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  1. #1

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    Default Why buy tower/floor standing speakers?

    I read an article (http://forum.ecoustics.com/bbs/messa...79/128214.html) where the author suggests to set full range tower speakers as "small" instead of "large" in your receiver, so that low frequencies are more appropriately taken care of by a dedicated sub woofer and supposedly increasing the mid range clarity of the main speakers. If one does not have or want to buy a subwoofer then it makes sense to buy tower speakers to at least get some decent bass response.

    1. But if one already has a good sub woofer, then what is the advantage of the extra drivers in a tower speaker? (keeping aesthetics and personal preference aside).

    2. If tower speakers with relatively good lower response are set as "small" in a receiver to cut off low frequencies, then what happens to the extra drivers? Are they still adding to the sound quality or do they not function at all?

    Hope this doesn't sound stupid , but will appreciate your comments.

  2. #2

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    Well, it's the kind of questions you can answer yourself after you tried a good pair of floor standing speakers first and add a good subwoofer later to it. It's hard to give you the experience in plain words and you'll not get any feelings in the words. So, it's self explanatory once you tried it. Tower Speakers Have Advantages over small speakers in many ways but also disadvantages due to their size and weight and room size requirements for them to play openly (call breathing room).

    But anyway, I'll try to answer your questions even though I may not get it right.

    1. Keeping Aesthetics and Personal Preferences Aside, Music listening is more enjoyable with Tower Speakers Playing the entire frequency of human hearing range (20Hz-20KHz) than the most of small speakers + subwoofer combined. It's due to the phasing issues of how speakers are arranged and how the drivers interact in the towers. Also, placement / in room position of the small speakers plus the subwoofer is likely to be an issue to get the music sounds right. There are lots of good small bookshelf and sub combination due to Engineering Advances but in general, the cost of these systems (not BOSE or any HTIB solutions you see in BB or CC) is very similar to the cost of the good tower speakers.

    2. If tower speakers are use as "Small" in your AVR setting, you are effectively wasting the capability of your tower speakers. The lower bass driver will only plays to the frequency of down to say 50-80Hz (or even goes as high as 120Hz) if you use the Small Speaker Setting. Any frequency below your crossover frequency setting in your AVR will be sent to the Subwoofer and the speakers (tower or bookshelves) will only play the frequency above the cutoff frequency. It's very likely that the woofers (bass drivers) in your tower will still be in use even at this kind of situation but very light duty (depending on the cutoff frequency) and most of the bass will be coming out from your subwoofer (the higher the frequency you set in your AVR, the more bass will be sent to the subwoofer and the less bass from your tower).
    Last edited by megasat16; 02-13-2009 at 01:45 PM.
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  3. #3

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    The primary argument that I agree with for small speakers and subwoofer setup is that you can buy better components in a smaller box. The large floorstanding speaker with the same components will cost more.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdigi View Post
    I read an article (http://forum.ecoustics.com/bbs/messa...79/128214.html) where the author suggests to set full range tower speakers as "small" instead of "large" in your receiver, so that low frequencies are more appropriately taken care of by a dedicated sub woofer and supposedly increasing the mid range clarity of the main speakers. If one does not have or want to buy a subwoofer then it makes sense to buy tower speakers to at least get some decent bass response.

    1. But if one already has a good sub woofer, then what is the advantage of the extra drivers in a tower speaker? (keeping aesthetics and personal preference aside).

    2. If tower speakers with relatively good lower response are set as "small" in a receiver to cut off low frequencies, then what happens to the extra drivers? Are they still adding to the sound quality or do they not function at all?

    Hope this doesn't sound stupid , but will appreciate your comments.

    It is not a stupid question -and there are lots of posts here and on other forums that discuss this.

    Also - it is a kind of misnomer to think of the terms "large" and "small' as being applied to the size of the speaker drivers themselves. It has more to do with the relative bass capability of the speakers being used.

    Maybe a better term should have been bass control: high or low?

    And this really did not become such an issue before HT and bass management features were offered with such variety and control as you see now on AVRs.

    The concern and issue seems to be centered on bass management and performance for HT movies that have specific Low Frequency Effects (LFE) - like explosions that are demanding on avr power supplies and speakers to reproduce the frequencies and volumes.

    The typical 'warnings' and 'rules' given are that such LFE effects can cause avr's to be overdriven into distortion, that such low frequencies can not be properly reproduced faithfully or at the volumes demanded by HT scenarios and either result in driver distortion or even damage.

    And to some extent this may be true for HT speaker configurations made up of small/tiny satellite drivers driven by enemic avr amplifiers.

    But for avrs with sizable amps and decent sized speakers with respectable performance - and this is just my opinion - the end user should really experiment to see what sounds best to them.

    The issue obviously must be in regards to HT applications that use a sub along with the main speakers and the others making up the 5.1 or 7.1 configuration.

    If you don't have a sub - the whole issue of large and small is meaningless as you have to set fronts (bookshelves or towers) to large for bass management.

    If you do have a sub - the typical argument goes something like this -even for towers:
    "the sub is specifically designed to handle the demands of LFE effects and volumes of HT movies"
    "even towers can not accurately reproduce these types of signals"
    "it is very hard to integrate subs and towers correctly for accurate levels so it is best to set towers to 'small' "
    "LFE effects demand lots of power from the avr amp, so it is better to have ONLY the sub handle these and 'relieve' the avr from this"

    And, in general, I tend to view this advice like the Pirate's Code: They aren't really 'rules', more like...guidelines....arrrrrrr....:D

    Do what sounds best for you and your rig.

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  5. #5

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    Personally, I think all of Polk towers have great midrange and upper bass response. In fact, the use of a configuration of multiple midrange/upper bass speakers has historically been one of Polk's ingredients to a great signature sound. For example, having between two and four 6.5" or 5.25" speakers in one tower allows the speaker to effortlessly handle loads of power in the midrange to upper bass, meanwhile yielding a richness to vocals, piano, and string instruments that is harder to achieve with a smaller design such as 2 way speakers often used for 5.1 and 7.1.

    When I began to integrate my Polk floorstanders (I have two Polk rigs - in one rig each tower consists of four 5.25" speakers and in the other rig, each tower is comprised of four 6.5" speakers) with a subwoofer to enhance the lower bass, what I did was NOT to totally eliminate the upper bass from my Polks. The reason being is that the upper range of bass (70 Hz to 250 Hz) is not as accurately reproduced by a subwoofer. For example, try running your sub by itself (temporarily turning off the mains) and you will see what I mean. So actually, I use the floorstanders with full signal, but about 6 to 10 dB lower bass response. Then I adjust the sub to increase the bass signal.

    That's just me -- note I'm using 2.1 and not 5.1 and don't have a complicated AVR or SVS unit to mix the speakers. But I get GREAT sound from the arrangement I have with CD music.
    Last edited by rru2s; 02-13-2009 at 02:58 PM.

  6. #6

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    OK, my avr lets me set speakers to large/small, crossover point, etc. It also allows me to send LFE to fronts only, sub only or both. If the crossover is set to 80, fronts are set to small why do I hear a difference between the LFE avr settings? I would have thought that all LFE would be sent to the sub regardless due to the speaker size at small and the crossover at 80?

  7. #7

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    I use my main speakers (Klipsch RF-83s) with the crossover set at 40 hz so only the lowest notes go to my sub. My processor lets me set a separate crossover for the center/surround speakers (RC-64/RS-62), so those are usually set to 60 or even 80 hz to align with the lower limit of those speakers (@ 57 hz).
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by rru2s View Post
    Personally, I think all of Polk towers have great midrange and upper bass response. In fact, the use of a configuration of multiple midrange/upper bass speakers has historically been one of Polk's ingredients to a great signature sound. For example, having between two and four 6.5" or 5.25" speakers in one tower allows the speaker to effortlessly handle loads of power in the midrange to upper bass, meanwhile yielding a richness to vocals, piano, and string instruments that is harder to achieve with a smaller design such as 2 way speakers often used for 5.1 and 7.1.

    When I began to integrate my Polk floorstanders (I have two Polk rigs - in one rig each tower consists of four 5.25" speakers and in the other rig, each tower is comprised of four 6.5" speakers) with a subwoofer to enhance the lower bass, what I did was NOT to totally eliminate the upper bass from my Polks. The reason being is that the upper range of bass (70 Hz to 250 Hz) is not as accurately reproduced by a subwoofer. For example, try running your sub by itself (temporarily turning off the mains) and you will see what I mean. So actually, I use the floorstanders with full signal, but about 6 to 10 dB lower bass response. Then I adjust the sub to increase the bass signal.

    That's just me -- note I'm using 2.1 and not 5.1 and don't have a complicated AVR or SVS unit to mix the speakers. But I get GREAT sound from the arrangement I have with CD music.
    Funny that you should mention that because I've been experimenting myself with different bass management settings in my avr and have done some comparisons with my fronts = small (bass=sub only) and fronts=large (bass=both, sub and fronts) for music.

    And for music, I'm noticing the same thing you commented on - that the upper mid bass using my Polk RTiA3s sounds better with them set to large.

    I really like my sub and it does properly round out the deep/low bass for music - but, for me, for music, I like the Fronts=Large to get that extra clarity in the upper bass from RTiA3s and the sub pumping out the rounded bottom end.

    For movies - I do have a configuration saved that I can recall from my avr where Fronts=Small - so that when I turn up my rig to Ref levels, only the sub is tasked for the LFE.

    More than one way to skin a cat...as the saying goes... :p

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  9. #9

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    In my mind a smaller speaker (6"-8") will repond faster than a large speaker (10" - 15"). So, with most content I want the great midrange to upper low end a floor stander provides with great response time for music and the big deep low end bass for action etc. where response time doesn't matter as much coming from a sub. That's why I use subs with my RTiA7's when in AVR mode and no subs when in two channel listening mode. The RTiA7's do a great job at very controlled bass for music listening and they will go down very low when needed. The also sound best set to large with my AVR.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdigi View Post
    I read an article (http://forum.ecoustics.com/bbs/messa...79/128214.html) where the author suggests to set full range tower speakers as "small" instead of "large" in your receiver, so that low frequencies are more appropriately taken care of by a dedicated sub woofer and supposedly increasing the mid range clarity of the main speakers. If one does not have or want to buy a subwoofer then it makes sense to buy tower speakers to at least get some decent bass response.

    1. But if one already has a good sub woofer, then what is the advantage of the extra drivers in a tower speaker? (keeping aesthetics and personal preference aside).

    2. If tower speakers with relatively good lower response are set as "small" in a receiver to cut off low frequencies, then what happens to the extra drivers? Are they still adding to the sound quality or do they not function at all?

    Hope this doesn't sound stupid , but will appreciate your comments.

    On small vs. large and the point of tower speakers with overwhelming recommendations online for settings to small. The debate is ongoing on multiple forums and I finally found the solution for myself while greatly improving the sound by making equalizer adjustments via AVR.

    For the last 8 years, I have been using RTi10 front towers with CSi3 as a centre and FXi3 as rears in 5.1 set up. Upgraded to Klipsch SW-110 powered subwoofer from Polk's PSW10 just 3 months ago. Pioneer AVR's (1015 in the past and 1025 currently) with ~80 RMS per channel.

    Until a month ago I had not been very impressed with the sound either for music or for movies even though I had been reading great reviews for both polk's and pioneer AVR's prior to buying them. Sound was ok, but flat to my taste. The reviews raved about great bass, etc. but I didn't feel any "greatness" of bass of RTi10. I had just accepted it and thought this is the way the system should sound. I read up about "must set speakers to small or forget about bass.." and so on. Struggled with accepting this as having towers becomes useless. Continued playing around with MCACC, small with 80 crossover, large with 80 crossover, etc. Then bi-amped RTi10 with no apparent difference. No bass on non-5.1 signal was frustrating. Overall issue seemed like dead-end. ...until 1 month ago I simply changed the equalizer!

    After 8 years of not having what I believe the full benefit of RTi10 I finally get what I believe a much better sound by simply changing the equalizer settings manually after MCACC auto calibration by Pioneer AVR. I set speakers to large (actually I just kept MCACC settings to large via auto calibration) then manually changed crossover from 80Hz to 50Hz and increased speaker frequencies at 63Hz and 125Hz via manual equalizer adjustment on AVR and here came the bass I didn't know RTi10 could produce. Now I can easily justify having bought RTi10 that take up so much room while before I thought that I didn't share all the hype while still being a proud owner:).

    Now whether it is music or non 5.1 TV signal, everything sounds so much better. With Pioneers' allowing only one crossover point (50Hz in my current set up) for all channels, I realize I loose a bit of sound from my center and rears that could effectively produce 60Hz up according to the specs, but I am ok with this loss.

    Moreover, being afraid of changing MCACC auto calibration by Pioneer AVR for so long was a mistake in my opinion. I like the sound I have right now so much more that the idea of not changing the "perfect" auto-calibration for the sake of truly auto-calibration itself seems very overrated to me now.
    To top it off, I changed AVR sub settings from "yes" to "plus" that sends bass to both speakers and sub and I love it even more.

    After hours of reading about the settings, calibrating then reading again and ultimately missing out on taking full advantage of having great speakers for 8 years I just wanted to share my experience and simple findings above to save some of your time and frustration.

    Again, if you have tower speakers, I would only set them to large, crank up the bass using equalizer and set the crossover on AVR as low as the speakers specs allow. This will answer the question what is the point of having tower speakers in 5.1 set up.
    Last edited by master1917; 02-27-2014 at 04:08 AM.

  11. #11

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    I have a lot of vertical space in my home, that's why I have towers.
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  12. #12

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    I don't like the looks of small speakers on stands.

  13. #13

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    There's no replacement for displacement.

    ... or, as Col. Paul Wilbur Klipsch put it:

    There is no such thing as a miniature thirty-two foot* wavelength
    :-)

    * The fundamental frequency of a 32-foot organ pipe (which may be what was meant in the Klipsch quote) is 16.4 Hz (C four octaves below middle C); this is the largest pipe (un)commonly found on BIG pipe organs.

    http://images.klipsch.com/Brochure_7...3426928000.pdf

    EDIT: The frequency of a 32 foot wave is about 35 Hz, which is about the frequency of the fifth key on a piano (which is the C-sharp a half-step above the C three octaves below middle C)
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 02-27-2014 at 07:16 PM.
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  14. #14

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    I love it when these old (4 years in this case) threads get bumped. It took me a minute to realize this was one of them. lol...
    "Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music." ~ Ronald Reagan

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  15. #15

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    I'd never have known...

    ne'ermind; I enjoyed quoting PWK ;-)
    all the best,
    mrh

  16. #16

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    Nothing like necroing a 4 year old thread.
    Absolute corruption empowers absolutely.

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  17. #17

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    Main point why I like tower speaker is that I don't like (almost hate) stands.
    Plus all the positive points mentioned above regarding sound come as extra.

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  18. #18

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    This debate will probably die away as soon as all our WALLS become sound membranes. No visible displacement, no stands needed. lol

    It's coming. And think about what it will do to all you planar and electrostatic boys and girls, when building manufacturing and computer design make it all pretty darned cheap?

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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    This debate will probably die away as soon as all our WALLS become sound membranes...
    Hehe... true but I'm pretty sure we'll die long before that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdigi View Post
    ....But if one already has a good sub woofer, then what is the advantage of the extra drivers in a tower speaker?.....
    Depending on the design of a speaker, a lot. Coherency, realism, frequency range extension abilities, height perception, impact, the greater chance of the loss of one note bass [even with a sub], in some cases...imaging, texture, dynamics are but a few of the attributes. In layman's terms to these ears? Better sound with the right speaker choice. Even then, still wouldn't discount the use of a great sub.

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    "The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction". - Kenneth Swauger

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    On a serious note, I started a thread on similar topic and there is a lot of discussion.
    Pay attention to posts where it is mentioned that even if a bookshelf and a tower have exact same drivers, the towers will perform better due to bigger volume and weight that allows them to produce cleaner highs/mids and lower bass.
    Oh and ignore beating dead horse comments as this thread does have quite a few good posts.

    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=547602

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    I'll pop a vote in for towers as my preference, I like speakers big and bold. my RTiA7s are one notch from a A9 but still imposing and sound fantastic. Although the wee lil M5s in the bedroom aren't too bad for being considered a bookie.
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    Towers just look way more Kick ash ! Wife's have a lot to do with Bose being so successful with the itty bitty speakers hidden here and there. With little kids. Towers can take more bumps that small speakers on stands. All that being said. I really enjoyed the new LSM bookshelf speakers when I auditioned them . Good luck. D

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    Budget was the main concern in me getting bookies. Since my room is relatively small and the spousal concerns were over budget not appearance I wanted to get the best quality components that my dollar could buy. When I look at towers that are in the same price range as my little Totems I know they won't compete. In a small room I think bookshelves and a sub are a no brainer for those on a budget. Would I take a nice pair of Totem Forests in my room? Absofruitly!

    Also, who doesn't like the look of a bunch of midbass drivers staring you in the face?
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    For MOVIES-HOME THEATER, you need a big SUB anyway! For MUSIC (except electronic,house) NO!(tower are the best, rarely frequency go under 35-40HZ) ... Don't use any speakers set to "large" and sub set to "NO" when you watch a movie like "Battle LA, Olympus has fallen, TWOTW, Star-treck, The flight o.the Phoenix" ALL this movies show on my DEQ2496 frequency way under 20HZ (at peak) ...For movies, towers are useless, it's for that POLK made "sat-on-sub" RT-3000 and SRT.

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    To be clear!... I prefer to have (7) LSIM 703 and (7) JL audio GOTHAM G-213.....Than (7) JBL EVEREST!!!!!!!!!!!!!...... For movies!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ALSATIAN in USA View Post
    For MOVIES-HOME THEATER, you need a big SUB anyway! For MUSIC (except electronic,house) NO!(tower are the best, rarely frequency go under 35-40HZ) ... Don't use any speakers set to "large" and sub set to "NO" when you watch a movie like "Battle LA, Olympus has fallen, TWOTW, Star-treck, The flight o.the Phoenix" ALL this movies show on my DEQ2496 frequency way under 20HZ (at peak) ...For movies, towers are useless, it's for that POLK made "sat-on-sub" RT-3000 and SRT.
    Pure baloney. All my towers are set to large, and I own most of your examples. I rarely turn my sub on, but that is because I am not a bass-hole. Also, my HT is also my spare stereo, and surround sound system.

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    BLUEFOX !... You watch MOVIES mostly without SUB??? Movie is not music!.. In action, you miss a lot!... Of course if you watch love story like "pride&Prejudice"!

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    I run mine without a sub off 28 watts of stereo power. Don't think that every system needs a sub, because it doesn't.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Douglas IC's, AQ cv-8 SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSkip View Post
    I run mine without a sub off 28 watts of stereo power. Don't think that every system needs a sub, because it doesn't.
    C'mon, he's using CAPS. He must know what he's talking about. Personally I use a sub but a recent visit to another Polkies abode running 4 A9's convinced me it wasn't absolutely necessary.
    HT/Main- Panny 50" G10 Plasma, Pioneer Elite VSX01 AVR, Panny DMP-BD60 BDP, Polk LS90 mains, CS350LS center, LS/fx side surrounds, LS50 surround backs, SVS 25-31PC+ sub, Harmony One

    Office Rig- Marantz 2252B, Sony CDP-C8ESD CDP, Kenwood KD2070 TT, Polk RTA 12B's

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