Bookshelf Speakers Pt. II – Nuances

With your fundamentals sorted there are a few extra considerations to factor in. And the first of these are port design, driver configuration, and speaker stands. Because depending on listening space and preferences, they’ll each play a strong role in your audio performance. 

Wharfedale EVO4.1 and Diamond 12.2 port design

Wharfedale EVO4.1 & Wharfedale Diamond 12.2


Cone movement causes internal cabinet pressure and bass ports vent it. Without a vent, the increased cabinet pressure makes the speaker cone more difficult to drive. So, not only do ports increase efficiency, they also have an added benefit of improving bass performance. 

Porting comes in two main camps: rear and down firing. With the space to play, rear firing ports allow a little extra audio fine-tuning, increasing and decreasing bass response according to wall proximity. Down firing ports, on the other hand, offer greater placement flexibility in tight spots. 

While all loudspeakers sound better with space to breathe, this isn’t always feasible, which is what often makes bookies so attractive. So, while rear firing configurations can help fine-tune bass response, they will suffer from boom if backed against the wall. Significantly less the case with down firing configurations.

Bookshelf 2-way, 2-way inverted, and 3-way driver configurations

Wharfedale D12.1 & Mission LX2 MKII & Wharfedale EVO4.2


Two-way, three-way and inverted driver geometry are just some of the more prevalent driver configurations available. And it’s kinda horses for course. Configuration choice is often determined by the listening preferences and environmental conditions of the listener. 

Most bookshelves are two-ways designs – two-way meaning two drivers, tweeter and woofer. Your tweeter handles the high frequencies while your woofer shares mid and bass roles. For the most part they’re smaller, more affordable, and offer the widest selection of style, colour, and design. So going two-way gives you options, lots of options. 

Three-way is (you guessed it) three drivers, each solely responsible for either the high, mid, or bass frequencies. This configuration is most often found in floorstanding speakers. But on the rare occasion you find it in a bookshelf, they’re often big – like our EVO4.2. But with the extra frequency driver and the overall increase in size comes a significant increase in detail, dynamics, and projection. 

Inverted driver geometry is a Mission trademark, inverting the position of the tweeter and woofer. Mission is adamant that by equalising each driver’s signal path between the loudspeaker and listener, IDG fine-tunes time alignment to give you an accurate, compelling, and ultimately rhythmic listening experience. And if that sounds like your kind of thing, IDG might just be for you. 

Wharfedale EVO4.2 Bookshelf Speakers and Speaker Stands


No bullsh#$. If you have the space, get the stands. Bang for buck, they’re probably one the best system upgrades you’ll ever make. Because if you’re determined to get every inch of sound quality from your favourite bookshelf speakers, stands will get you much of the way. 

It’s all about dialling in for optimum listening. That means adjusting speaker position to create the best possible dynamics, soundstage, imaging (and with bookies you get great imaging), instrument seperation and detail. And the best adjustment tool is a set of stands. 

Stands are not only set to the perfect listening height for your seat in the sweet spot, they’re easily moved forward and back, left and right, as well as toe-in for incremental fine-tuning. Millimeter adjustments make big differences to your listening quality. So, again, if you have the space, get the stands. 

Now that we have your port choice, driver configuration and speaker stand selections taken care of, it's time to dig a little deeper. We're going to talk about equipment matching. But, there's a lot to cover, so that's a conversation for our next instalment.