Are Bookshelf Speakers Good for Home Theater?

Are Bookshelf Speakers Good for Home Theater?
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Building your home theatre system and confused what kind of speakers to go for? If you are specifically asking yourself, “Are bookshelf speakers good for home theater?” then we’ve got you covered in this article.

Besides answering that question, we’ll also give you more tips regarding bookshelf speakers. However, before we get there, it’s important to know what these pieces of audio equipment are and what they can do.

What Are Bookshelf Speakers?

  • Size

Bookshelf speakers are one of the many types of speakers on the market. They are known for their compact size contrary to their floor-standing counterparts. While that is true, a common misconception about them is that they are all small enough to fit a bookshelf. That’s what they’re called bookshelf speakers, right?

Well, yes and no. Most of the bookshelf speakers might be that small, but a few could hardly fit a bookshelf. So, with these bigger ones, it takes a table, cabinet, speaker stand, or wall bracket to hold them.

  • Shape

Although they typically come in a box design, bookshelf speakers also come in a spherical shape.

  • Performance

When used on their own, bookshelf speakers are generally great for music listening, fetching you a wide range of frequency. The best bookshelf speakers are also capable of providing you great sound for movie viewing when used as a front left-right pair.

Are Bookshelf Speakers Good for Home Theater?

Depending on the quality of your bookshelf speakers and the size of your room, bookshelf speakers may or may not offer you good audio quality for your home theater setup.

Because of their size, bookshelf speakers generally don’t have great bass quality. But when they are paired with a separate subwoofer to access low frequencies, you’ll begin to notice a great improvement. A more balanced sound!

Additionally, when integrated into a home theatre surround-sound setup, functioning as the front, surround, or height channels, they can get the job done. But since they are larger than satellite speakers, positioning them in a limited space can be challenging. Mounting them on walls should solve the problem though.

The most important consideration, however, in using bookshelf speakers instead of the tower or floor-standing speakers is the size of your room. Even if you get top-of-the-line bookshelf speakers, if you have a big space to fill, then the sound from your bookshelf speakers will certainly fall short of your expectations. This type of audio equipment generally works best in small- and medium-sized rooms.

What Do the Specifications of Your Bookshelf Speakers Mean?

If you have determined that bookshelf speakers are right for you, then here’s your cheat sheet to help you around with the technical terms:

  • Hertz (Hz)

It is the unit used to measure frequency. The lower the number, the heavier bass (low frequency) you can get.

  • Watts (W)

It measures the electrical power transferred from an amplifier to a speaker. Expect a greater audio power as the number gets higher.

  • Drivers

These are responsible for converting an electric audio signal to sound waves. There are three types of drivers: woofers (for bass), tweeters (for high-frequency sounds), and mid-range drivers. Bookshelf speakers typically only have woofers and tweeters.

What Accessories Should You Get with Bookshelf Speakers?

When you get bookshelf speakers integrated into your home theater setup, make sure to get the following as well:

  • Speaker stand 

Bookshelf speakers have to be positioned at the listener’s ear level when seated. Thus, while bookshelf speakers are stable enough to stand on the floor, you will not get the best audio results if you place them there.

Additionally, it is important to note that bookshelves may not be the best place to station your speakers. Ironic as it may seem, some speakers need to have at least one-foot clearance from the wall at the back, which some bookshelves may not provide.

  • Wall brackets

If you don’t have enough floor space for your speaker stands or if you have pets or kids that might knock your speakers off, then wall brackets are a great solution.

  • Subwoofer

A subwoofer is what you need when you want loud and window-rattling sounds accompanying a bomb explosion, a flying airplane, and other sound effects in a movie or the deep bass in hip-hop or rap music. And as mentioned earlier, bookshelf speakers work great with a home theater surround-sound setup or with a subwoofer.

If you have a large room, then you should get a subwoofer with a 12-inch woofer and up. For smaller rooms, an 8- or 10-inch sub would be great.

Where to Put the Bookshelf Speakers?

The 10 and 2 o’clock positions are ideal spots for bookshelf speakers in 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1, or 7.2 setups. If you’re wondering what those numbers are, they tell you the number of speakers and subwoofers involved in the setup—the digit before the decimal point refers to the number of speakers and the figure that follows the decimal point refers to the number of subwoofers.

Thus in a 7.1 home theater surround sound setup, there are seven speakers and one subwoofer. The bookshelf speakers should be in the 10 and 2 o’clock positions, one on each side of the screen. The subwoofer goes at the back of the front-right bookshelf speaker, with its back near the wall to increase bass response.

Additionally, they should be angled towards your preferred listening spot with the tweeters at ear level when you’re seated.

Besides the 10 and 2 o’clock positions, bookshelf speakers can also be placed on either end of the sitting area, functioning as surround channels.

Final Thoughts

So, are bookshelf speakers good for home theater viewing? That depends on three things:

  • the quality and size of your bookshelf speakers;
  • your room dimensions; and
  • whether you’re using them on their own or with a subwoofer or home theater surround setup.

If you like an enhanced viewing experience with sound effects that you can hear and feel, and you have all the right conditions for bookshelf speakers to succeed, then they are a great choice. Still, the full range of sounds you get from free-standing speakers cannot be beat, especially those with mid-range drivers.

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