The 10 Best Stereo Shelf Systems
This wiki has been updated 10 times since it was first published in January of 2020. Although it was once a living room staple, the stereo shelf system has become a less prominent part of the consumer audio scene over time. However, with the introduction of new technologies, such as lossless Bluetooth, multiroom streaming, and digital radio, these compact systems are better than ever, so we've curated this list that incorporates modern functionality, good build quality, and value. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 07, 2021:
Gone are the days when you needed a large set of speakers and a hefty stack of stereo components to satisfy all your home audio requirements. The compact systems in this ranking are more than powerful enough to rock a good-sized living space and are equally at home in the office or bedroom, thanks in no small part to their diminutive size.
If you really want a stripped-down system on your bookshelves, then the Edifier R1700BTs certainly fit the bill. Marketed as studio monitors, they work just as well in a home setup, and their built-in amplifier and Bluetooth connectivity mean there is no need for extra units, save for a smartphone, tablet, or laptop from which to stream your audio. They even have basic equalization controls and a master volume located in their side panel.
In the interests of diversity, we felt that the 1byOne High Fidelity Turntable deserved a place on our list, as it caters to vinyl lovers who don't wish to compromise on space. This streamlined unit incorporates two surprisingly loud speakers in its attractive wooden frame and features an RCA auxiliary output, a line-in, and Bluetooth functionality. The stylus is by Audio-Technica, which is a nice touch that helps confirm its overall quality.
We also liked the Revo SuperSystem as an all-in-one solution that marries top-quality construction with excellent acoustic properties and features. Highlights include its front-facing USB input and charging port, a highly detailed OLED display, and Bluetooth connectivity that uses the advanced aptX codec to better reproduce compressed digital audio files.
February 20, 2020:
Most of the big companies that manufactured stereo shelf systems in the golden years of living room hi-fi have continued to make similar offerings up until today, with very few changes besides the addition of a few modern features like wireless streaming via Bluetooth. The Onkyo CS-265, Sony CMTSBT100, and Yamaha MCR-B020BL all represent traditional designs from companies that are well-respected in the world of audio equipment, but these high fidelity units come with similarly high price tags. Their particular pros and cons make them worthwhile options for anyone who wants an old-school stereo experience, but doesn't want to give up modern conveniences like iTunes and Spotify. While slightly discounted in price, the Sharp XLHF102B and LG CM4590 have essentially the same design, and offer similar benefits.
Models like the Edifier R1280DB, Keiid Compact Shelf System, and 1byone Wireless Turntable HiFi System break from a typical layout in an exciting way that takes advantage of the current consumer landscape. Why have a CD player if you don't have CDs? What if the two main things you listen to are LPs and playlists on your phone? These choices might look a little odd, but they all have a charming look and niche features that will make them perfect for certain readers.
Most devices in this category sit at a similar price point that doesn't seem particularly affordable, so people who know they don't need advanced features or extremely high quality sound will be relieved to find options like the Jensen JBS-200 and the Victrola VS-120-MPL which both represent excellent value.
Symbol Audio Aero Cabinets Modern stereos are far more pleasing to the eye than the unsightly oversized boxes of yesteryear, with better craftsmanship using materials like brushed aluminum, polished alloys, and exotic woods. This New York-based company creates quality shelving units to match, and their handcrafted, modular Aero Cabinets can be customized to fit your specific equipment, and are available in a range of finishes and configurations. symbolaudio.com