The variety of bookshelf speakers available is huge and so is the price disparity between them. I would love to have the cash lying around to pick up a pair of Polk Legend L200’s but with a price tag that exceeds what my car cost me, they will have to remain the dream set. So, instead, I have compiled a list of the 10 best bookshelf speakers in my budget of under $300 and I hope this list can be useful for you too.
For me, the standout is the Q Acoustics 3020i. They slightly edge out the competition although it was a close battle. I am sure if you’re in the market for bookshelf speakers in this price range that you wouldn’t be disappointed with any speakers on this list.
Not so much: Large cabinet could be unworkable for some
Q Acoustics has been around for a long time and the predecessor to this model was quite a catch in itself. They have made an improvement with the 3020i by increasing the size of the cabinet. This helps to contribute to a volume increase compared to the previous 3020 model by a factor of about 25%.
These speakers have a point to point bracing system behind the drivers as well as bracing in the corners to provide a very solid unit with minimal unwanted vibration. They come with speaker grills, foam bungs, a user manual, and handling gloves. In terms of sound quality, these speakers shine bringing out the tonal qualities that some other speakers struggle with such a raucous piano line or saxophone.
These speakers produce a wide soundstage with a clean and clear midrange, sparkling highs and receptive bass tone that does not overpower. As with any speaker they are best suited to be used with stands as they lose a little openness and sharpness if placed near a wall.
However, this is less apparent than other speakers in the budget price range. This is a contributing factor as to why they are my favorite. I live in a small apartment and they are perfect to be used in this small space.
What we like: Front facing bass ports, awesome build quality
Not so much: Only available in black, less bass response compared to the b6
The original Elac debut B6, released in 2015 and wowed consumers with its quality. The follow-up release of the 2.0 series and subsequently the B6.2 model did not disappoint. These speakers were a tight contender for the top of my list of best bookshelf speakers.
The retro appearance of these speakers will appeal to some or turn others off that are after a more modern look. These speakers come with a 6.5′ arimid fiver woofer and a silk dome tweeter. The b6.2’s soundstage is a lot clearer and more open than it’s predecessor although this does seem to come at the cost of sacrificing some of the bass response.
The mid-bass is where the Elac is falling short a little compared to the b6 but due to this, the b6.2’s sound a little more defined. It will depend on your preference as to which you’d find to be better.
For me, these speakers seemed to be missing a little of the sweetness of the Q Acoustics 3020i which is what pipped them into 2nd on my list but these are still an excellent bookshelf speaker and will also work well in a small room due to the forward-facing bass ports.
Not so much: Less warm sound than others, some might consider the style dated
These speakers are perfect for a rock sound with the punchy tone that comes from them (see the full R-51M review). I listen to a lot of rock so these are so high on my list because of this fact but missed out on the top 2 spots because they are less versatile than the Q Acoustics’ and the Elac’s respective speakers.
The R-51m speakers are part of the larger range of Klipsch’s retro-styled speakers. They come with a 5.25″ rustic looking copper driver and Klipsch’s trademark horn tweeter giving these speakers a unique image and sound. The R-51m’s can be played LOUD and have incredibly small amounts of distortion at loud volumes however they don’t have the powerful deep bass that will shake your room if that is what you’re after.
I would recommend these speakers if you are a drummer or have a keen interest in the percussion in tracks as they provide amazing clarity and punchy sound from the drums when listening to all types of music. They produce a typically Klipsch sound and if you are already familiar with this tone and love it then these are the bookshelf speakers for you.
What we like: Direct AUX input, direct sub woofer output
Not so much: Lacking sub bass frequencies, no possibility of own amplifier
The Fluance ai60 speakers are the first Bluetooth speakers on this list. This comes with some pluses and minuses. Obviously the convenience of just being able to stream music directly from your devices is a plus but audio quality is always sacrificed when not using cables to connect speakers to a sound source.
This also takes away your freedom to choose an amplifier that you are in love with but gives you the cost-effectiveness of not having to purchase one. These speakers are nice to look at with faux wood-grain sides and either a black or white front face. They come with more connections than some of the other speakers in this range including USB and AUX inputs.
You have the option to purchase these as a set with a sub woofer which almost makes it seem like the speakers are intentionally lacking some bass frequencies to up-sell the set. That being said, the speakers still provide a powerful bass response on their own.
The speakers have lovely mid-high presence and treble that cuts through the mix well enough to stand out. These speakers would be the ones I would go for if I were after Bluetooth compatible set.
What we like: Clear midrange, dazzling compact design
Not so much: Details in certain sonic registers seem a little damp, lacking in the lowest lows
There is something sexy about these bookshelf speakers that I can’t quite put my finger on but the open-face design with a choice of finishes to match your preference would probably have you feeling the same way.
The build quality of the Bronze 1 looks and feels strong and heavy with an appealing finish. As some of the smallest speakers on this list, they somewhat lack a little behind some of the others in sonic capabilities. However, they do punch out a clear sound that carries a lot of weight especially considering their size.
They would be a good choice if you don’t have a lot of room on your shelf for the slightly larger models like the B6.2 or 3020i speakers. Vocals through these speakers really sparkle and are something to keep in mind if you are very into acoustic singers or bands like the Beatles.
The clarity of the midrange of the Bronze 1 speakers is what really stands out for me and these are a very capable set of bookshelf speakers in spite of some slight details lacking in the highest highs and lowest lows.
What we like: Very small so great for limited space areas, tough build
Not so much: Being tiny creates some acoustic limitations, boring to look at
These are the real baby speakers of the bookshelf speakers on this list at just under 24cm they are great for fitting into tight spaces. They have a very rigid build which almost comes with the territory of being such small speakers.
Although the larger Spektor 2 series speakers are audibly superior to its little brother it is still almost impossible to fault the Spektor 1 speakers. In fact, if not for the limitations caused by them being small they would probably be the number 1 choice.
These limitations include but are not limited to volume. If you don’t need to be blasting high volumes often in your household then these speakers could be perfect for you. They have a very well rounded neutral sound which makes them very versatile and capable of doing justice to every style of music.
The simple appearance of these speakers may be perfect to sit with an understated setup but don’t expect to turn any heads until you turn them on.
What we like: Wide soundstage for classical music, great dynamic balancing
Not so much: Loses a bit of the soundstage with rock, pop, and electronic music can sound a little nasal in the mid-range
If you’re a big fan of classical music or traditional jazz these are the speakers I would recommend for you. They create a broad sonic stage when coupled with these types of music.
They lose a little of this capability when listening to other styles of music. That does not mean they aren’t still high-quality listening for rock and electronic. The Polk Audio tsi200 speakers still provide tight dynamic leveling when listening to those styles of music with a little blurring between the instrumentation.
Therefore, these speakers are competent across all styles but they really shine when it comes to certain genres. In terms of build and appearance, they offer twin 5.25″ bi-laminate cone woofers with a 1-inch tweeter in the middle and looks good with the grate on or off. They are available in a few different finishes and I am sure that you would be able to find one that suits your taste and decor.
Not so much: Small bass driver, some colors look a little ‘plasticy’
These speakers have the exceptional build quality and are tiny. These make them perfect for a versatile setup that might require using them both as speakers for your personal computer as well as for your record player.
They have Bluetooth, an AUX input as well as RCA and traditional wired phono speaker inputs. This means you can have multiple sound sources plugged in at once. It would be tempting to use these speakers as home theater speakers although the small bass drivers make them better suited to near field setup.
These speakers come with a remote that has bass and treble control. This allows you to change the sound to suit the style of music that you’re listening to. These controls are bunched together tightly though so it is still impossible to precisely adjust a certain frequency.
The sound straight out of the box is very balanced but I would recommend placing them close to a wall to improve how the bass travels in the room. You can find a ‘sweet spot’ by moving them around.
Not so much: Bass relies on positioning, no speaker stand threading
Stylishly understated bookshelf speakers that look especially good with the grille on. The finish is extremely eye-catching without being too flashy and they scream a budget that overshadows what you would actually spend on these.
The tweeter on these speakers is unique on this list. Instead of having a traditional dome it has a piece of material that is folded upon itself much like an accordion. This tweeter sits atop a single 5.25″ aluminum woofer which is different from the previous model’s paper woofers.
The unique tweeter on this speaker also produces a unique sound in the treble on the tracks that I listened to and the transient sounds were impeccable. In my opinion, one of the best transient response of any speakers on the list. The mid-range of this speaker are also outstanding. Live music almost feels as though you are at the gig when listening through the MartinLogan lx16 speakers.
The bass, however, needs some positioning from you to really get the room moving. It’s not a big deal but something to keep in mind if you decide on these speakers.
What we like: Impressive sound scale for the size, lenient with positioning
Not so much: Slight fuzz in songs with very low frequencies at high volumes, sound is a little cold
These speakers look they are straight out of the ’70s and would suit a matched interior design. They contain a 5.25″ driver and a 19mm tweeter but with an unusual setup having the tweeter below the driver.
The highs in soul music come off a little shiny but are well considered in the overall mix. The output didn’t feel particularly warm to me but that just means the speakers a better equipped to handle electronic music and would be a great addition to your audio setup if that’s what you’re into.
I think the low range leaves something to be discussed as it’s lacking a little reach and the very low frequencies can sound a little muddy which makes the listening sound a little uncomfortable. In anything above these ranges, the Alpha P3 speakers really shine and smooth transition through the frequencies.
The soundstage of these speakers seems to be a lot more forgiving of the placement of the speakers compared to some others in this price range making them a good buy if you are not fussed on finding a perfect placement or you plan to move the speakers often.
What can I expect for under $300?
For $300 and under you are not going to get the same sonic quality you would from speakers that are in the $1000+ range. That is not to say that you are not able to get an awesome, high fidelity, well-rounded sound from the speakers on this list – see the under $200 list.
It’s all about getting the bang for your buck when purchasing any tech and this is no different. In this price range, we are still able to find a wide sound with great bass response and tone. The build quality in the $300 price range is also quite high.
The materials used are often similar, if not the same, as more expensive models. I wouldn’t recommend throwing any bookshelf speakers around like a football but they are built to have a long life.
To compare the speakers in this list we just need to be able to analyze parameters such as audio quality, tone, and looks. You may prefer a sound that has a higher bass response or something with boosted mids or perhaps a more neutral sound.
The Q Acoustics 3020i is my personal favorite for the way it sounds and its classic style with an edgy appeal but it may not be yours. All the speakers on this list are high quality but have slight differences and I would recommend testing any product out before making a choice.
That being said, I have done my best to describe the speakers as accurately as I can so you can make an educated decision and maybe find a favorite that you can purchase online. Hopefully, you can be as happy with your eventual purchase as I have been with mine.
Last update on 2021-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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