POLL: bookshelves vs. towers

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by eddieZEN, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Messages:
    411
    Likes Received:
    0
    Based on your own experiences,

    Are tower speakers really much better at "filling" large spaces with sound than bookshelf speakers, if both are:

    1. used with a subwoofer
    2. set to "small"
    3. used with a competent receiver/amp?

    By "large spaces" I mean 500 square feet and up with high ceilings and lots of weird accoustic features (lots of glass doors/windows, marble fireplace in corner, etc.), not just some cozy & closed off little bedroom or media room.

    Just wanted to check if anyone has found this to be largely the stuff of urban legend and marketing hype, or whether it's a generally accepted consensus.
     
  2. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 1999
    Messages:
    4,948
    Likes Received:
    0
    All else as equal as possible, a tower speaker (assuming it goes lower) will have better dynamic range below, at, and above the crossover than a "bookshelf" model. As such, it can fill any space with sound better. I'm comparing speakers within a given range, here, of similar "quality" (i.e. an Athena tower vs. an Athena bookshelf).
    People who claim that towers are "wasted" when set to "small" tend not to consider that crossovers are not brick walls, and that their proper function assumes that a mated speaker is ideally flat and capable an octave below the chosen crossover point.
     
  3. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hmmm. Interesting question. If you want to "fill" space with sound then sure, why not, buy a bunch of tower speakers and put them all around the room.

    I'm not sure most AV/HT enthusiasts put "filling the room" at the top of what they want from a speaker though ....

    I kind of wanted something that was very very neutral and accurate at reproducing sound. But hey, we all have different priorities.
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    If the drivers are the same and the sensitivity is the same, the only thing a tower gives you is the ability to tune the cabinet lower for more extension. It will NOT fill the room any more than a bookshelf. I like both types. I am currently running bookshelf, but would not be against having towers. I often find that bookshelf speakers, by not having that extra extension, tend to be more accurate within their range than an equivalent floorstander (not in every case).

    A search on the subject should net enough discussion on this subjet to keep you reading for days.
     
  5. MikeHU

    MikeHU Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would say yes. You can analyze it any way you want, but when it came down to sound in my ears, the floor standers did outperform the bookshelves. I went through the same thing last year. I upgraded to a better receiver, bought a SVS, got some good bookshelves, and learned how to calibrate. I liked the output, but couldn't help wondering whether the floor standers would be more pleasing to me. Since I had the opportunity and room, I tried the floor standers (Klipsch RF7's). To me it is a "fuller" sound, but not necessarily at louder levels. It required extensive remodeling of my family room, but I am happy with the result. If you have the room, I would encourage you to audition some floor standers. If you don't, then you can still have an excellent sounding system with bookshelves, but you might still have that nagging feeling
    (like I did) of "what if". Good luck and enjoy.
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    If you want to run the mains without a sub for music (which I sometimes do), towers do have a clear advantage. In a music only system, I'd probably do towers with no sub.
     
  7. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2001
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    0
    In my experience my Mordaunt-Short 902 bookshelf speakers sound better at low volumes for music, with a nicer soundstage, but the 906 towers have the edge when I crank it up. This may be due to the extra bass driver and power handling capability of the 906 over the 902 (which have identical tweeters and mid-driver). Though I'm not sure why the 902s sounded slightly better at low volumes... ideas?
     
  8. Ernest Yee

    Ernest Yee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2003
    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    0
    John - will definitely reply to that one - I recall he owned a pair of Mordaunt Shorts.
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    I wish MS would make a bookshelf version of the 906. I have been really happy with the 902s in my bedroom so far - about a year now. Definitely more bass than their smallish size would suggest. The additional driver in the 906 means it moves a lot more air and is more easily able to fill the room. I have a customer that has 904s, and they sound practically identical to my 902s, just with a tiny bit more bass response, though I think they have the same -3dB rating.

    I'm not sure why the 902 would sound better at lowe volume, though I suspect the difference may be the x-over. the 902 uses a simple 6dB/octave while the 906 has to use a slightly more complex one with the additional driver. Using them in my bedroom, I frequently run them at low volume and they seem to still retain every bit of detail. In my living room, almost 2x the size of my bedroom, they don't have as much output as my M-T-M mains. I run them full range with no sub in my bedroom and I haven't felt the need to add a sub to them.

    (Chris is actually the reason why I listened to and ended up buying the 902s [​IMG] )
     
  10. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Messages:
    1,209
    Likes Received:
    0
    Listen to Jack...
     
  11. Max F

    Max F Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    0
    More drivers (not always bigger) = more dispersion
     
  12. ArthurJ

    ArthurJ Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2003
    Messages:
    354
    Likes Received:
    0
    Generally speaking, a bookshelf speaker will outperform a tower speaker in the same price category. There are many advantages of a bookshelf over a tower, the only advantage a tower holds over bookshelf is raw SPL and lower bass extension. Cabinet resonance and diffraction are both issues plaguing the modern tower speaker. Tower speakers from my experience do not have the point source imaging bookshelves encompass.
     
  13. Will-Layfield

    Will-Layfield Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    I dont think you can say that a bookshelf will outperform a tower in the same price category. Not that I am saying one can't because i certainly don't know that for sure but you seem to making a big generalization. A $2000 pair of bookshelves won't necessarily "outperform" an equivalently priced $2000 pair of tower speakers. While this isn't tested data..nor do I have specific examples, I am still pretty sure you cant make that generalized of a statement.
     
  14. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2001
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    0
    The 906 towers cost over twice as much as the 902 monitors, so I don't think it is possible to compare "equal price points" easily. The 906s definitely sound better at high volumes, and are able to handle a lot of power (they were hooked up to an anthem amplifier at my dealer).

    Still, the point-source imaging argument for bookshelves has some merit.

    John - Glad you're still enjoying the 902s. I'm just wondering why you'd be interested in a 906-style bookshelf. That would be a rather large bookshelf speaker, along the lines of the Paradigm Studio 40. Why not just get the tower (assuming space is the primary reason for getting the 902s)?
     
  15. DavidCooper

    DavidCooper Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 21, 2004
    Messages:
    230
    Likes Received:
    0
    The price point is a bad reference to go by IMO. I have a pair of Swan 2.1 "bookshelf" style speakers with an SVS 20-39PC +. If you got this for just 2-channel listening or HT it can and does outperform many towers and even towers with subs in MUCH higher price categories.

    My best example is my buddy who has B&W 802's along with a sunfire sub all running off of a beefy Rotel amp. He also has everything bi-amped and bi-wired.

    I'm running the 2.1's, SVS, with a Parasound amp (84w per channel).

    He is totally floored how good my system sounds compared to his. The imaging is a lot better with mine. His sound-stage is slightly larger and maybe a bit wider but not near enough to justify the enormous price difference between the two set-ups.
     
  16. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    2,693
    Likes Received:
    92
    Location:
    St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada
    Real Name:
    Paul
    Often, the price comparison is the following: it costs more to make a tower than a bookshelf speaker (more parts, more cabinetry, etc.), so if the same money went to the bookshelf, those bits will be of higher quality. Within a brand, this is often the case. The most expensive tower in one series is about the price of the bookshelf in the next series up (general observation, not a hard and fast rule). Across brands, though, the price argument doesn't really hold up, for a variety of reasons.

    Pros for bookshelf (again general observations): Better imaging, more flexible placement options.

    Pros for towers: deeper extension, can often accomodate more power.

    Cons for bookshelf: less extension in lower range, not necessarily a space saver (stands + speaker = as big or bigger than tower)

    Cons for tower: aesthetically more dominant in room--for those to whom this is problemmatic (even if it doesn't take any more actual room than bookshelf and stands), placement for best bass response is often not the same for best imaging.

    The last con for towers is what motivated me to go with a bookshelf plus sub arrangement (one that I would keep even in a two channel system). For me, the flexibility to achieve the best of both worlds, bass response and imaging, outweighs any factors in favour of towers. But, that (like all thinks relating to speakers) is a personal preference--and I remain open to persuasion that towers can be optimally placed for both imaging and bass.
     
  17. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 1999
    Messages:
    4,948
    Likes Received:
    0
    I find that fuller-range speakers outperform more limited-range speakers across the board, with and without sub, on an absolute basis. Forgetting the assumtions of the "given price point" argument, from a performance standpoint, it's worth it to go for towers. Floor space/height is usually the same...does anyone actually put speakers on a bookshelf? Placement for bass response vs. placement for imaging can be problematic (haven't found that to be the case in my room), but this thread, as seen in the first post, assumes the use of a sub with mains set to "small".

    The one argument that holds up is the "visual dominance" one, that's certainly preference.
     
  18. JohnSmith

    JohnSmith Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2003
    Messages:
    554
    Likes Received:
    0
    If cost is no option- very high quality towers. Standmount and subwoofer is fine, but once you hear some of the larger higher end floorstanders a standmount/subwoofer cannot compare. You'll get stereo low bass with towers, which is impossible with a single subwoofer (dowmixed stereo)

    But if you're looking at low end market (less than £500 for towers) than yeah I would go with standmount + sub.

    As Jack said, the crossover is not a brick wall, alot of
     
  19. Robert_Dufresne

    Robert_Dufresne Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2002
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    0
    The difference between towers and bookshelfs is low end extension period.

    Tweeters and midrange drivers do not require a big volume to operate and in many speaker lines, you will find that the tweeter/midrange portion of the speaker is the same for all the speakers from the smallest bookshelf to the biggest tower.



    Stereo low bass simply does not exist because low bass is not directional due to the long wavelenghts.

    Good bookshelf speakers matched with a good sub will do as good and some times better then towers. The hard part is matching the sub the the bookshelfs for a seamless blend.

    Using a powered sub to take care of the low frequencies makes a lot of sense. It frees your main amp of that very demanding task. Also, with powered subs, you can dedicate a lot ( often more than 500W ) of power to one speaker that needs it the most.
     
  20. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 1999
    Messages:
    4,948
    Likes Received:
    0

    Yup...see above.
     

Share This Page