How do bookshelf systems stack up to traditional HT systems?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Allen Longcor, Mar 5, 2002.

  1. Allen Longcor

    Allen Longcor Supporting Actor

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    By traditional I mean have two large tower speakers as your front and left mains. As always I am thinking about the future and possible upgrades, and I was thinking about possibly doing a system without tower speakers up front. With some great bookshelf speakers like the new Polk LSi line, n0rh, Swan Diva, and some others out there I was wondering how much (if anything) you would lose. Let's say your system was not receiver dependent, meaning that you had a top of the line receiver or pre/pro so that it is not a factor. If you had Swan Diva or n0rh bookshelves all around would you be losing something when comparing it to having towers up front. Has anyone done a sort of a/b comparison like this? I'm sure the argument will be that you would have a "larger" and more enveloping sound with towers, but from the reviews and personal testimony, I'm not sure that bookshelves can't accomplish the same thing. The obvious benefits to me would be the lower price tag for high quality equipment, and you would have more flexibility in positioning. Any opinions or even speculation would be helpful. [​IMG]
     
  2. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    I prefer bookshelves for many reasons. After A/Bing a few $2k bookshelves w/ Paradigm Studio 100s (Full Theta front end, Servo-15 sub) I feel that the bookshelves are superior because

    - No low frequency phase problems between sub & mains

    - Get better sounding midrange/highs at a given price point

    - Easier to move around

    - Smaller enclosures are easier to build and usually less resonant (less distortion)

    - Don't have to take away from your subwoofer budget to gain less than stellar bass reproduction (in your mains).

    YMMV... audition and determine for yourself...
     
  3. Joseph_W

    Joseph_W Stunt Coordinator

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    Allen, I feel compelled to bump this up for you.

    You have hit so many variables, it is hard to comment on. Personally, I feel the best bang for the buck in HT is a system like Energy's Take 5, five nearly identical speakers with a small sub. For a small room and a tight budget, these systems are hard to beat. (Do a search, there are several systems of this type.)

    Tower vs. bookshelf speakers tend to be a personal preference. There are killer systems using both (both in sound and dollars). The M&K 150s may well be the best sounding HT speaker sets I have ever auditioned. You may not classify them as bookshelf, but they are definitely not towers. (I didn't get them, they blew my budget!)

    You will hear this over and over on this forum, but you have to go with the sound. Find out what speakers you like, then decide whether to spend money on fronts vs. backs, towers vs. bookshelf, large bookshelves/powered towers vs. subwoofer. The more specific you get, the more help you will get from other members!

    Half the fun is spending the time auditioning all the different options!

    Good luck,

    Joe
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    This has been discussed MANY times, and as Allen said, it always ends up with the same answer: Individual preference.
    I like a large main that can handle bass without a sub for music, because it's all done for you inside the speaker with the appropriate x-over points and slopes, etc...
    However, for movies, especially bass heavy ones, a dedicated sub is a MUST. Driving large drivers off your main amp will tax it much more than letting it drive small speakers, while the sub's amp takes care of the lows - just as in a theater.
    So, really, the questions are - what do YOU prefer, and what type of listening do you do. If it sounds good to me, that's good enough for me.
    BTW: I have a sub/bookshelf setup. [​IMG]
     
  5. Allen Longcor

    Allen Longcor Supporting Actor

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    Well to get more specific I was looking at possibly getting n0rh or Swan Diva bookshelves all around. I was looking at the n0rh line and was blown away at their prices after all the praise I have read in reviews of their speakers. I could get a nice 5 speaker system for about $1500 (or less if I go with one of their package deals). Or I could get some Swan Diva bookshelves all around that wouldn't break the bank.

    My point in this thread was to see if anyone had decided on a bookshelf system over a traditional one and why. I was hoping that someone had done this before and could chime in with the benefits or disadvantages of going with bookshelves. I agree that it does come down to personal preference and price, but I'd like to hear some other people's opinions since there aren't any places that I could demo these products or products similar to it in Fresno. Thx for the help so far.

    *side note* I wish Fresno would get some hi-end or at least non chain stores so I could listen to brands besides Polk, JBL, and Bose.
     
  6. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    I don't find towers to be of the least benefit for HT, because you are going to use a sub for everything under 80 hz anyhow. And yes, bookshelf speakers give you better sound in the mid to high frequencies at any given price point. For music, it is really a matter of taste, but I would probably grab a pair of towers *if* I were to use the system for frequent 2-channel music listening, and if budget were not a major object. So the short answer is yes, bookshelf speakers are an excellent choice, particularly for HT.

    BTW, I do not necessarily feel that micro sized speakers + a subwoofer are the most cost-effective systems. They are the cheapest to be sure, but in many of those systems the satellites don't go below 120 hz, leaving way too much lower midrange/upper base duty for the sub. Even with a good sub factored in, which most of those systems are not bundled with, I would prefer a bookshelf system for HT unless budget and ergonomics had to be the deciding factors. This is not a comment on the Take 5.2's, just micro satellites sets in general.
     
  7. Allen Longcor

    Allen Longcor Supporting Actor

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    The Energy speakers were never in my mind, that was brought up by someone else. I always meant high quality bookshelf speakers such as n0rh and Diva's. The more I read the more I think that with a good sub (have one) and high quality bookshelves my system would not be missing out on much over similarly priced (not exact but in the same class) towers. I wouldn't be doing any two channel listening so that is not a factor. My future system would include the Outlaw 950, so I'm wondering if that would factor into the decision. To get the most out of all the formats etc...
     
  8. DanielKim

    DanielKim Stunt Coordinator

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    I replaced my Acoustic Research tower mains/center/surrounds Performance Series all around with my current setup which is composed of NHT SuperOne's all around. I had my Velodyne CT120 setup with the AR speaker and with my current setup. The 5 bookshelves sound infinitely better than the 2 towers up front/ center / surrounds that had different enclosers than the mains and center. Although the SuperOne XU's I have for rears are made of different material than the SuperOne mains/center, NHT has made them sonically equal.

    In my opinion and setup, my NHT's blows the AR setup out of the water and beyond. The only regret is that I did not go separates as these NHT's are power hungry. They are phenominal as is, but wish I could hear what they are fully capable of.

    In my case, going with the bookshelves was a no-brainer and I am infinitely happier with the setup. Also, these bookshelves take up muuuch less space in my bedroom which is a big plus. I took some pictures of my setup and should have the pictures back tomorrow at which time I will post what my setup looks like.

    Dan
     

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