Originally Posted by Nethawk
Since many/most of us deploy a subwoofer anyway, is the decision always about audible quality or are aesthetics also a contributing factor? Leaving out spaces where towers simply cannot fit, in environs where they do I've always deferred to towers for added dynamic range but also, when it's all said and done a bookshelf on stand takes the same floor space as a tower, often with less stability.
I will admit that previously this rule of thumb was followed due to a chain of mediocre subs and inadequate integration. Now that I've experienced better subs and speakers I'd likely focus on best quality midrange and treble regardless of the cabinet.
I do agree, and have also gone the bookshelf + sub route to aim for higher sound quality in a speaker (above the bass range) within my budget constraints... since I simply don't use my system in a way that demands high dynamics, SPL, and bass output from the speakers.
I was simply pointing out the counter argument - for some, a tower may make more sense... and even if a sub is used, the tradeoffs of going tower vs. bookshelf (when working in a specific price range) need to be considered based on one's intended use.