If you are in the market to pump up the volume on your music, movies, or games with a kick-ass home theater system, floorstanding speakers are a must for your plan. Sometimes referred to as tower speakers, floorstanding speakers are the best front speaker option for numerous reasons.
The choices may seem overwhelming at first. Arming yourself with knowledge beforehand can save a lot of time and headaches, and prevent you from winding up with a set of speakers that don’t suit your needs or are simply too small (or too big) for your space.
WHAT'S INSIDE A FLOORSTANDING SPEAKER?
Let’s start with what makes up the guts of a high-quality floorstanding speaker. First, they are the largest type of standard speakers generally found in your home. Floorstanding speakers also contain several drivers, which produce sound through vibration, to allow for a wide soundstage. How many and what type of drivers vary from model to model.
The human ear can perceive sounds ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz. A given driver’s size depends partly on what its range is. Higher ranges have shorter soundwaves, so their drivers can be smaller. Conversely, lower frequencies have longer soundwaves, requiring larger drivers. The different types of drivers are:
Tweeters: These small drivers, named for the high pitch sounds birds make, are usually found at the top of the speaker, and generally emit sounds at high frequencies ranging from 2,000 to 30,000 Hz. Klipsch products are outfitted with horn, cone, or dome-shaped tweeters.
Midrange Drivers: These handle sounds ranging from 500 to 2,000 Hz. This is the range that instruments and the human voice fall within, which means having a satisfactory midrange driver is crucial. Like tweeters, they can be made of different materials, which will affect sound quality. Some highly engineered horn tweeters can also serve as midrange drivers, since a horn tweeter actually resonates in that frequency range (around 1000-2000Hz) which adds acoustic energy into the sound of the speaker, making it easier to match the tweeter to the woofer since the 1000-2000Hz range has a little more energy.
Woofers: Named for the low-pitch noises dogs make, these drivers produce lower frequency sounds, ranging from 40 to 1,000 Hz or higher. Woofers are known for having a high-quality bass response. The superior bass performance of woofers in tower speakers is one reason they are often chosen over smaller, bookshelf speakers.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON FLOORSTANDING SPEAKER SPECS?
In addition to listening to a prospective set of speakers before buying, it’s important to look at any given speaker’s specifications. Although specifications can do little to define the quality of a given speaker’s sound, every model is required to provide a set of specs to the consumer, and it is important to understand what they mean and how they are derived to make an informed decision.
Some key specifications to make note of are:
Frequency response - Measured in Hertz (Hz), this is the frequency range that the speaker is able to produce.
Impedance - Measured in ohms, impedance measures current resistance impacting what load the speaker can handle coming from the amplifier. The actual amount of current is usually in a state of constant flux, but speakers are usually given a single nominal rating for ease of comparison. Common impedance values are 4, 8, and 16 ohms. It’s important to match the speaker’s impedance to that of your amp; mismatches can result in sound problems or damage to your equipment.
Sensitivity - Measures how efficiently the speaker converts power into sound. It’s measured in decibels (dB) and is usually measured by loading the drivers with 1 watt of power and measuring how loud the sound is that is produced. The lower the rating, the less efficient, and just a few decibels difference can have a big impact. For every three decibels in a sensitivity rating, you cut the amount of power required in half.
Size-wise, not all floorstanding speakers are created equal. Just take one look at the size differentiation of the highly-acclaimed Klipsch Heritage Premium speaker line.
By the same token, Klipsch Reference and Reference Premiere floorstanding speakers generally fall between just over 36” in height on the Reference Premiere RP-5000F to 49” inches for the Klipsch RF-7 III in height.
In instances where available space is a serious consideration, the floor space they’ll consume must be analyzed. For large rooms, floorstanding speakers are a good option, if they can be placed out of the room’s traffic flow. Some larger floorstanding stereo speakers present a tip-over risk, so keep this in mind if you have young children or pets.
How Far Apart Should Floorstanding Speakers Be?
”The whole idea is that you're ideally trying to create an equilateral triangle between you and the speakers,” says Klipsch Associate Product Manager Chad Charleston. “Your listening position is the top point of the triangle. So, technically, how far back you are sitting from the speakers will dictate how far apart they should be.”
Charleston gives a few tips to consider, starting with locating a tape measure:
Place on a common wall 6 to 15 feet apart.
Position them equidistant from the wall behind the speakers.
Angle speakers toward the listener and even with or forward any adjacent obstructions.
Placing them near a corner or wall provides the greatest amount of bass while moving the speakers away from room boundaries reduces bass energy.
Asymmetrical placement of a pair of speakers from adjacent side walls can smooth room-induced bass unevenness.
Experiment with the above guidelines to suit your taste and to compensate for your room’s acoustic characteristics.
Self-stick rubber pads are supplied for attachment to the bottom of the riser for use on hard floors.
Do I Need an AV Receiver for my Floorstanding Speakers?
Most floorstanding speakers are not powered, so you will definitely need an AV Receiver to bring them together. The purpose of an AV Receiver is to connect the pieces of your home theater together and ensure what you see and what you hear match with precision.
In terms of great AV Receiver brands, Klipsch has a few recommendations:
Integra AV Receivers made after 2021 include Klipsch Optimize Mode, which has presets at the ready for newer Klipsch speakers. Integra AV Receivers are a great option if you opt out of building your dream home theater yourself and want to go the custom installation route instead.
Onkyo AV Receivers deliver best-in-class audio and visuals to highlight every nuance of the music, movies, and games you love. Onkyo Receivers made after 2021 also feature that handy Klipsch Optimize Mode.
Pioneer AV Receivers are designed to be the cornerstone of any home theater setup, offering precision images and sound for your music, movies, and games.
It’s important to do the homework before you purchase speakers for a variety of reasons. First, speakers are an investment you will likely have to live with for years to come. Second, they are possibly the most important part of your sound system.
In the end, you want the most bang for your buck to enjoy your favorite music and movies with precision while you destress.