Bookshelves vs. towers in a sub setup

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff.bart, Sep 8, 2002.

  1. Jeff.bart

    Jeff.bart Stunt Coordinator

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    In an earlier thread, I sought advice on buying a 5.1 speaker setup within a limited budget under $2000). Some readers suggested I forego the towers and get bookshelves, thereby getting more bang for the buck. A good SVS or similar sub, it was suggested, would take care the low end for me.

    Is this a common view among folks here? Are the lower-end towers generally not worth it within my budget? ( I am looking at Energy, Axiom, Paradigm, Dalquist, PSB, B&W, Def Tech, AV123, JBL, Sound Clearing House)

    Granted, I naturally want to get the most bang for my buck, but I've had bookshelves for 15 years (along with a sub) and I have the itch to move up to a roomier vehicle, so to speak. I am tired of the basic Escort LX, in a manner of speaking. I'll also be doing frequent 2-channel listening.

    My hope was to get a midsize tower like the Energy C-5 or preferably c-7, or something like that, in a range of $800 to $1000. Can I do better with a set of booshelves and putting the etra money toward the sub? If so, any recommendations for killer bookshelves in the $500 to $750 range (or less). Would I really be better off going that route instead of a good midsized tower?
     
  2. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    Well it's my opinion that between a good pair of bookshelf speakers and a similarly priced pair of towers, both properly mated with a good sub, the bookshelfs will sound better almost everytime. A good sub properly setup doesn't need to be, and I think shouldn't be turned off for music sessions. Until you get to ridiculously priced towers, they just can't match the depth and quality of bass a good sub can put out. Also freeing the mains from bass duty can help with midrange clarity and headroom. So the only sticky point is integration between the sub and mains, just takes a little time and tinkering to get it right.

    I said this in your other thread and still believe it. This isn't to say towers are always a bad choice, it's just that when money is tight you generally get more in a bookshelf sized speaker than you do in a tower.

    But to help you out with some more specific experiences I'd suggest you get in touch with Matrice on this forum. He recently went from PSB Goldi towers to GR Research AV1+ bookshelves. I don't know which sub if any he was using with his Goldi towers, but he has a custom built Tempest mated with the AV1+ speakers.

    And hopefully you'll get some other members who have gone the other way.
     
  3. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    Hi Jeff. I think floorstanding speakers(full range?) need to be in a proper setting to really recognize all that they have to offer. Generally, floorstanders are going to do a better job dynamics wise but 'PROPER' matching and calibration of a 'QUALITY' sub should bring equal if not superior returns if you use 'QUALITY' bookshelf speakers. The main advantage I found with going to bookshelf speakers is that I have a lot more flexibility regarding placement, which in turn allows me to enjoy a clearer amd wider soundstage in limited spaces as well as in larger rooms. Also, as Dustin said above:
    " Also freeing the mains from bass duty can help with midrange clarity and headroom."
    It not only helps with midrange clarity, it also helps with high frequency detail and creates a sense of easiness when they are not asked to produce lo w frequency information at levels they don't necessarily perform their best work.
    Jeff you said:
    " I am tired of the basic Escort LX, in a manner of speaking. I'll also be doing frequent 2-channel listening."
    Speaker size has nothing to do with quality of sound, parts or build. If you've had "Escort LX" bookshelf speakers in the past, you should know the difference between a Ford compact vehicle and a BMW 3 series right? Two different worlds although both are considered compacts.
    I would like to think your concerns for what type of speaker you are looking for is based more on quality sound and parts and not just about size and the WOW factor. I think for the amount of money that you're looking to spend you could get a bookshelf speaker that performs better in the (CRITICAL) high and midrange frequencies then you could a floorstander. However, your associated gear, room size and acoustics, software preferences(commercial pop music or various well recorded music) and listening habits (critical listener or casual listener) will factor into how much performance you will ultimately here and experience. Be honest with yourself with the above parameters and you should know and ultimately get exactly what you are looking for.
    I recommend the speakers in the review below as a wonderful place to start and if you must go floorstander, you should call GR Research and ask about the AV-3 floorstanding speakers.
    GR Research Review
    Good Luck
    MARTICE
     
  4. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    I heard some Paradigm towers for the first time yesterday. All I can say is, for vocal clarity and midrange smoothness I'll stick with companies like GR Research!

    Brian
     
  5. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    If you are looking into bookshelfs check out the Monitor Audio Silver series. They do soundstage and imagining better than any tower I have heard for under 1k.

    If you really want towers, I have seen Mirage om-9s on audiogon new for around $700. Excellent sounding speakers.

    -rob
     
  6. Jeff.bart

    Jeff.bart Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks again for your input, Dustin. I am certainly going to reconsider good bookshelves in light of what I’ve learned. Martice, your easy diagnosis of my case of brain seizure has been duly noted. Your analogy is quite apt, though with two young ones, I’d take a decent station wagon over a BMW any time these days! Of course, it’s a bit different with speakers. (-:.

    Naturally, I want the best ones I can find at the best price, big or small. I consider myself a critical listener. I have 800 CDs -- mostly classical, opera, jazz and blues. I love the soundstage of concert halls and jazz clubs and want to strive to duplicate some of the ambiance (without being forced to rely on artificial DSP settings). I am not sure my budget will get me there now. Oh, well. Give me a few years …

    BTW, home theater is important, but a good sub will give me plenty of pop. I don’t need over-the-top explosive scenes that shake the foundations of my house. They’d drive my wife crazy, anyway. I have to believe a good I can get a good sub for $600 or so that helps out nicely on music but provides sufficient bluster for movies. I prefer sharp and quick punch to rolling thunder. To Rob I’ll give Monitor and Mirage a look.
     
  7. Jason Wilcox

    Jason Wilcox Supporting Actor

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    AscendAcoustics.com CBM-170 with a Hsu VTF-3 or VTF-2?

    Polk LSI9 or LSI7 with one of the Hsu subs or an SVS?
     
  8. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    What kind of amplification are you using?

    -rob
     
  9. Jeff.bart

    Jeff.bart Stunt Coordinator

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    Can't afford separates. The new Yamaha 1300 is my likely choice, though I am still considering the integra 7.2 and Rotel 1055.
     
  10. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    Porsches are small too yet no one would consider them to be less car than a Caravan.
    As before, good bookshelves can be outstanding. So can good towers. It's not the size that counts, it's how they do In the Bedroom.
    ..... Sorry, couldn't resist. [​IMG]
     
  11. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    KIM, that automobile analogys have nothing to do with speakers.[​IMG]
    From your musical tastes it would seem that a good pair of bookshelfs would make a lot of sense.
    Again, Monitor Audio. I have some literature on the silver series, I am not using it, and can send it on if you wish. I really think they would be a great match.
    Make sure you check the specs on the bookshelfs, some can take a ton of juice. Mine have 84db sensativity!
    (The MA's will work great with a good receiver like the ones you listed)
    -rob
     
  12. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    Jeff, get in touch with Brian at Rutledge Audio. With $500-$750 for the mains and $600 for the sub he should be able to build you some great stuff. Pretty much what Matrice is using now. A pair of nicely veneered GR-Research AV1+ speakers and a nice Tempest or Dayton DVC15" based sub.
    Although if you can do the enclosure construction youself you can save a bunch of money and get the same stuff. The AV1+ kit runs a little over $300 and the parts for the sub excluding the enclosure would run about $250 to a little over $300 depending on what you get. Then you'd just have to add to this amount whatever you spend on the enclosures.
     
  13. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Ooops!! I had no idea that the picture would come out so large. Anyway, this is some of Brians work. This happens to be a pretty wonderful piece of craftsmanship that would run you a pretty penny more if you bought a speaker with this finish commercially. Not to mention that Danny at GR Research prides himself on quality parts regarding the crossovers (which will make or break a speaker) and the wonderful sound of his softdome tweeters, I think these speakers are well worth a serious investigation. Go to Audio Asylum and look in the review section. Look at the gear they use with these speakers, the former speakers the owners used and most of all the price.
    Good Luck with whatever speaker you choose.
     
  14. john_focal

    john_focal Agent

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    im still new to all of this, but tend to really think it depends on what you do with your system.

    I purchased a whole 5.1 system with bookshelf speakers for the surrounds (6.5 drivers in the bookshelves, 12" powered sub).

    As I've messed around with room placement, settings, etc etc., and improving the sound quality of my system, I've been finding that although the bookshelves are good, for pure listening mode they tend to not be "meaty" enough (not sure how else to phrase this). To make up for the gap in upper end bass, just turning the sub Xover higher really isnt a good option (imo), as it becomes somewhat directional and clutters the imaging.

    Granted, a lot has to do with placement, the room, etc etc... but I am seriously looking at towers to replace my front bookshelves also.
     
  15. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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  16. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    The physical size advantage of the tower (given the same driver complement) is only useful for bass reproduction, which no one cares about if you have a good sub. This size advantage can cost you a lot of money.

    With DIY, construction costs are relatively small, so people like me can get tower type speakers on a budget. People like Brian Bunge and Kyle Richardson will be happy to provide you with flat kits or assembled cabinets for any size speaker at a very fair price. It cost me $450 for my pair of towers, whereas it would have been about $425 to do bookshelfs. Especially given that I have no subwoofer, it was not a hard decision.

    Of course, towers with more or better components than their bookshelf counterparts do sound better. As stated many times before, you get what you pay for. Don't ignore the tower speakers of the same product line as some bookshelfs because they look similar - you may find the differences to be worth the extra cost.
     
  17. john_focal

    john_focal Agent

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    well, I'll give a semi-quick rundown.
    I am using the Home Theater Direct level 3 system, shown here:
    http://www.htdaudio.com/levthre51set.html
    These are running through a Sony DE-675 reciever that I am admittedly less than please with (I plan replacement of this ASAP). As far as controls for the sub, I have an LFE setting which is currently at 0db (or full). Dynamic compression and EQ are both off, I try to listen to things as naturally as possible. Obviously when I'm listening to music, only the fronts and sub are on.
    The front bookshelves are on stands, 24" away from the back wall... the sub is crossed over at around 90 hz. I had read that if you have LFE on the reciever, you should set the crossover on the sub as high as possible, and let the reciever handle it... I've found this to simply not sound as good.
    So now, I feel that I have an issue where the real low end of the bass is good, but a bit higher and it thins out. This area where the bookshelves begin to drop off, and the sub isnt really into its element yet.
    My thinking is that with a decent set of towers, I can push the crossover on the sub down to even 70 or 60, and not have troubles with the bass getting overpowering due to larger fronts.
    Am I off course here? Should I be looking at just upgraded bookshelves?
    The room currently Im using is a 12X13. It has hardwood floors, but is fully furnished and has a 6 x 6 carpet. I tend to think the room is still a tad on the bright side (3 windows + a glass door), but that is sort of a different issue.
     
  18. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    John, what type of sub do you have?
     
  19. john_focal

    john_focal Agent

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    Martice, thanks for the advice.

    Yes, those are the model of speaker I have, although mine are last years model (the port is round and fires towards the back).

    As for the sub, I am also using the 12" htd listed on the same site. I did listen to a few sets of speakers before purchasing these, but under totally different listening conditions than my house/reciever.... the company has a 30 day trial time, and I had felt they were decent at the time. I think the sub is decent, but quite finicky about where it is in the room. My time auditioning subs is little to none, I admit, before this purchase.

    Nowhere in my documentation for my reciever does it list what the sub gets crossed over at, or what the LFE rating is for that sort of thing. I'll go through it again though, I may have missed something.
     

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