Sond Audio Active Bookshelf Speakers review

Good all-round budget speakers, but more engaging options are available Tested at £150

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Big, brash and loud – these large speakers do a lot for their budget price, but it’s not enough to win us over


  • +

    Big, open sound that goes loud

  • +

    Lots of space between instruments

  • +

    Decent attack

  • +

    Plenty of connections


  • -

    Rivals offer greater detail, precision and finesse

  • -

    Coarse edge to sound

  • -

    Some design features are inelegant

  • -

    May be too big for some spaces

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The Sond Audio Active Bookshelf Speakers, apart from being a mouthful of a name, are a tempting proposition if you’re after budget speakers that do it all.

The brand, launched by and available from online retailer Ebuyer, is offering big sound and plenty of connectivity options – all for just £150.


The first impression is one of size. These are a bulky pair of speakers (a little too big for a desktop system, we think), and appropriately, they deliver a great big spread of sound.

Play Florence + The Machine’s Ship To Wreck, and the Sonds will reward you with large-scale dynamics. These speakers can certainly go loud.

They have an upbeat and straightforward approach to music that will grab you immediately, with Florence Welch’s voice sounding clear, direct and solid. It reaches decent highs, with a fair amount of bite at the top end.

There’s a slight coarseness to the edges of notes, though, and while the soundstage is spacious, it’s not quite as layered or three-dimensional as we’d like.

Shifts in dynamics and rhythm are handled bluntly, with little subtlety to keep you fully engaged with the music. The taut bassline in Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey charges along merrily, giving the Sond Audios their pleasing immediacy.

But there isn’t enough depth or texture, nor are the stop and start of notes definite and precise – and that stops us from fully engaging with the music.

In fact, while the speakers have a decent level of punch, they’re simply not as refined or as detailed as rivals, such as the Wharfedale DS-1s or Edifier R1700BTs.

The Sond Audios sound a touch cleaner and more solid through the USB input, although the attacking tempo, the brash edge and the room-filling sound remains consistent when using Bluetooth.


For just £150, it’s pretty impressive that these powered speakers come with such a generous helping of inputs.

Along with Bluetooth streaming and a 3.5mm input, you also get a USB type B input to connect your laptop, plus two pairs of RCA line inputs, a pair of RCA outputs, and a subwoofer output.

LED indicators on the master right speaker (which houses the 180W amplifier) will tell you which input is in use. Confusingly, Sond Audio uses a blue LED for every wired input, while Bluetooth, usually indicated by blue, is white.


Given their size, we’d recommend putting the Sonds on stands (especially if you want to use them as TV speakers). Just make sure you give them plenty of space to let that open sound flourish.

Placing them too close to a wall will block up the rear bass port, giving the sound some extra boom.

The speakers are built solidly, but the big rotary dial on the right speaker (which doubles as the input switcher) is a bit knobbly and inelegant, and feels cheaply made.

We prefer using the remote control, which is small and light, and has satisfyingly solid and responsive buttons. Selecting inputs and changing volumes is easily done.

It’s worth noting that the playback controls work only when you’re streaming via Bluetooth.


The Sond Audio Active Bookshelf Speakers offer a great deal for such a budget price. The range of connections makes them flexible, and if it’s big and loud sound you’re after, you’ll certainly get it here.

However, there are more detailed, elegant and engaging speakers available for similar money. Ultimately, we’d urge you to explore its competitors for a better and more enjoyable performance.

MORE: Best hi-fi speakers 2015

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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