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Home Theater & A/V

Best Bookshelf Speakers

If you’re a consumer that is looking to get the full experience from your home theater system, or looking to add to your current set up, you should consider a pair of high fidelity bookshelf speakers. A pair of bookshelf speakers can be a great addition to your home theater system, but can also double as studio monitors in your recording setup. Bookshelf speakers can serve as your standalone sonic source in your home theater setup or play a support role in 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound setups.

In home theater setups with a .1 means that they include an LFE channel (A channel that is dedicated to only the subwoofer to reproduce low end), so your bookshelf speakers are used to provide detailed highs, full mid-range, and some low end information. In a standalone situation you would be looking for your bookshelf speakers to reproduce all sonic information highs, mids, and lows (to the best of their ability). Which is why I have populated these lists with bookshelf speakers that show versatility and strengths in both additional support and standalone situations.

No matter the purpose of the speaker it is always difficult looking through an endless variety of manufacturers, designs, prices and engineering advances. I have compiled the following lists of speakers focused on versatility; to suit the taste of audio professionals and consumers alike.

Neat Ultimatum XLS Loudspeaker

Neat Ultimatum XLS Loudspeaker

Neat's Ultimatum XLS are gonna cost you around $10,000 a pair but you get so much from this speaker that you will only be interested in this speaker if you seek what your home system was missing. Neat brings the XLS with five drive units, which is a little unconventional but the XLS generate a sound quality that is unparalleled in this price range. With the two EMIT tweeters isolated from the mid/bass for "bleed" prevention, Neat takes the design a step farther by designing the enclosures inside the cabinet to enhance driver performance. This makes the low end immersive, with your eyes closed listening to these speakers its easy to imagine they're twice the size. The XLS have superior sound quality and design and with that comes another thing you may not take into account — speaker stands. Most high end bookshelf speakers come with dedicated stands that in some cases help the way your speakers sound. The XLS have dedicated stands that cost around $1,500 a pair, so you would want to factor in space and replacement costs.

Dynaudio Confidence C1

Dynaudio Confidence C1

The Dynaudio Confidence C1s come in at around $4,000 its a price well worth the sound. They have an amazing confident sound no matter how complex the music, the C1s find a balance between the mixes that through other speakers sound muddy. This is thanks to the C1s exceptional bass performance, they use the sound remains full but still has a solid punch. Though the C1s can provide a well defined bass no matter how well produced or bass heavy a song is, they also shine in total with the tweeter, mid range and slim cabinet design. The C1s feature Dynaudios Esotar tweeter, a mid/bass driver with aluminum voice coil, and the highest quality crossover. When looking into getting the C1s you should not stray from an quality amplifier to get the full performance from these speakers.

DALI Epicon 2 Speaker

DALI Epicon 2 Speaker

When discussing top of the line speakers its not a question of if the name DALI is gonna come up it's when. DALI brings us the Epicon 2s, at nearly $8,000 a pair they deliver the sonic quality DALI is known for. Don't be fooled by the design; though they lack some of the flash of similar priced speakers. The Epicons have an incredibly curved cabinet to reduce vibrations and reduce standing waves. When it comes to Performance the Epicons have a lot to offer, from the incredible vocal clarity, to the warmth of the mid range, or the always defined bass. Which is a testament to the DALIs Linear Drive Magnet system; which cancels out four distortion factors in the drive motor system.

Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor M Speaker

Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor M Speaker

The Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor Ms come in at around $5,500 a pair which is well worth it when looking for a set of the best Italian made speakers around. Generally it's not often you find a speaker that is as aesthetically pleasing as the sound, yet the Auditors manage to do just that. They have a Lute shaped designed cabinet, designed to amplify certain waves to generate better bass response as well as reduce phase cancellation. The newly designed tweeter and; an Improved model of the mid/bass driver that Sonus used in previous speakers. The Auditors have a small size but a full sound thanks to the controlled stereo image and some substantial bass, and the listenability at high playback levels. Though the Auditors shine they also can be picky about placement avoid the wall and bookshelf and invest in a nice amp to pair.

Tannoy Definition DC8 Speaker

Tannoy Definition DC8 Speaker

Tannoy brings us the Definition DC8s, coming in at around $1800 a piece they offer the signature Tannoy quality as well as a size and sound that is precise. The sound is no fluke, upon first inspection you'll see that the tweeter is inside of a bass/mid cone a dual concentric design Tannoy is known for. This trademark design from Tannoy that they believe "creates a more precise, coherent sound." Which is apparent when listening to complex music; like classical. The DC8s effortlessly organizes the elements and delivering them in a concise manner. The curved cabinet for better phase cancellation, as well as the Wide-band tweeter that extend the reach of the speakers high frequencies and delivers a more detailed sound. Audiophile grade silver copper coated conductors for grounding, paired with Deep Cryogenic treated straight path crossovers; make the DC8s as controlled as they are concise.

Klipsch Synergy B-20 Premium 5.25-Inch Bookshelf Speakers

The B-20 from Klipsch are latest in the Synergy series, a re-engineered new Two-Way design. The B-20s have pair a sleek styling with low gloss black finish and gray accents, delivering a speaker that looks ready to perform. The sound of the B-20s is impressive to say the least, The Tractrix Horn technology ensures crisp consistent playback effortlessly. In addition to the defined stereo imaging the B-20s also utilizes an aluminum tweeter with linear travel suspension, which allows for fluid motion creating more clearly defined highs with less distortion.

Boston Acoustics Classic II CS26 Bookshelf Speaker

The CS 26 from Boston Acoustics brings us a classic cabinet, with an surprising sound for around $150 a piece. Though the styling may be a bit lacking in flair of some other designs, the CS 26s deliver their sound from a well tuned cabinet and quality driver technology. Using a Kortec soft-dome tweeter for crisp and clear high frequencies; graphite injected woofers deliver the more accurate bass response. The CS 26s have speaker wire outfitted with five-way-binding posts, which minimizes signal loss.

JBL ES20 High-Performance 3-Way Bookshelf Speakers

The JBL ES20s are exactly what you have come to expect from JBL, at around $130 a pair they offer great styling as well as amazing sound quality. With the black, beech, and cherrywood finishes make the ES20s hard to miss. After getting past the appearance you have to talk about the JBL technology that goes into why these speakers sound so well. The PolyPlas transducers are what give the ES20s the vocal clarity and bass response. The Stiff lightweight transducers provide fluid driver motion creating a seamless field of sound with minimal distortion.

Polk Audio TSi100 Bookshelf Speakers

Polk Audio brings us the tSI100, with a compact size and great styling makes this speaker as pleasing to look at as they are to listen to. The Tsi100s come in black or cherry wood-grain finishes; constructed with solid MDF with 3/4 baffles. This construction helps cut down on the build up of internal resonance causing cancellation. Polk Audios Dynamic Balance design reduces the amount of distortion caused by driver resonance. The TSi100s also utilize a silk dome tweeter which delivers more detailed highs over time even at high playback.

BIC America DV62si Bookshelf Speakers

BIC America has been around for sometimes and though not always the first name that comes to mind when considering speakers. The DV62si model from BIC America comes in at around $120 a pair you can see styling is not of major appeal, but these speakers are contenders with speakers three times the price. The DV62sis feature a 6 1/2-inch poly/graphite woofer which delivers a tight concise bass response, as well as a long throw. The patented Venturi design found on the rear, extends the low end. The custom designed poly dome tweeters deliver an excited high end that paired with the design of the cabinet eliminates bleed between drivers.

Monitor Audio Bronze Bookshelf Speakers

Monitor Audio brings us the BronzeBX2s, for around $400 you can own some of the best sounding speakers at this price point as well as others. The design is an instant eye catcher, the BX2s come in Black Oak and Walnut Pearlescent finishes. The BX2s feature single bolt-through drivers which means, the driver is not fixed to the front baffle. This cuts down on vibrations that can cause distortion in the cabinet. The HiVe II port technology allows for faster transit from air to the cabinet resulting in an extended dynamic bass.

Wharfedale Diamond 121 Bookshelf Speakers

Wharfedale Diamond 121 Bookshelf Speakers

Wharfedale has brought us the latest in the Diamond series, for around $380 a pair you can have a great pair of bookshelf speakers. The Diamond 121s have a stylish design that comes in seven different finishes to suit any home decor. Aside from impressive styling options the 121s also feature an exquisite sound thanks to some re-engineering. Featuring a newly designed 13cm driver made from woven kevlar, also a blended dust cap to better enhance crossover smoothness. Additionally the tweeters are surrounded by a deep wave guide, also cabinets with slot ported designing to make position even more effortless.

EB Acoustics EB1 Bookshelf Speakers

EB Acoustics EB1 Bookshelf Speakers

Though most people have never heard of EB Acoustics, they probably are some of the best speakers that you have never heard. The design is a step beyond for this price point, the EB1s feature a composite wood material wrapped in real-wood veneer. Also the EB1s cabinet has rounded edges, a design that eliminates phase in the cabinet. With a sound that is as immersive and uncolored as the EB1s everything seems to playback effortlessly.

Acoustic Energy 301 Bookshelf Speakers

Acoustic Energy 301 Bookshelf Speakers

Acoustic Energy brings us the 301, a great looking and sounding speaker to rival popular names at this price point. A two way ported design, that comes in a black or white finish. The front port is positioned to reduce air turbulence, making position even more manageable. The 301s offer a detailed stereo image as well as seamless playback, with crisp attention to detail.

Klipsch Synergy B-20 Premium 5.25-Inch Bookshelf Speakers

The B-20 from Klipsch are latest in the Synergy series, a re-engineered new Two-Way design. The B-20s have pair a sleek styling with low gloss black finish and gray accents, delivering a speaker that looks ready to perform. The sound of the B-20s is impressive to say the least, The Tractrix Horn technology ensures crisp consistent playback effortlessly. In addition to the defined stereo imaging the B-20s also utilizes an aluminum tweeter with linear travel suspension, which allows for fluid motion creating more clearly defined highs with less distortion.

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