There is no question that bookshelf speakers remain the bestselling type of speaker for home listening. Thanks to their compact size and adaptability, they can be used as part of a home theater speaker (surround sound), as desktop speakers or simply placed on the bookshelf as the name suggests.
We’re all after better sound, aren’t we? The speakers that come with your computer or that are built in your T.V. won’t cut it anymore. Amazon’s Alexa, small portable bluetooth speakers and your newest headphones are nice, but what if you could get sound that’s affordable and can touch your heart?
With a budget up to (or under) $300, you will be pleasantly surprised with the options we present to you. There are excellent manufacturers that we can’t wait to show for this budget.
All that being said, you might not get the exact sound quality or luxury material construction that comes with high-end audio setups. However, you can take this to the bank - you will be amazed at how good the sound quality can be from our top ten list.
We have a lot in store for everyone in this buyer’s guide! First, we’re going to quickly go through what we believe (tried and true) to be the best bookshelf speakers under $300 that are currently on the market. Second, we’ll provide some extra insider tips to power them up. Lastly, if you feel really good about one of them, obviously you can buy them right there, but you’ll be able to dig deeper with our single product reviews.
Top 10 Recommended Bookshelf Home Speakers for Under $300
If you’re new to speakers in general, please know what you are buying before you purchase. Check out our “do I need an amp” section, so you aren’t blindsided with additional purchases.
If you are too lazy to check that section out, just know that there are two types of speakers: Passive and Powered. Passive will require an additional amp or receiver, powered won’t. Don’t worry, we have you covered as we list the type under the name of each one.
Here are our 10 favorite choices within your price bracket (under $300). We provided our top three in order, the rest of them are not in any particular order. For most buyers, we recommend the Klipsch R-51M, and you’re about to see why!
#1: Klipsch R-51M
First and foremost, Klipsch is a very strong audio manufacturer that has been producing amazing bookshelf speakers. This particular series, the Klipsch R-51M, has astonishing reviews from all over the internet.
If you pair these with a subwoofer and power amplifier, they will blow you away! On the other hand, if you just use them on their own, they still have great sound. It all depends on what you are going for. You will need a receiver or amp to power them up (they are passive).
Another reason why we put the R-51M at number one is because they are incredible for surround sound when watching movies. Klipsch has always been referenced as an audiophile’s best friend when it comes to home theater systems.
So, the question becomes, are you using these for music or movies? For those who are looking to improve the sounds of movies, you’ll also need to stack it with a power amp, receiver, tower speakers, subwoofer etc.
Anyone who just wants to make listening to music more pleasant or brighter, these can be bought alone (along with your receiver or amp) and you won’t need to stack it. We can tell you either way, this is our favorite bookshelf speaker under 300 dollars!
The German manufacturer has done it again! What you can get with this is very similar to our number one choice, the Klipsch R-51M.
They are simply amazing. Clear high’s, awesome mid’s and even better low’s. Anyone that decides to go with this as an upgrade or even your first pair, you’re getting something special.
The sound is terrific without a subwoofer, but if you want to really turn it up a notch, get one. You can easily pair it with a Polk Subwoofer. In fact, we like this one.
For home theater purposes, we would recommend our first option over these. Now, the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 will still do the trick and provide amazing surround sound.
This particular bookshelf speaker under $300 is great for your PC, mounting them on the wall, or placing them in a listening room on your bookshelves. Overall, you would be making an outstanding purchase.
Polk Audio is one of those companies that flat out produces great bookshelf speakers. They are budget-friendly and they have a few series under the 300 dollar price tag. Those are the RTi A3, TSi 200 and of course our favorite, the S20.
Polk created the S20 to provide strikingly bold, dramatic looks and dynamic heart-thumping sound! It is very comparable to the ELAC Debut 2.0, and you cannot go wrong with either choice. We give the slight advantage to ELAC because it is a little more even keel than the S20.
If you’ve been around as long as we have, perhaps you can remember the S15’s. Before we first tested the S20’s, we thought it would be the usual modest improvement. However, we were dead wrong. The Polk Series S20 exceeded our expectations on all accounts.
The bass without a subwoofer is hands down one of the best amongst on this list. They are great to use for listening to music and movies. We can’t say enough good things about this series, and they perform way above their price tag.
#4: Klipsch RB-61 II
We have Klipsch on here a few times and for good reason. Their Tractrix Horn technology alone make them unique and worth every penny. The Reference Series RB-61iii is a true winner!
You can go years without finding true, lively, airy, silky smooth and crystal clear sound. Whether you like listening to classic rock, jazz, house, pop, country, R&B, classical, or any genre, these speakers give you details!
If you stack it up with the proper pre-amp, power amp, subwoofer and DAC, you can get the feeling of being front row at your favorite concert. We breakdown all the pros, cons and specs in our full review of the Klipsch RB-61 II bookshelf speaker.
We’ve been audiophiles for more years than we will admit. With that said, we can tell you with these speakers, all you need to really ramp it up is the right subwoofer.
Now, if you don’t have the budget or don’t really care about enhancing what it can do, you will still be more than happy with just the speakers alone. Listening to music is amazing with these and will most likely be better than your current sound system.
This is one of those speakers that you can buy based on faith from all of the online reviews. Rightfully so, the Wharfedale Diamond 220 is tremendous as the reviews suggest.
If you are looking for extremely well balanced sound, these are for you. Not everyone is looking for the same features. Case in point, some people may want a brighter sound.
With balance, comes potent clarity. Ranging from the bass through midrange, all the way through high. Right out of the box this is what you can expect, which is pretty cool. Imagine the sound after you break them in!
#6: Edifier R2000DB
A growing brand name in audiophile circles, Edifier has been producing great bookshelf speakers under 300 dollars for over two decades. They also serve over 70 countries across the world.
The Edifier R2000DB is another very well balanced speaker. There are thousands of 4 and 5-star reviews out there on this particular Edifier and right they are.
Looking for high fidelity sound? You’ll get that with these right out of the box.
They are on the smaller size, but that’s a good thing because it won’t take up a bunch of space on your desk (or wherever you decide to place them).
The only knock on the Edifier R2000DB is the bluetooth connectivity. When you have it paired with your phone, you’ll have to be relatively close to it so the sound doesn’t cut in and out. If you can afford the next model up, the bluetooth connectivity is much better. Be willing to trade that off if you go with this set.
#7: Klipsch R-15PM
Another Klipsch in the review?
You bet! The Klipsch R-15PM are appealing to the eye, but that’s not the only thing that we admire.
If you like bright, crisp powerful sound that is also super clear, these speakers WILL rock your world. They will take a few days to break-in to get the full effect, but WOW! Amazing sound!
There’s a built-in bluetooth wireless technology that works fantastic, along with a full featured IR remote.
One of the best things we love about the R-15PM, is that you don’t need a receiver, sub or amp. Obviously if you want to power it up you can easily do that to enhance the sound and bass.
Many audiophiles use these speakers for turntables (record players / vinyl). The reason being is because of their bluetooth capabilities.
Another great option speaker for your turntable, the Fluance Ai60 is a great speaker if you are buying your first set. Seasoned audiophiles may want something a little better, but keep in mind these same audiophiles aren’t willing to spend more to get more.
We loved every minute of listening to the Ai60s. Our in-depth review on them is worth reading.
If you are looking for a set of great bookshelf speakers under the $300 mark to listen to music at home, these are perfect. On the flip side, if you have a “listening room,” have all the bells and whistles, need to listen to every spec of detail in every song, you may be disappointed.
There are mixed reviews out there, but hear it from us - this is a great buy if you decide on them.
#9: Edifier R1280DB
Contrary to popular belief, the Edifier R1280DB produces a solid bass. Most people that have these will tell you the bass stinks, that is simply not the case.
After listening to some good old classic rock (For Those About to Rock by AC/DC), we were actually impressed by the bass considering how small these speakers are.
If you want super crisp sound, these speakers are for you. They are also well-balanced, giving you the ultimate listening experience from midrange, to the lows and highs. It’s a simple, yet efficient and effective bookshelf speaker under the three hundred dollar price range.
#10: Micca PB42X
When we first listened to music on the Micca PB42X, we were impressed right out of the gate. So much so, that they had to make our top ten list. Well, here we are at number ten.
These are a perfect option for anyone wanting to get a better music experience without spending over $300. In fact, they are much less than that and perform well above their price.
Here’s the deal, if you never had bookshelf speakers and buy these, you will be super impressed with their sound. If, on the other hand, you have had good, quality speakers before, you will not be as impressed.
The Micca PB42X are really simple to set up. You’ll get solid bass, clear and crisp sound. It’s perfect for the price and for a first pair.
Below $300 Bookshelf Speaker Buying Advice
Here are some frequently asked questions and our answers to them. Keep in mind, we’ve been doing this for a very long time and we enjoy helping beginners out. This information can also be useful for hardcore audiophiles!
Do I need an amp if I decide to purchase a set of bookshelf speakers?
First and foremost, there are two different types of of bookshelf speakers. The two types are:
- Passive (unpowered)
- Active (powered)
Passive speakers need to be connected to an external amp or receiver. Powered speakers are designed to connect to any source without the need for an A/V receiver.
If you already have a suitable amp, you’ll be able to switch out your old speakers with new ones. However, if you don’t have an amp, you’ll need to buy one if you decide to go with the passive category.
It is fun buying your new speakers and a new amp / receiver together, then hooking it all up! It’s the process that makes an audio fanatic an audiophile.
We have plenty of active (powered) items on this list, so go back through and take a look.
Didn’t factor in an amp into the cost? No big deal, take a look at our top ten recommended under $200 bookshelf speakers list.
Where should I place them?
For most recommended bookshelf speakers, you’ll need to place them in the correct positions to get the full sound capabilities.
First off, always place them on an elevated and steady surface. Think of a coffee table, a bookshelf or speaker stands.
Second, never place them right up against a wall. Give them some room so there is no interference.
Lastly, rotate them inwards so they are almost pointing at each other. This helps centralize the sound.
Can I use these as desktop computer speakers?
Many people that buy these speakers actually use them for desktop. It’s not the best option in our opinion, but you can do it. Just be mindful that they take up a lot of space, and there are monitor speakers for your computer work space. With that being said, they are far better than the speakers that come with your PC.
Buying your first pair, or upgrading your sound is a fun process that everyone should experience.
It doesn’t matter if you choose a passive or active set. What matters most is opening the box for the first time, setting up your bookshelf speakers that you paid less than $300 for, and hearing that sweet, heartwarming sound you always dreamed of!