If you are trying to establish an audio system at your place, chances are you might be torn between satellite speakers and bookshelf speakers.
Depending on the setup you have in mind, any of them can make a great option as each comes to its own in a specific audio reproduction aspect.
Knowing how to differentiate these two speakers helps you make the right choice if it ever comes to this. That is why in this article, we will be considering the ultimate differences between satellite speakers and bookshelf speakers.
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Satellites refer to speakers that are specifically meant to be used alongside a separate woofer. They are usually positioned behind or on either side of the listening area. While satellites are generally small and need to play in conjunction with an external woofer, it doesn’t mean that they produce low-quality audio.
If anything, a well-designed satellite speaker unit can provide reliable performance since the designer is aware that a separate woofer will handle the low-frequency sound. Typically, the woofer in satellite speakers is relieved of its duty to produce the actual base. Hence it can focus on the midrange and mid-bass sound reproduction, resulting in lower overall sound distortion.
There are different kinds of satellite audio units in the market. A 2.1 setup means that you have two satellite speakers working with one sub, whereas a 5.1 setup refers to five satellite speakers using one sub. Click here for the best satellite speaker models on the market.
On the other hand, bookshelf speakers are inherently larger than satellite speakers. As their name suggests, these speakers are designed to be set up on a raised platform, ideally a stand, but they are commonly placed on tables and shelves. In short, you can place them anywhere other than the floor.
Satellite speakers are great at maximizing audio, especially in small to mid-sized spaces. If you install your audio system in a relatively confined apartment, bookshelf speakers will be the best option to achieve reliable sound quality.
However, it’s not unusual to see some people opting for bookshelf speakers for their larger living spaces. This is because they are full-range sets. Overall, bookshelf speakers provide a more harmonized and larger soundstage compared to satellite speakers.
Their larger size allows them to house bigger drivers and offer a better acoustic range of frequency.
Recommended article: You can read our comparison review of Top 10 Best Mini Speaker
Difference Between Satellite Speakers and Bookshelf Speakers
There are a couple of features that you can use to tell apart these two types of speakers. Below, we highlight these major differences by explaining how differently each feature applies to either speaker system:
This is the most different aspect between the two types of speakers. By merely looking at them, you will notice that bookshelf speakers are considerably bigger than their satellite counterparts.
Typically, most satellite speakers will measure around 6” in height, if not less. This also means that the size of the drivers is pretty tiny. On the other hand, bookshelf speakers can be as tall as 14” and house drivers that are as big as an average satellite speaker.
The difference in size between the two speakers means they cannot be set up in the same way. You have to consider the element of space when installing them into your home audio system. Given their compact design, satellite speakers provide you with an easier time during setup.
They are typically lightweight and don’t require too much space to fit in. This allows you to place them on either side of your computer, with the woofer somewhere down in the middle. Alternatively, you can mount them strategically on the wall or pretty much any other place you fancy.
On the contrary, bookshelf speakers are designed to be mounted on a stand. If the model you buy doesn’t come with a stand, you can buy one separately to use for the appropriate setup. However, you may also opt for other elevated spaces, such as shelves or tables, so long as there is enough room to accommodate the speakers comfortably.
It is worth noting that the worst place you can ever position bookshelf speakers is on the floor.
- Sound Capabilities
Satellites come in handy when you want to achieve a nice surround sound effect in your space. You can place the speakers in a 5.1 setup tactically around the room with the subwoofer in a central region to produce room-filling sound.
This is what makes them such a good option for watching movies. Conversely, bookshelf speakers are a better fit for jamming to music. They harbor bigger and different sizes of drivers, which enables them to deliver a wider acoustic range.
Ultimately, you get to enjoy high-fidelity sound with clear highs and lows!
- Frequency Range
Satellite speakers tend to focus more on mid-range and high frequencies. The lower frequency sounds are left for the separate subwoofer to handle.
As such, satellite speakers generally do not reproduce sounds of frequencies below 100Hz. Rather, they concentrate on higher frequencies, which means that the overall audio system experiences lower sound distortion.
Meanwhile, bookshelf speakers produce a broader frequency range. Considering that they are essentially full-range speakers, these units are designed with both low-frequency and high-frequency drivers.
Unlike satellites, they can work on their own without needing a separate woofer or subwoofer to handle the bass sounds. Generally, bookshelf speakers will reproduce frequencies in the range of 50Hz-20KHz.
Why Should You Choose Satellites Speakers?
The fact that satellite speakers are smaller doesn’t necessarily point to their inferiority in comparison to bookshelf speakers. There are a couple of situations that would make them the better option of the two. For instance, if you have limited space in your room, you’ll have an easier time setting up satellites than bookshelf speakers.
They are also easier to integrate into your existing audio system if you are looking for seamless installation. Another thing that may steer your decision towards satellite speakers is the budget. If you are looking to spend modestly on a speaker system, then these will be the more reasonable option.
Lastly, satellites fit naturally into any kind of audio system you have. They also have a very tiny footprint, hence won’t stick out like a sore thumb when you install them in your tiny living space.
Why Should You Choose Bookshelf Speakers?
If you have to go with bookshelf speakers, then it is because you want a better upgrade to your home audio system. They are versatile enough to be used as a front, surround, or even height sound drivers.
With the built-in subwoofer in the speakers handling the low-frequency sounds, this leaves the task of producing the highs and mids exclusively to the main speakers, which results in balanced sound reproduction.
Furthermore, bookshelf speakers are the better option if you’re looking for a two-way, single-crossover unit composed of a woofer and tweeter. This is because while satellites are designed to work in partnership with other larger speaker units in a home audio system, bookshelf speakers offer a complete system just as they are.
Overall, you can achieve louder audio volume compared to satellites, making for a boomy and more exciting listening experience.
From the above difference in features, it is easy to note that several aspects stand out as far as influencing your decision between satellites and bookshelf speakers. The main consideration is easily the amount of space you have in your place as this will significantly affect how comfortably you set up the speakers.
Another crucial consideration is whether you already have additional speaker types in at home. If there are subwoofers and woofers installed in your home, then satellite speakers will be the perfect complement to the overall sound.
Otherwise, bookshelf speakers will deliver the full-range sound you want to achieve without needing help from separate speakers.
The next time you are thinking about upgrading your home theatre system, don’t allow yourself to wallow in the dilemma of choosing between satellite speakers and bookshelf speakers.
You can consider certain features during shopping to make sure you make an informed decision that you won’t end up regretting.
The above post tells you all you need to know about the differences between satellite speakers and bookshelf speakers.