Your Guide to Buying the Ultimate Set of Bookshelf Speakers

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Your Guide to Buying the Ultimate Set of Bookshelf Speakers

Historically, small speakers were once associated with being made from cheap and inexpensive materials, which gave them the reputation of having poor quality construction. It was thought that speakers had to be large and have big cabinets to house oversized drivers in order to achieve high levels of sound performance. The larger speakers had higher wattage capabilities, which gave them the ability to play louder music but also made them more expensive.

Manufacturers eventually began to realise that by utilising high quality materials and advanced construction techniques, they could build smaller speakers that rivalled the sound quality of larger units. These smaller speakers have become a popular alternative to large and cumbersome speakers that take up a large amount of space within one's home. Buyers who are looking for speakers that produce excellent audio characteristics in a small package should take a serious look the advantages of a high quality ported or sealed bookshelf speaker.

All About Bookshelf Speakers

Bookshelf speakers are designed to fit into a small space, such as in a cabinet or on a bookshelf. They can be suspended from the ceiling or hidden under tables and behind couches. The main characteristic of a bookshelf speaker is that it is noticeably smaller than any other type of speaker. The original concept of the bookshelf speaker began in the 1960s when manufacturers began to reduce the speaker components down into a more compact form that still maintained high fidelity sound quality. These speakers are designed for smaller rooms and apartments where the quality of the sound is more important than the ability to produce high volumes. Bookshelf speakers are ideally used as standalone speakers for small and compact stereo systems, or as multiple pieces within a larger stereo or home theatre audio system.

Advantages of Bookshelf Speakers

Modern stereo systems often make use of multiple channels, which means they can effectively send audio signals to multiple speakers at the same time. One and two channel systems could effectively make use of two speakers while controlling only the left and right side outputs. The advent of multiple channel stereo systems means that many different speakers can be controlled in many different locations within a room. The use of bookshelf speakers is ideal in this situation because of their smaller size and excellent output capabilities. When more speakers are utilised within a stereo system, the audio can be at a lower volume while still maintaining the same spatial impact as larger and louder speakers. This means more of the smaller bookshelf speakers can be placed strategically around a room to create a dynamic listening experience that can rival live performances.

Bookshelf speakers are also an excellent choice for surround sound home theatre applications. Surround sound places multiple speakers around the room in front of, behind, above, and to the sides of the people listening to the audio. This creates a dramatic three dimensional sound that virtually surrounds the listeners and makes them feel as if they are an actual participant in what they are watching. Bookshelf speakers produce the high quality audio needed for surround sound applications and their compact size makes them ideally suited to the task.

Ported and Sealed Bookshelf Speakers

Speakers produce sound from the front and rear of the speakers cone and these sounds must be separated from each other to prevent one from cancelling the other out. Various speakers use porting or a sealed cabinet to create distinctive sounds, and depending on what the speaker is going to be used for, selecting a sealed or ported design changes the entire sound of the stereo system.

Ported Bookshelf Speakers

Ported speakers are also known as vented speakers and are much more complex in design than sealed speakers. Ported speakers are designed for higher levels of bass response because the vents in the enclosure tune the speaker cone to a specific frequency, which is more conducive to the lower frequency rumbling of bass. Porting allows the speaker to be specifically tuned by predetermining the amount of air that is allowed to be pushed out of the cabinet, which limits the amount of push back the cone has and minimises the possibility of distortion. This gives ported speakers better bass handling capability but not as much sound accuracy as sealed speakers.

The disadvantage to ported speakers is that they are very difficult to tune properly and this gives them a complicated design and construction characteristics, which makes them more expensive and prone to dramatic sound variations depending on the quality of the construction. Ported speakers do have the ability to handle high levels of power, which makes them suitable for high volume stereo systems.

Sealed Bookshelf Speakers

Sealed bookshelf speakers have a cabinet that has no porting slots in the rear or sides of the speaker and the back section of the speaker is sealed off from the front portion. The air that is inside of the sealed portion of the speaker acts much like a spring to push back against the speaker when the diaphragm is pushed in. Sealing the rear section of the speaker gives it a better response that allows it to react quicker to musical note changes. This gives the sealed speaker a more accurate sound that has more of a pop or a punch in its delivery that helps to separate each note. Sealed speakers have very sturdy construction characteristics that enable them to handle high levels of power than ported versions.

Sealed speakers are a much simpler design than ported ones and they are usually smaller in size. The simplicity of their design means they have more room for error in their construction, but it also means they are less efficient than ported speakers and they do not have the ability to handle deep bass output because of the limits on the movement of the cones. This can create more distortion if the sealed speaker plays extended bass at high volume. This creates a scenario where sealed speakers are best used in a system that features a standalone subwoofer to handle the deep bass sounds while the sealed speakers are utilised for clarity in the higher frequency notes. Sealed speakers are a good choice for use in home theatre surround sound applications as well as in small stereo systems for small rooms or apartments.

How to Buy the Ultimate Set of Bookshelf Speakers on eBay

Once you have made the determination to purchase a set of bookshelf speakers, the next step is to utilise the powerful search tools available on eBay to find the right set of speakers for you at the best prices. Begin your search at the eBay homepage by entering a keyword such as "bookshelf speakers" into the search box. A list of auctions is displayed that correspond to that keyword and you can browse through each individual auction until you find a set of bookshelf speakers that appeal to you, or you can select various categories that narrow your search results and shorten the list. If you already know the specific brand name or style of speaker that you want, you can also enter that information directly into the search box and eBay returns a list of auctions that relate specifically to that keyword.

Once you have found a set of speakers that works for you, it is important to make sure and verify that the seller listing the item has positive feedback. Once a transaction has been completed, the buyer rates the seller according to how well they conducted that transaction. Good sellers have a history of positive feedback and those are the ones that you want to do business with.


Bookshelf speakers were designed to fill a need for a speaker that could produce high quality sounds in a very compact package that can fit into small spaces. The bookshelf speaker concept came about in the 1960s when manufacturers began to downsize speaker components with the idea being to create a speaker that could rival the audio production of large speakers in a unit the was much better adapted for small rooms and spaces. Bookshelf speakers could be used as main speakers in a stand alone system or they were ideal as part of a larger number of speakers in a surround sound system. In multi-channel systems that have the capacity for several speakers, the smaller size of bookshelf speakers allows more to be used without taking up the space that larger speakers would.

Buyers who are considering purchasing a new set of bookshelf speakers should make sure to research the various brands and styles in order to find a set that not only appeals to them visually, but also produces the type of audio that sounds the best in their home. Buyers should try to listen to various speakers at an audio shop and then search for the best deals available on the speakers that appeal to them. There are many great deals that can be found online at various websites and auction sites such as eBay.

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