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Floorstanding speakers vs. bookshelves w/sub

Old 02-16-07, 02:57 PM
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Floorstanding speakers vs. bookshelves w/sub

We're finally getting ready to finish up the basement and set it up for a home theater. I have some speaker-related questions. First off this room (about 18' x 25') will be pretty much only for watching movies, no music if that matters. What is the advantage of having those floor speakers with multiple woofers (Polk Monitor 50 (2-6 1/2" woofers or 70's 4-6 1/2" woofers) as opposed to bookshelf speakers (like Polk Monitor RTI6's) and a good 12" sub? If I went with those floor speakers, would I still need a subwoofer (I want good bass)? In which case the floor standing would be wasted? My receiver puts out 140w per channel, will it blow up those bookshelf speakers? I don't see too many of them with ratings over 125w.

Thanks
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Old 02-16-07, 04:57 PM
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Better sound potentially via better seperation or higher range. But you want good bass you must have a sub. But nicer speakers are nicer speakers usually it varies of course between brand. I cant say exactly because Im not aware of the polks you mention. But with my setup Im using full range tower speakers, after coming from using high quality bookshelf(albiet larger) speakers and I enjoy it much more overall.

As for blowing them up, having more power than needed is usually a good thing. It keeps good clean power flowing to the speaker rather than it amps hurting to maintain power needed keeping the speakers from clipping, which is what actually does the damage to speakers.

Get what you can afford. I started out with bookshelf and as my needs/wants grew I moved them from fronts to rears and built around it keeping quality high. Now I'm loving my theater to no end.
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Old 02-16-07, 06:06 PM
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Without listenting to them it will be hard to tell but given that choice I would choose good quality bookshelves and a good quality sub over floor standing speakers anyday.
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Old 02-16-07, 06:12 PM
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Assuming your using for HT, I'd say you want a sub regardless. As far as what type of speaker, it depends on needs and budget. You might be amazed at the sound you can get out of some bookshelf speakers to tell you the truth.

In my case, I bought bookshelf originally to save some money. When I listened to them, I was amazed at the sound when paired with a sub. I had a little one at the time, and the bookshelf speakers on stands made me nervous with him running around. So, I took advantage of my dealers option to upgrade within a year (getting your full purchase price back) and went to floor standing. I will say that the floor standing do have a "fuller" sound. But I was by no means "disappointed" with the bookshelf.

I'd also recommend listening around if you haven't already. I listened to Polk at CC, and thought I had fallen in love. After reading newsgroups for a while (before the day of forums like this), I decided to listen around myself. Well, when I listened to Paradigm I forgot all about Polk. Speakers are very subjective, so listen around and pick what fits your taste and budget. I'll just stress not to overlook stereo shops. The stereotype is that they are extremely expensive, and that is just not true. Granted, they can be, but you can get better equipment at a stereo shop for the same price you'd pay for lesser brands at CC, Best Buy, Sears, etc.

Choose with your ears, but do yourself a favor and listen around...

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 02-18-07, 04:33 PM
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OK, thanks for the info guys. I currently have some 10 year-old Inifinity RS bookshelfs with a 12" JBL sub and it does sound pretty good, but I figured it was time to upgrade since the theater room will be twice as large now. I will investigate some local shops.

So just to clarify, I can run bookshelf speakers that are rated at 100 watts with my 140w receiver? Thanks
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Old 02-18-07, 05:56 PM
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This is why I have Klipsch. Horn speakers are designed for voice and Klipsch makes some of the best. TV and movies are still mostly voice. I love these speakers.

Music would be a different story.

And yes you can use those, the speaker rating and amp rating have nothing to do with each other.
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Old 02-18-07, 05:59 PM
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There are some compact (bookshelf) systems that sound better then floor standing speakers and there are some floor sounding speakers that are better then compact systems. There is no universal answer that one is always better then the other. There are some excellent speakers in both designs out there.

Yea, I'd tend to agree: for home theater usage I'd include a seperate powered (or passive sub on its own amp) in any system. For two channel music I prefer no stand alone sub, but movies are an entirely different matter.

Don't get tuned off by one design or another. For example, I really wanted to mount my speakers on the walls/ceiling so it would be easy to hide the wires and I wanted nothing on the floor. The are many, many, many excellent compact systems out there in every price range. Got the room? Want the look of larger speakers? Fine, go with the floor models.

Remember always listen to the quality of the speaker, don't worry about the size.

Yes, you can run your 100 watt bookshelf speakers on a 140w receiver. Running them is fine. How loud you want to go (how much power you want to pump them) is another matter. There are many, many variables. What kind of receiver is it? Is it rated at 140 watts total or per channel? If per channel, that is likely not a "true" rating (my 40 watt per channel H/K is much more powerful then my 85 watt per channel Sony POS). However, in most cases, it is not the watts you need to worry about, but the distortion. I have hooked up high quality hugely powerful mono block amps (Krell, Classe, etc) to very basic "budget speakers" that have low watt ratings. Since the amps are such high quality and low distoration, the speakers handled them fine at pretty high volumes. I have also done the opposite, hooking up cheap low power receivers to high quality speakers (maggies, KEF, B&W) only to have the speakers start to break down very quickly as the cheap receivers start to pump out some high distortion.
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Old 02-21-07, 09:49 AM
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Thanks again for the info. My reciever is a Denon 3806, but I was mistaken on the watts. I just went to the Denon site and it say 120w x 7 not 140.

I also woould like to go with floor speakers, because while the sub/bookshelves worked great for home theater, music souned a little weird. I'd imagine i's better to have music play through woofers on the l/r speakers themselves (at least from what I remember before I had an HT setup). I'm pretty sure the music modes of the Denon allow for direct signal to the L/R speakers, bypassing the sub. I could be wrong again. I'll have to play with it.
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Old 02-21-07, 10:00 AM
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Oh yeah, while I'm here, is using a real center channel speaker as the 6.1 rear center overkill? I have a pretty decent Infinity center channel that I'll be replacing with the Polk system and I hate to let that go to waste. I'm wondering if timber matching is that big of an issue for surround speakers as well?
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Old 02-21-07, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by ianholm
Oh yeah, while I'm here, is using a real center channel speaker as the 6.1 rear center overkill? I have a pretty decent Infinity center channel that I'll be replacing with the Polk system and I hate to let that go to waste. I'm wondering if timber matching is that big of an issue for surround speakers as well?
I'm not sure I understand the question.

Timber matching is important but for a rear center it is not going to matter much as long as it is a good quality speaker.
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Old 02-21-07, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian Shannon
I'm not sure I understand the question.

Timber matching is important but for a rear center it is not going to matter much as long as it is a good quality speaker.
I respectfully disagree. People way too often discount the importance of timbre matching in surrounds/rear speakers. The vast majority of the time (with non DTS-ES Discrete sources), the sound coming out of that rear surround will be matrixed out of the side surrounds. What that means is that basically if there is a blended sound between both the left and right surround, that will come from the rear surround (yes...this is simplified, but that's basically what's going on). There will be very subtle shifting/panning from the sides to the rear. If your rear doesn't match well with the sides, that is going to be very noticable and would bug the heck out of me. Why bother adding a rear surround if it's going to stick out during surround pans? In that case I'd rather stick with 5.1 until you can do 6.1 or better 7.1 right. Good 5.1 is better than bad 6.1 (or 7.1). Good 7.1 is outstanding.

To address the original question, I prefer the added fullness that a good floor-standing speaker can give, but as others have mentioned there are many outstanding bookshelf speakers out there too. Although if you are only going on price, don't forget to factor in a good set of stands when looking at the bookshelf price. That usually gets you close to the cost of a fairly equivalent floorstander. Go with what sounds best to you. Either way you will want to add a good sub, especially for HT. That will be true even if you get fronts with good sized, or even powered woofers. They will fill in the mid-bass well, but they won't cut it for the real deep stuff.

Also as others have mentioned, do yourself a favor and go check out a few "real" speaker shops instead of going with what the Circuit City or Best Buy monkeys tell you is best. I guarantee you can do better for the same money or less. Even better check out some of the internet direct brands. My personal favorite is Onix at av123.com, but I have also heard great things about Axiom, Asperion, and others. I think even SVS is making speakers now. All of these will offer a larger "bang-for-the-buck" than you can get through normal retail as they cut out the middle man. I realize this isn't for everyone, but I've been extremely happy with av123's products, prices, and customer service. Just another option for you.

Have fun with the search...that's half the fun! Good luck!
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Old 02-21-07, 12:22 PM
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I respectfully disagree. People way too often discount the importance of timbre matching in surrounds/rear speakers
Understood, let me clarify my point.

I have fully matching speakers in my theater. If one has the budget then I agree it is best to have matching speakers.

Now having said that the OP has a perfectly good working speaker that is going to be used for 6.1, rear center. IMHO there are few DVD's with a mix good enough (for most people) to notice a timber change across the rear sound stage.

Last edited by Brian Shannon; 02-21-07 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 02-26-07, 07:41 PM
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Thanks again for the info. I'll give a shot with the rear center channel and see how it goes. If it sounds crappy, I'll think about getting another matching Polk center speaker (though I'd rather not have to spend another $300, if I can avoid it)
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Old 02-27-07, 08:27 AM
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That's definately your best bet...try it and see if you like it. You have nothing to lose being you already have that speaker laying around.

Any reason you are stuck on those Polk's though? You could probably do better for the money, but if they make you happy, that is really all that matters. Have fun with it!
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Old 02-27-07, 10:46 AM
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Not really a speaker buff, but I know the Polk name and they have a pretty good reputation from what I gathered. Plus Circuit City has them (not sure if that's a good or bad thing ) I liked my Infinity's too, though. Trying to stay around the $1000 mark for a decent 5.1 or 6.1 setup, but it doesn't look like I'll be able to get a subwoofer with it in that range. I went into a Best Buy Magnolia and they were selling single floor speakers for over a grand I didn't even recognize the names.
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Old 02-27-07, 10:20 PM
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I think I can sum it up this way:
There's nothing wrong with Polk. They are solid and sound good. It's just that others in the same price range tend to be just as solid and sound better. So many discerning people have passed on them. Doesn't mean they are bad, they just seem to not get picked in comparisons.

I'm going to once again recommend SVS for a 5.1 set that will sound great for $999. And the sub, well......you'll like it. Can always return them if you don't like them. (but you'll like the sub, a lot)
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Old 02-28-07, 08:57 AM
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Like Spiky said, nothing really wrong with Polk...you can certainly do worse...but you can do better also. The funny/ironic thing is that the brands most non-audio people have "heard of" are usually not the best...even within the price range. Forget about the Circuit City's and Best Buy's of the world and look for a few "real" audio shops in your area. Or like I mentioned before, look at the internet direct guys for the real bargains. That $1000 will get you a very nice system either way, and I bet it will blow those Polk's away. Here are a couple ideas besides Spiky's good recommendation of SVS..

av123.com (Onix), with their new X-series line will be very hard to beat. They have three different 5.1 systems available for under $1000. Build quality and customer service are second to none. I wouldn't trade my Rockets for the world, and I've heard the x-series is amazing for the $$. They also have a huge, helpful community on their message board that would be happy to answer any questions, and help you find someone with speakers that you can listen to in your area.
http://www.av123.com/products_catego...akers&brand=55

If Internet direct makes you nervous, Paradigm is my pick for speakers you can buy from a store. Go to paradigm.com to find a local dealer (not sure where you are located!). You should be able to put together a system with 4 Atoms and a CC-170 center, plus be able to add a PDR10 sub for right around your $1000 range. A good dealer might even be able to give you enough of a discount to get you into a PDR12 sub instead.

Either of these systems should embarass the Polks quite easily, especially the Onix system.

Of course as I said before, the choice is yours and whatever makes you happy is the way to go! Just giving you some options before you lay your money down. Good luck!
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Old 03-01-07, 07:18 PM
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Yea, polk has a decent following, but I have never been a fan. I'd recommend the "usual suspects",

KEF
Celestion
Boston Acoustic
Maggies
Klipsh (again I'm not a fan, but big following)
Paradigm
B&W

I'd have to also throw in the SVS system as well based on reputation alone. Man, I'd like hear those....
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