Bookshelf speakers may not be an audiophile’s favorite but they are certainly the most preferred moderate-sized speakers for small spaces. They also do exemplarily well in large spaces when combined with other home theater components. With a good pair of bookshelf speakers, you can easily fill your room with sound without hurting your bank account.
You’ve decided that you need to add these sound gems to your space but aren’t sure how to go about the selection process. At Audiomention.com, we are dedicated to making sure that you don’t face any obstacles when buying great audio equipment. We’ve compiled a list of 10 best bookshelf speakers under 200 and a brief guide with considerations to make when buying a bookshelf speaker.
Now, let’s get to see what each of these top performers packs in terms of features.
1. Edifier R1280T
Leading the pack of top performing bookshelf speakers is the R1280T, a visually-captivating 2-way powered speaker pair by Edifier. What meets the eye is a beautiful wood veneer panel, matte metallic top finish and a grille. Inside each unit, a 4-inch woofer and a 13mm tweeter deliver praiseworthy sound performance. What’s more?
Features of Edifier R1280T
- Sound performance: The two 4-inch woofers and two dedicated silk dome tweeters do a great job. With power handling capacity of 42w RMS, the R1280T gives out satisfactory mids and high frequencies. A port to the side of the cabinet allows for air movement, which enhances the efficiency of the speaker’s bass response.
- Dual RCA inputs: Edifier R1280T is one of the few bookshelf speakers that can connect to more than one audio source simultaneously. At the back of the right speaker (the powered one) you’ll see two RCA inputs, labeled PC and AUX. Besides, a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable and an RCA-to-RCA cable are included for easy connection with devices that have RCA outputs.
- Bass and treble control knobs: A recessed area on the side channel of the right speaker has three knobs – volume, bass, and treble. You can regulate these three crucial aspects of your sound easily and quickly. We were impressed with the level of kick that this small bookshelf speaker manages when the bass is turned all up.
- Remote control: For even more convenient sound control, Edifier has included a simplistic remote control with 3 buttons – mute, volume up and volume down. It’s a fact that this remote control doesn’t provide comprehensive control over the speakers. However, it is a great feature considering that not all top-performing bookshelf speakers come with a remote control.
- Rich lows and clear, bright highs.
- Can connect to any audio device with an RCA output.
- Dual inputs; no need for switching inputs.
- You can adjust bass and treble.
- Great looks.
- Favorable price.
- No Bluetooth or any kind of wireless connectivity.
- Remote control would have been more useful with more buttons.
Edifier R1280T deserves the top position because it delivers clear mids and highs while maintaining rich and robust lows that add depth to your music. You’ll also love the way these speakers’ classic vinyl finish compliments your decor.
2. Polk Audio T15
The T15s are a versatile choice of bookshelf speakers for a home theater. Competing shoulder to shoulder with our top pick, these 2-way Polk Audio speakers give you concert-grade sound at an incredibly pocket-friendly price. See its winning features and benefits below:
Polk Audio T15 Highlights
- Dynamic Balance technology: Watch the T15 fulfill your desire for bright highs, extensive mid-range and awesome bass response. Polk Audio has employed its proprietary Dynamic Balance technology to make these speakers as efficient as possible. A 5.25” composite woofer, 0.75” silk dome tweeter and a front-firing bass port are accountable for the speakers’ powerful performance.
- 100 watts power handling: You’d be mistaken to think that there are no bookshelf speakers that pack loads of power. The T15 is probably the best example of a bookshelf speaker that’s surprisingly too loud for their cost. They will invigorate your home theater experience with natural, well-balanced sound.
- Furniture-grade MDF cabinet: Polk Audio has used an acoustically-inert cabinet construction to ensure that resonance and distortion are kept at a minimum. As a result, your favorite jams reach you exactly the way they should. You hear all details and none of the rattled or muffled noise often heard from lower-quality compact speakers.
- Versatility: We mentioned right up from the beginning that the T15s are distinctively versatile. They can work with most AV receivers. Thus, you can add them to a wide variety of setup arrangements – from 2.0 systems all the way to 9.1 setups. Further, these speakers are wall-mountable. This unique capability makes the speakers a favorite choice among users dealing with inherent space limitations.
- Wide soundstage.
- It supports Dolby and DTS.
- Easy to connect with most home theater stereos and receivers.
- High-volume, distortion-free sound.
- Great option for an inexpensive bookshelf speaker.
- Sometimes produces ‘cupped’ sounds when playing certain recordings.
- The speaker pair is best mounted vertically, which limits placement options.
We think that Polk Audio T15 is an excellent choice of bookshelf speakers because few models can beat its value-price proposition. It’s built to impress today’s audio lover with great sound quality and unrivalled versatility.
Regardless of the type of home theater system you are using currently, this bookshelf speaker pair will step in and transform your entertainment experience for good.
3. Pioneer SP-BS22-LR
Have you been looking far and wide for a speaker system that can improve your home theater experience? Pioneer SP-BS22-LR gives you the ideal entry into high-performance audio. With this 4-inch speaker, you are set to get the best of Andrew Jones’ workmanship, which has been unparalleled for several decades now.
Unique features of Pioneer SP-BS22-LR
- Excellent bass response: Of all the speakers we’ve reviewed here, the SP-BS22-LR stands out with regard to bass response. Over-sized magnets and a vented pole piece are largely behind the speaker’s exceptional bass accuracy. The unit’s reasonably high power handling (80 watts) also deserves special mention.
- 1” high-efficiency tweeter: Pioneer has gone great lengths to widen the SP-BS22-LR’s sweet spot. One piece of evidence for this is the inclusion of a soft dome tweeter. It’s an effort to ensure that you get premium quality sound that’s well balanced across all frequencies.
- 6-element complex crossover: Many competitors use simple crossovers just to make the speaker more attractive (theoretically, at least) to users. Contrastingly, Pioneer has utilized a sophisticated crossover while designing the SP-BS22-LR’s circuitry. This high-efficiency crossover aptly differentiates frequencies across the range so that each driver receives the range it can handle best.
- Curved cabinet design: The SP-BS22-LR will capture your eye instantly with its unique design. But this design does more than just add esthetic value to your home theater. It enhances the speakers’ sound performance by reducing standing sound waves – part of the reason these speakers offer exceptional audio quality.
- Well-balanced audio for an immersive listening experience.
- Large magnets for better bass quality.
- Sophisticated tweeter design.
- Solid construction with attractive fit and finish.
- Curved cabinet design reduces internal standing waves.
- Sounds appear dull at high volumes.
- Doesn’t produce deep bass.
You’d be right to choose Pioneer SP-BS22-LR if you are eager to add sound harmony to your home theater experience. Everything about these speakers makes them a perfect choice for superb sound delivery in small rooms.
4. Klipsch R-41M
A small but incredibly elegant bookshelf speaker may be what you need to enliven your compact living space. Klipsch R-41M provides this solution. It comes with mind-blowing sound performance features that make it rank among the top 5 best bookshelf speakers under 200. Check out these winning features below:
Klipsch R-41M highlights
- 200 peak power handling and 90dB sensitivity: These numbers look great, don’t they? Expect a lot of sound from this small speaker. The high sensitivity of 90dB means that the speaker doesn’t require much power to deliver sound. Couple this with capability to handle up to 200w. The speaker will literally shake the walls with sweet bass.
- Tractrix Horn Technology: As one of the most experienced manufacturers of sound equipment for compact spaces, Klipsch understands that indirect sound bouncing off walls deteriorates the sound quality. Klipsch’s exclusive Tractrix Horn technology reduces artificial reverb. Consequently, frequencies are properly aimed at the listener’s ear.
- Superior tweeter design: Klipsch has used Kapton aluminum in making the suspension of the speaker’s square dome tweeter. This material makes the tweeter light but still rigid enough for high-efficiency functioning. Besides, the material blend improves sound resolution and detail.
- (IMG) woofer cones: Injection Molded Graphite cones provide outstanding bass response. They are extremely rigid and associated with minimal distortion and breakup. Coupled with the Tractrix Horn-loaded LTS tweeter, the IMG cone delivers high-class speaker efficiency. This is consistent with Klipsch’s reputation of precise audio reproduction.
- Sleek design: We could not help but notice how different the R-41M is in terms of design. The exterior boasts a polished, modern look thanks to the textured wood grain vinyl finish. Further, exposed fasteners and a low-profile magnetic grille compliment the scratch resistant housing.
- The R-41M delivers clarity, details, and dynamics from your music and movies.
- High power handling and sensitivity.
- Unique tweeter design made for high-efficiency performance.
- Lively and detailed sound.
- Almost perfect surround sound imaging
- Low frequencies are floored at 65Hz, meaning bass may be somewhat lacking.
- You need to add an amplifier to get the best out of this speaker.
We enthusiastically recommend the R-41M. It’s a lot of fun especially at higher volumes, which it handles very well thanks to its superbly-designed woofer cone and tweeter.
5. Edifier R1700BT
Edifier is back with an active studio monitor in the form of a 2-way powered speaker pair. The R1700BT beats competition especially with its versatility. And just like the R1280T we reviewed earlier, this bookshelf speaker comes in a classic wood finish that can match any home furniture.
Winning features of Edifier R1700BT
- Bluetooth connection: The R1700BT pairs with your computer, phone, or tablet quickly to allow you enjoy a hassle-free wireless entertainment experience. Interestingly, this highly versatile speaker is designed to work with just about any Android, Windows, MacOS and iOS device.
- Dual RCA inputs: If there’s one thing that Edifier is keen about, it’s giving its customers the most comfortable experience. You don’t have to keep plugging and unplugging one RCA device after another. The speaker’s back panel has multiple inputs to enable you connect more than one device simultaneously.
- Remote control: We see yet another convenience feature here. The remote control gives you a great deal of freedom to switch input sources, mute/unmute the sound, and control volume levels at your fingertips.
- Built-in digital volume, bass and treble control: Upon turning the speaker’s power on, the digital volume control adjusts to a comfortable volume level. Two other knobs are available for treble and bass adjustment. These enable you to set treble and bass each from 6db to +6db.
- All cables included: Unlike other bookshelf speakers that don’t come with the required wires, this Edifier speaker has a 4′ RCA to RCA cable, a 4′ 3.5mm to RCA cable, and a 16-foot/5-meter speaker cable included in the package.
- Bright, distortion-free highs and a good amount of bass.
- Good balance across the range.
- Bluetooth connectivity makes them highly versatility.
- Great looks.
- Convenient sound controls.
- Lower comparative power handling of 66w.
- Bluetooth is always on
Edifier R1700BT very well fits in the hi-fi territory. The speakers deliver a tone that’s full of clarity and warmth. Besides, mids and highs are awesomely balanced. User’s definitely love the speaker’s ability to pair with their mobile and other Bluetooth devices.
6. Sony SSCS5
So far, most of the bookshelf speakers reviewed are 2-way models. Sony is here to bring a change. Its 3-way model – the SSCS5 – is an ideal choice for someone aiming at getting all the energy and passion of original performances. Let’s get to see how this Sony champion will change your home theater experience.
Sony SSCS5 Highlights
- 3-speaker bass-reflex system: The SSCS5 provides an exceptionally extensive soundstage. With three differently-sized speakers in the design, this bookshelf projects an incredibly dynamic range that immerses you into the original performance. You are sure to have great experiences whether you are listening to music or watching movies.
- 0.75-inch polyester fiber super tweeter: To ensure that high-frequency notes hit accurately, Sony has used new super tweeters designed with wide directionality and balance. These tweeters let the music unfold throughout the space, giving you a sense of every instrument in the original music piece.
- 5.12-inch woofer: Low-end frequencies are handled by a steadfast 5.12 woofer. The woofer features a foamed mica-cellular diaphragm that facilitates the production of deep, stable bass. Noteworthy, this newly designed woofer maintains fine detail in the mid-range to ensure that dialog and vocals remain clear.
- Acoustically designed cabinet: Sony has deflected from simplistic approaches to making speaker cabinets. The company has utilized an all-wood enclosure with tapered faceplate edges, forming a rigid construction that’s optimized for rich acoustics. This enclosure dampens unwanted vibrations and suppresses edge diffraction to yield top-class sound performance.
- 3-way design for faithful, authentic sound.
- Precise acoustic tuning to ensure natural-sounding vocals.
- Super tweeter gives faithful highs and mids.
- Nice and full sound even for non-vocal recordings.
- Strong, acoustically-optimized, ported enclosure.
- Doesn’t put out much bass since the low end drops off at 53Hz.
- Sound controls on the back seem cheaper than other models.
The superior performance features of the SSCS5 have got many users excited about how great the speakers are. Our tests verified these praises. We, thus recommend this speaker for hi-fi near-field application.
If you enjoy light pop, jazz, classical or folk, Sony SS-CS5 is definitely worth your consideration.
7. Micca RB42
Finding a bookshelf speaker that balances size, cost, and satisfactory sound is not easy. However, Micca has made it possible to have all of the three. This bookshelf speaker uses a 4-inch woofer and a 0.75” silk dome tweeter to deliver sound performance that exceeds many users’ expectations.
Distinguishing features of Micca RB42
- Sound reproduction capabilities: Although the RB42 doesn’t come with over-the-roof power and sound production capabilities, it offers good value for the money. The speaker pair handles up to 100 watts and has a frequency response of 50Hz-20kHz.
- Coated paper woofer cone with rubber surround: A stout 4” paper woofer works with an advanced magnet structure, concave dust cap, and a large-radius rubber surround to give thrilling sound performance. For durability, the woofer cone is built on a heavy steel frame.
- 10-element crossover: The RB42 attributes its outstanding tonal transparency and balance to a super-efficient 10-element crossover. An in-depth investigation of this crossover revealed that it uses high-grade air core coils and film capacitors for accurate frequency range differentiation.
- ¾-inch thick MDF speaker enclosure: Clearly, Micca took its time to design an enclosure that would enhance the music performance of other components of the speaker. You’ll notice that all sides of the RB42’s enclosure have thick MDF panels with 100% miter joints. This design is aimed at eliminating resonance, distortion and coloration.
- Astounding bass performance for such a small speaker.
- Great quality components for supreme sound reproduction.
- Smooth treble and mid-range.
- Needs an amplifier to give out better bass.
- You have to buy speaker wires separately
The RB42 is a handsome package with robust sound performance. It injects a significant dose of fun when playing music across all genres, whether playing on its own or as a part of a home theater system.
Grab Micca RB42 for home or office entertainment. It’s compact, affordable, and a great performer.
8. Yamaha NS-6490
Yamaha is widely known for its extensive variety of receivers and ancillary sound equipment. It has also been making decent budget speakers, and this 3-way bookshelf is one of them. The first model of the NS-6490 was designed 15 years ago. To date, this model has remained a favorite choice for users who appreciate natural and authentic sound.
Capabilities and cool features of Yamaha NS-6490
- 3-way acoustic suspension speaker system: An 8-inch woofer, 4-inch mid-range, and a 7/8-inch balanced dome tweeter are the main features behind the speaker’s high-fidelity sound. These components are able to take notes across the ultra-wide frequency response of 45 Hz – 23 kHz. Also important to note is the speaker’s 140w peak power handling.
- High sensitivity: This speaker is rated 90dB, which means that it gives out 90 decibels with 1 watt of voltage. Compared to other models, this sensitivity is remarkably high. Expect floor-shaking sound when you drive the NS-6490 at full capacity.
- Magnetic shielding: You can add the NS-6490 to any home theater system. It can fit anywhere in the system – as front or rear speakers. Also, you can use them as auxiliary speakers for a secondary room. The magnetic shielding helps to reduce circuitry interferences caused by magnetic fields of different electronic devices.
- Acoustic suspension design: As characteristic of many top performing compact speakers, Yamaha NS-6490 has utilized an acoustic suspension for the cabinet. So, the speakers get mounted in a sealed cabinet to help tighten bass response. Even when the NS-6490 is placed close to a wall, its airtight cabinet prevents the deterioration of sound.
- Tight and smooth bass response.
- Audio remains close to the original.
- Very reasonably priced.
- High-quality cabinet construction.
- The speaker cannot work as a plug-n-play computer speaker.
- Considerably bigger than most competing models; they take significant shelf space.
Whether you are a professional or home entertainment lover, these bookshelf speakers will delight you with their clear, tight, and full sound response. They fit a wide range of applications, so you cannot go wrong with them regardless of the kind of system you are currently using.
Take advantage of the inexpensive Yamaha NS-6490 to upgrade your home theater to an energized surround sound system.
9. Pyle PBKSP22
Volume above everything else – that’s your focus while searching for a bookshelf speaker. Despite the small size of Pyle PBKSP22, it will astonish you with how loud it can get. This bookshelf speaker packs massive power and great-quality components. It represents the perfect choice of a Hi-Fi desktop speaker. There is no way this little sound warrior can disappoint you.
Features and benefits of Pyle PBKSP22
- 300 watts powered speakers: The PBKSP22 is the most powerful bookshelf speaker pair among all the powered speakers we’ve come across. It promises to play your favorites the loudest you wish to hear them. User’s hail this little volume champion for delivering rich, detailed, loud sound.
- Hi-Fi sound: A 5.25” driver and a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter are accountable for the speaker’s unrivalled sound performance. Together, they will give you full-range sound like you’ve never experienced before. Also impressive is the speakers’ 50Hz-20 kHz frequency and 4-8 Ohm impedance.
- Bluetooth compatibility: Wireless audio streaming is not a problem with this speaker pair. Whether you want to enjoy a solitary music experience or hold an outdoor DJ party, Pyle PBKSP22 has got you. It pairs with almost every commonly-used device, including iPhones, Android smartphones, iPad, tablet, and PC.
- Multiple wired connections (AUX/RCA/USB): These connection interfaces provide further support for the speaker’s versatility. Thanks to them, you can use a USB flash drive reader and play MP3 digital audio files. Clearly, everything about Pyle PBKSP22 makes it perfect for studio monitor, home theater, or desktop computer applications.
- Rear panel audio controls: A rear panel control center has controls for adjusting volume, bass, and treble. The sound adjusting capabilities allow you to set this active bass reflex bookshelf speaker to a sound output level of your liking.
- Powerful in-built amplifier.
- Ability to steam from external devices.
- Loud, crisp sound.
- Easy-to-use knobs for volume, bass and treble control.
- Strange voice for Bluetooth pairing.
- Black wood exterior looks cheap.
For anyone looking for an inexpensive yet loud center channel or surround speakers, choosing Pyle PBKSP22 is a no-brainer. The price of this extremely clean and loud bookshelf speaker pair will blow your mind.
10.BIC America DV62si
BIC America is a leading sound equipment brand in the U.S. It closes our list of best bookshelf speakers under 200 with this high-sensitivity, tuned-vent bookshelf speaker model. The DV62si is a feature-loaded 2-way model that can work in many home entertainment systems without issues. Check out what it packs for users below:
Highlights of Bic America DV62si
- 6.5″ woofer and 0.75″ tweeter: The DV62si uses a relatively large poly/graphite woofer that gives out accurate, tight, extended bass. And as an assurance of clear mid and high frequencies, these speakers run on a custom designed ferrofluid-cooled tweeter. The two core sound producing features make the BIC America speakers stunningly accurate.
- Video shield: This is a rare feature among bookshelf speakers, and it allows you to place these speakers anywhere in your space without any worries of sound distortion. You can place these speakers next to your computer or TV.
- Black laminate finish: You’ll be happy with these speakers’ great sound response capabilities and their esthetic value to your décor. Unlike some brands that cut corners with the external build of their units, BIC America has made sure that the DV62si looks the part. The laminate finish is evidence for this.
- Patented “Venturi” vents: BIC America has included a patented rear-panel Venturi port to make up for the speakers’ not-so-great 43Hz lower limit for the frequency range. The vent helps to extend the speaker’s low frequency performance.
- Great sound for almost any music genre.
- Top-notch sound performance features.
- Crystal-clean, undistorted mid and high frequencies.
- Ideal choice for surround speakers.
- High sensitivity of 90dB.
- A bit short-coming when playing heavy-bass music.
- Higher price compared to other competing bookshelf speakers.
The main selling point of BIC America DV62si is sound quality across the frequency spectrum. These speakers give out some calm, ambient music at low volumes. Also, you’ll not be disappointed by it performance at high volumes.
The DV62si may be a bit costlier than other models but it gives you extra value for the money.
Factors to consider when buying bookshelf speakers
Buying a nice pair of bookshelf speakers is quite a rewarding experience. You delight in the sound quality improvements that your new speakers add to your listening experience. Besides, acquiring great bookshelf speakers represents a step closer to building a fully-fledged home theater.
Just like with purchasing other types of audio equipment, one needs to have prior information on factors to consider when making the ultimate choice. This final section of our comprehensive review of best bookshelf speakers under 200 is dedicated to explaining several critical considerations to make when selecting the right bookshelf speakers.
i. Active versus passive bookshelf speakers
Active speakers come with a built-in amplifier. You just have to plug these speakers into a power supply and they’re good to go. They are sometimes referred to as wireless speakers. Many active speakers will come with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, giving you the convenience of quick and hassle-free connections to mobile devices.
Passive speakers (also known as wired speakers) require connection to an external amplifier. Installing them involves clumsier work than with wireless speakers. You have multiple wires to deal with, and you have to be very careful to ensure that you connect things correctly. On the good side, wired bookshelf speakers can deliver a better sound boost than comparable passive speakers.
ii. Speaker size
Bigger speakers often mean larger drivers and louder sound. If you are after more volume, bigger bookshelf speaker models should be your target. Remember to consider the installation space your new speakers will need. Some bookshelf speakers come in large and heavy enclosures. Make sure the size you choose will not be difficult to move around and install.
Noteworthy, a bigger size doesn’t equal better sound performance. A speaker’s sound quality is influenced by other factors other than the size of the enclosure, as we’ll see shortly below.
iii. Sound quality
A speaker’s sound quality is determined by several factors. First, the materials used to make the entire speaker structure (woofer, tweeter, and enclosure) influence the sound delivery. Secondly, the number of drivers included in the design of the speaker affects the dynamism of the sound. For instance, a 3-way speaker is more likely to deliver better quality sound because frequencies are allocated efficiently to drivers that can handle them. Crossovers also enhance the production of dynamic sound.
Another crucial factor is the speaker construction technologies employed in making the enclosure. Check out for things such as venting and the use of airtight material, as these help to improve sound response.
iv. Power handling
If you’ve bought any type of speaker before, you know how important it is to verify the RMS power rating of a speaker. Bookshelf speakers may be rated from about 15 watts to as high as 150 watts of RMS power handling. Your choice will be determined by factors such as the power handling of your amplifier (in the case of a passive speaker), and your desired level of loudness.
So, you want to make sure that the bookshelf speaker you are considering for purchase can work with your existing or prospective amplifier. Also noteworthy, more powerful speakers generally give out louder sound.
Other factors you may consider include:
- Installation: how easy is it to set up the speaker? Does it need stands? Is it wall-mountable?
- Compatibility with other home theater or hi-fi system components.
- Cost-value tradeoff.
That’s about it. The tips above should help you to confidently choose the best bookshelf speakers under 200 for a sustainable upgrade to your home entertainment system.
Why Edifier R1280T is our pick for the best bookshelf speakers under 200
The R1280T has consistently maintained a favorable reputation among users. It’s one of the best options for higher-end bookshelf speakers, known widely especially for its great audio response and price.
From the exterior to every part of the speaker’s interior, the R1280T boasts of refinement – be it of sound quality or construction. Edifier is undeniably a master of design as evidenced by the nicely built enclosures of all its models including the R1280T.
You are sure to get an impressive midrange, soundstage, and bass performance, marked by fantastic imaging, tuning, refinement, and depth. The sonic impact of this speaker to your home entertainment system is only comparable with bigger and more expensive speakers. Further, the wireless remote functionality is a unique feature that separates this speaker model from competition.
We recommend Edifier R1280T to every person who needs to add a decent sense of detail in the midranges together with smooth, weighty, room-filling bass response.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.