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tower or bookshelf?


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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   PeterK

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Posted October 30 2004 - 10:43 AM

I have a feeling this may have been mulled over here before but I will give it another try. What are the pros and cons of going either all bookshelf and letting the subwoofer do everything <80Hz or going with full range towers either all around or just for the mains, with a subwoofer?
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#2 of 15 OFFLINE   PeterK

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Posted November 01 2004 - 12:50 PM

No opinions?
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#3 of 15 OFFLINE   David Ruggiero

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Posted November 01 2004 - 07:53 PM

Well, I have JBL bookshelf speakers (s-38's) and I think they work quite well when paired with a good subwoofer (I have an SVS). However, if space and money were not issues for me, I would have preferred to have gotten towers for the mains as I think towers sound better especially with music. Someday I would like to replace my JBL's with a Klipsch setup, and I'd like to get the RF-7 tower mains, RC7 center, and the RB75 bookshelf speakers for the surrounds.

So for me the pros for towers are that I think they sound better, the cons being they take up more room and cost more.
The pros for bookshelf speakers are that they take up less room and are less expensive, but generally don't sound as well in my opinion.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   AlanZ

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Posted November 02 2004 - 12:57 AM

My tastes are actually the opposite of David's. A lot of people if given the choice will choose a floorstander over a bookshelf model, but I've actually always preferred the sound of a good monitor pair and a sub over the tower models. The exception to this for me, and the reason why I went with Paradigm studio/100s over the smaller 20s or 40s a couple years ago is the size of the room. If you need to fill a large open area with sound, you'll probably need a larger speaker. But for small or medium sized rooms, I've just always preferred a capable, smaller bookshelf + sub set-up.

I remember when I first began to discover what "real" equipment was, the sales guy at my local stereo shop (circa 1993) had dual Vandersteen subs hooked up with a pair of Monitor Audio bookshelves. I think it was powered by a B&K ST-140 amp and a Mod Squad Line Drive. It was awesome......And ever since then, I've just always preferred that set-up to larger speakers. But, differences are what make the world go round Posted Image
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#5 of 15 OFFLINE   John Garcia

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Posted November 02 2004 - 05:39 AM

I'm with Alan on this one; I prefer bookshelf speakers. In general, you will still need a sub unless you are getting some serious towers, so a good *larger* bookshelf works perfect in my book. The thing is, the speaker has to be able to cover well into the range that you will be crossing it over at. Generally speaking, at least 60Hz, preferably lower. I don't like small bookshelf speakers, I always opt for the larger one if available. For example, from the Paradigm Studio line, I would go with 40s over 20s for mains.
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#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

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Posted November 02 2004 - 10:02 AM

Since I listen to music alot, I tend to go with towers. My music listening is 90 percent two channel so I need a pair of towers that deliver. I find book shelves do not.

Now for my future HT in the bedroom, I will probably go with book shelf speakers.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Leo Kerr

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Posted November 02 2004 - 11:30 AM

I'm very pleased with the pair of NHT SuperOnes that are the 'heart' of my HT setup (three NHT SuperZeros make up the rest. One of these days, the center'll probably be a SuperOne, too, but...)

I've got excellent and clean low frequency response (sealed box roll-off) and I find that I really am not missing anything from the fact that they don't really do much below about 55Hz. But then, apart from movies, most of the music I listen to is classical.

I'm trying to convince some people at work to buy me a couple of the NHT SB series speakers - SB-2 or SB-3s...

I do have a pair of Alesis MiniMonitor Mk IIs (or something like that) at work... they're not bad except they're not mag shielded, and they're (barf!) ported.

Towers, on the other hand, I've never taken seriously. The closest I've come to one were some of those old 'monster' speakers; the 15"x15"x40" three-way speakers that were generally better than the 'white van' speakers... but not much.

The big problem is, they're so huge and their performance (in my experience) is considerably less than what I'm getting from my SuperOnes. Actually, the initial pair of SuperZeros was a tremendous improvement, and they only claim useful sound down into the high 70's... (okay, -3dB at 82Hz, but there's still a fair amount of measurable output down to 60Hz, even on the Zeros. Haven't tried the same on the 'Ones.)

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#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted November 02 2004 - 04:38 PM

From a standpoint of functionality, Alan and John nailed it:
Quote:
If you need to fill a large open area with sound, you'll probably need a larger speaker.
Quote:
The thing is, the speaker has to be able to cover well into the range that you will be crossing it over at.
A big determining factor is the size of your room. If it’s huge like mine (it opens up to the dining room, kitchen, hallways – all acoustical space that has to be filled) then you have a natural shortage of bass response. The speakers need enough bass output to blend seamlessly with the sub, so if you find the mid-to-upper bass lacking, you need bigger speakers with larger (or more) woofers – for the front L/R, at least.

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#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Alan Pummill

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Posted November 04 2004 - 12:53 PM

AlanZ.....how do you like your new maggies??
SLEEPY AL
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#10 of 15 OFFLINE   AlanZ

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Posted November 04 2004 - 01:04 PM

Alan:

I'm very happy with the MMGs so far......I can even go so far as to say I like them better for music than I did my studio/100 v.2s. I give the Paradigms the edge in HT, but I think once I get an SVS back in the picture and upgrade to the 1.6s I may feel differently. I'm slowly but surely getting my ducks in a row to provide for the completion of my system, but my upgrades are going a little more slowly than I had planned. But I have my MMGs about 8' apart, toed in toward the listening position, and music has never been better. What everyone says about pop recordings not sounding good is true, but only relative to the better stuff like Diana Krall, Mapleshade recordings, etc. In the grand scheme of things, pop music sounds as good on these Maggies as it does on the Paradigms to my ears. I'm still trying to decide if I want to pick up a killer 2-channel amp when I go with the 1.6s or if I should just stick with my Outlaw M200s.....so far they seem to be powering the Maggies very well.....I have not noticed any lack of bass given the specs of these speakers. Within the range they are designed for, there is plenty of punch. In short, I'm not going to be sending the MMGs back...... Posted Image

I just hope the MC1 surrounds can hold their own.....I haven't heard them yet, but I'm likely going to go to a 7.1 set-up, so I'll hvae two pairs of those in back.

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#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Alan Pummill

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Posted November 04 2004 - 09:25 PM

Alan,

Diana Krall's "When I Look In Your Eyes" SACD sounds fantastic on my system!! Her voice is so lifelike coming out of the CC3 center channel!!

And my system is one great HT system...better than my old Paradigm Monitors!! 1.6's, MC1's, CC3, and PC-Ultra!!

Your maggies will sound even better after a good break in period!! Enjoy!!
SLEEPY AL
MAGGIE MAGIC!!

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Mike_Skeway

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Posted November 06 2004 - 11:29 AM

I agree with a lot of the above posts, that being the size of the room is a factor.

I also think for 2 channel music a full range speaker is the way to go.

I have a larger room and listen to a lot of 2-channel, so I opted for towers up front.

I have heard bookshelves in smaller rooms that did a great job for HT. When properly integrated with a sub, they did well on 2-channel as well.
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#13 of 15 OFFLINE   BruceD

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Posted November 06 2004 - 02:59 PM

I'll paint a different picture.

Towers with a sub for both 2-channel as well as DD/DTS.

My objective was minimize the acoustic rolloff interference of the main speakers with the crossover to the sub for a smoother transition.

My mains have an f3 of 32Hz and I use an electronic crossover @60Hz with 24dB/octave Linkwitz-Riley filters for both the high-pass and low-pass.

Unless you use a bookshelf that is sealed with an f3 of 80Hz or a THX certified speaker, the crossover in the receiver/prepro is simply not the best match available.

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted November 07 2004 - 04:56 AM

Oh boy has this been covered before.

I am a music junkie, so bookshelves are my first choice. Superior sound quality is more important at the price than more bass and inferior SQ from floorstanders.

I do have an SVS too, so that helps out a lot with the choice.

Please try the search function.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Max F

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Posted November 07 2004 - 05:35 AM

Room size is the most important factor here.

We moved into a larger house and i noticed that my bookshelf speakers just couldn't fill the new and much larger living room with sound. My new floorstanders don't have any problem with that. It has nothing to do with how low these new speakers go and everything to do with how much air they can move. Its that simple.





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