from speakers costing so little. It helps to generate a well-balanced and detailed sound across all frequencies.
Also, the choice of a 4” bass driver is interesting. It still gets down to the lower bass notes, which are officially tagged at 55Hz, though it may not be as punchy as units with larger speakers. More impressively, there’s no audible mid-bass hump that can noticeably affect clarity and degrade sound quality.
Well played, Mr. Jones.
- Outstanding complex crossover system.
- Clarity of sound at all volumes.
- Excellent value for money.
- The grills are junk.
- No extended warranty.
5 Micca PB42X Powered Bookshelf Speakers
The Micca PB42X Powered Bookshelf Speakers measure a compact 6.5” x 5.8” x 9.5” and weigh a mere 4bs. That makes the Micca both the smallest and the lightest speakers we’ve reviewed. The RMS is 15 watts per speaker with a rated peak power of 75 watts. With a frequency response of between 60Hz and 20,000Hz.
The Micca has a small 4” carbon fiber woofer with a rubber surround, as well as a 3/4” silk-domed tweeter also with rubber surround.
These are active speakers, and they feature; RCA, auxiliary input, and speaker binding posts. There’s no Bluetooth or other forms of connectivity. The fact is it’s all a little sparse but pretty much to be expected at this kind of price. They have a nominal impedance of between 4 ohms.
Everything looks fine for the cabinets at this price point. It’s stained MDF, simple minimalist design, detachable magnetic grills, and made in China all round. Nothing overly good or bad to see here.
The fact is that the Micca PB42X Powered Bookshelf Speakers may be small and look plain, but there’s nothing small or plain about their performance.
The lower range is surprisingly well represented. This is greatly enhanced by the well-designed bass port enclosure that both helps to extend notes in the lower range and keep distortion at bay.
The crossover design is well constructed and gives these speakers an open, balanced, and dynamic sound signature.
In short, whilst the Micca PB42X speakers are not particularly loud, they do produce sound quality far better than could be expected from such a small, lightweight, and inexpensive package.
- Smooth crossover between frequencies.
- Smooth trebles.
- Compact size.
- Detachable grills.
- No Bluetooth connectivity.
- Low output.
6 Polk Audio S20 Signature Series Bookshelf Speaker
The Polk Audio S20 Signature Series Bookshelf Speakers measure 8-9/16″ x 14-3/4″ x 13-13/16″ and weigh 17lbs. They are able to handle up to 125 watts of peak power per speaker.
The frequency response is a mind-boggling 39Hz-40,000Hz. We’re not really sure why they’ve designed them to go all the way up to 40,000Hz. Maybe these are aimed at people who want to play music to their dogs?
There is a 6-1/2″ Dynamic Balance® mica-reinforced polypropylene woofer. A bit of a mouthful and a big driver to fit into a relatively small unit. While the higher range frequencies are taken care of by 1″ Terylene dome tweeter. And the rear of the speakers has five-way gold-plated binding posts.
These are passive speakers, so get your receiver out and ready to wire-up.
Polk provides a full five years guarantee on all components, which should tell you that these are well put together.
Polk has a solid, well-earned reputation for building great sounding and affordable speakers. Consequently, with over 50 years of experience in manufacturing electronics, it’s reasonable to expect a great package from this US-based company.
There’s very little to disappoint us. Polk clearly demonstrates how to make nice speaker cabinets out of simple materials. These are well-made and well-finished with well-designed curved corners. What’s more, the silver-bronzed colored speakers look beautiful. The matt black, single-pieced reverse arched mounting plate on the front of the cabinet is superb.
Other speaker manufacturers take note – this is how to build cabinets!
The speakers do come with some good quality detachable grills, but it would be a sin to use them.
The bass driver has plenty of air and a well-tuned reflex port to fully enhance the lower range and ensure peak performance with minimal distortion. There’s nice punchy bass you can feel. These sound bigger than they are.
There’s plenty of energy in the mids with excellent clarity in the highs. They have a smooth crossover between frequencies with clear sound separation. For such a compact set of speakers, they have a dynamic and relatively broad soundstage.
- Beautiful design.
- Solid build quality.
- Strong performance in the lower range.
- Good clarity in all frequencies.
- Broad soundstage.
- Five year warranty.
- At this price, we can’t think of any.
7 ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers
The ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers measure 7-3/4″ x 14-3/4″ x 11-5/16″ and weigh 16.3lbs. And the peak power is 120 watts per speaker, with a frequency response of between 44Hz and 35,000Hz.
There is a 6-1/2″ aramid-fiber woofer combined with a one-inch aluminum dome tweeter. They are passive speakers and have five-way standard binding posts. And have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms
They have a three year guarantee.
The ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers are constructed from MDF. The cabinets have a nice looking, good quality black-brushed vinyl wrap. They’re reasonably well constructed and feature some superior bracing compared to previous models.
The quality of the cabinets is perfectly fine for the price point, but we can’t get too excited about their design and appearance. Maybe they should give Polk a call and get a helping hand on some inspirational cabinet design? Looks aside, you can expect great things from Elac when it comes to what’s important: Sound.
The guru of the speaker world Mr. Andrew Jones, is once more involved, so greatness is expected.
Interestingly, the woofers are completely redesigned using a lesser-used woven aramid-fiber. The result is an excellent level of upper bass detail, with sufficient punch in the lower bass, but not overdone to the point of becoming wooly or distorted.
This level for detail is carried through to the mids with great instrument separation. Additionally, vocal clarity and projection are outstanding. For such small and inexpensive speakers, the soundstage is full and realistic.
There’s more good news at the higher end as the Elac produces crisp and sweet highs, containing its composure, without falling apart, even at some seriously high volumes.
These are amazing sounding speakers given their low to medium price point.
- Excellent detail across all ranges.
- Incredible soundstage and projection.
- Great performance at all volumes.
- Superb value for money.
- Uninspiring cabinet design.
8 Bose 301-V Stereo Loudspeakers
The Bose 301-V Stereo Loudspeakers measure 14-3/8″W x 9-13/16″H x 9-15/16″ and weigh 12.6lbs each. And have a peak power of 150 watts with an unstated frequency response.
There is an 8” paper coated woofer and two paper coated tweeters. On tweeter is forward-facing, and the other is rear-facing. Because of the positioning of the rear-facing tweeter, the speakers need to be placed at least 18” for a wall.
It should also be noted that they have no magnetic shielding, so they need to be placed a minimum of 24” from a TV or computer monitor. That’s all a bit of a pain.
These are passive speakers and have a nominal impedance of between 4 to 8 ohms, with a five year warranty.
You got to hand it to Bose; they’re not afraid to do things differently. There’s no doubt about it, with the Bose 301-V Stereo Loudspeakers they’ve gone their own way and tried something new.
As far as their looks are concerned, we’re not exactly sure if we like or don’t like them, maybe they just take a bit of getting used to. Let’s just say the jury is out on this one!
Regardless, the design of these speakers is a refreshing change from the standard box designs churned out, with little thought, in their millions. And of course, these being Bose speakers, the build quality and finish is impeccable.
The Bose 301-V has two 2” tweeters, one forward and one rear-facing, creating some good clarity in the higher frequencies. With two tweeters, they certainly have plenty of coverage in the higher range frequencies. The midrange is well articulated, and the 8” woofer produces plenty of strong, punchy bass.
The sound is of undoubtedly high quality, but it just feels scattered around without any clear focus. The system does a great job of dispersing sound over a wide area, but it just creates a somewhat confusing soundstage in the process.
Their reasoning behind having a rear-facing tweeter is that higher frequency sounds move more directly than bass sounds. Therefore, a rear tweeter will reflect from behind the speaker, changing the sound dynamics to prevent hearing from one location.
We feel that this has been possibly a little too successful.
- A big sound with punchy bass.
- Sound dispersed over a wide area.
- High build-quality.
- Unique design.
- Confused soundstage.
- No magnetic shielding.
- Speakers must be placed 18” from walls.
9 Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers
The Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers measure 11” x 8” x 13.5” and weigh 18lbs. The RMS is 60 watts per speaker, and frequency response is between 48Hz-20,000Hz.
They feature a 5.5 aluminum alloy woofer and a one-inch silk dome tweeter.
These are active speakers and have all the knobs, controls, and connections to the rear of the speaker. The set-up is identical to the Edifier S2000DB. There are 2 X RCA, coaxial, and optical connections. Additionally, there two auxiliary inputs and controls for volume, treble, and bass.
These speakers have modern connectivity to enable you to plug into your choice of electronic device or connect wirelessly via Bluetooth through the pairing button on the rear of the speaker. They also come with a remote control.
They have a two year warranty.
These are a well put together set of speakers. They are made in China, constructed of MDF with a good quality wood stain finish. They also have a good pair of detachable grills, which we’d advise you to use. The un-grilled speakers aren’t exactly pretty, not as bad as some but best to put their trousers on.
The Edifier R1000DB woofer is larger than the R2000DB and, therefore, unsurprisingly produces a punchier bass with a more powerful lower end. The bass remains tight and well balanced. And what’s more, there’s the option to adjust the level to your taste on the rear of the active speaker.
The high range also sounds smooth, but without losing clarity, This continues right to the edge of its frequency range and even at low or high volumes.
The Edifier R1000DB speakers offer a good level of audio quality with great performance and clarity across all frequencies. The slightly larger and better performance of the woofer in these speakers, compared to the R2000DB, we believe justifies their higher price tag.
- Bluetooth and auxiliary input connectivity.
- Punchy and powerful bass
- Well-balanced sound.
- Remote control is small and fiddly.
10 Klipsch RP-500M Bookshelf Speakers
The Klipsch RP-500M Bookshelf Speaker measure 6-13/16″ x 13-1/2″ x 9-1/2″ and weigh 12lbs each. The RMS is 75 watts per speaker with a peak power of 300 watts per speaker, and the frequency response is between 48Hz-25,000Hz.
There is a 5-1/4″ Cerametallic™ cone woofer with a 1” titanium tweeter coupled to a Hybrid Tractrix Horn. Additionally, at the rear, is a newly designed bass-reflex tractrix port.
The speakers have detachable grills. A complete waste of time, in our opinion. Throw them away. After all, why would you want to cover up a pair of speakers that look this good?
These are passive speakers and have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, with a five year warranty.
These are the most expensive speakers we’ve looked at in our review of the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500. So, the question is inevitably, have we saved the best till last? Well, quite possibly.
What we can say for sure is that these are the most powerful. The Klipsch RP-500M Bookshelf Speakers have plenty of volume, and are suited to far-field listening even in good-sized rooms.
Looking briefly at design and build quality, there’s no doubt that the Klipsch R-500Ms are both well made and well designed. The copper spun woofers, and horn-shaped tweeter cone look amazing. Instantly recognizable as Klipsch speakers for 20 meters, we give these beauties full marks for looks.
Klipsch are long-time adopters of horn technology. They use it cleverly in the R500M to channel high range frequencies directly to the listener whilst reducing any reflections that might unduly color the sound. Additionally, the Tractrix® horn boosts efficiency and dynamics, which in turn relays accurate and precise sound at all volumes.
The higher mids are well-defined, though lower mids are not quite so precise and a little harder to separate in the mix.
Klipsch RP-500M Bookshelf Speakers produce powerful, thumping bass with little distortion at higher volumes. To a large extent, this is achieved by the use of the rear Tractrix horn-shaped port, which efficiently directs airflow in and out of the speakers for maximum performance.
It should be noted that the nature of their rear-ported design makes them better suited to being placed directly away from walls.
All in all, these are great sounding, true HI-FI speakers, built with quality components.
- Powerful output for their size.
- Low levels of bass distortion at high volume.
- High build-quality.
- Five years warranty.
- Killer looks.
- Lower mids could be stronger.
More Speaker Options
If you’re not 100% convinced by any of our suggestions, it might be well worth checking out our reviews of the Best Powered Speakers, the Best Studio Monitor Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best In Ceiling Speakers, the Best Party Speakers, and the Best Speaker Docks on the market.
So, What Are The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500?
So, there you have it. A great range of speakers offering some excellent sound. It’s been very difficult to choose just one speaker as the best overall. However, we feel that the…
…really stood out amongst some stiff competition. This was a speaker, in the middle of the price range, that offered good clarity across all frequencies, with a strong bass performance, and all sitting within a broad soundstage. Well-built and beautifully designed, at this price we can’t find any real faults.
Whatever your audio requirements, we hope that you find the right speakers for your setup.