Bookshelf speakers are the most versatile piece of a home audio set-up. Upgrading or adding high-quality bookshelf speakers improves the entire frequency range, adding depth to the bass and clarity to the treble. Because they’re much smaller than massive, floor-standing speakers, it’s much easier to find a place for them in your home—as their name suggests, most fit easily on a shelf, making them perfect for dens, offices, and apartments.
They’re also much more affordable than floor standing speakers; whereas some floor speakers can set you back thousands of dollars each, for right around $2,000 you can find a stereo pair of bookshelf speakers that will fill your room with sound to satisfy any audiophile.
The speakers on this list are all designed to give you professional audio quality in the comfort of your living room. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current equipment, expand your current system, or you’re a newcomer to the home audio scene, one of them will give you exactly what you’re looking for. These are the best bookshelf speakers under $2000 we could find.
Sonus Faber Venere 2.0
The Venere line from Sonus is comprised of luxury speakers designed for impeccable sound reproduction in both music and movie contexts. The cabinet uses a traditional lyre shape with a front reflex port positioned to sound equally fantastic from a variety of placements within your listening environment.
It uses a 29 millimeter fabric dome tweeter driver and a 180 millimeter Curv cone woofer with a free compression basket design. An angled front baffle improves the timing between the drivers, with a sophisticated crossover circuitry that’s smooth throughout the range. The overall result is a dynamic sonic profile with a frequency response of 45 Hz up to 25 kHz. These are really hard to beat for the best bookshelf speakers under $2000.
The KEF R300 is on the large side for a bookshelf speaker (18X24X18 inches) but if you have the space for them they’ll give you powerful dynamics and open, authentic sound reproduction, with a cabinet designed to eliminate unwanted frequencies and tone coloration. The tweeter a tangerine waveguide for even sound dispersion.
The Uni-Q driver is something you’ll only find in KEF speakers, using a 25 millimeter aluminum dome tweeter nestled in the middle of magnesium aluminum alloy midrange driver, an arrangement that smooths out the transition between the treble and mid-range and improves the integration of the drivers. This lets the 16.5 millimeter aluminum woofer focus on the bass, and delivers a clear, articulate sound from top to bottom. Bar none, these are among the best high-end speakers on the market.
JBL Studio 530
The audiophile community is a bit divided over whether they love or hate the unique design of these JBL speakers, but one thing they can all agree on is the impeccably lifelike and powerful sound they produce. They’re especially impressive in the low end.
It uses a 5 ¼” PolyPlas woofer cone with an SFG magnet, a combination that gives you enough depth most listening rooms won’t even need a subwoofer. The 25 millimeter tweeter uses a Teonex diaphragm with a neodymium magnet set on a bi-radial horn that gives the sound a three-dimensional, true to life reproduction rarely found in home audio equipment. These should be on anyone’s list of the best bookshelf speakers under $2000.
M&K Sound S150
M&K has updated their S-150 model for the first time since its release 15 years ago and the result is an innovative multi-driver cabinet design that gives you an incredibly complex, fully-realized sound across the frequency range.
It uses three 1” silk soft dome tweeters for the treble and two polypropylene THX Ultra2 dual-magnet woofers for the bass. The cabinet around them uses polymeric-damped rear cavities to enhance the sound produced by the vertical array of drivers. The result is a smooth high end balanced out by deep, articulate lows that’s designed to give your music a true to life feel. Though it’s designed for music, the clarity and accuracy of the response makes it equally useful for a home theater setting.
For listening rooms that are small or medium sized, a pair of bookshelf speakers will give most listeners enough volume across the frequency range. If you have a larger room—or if you like to listen to very loud, bass-heavy music—you could also add a subwoofer to your set-up to supplement the lower end of the speakers.
Using a pair of bookshelf speakers along with a subwoofer (see a bunch here) is preferable to using tower speakers in many ways. Not only does the smaller size of the three components allow them to be placed in your room more easily, having a separate piece of equipment dedicated to the bass gives you more control over the balance of bass and treble than you’d get with tower speakers, and can still be more affordable in the long run.
Getting the Most out of Your Speakers
Even if you have the best bookshelf speakers under 2000 bucks, the quality of the signal coming into your speakers will still impact the overall sound. Make sure you’re using a receiver that can do your music justice. Upgrading your receiver (drool here) is much less of a monetary investment than upgrading your speakers—you can get a solid Yamaha or Sony receiver for around $200—and it will do your music far more justice.
If you play your music mostly from an MP3 player or computer, pay attention to how your files are saved. Too much compression can thin the music in ways you may not hear on a less sensitive speaker, but the better your speakers are, the more obvious the deficiencies of lower-quality file types will be.
Where you put the speakers within your listening room can also impact how your speakers sound. Make sure they’re on a solid, level surface to keep soundwave vibrations from shaking the speaker and affecting the sound. Try to position the speakers so that they’re pointed at your ears when you listen, and take the time to experiment with different distances to find the placement that sounds best to you.
If the room where you listen has a lot of hard surfaces it can cause reflections and change the way your music sounds. Cover glass windows and doors with curtains, and lay down rugs to soften hardwood floors; tapestries and soft furniture can also help absorb the soundwaves and keep your music pure. A few quick room alterations can go a long way toward getting the absolute best out of your speakers.