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post #1 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
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So what are the main differences. It seems as if a bookshelf on a stand would have almost the same footprint as a tower? I assume some bookshelfs are just as good if not better than some towers.
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post #2 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by one918 View Post

So what are the main differences. It seems as if a bookshelf on a stand would have almost the same footprint as a tower? I assume some bookshelfs are just as good if not better than some towers.

The towers usually have more drivers in them and then bigger chambers. Bookshelves are nice and give a somewhat different look on stands if you use them. Typically have less drivers but not always. A good example is polk monitor 40's and monitor 50's which are the same speaker just one is a tower and the other is a bookshelf.

I like them both but right now i prefer towers, although i have two different rooms one w/ towers in 5.1 and a stereo bookshelf system.
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post #3 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 09:45 PM
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Yes, similar footprints but towers often go deeper (but not always).

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post #4 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by one918 View Post

So what are the main differences. It seems as if a bookshelf on a stand would have almost the same footprint as a tower? I assume some bookshelfs are just as good if not better than some towers.

Bookshelves can be easier to place about your room/blend into your decor - even on stands; this is pure aesthetics but some people are interested in more than just sound quality.

One train of thought goes along the lines of bookshelves needing comparable input power to towers, as a result of the smaller enclosure; this may or may not be true depending on the speakers you're looking at - but generally comparable or lower efficiency values can be expected relative to tower speakers. Basically, don't assume that being physically smaller reduces power requirements dramatically - usually it does not.

Some tower speakers can produce lower frequencies than some bookshelf speakers, but this isn't always true, and depending on your usage may or may not matter for your purposes (and as a result of this lower frequency reproduction, some tower speakers can be a pain to position perfectly in some rooms, especially if space is a factor).

Polk Audio is a great example, in general, of "bookshelf vs tower" - the LSi15 and LSi9, and as clutchy mentioned, the Monitor 50 and 40, which are very similar to each other, enclosures aside. In both cases, you'll have nearly identical high/mid-range reproduction, the primary difference is low-end reproduction.

Depending on your configuration and so-on, your statement "I assume some bookshelfs are just as good if not better than some towers" is absolutely true - especially if (physical) space is a factor.

From a more functionalist perspective, also remember that bookshelves are often sold in pairs, while towers are often sold as singles - this doesn't impact usage one bit, but sometimes you can be looking at substantially lower outlay for "the same" thing.


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post #5 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by walbert View Post

Bookshelves can be easier to place about your room/blend into your decor - even on stands; this is pure aesthetics but some people are interested in more than just sound quality.

One train of thought goes along the lines of bookshelves needing comparable input power to towers, as a result of the smaller enclosure; this may or may not be true depending on the speakers you're looking at - but generally comparable or lower efficiency values can be expected relative to tower speakers. Basically, don't assume that being physically smaller reduces power requirements dramatically - usually it does not.

Some tower speakers can produce lower frequencies than some bookshelf speakers, but this isn't always true, and depending on your usage may or may not matter for your purposes (and as a result of this lower frequency reproduction, some tower speakers can be a pain to position perfectly in some rooms, especially if space is a factor).

Polk Audio is a great example, in general, of "bookshelf vs tower" - the LSi15 and LSi9, and as clutchy mentioned, the Monitor 50 and 40, which are very similar to each other, enclosures aside. In both cases, you'll have nearly identical high/mid-range reproduction, the primary difference is low-end reproduction.

Depending on your configuration and so-on, your statement "I assume some bookshelfs are just as good if not better than some towers" is absolutely true - especially if (physical) space is a factor.

From a more functionalist perspective, also remember that bookshelves are often sold in pairs, while towers are often sold as singles - this doesn't impact usage one bit, but sometimes you can be looking at substantially lower outlay for "the same" thing.

Explain the importance of buying towers in singles as opposed to a pair?

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post #6 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, I think I have a better understanding now. It seems as though it comes down to personal preference. Which is what I thought.

Here is my situation, and tell me if I should post somewhere else.
I am just getting started in setting up my home theater and boy is this overwhelming. BUT a lot of fun and I love learning new things.

My family room is about 18' from the TV to the back wall. 15' across to the stairs with 9 foot ceilings and open to the kitchen and front game room.

What do you feel would work best for me for this setup? I'm leaning toward towers right now, but found many posts about PSB, Ascend, and Home Theater Direct. I'm not opposed to bookshelfs, just think towers would look better for my fronts. My listening habits are about 80-90% movies, and 10-20% music. My budget right now is only a couple hundred here and there. I've been mainly on Craigs List and Audiogon.

I have an Onkyo TX-SR705 which I just picked up used from another member (Thanks again Stumlad), a Martin Logan CW10 (Audiogon member), and the JBL satellites (I think maybe 145.5 or c50?) which were existing when we bought the house.

I want to replace the satellites. I think I'm going to go the Def Tech BP 1.2X for rears (although I think and in wall or in ceiling would look better). I found a set of PSB 4T on Craigs List for $250. Should I pick those up right now or look for something else? And from what I have read, I should be looking to pair the fronts with the same brand center?

Here are pics of the Family Room






Thanks in advance for your help and guidance.

Note: I am eventually probably going to upgrade to the Onkyo RC270 and upgrade the sub to an HSU VTF-1 or VTF-2 MK3.
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post #7 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 11:12 PM
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I'd look at whatever towers you'd like, and try to match the surrounds and center as best as you can (in a "perfect world" you'd have five or seven or twelve of the same speaker and those speakers would reproduce 20-20k flat at 110 dB relative to your listening position; unless you've got a nice trust fund or some gold bars to pawn off that probably isn't going to happen - so settle for "good enough" and go on with life). Keep in mind that the wall your TV is on is "less than ideal" to place speakers along, because one of them is almost certainly going in a corner, and the other is going to be in front of "nothing" - its also very narrow for your room from what I'm seeing in pictures. This doesn't mean "worst sound ever", it does however mean that you have to keep placement in mind, and will probably need to make adjustments to channel levels and balance quite a few times to get things "right". I'd also avoid anything like MartinLogan towers that are very picky about proper placement (due to their bi-polar nature) - you probably will spend more time than you'd like just getting them placed in a "decent" configuration. I have no idea where DefTech's bipoles slot into this continuum, but I would assume they're closer to the "ugh" than the "that was easy" side.

You might consider on-ceiling (meaning they hang down like what you've got now) speakers, so you can spread them out wider relative to your seating position. Bookshelves would be great for this (I guess you could hang towers, if you do, I want pictures).

As far as in-ceiling or in-wall, I will take in-wall 10 times out of 9; I don't like the idea of my speakers starting out 90* off-axis and trying to "improve" from there.


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post #8 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
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You might consider on-ceiling (meaning they hang down like what you've got now) speakers, so you can spread them out wider relative to your seating position. Bookshelves would be great for this (I guess you could hang towers, if you do, I want pictures).

So are you talking ceiling mount bookshelves? I was thinking towers or bookshelves on a stand to get them closer to seated ear level.

Are on wall (which I didn't really think about) a better alternative than in wall?
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post #9 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by one918 View Post

So are you talking ceiling mount bookshelves? I was thinking towers or bookshelves on a stand to get them closer to seated ear level.

Are on wall (which I didn't really think about) a better alternative than in wall?

Yeah ceiling mount bookshelves - I'm just thinking in context of your room, you can probably get a "wider" stage by doing that, and not be tripping over the front right speaker to do it.

On-wall is basically going to be bookshelves with mounts, not much different from hanging them from the ceiling (in terms of the speakers used) - in-wall is a different thing altogether, but they're very similar to bookshelves in terms of size and ability (as well as range of options and price; you can get really inexpensive ones and really really expensive ones).


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post #10 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
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So if I was to ceiling mount the bookshelves, where would be the best place to do it for the wider stage?

I assume looking at the TV it would be far left corner about where the satellite is at now (although hard to see) and as far as the right is concerned, above or to the right of the light switch, but on parallel with the wall the TV is on?
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post #11 of 22 Old 03-18-2011, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by one918 View Post

So if I was to ceiling mount the bookshelves, where would be the best place to do it for the wider stage?

I assume looking at the TV it would be far left corner about where the satellite is at now (although hard to see) and as far as the right is concerned, above or to the right of the light switch, but on parallel with the wall the TV is on?

Yeah that's about what I would do - just make sure they're going to be roughly the same distance from your seated position (if this actually works with them "on" that wall, instead of needing to be out from that wall, then you can do whatever you please - just from the pictures it looks like you'll have one much closer than the other due to the narrow-ness of that wall).


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post #12 of 22 Old 03-19-2011, 10:22 AM
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Generally speaking bookshelves offer higher sound quality bang for the buck. That's because speakers are usually built to a price point and the manufacturer has to make choices and trade-offs to reach that price point. That starts with the cabinet and cabinet bracing, the quality of the stuffing materials, the quality and quantity of drivers, and the design of the crossover. For example if you take the $400/pr price point the manufacturer's design budget allows for 1 decent woofer, 1 decent tweeter, and a decent crossover in a small easily braced bookshelf sized cabinet. Or it allows for 3 so-so woofers, a so-so mid-woofer, a so-so tweeter, and a basic crossover in a poorly braced tower cabinet that resonates like a bell - or some combination of compromises that allows them to stay in budget. I'm not saying that you can't get decent tower speakers for that price just that there are compromises that have to be made in comparison to a bookshelf manufactured at the same cost.

Of course as you move up the price scale manufacturers have more budget available for better components but basic economics still apply and larger cabinets and more drivers still cost more unless you compromise on quality. The bottom line is that you have to spend considerably more money to get the same sound quality from a tower that you can get from a far less expensive bookshelf.

Where towers come into play are 1) larger rooms where the additional drivers and (in some cases) higher sensitivity allow them to play louder, or 2) where you don't plan to use a subwoofer and need the extra drivers and larger cabinet to dig deeper, or 3) you just like the look of towers. All legitimate reasons.

As for placement the tweeters of the left and right fronts should be at ear level when seated. Mounting them high will draw attention up instead of just left and right. The center obviously can't be at ear level but should be aimed at ear level in the seating position. I like side surrounds to be a about a foot above ear level (so it's not blocked by other listeners) and aimed down toward the center of the listening position. Also keep in mind that rear ported speakers should be placed 18-24" from the wall behind them so the port to do its job, and any speaker should be at least 2 feet to the nearest side wall to prevent reflections.
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post #13 of 22 Old 03-19-2011, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holt7153 View Post

Explain the importance of buying towers in singles as opposed to a pair?

Don't really know if there is an importance, but I can think of two possibilities; price, and sometimes, towers are used as centers.

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post #14 of 22 Old 03-19-2011, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by holt7153 View Post


Explain the importance of buying towers in singles as opposed to a pair?

He's just pointing out the difference in cost. The underlying point is that towers generally cost quite a bit more than the bookshelf equivalent.

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post #15 of 22 Old 03-19-2011, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Jahjd2000 View Post

He's just pointing out the difference in cost. The underlying point is that towers generally cost quite a bit more than the bookshelf equivalent.

aah, got it. Thanks.

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post #16 of 22 Old 03-20-2011, 08:06 AM
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Couple of thoughts...

1. Find a BB Magnolia with the B&W 6 series speakers in their listening room and then do the progression starting with the cheapest book shelf working your way to the most expensive. This will give you a real good idea of the difference between bookshelves and tower speakers.

2. If you are more concerned about looks then listen to the Martin Logan Motion series and if you like them they buy the Motion 262 system. This will get you a look like this:

Much better looking than a pair of bookshelves since the Motions mount very close to the walls. (They also sound great)

BTW your TV looks to be mounted too high.
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post #17 of 22 Old 03-21-2011, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
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As for placement the tweeters of the left and right fronts should be at ear level when seated. Mounting them high will draw attention up instead of just left and right.
So, for proper positioning, I think my best bet would be either bookshelves mounted on stands, towers, or in wall? Any bookshelves mounted on the ceiling or satellites where they are positioned now are not ideal. Correct?

Quote:
The center obviously can't be at ear level but should be aimed at ear level in the seating position.
The center I will probably mount on a shelf below the tv or a rack mounted to the tv. Also thought about an in wall center?
I've noticed a lot of centers are fairly large though and looks as if I may need an entertainment stand of some sort.
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post #18 of 22 Old 03-21-2011, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by one918 View Post
So, for proper positioning, I think my best bet would be either bookshelves mounted on stands, towers, or in wall? Any bookshelves mounted on the ceiling or satellites where they are positioned now are not ideal. Correct?



The center I will probably mount on a shelf below the tv or a rack mounted to the tv. Also thought about an in wall center?
I've noticed a lot of centers are fairly large though and looks as if I may need an entertainment stand of some sort.
You could buy three of the same in-wall speaker and use them as your left, center, and right; some speakers are marketed this way, as "LCR" speakers. Alternately you could use three bookshelves, and put them all below the TV or above the TV or similar (or do what you've already described).


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post #19 of 22 Old 03-22-2011, 09:27 PM
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As I am learning more about this as well. For your ratio you could easily use bookshelf speakers taking into account the room dimensions and layout and that your 10-20% music and 80%-90% HT.
I'm the opposite, so in my case taking into account the dims of my space with the difference being that I'm 80%-85% music and 15%-20% HT, full-range (or as close to it), towers would be my best choice. Not only better for music so that one doesn't have to rely on a sub 100% as most music listening is 2.0, but for me personally towers are more aesthetically pleasing and follow the symmetry of the entertainment center.

That's only part of the difference, but at the end of the day it depends on your ears and personal choice.
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post #20 of 22 Old 03-23-2011, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
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So, I think I'm leaning toward bookshelves for now. Given my budget, I am looking at a pair of Paradigm Titans on stands for fronts. Probably Paradigm surrounds and Paradigm Center (but which one). And I'm in the process of trying to change out my sub to an ED A2-300. Most of this stuff I'm finding on Craigs List right ow for some good prices.

I guess I'll see how I like it and move on from there...or not.

Thanks for all the input. I'll keep everyone updated.
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post #21 of 22 Old 03-23-2011, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sholling View Post



As for placement the tweeters of the left and right fronts should be at ear level when seated. Mounting them high will draw attention up instead of just left and right. The center obviously can't be at ear level but should be aimed at ear level in the seating position. I like side surrounds to be a about a foot above ear level (so it's not blocked by other listeners) and aimed down toward the center of the listening position. Also keep in mind that rear ported speakers should be placed 18-24" from the wall behind them so the port to do its job, and any speaker should be at least 2 feet to the nearest side wall to prevent reflections.

Is ideal position for center speaker is at ear level (same level as left and right)? If I use AT screen, do I need to place it at the center ear level?

If I want to have as much space as possible from Viewer to TV, but maintaining needed distance from front wall to speakers and rear wall to speakers, what is the configuration for speakers? I guess rear ported speakers need more distance. You said to have 2 foot distance to side walls. Trying to find wall to speaker distance restriction.

Also, what type of speakers (book shelf, or in wall or tower) will reduce need for distance from wall to false wall.
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post #22 of 22 Old 03-23-2011, 07:17 PM
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Unless you are using a projector with a transparent (sound) screen it is hard to have center speaker at ear level since the tv should be at eye level.

Best would be to place the center just below or perhaps above (never tried it above) the TV.

The left and right should be at ear level or lined up with the tv.

The idea is that the sound should seem to be coming from the TV and not another source.
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