Bookshelf Speakers vs 2.1

Bookshelf Speakers vs 2.1

Bookshelf speakers are versatile loudspeakers that can be used as different channels in a home theater setup. They are also commonly used as stereo speakers inside small listening rooms and some of the more compact models are chosen as desktop speakers. But bookshelf speakers do share a common limitation which will be their bass performance. They are usually unable to produce very deep bass frequencies.

This is why one might add a subwoofer into the mix to supplement the bass performance. If you integrate a subwoofer into your stereo setup, you are changing your sound system from a 2.0 to a 2.1 channel system. A 2.1 channel system still delivers stereo audio quality with the subwoofer producing mono LFEs. The loudspeakers used in the left and right channels of a 2.1 can be bookshelf speakers, floor-standers, or even a soundbar.

If you are wondering whether a pair of bookshelf speakers can compete with a 2.1 channel system setup, we can help you with that. You just need to continue reading and we will share with you their pros and cons.

Bookshelf Speakers vs 2.1 Sound System

Which is Better: Bookshelf Speakers or 2.1?

A 2.1 setup can provide you with more flexibility even if we are talking about setting up a sound system inside a small listening room with limited space. You can choose to use satellite speakers as the left and right channels. A decent pair of satellite speakers should be able to reach down to 100Hz bass extension and the subwoofer can cover the rest of the low-ends. For a larger listening room, you can choose to use floor-standing speakers as the L/R channels. Bookshelf speakers are rather limited to small and medium-sized listening rooms. You do need space for them as well if you are planning to use speaker stands.

Even though a 2.1 sound system can achieve deeper bass responses but the delivery can be less agile and articulate than the low-end delivery of bookshelf speakers. A pair of bookshelf speakers can dish out fast and tight bass which sounds seamless together with its upper registers. A 2.1 channel setup might sound separated due to the subwoofer not being properly integrated and could sound localized. You can go for dual subwoofers set up for that stereo deep bass quality and make it sound less localizable.

For purely music playbacks, going for bookshelf speakers would be enough and less of a hassle to set up than a 2.1 channel. The sub would need time and effort to find an optimal position by doing the subwoofer crawl method. Still, if your music consists of bass-heavy soundtracks, a 2.1 will be a more suitable system to go for and will be worth the trouble of integrating the subwoofer.

Which is Better Bookshelf Speakers or 2.1

For movie playbacks, bookshelf speakers are most likely unable to cut it as action flicks tend to produce 20Hz LFEs quite often. You will need at least a 2.1 sound system with the subwoofer capable of delivering sub-bass frequencies of down to 20Hz or more. If you don’t wish to add a sub, then just go for larger bookshelf speakers with 8″ woofers. These large bookshelf speakers may not be able to produce subterranean bass frequencies but the impact and punch of the available low frequencies they could muster might be sufficient for an exciting movie night.

Looking at affordability, getting just a pair of bookshelf speakers would be cheaper than a 2.1 loudspeaker setup of the same caliber. The additional subwoofer would surely add to the overall cost. If you have a tight budget, going for bookshelf speakers would be one of the more affordable ways to enter the world of high fidelity.

A 2.1 channel setup is a better all-rounder than just a pair of bookshelf speakers. This 2.1 sound system can be used not only for listening to music but is also suitable for watching movies and playing video games. This is partly due to the subwoofer sub-bass performance, providing its users with the fun factor.

The only time we will absolutely recommend bookshelf speakers over a 2.1 channel setup is when listeners are thinking of getting computer speaker systems. In terms of sound quality, bookshelf speakers would most of the time, emerge as a winner and even provide better bass performance than those cheap 2.1 computer speaker systems.

To Conclude

If you are not a bass fanatic and you are planning to set up a stereo sound system inside a small listening room then a pair of bookshelf speakers will be a good start. You can always decide to add a subwoofer into the mix and upgrade it to a 2.1-channel sound system. Just make sure the integrated amplifier/stereo receiver you are using has a subwoofer output.

There is no right or wrong in your decision to stick with bookshelf speakers or a 2.1 setup. Whether you need a subwoofer or not, will depend on your usage and preference. More importantly, you must enjoy using the sound system you have just bought and to make sure you will, it is wise to do an audition first before making the commitment.

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