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Bookshelf Speakers - Icon Audio

Bookshelf speakers are an attractive alternative to floorstanding speakers in smaller rooms or simply if you want something more compact. Despite being called "bookshelf" speakers, we always recommend using a good pair of speaker stands for the best sound (you can also adjust the level of bass response by adjusting the level of "filler" within a pair of fillable stands). All "bookshelf" speakers here are passive, so must be used with a suitable hi-fi amplifier. While hi-fi is our speciality and you'll always enjoy the best sound with a full hi-fi separates system, we also sell active and wireless speakers. We can also offer demonstrations on any of these speakers in our showroom by prior arrangement.


Icon Audio is dedicated to the design of pure valve amplifiers and hi-fi separates. Inspired by vintage valve amplifiers with the finest circuit designs and build quality, Icon Audio believes the warm valve sound offers much musical enjoyment.

Icon Audio have been designing amplifiers since 1999 in the UK. From the beginning their amplifiers were awarded “best buy” and “five stars” by British Magazines like HiFi News, HiFi Choice and HiFi World. Recently, the MB845 mono blocks became "Reference Standard" in the HiFi world along with PS1 and PS3 phono stages.

Since the beginning, their product selection has included a range of integrated valve amplifiers that are widely considered to be class leaders, alongside a selection of premium "monoblok" valve power amplifiers and valve pre amplifiers and phono stages. Icon Audio have also released valve based CD players and high sensitivity hi-fi loudspeakers designed to match very effectively with valve amplification.

Unlike some other branded valve amplifiers that are put together cheaply or require manual biasing of the valves, most of Icon Audio's designs are "self biasing", meaning that you don't need to go through this process so regularly. As with all valve amplifiers, we always recommend allowing them to warm up for 5+ minutes before playing music, and such patience is richly rewarded.

The rated power of a valve amplifier tends to be lower than comparable solid-state integrated amplifiers, but providing effective matching between valve amp and speaker, this is not a concern, and in most scenarios, few other amplifier designs can beat the warm, lifelike sound of awell set-up valve amplifier. 

For advice on speaker matching, that's what we're here for! If you'd like to upgrade to a valve amplifier, call or e-mail us for specialist expert advice. We also have several Icon Audio models on demo in our showroom where you can listen and try before you buy.

Traditionally for hi-fi, floor standing loudspeakers were seen as the ultimate option, with most enthusiasts believing that bookshelf speakers were too lightweight or compact to compete with their larger counterparts. However, over the past 20 years, with manufacturing and miniaturisation techniques vastly improving, bookshelf speakers have hugely improved, to the point where they can compete with floorstanders, with their own advantages as well.

Bookshelf speakers are regarded as having more attack and rhythm than floor standing models, making them more suited to complex arrangements and rhythmic music. This is often seen as a compromise between the weight and dynamics of a floorstanding speaker, and the rhythm and musicality possible with a bookshelf speaker.

Driver design and material is an important factor in choosing a bookshelf speaker. Many different materials of driver exist, ranging from Kevlar to paper – the key distinction however is between metallic and non-metallic drivers. A metal driver, typically aluminium, is often favoured for its accuracy and precision. However, for some listeners, this can be described as “bright” or “analytical”, and seen as at the expense of musicality and warmth. Non-metallic drivers are typically more musically engaging, though not offering the absolute precision of a metal driver.

Tweeter design can also massively effect the overall sound signature of a bookshelf speaker. Most speakers, particularly entry-level and mid-range models, use a dome tweeter, which is as the name suggests dome-shaped. However some models, particularly higher-end ones, utilise a ribbon tweeter, which is a diaphragm of stretched metallic ribbon. A ribbon tweeter will deliver much sweeter higher frequencies, dispersed in a much wider fashion, giving greater imaging and soundstage.

Typical driver and tweeter configuration in bookshelf speakers, and indeed other models of speaker, is to have a main bass/mid frequency driver or woofer, and a separate tweeter handling high frequencies. However, some manufacturers choose a design where the tweeter is housed within the centre of the main driver, which improves dispersion and imaging and makes positioning an easier and more forgiving proposition.

Bookshelf speakers should really be called “standmount” speakers, as they are rarely used on a bookshelf and will virtually always sound better on a dedicated speaker stand. These stands are ideal as they enable you to position the speakers at the ideal listening height – which is having the tweeters at ear level from the usual seating position. This ensures that optimum imaging is achieved, and that there is coherency and integration between the woofer and tweeter. Dedicated stands can also enhance bass extension, adding weight and authority. Many stands are fillable, allowing you to add weight and mass and further improve the bass performance of your speakers. Spikes on the base of the stands ensures isolation from the floor, and eliminates unwanted resonance affecting the sound of your speakers.

Don't forget to buy a suitable pair of speaker stands and good speaker cable as well! Call or e-mail us if you need any further help in choosing your new pair of speakers.

Bookshelf Speakers - Icon Audio

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