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Bookshelfs+Sub Vs Towers+Sub ... my personal observation for movies

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Naveenbnc

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Why do we need towers when we use a subwoofer?

hey guys ... for a very long time this was a million dollar question for me.
Technically speaking, the subs will take care of the LF and bookshelfs are enough to handle and the rest of the frequencies.

I have auditioned a couple of different bookshelfs in various demo rooms, and at fellow FMs houses.
Few of them are in the price range of 80 to 1.5k (for me, they are expensive bookshelfs)
And I have seen some towers too.

Well..., my understanding as on date, based on my personal experience is as follows.
Please note: I will talk only about movies. Not music.
Towers+Sub sounds a lot more dynamic than Bookshelfs+Sub (even if the avr has the optimum settings in both cases)

If you love the movie experience to be very dynamic, and vibrant, towers are the way to go !!! (even if you have a sub)
If you want me to pick an example, taga Platinum F120 towers can literally shake a medium size room @ 55k.
Adding a sub will take the whole experience to a different level.
None of those highend bookshelfs could give that dynamic feel, even with a subwoofer period !!

Bass sounds are something we hear and also feel in the form of vibrations.
Bookshelfs may give very good bass to hear.
But when it comes to the feel of bass, towers do far better job than bookshelfs @ a given price.
In that scenario, adding a sub is a bonus.

Let me put it this way.... lets say I have two towers that are capable of giving a semi-subwoofer feel.
And let's say I add a subwoofer. Then its almost like having 3 subwoofers in my room.
(not an accurate analogy, but I hope u can understand what Im trying to say)

Lets look at 2.1 configuration. Lets say we have a pair of good bookshelfs and a sub.
Now you replace those bookshelfs with a pair of dynamic sounding and room shaking towers.
The whole experience will change. (I agree there are many good bookshelfs that can beat towers in general sense)

On paper, and in theory, it looks logical to say bookshelfs+sub is enough.
But experiencing the setup gives a different feel altogether.

MY personal usage experience limited to one brand:
Speaking in terms of my personal 5.1 setup, I had 5 bookshelfs from taga platinum series and one subwoofer.
Platinum series bookshelfs and TAV series towers perform equally good when combined with a sub.
But when I bring some towers like F120 into the game, the bookshelf+sub sounds like a joke. No comparison at all !!

Tiny bookshelfs + sub is not equal to good towers + sub. Particularly for movies.
I have not used them personally, but from the auditions, I can say the same holds true even for highend bookshelfs+sub.

To sum up, this is my personal observation, based on my limited experience.
And remember, everything I said above is related to movies and that too, if you like a very dynamic and vibrant movie feel.
As my experience grows, If I change my opinion in future, I will make sure to come back here and correct my claims.

Regards,
Naveen
 

efernand1

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A nice honest write up and opinion.....

The experience varies depending on brands and types of speakers....the drivers in the speakers and cabinet design....room acoustics also matter if its a treated room or a normal room.......

What is good for me may not be good for someone else and thats why we as members insist that auditions are taken before spending less or more money.......

I always love experimenting with amps and speakers and often keep changing speakers every 2-3 years where possible just to get the feel and experience of playback and SQ. Thats what i have been doing for the last 18+ years.......(provided it sits in my budget and at the right time).
 

Naveenbnc

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:):) actually I hesitated a lot to write this thread. And I postponed this thread atleast one or two months even after I came to a conclusion.

Somewhere in my mind, the question was always there...... What if I'm totally wrong?? I would be misleading new people !!!

But at some point of time I thought there is nothing wrong in expressing my personal observation. So I started this thread.

Here I'm not talking about clarity, resolution, imaging etc etc. I'm only talking about overall dynamic movie experience.

This is what I felt till date. Dear all....especially new people, please take it with a pinch of salt, and do your auditions, and trust your own observations. Everyone likes something different.

Problem is that we can not say anything like a formula that always works. All towers can't give the feel I'm talking about, and all bookshelfs are not the same too.

So be clear on what you want. And do your auditions. Don't try to wear my pants. Buy some pants that fits you properly :p:p
 
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efernand1

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Agree....this forum is meant to express and share your experiences which may work for some. Its a good thread.....helps to think in different perspectives..
 

Naveenbnc

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Let me just add one more point guys....I'm more worried not to divert new comers towards the towers unnecessarily. :oops:

Entry level or budget towers may not do the magic I'm talking about. In that segment, similar priced bookshelfs may sound better. But as you go higher, and keep raising the bar, at some point, bookshelfs may loose the race and towers tend to dominate for movie experience. So please audition if possible, look both ways, and take a call....
 

sebi

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Agree with the OP and this with my first hand experience with tower and dual sub in medium room, it was more dynamic. Have tried bookshelf speakers in the same room and I felt room incomplete may be speakers where too small for the room, also I need to mention here that I haven't tried bookshelf's with sub may be by this weekend I need to try it out and see the difference.
 

spirovious

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Comparison between same make(company) of towers and Bookshelf with similar size of woofers should be considered and then tower can be offering more and probably the winner.
Say if we compare 5.5in woofer based 2 way BS with that of towers,then tower can offer better headroom and db level.At the same time 5.5 inch driver based towers may lack deep bass as most of them will have lowend upto 40hz max.lf we compare 6.5in or bigger driver based speakers,then towers can go as low as 33hz and one may not miss SW.
Comparison between 6.5/8 in woofer based BS with 5.5in based towers will have opposite results.
So it depends on which make of speakers we compare with.
 

Kannan

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In general, without doubt, speakers with larger drivers for the low notes with sub will always have the extra oomph factor in an HT setup.
Ofcourse it will also largely depend on the room size to determine if the lows can be controlled, else a mouse will sound like lion, a lion like a dinosaur and a dinosaur like a thunderstorm.

Home Theatre audio is not just about thunderous lows, but also about crystal clear dialogue delivery, audibility of subtle details like rustling of leaves and background sounds.
It is like a photo with as much clarity in front-end details as the background.

Happy listening.
 

elangoas

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Nice observation @Naveenbnc ..

A sub takes care of freq below 80Hz and above that range are produced by main speakers, be it 2 way BS (or) 3 way FS.. For movies, we anyways set speakers to small and divert below 80Hz to sub.. Basically you treat the FS as 3 way satellite speakers..

Probably because the 3 way FS have multiple bass drivers (usually 2 drivers for bass), there could be an increase in SPL above the >=80Hz range..

If you want me to pick an example, taga Platinum F120 towers can literally shake a medium size room @ 55k.

A least expensive BS from the Taga Harmony Platinum series is S90 SL abt 12K.. The FS you have mentioned is 55K. So a difference of 40K plus, quite huge sum..

When you add a 2nd sub, there is a benefit of +3 dB to SPL below 80Hz.. Not sure if we can apply the same logic to FS above 80Hz, then additional drivers in the FS should also yield similar results..

If we can do an actual measurement of FS & BS from the same brand, for the same master volume of AVR, then the gain in SPL due to multiple drivers would be more evident.. The additional driver would also need some power from AVR..
 

Naveenbnc

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A least expensive BS from the Taga Harmony Platinum series is S90 SL abt 12K.. The FS you have mentioned is 55K. So a difference of 40K plus, quite huge sum..
Fully agree with you elango....:D that's an unfair comparison between S90SL and F120o_O
(I tried to make a correction in my post #5 regarding unfair comparison)

But I checked at least 4 to 6 different BS in the price bracket of 60k to 120k
As far as I observed, None of them can even come close to F120 (or may be similar towers) costing around 50 to 60k.
(I mean, specifically for movies. BS may have an advantage in terms resolution, Imaging etc etc)
 

Naveenbnc

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seniors....please pardon me if im doing unnecessary stunts with my limited knowledge :D:D
Obviously you people may know a lot more than me ....
I am open to correct my opinion and admit.
 

Naveenbnc

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extra oomph factor in an HT setup
I haven't used this word.... but i was indirectly talking about this oomph factor.
As far as my observation till date, towers give that oomph factor better than BS, keeping all external factors like room etc the same.
 

raghupb

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Towers are fun. Towers with sub/s even more so.
But, only if one can host them in the listening space and integrate them with the room.

I speak from limited experience of 2 channel listening, music mainly.
The content being rendered from the speakers should be like a "psychotherapist"
Get something big, and your room can make it "psycho-the-rapist"

Cheers,
Raghu
 

Naveenbnc

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dear all.... please correct me if I am wrong...
Lets take a budget of 40 to 60k. Neither too cheap nor too expensive. (I checked the BS and FS models available online in this price bracket)
Lets select 2 or 3 reasonably good BS in that price, and 2 or 3 reasonably good FS in that price bracket.

My observation till date is, .... With or without sub, FS will give better movie experience than BS.
In most general cases, can we say the opposite is true?
(yes I understand im talking in a very generic terms though....couldn't help it....:oops::D)
 

Naveenbnc

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Home Theatre audio is not just about thunderous lows, but also about crystal clear dialogue delivery, audibility of subtle details like rustling of leaves and background sounds.
I fully agree to your point Sir....
 

elangoas

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Fully agree with you elango....:D that's an unfair comparison between S90SL and F120o_O
(I tried to make a correction in my post #5 regarding unfair comparison)

Not a problem.. Good to dig these topics and have some light on it..

One advantage of having a FS could be the added SPL bcoz of multiple drivers on the FS, above the subwoofer crossover approx 80Hz till the speaker internal crossover of the bass driver on that FS .. Approx 80Hz - 300Hz.. A freq response test between a FS Vs BS should reveal the actual benefit..

There is also the room modes that come in to the picture upto 300hz, decay of bass in the room.. From my limited experience, if there is no absorption in the room, then every chance that you heard of a strong bass from a FS over BS is a peak due to room mode..
 

Naveenbnc

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if there is no absorption in the room, then every chance that you heard of a strong bass from a FS over BS is a peak due to room mode..
this is something that I haven't thought about till you pointed out ... thanks elango....

I was basically thinking as follows....
Lets say 80hz is crossover point in avr.

Frequencies from 80Hz till the point where tweeter kicks in.... lets say for example 80hZ to 2.5Khz region is handled by multiple mid and bass drivers in the towers. Added to that, the tower has large enclosure area, and added to that, towers may have passive radiators, etc.

Due to all such factors, I was guessing towers may present the 80hZ to 2.5Khz region more dynamically than comparable BS, with a single bass driver and small enclosure area. (i am aware that so many other factors may exist which I may not know...)

This is just my guess based on my listening experience and auditions, and I have no clue if this point is correct.
 

efernand1

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In general, without doubt, speakers with larger drivers for the low notes with sub will always have the extra oomph factor in an HT setup.
Ofcourse it will also largely depend on the room size to determine if the lows can be controlled, else a mouse will sound like lion, a lion like a dinosaur and a dinosaur like a thunderstorm.

Home Theatre audio is not just about thunderous lows, but also about crystal clear dialogue delivery, audibility of subtle details like rustling of leaves and background sounds.
It is like a photo with as much clarity in front-end details as the background.

Happy listening.

totally agree!
 

efernand1

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My observation till date is, .... With or without sub, FS will give better movie experience than BS.
In most general cases, can we say the opposite is true?
(yes I understand im talking in a very generic terms though....couldn't help it....:oops::D)

Possibly a FS sounds better as it is able / capable to emit more frequencies 20hz and 20khz.....for example look at Car speakers.....see the Two Way models and the 3 way models....there is a difference in sound, clarity, imaging etc.......driver material (cone material) also matters.....

That is why i highly recommend if possible to get a 3 or a 2.5 way center speaker for HT setup and where possible 3 way Bookshelf speakers if available which will bridge the missing frequencies which are not found on regular 2 way designs of BS.
 

elangoas

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Due to all such factors, I was guessing towers may present the 80hZ to 2.5Khz region more dynamically than comparable BS, with a single bass driver and small enclosure area. (i am aware that so many other factors may exist which I may not know...)

This is just my guess based on my listening experience and auditions, and I have no clue if this point is correct.

I think you are right.. There is a possibility..
 
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