Bookshelf vs. floorstander in a small room, low-mid volume

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Brian Bush, May 3, 2016.

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  1. Brian Bush

    Brian Bush Active Member Thread Starter

    If you were limited to a relatively small room, say, 12x14ft., and could sometimes listen only at low to medium volume levels (rock, jazz, etc.) and were choosing between speakers within the same line (I'm thinking Dynaudio Excite X18 and X34s) would it still make sense to get the floorstander? Would the floorstander even at lower volume levels deliver more presence and weight?... Or would you save your money and get the bookshelf and call it a day...
  2. WayneJJ

    WayneJJ New Member

    I am not in a position to answer, nor familiar with the speakers you mentioned. But I have in the past pondered the same question. I guess I was thinking if I spent identical money on 2 floor standers VS 2 decent bookshelf speakers but also intergrated a nice tight musically capable sub (all within the same price as two floor standing), how these two set ups could compare.....

    I currently have floor standing Paradigm 30th Anniversery "Trubutes". But in the past have considered the above for use in a different smaller room.
  3. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Senior Member

    Scottish Borders
    Standmount for me.
    caupina and tmtomh like this.
  4. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Nottingham, UK
    I mused on the same issue. I have a small room and prefer to listen at modest volume. I narrowed my choice down to the Epos K range and really lusted after their floorstanders but in the end price dictated. Not much help I know, but the stand mounted speakers sound fine and fill the space nicely. I can't believe floorstanders would have added anything but I'd be willing to be proved wrong.
  5. WayneJJ

    WayneJJ New Member

    Paul H, do you ever feel like you could benefit with intergrating a sub with your stand mounted speakers to assist with the low range?
  6. The lounge part of our lounge-diner is around 12' x 14' and I've listened to everything from Q Acoustics 2010i baby standmounts to 42" tall Monitor Audio GS60 floorstanders with two dedicated bass drivers.

    I also listen at varied volumes and it's clear to me that you should normally expect to get more weight and scale from floorstanders, even at lower volumes, although just how much will also depend upon the amplifier that's driving them. More power means more weight and scale at lower volumes with any speaker.

    (In fact, having thought about it, why else would a manufacturer build floorstanders if not to take advantage of the extra cabinet volume and the extra space on the fascia to add more bass drivers?)

    In the case of the X34 you get two mid-bass drivers instead of one.

    Plus they're slightly more sensitive and should, therefore, have slightly more ooomph at any volume setting.

    Plus on paper they go down to 37 Hz instead of 50 Hz and should, therefore, be able to play a few notes that the X14s can't, and they should also, therefore, be slightly happier with all things bass-wise.

    When I auditioned a load of speakers recently I found myself listening out for deep bass notes from the standmounts that I auditioned, and there was a celebration each time I heard a deep bass note. "Yes. They can do bass. What clever little speakers they are." Almost like a child's first step or first word.

    With floorstanders, however, the bass was just there all of the time and I didn't have to listen out for it. Scale was also greater in all cases bar one.

    Your room will also play a role, however. I found, for instance, that Q Acoustics 2020i standmounts had no real bass in my local dealer's listening room whereas it had a fair amount in my own lounge when similarly positioned, probably due to the bow window in front of which they stood.

    Bottom line.... you need to audition the X14s and the X34s at home and let your ears decide which you would prefer to live with in the longer term and which would cause you the least regrets after you've parted with your cash.
  7. I considered the standmount plus sub option but the right floorstander, although more expensive, means no stands or sub and doesn't create a problem in terms of where to put the sub or where to pick up power from for the sub.
  8. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    I've been using a small dedicated room for years now and have tried countless speakers ranging in size from tiny Silverline Audio SR-11s to Vandersteen 2CE Signatures. There have been a few Dynaudios in the mix as well, including the 1.3 SE. I buy used of course.
    For me, I find I prefer monitors with some bass output. Most of my listening is fairly low level - below 75db. When I do crank it up, the larger speakers seem to over power the room with too much bass.
    FWIW, after all the different speakers I've tried, the Revel M20s are my keepers.
  9. Valid point. I must admit that I do like lots of bass. Hence I have floorstanders in my 12' by 14' room.

    My problem is that I miss the bass when it's not there.

    If, however, I'd never owned large floorstanders then a pair of standmounts might have been enough.
  10. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Nottingham, UK
    My previous speakers were bass shy and quite harsh in the trebble. The Epos K1s I chose addressed those problems satisfactorily. Someone in another forum recently suggested that listening at low volumes compromises sound simply because the volume control doesn't work well at low volumes; that is, one has to turn up the dial to get the most out of the amp, let alone the speakers. It was suggested that installing an attenuator might be helpful in this regard because it would allow the necessary increase in volume control without an overwhelming increase in actual volume. This would, apparently, provide noticeable benefit. For other reasons (see my thread about 2M Black cartridges being too loud) I'm considering trying an attenuator in my system. I may be able to kill two birds with one stone.

    Full disclosure: I'm not much of a bass-head, so I don't enjoy dominant bass and have been happy with the bass output I've got from my (front ported) stand mounts. If you like more low end, you might be disappointed with my set up.
  11. JakeMcD

    JakeMcD Forum Resident

    So Central FL
    The challenge for lower volume listening is not being presented by the speakers nor the amplifier - it's your ears. Human hearing is terribly inefficient at low listening levels. Ears roll off the upper and lower frequencies - all this revealed to us by Fletcher-Munson in the '30s. Hence why us vintage gear lovers are all smug when keeping the volume low and we have a loudness button to press. Boom, low and high frequencies magically reappear at the same overall volume. All this at substantially less than 10 watts being employed, likely more like 1-2. This works for bookshelf and floorstander speakers alike. This a broken-record piece of advice, but you should only buy the speakers that sound good to you with the gear that you have at the volumes you prefer. Hopefully the amplifier/receiver that you have for low level listening was built in the 70's, cuz that is the golden ticket.
    Jose Jones likes this.
  12. krlpuretone

    krlpuretone Forum Resident

    Grantham, NH
    Size of a smaller room is not as important as height of the ceilings in terms of dispersion.
    sotosound likes this.
  13. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    That is the key feature to have when you need to listen at lower volume levels. Don't let any so-called "audiophile" tell you otherwise.
  14. royzak2000

    royzak2000 Senior Member

    12 by 14 Is not that small, well in the UK it's pretty standard. No need for subs, never heard a system truly integrate them, always a compromise.
    Good reasonable size floor standers, mostly better ease of driving so lower power amplifier and all the warmth you need.
    On a side note I can see why the loudness button has been dropped in most amps.
  15. HenryH

    HenryH Miserable Git

    The Dynaudios are on the lower side of the efficiency scale, so you would have to also consider the amp that you want to partner them with. All things being equal, my choice would be floor standers, mainly because you get a better balance across the frequency range, at least that's my experience. Of course, very good bookshelf speaker can also give you that, but you need to also consider the price of decent stands for them as well.

    I think is also depends upon how you hope to position the speakers. Bookshelfs would be preferable if you plan on setting them closer to a wall. Floor standers tend to like a bit more space.
  16. quicksilverbudie

    quicksilverbudie quicksilverbudie

    floor stander(s) even at lower volume levels deliver more presence IMO. Been doing this for 20 years. :agree:

  17. Bad Samaritan

    Bad Samaritan Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    I'm running stand-mounted Dynaudio bookshelves in a 13' x 13' room and find them to be quite adequate and room-filling. BTW, the Focus line is being phased out by Dyn, so you could probably get the Focus 160 for a favorable price to the X18, and I believe it's a better speaker (admittedly not familiar with the X18).
  18. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Eagle, Idaho
    I've owned a lot of monitors and some towers. I always prefer the 'monitor on a stand'. Don't know exactly why.
  19. Got Hi-Fi?

    Got Hi-Fi? Member

    Standmounts for me. I went with ELAC BS244's in the same size room. They have plenty of everything, including bass.
  20. sheffandy

    sheffandy Forum Resident

    Sheffield, UK
    I had standmounts and upgraded to floor standers in a room about 11' x 12, ceiling height 8'. I have no issues at low volume with the new speakers.
    bluemooze likes this.
  21. murphythecat


    three ways only make sense when you want to listen very loud.
    at low and medium volume, 2 ways will generally sounds much better.
    good 3 ways are much pricier then good 2 ways, generally.
    2 ways + sub is my pick
  22. xcqn

    xcqn Audiophile

    Gothenburg, Sweden
    I used to live in a small apartment with concrete floors, walls and roof. Nothing really worked great but standmounts worked better than floorstanders.

    Mostly due to the fact they didn't trigger the rooms bass-modes as much as the floorstanders i've tried there.

    Sometimes standmounts are better it depends.
  23. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    That's exactly my rooms dimensions, have used stand mounts and floor standers with good results. Bass and subwoofer placement is a real challenge at these dimensions. But my jams rock either way:)
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