Bookshelfs better than Floorstanders? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 12:20 AM - Thread Starter
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I am thinking of pulling the trigger on some polk audio RTia series speakers for my home theater. I was thinking the Polk RTi A7's for my main speakers.

http://www.polkaudio.com/products/rtia7

I can get the polks for a good price and I have read that people seem to like them a lot. I was telling a friend about this today and he informed me that it is always better to get bookshelf speakers in a home theater and said that floorstanders are for stereo mostly.

I don't understand this. Wouldn't a floorstanding speaker have more bass and isn't that better for movies explosions ect???

Should I reconsider my decision on the polks?? Please help biggrin.gif

Just FYI I have a Rythmik F15HP sealed servo subwoofer for my bass.
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post #2 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 12:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oledurt View Post

I can get the polks for a good price and I have read that people seem to like them a lot. I was telling a friend about this today and he informed me that it is always better to get bookshelf speakers in a home theater and said that floorstanders are for stereo mostly.
You've been given wrong criteria. That's not good advice.
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I don't understand this. Wouldn't a floorstanding speaker have more bass and isn't that better for movies explosions ect???
There is no absolute truth "floor-standers do this, bookshelves do that" other than "stand on floors".

That said: It would be common for floor-standing speakers to have a lower F3 (more bass) than bookshelves in the same line.
It doesn't matter though because your subwoofer should be picking up everything below 80Hz.

The specific speaker is more important to the sound than the floor/bookshelf difference. Listen for yourself (and remember to use a sub).
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post #3 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 12:54 AM
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Just to add to confusion: I'm gonna quote myself from the other day.

In theory: floor standers cost more to build and so, all else being equal, bookshelves will sound better (the money will be spent on better parts rather than more cabinet).
In theory, floor standers are harder to brace, so bookshelves will be more braced.

In theory, floor standers will go lower; which may or may not be a benefit.
In alternate theory (where a floor stander was made to go lower with, say, a second driver), floor standers will go louder.

Floor standers are more likely to be 3-way designs and bookshelves more likely to be 2-way designs.
In theory: 3-way will give you better HF and midrange by vitrtue of a more narrow range.
In theory: 3-way will give you more volume for the same reason (and likely larger surface area of the bass driver)
In theory: 3-way will give you more extension (again, larger bass driver)
In theory: 2-way will give you better individual drivers and crossovers because there are less parts to divide the money between.

In reality: individual speakers should be evaluated rather than concepts. Implementation matters far more than philosophy.
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post #4 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oledurt View Post

Wouldn't a floorstanding speaker have more bass
Not as much as subs, and if you do have subs then the extra bass extension of floor standers compared to bookshelves isn't being utilized.

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post #5 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 06:03 AM
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As long as a bookshelf speaker has good response down to 50 Hz or lower, there is no need to use floorstanding speakers when a subwoofer is in the system.

Really small speakers, however, that only have response down to 80 Hz or so, should NEVER be used IMO. They are invariably too small for proper system dynamics at almost ANY frequency.

The main speakers should be able to go low enough to produce the crucial midbass information between 50 and 80 Hz, because most subwoofers are not optimized for operation at frequencies that high.

Subwoofers, IMO, should be operated only below 50 Hz.
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post #6 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 09:17 AM
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It does depends what you are comparing to ,and many times there are always trade off, which include the budget. Within the same line speakers series, there will most likely have advantages in towers, not only just the low end, but could be a three way versus 2 way, maybe larger and miltiple woofers are employed. Also you can disregard the stands cost. So a bookshelves alone better then tower is not always true.
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post #7 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oledurt View Post

Just FYI I have a Rythmik F15HP sealed servo subwoofer for my bass.

If you had a really cheap sub, then towers might have an advantage in that they might produce better quality bass than the sub; in other words, with a cheap sub, you might find that the SQ is better with towers crossed over at 50 or 60hz, even though the sub might be capable of more output.

With the F15HP, you definitely have a sub which should sound as good or better from 80hz on down than any towers in the budget range of what those RTi A7 cost at full MSRP. That's a great sub smile.gif

However, depending on the discount you get for the RTi A7, they still might be the best buy for you in terms of overall SQ, and part of that depends on your particular tastes in speakers. Then you have to factor in buying the matching center (if you don't have it already), which could make another LRC setup better than that.

Your questions are answered:
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post #8 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oledurt View Post

I am thinking of pulling the trigger on some polk audio RTia series speakers for my home theater. I was thinking the Polk RTi A7's for my main speakers.

http://www.polkaudio.com/products/rtia7

I can get the polks for a good price and I have read that people seem to like them a lot. I was telling a friend about this today and he informed me that it is always better to get bookshelf speakers in a home theater and said that floorstanders are for stereo mostly.

I don't understand this. Wouldn't a floorstanding speaker have more bass and isn't that better for movies explosions etc???

Bass has two major dimensions:

(1) Bass extension which is the lowest frequency reproduced with flat response

(2) Bass dynamic range which is how loud the bass plays cleanly.

These dimensions are orthogonal, which is to say that one does not necessarily affect or presume the other.

The way that this relates to your question that I have found that major manufacturers often make their bookshelf speakers and floorstandng speakers with the same bass drivers.

Given a certain bass driver you can put it in a bookshelf enclosure and you have response flat down to a certain frequency. You put the same driver into a far larger floor standing enclosure and it responds to a lower frequency. So far so good. However, all other things being equal the larger enclosure does very little for the bass driver's dynamic range. It turns out that the bass dynamic range of a speaker driver is based on cone area and linear travel. The enclosure size does not affect either one. Furthermore extending a bass driver's response to lower frequencies actually decreases the available clean SPL at the lower frequencies all other things being equal..

If a manufacturer builds the bookshelf speaker with say one driver of a given size, and builds the floor stander with two drivers of the same size, it is probable that the the floor stander will have both more deeply extended response and more dynamic range to go along with that response. If both speaker systems have the same number of the same drivers then the floor stander will be compromising dynamic range for the frequencies in the extended frequency range.

So if you look around you will find a lot of speakers that fit into either category. Beware of the floor standers with the same number of the same sized driver(s) as bookshelves.

Another thing to consider is that it is not unusual for the distortion in a given speaker to start increasing at frequencies significantly higher than the frequency at which it starts rolling off and loosing response. For example, a speaker may start loosing response at 60 Hz, but its distortion may start increasing for frequencies below 100 Hz. This is where proper use of a subwoofer can be very beneficial. But not stressing the speaker by trying to run it down to its limit, you might obtain cleaner sound.
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Just FYI I have a Rythmik F15HP sealed servo subwoofer for my bass.

That is an excellent tool for you to exploit in order to obtain better cleaner sound.
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post #9 of 51 Old 11-02-2013, 12:51 PM
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All else being equal, Floorstanders will have better mid bass response. If movies are your primary objective, that may not be too big of a deal for you.

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post #10 of 51 Old 11-03-2013, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by psychobrew View Post

All else being equal, Floorstanders will have better mid bass response.
If you look at a response chart from 80Hz on up no way can you tell if its a book shelf or floorstander. If you listen to both from 80Hz and up you can't tell which is which either. 80Hz and below you can, but with a sub, so what?
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post #11 of 51 Old 11-03-2013, 10:39 AM
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I tend to look at it this way ... If you're using a sub then more often than not you can get more speaker for you money with a bookshelf as opposed to a tower.

There's a sense in which the question could be re-phrased as 2-way speaker vs 3-way speaker. Generally a well designed/built 3-way speaker should sound better (more even/balanced, more detail, more dynamics, etc.) than a 2-way speaker. But, since it costs more to design/build a very good 3-way than a very good 2-way then typically for the same budget you can get a better 2-way.
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post #12 of 51 Old 11-03-2013, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJames View Post

If you look at a response chart from 80Hz on up no way can you tell if its a book shelf or floorstander. If you listen to both from 80Hz and up you can't tell which is which either. 80Hz and below you can, but with a sub, so what?
Only if they have the same size and number of drivers. A tower with two of the same woofers as the bookshelf with one will have more mid to upper bass.

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post #13 of 51 Old 11-03-2013, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Kini62 View Post

Only if they have the same size and number of drivers. A tower with two of the same woofers as the bookshelf with one will have more mid to upper bass.
A well designed tower and bookshelf would never use the same woofers. The same size, perhaps, but that's where any resemblance should end. Your conclusions are not backed up by engineering fact.

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post #14 of 51 Old 11-03-2013, 08:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJames View Post

If you look at a response chart from 80Hz on up no way can you tell if its a book shelf or floorstander. If you listen to both from 80Hz and up you can't tell which is which either. 80Hz and below you can, but with a sub, so what?
No one does a response chart at, say, 50W.

Problems with smaller drivers, when looking even at midbass, include issues like mechanical clipping... which is unlikely to show up at 1w.
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post #15 of 51 Old 11-03-2013, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the excellent advice and information! I decided to go with the Polk RTi A7, CSI A 6, F/Xi A6. I read some good reviews on these speakers, and it seems for the price it is a great deal. I will update you guys when I receive my new speakers. biggrin.gif

Thanks again to all of you for the great info.
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post #16 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

A well designed tower and bookshelf would never use the same woofers. The same size, perhaps, but that's where any resemblance should end. Your conclusions are not backed up by engineering fact.

Sure, um OK. If you say so.

Take Klipsch for example, I'm pretty sure the woofers used in the bookshelf are the same as the ones used in the towers, just one less. Same goes for Polk, PSB, Arx, etc......

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post


A well designed tower and bookshelf would never use the same woofers. The same size, perhaps, but that's where any resemblance should end. Your conclusions are not backed up by engineering fact.

 

 

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Originally Posted by Kini62 View Post


Sure, um OK. If you say so.

Take Klipsch for example, I'm pretty sure the woofers used in the bookshelf are the same as the ones used in the towers, just one less. Same goes for Polk, PSB, Arx, etc......

Maybe Bill means the higher than high end speaker manufacturers? I can see those companies being able to afford specific engineering process for each of their speaker types.

But I agree with Kini, most of the other mid to mid-high end manufacturers like Klipsch and Polk generally engineer their speakers in similar fashion. If I'm not mistaken a lot of times they develop the drivers and woofers first and then engineer the cabinets that will emphasize the output depending on speaker type.

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post #18 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Kini62 View Post

Take Klipsch for example, I'm pretty sure the woofers used in the bookshelf are the same as the ones used in the towers, just one less. Same goes for Polk, PSB, Arx, etc......
If they are that indicates the Bean Counters dictated that the same drivers be used to minimize the SKU count. It would not be an engineering decision, as the optimal driver T/S specs for the two applications are widely divergent.

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post #19 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 11:23 AM
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Sat + Subs is better for your money. wink.gif
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post #20 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post

There's a sense in which the question could be re-phrased as 2-way speaker vs 3-way speaker. Generally a well designed/built 3-way speaker should sound better (more even/balanced, more detail, more dynamics, etc.) than a 2-way speaker.

I'm not so sure. I've noticed a trend that people new to hi-fi seem to be impressed with tall 3-ways towers with lots of drivers all over the place... but people that have been into hi-fi many years seem to end up being happiest with speakers with as few as drivers as possible... like with single driver speakers.
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post #21 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

I'm not so sure. I've noticed a trend that people new to hi-fi seem to be impressed with tall 3-ways towers with lots of drivers all over the place... but people that have been into hi-fi many years seem to end up being happiest with speakers with as few as drivers as possible... like with single driver speakers.
Which is why basically zero pro setups are single-driver.

Not concerts, not movie theaters, not small venue performances, not Cirque d'Soliel.

Exception being voice-focused PA systems like in schools and emergency warning systems.
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post #22 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

If they are that indicates the Bean Counters dictated that the same drivers be used to minimize the SKU count. It would not be an engineering decision, as the optimal driver T/S specs for the two applications are widely divergent.
I'm pretty sure Paradigm did this as well; and the B&W's sure *look* similar.

If what Bill is saying is true: then we should be able to name a driver, and he should be able to tell us if it's a "tower driver" or a "bookshelf driver". In fact: I would expect the driver manufacturers to expressly state which it is for.
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post #23 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

If they are that indicates the Bean Counters dictated that the same drivers be used to minimize the SKU count. It would not be an engineering decision, as the optimal driver T/S specs for the two applications are widely divergent.

And why would "they" be wildly divergent? A 6" mid-woofer in a bookshelf crossed to a tweeter vs 2 6" mid-woofers crossed to the same tweeter. Why the need for two "wildly divergent" drivers when they are serving the same purpose of filling in the sound spectrum up to the crossover point?

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post #24 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 05:07 PM
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I had also assumed that it was the same driver in bookshelf and floorstander speakers, but now I am not so sure!

Klipsch no longer list exact part number in their speakers, but look up older model and you'll find that the 8-inch woofer in the RB-5 is a K-1084-S 8" (20.32cm) Cerametallic(r) cone / cast polymer frame while the RF-5 sports two K-1083-SB 8" (20.32cm) Cerametallic(r) cone / cast polymer frame. Different part number. They sure used the same part number (K-33) for the woofer in the La Scala, Belle and Klipschorn when they were the same.

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post #25 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kini62 View Post

And why would "they" be wildly divergent? A 6" mid-woofer in a bookshelf crossed to a tweeter vs 2 6" mid-woofers crossed to the same tweeter. Why the need for two "wildly divergent" drivers when they are serving the same purpose of filling in the sound spectrum up to the crossover point?
Because they are not merely serving the same purpose of filling in the sound spectrum up to the crossover point. They also serve the purpose of working to the low end of their intended pass bands. A driver optimized to work well to 35Hz will not work as well above 80Hz as one optimized to work to only 80Hz. And a driver optimized for best results to 80Hz will not work at all to 35Hz.

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post #26 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 08:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Because they are not merely serving the same purpose of filling in the sound spectrum up to the crossover point. They also serve the purpose of working to the low end of their intended pass bands. A driver optimized to work well to 35Hz will not work as well above 80Hz as one optimized to work to only 80Hz. And a driver optimized for best results to 80Hz will not work at all to 35Hz.
Which makes the critical errors of
1) Assuming the the extension is different (not always the case) and
2) Assuming that they are not doing something else (look at the older Paradigm Studio 40, 60, and 100... they add drivers) to get extension.

But I go back to what I said before. If Bill's claim is absolutely true, then there are "bookshelf drivers" and "tower drivers" and never the twain shall meet. Why isn't this mentioned in driver descriptions anywhere?
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post #27 of 51 Old 11-04-2013, 10:01 PM
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It doesn't need to be listed as bookshelf or a floorstander woofer. All you need is the t/s parameters to determine what size enclosure it works best in.


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post #28 of 51 Old 11-05-2013, 05:59 AM
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It doesn't need to be listed as bookshelf or a floorstander woofer. All you need is the t/s parameters to determine what size enclosure it works best in.
+1. For instance, plug the specs for these into your favorite box modeling software, let the program calculate the optimal box size and tuning, note that that results are totally different, even though they're both 6.5 inch drivers of similar quality and price:
http://www.parts-express.com/pdf/295-305s.pdf
http://www.parts-express.com/pedocs/specs/294-2700-prv-audio-6mb200-specifications-4766.pdf

You will find just as much variation in specs, and therefore results, for any and every driver size, from 1 inch to 21 inch.

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post #29 of 51 Old 11-05-2013, 06:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

+1. For instance, plug the specs for these into your favorite box modeling software, let the program calculate the optimal box size and tuning, note that that results are totally different, even though they're both 6.5 inch drivers of similar quality and price:
http://www.parts-express.com/pdf/295-305s.pdf
http://www.parts-express.com/pedocs/specs/294-2700-prv-audio-6mb200-specifications-4766.pdf

You will find just as much variation in specs, and therefore results, for any and every driver size, from 1 inch to 21 inch.

Bill i think you know better then us, but there is always trade off in loudspeaker design and building. As whether is a best enclosure depends on the goal of a design. That why different alignment exist. Even seas recomenends alternative enclosure configuration with their drivers.
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post #30 of 51 Old 11-05-2013, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

I'm not so sure. I've noticed a trend that people new to hi-fi seem to be impressed with tall 3-ways towers with lots of drivers all over the place... but people that have been into hi-fi many years seem to end up being happiest with speakers with as few as drivers as possible... like with single driver speakers.
Which is why basically zero pro setups are single-driver.

Not concerts, not movie theaters, not small venue performances, not Cirque d'Soliel.

Exception being voice-focused PA systems like in schools and emergency warning systems.

+1

Building a good single driver loudspeaker with anything like full range response is pretty much mission impossible.

Getting extended frequency response is doable, but it is usually obtained by means of intentional cone breakup which is hard to keep smooth. The unsolvable problem is maintaining smooth response and broad dispersion at high frequencies.

There have been a number of attempts at high quality single driver wide range speakers , but I haven't heard any that seemed credible to me.

Back in the day one of the allegedly high class (ot ast least high priced) attempts at a full range single driver speaker was the Jordan Watts. It had its fans but it sounded pretty broken to me.
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