Question Advantages/Disadvantages of Towers & sub vs Bookshelves & sub

BarKohba

Active Member
Hello

I was wondering, for whomever had experience with such setups - for someone who has a Bookshelf + sub setup, is there any advantage in upgrading to towers?

I'm talking about speakers from the same manufacturer and series - my case is about the Yamaha B750 bookshelves vs Yamaha F700 towers - but the question is more broad and is in general about a 2.1 system made up of bookshelves/towers + sub.

An adviser at my local hi-fi shop told me that it's actually better that I went with bookshelves, because towers have much more resonances and the air pushed by the sub will interact with the large cabinet, as opposed to good quality speaker stands on which the bookshelves stand, but at the same time, the tower in my case is a 3 way (some are even 4-5 way) vs a typical 2 way bookshelf, so that should also represent an audio quality advantage.

And after reading a bit online, there seem to be very different opinions. Just o be clear - the question is in general, same series/manufacture bookshelf vs tower (both coupled with a sub, or stereo subs) - irrespectible of room - assuming the same room well treated for audio. And, the scenario is for MUSIC, not movies.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
You can't really say ''irrespective of room'' as that can be the biggest influence of whether or have floorstanders or bookshelf speakers. Where exactly would those floorstanders be positioned, would they have room to breath as floorstanders simply do not like being pushed into corners.

The dimensions of the room, treated or not, may simply be overpowered by the sheer presence of the floorstanders. The room is all important.

Subwoofers can be brilliant for underpinning the bass on both type of speaker but a lot depends on how those speakers and the sub blend. Some subs, especially from sub experts such as REL, correctly set up can do a fantastic job. Other subs, those that are bundled in with speakers, just make a deep noise and the note can get lost and are poor for music.

Personally I don't feel the need for a sub with my three way bookshelf speakers, but I'm not a bass head. I'd rather hear the start and finish of the bass note rather than feel it in my chest.

A little bit more information and the room and proposed speaker position is needed before anyone can really give a definitive answer.
 

alextheg

Active Member
Just my two cents here , I'm no expert.

Bookshelves plus sub. The sub will be doing most of the bass reproduction .

Towers plus sub then make and model dependant , the sub underpins and blend with the towers. As Gibsy mentioned REL are great subs in this situation.

I have Kef Q900 floor standers with an REL T9. Now the Kef's are imposing speakers, big and they go down as low as 32hz. In my situation I could easily have ended up with muddy , overpowering bass. At times I did find it not quite right but after following the REL setup guides to the letter the result is spectacular.

It takes patience, the last piece of my setup puzzle was like an epiphany. Literally pulled the sub 3" out of the corner of the room and rotated it anti clockwise a few degrees and boom......... Everything for into place .

The one suggestion I'd make if going bookshelves plus sub is to use a sub with high level connections. REL are excellent , though there are others. With the high level connection it simply allows you to dial in and integrate with the speakers .

I recently had my HF units replaced on my Kef's and in the interim I was using my Monitor Audio BX2's with my REL and the result was pretty good too be fair but simply doesn't compare to Kef's plus sub.

To note , my room is dry lined and rectangular . 5m X 4m.
 

BarKohba

Active Member
Just my two cents here , I'm no expert.

Bookshelves plus sub. The sub will be doing most of the bass reproduction .

Towers plus sub then make and model dependant , the sub underpins and blend with the towers. As Gibsy mentioned REL are great subs in this situation.

I have Kef Q900 floor standers with an REL T9. Now the Kef's are imposing speakers, big and they go down as low as 32hz. In my situation I could easily have ended up with muddy , overpowering bass. At times I did find it not quite right but after following the REL setup guides to the letter the result is spectacular.

It takes patience, the last piece of my setup puzzle was like an epiphany. Literally pulled the sub 3" out of the corner of the room and rotated it anti clockwise a few degrees and boom......... Everything for into place .

The one suggestion I'd make if going bookshelves plus sub is to use a sub with high level connections. REL are excellent , though there are others. With the high level connection it simply allows you to dial in and integrate with the speakers .

I recently had my HF units replaced on my Kef's and in the interim I was using my Monitor Audio BX2's with my REL and the result was pretty good too be fair but simply doesn't compare to Kef's plus sub.

To note , my room is dry lined and rectangular . 5m X 4m.
I dont know what high connections are, but I keep my Yamaha SW700 sub connected via the LFE coaxial connection to the receiver, and the receiver is responsible for all the crossover and bass management (through YPAO, yamaha's room correction dsp).

I am absolutely sure you had a very different result with the monitor audio bookshelves vs the kef towers but, as my premise stated, i wonder how different it would have been to the q900 equivalent series bookshelves - q350 i assume.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
An adviser at my local hi-fi shop told me that it's actually better that I went with bookshelves, because towers have much more resonances
I'd agree. It's probably easier (and cheaper) to manufacture a small, bookshelf speaker with little cabinet resonance than it is to manufacture a larger non-resonant cabinet. Some manufacturers, such as Q Acoustics Concept 500, seem to have managed to manufacture large speakers with very low cabinet colourations - but the cost!

A 2.1 (or 2.2) system using bookshelf sized speakers is usually more room-versatile than a 2.1 or 2.2 setup employing floorstanding speakers because floorstanders won't often sound good in a small room - unless bass management, in the form of EQ, is used - whereas bookshelf + one or two subs should sound good in both small and large rooms (depending on power handling capabilities).
 

alextheg

Active Member
I dont know what high connections are, but I keep my Yamaha SW700 sub connected via the LFE coaxial connection to the receiver, and the receiver is responsible for all the crossover and bass management (through YPAO, yamaha's room correction dsp).

I am absolutely sure you had a very different result with the monitor audio bookshelves vs the kef towers but, as my premise stated, i wonder how different it would have been to the q900 equivalent series bookshelves - q350 i assume.
To elaborate.....
As an example. My REL connects to the receiver via LFE , this will mainly come in to play for content such as movies with a .1 track encoded into it. The bass management of the receiver may also send low frequency through LFE.

The beauty of high level inputs is that they are wires connected from the sub to your main speakers . In this way the sub receives the same signal as the main speakers . That signal is then dealt with /dialed in using crossover and gain control to achieve a nicely blended sound between the sub and mains. Underpinning and enriching the low frequency extension of your main speakers.

As to the Q300's , I did demo then and they were fairly good but didn't deliver the impact it require as I am into movies and music. The floor standing 900's have 1 active 8" bass driver with 2 passive bass radiators so compared the the 1 bass driver of the Q300 there was no contest . The amount of air that the Q300's can move is a fraction of what the 900"s can move.

I guess it boils down to tastes, room size and what your system use comprises. A highly debatable subject with no definitive answer I suspect.
 

alextheg

Active Member
Read your original post once more .

To reiterate .Floor standing speakers , correctly dialed in , aka tuned in correctly with a decent sub will undoubtedly sound superior to bookshelves plus sub in a musical situation. Inclusively , using speakers from the same range .

Without doing a side by side demo it will be hard to grasp but rest assured in a half decent room , as long as the floor standers have room to breathe the difference in presence will be night and day .
 

lindsayt

Active Member
It's all ifs and buts. It all depends which towers and which bokshelves we're taliking about. It can also depend on the room and the possible speaker placement withing that room.

Ignore anything and everything that your local hi-fi dealer says about hi-fi. Use your ears and your music to decide what's what when it comes to hi-fi. And keep an open mind.

The vast majority of speakers can be improved by removing the wadding inside them and lining the inside walls with metal plates.

I for one think it's daft restricting speaker choices to same maker and same series. Some manufacturers are good at bookshelves, some are good at floorstanders or large speakers. Most are poor to mediocre at every speaker they make. I'm struggling to think of a manufacturer that is good at bookshelves and floor-standers.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
There are advantages to Floorstanding and Sub, assuming the room can handle the speakers.

To illustrate in my case, I have Diamond 9.6 which are 3.5-way. In a system with full Bass Management, low bass, below 80hz is going to be handled by the Sub. But above 80hz my speakers still have TWO 8" Bass Drivers playing up to 150hz, where it switches to 1x8" Bass Drive. Then to Midrange and Tweeter.

If you take a Bookshelf with the same Sub Crossover, say a 6.5" (165mm) Bookshelf, and from 80hz up to about 2.5khz, everything is handled by a single 6.5" driver.

Clearly between 80hz and 150hz, 2x8" beat 1x6.5", and while the 6.5" will have to do Bass, Mid-Bass, and Mid-Range, in my system each frequency range has its own dedicated driver (Low-Bassx2, Mid-Bassx1, Mid-Range, Tweeter).

Even if my system were 2x6.5" per speakers, the point is still the same, more drivers pushing air just above the crossover frequency, and a dedicated driver to each frequency range.

But my room is 16ft wide and 35ft long (open floorplan), I've got plenty of room for those speakers to unload into. A 35 foot room is long enough to contain an entire 30hz wave, or a 15hz half-wave.

So, yes, there are advantages to Floorstanding Speakers even with a Sub. But really you have to fit the system to the room. In theory, you could put these speakers in a 10ft x 10ft Bedroom, I just don't think it will work very well though -

Grande Utopia EM Evo - Focal

So, you can do anything, but that just because you can do it doesn't mean you should. You really can't escape the room you are in, and you have to best match the system to that room.

Just a few thoughts.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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alextheg

Active Member
@BlueWizard , only thing preventing me from getting the Utopia's is the sixty five grand or so . No sub required with those beauties
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
@BlueWizard , only thing preventing me from getting the Utopia's is the sixty five grand or so . No sub required with those beauties
...and having a room big enough to do them justice, I suspect.

I would have to be beyond Win-The-Lottery Rich to be able to handle these speakers.

Though, should I happen to be that rich, I would certainly like a pair.

Though of course the point was that the room has to reasonably fit the speakers, and the speakers have to reasonably fit the room.

Steve/bluewizard
 

lindsayt

Active Member
At last years Kegworth Hi-fi show, Steve 57 exhibited his DIY'd 4 way speakers that featured an 18" bass driver and a 12" full range driver. This was in a hotel bedroom.

They sounded really good in that room.
I've also heard them in 2 huge rooms where they sounded world class.

He will be exhibiting these speakers again at the 2019 Kegworth show on 17th March. His room will be worth visiting for anyone wondering if very large floor standing speakers can work well in a small room.
 

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