We'd argue there's really no such thing as bookshelf speakers. Even if that's how yours were advertised, it'll take a sturdy pair of speaker stands to have them sounding their best.
You needn't spend eye-watering amounts to achieve good support for your speakers. There are plenty of affordable options that are rigid and non-resonating, neutralising unwanted cabinet vibrations, thus minimising distortion and improving overall sound quality.
The technology is such that a fine pair of stands from a few years ago will be a fine pair of stands today, but if you're still propping your speakers up on an MDF bookcase, you'd best think about investing right now.
Here are the best options for every budget. And with Black Friday deals very much in full swing, it's a good time to be keeping an eye out for bargains.
There's a reason these Atacama speaker stands continue picking up What Hi-Fi? Awards. Two metal columns – one filled for better stability, one for cable management – and a bamboo base offer sturdy support and a neat look.
And they allow our system to flourish by letting the speakers deliver their best in terms of punch, detail and rhythm. For around a ton, you'll struggle to do better.
Read the full review: Atacama Moseco 6
The Soundstyle Z2 speaker stands have been favourites of ours for more than a decade, winning Awards at various prices, and they remain a solid (ahem) choice.
Soundstyle has added lockable spikes to the base and improved the bolt and socket assembly of the main support for additional rigidity, while also filling the stands with damping materials to reduce resonance. They also come with top spikes. The new stands can help improve detail, add drive and help bring out the excitement in your music.
Read the full review: Soundstyle Z2
Designed for the Q Acoustics speaker, but compatible with any speakers, these are a little more expensive but deliver a performance to justify the price.
The clever construction – a layer of compliant compound in the metal top plate that helps dampen unwanted resonances by turning them into heat energy – makes them superb supports for all types of speakers. They look classy and have some cable management, while sonically they will free-up your system in terms of punch and bite.
Read the full review: Q Acoustics Concept 20 Speaker Stands
The FS104 Signature has five columns: a large one in the middle and four satellites. Assembly is fairly simple, especially for anyone who’s ever played with construction sets or a certain brand of Swedish furniture.
There’s an all-black option but, for contrast, the satellites also come in gold, chrome and brushed chrome. Overall, these stands allowed our kit to perform with more control and precision than did their rivals, offering a livelier, clearer sound.
Read the full review: Custom Design FS104 Signature
Made from carbon steel, the HMS2s (HMS stands for High Mass) certainly look built to last and come in a smart matt black finish, the only colour option at the moment. Our sample arrived ready filled with Atabite fillers, just to add to the weight (these cost extra).
Tonally these Atacama's help our reference speakers offer a prominent and smooth midrange and sweet treble, although the bass lacks some authority where needed. With the HMS2s, Atacama has supplied a more than capable stand, that will appeal to fans of detailing and those who like their vocals sweet and smooth.
Read the full review: Atacama HMS2