Bookshelves with a sub vs. Floor stand speakers

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Sean_P_O'Brien, Dec 8, 2003.

  1. Sean_P_O'Brien

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    Speaking in general terms how do you feel about how bookshelf fronts with a decent sub stack up against a decent set of 2-way, or 3-way floor standing models (lets say over 36" in height)?

    Are the large floor stand models generally meant to provide a full breath of highs and lows without the need for a sub, unless you really want to punch out the ultimate low ends in theater applications?

    I ask since in evaluating several affordable bookshelf systems (which by themselves lack the lower sound quality, but perform decent with a good sub), I have questioned whether the money spent on additional speaker stands would be better spent on some entry level floor standing models. This might offer the opportunity to forego the additional sub, at least in the short-term.

    I also have a concern regarding the stability of bookshelves on tall speaker stands with a 15 month old beginning to roam around the family room, where the speakers will be eventually positioned.
     
  2. CurtisSC

    CurtisSC Screenwriter

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  3. george_k

    george_k Agent

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    I'd go with better quality floorstanders. You could always add as sub down the road when the funds permit. Another option would be to build your own subwoofer and save a little money doing it...this is what I plan on doing as soon as I have some spare time.
     
  4. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    Obviously, your listening preferences affect decisions, but I prefer the mains to be towers that house all the speakers to be used for full sound reproduction. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I just want the "fuller" sound towers give, since I think speakers should be judged as pair by themselves when you purchase them. If a sub helps them further, great, but I want to know I enjoy the speakers on their own merit first. And usually, if a speaker is great musically, which is how I judge them, it'll be just as good for HT. So a vote for towers here.
     
  5. Steve*W

    Steve*W Agent

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    I second Wayne's comment.
     
  6. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    In general, I'd say you'd be better off with a quality pair of monitor sized speakers and a quality sub than putting that same money into a pair of mediocre tower speakers.

    It all comes down to preferences. In my room I need much more midbass output, so my next pair of speakers will be towers with good response into the 30-40Hz range. This way I can cross over to my sub at a lower frequency. But either way, I'd still want a sub. If I had a relatively small room I'd go with monitors and a sub.
     
  7. chris_clem

    chris_clem Second Unit

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    I did some research on this topic a few months back when I was auditioning speakers and I read in more than one reliable source (If you consider magazine writer's as reliable that is [​IMG] ) something to the effect that:
    given the same price range bookshelf speakers would be *generally* of better quality than floorstanders costing the same.

    This is actually pretty intuitive since the money being poured into the "smaller box" should have been spent on better build quality, materials, technologies, etc, to justify it's cost. Of course, a lot of other things variables come into play but as far as generalities go, I believe the above statement.

    ...although you really should match bookshelves with a proper sub though.[​IMG]
     
  8. BryanZ

    BryanZ Screenwriter

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    Bookshelf speakers were the way I went. My niece and nephew and various other children grew up around those stand mounted speakers. For the most part they ignored them. Otherwise they were told to keep away from them. On very rare occassions was it neccessary to give them a quick swat on the bottom if they touched them and did not move away after being told a couple times. To their credit they never knocked them over nor touched the drivers.
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    You think kids aren't capable of knocking down floorstanders? [​IMG]

    In a 2ch music only system, floorstanders are the way I would go. In an HT, since you will want a sub regardless, monitors are the better route, IMO. Not all monitors lack the sound quality [​IMG]

    The cable guy actually knocked one of my surrounds off it's stand, and it hit him in the head. Both were none the worse for the incident though, but it is a concern. Blu-tack or something similar will keep your monitors relatively well stuck to the top of the stands though (I was not using it at the time).
     
  10. Ernest Yee

    Ernest Yee Supporting Actor

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    Serves that cable guy right!
     
  11. John S

    John S Producer

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    I use large bookshelfs all the way around.

    The Sub is needed no matter what for good LFE impact.
     
  12. Ariel

    Ariel Stunt Coordinator

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    i was on the bookshelf + sub camp before but now went with the floorstander + sub. for music, the full range floorstander gives better performance and saves you the task of properly integrating the main and sub. for HT, even at the 80hz main-sub crossover freq., the floorstander gives a better integration and fuller sound.
     
  13. Robert_Dufresne

    Robert_Dufresne Stunt Coordinator

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    Sean

    3 things to remember.

    High frequency drivers don't need a big enclosure to operate, low frequency drivers do.

    High frequencies are directional, low frequencies aren't and therefor don't contribute to stereo imaging.
    .

    It takes a lot more energy to reproduce low frequencies
    then it does for high.

    Put these statements together and you will see that it makes perfect sense to use bookshelf speakers for high and
    mid frequencies and a sub to cover the low end. The trick is to calibrate the sub to make it blend in seamlessly with
    your speakers.

    Using a powered sub will also reduce the strain on your
    receiver or amp.
     
  14. Sean_P_O'Brien

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    Nice summation, Robert. Thanks. [​IMG]
     
  15. Andrew*L

    Andrew*L Agent

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    Sean,

    Here are some of the reasons I chose to go with a floor standing speaker, based on the options of floor standing speaker vs. bookshelf + subwoofer:

    1. They take up the same amount of real estate as a bookshelf speaker with stands, and actually take up less space when including a sub.

    2. They are designed to run at a fuller range seamlessly, eliminating the need for bookshelf/subwoofer matching/integration and sub placement.

    3. They allow for an addition of a sub at a later date, when funds are available. By living with my floor standers first, I can better gauge my needs in a sub, and then purchase one that can be dedicated to the lowest frequencies, since it will not be constrained to having support the bottom end of a bookshelf speaker.

    4. Aesthetically, they are "monolithic" in appearance, and just seem right as R/L front main speakers.[​IMG]

    Now for the caveats

    1. Depending on the sub, you may achieve lower extension with the bookshelf+sub option than with floor standing speakers alone.

    2. You lose some flexibility in speaker placement with floor standers.


    Regardless of which way you go, I think how a speaker sounds to you should be on the top of your requirements for choosing.
     

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