What Are Bookshelf Speakers, and Why Do You Need Them?

As their name implies, bookshelf speakers are loudspeakers designed to sit on a shelf or another piece of furniture.

Like most people, you probably think of bookshelf speakers as outdated things your mom and dad used to have in their homes back in the day. Well, guess what? They’re not just for your parents’ generation anymore.

Bookshelf speakers are gaining popularity again these days. Both audiophiles and casual listeners sometimes need a portable set of speakers, and technological advancements have made this type of speaker better than ever.

What Are Bookshelf Speakers?

Bookshelf speakers, also known as stand-mount speakers, are designed to sit on a shelf or table or be mounted on a stand. They are usually small and compact, making them ideal for use in smaller rooms or spaces.

They are typically sold in pairs and come in various sizes, shapes, and styles to suit any taste or budget. While many different types of bookshelf speakers are available on the market, they all share one common goal: to produce high-quality sound while taking up minimal space.

While bookshelf speakers are often used for home theatre, they can also be used as standalone speakers for music listening. Bookshelf speakers are typically more affordable than floor-standing speakers, and their smaller size makes them more convenient to set up and use.

While not as large or powerful as floor-standing speakers, bookshelf speakers can still pack a punch and provide excellent sound quality. If you are looking for a quality pair of speakers for your home, bookshelf speakers may just be the perfect option.

It should be noted that the bookshelf speakers aren’t full-range speakers due to their small drivers. This is where floor-standing or tower speakers come in, as they have a subwoofer, which can provide the low-end frequency that these speakers lack and bigger drivers.

That said, many people are perfectly happy with the sound bookshelf speakers provide, and some high-end models have fantastic bass response despite their inferior size.

Bookshelf Speakers – Important Specifications

When shopping for bookshelf speakers for surround sound, home theatre use, or just even your PC, there are a few important specifications that you should keep in mind:

Driver size: The driver is the part of the speaker that produces sound. The size of the driver will determine how powerful the speaker is and how well it can reproduce the lower frequencies. Most commonly, bookshelf speakers have two: a woofer and a tweeter. The woofer generates the bass, and the tweeter produces the higher-pitched sounds.

Frequency response (Hertz): This is the range of frequencies that the speaker can reproduce. The human ear can hear frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Small bookshelf speakers will not be able to cover the whole range. Hence, we do not consider them to be full-range speakers. Nonetheless, the more a speaker covers, the better.

Watts: This is the amount of power that the speaker can handle without being damaged. If you’re looking to use the bookshelf speaker for home theatre, you’ll want to make sure it can handle the power output of your receiver.

Sensitivity: This measures how well the speaker converts electrical energy into sound. A higher sensitivity rating means that the speaker is more efficient and will require less power to produce the same amount of sound as a speaker with a lower sensitivity rating.

Impedance: This measures the speaker’s resistance to electrical current. A higher impedance rating means that the speaker will require more power to produce the same amount of sound as a speaker with a lower impedance rating.

What Are Passive Bookshelf Speakers?

Passive bookshelf speakers are the most common type of speaker. They require an amplifier or receiver to power them and provide the electrical signal they can convert into sound.

Most of the time, passive bookshelf speakers are more affordable than active speakers and represent a cost-effective solution for home audio. That said, they are a bit more challenging to set up and require more space due to the need for an external amplifier.

What Are Active Bookshelf Speakers?

Active bookshelf speakers, also known as power monitors, have their own internal amplifier. This makes them more expensive than passive speakers but eliminates the need for an external amplifier, making them easier to set up and use.

Since the amplifier is built into the system, you can use an active wireless speaker without losing sound quality. Having fewer cables around is always a good thing.

Active bookshelf speakers are often used in professional settings such as recording studios or live music venues. However, they can also be used in a home setting if you are looking for an easier way to set up your speaker system or don’t have the space for a chunky external amp.

What Are Bookshelf Speakers Used For?

Bookshelf speakers are a smaller alternative to traditional floor-standing speakers, which can be conveniently placed anywhere in your house without taking up too much space. Keeping this in mind, they may be utilized for a variety of purposes, including:

Home theatre: Bookshelf speakers are typically used as part of a home theatre setup. With enough speakers and a receiver, you can even create a 7.1 surround system.

Music listening: Many people use bookshelf speakers for music listening. They can provide high-quality sound without taking up too much space in your home.

PC gaming: Some PC gamers use bookshelf speakers to improve their gaming experience. The sound of a good bookshelf set is far better than that of your typical gaming speakers, although you may miss the meaty subwoofer bass sounds unless you pair one with your speakers.

Where To Place Your Bookshelf Speakers for Optimal Sound Quality?

To get the most out of your speakers, set them away from the wall and on a stand to elevate them off the ground. It will help reduce vibration and sound distortion. But, to be honest, you don’t really have to.

Don’t get us wrong; doing what we mentioned above will improve your sound quality. Still, the people who make bookshelf speakers know that most people don’t have enough space to put them in the best place. Therefore, they design modern speakers to provide the best possible sound quality even when placed in a semi-enclosed space like a bookshelf.

Still, there are some general rules you do want to follow, even for high-end bookshelf speakers. Try to place the speakers as close as possible to your ear height and place them at the ten and two o’clock positions slightly angled toward you.

If you are putting them near the wall or any other obstacle, try to leave as much space behind them as possible to limit sound distortion and to give the bass enough air to work properly.

Do I Need A Subwoofer With My Bookshelf Speakers?

If you want to improve the bass response of your bookshelf speakers, then you can add a subwoofer. A subwoofer is a speaker that is specifically designed to reproduce low frequencies.

Adding a subwoofer to your bookshelf speakers can give you a more immersive listening experience and make your music sound more alive. But it’s not strictly necessary, and you might not even need a subwoofer if you don’t want more bass.

What Are The Advantages Of Bookshelf Speakers?

There are many advantages to bookshelf stereo speakers:

Affordability: Bookshelf stereo speakers are generally more affordable than floor-standing or tower speakers. This makes them a great option for those looking for quality sound without spending a lot of money.

Flexibility: Bookshelf speakers can be placed almost anywhere in your home, giving you more flexibility with your speaker placement.

Size: Bookshelf speakers are small and compact, which makes them easy to transport and store.

Sound quality: While not a factor when comparing them against tower speakers of similar build quality, it’s worth noting that good bookshelf speakers generally outperform most similarly-priced computer speakers.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Bookshelf Speakers?

There are also some disadvantages to bookshelf speakers, which include:

Many require an amplifier or receiver: Bookshelf speakers usually need to be powered by an amplifier or receiver, which can add to the cost of your speaker system.

Not full-range: Bookshelf speakers typically don’t produce the lowest bass frequencies, so they might not be suitable for audiophiles who want to hear every note.

Why Do You Need Bookshelf Speakers?

If you are looking for a surround system that doesn’t require much setting up, go for a soundbar. But if you want better sound quality, choose bookshelf speakers.

Simply put, most, if not all, soundbars on the market are incapable of competing with the audio quality produced by even the very small bookshelf speakers.

Bookshelf speakers are an excellent way to improve your audio experience at home. Even though they most often need an amplifier or receiver to work, the sound quality is worth the cost.

You can always start with two and an amplifier and work your way up until you have a complete set of surround sound bookshelf speakers. Bookshelf speakers are a great option if you want better sound quality for your home theatre system.


What is the use of a bookshelf speaker?

A bookshelf speaker is a type of loudspeaker designed to be placed on a shelf, table, or cabinet. Most of the time, bookshelf speakers are used as part of a home theatre system or to listen to music.

Are bookshelf speakers good for music?

Most of the time, they sound better than traditional desktop speakers and are great for listening to music. You can also attach bookshelf speakers to your TV and enjoy a movie night.

Do bookshelf speakers need a subwoofer?

Although bookshelf speakers do not need a subwoofer to function, having one will give you better bass and an overall more punchy sound.

Do I need an amp for bookshelf speakers?

An amp device, such as a stereo receiver, is required for use with passive bookshelf speakers. Although they are rare and tend to cost more, active bookshelf speakers eliminate the need for a separate amplifier.

Is it OK to put bookshelf speakers on the floor?

Only if you’re okay with ruining their sound quality. You should place them on any raised surface, like a desk or a shelf. For more details and a general usage guide, you can check our “What Are Bookshelf Speakers, and Why Do You Need Them?” article above.

What is the difference between bookshelf speakers and computer speakers?

Bookshelf speakers have better sound quality and bass clarity when compared to computer speakers.

Milica Milenkovic
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