Lena is a professional journalist who regularly writes for a number of well-known newspapers and magazines. In her free time she loves baking and even started a YouTube channel where she shares her own recipes.
Kenneth is an electronics engineer who helps us with selecting and testing the best models on the market. Kenneth is keen on rap music, sport cars, and grilling.
Last updated: May 06, 2021
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People who are just learning about Hi-Fi and bookshelf speakers are in luck. There’s new technology that allows you to buy excellent sound systems at a reasonable price. We understand how overwhelming it can be to choose a device from countless available options, especially when you are on a budget. Well, that’s why we are here.
We have shortlisted the 10 best bookshelf speakers under $500, to make your study and living rooms more fun. We considered some important features in our review, including the type, power and sound quality of the speakers. These determine the overall user experience and functioning of the speaker. We also considered special features that each model comes with, so you can make an informed decision.
"Bluetooth speakers applying the technology which gives it an improved sound quality and stability.Bluetooth V5.0 with Qualcomm aptX HD decoding.High-efficiency digital power amplification.Independent adjustment for treble and bass."
"Speakers featuring Bluetooth wireless technology and custom amplification adding dynamism to the speakers.Built-in digital amplifier.Bass-reflex via rear-firing port.Digital, optical, analog RCA and USB inputs."
The Edifier S2000MKIII bookshelf speaker is our editor’s choice. This model comes with several likeable qualities that enhance the user’s experience. It is a 2-way speaker that features high-end audiophile components including built-in 5.5 aluminum woofers and using planar diaphragm tweeters, offering excellent audio quality and powerful sound.
This speaker has a frequency response of around 45Hz to 40kHz. The dimensions of the Edifier S2000MKIII Bluetooth speaker are 14 x 11 x 7.5 in and its combined weight is 37.4lbs. It can be controlled using a wireless remote that allows convenient and quick adjustment. It has other great adjustment features, with independent adjustment for treble and bass. It has a 130W input power. It features line-in, optical and coaxial inputs that allows users to connect the speaker to several kinds of input sources.
What makes it special?
Our favorite feature about this model is it being a Bluetooth speaker, allowing wireless connectivity, with a Bluetooth V5.0 technology and Qualcomm aptX HD decoding. This offers an improved audio quality and extra stability in sound. The remote control is a user-friendly option. There are several other features that make this bookshelf speaker a favorite among several users, including its high-efficiency Class-D digital power amplification and OLED LCD screen for high quality display. It comes with a 2-year warranty that shows the manufacturer’s credibility and faith in the smooth functioning of the product.
What cons did we find?
The only thing that can be improved in this Bluetooth bookshelf speaker is its external design, which can be a little chunky for some people’s aesthetic. The wide dimensions take considerable space on the bookshelf and can be too heavy for some user’s preference.
The Kanto YU4 is an excellent bookshelf speaker that comes with versatile features, making it suitable for a wide range of users. It is a high quality 2-way speaker with 1” silk dome tweeters and 4” Kevlar drivers that ensure a high and balanced sound quality. The speaker comes in handcrafted MDF cabinets that are 8.7 inches in height. The overall size of the speaker itself is 5.5 x 7.5 x 8.7 in. It is a lightweight model that weighs only 12.4 pounds, making relocation and portability easier. It has 140W of input power and has a frequency response of over 60Hz to 20kHz. Other features of the speaker include Bluetooth connectivity and remote control adjustment and high quality of sound. The remote comes with batteries and has controls for adjusting volume, input, tone and balance of the sound. The model comes in 9 colors to choose from.
What stands out?
Our most favorite feature of this model is its versatility, with its integrated phono preamp that makes it suitable for vinyl and both vintage and modern turntables. Moreover, the built-in Bluetooth with Qualcomm aptX technology allows users to play high-quality music with ease, without moving from their position, thanks to the wireless remote control. The signal detection feature is a cutting-edge feature that has automatic standby and power modes, conserving power and making your listening experience very pleasant. It has a 2-year warranty that makes your investment a safer one.
What cons did we manage to find?
Even though it has an excellent sound quality and extra features, one thing that can be improved in the Kanto YU4 is its price. It can still be a little high for some people who have a tighter budget.
The Sony SSCS5 is one of the most well-liked bookshelf speakers because it offers some great features at a very reasonable price. Enhance your audio experience with this amazing 3-way speaker that comes with a reflex system that offers a 3-speaker bass, 5.12 in MRC woofer and 0.98 in soft dome and 0.75 in soft dome tweeters that provide an unmatched sound quality. The tweeter provides an engrossing sound staging, making this speaker one of the best in terms of audio quality. The frequency response of this model is 53Hz – 50kHz and it has 100W total input power. The dimensions of this speaker are small, with 7 x 13.2 x 8.7 in only and it weighs very light at 9.92 lbs. This makes it easy to move and transport.
Why did it make our list?
We love this speaker for its several likeable qualities such as its amazing pricing, small and lightweight style and a high-resolution audio that offers an overall excellent experience in terms of all features. For a clear audio path, it has an optimized crossover componentry. It comes with a 2-year warranty that ensures your money does not get wasted if the product is damaged before time.
The sound quality is owed to its outstanding woofer, and an impedance of the 6 ohm speaker. The bass reflex enclosure keeps the speaker safe, and the 3-driver system allows versatility.
What is not ideal about it?
Even though the Sony SSCS5 is an amazing bookshelf speaker that comes with many user-friendly features, one thing that it lacks is remote control adjustment. Sometimes when you’re feeling tired or lazy, you appreciate a wireless remote control that does not require you to change your seated position.
The black Klipsch bookshelf speaker is a 5.35 inches’ speaker featuring Bluetooth wireless technology. These speakers are compact and emit sound that fills the entire space because of the built-in amplifier that accompanies the speakers. Bluetooth technology allows you to connect to television, computer, cell phones etc. Moreover, the speakers are equipped with analog RCA and USB inputs – catering to a diverse range of audiences. The speakers also feature a dynamic bass EQ as well as custom tuned amplification. If you thought that was all, think again! The speakers are equipped with exclusive linear suspension tweezers to remove any distortions and allow you to experience enhanced performances. Moreover, the speaker features spun copper IMG woofers which means you don’t have to go out and purchase a woofer! Apart from that these speakers have a stylish sleek design with magnetic grilles making them an absolute steal
What makes it stand out?
The dynamic bass EQ matches the ear to hear lower frequencies and is one of the first times to be featured in the Klipsch monitors. Moreover, the custom amplification also adds dynamism to the speakers.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
The phono stage for the Bluetooth speakers is great for beginners, but if you would want an upgrade you would require a phono stage that is able to play records well.
The ELAC Bookshelf stereo speakers are those that have won some of the most esteemed publications. The speakers feature a wide-dispersion waveguide tweeter. Moreover, the woofer is new woven aramid-fiber with a sensitivity of 87 decibels. The woofer features a tighter pattern to provide smooth high frequency response. Moreover, it is equipped to deliver bass as well! The speakers also feature internal bracing which prevents your cabinet from shaking with the vibration effects. This helps the sound quality of your speakers to be top-notch and unaffected by any cabinet rattling. The tweeter is also newly developed featuring a 1 inch soft-dome with a wide-roll surround. This helps the speakers to incorporate frequency responses up to 35kHz. You know what this means? That you are definitely in for a wonderful ride in your musical journey!
What are our favorite features?
It is absolutely detestable when your speakers are unable to be kept against the wall because of the back ports. However, these speakers solve that issue with front firing ports that allow you to store the speakers easily against a wall.
What could be better?
If the speakers were equipped with an amplifier it would definitely make these bookshelf speakers stand out.
These Yamaha bookshelf speakers are particularly designed with the home theater in mind. They are also made for stereo applications as well. The 3-way suspension speaker is fitted with a magnetic shield to protect your television screen from damage. Moreover, the frequency response for these speakers range from 45 Hz to 23kH. The solid black speaker showcases an 8-inch tweeter and woofer for the highs and the lows both. Additionally, these speakers are constructed to be compatible with amplifiers that are not necessarily expensive and are also equipped with an inverted dust cover. The cabinet features a particle board with a laminate wrapper. For the price and quality, this is definitely the stereo bookshelf speaker set to buy.
Why are we impressed?
The acoustic suspension allows the woofers to emit bass that is accurate – you don’t need to purchase a subwoofer for these speakers.
What negatives must you be aware of?
While the speakers provide you with the best sound quality, they can be rather bulky and may not fit your existing stands. It is best to check the guidelines and sizing charts. Secondly, the midrange sounds are not as prominent as they should be and thus the speakers could be made better by making them compact and of higher quality to support the midrange.
These Audioengine Bluetooth speakers are 2-way bookshelf speakers with custom Audioengine components. These parts include the aramid fiber woofers, silk tweeters, built-in amplifiers which are fitted in the cabinets. The cabinets themselves are wooden and precision-tuned and hand-crafted. These speakers are compact, yet powerful enough to fill the room with sound with the RCA and 3.5mm inputs, subwoofer outputs and power amps. The speakers are compatible to work with turntables with preamps. They also work with phones, desktop computers, CD players, video game consoles. Basically, everything and anything that can play music or sound! The entire kit includes the speakers along with their wire, a power supply cord, aluminum remote control, microfiber bags to carry your speaker and cables as well as a setup guide so you can set these speakers up in no time. As Audioengine says, “hear the difference”!
What are its best features?
The best part? Setting these speakers is a walk in the park. No networks or passwords, absolutely no hassle. There aren’t even any apps or networks you have to use to set these up!
What could be improved?
The sound is perfect for desktop speakers, but if you are expecting a huge sound quality then maybe you might be disappointed. Additionally, it would be better if the size was optimized for desk speakers.
A great sound doesn’t require you to spend loads of money, and the Edifier speaker is a testament to this fact. These speakers have a wide frequency and provide the listeners a clearer and more defined sound. The speakers also feature a soundfield specializer, a sub output, and input options as well. When it comes to the design, the speakers boast a compact and minimalist look with classy side panels and with removable grills. As for the features, the speaker includes a Bluetooth connection as well as a remote. Powering these speakers is easy. You just plug one speaker into an outlet and the speaker has a built-in amplifier. It also allows for coaxial input with dual RCA inputs to allow you to physically connect to around four different devices simultaneously. Of course, you can connect it to gaming consoles, TV and an entire entertainment center too. The studio sound quality is fine-tuned from the 4-inch base and silk dome tweeter as well. Last but not the least, the speaker features side panel controls to adjust the EQ according to your tastes. Though, it also has an included remote as well.
What are its best features?
The amount of rich, full sound and volume for this inexpensive speaker provides great value. The sound quality is great and does not distort at higher volumes. Moreover, they deliver a rich lower midrange as well which is usually missing in most speakers.
What could be improved?
The specializer actually adds reverberation to the sounds but also compresses the midrange which can affect sound quality.
This audioengine bookshelf speaker features a wireless pair which allows for actual stereo separation. For its design, it comes in a black matte finish and features compact speakers that can be used as PC speakers as well. The speakers also have an output and bass reduction switch which means you can use a subwoofer and set up a home theatre easily as well. The built-in DAC, headphone amplifier and the Bluetooth connection gives these speakers an edge. The speakers house a 2.75-inch silk woofers and the 0.75-inch tweeters which make the midranges and high ranges sound incredible on these speakers. These speakers can be set up within seconds – just like the Edifier, there are no buttons, passwords or networks to set up.
Why is it special?
The speakers feature a compact, sleek and attractive design which is very aesthetic and pleasing to look at. Moreover, they allow for a subwoofer compatibility to increase bass for those who are enthusiastic about bass. Most importantly, the highs and the mids are accurate and rich.
What are the flaws?
Firstly, the speakers could improve in the bass area. As the speaker features 2.75-inch silk woofers, the bass is not as incredible as one would want and the booming bass enthusiasts might want to rethink their purchase. Secondly, these speakers can be a bit pricey for what they offer.
The Micca bookshelf speakers boast a handsome and compact speaker with a black finish. They have curved MDF cabinets with a laminate dark wood veneer. Apart from that, the speaker features a 4-inch woofer which is built on a steel frame. The design incorporates coated pressed paper cone with concave dust cap. The tweeter, on the other hand, is a 0.75-inch silk dome design and provides a smooth sound. It has a mesh fabric over its frame to make the grilled cover. Paired with the right amplifier, these two-way speakers can give you a capable sound beyond your expectation. The bass is exceptional and if bass enthusiasts need more, they have a subwoofer capability. These laptops work well on a desktop. The speaker also has a 10-element crossover with capacitors and air core coils which allow for its tonal balance.
Why are we impressed?
The best thing about these speakers is the price. These speakers are insanely priced low, and they offer you the construction and the range that is able to compete with high-end speakers too.
What negatives must you be aware of?
The speakers require more power to work than usual, such as 80 to 100 watts. Moreover, the bass might not be up to your standards if the paired amplifier is not working well – which is a must because the sensitivity of the speaker is not enough.
Things to Consider
After discussing 10 amazing products, your mind must be buzzing with questions. Which speakers are the best for you? Which speakers should you consider? Should your budget go over $500? Should you buy an amplifier or a subwoofer? All these questions will be put to rest in this buying guide where we help you dissect the multiple products to decide which one will be more suited to you. In this buying guide, we will first discuss whether $500 is an ample budget, and then we will discuss the multiple features you should be on the lookout for when purchasing the speakers to buy the best bookshelf speakers for yourself.
Bookshelf speakers under $500: What to expect?
$500 is no small amount to purchase bookshelf speakers especially in this age of technology where the competition is so high that manufacturers are focusing on giving the best value at the lowest possible cost. You can expect manufacturers to use top-quality hardware, with wooden cabinets and sleek and compact designs. If you are an audiophile, there is no need to go over the range of $500 as you can easily find impeccable bookshelf speakers in this range too. Most manufacturers are pushing to produce an all-in-one model with as many features as possible.
The real consideration here are your needs. Why are you purchasing a bookshelf speaker and what are your expectations from it? If you are only looking to make a stand-alone purchase, you should consider which features are the most important for you. For example, if you are a bass enthusiast, then the Yamaha NS-6490 has a bass that is good enough to not require a subwoofer. However, all you have to do is search through the products to see which one fits your needs. This budget is ample enough.
Features to consider before you buy a pair of bookshelf speakers under $500
Like we mentioned before, there are some trade-offs when it comes to purchasing bookshelf features. Perhaps you desire to fill up your living room with sound, then you would need to go for powerful bookshelf speakers. However, if you plan to use them for PC speakers, your considerations may be different. Here we discuss all the features you should decide on before you make your purchase.
Speaker type – 2-way or 3-way
To understand which speaker to opt for, we must understand what 2-way and 3-way means. A two-way speaker has two types of drives i.e. the woofer and the tweeter. The woofer is perfect for low-frequency sounds and the tweeter is for high-frequency. This means that the two-way speaker does not have a specific output for the mid-range sounds. The 3-way speaker remedies that by keeping the third individual device for the mid-range. The 3-way speaker can, of course, produce a more efficient, clear and precise sound because it has a specific output for the specific frequencies. However, do you necessarily need the 3-way speaker? You need to first consider whether the speaker in question separates the crossover optimally. Secondly, not all the driver types will be of equal quality and you need to see which one you prefer and whether they all work the best.
If your music preference is rock, rhythm and blues or something similar, then a 3-way speaker will work for you as the lows will be more precise, such as the Sony SSCS5. However, if you are fond of balanced sounds, and someone who prefers lower bass music, the 2-way speaker works best for you such as the Edifier S2000MKIII.
The power amplifiers are what produce Watts and drive the speakers, so we hear sound. Amplifier power basically makes the speaker drive to create sound pressure waves by moving in a back and forth motion. However, you need to be careful with the power you are providing, and to determine how much you should have depends on the music habits you have. If loud uncompressed music is your go-to, then 200 watts are enough if your speakers are around 90 decibels efficient. On the other hand, if light classical music is your cup of tea, then 50 Watts are enough too. If your speakers are efficient, they will require very few Watts.
Multiple drivers are used in speakers to be able to cater to the different frequencies of sounds. The three drivers are the tweeter river, midrange driver and the woofer driver. The cones in each driver consist of different materials: ceramic and glass fiber polymer, silk, paper, aluminum, or polypropylene. The cones move in and out to push air but can flex and distort sounds at certain frequencies. This is why certain materials are used for certain drivers. For example, polypropylene can be used for mid-range drivers as they are fast.
A good frequency response for speakers basically ranges from 20 to 20 kHz with around a leeway for 3 dB. This is the exact range of human hearing. A speaker needs a good and wider range of frequency response so that it is able to play all the tones correctly in the accurate proportions. The different drivers are the ones to handle the frequencies. The tweeter handles the range above 2000 Hz. The woofer handles frequencies below 200 Hz and the midrange handles what is in the middle.
Speaker sensitivity defines the speaker’s sound quality. It is the ability of the speaker to channel power into sound. Some speakers require more power to operate and can require an amplifier. 88 dB is considered an average rating and that of 92dB and above are considered to be high performers.
Impedance is measured in Ohms which is why you can recognize that it has something to do with resistance. It is the resistance the speaker provides to the current and voltage that it is being powered with. The impedance can change based on the frequency of the signal. Most speakers are configured to fall between four to six ohms. If you have a 4-ohm speaker, you should pair it up with higher power amplifiers. However, usually 6 or 8 ohms are the impedance ratings on most speakers.
You need to pair your room size with the impedance of the speaker as if the amplifier gets tuned way up, it will be unable to handle the load.
In this age of digital technology, you need speakers that are compatible with each and every one of your devices because who knows what you’d want to pair up your bookshelf speakers with? Most bookshelf speaker manufacturers recognize this which is why you will find almost all the speakers boasting their compatibility with USB, raw output, and with each and every music playing device including turntables, your playstation or any other gaming console, and of course your television and desktop. You should definitely not compromise on compatibility as it has become a bare minimum especially if you are paying 500 dollars for it.
Dimensions and weight
You don’t always need large speakers to make them sound good. The dimensions you should be going for largely depend on the size of the room you are trying to fill. A room the size of a bedroom would be considered small while your living room would be considered a medium. You need the speakers to have enough room to provide you the high quality output in a room. In the above options we discussed, the bookshelf speakers were largely useful for computer desktop usage and thus they should be compact enough and small enough to fit the desktop as well. Such as the 8.7” (H) x 4.9” (W) x 7.9” (D) Micca compact bookshelf speakers.
Warranty can actually impact your purchasing decision especially if you are someone who needs to evaluate speakers in person before making a purchase. There are a few products which provide no warranty, and you can find reviews which speak out against them. However, there are a few bookshelf speakers that come with warranty. For example, the Audioengine speakers are equipped with 2–3-year warranty. Similarly, the edifier speakers are equipped with warranty as well.
Subwoofers are used to provide low-frequency performance. While they are not required necessarily, it is very common to pair your speakers with a subwoofer. However, for products such as the Edifier speaker, the bass performance is already at a level that allows you to experience the quality which would be provided by a subwoofer.
Secondly, this also depends on your personal preferences. Are you a person who seeks the ultimate level of home entertainment possible? If yes, then subwoofers would be a great value addition for you. That being said, purchasing one is not an absolute necessity. You can still enjoy your bookshelf speakers without a subwoofer.
Bookshelf speakers can be installed separately or integrated into the home theater systems. In fact, bookshelf speakers work better than floor-standing speakers. You can use the bookshelf speakers for the front, left and right channels as well as for the surround channels. It is also advantageous as the bookshelf speakers do not take any additional room and fit easily into the theater cabinets. Moreover, you can always add more speakers to the chain easily. If you have bookshelf speakers with subwoofers, it will make the entire home theatre experience even more magical as it would compensate for the low frequencies.
Bookshelf speakers can come with various features and of course, your preference can determine the speakers you would want to purchase. For us, we have narrowed down our choices to three.
Firstly, the Edifier S2000MKlll offers digital display, independent adjustment of treble, bass and volume, as well as a professional remote control.
The second pick is one of the most versatile speakers, the Kanto YU4. These speakers have an aesthetic appeal and are perfect if you want to go for speakers that provide good quality sound in all the three drivers.
And lastly, is the Sony SSCS5. This one gives the best value at that price with a 3-way, 3-speaker bass reflex.
Considering the features and your budget, you cannot go wrong when choosing any of the speakers mentioned above. They are the best bookshelf speakers under $500, so get one and upgrade your audio experience!