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Are towers always better than bookshelfs? (1 Viewer)

Ryan Cruz

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 2, 2002
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139
Is it because of their design that they immediately sound good even when using the same driver with bookshelfs?
 

Steve_Ma

Second Unit
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May 7, 2001
Messages
420
Thanks Ryan,
This can of worms hasn't beel opened in a few weeks...lol :D
I'm kidding. No, towers are not always better than book shelves. It's not even remotely the case. Many would argue that the simplicity of design allows for a higher build quality with better materials at a fixed price. One thing that there seems to be univeral agreement on is that even the best booshelves NEED a good subwoofer to help fill out the bottom end. Heck, many of us with towers use a sub as well because that low bass really demands alot from any conventional speaker.
Regards,
--Steve
 

Ariel

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
May 13, 2001
Messages
109
towers are not always better than bookshelf speakers but it may be the reverse. if you will compare the sound quality of tower vs. bookshelf of the same brand at the same price, the bookshelf will always be better in the mids, highs and whatever bottom it can output (i mean the quality not quantity). look for a brand where the price of the entry level tower is the same as their high-end bookshelf and you will know what i mean.
 

Martice

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 20, 2001
Messages
1,077
If everyone had the same room, power requirements and listening tastes it might be a little easier to come up with a definitive answer or obvious choice.
With that being said, I am documented on this site as one of the ones who swore that he would never go to bookshelf sized speakers. Well, after hearing a wonderful pair of KEF 201's ($3,000 bookshelf speakers)my eyes were opened to a whole new world of performance. The most critical range and it seems to be the most difficult to get right is the midrange and now that I've been listening to every bookshelf speaker known to mankind as of late, the result to me is the same. Midrange, clarity and detail always comes to mind when I listen to quality (relative) bookshelf speakers.
I reluctantly sold my beloved PSB Goldi's speakers to go with bookshelf speakers from GR Reasearch(which ironically I didn't hear yet!?!). Infact, I preferred running the PSB Goldi's on the small setting and letting my sub (which was properly calibrated and EQ'd)handle the lower ocataves and that's something I thought I would never utter from my lips. I must say that in my undersized room, I'm sure that my Goldi's suffered from placement restrictions so I probably didn't hear them at their peak. When using the sub for the lowend info and it being properly setup, the bass was tighter and more articulate with more extension and the PSB's midrange was now more believable and the highs were more alive between the speakers as well as outside of the speakers.
My opinions in this reply are not new and many folks on this site have tirelessly spouted their preference for bookshelf speakers. Me being one of the many who've opposed the bookshelf superiority theory has now changed his thinking SOME. In my experience and my limited sized room (11x17x8), I preferred my fullrange speakers set to small with a properly placed, calibrated and EQ'd sub.
How's that for baby steps :)
 

Steve_Ma

Second Unit
Joined
May 7, 2001
Messages
420
Thanks Shankar, that's the one I was referring to. I was just too lazy to go look for it. :)
Ryan,
As you might have picked up from Martice's and my posts, many people (including myself - for now) seem to have a preference for Towers when it comes to music. It's a highly personal decision that (I believe) is based primarily on subjective preferences rather than any clear technical superiority. Kudo's to Martice for making the transition from towers to bookshelves (You've gone to the dark side bruddah :D). I have not gone that route just yet, but it's entirely possible at some point and I would never rule out bookshelves down the road.
--Steve
 

Brett DiMichele

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2001
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3,181
Real Name
Brett
You want the truth?You can't handle the truth!
Okay okay, I'm no Nicholson so lets get down to the truth
and the facts.
Before we start, let it be known that I prefer tower
speakers. Now that this is off my chest, shall we continue?
Q:Are Tower Speakers always better than Bookshelf Speakers?
A: The answer is an absolute, No..
Q:Are Bookshelf Speakers always better than Tower Speakers?
Q:Again, The answer is an absolute, No..
So what does this mean? well it means that in the world of
speakers, sound is highly subjective to each listener and
manufacturing process between companies means that not all
speakers are created equaly.
Why would a bookshelf be better than a similarly priced
tower? Well I always hear the Bookshelf camps defend thier
argument the same way. They say things like "well, the book
shelf speaker costs the same as the tower and uses less materials
so the materials used in the bookshelf must be better! To
that I say that is utter hogwash.
Take 2 speakers one being a Tower and one being a Bookshelf
from the same "series" from the same manufacturer and tear
them apart. You will be hard pressed to find any diffrence
in the design or implementation, the electronics or the
raw dynamic drivers. Simply put, why would any company concerned
with profits carry 2 distinctly diffrent sets of drivers and
other raw materials for speakers within the same line? Simply
put, they don't.
I also hear the Bookshelf camps use the crossover as a point
to argue. They claim that the crossover network in a Boookshelf
is less Complex and therfore they are less inclined to botch
up the crossover. Again I have to cry wolf on this perspective.
Many Bookshelf speakers are very capeable of low frequencies
as low as 30Hz (albeit with not much output DB wise) and
many of these Bookshelfs are 3 way designs which make them
as complicated as my 3 way Towers.
How about build quality? I can not vouch for all Towers
because I don't own all the Towers made by all the companies.
But what I can tell you is how my Towers are constructed
(since I have torn them apart to see).
A good Tower speaker is "like" a Bookshelf + a Sub all rolled
into one housing. When I say it's like a Bookshelf what I am
saying is that a high quality Tower will have it's Mid and
High Frequency Drivers in thier own sealed enclosures that
are not affected by the Low Frequency Driver section. In
my particular Towers (AR, AR9's) the Mid Range Drivers each
have thier own sealed cabinet within the main cabinet. They
recieve about 1/4 a Cubic Foot per Mid. The Tweeters are
sealed thus they need no chamber. The Sub Woofer occupies
the rest of the Cabinet volume (some 2+ Cubic Feet Per Sub)
Does this mean that all Towers are constructed in this manner?
No... Would a Yamaha Tower that you get at Best Buy surpass
the sound quality of a B&W Bookshelf of the lowest line?
Hell No.. And anyone would say otherwise is being foolish.
So what I am getting at, is that there are many choices out
there for us audio nuts, and our ears tell us the true story.
For me, I will take a high quality Tower any day and that
is never going to change. Towers apeal to me for more reasons
than just sound, but rest assured when I buy a Tower it's
got to sound good!
Have we learned anything today class? No? Detention for everyone!
 

Steve_Ma

Second Unit
Joined
May 7, 2001
Messages
420
:eek: EEK! Cowering!!!!
Hey Brett, you don't have any strong opinions on this do you? I figure it's that or you have a thorn in your paw?
I'm Kidding. I agree and thought it was well put.
 

Mike_T_

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Oct 30, 2001
Messages
198
I just like it when the first thing women see when they come into my basement is something large. It's all subliminal.
 

Phil Iturralde

Screenwriter
Joined
Oct 7, 1998
Messages
1,888
Well put Brett, though your one comment needs qualification for the following quote ...
... our ears tell us the true story.
Only if you didn't permanently damaged your ears from loud 'Live' or simulated Rock Concerts w/piercing mids & highs.
For example, before listeners can evaluate speakers in Harman International built blind-testing room called the Multichannel Listening Lab (MLL), they must pass a hearing test and a series of computer-controlled training exercises designed to teach them how to be human spectrum analyzers. Those exercises (and the entire MLL facility and procedures) are based on research conducted by Dr. Floyd Toole, an acoustical expert and Harman's vice president of engineering.
One reason why I like seeing, objective results if its available.
Phil
 

Brett DiMichele

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2001
Messages
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Real Name
Brett
Phil,
As always, Leave it up to you to provide us with great
solid information. You Sir, are like the Cliff Claven of
the HTF but unlike Cliff, Your information is true! :)
P.S I love the "No I don't work for JBL" line in the sig!
LOL! :D
 

Phil Iturralde

Screenwriter
Joined
Oct 7, 1998
Messages
1,888
Thanks Brett!! :b
Gotta' admit, floorstanders do add to the 'cool' looking factor ... check this out ...

A RED** lacquered Ti6K was recently reviewed @ T3 (Tomorrow's Technology Today).
**... one of the optional colours the company offers, albeit at a £1,000 premium :eek: over the standard black ash or beech wood finishes.
Phil
 

Angelo_Petralba

Second Unit
Joined
Jan 22, 2002
Messages
366
Real Name
Angelo
Phil-
I saw a pair of THESE (Bookshelves) in the HArman Outlet and I took a listen and WOW. They really SOUND AMAZING! It definitely was ONE OF THE BEST I HAVE EVER HEARD!!! The thing was, it had an INFINITY LABEL on them. I really wanted to pick them up but when I saw the price I was a little short. ($1200.00 A PIECE refurb)
I really really LOVE THEM but wish I could afford them.
Oh well, maybe on my NEXT LIFE!
Nice picture BTW Phil.
Anyway I found a link to JBL's website with the specs.
Ti Series
What do you think these are compared to?
Any Takers?
 

Mal P

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Mar 17, 2000
Messages
127
Hi Brett,

You make some very good arguments! There also another aspect I'd like to introduce, and that is one of price. For, say $1000, you could pick up a floorstanding speaker from one line of a certain manufacturer. For roughly the same price, it could be said that you could pick up a speaker from a higher up line from the same manufacturer - and typically, this speaker would be a bookshelf-type unit, as I don't see a manufactuer offering a superior sounding floorstander for the same price as an inferior sounding floorstander (perhaps they could, less drivers, small cabinet etc, but generally this is not the case). As most of us will eventually be adding a good quality subwoofer anyway, in may work out *sonically* better in the long run, as the higher quality bookshelf speaker could outperform the equivalently priced floorstander from a lesser range.

Some other points I wish to make also apply to both bookshelf units as well as floorstanders, as the points are primarily geared towards the integration of a subwoofer into a system. It could be argued that by crossing the bass over into a good subwoofer, with say, a two-way design, this would relieve the cones in the speaker (be it bookshelf or floorstanding) from having to produce deep bass, thus lessening distortion, clearing up the upper bass and lower mid-range. This of course, depends on the design of the actual speaker... some drivers may not exhibit any superior performance from being freed of deep bass duties.

Another aspect that also applies to both bookshelf and floorstanding models is amplifier strength. If the bass is re-directed to a powered subwoofer, some amplifiers may benefit from not having to produce deep bass, which is the hardest of the audio spectrum to produce. This could lead to greater headroom, before the on-set of clipping.

There is also the notion that the best placement for bass, which is *usually* against a room boundary such as a corner or wall, is not as ideal as the best placement for mids and highs, which is as far away from walls as possible (again, depending on the design of the speaker). Having this single source of deep bass may make it easier to position the speakers and subwoofer, allowing for a general reduction of room peaks and nulls.

This is of course, all subjective. Some people seem to prefer the sound of floorstanders, even with the bass crossed over to subwoofer. That is perfectly fine, but from a monetary viewpoint, if I had the same cash now as I did back when I was auditioning speakers, I would have bought higher quality speakers (which would generally have to be bookshelf units - as I feel I got the best floorstander I could get for my money at the time) for the same price as the floorstanders I bought. Since I would have bought my good subwoofer anyway, I feel that I could have had a superior sonic experience, due to all the factors (such as the benefits of crossing-over bass into a sub) mentioned above.

Just my two dollars,

Mal
 

Mike boettner

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 1, 2001
Messages
229
Brett,
As I own 2 sets of the Yamaha 200xt's(front and rear) I must defend them!:D Are they the best speakers ever? Nope.
But I do think they sound pretty good. I listen to ALL types of music and they do pretty well. If you were to open one up, I'd bet you would be surprised.(I did, and I was!)
Someday I will replace them with GOOD speakers, but until then, I'll keep rockin' them.:D
Mike
BTW the tweeter and mid are in a different enclosure then the woofers.
:D
I like the "fuller" sound from a tower, than from a book shelf. To each his own.
 

Brett DiMichele

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2001
Messages
3,181
Real Name
Brett
Mal,

Those are very good points you raise and they do have merit.

One thing I wanted to correct was that in a Near Full Range

or Full Range Tower, The mids aren't stressed at all, the

subwoofers are doing bass duty as they should. The mids are

usualy crossed fairly high. I know my mids are.
 

Mal P

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Mar 17, 2000
Messages
127
Hi Brett,

Indeed, which is why I mentioned only two-way speakers as possibly benefitting from being relieved of deep bass duties. Those that use a two-and-a-half way and three-way design would have less chance of exhibiting an improvement once bass duties are relieved of them.

Sincerely,

Mal
 

Arthur S

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 2, 1999
Messages
2,571
Prior to the mass popularity of subwoofers, towers had the potential for greater bass. But no speaker design is without compromise. Many, if not most, towers suffer from floor bounce cancellation. This "suckout" is often 10db or more, somewhere in the 200-750 Hz range. Working around this problem is quite difficult, but can be done.
Finding a tower that does not suffer from floor bounce can be a challenge.
Then there are mini monitors that can provide excellent response. The Wilson Watt is perhaps the pre-eminent example of a tremendous "bookshelf" speaker. The Watt does not try to be full range. It needs a sub for frequencies below 80 Hz.
Another highly regarded mini monitor is the Totem Mani 2. This speaker is designed to be full range and can produce a surpising amount of bass for its size. But there is no free lunch. There are fixed relationships between cabinet volume, (low) frequency response and distortion.
All other things being equal, a larger box will give better results. A great speaker will have deep extension and low distortion in the bass, and be capable of high output throughout the frequency range. A tower lends itself to these goals.
There is also the psychological factor. Any number of "tests" have been done where the listener will identify a larger speaker as better if he thinks he is listening to the larger speaker. If the listener is unaware of which speaker is playing, the listener will oft times prefer the smaller speaker. We have a tendency to think that bigger is always better.
 

rodneyH

Supporting Actor
Joined
May 22, 2001
Messages
844
Mal, if you are going to throw price in there, you must also add the price of a great stand, and (since some of use use SACD and DVD-A and would rather use a "full-range" that spending extra $ and adding extra noise on an Outlaw ICBM (it maybe small, but all electronics add noise) and the great cables to go along with it.

Stands=$150+ (actually I already have a spare set)

ICBW=$250 (iirc)

6 interconnects=(I use modestly priced $100 a piece X6=$600)

so $150+$250+$600=$1000

I run $2000 CDM7NTs, if I really believed that the CDM1 sounded better you have $1200 for speakers and $1000 for the parts above=$2200

If I were to stay in the same price range I could have gone with the 805 @ $2000 plus the $1000, But personally, I like listening to 2 channel stereo music without a sub at times (all a matter of personal taste). That is why the 804 will be my next upgrade, and I really don't regret gettting the CDM7NT over the 805. Do you honestly think that the 805 sounds better than the 802?

btw, BRETT-very well said.

I guess anytime someone takes $ into consideration, it gets interesting. I would be willing to bet that if a Vette owner put an extra $80,000 into that car (to mod it) to equal the price of a Ferarri 360, it would blow doors off the ferarri, but I don't see a whole lot of people running out to do it.

everybody has personal preferances, thats why they make'em
 

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