The Bookshelf speaker is an interesting product. Surely the name gives it away – they are designed and built specifically to be used in an elevated position. This could be as your front line speakers for your home stereo, but could also be as part of a home cinema system.
Whatever the use, they are not to be used on the floor. The whole design concept is based on creating a great sound from a relatively small size box. By putting them on the floor, you alter the whole dynamics of how it works and therefore, how it sounds.
They can be very expensive at the very high end, but you don’t always need to spend a fortune to get a very impressive sound as you will soon find out.
So let’s take a look at the best bookshelf speakers under $500 and find the perfect pair for you…
- Top 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500 You Must Buy 2021 Reviews
- 1 Edifier R2000DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers
- 2 KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
- 3 Sony SSCS5 3-Way 3-Driver Bookshelf Speaker
- 4 Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones Designed Bookshelf Loudspeakers
- 5 Micca PB42X Powered Bookshelf Speakers
- 6 Polk Audio S20 Signature Series Bookshelf Speakers
- 7 ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers
- 8 Bose 301-V Stereo Loudspeakers
- 9 Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers
- 10 Klipsch RP-500M Bookshelf Speakers (Pair)
- So, What Are The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500?
Top 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500 You Must Buy 2021 Reviews
1 Edifier R2000DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers
Edifier is a Chinese company established in 1996 that very quickly became a big player in the speaker world. They have several bookshelf designs on the market, and the R2000DB is a follow-up to their R1000DB model.
They are well-constructed from MDF and given an attractive, thoughtful styling. And they do stand out from the crowd with their black leather look textured front panel housing the speakers and the glossy wood sides. With their elegant look and sloping front panel design have quite an impact. For reference, they measure 7 by 10 by 11.4 inches and are rather heavy at 22 pounds.
Design technology has been employed on the sound, and the 25mm silk dome speakers and 5-inch alloy bass driver push the sound along. The bass port is rear-facing. The reproduction is crisp and clean, and there is a good separation between the frequencies. The frequency range is 50Hz to 20kHz, which is nothing unusual.
But whereas with some systems, towards the lower end, there are some sound losses with the R2000DB the bass is still strong. The speakers produce a staggering 120 watts of power, and so you might consider them quite powerful.
Connect them up…
Plenty of technology included, of course with its Bluetooth capability allowing you to pair up your computer, phone, or tablet. And an optical input for efficient and stable digital connection to TV, DVD or games machines.
On the rear of the speakers are bass and treble controls and a volume and two 3.5mm aux inputs. There is a remote control that handles all the principal operating functions.
As a set of bookshelf speakers, they are well-made and have a very good sound. Connectivity options are good, and the design adds a nice aesthetic. Good quality at an excellent price and certainly a contender for best speakers under $500.
- Nice design and build.
- Good sound reproduction.
- Remote control a little flimsy.
2 KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
KEF was founded in 1961 in Maidstone, England by an ex-BBC employee intent on raising the standards of loudspeaker production. It has grown into an international organization now owned by GP Acoustics, themselves a member of the Hong Kong-based Gold Star group. They now have a reputation for providing great speakers, so let’s see what they bring to the bookshelf market.
The Q150 is a continuation of their successful Q series of speakers. This model was introduced in 2017, but the Q series themselves date back to 1991.
They are well-known for their Uni-Q driver design which has become a signature item for this series of speakers. On the Q150 the array has been relocated to the center of the cabinet to improve clarity. While at the rear of the tweeter, a damper has been applied.
This is a two-way bass-reflex cabinet, and the slight rearrangements made cut down on sound leakage. The front port present in previous models has been moved to the back. The drive unit is a 5.25” aluminum powerhouse and tweeters 1” aluminum domed. And they can be mounted on stands or used on a bookshelf basis. They measure 12 by 7 by 11 inches and weigh 12 pounds each.
Crossovers have been reset at 2.5kHz, and so the transition through the frequencies can be prominent. This has the effect of achieving good separation and allowing the bass to be powerful but without cutting across other frequency ranges. The sound is, therefore, powerful bass and a warm and defined mid-range and the crisp and clear top end the Q series are well-known for.
These speakers sound superb and are very well-built. As another reviewer said, these British blokes aren’t messing around. Priced towards the top end of the range, they are a great buy and will be very high on the list of the best bookshelf speakers for less than $500.
- Nice design with powerful sounds.
- Improved internal cabinet design.
- Some might find them expensive.
3 Sony SSCS5 3-Way 3-Driver Bookshelf Speaker
Sony, of course, needs no introduction. They have been producing great sound systems for home use for years and are well aware of how to produce quality.
This is a powerful 3-speaker system. It has an understated design that will fit into any home environment. Its all-wood construction includes a rigid inner frame which absorbs any vibration and generates a superior resonance. They are designed to be compact and are just 13 by 7 by 9 inches and weigh less than ten pounds each.
Each speaker is rated at 6 ohms and can push out 100 watts of sound in great stereo. They have a 130mm cone type woofer and a soft dome 25mm tweeter supported by a further 19mm super tweeter for extra top-end clarity. They deliver a great sound over a frequency range that extends from 53Hz to 50kHz.
The speaker arrangement is worth some consideration. The super tweeter allows the high frequencies to extend to a level that is not common in speakers in this price range, and it has a powerful magnet and copper-clad aluminum wire. The bass-reflex design, with its duct at the rear of the cabinet, adds to the bottom end. And the result is a warm, defined bass that doesn’t dominate but is still very audible.
Superb for the price…
Sony has produced a set of speakers that create a sound that sits way above the price point. Everything about them from the all-wood manufacture and design to the extra tweeter says that they have tried to produce a great sounding speaker at a very competitive price, we think they have succeeded. Could be the best bookshelf speakers under $500.
- Well made all wood construction.
- A nicely balanced, powerful sound.
- At this price, nothing at all.
4 Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones Designed Bookshelf Loudspeakers
Pioneer needs little introduction as manufacturers of home sound systems. As far back as 1937, Pioneer created its first speaker, and since then they have become a worldwide brand.
The SP-BS22 set of bookshelf speakers were designed by the then Chief Design Engineer from the UK, Andrew Jones. He has since left Pioneer, but this is part of his legacy.
They are not over-endowed with too much power being 80 watts, but they are not designed for large halls or auditoriums, they are for the home and work brilliantly well in smaller rooms.
They have a unique design being driven by a 4-inch woofer and a one-inch soft dome tweeter. The woofer has over-sized magnets. The critical area with these speakers and the design element that makes them so good is the crossover design.
The crossover’s function is to create two or three output signals from a single input source across separate frequency bands. These bands feed the separate speakers – the woofers and tweeters. With these speakers, Mr. Jones spent time creating a complex six-element crossover system that applies even greater separation to the frequencies, thus creating a more defined sound.
The sound is, therefore, what you would expect to receive from speakers costing much more and is quite simply outstanding from what many will see as budget speakers.
The high-quality design of the cabinets with their curved shape is no accident either. The curves will remove any standing sound waves giving a much cleaner sound. They are supplied with speaker grilles if you want to use them.
They are a quality speaker with a nice aesthetic design and set at an amazing price point. Will certainly be considered when it comes to deciding which are the best speakers for under $500, for a bookshelf or not!
- Great design and performance in all areas.
- Very cost-effective price.
- In some environments, 80 watts might be underpowered.
5 Micca PB42X Powered Bookshelf Speakers
Micca is a brand name of Highland Technologies in Hong Kong, though these speakers are designed in the US.
They have a very simple design; some might say too simple. Because it is a very basic layout that is what to some will be most appealing. A plain black baffle board with a tweeter and woofer is all you see. It is what you might call a sophisticated design. There are not even any clip or attachment holes to be seen as the front grill has a magnetic fitting. You can choose to use it or leave the speakers on view as they work.
On the rear aux inputs for connections to any analog device, a volume control, power switch and the speaker connections.
The sound is driven by a 4-inch woofer made from carbon fiber that is secured with a rubber surround to soak up the energy of the speaker and to provide secure flexible fitting. The tweeter is a ¾” inch silk dome delivering clear and concise high frequencies. There is a rear-facing bass reflex port that gives the low frequencies a deep richness and quality.
The built-in amplifier delivers 15 watts per channel and is designed with Class-D technology. The amp is quite powerful and drives the speakers to provide a powerful sound that is well balanced.
They are compact speakers being just 9.5 by 5.8 by 6.5 inches and with a lightweight build weighing just four pounds. The design and the size make them ideal as bookshelf speakers, either for your music system or as part of a home cinema system.
Finally, the price. Quite incredible how a company can produce a pair of quality speakers at such an attractive price which will put them firmly in the frame for best bookshelf speakers for less than $500.
- Nice plain design and well made.
- Great sounds and performance.
- Some will think the design to simplistic.
6 Polk Audio S20 Signature Series Bookshelf Speakers
From Polk’s Signature Series comes the S20. Over 40 years of producing speakers go into the design and manufacture of this series of speakers.
The first thing you notice is that for bookshelf speakers they are a bit larger than you might expect, measuring 13.8 by 8.5 by 14.8 inches. And they are also quite heavy weighing a hefty seventeen pounds. If you are planning on putting them on a bookshelf attached to the wall, make sure it is secure.
The design is nothing to get excited about and is rather plain even though it has curved corners. Made from MDF fibreboard and has been given a black finish and a magnetic front grille.
These 2-way speakers have a powerful 6.5-inch woofer and a one-inch tweeter. They can handle up to 125 watts of output. The tweeter has a dome made from Terylene and delivers defined high frequencies.
The woofer cones are polypropylene that is reinforced and have rubber surround fittings. They deliver a clear bass sound that is maybe not as prominent as it could be. And there is a bass reflex port on the back of the speakers which means you cannot place them too close to a wall. This not only adds a little depth to the bass but also reduces the risk of distortion at higher volumes.
They are versatile and can be used with your music system or as part of your home cinema setup. They are not particularly cheap.
- A plain and simple design will appeal to some.
- Powerful output.
- Quite large and heavy.
7 ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC is a fascinating company with an interesting history. Some areas of the company are based in the US and Andrew Jones, the world-famous British speaker designer who was mentioned earlier in this review, left Pioneer to join them as a VP.
They are however very happy to print Made in Germany on their products. Of course, that is probably because virtually all of their esteemed product lines are made in Europe and especially Germany, which was where the company originated in the 1920s.
As bookshelf speakers go, they are quite large at 7 by 13.43 by 16.3 inches and not really lightweight weighing over 16 pounds each. They are constructed from MDF fibreboard and have a robust design and are given a black ash vinyl finish. They have removable front covers.
Part of the design process was to give the cabinets extra strength to eliminate any vibrations with internal bracing. They also moved the bass port from the usual position at the back to the front. Therefore allowing the speakers to be placed close to a wall which would normally impair the sound of the lower frequencies with a rear port.
They are a 2-way speaker utilizing a 6.5-inch fiber cone woofer. The design is preferred to the often used polypropylene material for the cone and adds a smoother response to the bass frequencies. It also employs oversized magnets. The 1” cloth dome tweeter brings the high-frequency response to 35kHz using a wide-roll surround.
Elac is known to produce quality speakers, and with Andrew Jones involved in the design, they are going to be special. These are no exception, punching out 120 watts with clarity and depth. The cabinet design is simplistic but moving the bass port to the front is a good idea.
Reasonably priced they are certainly one of the best bookshelf speakers under $500 as well as being one of the best bookshelf speakers you can find at any price.
- Good design and materials used.
- Powerful sounds across the frequencies.
- Quite large and a little heavy.
8 Bose 301-V Stereo Loudspeakers
Another company where no introduction s are required, Bose have been producing quality speakers since the 60s. Established in Massachusetts, where they are still based, many of their products like these speakers are assembled in Mexico.
The Bose 301 series is designed for a variety of uses and are ideal for home stereo systems or home cinema.
They have an interesting design shape which gives the impression that they are lying flat on their side rather than upright. For reference, they measure 23.8 by 13.3 by 18 inches and weigh 22 pounds so you could say they are neither small or lightweight.
They are though, capable of producing 150 watts of power. This is because their unique design reflects and bounces off the walls and ceilings to give you that live performance sound. Experiencing the concert in your own home.
When placed on a bookshelf centering the sound sweet spot is something you don’t need to do, as the reflective design doesn’t create them. Therefore, Bose calls this design ‘Stereo everywhere.’
Each speaker uses an 8-inch woofer, a one inch rear facing tweeter, two 2-inch front-facing tweeters, and a flared port to deliver this sound. The port reduces air turbulence to produce a cleaner and detailed bass sound. The system also provides an automatic volume protection facility to prevent the drivers from being pushed too hard.
They are another example of Bose engineering techniques producing high-quality products. And the performance is different from the usual idea of having the speakers positioned so that they direct the sound to a specific area. With these, the sound reflections fill the room and give you that ‘I was there feeling” when listening.
Outstanding speakers at a reasonable price.
- Impressive design ideas.
- Reflected sounds give the concert feeling.
- Quite large and heavy.
9 Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers
We have already taken a look at Edifier’s S2000DB model, and this is the highly regarded version that preceded it.
It is a simple but attractive design that resembles many other products in their catalog. They are made from MDF panels with a vinyl finish and a composite body. The front panel slopes backward, which is designed to project the sound but also adds a nice design touch. The front panel can be removed if desired. They measure 8 by 11.5 by 13.3 inches and weigh 18 pounds.
What many people like about Edifier speaker systems are the features they include.
It has a one-inch tweeter and 5.5-inch woofer putting out up to 120 watts RMS which is pretty powerful for a home system. The bass then is pronounced and deep, and the titanium dome tweeters deliver a sharp and accurate top. The bass ports provide a little bit more to the low frequencies.
On the back of the cabinets are bass and treble controls to adjust the sound and volume control. There are also AUX, RCA connections and coaxial and optical options for linking up with TV’s, your PC, etc.
We mentioned the features that Edifier often include, and the S1000DB has connections to Bluetooth 4.0 aptX and comes with remote control. These are items usually not often found in this price range.
There is no doubt that Edifier has produced a quality, well-made speaker system that includes some good extras.
- Well made with good design features.
- Loud and defined sound.
- If it’s for a home stereo system, it doesn’t come with a turntable connection.
10 Klipsch RP-500M Bookshelf Speakers (Pair)
Klipsch is respected as a manufacturer of high-end speaker systems, and we would expect to find them on a list of the best bookshelf speakers for less than $500. Formed in Indiana in 1946, where they are still based, they were bought out in 2011 by Audiovox. However, all design and manufacture is still undertaken in the US.
The RP-500M is a two-way bookshelf speaker design that can handle up to 75 watts in output. The design is simplistic and boasts nothing to get excited about. An MDF construction that is quite sturdy and solid is finished in an attractive ebony color and has a removable magnetic front grille. If you decide to remove the grilles to expose the speakers, then the baffles are given a satin finish which increases the design points.
They are built to a good size for bookshelf use being 6.8 by 9.5 by 13.5 inches and weighing 11 pounds.
The sound design is made up of tweeter, woofer, and rear-facing bass port. The woofer is a 5.25-inch cerametallic speaker using spun copper that works to improve sound quality. But also looks different when you look at the speakers and adds a nice touch. It is a rigid but lightweight construction designed to minimize distortion.
The one-inch tweeter is located inside a Tractrix horn design which points the high-frequency sounds to an area which you can select with the positional direction of the speaker.
The bass port has a flare system to stop any undue air turbulence from entering the port, and it provides a clean deep bass sound. It will need a bit of rear space though and should not be placed flush with a wall.
Good speakers, well-designed, and an attractive if plain addition to the aesthetics of the home. They might be considered a little expensive.
- Nice plain design with an attractive finish.
- Very good sound produced by quality construction materials.
- Might be thought of as expensive.
So, What Are The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500?
There are some excellent speakers on this review list which confirm our thoughts that you haven’t got to spend a fortune to buy great sounding speakers. Every product has got something to recommend it, and most have more than one potential use.
We had to choose one, of course, and we have gone for speakers that looked a bit different and a style of their own but still produced a great sound.
We, therefore, chose as the best bookshelf speakers under $500, the…
Real quality that stood out amongst some excellent competition.
Our choice for the best bookshelf speakers for less than $500.