Bookshelf speakers became popular in the 1960s. Audiophiles in smaller homes wanted high quality audio without the need for large speakers. Manufacturers developed more compact speakers, which led to the birth of bookshelf speakers. By the 1990s, bookshelf speakers became a standard in home audio.
Why Choose Bookshelf Speakers?
Versatile Size: Bookshelf speakers are compact and can be placed anywhere. If you ever want to upgrade your existing sound system, you can effortlessly reposition your bookshelf speakers or use them in another room's sound system.
Diverse Sound: They provide a wide range of sound. Most include at least a tweeter and a woofer. They are designed to provide deep bass as well as mid and high frequencies. The rich sound signature makes bookshelf speakers ideal for music and movies.
Great Performance at Cost: The frequency range makes it an excellent choice for those on a budget. At a comparable price point, no other type of speaker offers such a wide soundstage.
Tweeters: A tweeter generates sound and music in the upper (higher frequency) portion of the music. They compliment woofers and other speakers that can't produce higher-pitched sounds. Tweeters are small in size because they have a small cone and create smaller soundwaves. They work best when directed at the listener.
Most are limited to a set frequency range, such as 3 kilohertz (kHz) to 20 kilohertz (kHz), though this varies depending on the specific speaker's limits. The human hearing frequency range is from 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Midrange: The majority of the noises you hear will come from the mid range drivers. It's what enables your speaker system to recreate specific musical instruments and the human voice. The Midrange reproduces sound frequencies that commonly fall between 250 and 2,000 hertz.
Woofer: A woofer is responsible for producing bass. It is essentially the opposite of a tweeter. It reproduces lower frequencies, often between 40 and 500 hertz.
Crossovers: A crossover is an electronic device that takes a single input signal and generates two or three output signals with different high-, mid-, and low-frequency bands. The various frequency bands feed the drivers we just mentioned.
Active vs Passive Bookshelf Speakers
Require power to function.
Do not require power to function.
Have built in amplifiers.
Need external amplifiers.
Have active crossover networks which deal with line level audio signals.
Have passive crossover networks which deal with amplified speaker level audio signals.
Have separate amplifiers for each crossover band. (x2 for stereo)
Require an external stereo amplifier.
Only work with an internal amplifier
Work with all kinds of amplifiers
Require fewer external components.
Require more external components & cabling.
How do I choose the right Bookshelf Speaker?
Wired or Wireless Speakers?
This is the first thing to consider. A stereo amplifier must be connected to a pair of wired speakers because the amp transmits and powers the audio signal to the speakers. A set of wireless speakers, on the other hand, have their own internal amplifiers.
If you’re opting for wired speakers, you’ll need an amplifier that feeds it the right amount of power. Each set of speakers will have a recommended wattage value you can refer to.
Bookshelf speakers have a restricted number of drivers. They usually just have a tweeter for high frequencies and an "all-range" driver for mids and bass. If the music you listen to doesn't place a lot of emphasis on the bass, a set of bookshelf speakers should suffice. But you can easily pair your speakers with a subwoofer. Both wired and wireless bookshelf speakers work with subwoofers.
Bigger speakers do not automatically give out better sound. However, They do equal more volume. If the speaker is active, a larger size means larger drivers and more room for the amplifier. If you give volume importance, you can get a larger bookshelf speaker. Smaller speakers may not be as loud, but they are much easier to move around.
What specifications do I look for in a bookshelf speaker?
Frequency Response: The frequency response range of a speaker shows the lowest and highest frequencies the speaker can reproduce. Look for bookshelf speakers with a wide frequency response, which typically ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Speaker Sensitivity: The sensitivity (measured in decibels) of a speaker relates to how loud it can go with a specific amount of power. Higher sensitivity ratings indicate that the speaker can generate more loudness. For optimal performance, look for a sensitivity rating of 85 dB or above.
Impedance: Impedance (measured in Ohms) is the resistance that the speaker provides to the amplifier.The impedance of bookshelf speakers is usually 4 or 8 ohms. Make sure the impedance of the speakers is suitable with your amplifier or receiver.
Power Handling: The highest amount of power that the speakers are capable of without distortion is referred to as power handling. For maximum performance, ensure that the power rating matches the output power of your amplifier.
There are a few things to consider while positioning your speakers. If the speaker has an open bass port in the back, leave a small amount of space. The tweeter should be at ear level when the speakers are placed. This is why they are typically put on bookshelves, but you can also use speaker stands.
Bookshelf speakers are intended to be placed at ear level for best sound reproduction. Place the speakers at a suitable height, usually at your seated ear level. Use speaker stands or wall mounts if necessary.
Inward Speaker Direction:
Consider pointing the speakers slightly inward towards the listening area to improve stereo imaging and focus the soundstage. Experiment with various angles to discover the best placement for your speakers and listening position.
Aim for symmetry and balance in speaker placement. If you have two bookshelf speakers, place them equally away from the listening area to maintain a balanced sound staging. This will aid in the creation of a consistent and accurate audio experience.
Distance From Walls:
Place the speakers away from the walls to avoid excessive bass accumulation and to improve soundstage and imaging.
You may need to experiment with positioning to discover the sweet spot that works best for your room and speaker characteristics.
Bookshelf speakers can be used for music production and studio monitoring, particularly in tiny recording studios or home studios. They offer a compact and precise reference for audio monitoring and mixing. However, professional studio monitors built for critical listening and accurate sound reproduction provide superior performance and accuracy for studio use.
Yes, Bookshelf speakers can be used with PCs as well as mobile devices. Using an appropriate audio cable, they can be connected directly to the headphone jack or audio output of your computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. For improved sound quality, connect them to a dedicated amplifier or a powered audio interface.
While bookshelf speakers are mainly intended for indoor use, There are models designed for outdoor use. These outdoor bookshelf speakers are typically weather-resistant.