Originally Posted by Selden Ball
Having full-range towers means that you have the option of not using the subwoofer while listening to music. Towers often have had more effort put into their design in order to produce low-distortion audio than has been put into most bookshelf speakers. (There are exceptions, of course.)
I listen to a lot of music with heavy low end, so I don't really foresee listening to music without the sub. On the bookshelf/tower thing, one of the interesting things about Elac is that they have bookshelf and tower versions of essentially the same speakers, so you can really do apples-to-apples comparisons. What makes it confusing is when you have several options in a similar price range, i.e. the Debut F5 towers at around $560/pair against the Uni-Fi UB5 bookshelf pair at $500, and now the Uni-Fi UF5s on sale for $700/pair.
The more low frequency audio you can redirect to a subwoofer (i.e. the higher the crossover frequency), the less power is required from the receiver.
I've also done some forum research on this, and there doesn't seem to be a consensus on the "best" place to cross the mains to the sub, which also makes it tricky to decide whether I "need" towers or not. I currently have towers, so I guess I was leaning that way.
Money is best spent on high quality speakers. Don't buy them just because they're on sale. Check out the technical reviews showing their sonic qualities compared to others in the same price range. It's shocking how often the frequency response of some very high priced speakers looks just like a rugged mountain range.
I'm admittedly only an aspiring audiophile--when it comes to speakers that I can't audition in person, I rely more on written reviews than more technical graphs, etc. I was initially drawn to the Elac stuff because it seemed like a nice stepping stone price-wise between entry level stuff and super-high-end. The Uni-Fis on sale were highly rated at $1k/pair, so I figure they've gotta be good at $700.
Anyway, thanks for all the info--I think I've more or less decided that the Uni-Fi will require an AVR upgrade and I'm not sure if I want to invest on that yet. Going forward, I just have to decide if I want to get speakers that will better fit my AVR, or wait until I am
ready to upgrade my AVR before doing anything about the speakers.