The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500

A Single Bookshelf Speaker on a Stand

Bookshelf speakers are very adaptive. They can be stereo speakers for your turntable or placed into any channel in a home theatre set-up from left/right to rear surrounds. They can sit on your desk as monitors for your computer or sit in your living room for background music, and they can evolve through these uses throughout their life. Bookshelf speakers offer great audio performance in a small package.

Honestly Audio has taken the time to look through the extensive number of bookshelf speakers available on the market today and narrowed it down to some of the best options out there.

Best Overall
Q Acoustics 3020i

Our pick for Best Overall Bookshelf Speaker under 500

Designed to deliver beautifully accurate sound, the 3020i from Q Acoustics accomplishes this by focusing on superior parts, quality construction, and innovative concepts. Being non-powered or ‘passive’, an external amplifier is needed to power these speakers. This allows them to be used for almost anything from a starting point in a home theatre to being the last element in an excellent turntable set-up.

Internally the 3020i has point-to-point bracing to add rigidity to keep the enclosures extra quiet. The .9” tweeter is decoupled from the front baffle using a suspension system that isolates the tweeter from unwanted interference caused by the 5” woofer.

Visually the 3020i has a refined look in its simplicity with rounded edges, subtle metal trimming, and is available in four distinct finishes; Arctic White, Carbon Black, English Walnut, and Graphite Grey. Also included are magnetic grills if you prefer a cleaner look, foam port plugs to tune the low end, and even a pair of handling gloves. Q Acoustics’s 3020i is an impressive speaker with its clear transparent sound, remarkable build quality, and stylish appearance.

This Speaker is For:

Someone looking for a premium speaker for their turntable or the start of a home theatre.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone looking for a bookshelf speaker with a built-in amplifier.

Most Versatile
Fluance Ai60

Most Versatile bookshelf speaker under 500

The Ai60 from Fluance is a high-performance powered speaker that has the versatility to sound amazing however you put it to use; whether you are spinning vinyl on a turntable, gaming on a computer, watching your favorite movie, or streaming from a Bluetooth device.

Fluance’s passion for exceptional sound means the Ai60 is constructed using only premium components including the 1” silk dome tweeters, 6.5” glass fiber woven woofers, and a 100w class D amplifier. All these components work together to deliver stunning highs, balanced mids, and rich bass.

The Ai60 gives you plenty of ways to easily connect your devices including Bluetooth, RCA, optical, and a USB input for PC or Mac. A convenient sub output is found on the rear panel allowing you to connect a subwoofer when extra bass is needed. On the front you will find a control knob that lets you adjust volume, or select inputs if you don’t have the included remote handy.

Available in a variety of finishes from the light lucky bamboo to the darker black ash, the Ai60 allows you to choose the right look to match your space. However you use these speakers, they will fill your space with outstanding audio you can enjoy for years to come.

This Speaker is For:

Someone wanting a versatile speaker that sounds phenomenal playing anything from high-end vinyl to PC games.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone who would prefer not to use a powered speaker.

Best Looking
Klipsch RP-600M

Best Looking Bookshelf Speakers in Piano Black Finish

One cannot deny the distinctive look of Klipsch’s RP-600M; it is attractive and eye-catching in any of its three finishes. There are more than good looks though with this speaker. The RP-600M delivers crystal-clear sound and robust bass that will impress the listener.

At the center of its looks and its sound is a 6.5” spun copper cerametallic woofer that is perfectly matched to a vented 1” titanium tweeter. The tweeter is mounted on Klipsch’s proprietary hybrid Tractrix horn with a compressed molded silicon face for reduced horn resonance and a smoother frequency response. A rear facing Tractrix port is tuned to match the woofer to create ideal airflow and reduce turbulence that can cause distortion. Another high-end feature is its ability to be bi-amped, meaning with additional amplification you can power the woofer and tweeter separately for improved performance.

The RP-600M is a marriage of high-end looks and high-end sound.

This Speaker is For:

Someone who favors bold style and admires quality materials as much as quality audio.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone who wants their speakers to blend quietly into the background.

Best Tech
Edifier S1000DB

Best Tech in a Bookshelf speaker for under 500

Edifier set out to build an exceptional sounding bookshelf speaker with the latest tech available, and they succeeded with the S1000DB. Boasting the most inputs of all the speakers on this list with a coaxial, optical, Bluetooth, and two sets of RCAs, you can choose the best input for your device. The wireless Bluetooth input uses an advanced aptX audio codec; meaning not only will your streamed audio sound better than ever, but the latency issues found in older Bluetooth devices has been greatly improved.

The 5.5” woofer and 1” titanium tweeter are powered by a 120w digital amplifier that delivers rich, powerful sound that you can feel. On the rear panel you will find a master volume knob and tone controls for bass and treble, allowing you to fine tune the speaker for your listening environment.

The wood sides give the S1000DB a sophisticated appearance while a front LED shows which input is selected. Holding all that tech means the speaker itself is larger than average, so you will want to make sure you have the room to appreciate these speakers.

This Speaker is For:

Someone looking for a fantastic sounding speaker that provides you with a host of ways to connect your devices.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone with limited space.

Best Powered
Audioengine A5+

The best powered bookshelf speakers under 500

Audioengine took their successful A5 bookshelf speaker and redesigned it for wireless connectivity to create the A5+, and did so without sacrificing sound quality.

A custom 5” Aramid fiber woofer delivers rich lows and mids while the .75” silk tweeter produces detailed, airy highs. The A5+ uses a Dual class AB monolithic amplifier opposed to the more common class D amplifiers found in many other powered speakers in this range. This provides greater transparency to the audio and a warmer sound.

Using the A5+’s premium Bluetooth aptX HD input, you can stream music from any of your Bluetooth-enabled devices and maintain high-quality sound. If you want to keep things analogue, then you can use the built in RCA and 3.5mm inputs. An RCA output is also available to connect a subwoofer. With its smooth rounded edges, the A5+ looks amazing and is available in black, white, and bamboo finishes.

Pairing modern conveniences with high-end audio components, Audioengine’s A5+ delivers an incredible listening experience.

This Speaker is For:

Someone looking for a powered speaker that delivers amazing sound with great features.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone not looking for everything this speaker has to offer.

Honorable Mention
ELAC Uni-fi UB5

Hifi Bookshelf speaker from ELAC

ELAC’s Uni-fi UB5 is an audiophile bookshelf speaker that will pull all the details out of your music or movies. To accomplish this high level of audio reproduction, ELAC uses a true 3-way design, allowing every element to focus on its given area of the frequency spectrum.

Handling the lows is a 5.25” aluminum woofer, while the highs are handled by a 1” soft dome tweeter placed within a 4” rigid aluminum midrange cone. Placing the tweeter concentrically within the woofer allows for a flatter frequency response with enhanced imaging. Just as much thought and care went into the design of the 3-way crossover, using only high-quality audio-grade components to ensure seamless transitions between the lows, mids, and highs.

The Uni-fi UB5 will need an external amplifier but if you are looking for a high-fidelity speaker, then it may be worth your time to consider.

This Speaker is For:

Someone who places audio quality at the top of their list of priorities.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone who wants more value out of their speaker.

About The Author

Jack Nemo is a professional sound engineer based in Alberta, Canada. He’s managed to make a career out of his love for music while working with artists from around the world. When not behind a soundboard he can be found taking things apart to see how they work and attempting to put them back together again.