A quality floorstanding speaker can instantly supercharge your sound system. Not only do they look good, drawing focus to a sound system and making it stand out rather than blend in, but they’re known for sounding spectacular. They're designed to slot in next to bookcases and TV cabinets, and their shape has two major advantages. Firstly, they pack more speaker drivers into a smaller amount of space, resulting in a more powerful and richer sound. Secondly, they take advantage of the space itself (or lack thereof). In our homes, much of our space is taken up horizontally by chairs, couches, and tables, but much less is taken up vertically. You don’t need a small apartment to justify buying a pair of them – most of them, especially the more expensive ones, will quite happily fill even a large room and create theater-quality sound.

How We Choose:

First things first: we are more than aware that there are floorstanding speakers that cost five or even six figures. Although we do include a few of those little further down, as a bonus, you’re not going to find them on this list. Why? Because we think that, for most people, they are total overkill. A list of the best floorstanding speakers has to take into account things like value for money, and we stand by our picks below. We compare speakers from dozens of different manufacturers, taking into account a wide range of variables from wattage to price and beyond, to construct a loose, numbered list. If you agree with our selections, or disagree, be sure to let us in know in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Our Floorstanding Speaker Picks:

Klipsch RF-7 II1. Klipsch RF-7 II ($1,599)

Each or Pair: Each
​Woofer: 2 x 10"
Tweeter: 1 x 1.75"
Midrange: N/A
Recommended Amp Power: 250-1000W/8Ω
What We Like: Huge power, huge value for money.
What We Don’t: Very little.

Before we start, a quick note: Klipsch introduced the newer version of these speakers, the RF-7 IIIs, at CES 2017. At the time of writing, they aren't yet available to buy (as far as we can tell), so after much deliberation, we've decided to keep the IIs in this list for now - with an asterisk that the IIIs will probably replace them soon. Anyway: Klipsch is, predictably, the most prominent brand here, and their RF-7 II is adding to its stellar reputation. There are several of their speakers we could have picked - they all range from good to absolutely stellar - but we decided to plump for this. Unless you go for the ridiculously expensive options at the end of this guide, this is the speaker that will be best for most people.

A titanium tweeter packaged with two monstrous 10-inch woofers gives you plenty of power - and they can handle huge amps, too, with a 1000 watt peak capacity. Klipsch use what they call Tractrix Horn technology, which is essentially a speaker component designed to reduce distortion and increase detail. The RF-7 II is so good that we consider it the best overall speaker in this category, showcased by how well it handles the lower frequency ranges. It’s finished in black wood, which is a touch of class we've come to expect from Klipsch. It’s unusual for us to put a cheaper option at the top, but this really is a fantastic speaker.
See the Klipsch RF-7 II

2. KEF R500 ($2,600)

KEF R500Each or Pair: Pair
Woofer: 2 x 5.25”
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: 1 x 5”
Recommended Amp Power: 25-150W/8Ω
What We Like: Some of the best value-for-money, despite the sizeable price.
What We Don’t: Needs excellent equipment to really get the best out of it.

Boy. We agonised over this one. KEF make such excellent gear, and have been doing it for so long, that it was hard to pick which of their excellent floorstanders to include. In the end, we had a choice: either make this entire list a rundown of the best KEF speakers around, or pick the one we thought had the best value for money, and would suit most people. In the end, we kept coming back to the R500.

It’s reasonably-priced, and you get an awful lot of bang for your buck. The sound is effortlessly clear and clean, with superlative dynamics that translate directly from the ultra-high-end KEF BLADE speakers. The design is clever, too, with neat plinth feet that help isolate your sonics. But: you shouldn’t go for these unless you’ve got a really solid amp and DAC combo - maybe even a dedicated pre and power amp. While they’re very good, they work best when the other bits of the signal chain are of similar quality. Still, these are excellent - and as we mentioned, KEF make plenty of other delectable speakers, so do check those out if these aren’t doing it for you.
See the KEF R500

3. SVS Ultra Towers ($1,000)

SVS Ultra TowerEach or Pair: Each
Woofer: 2 x 8”
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: 2 x 6.5”
Recommended Amp Power: 20-300W/8Ω
What We Like: Earth-shattering sound.
What We Don’t: Awkward shape.

This pair is torn straight from Batman’s sound system. No, seriously, they look like something out of the Batcave. And you just cannot understand how powerful they are, and how much punch and depth they have, until you actually have a pair in your living room. The twin midrange drivers and single tweeter do a very able job, but it’s the bass that really sets these apart. Their twin 8” woofers, set low down on either side of the housing, are absolutely thunderous. SVS probably won't like us saying this, but you could quite happily get away with using these without a subwoofer. The bass is that good.

So why aren’t they higher on the list? Because for all their audio goodness, there’s no denying that their shape makes them an awkward proposition. The flared bottom end and woofer placement means that you can’t just tuck these away, as they’ll need to have a bit of space to get the full effect. As such, while they are absolutely fantastic, most people may find them overkill. But if you have the space, and the back strength and muscle them into position, you’re in for one hell of a ride. And we have a full review of these coming very, very soon.
See the SVS Ultra Towers

GoldenEar Triton T14. GoldenEar Triton One ($2,500)

Each or Pair: Each
​Woofer: 3 x 9"
Tweeter:  1 x 1"
Midrange: Various
Recommended Amp Power: 20-650W/8Ω (Partly powered)
What We Like: Unbelievable sound.
What We Don’t: Very expensive for what you get.

GoldenEar have smashed their way into the home theater conversation with an absolutely stellar set of powered speakers, of which the Triton One is the prime example. A big, bolshy bruiser of a speaker, it packs a phenomenal 56-bit digital signal processing engine, to ensure smooth, clean sound, as well as a built-in subwoofer section paired with a 1600W digital amplifier - this is the reason behind only needing 20W per channel in order to drive, making it easy to run with a wide range of amps. This is a relatively rare bit of tech, certainly compared with most other home theater speakers, and we think it’s brilliant. 

Ultimately, even a shallow dive into this speaker will see you drowning in technological terms like open-cell polyurethane foam damping pads and proprietary Multi-Vaned Phase Plug design. No, we don’t know either. What we do know is that it sounds bloody good, and more importantly, feels good - like each unit has been carefully made. GoldenEar offer plenty of other flavors of this speaker, so don't be afraid to shop around - although we do think they're currently a little overpriced, for what you get.
See the GoldenEar Triton One

5. Paradigm Prestige 95F ($2,170)

Paradigm Prestige 95FEach or Pair: Each
Woofer: 2 x 8”
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: 1 x 8”
Recommended Amp Power: 15-450W/8Ω
What We Like: Great sound, gobbles up power.
What We Don’t: Not a lot!

With Paradigm, we face a similar problem to KEF. Namely: of all the fantastic speakers, which ones do we include in this list, and how do we arrange things so they don’t end up dominating? Again, it comes down to value for money, and which floorstander will suit the most people, and we think that the Prestige 95F fits the bill here.

Unless you’re going for something like the (frankly, a little bit absurd) $15,000 Persona 9H speakers, these will more than satisfy most audiophiles. For starters, the twin woofers put out an excellent low end that is defined and clear, without losing any of its punch. The unusually large midrange driver gives warmth and clarity to things like vocals, too. But one of the biggest draws of the set of speakers is just how compatible it is with other amps. With a range of between 15 and 450 watts, you have to look very hard to find a home stereo amp that could bust these drivers open. Even at top volume, things will be smooth and easy. Ideal if you have a big room, or you like things crazy loud.
See the Paradigm Prestige 95F

6. Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L SuperTower ($1,965)

Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L SuperTowerEach or Pair: Each
Woofer: 1 x 10”
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: 2 x 5.25”
Recommended Amp Power: Unknown
What We Like: Crisp, detailed sound, distinctive design, built-in sub.
What We Don’t: Definitely not for everyone.

Everybody stay calm. We know Def Tech has its fans, and we’d very much appreciated if they didn’t eat us alive. But in our opinion, the spectacularly named Mythos ST-L SuperTower (seriously, it's like they're trying to name something that Thanos would use to destroy the Marvel universe), doesn’t do quite enough to differentiate itself from the competition. We can’t see a reason why you would pick this speaker over, say, the Triton One. It’s also got a couple of puzzling design choices, like recessed binding posts that make wire attachment tricky, and a powered subwoofer. Don’t get us wrong, we love powered subwoofers, but it does mean you have to connect the speakers to the mains as well as your amplifier.

That being said: this is by far from a bad speaker. Quite the opposite. It offers an excellent combination of both crisp, clear sound with some of the best speaker design we’ve come across yet. If you can stomach the price, and aren’t too worried about the design quirks, then this offers some excellent sound and design that will fit right at home in any room, and in any setup.
See the Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L SuperTower

7. Wharfedale Diamond 11.5 ($1,300)

Wharfedale Diamond 11.5Each or Pair: Pair
Woofer: 2 x 7.9”
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: 1 x 4”
Recommended Amp Power: 25-200W/8Ω
What We Like: A genuine future classic, with killer sound.
What We Don’t: Can be very tough to track down.

The biggest argument for not putting these higher in the list: outside of the UK, Wharfedale models can be a little hard to find. Last time we checked, this one was definitely not on Amazon, and although the price for a pair was relatively consistent at other outlets, we can’t vouch for its accuracy going forward. All the same, if you can find the pair, you should definitely pick them up, because they are fantastic. Truly.

It’s hardly surprising given the company’s reputation, but the Diamond 11.5 put out some wondrous audio quality. We particularly liked the dynamics, and how crisp the top end sounded. And while the low end doesn’t quite match the heights of something like the SVS Ultras, the twin 7.9” woofers do a very capable job. These are the most showy of speakers, design-wise, but they’ll slot nicely into any setup, and they definitely deserve a place on this list. If you can find them, of course.
See the Wharfedale Diamond 11.5

8. MartinLogan Motion 40 ($999)

MartinLogan Motion 40Each or Pair: Each
Woofer: 2 x 6.5”
Tweeter: 1 x 1.4”
Midrange: 1 x 5.5”
Recommended Amp Power: 20-300W/4Ω
What We Like: Probably the most musical speaker here.
What We Don’t: Slightly old-school design.

One of the best things about floorstanding speakers is that they can pull double duty – showcasing not only the explosions and punches of an action movie, but also playing music. The Motion 40s from MartinLogan definitely lend themselves to the latter category. In our opinion, these are by far the most musical speakers on this list, with a sound signature that really brings songs to life. As such, if you want to pair a set of speakers with a stereo amp, or stream some music through your home theater receiver, then these are the ones to go for.

The somewhat old-school design, with the two-tone finish, may turn some people off – we can definitely see these slotting into a 1970s hifi setup. But ultimately, if you care about the sound, and want to experience just what electric guitars, thumping kick drums, or sultry vocals can sound like through a pair of really good tower speakers, then you should absolutely give these a try. They also come in slightly smaller variants if you want to spend less, like the Motion 20, so don’t let budget get in the way of this particular brand of audio goodness.
See the MartinLogan Motion 40

9. Fluance Signature Series ($700)

Fluance Signature Series Each or Pair: Pair
Woofer: 2 x 8"
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: 1 x 5”
Recommended Amp Power: 90-200W/8Ω
What We Like: Solid sound and build, huge bass.
What We Don’t: A touch expensive for what you get?

Please don’t offer the highest value for money of all the speakers on this list, but we’ve been remiss in the past for not including Fluance, and that’s something we want to rectify here. For the record, the company makes some superb speakers, and we’d say the Signature Series is the one to invest in if your budget for this price range.

The chief draw is not just the glossy design and the signature yellow drivers, but also the sound. With twin 8” woofers, these do a very good passing impression of a subwoofer, with rich and mellow bass that will fit right into any surround sound setup, whether you have a sub or not. They also come with fantastic (albeit hard to install) speaker spikes for the base, which help isolate the speakers from vibrations. Be warned: these are both big and heavy, not the kind of speaker you slot into a corner somewhere and hope no one will notice. They are authoritative both in looks and sound. But as midrange floorstanding speakers go, these are a very, very good choice, and are absolutely ideal for bass heads.
See the Fluance Signature Series

10. Q Acoustics 3050 ($700)

Q Acoustics 3050Each or Pair: Pair
​Woofer: 2 x 6.5"
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: N/A
Recommended Amp Power: 25-100W/6Ω
What We Like: Sold in a pair! Oh, and they sound killer.
What We Don’t: Lacks bass. Interesting design.

Q Acoustics is a company that has just been getting better and better. They've steadily produced some excellent models, and with their 3050, have really smashed their way into our roundup. We dig this speaker, and not just because it’s sold in a pair, which is terrific value. 

For around $700, you get a wonderfully-built cabinet with curved corners and a variety of finishes, housing a great set of components. Well, we say wonderfully-built - it’s true, but we’d caution that the design feels like an acquired taste, so make sure you take a close look before you buy. As for the sound, the word we'd use to describe it is 'controlled': there's minimal distortion, fantastic clarity (particularly in the mid range) and some great detail. We do however feel there could be a little more oomph in the bass, although that problem vanishes if you pair these with a good subwoofer. All told, maybe we’re just being picky - these are a pair of floorstanders that will do you proud, should you buy them. We strongly recommend these, even if Q Acoustics isn't quite the household name it should be.
See the Q Acoustics 3050

JBL Studio 58011. JBL Studio 590 ($900)

Each or Pair: Each
​Woofer: 2 x 8"
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: N/A
Recommended Amp Power: 250W/6Ω (Peak not given)
What We Like: Big sound.
What We Don’t: Needs a little work to get it, somewhat pricey.

Probably the most recognized, if not the most trusted, brand in this category is JBL. This is the company most well known for making big, industrial speaker arrays used in stadiums and arenas. Its Studio 590’s smooth curves prove they belong at home, too, although this isn't the first speaker we'd recommend. Still, it's a good alternative.

The sound is, true to form, big - and it will take some adjusting to get the best out of them. They also need a pretty big room to show off their best, meaning these speakers, while fantastic, are really only suitable for those who have an existing home theater setup - and the room to show it off in. That plus the slightly-too-large price means it just misses the top spot. We would recommend pairing the Studio 590 with an additional sub, but it’s still plenty powerful with its duo of 8-inch low-frequency transducers.
See the JBL Studio 590

12. ELAC Debut F6 ($380)

ELAC - Debut F6Each or Pair: Each
Woofer: 2 x 6.5”
Tweeter: 1 x 1”
Midrange: 1 x 6.5”
Recommended Amp Power: 30-150W/6Ω
What We Like: Great tones in a great upgrade.
What We Don’t: Not a huge jump from the F5.

Andrew Jones is an almost inevitable name with speaker systems. After moving from his home Pioneer to ELAC in 2015, he set about building some excellent, affordable speaker sets. This is one of them, an upgrade on the F5 (obviously) and one which we think has a lot of merit.

Although it's hardly part of a closed ecosystem, we've always felt that ELAC speakers sound a lot better when paired with other models from the company, such as their excellent home theater speakers. But even if you don't own any of their other products, you're still in for a ride with this model, which offers some superb tonal range in a classy package. These are a pair of speakers that respond well to a little bit of power, so don’t be afraid to connect them to a decent amplifier and turn them all the way up. The F6s aren’t the greatest leap from ELAC’s F5 model - and like that model, they’re only available in black - but we still had a lot of fun with them.
See the ELAC Debut F6 

Yamaha NS-F210BL
13. Yamaha NS-F210BL ($150)

Each or Pair: Each
​Woofer: 2 x 3.125"
Tweeter: 1 x 8.75"
Midrange: N/A
Recommended Amp Power: 40-120W/6Ω
What We Like: Great TV sound.
What We Don’t: Underpowered bass.

Yamaha’s NS-F210BL are probably the most attractive pick this low on the list - and at a knockdown price for each, you’re getting one hell of a speaker set here. Yamaha, as a rule, makes speakers that do the job but don’t particularly surprise, and that’s very much the case here - although these are far from bad speakers, or they wouldn’t be on this list!

They use aluminum, which produces some incredibly clean sound. They don’t look all that special with their visible drivers high up on the unit, but they more than make up for it with the audio that they put out. They are much more suited to pair with a TV than they are for music, and we recommend pairing them with a good sub like the Yamaha NS-SW300. This is really a must, as they're not capable of generating massive bass notes, thanks to their undersized drivers - not a big problem, but worth bearing in mind. These speakers are nice and thin, too, making them ideal for smaller rooms - which, if we’re going to be honest, is most of us. If you live in an apartment, then these could be the perfect speakers for you. 
See the Yamaha NS-F210BL

Pioneer SP-FS52
14. Pioneer SP-FS52-LR ($130)

Each or Pair: Each
​Woofer: 3 x 5.25"
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: 1 x 5.25"
Recommended Peak Amp Power: 130W/6Ω (Continuous not given)
What We Like: Good detail and build quality.
What We Don’t: Volume isn’t great.

While we usually wouldn’t recommend an option around $100 for a floorstanding speaker, the Pioneer SP-FS52-LR is a very respectable choice for those on a budget. Andrew Jones - whose name you’ll find on this site a lot more than you’d think you would, and who had a hand in designing the ELAC models above - worked on these, and that means they are absolutely worth your money. His attention-to-detail and application of speaker know-how is legendary, so it’s a good look.

You get three 5.25 inch woofers (many of these models only have two) along with a 1-inch tweeter for treble. At only 130 watts per channel, you’re certainly not going to be pumping these speakers to very high volumes, but they perform well for movies at normal levels and music without heavy bass. And unlike some entry-level speakers, Pioneer is a respected brand known for good build quality and performance. These units aren’t geared toward the audiophile crowd, but they will pleasantly surprise you for the price.
See the Pioneer SP-FS52-LR

Polk Audio T50

15. Polk Audio T-50 ($100)

Each or Pair: Each
​Woofer: 2 x 6.5" (Bass radiators)
Tweeter: 1 x 1"
Midrange: 1 x 6.5"
Recommended Amp Power: 20-100W/6Ω​
What We Like: Extended throw driver (Read: powerful sound).
What We Don’t: Distortion at high volumes.

One of the more recent entries into this particular area is Polk Audio’s T-50, from their T-series line. It’s become an instant favorite - and with technology drawn from Polk’s Monitor series, it isn’t hard to see why. It’s rare for us to recommend speakers in the sub-$150 price range, but we’d be crazy not to include both this and the Pioneer above. For small rooms and slim budgets, they are absolutely worth your time.

While it’s not as heavy-duty as, say, the ELAC above, it’s got a lot to recommend it. Chiefly, an extended-throw driver that really pushes the sound out, as well as Polk’s very good Dynamic Balance tech. The latter really improves the sound, making these a fantastic choice if you’re looking for great audio at a low budget. Be aware that if you want clarity at high volumes, you may want to look at a mid-range speaker (as in, price, not frequency. We don’t hold a lot of truck with frequency ranges on this site).
See the Polk Audio T-50

And For When You Want Some Ultra-High-End Gear:

16. Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3 ($13,000)

Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3Each or Pair: Each 
Woofer: 2 x 6.5”
Tweeter: 1 x 1”
Midrange: 1 x 5”
Recommended Amp Power: 50-200W/8Ω​
What We Like: Extraordinary sound and design.
What We Don’t: That price tag tho.

Good God Almighty. A glance at the specifications doesn’t raise any eyebrows (50W into 8Ω is practically feeble, compared to some of the beasts on this list) and they don’t look all that different from other models. But they are. If the the horn on top didn’t give it away, the names for the various pieces of technology that Bowers & Wilkins have sunk into this thing will.

Diamond Dome Tweeters. Continuum and Aerofoil Cones. No expense on the R&D front has been spared here, and what you get for your thirteen grand (or thereabouts) some of the best floorstanding sound on the entire planet. Sadly, we’ve never had a pair of these in for review, but we have heard them, and they are just jawdropping. If you have the cash, in the various other components needed to do them justice, then give the 800 Series a go. By the way: $13,000 is the price at the time of writing, but it'll probably be cheaper if you hunt around. 
See the Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3

17. Goldmund Apologue Anniversary ($550,000)

Goldmund Apologue AnniversaryEach or Pair: Each
Woofer: Unknown
Tweeter: Unknown
Midrange: Unknown
Recommended Amp Power: Unknown
What We Like: Are you kidding?
What We Don’t: We don't know. We've never heard them. Neither has almost anyone else.

Oh, you know, just spending over half a million dollars on a pair of speakers. No biggie. The Goldmund Apologue Anniversary pair has spent some time in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is so exclusive that even if specifications (including mundane things like its footprint) are a closely guarded secret. We love to say that we've extensively tested them, but we haven't yet been able to infiltrate Goldfinger's volcano lair. Meantime, you can read our breakdown of this completely loony model right here.
See the Goldmund Apologue Anniversary. Also, can you loan us some cash?

Specs Table:

Speaker Price Height Footprint Woof. Tweet. Mid. RAP*
Klipsch RF-7 II $1,599 48.5" 11.6" x 16.3" 2 x 10" 1 x 1.75" N/A 250-1000W/8Ω
KEF R500 $2,600 40" 12” x 7.1” 2 x 5.25” 1 x 1" 1 x 5" 25-150W/8Ω
SVS Ultra Towers $1,000 45.6" 16.8” x 13.8” 2 x 8" 1 x 1" 2 x 6.5" 20-300W/8Ω
GoldenEar Triton One $2,500 54" 8" x 5.75" 3 x 9" 1 x 1" Various 20-650W/8Ω
Paradigm Prestige 95F $2,170 44.75" 17” x 13.25” 2 x 8" 1 x 1" 1 x 8" 15-450W/8Ω
Definitive Tech. Mythos $1,965 51.5" 9.5” x 6.75” 1 x 10" 1 x 1" 2 x 5.25” Unknown
Wharfedale Diamond 11.5 $1,300 44.3" 14” x 12” 2 x 7.9” 1 x 1" 1 x 4" 25-200W/8Ω
MartinLogan Motion 40 $999 42.5" 12.8” x 7.6” 2 x 6.5" 1 x 1.4" 1 x 5.5" 20-300W/4Ω
Fluance Signature Series $700 47.2" 15.4” x 10.9” 2 x 8" 1 x 1" 1 x 5" 90-200W/8Ω
Q Acoustics 3050 $700 39.3" 11.7 x 7.8" 2 x 6.5" 1 x 1" N/A 25-100W/6Ω
JBL Studio 590 $900 49.75" 16.25" x 13" 2 x 8" 1 x 1" N/A 250W/6Ω
ELAC Debut F6 $380 43” 10” x 8.5” 2 x 6.5” 1 x 1” 1 x 6.5” 30-150W/6Ω​
Yamaha NS-F210BL $150 41.3" 9.3 x 9.3" 2 x 3.125" 1 x 0.875" N/A 40-120W/6Ω​
Pioneer SP-FS52-LR $130 35.2" 8.9 x 10.6" 3 x 5.25" 1 x 1" N/A 130W/6Ω
Polk Audio T-50 $100 36.25" 8.8 x 7.8" 2 x 6.5" (BR) 1 x 1" 1 x 6.5" 20-100W/6Ω​
Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3 $13K 40" 13.6” x 9.4” 2 x 6.5” 1 x 1" 1 x 5” 50W/8Ω
Goldmund Apologue $550K 72" Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

*RAP = Recommended Amp Power

SVS Ultra Towers | The Master Switch

Buying Advice:

What If I Can’t Afford Two Of These Speakers?

You need two. You just do. But most manufacturers only offer them individually - which can make for an irritating surprise when the box arrives. Make sure you double-check how many speakers you’re getting. One floorstanding speaker isn’t going to do you any favors.

If buying two is too expensive, then it might be worth investigating a soundbar or a home theatre system. If you’re conscious about budget, then these will be more than enough. Trust us. And if you're ready to take the jump, you could do worse than check out our guide to the differences between 5.1 and 7.1 sound.

Where Do I Put Them?

The placement of your floorstanding speaker is less important than something like, for example, a subwoofer. Generally, you should avoid putting them in corners, which could decrease the detail of the bass you get. The most common place to put them is the sides of your TV or stereo system with some room behind, although it depends on the size of your room and the furniture placement. Most importantly, be prepared to experiment, moves things around, and sit in different locations around the room to make sure you’re getting optimal sound.

Also, be aware that the stuff in your room can have a massive effect on how things sound. Got a lot of bookshelves, soft couches, a few cushions? You'll probably be OK. Bare walls, glass coffee tables and lots of right angles? You may need to be a little more careful. 

A rookie error is to stick them right against the wall in the corners of the room - makes sense, you'd think, right? Nope. Putting them against the wall destroys the bass energy, turning a mighty oomph into a tiny, muddy squeak. They need to be at least six inches from all walls, and preferably further than that. Obviously this is something that you may have to compromise on, depending on the sound and shape of your room, but as we said, make sure you play around with positioning.

You also need to be aware of the position of the various speaker drivers. The last thing you want as to actually block any of them, or to put something in their path that could interfere with the sound. This can get particularly tricky when speakers have an awkward shape, like the SVS Ultra Towers, which have twin bass drivers on either side at the very bottom. You’ll need to be quite careful not to obstruct things like these, which can be a little bit difficult if you have limited space.

The good news is, floorstanding speakers are rarely nailed down. Although they may be heavy, you shouldn’t find moving them all that difficult. In addition, many of them come with screw-on feet that isolate the cabinet from the floor, eliminating vibrations and helping smooth out the sound, which is always welcome.

Goldmund Apologue Anniversary | Goldmund

What Are Drivers?

The individual engines that produce sound. They combine the electronic components needed to convert the audio signal into something you can actually hear.

Drivers can only be so powerful individually, so the more a manufacturer packs into a floorstanding speaker, the richer and more detailed the sound likely will be. As a rough guideline, you should never see less than three drivers in a single unit – anything less, and you're not going to get the sound you deserve. At the top ranges, you can see up to six and sometimes even seven individual drivers in a unit. Drivers are split into tweeters (high sounds, like violins), mid-range (human voice) and woofers (low sounds, like basslines). 

The tweeters are a good indication of where a speaker falls on the budget scale. Cheaper speakers will use cone tweeters - yes, it's in a cone shape. This doesn't spread sound as well as other shapes, and in addition, the materials don't often measure up (paper is most common - effective, to be sure, but not exactly high-grade). Better models will use dome tweeters, which treat the sound more effectively and spread it more evenly. Super-expensive speakers actually use something known as a ribbon tweeter, which is a super-light, super-strong, super-efficient tweeter that can do some really amazing things to the sound. You won't see these very often, but they're great.

Is Size Important?

The bigger a speaker, the less prone it is to distortion at high volumes, which is key when you have a pair that you're going to be pumping Hollywood movies or loud music through. Sizes vary significantly, but at the higher price ranges you should expect to see woofers (bass) of 8 inches and upwards, and tweeters (treble) of between 4 and 5 inches.

Keep in mind that some models may need an additional subwoofer to really get the best out of them (if that’s the case, we’ve noted it in the write up).

Sunshine At Home |  Jeff Wilcox

What About Wattage?

Wattage refers to the power that can be pushed through each speaker. You should look at watts per channel in particular, as this is a broad measure of how much oomph each driver will have. 

Wattage is further divided into Peak and Continuous. Peak wattage is how much power the speaker can handle at absolute maximum capacity. Unless you’re planning to live on the edge, you can ignore. Continuous is the average wattage the speaker puts out on any given Sunday – in other words, what it will put out when played at what most people would consider an average volume.

You’ll notice that in the list of specs for each speaker, we give a recommended amplifier power. This is because any amplifier will need to not only be able to provide sufficient power to the speaker to satisfy its continuous wattage needs – the last thing you want is a speaker that isn’t getting quite enough power – but also because you’ll need to know where the breaking point is. In other words, what's the absolute peak power your speaker can take? Not just because you want to drive at maximum volume, but because music has loud parts and soft parts, and you need to know that both your amplifiers and speakers can handle them.

Let’s say you’ve got a set of speakers, like the SVS Ultra Towers, with a recommended amp power of 20-300 watts. That means that any amp that generates continuous and peak power within that range is a good match. Something like the Yamaha S801BL, which has continuous power of 100 watts and a peak of 140, would be ideal.

You’ll need to take into account impedance too, which we go into in the next section.

Klipsch RF-7 II |  Klipsch

How Does Impedance Work?

Impedence refers to the electrical resistance a speaker has, and it's ability to… We lost you already, didn't we?

Not to worry. The good news is that impedence, and how it relates to wattage, is relatively easy to explain, although it does take a little more space and time than we have here. If you're curious about what the Ω symbol is in our stats table, and how it can help you get the absolute best out of your setup, then you should check out our full guide to matching speakers and amps, which will clue you in.

Passive Vs Powered

This bit’s actually quite simple. A passive speaker doesn’t have a built-in amplifier. It needs external amplification, which is why you usually plug yourspeakers into a separate amp or receiver. Powered (or Active) speakers contain their own amplifier.

Usually? You don’t have to worry about this very much. Almost all home theater speakers are passive. It is worth checking, however, as if you plug an active speaker into an amplifier using anything but a dedicated cable known as a line-level cable, there can sometimes be a bang. Again: you’re unlikely to run into this, but do try and keep an eye out.

You will also probably be needing a home theater system to hook these up to. Don't worry, we've got you covered.

HiFi Vs Home Theater

Here’s a question for you. What is more appropriate: to use a pair of floorstanding speakers as part of a home theater system, or to simply use them for playing music through a stereo amp?

The traditional response is to go with the former. Floorstanding speakers, if you believe the vast body of knowledge on the subject, are best when used for home theater applications. Traditionally, the story goes, the way they’ve been tuned and designed has been to slot into an existing system with other speakers. The orthodoxy says that bookshelf speakers are the ones to go for if you’re building a simple hifi music system.

We are here to say that’s nonsense. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using floorstanding speakers in a hifi setup. While it might be overkill for some people, particularly if space is an issue, as long as you’re pairing them with a suitable amp, they can do wonders for your music – particularly something like the MartinLogan Motion 40s, which are known for being very musical.

They also have the added advantage in that they may, in some cases, negate the need for additional subwoofer. We realise this is controversial – and, if we’re being honest, will always advocate getting a traditional subwoofer to handle the low frequencies. But if you’re pressed for space, and want to have a simple two-speaker setup that doesn’t compromise on the bass, then you’ll get far more bang for your buck with a pair of floorstanding speakers than you will with a pair of bookshelf speakers.

Ultimately, you should let your budgets and your space needs be your guide. It may also be perfectly possible to simply play music through your home theater system, making it more of an all in one solution. In other words: don’t let accepted orthodoxy tell you what to do with your speakers. Floorstanders are often far more versatile than they are given credit for.

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