September 24, 2020

The Best Bookshelf Speakers for Most Stereos in 2020

The Q Acoustics 3020i speakers sound and look fantastic. This pair plays the music of all genres in great detail and clarity on a wide sound stage, and despite the compact design, the system offers strong bass and precise vocals. The 3020i is a well-built speaker, with high quality joining posts to secure the cables, well-rounded corners that resist chipping and a magnetically attached grid. Q Acoustics offers four finishing options, as well as a corresponding central channel to create a home theater system.

  • Award-winning design heritage to the shelf or stand mount to fit seamlessly into your chosen listening room, Larger cabinet increased cabinet volume from previous models delivering a larger scale sound and deeper bass
  • P2PTM bracing – helps keep the enclosure extra quiet through computer-aided placement of internal bracing, Uses a 22mm decoupled High-Frequency Driver with wide surround creating a wide even dispersion of stereo
  • New low profile binding posts have been incorporated with sockets deep enough to accept 4mm (0.16 in) Banana Plugs
  • Enclosure Type: 2-way reflex, Bass Driver: 125 mm (5 in), Tweeter: 22 mm (0.9 in), Frequency Response: 64Hz – 30kHz, Impedance: 6Ohms, Minimum Impedance: 4Ohms, Sensitivity: (2.83 V@1 m) 88dB, Power Input: 50-125W, Cross-over Frequency: 2.4kHz, Dimensions (WxHxD): 170x278x282 mm, Weight: 5.5kg
  • What’s in the box: 2 x 3020i bookshelf speakers, 2 x Speaker Grilles, 2 x Foam Bungs, 1 x User Manual, 1 x Handling Glove
  • The Q Acoustics 3020i bookshelf speakers impressed us with their clarity, detail, wide sound stage and excellent bass response with a wide variety of music. This pair also features the best build quality we’ve seen in a set of speakers of this price, with high-quality binding posts (as opposed to cheaper spring clip accessories), magnetically attached grilles and rounded corners that resist the breaks. The 3020i set comes in a variety of finishes to match its decoration, and Q Acoustics sells a matching central channel for use in a home theater system. The 3020i is a bit larger than the previous 3020 (which was our previous main selection), but we still consider it quite compact.

    The 3020i combines a 0.9-inch tweeter with a 5-inch woofer. In our hearing tests, what surprised us most was the amount of detail and clarity that these speakers provided in each recording. They also created a wide and deep sound stage that facilitated the choice of instruments, recreating the feel of a live show. Listening to Miles Davis’s “So What” for perhaps 4,354th time as a critic, I was able to identify all the instruments in the mix. As the musicians passed from one to another, each instrument came alive without dominating the rest of the band.

    Another song that I have encountered in the last two decades is “Carnival” by Natalie Merchant. The 3020i speakers handled the initial drums with aplomb and did not suffer with the voice. The frantic energy of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” looked good.

    Compared to its predecessor (and our previous top selection), the 3020, the 3020i sounds cleaner, with less harsh treble and a better bass response (due to its larger cabinet).

    The 3020i set looks much better than you would expect for the price. The cabinet of each speaker is made of MDF and is finished in a glossy plastic that looks much better than the imitation wood grain that is usually seen at this price. The availability of four different finishes (white, black, gray and walnut) makes this set easier to combine with your room. The grid uses magnets instead of plastic (easily breakable) tabs, which gives the front of each speaker a clean appearance when the grid is not attached.
    If you are interested in building a home theater surround sound system, Q Acoustics offers a central channel to combine with the 3020i par. You can also easily use a second pair of 3020i speakers for surround sound. While there is no matching Atmos module to reproduce the overall effects, very few people run Atmos systems, so we don’t believe this is a big problem.

    Ty Pendlebury on CNET is a 3020i fan and said he offers “a soft and rich sound” with “excellent sounds.” What Hi-Fi gave the 3020i a perfect 5-star review and said “these mounts will be excellent first speakers.” “Without major negatives.

If the Q Acoustics 3020i set is not available, the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 pair comes in second. The B6.2 speakers sound very similar to the 3020i pair; They offer a little more bass, but they have a slightly smaller sound stage and reveal less background details. Also, larger ELAC speakers take up more space and don’t look so good. ELAC offers matching complementary Atmos speakers, surround speakers on the wall and center channels, so someone looking to build a home theater setup might prefer the flexibility offered by this pair.

  • New tweeter with Wide-dispersion waveguide
  • New Woven Aramid-Fiber woofer. Sensitivity: 87db at 2.83v/1m
  • New cabinets for easier placement
  • Frequency Response: 44Hz – 35000Hz
  • Nominal Impedance- 6 Ohms. Max Power Input- 120 Watts
  • If you want to get an update, the KEF Q150 bookshelf speakers were the overwhelming favorite in our tests because they offered more details and a clearer sound than the other speakers we reviewed, but cost a little more than the Q Acoustics 3020i. The Q150 comes in two different finishes, and the KEF Q series includes a matching central channel and an additional Atmos speaker for home theater use.
  • The KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speaker is the newest iteration of KEF award-winning Q Series. The Q150 features a new cabinet, sleek new finishes, and an improved 5.25” Uni-Q driver Array.
  • The Q150 contains an enhanced Uni-Q Driver Array designed to smooth out treble frequencies and reimagined crossovers to provide cleaner and more accurate bass.
  • The front port has been moved to the back of the Q150 and internal architecture has been redesigned to reduce internal resonances to improve audio clarity.
  • The Q150 is available in sleek matte Black and White vinyl finishes. Nominal Impedance: 8Ω (min.3.7Ω)
  • we all want great sounds but not everyone has thousands of dollars to show up for audiophile grade speakers that’s where Kev’s q150 bookshelf speakers come in a revamp of the original Q 100 the Q 150 offer rich and engaging high five sound at a price that just about any music lover can afford those familiar with tests LS fifty and LS fifty wireless speakers will immediately recognize the Q 150 s front place text of the distinctive unit q array borrowed from caps crazy expensive blade speakers the unique you array is at the heart of all of caps Q series speakers you can tell it by the concentric Lee Melton tweeter cut with keV Stan jury and fins on the exterior inside a dimpled woofer the concentric two-way design is aimed at delivering better clarity and detail by sending frequencies to your ears from both drivers at the same time new this year for the Q 150 cap has repositioned a unique you array driver at the center of the front face here and the base port has been set to the back right above the binding posts at just under 12 inches high and 11 inches long the speakers are pretty small for their class but that’s definitely not reflected in the performance the bass reflex cabinets feel sturdy and the vinyl shells are relatively rugged for the price when it comes to performance the Q 150 offer a pretty distinctive sound signature marked by deep full bass a rich mid-range and a fizzy top side that delivers fluid clarity and detail that never sounds biting or sibilants those different shades combined for a smooth and warm sound that feels great on your ears with detail that unfolds before you subtly turning even bland moments into engaging one testing them across a variety of formats and different content the speakers match up well with our favorite newcomers to the mid-level bookshelf class he lacks unify ub5 but where the UB 5 is more taught at instrumental tracks with more presence the key 150 are a smoother sound in the mid-range and bass delivering detail a bit on the sly with more body a little bit more resonance too that makes the Q 150 a bit less nippy and exciting in the lower registers but you’re rewarded with plenty of detail as well as a deep and full sound stage and lots of volume without Distortion just which sound signature you prefer will depend on personal choice but catch the latest addition to the Q series speakers are impressive at just $550 the Q 150 offer high-grade sound a mid-range price

For a pair of decent speakers with a tight budget, see the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR set. These speakers sounded better than any of the less than $ 200 models we tested, but they offer less detailed sound than the Q Acoustic 3020i and ELAC B6.2, and they are not built either. Although they are good for the price, we recommend you update if you can afford it.

  • ANDREW JONES. From speaker designer Andrew Jones comes a collection of speakers that bring professional-quality sound to your living room. These highly-acclaimed bookshelf loudspeakers deliver on sound, creating an immersive listening experience.
  • HOME LISTENING. Whether you use them as stereo speakers or part of a multi-channel home theater system, these speakers can handle 80 watts to deliver wide frequency response and sophisticated sound quality, regardless of the source.
  • CURVED DESIGN. These speakers utilize a true curved cabinet design. Not only aesthetically pleasing, but this stiffer design also reduces standing sound waves inside the cabinet, resulting in high-performance and exceptional sound quality.
  • FEEL THE BASS. A structured surface over the 4-inch woofer with oversized magnets improves rigidity and bass accuracy. A vented pole piece also improves bass response from the same size woofers in previous models.
  • TWEETER. To widen the sweet spot of the 1-inch High-Efficiency Soft Dome tweeter, we’ve engineered a custom waveguide. Increasing tweeter efficiency, together with a 6-Element Complex Crossover, allows the SP-BS22-LR’s to play louder using less power.


We have tested more than two dozen pairs of speakers for this guide in the course of several updates. Here are some competitors that are still available:

The Dayton Audio B652-AIR set had good clarity of the upper octave thanks to a tape tweeter but practically offered no bass. When we heard the opening of “Teardrop” by Massive Attack, we could hardly hear the bass line. This is also the only set of speakers we reviewed that used the cheapest spring clips that do not accept banana connectors.

The ELAC Debut B6 is an old finalist selection that has now been replaced by Debut 2.0 B6.2, so its availability is limited.

The ELAC Uni-fi UB5 pair offered a very good bass and detail response, but with a smaller sound. These speakers also had a less attractive finish and were more difficult to handle than some other models.

The Fluance XL7S pair produced a good sound but lacked bass, and the treble could be too bright for some listeners.

We use the KEF LS50 mini monitor speakers as a reference for our tests. These speakers are more widely acclaimed than any other bookshelf speaker released in the last decade, and we believe they live up to expectations. From construction to sound reproduction, the LS50 set easily surpassed all the competitors we tested. The sound stage was larger and more detailed, and the bass was deeper and better defined. The LS50 is located far beyond other speakers in construction quality, since it is very heavy and more solid, with virtually no resonance when it touches the cabinet. The LS50 pair is the best set of bookshelf speakers we hear. It is expensive, but offers an audible difference. It is also available in a wireless version with power, the LS50W.

The MB42X set of Micca is small and compact, but this pair sounded bad next to all the other contestants. The bass was missing due to the small woofer, and the treble had a rough and metallic sound. Beck’s voice during “Lost Cause” sounded different here than in everything else, as if the tonal balance of the speakers were wrong.

The Audio Monitor Bronze 1 pair offered a good bass response and a high level of sound, but the highs were silenced next to other speakers, which made the recordings seem boring.

The Monoprice Monolith Air Motion Cinema 5 set uses a tape tweeter instead of a dome, but this pair lacked the bass response of the other speakers.

Monolith K-BAS Monoprice speakers use a bass port design that allows extended response. They are quite tall black boxes that are not attractive, and although the bass was present, it was neither tight nor detailed. The recordings sometimes sounded hollow, as recorded in a box.

The RTI A1 speakers from Polk Audio produced a great sound stage and many details, but they had a particularly bright high forward that eventually became difficult to tolerate.

We really liked the performance of the Polk Audio TSi100. The sound of this pair was more open than that of the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, with more clarity and very good bass, but its initial price of $ 219 per pair was noticeably higher. Polk has now technically discontinued this speaker, so it sells for much less, but its availability is limited. If you can find the TSi100 speakers at a good price, we recommend them.

The Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers had bright and clear treble, but lacked authority in the bass department. The build quality is excellent, but we don’t see much need for double-wired speakers in this price range, and the included post-pole connectors made it difficult for us to use some banana plugs we had.

The Q Acoustics 3020 is an old superior selection that has been replaced by the 3020i, so its availability is limited. The new model offers some clear performance improvements and more finishing options, but the 3020 is still a great speaker.

The 6½-inch extra-large woofers of the SVS Ultra Bookshelf speakers produced a bass that filled the room and that the other speakers simply could not play. The bass of this SVS pair was deeper, had a better definition and helped the speakers create a bigger sound stage than that of their rivals. If your tastes run more towards rock or hip-hop and less towards jazz or other acoustic music, or if you want the impact of movie soundtracks without a subwoofer, the SVS set could be your best option. But most listeners will get more out of the superior mid and high performance of the KEF Q150.

The Wharfedale Diamond 220 set had good details and good bass, but it sounded like a box. These speakers produced a sound stage that was narrow and limited to the center of the room, while other speakers created a more expansive stereo image. Apart from the sound stage, the sound quality was good, and we liked the construction of the speakers, but we all preferred a sound that was more open.

Other speaker models failed to make the cut from the beginning:

Audioengine’s P4 pair is attractive and based on the company’s popular A5 set, but reviews say that this passive pair works better for listening in the near field (such as on a computer) than in a living room such as speakers. shelving. People recommend the active A5 speakers instead.

The Bose 301 V series design has a rear-facing controller that creates a wide but diffuse sound. The reviews say that this design generates a great sound scenario but produces confusing results, so we were not interested.

Cambridge Audio SX-50 speakers have good customer reviews, but professional evaluations describe this set as “more functional than special.” In a category full of well-reviewed products, that evaluation was not enough to make us want to evaluate this pair.

We thought that the Dayton Audio B652 set, which had no tape tweeter, was worse than the most recent version with the tape tweeter, so we excluded it.

The reviews indicate that Sony’s SS-CS5 is better than the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, but it is not at the level of other models. At the time of our investigation, this set was too expensive in relation to the Pioneer pair to compete as a budget choice, and the revisions we saw were not good enough to include as a finalist.

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