Tower/Bookshelf Questions for large 'Family' Room with no treatments - AVS Forum
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Old 04-04-2014, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to decide on a L/C/R speaker setup for 50/50 usage in my family room. The room is about 19 x 27 with 8' to 12' sloped ceilings. It has no treatments, glass patio doors, 8' open area on side to hallway and is just a typical 'family' room. The listening position is in 1/2 of the room, 10' to 12' from speakers/TV.
My budget is $750 to $1000 for the 3 speakers. I will be buying a sub (a Rythmik,SVS,HSU with a budget of $800 to $1000) 6 to 9 months down the road.
I basically understand the thought of a sub taking away the bass extension advantage of a tower over a bookshelf. However, in my large room does a tower give back that advantage with output needed for a large room?
Also, does the lack of 'room treatments' negate the sound quality as the speaker price goes up. In other words, is there a price point, on speakers, where you might be throwing money away because your room is not 'ideal'?
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:48 PM
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Tower vs. bookshelf in your case should be viewed in terms of dynamic capability. Your room is large, so even if deep extension is not the primary concern, speakers that can move more air will have greater dynamic limits and serve you better. A large bookshelf speaker may perform better than modest towers.

Regarding the room treatment question, whole books have been written on the topic. I recommend Toole's, if you want to dig that deep. Unfortunately for your situation, a lack of room treatments will limit any set of speakers, regardless of price. Are treatments out of the question? Even discreet, disguised, or otherwise WAF friendly ones?

Short of treating your room, the best bet is to pick speakers with very uniform polar response, such as many KEFs. Perhaps consider speakers with more controlled dispersion to manage early direct reflections, like the Hsu hb-1's. The frequencies from the horn will be more narrowly constrained than typical speakers with flush mounted drivers, allowing you to avoid or minimze spraying the walls with high treble. Hope this gives you some ideas.
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Old 04-04-2014, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
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speakers that can move more air
By this do you mean speakers with larger diameter or more than 1 woofer? Or, are certain speaker components made to 'move more air'?
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Are treatments out of the question? Even discreet, disguised, or otherwise WAF friendly ones?
Not at all. But it will never look like a dedicated home theater. Thanks for the suggestion and I'll do some research on such treatments.

I had narrowed my speaker selection down to a few brands, consisting of bookshelf and towers:
1) Arx-A2,A3,A5
2) Ascend Acoustics CMT-340's
3) EmpTek
4) HTD L3
Not sure if any of these would work well in my room. The HSU-hb1 speakers are certainly within my price range
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Old 04-04-2014, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by tommyncal View Post

I'm trying to decide on a L/C/R speaker setup for 50/50 usage in my family room. The room is about 19 x 27 with 8' to 12' sloped ceilings. It has no treatments, glass patio doors, 8' open area on side to hallway and is just a typical 'family' room. The listening position is in 1/2 of the room, 10' to 12' from speakers/TV.
My budget is $750 to $1000 for the 3 speakers. I will be buying a sub (a Rythmik,SVS,HSU with a budget of $800 to $1000) 6 to 9 months down the road.

3 speakers for $750 puts you in the $250 each range. A good product line to look at is Infinity's Primus line, which are often on sale at very attractive prices at Frys and Amazon.
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I basically understand the thought of a sub taking away the bass extension advantage of a tower over a bookshelf. However, in my large room does a tower give back that advantage with output needed for a large room?

No.

One practical advantage of towers in situations with subwoofers is that they generally include their own speaker stand and don't have to be put on shelves.
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Also, does the lack of 'room treatments' negate the sound quality as the speaker price goes up. In other words, is there a price point, on speakers, where you might be throwing money away because your room is not 'ideal'?

Yes, its about $100 each because worthwhile room treatments can often be brought in for about the same amount of money. Speakers can sound more like the room they are placed in than they sound like themselves.

Room treatments aren't "One size fits all" solutions. Some rooms will benefit more, some less. A room with a lot of overstuffed furniture, deep pile rugs, thick fabric wall hangings, lots of odd-shaped hard objects and borken up walls will benefit less. A modern room with few furnishings, bare wood floor, flat smooth unbroken walls will benefit more.
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Old 04-05-2014, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by tommyncal View Post


By this do you mean speakers with larger diameter or more than 1 woofer? Or, are certain speaker components made to 'move more air'?

Greater total driver surface area is what I meant, which can be from larger individual drivers or the combo of multiple drivers. I suppose you could throw horns/waveguides in, as they are made to help the drivers couple to the air more effectively, but that's not really what I was referring to. What I probably should have said was simply this: in your large room you need speakers with plenty of dynamic range.
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Not at all. But it will never look like a dedicated home theater. Thanks for the suggestion and I'll do some research on such treatments.

I had narrowed my speaker selection down to a few brands, consisting of bookshelf and towers:
1) Arx-A2,A3,A5
2) Ascend Acoustics CMT-340's
3) EmpTek
4) HTD L3
Not sure if any of these would work well in my room. The HSU-hb1 speakers are certainly within my price range

A solid list of contenders, some real value heavy-weights.

I'm a firm believer in uninhibited dynamics, particularly in the 80-200 hz range, so considering the large-ish room, I would be leaning towards the Arx A5 or Emp Tek towers if I were you. Either of those, particularly after you add the sub for the lowest octaves, will provide a very punchy, lively sounding rig. If the budget is cast in stone, I would also consider getting the best pair of L/R mains and holding off on the center for a later time.

If you could dig up measurements of all the possibilities you may get (sort of) an idea of how they would interact with the room. The ones with the smoothest off axis response will tend to "play nice." Just keep in mind such measurements are only an indicator of quality design, but not necessarily a sound that will please you the most.

Diffusors can look very artistic and presentable, and absorption panels can be covered with art. Don't forget about plants, cushy furniture, and other clutter, it all helps.
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Highwood View Post

Greater total driver surface area is what I meant, which can be from larger individual drivers or the combo of multiple drivers. I suppose you could throw horns/waveguides in, as they are made to help the drivers couple to the air more effectively, but that's not really what I was referring to. What I probably should have said was simply this: in your large room you need speakers with plenty of dynamic range.
How about this?: JTR Single 8HT bookshelf vs Klipsch RF82ii tower.
The JTR has 1x 8 " driver. The Klipsch has 2x 8" drivers. The JTR can surely play loud (more than reference level) without breaking a sweat and gives huge dynamics which trounce the Klipsch tower. Any comment on this?
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Old 04-05-2014, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Skylinestar View Post

How about this?: JTR Single 8HT bookshelf vs Klipsch RF82ii tower.
The JTR has 1x 8 " driver. The Klipsch has 2x 8" drivers. The JTR can surely play loud (more than reference level) without breaking a sweat and gives huge dynamics which trounce the Klipsch tower. Any comment on this?

The JTR use a high output pro type co-ax, typically used in stage monitors and such, and are geared more for output than extension (they roll off pretty high and demand subs). Based on third party measurements, the Klipsch appear to be geared for extension, which means they're necessarily reined in, far less sensitive than specified, and probably much less than the JTR. So the Klipsch dig deeper, but will show distress at lower spls than the JTRs. The JTRs probably make one heck of a home theater speaker in a relatively small package. I'd love to hear them.
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Old 04-05-2014, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Highwood View Post

The JTR use a high output pro type co-ax, typically used in stage monitors and such, and are geared more for output than extension (they roll off pretty high and demand subs). Based on third party measurements, the Klipsch appear to be geared for extension, which means they're necessarily reined in, far less sensitive than specified, and probably much less than the JTR. So the Klipsch dig deeper, but will show distress at lower spls than the JTRs. The JTRs probably make one heck of a home theater speaker in a relatively small package. I'd love to hear them.
So...the notion of moving more air in a room is about SPL and dynamics, not driver surface area.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:31 AM
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So...the notion of moving more air in a room is about SPL and dynamics, not driver surface area.

Well, yes. There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but speakers all have to deal with basic realities like Hoffman's Law and cost related compromises to meet design goals. The JTR as a counterpoint to the Klipsch is illustrative of this. This is exactly what I was alluding to in my first post when I said that some "bookshelf" types may out perform some towers. Thanks for bringing up a specific, if extreme, case demonstrating this, and for helping clarify the point I tried (failed?) to make.

Unfortunately, the JTR Single 8's cost $1000 apiece, so none of this is really relevant to the OP's situation. Keep the exceptionally wide dynamic range speakers like JTRs out of the mix and my perhaps poorly expressed generalization may be more applicable.
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Skylinestar View Post

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Originally Posted by Wayne Highwood View Post

The JTR use a high output pro type co-ax, typically used in stage monitors and such, and are geared more for output than extension (they roll off pretty high and demand subs). Based on third party measurements, the Klipsch appear to be geared for extension, which means they're necessarily reined in, far less sensitive than specified, and probably much less than the JTR. So the Klipsch dig deeper, but will show distress at lower spls than the JTRs. The JTRs probably make one heck of a home theater speaker in a relatively small package. I'd love to hear them.
So...the notion of moving more air in a room is about SPL and dynamics, not driver surface area.


All true. however, the ability of a direct radiator to move air increases with the cube of its diameter. You can't break the connection between air moving and driver surface area. Small diameter drivers are prohibited by the laws of geometry from moving as much air as well-designed larger ones.

However there is also an inverse relationship between driver efficiency and cone displacement. There are few if any drivers with 30+ mm Xmax that are also > 95 dB/W efficient. Efficiency requires an efficient motor and making efficent motors that act over a long distance is difficult.
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