Bookshelf vs. Monitors (Speakers)

Studio Monitors vs. Bookshelf Speakers

When you look through the internet, you may find a class of speakers that is called Studio Monitors, and there is also a very similar class of speakers called Bookshelf speakers. Sometimes there are disputed ideas for either type of speaker, and so here I try to differentiate them.

B&W 685 Bookshelf speakers. Source:

First, looking through some forums, such as, you may realize there are differences between studio monitors and bookshelf speaker. Because these responses are from the general population (people), take it with a grain of salt. The second response in the forum linked above will tell you about how studio monitors and bookshelf loudspeakers are different, but in the end, I agree with the opinion stated by this responder in on the goal of both types of speakers. Both the goal of any speaker in general is to give a flat response, and be as accurate as possible in reproducing sound.

KRK Systems Rokit 5 G2 studio monitors. Source:

The only difference between them is their purpose. Bookshelf have a more general purpose of being listened to from various distances, far or short, while studio monitors are listened to in generally shorter distances, in a studio recording setting. For the added convenience and reduction in total costs necessary, studio monitors are most of the time active speakers, with built-in amplifier to produce the sound needed, and have connections required in a studio setting.

Wait, but the title says only monitors, not studio monitors, and all I have been going on about is about studio monitors vs bookshelf speakers. Yes, I have been going on about studio monitors, as they count as monitors. They are the most compared to with bookshelf speakers But now, I shall explain monitors and bookshelf speakers in general.

Monitors Vs. Bookshelf (at last)

Many of my research lead to confusing information about monitors and bookshelf speakers. There are clashing ideas of the two, as shown here in the forum, and due to the lack of information I cannot objectively conclude. But I will conclude subjectively, because I want my opinions on this topic to be shared.

Photo of the NHT T6. Taken from

I think because of the confusion between Monitors and Bookshelf, like how the Kef LS50 is disputed here, I think they are interchangeable terms. One real-life example of this is also with NHT’s T6 towers. My dad owns a pair, and they are modular speakers from about 13 years ago (2003). You can read about them here. But basically the Tower speaker is consisting of two of their products, the M6 (“M” as in monitor) module and the B6 (“B” as in Bass) module to create the tower. The M6 can also be considered Bookshelf because of their size and their inability to produce the lower frequencies. They can also be considered Monitors because if that too, as the monitor’s size usually inhibits them to create the lower frequencies, a physical disposition that plagues both Bookshelf and Monitors Speakers.

Photo of Kev LS50 from

Therefore, I think the term, is an evolving term that you can use interchangeably. Maybe in the future, there are more absolute definitions of Monitors and Bookshelf, but as of right now, there aren’t any clear definitions of each speaker types, so you can be use the term interchangeably, and people will still get what you mean.

Well I hope that clears some confusion on the issue of bookshelf vs. speakers, and some shed some light on how I think the terms are interchangeable, and have similar meanings. If I missed anything let me know my contacting me in my contact page.


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