Looking for the Best Bookshelf Speakers under $500?
You’re in the right place.
Bookshelf speakers are a great way to save space without compromising sound quality.
With some of the best speakers on the market costing thousands, it can often be frustrating trying to find quality sound on a small budget.
But there are plenty of speakers out there that provide high quality without breaking the bank.
A bookshelf speaker system can make even the most boring of spaces in your home into a full-bodied sound palace.
These audio systems can help in many environments and whether you are aspiring to be a music producer or enjoy listening to your music at a high level, then the speakers below will be perfect for you.
In this article we are going to go over the best bookshelf speakers under $500 and what their features are, giving you detailed specifications and our personal opinions, as well as customer reviews.
Top 10 Best Bookshelf Speakers under $500
With many audio companies being relatively new and very few being around for longer than 80 years.
Wharfedale is one such company, which has celebrated its 80th birthday and has produced the Denton stand-mountable speakers to celebrate this impressive milestone.
Their speakers are meant to have that retro look which helps show their heritage, with the mahogany veneer wood effect.
However, behind this retro look hides some engineering perfection and cutting-edge sound technology.
The Wharfedale Denton contains a mid/bass driver which uses the woven Kevlar cone, with the cabinet surround being made of 3 wood pieces placed together to help control the resonances of the speaker itself.
By using a ferrite magnet, Wharfedale have managed to use soft-dome tweeters to give a more clean and soft sound at higher frequencies.
Of course the main reason for purchasing any speaker is for the sound quality and the Wharfedale definitely comes off as a strong competitor when compared with the other speakers available.
If you are purchasing speaker for bass and rhythm, then a speaker in the similar price range would be a better purchase for you.
If you are looking to sit back and relax whilst listening, we don’t think that there is a better speaker out there that will allow you to do that.
Having a smooth treble, a rich full-bodied bass and midrange, this speaker set suites anyone who is looking for an easy listening experience no matter the recording quality of the sound being played through them.
- Easy Going Nature
- Built For Prolonged Use
- Smooth And Rich Sound
- Bass & Rhythmic Precision Is Lacking
Whether you want to listen to heavy metal or simply relax to some Mozart then these speakers are diverse enough to handle any genre and hence are the best bookshelf speakers under $500.
When it was first launched the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 was set to be on top of the best budget bookshelf speaker recommendation charts, however there were some small flaws some user experienced. Such as the hazy green color and falling apart from the inside.
The reason why the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 has such a high buzz is because it uses a concentric driver.
This means that they place a tweeter within the midrange, which is the reason behind the Uni-fi name, which was given for marketing.
The way in which these under $500 loudspeakers are arranged helps to avoid any interference between the drivers and also acts as a source point for directional sounds.
These Uni-Fi speakers are a 3-way design using a combination of similar driver types, these being: 5 and a quarter inch aluminum-cone woofer, 4” aluminum-cone midrange and a 1” soft dome tweeter.
This UB5 monitor helps to pack all three of these drivers into its casing which is no more than a foot in height.
- Bass-Reflex Cabinet Design
- Black Brush Vinyl Finish
- Room Correcting Sub
- More Power Required
- App Needed For Sub Control
There's a reason why the Elac Uni-fi UB5 are called the best stereo speakers under $500 and due to it's world class design and true-to-life sound, they are featured on #2 position as the best bookshelf speakers under $500
3. KEF Q100
The KEF Q100 speakers are some of the best sounding speakers available on the market today, especially when it comes to bass response and vocal clarity.
They also happen to be the best bookshelf speakers for playing vinyl music using a modern turntable of sorts and the sound of music through the speakers being more defined and clear.
Whilst listening to your songs, the clarity of the speakers means that it is easy to pick out certain instruments, unlike some of the other speakers on this list which we felt made all the instruments seem jumbled.
If you are looking for an audiophile speaker that is easy to listen to for long hours without suffering from ear fatigue, then the KEF Q100 is definitely the right choice for you.
With the Q100’s being able to produce relaxed and comfortable sounds, whilst still presenting the music in high detail.
When it comes to the tweeter layout on the KEF Q100 speakers, they use their own unique layout known as Uni-Q layout.
This basically means that they have placed a tweeter inside of the midrange driver.
Although this arrangement is not cost effective, it does offer an increase in timing and coherence, as most of the sounds produced by this hifi speaker originates from a single point.
There is a small difference in timing between the tweeter and the midrange driver, however it is only a millisecond, meaning that it is very difficult for the brain to pick up.
When it comes to real-life, voices or instruments which originate from a single point, the KEF Q100’s help to mimic this better than the conventional 2 driver system used in most other speakers.
The sound quality by this budget stereo speaker system is phenomenal. Although they may be more expensive to some, when we came to review them and test their quality we found that the layout used, helped to bring the music to life.
- Clear And Concise Sound
- Great To Use For TV, Music or Movies
- High Quality For The Price
- LFE Performance Is Lacking
- The Overall Design Is Less Eye Catching Than Previous Models
We felt that listening for long hours wouldn’t be an issue and that the bass was deep, rich and full-bodied, which made for easy listening.
With the older Diamond 121’s which were marked down for their low quality and poor finish, Wharfedale have come back strong with their new Diamond 220 model.
This is of the best value bookshelf speaker, which is an award winner for its neat and sleek design. With a price reduction also to the new model, it will be a tough job to keep them off the top spot.
The overall finish was poor on the Diamond 121’s and the discoloration was simply off putting.
However, taking a look at the Diamond 220’s it is clear to see that they have taken back to drawing board in a bid to improve their overall quality.
While they may not look the classiest speaker on the market, they look good enough to avoid any major criticism.
Looking at the cabinet construction, which failed on the previous model:
Wharfedale has used the same materials but, have used a sandwich technique to create an even surface to glue on the vinyl. This helps to give a smooth finish and prevent ripples seen in previous models.
Using the mixture of MDF and chipboard, it has helped to dampen the resonances and prevent the cabinet itself from producing too much sound overall. Click here to know more about it.
The idea behind is that you hear more from the driver units inside the speaker than the cabinet, which helps to give a richer sound.
There has also been an upgrade to the magnet, the Diamond 220’s now come with a 13cm woven Kevlar mid/bass driver, making it easier to drive sound and improve the overall responsiveness of the speaker.
The unusual slot-loaded port arrangement, which was first seen on the original 100 series, makes it appearance in the Diamond 220’s.
However, it has been tinkered with to help reduce the amount of distortion heard through playback, the overall design claims to be more efficient than the conventional ports used on many other speakers.
Even with the small size of the arrangement, the Wharfedale speakers are able to manage even the most low-end of basslines, it gives out a deep and agile sound, which is better quality than seen in its predecessor.
- Amazing And Detailed Look
- Great Build Quality And Finish
- Ability To Fill A Large Room With Quality Sound & Deep Bass
- Box Shape Is Too Conventional
Vocals are another place where the Diamond 220’s shine, they come through clear and crisp, with even the greatest rappers like Eminem coming through almost effortlessly which makes them the best bang for your buck speakers.
The original Audioengine speakers were produced back in 2007, which delivered a lot of sound for the price, using their 3.5mm inputs.
After a few years at the drawing board, we now have a new and upgraded model available for purchase.
It is clear to see the similarities between the two models, for example the A5+’s still use the matte black finish and styling used on its predecessor although the speakers are slightly larger in size.
The AudioEngine A5+ best powered speakers under $500 capable of producing 50W per channel, doing this with 20mm silk dome tweeters and 13cm Kevlar woofers.
So what is the difference you might ask does the plus sign actually mean anything or are these just a remake of the original A5 speakers?
However, there has been a new port system added into the back alongside a new heat sink to help disperse the heat generated, this not only helps to improve the overall sound quality but helps to ensure that the speaker is highly efficient even with the volume cranked up.
There are now full-size speaker terminals that you can connect both stereo input and outputs using speaker cables with banana plugs.
The 3.5mm input still remains, as does the USB port that allows for the charging of portable devices, although these are now at the back instead of being at the top.
The speakers now come with a remote control, which allows for basic functions for volume control, but overall the sound quality is definitely a big improvement over the previous models.
- Great Range For Volume
- Multiple Inputs are Available
- Modern Design and available in plenty of colors
- Overall Sound Favors Low-Mid Range And Heavy Bass
- Lacks An Built-In AC Port
Its sonic balancing gives a better quality and smoother sound than that found on original models. It would make sense to place the A5+ as a worthwhile upgrade to any 2.1 desktop speaker system.
The ELAC brand has been around since the 1920’s, originally founded in Germany it has a long heritage of producing high quality audiophile and hifi speakers.
It doesn’t share the same style as many of the modern day speakers, but still has a strong yet charming presence.
The B6’s are one of the largest stand mountable speakers in the ELAC range.
Containing a two-way driver setup that utilises a 25mm cloth dome tweeter and a 16.5cm Woofer, not to mention the rear-firing reflex port, which helps to produce those extra low-end sounds.
ELAC claims that the midrange drivers’ which are Woven Aramid Fibre Cones, helps to offer a better frequency output range and an overall smoother sound.
When it comes to performance the ELAC Debut B6’s really deliver the goods, with lots of high quality and rich sound being produced in the early stages of some songs but also allowing the instruments the space they need to breathe.
- Great Sound From Low To Mid Bass For The Price
- Plenty Of Styling Details
- Great Balance Of Overall Sound
- Corners can get damaged easily
With the overall balance of the speaker being very good, apart from low quality recordings, which show a little coarseness in, treble from time to time. However, once you let the tweeter bed in, it will reach its stride and bring with it a more full sound.
The Vanatoo Transparent One speakers boast a compact design which makes them the perfect size to place on your bookshelf, however they are larger than the average speakers used on desktops.
Weighing around 12 pounds each and with a height of around 10” these speakers can definitely be considered compact in design and happen to be very good gaming speakers that can be used for music and movies as well.
Each speaker contains a 5.25” aluminium woofer, with the same size passive radiator on the back and boasting a 1” silk dome tweeter at the front.
This formation helps to produce a warm and clear sound, which many other speakers lack within the same price range.
Looking at the back of the speakers, there is a huge range of controls and inputs, with four input types currently available. Check out its full review by clicking here.
These connection types are: USB, 3.5mm, Toslink optical and coax digital however, don’t expect the quality or precision of a fully-fledged multi-input switcher, or the ability to change the inputs.
Even though there is a range of inputs offered, there can only be one active connection at a time and in order to connect a new input, the current input will need to be removed before this will be possible.
Getting a closer look at the rear of the speaker and control panel, there is controls for active speaker, bass, volume control, treble and a left and right switch that will help with location setup.
The Vanatoo Transparent One are a great tabletop bookshelf speakers that stand well on their own even without a subwoofer, however if you are looking for a more bass filled output, then it would be best for you to install a subwoofer into your speaker configuration.
Listening to music through these speakers, it can be difficult to describe the overall experience but we will try our best to share our experience with you.
From the outset it is clear to tell that the Transparent Ones produce a better sound than regular speakers available on the market.
- Great Amount Of Volume
- Dual Input Channels
- Deep And Rich Sound
- Design is bit boring and old
These speakers give a warm and clear sound, which can be heard through a range of music genres, whether you are listening to some light Beethoven or some heavy rock, these speakers can cope with both high and low end sounds. I'd like to call them the bridge between computer and bookshelf speakers.
The market for the best bookshelf speakers under $500 is getting a little crowded and with this it can be hard for quality speakers to get lost amongst this.
The SM65 speakers produced by Definitive Technology are an attractive yet elegant pair of speakers, standing at just 20” tall and 18” in depth, these are by no means a “small monitor”.
The gloss front helps to give the speaker its clean and sophisticated look, as well as making the overall finish look high end.
Situated inside the speaker housing are Definitive Technology’s 5 and a quarter inch midrange driver that sit below and above their specially treated aluminium tweeter.
This speaker has a top-firing passive radiator and heavy internal bracing combination, which is very rare to see, especially on a speaker of this price.
The drivers used inside the speakers provide great overall clarity and real sound purity, for the price they are the ideal choice for someone who wants top quality but is on a tight budget.
- Non-Resonant Braced Enclosure Allows For A Clean And Crisp Sound
- A Top Radiator Allows For Great Quality Even At Low Frequencies
- Beautiful Wood Grain Finish
- Less Natural Sound Available
- Slightly Low Bass than It’s Predecessor
The sound produced via these high end bookshelf speakers is simply mind blowing, even just after a short while of listening, you quickly discover all the areas and reasons why the SM65 speakers are superb.
In this day and age it is all about tweaked and booming bass, high-sculpted frequencies and other high-end features, which are available from high end speakers.
However, Audioengine are always there to bring us back to what audio is truly about and with their HD3 speakers coming in under $500 they are great for anyone on a budget.
The Audioengine HD3 are stereo Bluetooth speakers which can be also be used in wired setups. They are best bookshelf speakers for music listening as well along with movies and gaming too.
This can be useful if you want to attach a subwoofer to your speaker setup, but don’t expect the speakers alone to produce the amount of bass you may be wanting.
Many other speakers focus on giving that sub bass however, the guys over at Audioengine like to focus on their speakers producing a high quality and rich full bodied sound.
The tweeters in the HD3 speakers give a pristine sound through both the low and mid-range, helping to give that quality sound expected from Audioengine speakers.
Since the Audioengine HD3 has bluetooth connectivity, it makes them the best wireless bookshelf speakers under $500.
With many brands trying to compact a ton of features into their speakers. We see that Audioengine is sticking to their guns and are producing a complete stereo separation.
These best budget stereo speakers are available in a range of different finishes, the main ones are: matte black, cherry or walnut wood with an aluminum surround.
The tabletop bookshelf speakers from Audioengine have an overall great quality, however with the lacking of the sub-bass ability, it is possible to make these speakers distort with tracks with heavy sub-bass content.
But, when using an iPhone even streaming at full volume, distortion is non-existent.
- Accurate Audio Performance, With Great Lows And Quality Highs
- Can Be Used In Conjunction With A Sub-Woofer
- Bluetooth Enabled
- Bass Performance Is Poor
- Having An Always Active Input Doesn’t Really Work
Overall the sound quality of these speakers is high end for the price. It is possible to listen for prolonged periods without any problems, and these speakers give an easy listening experience.
10. Edifier S1000DB
When it comes to monitor speakers, not only do they need to be precise but they also need to be accurate with their sound.
With their main function being for sound engineers, who will sit in front of them whilst they tweak sound levels of sound, so having a speakers, which have high quality, are of high importance.
As technology advances and the age of bedroom music producers grows, it is important to have speakers that are both high quality and available to be purchased with a low budget.
The Edifier S1000DB is the perfect pair for any music production environment and happen to be the best speaker on a budget.
The first impressions of these speakers are that they look great and are very sleek, having a wood finish making these speakers perfect for bookshelves.
With an easy setup and simple remote control, these speakers are ideal for use around the home.
Getting down to the actual speakers, the Edifier S1000DB speakers give a premium sound, which would be expected due to their stylish-look.
Both the bass and treble give a clean and crisp sound which can fill a room, better than any kind of iPod docking station, the speakers which are situated inside, are angled so that it can fill out a large space easily.
The S1000DB’s have front grills over the speakers, these are removable but also help to filter the sound from them, even at high volumes the speakers still have high clarity and a clean sound.
With a full range of inputs available such as: USB, Bluetooth, Aux and optical which means that you can connect your input device whichever way suites your needs the best.
These speakers may not give the impression of being powerful however; they are user friendly and would suit a living room or bedroom environment.
- Broad Sound Produced
- Quality Built Titanium Dome Tweeters
- The Ability To Have Many Connections Is A Definite Plus
- These Speakers Are For People With A Large Budget
- They Require Settling In
They are ideal for anyone who is looking to produce music at home or simply looking for a small yet powerful speaker for their home entertainment system.
Taking a look through our reviews of these speakers, it is important to keep in mind your goals and what you are looking to get out of your speaker system.
Budget is what will have the greatest effect on what speaker you go to purchase, but with many of the speaker systems out there having a high quality sound even with a small price tag, you can always be sure that you will receive a high quality product that performs well.
The range we have selected is ideal for those who are looking into the music production industry or those who enjoy a good quality sound when listening to their music, especially if they listen over a long period.
With the industry rapidly growing, it is important to note that although speakers may seem to be of a low quality in their current model, manufacturers are always coming out with new ideas.
Taking advantage of new technologies and cramming more features into their speaker systems.
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