Looking for best bookshelf speakers

I’m looking for some nice bookshelf speakers. Budget around 400$ and under. I was watching some review videos and was intrigued with the Mackie MR524 I heard it was a great low volume speaker. Since my family complains about the volume of my speakers i thought this would be a good solution. Are these still the best low volume speakers? they where released back in 2017. Also i heard the best speakers in my price range was the Adam T5V, are these good at low volume too? Is there anything else out there that i should consider? I need powered speakers. Thanks for any help.


That’s a good quest. If you are open to vintage speakers, the AR-2Ax is very good in that price range, the Rectilinear X1a (I have a pair that I couldn’t resist because my main speakers are Rectilinear III highboy’s modded) isn’t bad either.

New, I’m not sure. KLH was a fine brand and I haven’t heard the current model, but Crutchfield lists the KLH Albany, and I would want to give that a listen. My taste tends to run to speakers that are able to move a volume of air, which is not always good for low volume.

I have heard some new brands that are more in that ballpark. I forget some of the names. They have small woofers, but can sound sweet.

If you’re not set on bookshelf, consider the Magnepan LRS.


I’m assuming you want these to be powered.

I had a pair of Adam monitors that I liked alot, and I’ve heard good things about the T5V. I have listened to the JBL 305Ps, and they were surprisingly good for the price. I also have friends that are much more musically talented than I am that use Yamaha HS5s for mixing and playback, and they would probably be my pick at this price point.

Some non-monitor powered options to look at would be Audioengines A5 and the Vanatoo Transparent Zero (I think @taronlissimore has this and likes it).

All of that said, I’ve never judged any of the speakers I’ve had on “low listening volume” and if that’s your use case I might stick to headphones.


I went to my local Guitar Center to demo monitors, as I was looking for something like you are. They had all the Mackie’s, Adam, Genelex, Yamaha, Rokit, and JBL monitors on display, and I was lucky to catch them when there was nobody in the store.

The guys scoffed at me when I said that I wasn’t going to be using these for mixing, just for computer speakers, and they kept trying to push me to Adam and Yamaha. Those were both very bright leaning monitors with narrow sweet spots. Nope. Rokit was a bit more friendly FR wise, but they just seemed boring (which is probably good for mixing).

The JBL 308s went home with me. Super wide sweet spot which means I don’t have to be right in front of it to get an image, bass that extended much lower than many of the others did, and an enjoyable FR for watching Netflix and general computery things.

They seem to work fine for me at low volume. I know they get stupidly loud, but normal use see these at volumes lower than my average headphone listening levels, and I hear everything just fine.

Hope that helps.


Great point. I do find that you need to be careful about placement on the Yamaha Monitors and I probably prefer slightly bright speakers. You can’t go wrong with the JBLs at their price-point.

Did you end up doing any room treatment? I find 8inch monitors can start to get tricky secondary reflections, but how much that matters depends on the use case.

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Nope. No treatments. That’s above and beyond what these are used for. I’m not critically listening or anything. One is in a corner, and the bass seemed boosted from that, so I used the -dB switch on the back panel to tame it, and that worked perfectly.

They do suit me well as I don’t need a receiver to drive them.

I suspect if you need a remote, you might as well go passive speakers and receiver instead of monitors. Good luck in that area though, the cheaper consumer stuff is kinda crappy.

Or just use monitors and the ADI-2FS like I do. That’s quite a bit more $, but it really keeps the footprint to a minimum. And gives you a great EQ and all the other features they talk about in the fantastic owner’s manual.


The thing i like about the Mackie MR524 is how you can hear them well at low volume. and thats the thing that bugs me about speakers is you gotta turn them up to hear the best quality sound. Check out Zeos review of these speakers and how they sound:

But im passing up the Adam T5V for these. and is it worth it? Is the low volume performance that good? does the T5v sound good on low volume too? cause if they did like the MR524 i’d buy those np. Am i being a dope about this?

BTW im gonna be pluging these into a headphone amp. So they need to be powered.

has your source a viariable pre-out or do the active speakers get a full volume line-out and you need something to adjust the volume?

I´m with you on getting some, which are ok on low volumes.

for that budget…
Had a look on the Mackie, the Yamaha, the Adams and the JBLs. I was positivly surprised by the Mackie, back then.
Had to audition the JBLs somewhere else back then and tried also the 308s, which were my prefered ones without a subwoofer. But you won´t get a used pair for 400, I fear.

I am a huge fan of the Vanatoo Transparent Zeros. I use them at my desktop with a Monoprice Monolith 10" sub. Low volume performance is very satisfying.

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KEF makes some very good speakers in the lower price range. Unfortunately, not powered.
Their LS50’s, which are on Stereophiles “A” components list run $2500 when not on sale. Even their
LSX powered mini’s are $1250. perhaps keep your eyes open for used?


Powered studio monitors is definitely the way to go. Set them on isoAcoutics stands.
Here’s a quick story: After a 5-year search for desktop speakers, I chose Neumann KH 120 A which are just great. Brutally honest, even a bit “edgy,” which I like. Comparable SQ to my Sennheiser HD600 headphones. But the KH120A’s are $1,500/pair, so not for you.
So, how about speakers that are 90% of the quality of Neumann’s at 33% of the cost? Yep. Try the Tannoy Gold Series. The Tannoy Gold 5 is only $500/pair. Or spend $130 more for the Gold 7’s. They are dual concentric, front-ported, tunable. Balanced, dynamic, flat across spectrum. Accurate, but not edgy, very easy to listen to. You will probably not beat the value of Gold 7’s. And you definitely will not beat the “cool” factor. Up close, Dual Concentric rules.


They can be obtained for <$1,000 on sale/used. I had a pair and returned them.

I think the Jamo C91’s are on sale right now as are the C93’s. That would be my rec in your budget. LRS is also a good rec, but you’ll have to pull those out from the wall, and they’re not really a bookshelf :slight_smile:

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I owned the Wharfedale 225s (nice but kinda vague sounding). Also did a very long & detailed search for powered monitors that actually sound like music (~18 months of exhaustive searching ~2 years ago).

I’ve owned 3-4 pairs of powered studio monitors. You know how those Guitar Center peeps laughed at @ProfFalkin? That whole “these monitors are to make music, not listen to it” thing is totally for real. Many studio monitors sound like dog’s ass for music playback, sadly.

Considering the price point you’re at & your objectives in getting these, I’d either get the Mackies you mention (have read some decent comments about them)–but better yet, get the Vanatoos. Those are made with music-loving civilians in mind, not music pros. They sound well above average–high praise in the powered speaker arena.

There are a few quirky operational issues w/the Vanatoos that made them NG for me: the output to exteral crossover was too high for my needs; and it you want to use them w/a separate DAC vs the one inside the Vanatoos, you have to get wire/connection workarounds.


Holy smokes, I completely forgot about the Vanatoos. I heard the Transparent One Encore at RMAF and they were very good! Much smaller than the JBL 308s too.

Good rec Pharma!



I have a pair of the Wharfedale Lintons, nice sounding speakers.

Well if we’re going to break the budget, there are much better choices.


I’m sure there are many reasons to like Wharfdale and Wilson, but he’s looking for powered speakers. Let’s read the original post and try to stay on target. Danka :slight_smile:

These get great reviews. https://www.qacoustics.com/3020i-bookshelf-speaker-pair.html

If you had a mind to double your budget, those KEF LSX speakers have a lot of buzz.

Interesting, I hadn’t heard of these, but this wirecutter review makes them seem like a solid choice, except that I believe he’s looking for powered speakers.

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