Floorstanders for L&R channels in a 5.1 set-up - why?

bigblue235

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Hi, folks.

What are the benefits of having floorstanders for L&R? Is it mainly for music listening? Do purists listen to 2 channel stuff without the sub? Is there any benefit to it if you're happy to use the sub for your music listening?

I'd have thought that a 5.1 channel set-up would ideally have the same 5 speakers with an identical crossover point? No?

Edumacate me, please :)
 

CnoEvil

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It's a very reasonable question, and I will answer it from my POV.

If you have a diet that is solely AV, there is a slightly bigger sense of scale, but some very accurate small speakers, with a properly integrated sub could well give a better experience (eg. from the likes of M&K).

For me, the real importance comes when the same system is used for 2 channel music, and you don't wish to use a sub.
 

Frank Harvey

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Thank God Cno has said that! :rofl:

The main benefit for a floorstander in a 5.1 system is for music reproduction. The rest of it gets a little complicated, but I'll try and keep it simple.

Some people like big speakers. They like to use what they've bought to their fullest, so may set their crossover points (between the sub and speakers) as low as possible, or even use floorstanders as full range. The benefits of this is that because the crossover point is quite low, there's no crossover from speakers to sub in an important frequency range (midrange). This obviously has benefits. They'll sound fuller, and depending on the speakers capabilities, can give a more effortless and rounded sound than using smaller speakers.

Then there are those (like myself) that follow THX guidelines, which is a set of standards put down in order to achieve a more predictable results in almost any room (harder to achieve with larger speakers). The crossover point is industry set to 80Hz, and this is to relieve the main speakers of some hard work in its lower registers (good for budget packages), so it can concentrate on a smaller bandwidth and reproduce that without interference from lower notes, and therefore with greater accuracy. With all speakers only producing 80Hz and up, they all "singing from the same hymn sheet", so to speak, producing a more consistent soundfield. The sub is relied on to reproduce from 80Hz and below.

As you point out bigblue, (and something I advocate), there's a huge benefit to having exactly the same speakers all round, as with my current system, and pretty much every system I have had for the last 10-12 years. But, that's not always possible, hence why we have wide, squat centre speakers and small rear speakers. Probably 80% (token made up statistic) of homes have a typical centre speaker with smaller rear speakers, purely because of available space and lack of freedom to set their system up to its fullest capabilities.

There's positive and negative points to both types of setup, it's just down to working out what you want to achieve. The THX way isn't the best for music, but it's not impossible. The big speaker way isn't the best for movies, but that's not to say that a fantastic sound can't be achieved.
 

bigblue235

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Ta, both!

I've read a few reviews/comments where people have remarked that floorstanding speakers help the sound seem fuller/bigger/more powerful/etc. Why is this so? I thought the sub would fill in the gaps? Or is it because there's low-frequency info coming at you from multiple directions, rather than just from the sub?
 

Dan Turner

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Also - if you're using a centre speaker then it's essential that this matches the main front speakers. If you end up with fronts that don't match the centre tonally, then any other benefits you've achieved will be more than (negatively) compensated for.
 

Frank Harvey

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bigblue235 said:
Ta, both!

I've read a few reviews/comments where people have remarked that floorstanding speakers help the sound seem fuller/bigger/more powerful/etc. Why is this so? I thought the sub would fill in the gaps? Or is it because there's low-frequency info coming at you from multiple directions, rather than just from the sub?

It's just that floor standing speakers are bigger, so generally have a bigger soundstage, and because of their cabinet volume and larger drivers, they sound fuller. It's this fullness that can also gives them their warmth, which can soften and cloud detail. Smaller standmounts don't have this natural warmth and fullness, and can come across as more detailed and tighter.

Whether or not a subwoofer can make a standmount sound like a floorstander depends on many things. Firstly, the quality of the sub. The sub needs to be able to produce clean, undisorted bass, right up to and beyond the crossover point. This isn't an easy task, as many subs are quite happy producing 50/60Hz and below, but become less responsive and more distorted higher up nearer 80/100Hz. THX subs tend to be cleaner in this area, whereas 'hi-fi' subs can lack a little. If you cross over your floorstanders at 80Hz, they will be producing a less warmer sound, and because their bass or bass/mid cones won't be flapping away, the frequencies they do produce will be a little more accurate - almost a little like using a standmount. Using an 80Hz crossover point with a good quality sub can produce a more punchy sound than using floorstanders set at a low crossover point. There are a lot of variables though.

Cno's system will suffer far less from the drawbacks of floorstanders because of their build and driver quality has less effect on the resulting sound. I don't know what crossover point he uses, but because of the quality of his speakers and sub, he can use a higher or lower crossover point.
 

bigblue235

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Excellent. Thanks again, David.

I think I favour the 5 identical bookshelfs route. I think using different speakers in different roles would have me thinking about things too much! I could maybe tolerate a typical centre, but I'd like the rest to match.

I think I need to try and pop into your shop the next time I'm heading north. I can see where you are on a map, but are you fairly easy to get to from the M6?
 

richardw42

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I know they're further up the range, but in my HC I swapped my RS6s (floorstanders) for GS10s (stand mounts) and the detail has definitely perked up.

BTW. David I have my crossover at 60 hz, so will try the 80hz out.
 

richardw42

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Sorry to butt in again.

Thanks for replying David. I'm inspired to do some proper tweaking with my HC, it sounds awesome as it is but knowing I might be able to improve it will be exciting to try.

Prob won't be tonight as I can't tear myself away from my ADMs which came today.
 

bigblue235

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Ta, David. I have some other queries, but I'll get in touch nearer the time when I'll be passing by.

RobinKidderminster said:
Allow some time bigblue - I just need an excuse to visit Coventry again !

Not sure what my upgrade path is I guess but my partner enjoyed the shopping !

cheers

Ah, good, every little excuse helps :)
 

Son_of_SJ

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Dan Turner said:
Also - if you're using a centre speaker then it's essential that this matches the main front speakers. If you end up with fronts that don't match the centre tonally, then any other benefits you've achieved will be more than (negatively) compensated for.

Er sorry, I don't think I agree about needing to have a matching centre speaker. See what both David @ Frank Harvey (who is vastly more knowledgeable) and I said about this under the discussion topic "How important is a centre speaker to you?".
 

CnoEvil

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Son_of_SJ said:
Dan Turner said:
Also - if you're using a centre speaker then it's essential that this matches the main front speakers. If you end up with fronts that don't match the centre tonally, then any other benefits you've achieved will be more than (negatively) compensated for.

Er sorry, I don't think I agree about needing to have a matching centre speaker. See what both David @ Frank Harvey (who is vastly more knowledgeable) and I said about this under the discussion topic "How important is a centre speaker to you?".

David is well able to speak for himself, but I don't think he's advocating having a different make of Centre, only explaining how differences can come about. The goal should be to have as uniform a sound field as possible.....though how far you are prepared to compromise is another matter.
 

Son_of_SJ

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CnoEvil said:
David is well able to speak for himself, but I don't think he's advocating having a different make of Centre, only explaining how differences can come about. The goal should be to have as uniform a sound field as possible.....though how far you are prepared to compromise is another matter.

Ah, so. That's a better explanation than mine! And about compromising - my man Sven and my friend Mercedes both think that I'm obsessed with home cinema, and they may be right - I mean, how many folk have three home cinema systems in a 2-bedroom flat?? However, even I draw the line at having centre speakers that are identical to the front L/R pair. That would mean 1m-tall centre speakers, arranged vertically below the televisions which would then be more than half-way towards the ceiling! So I'll have to make do with normal horizontal centre speakers which are much smaller than the front pairs.
 

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