Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 500 Dollars

I want my music to jump off the stage and out of the speakers… – Luke Bryan 

I want my music to jump off the stage and out of the speakers… – Luke Bryan 

Music is the soundtrack to our lives. It transports us through time and space with a single riff, instantly lifts our spirits skywards with the opening line from a chorus that’s stayed with us since childhood, and makes everything seem, and feel better when it envelopes us in its instantly familiar embrace.

It isn’t just the food of love, music is the universal binding agent that transcends language, nationality, and culture, and is the glue that holds the world together. Without it, who knows where we would be or what would have happened to humanity and the world we live in.

Thankfully, a life devoid of music it’s something that we don’t have to contemplate or worry about. But making sure that we can bask in, and absorb the radiant glow of music is something that’s always at the forefront of an audiophile’s every waking thought.  How can you enjoy the music that you listen to the way that the artists and bands who made it intended you to? 

The easiest solution is with a pair of bookshelf speakers that were built to fit in with your life and the limited space in your home while carrying you away on wave after wave of audio pleasure. But finding those speakers when you’re surrounded by thousands of different brands and models, especially if you’re limited by your budget and time, isn’t exactly easy and it certainly isn’t straightforward, 

Don’t panic fellow audiophiles, because that’s where we come in. We’ve been where you are, and thanks to the countless hours we’ve spent listening to guitars cranked all the way up to eleven being pumped out of hundreds of different speakers, we’ve learned a thing or two about them.

Bigger doesn’t always mean better, or more powerful and that’s why we’ve compiled this list of the best bookshelf speakers you can outfit your home with for less than five hundred dollars.

Bookshelf speakers are very versatile as they can double up as desktop speakers and can also be used as an alternative type of home theater system. They are actually very good for smaller living spaces like studio apartments, where a home theater system will take up too much space.

Getting affordable speakers does not mean you have to compromise on great quality. In fact, given how many options there are in the speaker market, I would insist on the most precise sound and design, especially the closer you get to shell out $500.

If you’re looking for a way to lose yourself in music at a price that won’t wipe out your bank balance, then you’ve come to the right place. So let’s turn up the volume and review the best bookshelf speakers under $500.

Klipsch RP-500M Bookshelf Speakers

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One of the premiere names in audio excellence Klipsch has been making the speakers that have plugged the gaps in audiophiles’ lives for more than three-quarters of a century. And these gorgeous bookshelf speakers that use Klipsch’s patented Tractrix technology to focus their output directly toward you are the stuff that dreams are made of. 

Devastatingly simple to incorporate into any existing home stereo set-up, the RP-500M’s feature copper wound, five and half-inch cerametallic woofers to deliver crystal clear sound, and have a scratch-resistant, solid ebony and walnut finish ensure that they’re as aesthetically pleasing as they are powerful.

Everything that Klipsch has learned about speaker technology in the last seventy years is crammed into their flagship bookshelf speakers. This truly is a step above the other models that Klipsch has produced.

Yes, you could go bigger, and you could take up half of the available space in your living room with a set of speakers, but even if you did they wouldn’t deliver the same sort of dynamic response as the RP-500M’s do. Size, as Klipsch knows all too well, isn’t everything. What really matters is what’s under the hood and how you use it. And nobody knows how to use it better than Klipsch does. 

Pros

  • It’s All About The Power – The devastating combination of Tractrix technology, titanium tweeters, and spun copper woofers make these speakers a devastating weapon that any audiophile should, and can happily welcome into their musical arsenal. 
  • Truly Beautiful To Behold – The RP-500M’s are packed into seriously good-looking, bookshelf size cabinets that are designed to take everything that life throws at them with a smile and not lose a single beat. They look as good as they sound, and that’s all that will matter to you when you gaze at them day after day. 
  • The Klipsch Name – It’s worth its weight in gold to music fans the world over. They’re a brand that lets their speakers do all the talking for them.

Cons  

  • A Little Lacking In The Technology Department – We’re living in the digital age, so it’s a little disappointing that Klipsch is still reliant on hardwired connections. The RP-500M’s aren’t Bluetooth enabled, so you’ll have to physically connect them to your set-up. 

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Audioengine A5 Plus Wireless Bookshelf Speakers 

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Audioengine believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, and it’s their collective desire to inspire people to listen to it every day of their lives that makes them do everything that they do. They’re relative newcomers to the audio world, but ever since they first appeared on the scene in two thousand and five, they’ve been changing the way that people think about, and listen to music. 

Don’t let the A5 Plus’ diminutive stature fool you, these desktop-sized behemoths pack a powered punch that means you don’t need to hook them up to an amplifier to make the most of the peak power output of one hundred and fifty watts of pure musical pleasure that they’ll happily deliver. They’re an all-in-one package that can be hooked up to your stereo, laptop, or home cinema system straight out of the box. 

And it doesn’t matter if you prefer to hardwire and physically connect Audioengine’s speakers to your set-up, or if you want to take advantage of their ridiculously easy to use Bluetooth technology, you can connect them in minutes, turn the volume up and sit back and enjoy your music in a way that you never dared dream was possible.

The speakers are rear-ported which means that there needs to be some room behind them.

This is truly the best combination of premium components and quality sound at a good price range. You will be amazed by the appeal of the exposed dome tweeter with the carbon fiber woofer and surroundings.

Pros 

  • Punching Above Their Weight – They may be small, but these bookshelf speakers are incredibly powerful and are capable of delivering a combined output of one hundred and fifty watts. It might not be enough to shake the foundations of your house, but it’s more than loud enough to ensure that your neighbors will be able to enjoy your music as much as you do. 
  • Simple To Use – All you need to know to make the most of these speakers is know how to turn the volume up. Their one dial control system is ridiculously easy to use and almost as straightforward and simple to understand as their Bluetooth connectivity. 
  • Customer Service And Warranty – And if, in the unlucky event that something untoward does happen to your speakers, Audioengine’s three-year warranty and easy to talk to,  friendly customer service team will either fix or replace your speakers. 
  • Premium design bookshelf speakers.
  • wireless connectivity

Cons

It’s A Size Thing – They’re not exactly cheap, and as they’re not the biggest speakers on the market, you might feel like you’re not getting value for money. But appearances can be deceptive, and you’re not paying for size, you’re paying for audio power and on that front, they deliver more than you could ever want, or expect them, too.

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Edifier R2000DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers

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In the twenty-five years since Edifier began their slow, but sure ascent to the peak of audio excellence they’ve converted a legion of global fans to their cause and made believers out of us. They combine cutting-edge speaker technology with high-end aesthetics to create simple to use speakers that anyone and everyone can enjoy. 

With a combined output of one hundred and twenty watts of peak power, these fully remote-controlled quality speakers can be hardwired into your setup, or connected to any smart device via Bluetooth. 

You don’t even need to think about using an amplifier, as these powered speakers do everything for you. Just plug them in, connect them and they’re ready to go. with a wide frequency response allowing you to enjoy all types of music and hear all instruments with precision.

One of the things that we love about Edifier’s speakers is their silk dome tweeters, which don’t distort low or high-end frequencies even when they’re turned all the way up. That, combined with the fact that they look pretty good, and you control them from the comfort of your armchair with the remote, should be more than enough to convince you that they could be the bookshelf speakers that you’ve been searching for.

With a beautiful build quality, these are the perfect set of stereo speakers, providing you with relaxing, crisp, and clear sounds. Combine this with wireless capabilities in the form of Bluetooth, and you can play your favorite media from any device on these speakers.

Pros

  • Remote Control – As soon as they’re connected, either by Bluetooth or physically, you can just sit back in your favorite chair and control the volume, thump thebass level, and everything else with the supplied remote. Edifier believes that the key to enjoying music is simplicity and relaxation, and these speakers enable you to do the latter by making the most of the former. 
  • It’s A Price Thing – They come in way under the budgetary level that we set, and we’re a little bit stunned by their performance given their price point. To coin an all too often overused phrase,  Edifier’s speakers deliver a lot of bang for your buck. 
  • Warranty –  And they’re also fully covered by Edifier’s two-year parts and labor warranty, which also covers replacement speakers in the incredibly unlikely scenario that some technological calamity will befall them. It won’t, but it’s always nice to have the peace of mind that lets you know that you have nothing to worry about if it does. Which, as we’ve already said, it won’t. 

Cons

  • Range – The Bluetooth range isn’t great, but as long as you’re in the same, or an adjoining, room you won’t need to worry about distance or connectivity. It’s only when you wander a little further afield that the Bluetooth range starts to become an issue. 

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ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers

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During the nine decades since they first dipped their toes in the audio waters in Kiel, Germany, Elac have refined and developed their home speaker systems to ensure that they deliver razor-sharp sound, time after time after time.

They adhere to a simple credo, “the life of sound”, and they treat music as a living entity that needs to be tamed and treated with the love and care that it deserves. And that’s probably why Elac’s Debut bookshelf speakers are beloved by anyone who is fortunate enough to incorporate and use them in their home set-up. 

We need to make one thing clear right from the start, and that’s the fact that Elac does things the old-school way. There’s no wireless technology or amplifiers built into their speakers, they’re made to be physically connected to your stereo or home cinema set up and only serve one purpose.

To make your music and your movies sound great. In fact, the one hundred and twenty watts of pure audio ecstasy that they pump out sounds so good, that you’ll swear these speakers are twice as powerful as they actually are. Sometimes, the simplest way of doing things is the only way to do it. 

Pros

  • Straightforward And Simple – It’s like we said, Elac keeps it simple and follows the old school rule book. The perfect internal balance of the tweeter and woofer makes these front-firing bookshelf speakers the perfect analog answer to the digital world problems that no audiophile should ever be forced to deal with. Just hardwire them into your home setup and you’ll be good to go. 
  • They Do Exactly What They Say They Will –  They’ve been designed to do one thing and one thing alone, and that’s crank out one hundred and twenty watts of pure sonic pleasure as soon as they’re connected. They are the epitome of bookshelf speaker simplicity. 
  • Pocketbook Friendly – They’re not too expensive, they’re not too cheap, they’re priced just right. They won’t hurt your pocketbook, they won’t damage your bank balance and they fall well within the budgetary limitations that we set. What more could you want for the price that Elac is asking for them?
  • 1-inch silk dome tweeter has been revamped to produce the most crisp sound.

Cons 

  • No Frills – As we’ve said, they’re an old-school set of speakers designed to put a smile on the face of old-school audio fanatics. The lack of technology and adaptability means that their appeal is limited to a very small, but dedicated fanbase who believe that the old ways are still the best ways. 

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Polk Audio S20 Signature Series Bookshelf Speakers

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Polk Audio warns all of their would-be customers to “expect great sound” because that’s exactly what they design all of their speakers to deliver; great sound. It’s what they’ve been doing since nineteen seventy-two, and they have no intention of slowing down or stopping soon.

They don’t subscribe to a needless philosophy of false modesty and will readily tell anyone who wants to listen that their speakers are “What Better Sounds Like”. And you know what? They’re absolutely right. 

Designed using Polk’s patented Power Port technology to deliver a more fully rounded sound that lets you explore the highs and lows without any distortion, these bookshelf speakers will deliver one hundred watts of pure power per channel and will bring your movies and music to glorious, pulse-pounding, adrenaline-fueled life. 

All you need to do is connect them to your stereo or television, and sit back and let Polk do the rest. Honestly, we were a little bit wary about telling you about these speakers as Polk are one of the best-kept secrets in the audiophile world, but as the cat is now well and truly out of the bag, it’s up to you to act fast and secure a pair while you still can. 

Pros

  • Welcome To The Power Port – Polks patented technology is designed to pump up, and pump out the bass frequencies without distortion, which will make your heart flutter and every cell in your body tingle with audio pleasure. Believe us, we know these things. 
  • It’s All In The Name – Some names carry a lot more weight in the audio world than others do and names don’t come any heavier than Polk. They were a brand originally established by audio engineers to please audio lovers and it’s a tradition that they’ve proudly fulfilled ever since. For nearly fifty years Polk has been a go-to name in speaker technology, and it’s a legacy that they’re proud to carry into the future. 
  • Good frequency spectrum for the price

Cons

Size Is Everything – You won’t have to worry about value for money, as Polk’s S20’s are big and bulky, and tower over almost every other bookshelf speaker. If you’re determined to get the best value from your dollar in terms of power, looks and size then the only speakers that should be on your list are the ones that are made by Polk. 

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Buyers Guide

Which Bookshelf Speakers Are The Right Ones From Me? 

It’s a good question, and the only answer we can give is, that depends on what you need them for, and how you want to use them. Fortunately for bookshelf speakers under $500, you have a variety of options.

There are speakers on our list to suit just about every budget and whether you’re looking for a wireless set of speakers or just want to connect them to your stereo, you’ll find the perfect pair on it. simply put there are a plethora of speaker options to choose from.

And whichever set of bookshelf speakers you do end up choosing, they’ll help you to fulfill all of your audio dreams. See below for some items that will help you make an informed decision.

Sound Quality

Another important thing to note is that sound quality is of paramount importance when selecting a bookshelf speaker is the sound quality. At the USD 500 price range you should be discerning when it comes to sound quality, and if I were you I would accept nothing but the most impeccable audio quality.

So do yourself a favor and head to the store if possible and have a listen for yourself, speak to the salesman and be sure of the sound quality of your speakers.

But what if you can not go to the store and test out your headphones? Well, in that case, I strongly advise reading reviews like this one, and doing as much research as you can especially on things like wether headphones have bass control, built in amplifier and optical output.

Active Speakers Vs. Passive Speakers

In simple language, active speakers have their own cabinet built-in amplifier, while passive speakers take their power from an external amplifier.

Passive speakers are connected to the amplifier via speaker wire.

Passive speakers are mostly for home use while active speakers are usually found in pro-audio for pa monitors and systems, consumer audio, and blue-tooth speakers.

When it comes to which one is better, it totally depends on the purpose you are buying the speakers for.

For instance, I prefer passive speakers because I want these for my personal use and some of the traits of passive speakers are suitable for my case.

The passive speakers just need a wire connection, which makes them easier to place.

Also, passive speakers are easier to upgrade, or their amplifier can easily be replaced.

For instance, if you want more power, you just need to purchase a new amplifier and connect it up to the speakers.

Lastly, since I sometimes need speakers during traveling, I found passive speakers to be the better option.

Because they don’t have a built-in mixer, they are light in weight and easy to carry.

For details on active vs passive subwoofers, you can follow this link.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Bookshelf Speakers? 

Bookshelf speakers are compact, or smaller speakers that are designed to be part of a home stereo, cinema, or gaming set-up and can be placed on a raised surface such as a bookshelf or a table.  

They’re made to deliver the same sort of performance as their much larger counterparts, without taking up the same prohibitive amount of room. And they’re an affordable way for audiophiles, gamers, and movie fans to enjoy music and sound in the way that it was meant to be enjoyed. 

How many bookshelf speakers do I need?

For the most part, one pair of bookshelf speakers will tend to do the job. Most bookshelf speakers will come as a pair. The only additional accessory that you would need would be an amplifier in the event that you purchase an unpowered set of speakers.

An expert tip would be to do as much research as possible and determine how many speakers you actually need. This is a function of where you need to place your speakers and the size of your living space.

To add an extra pair of speakers, set up one pair for the front left and front right and the other pair for the rear left and rear right so as to avoid them overlapping.

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