Bookshelf speakers are a vital part of your in-home hi-fi system. Taking care of the highs, lows and even some of the bass frequencies when listening to your favorite vinyl or digital music. Our favorite bookshelf speakers in the under $200 price range are the Klipsch R-41M for its punchy tone. These speakers also have a very unique appearance and an unmatched drive that can create a sea of sound, even from an underpowered amplifier.
What we like: Charismatic lively sound, Klipsch classic styling, punchy tone
Not so much: Only available in black, require careful positioning, best used as part of matching 5.1 setup
Klipsch is a well-established brand in the hi-fi industry and has a reputation to uphold. The R-41M speakers tick all the right boxes if you are after a classic Klipsch listening experience. For a long time, the R-14 bookshelf speakers were one of the best selling on the market. The R-41M speakers are the replacement model for those speakers.
They add an improved sound quality and a slightly changed look. Klipsch speakers are known for their livelihood and ability to produce a huge sound for their size, so these speakers are perfect for home theater listening as well as for music. They have minimal distortion at high volumes and can be paired with a low capacity power amplifier and still produce a big sound.
These speakers produce clear mids with a well rounded yet punchy tone. The highs are dazzling but do not overpower the rest of the sonic range. The bass can be a little lacking so if you don’t plan to pair these with its matching subwoofer, or one that you already own, you should position these speakers close to a wall.
These speakers have been built to be used for central listening so they are great to use for concentrated listening but less favorable for filling out a room while you’re cleaning the house or for a party.
What we like: Equitable sound presentation, lightweight and smaller than many others, the asymmetric cabinet helps reduce vibration
Not so much: Noticeable difference in quality when taken off stands, warm sound in lower frequencies might not suit all tastes, vocals sometimes sound a little muddy
We think that the Polk Audio RTi A1 speakers are a steal for less than $200. They come with many of the features that the more expensive Polk speakers come with such as a curved asymmetric cab that helps to reduce the outside vibration of the speakers.
This is a good addition if you plan to have the speakers set up near other items because there is less chance to hear the surrounding items vibrate on the shelf or table when listening to high volumes. This gives the RTi A1 speakers an edge in build quality to many others in this price range. They also feel very solid and could handle an accidental drop here and there.
The sound from these speakers is incredibly captivating and easy to drive so they will still sound awesome if you are pairing them with a lower end amplifier. We did notice a slight muddiness in vocals for certain listening, so prepare for a not so tight soundscape when listening to rock.
There was a noticeable difference in quality when we took these speakers of the stands and put them onto the shelf so we would recommend pairing them with speaker stands if you have space for it. Even on the shelf, the overall listening experience for the RTi A1 is well rounded and worth your consideration.
What we like: Multiple input options, remote control, built-in tone control
Not so much: Lacking bass, look a bit too much like ‘computer speakers’, built-in amp might not be appropriate for your existing hi-fi set up
We believe the Edifier R1850DBs is perfect for someone who wants their bookshelf speakers to have versatile inputs. They include optical, coaxial and two RCA inputs making them an excellent choice for having them connected to your PC, Hi-Fi and AUX cable at the same time.
The inputs can even be switched using the remote that comes with them. These speakers are also self-driven at RMS 16Wx2 + 19Wx2 so if you don’t already have a Hi-Fi system these can be used on their own. They come with an output to pair a subwoofer to compensate for the bass frequencies that are missing, although that is the only extra output that can give a signal to other speakers.
This can make it tricky if you plan to upgrade your listening to a 5.1 or 7.1 experience as you would have to find a way to get signal to different sets of speakers. Sonically these speakers offer a versatile sound that shows minimal to no crackling or distortion at high volumes.
As mentioned earlier they do lack a little volume in terms of the lower frequencies however they are more than capable speakers for your home listening and we would only recommend going for the subwoofer option if you plan to use them for home theater needs or you are a bit of a bass junky.
What we like: AptX Bluetooth connectivity, remote-controlled, quality versatile sound
Not so much: Bass frequencies become less apparent at low volumes, remote commands are slow to respond, no AUX input – strange for Bluetooth enabled speakers
The Fluance Ai40 speakers are the only Bluetooth speakers on our list and being aptX enabled means you can get an extremely low latency listening experience from them. It is always important to keep in mind that Bluetooth will always have an ever so slight delay so if you plan on using these speakers as part of your home theater it is best to use the RCA input.
These speakers may not go as loud as other Bluetooth speakers on the market but you get the high fidelity stereo listening experience as compared to the industry standard single speaker model of Bluetooth speaker. The speakers have a robust build in a few different finishes.
We think that the walnut back and sides look best as the lighter wood seems a little cheap looking in comparison. The sound quality coming from these speakers is fantastic, offering a little more bass response compared to others when the speakers are driven to high volumes. This bass is significantly less apparent when listening to lower volumes.
Lower bass response at low volume might suit your listening needs but it is something to keep in mind when considering these speakers for your purchase.
What we like: Clear and present highs, rear mounting hook, the grills are magnetic
Not so much: Yellow color might not match your decor, Lacking bass response, forward-facing bass ports make it difficult to use the room to increase the presence of the bass frequencies
You will either love or hate the look of the Fluance signature series bookshelf speakers. If you don’t like the yellow speaker, the grill for these speakers clips on magnetically and looks great. The 5” glass fiber woofer built into them is reminiscent in appearance of the industry-standard Rockit studio monitors for at home recording studios.
These speakers also deliver a similar listening experience to those speakers, with a wide soundscape allowing you to hear minute detail in the music that you’re listening to. They do come with the problem of lacking a little bass due to their small size at just 12.8 x 7.87 x 8.22 inches. The forward-firing bass ports also make it difficult to compensate for this using the room. They have this feature to allow the speakers to be mounted to your wall easily through the mounting hook on the back of the speakers.
If the bass port faced backward while they were mounted the speakers would shake the wall at high volumes. We believe these speakers are a good option if space is important to you, due to the easy wall mounting.
What we like: Sonically energetic, Can be positioned anywhere, Surprising low end for its compact size
Not so much: Lacks a little reach dynamically compared to larger bookshelf speakers, single input, the modern style wouldn’t suit certain surroundings
The Q Acoustics 3010i is an improvement on the previous 3010 model. They have a lot more detail and clarity along with a little more depth. We believe that the rounded edges and one-piece design of these speakers are attractive but will definitely stick out amongst your other gear.
They are built extremely sturdy with a point to point bracing minimizing vibrations inside the cabinet. The sound coming from these speakers has a certain richness but is lacking a little dynamic reach when compared to some of the larger cabinets in this list such as the Klipsch R-41M.
The bass response on the speakers is much better than you would expect from such a small unit so they make a good choice if you are after something compact and modern looking that can produce a bassy but well-rounded sound. Q Acoustics has a particular sonic signature and will sound natural to any user that has had experience with their products in the past.
What we like: Deep bass, incredibly detailed soundstage, better build than its predecessor
Not so much: Deep bass, incredibly detailed soundstage, better build than its predecessor
We believe that the Wharfedale Diamond 220 speakers have some of the best bass response of any speakers in the sub $200 price range. The lows are driven by a 5.1” woven Kevlar cone. The great bass response isn’t the only thing that they have going for them either. They also have a precise sound across all frequencies making them a very tempting buy for any true audiophile.
These speakers really do push beyond their size of just 6.96” wide presenting the sonic capabilities of a much larger cabinet. This may be due to the improved build quality over its predecessor. The Diamond 220s are best suited to be placed close to a wall as the vocals in some tracks can lose a little bit of their texture as well losing a little of that primo bass response. They only come in one color which is a slick black and they could be considered a little old fashioned in their appearance.
The visuals of these speakers could suit a retro setting in your home so long as you have the room to keep them as they are also a little bigger than many other bookshelf speakers, especially in this price range. We think that the Wharfedale Diamond 220 speakers are extremely versatile speakers and would suit pretty much any in-home use you could throw at it.
What we like: Accurate and comprehensive sound, firm build, not very reliant on placement
Not so much: Plain boxy design, dull midrange, one input
The Elac Debut 2.0 speakers are similar in size to the previous model but they are ever so slightly bigger at 9.3 x 7.1 x 13.5 inches. They have an improved 1” cloth dome tweeter creating a clearer sound with better cohesion across the frequencies when compared to the older version. You can pick out every instrument easily when listening to these speakers although there is a definite dullness to certain frequencies in the mids.
They are built very sturdily and feel weighty when you pick them up. We feel like there is very little chance of breaking these in any major way. They are nothing special to look at with plain boxy design but that also means they will fit in naturally in an understated way. There are front-facing bass ports on these speakers which makes them less inclined to have to use the walls to assist them in providing an adequate bass response.
They are pretty happy sitting just about anywhere in your listening space. However, like the Fluance Signature Series, if you wanted to use the placement in the room to improve your response in the bass frequencies the port being in the front makes it a bit awkward.
What we like: Unique style, accurate bass, Dolby Atmos compatible
Not so much: Dolby Atmos Module sold separately, Lacks some warmth, lacks a little thickness in the mids
We think that Jamo S 803 shares some similarities with the Klipsch speakers given that they have a punchy sound and a fast accurate response. They even have a clearer and more present bass response than the R-41Ms but the S 803s are lacking the drive that the Klipsch speakers have.
The Jamo speakers can also at times sound a little thin in the middle frequencies. You, as the end consumer, may have to decide whether you are more inclined to find the bass frequencies important over the mids. We would recommend these speakers if you don’t intend to include a subwoofer in your set up.
In terms of looks, these are a very unique pair of speakers with a woodgrain insert surrounding the 1” soft dome tweeter and a flattened bass port that faces forward. They come with compatibility for Dolby Atmos which makes them perfect for home theatre purposes or to immerse yourself in live recordings as it creates a 3D soundscape around you. They do require you to purchase a separate unit to use this feature though.
What do I get for under $200?
You may be looking for your first purchase into in-home component hi-fi, or to upgrade your old speakers. It would be very easy to end up forking out a whole week’s wage or more on a set of bookshelf speakers to get that high-end premium sound.
However, a set of bookshelf speakers that cost $200 or less can do a fine job at producing a quality home listening experience. The most common let down with the sub $200 speaker range is a little loss in the bass frequencies when compared to more expensive and usually slightly bigger bookshelf speakers. We have compiled a list of what we believe to be the best speakers available within this price range – see also budget and under $300 options.
The build quality of the speakers can vary but generally speaking most are sturdy if you stick to a trusted brand. Many of the speakers on our list are smaller versions of speakers from the same brand. If you’re familiar with the sonic capabilities of a certain brand’s more expensive speakers, you can expect similar results from the smaller versions of those speakers.
All of these sets of speakers are a good buy for the price and each will cater to different listeners’ tastes. We have done our best to describe the best and worst of each of them to help you make an informed purchase.
Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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