Stands Necessary for bookshelf speakers?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jake T, Aug 7, 2001.

  1. Jake T

    Jake T Stunt Coordinator

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    This is probably a stupid question but I have to ask since I'm still a newbie.
    If they call them bookshelf speakers, why does everyone recommend putting them on stands?
    I'm thinking of getting some so I can keep them off the floor, but the stands would defeat that purpose.
    Can someone explain?
    Thanks
    Jake T
    [Edited last by Jake T on August 07, 2001 at 10:11 PM]
     
  2. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Bookshelf speakers are designed to be put on a shelf or a stand where the tweeter is approximately ear level when in the listening postion. This is so that when one is listening and the speakers are postioned properly you will get the proper sound stage when listening to 2 channel. Manufacturers generally recommend the appropriate height of stands for their speakers (e.g 24, 28 inch, etc.) With HT vs. music you want to try to keep the tweeters from the front 3 channels as reasonably close to the same height as practical. So if you do not listen to music and just use the system for HT you may wish to postion the speakers accordingly. If you do both with a system you may wish to make adjustments that suit your tastes and viewing/listening habits.
     
  3. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    All speakers sound their best when the tweeter is at ear level. This is because the tweeters have limited vertical dispersion, i.e., their output falls off pretty sharply as you measure above and below the level of the tweeter. BTW, this is by design, this is done to reduce the amount of sound that gets reflected off the floor and ceiling and returned to the listener, because this would muddy up the original sound.
    Anyway, that's the reason why bookshelf speakers need to be elevated. Now for the reason people recommend stands - the cabinet of a speaker vibrates. This is not a good thing, because these vibrations muddy up the sound too - ideally, the speaker cabint should be completely rigid, and all the air being moved in the room should come from just the cones vibrating. However, this is not possible, so what a good speaker stand does is to couple the speaker cabinet securely to the floor - the effect of this is to transmit the cabinet's vibrations to the floor, which 'soaks them up', so to speak. The effect? Cleaner sound, as no it's only the driver vibrating.
    If you use a real bookshelf, that would not conduct vibrations in this way. In fact, a bookshelf would act as a huge sounding board - try and knock on a bookshelf and see if it sounds solid and dead, or hollow and 'ringy'. That would give you some idea of how it would behave with vibrations - a bookshelf would have its own resonant frequency(ies), which it would amplify, and this would really muddy up the sound.
    Hope that answers your question satisfactorily. If you would like any more clarification, feel free to ask.
     
  4. Larry Hoffman

    Larry Hoffman Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Jake,
    Speakers that are too small to stand on the floor are generally called bookshelf speakers. Maybe, at one time, they were meant to be put on a bookshelf. The problem is that good quality bookshelf speakers are rarely put on bookshelves. For proper imaging, smooth bass response and proper isolation of the speakers, they are usually put on stands. In fact, sometimes a good pair of bookshelf speakers and stands are as expensive as the entry level floor standing model in the line.
    If you must put your speakers on a bookshelf, be sure to limit your search to speakers that are designed to sound good close to the wall without much room around them.
    Listen to as many as you can, preferably in a similar environment. A good sales person should be able to recommend which of his or her products will work best on a bookshelf. I can't think of any specific makes offhand, but I know there are some quality speakers that are designed for bookshelf placement, or at least designed to be placed next to the wall.
    Good luck!!
    Larry.
     
  5. Jake T

    Jake T Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi gus,
    Are there some sort of spikes or feet you can use instead of stands?
    Jake T
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Stands also accomplish one other significant purpose - they isolate the speaker's resonance from other items, allowing the speaker to produce sound the way in which it was designed to do. A speaker has a designed in resonance, and allowing the speaker to transmit some of that to a bookshelf or table will tend to cause the sound to become "muddy" with altered mid and low frequencies.
    As mentioned above, when placing speakers on a bookshelf, simply use spikes or some sort of rubber or foam for isolation.
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    [Edited last by John Garcia on August 09, 2001 at 02:39 PM]
     
  7. Jeremy Anderson

    Jeremy Anderson Screenwriter

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    I have Polk R10 bookshelf speakers for my mains and surrounds, and I initially tried them on my front bookshelves. I was never comfortable with the sound.
    I ended up wall-mounting them, but there was still something wierd about the sound. Finally, I took the stick-on rubber feet that came with them and stuck them on the back of the speakers to isolate them a bit more from the wall (meaning only the screw in the keyhole slot was vibrating with the speaker). Doing this made them sound a lot better, but I still toy with getting some stands. I also put rubber feet on my center channel and angled it down a bit, and that made a big difference too.
    The problem with stands for me is that I currently have two old speakers (solid wood cabinets with 10" paper full-range cones) that are acting as tables for flowers and family pictures... and the stands would go where they currently are. I guess I should get rid of the damned things...
    In my endless search for cheap tweaks, I've actually considered getting Vibrapods to put under the speakers and moving them back to the bookshelves to see how that arrangement works out. I'm also considering some Btech mounts to get them off of the wall a bit and allow me to play with the angles a bit.
     
  8. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    You might be able to get good sound on a bookshelf with enough isolation between the speaker and the shelf. There are feet, like the vibrapods or the swedish-made Sonic Design feet, that are excellent at soaking up vibration and speaker movement.
    Might still not be quite up to a great stand filled with sand or lead pellets, but it might be good enough.
    ------------------
    /Kimmo
    [Edited last by Kimmo Jaskari on August 11, 2001 at 04:42 PM]
     
  9. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    If you want a speaker that you can place on the floor, you should look into floor-standing speakers. They rest on spikes, usually, and the tweeter will be approximately at ear level when you are sitting down. When you consider the price of a good pair of speaker stands for bookshelf speakers, the price of floorstanding speakers are about the same. The Paradim Monitor 7 is a nice floorstanding speaker you should consider.
     

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