Floor standers vs bookshelves for home theater - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 05:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Building out a dedicated home theater and wanted to see what everyone's thoughts are on choosing between a floor stander vs bookshelves....as in, for a given amount of money, is it better to go with a higher end bookshelf, or a lower end full range tower. I'm looking at paradigm at monitor audio right now, and it's the studio 20 vs the monitor 11, and the monitor audio gold bookshelf vs the monitor audio silver rx8.

Currently running a hsu vtf 3 mkiii. The room is kind of small and fully enclosed. (14x16x10).

I know the general consensus is that higher quality bookshelf is better, but I've heard others say the opposite as well (mainly dealers, for what it's worth).
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post #2 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 05:21 AM
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In the most general of terms, "bookshelf" (which means not full range) speakers plus standalone subwoofers are preferred. Due to the way small rooms interact with speakers, the subs+bookshelf approach allows you to place the L/C/R speakers in a location for best imaging, clarity, etc. whilst the sub(s) are located in positions providing the better bass response in the seating locations. Further (assuming an 80Hz crossover between the mains/subs) you'd want your L/C/R's to be more than 3.5' from any wall (floor or ceiling) and your subs less than 3.5' from any wall. If you cannot get the mains more that 3.5' from a wall you'll need 4 or more inches of absorptive materials on all surfaces inside that 3.5' radius. (3.5' is approximately the 1/4 wavelength of the crossover frequency).
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post #3 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 05:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

In the most general of terms, "bookshelf" (which means not full range) speakers plus standalone subwoofers are preferred. Due to the way small rooms interact with speakers, the subs+bookshelf approach allows you to place the L/C/R speakers in a location for best imaging, clarity, etc. whilst the sub(s) are located in positions providing the better bass response in the seating locations. Further (assuming an 80Hz crossover between the mains/subs) you'd want your L/C/R's to be more than 3.5' from any wall (floor or ceiling) and your subs less than 3.5' from any wall. If you cannot get the mains more that 3.5' from a wall you'll need 4 or more inches of absorptive materials on all surfaces inside that 3.5' radius. (3.5' is approximately the 1/4 wavelength of the crossover frequency).

What he said. You are getting free advice from an expert.
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post #4 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 05:45 AM
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post #5 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 06:08 AM
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Good monitors, plus subs all the way. Just make sure your monitors can comfortably play down to at least 120hz. Something with a minimum of a single 5.25" driver(6" preferred if your more into HT at louder volumes or have a very large room).
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post #6 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

In the most general of terms, "bookshelf" (which means not full range) speakers plus standalone subwoofers are preferred. Due to the way small rooms interact with speakers, the subs+bookshelf approach allows you to place the L/C/R speakers in a location for best imaging, clarity, etc. whilst the sub(s) are located in positions providing the better bass response in the seating locations. Further (assuming an 80Hz crossover between the mains/subs) you'd want your L/C/R's to be more than 3.5' from any wall (floor or ceiling) and your subs less than 3.5' from any wall. If you cannot get the mains more that 3.5' from a wall you'll need 4 or more inches of absorptive materials on all surfaces inside that 3.5' radius. (3.5' is approximately the 1/4 wavelength of the crossover frequency).

This is very good advice, I will also add too, that if your main speakers/monitors are sealed or have front firing ports, you can place em closer to the wall with less natural bass reinforcement. If whatever you get for speakers have rear firing ports, think about plugging them with foam(many spkr's come with foam plug inserts for the ports)to help smooth out the response curve, or as stated think about getting some room treatments in place at critical points.
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post #7 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 06:13 AM
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If you are going to be using a subwoofer, which almost everyone does, it is really more of an aesthetics and cost issue than anything else.

I prefer floorstanding speakers because I prefer their appearance; I hate stands. You can, of course, set them on tall tables or actual bookshelves, which is probably cheaper than $300 or so for a set of good-quality stands.

On the other hand, a set of smaller speakers that will go down to 50 Hz is going to cost a lot less than floorstanding speakers of equivalent sound quality, which will go down to around 40 Hz. There are very few tower speakers that are truly "full-range", like the KEF Q900, which go down effectively to around 30 Hz because they have 10-inch drivers.





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Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post

Building out a dedicated home theater and wanted to see what everyone's thoughts are on choosing between a floor stander vs bookshelves....as in, for a given amount of money, is it better to go with a higher end bookshelf, or a lower end full range tower. I'm looking at paradigm at monitor audio right now, and it's the studio 20 vs the monitor 11, and the monitor audio gold bookshelf vs the monitor audio silver rx8.

Currently running a hsu vtf 3 mkiii. The room is kind of small and fully enclosed. (14x16x10).

I know the general consensus is that higher quality bookshelf is better, but I've heard others say the opposite as well (mainly dealers, for what it's worth).

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post #8 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice.

The bookshelves I'm looking at hold their own in the mid-bass and bass regions. The Studio 20's go down to 54 hz, and the Monitor Audios go down to 42hz. (the LSi9's I'm currently running go down to 39 hz).

My gut was telling my to go with bookshelves. Thanks for the feedback!

PS: Are there any other brands anyone would recommend for a home theater oriented set-up? I like the LSi's a lot for music, but they're a more laid-back, involved listening type of speaker. For my dedicated home theater, I want something with more energy, sparkle....more of a 3 dimensional, wider, sound-stage.

I've been auditioning speakers lately, and am open to suggestions.
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post #9 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ntrain96 View Post

If whatever you get for speakers have rear firing ports, think about plugging them with foam(many spkr's come with foam plug inserts for the ports)to help smooth out the response curve,

Most speakers are not designed to have their ports plugged. That would effectively kill their bass output. I like to get the best response from my mains that I can get, bass included. I have the sub set up to add what the mains can't reproduce.
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave1027 View Post

Most speakers are not designed to have their ports plugged. That would effectively kill their bass output. I like to get the best response from my mains that I can get, bass included. I have the sub set up to add what the mains can't reproduce.

Ports tend to give a hump in the bass response at their tuning point which I find most times will muddy and mask other bass frequencies in a detrimental way, which I personally don't like. When you add a foam plug(not a hard seal mind you) though, it tends to smooth out the bass, giving better/smoother response and detail and changes the roll off slope which I find very beneficial, especially if the driver that is responsible for the bass also plays the midrange frequencies. Best thing to do though, is if you have pink noise and an rta meter or software of some kind to experiment yourself, you will most likely aquire similiar results.
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post #11 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

If you are going to be using a subwoofer, which almost everyone does, it is really more of an aesthetics and cost issue than anything else.

I prefer floorstanding speakers because I prefer their appearance; I hate stands. You can, of course, set them on tall tables or actual bookshelves, which is probably cheaper than $300 or so for a set of good-quality stands.

On the other hand, a set of smaller speakers that will go down to 50 Hz is going to cost a lot less than floorstanding speakers of equivalent sound quality, which will go down to around 40 Hz. There are very few tower speakers that are truly "full-range", like the KEF Q900, which go down effectively to around 30 Hz because they have 10-inch drivers.

The KEF Q900 drivers are 8-inch, not 10-inch.

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post #12 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 01:59 PM
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The Paradigm Studio 20 is a very good HT bookshelf speaker, great mids, and sparkly clean highs.

I would also consider the NHT Classic 3 http://www.nhthifi.com/Three?sc=12&category=3772 ($800 a pair, but you can buy them individually even so you can use it for your center channel), they worked great for HT because they are true 3 way design and I found its mids to be very convincing and clear. The dispersion is excellent so you get a good positional accuracy for sounds. I would put these on par with the Studio 20

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post #13 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post

Thanks for the advice.

The bookshelves I'm looking at hold their own in the mid-bass and bass regions. The Studio 20's go down to 54 hz, and the Monitor Audios go down to 42hz. (the LSi9's I'm currently running go down to 39 hz).

My gut was telling my to go with bookshelves. Thanks for the feedback!

PS: Are there any other brands anyone would recommend for a home theater oriented set-up? I like the LSi's a lot for music, but they're a more laid-back, involved listening type of speaker. For my dedicated home theater, I want something with more energy, sparkle....more of a 3 dimensional, wider, sound-stage.

I've been auditioning speakers lately, and am open to suggestions.

I have monitor audio RX2s in a room smaller than yours and think they're excellent for both music and movies. Which MAs are you looking at?
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post #14 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

Further (assuming an 80Hz crossover between the mains/subs) you'd want your L/C/R's to be more than 3.5' from any wall (floor or ceiling) and your subs less than 3.5' from any wall. If you cannot get the mains more that 3.5' from a wall you'll need 4 or more inches of absorptive materials on all surfaces inside that 3.5' radius. (3.5' is approximately the 1/4 wavelength of the crossover frequency).

Dennis,

Thank you for explaining this. I have always wondered about FS vs BS speakers. Can you (or anyone else for that matter), explain this in VERY laymans terms?

Also to the OP. I run Home Theater Direct's Level 3 Bookshelfs and Center with an Empire and they are fantastic. I never had a ribbon tweeter before these and I couldnt be happier. Honestly, I rarely, if ever approach reference level volume, but I have yet to play these and hear or tell even the slightest of straining. Not nearly as pretty as anything mentioned so far, but they are extremely solid with great build quality. I will say that they really came alive when I paired them with a XPA-3.
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post #15 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ntrain96 View Post

Ports tend to give a hump in the bass response at their tuning point which I find most times will muddy and mask other bass frequencies in a detrimental way, which I personally don't like. When you add a foam plug(not a hard seal mind you) though, it tends to smooth out the bass, giving better/smoother response and detail and changes the roll off slope which I find very beneficial, especially if the driver that is responsible for the bass also plays the midrange frequencies. Best thing to do though, is if you have pink noise and an rta meter or software of some kind to experiment yourself, you will most likely aquire similiar results.

Yep, I use port plugs in the Arx speakers crossed at 80hrz, much better definition in the midbass. And being XBL2 woofers they still have great punch with the ports sealed.
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post #16 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

Further (assuming an 80Hz crossover between the mains/subs) you'd want your L/C/R's to be more than 3.5' from any wall (floor or ceiling) and your subs less than 3.5' from any wall.

That would not apply for speakers designed for wall mounting. As for subs always needing to be <3.5 ft from walls, not in all cases. I had a room the hot spot for the subs were at the mains locations. So I co-located the subs with the mains.
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post #17 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

Further (assuming an 80Hz crossover between the mains/subs) you'd want your L/C/R's to be more than 3.5' from any wall (floor or ceiling) and your subs less than 3.5' from any wall.

Quick question...

What's the normal way of measuring the distance of a speaker from the back wall...?

In other words... is the measurement distance (3.5 feet in this case) taken from the back of the speaker or from the front baffle of the speaker...?

And does the location of the speaker's port (front or back), come into play at all.

Thanks for any insight...

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post #18 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bizarro_Stormy View Post

Quick question...

What's the normal way of measuring the distance of a speaker from the back wall...?

In other words... is the measurement distance (3.5 feet in this case) taken from the back of the speaker or from the front baffle of the speaker...?

And does the location of the speaker's port (front or back), come into play at all.

Thanks for any insight...

The back measurement is to the baffle; from the side wall to the center of the driver array.
If you are placing a speaker ≥3.5 ft makes no difference where the port is located. If the position of a rear port speaker is <4~6" from the wall, or inside a bookcase, then you have a problem.

For floorstanding speakers, the farther away from the end/back wall the deeper the soundstage. The more room to the sides, the wider the soundstage. Even if there are panels placed at the first reflection points of the side walls, if the speakers are within 2 ft, then the soundstage will be pinched.
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post #19 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 06:54 PM
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I much prefer towers over bookshelves for HT. It just sounds bigger, more realistic to me.

I sometimes watch movies on my PC 2.1 setup and I much prefer the living room setup even though the computer rig can pump out 1600 watts. lol
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