Higher end bookshelves over lower end towers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 11-17-2012, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been doing some thinking and I seem to remember someone on here awhile back talking about wanting a higher end center but not being able to afford the matching towers so instead got the center and matching bookshelves in place of the towers.

Now granted you had a really nice sub that could handle the higher crossover from the bookshelves is this a lucrative option over say getting a lower grade set of towers and matching center?

Thanks for any help guys!
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post #2 of 28 Old 11-17-2012, 08:18 PM
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I will take a higher end bookshelf, over a lower end tower every time.
Also for the most part, I prefer bookshelves to begin with.

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post #3 of 28 Old 11-17-2012, 08:47 PM
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Many good bookshelves will let you x-over at 80 Hz, which is plenty low (anything with a ~6" driver). Any decent 10 or 12 sub will make that work well in an HT. For stereo music towers are my preference, for HT, there is nothing wrong with bookshelves, especially if you want a center and you can use a matching bookshelf to your mains. In fact, I'd consider a 6.1 system with 3 pairs of the same bookshelf speakers pretty ideal.
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post #4 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 07:16 AM
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My DIY bookshelf sized sealed speakers roll off below 80Hz, complimenting the crossover in my pre-pro. They are paired with dual subs. I cannot imagine any need for larger speaker cabinets. The subs give clean bass that couldn't be gotten with any tower I know of.
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post #5 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 08:12 AM
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Towers offer no advantages over bookshelf when you have a sub, so for the same price, if not less, go with a bookshelf.

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post #6 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Towers offer no advantages over bookshelf when you have a sub, so for the same price, if not less, go with a bookshelf.

Well I'll have to disagree. I had Arx A1 bookshelfs and upgraded to Arx A5 3 Way towers and there is advantages, like more output, better dynamics, better midrange clarity (single woofer vs dedicated midrange). I think it depends on the tower and bookshelf being compared though.
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post #7 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Towers offer no advantages over bookshelf when you have a sub, so for the same price, if not less, go with a bookshelf.

I'd also have to disagree with this. Furthermore, what are we talking about? Home theater? Music? What type of music? For me, it's very hard to pull off the same level of coherence that a good pair of floorstanding speakers will provide with a bookshelf/sub combo. I'm no expert by any means, but I haven't seen too many integrations where you couldn't tell there was a 3rd speaker producing the lower frequencies. If low, low bass is your thing then the bookshelf/sub combo may be better for you than floorstanders though as a good sub will most always go lower than floorstanders can. Guess it depends on your preference for sound and musical interests.
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post #8 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtpsuper24 View Post

I think it depends on the tower and bookshelf being compared though.
Obviously, and you could hardly find two more different speakers if you tried. A fair comparison would be between the A1 and a floorstander loaded with the A1 midbass and tweeter and a woofer, crossed over at 80Hz. Put both in a system with a sub handling below 80Hz and the woofer in the tower will be just excess baggage.
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I'd also have to disagree with this. Furthermore, what are we talking about? Home theater? Music? What type of music? For me, it's very hard to pull off the same level of coherence that a good pair of floorstanding speakers will provide with a bookshelf/sub combo. I'm no expert by any means, but I haven't seen too many integrations where you couldn't tell there was a 3rd speaker producing the lower frequencies. If low, low bass is your thing then the bookshelf/sub combo may be better for you than floorstanders though as a good sub will most always go lower than floorstanders can. Guess it depends on your preference for sound and musical interests.
Read the OPs question again. He asked which is the better option with a sub. BTW, if you can localize a sub it's a flawed setup. I can't localize mine, despite it being a foot behind me, while the mains are 14 feet in front of me.

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post #9 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 09:14 AM
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+1. There is no inherent advantage to a tower over a bookshelf.

Take the better sounding speaker regardless of form factor.
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post #10 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 09:21 AM
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I use Dynaudio Focus 160s and I think I have them crossed-over at 50 or 55 hz for all my HT needs, my sub is in the corner and it never sounds localized. For music I dont use a sub ever. Obviously, Id rather have higher end bookies then lower end towers.

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post #11 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 09:58 AM
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I don't think there is really a right answer to this question. It really depends on each person's room, budget, listening preferences etc. If I had no budget constraints, for a room that was used for both music and movies, I would get towers for the L/R plus a sub. That way, if I wanted, I could listen to music on the towers without the sub and then set the towers to small for movie watching. But, on a fixed budget for a room mostly for movies, I would favor bookshelves all around because towers cost quite a bit more and the low end on towers would mostly be wasted for movie watching.

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post #12 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Towers offer no advantages over bookshelf when you have a sub, so for the same price, if not less, go with a bookshelf.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Obviously, and you could hardly find two more different speakers if you tried. A fair comparison would be between the A1 and a floorstander loaded with the A1 midbass and tweeter and a woofer, crossed over at 80Hz. Put both in a system with a sub handling below 80Hz and the woofer in the tower will be just excess baggage.

Well its kind of misleading then to state towers offer no advantages. When a tower can offer advantages over a bookshelf, but again it depends on the tower and bookshelf being compared, its far from just an absolute statement. I would agree that the A1 bookshelf would be similar to the kind of tower you mentioned (Arx A3). But even then the A3 tower would have a slight advantage over the A1/A1b bookshelf models.

"The A3 is a "shaded" 2.5 way design, where the crossover resembles the A1 and A1b between tweeter and the A3's top woofer, but where a second woofer has been added to fill in the speaker's acoustical diffraction step below the middle hundreds of cycles. This gives the A3 more maximum loudness, more efficiency and sensitivity, and higher power handling than the A1 and A1b." Jon Lane quote.

Its not so cut and dry. Not all towers and bookshelfs are created equal. I just have a hard time believing that a small 2 way bookshelf from a well respected company could compare to a 3 or 4 way properly designed tower from another well respected company. If you were to say the Axiom M80 has no advantage over the M22 when crossed at 80hrz then I would agree because the M80 is just an M22 with 2 extra bass drivers.
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post #13 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtpsuper24 View Post

Well its kind of misleading then to state towers offer no advantages. When a tower can offer advantages over a bookshelf, but again it depends on the tower and bookshelf being compared, its far from just an absolute statement

Did you honestly interpret his statement as "all speakers everywhere sound the same" or "the worst bookshelf sounds better than the best tower"? Because I didn't read that from his post at all; but it seems to be what you are responding to.
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I just have a hard time believing that a small 2 way bookshelf from a well respected company could compare to a 3 or 4 way properly designed tower from another well respected company. If you were to say the Axiom M80 has no advantage over the M22 when crossed at 80hrz then I would agree because the M80 is just an M22 with 2 extra bass drivers.

So, in your opinion, is the M80 not properly designed, is the M22 not properly designed, or is Axiom not a well-respected company? Because you just compared those two speakers.
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post #14 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Towers offer no advantages over bookshelf when you have a sub, so for the same price, if not less, go with a bookshelf.

+1 Note the key, qualifying phrase "for the same price". (Every speaker brand/line I know of the tower's cost more than the bookshelves.)
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post #15 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 01:28 PM
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Everyone seems to think bookshelfs with a subwoofer are the same as a tower speaker and theres NO advantages to using a tower if you have a subwoofer. I disagree. A tower can offer better imaging, power handling, if its a true 3 way (unlike the Axioms) than the midrange performance can far exceed a small 2 single woofer bookshelf. Movie dynamics are improved, lower distortion (more drivers sharing the load).

The answer I was looking for when reading this thread was "IT DEPENDS" not a blanket statement. Can a bookshelf and subwoofer sound better than a tower? Yes, but that doesn't mean that thats the answer for every situation.

I'm not getting in on Axiom and probably shouldn't have mentioned them, but I don't think they (m80s) are properly designed.
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post #16 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtpsuper24 View Post

A tower can offer better imaging, power handling, if its a true 3 way .
It can, but it doesn't have to. The only real benefit of a tower over a bookshelf is better bass, moot if the bass handled by a sub. If you're using a sub instead of buying towers spend the same money on bookshelves of higher quality.

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post #17 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 02:36 PM
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^^^ +1

From a designer's standpoint: there can be advantages in a tower (the ease of adding a third driver, or a low-tuned port, or a TL, etc).

These can then often result in the "tower version" of an individual speaker going lower.

But that's all it is: a tendency based on the ease or difficulty of a certain design.

Within reason (I suppose we *could* build a bookshelf with multiple 12" drivers, but it might be unreasonable), there are only two things a bookshelf won't be able to do.

1) Push a very high SPL of a very low Freq. (as that would require a significant surface area); but please never doubt what (for example) a JL 8W7 in a bookshelf can do.
2) Run exceedingly high SPLs (which requires arrays of drivers, making very large towers or (for higher still) complex arrays.

With a sub, in a normal-person room, there's no *inherent* advantage of a tower.

For given money, it is *likely* that the tower you can buy will go lower than the bookshelf you can buy.
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post #18 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Read the OPs question again. He asked which is the better option with a sub. BTW, if you can localize a sub it's a flawed setup. I can't localize mine, despite it being a foot behind me, while the mains are 14 feet in front of me.

I took it to mean a bookshelf/sub combo vs towers alone. My mistake. In any case, I still think there isn't a blanket yes/no answer. Again, depending on the type of usage, room size/setup, etc..., a well designed pair of floorstanders COULD have an advantage over a less capable bookshelf. It's really up to the speaker's capabilities in either case.
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post #19 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 02:45 PM
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I was the one that made that comment OP and still stand by it.

Unless your room is friggin huge I will move up a line in speakers to get a better center.

Maybe the day will come when you can replace the monitors with towers if not satisfactory but not sure if that is necessary if you have a good sub.

I'm having a very lazy day doing some work on my laptop and watching football in my bedroom today. I wanted a nice bedroom set-up but nothing like my living room set-up. There were actually two centers available within the line I have in bedroom. I opted for the smaller cheaper center. It's fine for bedroom but boy it sounds a bit boxy and nothing like my living room.

In my personal experience I cannot stress enough how a better center from a higher line of speakers can make and perhaps better drivers in the monitor vs the lower level tower. My move up got muched improved tweeters over the next level down. Worth taking the monitors for me.

My living room center is the farthest thing from boxy and just adds to the total enjoyment of movies and concerts. I stand by my comment that my center at this level was the best move for me period for HT. Of course the monitors are pretty great too so that helps. Next I am a REL fanboy. I admit it. A great sub for combined HT and stereo. Blends perfectly after a lot of tweaking.

The thread got a bit derailed to monitors vs towers but we are still talking the better center in a higher line-up using monitors and sub vs towers and center in a lower line-up.

Rick

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post #20 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

It can, but it doesn't have to. The only real benefit of a tower over a bookshelf is better bass, moot if the bass handled by a sub. If you're using a sub instead of buying towers spend the same money on bookshelves of higher quality.

No midrange benefit by using a driver designed to be used as midrange (very lightweight cone, more compliant suspension, compliant surround) in a 3 way vs a normal heavy woofer 2 way bookshelf? Even with that you only get more bass from the tower? No benefit of having a midrange driver playing only a small freq range vs a woofer playing a much larger freq range?

No benefit of the Sierra Towers midrange over a 2 way bookshelf. You should see no improved midrange performance, less distortion, more output, better dynamics, ect...?
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post #21 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtpsuper24 View Post

No midrange benefit by using a driver designed to be used as midrange (very lightweight cone, more compliant suspension, compliant surround) in a 3 way vs a normal heavy woofer 2 way bookshelf?
Response is response. If the driver gives the desired result to the crossover with the tweeter it doesn't matter if it's a midbass or midrange driver. BTW, midrange drivers have stiffer suspensions, not softer, and the midbasses used in two way bookshelves aren't necessarily 'heavy'. A high quality midbass is just as capable , if not more so, in the mids as a lesser quality midrange. The reason you can get more bass from a tower is the size of the enclosure. You can use exactly the same midbasses in a bookshelf and tower and the tower will go lower for that reason alone. If the added bass response isn't required all you've gained is a bigger. more expensive, box.

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post #22 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Love the debate here guys! Boy what have I started.

Here are some more details I should have included in my original post. 95% of my listening is blu-ray movies, very little music, the occasional SACD or DVD Audio.

I am purchasing a HSU VTF-15 subwoofer regardless of if I get towers or bookshelves.

I was originally looking at the Aperion Grand Verus towers and center which was pushing my budget but after reading the Home Theater Magazine review of the HSU VTF-15 and the tonal quality they spoke of when pairing it with bookshelve mains it got me thinking.

After some research I am now really leaning towards the PSB Imagine series bookshelves and matching center which would be cheaper than the Aperion setup but would be a step up into more of the mid-range of speaker quality due to not gettting towers.

The PSB Imagine bookshelves and matching center can be had for around 400 to 500 less than the Aperion setup I was looking at yet.

I am fully open to suggestions of other manufacturers of bookshelve/center combos in the 2k total range.

Hope I;ve shed some light on my sutuation for you guys, you seem to know your **** and I appreciate the comments! smile.gif
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post #23 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 08:44 PM
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I am not trying to spend other folks money nor talk anyone into anything but my point was not to save money but I know that is always a good thing.

My point was if you had a $2500 budget I would stay with that same budget but look to a higher line up and look at the better center and most likely better drivers in the higher line.

I would find a brand of speakers that get your juices going and then look what is available top to bottom within that mfg. You will find there is a house sound but can and most likely will get better as you move up thru the families.

$2500 total.

I can get these towers and this center or I can move up one family and get these monitors and this center but the budget remained at $2500.

Or there is always even a better path (for some) to spend the $2500 on the Left and Right speakers and then save for the matching center. The center is typically a bit less and is something to save and look forward to. In the end you have yet climbed a bit higher than all at once. Everyone is different but sometimes taking your time and buying piece meal will yield better speakers and enjoyment but everyone is different.

In my case the center was the same cost as the left and right monitor. The towers were a lot more.

This was the right move for me but my budget stayed consistent and I did not reduce as this defeats what I have been saying.

Rick

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post #24 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I totally see your point here Rick. And I have the utmost respect to you to be able to purchase one piece of a collection and then have to sit on it waiting to purchase the final piece. This dillegance is something I need to teach myself to do. I seem to be in the boat of wanting it all at once for sacrifice of having the goods in the long run.

Now you got me thinking again, but can I reallty just sit there staring at a beautiful pair of towers waiting paycheck to paycheck to save for that center. Or could I break tradition and *GASP BLASPHEMER* just run those towers with my current center while saving for that matching center?

Once again my options are expanded and now I am thinking some more. Thank you good sir. smile.gif
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post #25 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
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But also you have the situation of saving for those mid to higher end towers and center but putting yourself in the boat of needing seperate amplification for actually driving those beasts to their FULL potential.

Which brings on another aspect of saving even more for a real quality power seperate amplifier.

This is a fine line one could be walking here when getting down to brass tax.
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post #26 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 10:43 PM
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Id have to agree with Mr Softdome.

Find the speakers that really get you going and decide if you want the lower line towers over the higher line bookshelfs or vice versa.

Personally, if youre set on the Hsu VTF-15H, AND you decide to go with bookshelf speakers, Id go with bookshelfs that have can produce good bass on their own. Speakers Id consider:

Dynaudio DM2/7s
Ascend Sierra-1
Paradigm Studio 20s
Focal 807s
Monitor Audio RX2
Dali Ikon2

Im not that big on the PSB Imagine Bs as I felt their bass response was weak. Ive never heard the Ascends, so its a blind faith recommendation based on forum talk. All these speakers in that price range will have their strengths and weaknesses, it will just be finding what works best for you.

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post #27 of 28 Old 11-18-2012, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.SoftDome View Post

In my personal experience I cannot stress enough how a better center from a higher line of speakers can make and perhaps better drivers in the monitor vs the lower level tower. My move up got muched improved tweeters over the next level down. Worth taking the monitors for me.
Rick

This was my thinking until I decided to look outside of just one brand. For example, picking between a salk song tower with raal or a monitor audio gx100 is about the same price (after the MA stands)but while the bookshelf is from the higher "level" that doesn't mean it's better than a comparable priced tower.
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post #28 of 28 Old 11-19-2012, 05:47 PM
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This was my thinking until I decided to look outside of just one brand. For example, picking between a salk song tower with raal or a monitor audio gx100 is about the same price (after the MA stands)but while the bookshelf is from the higher "level" that doesn't mean it's better than a comparable priced tower.
Especially when transitioning brands, there's no clear way to know what will have the better sound until you compare them. Price is not the determining factor.
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