Best Bookshelf Speakers in Canada (2020 Reviews)


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Quick overview

Don’t you wish buying a speaker was easier? Try shopping around for one and things can get overwhelming pretty quickly. You’ll encounter technical specs, lots of jargon, and varying sizes that will only confuse you.

We often end up with the biggest speaker we could afford just to get it over with, thinking that more means better.

The problem is that most large, floor-standing speakers are simply too big and loud unless you have a dedicated music room at home. For the casual Canadian listener, having a smaller yet decent sounding speaker is the ideal option.

Enter bookshelf speakers.

The main advantage of these types of speakers is flexibility. Their compact frame makes them easy to place in smaller spaces like apartments. Despite their size, however, they can still produce solid sound quality if you don’t mind the reduced bass.

So to help you out, dear reader, we’ve compiled some of the best bookshelf speakers you can get in Canada. We’ve waded through the options and done the research, so you don’t have to. Our goal is to get you to buy a pair of bookshelf speakers that’s perfect for you.

Best bookshelf speakers of 2020

Our research

6

Research Sources

15

Products Evaluated

6,025

Reviews Considered

13

Hours of Research

Best bookshelf speakers comparison

Edifier R1700BTPioneer SP-BS22-LRELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2Elac Uni-Fi UB5Klipsch The SixesFluance Ai40
Best forOverallBudgetMid-RangeMovie BuffsDesignCanadian
ConnectionBluetooth, AUX RCA, 5 pin connector (for passive speakers)Gold-plated connectors5-Way Metal Binding Posts5-Way Binding Post PairBluetooth, AUX/RCA, Sub Out, USBBluetooth, AUX/RCA
Sensitivity (dB)85858785N/AN/A
Wattage15W x 2 + 18W x 290W120W140W100W x 2 continuous @<1% THD
200W x 2 short term peak power
70W
Dimensions6″ ×9.75″ ×8″7.1″ x 12.6″ x 8.4″7.69″ x 14.76″ x 10.55″7.9″ x 12.8″ x 10.8″8.625” x 16.75” x 11”10.9″ x 6.5″ x 7.6″
TypeActivePassivePassivePassiveActiveActive
Total reviews3,2471,493320484135346
Aggregate rating4.64.64.94.64.74.4

Our pick for best overall – Edifier R1700BT Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers

  • Type: Active
  • Connection: Bluetooth, AUX RCA, 5 pin connector (for passive speakers)
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Wattage: 15W x 2 + 18W x 2
  • Dimensions: 6″ × 9.75″ × 8″

Pros

  • Very easy to setup
  • Offers tone controls
  • Flexible connection options (such as RCA and 5-pin connector)
  • Fantastic value for money

Cons

  • The remote is flimsy
  • You can’t connect a subwoofer directly

Sound quality

For such a small speaker, the R1700BT can play at high volumes without any distortion. It’s one of the critical distinctions it has over its less expensive brother, the R1280BT. Sound-wise, expect bright notes throughout, especially in the mid and treble. The bass is decent but lacks some definition in the lower end.

One of the things we like about the R1700BT is the fantastic tone controls. You can fine-tune the audio to your liking if your sound’s input source is less than ideal.

A drawback of this speaker is that it has a rather flat soundstage. It means individual instruments in an orchestra, for example, aren’t as defined. For serious audiophiles, this can be a serious dealbreaker.

Design and construction

We like the gorgeous wood finish of the R1700BT. It gives the speakers an elegant, classy look with some modern touches. This versatility in design makes it fit any décor, be it an old school shelf or a sleek home theatre.

It is pretty hefty, which is a good thing for a speaker. The rubber pads at the bottom are great for absorbing most of the vibration.

Value for money

The R1700BT is one of the best value for money speakers you can buy. For less than $200, you get great sound quality with a wide volume range, Bluetooth connectivity, and tone controls. If you’re looking for affordable powerful speakers that’s easy to set up, then the R1700BT is an excellent pick.

Best budget option – Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Loudspeakers

  • Type: Passive
  • Connection: Gold-plated connectors
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Wattage: 90W
  • Dimensions: 7.1″ x 12.6″ x 8.4″

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Sound quality is excellent for the price point
  • Six element crossover gives accurate sound reproduction

Cons

  • Bass isn’t as defined
  • Sound quality isn’t as up to par as all other speakers on this list

Sound quality

For the price, the SP-BS22-LR is quite decent. The definition is good, the tone is warm and rich, and the sound is reasonably clear for most casual listeners. You can try comparing it with other $200+ speakers, and it still comes out on top.

However, the flaws of the SP-BS22-LR appear when compared side by side with mid-range speakers. The bass, while defined, lacks punch and doesn’t fill a room. Overall, the sound has less depth and detail than even mid-range speakers like the Elac Debut B6.2.

Design and construction

The good thing about the SP-BS22-LR is that it’s quite compact. The design is minimal and straightforward but with solid construction. You can place it anywhere in your house and chances are it will agree with the décor.

The curved cabinet design also reduces internal noise and improves overall sound quality. The front grills are also elegant and give a classic high-end look to these speakers. If you prefer seeing the drivers, however, you can simply remove the grill.

Value for money

While not the most fantastic sounding speaker in this list, the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR is nevertheless above average. It’s good enough for most casual listeners, or if you don’t mind not having immersive surround sound when you’re watching movies.

The SP-BS22-LR is on this list because of its super affordable price point. If you’re looking for a budget speaker that you can easily upgrade later on, this is the purchase for you.

Best mid-range option – ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2

  • Type: Passive
  • Connection: 5-way metal binding posts
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB
  • Wattage: 120W
  • Dimensions: 7.69″ x 14.76″ x 10.55″

Pros

  • Front-firing port makes it possible to place the speaker closer to a wall
  • Incredible bass definition
  • Durable build

Cons

  • Doesn’t sound as good on lower volumes
  • No rubber padding on feet, so vibrations are felt

Sound quality

The ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 has an overall excellent sound characteristic, but the one place where it shines is the deep and resonating bass. To many casual listeners, this booming bass gives a feeling of quality and depth to the sound quality.

However, the high notes feel flat, and the upper-mids are pretty harsh. It means vocals and softer music like jazz don’t sound as bright and defined as some of the higher-end speakers on this list.

Design and construction

Personally, the B6.2 isn’t the most exciting speaker out there. It has a sleek, although boring, cabinet design. Granted, this speaker is durable, with rock-solid construction. 

The front-firing port, however, is one of its better features. It dramatically reduces vibration inside the cabinet and does a fantastic job of projecting the bass outward from the speaker. It also allows you to place this speaker closer to a wall without muffling the sound one bit.

Value for money

Despite being a little more expensive than most budget speakers, the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 is still a value-for-money pick. The booming bass response can significantly enhance your listening experience. This speaker is fantastic for rock music, action movies, or anything with a deep bass.

If you’re looking for a good starter speaker but are willing to shell out a little extra for a bolder bass, we highly recommend the B6.2.

Best for tight spaces – ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Slim Bookshelf Speaker

  • Type: Passive
  • Connection: 5-way binding post pair
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Wattage: 140W
  • Dimensions: 7.9″ x 12.8″ x 10.8″

Pros

  • Solid, durable construction
  • One of the most powerful bass outputs
  • Accurate and clean sound

Cons

  • Slightly costlier than comparable speakers

Sound quality

Two words best describe the sound quality of the UB5 – “booming” and “immersive.” The speaker has incredible clarity and soundstage characteristics, as you can hear each sound distinctly as if you were there. The rich, booming bass further adds to the already amazing “immersiveness” of the UB5.

The UB5 is the perfect surround speaker for your home theatre system. The audio from your favourite movie is enhanced but not edited, giving you a raw cinematic experience as the filmmakers intended.

Like any high-end speaker, the UB5 also needs proper placement to maximize its qualities. However, it’s not as finicky as the Klipsch the Sixes speakers. 

Design and construction

We’re not very big fans of the UB5’s design, as we find it too boxy and dull. Although some might appreciate the sleek and minimalistic cabinet.

The drivers and woofers, however, are a different matter. The smooth aluminum finish lends a modern and elegant feel, and we prefer removing the speaker grills to display them in all their glory.

Value for money

The UB5 is easily a value purchase. These speakers sound as if you bought a set of $1,500 speakers. Surround sound speakers for a home theatre system certainly cost way more, and the UB5 can compete with these hands down.

Best design – Klipsch The Sixes Powered Monitor

  • Type: Active
  • Connection: Bluetooth, AUX/RCA, sub out, USB
  • Sensitivity: N/A
  • Wattage: 100W x 2 continuous @ <1% THD, 200W x 2 short term peak power
  • Dimensions: 8.625” x 16.75” x 11”

Pros

  • Incredibly versatile with lots of input and output options
  • Gorgeous, classic design
  • Flawless sound reproduction

Cons

  • Needs precise placement and setup to get great results
  • Larger in size
  • Expensive

Sound quality

The Sixes speakers has one of the most outstanding sound characteristics we’ve ever heard of in a commercial bookshelf speaker.

Right off the bat, the Sixes showcase an amazingly accurate sound reproduction from the lows up to the highs, with clear mids. The soundstage is excellent as well, as you can hear every little instrument in a song. We were even floored by the fantastic sound quality that came out of an iPhone connected to this speaker.

However, this speaker is very finicky with placement. You need perfect alignment for the best results. Some reviews complain that the Sixes has terrible acoustics, but we believe it’s because they haven’t found that sweet spot placement yet.

Design and construction

The Sixes speakers are one of our favourites, design-wise. The wood veneer finish and copper-plated knobs all give an air of sophistication to these speakers. It’s a classic vintage look, yet doesn’t feel too old school.

Value for money

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Sixes speaker is the price. It’s easily one of the most expensive on this list, costing 5-6 times more than the budget options. Despite the significant jump up in investment, it’s still one of the best in value in its price range.

Not only is it the best-designed speaker on this list, but it’s also one of the better ones in terms of sound quality and versatility. Its flexible connection options alone are enough to replace any other speaker needs you might have. Plus, it eliminates the need for an amplifier or even subwoofer with its excellent bass output.

Best Canadian brand – Fluance Ai40 Two-Way Bookshelf Speakers 

  • Type: Active
  • Connection: Bluetooth, AUX/RCA
  • Sensitivity: N/A
  • Wattage: 70W
  • Dimensions: 10.9″ x 6.5″ x 7.6″

Pros

  • Easy to set up with lots of connection options
  • Powerful and warm sound
  • The affordable price given the quality you’ll get

Cons

  • Lack of tone controls on the speaker

Sound quality

Fluance is a proudly Canadian company producing stellar speakers like the Ai40. It’s a powerful speaker with fantastic warmth and clarity across the board. You’ll get deep bass and a bright treble, which doesn’t distort much even on higher volumes.

However, the Ai40 can be a little too much. If it’s fed a powerful audio source, it will clip the audio and mainly produce terrible sound quality. To maximize the fidelity of this speaker, it’s best if you use it with simple audio devices like phones, home gadgets, and turntables.

Design and construction

The build quality of the Ai40 is fantastic. It’s durable, lightweight, and well-made. On top of that, it’s also compact and lightweight, so you can have more freedom to place it anywhere.

The design is minimalistic, with a simple box and the drivers showing in front. The gorgeous wood panel finish is excellent for a den or audiophile room. More than being visually pleasing, however, the speaker box is engineered to produce warm and accurate sound.

Value for money

The Ai40 is one of the best deals you’ll ever get from a Canadian speaker manufacturer. For a little over $250, you get a pair of powerful speakers with a warm and full sound output. The price and quality alone are enough to warrant a switch to the Ai40.

Bottom line

Edifier R1700BTPioneer SP-BS22-LRELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2Elac Uni-Fi UB5Klipsch The SixesFluance Ai40
Sound Quality43.94.14.94.74.6
Design and Construction4.34.13.74.24.84.5
Value4.74.54.24.344.3
Cansumer Rating4.34.244.54.54.5

Should you get a bookshelf speaker?

Bookshelf speakers are much more compact and cheaper than the typical floor-standing speakers, making them ideal for smaller spaces or those in a budget.

Their compact size makes it easier to place them in tight spaces like apartments. The lower sound output also doesn’t overwhelm these smaller spaces the way a more prominent speaker would.

Bookshelf speakers are best for adding surround sound to an existing home theatre or stereo setup. They’re lightweight, so you can easily mount them on a stand or the wall behind you.

For casual users who just want a decent yet inexpensive speaker, they are a great choice. They produce solid sound quality (especially in the mids) that are more than enough for listening from a PC, smartphone, or a turntable. If you find the bass response lacking, consider adding a subwoofer.

What to consider when looking for a bookshelf speaker

Sound quality

At the minimum, the sound should be projected clearly without sounding “muddy” or muffled. Beyond that, sound quality is a matter of preference and listening style. The thing to remember is that not everyone needs overpowered speakers.

If you’re a casual listener, all you need is a clear mid and bright highs with decent bass, something that even budget speakers have. This is also perfect for listening at lower volumes in an office or while doing chores.

For a home theatre system or serious audiophiles, you might want to look into powered-up speakers with deeper and more pronounced bass. It also allows you to crank up the volume safely, so you can listen to every nuance of a song.

Design and construction

For most people, speakers are more than just sources of sound. They are very much part of the décor. If this describes you, then you need to consider how the speaker fits in with the rest of the furniture.

The materials used in the speaker also matter. Softer materials, like silk, will tend to have a smoother sound. In comparison, stiffer materials like aluminum produce a more precise sound. In general, premium materials will lead to better sound quality, although this is subjective.

The design will dictate how and where you can place your speaker for the best results. Most speakers, for example, have a rear bass port, meaning you can’t put it close to a wall or inside a bookshelf. Yes, even if they’re called bookshelf speakers, it’s not always ideal to place them in one!

If you have a cramped space or want to place a speaker inside a shelf, consider ones that have a front-firing port (such as the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2). Alternatively, pick a speaker without a strong bass output, as most of it will just waste away as vibration on the shelf.

Value

Value for money is a subjective thing. We considered if the price is worth the sound quality you’re getting, plus all the features that come with it. We also looked at speakers of similar quality to see if there’s a cheaper option.

As a rule of thumb, you’re going to get incredible sound quality as the price goes higher. However, you might not always need to do so. Some budget speakers are enough for most people and room spaces. Unless you’re an audiophile with a dedicated listening room, shelling out 5 times more for a higher-end model seems like overkill.

You must also consider the source of the sound coming into the speakers. If the sound quality is not so great, then a $1,000 speaker will only emphasize any flaws in the audio. In this case, a cheaper speaker might give you more value for money.

The best value for money is the one where you spent the least while satisfying all your needs. 

FAQs

What’s the difference between passive and active speakers?

Bookshelf speakers can be either active or passive.

Active speakers have an amplifier built-in. This amp allows them to function on their own without the need for an external amplifier or A/V receiver (AVR). Passive speakers, in contrast, need to be hooked up into an existing stereo system to function.

Active speakers are more versatile since they can be used on their own. They eliminate the need for additional equipment, saving you space and money. If space or budget is tight, buying active speakers might be worth it.

On the other hand, if you already have an existing home stereo setup and just want to upgrade your speakers, a passive speaker is the more logical choice.

What’s the best way to position bookshelf speakers?

Contrary to their name, placing bookshelf speakers on an actual shelf isn’t ideal. It will tend to trap the sound, creating a muddled audio quality. Instead, the best is to place them out in the open with lots of room to “breathe,” preferably mounted on a stand.

For best results, the pair of speakers must be facing you at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions, ideally positioned at ear-level. If you have a subwoofer or plan to buy one, try placing it in the corner of the room to make it sound louder.

What bookshelf speaker specs do I need to look into?

Here are some of the more important specs to consider.

Wattage and impedance 

Describe the power output and resistance capacity of your speaker, respectively. The higher the watt, the stronger the sound output. These specs are essential if you have an existing amplifier or plan to buy one, as you need to match the wattage and impedance specs of the two.

Sensitivity 

Tells you how loud a speaker can get. As a rule of thumb, pick a speaker with a sensitivity of 80-88 dB for casual, low volume listening. For higher power, go for an 89-100 dB range.

Hertz 

Tells you how deep or booming the bass is. The lower this rating is, the heavier bass you’ll get.

References

Over to you

We’re interested to know – which of these speakers are you leaning towards, and what room will they go in? Let us know in the comments below!

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