Hifi bookshelf towers or low-fi? confused

as the title says im confused between floor standing speakers and bookshelf speakers. What would u guys suggest? I want to have something that can provide natural flat sound. Thanks!

Standmounts can be great, so can floorstanders. It depends on circumstances, amp, room, budget…

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Bookshelf speakers need a stand to get them at the right height. Without them and placed just on the floor, you could say that’s low- fi. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Although some larger ones are designed without the need for a stand.

Bookshelf speakers are a misnomer. If you drop a four figure sum on a small loudspeaker that will fit on a bookshelf you are wasting your money as the potentail performance will just not be there!
So bookshelf really equals standmount. Nearly all speakers are designed to be some distance away from corners and walls.
Standmounts can image better than floorstanders. Often easier to place. Less bass and scale. Depends on room size. Often cheaper.
Demo at dealer then one at home.
Room interface. Hardest part to get right.


Had shedloads of floorstanders including martin logan summit x , verity audio , focal , and many more but right now i just love a smallish pair of Tannoys from their legacy range called tannoy eaton. BIG sound from these speakers , incredible imaging , very natural sound and easy to place. been here a year and a half now. most impressed

P1060719 by , on Flickr

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Like it’s been said, it all depends on your room, your gear, your aesthetics, what’s available if you go via a dealer, and mostly what your ears like and wallet can afford.

I went to the dealers last week fully intending to trade my Rega floor standers for another pair of floor standers, but ended up walking out with a pair of half price, demo bookshelf Audio Physic Compact Classics (and some heavy duty stands) because the sound and look blew away the floor stander choices in my budget range that fit my room/amp etc needs.

So best to find a dealer that you can listen to speakers at. Mine also deals heavily in used gear, and while their prices tend to be more than one could find in private sales, they also give generous trade up deals. Buying and selling speakers is a pain so this is a great way to go.

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Only got my tannoys by chance , I had some harb shl5plus I couldn’t get on with as too near walls . The dealer was bringing up a massive amp for me to try and they were in his boot!! The rest is history!

The thing to really understand is that “bookshelf speakers” to have the best sq will not be put in a bookshelf but rather on appropriate stands. It does make (in general) it easier to get proper height of tweeter, it also (probably) smaller cabinet volume (possibly less bass). It’s all trade-offs , even if unlimited funds. Ultimately it comes down to Your preferred sounds and how your choice interacts with the room. I’ve found (and still plenty of exceptions) that a decent size (I have Harbeth M30.1) has enough versatility to create enough bass, be placed at what may not be ideal placement - but close enough so I’m satisfied. Much easier to be placed , even with a stand than a floorstander. It is all a matter of what works in an individual room.

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So true , get the tweeter height right and it will reward you. actually i made my stands but i have them on isolation suspension that is used in the pro audio world . I am not allowed to mention the make here though

Being confused is a vital part of this hifi hobby.
There are several ways to get through this confusion.
Spending time hanging out in hifi shops. Not so easy nowadays…
Spending a lot of money.
Spending a lot of time reading and researching. Easy these day with the net.
Make friends with those with big fancy hifi’s
Learn to follow your own ears… this is probably the most hardest and requires years of abuse/understanding.
Best advice universally given is don’t hold too tight to the things you have learnt yourself along the way later. As this will be contested and with reason.

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My “custom” stands are a pair of folding iron bookcase / plant stands from the container store,silicone kitchen mats on the top shelf and then the speakers. Fwiw - I couldn’t hear any difference when I filled the lower shelves with books. Perfect height, not much resonance/vibration from the stands and more space for books.

I would also say there is a degree of performance variation… stand-mount speakers tend to image better than many floor mounts, and standmount are more suited for near field listening.
Floor standers have the ability to often be more efficient, and provide very low bass in larger rooms… so it really does depend on your listening environment.
Now for my subjective comment, I have found a lot of mediocre floor mount speakers in my listening experience, where as the quality of standmounts tends to be more consistent… I put this down to standmounts have possibly less room interaction, or even perhaps less case colouration.

The downside, yes also a big positive in my opinion, a standmount can be mechanically optimised for its environment by tuning it with an appropriate stand. The options for doing this on a floor mount are very limited to none existent.

And yes if you haven’t worked it out I am a standmount fan and have used them for the last 20 years, when I moved from floormounts… I haven’t looked back


Just re-reading the comments and my own use over the years, i just came up with a new theory. If you have a large enough room and both placement and the room can be optimized , floor standing would probably offer an advantage. For those of us (most people) who have both space limitations and compromised rooms it is likely that stand-mounts can be made to interact both more easily and better than (most) floorstanders. (There’s always exceptions).

Indeed, it depends on how you want to listen… in my experience if you want near field then standmounts, for large room filling sound then floor standers…

Many moons ago when I was undertaking studio engineering with a large national broadcaster, the studios were large rooms with professional stand mounts for near field … the performance was incredible, but it was designed for you too listen not to far away from the speakers… and I guess that experience has never really left me.
Though they tend to call them monitors rather than standmounts and looked a little similar to these at just shy of ÂŁ40k


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wow , thats a lot of dosh !!

I have used these isolation thingies under about 6 lots of speakers now. used them under some proac 125 and they fleshed out the sound a lot. every sinlge speaker has improved with these things . even use them under the lavardin amp i am using in one system now

P1060755 by , on Flickr

In my view a good floorstander would beat an equivalent stand mount (assuming no sub with latter) - but will cost a lot more for the equivalent quality because it is the bass end that challenges design capability and manufacturing complexity, so is not simply the small extra cost of two or three times the amount of the amount of cabinet material.but if you want full range sound that is what is needed (with the possible exception of getting a good sub and taking appropriate care with setup).

As for “bookshelf” speakers, notably both PMC and ATC make small wall-mount speakers, with PMC including an in-wall variant. The latter mounted in a full bookcase (or record/CD shelving) with front baffle flush with the spines of the books might be expected to be particularly effective (other than low bass), because such mounting has no comb-filter effect arising from rear reflactions. Other speakers might also work well in similar situation, but would need trialling to see (hear! though I’d use REW software to see as well).

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