BookShelf or Floor Standing Speakers

I have previously posted regarding buying bookshelf speakers.  Bookshelf is all I have ever owned.  I prefer speakers for two channel stereo listening.  I am thinking about buying floor standing. 

Has anyone had bookshelves for stereo listening and changed to floor standing?  I am afraid to make the change.  Do you think floor standing gives a better listening experience in stereo?  Can you turn them up very loud?
Any suggestion that stand-mounts are superior to floorstanders, or vice versa, IN ISOLATION TO CONTRIBUTING FACTORS  is a misguided fallacy. 

Everybody’s listening arena and personal bias will trump any off the cuff suggestions here.


All speakers and all system electronics have their own bespoke sonic signature, = one size does not fit all.

1) Your system source(s),  the amplification, and the cables ( ALL of power cords, ICs, and speaker...)

2) Your bespoke listening arena with all its warts and limitations AND the listening room size, together, will significantly affect your listening pleasures, regardless of standmounts or floorstanders. Room treatments are important .

3) Personal  bias will usually trump many other factors. One man’s personal fave is another man’s must to avoid. 

4) Price alone and mag reviews are no assurance that new speakers will actually excel in YOUR system. System synergy matters .... full stop again. 


- There is no substitute for actually rolling up your sleeves, doing your own research and investing in actual auditions. Forging a relationship with a quality high-end dealer assistance is a good start.  

There are many standmounts that can best floorstanders and vice versa.... There is no “best”.... full stop. 
@akg_ca , +1

Going to floor standers will require more space for positioning.
Is that something you have?
The best part of a floorstander is the additional cabinet volume that will enhanced lower frequency reproduction (among other things).
As akg pointed out, you really need to audition as many manufacturers as possible and find a speaker that 'speaks' to you.
Thanks guys.  You are correct that I need to listen to floor mounts.   I do have the room for them.  The bass is what interests me most of floor vs let's call it bookshelf or full range bookshelf.  I don't need earth shaking bass, but enough to play lows.  Mostly acoustic stuff.
A lot depends on how in love you are with your current speakers- especially if what you are mostly looking for is better/deeper bass. Floor standers will probably give you that, but not by a huge amount because there will still be only two of them. When it comes to bass what matters more than anything is having at least four widely spaced sources. So you may want to consider adding four subs, also known as a distributed bass array, or Swarm in this case.

But if you are not that in love then you just need to do what you already know and search out as many contenders as you can find to audition.
Whether floorstanders will be an improvement is highly subjective as noted above. Even though I have a fairly large room, for my budget, I prefer standmount speakers with subs.

I found that MOST of the more affordable floorstanders (under $5K/pair) have compromises in the cabinet construction that cause audible resonance. This prevents them from achieving transparent imaging. Some exceptions can be found in small floorstanders, for example, the Spendor A7s. However, at that size and cost, you can get nice standmounts and two subs that might actually perform better in the bass. Of course, if you prefer a more streamlined solution, floorstanders have the advantage.

Generally, I find that small/medium monitors are better at disappearing as sources of sound, for any given budget. Their cabinets have less surface area that can be excited into audible ringing/resonance.

OTOH, large floorstanders (with large drivers) play music with greater scale. On average, they're also more sensitive, and therefore, can better produce dynamics  at low volumes. 

My preferred compromise between these two extremes are medium-sized standmount monitors with large midwoofers (8 or 10"). I also prefer the "lossy," damped cabinets that are designed to flex with the driver output, rather than mitigate resonance through heavy panels and bracing. The latter tend to produce cabinet resonances in the 500Hz - 1kHz range. The problem with that behavior (depending on the Q), is resonance in those frequencies sounds like ringing and grain to the human ear - it interferes with the frequencies where music tends to have greatest energy. Ultimately, it leads to listening fatigue, IME. Unfortunately, that is the chosen cabinet design for many floorstanders. The ones that are thick, heavy, and braced enough to practically do away with resonance are expensive.

In contrast, the "lossy" cabinet designs, pioneered by the BBC, tend to produce resonances around 250Hz or lower. The human ear associates this frequency range with the music's "body" and bass overtones. It does not impede on the most energetic areas of the midrange, which is why a $4K speaker with of this design principle can produce a midrange on-par with six-figure speakers. 

Like most aspects of this hobby, there are compromises that must be weighed against the listener's preferences. I prefer to own 3 pairs of $4K standmounts that I can rotate through my systems to keep things interesting, rather than own one pair of $12K floorstanders that could potentially give me the best of both worlds with scale and imaging.

If I got rid of my stand mount Ref 3A de Capos i would go with Pi 4's or Altecs or something big and hi-eff like that
Generally speaking  
  • Bookshelves give better bang for buck (most $1000 bookshelves sound better in their frequency range than towers) which makes sense, especially factoring in shipping.  
  • Towers have more bass, varies from a little to a lot.  
  • Towers have a bit higher max SPL than bookshelves from the same model line. 
  • Bookshelves are more customizable to your listening height by simply buying the correct height stands, some towers may have their reference axis too high/low, which would require tilting and whatnot, which can only help so much.  

Depending on the budget, I usually recommend a subwoofer anyway, so the bass extension benefit of towers is mostly negated, and crossing over bookshelves will add a bit more SPL (unless already maxing out wattage handling). 

     Bass frequency soundwaves  are so much longer than midrange and treble frequencies ( a 20 Hz bass full cycle soundwave is 56' long and a 20K Hz full cycle wave is a fraction of an inch long) and behave so differently in a typical room that I believe it makes a lot of sense to use high quality stand mounted bookshelf speakers for optimum midrange, treble and stereo soundstage imaging and then position at least two small to medium sized high quality subs in the room for optimum bass response at the designated listening seat. 
     I'd suggest two SVS SB-1000(sealed sub) or PB-1000 (ported sub)subs that can be currently purchased for $950/pair for either model.  These are high quality subs that are a true bargain because they perform more like a $1,000 sub from other brands.  Here's a link to the SB-1000:

     You can optimally position each sub, in relation to the listening seat by utilizing the 'crawl' method.  Once the subs are positioned, position your choice of bookshelf speakers on stands for optimum midrange, treble and soundtage imaging performance in relation to your designating listening seat.
     The last step is to configure the volume, crossover frequency and phase control settings on each sub so the subs and your main speakers blend together seamlessly as a unified whole.  I'd recommend running your speakers full-range and setting the volume and crossover frequencies as low as possible with the combined sound still sounding very good to you. Remember, the goal is not to constantly notice the subs being active, but for them to become active only when the music recording calls for it.  I can describe a few easy ways to optimally set the phase controls on each sub if you decide to use bookshelf speakers with two subs setup.
     The main issue I have with floor standing speakers is that the bass sections are not independently positioned in the room for optimum bass performance.  These types of speakers are typically positioned for optium midrange, treble and soundstage imaging, in relation to the designated listening seat, and this determines the location of the bass drivers in the room since they are permanently attached, usually just below the other speaker drivers.  This positioning is unlikely to be their optimum positions in the room in terms of bass performance at the listening seat.

Not to take this thread sideways but what about running the risk of not getting optimal integration with the subs and stand mounts? I prefer stand mounts for aethetics and mobility but I'm scared of never getting subs to integrate correctly for all music.
After reading your thoughts on this, I have decided to go with a large, or full range book shelf.  I have Dynaudio X18 book shelves now, but would like to purchase some better speakers. 

I am convinced to stay the course with bookshelves.  I want to thank all of you who provided some great advice on here.  You saved me a ton of money and searching.
sttt, you might want to take a listen to Harbeth Monitors. If you want more volume and efficiency Klipsch Heresys. 

Two subs are very capable of giving very good bass response at a designated listening position with a pair of good bookshelf speakers on stands. The key is positioning each of the subs optimally in the room. This doesn’t mean just placing a sub next to each main speaker.
It requires precisely and sequentially locating each sub so that there’s optimum bass response at the listening seat. A good method is the ’crawl’ procedure. Once the positioning is completed, the best way to ensure very good integration or blending between the subs and main speakers is the proper setting on each sub of the Volume, Crossover frequency and Phase controls.

If you’re really concerned you won’t get very good integration between the two subs and your main speakers, however, I’m only aware of one bass solution that will virtually guarantee good integration and I use this myself in my system. It’s called a 4-sub distributed bass array system (DBA) and it provides near state of the art bass response and integration in virtually any room and with any pair of main speakers. I just bought a complete 4-sub DBA system called the Audio Kinesis Swarm bass system because it’s easier to setup, at $2,800 it costs less than creating your own DBA by using four self amplified subs of your choice and it works like a charm no matter what your room dimensions and what main speakers you have. Here’s an Absolute Sound review of the AK Swarm that gives a very accurate description of what to expect:

If you have the space for these relatively small (1’ x1’ x 28") subs in your room, I’m certain this will work extremely well not only with your current speakers but with any main speakers you’ll may have in the future.

Thanks @noble100 I’ll be living in increasingly small places (most likely studio apartments) until I drop my body, so the swarm thing is probably too much. As I said I fear I’ll not have the know-how to blend the subs and also afraid that living in stacked housing will make subs prohibitive. It seems from all I read that there’s All kinds of voodoo involved yet everyone recommends subs anyway. Probably just my perception.

i don’t have anyone to help me so if I went this route I’d be going in blind and hoping for the best info that the Internet has.
OK, so you anticipate living in smaller spaces and you have always liked stand mounts. Stands last several lifetimes, if you own a good pair you are good to go. Stick with stand mount speakers and get best return on investment.
I'm no fan of subs, and I'm quite convinced almost nobody really needs them if they have full range speakers (a speaker flat to low 40Hz region). Floor standers don't take any more room than stand mounts. Unless the space is demands the flexibility of stand mounts, I'd get floor standers. 
Hello gochurchgo,

     I'm not understanding some of what you wrote, like "until I drop my body" and "living in stacked housing" (living in an apartment building?)  Can you explain?
     I agree you may need to limit the bass output if you're going to be living in an apartment.
     I assure you there's no voodoo involved.  I'm willing to help you with your system and possible subs but you need to determine whether your housing situation rules them out or not. 
 I have a lot of personal experience with subs and can give you step by step setup and settings instructions if you'd like.  You can either let me know on this thread or send me a personal message when you need help.

Hello gochurchgo,

    I'm not understanding some of what you wrote, like "until I drop my body" and "living in stacked housing" (living in an apartment building?) Can you explain?
    I agree you may need to limit the bass output if you're going to be living in an apartment.
    I assure you there's no voodoo involved. I'm willing to help you with your system and possible subs but you need to determine whether your housing situation rules them out or not.
    I have a lot of personal experience with subs and can give you step by step setup and settings instructions if you'd like. You can either let me know on this thread or send me a personal message when you need help.