What are floor speakers and what do they consist of?
Floor-standing loudspeakers are not only a visual highlight, but they also offer the proud owner a wide range of sounds. With their volume, mass, and the increased membrane diaphragm, the floor-standing loudspeakers rank particularly high in the bass range.
What floor-standing speakers also offer is the broader sound spectrum already mentioned. After all, most floor-standing speakers have three chassis, i.e. a woofer, mid-range speaker, and a tweeter. That is why it is also called the 3-way system.
But there are also 2-way systems for floor standing speakers. And, of course, hi-fi boxes with 4 chassis are not uncommon.
Floor-standing loudspeakers are particularly good to set up in large rooms; if they are too close to a wall, they lose much of their potential. In rooms under 30 square meters, we would advise you to use bookshelf speakers.
Tower speakers, as they are sometimes called, simply need space to breathe and work. Because of their size, they are placed on the floor and decoupled with spikes.
Floor speakers – pros and cons
Floor standing speakers are the epitome of great sound, but are they really that good? Like all technical devices in the hi-fi sector, floor standing loudspeakers also have their own advantages and, of course, disadvantages. And that’s exactly what we want to look at, at least briefly.
- Floor standing speakers are almost always the first choice for music lovers. The large enclosures can accommodate larger drivers, i.e. tweeters, mid-range speakers, and woofers, and thus offer more sonic depth.
- 3-way systems are particularly common, and the three different chassis means that the signals can be better distributed and allow for better depth grading.
- Another advantage is in the area of the low notes. Thanks to the built-in woofers, floor-standing speakers can produce better bass and usually do not require an additional subwoofer.
- Another benefit that is often overlooked is the effectiveness of the floor-standing speakers. For the same amount of energy used, you get significantly more volume with floor-standing loudspeakers. This is because the larger drivers move significantly more air than the smaller chassis of bookshelf speakers.
- A final and relatively non-technical advantage is their aesthetics. Floor-standing loudspeakers simply have a great look and make the entire home theater system look really good.
Despite all the advantages, floor-standing speakers naturally have a few disadvantages. A disadvantage would clearly be the high purchase price. Due to the higher costs for the larger housings and the larger chassis, you have to dig a little deeper into your pocket for good floor standing speakers. Thankfully, we have dug down deep into the market and brought out the cheapest 10 models, all of which cost below $500. Some relatively inexpensive models are the Polk Audio T50 and the Sony SSCS3.
Bookshelf speakers of the same price are usually a bit better technically, at least in terms of the quality of the components.
Another disadvantage is that floor standing speakers are simply space hogs. They need significantly more space in a room than smaller compact speakers. So you need a correspondingly large room to really benefit fully from the large speakers. Also, you should keep certain distances between the speakers and the walls when setting up.
Features to consider before you buy a floor standing speakers under $500
What should you look out for when buying your floor standing speakers? With all the good offers today, it’s not that easy to keep track of things – especially if you don’t know exactly what to look out for. That’s why we will explain the most important factors that helped us in our decision. There are numerous different models of floor-standing loudspeakers. These vary greatly in terms of size, design, and functionality. You should keep an eye on the following functions:
Number of speakers
Tower speakers oftentimes do come in various numbers. Some products are sold in pairs while others are sold in single forms.
Of course, two items will be better than one, but you have to consider the space you have before choosing a pair of speakers like the Dayton Audio T652 instead of a single one. Also, be prepared to pay more for a pair of tower speakers. Besides, the number doesn’t necessarily mean quality. There are some single speakers which have higher resilience, sensitivity, and frequency response than some dual speakers.
Speaker type – 2-way vs 3-way
The most common configurations for floor standing speakers are 2-way, 3-way, or 4-way systems.
- 2-way system: A 2-way system like the Klipsch F-300 includes a woofer and a tweeter. The problem with this is that these two converters, in addition to their tasks, also have to split up the middle areas.
- 3-way system: A 3-way system has a woofer, midrange, and tweeter. Thus, each converter can devote himself to his area.
- 4-way system: The 4-way system also offers either a super tweeter or a subwoofer for the bass.
Active or passive speaker?
There is a clear difference between these two variants of floor standing speakers. An active speaker is an independent instrument that can also be called automatic. It has numerous customizations with a built-in amplifier.
On the contrary, passive speakers necessarily require an external amplifier. However, besides the clear difference between active and passive speakers, there are many other aspects you need to know about active and passive speakers. For example, you need to learn when to use a certain type and when it is appropriate to use another. So here’s the difference in detail between active and passive speakers.
By following the comparative analyses below, you will also be able to understand what are the strengths and possible disadvantages of these products. You will grasp one hundred percent which type is right for you.
What are active speakers?
Active speakers are everywhere and various sound professionals select these speakers for personal or professional use. You must start from the active speakers first if you want to venture into the world of sonic equipment and find out everything you need to know about them. You have to understand that active speakers are independent so to speak. This means that they can perform optimally without being in contact with other acoustic instruments. This aspect also refers to the amplifier, an essential element for the other type of speakers, namely the passive one. The amplifier in the active speakers is implemented in the same structure as the product.
So, how can you easily recognize the active type crates? Easy, just pay attention to the details. Sometimes through the observation of the speaker, you can easily identify this. The active speakers almost always have a direct connection to the electricity grid and you can connect them to power sockets even at home or in any other place that has an energy supply.
Furthermore, there are active speaker models that also feature so-called cross-over filters. By adjusting these filters, it is easy to modify the sound that the speakers have to reproduce, perhaps also adapting it to the melodies and sensations to be transmitted.
Ultimately, active models are more complete and at the same time autonomous products. Although sometimes, they have a high cost, active speakers are able to offer you different variations of sound.
What are passive speakers?
This type of speaker, as you may have already guessed, has totally different characteristics compared to active speakers. First of all, you have to consider that in order to function properly, passive speakers must absolutely rely on an external amplifier.
Only after you have correctly connected the amplifier to the passive speakers will you be able to use the speaker without any problem.
When to use active speakers
As discussed earlier, it’s good to start with the active speakers. Using these speakers is really easy, even if you are a beginner with these instruments and you don’t know much about the world of speakers and acoustics.
The active speakers reproduce an excellent sound. It’s ideal for both professional and private situations where you may not need high sound quality. So, ultimately, you can really rely on active speakers in any situation, knowing that it will rarely disappoint you or respond in a poor and mediocre way.
When to use passive speakers
As you have seen, it is not really easy to use these speakers, especially if you are not an expert in this area. if you are not familiar with this world and do not have basic notions of acoustics, then avoid buying passive speakers.
If you already have experience and want to try the vintage taste of the speakers, then you have to rely on the passive ones. In addition, it is good that you buy and use passive speakers even if you have a specific place to place them.
Passive speakers offer better performance if they are stable and steady over time, not undergoing transfers or transport. Despite the settings to be changed, in the end, even the passive speakers prove to be a valid and efficient product from a musical point of view.
Advantages and disadvantages of active speakers:
The sound they reproduce is excellent and is customizable.
Through the various settings, the knobs, and the internal amplifier, the active speakers can be considered a real jewel from an acoustic point of view.
Furthermore, this particular type is ideal if you don’t have much experience with products such as speakers and the like.
Active speakers also have the advantage of being lighter. You can easily move them
At the same time, however, active speakers are not a perfect product. They have some flaws or disadvantages.
Firstly, these speakers are particularly expensive. Buying a good model that can offer you different sound options is no easy feat.
Then, you must always pay the utmost attention to speakers of this type. These speakers are in fact very fragile and impacts or violent contacts with other surfaces could damage the internal circuits.
Finally, you must also consider buying these speakers only if you really feel the need.
If you decide to buy them without exploiting them properly. Then you are making an unnecessary waste of money, which you would do well to save.
Advantages and disadvantages of passive speakers
First of all, the passive speakers are cheap and their purchase does not weigh on personal financial resources. Again, once the optimal sound settings are programmed, the melodies will be reproduced in a crystal clear way. Another important criterion that influences the choice of a speaker is the power. The power of a speaker is often rated or expressed in watts. You must put into account the space the sound tower will be installed. The larger the power is, the larger the room, will be and give versa. As a benchmark, use a space similar to that of a bedroom for power less than about 120 Watts. In large living rooms, the power has no real limits asides areas which are essential with the possible presence of neighbors.
However, those who point to the watts rating as the only yardstick are often mistaken. Sensitivity and frequency response are much more important values. More watts does not mean more power.
Impedance, sensitivity, frequency response, and resilience
In order to determine the quality of a loudspeaker, there are various markings that you should know about. These include frequency response, impedance, resilience, and sensitivity.
The frequency response is usually measured in Hertz (Hz). This value shows which frequency range a loudspeaker can produce. The human ear has the ability to recognize a range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. So it’s best to have a speaker that can reproduce as much of this range as possible. One which comes close to this range is the Pioneer SP-FS52, a speaker with a frequency range of 40Hz-20 kHz.
Speaker impedance is measured in ohms (Ω). Impedance (or AC resistance) is how much electrical resistance an amplifier is exposed to when driving the speaker. Many loudspeakers are equipped with 8 ohms impedance. These include models such as Cerwin-Vega SL-8 and Klipsch F-300. So they work with almost all audio devices without any problems.
Caution: To ensure consistent playback, all speakers should have the same impedance!
The resilience is measured in watts. The resilience of a speaker tells us how much power the device can withstand. If a box is loaded with more watts than it can handle, this can lead to damage. Loudspeakers with a high load capacity need a powerful amplifier to sound as good as possible.
Our advice is that you choose speakers that can handle roughly the maximum output of the amplifier.
- Sensitivity/efficiency: This is measured in decibels per watt. The sensitivity or efficiency shows how loud a speaker can play music per watt of power. The higher the efficiency, the less power the loudspeaker needs to achieve a high volume. High values are 100 decibels per watt. Meanwhile, low sensitivity is rated at 80 decibels per watt. In this regard, the Klipsch F-300 has the highest sensitivity in our review with 97.5dB. Meanwhile, others that come close with 90dB or more are JBL Stage 190, BIC AMERICA RTR-1530, and the Cerwin-Vega SL-8.
Now we come to a very interesting debate: Because many are still skeptical about the wireless version. When it comes to how your speaker is connected to your media devices, you have three options: Bluetooth, WLAN or wired.
A direct-wired connection still offers the best quality – and these speakers are often a lot cheaper!
Here is a brief overview of the wireless alternatives:
For a long time, Wi-Fi was considered a better option, as it can transfer more data at a higher speed than Bluetooth. This results in better audio quality.
But the development of Bluetooth has not stopped. The newly developed aptX format makes a big difference: It reduces the bit rate of a Bluetooth signal without affecting the quality.
Bluetooth 5.0 can even transmit up to 2 MB per second with a greatly increased range. All in all, the type of broadcast doesn’t make too much of a difference at the moment! The most important question here: How is your situation so far? How strong is your Wi-Fi connection and how many devices are already in the same Wi-Fi network?
Advice: If you want to remain flexible and maybe at some point expand your system into a multiroom system, you should definitely opt for Wi-Fi.
In a multi-way loudspeaker, the tweeter reproduces the highest frequencies. These high frequencies have the shortest wavelengths, therefore a short oscillation path and only require a low level of power. The technical design can take the form of a dome (as in Klipsch F-300), cone, ribbon, or piezo tweeter or a horn. The membrane, usually made of metal or hardened fabric, is very small, thin and light, yet very stiff. This helps it to be able to follow the fast high-frequency impulses well. The tweeter is the most vulnerable component in a loudspeaker and can be easily damaged. So, ensure they are well-made. The size of the tweeter will also determine the sound quality.
Dimensions and weight
Usually, larger speakers also provide more power. However, keep the size of the room in which the floor-standing speakers should be located in the back of your mind. If the room is too small, loudspeakers that are too large – both optically and sonically – do not look good.
Bookshelf speakers are the right choice for small to medium-sized rooms. Floor standing speakers work best in larger rooms and with a lot of free space.
Although the price category of the products we’re focusing on is in the lower and middle-end. Extra features such as warranty is a requirement even for under $500 tower speakers. Ensure the model you’re choosing has a minimum of two years warranty covering the parts, the speaker, and the labor. Five of the products in our review have warranty coverage of five years. These include Polk Audio T50, Dayton Audio T652, JBL Stage 190, and others.
A brand should be more known by the services it provides, than on its name. Many brands have gained loyalty thanks to their product quality. When it comes to audio equipment, many popular manufacturers have been existing in the field for decades. Some of these brands are on our list of recommendations because they are the source of the current standard for tower speaker design. Sony, Yamaha, and Polk are examples of well-known brands that we love.
Installation and placement tips
Setting up your floor-standing speaker correctly is a must. This is because only speakers that are properly set up sound really good. There are a few things you should consider when setting up floor standing speakers correctly.
The correct distance to the wall is particularly important. Even the best floor standing loudspeakers should not be placed directly on the wall. 80 cm to about 1.5 meters is ideal.
However, even from a distance of 70 cm to the wall, good sound results can be achieved.
The distance is particularly important for three reasons. On the one hand, you get a better depth staggering if you place the speakers further away from the wall. Furthermore, with the distance, you can avoid too strong reflections with the wall. The bass can develop better this way.
Tip: If the bass feels a bit weak when you set it up, then try to place the speakers a little closer to the wall and thus give the bass more pressure.
Loudspeakers are ideally positioned when they and the listener form an isosceles triangle, the so-called stereo triangle. All in all, that’s a good starting position.
You can still move and vary the loudspeakers and the seating position until you find the optimal sound experience. Even small changes in individual distances can have a big effect. So feel free to play with them.
The minimum distance from your listening position should be at least 1.75 meters. This ensures that the sound fields have added up correctly.
Are you missing the details and the vibrancy in the music? Then check the room or facility. Heavy upholstered furniture or drawn curtains can dampen the room very much and eat up the highs of the reproduction. Echoes, on the other hand, can be eliminated with curtains or pillows in the corners.
For important installation details, always take a look at the instruction manual for the floor-standing loudspeaker. Possible special features are pointed out here.