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Best Shelf Stereo System 2020 – Ultimate Buying Guide

There has never been a better time to purchase a shelf stereo system. The amount of music and other content like podcasts that are available to listen to is astonishing.

There are also more rivals in the market, so companies are competing harder than ever to produce better quality sound systems that are more compact than years prior to new features for enabling different listening options.

These new features for home audio systems make it hard to settle for low-quality sound when you could upgrade to a home stereo system that fits your lifestyle. Are you wondering which are the best on the market and which one can best suit your needs?

If so you’re in luck.

Below we have assembled a comparison table along with write-ups on the best home stereo products, allowing you to make the best purchase possible.

Top 5 Shelf Stereo Systems in 2020

We will start off with the comparison table to lay out the best stereo systems for home along with some basic qualities of each product. After you view the table, you will find more details on each product in a complete review of each of them.

So without any further introduction, here are the best shelf stereo systems out there today in 2020.

ProductConnectivityWeight (lbs)Dimensions (in)Check Price Now
Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV (Editor's Pick)Bluetooth and WiFi9.95.6” H x 14.6” W x 8.7” D
Bose Wave Music System IVBluetooth optional with adapter117” H x 19” W x 12.8” D
Sony CMTSBT100 Micro Music System with Bluetooth and NFCBluetooth5.7 (player)13.2” H x 18.5” W x 14.5” D (player itself)
Pioneer X-CM56B Mini Stereo SystemBluetooth12.55.1” H x 9.4” W x 7.8” D
Onkyo CS-265(B) CD Hi-Fi Mini System with BluetoothBluetooth7.98” H x 12.5” W x 10.8” D

Now that you know which products are the best on the market and some basic qualities they have, we are going to take a more in-depth look at each to help you better determine which home shelf stereo system suits your desires and needs.

Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV – Editor’s Pick

 

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The latest in Bose’s SoundTouch line is the Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV.

It is compact and sleek with the clearest sounding speakers many have ever heard. This product’s strongest selling point is its sound quality—although that isn’t its only perk. It can fill just about any room size with lifelike crispness.

The SoundTouch system by Bose is an entire family of products by Bose. They are one of a handful of systems on the market that offer Wi-Fi as well as the ability to play sound from the same source without being connected to each other.

Many shelf stereo systems come in multiple units –the speakers being separate from the stereo receiver itself. Bose, however, does it differently by making units with the speakers and music player connected to each other. This allows for better functionality and smoother look for those who enjoy having their system displayed on a surface such as a kitchen counter or the nightstand.

One feature this system that separates it from the rest is the fact it has built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. This means instead of scanning an AM or FM signal through the system’s internal antenna; it can connect without issues through the Wi-Fi network in your house. No more bad connections, with Wi-Fi your radio signal will be stronger than ever.

Along with the ability to connect through Wi-Fi to the radio or satellite radio, it can sync to devices through both its built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This gives you the opportunity to listen to anything you can imagine from podcasts to audiobooks or your favorite music from your phone, tablet, or computer.

Most prefer Wi-Fi over Bluetooth for sound quality and the stronger, more stable connection, but together they make this shelf stereo system unbelievably convenient.

This unit has a single, frontload CD player, as it’s designed more for the technologically savvy who utilize things such as wireless Bluetooth or Wi-Fi streaming, although that didn’t stop Bose from including a classic feature for CD enthusiasts. The CD player continues playing the CD from the last point you turned it off at, making it ideal for those who enjoy listening to audiobooks or speeches on CDs.

Another cool trait on this stereo system is how easy it is to turn your smartphone or tablet into a controller. Simply by installing a free, user-friendly app offered by Bose to anyone with a smartphone.

Bose truly covered all areas of concern regarding shelf stereo systems with this model. It is perfect for just about anyone who desires to listen to pretty much anything on a high-end stereo system.

The Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV is available in Espresso Black and Platinum Silver.

  • Large display with brightness settings
  • Bluetooth Built-In
  • Wi-Fi Built-In
  • One unit (speakers attached)
  • Dual Alarm System
  • Ability to turn smartphone or tablet into controller

  • Expensive end of marketplace
  • Single frontload CD slot
  • No control buttons on the unit – need remote to use
  • Complicated setup compared to others on the market

Bose Wave Music System IV

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The Bose Wave Music System IV is very similar to the SoundTouch Music System by Bose previously discussed.

The big difference is the fact that the Wave Music System IV doesn’t have Wi-Fi capabilities and it doesn’t connect to play music in unison with the Bose SoundTouch line of products. However, it is less expensive for those looking to save while still getting the top of the line sound quality and functionality.

This unit can connect to Bluetooth, through an optional Bluetooth adapter rather than being built-in. This allows you to connect your smartphone or even tablet without the need for an AUX cord to connect the device.

Like the previous model, it has a single front load CD player. More and more shelf stereo systems are going this route as Bluetooth wireless streamers are starting to overpower the typical CD enthusiast.

Many consumers who have left good reviews on this product and have highlighted the fact that the sound quality, as well as its power, are of the best they have ever seen from a mini stereo system.

It, like the SoundTouch reviewed above, continues playing the CD from the last point you turned it off at.

The Bose Wave Music System IV is available in Espresso Black and Platinum Silver.

  • Ability to connect to Bluetooth with adapter
  • AUX input
  • Dual alarm system
  • Large display with brightness settings
  • One unit (speakers attached)

  • No Wi-Fi options
  • Single frontload CD slot
  • No control buttons on the unit—need remote to use

Sony CMTSBT100 Micro Music System with Bluetooth and NFC

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The Sony CMTSBT100 Micro Music System with Bluetooth and NFC is an Amazon’s choice with tons of positive reviews.

The price combined with the features Sony included with this model make it an extremely popular choice for those looking to get a technology-friendly shelf stereo system.

It is extremely easy to set up and uses making it perfect for you if you’re looking to bypass complicated setups and syncing of systems.

This Sony Micro Music System’s key feature is its NFC Bluetooth capabilities. If you don’t know what NFC is, it stands for near-field communication.

This allows for devices that are Bluetooth enabled to sync with the stereo system simply by being within 4cm of the stereo system. Along with NFC it also has Bluetooth built-in.

A bonus for those who put Bluetooth to use often is the fact that this shelf stereo system has AAC apt-x support. This provides superior sound quality for the sound being streaming from a device over a Bluetooth connection. With this, higher resolutions of sound are supported. Many often complain about having a superior sound system while not being able to fully utilize it due to lack of quality through standard Bluetooth, with the apt-x support that is guaranteed not to happen again.

The music player itself is detached from both speakers allowing you to fill more areas with sound by moving them apart from each other. The speakers are 2-way, woofer, and tweeter.

Sony designed this for casual listeners primarily because of its price. It comes at a lower price than many others on the market that offer wireless connectivity options like Bluetooth even without the NFC or apt-x support.

Along with both Bose systems previously mentioned this unit has a single slot front-load CD player as it is focused more on wireless streaming, hence its NFC Bluetooth and apt-x support.

  • NFC pairing abilities
  • Extremely user-friendly
  • AAC apt-x support
  • USB Input
  • Bluetooth built-in

  • Single front-load CD player
  • Large system including speakers
  • No Wi-Fi options

Pioneer X-CM56B Mini Stereo System

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Pioneer designed the X-CM56B Mini Stereo System with the casual listener in mind. It is economical and sleek.

The design of the unit is ideal for those who like to have their stereo out in the open to be seen and admired. It is one of the more affordable systems on the market that offer Bluetooth for wireless streaming.

It looks similar to a classic shelf stereo with its square shape but because very customizable due to both speakers abilities to sit not only vertically but horizontally as well.

It comes with 2, 7.8” speakers with 5-foot cables. This allows you to fill an entire room with the music of your choice simply by moving the speakers a few feet away from the receiver itself.

The X-CM56B can play music from a wide variety of sources. It supports CDs, USB, AM/FM radio, and smartphones, digital audio players, or a personal computer when Bluetooth has been turned on and synced with a device.

This Pioneer shelf stereo system is available in Black. However, Pioneer does offer it in eye-catching white under a different unit number, XCM56W, for a small markup on the price.

  • Easy setup
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • More affordable side of market
  • Speakers are independent and can sit vertical or horizontal

  • No Wi-Fi options
  • Lacking superior sound quality

Onkyo CS-265(B) CD Hi-Fi Mini System with Bluetooth

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Without a doubt, this product’s main feature is its Hi-Fi that comes pretty much standard on products carrying the Onkyo label.

The reviews on it are nothing but amazing. It is the sleekest two-speaker shelf stereo system offered by not only Onkyo but the entire marketplace.

Its ability to produce off the chart clear sounding music is what makes it so popular. It has a newly redesigned digital amp along with beautiful 2-way bookshelf speakers.

Like the Sony Micro Mini System, this comes fully-loaded with built-in Bluetooth and NFC pairing for mobile devices and tablets.

This product is perfect for anyone with its easy-to-read display, fast setup, and ability to support multiple playing sources(MP3, CD, USB, Bluetooth, etc.)

  • NFC pairing abilities
  • Bluetooth built-in
  • Less expensive than other options with similar features
  • Easy to setup and use

  • Single front-load CD player

Home Shelf Stereo System Buyer’s Guide

From our detailed reviews above on 5 of the best home stereo systems, you can see there are a lot of options on the market with different features. Some unique and others standard. Some stereo systems are designed for the casual listener while others for the avid listeners who utilize smartphones and computer capabilities.

Some units on the market support Bluetooth and Wi-Fi while others focus more on CD listeners by providing multiple CD slots—although that is becoming less and less popular.

It is important to know what you are looking for a home shelf stereo system to provide before making a purchase.

Below are some things we put together that we believe you should think about or consider before purchasing a home shelf stereo system to ensure you find the best one for you.

Where will you be putting you Shelf Stereo System?

Previously it was assumed that when you purchase a home stereo system, it was going to be placed up against a wall or somewhere not in the way like a counter. Now that technology has advanced there are more options as far as how big they are.

Systems like the ones Bose offers now allow you to put your stereo in the kitchen or on a dresser while not only adding sound but a beautiful piece of decor to the room. Whether you prefer a humble, sleek, compact look or the bigger classic detached speaker look there are plenty of options for you.

Be sure and have an idea of where you will be using it primarily before making the purchase.

How will you be listening?

When purchasing yourself a new shelf stereo system, it is important to purchase one that can support what you want to listen to. If you’re going to be listening to things like podcasts or satellite radio, then get a system that has Wi-Fi to play those. If you just want to listen to CDs, MP3 devices, or music from your phone/ computer library then save yourself some money and buy one that doesn’t offer extra features.

How much do you care about the quality of sound?

When it comes to sound quality in a stereo system many automatically assume that bigger is better. While that is often true, it is not always the case.

The Bose products we reviewed earlier are top of the line as far as crispness in the sound that you can get on the market without extra, expensive add-ons. Like the Onkyo shelf stereo system we discussed, there are some designed like the classic detached speaker stereo from years back that not only go extremely loud; they also don’t lack quality in the sound.

Most designed like this now come with advanced built-in features to adjust the things like bass and treble to your liking.

How much are you willing to spend?

Upgrading and improving shelf stereo systems can be never-ending. There are endless things you can purchase like extra speakers to subwoofers for your system.

There are options like the Bose SoundTouch that are expensive but bring your almost anything you can desire from a stereo system. If you don’t want to break the bank and are looking for something cheaper there are options out there for you like the Sony Micro System that still offers superior sound quality with multiple listening options like Bluetooth and NFC.

Conclusion

After our review, you have a good idea of what type of shelf stereo systems are on the market waiting for you. Not only do you know what kinds of stereos you can purchase, you know what to think about and prepare for before going through with a purchase.

If you want to listen to specific things like satellite radio or podcasts, there is a product for you. If you like easy systems, there are also options for you. The market is filled with awesome products with amazing deals making it a better time than ever to upgrade to the best sounding home shelf stereo system you can get.

If you’re looking to go all out on a product, we recommend you go with the Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV if you already own products in the SoundTouch line and the Bose Wave Music System IV if you don’t.

If you’re looking to save money without losing sounds quality or essentials like Bluetooth, then we recommend the Amazon Choice — Sony CMTSBT100 Micro Music System with Bluetooth and NFC.

Jason is a music enthusiast and a sound addict, so it was only natural for him to buy some stereo speakers for his new car. After looking at a bunch of websites online, he couldn’t really find what he was looking for, so he decided to create his own site - BestStereo.io.