A Buyers Guide to Bookshelf Speakers and Wall Mounted Speakers

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A Buyer's Guide to Bookshelf Speakers and Wall Mounted Speakers

When it comes to purchasing home cinema speakers, there are three main types to choose from: the gigantic tower speaker, the mid-size bookshelf speaker, and the small wall mounting satellite speaker. Tower speakers do well in large rooms, but not everyone has the space for them. Therefore, choosing the right speaker comes down to a choice between the bookshelf and the wall mounting speaker. Keep in mind that both bookshelf and satellite speakers are designed to work as part of a system. The homeowner can certainly choose to mix and match styles by using bookshelf speakers in the front and satellites in the rear.

Potential customers can purchase these speakers either at their local electronic store, or through an online website such as eBay. By learning the differences between these two types of speakers and understanding their pros and cons, homeowners can make the right purchasing decisions for their home cinema system.

Speaker Basics

All speakers come with at least one driver that amplifies sound, and therefore the quality of the driver affects the overall quality of the speaker. Bookshelf and wall mounting satellite speakers, usually contain two drivers, a tweeter and a woofer. The tweeter is responsible for reproducing the high notes in the soundtrack such as bells, whistles, and screeches. The woofer is responsible for the low to mid-range frequencies. The size of the woofer dictates the frequency level, with small woofers usually only able to work well in mid-range frequencies, and larger woofers can reach lower frequencies.


Large stereo speakers, like the tower type, usually come with very large woofers that can reproduce low frequency notes. However, both the bookshelf and satellite speakers are considerably smaller than the tower speaker, and therefore have tiny woofer cones in comparison. This means that if homeowners want to listen to the full range of audio, they need to purchase a subwoofer to pick up the deep bass tracks that bookshelves and wall mounting speakers leave behind. Subwoofers come with large woofer cones that are at least 8 inches in diameter, with many of the strongest being either 10 to 12 inches. While using a subwoofer is optional on tower speakers and on some very large bookshelf speakers, its use is absolutely recommended for satellite speakers.

Bookshelf Speakers

Bookshelf speakers, are sometimes called box speakers because of their shape. They are medium sized speakers, being in between the looming tower and tiny satellite sizes. They include a tweeter and a medium sized woofer, usually between three to six inches in diameter. The larger bookshelf speakers that have a woofer cone of at least six inches, typically do not need a subwoofer unless the homeowner wants to include one to pick up only the deepest bass notes. There are several advantages and disadvantages to installing bookshelf speakers.

Bookshelf Speaker Placement

A big advantage of bookshelf speakers is that they make excellent front speakers for a surround sound system especially in small to medium sized rooms. The front speakers are the ones responsible for producing most of the musical soundtrack, as well as any special effects. Most bookshelf speakers have a range that varies from 50 to 20,000 Hz, making them a good choice to cover the entire soundtrack. This also makes them a good choice for 2.1 surround systems that only use front speakers without a subwoofer.

Bookshelf Speaker Size

Probably the greatest disadvantage to the bookshelf speaker is their size. Audio purists understand that the speakers need to be somewhat large to produce high quality sound, but this still doesn't help them look very stylish in the centre of the living room. Some homeowners choose to instal them in out of the way places, such as on top of shelves or in the corner. This technique tends to ruin the overall surround sound placement if they are not lined up correctly with the other speakers in the system. One option to prevent this is to purchase wall mounts for bookshelf speakers to keep them out of the way. This option however, is only recommended for those who have very sturdy walls. These stereo speakers are far heavier and stronger than their satellite counterparts, and thin walls simply cannot support them.

Wall Mounting Speakers

Wall mounting speakers are often called satellites, since they seem to orbit around the home theatre system. They are the smallest of the speaker sizes, so one should not expect to find a woofer driver greater than three inches on a satellite. Because of their small woofer size, all wall mounting satellite speakers need to work with a subwoofer. This way, the satellite speakers can handle the higher frequencies greater than 100 Hz, while the subwoofer can handle all lower levels. As with bookshelf speakers, there are several pros and cons with these speakers.

Wall Mounting Speaker Placement

Due their small size, wall mounted satellite speakers are ideal for tiny living rooms and flats. They can be installed as front speakers, but one serious disadvantage is that they do not work well on 2.1 surround sound systems. Front speakers are responsible for playing all the frequencies of a musical soundtrack, but they are assisted by a subwoofer on 5.1 and 7.1 surround systems. However, the 2.1 surround system only uses front speakers and lacks a subwoofer, which means that satellite speakers are not be able to reproduce the entire audio track.

Wall Mounting Speaker Size

The greatest advantage to satellite speakers is their tiny size. Manufacturers make ultra-compact speakers that can easily be tucked away in the corner where they are hardly noticablel. Plus, since they are so lightweight, they can easily be attached to all types of walls without doing serious damage. However, one common complaint of wall mounting speakers, is that they sound 'thin' because most of the sound reflects off the wall against the speaker. One way to fix this issue is to choose a speaker that uses either dipole, or bipole, technology for additional sound quality.

Speaker Arrangement

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to speaker arrangement in a surround sound system. Ideally, all of the speakers should work together to direct audio towards the centre of the room where the viewers sit. Because room sizes and speaker functions vary, different speakers are needed at different positions. Most homeowners want their most powerful speakers to go up front. This means using bookshelf speakers for the front right and front left stereo. For large rooms, also choose bookshelf speakers as the rear speakers. Smaller rooms that do not need all of the extra power, can use wall mounting satellite speakers in the rear. Wall mounting speakers can be used for front speakers in small rooms as long as they are backed up by a subwoofer.

Buying Bookshelf and Wall Mounting Speakers on eBay

eBay is an excellent place to start your search for affordable bookshelf and wall mounting speakers. Whatever the name brand and the setup arrangement, eBay has the merchandise to meet your needs. In fact, many customers who originally went to an electronic shop looking for an audio system, typically end up making their final purchase on eBay, simply because the prices cannot be beaten. This is because eBay brings together buyers and sellers from all over the world, creating a global platform for audio merchandise.

Finding Used Bookshelf and Wall Mounting Speakers on eBay

One of the benefits of using eBay is the large selection of used merchandise. If you want to score a great deal on an audio system, simply type in 'used bookshelf speakers' into the search engine and browse through the results. Many sellers offer gently used merchandise, but buyers must always use common sense when browsing these listings. Always make sure that the seller includes an actual photo of the item with the listing, and that the speaker’s condition is plainly stated. Ensure that the seller’s remarks about the item’s condition match up with the picture displayed on the listing. Remember, deals that seem too good to be true probably are, so it is always best to double check when buying used merchandise.

Finding New Bookshelf and Wall Mounting Speakers on eBay

There are thousands of speakers on eBay that can be found through the search engine. Start by searching for common terms such as 'bookshelf speaker', or 'box speaker', when looking for bookshelves. If you want wall mounting speakers, then search for 'satellite speakers', or 'wall mounting speakers'. From there you can start narrowing down your search by speaker size, brand name, and power options. Keep in mind when buying speakers individually, that those within the same speaker family made by the same brand, usually sound better when played together.


Bookshelf speakers and wall mounting satellite speakers, are just a part of the many options customers discover when searching for new speakers. They are labelled based on their size, with bookshelf speakers being larger than satellite speakers. The greater size of bookshelf speakers allows them to use a larger woofer cone and tweeter. Therefore, they can produce a slightly wider frequency range than satellite speakers. However, this does not mean that satellite speakers produce inferior sound, just that their range is not as broad. For this very reason wall mounting satellite speakers need to be purchased along with a subwoofer so that they can play the full range of music. Each customer must evaluate the pros and cons of each speaker type before selecting the one that best meets his or her needs. eBay is a wonderful place to browse through a large collection of speakers and make a purchase without ever having to leave home.