There comes a time in a guy’s life when he realizes that listening to music through tiny computer speakers or an iPhone/iPod speaker dock simply isn’t enough – especially if you truly appreciate everything that music has to offer.  You’ve been to enough concerts and seen plenty of live bands in bars to know what live music sounds like and you know that your current music system doesn’t come anywhere close.  Assembling a good music system in your home can bring the live experience right into your home and provide you with years of enjoyment.  And trust us, your girlfriend can easily share your passion for music too – just spin that Alanis Morrisette or Florence and the Machine album for her once in a while.  Here’s a list of five awesome bookshelf speakers you should consider when building a great sound system.  Bookshelf speakers are preferred by some listeners, as opposed to floorstanding speakers, since they offer better midrange tonality, soundstaging and overall transparency.

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Totem Acoustic Mite Bookshelf Speaker

Totem Acoustic speakers are often regarded as some of the most natural sounding speakers available on this planet.  Music listeners love these speakers because they make voices and instruments sound like the real deal.  This Mite bookshelf speaker might be a little one but it is quite mighty.  It will reward your listening senses with great realism and excellent imaging capabilities – meaning that you’ll be able to pinpoint instruments and voices easily within a 3D soundstage.  The Mite doesn’t use any fancy materials – just an honest, good quality 5-inch granulated driver and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter.  These speakers are easy on your ears and hence great for extended listening periods.  Available in numerous satin, venner and designer high gloss finishes.  $775/pair to $1075/pair, depending on finish.

Paradigm Reference Studio 10 Bookshelf Speaker

Paradigm is one of the most recognizable speaker brands in the world thanks to its long history of making excellent sounding products.  It also offers one of the most diverse product lines of any speaker manufacturer, which makes its products appeal to both first-time buyers and long time listeners alike.  The Studio 10 speaker v5 is the latest iteration of the company’s ever evolving Reference Studio series and delivers sound that captures the essence of the original recordings.  It combines a 5.5-inch S-PAL (Satin-Anodized Pure-Aluminum) midrange/bass driver and a 1-inch G-PAL (Gold-Anodized Pure-Aluminum) dome tweeter.  The Studio 10 uses a special isolation mounting system for its drivers which reduces driver / enclosure interactions to inaudible levels.  Available in Black as well as Cherry and Rosenut veneer finishes.  $799/pair.

Focal Chorus 806 V Bookshelf Speaker

Focal makes some of the finest sounding and most exotic speakers available on this planet.  Most of us mere mortals cannot only dream of owning its top of the line Grande Utopia EM loudspeaker ($190,000/pair).  Luckily, Focal much of the tech utilized in its high-end speakers has trickled down to truly affordable speaker designs.  The Chorus 806 V offers a natural, organic sound with a wonderful soundstage and a wonderfully deep bass for a bookshelf speaker.  Its high frequency response is exceptional and highly detailed.  It is equipped with a 1-inch TNV aluminum-magnesium inverted-dome tweeter and a 6.5-inch Polyglass-cone mid/bass woofer.  The TNV tweeter is not only composed of fancy materials, it also has one of the most advanced designs you’ll find at this price point.  Due to its revealing nature especially in the high frequencies, it is best mated with a good quality integrated amp or preamp/amp.  Available in gorgeous Ebony and Natural finishes – it is perhaps the best looking speaker on this list.  $999/pair.

ELAC BS 62.2 Bookshelf Speaker

ELAC’s heritage goes back many decades as one of Europe’s finest speaker makers.  ELAC has made some fantastic sounding speakers over the years and is best known for its JET tweeter and drivers with crystal membranes, found in the company’s high-end speaker models.  The BA 62.2 offers a neutral, detailed sound that belies its compact size.  Although this speaker doesn’t offer a JET tweeter or a crystal membrane, it does offer its own innovative drivers – a 1-inch fabric dome tweeter and a 5.3-inch Al-Sandwich woofer, which combines a pulp fibre cone with an aluminium foil coating.  Available in Black Ash and Walnut finishes.  $850/pair.

Monitor Audio Silver RX2 Bookshelf Speaker

Monitor Audio is another very well respected brand of speakers, with plenty of excellent reviews to back up its products.  It offers speakers in price ranges attractive to all sizes of wallets.  As with the manufacturers above, much of the tech from its high-end models has trickled down to its more affordable models, like the Silver RX series.  The RX2 speaker will entertain you with great dynamics and scale, an extended and detailed high frequency, as well as ample amounts of bass.  It combines a 1-inch gold-dome C-CAM (Ceramic-Coated Aluminium/Magnesium) tweeter with an 8-inch RST (Rigid Surface Technology) bass/mid driver.  Available in a number of wood veneers and high gloss piano finishes.  $850/pair – $1000/pair, depending on finish.

KEF Q Series Q300 Bookshelf Speaker

KEF has long been entertaining serious and casual listeners around the world with its speakers.  The company is perhaps best known for its outstanding Uni-Q driver, an array which places the tweeter in the centre of the midrange woofer.  Sound originating from this single-point-in-space driver offers great sonic advantages resulting in a more realistic live performance illusion compared to most conventional speaker designs.   The Q300 features a 6.5-inch Uni-Q driver, with a 1-inch tweeter placed at its center.  Its sound is accurate and sweet in the midrange, with a good amount of bass.  It offers a great depth and width of soundstage – one that is evenly dispersed throughout the room, unlike with other conventional speaker designs.  Comes in three finishes: Black Oak, English Cherry and European Walnut.  $649/pair.

To learn more on choosing speakers for a music or home theater system, check out this more in-depth Speaker Buyer Guide