Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500 Reviewed
Bookshelf speakers can be a tricky purchase, especially with them getting better and better as the years passed. Bookshelf speakers were first used in home theaters as they offered more immersive surround sounds for movies and TV shows. As time passed, bookshelf speakers have now been used in HiFi applications and even for home parties. It’s not a mystery how they’ve become famous with their compact sizes and high-quality and high-output sounds. In this article, we’ll tackle and give some insights into the best bookshelf speakers under $500. Check out our reviews of the JBL Studio 530, the Bose 201 Series V, and the Edifier R2000DB, below.
JBL has proved itself through their years of extensive experience in making performance-ready speakers and other audio equipment. And those years of experience are being applied to their products today as they focus more on consumer audio systems. So, deservedly, the first of our reviews is the JBL Studio 530, one of the best bookshelf speakers under $500.
In terms of design, the JBL Studio 530 is a bit of an oddball, with what JBL calls an “Exclusive Design.” The 1-inch High-Frequency driver has an unusual-shaped horn. In contrast, the 5.25-inch Low- Frequency driver’s cover is swooping into the high-frequency horn. Some will like it, and some will hate it, but I think it looks cool. But you have to see the pictures for yourself to know if you’d live with the design or not.
These speakers are powered and connected using the gold-plated binding post connectors on the rear. The JBL Studio 530 has an overall rich, balanced tone with a frequency response of 45Hz to 40 kHz. The JBL Studio 530’s bass is rich and warm, and will even bring an extra punch when you push it. And it does it with little to no distortion. Its treble is crisp, clear, and will not sound like a tin can when you push it on higher volumes.
Is it okay for Hi-Fi and other applications? Yes, it can do well in Hi-Fi and home theater applications, especially with its vast frequency response. The right tonal balance will also make these as great studio monitors.
Overall, if you don’t like these speakers’ aesthetics, I promise you that you’ll start to love them. The sound these speakers spit out has an overall lively sound quality and has a significant presence in ways that even audiophiles can’t explain. With that, I’d highly recommend this speaker for everyone looking for a great listening experience. For the money, it won’t disappoint.
Check out more reviews of the JBL Studio 530 on Amazon to see if it’s right for you!
Perhaps you care more in a company specializing in home audio systems, instead of JBLs professional audio experience. In that case, this speaker may be the one for you. Bose is known for its speaker’s outstanding performance in the realm of home audio systems. Speakers made by Bose will do great with equalization and surround sound. Let’s take a look at the Bose 201 Series V Speaker system and see if these are the best bookshelf speakers for you.
The Bose 201 Series V features the classic Bose speaker design with a curved front side, letting the sound disperse more efficiently, resulting in a more natural surround sound. The Bose 201 Series V speakers have a 6-1/2 inches woofer and a highly sensitive 2-inches tweeter that includes the Stereo Targeting Technology made by Bose. And upon purchase, you can get these speakers with floor stands or wall brackets.
The enclosure is a bit light, but the shape of the enclosure will provide fantastic acoustics. Furthermore, the headcovers are made out of premium materials such as flannel lining. In terms of connectivity and power, the Bose 201 Series V is a passive speaker connected through a bare wire connection. So you need to get the proper wire gauge to ensure the appropriate performance.
These speakers’ bass performance is clean and free from any distortion, but you don’t get a full bass experience. In contrast, the treble is perfect and has a lot of presence but still has a clean and crisp sound. However, you may have to get other Bose speakers such as a center and subwoofer speaker to ensure that you are getting a full range and full surround sound.
In the end, we’ll ask the same questions, what are these speakers for? The unknown frequency range and a constantly adjusting frequency response make these speakers unreliable for Hi-Fi listening and studio monitoring. These speakers are made for home theaters since they bring out a pleasurable surround sound experience with exciting enhanced audio. Overall, with a price tag of under $500, the Bose 201 Series V is worth trying and is one of the best bookshelf speakers for home theater applications.
All of the bookshelf speakers we’ve mentioned so far are passive speakers and will need amplification from an amplifier. For convenience and a cleaner, more comfortable, and less clunky setup, we’ve featured an active amplifier for this list. For that, we’ll take a look at the Edifier R2000DB. Stay tuned to see if this one is for you.
Straight out of the box, the Edifier R2000DB will include everything to make itself work. The package consists of the speakers themselves, an RCA to 3.5mm cable, a 5-pin left speaker connector, a remote control, and an optic-fiber cable.
Edifier paid particular attention to the aesthetics of this speaker. They incorporated a gloss black piano finish to go with the speakers’ enclosure, which also has an exciting shape and brings a sleek and beautiful look. Although with the gloss black finish, you do have to worry about frequently cleaning it since the finish is a fingerprint and dust magnet.
The basic setup will only include the cable for the power and the cable for the left speaker, promoting a clean layout. But the sound quality may not be appreciated by audiophiles since the right speaker has more electronics; thus, the right speaker will have slightly muffled acoustics compared to the acoustics of the hollow left speaker makes.
Let’s set the unbalanced acoustics aside. The sound quality is still top-notch thanks to the 5-inch 36W full-range driver and 24W 25mm tweeter dubbed “Eagle-Eye Tweeter” when combined, brings out a total of 120W of power. Bass tones are rich and powerful and also surprisingly precise. The mid-tones are a bit saturated for my taste but easily solvable with an EQ on your device. The treble tones are perfect and detailed thanks to the Eagle-Eye tweeter.
Overall, the Edifier R2000DB is surprisingly good despite the compromises it has to make due to its clean setup. And these speakers are remarkably usable for Hi-Fi due to their lossless optical audio connection. With the versatility, you can do anything with these speakers straight out of the box.
These are the best bookshelf speakers we found for $500. Make sure to check them out with the links above. To summarize our reviews, the JBL Studio 530 is for audiophiles, the Bose 201 Series V is for surround sound lovers, and the Edifier is for people looking for practicality. Get the one for you now!
If you’re looking for more reviews of the best speakers, check out our reviews on the Best On Wall Speakers!
FAQ: Frequent questions
? Which is the best?
JBL Studio 530 5.25-Inch Bookshelf Speakers
? How did we test them?
We tested 12 products, researched 15 sources, evaluated 121 reviews and spent 13+ hours on our guide.
? What should you look at before buying?
When choosing it's best to make a decision based on the price/quality, functionality and compatibility with other devices/technologies.