10 Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $100 in 2020
Here at Music Critic, we are no strangers to low-budget speaker reviews, but it has been a while. We felt it was about time to look at the 10 best speakers for bookshelves under $100 in 2020.
In terms of functionality, transistor technology has not improved much, but it has been refined over the years to a point where high-end models deliver pristine audio and impeccable sound.
When businesses compete to outperform their competitors, goods in the top price tier are continually changing. This leads to some amazing technology for trickle-down. For much less money than the original edition that featured the technology, we can get our hands all over this. This suggests that some great value for money is currently provided by the lower regions. We're going to help you spot the gold from the trash in today's feedback and buyer's guide.
View The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $100 Below
1. Q Acoustics 3020i Bookshelf Speaker Pair
The overview segment of Kick-starting Today is a collection with an award-winning history that has spoken highly of before. They are an aesthetically pleasing yet affordably priced thing, something that doesn't go hand in hand sometimes. They come in four different colours, and they sound beautiful enough to match their look.
They are an improved model that is approximately 25% larger in height and depth than previous versions, allowing them to achieve stronger bass resonance. The deep enclosure's widened front-to-back dimensions ensure that any cone noise transmitted from the back of the enclosure is deadened in order to avoid distortion. Improved structural integrity is supported by the enclosure materials and design modifications, making them a very durable choice.
They also feature a new mid/bass driver and a high-frequency driver that is decoupled. The chance of interference can be greatly decreased by decoupling the tweeter from the baffles and they have a PTP (point to point) bracing system, which further decreases it.
Thanks to their over-sized surroundings, they serve up sounds that are well balanced and defined with a very large dispersion field.
- + Mid/bass driver with dedicated high performance decoupled tweeter.
- + Attractive retail price.
- + For prolonged lows and impressively large scale tone, extra deep enclosure.
Why We Liked It :They have some of the high fidelity room-filling sound that we have ever had the privilege of listening to in the budget regions that are most perfectly balanced, and are remarkably well-made for their outlay. Consider these bookshelf speakers for under 200 bucks if you can stretch your budget.
2. Klipsch R-41M
In the past, we have praised Klipsch's reference series for many of its products, but we believe the R-41M is a great example of a high-quality pair of bookshelf speakers without heavy investment.
Klipschs' proprietary TracTrix horn technology and LTS tweeters are included in all Reference series models. With stunning precision, they offer a very powerful tone.
The Linear Travel Suspension (LTS) uses a very lightweight 'Kapton' material that helps to reproduce audio more crisply. The suspension design often decreases the chance of distortion and usually improves audio as it makes the tweeters perform much more effectively.
The cones of the woofers are Injection Molded Graphite (IMG), which is a densely rigid, lightweight composite. They outperform the majority of other 2-way classified bookshelf speakers when functioning in combination with the TracTrix Horn-loaded LTS tweeter.
The TracTrix horn helps to overwhelm the tweeter by helping to rapidly expel air away from the tweeter. The horn's form varies from circular to angular, which more aerodynamically guides the waves. Their architecture is tuned expertly.
They are made of reinforced MDF that dampens unnecessary vibration, prevents cancellation and coloration, and have a polished exterior that is fashionable.
- + Tweeters with LTS.
- + Technology TracTrix horn.
- + Injection Graphite cones moulded
Why We Liked It:The reference series is, hands down, forcing its rivals to kick it up a notch, making it one of their class's most solid, punchy pairs.
3. Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers
As an excellent example of a budget bookshelf speaker choice, this low-priced pair has also made our top ten list before. With their entry level goods, Polk seems to be at the top of their game, building good quality audio electronics with reasonable price tags, which feature trickle-down technology from their more expensive collections.
There is no exception to the T-15 bookshelf speakers, which are well made from high pressure MDF. In contrast to a plastic set of speakers, Woods are acoustically inert and usually have a more desirable echo, not to mention that they buzz less at louder volumes.
They have excellent bass handling, using a 5.25-inch composite driver of decent quality supported by a front-firing bass port. This feature of the enclosure design maximises the capabilities of the bass because of its compact size. They operate with a 0.75' silk dome tweeter in unison and both drivers are engineered with Polks patented dynamic equilibrium technology.
Without muffling, the sound is rich and informative and, significantly, broadly scattered. They are easy to set up and compatible with most electronics and stereos for home theatres. They sport adjustable grilles and have a traditional black look that is understated.
- + Price-tag Affordable.
- + acoustic cabinet MDF.
- + Ported bass enclosure for maximum output of bass
Why We Liked It :They feature wooden ported enclosures and support Dolby and DTS. This pair is fairly priced. For any home surround set-up, they will be a welcome addition. With their trickle-down tech on board, they're good value for money.
4. Edifier R1280DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers
Now for a nose, a well-equipped pair of operated bookshelf speakers at Edifiers. They act as an amplifier-free stand alone. The pair's active speaker features simple side panel controls for entry. With them, users can easily change equalisation and volume, or they can instead use their remote control.
We have previously tested other Edifier speakers and we are always amazed by their natural crossovers, their audio depth, and how comprehensive the mid-range really is. As a set of autonomous bookshelf speakers, this makes them perfect.
The bass driver, borrowed from one of their most famous versions, has a 4 inch premium composite cone woofer. In order to provide high definition sound, it works in combination with a high performance 13mm silk dome tweeter.
It contains bass optimising design features that lift the bass output bar as far as 4 inch woofers go The enclosure is expertly calculated and constructed from pressure treated MDF.
This package also has Bluetooth networking built in and is fitted with optical, coaxial, and wireless inputs, making it versatile. With a peak RMS of 42 watts per pair, they have a low consumption of energy.
- + Cordless.
- + Inputs that are optical and coaxial.
- Enclosure + Carefully measured.
Why We Liked It:They put some of the best tech from Edifiers down to a standard anyone can appreciate and they even boast the wireless mod conveniences. For those who want better sound, select a less than $500 bookshelf speaker.
5. Sony SSCS5 3-Way 3-Driver
In a handful of our reviews, this next set of speakers has been featured primarily because they are an inexpensive 3-way class choice, which is much more versatile. In addition to a rigid Mica Reinforced Cellular woofer and tweeter, devote a super tweeter to the mix. This facilitates improved equalisation and more authentic replication of audio.
The woofer is 5.2 inches wide and has a mica-cellular diaphragm that is better for low frequency enhancement. The tweeter is 0.98 inches, and 0.75 inches is the super-tweeter. The directional radius is wide and strong, regardless of the tiny size of the super tweeters. Each driver cone is composite in nature, and absolute clarity has been calibrated precisely for each one. It renders vocal meaning pristine by combining a tweeter and a super tweeter to share the highly demanding high-frequency response.
The MRC woofer cones are extremely robust, which implies that they will not deteriorate as easily as a paper cone model. The cabinet is also designed and incorporates a ported style that is robust. It is made of wood and lined with a felt that absorbs sound and reduces rear sound pressure. They have optimised crossover parts and manage a maximum power of 100 watts that is recommended.
- + System of 3-way groups.
- + Integrated super-tweeter.
- + system of 100 watts.
Why We Liked It :They feature streamlined crossover parts, and without too much of a price rise, the improvements they have earned make them very formidable competitors.
6. Micca MB42 Bookshelf Speakers
As we have included them in past bookshelf speaker reviews, this passive pair is no stranger to our eyes either. They win over us wholeheartedly, tick many important boxes to buy on a lower budget and feature many concept implementations from higher end lines of Miccas. They have a decent power handling capacity of 75 watts each, the majority of which is suitably noisy without too much energy consumption.
They have a solid design and are designed with strong high-quality components. With a traditional black enclosure, wrapped in wood-grain patterned vinyl with softened bevels and rounded corners, they are fairly lightweight.
With a carbon fibre horn, they feature a 4 inch woven woofer. Thanks to the ported enclosure design, it sits inside a rubber surround to maximise bass output, providing distortion-free bass.
The woofer is combined with a 0.75" high-performance silk-dome tweeter that handles the high-frequency response without overheating efficiently." The crossover is beautifully manufactured with high quality capacitors and philtres. They are for sitting on a shelf and standing at a height of 9.5" with a footprint that saves space of only 5.8" X 6.5.
- + Lightweight and smaller footprint model.
- + 150 watts per couple.
- + American fabrication.
- + Low cost.
Why We Liked It :It is very impressive because in spite of the low retail price, they manage to include some very high quality components.
7. Klipsch R-15M Bookshelf Speaker
Back to Klipsch for a look at another of their bookshelf models from the Reference collection. They are a set of impactive bass and a surprising appearance for their smaller stature in general. This is mainly due to their patented 90 x 90 TracTrix Horn that is equipped with all Reference series models as described above.
From the already very impressive tweeter, the TracTrix Horn takes the sound waves and pushes the air into a horn that starts as a circular shape and becomes square. The adjustment in the form of the horn expels the air more easily making the audio of the higher frequency much clearer than most speakers in the 2-way class.
The other big reason why the sound is so well established is that the tweeters themselves benefit from a Linear Travel Suspension model that improves details and completely avoids distortion.
The woofer is constructed of composite cones composed of copper spun injection moulded graphite (IMG), which has the ideal bass response and performance properties with minimal breakup.
- + Horn of TracTrix.
- + woofer cone IMG.
- + Tweeter with LTS.
Why We Liked It -:A great filtering crossover that incorporates cutting-edge wave-guide technology with each driver operating in conjunction with each other. They are one of the best speakers in their class, successfully
8. Edifier P12 Passive Bookshelf Speaker
Edifier is another business that produces excellent audio electronics for a price at the entry stage, which won't make you cry when reading your monthly statement. Somehow, they manage to do so without compromising on features that are unforgettable for the brand.
This implies that all of their goods benefit from all the same benefits of their more costly versions, and this trickle-down technology we are constantly referencing is illustrated by the P12 passive bookshelf package.
They are well-constructed from MDF, which is a natural resonance dampening go-to material. For sound clarity, the enclosure itself is expertly tuned to further decrease the cabinet resonance.
At 4 inches, they have a slightly bigger woofer cone and a 3⁄4 inch silk dome tweeter that is smaller than those we have highlighted here today. With a bookshelf speaker, the smaller size is meaningless as they are made to act ideally as one small part of a whole. The woofer manages low registers well, reacting and performing under load.
Thanks to high performance tweeters operating overtime to create highly defined information in the mix, the treble is very bright.
- + Positioning flexible (can be used a rear channel or surround).
- + Comfortable cost.
- + Strong elements of consistency.
Why We Liked It :We looked at quieter bass choices, but given the glaringly obvious fact that a pair of bookshelf speakers can actually handle the mids and highs on a different channel with a dedicated separate woofer or subwoofer, we feel that these should not be ignored.
9. Yamaha NS-6490 3-Way Bookshelf Speakers
The NS-6490 pair from Yamaha is another 3-way class speaker package which sits below our budget limit.
Once again they are a newly upgraded model and have made the grade in past reviews as well.
With wider 7.1 configurations, they are made for use, have an ultra-wide frequency response and provide audio at the professional level.
A high output woofer, a mid-range driver and a balanced dome tweeter are combined in their 3-way set-up.
In addition to the high and lows, having a dedicated mid-range driver means the crossover is more efficient and can provide a range of equalisation.
The drivers are developed from high-quality components and designs are thoroughly studied by experts at Yamaha. They are produced very well and have a strong and tight sound response.
The woofer has a rubber surround and the mid-range driver is 8 inches 4 inches and just 7/8ths of an inch tweeter. They work and are magnetically shielded at a combined peak power of 140 watts, making them ideally suited to all home theatre applications.
- "+ Large woofer with 8".
- + Mighty full-range sound.
- + Frequency response of ultra broad range.
- + System of 3-way groups.
Why We Liked It:The bass is tight, they have a heavily improved bottomless depth and will complement any home setup.
10. JBL Arena B15 Black Bookshelf & Surround Speaker
These affordable surround speakers from the JBLs-acclaimed Arena series are another familiar face, and definitely a set on our radar. In our Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $200 article last year, they won an entry and are still up-to-date enough to impress. Lets refresh ourselves on their specs for those of you who skipped our previous analysis. They are a 2-way class and are constructed with quality components to last.
They feature two highly sensitive 5.5 inch polycellulose bass driver cones that retain adequate rigidity during use. Initially designed for their high-end JBL M2 Master reference speaker, they rely on JBL's proprietary High Definition Imaging wave-guide technology.
To effectively deliver a large frequency response between the two, the high frequencies are handled by a 25mm soft dome tweeter. Thanks to their cutting edge crossover circuitry that has been perfected by professional engineers, they offer room-filling, full spectrum sound that is very well-balanced.
They are affordably priced and part of the JBLs Arena system, but as a surround system bookshelf speaker, they will be compatible with most setups.
- + Footprint compact.
- Set of + Surround.
- + Made from premium pieces.
- + Using high-end innovations.
Why We Liked It:They are a key component of an impressive sound system from a great series.
Buyers Guide for Bookshelf Speakers Under $100
What Is a Bookshelf Speaker?
Bookshelf speakers are designed to be mounted on raised surfaces and on a shelf.
Speaker placement in a surround system is vital to the overall audio, and while some bookshelf speakers are perfectly sufficient for any listener to use the display, they are meant to be part of a larger system.
In larger setups, they are usually used as left and right front or rear surrounds, joined by a central or LCR speaker and a bass woofer or subwoofer.
What To Look For in Bookshelf Speakers Under $100?
First and foremost, when setting up a surround device, you have to know your amplifier capabilities, you have to make a few calculations.
It is wise to keep standards modest in this price zone, but that being said, we see some extremely good cheap models with high-end materials, techniques and technology.
You need to choose your room wisely after amplifier requirements. These days, several models are much more lightweight than ever with enclosure designs changing, producing new composites with enhanced properties.
In at least a 2.1 method, the majority of the passive pairs we have looked at would sound their best, as the majority are listed as 2-way.
You will only need a 2-way class package to use them with a 5.1 device or higher, so the bass will be treated separately. If less of a workload is delegated to your bookshelf pair, they can run much more effectively.
If you are not building a surround set-up, the main thing you'll want to worry about is the enclosure configuration or on-board bass optimization.
As far as physics goes, the bass in a bookshelf pair might not be as present as you would like in the mix, since bass vibrations in a restricted space are illogical. In a box head on, producers then have to fix the issues associated with bass. By going for ported or vented designs of enclosures, they do this. They work to maintain a continuous fresh-air intake using tubing.
Finally, the variety of goods available to you can be decided aesthetically by your budget and personal preferences, luckily, there are a plethora of products with lower prices than ever before.
The value of being 'spec-savvy' can not be emphasised enough when you find yourself shopping for audio electronics on a lower budget, especially given that it is one of the most saturated and highly competitive markets imaginable.
Fortunately, many businesses can be more cooperative with their customers, particularly the larger brands, innovations at the top-end mean bargains at the bottom.
Although a budget model is not really going to outperform a premium one in this article we have included many here that are on-par with models twice their retail price. We hope that our comparisons and thorough buying guide will help you make an informed decision as always.
You may want to head on to our Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $1000 article instead if you are looking for audiophile level sound and are blessed with a bit more cash to blow.
Did you Know
When a speaker produces audio, a lot of vibration is affected. In dampening resonances that might cancel out sound waves and cause muffling and distortion, the enclosure plays a critical role. Therefore the surface on which the speaker is mounted often influences the sound quality.